Simplicity: the Trait Missing from Christianity

Simplicity: the Trait Missing from Christianity December 1, 2016

Ficus treeThe Bible in English has nearly a million words. Have you ever stopped to marvel at that? Why did God need so much space?

Let’s explore the idea that not only is this a surprisingly large number of words, but it’s a clue that Christianity is false. Why would a perfect god need a million words? Couldn’t he have gotten his message across at least as clearly (or more clearly) with a tenth as many words? Or even a thousandth as many?

Just a page or two of instructions would be enough to teach you how to be a vegan. That’s a lifestyle with strict rules—why would it be any more difficult for a perfect god to convey its message in the same space?

For comparison, the U. S. Constitution was written by humans and has defined the government for several centuries. It has just 4500 words. The U. N. Declaration of Human Rights has less than 1800 words. The Humanist Manifesto, 800.

The constitution of a god

Pare away the fluff and think about what a perfect god’s constitution might convey.

  • Personal details about the supernatural: the number of gods, name(s), and relationship to each other if more than one.
  • The fundamentals of non-obvious morality: slavery is good/bad, abortion is okay/forbidden, vegetarianism is mandatory/optional, and so on
  • The afterlife: what happens, if anything, when people die? If there’s a supernatural realm that we should know about, how does it fit with and interact with our own?
  • The god(s) purpose for each person. What, if anything, should we be doing to satisfy them?
  • What, if anything, we should know about the future

This addresses world religions’ primary concerns—morality, purpose, how to please the god(s), and the afterlife—though this is obviously just a guess. A real god might have a different list.

One additional point is why you should believe. This must be somewhere, and it might be conveyed through personal appearances or demonstrations. Could the evidence be included in this constitution? Before you say that it’s impossible to put something convincing in so short a document, don’t underestimate the capabilities of a god a trillion times smarter than any person.

Regardless of how it does it, this religion must have a mechanism for convincing everyone with evidence and argument that it is correct, unlike the myriad manmade ones.

Compare to the Bible

Categorize every verse in the Bible, and then sieve out everything that wouldn’t fit into the categories above. What would be lost?

  • The history of the Israelites and then the Jews and then the Christians. This does nothing to help understand god’s constitution.
  • Examples of God’s actions. With many questions raised but not answered by the Bible, believers scour every verse for clues.
  • Just so stories. For example: did you ever wonder why we hate the Moabites and Ammonites? Because they’re the result of Lot having sex with his own daughters—yuck! Or: ever wonder why this place is named this? Here’s the story behind that name.
  • Ideas borrowed from other cultures. For example: the Sumerian cosmology of water above and below the earth, a world-destroying flood, and a dying-and-rising god.
  • Contradictions. When not guided by a perfect hand, the more you write about your religion, the more contradictions you introduce.
  • An evolving message. Changes to the message from a god who doesn’t change can be embarrassing. For example: we used to sacrifice animals but not anymore; we used to have a works-based view of God but now it’s faith based; Jesus didn’t exist before, but now he’s mandatory.

See also: Christians’ Damning Refuge in “Difficult Verses”


The Bible is just a rambling story that goes on and on. It was written by people and looks like it. There’s no hint of any supernatural guidance.

Take the book of Revelation as an example, a psychotic, Dalí-esque horror show. There are 24 elders around the throne of God, with the four living creatures. There’s a scroll with seven seals and different events with the breaking of each. There’s the seven trumpets and different disasters with the sounding of each. There’s the seven bowls with different disasters with the pouring of each. There are four horsemen and seven spiritual figures including a dragon and the Beast. Each punishment is lovingly detailed, as the novella drones on and on.

Or look at the practice of Christianity today. Why is there a Bible Answer Man—shouldn’t God’s message be so clear that there would be no questions to answer? Why are there 45,000 denominations of Christianity today, and why were there radically different versions of Christianity such as the Marcionites and Gnostics in the early days? Why did Paul have to create Christianity—shouldn’t Jesus have done that? Jesus wrote nothing.

The more involved the story, the more you need to explain. Did Jesus have a human body or a spirit body? Why does God do immoral things in the Old Testament? Why isn’t God’s existence obvious? Why does God care just about the Israelites but later decide to embrace the whole world? Why doesn’t the world look like it was created by an omniscient and loving god? And what the heck is the Trinity?

The church convened 21 ecumenical councils to try to make sense of this. The discipline of systematic theology tries to tie up all the loose ends, but why would the study of a perfect god need this?

Rebuttal

The Christian rebuttal is obvious, and I’ve already gotten a lot of this in response to a recent post: How do you know that this is what a god would do? How do you know that a perfect god would even want us to clearly understand his plan?

This is true and irrelevant. I’m given the claim that the Christian god exists, and I must evaluate it. I can’t peek at the answer in the back of the book, and I can’t give up and get the answer. The buck stops here. It seems to me that a god that chose to make itself known would do so simply and unambiguously. There would be a clear statement of his plan, like the constitution above. Contrast that with the Bible—the entire story about all the stuff God did and how he got angry and then the Israelites did something stupid and then Jesus saved the day is unnecessary. Maybe it’s inspiring and maybe it’s great literature, but the entire Israelite blog is not needed to serve a perfect god’s goal.

Another possible response: But the core of Christianity can be distilled into a tract! If you insist on a brief version, there it is.

But this merely hides the problems. The Bible is still there, and it being a composite of manmade books, picked from an even larger set of candidates, means that the contradictions, tangential history, and unanswered questions remain.

I’m arguing for a different genre. A perfect god would itself give us a simple, unambiguous constitution. We have instead a book written by and focused on the people rather than the god, which is strong evidence that there is no actual god behind it.

See also: The Bible Story Reboots: Have You Noticed?

Living forever with God is the endgame,
so what’s the point of creating this elaborate,
blink-of-an-eye, soul-filtering machine called Planet Earth,
where beings have temporary bodies made of meat?
WTF?! Just create everyone in “Heaven” to begin with,
and none of the rest of this horror-show ever has to happen.
— commenter Kingasaurus

Inspiration: John de Lancie at the 2016 Reason Rally said that religion for him fails the KISS test, which inspired this post.

Image credit: olivier bareau, flickr, CC

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Sophia Sadek

    Christians have boiled it down to the simple slogan, “Do unto others before they do unto you.”

    • Michael Neville

      Do unto others then leave.

  • MNb

    “How do you know that this is what a god would do? How do you know that a perfect god would even want us to clearly understand his plan?”
    This admits implicitely that god is a very, if not infinitely complicated concept and hence that atheism is much simpler.

  • Dan Davis

    As a child I could not grasp the concept of Noah’s Ark. After that all biblical stories were ludicrous. But remember as Bugs Bunny once said, ” He carrot for you!’

    • I’m afraid Bugs Bunny’s sophisticated humor went over my head. Could you translate?

      • se habla espol

        I read it as cared -> carèd -> carrot. I suspect that my reading might even be correct.

      • Dan Davis

        1 Peter 5:7King James Version (KJV)

        7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth (carrot) for you.

    • Kevin K

      As a child, the story of Noah’s Ark turned me into an atheist.

      • Ricky Gervais said that at age 8, an off-hand remark by his mother got him thinking … and half an hour later, he was an atheist.

  • Rolf Boettger

    I’m curious to know the source of the “45,000 denominations” claim. I found one that went as high as 38,000, but what are we talking about anyway. Since the “Westboro Baptist Church” is a standout even among Baptists, does it merit it’s own denomination?

  • Zeta

    BobS: “What would be lost?
    The history of the Israelites and then the Jews and then the Christians. This does nothing to help understand god’s constitution.

    I have been an atheist all my life. I had a very brief contact with Christianity (which I readily saw as myths and nonsensical) through some school friends in my late teens. I only started to read their holy book more seriously many, many years later. A lot of the OT stuff struck me as more to do with the wishful thinking of the ancient Israelites who fabricated stories to glorify themselves or for explaining why they failed in something or lost in battle. I kept wondering what its relevance to us was. This has been my personal feeling; I am no scholar in Christianity.

    It is laughable that a creator god (who fails Astronomy 101) of the Universe was more a tribal warrior with some supernatural power. He fought alongside his “Chosen People” killing enemies as we expect what a tribal fighter would do. I never get the feeling that this god remembered that his “enemies” were supposedly his own creations. The fact that his status (initially as a tribal god) was later elevated and embellished over the ages by theologians and believers is excellent evidence that this god was invented by humans who imposed their own wishful thinking on him. He was really a very passive and helpless player in this.

    While reading the bible, I always check what the bible verses say against whether the depicted god is really omni-*. Had to come down from heaven to see for himself what the builders of the Tower of Babel were doing? Not omniscient. Scared of what they were achieving? Not omnipotent and surprisingly cowardly. The list goes on and on. The most laughable was the Iron Chariot. The author of this story should be banished to hell for being so disrespectful to his own god, making his god looking like a fool. Omnipotent? Yes, sure!

    If one starts with no preconceived ideas and without a strong wish to believe no matter what (maybe a result of childhood indoctrination), it is extremely easy to see through all the myths and nonsense. Adam & Eve? A nice story but is as (un)believable as numerous other ancient myths, both East and West. Making it one of the pillars of a religion is really laughable.

    Over at another ongoing thread (Warning: more than 1,400 comments by now!) mentioned by BobS above, I was told by the main apologist commenter there that one needs to read “60-70 books” (of the bible) and one also needs “divine revelation” to understand his hidden god! What a joke! Simplicity, directness, and clear communication are not attributes of this god. But he really wishes to establish a personal relationship with everyone. How? By obfuscating his messages to humans? Incredible!

    • one also needs “divine revelation” to understand his hidden god!

      And you’ll gain faith if (and only if) the Holy Spirit feels like giving it to you.

      So if he didn’t feel like it and you go to hell? Well, I guess it sucks to be you.

      • Kevin K

        That is the Calvinist position in a nutshell, isn’t it?

  • KarlUdy

    I must admit I find this a rather unusual objection. It does sound rather like the high school student’s complaint of why a book they need to study “has to be soooo loooong!”

    The simple answer is that the author (whether Shakespeare, Tolstoy, or whoever) had priorities that ranked higher than brevity.

    You also back up your case with a collection of false assertions:

    The Bible is just a rambling story that goes on and on.

    Right out of Amazon’s 1-star reviews. If other people can see a coherent story in the Bible, maybe the failure is in the one who cannot find one.

    Why are there 45,000 denominations of Christianity today

    There aren’t. When every country’s Anglican diocese is counted as a separate denomination despite all of them participating in the same global Anglican communion, you can tell it is an agenda-driven, as opposed to truth-based statistic.

    Why did Paul have to create Christianity

    He didn’t. He was instrumental in helping it spread though.

    A perfect god would itself give us a simple, unambiguous constitution.

    If we were made to be slaves … maybe. If we are meant to be image-bearers of the divine … perhaps not.

    • MNb

      “you can tell it is an agenda-driven, as opposed to truth-based statistic.”
      Then you undoubtedly will tell us what the agenda is of these christians:

      http://www.internationalbulletin.org/issues/2015-01/2015-01-028-johnson.pdf

      http://www.internationalbulletin.org/about-us.html

      “If we were made to be slaves … maybe. If we are meant to be image-bearers of the divine … perhaps not.”
      According to this non-argument I would maybe be a slave of mathematics, which strives to be simple and certainly is unambiguous.

      • KarlUdy

        It may not be agenda-driven. It does however add up the denominations in each country, so is not a good measure of diversity in theology. You also have an issue of every church that is independent of a denomination counting as a separate denomination – this is also going to inflate the number considerably.

        I don’t know what the number would be if these issues were rectified, but it would be a lot lower. Even then, the diversity in theology between denominations may be almost non-existent in some cases.

        • MNb

          “It may not be agenda-driven”
          Must I conclude that according to you

          “you can tell it is an agenda-driven, as opposed to truth-based statistic.”

          is only agenda driven when the statistics are produced by secular scientists and not by christians?

          Typical that the rest of your comment is irrelevant for your own remark as quoted. The level of your apologetics is seriously declining – this cheapo is called moving the goal bars.

          What interests me here and what my comment was about is: if internetbullet may not be agenda-driven, why do you postulate that “Why are there 45,000 denominations of Christianity today” actually is? Because it serves your christian prejudices? That’s what your cheap trick makes me think.

        • KarlUdy

          Here’s my point. To quote 45,000 denominations as a measure of the diversity of Christian doctrine is to either miss the point or deliberately misrepresent what the statistic represents.

        • Myna

          The 45,000 denominations represent 45,000 interpretations on some key point of the Christian doctrine, otherwise there wouldn’t be a split. There’s no getting around it. Neither Islam nor Judaism has this vast split.

        • Michael Neville

          What 45,000 or any other large number of Christian denominations means is that your god is lousy at explaining what he wants from his followers. It’s almost like the Bible wasn’t divinely inspired but was a mix of contradictory fables, stories and religious whatnot written over many years by a whole bunch of different people with separate agendas.

          EDIT: And, of course, this Bible is interpreted by self-appointed religious authorities all claiming to know exactly what the incomprehensible, ineffable god is thinking on any particular subject.

          Ever notice that when someone says they know the mind of God that God has exactly the same opinions and prejudices as his mouthpiece? Do you think this is a coincidence?

        • MNb

          I don’t care about your point today. I care about

          “you can tell it is an agenda-driven, as opposed to truth-based statistic”
          when it’s a secular source vs.

          “It may not be agenda-driven”
          when it’s a christian source.
          You now totally neglect this and that makes you just another dishonest apologist. As a result I have to lower my expectations from you – your claim that you pursue truth is false.
          Were you a serious christian (9th Commandment and such) you would have withdrawn your accusation that BobS’ accusation (and his source) is agenda-driven. So on top of all you have confirmed my suspicion that christianity is a moral failure. That’s nice, but also disappointing, because thus far I fostered you as someone who defied my suspicion.

        • adam

          ” To quote 45,000 denominations as a measure of the diversity of
          Christian doctrine is to either miss the point or deliberately
          misrepresent what the statistic represents.”

          No, because in reality, with Revealed Religion TM, no two people have the same view of the bible or its character “God”.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dc554b74af68425056b8a4228b7f09490a1e80f6c6bf14f85bbce2e8015a0bfb.jpg

        • Myna

          It may not be agenda-driven.

          But you said it was, and when shown evidence it wasn’t you now attempt to squirrel around the edges. Before making the statement to begin with, you really ought to have sought out information, which was readily available, rather than going with a thin air assumption.

          You also have an issue of every church that is independent of a denomination counting as a separate denomination,

          You have to ask yourself why they are independent. Are there independent mosques and synagogues? It appears mainly to be a Protestant issue with the numbers, which suggest no solid cohesion among adherents.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It appears mainly to be a Protestant issue with the numbers, which suggest no solid cohesion among adherents.

          Oh I don’t know. Catholicism recognises quite a number of sub-divisions, or denominations within the umbrella of the name Catholic.

          And remember, Protestantism is just the umbrella given to a vast variety of sub-divisions that started out claiming to be Catholic too. As I pointed out to a dufus a few days ago, the flavour of Anglican that I was Christened into still claim such.

          We are disciples of Jesus Christ, worshippers of God the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and subscribers to the Creeds of the early Church.

          In keeping with Anglican theology, our beliefs and practices derive from Scripture, reason and tradition. We are Catholic in holding all the Christian faith in its fullness and being part of the one worldwide Church of God. We are Reformed in believing that the Church’s life should be aligned with Scripture and that the Church should only require its members to believe those doctrines to which Scripture bears witness.

          https://www.ireland.anglican.org/our-faith/what-we-believe

          That schism just right there is a problem for KarUdy’s argument.

        • Myna

          I was thinking more on the line of myriad subdivisions within subdivisions of Protestantism, but you are absolutely correct in pointing out Catholicism is no different.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I don’t know what the number would be if these issues were rectified, but it would be a lot lower. Even then, the diversity in theology between denominations may be almost non-existent in some cases.

          You don’t get it…the message/instruction is poor. It is ambiguous if there is more than one denomination developed through interpretation of the message/instruction. That it’s worse than more than one means the message/instruction is appalling.

          Humans can give clearer messages instructions ffs.

          Infinite-super-multi-omni-perfect-universe creating-outside-space and time-immaterial minded-beings, one would expect to be able to do a much better job. That ignorant- mortal-fallible-mortal-fleshy-bags of chemicals have to run about apologising and making excuses for such incompetence, makes the whole edifice even more appalling.

        • Pofarmer

          Just recently in my little town of 13,000 we’ve had at least 3 breakaway little church’s start, 2 of them are splits from existing denominations. I know of one other Church 20 miles away where the pastor left over theological disagreements and he’s going to start another Chuch. Do these count as seperate denominations? I think they do, if for no other reasons than the people themselves take their disagreements seriously enough to leave and start another church with a different set of beliefs, no matter how slightly they differ.

        • adam

          The telling part of the whole story is how division is the basis for these Abrahamic ‘faiths’.

          These religions base themselves on tribalism – US vs THEM.

        • Pofarmer

          Absolutely. You can see how they react to others. You can see how they react to anyone questioning their “facts” on facebook or in social situations.

        • adam

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/71f3381208d933f12f13799886a78bdcc552c0093e78866bebadf67a538af4a4.jpg

          So while science brings consensus with its facts, religion brings division with its lack of facts

        • TheNuszAbides

          might also be fair to postulate that the Age of Enlightenment contributed to triggering more and more cognitive dissonance, hence further bickering, splits, tweaks etc. [for all those who for whatever reasons couldn’t/wouldn’t let go of their Faith Community].

        • Ignorant Amos

          Don’t forget the other reason why the more unscrupulous decide to go it alone too…

          “What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!” Pope Leo X.

          …yeah, I know it is allegedly parody…but then let’s all remember what parody is supposed to be.

        • adam

          “I don’t know what the number would be if these issues were rectified, but it would be a lot lower.”

          It would be just One if the character “God” in the bible was not IMAGINARY….

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7b66b926c1d7582e12a57e59bd5f76fd9f4a4cc6069ef3a2a5f826032914f932.jpg

        • Michael Neville

          Even then, the diversity in theology between denominations may be almost non-existent in some cases.

          When Kent Hovind and John Shelby Spong both identify as Christians, the diversity of theology can be quite strong in other cases.

        • adam

          ” Even then, the diversity in theology between denominations may be almost non-existent in some cases.”

          But why should diversity be evident at all?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/73fbc1fe260fa3e118f8177c6d69dcf83a185eb2cb03c5a45681e35bf180f168.jpg

    • Kevin K

      But we were made to be slaves, according your book.

      Actually, it’s worse than that. We were meant to be innocent, naked pets in a terrarium, without the first idea of right or wrong. And then Yahweh screwed it up by putting the IQ-raising sin-fruit in there where the mud man and rib woman could get at it.

    • adam
      • Oh, don’t listen to him. He’s gay.

      • Kevin K

        Or anything else, for that matter.

    • The simple answer is that the author (whether Shakespeare, Tolstoy, or whoever) had priorities that ranked higher than brevity.

      Ordinary humans have no choice but to use the available genres, and those tend to be long winded. God would’ve given us a constitution.

      If other people can see a coherent story in the Bible, maybe the failure is in the one who cannot find one.

      It’s a religion. Yes, I realize that some people are on board. I’m trying to come at this from a different angle: if God really existed, what document ought we have in front of us?

      There aren’t. When every country’s Anglican diocese is counted as a separate denomination

      Does this count do that?

      ”Why did Paul have to create Christianity”
      He didn’t. He was instrumental in helping it spread though.

      I think he kinda did. It might well have gone in his direction even without him, but his changes were fundamental and necessary to give us the Christianity we know today.

      ”A perfect god would itself give us a simple, unambiguous constitution.”
      If we were made to be slaves … maybe.

      How does this follow? You’re saying that the ambiguity of the status quo is actually a good thing?

      • KarlUdy

        Ordinary humans have no choice but to use the available genres, and those tend to be long winded. God would’ve given us a constitution.

        A God that would have just given us a constitution is a very different God from the God of the Bible … obviously!

        Does this count do that?

        Yes. It essentially adds up the denominations present in each country – A denomination is defined in this Encyclopedia as an organized aggregate of worship centers or congregations of similar ecclesiastical tradition within a specific country

        I think he kinda did. It might well have gone in his direction even without him, but his changes were fundamental and necessary to give us the Christianity we know today.

        Nice climb-back. He was an instrumental early teacher and theologian of Christianity, although I don’t know what “changes” he made.

        How does this follow? You’re saying that the ambiguity of the status quo is actually a good thing?

        I am saying that there is so much more to human experience than following laws, and a God who created humans with the capacity for all this experience would have more to communicate than following laws.

        • A God that would have just given us a constitution is a very different God from the God of the Bible … obviously!

          Obviously. And you know what I conclude from that.

          He was an instrumental early teacher and theologian of Christianity, although I don’t know what “changes” he made.

          . . . but of course we do. It’s right there in the epistles.

          I am saying that there is so much more to human experience than following laws

          God lo-o-o-oves laws. He made 613 in the OT, remember? He also loves capital punishment for breaking them.

          I’m talking about a clear and unambiguous statement of his plan. The Bible isn’t that. And I think we’re in agreement here. I’m simply asking: what do we conclude from that? Does the Bible—written by ordinary humans, full of contradictions and things that are embarrassing from our standpoint today—sound like what God would be pleased with? Or would an actual god have done it himself?

        • Ignorant Amos

          God lo-o-o-oves laws. He made 613 in the OT, remember? He also loves capital punishment for breaking them.

          And according to Gods alter ego, those Laws were not to be pissed about with…then Paul came on the scene and those Laws went out the windy.

          But Paul didn’t change anything of course. Matthew did.

          Unless what Mathew wrote is retconned of course..

        • MNb

          “I am saying that there is so much more to human experience than following laws,”
          Agreed – a good reason to look skeptically at the laws written down in the Bible and also especially at Matth. 5:18. Apparently Jesus hadn’t received your message from his divine father. What does that tell us?

        • KarlUdy

          I did not say laws had no place. I said that the human experience is more than just that.

        • Myna

          a God who created humans with the capacity for all this experience would have more to communicate than following laws.

          Such as…?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes. It essentially adds up the denominations present in each country – A denomination is defined in this Encyclopedia as an organized aggregate of worship centers or congregations of similar ecclesiastical tradition within a specific country.

          How long did you have to search for before finding a definition tailor made for your position?

          In Christianity, a denomination is a distinct religious body identified by traits such as a common name, structure, leadership and doctrine. Individual bodies, however, may use alternative terms to describe themselves, such as church or sometimes fellowship. Divisions between one group and another are defined by doctrine and by church authority; issues such as the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, eschatology, and papal primacy may separate one denomination from another.

          Individual Christian groups vary widely in the degree to which they recognize one another.

          Anyway, assuming you are not silly enough to be a denominationalist, if you want to scrub the 45,000+ figure preferred by Christians, give us a figure you are content with?

          He was an instrumental early teacher and theologian of Christianity, although I don’t know what “changes” he made.

          Paul invented Pauline Christianity.

          Pauline Christianity is the Christianity associated with the beliefs and doctrines espoused by Paul the Apostle through his writings. Most of Christianity relies heavily on these teachings and considers them to be amplifications and explanations of the teachings of Jesus. Others perceive in Paul’s writings teachings that are different from the original teachings of Jesus documented in the canonical gospels, early Acts and the rest of the New Testament, such as the Epistle of James.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauline_Christianity

          *NUMEROUS OTHER CHRISTIANITIES AVAILABLE ON REQUEST*

          Here’s three changes Paul made…

          The most important change that Paul made was to carry Christianity to the Gentiles, that is the non-Jewish population. All early Christians, including Paul, had been Jewish; and the common belief was the Christianity was a new, reformed form of Judaism. Paul carried the new religion to non-Jews and found many converts among them.

          Secondly, Paul transformed Christianity into a missionary religion. It previously was a closed religion which allowed some new members, but did not reach out to others. Paul was among the first to carry the religion to distant areas, in keeping with Jesus’ command to his disciples:

          He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

          Thirdly, Paul removed Christians from obedience to the Jewish law. It had previously been taught that all Christians must observe Jewish dietary law and custom, including the circumcision of males. Paul taught that the law had been for the purpose of atoning for sin; however the sacrificial death of Jesus had paid the price of sin, therefore Christians were no longer bound by the law. He stated in Romans 8:1

          Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you] free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

          https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-importent-changes-did-paul-make-christianity-314938

        • KarlUdy

          How long did you have to search for before finding a definition tailor made for your position?

          As long as it took me to find out the definition used for the study that quoted 45,000 denominations.

          That was the definition I quoted.

        • Susan

          That was the definition I quoted.

          Links would be nice, Karl. I wish both you and Bob had linked to the study to which you are both referring.

          Now, lets’ say we removed two thirds of that number. That would leave us with 15,000.

          What does that say? Or do you think 15,000 too much? How do you define “denomination”? At what point does one claim about the supernatural become clearly distinct and in conflict with another claim about the supernatural?

          MNb commented earlier that he was disappointed in your dishonesty as he thought better of you.

          I thought better of you when I first encountered you too. But it didn’t take me long to notice your pattern.

          You pop in from time to time to pick on a picayune detail without any clarification on that detail. You make vague, feely statements like (paraphrased) “If we were meant to be slaves, the bible would have a constitution” without showing how that makes any sort of sense.

          And:

          If we are meant to be image-bearers of the divine … perhaps not.

          Also, without showing that that makes any sense.

          Then, you disappear for weeks (usually months) on end and come back to attack another picayune detail, ignoring the substance of the article and discussion, as though you’d never started the previous discussion.

          You don’t accept 45,000, you provide no number in response, you provide no explanation for any but the most miniscule discrepencies, you ignore the distinct sets of early christianity and everything that contributes to the totality of the article’s point.

          See you in a few months when you come back to do the same.

        • KarlUdy

          Links would be nice, Karl. I wish both you and Bob had linked to the study to which you are both referring.

          Understood. MNb provided a link which I used to check the sources.

          What does that say? Or do you think 15,000 too much?

          Given that denominations like Anglican and Catholic are over-represented by 200x, I think that would be too high. Also I question the inclusion of independent churches as denominations, and a full 22,000 of the 45,000 are independent churches. (If you think they should be included, then 15,000 would be too small. The 45,000 also includes groups that would not be considered as authentically Christian.

          Add in that for the remaining denominations, most would affirm the historic creeds (Nicene Creed, Apostle’s Creed, etc) and also work together in many Christian organizations (eg Billy Graham Association, Gospel Coalition, World Evangelical Alliance, Lausanne, etc) and it becomes obvious that the different denominations do not represent radically different interpretations of the Bible, but rather nuanced differences on minor aspects in most cases.

          But it didn’t take me long to notice your pattern.

          I’ve had 24 replies to my comments on this post. Most of them have either assumed I’m wrong without investigating, or shifted the goalposts – essentially saying “it doesn’t matter even if you’re right on this point, Christianity is still bunkum.” I’m not usually going to reply to comments like that, and the odd serious enquiry does get lost in the midst of all the rubbish. Add to that that I get busy from time to time, and when I have some free time a couple of weeks later, bringing up an old thread on a blog is not at the top of my todo list.

          I have found that bringing up too many issues leads to too confusing a conversation, so I try to limit to a few easy to confine points to make a conversation easy to keep track of. This conversation is a good example – 45,000 is clearly not a good number to measure what Bob says it measures, yet is there any impetus among the atheists on this blog to actually find the truth regarding a good measure of the diversity of doctrine in Christianity? It seems not. For the most part, in this case, it seems I have made my point as clearly as can be made, and most people would rather not listen.

        • Michael Neville

          …saying “it doesn’t matter even if you’re right on this point, Christianity is still bunkum.” I’m not usually going to reply to comments like that

          A reasonable decision on your part, since we all know that you can’t show that Christianity isn’t bunkum as well as hogwash, drivel, baloney, poppycock and all around crap.

        • KarlUdy

          And I thought that atheists liked to claim to be “followers” of evidence”. Thanks for proving me wrong.

        • adam

          No we’ve followed the evidence, NO MAGIC, NO MAGICAL Sky Daddies.

          Lots of stories about magic, stories.

          “Thanks for proving me wrong.”

          In all honesty, you do more to demonstrate that than any of us could. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3d9a14f75bd2fd5cf65412377553b971b71f91eab7e664cd98319a438cd99a41.jpg

        • Michael Neville

          How did I prove you wrong? Are you pretending that Christianity isn’t bunkum, hogwash, drivel, baloney, poppycock and all around crap? If it isn’t then it’s up to you to show how it doesn’t have these attributes. Here’s an easy one for you, explain how the Trinity works. If you can do that then I’ll admit that Christianity has some faint taint of reality.

        • KarlUdy

          If you can’t explain to me how light has the properties of both a wave and a particle, does that mean that I should dismiss physics as bunkum, hogwash, drivel, baloney, poppycock, and all around crap?

        • Michael Neville

          Nope, I asked first. I’ll explain particle-wave duality as soon as you explain the Trinity. In lieu of explaining the Trinity, I’ll accept a statement that you can’t explain it, which just goes to show that Christianity is bunkum, etc.

        • KarlUdy

          You misread my question. I was not asking for an explanation, but if it discredited physics whether or not an explanation could be provided.

          Some possible options:
          1) I ask someone who does not know the answer
          2) The question was asked before the answer was discovered
          3) It is a mystery that we currently don’t know the answer to (and may never know)

          If any of these options discredit physics, please let me know.

          Otherwise, I’ll let you rest in your absolute certainty about the nature of the entire universe.

        • MNb

          Let me help you out a bit.
          Regarding particle/wave duality there is just one “denomination” in physics. That’s a sharp contrast to the 450 – 45 0000 denominations in christianity. Your example hence shows the opposite of what you try to argue for. And that again is silly.
          You better take this example:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpretations_of_quantum_mechanics

          It fails in the end as well, but gives us (MichaelN) a much harder time.

          As for your question – if for instance MichaelN isn’t capable of explaining particle/wave duality (or better – all the interpretations of QM) then indeed he isn’t capable of “showing that p/w duality (QM) isn’t bunkum as well as hogwash, drivel, baloney, poppycock and all around crap.”
          You actually confirmed what he wrote.
          And that’s the third time today you show to be silly. Granted, it took you an extraordinarily long time, but in the end you have followed the same path as about all apologists that entered this blog.
          But our search continues – for instance for an apologist who is capable of “showing that christianity isn’t bunkum as well as hogwash, drivel, baloney, poppycock and all around crap.”
          We (MichaelN, Susan, me and likely several others) just have concluded that you are not such an apologist. Of course you are invited to keep on trying, if only to entertain us. Whatever you do, it’s a win for us: we’ll have a good discussion with lots of relevant content; or we’ll have some good laughs; or you quit and tacitly admit you are a failure.

        • KarlUdy

          As for your question – if for instance MichaelN isn’t capable of explaining particle/wave duality (or better – all the interpretations of QM) then indeed he isn’t capable of “showing that p/w duality (QM) isn’t bunkum as well as hogwash, drivel, baloney, poppycock and all around crap.”
          You actually confirmed what he wrote.

          That was not my question. Would it be justified to conclude that it was bunkum, etc, just because I ask someone and they can’t explain it? Because, that was analogous to MichaelN’s challenge to me.

        • Susan

          That was not my question. Would it be justified to conclude that it was bunkum, etc, just because I ask someone and they can’t explain it

          No. But no one can explain it. No one.

          Because it is an ad hoc response to incoherent claims to protect unevidenced assertions.

          Vs. solid models consistent with mountains of evidence about something that demonstrably exists. Like light.

          If you won’t acknowledge the difference, then you are just another apologist dodging his burden.

          Nothing worse than a theistic dodge by analogy. It’s right up there with “how I picked my spouse”.
          .

        • MNb

          I know that that was not your question. However it was what MichaelN wrote. What I showed is that your question is irrelevant for his comment you reacted to. Thanks for confirming that you cling to silliness.

          “Would it be justified to conclude that it was bunkum, etc, just because I ask someone and they can’t explain it?”
          I already answered it. May I conclude that your comprehensive reading skills are deteriorating as well?

          “Because, that was analogous to MichaelN’s challenge to me.”
          Repeating your silliness only makes it look more silly. No, it wasn’t. My “showing that p/w duality (QM) isn’t bunkum as well as hogwash, drivel, baloney, poppycock and all around crap.” was. It’s almost verbatim; you only have to replace p/w duality with christianity. And you started your comment with “that was not my question”. If it wasn’t MichaelN’s challenge wasn’t either.
          By now I strongly doubt if you are capable of recovering and getting back to your former level.

        • Michael Neville

          So if I can’t explain particle-wave duality then physics fails. Likewise if you can’t explain the Trinity the Christianity fails. Or something like that.

          As Kodie has asked several times, why can’t we get an honest Christian? Can you show that Christianity isn’t bunkum?

          I spent several years learning how Christian dogma is determined and I discovered one interesting thing about how dogma comes about. Theologians make it up as they go along. I’ve already told the story about how around 450 the Patriarch of Jerusalem invented the Assumption of Mary. Likewise Emperor Constantine I didn’t like Arianism (the doctrine that Jesus was not divine) and so he gathered a bunch of prelates together at Nicea in 325. Constantine ramrodded the nonscriptural word homoousios (“of one substance”) into a creed (the Nicene Creed) to signify the absolute equality of the Son with the Father. Being the guy with torturers and executioners on his payroll made Constantine a more powerful theological authority than mere bishops and priests.

        • We know that religions sometimes make completely BS claims. They never back up their supernatural or theological claims with evidence.

          Physics is different, which is why this parallelism you’re imagining isn’t there.

        • Susan

          If you can’t explain to me how light has the properties of both a wave and a particle

          It’s fields.

          Also, light is demonstrable. And everything said about it comes from studying something demonstrable.

          Using an analogy from facts in evidence to avoid supporting something for which there are no facts in evidence isn’t convincing and doesn’t show an honest examination of your claims.

        • Why bring QM into it? Are you saying that wave/particle duality is how the Trinity works?

          If not, then I guess all you’re saying is “QM is hard; why can’t theology be hard, too?” But that symmetry doesn’t exist. You can learn about QM given patience and time, but the most honest theologians will quickly tell you that the Trinity is a mystery.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Maybe KarlUdy is a Unitarian? Oh, wait a wee moment, that can’t be right, because that would be a contradictory doctrine and there is none of that in the Christian cults.

        • MNb

          This blog provides plenty of evidence that you can’t show that – in the form of your comments.
          After getting dishonest (regarding the agenda driven thing and by twisting BobS’ claim) you’re now getting silly?

        • TheNuszAbides

          for years KU has struck me as nurturing a very intense “pearls before swine” attitude. he makes flourishes of reason-y discourse but is far more likely to respond to the tough questions with What-about-ery [or silence] rather than share his supposedly substantive thinking on the matter.

          EDIT: not that i would entirely discount the ‘defense’ that he might feel uncomfortable in ‘hostile territory’ and perhaps claim the “once bitten, twice shy” perspective; but of course that’s yet more rationale > rationality.

        • Susan

          I thought that atheists liked to claim to be “followers” of evidence”

          No. Atheists don’t believe in deities. You know that.

          That there is no evidence for anything Jesusy as far as it leads back to an ontological claim that Yahwehjesus is the source of reality is a fair assessment of the evidence (unless you can show otherwise) is reasonable when evaluating the Yahwehjesus claim.

          You could change that if you had something to support your claim. Do you?

          Thanks for proving me wrong.

          Nice try. Provide evidence and show that Michael isn’t folowing evidence.

          Special pleading won’t prove anything for you.

        • yet is there any impetus among the atheists on this blog to actually find the truth regarding a good measure of the diversity of doctrine in Christianity? It seems not.

          I’m all ears. You’ve got a better source? Tell us about it.

          The source I used is a Christian source. All you’ve done is say that it feels high. If you’ve got something more substantive than that, let us have it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          KarlUdy pulled BobS on the number 45,000+, I guess he was hoping the source was some atheist site so he could rubbish it as bias bullshit. When it was pointed out that it was from a Christian source, the hand waving began.

          http://www.gordonconwell.edu/resources/documents/StatusOfGlobalMission.pdf

          Column 41 is not defined on the second page, “Methodological notes on the Status of Global Mission”, still, it didn’t stop KarlUdy cherry pick the definition like it is going to help his position. It really doesn’t. As you can see for yourself.

          “Denominations. A denomination is defined in this Encyclopedia as an organized aggregate of worship centers or congregations of similar ecclesiastical tradition within a specific country; i.e. as an organized Christian church or tradition or religious group or community of believers, within a specific country, whose component congregations and members are called by the same denominational name in different areas, regarding themselves as one autonomous Christian church distinct from other denominations, churches and traditions. As defined here, world Christianity consists of 6 major ecclesiastico-cultural blocs, divided into 300 major ecclesiastical traditions, composed of over 33,000 distinct denominations in 238 countries, these denominations themselves being composed of over 3,400,000 worship centers, churches or congregations.” (Barrett et al, volume 1, page 16, Table 1-5)

          The whole page is a worth while read.

          http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/a106.htm

        • Kodie

          KarlUdy has been around for years asking about this 45,000 denominations every time Bob claims it. He says the same thing every time. The source has been posted and discussed before.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Cheers…I will now know to ignore the dickhead in the future.

        • adam

          The point is that there should be no more than 1 denomination of Karl’s ‘God’, if it was real and wanted to communicate.

        • Kodie

          Well, we know that, but it’s one of KarlUdy’s triggers to comment, no matter how many times the claim has been made, supported, and discussed.

        • adam

          Hey when all you have is a Harry Potter type MAGICAL Sky Daddy you have to pick your fights carefully.

        • TheNuszAbides

          oh please, the Harry Potter Type is WAY better thought-out.

        • MNb

          What I think funny is that it doesn’t even matter whether it’s 45 000 or 450 denominations. The argument remains the same.

        • Exactly. Any number over 1 is a problem for a perfect God.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes indeed…100%…just two denominations/religions, is a problem for the perfect, can do anything and knows everything, supreme being.

          But KarlUdy is too damn pig thick stupid to realise that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Doesn’t help ya though does it? Especially when the whole page can be read in context.

          http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/a106.htm

        • KarlUdy

          If you were able to see the difference between church governance and doctrine then perhaps you wouldn’t stake so much on this claim.

        • adam

          What the Church cant get its act together between governance and doctrine based on ‘God’s Holy Word’, it makes sense that nobody can agree on what to believe and just do like you do and believe what you wish to be true.

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

        • Ignorant Amos

          Spoiiiinnng!

          You are a funny guy. That you are insisting on your nonsense is hilarious.

          Let’s see what a Christian thinks…

          Furthermore, confusion reigns among all the various groups who profess Christianity. All kinds of denominations exist today, all of them teaching different doctrines and practices, and all claiming to present God’s truth.

          http://www.astudyofdenominations.com/

          The third section of A Study of Denominations features discussions regarding various doctrines and practices. Beliefs regarding these doctrines and practices transcend and/or vary across the spectrum of denominations and movements. Please consult the “General Considerations” section for each denomination or movement to see which beliefs and practices described in the pages below are aligned with which denominations and movements.

          http://www.astudyofdenominations.com/doctrines/

          You are being a very silly boy KarlUdy. A very silly boy indeed.

        • Myna

          And you offered all that work to counter an obvious lack of knowledge only to get a two sentence retort. This recurring tap-dancer, KarlUdy, like all the other religious-emotive apologists whose eyes glaze over at any hint of contrary information, never present any in-depth insight, analysis or counter research to compel anyone to consider their predictable argument and deplorable lack of intellectual curiosity. When shown to be in error or presented with deeper inquiry, they either ignore it completely, continue to opine with their hands over their ears or become hysterical (ie: Agabu).

        • Pofarmer

          Would like to get an opinion if I’m being to flippant with poster Anthony Zarellas on this thread.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2016/10/the-bibles-teaching-on-abortion.html

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nah….

        • MNb

          No, unless defending the right to abort in itself is too flippant.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ha ha…sure haven’t we all been there numerous times already. Ten years of it now in my case.

          Early on I was made aware that the discourse between interlocutors should consider the audience too, particularly the lurkers sitting on the fence. Once upon a time I was that lurker, lacking the confidence to engage. But as one witnesses the arguments, the confidence gets bolstered with the knowledge.

          Anyways, he won’t be the last am sure of it.

        • Pofarmer

          Sure, that’s why the early Jews had, what, like 650 divine laws?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ah, yes….the 613 Mizvot…there’s a wheeze of a read if ya have ultra bored few moments.

          http://www.jewfaq.org/613.htm

        • adam

          “A God that would have just given us a constitution is a very different God from the God of the Bible … obviously!”

          Obviously:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7bf2c5903bd31c63ade7c2254ddea26df3b1fa938214c6c4db160ffe36546367.jpg

    • Jack Baynes

      Right out of Amazon’s 1-star reviews. If other people can see a coherent story in the Bible, maybe the failure is in the one who cannot find one.

      And if even Christians can’t agree on what the Bible means, maybe the problem is with the Bible itself.
      And no, the differences between denominations AREN’T trivial, they can’t agree on pretty much anything about Jesus or salvation or morality or which rules still apply

    • Susan

      If other people can see a coherent story in the Bible, maybe the failure is in the one who cannot find one.

      I’ve never seen anyone show a coherent story in the bible. They just claim there is one. It’s no better than astrology on this front.

      If we were made to be slaves…

      Explain how providing a constitution would make us slaves.

      If we are meant to be image-bearers of the divine… perhaps not.

      Please explain in detail what you are talking about.

      • Ignorant Amos

        I’ve never seen anyone show a coherent story in the bible. They just claim there is one.

        And it will coincidentally be that of their particular flavour of the cult. Ya wouldn’t credit that would ya?

    • Myna

      …you can tell it is an agenda-driven, as opposed to
      truth-based statistic.

      The “agenda-driven” statistics, KarlUdy, were gathered from the Center for Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary: http://www.gordonconwell.edu/ockenga/research/index.cfm

      Here’s the pdf of the actual study: http://www.gordonconwell.edu/ockenga/research/documents/ChristianityinitsGlobalContext.pdf

      Here’s the pdf for quick reference on the 45,000 denominations (see List #45): http://www.gordonconwell.edu/ockenga/research/documents/1ibmr2015.pdf

    • Michael Neville

      If we were made to be slaves … maybe.

      The OT god sure liked to dictate how people would live, giving details about when to have sex, how to barber one’s hair, what cloth clothes should be made of, a myriad of specific dietary regulations, etc. Also listed were a series of punishments for violating any of these requirements, many of which seemed to benefit the priesthood rather than punish the transgressor.

      • Myna

        I wonder how many of those requirements KarlUdy follows today? Or what excuse he has for not following them?

        And speaking of slaves, KarlUdy conveniently forgets that we, like the animal kingdom, are subject to the greater master of biology. Try not drinking water for a couple of weeks, or not eating for a month or two. Man may not thrive in spirit by bread alone, but he’ll give up the ghost in agony without food and water. Not to mention the need for shelter from the storm. Friggin’ survival IS slavery.

    • Susan

      If we were made to be slaves…

      I asked you six days ago to explain how a constitution would make us slaves.

      If we are meant to be image bearers of the divine… perhaps not.

      I asked you six days ago to elaborate.

      On the first point, how would a constitution make us slaves?

      On the second, what on earth are you talking about?

      Is this another Spiderman vs. Dracula scenario?

      Because if that’s all you’ve got…

      • Susan

        I asked you six days ago to elaborate.

        On the first point, how would a constitution make us slaves?

        On the second, what on earth are you talking about?

        This is what I mean, Karl when I said:

        you disappear for weeks (usually months) on end and come back to attack another picayune detail, ignoring the substance of the article and discussion, as though you’d never started the previous discussion.

        https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/simplicity_the_trait_missing_from_christianity/#comment-3039988890

        I fear you are doing it again. So far, you haven’t broken from that pattern.

        I’m sincerely disappointed.

      • KarlUdy

        I missed your earlier comment. As you are no doubt aware, there were many replies to my comment, and a lot of them covered similar ground.

        The main point I was trying to make was that the human experience is more than merely law. Bob’s suggestion that God would have just given a constitution implied that law/governance was all that God would communicate to humans. If that was all that God communicated to us, then the implication would be that all that humans were meant to do was obey – hence ‘slaves’. I think that the evidence of human experience is that there is so much more that God would communicate to us about – eg, beauty, philosophy, our relationship to each other, the universe and God himself. I hope this explains where I’m coming from.

        • Kodie

          So, the bible is an anthology of human superstition.

        • Susan

          As you are no doubt aware, there were many replies to my comment,

          That is one aspect of your position that I think we can all understand and sympathize with to some extent.

          The main point I was trying to make was that the human experience is more than merely law.

          But you didn’t say that. You implied that a constitution would make us slaves. This is a very different thing and I’d like you to address it.

          Bob’s suggestion that God would have just given a constitution implied that law/governance was all that God would communicate to humans

          I don’t see how it implied that it was “all” at all. As it’s a book full of laws that don’t make any sense and look like they were invented by humans, I think Bob’s point is solid. A clear code about how humans should behave that actually makes sense is a basic expectation.

          Instead, we have a book that tells humans how to behave that hardly ever makes sense. It looks exactly like something humans would come up with just because they’re humans.

          A well-crafted constitution doesn’t make people slaves. On the contrary, it’s because of well-crafted constitutions that many people around the world have been able to rise above slave status (e.g. women and humans of African descent in the U.S.)

          So, suggesting that giving us a constitution would make us slaves makes no sense at all.

          I think that the evidence of human experience is that there is so much more that God would communicate to us about – eg, beauty, philosophy, our relationship to each other, the universe

          Humans have thoughts about beauty, philosophy, our relationship to each other (and I will add) and our relationship to the non-human world around us.

          The Bible is inferior on all of these levels. It ignores the world around us, and encourages us to obey an imaginary being.

          all that humans were meant to do was obey

          Obedience is a huge requirement in the bible. Laws up the yinyang, commands to obey, rewards for obedience. But they’re silly laws

          I hope this explains where I’m coming from.

          I appreciate that you responded but no, it doesn’t.

          I asked you how a constitution would make us slaves in response to your suggestion that a constitution would make us slaves.

          You haven’t told us how it would do so.

          I also asked you what the heck this means:

          If we were meant to be image bearers of the divine.. perhaps not.

          Respectfully, it’s fluff so far.

          And very much along the lines of a Spiderman vs. Dracula scenario.

        • Myna

          Humans have thoughts about beauty, philosophy, our relationship to each other (and I will add) and our relationship to the non-human world
          around us.

          The Bible is inferior on all of these levels. It ignores the world around us, and encourages us to obey an imaginary being.

          ^^This^^

        • KarlUdy

          Susan,
          It appears that you have not read my response carefully because you say I have not answered questions that I answered, eg
          Your stated: You implied that a constitution would make us slaves. This is a very different thing and I’d like you to address it.
          To which I had earlier written: Bob’s suggestion that God would have just given a constitution implied that law/governance was all that God would communicate to humans. If that was all that God communicated to us, then the implication would be that all that humans were meant to do was obey – hence ‘slaves’.

          So, suggesting that giving us a constitution would make us slaves makes no sense at all.

          It was that only a constitution should be communicated that I said would lead to slavery.

          Obedience is a huge requirement in the bible. Laws up the yinyang, commands to obey, rewards for obedience. But they’re silly laws

          Again, I’m not saying that laws are unimportant. What I am saying is that the God that created the universe we live in with the human experience we have would give us more than just laws

          I also asked you what the heck this means:

          If we were meant to be image bearers of the divine.. perhaps not.

          I suggest you do some reading on the Bible’s teaching on humans as bearers of God’s image. Do a google search on “imago dei” or “made in God’s image”. The fact that you seem to think the Bible is all about making people obey silly laws, but don’t seem to recognize a reference to humans being made in God’s image indicates that you can’t see the wood for the trees when you read the Bible.

        • Susan

          It appears that you have not read my response carefully

          I’m doing the best I can, Karl.

          It was that only a constitution should be communicated that I said would lead to slavery.

          You’d still have to make that case. But that aside, Bob S. never said that.

          Here is a link to Bob’s comment.

          And a link to your immediate response

          Also, a link to the original article that provoked your initial response..

          At no point, did I see him claim that a deity would only provide a constitution. This seemed to be a handwaving sentence which you seem to defending with more handwaving.

          Also, you haven’t shown a link between a constitution and slavery. How is a constitution necessarily linked to slavery?

          It’s a big, fat strawman, a languagey thing that seems in no way connected to the original article or to Bob S.’s response to your opening comment.

          Again, I’m not saying that laws are unimportant

          Of course not. You’d have a hard time if you did. But you seem to be trying to turn the article and Bob S.’s response to your opening comment into (without justification) Bob saying that laws are the only thing that is important. Anyone who reads those responses and my response to those responses can judge for themselves.

          I suggest you do some reading on the Bible’s teaching on humans as bearers of God’s image

          I have. Lots. You haven’t answered my question.What the heck do you mean?

          The fact that you seem to think the Bible is all about making people obey silly laws, but don’t seem to recognize a reference to humans being made in God’s image indicates that you can’t see the wood for the trees when you read the Bible.

          I will remove “the heck”. What does this mean?

          Its not a trick question, Karl.

          Please just answer it.

  • Pofarmer

    I don’t know where to put this, so I’ll leave it here. Fox is gonna ramp up the deplorables. This should be fun. http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/12/02/liberals-get-hysterical-over-alt-right-but-are-living-in-their-alt-left-world.html

    The alt-left doesn’t just use violence to enforce its will. It smears its opponents as racists and Nazis while journalists help them do it. Together they dredge up 30-year-old comments from Sen. Jeff Sessions to say he’s racist. Yet they ignore how liberals have helped kill 60 million mostly minority babies and never once accuse them of trying to genocide African-American and Hispanic communities. Only liberals are allowed to use ist words.

    • adam
    • Kevin K

      Oh do go fuck yourself.

      • TheMarsCydonia

        The second paragraph was a quote from the piece he linked to, I do not think he shares that opinion.

        • Kevin K

          It should use blockquotes, quotation marks or other notations to separate its beliefs from the quoted text, then.

      • Pofarmer

        Holy shit, sorry, forgot the quotes.

        That was pretty much my reaction, btw.

        • Kevin K

          OK. Sorry for the knee jerk.

    • TheNuszAbides

      Fox is gonna ramp up the deplorables.

      “gonna”? has Ailes been doing anything else from day one?

  • JBSchmidt

    I think many would boil the Bible down to John 3:16 as the ‘constitution’. If you chose to add a Bill of Rights, so to say, you could include Luke 10:27. Then, not like our own constitution, there is a lot of surrounding material that begins to explain the intent behind what is written (ie Federalist Papers).

    As for being ambiguous, could it be you who refuses to see? Christians from all denominations see God in the world around them and as a presences in their lives.

    If believing in God were easy, it would be without value? T. Roosevelt said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort”. I think there is a lot of truth to that if you look at the world around us and the things we value. God wants us to worship him, not as subjects, but out of thanks and joy. Unless one treasures God as something worth having, there is no way that can occur.

    The question you are asking, why isn’t God simple, is subjective. Because it might seem difficult for you can’t be used as a generalization to assume that it must be difficult for all. Further, it assumes your worldview is evident and self-revealing; however, with the large number of people accepting the belief of a deity, that can’t be true either. The simplicity you seek is there, John 3:16. The ease to which you wish to accept it is on you.

    • adam

      “I think many would boil the Bible down to John 3:16 as the
      ‘constitution’. If you chose to add a Bill of Rights, so to say, you
      could include Luke 10:27. Then, not like our own constitution, there is
      a lot of surrounding material that begins to explain the intent behind
      what is written (ie Federalist Papers).”

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/58284172bed91766ea813847aefa757801173e0058c0ff455eb45c2129542a7f.jpg

      ” Christians from all denominations see God in the world around them and as a presences in their lives.”

      But no two see the same God, because:
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c4e3bbea2d1e4d81dbd3798980be2ee8b39f893fee5d1d2b81b76b5e7ba184e1.jpg

      • Kevin K

        Of course, Luke 10:27 is plagiarized from Leviticus, so foreigners and icky gay people don’t count.

        • Greg G.

          No, Mark plagiarized it from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Luke plagiarized Mark. But, then, Matthew 13:16-17 beat him to it.

        • Kevin K

          Melanoma Trump is jealous!

      • Without Malice

        I thought Jesus said not to worry about what you shall wear and what you will eat, that God will provide for you like he does the flowers and the birds of the air. That has to be the dumbest damn advice ever given by anyone and only a damn fool would follow it.

        • adam

          Well, he did obviously believe that the world he knew would end in his generation.

    • Like I said about the Bible tract–yes, you can distill the message as small as you want, but of course that’s your take on things. Someone else will have a different subset.

      As for being ambiguous, could it be you who refuses to see?

      No, it couldn’t be. Christians squabble among themselves over what “Christian” means. Ask Pat Robertson about whether Catholics are going to hell.

      If believing in God were easy, it would be without value?

      Ambiguity is valuable? Let’s throw in some ambiguity about crossing the street. Maybe you’ll get across safely with your eyes closed … and maybe not. Fun!

      T. Roosevelt said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort”.

      Then become a vegan–that takes effort. But understanding what it means to be a vegan ought to be simple and unambiguous.

      God wants us to worship him, not as subjects, but out of thanks and joy.

      Which takes us in a completely new direction. What human sage would want worship at all? So God, a billion times wiser still, needs worship? Y’know, it’s almost like God was invented by primitive people who saw worship as reasonable.

      The simplicity you seek is there, John 3:16.

      So, the gospel according to JBSchmidt? Thanks, but that’s just one take on things. Don’t pretend that you’ve got this all figured out.

      And besides, I could riff on John 3:16 for a long time about how it’s bizarre and nonsensical. It’s not the sublime poetry you imagine.

      • Kevin K

        Let’s see.

        “For God” — proof of existence required beyond the mere assertion
        “so loved the world” — again, proof required that dispenses with the problem of evil. 2500 years after Epicurus, and still theists have nothing.
        “that he gave” — what does that even mean? Gave? It that the code word for “grisly torture and execution of a completely innocent person?
        “his only begotten son” — again, proof of existence required beyond the mere assertion
        “that whosoever believes in him” — and what if you don’t? What about the multimillions of persons that came before him? Don’t they count? What about those who have never heard the story, or whose different culture/religion discounts it? What of them? Why would a god who “so loves the world” separate humans like this? It’s bizarre and indefensively cruel.
        “Should not perish but have ever-lasting life” — proof needed beyond the mere assertion.

        • Like I said–straightforward! Your perceptive skills run deep, my brother.

      • JBSchmidt

        While Pat Robertson may be misguided, he still believes in the Christian God. Further, disagreements don’t invalidate the subject.

        “But understanding what it means to be a vegan ought to be simple and unambiguous.”

        Your refusal to accept what it says in not a sign of ambiguity.

        “So God, a billion times wiser still, needs worship? ”

        Not what I said.

        “Don’t pretend that you’ve got this all figured out.”

        Never said I did. However, you have a blog dedicated to it.

        • Kodie

          With all the bazillion pitches people make up, almost anyone could believe in the Christian god. Disagreements about the subject certainly do make it suspect, especially since god doesn’t make himself known, and we have to rely on fallible humans and whatever version of the story they like the best, and how good they are at convincing you that it’s correct. I don’t believe in god because it’s pretty stupid and childish. I feel actually validated that god doesn’t make enough sense to so many Christians that they have to construct elaborate translations and interpretations and promote their favorite human priorities as to witness for the god version that shares their priorities.

          I don’t know any Christian who isn’t also a cherry-picker, and that means they have some reason to ignore parts of the bible, some part of god’s message, something they can’t reconcile or agree with. But there’s always something else in the bible they can relate to, and

          THAT DOESN’T MAKE IT REAL. Saying Pat Robertson still believes in the Christian god isn’t a PLUS.

        • Michael Neville

          While Pat Robertson may be misguided, he still believes in the Christian God.

          Robertson believes that Catholics and liberal Protestants aren’t Christians. He further believes that all non-Christians are going to Hell. In other words, he suggests that you not bother to pack your overcoat for the afterlife.

        • adam

          “Your refusal to accept what it says in not a sign of ambiguity.”

          Sometimes perhaps, but most often it is because REAL people have better morality than IMAGINARY ‘God’

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dc554b74af68425056b8a4228b7f09490a1e80f6c6bf14f85bbce2e8015a0bfb.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fc08e92607fbb10ca5d9fec66168d9bf582a2748fa716fdb4283c37e046c25e1.jpg

        • adam

          “While Pat Robertson may be misguided”

          And maybe not, with all the ambiguity..

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/151925a51e6a55d5bd1418d3a12f8fa99b39d9a82fb1f8468f8e6fcd942470f3.jpg

        • Myna

          While Pat Robertson may be misguided, he still believes in the Christian God.

          While ISIS may be misguided, its members still believe in Allah. Further, disagreements don’t invalidate the subject.

          Never said I did. However, you have a blog dedicated to it.

          A blog dedicated to questioning and offering a counter argument is not having it all figured out.

        • While Pat Robertson may be misguided, he still believes in the Christian God. Further, disagreements don’t invalidate the subject.

          So do Mormons.

          Don’t tell me that this is a big tent unless everyone is completely welcome. If you think Pat is wrong for saying that Catholics will fry, then your tent just got a little smaller.

          Your refusal to accept what it says in not a sign of ambiguity.

          No idea what this means.

          “So God, a billion times wiser still, needs worship? ”
          Not what I said.

          No problem—I said it. Do you have a response?

        • JBSchmidt

          “So do Mormons.”

          No, they don’t.

          “Don’t tell me that this is a big tent unless everyone is completely welcome.”

          Again, unless everyone under specific subject is of universal thought, the subject is invalid?

          “No problem—I said it. Do you have a response?”

          I addressed this in my original statement.

        • unless everyone under specific subject is of universal thought, the subject is invalid?

          We’re talking about just a “specific subject”? I think the infallible and unchanging Word of God® is in a category all its own.

          So yes, if the perfect creator of the universe is so imperfect as to be unable to convey a consistent message, then the grounding hypothesis (that there is such a creator) is false.

        • JBSchmidt

          “I think the infallible and unchanging Word of God® is in a category all its own.”

          You only accept that when it fits your narrative. I think it is safe to assume when an apologist argues for a “category all its own” because of its uniqueness within human literature you will disagree. More then likely you have a blog you could link.

          “So yes, if the perfect creator of the universe is so imperfect as to be unable to convey a consistent message, then the grounding hypothesis (that there is such a creator) is false.”

          Still, the assumption is God got it wrong. You are simply a victim because he didn’t do things your way. Therefore, since he didn’t base His Bible on [insert name of unbeliever], he got it wrong.

        • “I think the infallible and unchanging Word of God® is in a category all its own.”
          You only accept that when it fits your narrative.

          1. I’m hypocritical? Show me.

          2. So I’m hypocritical—my point stands. There are different rules when you’re talking about the infallible word of God vs. the very fallible word of Man. (But I sound like a Sunday school teacher. I’m surprised this is news to you.)

          Still, the assumption is God got it wrong.

          I think we’ve been over this. I’m the judge here. Yes, I know I’m an imperfect evaluator, but I’m all I’ve got. I look over the evidence, and this is how I see it.

          You say that it makes good sense to you that a perfect God would be pleased with a very imperfect and contradictory message down here on Earth? Summarize that argument for us.

        • Kingasaurus

          And the message is so imperfect and culturally dependent that it doesn’t compete that well compared to competing messages – only 2 out of every 7 humans on Earth identify as Christian.

          Is “God” happy with that? If he isn’t, the message could have been a lot simpler, more convincing, less muddled, and easier to disseminate. Then more than 2/7 would be Christian, and he’d be happier, I assume? So why didn’t he do that? Especially since that whole “eternal damnation” thing he set up makes the consequences important and the right decisions essential.

          ..Or maybe it’s just a bullshit story that people made up about invisible beings and forces that aren’t really there. And that’s why it’s muddled, contradictory, and requires complicated apologetics to attempt to rescue it.

        • only 2 out of every 7 humans on Earth identify as Christian.

          And it is projected to lose its #1 status in about 50 years.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You only accept that when it fits your narrative. I think it is safe to assume when an apologist argues for a “category all its own” because of its uniqueness within human literature you will disagree. More then likely you have a blog you could link.

          Holy fuck Smiffy, there isn’t even one Christian “category all of its own” within human literature.

          You’re not very good at this Smiffy, are you?

          Still, the assumption is God got it wrong. You are simply a victim because he didn’t do things your way. Therefore, since he didn’t base His Bible on [insert name of unbeliever], he got it wrong.

          Ha ha….which Bible Smiffy?

          http://tyndalearchive.com/scriptures/index.htm

          You do know there is a large number of other god texts with just as much of a claim as the YahwehJesus nonsense, don’t ya?

        • adam
        • JB gives us the written form of rectal-cranial inversion, and now we have the visual form.

          Thanks. I guess.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “So do Mormons.”

          No, they don’t.

          Yes..they do. You don’t get to decide. If they don’t believe in the “Christian God” then neither do you.

          They are called “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” for a reason ya fuckin’ clown.

          Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church in 1830, declared that he was chosen by God to restore true Christianity to human kind. Think about it, Christianity was lost after the death of the last disciple; and Joseph Smith, a young man fourteen years of age would be used by God to restore the lost truths of Christianity. The young prophet was not greeted by enthusiasm but received ridicule instead.

          http://wri.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/mormon1.html

          So quit with the “No True Scotsman” bullshit Smiffy, you are not clever enough.

    • Kevin K

      Proof required.

    • Jack Baynes

      John 3:16’s nice, but it neglects to give us any evidence to believe in Jesus. If we could just will ourselves to believe in Jesus and get everlasting life, that’d be nice, but belief doesn’t work that way.

      Your “Bill of Rights” is two commandments (no rights..), one of which is a childish demand that “It’s all about me!”

      Actually, I think that’s a pretty good super-condensed version of the Bible. “God says ‘It’s all about me!’

      • Greg G.

        John 3:16’s nice, but it neglects to give us any evidence to believe in Jesus.

        It’s worse than that. The conversation where that phrase is taken from begins with Nicodemus being confused between “being born again” with “being born from above”. The text is written in Greek where the sounds of the two phrases are similar, making it a pun. The pun doesn’t translate to Aramaic or Hebrew or any other language. But why would Jesus be speaking Greek to a Jew in Jerusalem? It shows that the whole conversation is made up. But Jesus being continuously misunderstood by the people he speaks to is a theme in the Book of John. It throws doubt on all the other conversations and the whole gospel.

  • Paul

    “Just create everyone in “Heaven” to begin with,
    and none of the rest of this horror-show ever has to happen.”
    — commenter Kingasaurus

    That’s what God did. He created paradise and put humans in it. Then humans decided to disobey God. If they hadn’t disobeyed God, this “horror-show” wouldn’t have happened.

    • Pofarmer

      Please show the evidence of this perfect world before the Fall. Thank you.

      • adam
      • Kevin K

        It’s easy…after all, god left an angel with a flaming sword to guard this perfect place. The entire earth wasn’t Eden; it was one particular spot ON Earth.

        Seems to me that all we need to do is use satellite imagery to find the flaming-sword wielding angel.

        Now that the nuts are in charge of the loony bin, I’m sure NASA will get right on it.

        • all we need to do is use satellite imagery to find the flaming-sword wielding angel.

          Just do it at night and look for the heat signature.

        • Paul

          That former paradise was destroyed in a flood.

        • It didn’t grow back? The rest of the planet did.

        • Kevin K

          Book doesn’t say that. Stop adding things that aren’t in the text.

        • adam

          “That former paradise was destroyed in a flood.”

          Another CLAIM pulled deeply from your bowels.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c5d71a76858a35072a8e2f69651f4a5217958dbfd608cfa5c4099f6662c47fb2.jpg

        • Michael Neville

          Where did you get that claim from?

        • T-Paine

          Chapter and verse, please?

        • Jack Baynes

          What erased all the evidence of the flood?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Jesus: “Now turn around… turn… turn around…”

      • Zeta

        Evidence from believers who think that fiction is fact? If it is in the bible, it must be true just like stopping the Sun for hours so that more enemies could be killed.

    • Dys

      Also, we recognize intuitively that the whole “sins of the father” nonsense is immoral, as it involves innocent people being blamed for the faults of another. The Adam & Eve fable fails basic morality.

      • Paul

        “we recognize intuitively that the whole “sins of the father” nonsense is immoral…”

        But don’t you claim that view of morality are personal opinions? If there’s no objective morality, then your opinions aren’t any better then any one else. You really can’t claim that something is good/bad, wrong/right, moral/immoral.

        “…as it involves innocent people..”

        Again, if there’s no objective standard, define “innocent.”

        “The Adam & Eve fable fails basic morality.”

        With no objective standard, that just amounts to a personal opinion in your worldview.

        • Greg G.

          If there is an objective morality, how do we know what it is? Do we believe the voices in our heads or the voices in the preachers’ heads?

          Do we go to the Bible? The Bible says that the sins of the father follow his children in Genesis 9:21-25, Genesis 20:18, Exodus 20:5, Exodus 34:7, Numbers 14:18, Deuteronomy 5:9, Deuteronomy 23:2, Deuteronomy 28:15-18, 1 Samuel 3:12-13, 2 Samuel 12:9-12, 2 Samuel 12:14-18, 2 Samuel 16:21-22, 2 Samuel 21:1, 2 Samuel 21:6-14, 2 Samuel 24:1-15, 1 Kings 11:11-12, 1 Kings 21:29, 2 Kings 5:25-27, Isaiah 14:21, Jeremiah 16:10-11, Jeremiah 29:32, Jeremiah 32:18, and Romans 5:9-19. But the Bible tells us the opposite in Deuteronomy 24:16, 2 Kings 14:6, Jeremiah 31:29-30, and Ezekiel 18:20.

          Since we don’t have access to any objective morality. if it exists, the best we can do is work out what is best for humanity and ignore those religious people who insist that objective morality exists while disagreeing on what it is.

        • Paul

          “Since we don’t have access to any objective morality….”

          How do you know that you don’t?

        • You’re making the bold claim. You show us.

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          We don’t have one until we do. If you have one, show us. You have had many opportunities but you have not provided it. It would be so much simpler to describe the method than to argue that you have one without showing it.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          You know, for a self-proclaimed “advocate of objective morality”, you make a lot of empty assertions.

          But until you demonstrate objective morality, you’re just pushing your opinion.

        • adam

          “Again, if there’s no objective standard, define “innocent.””

          So ignorant that they couldnt even know they were naked.

          “Can we see the wind? No, but we have evidence of it’s existence, moving trees, etc. Does that sound like wishful thinking to you? ”

          No of course not, ANYONE can easily demonstrate wind.

          Demonstrate your ‘God’ in a similar fashion.

        • Michael Neville

          But in your opinion there is objective morality. So why is your opinion any more authoritative than anyone else’s?

        • adam
        • Dys

          So basically you can’t support your own contention, and are playing the apologist game of trying to change the topic. Nice try, but it’s dishonest.

          But I don’t have any issue with objective morality, because I don’t think it requires resorting to magical beings. I have an issue with absolute objective morality, because there’s no evidence whatsoever that morality exists apart from humans.

          With no objective standard, that just amounts to a personal opinion in your worldview.

          Demonstrate you have an objective standard. Don’t assert it. Demonstrate it.

          I suspect you’re just going to retreat into presuppositionalist bullshit, since that seems to be the tact of TAG proponents. They’re really big on asserting things, but crumble to pieces when asked to actually support their assertions.

    • adam

      ” Then humans decided to disobey God.”

      Not according to the Bible
      Humans didnt have the knowledge to decide between good and evil BEFORE eating the magic fruit, they didnt even have the knowledge to understand that they were naked.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ad9800ce923b31295afed0a2d2a97d756340d851163d91fe88dc7cbe5bcb82af.jpg

      So lets IMAGINE that some PEOPLE (created by such a God) end up in “Heaven” while most everyone ends up in Hell.

      How long before these people (created by the same such God) disobey ‘God’ again?

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9fef3e09d4fced201880c6048e47897bc3461d04f1c5de54936408c4560c105b.jpg

    • MNb

      So souls that enter Heaven after they have physically died also can decide to disobey your god? Then Heaven is not the perfect place you christians always claim to be.
      If they can’t the question is again why Adam and Eve could. In other words – if human souls can’t turn Heaven into a horror-show, why could Adam and Eve do it?

      • Free will is vital … but only here on earth. It’s not that big a deal in heaven.

        • Greg G.

          When pressed for the source of free will, no brain structure can be identified, so Christians proudly name the soul as the seat of free will. If that part goes to heaven, then there has to be free will in heaven.

        • Michael Neville

          Satan had free will because he rebelled. So there must be free will in Heaven.

        • Herald Newman

          And if there is free will, there must be sin, because apparently sin is a direct consequent of free will. But God hates sin, therefore nobody is in heaven.

        • TheNuszAbides

          since every bit of that is retcon, they might as well just throw on one more: “Lucy ruined it for everybody else, so Free Will in Heaven was rescinded”.

        • Kevin K

          Yes, because every soul wants to spend eternity on bended knee.

          It really is appalling the things these people believe, isn’t it?

        • I like the part in Revelation where we learn about the 4 living creatures “Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.””

          Yeah, that sounds like fun.

        • Greg G.

          If they do it repeatedly for eternity, it must be loads of fun. It has to be orgasmic.

        • Kevin K

          I hope at least there’s a break for tea and honey. Sore throats, you know.

        • TheNuszAbides

          yeah but but Augustine said we weren’t supposed to take Revelation literally. and his mind was, like, totally great.

      • Paul

        I said God had originally created a paradise, not Heaven. That paradise was here on Earth.

        • Kevin K

          Which, of course, is exactly and totally a red herring, because your complaint was about the quote from Kingasaurus…which wonders why should god be bothered to create a “paradise” of any sort, if there is a heaven where all souls are meant to go after death.

          What’s the point of a “paradise” or a “horror show”? Is human habitation the only way souls are created? That’s quite a limitation of godly powers, you know.

          A god that wants to be worshiped in heaven by souls seems to be going WAY out of his way to make the process more difficult. Why not just create souls, plant them in heaven, and be done with it.

          THAT was the point of Kingasauraus…and don’t think we didn’t notice you changing the subject.

        • adam

          “What’s the point of a “paradise” or a “horror show”?”

          So that “God” can torture for eternity, God’s nature

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9bfb7cbb09a39ae8911c3879d7def113ab5277eb302961e16b02b2a649a0e7d6.jpg

        • Kevin K

          True, especially if you subscribe to Paul’s notion that only Christians of a certain flavor get to go to heaven and everyone else is tortured forever…which I would assume includes all Catholics from the year 1 until the first “Whatever Flavor Denomination Paul Says Is Right” was founded. Probably 1500 to 1800 years of devout, devout Catholics, never knowing they worshiped the wrong way and were going straight to hell.

          It’s mind-blowing that people can even begin to think like this. They’re moral monsters.

        • adam

          “It’s mind-blowing that people can even begin to think like this.”

          It is all about how they have been conned into having ‘faith’ that they will be one of the very few, who actually get into heaven.

          “They’re moral monsters.”

          Unbelievably so.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0fb6906160c356a4cde379fed2ba8b518c86c9ee319846c78ab03eadecfd7083.jpg

        • Dannorth

          Not only OK with this but according to some of the Church Fathers the entertainment in Heaven is watching sinners getting tortured below.

        • I have heard that, too. “My neighbor who laughed at me about being a Christian isn’t laughing now!”

          I’d like to find a quote. Let me know if you come across one.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Seems there are plenty to choose from….

          Catholic Truth Society

          What will it be like for a mother in heaven who sees her son burning in hell? She will glorify the justice of God. – Pamphlet from the late 1960s, part of a catechismal teaching [cited in an essay by the English poet, Stevie Smith, “Some Impediments to Christian Commitment”]

          Tertullian

          “At that greatest of all spectacles, that last and eternal judgment how shall I admire, how laugh, how rejoice, how exult, when I behold so many proud monarchs groaning in the lowest abyss of darkness; so many magistrates liquefying in fiercer flames than they ever kindled against the Christians; so many sages philosophers blushing in red-hot fires with their deluded pupils; so many tragedians more tuneful in the expression of their own sufferings; so many dancers tripping more nimbly from anguish then ever before from applause.”

          “What a spectacle. . .when the world. . .and its many products, shall be consumed in one great flame! How vast a spectacle then bursts upon the eye! What there excites my admiration? What my derision? Which sight gives me joy? As I see. . .illustrious monarchs. . . groaning in the lowest darkness, Philosophers. . .as fire consumes them! Poets trembling before the judgment-seat of. . .Christ! I shall hear the tragedians, louder-voiced in their own calamity; view play-actors. . .in the dissolving flame; behold wrestlers, not in their gymnasia, but tossing in the fiery billows. . .What inquisitor or priest in his munificence will bestow on you the favor of seeing and exulting in such things as these? Yet even now we in a measure have them by faith in the picturings of imagination.” [De Spectaculis, Chapter XXX]

          Augustine

          “They who shall enter into [the] joy [of the Lord] shall know what is going on outside in the outer darkness. . .The saints’. . . knowledge, which shall be great, shall keep them acquainted. . .with the eternal sufferings of the lost.” [The City of God, Book 20, Chapter 22, “What is Meant by the Good Going Out to See the Punishment of the Wicked” & Book 22, Chapter 30, “Of the Eternal Felicity of the City of God, and of the Perpetual Sabbath”]

          St. Thomas Aquinas

          “That the saints may enjoy their beatitude more thoroughly, and give more abundant thanks to God for it, a perfect sight of punishment of the damned is granted them.” Summa iii Suppl. Qu 93, i.

          Peter Lombard, the Master of Sentences

          “Therefore the elect shall go forth…to see the torments of the impious, seeing which they will not be grieved, but will be satiated with joy at the sight of the unutterable calamity of the impious .” Sent. Iv 50, ad fin

          http://www.tentmaker.org/Quotes/hell-fire.htm

        • Great quotes! Thanks for pointing those out.

        • I’ll add:

          The happiness of the elect will consist in part of witnessing the torments of the damned in hell, among whom may be their own children, parents, husbands, wives and friends; … but instead of taking the part of their miserable being, they will say ‘Amen!,’ ‘Hallelujah!,’ ‘Praise the Lord!’

          —Rev. Nathaniel Emmons (1745-1840)

        • Without Malice

          Sometimes a guy just has to wonder: How the hell did Christianity ever get off the ground?

        • Turning the other cheek when your asshole neighbor makes yet another crack against Christianity is difficult, but being able to say, “I told you so” in the afterlife?

          Priceless.

        • Without Malice

          Strange how so many “Holy Men” are monsters in disguise.

        • Dannorth

          Better late than never. From Tertullian’s On Spectacles as quothed the Myth of Persecution by Candida Moss (I had lended the book and had to retrieve it).

          What ample breadth of sights there will be then [when we are in heaven] ! At which shall one gaze in
          wonder ? At which shall I laugh ? At which rejoice ? At which exult, when I see so many kings who were proclaimed to have been taken up into heaven, groaning in the deepest darkness, And when I see those governors, persecutors of the Lord’s name, melting in the flames more savage than those with which they insolently raged against Christians ?… I believe that they [these spectacles] are more pleasing than the circus or both of the enclosures, or than any racetracks.

          According to Wikipedia

          Tertullian (/tərˈtʌliən/), full name Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, c. 155 – c. 240 AD,[1] was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa.[2] Of Berber origin,[3][4][5][6][7] he was the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and a polemicist against heresy, including contemporary Christian Gnosticism.[8] Tertullian has been called “the father of Latin Christianity”[9][10] and “the founder of Western theology.”[11]

        • Thanks!

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’m mostly disgusted that any Christian still quotemines Tertullian. talk about foaming at the mouth.

        • Joe

          Well, what’s the point of paying extra for First Class if Coach is exactly the same? You need something to make Heaven seem more attractive, and if they’re trying to sell you an eternal ticket, Heaven had better be infinitely more preferable.

        • adam

          But only to psychopaths….

        • TheNuszAbides

          it’s so abysmally irrational it’s almost hilarious: appeal to the flawed, self-obsessed human (gotta offer a reward if you want ’em to follow the rules!*) but dress it up as an appeal to their Immortal Soul(TM) …

          * oh, unless they’re slaves of course! then the only ‘reward’ necessary is keeping them alive to do the work you take all the credit/profit for.

        • Jack Baynes

          And, of course, God can’t be bothered to correct the vast majority of Christians who are totally wrong about his teachings (or the majority if humanity that hasn’t had the Christian message beaten in to them)

        • TheNuszAbides

          can’t be bothered to correct

          of course not! all they have to do is accept The Simple Message of The Bible As A Whole* and everything will be fine**!

          *and maybe behave a certain way at some point

          **unless they’re bystanders in a bet between Yahweh and Satan

        • Without Malice

          Well, according to my old minister, the Pope is the anti-Christ and the Catholic church is the great whore of Babylon. So it serves them all right. I could’t believe that shit even when I was a believer.

        • MNb

          Thanks for your non-answer – to be expected from someone as dishonest as you.

        • Rudy R

          You’re making a distinction without a difference. Heaven, paradise…same thing.

        • adam

          Not much of a paradise if Adam and Eve were too ignorant to know the difference between good and evil without a MAGIC fruit to give them that power.

    • Kevin K

      1. No. That’s not what the book says at all.
      2. God is responsible for the “horror show” because he put the IQ-raising sin fruit in the garden terrarium in the first place. An omniscient god would have known better.
      3. The mud man and rib woman could not possibly be responsible for eating the IQ-raising sin fruit at the behest of the talking snake with legs, since before they ate it, they had no conception of right versus wrong. Says so right in the story.
      4. An omnibenevolent god would have forgiven the mud man and rib woman the crime of eating the IQ-raising sin-fruit. No horror show needed.
      5. An omnipotent god could have reversed the effects of the IQ-raising sin-fruit, returning the mud man and rib woman to their original “sinless” state.

      • adam
        • Kevin K

          Exactly.

          I don’t leave bacon on the floor because my dog will eat it, no matter how many times I tell him not to. The second my back is turned — bacon GONE!

        • adam

          Let’s ALL be honest, bible god is just not that bright….

          Well of course and a monster Sadist:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/25868c89df190f1a1b0c4fea7ddc7591c0d18461fcd81749e02a9ccebceaab91.jpg

        • Kevin K

          Not to mention that his human avatar thought that disease was caused by demons…

        • adam

          Well when you are hawking anti-demon insurance…..

        • Paul

          As I’ve pointed out to you before:
          If there’s an objective standard, then there’s a basis for determining
          wright and wrong. It makes no sense for you to discuss it If your morals
          are just opinions. You really can’t really say my morals are any
          better than yours if there’s no objective standard. You have no basis
          for saying something is right/wrong, good/bad, moral/immoral.

          There’s a debate on YouTube between Laurence Krauss and William Lane Craig. Krauss says that if a brother and sister have sex, he can’t say that is wrong. Would you agree with him?

        • Greg G.

          Krauss says that if a brother and sister have sex, he can’t say that is wrong. Would you agree with him?

          My opinion is subjective. I wouldn’t want to do it with any of my sisters. Would you have sex with your sisters if the future of the human race depended on it, like the situation that the Bible implies with Adam and Eve’s children?

        • Paul

          No, I would not. That would be immoral. Based on objective morality.

          “..like the situation that the Bible implies with Adam and Eve’s children?”
          But now your just engaging in chronological snobbery. Your using our modern terminology and imposing it on them. In the original creation, there was no other choice. And It wasn’t until Leviticus 18 where God that was no longer acceptable. (presumably sin had taken enough toll on genetics by then to start causing mutations in the children of close relatives.)

        • TheMarsCydonia

          But now your just engaging in chronological snobbery. Your using our modern terminology and imposing it on them.

          This is why the bible is a formidable tool to expose the “moral grandstanding” of christians. I doubt that there is no act that they would call objectively wrong that is not condoned in the bible.

          Is having sexual intercourse with a sibling wrong? Is slavery wrong? Is abortion wrong? Is genocide wrong?

          All things that they point as objectively wrong up until you point it out to them in the bible.

        • Paul

          And yet you can’t call those things wrong because you have no objective standard. In your worldview, things are just a matter of opinion. You’re just giving people your opinion of the Bible.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Well unfortunately for you:
          1. You didn’t demonstrate you have an objective standard, you’re just grandstanding again
          2. You don’t know if I have an objective standard, you just assert it and are grandstanding again.

        • Paul

          I’m sorry. I shouldn’t assume that you have an objective standard. I just assumed that you, like other atheists posting to my comments, thought morality is subjective. Do you have an objective standard? If so, please tell me about it.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Sure but before I do, I’ll assume that you do not have one? I stated you didn’t demonstrate any and now you’re asking me if I have one to demonstrate.

          So the conclusion that you were simply grandstanding was accurate.

          Or do you disagree?

        • MR

          Do I hear crickets?

        • adam

          Do you have an objective standard? If so, please tell us about it.

        • John Hodges

          MORALITY DOES NOT DEPEND ON ANY GHOST

          Some animals are social
          animals, who survive by cooperating in groups. Humans are the most
          social of any, cooperating in groups that include millions.

          Morality
          is the way that peaceful and cooperative relations are maintained among
          group members. If you want to maintain peaceful relations, don’t kill,
          steal, lie, or break agreements. If you want peace, work for justice-
          people will fight if their share is too small. As Shakespeare wrote, “It
          needs no ghost, Milord, come from the grave, to tell us this.”

          Health
          is the ability to survive; the goal favored by natural selection is to
          “promote the health of your family.” We are all descended from
          uncounted generations of ancestors, every one of whom acted successfully
          to promote the health of their family.

          Because we are social
          animals evolved by natural selection, we have bred into us a “natural”
          standard for judging our neighbors. A “good” person is a desirable
          neighbor, from the point of view of people who wish to live in peace and
          raise families.

          Morality is not Obedience. The Good is that which leads to health, the Right is that which leads to peace.

        • adam

          “And yet you can’t call those things wrong because you have no objective standard.”

          Of course he can.
          Wrong from his opinion.

          You know, JUST LIKE YOU. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/42360417ff1086c29b3ee54033123b66ad2b1288895a813b827de4eb733d4751.jpg

        • Zeta

          I have lost count how many times commenters have asked you to explain and show evidence of your “objective moral standard” but you keep on evading the questions. Since you refuse to respond to that issue I am venturing a guess (an easy one). Your objective moral standard comes from your god Yahweh/Jesus. Do you agree? If so, let us take it from there. If not, tell us about it.

        • MNb

          I can perfectly call all kinds of things wrong without any objective standard.
          I call outlawing abortion morally wrong.
          Here, I just did it.

        • Kodie

          You’re just giving people your opinion of the bible. Why can’t we discuss it? Why do you think there is some reason discussions among humans about things that affect them is not allowed? You can stop first, ok?

        • Susan

          You’re just giving people your opinion of the bible. Why can’t we discuss it?

          ‘Cuz Paul here has accepted the divine intervention of the holy spirit.

          We know that the holy spirit is real ‘cuz the bible says so.

          You would know that if you accepted the divine intervention of the holy spirit. It would tell you. But the bible also warned that people like you would exist.

          But you can’t have an opinion because you willfully reject the divine intervention of the holy spirit.

          Geez, Kodie. Haven’t you been paying attention all these years?

        • Pofarmer

          I’m still waiting for Paul to demonstrate this font of objectiveness. Because it ought to be the same for everybody right? And not just Christians, right? I mean it’s really trivially easy to disprove if you just pull your head outta your ass. I doubt if Paul actually believes it.

        • Susan

          I’m still waiting for Paul to demonstrate this font of objectiveness.

          As he showed up here claiming it exists and is happy to chirp that his beliefs are based on it, you’d think that demonstrating it would have been one of the first things he did.

          But… as always… crickets.

        • Michael Neville

          If objective morality is the same for everyone (sociopaths excepted) then why do Christians need the Bible to tell them what objective morality is? It should be obvious and need no explanation or exposition in the Bible.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I doubt if Paul actually believes it.

          i’m guessing he accepts without absorbing, believes without questioning, etc. none of his questions directed to any of you looks anything other than disingenuous (if they even get past the first volley), and every ‘clear’ statement he makes is pure parrot.

        • Kodie

          Paul seems like such a bot.

        • TheNuszAbides

          But the bible also warned that people like you would exist.

          and i would’ve gotten away with it, too–if it weren’t for that dashed cunning scripture!

        • John Hodges

          Religion offers no basis for ethics. Religious morality consists of obeying the alleged will of God, as reported by your chosen authority. But obedience is not the same as morality. If believers wish to make war or keep slaves or oppress women, they need only persuade themselves that their god approves. This seems not to be hard, and no god has ever popped up to correct them.

          Understanding evolution does provide a basis for ethics. Some animals are social animals, who survive by
          cooperating in groups. Humans are the most social of any, cooperating in groups that include millions.

          Morality serves to maintain peaceful and cooperative relations among group members. If you want to
          maintain peaceful relations, don’t kill, steal, lie, or break
          agreements. Do not do to others what you would not wish done to you.

          Natural selection gives us a simple standard for judging our neighbors. A “good” person is a desirable neighbor, from the point of view of people who wish to live in peace and raise families.

        • Greg G.

          And It wasn’t until Leviticus 18 where God that was no longer acceptable.

          Ha ha ha ha! If incest is moral one day and not the next, then it is not an objective moral! If God can change it according to his mood, it is subjective.

          You say you would not screw your sister but what if God told you to “go forth and multiply” with her? Would you listen to the voice in your head if you thought it was God, instead of what Leviticus said?

          Would you kill somebody if you decided God was leading you to do it?

        • Paul

          “Ha ha ha ha! If incest is moral one day and not the next, then it is not
          an objective moral! If God can change it according to his mood, it is
          subjective.”

          First, you’re engaging in chronological snobbery again by Imposing modern contexts on the people that lived before us. Incest is a modern word. Second, It’s not the morality that changed. Sin is what caused the change.

        • Greg G.

          First, you’re engaging in chronological snobbery again by Imposing modern contexts on the people that lived before us. Incest is a modern word.

          No, I am not being a snob. I am using the meaning of the word “objective”. If something is subject to a condition, then the thing is “subjective”, not “objective”.

          If you are trying to say that incest didn’t exist because the word did not exist, then God could not have created the universe because there were no words for universe or God. In Genesis, it says that god created animals, then says Adam named them. But how could they exist if there was no word for each of them? You are being silly.

          Second, It’s not the morality that changed. Sin is what caused the change.

          The word “sin” is meaningless unless you read the Bible. If you read the Bible, sin preceded Adam and Eve having children who had children with each other.

          Do you think before you type? Do you read what you type? You said, “In the original creation, there was no other choice. And It wasn’t until Leviticus 18 where God that was no longer acceptable.” If by “acceptable”, you mean “moral”, it was moral before Leviticus, and immoral after Leviticus, then morality changed. Or are you trying to say that immorality was acceptable before Leviticus but not after?

        • adam
        • Jack Baynes

          Why did God give mankind the power to warp reality with their sin?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Who is really running the show if our sin power can edit Jesus’ will?

        • TheNuszAbides

          PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE SINNER BEHIND THE CURTAIN.

        • Herald Newman

          > It’s not the morality that changed. Sin is what caused
          > the change.

          The incest happened after Eve ate the fruit. WTF?!?

        • Without Malice

          Jesus, Paul, you act like you believe Adam and Eve were real people. Are you really that stupid?

        • adam
        • Kevin K

          Good grief, you just contradicted yourself. First you say morals are objective (and therefore unchangable), and then you say they CHANGED.

          That is a big giant WTF moment, there, stud.

        • adam

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fefd1b139baea2c2c77231535e8984486787988cd9e59702dd68ff8a0e0cd45d.jpg

          “(presumably sin had taken enough toll on genetics by then to start causing mutations in the children of close relatives.)”

          Presumably you pulled this out of your ass
          OR
          Are just bearing false witness.

        • Michael Neville

          That would be immoral. Based on objective morality.

          What’s your evidence that objective morality exists? Remember that I won’t accept the collection of fables, myths and lies called the Bible as an authority.

        • Susan

          That would be immoral. Based on objective morality.

          Explain how it’s immoral based on objective morality.

        • Herald Newman

          > And It wasn’t until Leviticus 18 where God [said] that
          > was no longer acceptable.

          What does God have to do with objective morality? Why does God’s opinion matter?

        • Ignorant Amos

          In the original creation, there was no other choice.

          But that is exactly the scenario Greg put to you…can you not read properly.

          “Would you have sex with your sisters if the future of the human race depended on it, like the situation that the Bible implies with Adam and Eve’s children?”

          So it was okay at one time, but not at another? Pssst…that means it is subjective, dummy.

        • Paul

          God Himself is the standard. Is He supposed to reign but not rule?

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Using god as a standard, can you point to an absolute moral obligation?

          Obviously, “not to commit incest”, “not to commit slavery”, “not to commit genocide”, etc. wouldn’t be absolute moral obligations.

        • Herald Newman

          Why is God the standard, and why should I follow that standard? God apparently has no problem with slavery. God has no problem with killing non virgin girls on their wedding night.

          Why should I obey God’s subjective standard, and what makes that standard any more objective than the moral system that BobS has described?

        • Pofarmer

          THen he needs to work more on getting his message out. His current PR team sucks.

        • TheNuszAbides

          how curious that his previous PR teams were so successful … when their methods were less restricted! COINCIDENCE?

        • adam
        • adam
        • adam
        • TheNuszAbides

          we could consider the fate of the White Rose Society an echo of Eli and the Bear. though of course they were saying just a teensy bit more than “ha ha, you’re a baldy.”

        • adam

          Which ‘God’?

          You’ve demonstrated no such ‘God’

        • Without Malice

          The one that’s so dumb he couldn’t get his creation to turn out the way he wanted it.

        • adam
        • Joe

          in the original creation, there was no other choice

          For an omnipotent and omniscient being, there is an infinite number of choices. Literally everything is on the table.

          I wonder why your God chose to go with incest?

        • Paul

          Incest is a modern word. What would have been called if that word didn’t exist.

        • Michael Neville

          The Oxford English Dictionary gives the etymology of incest as “Middle English: from Latin incestus, incest”. If you think that a word used 2000 or more years ago is modern then what’s your opinion of the recent invention of fire?

        • MNb

          And that makes it OK back then, but not OK right now? How subjective.

        • Joe

          A brother and sister having sex. That sounds much better, right?

        • Kodie

          In the sense that daughters were seen as property of their fathers to be sold to the highest bidder come a-courtin’, he’s entitled to fuck her himself if he wants, but he knows that will spoil his merchandise, so he probably doesn’t. Men who do that are looked down upon because, who does that?

        • al kimeea

          Family gaming night?

        • al kimeea

          Yahweh is kinky that way

        • MR

          More comes into play here than simply opinion, Greg. Most of us have an innate sense of revulsion toward such couplings that has evolved in mankind for good reason.

          I love how Paul below evokes objective morality:

          No, I would not. That would be immoral.

          Then immediately turns around makes it subjective:

          Your using our modern terminology and imposing it on them. In the original creation, there was no other choice. And It wasn’t until Leviticus 18 where God that was no longer acceptable.

          Classic!

        • Ignorant Amos

          I just Googled “when it is necessary to have sex with your sister” and got 49,800,000 hits in 0.69 secs. It would appear to be a more subjective issue than even I imagined.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’m sure if you narrow it down to “your own sister” you’ll end up with a number that, say, KarlUdy would find more palatable.

        • Greg G.

          Was it OK for Abraham and Sarah to have Isaac even though they were brother and sister?

          Isaac married his cousin, Rebecca.

          Their son, Jacob married two sisters who were his cousins.

          Their other son, Esau, married the daughter of Ismael, his father’s brother.

          If the Bible is your guide, you would have to be OK with incest.

        • Kevin K

          Lot’s daughters…

        • Greg G.

          Well, Lot was really, really drunk, so they don’t blame him. The story says that the girls thought there were no other men in the world, even though they had visited a village after the disaster.

        • Kevin K

          Twice? Somehow, one thinks that after the first time, he “wasn’t there for the hunting”, as the old joke goes.

        • MR

          Right? Imagine today’s Christian hearing this story. “My daughters, see, they got me drunk, see, and….” Do you think anyone is going to buy that?

        • Kodie

          Dr. Phil would say “that dog won’t hunt”.

        • Pofarmer

          The whole Hebrew sexual thing is just weird.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah…but there is a caveat in the story.

          33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

          34 The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.”

          35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

          Maybe blokes were a wee bit different in them ye olde biblical times.

        • Michael Neville

          If someone was so drunk they don’t remember having sex two nights in a row then they were likely too drunk to get it up.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah, ya would think so, hence last sentence. Or maybe the dicks that wrote the story just didn’t think it out properly…it’s the sort of thing a clueless ignorant celibate priest might write. Hardly divinely inspired either way.

        • Kodie

          I feel like the way the story is written, and who it might be written by, having sex with a drunk person because what daughters could convince their father to fuck them when they’re sober, was supposed to be a favor. The storyteller knows to make the victim drunk so it’s ok and never finds out, and must have already at that time known it was too fucked up to mention if the father had promoted the idea to fuck his daughters it would be not cool at all, even if especially if he got them drunk first.

          I said in another post, my familiarity with this story is very little, and only due to posting and reading here, and not sure where it leads. If one of Lot’s daughters (names?) having his child was the thing that led to the next thing before the other things before Jesus, it’s just bizarre that they’d put the part in where whoever was the product of an incestuous rape blamed on naive young motherless ladies in some sort of quandary. Hello, god, are you matchmaking this shit or what? This god character likes to help contemporary humans see the signs of whether they have found their mate for life, but in the past, if people wanted to ignore reality and impulsively decide fucking their father while he’s drunk and passed out was literally their only option to perpetuate humanity (and they deny evolution!), he would never have guided them to an unrelated and totally appropriate suitor, he would never have gotten between the love of two daughters and their father and said, look you’re not the only humans left, there are plenty of good fish in the sea.

        • Joe

          there are plenty of good fish in the sea.

          Plenty of loaves, too.

        • TheNuszAbides

          If one of Lot’s daughters (names?)

          duh, the OT only names women when it’s plot-crucial to differentiate between one Patriarch’s two wives/baby-mamas. (or blame the First one for Everything.)

        • TheNuszAbides

          or, blackouts. and they certainly didn’t paint the daughters as supportive of his sobriety. and what alcoholic has time to focus on raising his only children when all hope(TM) has already been lost?

        • Kodie

          Is this the omniscient narrator again? Seems to me you follow by who wrote this story. I am not a bible-reader, so I don’t know how this story actually ends. I thought this was after they ran away and Lot’s wife (name?) turned to a pillar of salt. So were there repercussions from this rape too, or did this have a relatively happy ending? I mean, were these daughters blamed for something totally evil? People in the bible get drunk a lot, don’t they? So it’s not their fault.

          But who wrote this story, who decided that these daughters conspired to get pregnant from their father to continue the lineage instead of something else? And since I don’t know how it ends, I’m guessing that had the father used his authority over his daughters to insist it was the only way to continue his lineage, they knew even back then how fucked up it would sound, so laid it on some naive young ladies who were just well-meaning?

        • Joe

          One thing that’s just occurred to me: Lot’s Daughters ‘obviously’ met other people later on. In which case they would have realized they weren’t Earth’s sole surviving humans anymore. So why did they persist in continuing their line through the incestuously-produced children? I guess it was a case of ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’, as the saying goes…..

        • Kodie

          Or as Paul would wonder, what did they call the Stockholm Syndrome before there was a Sweden?

        • Without Malice

          Oh hell, the girls were just really horny, Lot was a real hunk, mom was out somewhere imitating a salt shaker, one thing led to another.

        • Kodie

          So maybe it wasn’t Lot got passed-out drunk, but that they all got semi-wasted until this seemed like a really good idea.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i think in this context i prefer “double down”. okay, you can shoot me now.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Is this the omniscient narrator again? Seems to me you follow by who wrote this story.

          Christians believe it was Moses who wrote Genesis…but it wasn’t.

          There is much scholarly debate on the issue.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Genesis#Composition

          I am not a bible-reader, so I don’t know how this story actually ends.

          Genesis 19:37-38
          The older daughter gave birth to a son and named him Moab, and he is the ancestor of the Moabites of today. The younger daughter gave birth to a son and named him Ben-Ammi, and he is the ancestor of the Ammonites of today. THE END

          http://www.bricktestament.com/genesis/lot_raped_by_his_daughters/01_gn19_30.html

          The prequel is a doozy in its own right too…

          http://www.bricktestament.com/genesis/god_annihilates_people_of_sodom_and_gomorrah/01_gn19_01.html

          I thought this was after they ran away and Lot’s wife (name?) turned to a pillar of salt.

          Yeah, it was after the fir & brimstone affair. Lot’s wife was just Lot’s wife…a bit like Crewman Number 6.

          So were there repercussions from this rape too, or did this have a relatively happy ending?

          To a point. They both had boys who grew up.

          Moab and Ammon were born to Lot and Lot’s elder and younger daughters, respectively, in the aftermath of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible refers to both the Moabites and Ammonites as Lot’s sons, born of incest with his daughters.

          Both tribes come back into play later on in the Buy Bull.

          I mean, were these daughters blamed for something totally evil?

          Nope.

          People in the bible get drunk a lot, don’t they?

          Seems so.

          So it’s not their fault.

          Never is….

        • Kodie

          So who are the Moabites and Ammonites of today? I can’t promise I’ve been following terribly closely, but I thought they were genocided by the righteous chosen Jews.

          If my memory is correct, then it would seem the incest might have doomed them to be wicked, or that’s why I think it would bear telling they were ultimately products of the incestuous rape of Lot by his weirdo daughters. If my memory is not correct, then whatever. Since Bob recently mentioned the bible is over a million words long, I’ve got another good reason not to read it. It’s obviously a mishmash of stories, and when you get to this one, who recorded this? Lot gets drunk and passes out, and the storyteller makes it the daughters’ great idea, like without thinking about it a few days or wandering around to find other women to matchmake with their dad so he could have a son, which is what I think they were after, not for continuing his line, which either of them could do with any man. It’s so absurd that he had offered his daughters to the visitors to fuck, just to be hospitable, not like they couldn’t find a whore in Sodom? But when Lot fathers some other babies, it’s not he who diddled his own daughters, but their naive idea. It’s like, you know how kids sometimes plan something together, like, let’s choreograph a song and dance and perform it for dad when he comes home from his 4-day work trip, only gross.

        • TheNuszAbides

          .. only gross.

          terribly well-put.

        • TheNuszAbides

          People in the bible get drunk a lot, don’t they?

          fathers do, anyway. AIUI, it’s always “his” wine, never “the” wine.

        • Kevin K

          Don’t know about you, but I have been plenty drunk in my day; but never-ever drunk enough not to know when someone is schtupping me.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m an accomplished drunkard Kevin. And much like yerself, I couldn’t be schtuped if pished. Either I’d be too inebriated to perform, or not inebriated enough to not notice or forget.

          The author[s] certainly didn’t think it through.

          I had to look up the word “schtup”…good one, thanks.

        • Without Malice

          Yeah, they were all drunks.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Apparently it was dodgy to drink the water back in the day.

        • TheNuszAbides

          all this time i was missing the part where the excuse for doing it was made between the two instances.

          and speaking of taboo fantasia, is it any more plain that Bog is a het male than the fact that there is no son-fucking fable in The Good Book?

        • Jack Baynes

          The men in the village probabky weren’t there cousins, so they didn’t count as men

        • Without Malice

          They must have been home schooled.

        • Paul

          See my post below.

        • Cain bonked either his mom or sister.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Technically, it could also have been a niece from the coupling of his unnamed brothers and sisters. But someone had to have bonked a sister somewhere along the line.

        • al kimeea

          Both at once! Giggity.

        • Without Malice

          Maybe virgin births were quite common back in the day and no one had sex until several generations past Adam and Eve.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          What is more interesting is that WLC, like you, would accuse atheists to be unable to say it’s wrong…

          While you can’t say it’s wrong but pretend you can.

        • If there’s an objective standard,

          And if monkeys fly out of your butt, that would hurt.

          Neither of these probably matter until we conclude that these things exist.

        • adam

          ” If there’s an objective standard, then there’s a basis for determining wright and wrong.”

          “IF” you cant demonstrate such, then it is ONLY YOUR opinion.
          Demonstrate such FIRST, then we can discuss.

          “You really can’t really say my morals are any better than yours if there’s no objective standard.”

          Well NEITHER you or I set morals for society, society sets them.

          “You have no basis for saying my morals are wrong.”

          Society sets morals, not me.

          ” You really can’t really say my morals are any better than yours if there’s no objective standard.”

          No, but I can REALLY say your morals are hypocritical if you claim
          objective standards come from a book that says you must stone to DEATH homosexuals and yet you do not follow those objective standards.

          “Krauss says that if a brother and sister have sex, he can’t say that is wrong. Would you agree with him?”

          I would

          The character “God” in the bible says that homosexual men must be stoned to death. Would you agree with “God”?

        • adam

          Now share your demonstrate of “God”

          Paul

          17 hours ago

          “Can
          we see the wind? No, but we have evidence of it’s existence, moving
          trees, etc. Does that sound like wishful thinking to you? ”

          No of course not, ANYONE can easily demonstrate wind.

          Demonstrate your ‘God’ in a similar fashion.

        • Michael Neville

          But you’re saying that morality is just your god’s opinion. Why is his opinion any better than mine? At least I’m not a narcissistic, sadistic bully who kills people just because I can, something that can be said about your god (according to your propaganda).

        • Ficino

          The Bible does not provide an objective standard.

          So we are all in the same boat. We all rely on some version of intersubjective agreement, as we do when we determine whether a linguistic construction is correct or not.

        • Rudy R

          Why is an objective standard more preferable than a subjective standard? And aren’t you using subjective reasons for the basis in determining objective morality is more preferable than subjective?

        • MNb

          Could you explain which objective moral standard justifies killing the entire human population bar a handful?
          I agree with Krauss.
          Btw if the Bible provides your objective moral standard you are OK with a father having sex with his daughters. Nowhere in the Bible it’s forbidden.

        • MR

          A curious omission, right, MNb? You can almost here the committee on Leviticus going, “Shit, then how do we explain Lot? You know, what, let’s just leave it out for now and we’ll deal with it later.”

        • The point about Lot humping his daughters (or vice versa), as I understand it, is to create a just-so story about those nasty Moabites and Ammonites (which the fruit of those unions produced the patriarchs of).

          Ever wonder why we hate those tribes so? Now you know!

        • MR

          True, but I think it has even deeper roots in the Flood story when Noah got all butt hurt over Ham. The plot of the two stories are close parallels, including that bit about the little sexual weirdness at the end. I think a case can be made that like the daughters had their way with a drunken Lot, Ham had a little surprise in store for the drunken Noah.

        • Michael Neville

          Noah got all butt hurt over Ham

          Are you suggesting that Noah was literally butt hurt?

        • MR

          I am indeed.

          According to [Rabbi Samuel in the Talmud], Ham sodomized Noah, a judgment that he based on analogy with another biblical incident in which the phrase “and he saw” is used…. –Wikipedia

          Hasn’t that passage ever left you scratching your head? (Gen 9.20+)

          I mean, literally, what was Noah all butt hurt about?

        • Zeta

          When I first read this story, I wondered why it was such a serious matter for Ham to see his father naked? Did Ham know that his father was naked? Was he a peeping Tom? No evidence of that. I could not really understand what the fuss was about. More bizarre still, instead of punishing Ham, Noah cursed Ham’s son Canaan instead. I put this to a pious Christian friend who always boasted about his god being always “just”.

          Me: “What kind of justice is this especially when you claim that Noah was the most virtuous man around?”

          Christian friend: “Eh, eh …”

        • Kodie

          What we consider behaviors that are harmful to individuals or society can be discussed and argued about. Why wouldn’t they be, if they affect us now and humanity in the future?

          Why do you think opinions don’t count? When the sun expands and swallows the earth, it won’t count if you murdered your wife or married your sister, but why would it be something we can’t talk about now?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Given the Bible creation story, someone had to have fucked their mother, sister, or daughter. Isn’t that where you get your morals from?

          In another Bible story, Lot’s daughters fucked their Da…given that it was not by way of consent, what they did was rape him. YahwehJesus rewarded them with pregnancy for it. Isn’t that where you get your morals from?

          Roofie-ing one’s elderly father and raping him = fine. Agreeing to lead a slave rebellion for God but forget to circumcise your infant son = DEATH.

          Can you not think of a situation whereupon fucking ones sister is the only option?

        • Paul

          “Isn’t that where you get your morals from?”

          Do you think that morals are just subjective? If you do, how can you say something is right or wrong? Wouldn’t they be just personal opinions? So then why argue over different opinions? You can’t determine something to be wrong or right unless there’s a moral absolute to base them on.

        • Kodie

          Your fixation on the subjectivity of morals is really the way that the church gets to silence other views and becomes a dictatorship for their brand of subjective moral rules. Everyone else shut up about morals and do whatever we say!!!! That’s how you think you win, by shutting everyone else up. You are an ignorant pile of shit, Paul. I have addressed you more than once, and you ignore it and keep repeating yourself with this childish nonsense.

          We are people who are all entitled to share what we know, what we think, and what we believe about behavior that we know affects us, others we care about, and humans of the future. How dare you attempt to suggest we don’t have a right to talk about it. HOW DARE YOU RELIGIOUS PSYCHO TYRANT.

        • Do you think that morals are just subjective?

          Do you think that morals are objective? I’ve heard this claim many times from Christians, but they never get around to supporting this remarkable claims with evidence. Please be the first.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          So you’re back to grandstand. If not, why are you not answering the challenge?

          What is your objective standard? What makes it objective? What makes it meaningful?

          How can you assert an absolute standard then argue for moral relativity. You make the incest issue painfully obvious, you should try another exemple. The problem being of course that I doubt you can find one exemple that is not absolute because the old testament is filled with exemples of genocides, incests, abortions, etc.

        • John Hodges

          Religion offers no basis for ethics. Religious morality consists of obeying the alleged will of God, as reported by your chosen authority. But obedience is not the same as morality. If believers wish to make war or keep slaves or oppress women, they need only persuade themselves
          that their god approves. This seems not to be hard, and no god has ever popped up to correct them.

          Understanding evolution does provide a basis for ethics. Some animals are social animals, who survive by cooperating in groups. Humans are the most social of any, cooperating in groups that include millions.

          Morality serves to maintain peaceful and cooperative relations among group members. If you want to maintain peaceful relations, don’t kill, steal, lie, or break agreements. Do not do to others what you would not wish done to you.

          Natural selection gives us a simple standard for judging our neighbors. A “good” person is a desirable neighbor, from the point of view of people who wish to live in peace and raise families.

        • adam

          ” You can’t determine something to be wrong or right unless there’s a moral absolute to base them on.”

          And where do you think these ‘moral absolutes’ come from?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/86effa5e2bc761ae95f687bf44f1632c13ebd40a54b07502d779f242a887cc3e.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/60865103a336b5d68f96eb3254e706491af8f8a5dbd80dafef9edf2beab0319d.jpg

        • MNb

          Hey Paul,

          thanks for not answering

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/11/frank-tureks-criminally-bad-c-r-i-m-e-s-argument-evil-and-science-2/#comment-3030525324

          It shows you brought up that Weikart link for dishonest reasons, exactly what I expected from a liar like you. If objective morality is possible you don’t have it.
          But I’m all for second chances. Prove me wrong, force me to withdraw that accusation and answer my question.

        • Herald Newman

          > Do you think that morals are just subjective?

          Yes, but they are not arbitrary. BobS has explained how subjective morality works, yet you completely ignore it. You continue to propose an objective morality, yet you cannot explain how it works.

          > If you do, how can you say something is right or wrong?

          Because there are certain things I value, and when actions violate those values I call them wrong! Morality is all about values. That you cannot seem to begin to understand this boggles my mind.

          > So then why argue over different opinions?

          Is it really an opinion that people want to be alive? Is it really just an opinion that people want to be safe, and healthy?

          > You can’t determine something to be wrong or right unless
          > there’s a moral absolute to base them on.

          Utter nonsense! What is right, or wrong, to me depends on the values I hold,m and those values largely come from the society we live in.

          I don’t know why I bother to respond you. I expect you’ll either ignore this, or give some nonsense answer that raises more questions than it could ever answer…

        • Ignorant Amos

          I don’t know why I bother to respond you. I expect you’ll either ignore this, or give some nonsense answer that raises more questions than it could ever answer…

          Which is why I couldn’t be arsed responding to his fuckwittery.

          But thanks all the same for the effort of yerself and others who could be arsed.

        • Kingasaurus

          You’re not giving a moral absolute.

          You’re saying “my invisible friend says X is always wrong.”
          When I ask you to prove your invisible friend is real, you can’t. Nor can other people who claim to have different invisible friends than you do.

          None of that qualifies as “objective” or “absolute” anything. It’s just you making a claim that you can’t back up.

          Just SAYING you have “moral absolutes” or “objective morality” isn’t the same thing as ACTUALLY having it.

        • Jack Baynes

          You mean “my invisible friend says X is always wrong. Except only in these circumstances. In these circumstances it’s ok. In THESE circumstances it’s absolutely required. What about these circumstances? Sorry, you’re on your own for those. You’ll have to guess.”

        • Kingasaurus

          Bingo. Their “objective morality” is really just “do whatever this really powerful (invisible) guy says, or he’ll kick your ass.” Really Powerful Guy doesn’t have to give you his reasons, just do what he says. If he seems to change his mind, it doesn’t matter. Just do what he says.

          That’s just obedience out of fear, not “objective morality”.

          When a parent tells a small child to do something, and the kid says “why?”, the answer “because I said so!” will work for a while on kids of a certain age. But eventually the kid gets old enough where that answer becomes unsatisfactory.

          You need tangible REASONS to either do “X”, or not to do “Y.” But this fundie approach to morality just infantilizes people. OBEY, or else, is all the “morality” they think they need.

          Whoever said elsewhere in this thread that morality is “subjective but not arbitrary” totally nailed it. Otherwise the religious can be boxed into a corner where “Who are you to say incest is wrong?” basically equates to “Who says drinking battery acid or having cancer is bad? maybe some people like it? Who are you to say?” When you phrase it like that, you realize “subjective but not arbitrary” is obviously the way things really are, and how stupid the theistic counter-arguments look.

        • al kimeea

          Well, if you were of the opinion that slavery is OK, as it is in the buybull, then ya, argument.

        • Without Malice

          It’s pretty clear that morals are a societal issue. There was a time when most Christian ministers (even in the north) thought slavery was fine. There was a time when in most of the US the age of consent was 10 or 12. There was a time when a man and woman could be thrown in jail for marrying someone of a different race. There was a time when the God of the bible said that unruly and disrespectful children should be put to death, but that a man who raped a young girl who was not yet betrothed to another only got punished by having to marry the girl and pay the father a certain amount of money. The bible is a disgusting book, and the god portrayed therein is a disgusting figure who is as evil as a Hitler, a Stalin, or a Mao.

        • Joe

          if a brother and sister have sex, he can’t say that is wrong. Would you agree with him?

          Yes.

        • Without Malice

          Brothers and sisters having sex. Why don’t you ask the children of Adam and Eve? As for myself, it’s not something I’d ever do, but I certainly wouldn’t judge those who did it as being evil people just because they succumbed to temptation. As for objective morality, read Numbers 31 and get back to me on God being the author of objective morality. BTW, as I recall, it was common practice for the Pharaohs to marry their sisters.

        • I’m impressed that you figured that out. Understanding humans (which he created himself) seems to have eluded Yahweh.

      • 5. Great point. But don’t forget that God wasn’t omnipotent back then. He was just a garden variety god in his youth.

        • Kevin K

          Which is why I think the OT is evidence that the universe is just an 8th grade Science Fair project for a kid enrolled in the Alien Universe Builders School For Exceptional Children.

          I’d give the kid a C+. No more.

      • Jack Baynes

        Why did God want man to be amoral anyway?

    • You point to one of the most ridiculous ideas in the Bible–that two people who didn’t understand “sin” ate fruit and thereby condemned their descendants in perpetuity–as if it were rational?

      • Zeta

        Believers like Paul have to cling to this myth for dear life. It is the starting piece of a series of dominoes. If Adam & Eve did not eat that fruit, there is no “Fall of Man” (or some bombastically put it for dramatic effect: a rebellion!) so there is no original sin, mankind does not need to be saved, and so there is no need for a savior. Jesus becomes extraneous, no need for a fabricated virgin birth. Then what do Christians have left in their hands?

    • catfink

      If God loves humans, why didn’t he just ignore their disobedience? What’s the point of subjecting humans to the horror show?

      • Zeta

        Then there would be no Christianity. He would not have the chance to show his love and save humans condemned by he himself from himself. This is also depriving the sadistic and egomaniac god from having the pleasure of cruelly drowning and cruelly burning innocents (including children and babies) to death. Then he would not have the chance to arrogantly boast about “so that you know I am the Lord your god”. He was the one who initiated and created the whole horror show.

      • Kevin K

        Ignore or forgive unconditionally. Either one would be consistent with an all-loving god. Making humans jump through ever-smaller hoops — down to the eye of a needle — is not a demonstration of that particular godly attribute.

        • Jack Baynes

          The first hoop, of course, is trying to figure out what the other hoops are. And not even Christians can agree on that.

    • RichardSRussell

      And you “know” this … how?

      • Jack Baynes

        His book says so. And he knows the book is right because it says its always right

        • Myna

          It’s a book of magic!

    • Michael Neville

      You honestly believe there was a literal Adam and Eve? Wow, you’re even dumber and more ignorant than I thought. And I thought you were quite dumb and ignorant already for being a YEC.

      • Greg G.

        The difference between being dumb and ignorant is that it is theoretically possible to be totally ignorant.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I know it is….}8O)~

      • Kevin K

        YECs always buy into the entire mythological structure. 6 days, magic words go POOF, mud-man and rib-woman eating IQ-raising sin-fruit at the behest of the talking snake with legs. I’ve never seen a YEC who didn’t believe all of it was true.

        It’s only when you get away from the YECers that you get “oh, it’s beautiful metaphoric poetry” or some such bullshit.

    • Herald Newman

      So how does being dead fix this problem? Why don’t humans disobey God in heaven?

    • Rudy R

      Wasn’t that the purpose of God’s humanly visit to Earth in the form of Jesus? To bring a Kingdom of Heaven on Earth? In Jesus’ generation? Like I commented before, that is the Christian god’s epic failure of all-time.

    • Ignorant Amos

      I’d have thought an omniscient being would’ve known what was going to happen ahead of time, but there ya go, that’s just me.

    • Jim Jones

      Ignorant and stupid. Why did he want that?

      • Herald Newman

        So that God could punish us when we die. God’s a real sadist, and really enjoys the smell of burnt things, like offerings and human souls.

    • Kingasaurus

      Can people disobey once they get to heaven and screw that up too, or has your God engineered it so the beings in Heaven will never sin at all? if so, there’s no reason to make a physical universe at all where disobedience is possible. Do we have free will to disobey god in heaven, or are we just robots there?

    • al kimeea

      All according to plan

    • Without Malice

      I’m sorry, but that is really, really, stupid. Everyone (according to Christian dogma) who’s going to heaven is a sinner through and through. So unless heaven is a place were humans don’t have free will they will obviously sin in heaven just like they do here. God knew full well that man would sin before he even created him, and it would have been easy for him to give man free will but with the ability to choose to never sin. The only reason folks in heaven won’t sin is because, as the bible says, God will make them into new creatures. This really begs the question of why he didn’t make them that way to begin with instead making them in a way that would leave most of them being tortured forever in hell. And really, there is nothing in Genesis or in the teachings of Judaism that says mankind was consigned to a future of eternal torture because of the sin of Adam and Eve.

  • Pofarmer

    I stopped by Benjamin Coreys blog. The comments are-wow.

  • Kevin K

    It seems to me that a god that chose to make itself known would do so simply and unambiguously.

    ^^^This^^^

    Any god worth its salt could think of ways of instantly announcing its presence in a way that would be distinguishable from aliens or mere human thought.

    Heck, I’m not a god and I can think of a bazillion ways — none of which involve a grisly torture and execution of someone in the days before mass communications.

    • adam

      “Heck, I’m not a god and I can think of a bazillion ways — none of which
      involve a grisly torture and execution of someone in the days before
      mass communications.”

      Apparently you have much better morality than such gods.
      As does virtually everyone except psychopaths.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f6edead041781202f80c75d015d387e6cc53a861b9cb5dd846e0f4dd40a5805a.jpg

    • Jim Jones

      Religion is always the excuse, rarely the reason.

    • Without Malice

      It’s hard to see how anyone could argue that God wants to keep himself hidden when he freely walked in the garden with Adam and Eve, and freely interacted with the ancients, and freely took on flesh and blood for the sole purpose of making himself known.

      • Kevin K

        Exactly so. For a thousand years or more, this particular god was active in the lives of the people, visiting and discussing things in all manner of ways. It did not show any shyness whatsoever. And now we’re being told that it’s “too much to ask” for that very same god to demonstrate itself in some small way. That wouldn’t eliminate “free will” (whatever the hell that is). It would just set humans on the “correct” pathway.

  • RichardSRussell

    Heck, even if a super-duper-ultra-spiffy-gloryoski supreme being didn’t give a rat’s ass about making himself known to humanity, how could we possibly miss him? His existence would be as obvious as the sun (which, for much of human history, people thot was a god)!

  • Lerk!

    “But the core of Christianity can be distilled into a tract! If you insist on a brief version, there it is.”
    And someone, using the Bible, wrote a tract to refute the first tract.

  • Dannorth

    Captain Cassidy at Roll to Disbelieve has been exploring Calvinist theology recently.

    They have a perfect explanation as to why God might not have supplied a clear message to humanity: God IS a capricious monster and the best you can do is try to keep on his good side and hope for the best.

    • That explanation certainly screams out, but I was assuming the Christians wouldn’t want to go there.

      • Dannorth

        Apparently some do.

        I would expect that it lacks appeal to someone who has not been brought up in this belief.

      • MNb
        • “Why God Doesn’t Care if You’re Happy” and “JESUS DOESN’T WANT YOU TO BE HAPPY.” Hey–sign me up for that religion!

          That reminds me of a quote from VenomFangX: “Why doesn’t God heal amputees? Because they don’t deserve their arms, they deserve to die. That’s what the Bible teaches. Sorry if you don’t like that!”

        • Kevin K

          I really can’t handle theists who think like that. They go straight into my garbage bin. It’s disgusting.

        • What’s amusing is the combination of these straight shooters with other apologists who (as an actual argument for the rightness of the Christian position) will say, “But think about it–isn’t Christianity a much nicer worldview? Wouldn’t you rather it be true?”

          These apologists should get together and get their story straight.

        • MNb

          As soon as Eastern and Pentecost are celebrated on the same day.

    • Jack Baynes

      I thought the point of Calvinism is that nothing you can do will get you on God’s good side, he’ll arbitrarily decide whether you’re on his good side or not.

      • Dannorth
        • I love the acolytes of Sithrak.

        • TheNuszAbides

          oglaf ftw.

      • Jim Jones

        > whether you’re on his good side

        Which side that is you never know.

        • TheNuszAbides

          well duh, who wants to spoil that sexy ~Mystery~?

      • Without Malice

        Calvinism (predetermination) is the only logical conclusion that can be drawn if the world was created by an all-knowing and all-powerful being. Such a being would obviously have known the eternal fate of everyone who would ever live, and he still chose to make the world knowing that nearly everyone would end up in hell being tortured for ever and ever. Of course, this argument only holds if Christianity with all its idiotic and barbaric punishment and reward teachings is true. Now if the beliefs of Christianity were different, say in line with the teachings of some of the early church fathers who believed in universal salvation,and that hell was non-existent or a temporary corrective measure, then such a being wouldn’t seem such a monster. But most Christians seem to hope that he is just such a monster. Rather strange.

        • Michael Neville

          But most Christians seem to hope that he is just such a monster. Rather strange.

          Most Christians are convinced they’ll be getting harp lessons in the afterlife so they don’t really care what happens to other people. Some of them even take joy in telling people they know are going to Hell that they are going to Hell.

        • TheNuszAbides

          yep, it took me a little while to resign myself to the idea that even my sweet little close relatives’ ~concern~ for whether i ever Get Right With Gawd boils down to subtly cultivated terror, low-grade paranoia and overly-sheltered ignorance.

    • Without Malice

      Good heavens! That is so funny and so horrible at the same time.

      • TheNuszAbides

        any verification of ‘alien astronaut’ narratives would render figures like Yahweh SO much more plausible (i.e. as merely super-powerful and egomaniacal, not all this omni-horseshite).

  • See Noevo

    Or maybe you’re just anti-Semitic.
    The Jews, after all, started all this.

    • MNb

      Or maybe you just don’t make any sense.
      You hardly ever do, after all.

      • Myna

        x 10

    • Kevin K

      Flagged for being a roaring asshole.

  • Rt1583

    “Why did God need so much space?”

    Because the men who invented god and the story were always thinking of new shit to add. All the changes and additions made over a few decades (possibly a couple of centuries) based upon the behaviors, actions and interactions of a relatively few people.

    Imagine if they tried inventing and writing the story today with all the diversity in the world.

    They’d never be able to have a physical book. They’d have to settle for something like Wikipedia.

    • Michael Neville

      “Why did God need so much space?”

      Looking at this sentence without the context Bob originally gave it brought up another point about the Christian god.

      This is the Hubble Ultra Deep Field:

      https://cdn.spacetelescope.org/archives/images/thumb700x/heic0406a.jpg

      Astronomers pointed the Hubble Telescope at an apparently empty bit of sky 1/70th the size of the full Moon and exposed the CCD for two million seconds (a little over 23 days). The four objects with spikes are very faint stars in our galaxy. Every other swirl, smear and spot of light is a galaxy. The furthest one is so far away it took light traveling at 186,000 miles per second some 12 billion years to reach the telescope (because of the expansion of the universe, that galaxy is now about 46 billion light years away).

      Why does an Iron Age Middle Eastern tribal god need so much space?

      • Rt1583

        Gotta have enough room for structures such as this to spread out and do their thing.
        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f3365f70b1c7501931c4bc5d933827775cbf66859824a6b07395c5f4b2d86ac1.jpg

      • Rt1583

        The Extended Groth Strip is another fantastic view.

      • Kodie
        • Jim Jones

          Can you mansplain the manspread?

        • Kodie

          I cannot mansplain manspreading. I only know that practically since a girl can sit up, she’s taught to keep her legs closed or crossed so people can’t look up her skirt. To the best of my knowledge, boys are never, ever taught that, and so assume to sit comfortably, even in shared spaces.

        • Rt1583

          I’m sure boys are also taught to keep their legs closed when wearing a skirt.

        • Deut. 22:5 informs us that cross-dressing “is an abomination to the Lord your God.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/3b/05/22/3b0522e7d61938678d56d2caad69e694.jpg

          I know, it has been photo shopped for exaggeration. As a kilt wearer myself, I’m only too conscious of how the dangly bits are hinging.

        • TheNuszAbides

          hinging? that sounds like the wave of the future!

        • Tangent: this reminds me of an ad campaign from about 25 years ago. They spray painted on NYC sidewalks, “From here it looks like you could use some new underwear.” It was signed “Bamboo Lingerie.”

        • Kodie

          I couldn’t find anything about an actual company by that name, but hopefully marketing like that put them out of business.

        • Some say all press is good press. Another example: Benetton ads deliberately pushed the envelope.

          http://www.alistgator.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/benetton-ad-08.jpg

      • Zeta

        Michael Neville: “Why does an Iron Age Middle Eastern tribal god need so much space?

        You only have a finite mind so do not hope to understand an infinite god!

        He took 3 days to create the Earth but surprisingly he created in 1 day the rest of the Universe with more than 200 billion galaxies (a recent article says that we have a lot more galaxies) each containing perhaps 100 to 200 billion stars with countless planets.

        Commenter Zarquon5 has just posted the following DarkMatter2525 video over at Debunking Christianity on this:

        “The Most Wrong Anyone Ever Was”

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcQTCoY3wYQ&index=1&list=RDJcQTCoY3wYQ

        Interesting video. Apologies to those who have seen it.

      • al kimeea

        Shatner’s ego?

    • Joe

      Why did God need so much space?

      You need a lot of space to fly your Starship.

    • Kevin K

      Actually, I give the original mythmakers a lot of credit. They constructed a plausible story that interpreted the data they saw around them. They were primitive, but they weren’t stupid. Think about what they saw…

      A “flat fixed” earth. A sky that was blue as the waters, with a sky that appeared to be a specific set distance away from the ground (aka, a dome). A sun that clearly revolved around the Earth. Ditto the moon, which shone with a lesser light. Stars studded in the dome, that every once in a while you could see falling from the sky.

      How did all this get there? Until the Copernicans came along, it was a damned reasonable explanation to think that some “greater” being built it with the express purpose of putting humans there. And then that telescope thing came along and ruined everything.

      Of course, that’s the big problem, isn’t it? We’re 500 years post Copernicus and the explanation for the ever-expanding universe is to create a bigger and bigger deity, never mind the facts. The “god did it” explanation is quite literally 500 years out of date.

      • Rt1583

        You nailed it on the open and close.

  • Otto

    The Christian rebuttal is obvious, and I’ve already gotten a lot of this in response to a recent post: How do you know that this is what a god would do?

    The counter rebuttal is obvious too. So apparently we are not capable of even speculating what God would do. After all we are just lowly human beings and God being the smartest, greatest and most powerful being may have reasons we are not aware of. But they can know God created a convoluted, and complex way of communicating with us that required 40+ authors and all the committees of editors, copyists, and translators/interpreters to get the message across. They are certain that this is credible and makes sense (or at the very least it is the most probabilistic). They know what the message is, how it was communicated and that the message is true

    I will gladly concede that I cannot even fathom to speculate how a god would communicate if they would just admit that they cannot be certain and therefore should not comment about such matters either.

    • Next you’ll be saying that you’ll promise not to declare God as bad (since we pathetic humans are in no position to evaluate God’s actions) if they promise never to declare him good.

      I’m guessing you won’t get takers on either.

      • Otto

        Yes….that is exactly what I will do. …;)
        I won’t get takers, but they sure do get quiet.

  • Susan

    Why are there 45,000 denominations of Christianity today,

    Is it possible to add a link to your source for that?

    Karl is concerned about it and I’d like us all to be able to address his concern fairly.

    • Otto

      I know I have seen Neil Carter link to it. I will see if I can find it.

      • Susan

        I will see if I can find it.

        Thanks, Otto.

        • Otto

          Here is a link from what looks to be a Christian site that pretty closely relates those number and has itself links for their stats, though I did not follow the links.

          http://churchrelevance.com/qa-list-of-all-christian-denominations-and-their-beliefs/

        • Susan

          Here is a link from what looks to be a christian site that pretty closely relates those number and has itself links for their stats

          Thanks, Otto. That’s an excellent start. Now, I’ll just wait to see if Bob S. and Karl U. are referring to the same link.

          It made me chuckle when I saw the RCs on top, knowing that the RCs count their members by babies baptized.

          That is, I am included in their stats no matter how much I think they’re silly men prancing around in robes and no matter how much I loathe and stand against everything they represent.

          It’s got nothing to do with why i asked for the link but it made me laugh.

        • Otto

          I am part of their numbers too, as is my brother and sister, one of whom is a Lutheran and the other is an agnostic but essentially an atheist….lol.

          I wish I could cancel my membership.

        • Susan

          I wish I could cancel my membership.

          I wish I could too. Reality is that we both have.

          I just wish they wouldn’t continue to lie about it.

          But that would mean asking the RCC to stop lying.

        • Otto

          I made a post on the Catholic channel this morning and I can’t believe it is still there. Not that it is that bad but it doesn’t take much there to get them deleted. I rarely post anything there.

        • Susan

          Not that it is that bad but it doesn’t take much there to get them deleted.

          Oh, I know. And eventually banned. That’s their main strategy. Always has been.

          I rarely post anything there.

          My experience with catholic sites, though limited, has only confirmed that they can’t compete in the league unless they supply all the referees.

          Which is why you don’t see them venture outside of the compound very often and only in tiny numbers. Usually, a lone rogue.

          See Noevo was our last example. Funny, I guessed early that he was catholic and he told me that I guessed wrong. Then, it turned out he was a catholic.

        • Otto

          See no posted on that same blog….in fact he was first and seems to know a whole lot about Catholicism for not being a Catholic…lol

        • Ignorant Amos

          But Otto, he’s also a compulsive liar too. He’s a Catholic alright.

        • Dangitbobby

          Lying for Jesus seems to be a positive trait in the land of make-believe.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There was a period when you could’ve applied to defect yourself from the Church. From 1983-2010.

          If ya remember Tyler Durden, he went through the process and described the rings he had to jump through in a combox once.

          The sneaky bastards have closed that down that facility since 2010 though. I guess the ever increasing workload was fucking them up by 2010.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_act_of_defection_from_the_Catholic_Church

        • Otto

          Figures…

        • Susan

          There was a period when you could’ve applied to defect yourself from the Church. From 1983-2010.

          I know. But I am glad you’ve made this clear for any lurkers.

          If ya remember Tyler Durden, he went through the process and described the rings he had to jump through in a combox once.

          I do but I’m glad you’ve pointed it out for the lurkers.

          The sneaky bastards have closed that down that facility since 2010 though. I guess the ever increasing workload was fucking them up by 2010

          I know. They hate anything that gets in the way of their agenda.

          I would even understand that dealing with that became unsupportable for them in an administrative way. But the lying liars decided to claim baptized babies as catholics.

          That’s why I refer to them as lying liars. They turned their inability to address administrative problems into a lie they use when it’s convenient for them.

    • Ignorant Amos
    • I’ve added it to the post, though I realize you’ve already gotten it from others.

      http://www.internationalbulletin.org/issues/2015-01/2015-01-028-johnson.pdf

  • Thomas Goodnow

    A rebuttal would hopefully include more than just “how do you know what God would want?” The idea that something, in order to be true, must be simple, itself seems fraught with problems; the US Constitution is fairly short and to the point, and is accompanied by hundreds of thousands of pages of legal and administrative code and court precedent. You can’t run the country on the Constitution alone (or do physics with only differential calculus, to cite another example). The bible was written over about 1000 years, in three languages, in at least 4 distinct cultures. The governmental equivalent would not be the US Constitution, but a study of all government constitutions and equivalents developed, say, between 800 and 1800 on the European continent. I suppose that a religious text could be delivered in one language and one culture at one time: the Q’uran claims to be such, and meets most of the list of requirements, but even here it is still backed up on a practical level by 1000s of ahadith.

    If the thing you’re dealing with is simple, the solution can be simple. Humanity and its cultures are not particularly simple and having a super-smart God isn’t much help since humans (the recipients) aren’t particularly smart. I suppose God could just put knowledge of himself straight into human consciousness, or into the universe generally (and, with a few exceptions, Christian theologians have argued that this is, in fact, the case). I suppose he could also use this to compel belief (in which case this conversation wouldn’t be happening). Why he does one and not the other is not obvious, though of course the obvious solution is that he values some level of freedom of will. This, as a concept, is something most skeptics are OK with, though you do find an occasional inconsistent determinist (e.g. Sam Harris), though they are largely unable (unwilling?) to carry determinism through to its logical conclusions.

    I think that God’s hiddenness is actually one of the better reasons to be an atheist, but the complexity of the Bible seems a very weak argument. I appreciate that it retains some value as in-group speech and encouragement for atheists, but we probably shouldn’t convince ourselves that it carries much weight outside these forums.

    • adam

      “but the complexity of the Bible seems a very weak argument.”

      Perhaps it would be a weak argument, except the complexity of the bible seems to be an attempt to rationalize irrational beliefs and to obscure internal inconsistencies and contradictions that are key to its ‘dogma’.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ad9800ce923b31295afed0a2d2a97d756340d851163d91fe88dc7cbe5bcb82af.jpg

    • The governmental equivalent would not be the US Constitution, but a study of all government constitutions and equivalents developed, say, between 800 and 1800 on the European continent.

      Or maybe your previous example—the constitution + all the laws that instantiate that constitution on the ground.

      And because the Bible is indeed more like this than just a simple constitution is a clue that God didn’t inspire it.

      I suppose he could also use this to compel belief

      Which is indeed what many Christians say happens. Their proselytizing only goes so far; it’s the Holy Spirit who deigns to give faith to certain people.

      I think that God’s hiddenness is actually one of the better reasons to be an atheist

      My recent post on this here.

      . . . but the complexity of the Bible seems a very weak argument.

      That the Bible looks precisely like the blog of an ancient tribe, with the focus on the history of a people and God as a supporting character is strong evidence that that’s all it is. But then what would an unambiguous, God-given document look like? A constitution.

      But you don’t find this compelling. Tell me more.

      • Thomas Goodnow

        There are multiple ways to go here: for instance, I would argue that the “Bible as constitution” model is problematic, and that the only parts which might be this would be Deuteronomy, possibly Exodus and Leviticus, with commentary in parts of the prophets. That “nonresistant nonbelief exists” can also be debated (I do not feel compelled to believe it). However, the hiddenness argument is where we’re at right now, and this is an interesting topic.

        I would argue that divine hiddenness (along with the inferential cumulative problem of evil) are among the best reasons to be an atheist. I do not, however, find them compelling, and find many reasons to doubt a naturalistic view of the world (which I assume is largely what you are offering in the place of some sort of theism).

        It is probably impossible to argue for God’s existence based on his hiddenness, as you’ve pointed out. However, I don’t see a logical problem with the arguments presented by Koukl et al. The best that could probably be stated is that if God does desire that everyone believe in him, then he’s doing a poor job (i.e. a desire for all to be saved is inconsistent with the fact that not all, apparently, are saved). This problem is obviously not a new discovery, as it inhabits the Bible itself. Solutions have ranged from universalism (all do eventually believe, one way or another) to a hard Calvinism (i.e. God’s ultimate desire is for his greater glory, not your salvation). Obviously, these resolve the problem, and the most that can generally be said is that they are inconsistent with some interpretations of some passages and/or some views of revelation. None of these are atheistic arguments, obviously. To make a long story short, God’s hiddenness is consistent with atheism, but is not a defeater of theism.
        Where does that leave me? I have never exactly been a gung-ho theist, having become a Christian rather gradually and tentatively; I have never been a model of faith. However, having come out of a naturalistic background, I feel like I do have a sense for its weaknesses. In particular:
        1. The assumption that mind = brain has problems. Nagel (“Mind and Cosmos”) has catalogued the most serious. The most problematic is that if mind = brain, and brain = neurochemistry, then thought, consciousness, ethics and aesthetics are neurochemistry. Trying to derive rationality and values from biochemistry is problematic to say the least. “The brain secretes thought as the liver secretes bile”, with presumably as much (or little) import.
        2. Because of this, foundation is lacking for all these things: on an evolutionary model, all these things either exist because of a survival value or because they are incidental. Ethics helps us cooperate (and if slavery is helpful, it is “good”, for instance), aesthetics is perhaps some side-effect of evolution (e.g. the dubious study by Hurlbert et al about men’s preference for blue and women’s preference for pink). Consciousness is an enigma, but it is presumably unnecessary and is a spandrel (ants get along very well without it), and rationality is grounded solely in its survival value (asking whether it tells us anything “true” is a pointless question).
        3. Obviously, this last undercuts its own foundation: if rationality evolved for its survival value and not its truth-finding value (or, where it finds truth, it is incidental), then the evolutionary synthesis and science of every sort is of the same general importance as peacock feathers. Being brainy may get you a mate, but doesn’t really accomplish anything, and may actually be a disadvantage (only conscious and meaning-seeking animals like humans can suffer as exquisitely as we do).

        God’s hiddenness is consistent with atheism. These other factors are not, however, and have a harder time being dismissed, though I know it’s been attempted (you would be unlikely to break new ground here). Aquinas and Hume, at least, have pointed out these problems, and others more recently have formulated arguments against atheistic naturalism (e.g. Eagleton, “Reason, Faith and Revolution” or Berlinski, “The Devil’s Delusion”).

        Finally, the issue of meaning and value comes up. Value is a relational concept: a rock does not value another rock, and so there must be a “someone” to be doing the valuing. This, I presume, is the cause of the oft-repeated thought, “I make my life valuable through my choices.” What few atheists seem to realize, however, is that Sartre and company used this as an expedient, not as a solution: it was preferable to suicide. There is no value that survives the death of the human who holds it in an atheistic universe: if you value life, feel free to keep living and help others to live until your strength gives out, but if you want to go out in a Dylan Klebold-esque blaze of glory, there is strictly no argument against it except that I and people like me don’t like it. There are atheists who embrace some form of nihilism (Bertrand Russell being the most famous I’m familiar with, “A Free Man’s Worship”). It’s unpopular these days, however, and I’ll leave it up to you to figure out why: is it inability to follow an argument through to a conclusion, or some argument that avoids it that I haven’t heard yet? Or is it mere cowardice (not that this is a strike against it: early 20th century existentialists embraced this, after a fashion)?

        All this is strictly an argumentum ad consequentiam, of course, but it leaves an interesting puzzle if people are incapable of living with the consequents of their beliefs. Perhaps this is the best argument against human rationality.

        • I would argue that the “Bible as constitution” model is problematic

          Right, because the Bible doesn’t look like one. And from that contrast, I conclude that a constitution directly from God is more like what an actual god would do.

          [I] find many reasons to doubt a naturalistic view of the world (which I assume is largely what you are offering in the place of some sort of theism).

          Right—naturalism.

          The best that could probably be stated is that if God does desire that everyone believe in him, then he’s doing a poor job (i.e. a desire for all to be saved is inconsistent with the fact that not all, apparently, are saved).

          But a perfect god wouldn’t do a poor job. Contradiction.

          This problem is obviously not a new discovery, as it inhabits the Bible itself. Solutions have ranged from universalism (all do eventually believe, one way or another) to a hard Calvinism (i.e. God’s ultimate desire is for his greater glory, not your salvation). Obviously, these resolve the problem, and the most that can generally be said is that they are inconsistent with some interpretations of some passages and/or some views of revelation.

          Yes. The apologist who takes one of these avenues must live with the unpleasant consequences. Or pretend they don’t exist, which is also popular.

          God’s hiddenness is consistent with atheism, but is not a defeater of theism.

          And here we are on earth, just following the evidence. “But you haven’t proven God doesn’t exist!” is true but irrelevant.

          Trying to derive rationality and values from biochemistry is problematic to say the least.

          Why? Deriving absolute or objective rationality, meaning, purpose, morality, and all that is a problem if things go back to chemistry, but that’s no goal of mine.

          foundation is lacking for all these things: on an evolutionary model, all these things either exist because of a survival value or because they are incidental. Ethics helps us cooperate (and if slavery is helpful, it is “good”, for instance), aesthetics is perhaps some side-effect of evolution (e.g. the dubious study by Hurlbert et al about men’s preference for blue and women’s preference for pink). Consciousness is an enigma, but it is presumably unnecessary and is a spandrel (ants get along very well without it), and rationality is grounded solely in its survival value (asking whether it tells us anything “true” is a pointless question).

          Where’s the problem?

          When the Christian says, “Ah, but I can ground morality!” (or whatever), he’s deceiving himself. He has an answer, but it’s a bullshit answer.

          if rationality evolved for its survival value and not its truth-finding value (or, where it finds truth, it is incidental)

          These tend to line up. Yes, you might stumble across a good survival belief that’s not factually correct, but truth is a harsh mistress. False things tend to fall away because they’re not conducive to survival.

          Being brainy may get you a mate, but doesn’t really accomplish anything, and may actually be a disadvantage (only conscious and meaning-seeking animals like humans can suffer as exquisitely as we do).

          “Accomplish anything” like what?

          if you want to go out in a Dylan Klebold-esque blaze of glory, there is strictly no argument against it except that I and people like me don’t like it.

          Obviously. I don’t know where you’re going with this, though.

          it leaves an interesting puzzle if people are incapable of living with the consequents of their beliefs.

          This doesn’t plague me or the atheists that I know. I reject the argument that nihilism is an inevitable consequence of atheism.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          My overall impression is that you don’t find the consequents of an atheist worldview to be problematic. I suppose it’s a free country, but there is a bit of irony in pointing out all the problems with Christianity, being mystified at Christians’ obstinacy in not seeing the obvious, and then going and doing likewise. It is admittedly rare to find an atheist in the mold of a Bertrand Russell or Jean Paul Sartre anymore (even Carl Sagan and NdGT can’t help waxing poetic about star stuff and such treacly drivel). All of these issues I bring up remain live issues for philosophers, sociologists and even historians (not just Christians), but I appreciate they are not issues for you at this time.

          My mention of the Columbine massacre was an effort to point out that, on atheistic assumptions, what they did was perhaps abhorrent, but there is no particular reason to find it this way (i.e. this is only a visceral, emotive response). Put differently, is there an atheist’s response to the people over at vhemt.org? Is there something that makes humanity valuable other than that I am one and can’t help feeling this way? God does not compel belief, but apparently neurochemistry does: you find “senseless” killings unpleasant but can’t explain (logically) why. Is there anything here other than “selfish genes” making us want to thrive?

          There are particular responses I could make to your rebuttals, and can make them if you want (e.g. arguing that a constitution model of the Bible is what you would expect, whereas it’s an atheist trope to complain that the god of Christians looks too much like what they like). These issues of grounding and consequents of atheism are the heart of the matter. I appreciate that much atheist blogging is, frankly, to encourage other atheists and not to engage the best philosophy or sociology or Christian theology or apologetics, and I won’t trouble you further. As I mentioned, I am a reluctant Christian at times, and am always open to considering atheist arguments; I have just been disappointed. I am always open to reading suggestions if you’ve found something especially helpful, though I have generally been disappointed with the canon so far (“God Delusion”, “Breaking the Spell”, ‘Moral Landscape” and similar things by Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins, Dennett and Boghossian (and even more disappointed with Loftus and Barker and Aron Ra, who are mostly propagandists rather than thinkers)). I suppose this all goes to further prove what I assume is obvious: humans aren’t entirely logical, and rarely if ever believe what they do on a purely reasonable basis. But this is veering dangerously close to Romans 1 and to GK Chesterton’s quip that the only Christian doctrine that can be proved is that humans are screwed up (a rough paraphrase). Christianity just seems to have fewer problematic entailments than atheism.

          Christianity has its issues: God’s hiddenness and the cumulative problem of evil are the most prominent, though there are issues in canon, interpretation, and some real problems with history and philosophy which are generally too esoteric for most skeptics to have heard of. However, trading a problematic worldview for an even more problematic one isn’t much of a solution. I will check your blog on occasion to see what’s new, and it’s been an interesting discussion.

        • My overall impression is that you don’t find the consequents of an atheist worldview to be problematic.

          Right. Christians will say, “Ah, but you can’t ground morality” (or purpose or whatever), ignoring the fact that they can’t either.

          I suppose it’s a free country, but there is a bit of irony in pointing out all the problems with Christianity, being mystified at Christians’ obstinacy in not seeing the obvious, and then going and doing likewise.

          I’m not following the parallel you’re drawing.

          It is admittedly rare to find an atheist in the mold of a Bertrand Russell or Jean Paul Sartre anymore (even Carl Sagan and NdGT can’t help waxing poetic about star stuff and such treacly drivel). All of these issues I bring up remain live issues for philosophers, sociologists and even historians (not just Christians), but I appreciate they are not issues for you at this time.

          I’m baffled at people for whom these are issues. “Oh, dear, my purpose is only given by me, which counts for nothing, and I have to have one given by a god, even though the evidence for such a god is negligible, so I want to kill myself” doesn’t even make sense to me, let alone have traction.

          Yeah—you don’t have a purpose. There is no Overlord. Your generation is in charge. Now man up and get on with it.

          What’s left unexplained by the atheist or naturalistic worldview?

          My mention of the Columbine massacre was an effort to point out that, on atheistic assumptions, what they did was perhaps abhorrent, but there is no particular reason to find it this way (i.e. this is only a visceral, emotive response).

          Right. And “The Holocaust was bad” (rather than good) is only an opinion. You got something better? It’d be nice to have God’s Big Book of Moral Dilemmas so we could look up the answers in the back. I don’t think we have access to such a thing.

          is there an atheist’s response to the people over at vhemt.org?

          What is their position?

          Is there something that makes humanity valuable other than that I am one and can’t help feeling this way?

          You’re a certain species. You come out of the box with certain mental hardware. Some of that is the Golden Rule. You’re stuck with it. You have compassion for other people because you were built that way, and for no more profound reason.

          you find “senseless” killings unpleasant but can’t explain (logically) why.

          Not at all. Evolution developed us, a social species, to care for others. Again, what is left to explain by naturalism?

          Of course, you can say that science has unanswered questions. True, of course, but this is the Christian’s lot as well. You can make up “God did it!” to solve this or that scientific question, but there’s no evidence for this.

          There are particular responses I could make to your rebuttals, and can make them if you want (e.g. arguing that a constitution model of the Bible is what you would expect, whereas it’s an atheist trope to complain that the god of Christians looks too much like what they like).

          I don’t understand your point here.

          I appreciate that much atheist blogging is, frankly, to encourage other atheists and not to engage the best philosophy or sociology or Christian theology or apologetics, and I won’t trouble you further.

          My goal is indeed to engage with the best arguments for Christian apologetics.

          As an aside, I do find philosophical arguments to often be little more than a smokescreen, a haze of words that slow down an opponent rather than actually make a good case.

          I have no book recommendations; sorry.

          Christianity just seems to have fewer problematic entailments than atheism.

          We certainly disagree here. While you’re a semi-reluctant Christian, I’m not at all reluctant as an atheist. Everywhere I turn, I seem to find more reasons to confirm my position. That could be confirmation bias . . . or I could actually be backing the right horse.

          Christianity has its issues: God’s hiddenness and the cumulative problem of evil are the most prominent

          I applaud your honesty.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          We’re obviously approaching the point of trading assertions and/or wandering off into other topics. Christianity has loose ends, and atheism has more. I will confine my comments to places where you requested clarification

          “Going and doing likewise”: I was pointing out that, as obvious as the problems of Christianity seem to me, the problems with naturalistic atheism seem to me as obvious and more problematic. You seem to present atheistic naturalism as having no loose ends: everything is tied up, every question answered, at least in theory, and if someone finds it unsatisfying, they’re not doing it right. The overall attitude seems little different than that of the facile evangementalism that populates Christian TV. If atheism were this perfect, either more people would believe it: it’s always been an underwhelmingly minority position (perhaps this is atheism’s “hiddenness” problem?) Or perhaps there is something deeply wrong with human rationality which atheists have somehow avoided. When I’ve asked atheists how they’ve avoided the usual intellectual folly which seems common to humans generally (and apparently Christians in particular), I usually get hand-waving: oh, we’re just educated, rational, not brain-washed, and anyone who disagrees with us hasn’t really tried, is deluded, insane, frightened, etc. In contrast to this thought however, a very engaging atheist friend of mine put it many years ago, “our shit smells just as bad as yours.” This sort of perspective that appreciates that we’re all human beings with essentially the same cerebral equipment seems lacking generally among atheists (or at least among the more outspoken). Much of me hopes that this is rhetorical, not actual; as a pastor friend of mine put it, “if your point is weak, pound the pulpit”, and this may be true for more popular-level atheism. Certainly, for instance, Thomas Nagel or Graham Oppy have sophisticated atheist arguments are are not this way. It’s my impression, of course, and I try not to draw too many conclusions from social media like this.

          I suppose thinking deeply about life, the universe and everything is an acquired taste. Most people don’t put 15 minutes of consecutive thought into question of whether life means anything, whether human identities are fixed or malleable and to what degree, and what should be guiding principles to life and why. This is probably just as true of many Christians as atheists, though among converts like myself it is rare; even the guys I know who found Jesus in rehab or prison often think deeply about beliefs and their implications. If questions about meaning and purpose do not interest you, however, you have plenty of company. You’re not the first to tell me, in effect, “philosophy is just mental masturbation, just get on with it”. Of course, I can’t help but ask, “get on with what?” My hunch is that if ‘it’ for me involves bombing an abortion clinic or having an imam ‘circumcise’ my daughter, you would not be so encouraging. Everyone lives their lives on purpose, guided by principles and norms, some absorbed and some chosen, and some people don’t ever bother thinking about it. I admit that I’m in the camp of Socrates in arguing that an examined life is not worth living, but it’s a free country, and most people are happy with low levels of introspection, at least until a crisis calls old ways of doing and thinking into question. None of these are uniquely Christian thoughts, incidentally. I do appreciate your thought about confirmation bias and horse racing, even if you stole it from me 😉

          I’ve addressed some particular issues in responses to other people in this thread which you might find helpful or interesting, but if not, I certainly understand.

        • adam

          “Christianity has loose ends, and atheism has more.”

          Nothing in atheism even approaches the loose ends in christianty.

          Positing an imaginary God, beyond understanding is the ULTIMATE in loose ends.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bf3ab7ed04d447ff091f3cf19fcdefc6aafeccae006445994adc3759435c0aa5.jpg

          ” If atheism were this perfect, either more people would believe it: it’s always been an underwhelmingly minority position ”

          You do understand why dont you?

          Religious propaganda, coercion and force is what has kept atheism at bay.
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b6b5240f53deb4a0141b0d9196de29540d1f8931a4c8d5713b9547eca65cbd2f.jpg

          Newly available FREEDOM as well as the ability to source INFORMATION is what is contributing to the ‘coming out’ of atheist.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          “Nothing in atheism”: I’ve given the list (ethics, consciousness, rationality, aesthetics, justice, meaning/purpose/value, existence). I appreciate these are big topics. Responding with, “well, those aren’t issues for ME” isn’t really helpful: is there some atheist author you’ve read that has put all this together for you (I appreciate that it might’ve taken several)?
          No one (in at least the better theology I’ve read) posits that God is either beyond understanding or complex. In most Western theology (Christian or otherwise), God is simple, incapable of being reduced or subdivided into separate parts except in a purely theoretical sense (i.e. analogous to the human mind). And I’m not sure how arguing, since the creator of something must be more complex than the creation, that this does not lead to the conclusion that nothing exists. An infinite regress of increasingly complex creators yields the usual problem with this: we would not exist since we would not reach the terminus of creations that yields us (or anything simple.
          “You do understand…”: No, enlighten me.
          The usual trope is “most people today and in the past especially, were fearful, manipulated, ignorant, brainwashed and irrational. Though we are the physical, anatomical, intellectual and historical descendants of these dupes, we know better, and are also immune to the irrational and political missteps of the primitive ‘atheists’ who came before us. Today, a bold new group of adventurers have broken free of their shackles and declared a New Day for Reason and Science. Our numbers are few, but increasing as the bogeyman of religion loses its grip. ” OK. If you say so. The rest of us little people will wait for the utopia you’re ushering in.
          If you don’t appreciate that this is how it does, actually, sound, then you’ve spend too much time in the skepticwebs echo-chamber. Most people in history have been theists of one sort or another, and many of them have been smarter than either of us; to dismiss this requires an argument, not a just-so story that bolsters the atheist community’s preferred creation-myth narrative. Read some Augustine or Calvin or Maimonides or Dante or even CS Lewis or Karl Barth or NT Wright (preferably in a good annotated edition for the older stuff) and then tell me how ignorant they are in comparison to your typical Dawkins or Boghossian or Loftus or Aron Ra (!).

          (In re Crusades etc.: I don’t spend time debating whether people who call themselves Christians or people who call themselves atheists have behaved more badly. Presumably, this is irrelevant to the question of God’s existence, and at most bears on what sort of God it might be and/or what sort of things human being are).

        • adam

          “Responding with, “well, those aren’t issues for ME” isn’t really helpful:”

          Atheism is simply the disbelief in deity.

          “No one (in at least the better theology I’ve read) posits that God is either beyond understanding or complex.”

          And yet no two people understands it the same way.

          “God is simple, incapable of being reduced or subdivided into separate parts except in a purely theoretical sense (i.e. analogous to the human mind). ”

          So merely a creation of the human mind, I understand that, that is the evidence that led me to atheism..
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c4e3bbea2d1e4d81dbd3798980be2ee8b39f893fee5d1d2b81b76b5e7ba184e1.jpg
          ” Presumably, this is irrelevant to the question of God’s existence, and at most bears on what sort of God it might be”

          And what is the purpose of an undefined God, if not deception?

        • Christianity has loose ends, and atheism has more.

          I’ll be interested to see this backed up with examples.

          You seem to present atheistic naturalism as having no loose ends: everything is tied up

          Not everything, just every major thing. Or it’s plausible that naturalism is the answer. As opposed to Christianity, which is incredible out of the gate.

          If atheism were this perfect, either more people would believe it

          You’re kidding, right? When you’re raised within a supernatural worldview, even though it’s ridiculous from the outside, you as an adult will defend beliefs that you believe just because you were raised that way. You think up rationalizations to convince yourself that, no, this is actually well grounded in fact.

          This sort of perspective that appreciates that we’re all human beings with essentially the same cerebral equipment seems lacking generally among atheists (or at least among the more outspoken).

          That’s odd. It sounds exactly like what every atheist would agree with.

          I suppose thinking deeply about life, the universe and everything is an acquired taste.

          Are you saying, acquired by Christians? Seems to me that it’s the naturalists who are able to see nature most clearly.

          If questions about meaning and purpose do not interest you, however, you have plenty of company.

          Meaning and purpose do interest me. Philosophical smoke screens don’t.

          The only value for heavy philosophical arguments in favor of Christianity that I’ve been able to see is that they were weighty. That’s it. Not that they were true or provided new insights but that they were an obstacle that a contrary position has to climb over that gives the retreating Christian breathing room.

          most people are happy with low levels of introspection

          Sounds right, but why add this to your comments? Is this supposed to represent me?

        • Thomas Goodnow

          “I’d be interested…”: multiple examples above. In general, science argues something like “atoms do not possess ethics, purpose, value, meaning, consciousness, rationality or an aesthetic sense. However, when you put enough of them together, in the right configuration (we’ll call it a “human” for short), these things all come into existence.” This actually seems like a major problem to me. “We as materialists do not know the answer to this problem now, but we certainly will someday, and without altering our metaphysics, mind you” seems incredible out of the gate. Christianity has problems, with the two we’ve mentioned being the most intractable. However, atheism does have issues, and a disproof of an evangelical form of Christianity does not constitute and argument for atheism or materialism in any case.

          “You’re kidding, right? When you’re raised …. every atheist would agree with.”: I would not argue that what I believe was arrived at as the conclusion of a syllogism (nor was it what I was raised with, incidentally), but this is almost certainly true of you as well, and definitely true of most atheists. We do have the same mental equipment. The secret is to use it properly. It sounds like we do agree on this, but have arrived at different conclusions. This suggests that one of us is not thinking straight, has thoughts clouded by preconceptions or desires or upbringing or reaction against an upbringing or similar: that person is me. My contention is that this is also you. Presumably a desire to correct this is why this thread has gone on for over 12000 words now. The fact that we’re still flailing away also suggests that more than reason is involved: pride, arrogance, fear, love, concern and hope are some other possibilities. The Christian worldview accounts for all of these without reducing them to neurochemistry and hopeful prognostications about science.

          “Are you saying…”: it’s obviously not a Christian concern, predating Christianity by at least 2000 years, and persisting in areas where Christianity has long been dismissed (as in 20th century existentialism or Marxism) or has never really existed (India, eastern Asia). I do agree that naturalists are able to see nature most clearly (science must be functionally naturalistic to make progress), but I argue that reality consists of more than mere nature.

          “The only value…”: I suppose all I can say is that they’ve been very helpful for me in understanding not just Christianity, but the world generally. Sire’s “The Universe Next Door” along with Pannenberg’s “Jesus: God and Man” put me on to this track, though the latter was nearly incomprehensible to me 25 years ago. Your mileage may vary. I know that neither of us is alone in either of these paths: there are plenty of atheists (and many Christians) who would characterize both these books as “philosophical smokescreens”, and there are plenty like me who found them the first steps into a wider and more wonderful world.

          “Is that supposed to…”: I do try not to do internet therapy. You’ve indicated that you are baffled by people who find these sorts of philosophical questions interesting; so do many, probably most people in the world today, including some very smart people (e.g. my bro-in-law who developed much of the software for MS Mouse). This is not necessarily a disadvantage: it does help you to get on with life without getting bogged down in Angst, ennui, Weltschmerz, Sehnsucht and all those other Continental problems (yes, I am laughing at/to myself right now). As such, you will speak to a different audience than I will, as will the Christians out there who think similarly (e.g. Greg Koukl and Hank Hanegraaf). For people who do want to go deeper, there will be Nancy Pearcey and WL Craig and Edward Feser and the Plantingas. I have been mildly disappointed that I have found so few atheists in this latter category (Graham Oppy and Thomas Nagel are the only so far), which is why I’m always fishing for recommendations.

        • science argues something like “atoms do not possess ethics, purpose, value, meaning, consciousness, rationality or an aesthetic sense. However, when you put enough of them together, in the right configuration (we’ll call it a “human” for short), these things all come into existence.” This actually seems like a major problem to me.

          Water molecules do not possess the properties of surface tension, pH, or fluidity. However, when you put enough of them together, these properties are manifest.

          Doesn’t seem like a problem to me. These are emergent phenomena.

          “We as materialists do not know the answer to this problem now, but we certainly will someday, and without altering our metaphysics, mind you” seems incredible out of the gate.

          I don’t see the problem, but let’s assume you’re right, and there are unanswered questions. I suspect that the thing that has always reliably taught us new information about reality, science, will be the thing that answers our outstanding questions. Christianity has taught us nothing.

          I would not argue that what I believe was arrived at as the conclusion of a syllogism (nor was it what I was raised with, incidentally), but this is almost certainly true of you as well, and definitely true of most atheists.

          There’s an asymmetry here that you may be missing. When given an incredible claim (Bigfoot, alien abductions), the negative view is the default one. Same for supernatural claims.

          This suggests that one of us is not thinking straight, has thoughts clouded by preconceptions or desires or upbringing or reaction against an upbringing or similar: that person is me.

          To some extent, yes, though I avoid the “Christians are stupid” category of arguments. Their beliefs make a kind of sense, even though I think they’re completely wrong.

          The Christian worldview accounts for all of these without reducing them to neurochemistry and hopeful prognostications about science.

          Meh. The scientific worldview is the one that cautions us about confirmation bias, logical fallacies, and so on.

          Sire’s “The Universe Next Door” along with Pannenberg’s “Jesus: God and Man” put me on to this track, though the latter was nearly incomprehensible to me 25 years ago. Your mileage may vary.

          I’m unaware of the arguments in these books.

          You’ve indicated that you are baffled by people who find these sorts of philosophical questions interesting

          I don’t think that’s what I said. I find the weighty philosophical arguments just a smoke screen. And what does it say that one must resort to arguments like this? Why is the answer to “Does God exist?” to simply point to him? That the question is even asked by thoughtful people defeats Christianity.

          For people who do want to go deeper, there will be Nancy Pearcey and WL Craig and Edward Feser and the Plantingas. I have been mildly disappointed that I have found so few atheists in this latter category (Graham Oppy and Thomas Nagel are the only so far), which is why I’m always fishing for recommendations.

          Again, that philosophy of religion is a thing defeats Christianity IMO. I’ve read a fair amount of WLC and thing very little of his arguments. I’ve read some Feser and Plantinga and haven’t been impressed, though they haven’t seemed to be so obviously shallow. I’ve heard of few female apologists, unfortunately. That’s a problem within atheism as well (I wonder why). Anyway, I’ve not read any Pearcey. Point me to any summaries of novel arguments if you think they’d be interesting to me.

        • MR

          The fact that we’re still flailing away also suggests that more than reason is involved…

          The fact that you’re still flailing away suggests you don’t have an argument for the existence of God and repeatedly resort to fallacious argumentation to obscure this fact.

        • MR

          Christianity has loose ends, and atheism has more.

          Category error. [i.e., Atheism is not on par with Christianity.] Atheism is simply non-belief in God. No loose ends there.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          I agree, which is why I’ve generally been critiquing “atheistic materialism” or “atheistic existentialism”. Atheism, as you define it, is not even a belief, much less a religion. You can’t run your life based on not believing something, and I’ve never met an atheist who can (honestly) say, “the only thing I believe is that I have no belief in god(s)”.

        • MR

          I agree, which is why I’ve generally been critiquing “atheistic materialism” or “atheistic existentialism”.

          Then quit equivocating. Three years you say you’ve been doing this, and you’re still using such tactics? Tsk, tsk, tsk. It makes you look dishonest.

          You can’t run your life based on not believing something, and I’ve never met an atheist who can (honestly) say, “the only thing I believe is that I have no belief in god(s)”.

          And atheists do believe all kinds of things and run their lives just fine. Some of those things are the same things that Christians believe. Loving your family, friends and your fellow man doesn’t require a belief in God. Being kind to other people doesn’t require a belief in God. Not going around murdering and raping doesn’t require a belief in God.

          Neither an atheist nor a Christian need to develop some kind of full blown moral code to run their lives. Most of it is hardwired within us, anyway, and doesn’t even need thought or “belief.” I am a social animal and the simple tool of empathy goes a long way toward handling so many of the things you seem worried about. No belief, no doctrine, no philosophy, no worldview needed.

          On top of that I can pick and choose from what I consider the best moral precepts, Christian or not. Just. like. Christians. Do you imagine Christianity provides a full blown set of moral codes? Christians today borrow from other religions, from the Greeks, from Benjamin Franklin from their neighbors…. You don’t think Christianity itself borrowed moral precepts from other religions, cultures…, and Judaism before it?

        • adam

          “You can’t run your life based on not believing something,”

          How is your life based on not believing in Flying Invisible PInk Unicorns or garden fairies or that Spiderman is not real working out?

          I’ve never met an atheist who can (honestly) say, “the only thing I believe is that I have no belief in god(s)”.

          as well as theists who can honestly say “the only thing I believe is that I believe in god(s).

          Do you ever take time to think your claims through?

        • MNb

          “If atheism were this perfect, either more people would believe it”
          Christianity only originated once. Atheism at least twice.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charvaka
          What does this tell you then?

          “When I’ve asked atheists how they’ve avoided the usual intellectual folly which seems common to humans generally”
          My answer: I think I have managed to avoid this particular intellectual folly. I’m quite aware I have committed several others in my life. So shrug.
          So what this question really is about, if you had formulated it properly and honestly, is method. What criteria can we use to decide if some postulation, some statement is correct or incorrect?

        • Thomas Goodnow

          “What does this tell you”: not much. Christianity has arisen only once because it is a historically contingent religion (nothing in history happens exactly the same way twice). Materialism arose in India and Greece (at least); non-materialisms (such as various theisms) have arisen at least hundreds of times. I’m not sure what I should conclude from this.

          Your last question is one of those Big Questions, of course, and I wouldn’t think we’re going to solve it here. However, I would point out that Christianity has built into it a certain amount of intellectual humility: Romans 1 argues that our loyalties do affect our thinking, and Eph 1:16-21 argues that belief in God is largely or exclusively a divine prerogative. You may not believe it, obviously, but the Bible does not contain an anthropology that suggests that humans are logical or even able to train themselves to think completely logically. Much of modernism (or at least Enlightenment thinking) argues that this is possible (e.g. Rousseau). More recent studies in science, sociology and philosophy argues that this is a pipe-dream. You don’t have to go full post-modern and doubt every possible narrative to appreciate this. And always listen to my buddy:
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1ad4eaa86ab74b1a0f0cc693e4a8cbb0ba11b6003a94ae692f653297790dcacc.jpg

        • MNb

          “Materialism arose in India and Greece (at least);”
          It doesn’t strike you that the two have lots in common?

          “non-materialisms (such as various theisms) have arisen at least hundreds of times”
          and that these non-materialisms can’t reach consensus on anything? It seems to me that you very own statement applies here:

          “If dualism, specifically religious versions of it, were this perfect, more people would agree about its contents.”
          Yup, you’ve bitten yourself in your tail.

          “Your last question is one of those Big Questions, of course”
          Not at all. It’s pretty easy for me to formulate some criteria that can we use to decide if some postulation, some statement is correct or incorrect. Many christians will even agree.
          Again it’s telling that you need a long, complicated answer – something that’s also indicated by your label Big Question.
          You’re not capable of formulating a clear answer. That again supports (but does not prove) the supposition that there is no god is the preferable one. Your method to arrive at the god-conclusion can’t be explained hence is unreliable.

          “You may not believe it, obviously, but the Bible does not contain an anthropology that suggests that humans are logical or even able to train themselves to think completely logically.”
          Why is it obvious that I may not accept that? Worse: it’s beside my point. Worst of all, you seem to be OK with not having any ambition to think logically. To paraphrase you, of course formulated in a way that puts you in a bad light: “Well, the Bible doesn’t contain an anthropology that suggests that I as a human being are logical or even capable of training myself to think completely logical, so I have no need to try and can stick to what I prefer to believe.”
          That’s not how I work.

        • adam

          ” but the Bible does not contain an anthropology that suggests that humans are logical or even able to train themselves to think completely logically.”

          But it does have a LOT of MAGICAL stuff, that is illogical, that counts on humans NOT training themselves to think logically at all.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/831e274b356c03b8778b1d9672b8ab244560e2fda7a4cd57b0436d5bda02694f.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cabed70b642dd4e05ad235b84e0aa17bf649485d3dd1ae990d98e27dbf7f5a23.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/13282502375d3da24cf6b663f813609c25b2ff6c1bdd9b750a6d095cf6c73c07.jpg

        • Kodie

          I don’t understand why Christians assert any necessary consequents of atheism or not believing in god. Since I believe theism is a superstition in which the insecurities humans may have or may be preyed upon get fulfilled with a fiction, a necessary consequent of theism is living a pretend life that pretends to create what they claim is a necessary foundation in which to make your feelings matter.

          I’m not really that sad when people I don’t know die, I’m just not. I don’t get how 20 young children gunned down in their classroom 4 years ago in Newtown, CT are “missing” anything. Their parents and families and friends are missing them for sure. That pain will die when they die. The bigger issue is that none of us wants to die or send our children to school to be murdered. The bigger issue is humanity, fear, prevention, and any connected issue with such an event. I feel very manipulated to conjure feelings when any news reports include the status of victims of any accident or crime, 5 people were run over after a cab driver suffered a heart attack, 3 of them were children!. Nobody cares about the cab driver’s family. Attention is diverted from what a tragedy it is all around, see how I only mentioned the 20 1st-graders in Sandy Hook, and not the “heroic” school teachers and other officials who died trying to protect them (and failing), or their families.

          That’s not to say we don’t or shouldn’t care about children; on an individual basis they matter – because they matter to someone. The news tries to make them matter to me, to empathize with the parents, to feel specifically tragic about young lives being snuffed out senselessly. The reason they don’t really matter, is the statistics of childhood death. People have children expecting a particular narrative, but there are no guarantees. The news that prompts us to mourn young children repeats these normal narratives that those children are missing.

          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK220806/

          Not only are all children not guaranteed to live past childhood, those that do are not always growing in the best conditions. Abuse, hunger, poverty, homelessness, disabilities, diseases, etc., are easily erased from the public awareness. Therefore, we get easily shocked when chlidren from a normal suburban school where they should have felt safe were murdered by a psychopath, and by the way, let’s all blame the person who has no control over their thoughts or impulses.

          What I’m driving at is, we can be easily manipulated to focus on shocking disruptions of the family narrative where children are innocent and protected class of society without any societal or historical context…. so does your religion really help make those statistics more meaningful? Does religion help individual victims or survivors cope? Sure, but does that make it meaningful or is that a self-centered meaning created for temporal comfort?

          In the short term, we do have a responsibility to a productive and safe society to prosecute criminals and regulate certain actions that are detrimental to the safety of citizens in public and at home. If the natural “consequent” of atheism is “anything goes”, is that why you think we have secular laws? We worry about school shootings more, because they’re out of our control. Fatal accidents kill children far far more than homicide, but we think we are doing everything we can to prevent accidents, and it’s mostly up to the individual parent to put the child safety locks on everything; diseases are also individual hurdles – usually. The anti-vax people are worried about their individual child over society in general. So, on one hand, you have circumstances that we’re supposed to care about other children, and other circumstances in which people give no shits about other children, and which we’re still supposed to care about theirs.

          What does it all mean? I will finish this off with the holocaust. I didn’t know any of those people, and we’re getting to a point where it’s long enough since that they would be dead by now anyway, even the children. So, does it become meaningless to me? No. It becomes a lesson in horror in politics. The suffering is over, none of them wish they had lived, because that is impossible and incoherent. Similarly, the horrific stories of the bible that Christians seem to feel no compassion or empathy for victims, as long as their own side was the victor. The meaning I gather from most Christians is they are chosen, they are wonderful, they are awesome, they are famous to god. I maintain this touches a trigger in humans on earth, it’s not meaning, it just feels like it. An invented eternal consequence isn’t more meaningful than a temporarily appreciated meaning.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          There’s a lot here, but I’ve really only a couple of observations (or three).
          I empathize with your reaction to emotional manipulation. I argue that humans aren’t entirely rational, but I would also argue that, ideally, emotions are informed by reason, not vice versa. Thoughtful emotion and impassioned thought are probably the ideal, however badly we do it in practice. If you want some sense about how I think emotion should and shouldn’t be used in Christianity, google “How to tell if you’re being manipulated by a youth pastor” for instance (or http:/www.whitehorseinn.org/show/boredom-entertainment/)
          That said, a couple other thoughts:
          Strictly, why someone is a theist (delusion, reason, illumination, faith, evidence, other) is irrelevant; to argue otherwise is a genetic fallacy. If theism were what you say it is (and no more), then your conclusions would follow, but this is obviously the exact point under contention. I argue that it is a response to revelation in history, observations of the universe, and in people’s personal lives; that some people believe for delusional reasons is not much in doubt, I assume, but most do not.
          You argue that meaning and value are relational (“because they matter to someone”): I agree with this. I also agree that (especially on materialist presuppositions, i.e. no soul, etc.) that the dead are not suffering and we shouldn’t feel sorry for them and that our sympathies are with the living. The only difficulty I see is that this same train of thought also renders any good things without value or meaning also: what I do matters to the people around me, but only while they are alive, and then value ceases. Even if I leave behind some artifacts (art or architecture or discoveries or horrors), any meaning they possess will disappear with the deaths of those who hold such meaning. The Christian’s response to this is that meaning is grounded in God, who holds meaning and value eternally (in addition to arguing for the value/meaning held by eternally existent people). The (atheistic) existential response is usually along the lines of “it’s meaningful to me, now, and now is all I really experience, so this is really the only place meaning or value can be grounded.” I argue in response that this is an expedient, an anesthetic against despair and nihilism, not a solution: consciousness entails an awareness of the past and future as well as the present. Tell a 4-year old that he’s going to get a shot at the doctor’s office later in the day (the future) and see how it affects his present. Only animals (and possibly only the lower) can truly live exclusively in the present. “Be here now” is good advice against excessive worry or regret or distraction, but you can’t run a company or a government or a research program with that philosophy. This, I would argue, is an actual example of a self-centered meaning created for temporal comfort. Meaning founded in a loving, powerful, eternal God, external to myself and to my culture, is nearly the opposite of this. People must and do act as if what they do matters; the question is whether their model of the universe is consistent with their actions or not.

          As for secular law, I would argue on a strictly atheistic and materialistic conception, there isn’t really much justification for particulars except fashion and power. From an evopsych perspective, altruism is just subconscious self-seeking and ethics is what a species uses to justify its power over others: the reason we forbid murder is not because of the image of God in another, but because, somewhere in our subconscious, we know that murder of those like me would imperil my genetic heritage (it’s OK, even obligatory, to murder “the other” or the “subhuman”, as the Nazis among many knew well). The argument (such as Sam Harris makes) that what facilitates flourishing is moral only pushes the argument back a space: what is “human” and why should humans, among all species, be priviledged? What argument is there against the ideas of vhemt.org other than “yeah, that’s wacky”?

          As to death in the Bible, I would argue that a careful reading of the text says that God does not exult in victory except insofar as this is an expression of justice. Ez 33:11, Jonah 4 or Rom 5:8 (and their many cross-references) all argue that it is at best a caricature to see God cackling over the death of anyone, however evil, and however poorly his followers sometimes represent this. I do think the problem of pain and evil generally is one of the better arguments against Christianity, but it’s difficult to make this argument on the basis of the character of God as portrayed through the Bible.

        • adam

          “The (atheistic) existential response is usually along the lines of “it’s meaningful to me, now, and now is all I really experience, so this is really the only place meaning or value can be grounded.””

          Mine is along the following:

          My effect is eternal.

          “what I do matters to the people around me, but only while they are alive, and then value ceases.”

          No, because what you do that matters to the people around you, affects them, which effects others and others and others.

          I think this concept got and gets perverted by those who would profit from it into an ‘afterlife’, from which they exercise some ‘control’ from those who would claim magic.

          Religion is politics.

          What makes more sense to me, it to remove the MAGICAL aspect out of it and demonstrate the reality.

          The whole goal and idea, behind treat others like you would want to be treated.

          ” The Christian’s response to this is that meaning is grounded in God,”

          The real problem with this is that God is an unaccountable third party. That in christianity relieves accountability of the first party.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          “My effect…”: From a physicalist perspective, this is true, but not meaningful: Bill Gates’ business decisions are eternal, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake’s effects are eternal, the supernova of a star in a completely lifeless galaxy a billion light-years from here also has eternal effects. It is debatable whether any of these things are “meaningful” (again, the debate over whether ‘meaning’ is a coherent concept if there is no interpreter), and any signal they might have becomes indistinguishable from noise as the eons roll on. If I were to find a cure for aging and cancer and disease, the end result, a trillion years hence, is the same. It does matter to the people it affects, but only as long as they don’t think about it. A future that ends in chaos reaches back to contaminate the present. You may mean something else by this if you’re going more the route of panpsychism or some sort of Hindu worldview.
          As for the rest, two thoughts:
          -Yes, religion is politics (e.g. Jesus’ execution was thoroughly political). I’m very skeptical that this is all it is, however. Further, “politics” is not a four-letter word: a lot has been accomplished through politics (MLK Jr’s motives were undeniably religious in orientation). Finally, treating others as you would like to be treated is a thoroughly political act in the original sense of the word. What I assume you mean is more like “religion is invested in the manipulation of others for nefarious ends”: this is certainly true some of the time but a) is not true all the time and b) commits a genetic fallacy: if, somehow, every religious founder in history were unequivocally revealed to be a fraud, does this mean God does not exist, or merely that we cannot ground our beliefs about God based on what these fraudsters have said?
          I’m not sure about your last couple sentences. I suppose God is not accountable to anyone, but this is a tautology: an infinite regress of accountability partners is at least as problematic as an infinite regress of causes or temporal events (you may mean something else by this). If, by your last sentence, you mean that since God forgives that there is no reason to be moral, or that God forgives offenses of one person against another so God is not moral (is this it?), then I think there is a misreading of Christian theology. As for the first, the biblical book of James or I John addresses this directly. To say, “I know God forgives, so I can sin with impunity” is an oxymoron: someone who says this does not “know God” in any meaningful sense. As for the second, the argument is that all offenses are ultimately against God (though reconciliation and reparation are still important, e.g. Mt 5:23ff or Lk 19:8 and similar). If someone assaults your child, you and/or the state brings charges against the offender: it is not the child’s job to secure justice for herself. When someone sins against me, in the grand scheme of things it is God’s job to defend me: the best human justice will always only be partial and fallible, and hopefully this is not our only hope for justice (the analogy is not perfect, but nearly all theological language is analogy, but that’s getting into the deep end of the philosophical/theological swimming pool).

        • adam

          ““My effect…”: From a physicalist perspective, this is true, ”

          Ok, so 1, it is true.

          “but not meaningful:”

          Of course it is meaningful.
          It is meaningful to me.
          It is meaningful to those I affect.
          It is meaningful to those affected by those I affect
          And to those who affect others.

          Every molecule of oxygen that I convert to carbon dioxide affects both those who require oxygen and those who require carbon dioxide.

          And as you’ve noted, this is true.

        • adam

          “What I assume you mean is more like “religion is invested in the manipulation of others for nefarious ends””

          Religion is a business.
          It sells a product to make a living.
          Are all business ‘nefarious’?

          But there is an easy way to determine whether a business is likely nefarious or not, and that is:

          Does it’s product perform as advertised?

        • MR

          The Christian’s response to this is that meaning is grounded in God, who holds meaning and value eternally (in addition to arguing for the value/meaning held by eternally existent people).

          What exactly is this meaning and value and how do you know? So far you’ve only given unfounded assertion of a nebulous claim.

          I argue in response that this is an expedient, an anesthetic against despair and nihilism, not a solution:

          A solution to what? The universe is the way it is. If God exists, he exists. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t. This isn’t about “solutions,” it’s about the existence of God, not what makes us feel good about ourselves or the universe.

          Does a universe without God seem scary to you or is it simply that you’re afraid that one day you won’t exist? Are we really talking about nihilism here, or is it perhaps narcissism–a desire to live forever? Because it certainly seems narcissistic to me to imagine that you or I or anyone has any claim to eternity.

          No, I don’t think this is about meaning and purpose. We can all access the common everyday variety of meaning and purpose, it’s all we know. There is no “eternal” meaning and purpose. This is simply an appeal to a selfish desire to live forever. After all, what “eternal” meaning and purpose could you possibly have? What do you mean to the universe or to a god? What purpose could you possibly serve? Does God need you in some way? If you had never existed would he or the universe be lacking? Or is this your own selfish desire?

          What eternal meaning do you hold? What eternal purpose do you serve? How do you know?

          To me your offer is one of the most nefarious. Ignore truth, ignore reason, believe because it feels good [or the alternative is uncertain, undesirable or scary]. It’s the tactic of a snake oil salesman, the tactic of a con man. Is God not powerful enough to reign over logic and reason as well as emotion? Must he appeal to me through the worst of arguments? You’re a fear-mongerer, you play on emotion. Such arguments wouldn’t be trusted if you were trying to sell me a product or real estate. Why would someone believe such poor arguments when it comes to religion? Caveat emptor.

          [edits]

        • adam

          “Is God not powerful enough to reign over logic and reason as well as emotion? ”

          Of course not, or you wouldnt need faith.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          As for the first, I am a Protestant and would agree with the opening statements of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (e.g. “The chief end of man…”). An argument for the reliability of the Bible and derived theology goes far beyond what can be accomplished here. There is some in my other responses in this thread, or I would refer you to NT Wright’s “Surprised by Hope”, which I recommend not only for this but because it addresses some other things you bring up (the meaning of eternity, God’s needs, etc.)
          I would want to be careful to avoid two common fallacies. The first is the genetic fallacy: strictly, why a person believes something is irrelevant to whether that thing is true or not (CS Lewis’ essay “Horrid Red Things” in “God in the Dock” addresses this sort of thing). If someone can say, “I believe such-and-such to be true because of the following valid and sound reasoning….”, then that is good sign; however, if someone else believes the same thing because he is afraid, it still remains true. The argument, “you only believe (fill in the blank) because you are afraid/brainwashed/indoctrinated/ignorant/naïve” might explain someone’s psychology, but not the nature of reality. I don’t pretend to have a great deal of insight into my own psychology (though I am willing to hazard that I know it better than a stranger known only through social media), but I try to be as reasoned as possible. If you want to dismiss historically and philosophically robust Christian orthodoxy based on your assessment of my psychology, well, it’s a free country.
          The other fallacy to avoid, and the one more to the point, is an argument ad consequentiam. The fact that the universe (and we as part of it) lacks purpose or value, that justice is illusory, that beauty is merely organic chemistry, freedom is a lie and that consciousness a delusion are not arguments for the existence of God. However, even the most hard-boiled atheist will generally agree that a person should act in accordance with his beliefs (i.e. avoid hypocrisy). Further, most would agree that beliefs that a person holds should be congruent with one another: someone who says “only an ass would judge another person” has some explaining to do if people aren’t going to laugh at his unrecognized inconsistency. I am not arguing that a person should believe in God because it would be too awful to think of living without a God, but am hoping that skeptics will live consistently with their own principles, or at least question why they can’t.
          Let’s suppose there is no God: the universe arose by chance, for an unknowable reason, and a trillion years hence will consist of an undifferentiated soup of rarified subatomic particles a fraction of a degree above 0 K. Are you able (and willing) to act with the awareness of this truth? If, heaven forbid, you are at the funeral of your child, and your partner says, “I just don’t understand this tragedy”, are you willing to either say, “there is nothing to understand, shit happens, and we’ll be joining her soon enough” or, if you do say, “I don’t understand either, but we have each other”, are you willing to at least admit to yourself that it’s your fear of her reaction and your neurochemistry that’s making you state an irrelevancy? This thought experiment could be repeated for the other areas: beauty is the stochastic collisions of atoms in your frontal cortex, purpose and meaning (and especially the “everyday kind”) are tricks your selfish genes play on you to get you to reproduce rather than despair, that brilliant thought Stephen Hawking thought he just had is a spandrel and a self-defeating artifact of an evolutionary process aimed only at the flourishing of hominins on the African plain. These seem the logical entailments of atheistic materialism, and attempting to say, “no, no, my life DOES have value, it does!” seems to risk what you accuse me of: a reaction out of fear, not reason. Is value something you observe in humanity and are attempting to explain or are you attempting to justify the reality of an illusion that you can’t discard?
          I would argue that the idea of value and meaning that is not relational and persistent (i.e. existing only in temporary consciousness) is incoherent, and living exclusively in an unreflective present is both useless and impossible. For conscious beings, the future does affect the present, probably almost as much as the past. However, I agree with you that we “can all access the common everyday variety of meaning and purpose”, and this avoids the ad consequentiam problem: this is actual sense data (however vague) that tells us something about the universe. The two competing explanations in play here (there are obviously more) is that there is no real meaning, that when I say, “that is valuable and meaningful to me”, that what is occurring is the reactions of a particular set of neurotransmitters in a particular part of my cranium; or that when I say this I am saying, “this thing before me reflects the love and concern of a God whose nature is relational and who said, ‘it was very good’ at the conclusion of his creation.”

        • MR

          And… you didn’t answer the question.

          What exactly is this ‘eternal’ meaning and value and how do you know? I mean, if you yourself can’t answer that question, then how much meaning and value can it have? And if you can’t show how you know about this ‘eternal’ meaning and value, well, then it’s just speculation.

          I would want to be careful to avoid two common fallacies. The first is the genetic fallacy: strictly, why a person believes something is irrelevant to whether that thing is true or not.

          And yet, that’s precisely what you are doing. It doesn’t matter what you think about some imagined atheist worldview or some other religion’s worldview. What is true is true, so if there is no God, implying that it would be a bad thing is moot. This is exactly my point, and here you are committing this exact fallacy that you are babbling on about.

          . The fact that the universe (and we as part of it) lacks purpose or value, that justice is illusory, that beauty is merely organic chemistry, freedom is a lie and that consciousness a delusion are not arguments for the existence of God.

          That is my point.

          However, even the most hard-boiled atheist will generally agree that a person should act in accordance with his beliefs, blah, blah, blah….

          …are not arguments for the existence of God and tell us nothing.

          Let’s suppose there is no God: the universe arose by chance, for an unknowable reason, and a trillion years hence will consist of an undifferentiated soup of rarified subatomic particles a fraction of a degree above 0 K. Are you able (and willing) to act with the awareness of this truth?

          Absolutely. I do every day. Since you can’t say for certain that God does in fact exist, so do you. If you found out definitively tomorrow that there was no God, would your world suddenly come crashing to an end? Then I would say you’re being what we call around here a drama kitty. And I’m wondering why you can’t take your own advice about not committing the very fallacy that you are whining about.

          Are you able (and willing) to act with the awareness of this truth…? …death of a child…. [other invented nonsense.]

          This is a problem for you? I mean, we’re adults. Death has been around ever since I’ve been on this planet. We love things and they die and we die and we’ve known this for a very, very long time. You feel some sad emotion and that changes anything? Sure I can feel sadness, pain, etc., but I suggest you reread your comment about something being irrelevant to whether that thing is true or not.

          This thought experiment could be repeated for the other areas: beauty is the stochastic collisions of atoms…

          And? It’s still beautiful to me. What I find beautiful doesn’t necessarily equate to other people or other living things and I don’t seem to have a problem with that. Beauty is subjective. Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. I can stare in awe at a beautiful sunset, whereas my cat couldn’t care less, or the person next to me notes that this particularly beautiful sunset is caused by pollution on the horizon. I don’t need beauty to have some deep profound meaning to appreciate it. If this is a problem for you, I suggest you reread your comment about something being irrelevant to whether that thing is true or not.

          These seem the logical entailments of atheistic materialism, and attempting to say, “no, no, my life DOES have value, it does” seems to risk what you accuse me of: a reaction out of fear, not reason.

          And yet that’s not what I feel. You do like to project thoughts and beliefs onto atheists! Of course, my life has value. I don’t need to react out of fear that it doesn’t. It clearly does. To me, the people I love, other humans, my cat. That’s enough for me. That it doesn’t have ‘eternal’ or objective value is entirely another thing, and I don’t believe that it does, nor do I react strongly to the idea that it doesn’t. I don’t need my life to have some deeper meaning or value (a meaning and value which you still haven’t explained, by the way) to live it happily. Do you need objective meaning and value? Do you live your life unable to function if you don’t have objective meaning and value? Are you fearful that this is it? Do every day meaning and value mean so little that only “eternal,” objective value carries meaning for you? Well, again, do tell me, what is that eternal, objective value, and why do you need it? Why do I need it? If indeed you are that fearful, I suggest you reread your comment about something being irrelevant as to whether that thing is true or not.

          The two competing explanations in play here (there are obviously more) is that there is no real meaning, that when I say, “that is valuable and meaningful to me”, that what is occurring is the reactions of a particular set of neurotransmitters in a particular part of my cranium; or that when I say this I am saying, “this thing before me reflects the love and concern of a God whose nature is relational and who said, ‘it was very good’ at the conclusion of his creation.”

          And what is wrong with the first if that is the way things are? You seem to have a problem with that. Why? (You might want to reread….) And why is the second so important to you? I don’t need to tell myself those things to appreciate my life or to give it meaning or value. Why do you? In real life, we would call that co-dependence, which would indicate such a person holds little meaning and value for their life that they so depend on another.

        • Let’s suppose there is no God: the universe arose by chance, for an unknowable reason, and a trillion years hence will consist of an undifferentiated soup of rarified subatomic particles a fraction of a degree above 0 K. Are you able (and willing) to act with the awareness of this truth?

          Who cares? I can hardly think of a more inconsequential truth. Is this supposed to impact my life or the lives of those I care about or indeed anyone’s life?

        • adam

          ” An argument for the reliability of the Bible and derived theology goes far beyond what can be accomplished here.”

          Let’s be honest, it goes FAR BEYOND the possibility that has been accomplished ANYWHERE.

          otherewise, it would be SCIENCE, and ‘faith’ would not be required.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I argue that it is a response to revelation in history,…

          Such as?

          … observations of the universe,…

          You mean that huge dark expanse void of life, according to Christianity, and for the most part detrimental to all the life on this planet? Maybe those are not the observations you are referring to, please explain?

          and in people’s personal lives;

          In a few peoples lives, while nice for them, doesn’t apply to most people and is irrelevant to the big picture.

          …that some people believe for delusional reasons is not much in doubt,…

          FTFY

          I assume, but most do not.

          You assume wrong. Most Christians haven’t and don’t read the Bible. Most Christians don’t attend church. Almost half of Christians in the States take the creationist view of the world out of ignorance (I hope), most Christians don’t pay a blind bit of attention to the instructions of their religion. Most Christians are cafeteria Christians.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cafeteria_Christianity

        • Thomas Goodnow

          Ignorant Amos:
          I’ll start from the bottom up, since this would probably address things most effectively.
          The debates over “what is a Christian” are perennial and generally pointless. I would agree with you that the form of Christianity you present people as believing is probably the most common. If this is the sort of Christianity you are opposing, then I agree with your assessment. Where we would likely disagree is what this means: you argue that the natural response is atheism (I think), whereas I argue that the best response is actual Christianity (as opposed to the cafeteria sort). I don’t claim these cafeteria patrons to be the best (or even adequate) representations of Christianity any more than you would likely claim Vladimir Lenin or Woody Allen as the best (or even adequate) representations of atheism. The debate generally goes nowhere; engage with the best arguments that the other side has, or admit (at least to yourself) that there’s a picking of only low-hanging fruit. Anyone can win an atheist/theist argument with Joe the Plumber.

          That brings up what is admittedly a pet peeve: most atheists, especially on these forums, tend to be bipolar: there are only two possible ways to look at the world, and the others don’t exist, or don’t matter, or are just way-stations on the way to one or the other. The two choices are rational, carefully considered, obvious-to-the-non-brainwashed scientific atheistic naturalism, or indoctrinated, dogmatic, simplistic, American, Republican, irrational Christianity (or “theism”, if that helps us sound inclusive). The assumption seems to be that if you’ve disproved the latter, the former is correct. I assume the flaw in this is obvious (but I’ve come to have low expectations). There are thousands of options, and dozens even within things called “atheism”.

          There are at least three problems with characterizing religious beliefs as “delusional”. First, the genetic fallacy: even if every theist was delusional, that has no impact on whether God actually exists or not. It used to be essentially universally believed that the sun revolved around the earth (is this a delusion?) but this did not make is true, nor did it mean that the opposite was automatically true. Second, am I to believe that you would put Augustine of Hippo and Aquinas and Calvin and Barth and Alvin Plantinga and Francis Collins all in the “delusional” category? They could all be delusional, I suppose, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Finally, the Western Civilization which gave you antibiotics and representative democracies and modern historiography and universities was built by standing on the shoulders of Christians (and some Jews and Muslims). The first 6000 years of human history was built by theists of many sorts, and claiming these people as your intellectual forebears, if they really are delusional, does not help your case; claiming that you do not live in a society they built, on the other hand is delusional itself, as any historian would assure you. You can attempt to argue that these people were very smart except for their religious beliefs which had nothing to do with their intellectual lives if you like, but I will let you argue this with yourself.
          As for the triumvirate of data, these are the evidences. What you do with them is a matter of which interpretation you feel accounts for them:
          1. History: as in human history, especially as it relates to the history of the universe (i.e. occurring at a finite point in the past) and Biblical history (especially the NT). As for this latter, Licona’s “The Resurrection of Jesus: a New Historiographical Approach” is dense but comprehensive, while NT Wright’s “Simply Christian” is much more approachable. If you have an allergy to Christians, Lapide’s “The Resurrection of Jesus” is in-between these two. Most Christians have never read any of these, but neither have most atheists, and I’m not here to defend others’ ignorance.
          2. Universe: I am referring in part to the fine-tuning argument, as contentious as it is; I appreciate your objection, but am not sure how it is relevant. The argument is that it is fine-tuned to allow life, not to make you comfortable or space-filling. I am also referring more broadly to human experience in the universe and their intractable attachment to ideas like freedom, value, consciousness, rationality, aesthetics and ethics. I appreciate that there have been atheistic attempts to explain (or explain away) all these phenomena; I merely argue that efforts have either failed, or tend to be internally inconsistent (i.e. arguing that it is preferable to not believe in transcendent and objective ethics than to believe in them, and that this is always true…). The books I mentioned further up the thread (by Eagleton or Nagel) both address this from an atheistic perspective.
          3. Human experience: This overlaps with 2, obviously. None of these phenomena exist just to fund chairs of philosophy departments. When events occur, we act in response to them, wisely or not, in accordance with our principles or against them, consciously or not. Atheistic systems have been built up to aid in this (such as formal Stoicism or some types of existentialism), but the knowledge about these options among atheists tends to be abysmal. Marcus Aurelius is widely quoted among atheists, but I would venture to guess that about as many have actually read him (or development of him by others) as there are cafeteria Christians who have actually read the Bible (or systematic theologies). Some very accessible approaches to both #2 and this one includes James Sire’s “The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog” or Anderson’s “What’s Your Worldview? An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions”.

          As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’m always open to recommendations; I generally find that people here don’t generally read much (outside of atheist blogs and some Youtubes), but I’ll entertain almost anything. I have read most of the pop stuff by the “new atheists”.

        • adam

          “The debates over “what is a Christian” are perennial and generally pointless.”

          Agreed

          Definition of Christian Merriam Webster
          1 a : one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ

          “There are at least three problems with characterizing religious beliefs as “delusional”. First, the genetic fallacy: even if every theist was delusional, that has no impact on whether God actually exists or not.”

          And it has no impact on whether Flying Invisible Pink Unicorns exist, either

          But belief that either of these are magical, is certainly delusional.
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3641484758a605f709b7a067bee6bed3f832a3ee135e160e4a32b93e19bfabd3.png

        • Thomas Goodnow

          Dictionaries denote popular usage, which may be useful for learners of English, but that’s about it. Sociologists, for instance, can define a “Christian” by self-appellation (which is what most polls measure), beliefs (which is what the dictionary says), behaviors (which is more generally where the Bible goes, along with ideas of loyalty/allegiance), group affiliation (some polls, much sociology) or historical or geographical or social orientation (“England is a Christian nation”). “Atheism” can be defined similarly broadly. When I am defending Christianity, I am generally referring to historically orthodox Christian belief, not behaviors or social groupings or self-descriptions. If we are discussing “Christianity” and are not using the same definitions, we will be talking past each other. The dictionary definition may not help much, actually: what does it mean to “profess”? “Profess” as in “yeah, sure, I believe all that stuff” or as in “I’m going to go to West Africa for 6 months to do medical missions out of obedience to the call of Christ in my life”? From a practical perspective, if your atheism arises out of concern over the rationality, practicality or trustworthiness of the teachings of Jesus, then I have an argument for you; if it arises out of a disgust with cafeteria Christians and the Crusades, then you and I are actually on the same side, (which is the same side as Jesus, incidentally). This merely means that cafeteria Christianity/Crusades and atheism are not the only two options.

          As for the second-to-last, how do you define “magical”? I, for one, do not believe in magic, but you may be using the word differently than I do.

          I hate to get bogged down in definitional issues, but if two people are using the same word, but meaning different things by it, actual communication is not occurring. The best (worst?) that can result is that both sides go away feeling smug and justified in their respective beliefs.

          Speaking of which, I watched the Nye/Ham debate. The moment the picture refers to was much of the debate in microcosm, and the reason why public debates of this sort rarely accomplish much. Both Nye and Ham answered this question not because they believed their answers, but because this was what their constituents wanted to hear. Nye said something to the effect of “evidence and scientific studies”: the skeptics responded with “ah, see, what a refreshing breeze, a man of reason, whom we can trust”, whereas the Young Earthers in the room responded with “ah, yes, a man blinded by the Spirit of the Age”. When Ham said, in effect, “nothing will change my mind”, the skeptics said, “see, he’s just an ignorant, stubborn, brain-washed religitard” while the YECers said, “ah, yes, a believer who clings to his Lord as Luther did at the Diet of Worms: ‘here I stand, I can do no other’; inspiring!” The end result was exactly nothing for both sides. Most of the people I was with just rolled their eyes at both of them.

        • adam

          ” beliefs”
          So those who ‘believe’ in Christ.

          “behaviors (which is more generally where the Bible goes”
          Guided by ‘beliefs’ and their interpretation.
          See above.

          ” along with ideas of loyalty/allegiance),”
          By whose definition?
          The believer’s of course.

          “. “Atheism” can be defined similarly broadly.”
          Nope atheism is simply disbelief in deity.

          ” When I am defending Christianity, ”
          You should try on this forum, I would be interested in seeing what that really looks like.

          ” I am generally referring to historically orthodox Christian belief,”

          Well OF COURSE, as you’ve somehow MAGICALLY determined that your interpretation is correct and that others who claim to be Christian are incorrect.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b44c99f495406f1f80b97716ec7951aa63f124a9698cbfc51f2758edfdb3404d.jpg

          And getting back to any deity that would want its identity known:
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/38934ab6af303dd883e98c96d8441facdbaf50cd5788453b1719b87190921538.jpg

        • adam

          ” From a practical perspective, if your atheism arises out of concern
          over the rationality, practicality or trustworthiness of the teachings
          of Jesus,”

          No, it from an overwhelming lack of evidence that MAGIC is real, and an overwhelming pile of evidence against claims of MAGIC.

        • adam

          “As for the second-to-last, how do you define “magical”?”

          Definition of magic
          1 a : the use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces b : magic rites or incantations

          2 a : an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source

        • Thomas Goodnow

          That’s kind of what I figured, though I was thinking you might be using more in the disparaging sense, “magic” as in “stuff that everyone knows can’t happen and that would only fool a slack-jawed yokel”. My difficulty is that, on these definitions, God is not ‘magical’. He doesn’t use charms or spells (indeed, many John Walton among others would point out that Gen 1 is somewhat unique in this compared with other ANE literature) nor utilize rites or incantations. The ‘word of the Lord’ is usually adequate, and the ancient Israelites were specifically prohibited from engaging in what surrounding cultures would consider magic (e.g. necromancy or temple prostitution). Definition 2 is closer, but again, the Bible is insistent that it isn’t from a seemingly supernatural source, but an actual supernatural source (there probably wasn’t this distinction until the 1600s, but that’s another topic). You’re certainly free to insist that it only looked supernatural (Rudolf Bultmann is on your side) and was clever parlor tricks, though making a universe (for instance) is pretty damn impressive in my book, and rather supernatural by definition. I’m not up on my flying-pink-unicorn-ology, so I’ll take your word for it that magic is more involved there. This is all very complicated, of course: if the intent was just to ridicule by using a pejorative expression, then it is used appropriately, I suppose.
          There’s a lot of thought that addresses this magic/miracles/supernature problem. Obviously, if naturalism is true, then literally anything is more likely than a miracle; if it is not, then miracles are possible, and miracle claims need to be assessed according to measured criteria. Which place you start depends on your assumptions about the universe, not on your sophistication about science or level of education or such. Science no more prohibits the miraculous than Christianity prohibits God from using naturalistic means (e.g. keeping people alive with food as opposed to miraculously supporting their physiology).

        • adam

          ” My difficulty is that, on these definitions, God is not ‘magical’. He doesn’t use charms or spells ”

          Definition of spell
          1a : a spoken word or form of words held to have magic power

          God certainly DOES USE spells.
          ” And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”

          6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

          ” Definition 2 is closer, but again, the Bible is insistent that it isn’t from a seemingly supernatural source, but an actual supernatural source”

          Nope, that supernatural source has not been demonstrated to be anything but IMAGINARY.

          ” I’m not up on my flying-pink-unicorn-ology,”

          Pity, because that is the only thing that can save your soul and truly bring peace to your life and this world and the next. But you have to believe.

          “This is all very complicated, of course: if the intent was just to ridicule by using a pejorative expression, then it is used appropriately, I suppose. ”

          No, its not that complicated, you either believe in magic or you believe in the reality we all can test.

          Or you can just demonstrate such magic and clear the air, where neither God nor Jesus has been successful.

          ” Obviously, if naturalism is true, then literally anything is more likely than a miracle; if it is not, then miracles are possible, and miracle claims need to be assessed according to measured criteria.”

          And so far, not one of the trillions of claims can be verified to be magical, while science has demonstrated natural causes for virtually all those claims.

          “than Christianity prohibits God from using naturalistic means (e.g. keeping people alive with food”

          There in lies the Problem of Evil
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f661dbb0086fe8af53b2ce2c5f79fee4d79a39be875ddded1bf36ba78fc4b5cf.jpg

        • MNb

          “if it is not, then miracles are possible, and miracle claims need to be assessed according to measured criteria.”
          First of all: how do you determine if an event is a miracle, ie that a supernatural component is involved? God of the gaps won’t do as remarkably enough theologians have pointed out.
          Second: what would such criteria look like? They can’t be scientific, because science has dismissed itself regarding supernatural phenomena.
          Third: how do you find out that such criteria are reliable?

          In short: what’s your method? In case of science the method is clear, at least on a general level. Apply induction to empirical data, apply deduction to scientific theories and compare the results. How do you do that regarding supernatural events like miracles? Induction won’t do as empirical data only can found in our natural reality.

          After you have solved this problem some more questions arise.
          If a supernatural entity is behind a miracle, how did he/she/it do it? What means did he/she/it use? Which procedures did he/she/it follow?

          Finally: how do you determine which claims about such a supernatural reality behind a miracle are correct and which ones are incorrect?
          Only after answering these questions you may conclude that dualism, ie postulating a supernatural reality, adds to our understanding. Until then it’s all nothing but baked air. Or as my compatriot the theologian, clergyman, apostate and socialist Ferdinand Domela-Nieuwenhuis once remarked: deriving a divine world from our concrete world requires a salto mortale. Can you answer those questions without such acrobatics?

        • Susan

          What is your method?

          I would love for one miracle believer to answer this question.

          I’ve asked it over and over and never get a response.

        • Pofarmer

          I wonder if that ever prompts one to think a little? I mean, this Goodnow charchter has filled an entire thread with essentially pulpit Glurge.

        • Susan

          this Goodnow charchter has filled an entire thread with essentially pulpit Glurge.

          Yeah. I wanted to respond to him today but I realized I was dying to begin with the comments he started with over a week ago.

          Now, I’m torn because… well.. you know… Disqus.

          .

        • MR

          Well, his “method” appears to be to beat a dead “atheism” straw man, while we real atheists are standing around watching going, “Um…, excuse me, but we’re over here….”

        • Susan

          his “method” appears to be to beat a dead “atheism” straw man, while we real atheists are standing around watching going, “Um…, excuse me, but we’re over here….”

          You know what’s weird? I upvoted that because I got my threads mixed up and and throught you were talking about Kir 1.

          But if I hadn’t gotten my threads mixed up, I would have upvoted it as enthusiastically because it equally applies to Thomas.

          Sadly, you only get the one upvote out of it.

          Because, everyone knows that it’s all about the upvotes for you.

          ::-)

        • MR

          400 more upvotes and I get a toaster.

          I haven’t bothered to read any of the Kirs’ arguments. The bit of feedback I saw from you guys put me off. There’s a level of trollishness that I have no patience for. Agabu’s another one I don’t bother to follow.

        • Myna

          A clear level of trollishness. I read some of the conversations, but mostly to learn from the opponents on things I either didn’t know or didn’t know enough about. If I’m in a really impatient mood, I will remark, or even snark on some piece of b.s. the apologist conjures up.

          I never really learn anything new from the apologists themselves, troll or otherwise.

        • MNb

          If you want to learn how to recognize logical fallacies they provide a happy hunting ground.

        • MR

          Well, I’m glad that someone takes them on, because I think they are great examples for the lurkers. There are people who are sincerely looking for answers to the hard questions they are asking themselves. Does God really exist? What evidence is there? How can I know with certainty, etc., They are really hoping these guys can alleviate their doubts, and that maybe they can finally get some concrete answers. But when they see that there is no silver bullet and the whole thing just generates into farce, I mean, what greater witness against the argument for God than to see their fellow Christians degenerate into a bunch of pricks and wankers? Now there’s a witness for God for ya! I wanna be on their team…. /s

        • MR

          …well.. you know… Disqus.

          You’re more than welcome to begin using WorldTable at any time Susan….

        • Michael Neville

          Discus is bad enough, why do you want Susan to use a beta commenting system?

        • MR

          I was being facetious. I don’t think you were around during the initial uproar over WorldTable. Let’s just say, we don’t want to revisit that mess.

        • Pofarmer

          I had the same thoughts, and the same conclusion. Ain’t worth it.

        • adam
        • adam

          ” the skeptics said, “see, he’s just an ignorant, stubborn, brain-washed religitard” ”

          As a skeptic myself, what I say is here is a man who has ‘religious faith’ that he knows everything while demonstrating a willful fundamental ignorance of science and proudfully so.

        • Michael Neville

          Both Nye and Ham answered this question not because they believed their answers, but because this was what their constituents wanted to hear.

          You know neither Nye nor Ham believed their answers because why? If Ham doesn’t believe in fundamentalist, Biblical literalist Christianity or if Nye doesn’t believe in rational naturalism then both of them play the parts of believers so well, so convincingly that they’ve fooled everyone except you (and the eye-rollers you hang out with).

        • Ignorant Amos

          Dictionaries denote popular usage,..

          Do they fuck as like….common parlance is what you need to consider…think about it.

          Are there words in the dictionary that you’ve never heard of? Are the words in everyday usage that are not to be found in a dictionary? At least not until their use in everyday common parlance is established.

        • MR

          most atheists, especially on these forums, tend to be bipolar: there are only two possible ways to look at the world, and the others don’t exist, or don’t matter, or are just way-stations on the way to one or the other.

          It seems to me that you are the one who has put up the false dichotomy of atheistic naturalism vs. Christianity. Most atheists aren’t talking about “possible ways to look at the world,” rather, Does God exist? The ways of looking at the world are myriad whether that answer is true or false. I personally have zero interest in atheistic naturalism, whatever that even is. The question is:

          Does God exist?

          Clouding that question with worldviews and philosophies is simply a distraction tactic.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The debates over “what is a Christian” are perennial and generally pointless.

          Pointless because there are so many of them all claiming to be the True Scotsman, while most of the rest are not. Hardly perennial with 45,000+ flavours increasing at a rate of 2.4 per 24 hours and very few of them anything like the same as 100 years ago.

          The debate generally goes nowhere; engage with the best arguments that the other side has, or admit (at least to yourself) that there’s a picking of only low-hanging fruit. Anyone can win an atheist/theist argument with Joe the Plumber.

          Agreed. But we can only work with the tools we have at hand. Many of those believers that visit sites such as this claim to be a lot more than a “Joe the Plumber” type theist, even if the arguments they present are “Joe the Plumber” type arguments. Cafeteria Christians have as much interest in going to internet sites to debate religion as they have in going to church or reading the Bible.

          A few regulars here spent a lot of time at a Catholic site created to engage the best arguments for faith in dialogue between Christians and atheists. What happened was the arguments for belief got decimated by the overwhelming amount of atheists that joined in, to the point that the prick that run the place had two night of the long knives culls.

          So it isn’t that we are not engaging in the best arguments at all, it’s just that you haven’t made yourself aware of the fact.

          http://www.strangenotions.com/

          The mass banning of the atheists was not the end of it though. A mirror site was created by one of the banned to allow the atheists a forum to continue the best arguments those Christians could mount.

          http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.co.uk/

          What is your best argument by the way?

        • Ignorant Amos

          That brings up what is admittedly a pet peeve: most atheists, especially on these forums, tend to be bipolar: there are only two possible ways to look at the world, and the others don’t exist, or don’t matter, or are just way-stations on the way to one or the other. The two choices are rational, carefully considered, obvious-to-the-non-brainwashed scientific atheistic naturalism, or indoctrinated, dogmatic, simplistic, American, Republican, irrational Christianity (or “theism”, if that helps us sound inclusive). The assumption seems to be that if you’ve disproved the latter, the former is correct. I assume the flaw in this is obvious (but I’ve come to have low expectations). There are thousands of options, and dozens even within things called “atheism”.

          That’s an argument from ignorance.

          Most of the regulars here come from a religious background. Some were religious for most of their lives. A number are married to religious people…off the top of my head, one to a Muslim lady, another to a practicing Catholic. A number of others have dipped their toes into other belief systems including Buddhism. Others have read extensively into other worldviews, if not adopting them. The community here is a global one, so an eclectic group of experience is to be tapped. I’m from a Northern Irish Protestant tradition, everyone knows what that entails.

          Your accusation is unfounded in reality and you would know that if you spent anytime here. Heck, there is even a Ahmadi Muslim that stops by quite often.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There are at least three problems with characterizing religious beliefs as “delusional”. First, the genetic fallacy: even if every theist was delusional, that has no impact on whether God actually exists or not.

          You are confusing your fallacies methinks. Your “first” would be a non sequitur if it was relevant and not a non sequitur itself. I never said the delusion had impact on whether God, or any other god, existed. So you can deconstruct that straw man straight away. People believe for delusional reasons.

          It used to be essentially universally believed that the sun revolved around the earth (is this a delusion?) but this did not make is true, nor did it mean that the opposite was automatically true.

          Nope, that was an illusion, which is not the same thing. The Sun exists and is tangible, or at least its effects are, so there is something there to work with. God ideas are not. This is a case of ignoratio elenchi.

          Second, am I to believe that you would put Augustine of Hippo and Aquinas and Calvin and Barth and Alvin Plantinga and Francis Collins all in the “delusional” category?

          Yip.

          Interesting that your list only includes Christians.

          They could all be delusional, I suppose, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

          That they held certain delusional beliefs is evidence enough in my opinion.

          Have you heard of the psychological mechanism of compartmentalization?

          Compartmentalization is an unconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person’s having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. within themselves.

          Compartmentalization allows these conflicting ideas to co-exist by inhibiting direct or explicit acknowledgement and interaction between separate compartmentalized self states.

          Many great minds in history held onto delusions. Arthur Conan Doyle believed in fairies for example.

          Finally, the Western Civilization which gave you antibiotics and representative democracies and modern historiography and universities was built by standing on the shoulders of Christians (and some Jews and Muslims). The first 6000 years of human history was built by theists of many sorts, and claiming these people as your intellectual forebears, if they really are delusional, does not help your case; claiming that you do not live in a society they built, on the other hand is delusional itself, as any historian would assure you. You can attempt to argue that these people were very smart except for their religious beliefs which had nothing to do with their intellectual lives if you like, but I will let you argue this with yourself.

          Another non sequitur. Holding onto delusional beliefs and having a great mind are not mutually exclusive.

        • MNb

          “There are thousands of options, and dozens even within things called “atheism”.”
          And you think we don’t realize? It seems that you are the one who is guilty of a logical fallacy – the one called strawman.

          “Second, am I to believe that you would put Augustine of Hippo and Aquinas and Calvin and Barth and Alvin Plantinga and Francis Collins all in the “delusional” category?”
          Why not? I remember that I have deluded myself – not that I realized at the time. It seems a very human thing to me.

          “The argument is that it is fine-tuned to allow life”

          “Saying that the universe is fine-tuned for human life in particular seems to be as absurd as would be the claim put forward by a lonely little fly in the White House that this building was constructed especially for it.”
          Herman Philipse, God in the Age of Science.

          To which I add that the ratio regarding size universe : human life is much, much larger than the ratio White House : fly. The christian who proposes it hence displays a very unchristian lack of humility.

        • Kodie

          Things got pretty busy for me this week and are still busy, so I’m sorry I didn’t respond sooner, keep up with the thread, and may not be able to keep up with the thread for a while.

          I think humans are informed by other humans. People are reactionary to certain categories of events, and then moreso if they are local or affect people who live locally, and of course moreso if they affect us directly. I don’t think they are informed as much by reason as one would hope, and to be fair, it would seem a fairly uncaring world if people were. But the overboard emotion toward especially children or young white women with their whole childbearing years ahead of them, or especially if they were pregnant; or clergy, or cops, especially white Irish Catholic cops who left behind 4 or more children.

          I’m talking about frames we look through. It’s not really rational to feel grief over the death of someone you don’t know over someone else you don’t know. It doesn’t make any sense to feel more grief over the death of someone who went to a high school you’ve heard of but didn’t go to, than the other deaths. For example, this warehouse fire in Oakland, CA. A couple people were from Massachusetts (where I live now), and were missing or dead, and out of 30-odd brutal fiery deaths, I’m supposed to care more for 2 people than the others. Someone from Massachusetts was in the Berlin thing the other day, and they are missing and their id and phone was found at the scene. Sorry, this doesn’t humanize it more for me. It was a horrific act of terrorism and drawing attention away from the crowd to focus on one lady from Massachusetts doesn’t make it “hit home”. There’s nothing rational about poking people where they feel… or I should say, there’s a lot of calculation where the news is concerned. It’s the audience who laps up this stuff. It’s the emotional people who guilt the rest of us how we’re supposed to feel when things happen.

          Yeah, blood and guts and fear and shit like that touching enough. It should be, but it doesn’t seem to be the magic formula. Children have to die to feel. Ok, here’s the thing. You might have seen cemetery plots that are so old you wonder who might even visit. You don’t have any personal connection to your ancestors, although it might be quaint to discover their history. As an alive person on earth, you are fully aware how many humans there are and how many of them you don’t know and who don’t know you. You might realize that by 100 years from now, no one will know who you are. You’ll die and get buried, and hope that god needed you for something and that you accomplished it, and that you’ll get some eternal recognition unlike the kind most people on earth get – basically a few years beyond your death, and then your name on a document or two for people who never saw you face to face.

          That’s it. That’s all. I don’t know why you are so greedy for more. You think it must be so lonely for the deceased to have no one to visit them anymore at the cemetery, which to me makes cemeteries so fucking stupid. All we are is dust in the wind, there’s nothing really horrible about that unless you are greedy.

          I’m not sure I gave a great answer, but I don’t really have a lot of time.

        • MR

          However, trading a problematic worldview for an even more problematic one isn’t much of a solution.

          Solution to what?

        • Thomas Goodnow

          Generally, to the universal human appreciation that the world is not as it should be. Specifically, what is the good, the true and the beautiful, and how humans encourage or inhibit their realization in the lives of people. Generally, the stuff humanists fuss about (along with Christians, but I’ll let you all fight over that).

        • MR

          It seems to me that your “solution” is for a made up “problem.” It seems to me a dishonest portrayal of both atheists and Christians. A false dichotomy. Did you choose Christianity because it provided answers to “what is the good, the true and the beautiful, and how humans encourage or inhibit their realization in the lives of people,” or did you choose it because it was true? Another false dichotomy, but, then, perhaps that’s how you choose.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          I’m not completely sure where you’re going with this, but here’s some thoughts.
          To be honest, I did not choose Christianity as such because it was true, but because it met existential needs, of which truth, goodness and beauty certainly play a part, but where meaning and purpose were more prominent. As I’ve said, humans are not entirely rational, and I don’t hold myself up as some exception to this idea. I have retained an allegiance to it largely because it answers these sorts of questions better than any competing ideology.

          As far as the problem being “made up”, you may be thinking of something more specific than I am? I’m not sure how anyone can look at the world and conclude that everything is fine and nothing needs to change or develop. I suppose, strictly, this is a natural consequent of naturalism: what is, simply is and there’s no real goal about it (and no judgments can really be made) but you would be the first I’ve encountered who really embraces this, if this is what you mean.

        • adam

          ” I’m not sure how anyone can look at the world and conclude that everything is fine and nothing needs to change or develop.”

          Which is what I would expect for a ‘God’ created world.

          ” I suppose, strictly, this is a natural consequent of naturalism: what is, simply is and there’s no real goal about it”

          The ‘goal’ of naturalism is survival and procreation.

          ” (and no judgments can really be made)”

          Humans have to judge to survive.

          “but you would be the first I’ve encountered who really
          embraces this, if this is what you mean.”

          This is what I mean.

        • I have retained an allegiance to it largely because it answers these sorts of questions better than any competing ideology.

          You should’ve come to me. I can answer any question.

          Of course, people push back and tell me that my answers aren’t based on anything. That is, there’s no reason to think that my answers are correct. They’re right, of course, but then they didn’t ask for that. They just asked for answers.

          I think Christianity is in the same boat. I don’t doubt that it has answers, but are they worth listening to?

          I’m not sure how anyone can look at the world and conclude that everything is fine and nothing needs to change or develop.

          Sure, there are problems. But no solutions have come from Christianity; they’ve come from people. God didn’t eliminate smallpox. God didn’t invent new kinds of high-yield grains to feed the world. Etc.

        • MR

          To be honest, I did not choose Christianity as such because it was true, but because it met existential needs, of which truth, goodness and beauty certainly play a part, but where meaning and purpose were more prominent.

          What I hear you saying is “I did not choose Christianity because it was true but because it provides a pretty story.” Truth, goodness, beauty, meaning and purpose don’t require Christianity. Just because Christianity provides a just-so for the first three doesn’t make it true, and you certainly don’t need Christianity to find comfort in any of them.

          Existential needs? Really? That’s a bit of overblown melodrama.

          The question for me is, is the story true? And how do we determine that story is true? Pretty stories can be comforting, but they can also be false. Your comments here suggest to me that you’re less interested in truth than you are in a comforting story.

          I have retained an allegiance to it largely because it answers these sorts of questions better than any competing ideology.

          And just what are these questions? Again, I’m sensing a “solution” for a made up “problem.” No one I have ever known approached embracing Christianity in this way. What are these questions, and when did you ask them? Before or after you accepted Christianity? How do you determine if the “answers” are actually true vs. a comforting story? Or do you care whether they are true?

          I’m not sure how anyone can look at the world and conclude that everything is fine and nothing needs to change or develop….

          Dissimulating gibberish.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          In response to the first, an answer which is not true will not be existentially satisfying, at least to me. It’s apparent that the same is true for you, even if you don’t label your questions and needs “existential”. Whether something seems melodramatic or overly complicated or gibberish is not relevant: reality is complicated sometimes. My hunch is that I know more about the second messenger effects of mu agonists in vertebrate nerve cells than you do: does this mean that, if I were to lecture on it, that what I was saying was gibberish or untrue or overly complicated or irrelevant?
          As for the questions, you have them, or you would be unlikely to be engaging people in a forum like this. Minimally, you must be wondering, “why are people so obtuse” or “if debating on social media about atheism were so effective, why have I been having to do it for over 3 years now?” If you can look at Aleppo or the Pulse shootings and honestly say, “well, that makes perfect sense, and that is the way things will always be, and I’m fine with that”, then you don’t have existential questions. If you’re asking yourself, “why am I irritated by (fill in the blank) when I shouldn’t be”, you have existential questions. I recommend more Sartre and fewer atheist interwebs blogs. Just because a man is deaf does not mean there is no such thing as sound. These are questions that have been asked, repeatedly, for 4000 years. Saying, “I don’t see what the big deal is” is either a) intentionally obtuse or b) deeply ignorant of history and philosophy. If you have a better sense of priorities in what to think about than Plato, Euripedes, Philo, Livy, Ovid, M. Aurelius, Maimonides, Aquinas, Anselm, Newton, Calvin, Kepler, Kant, Rousseau… well, you get the point… then you are a truly remarkable individual. I don’t have nearly that level of self-confidence. On a practical level, if you’ve never had what you would describe as a bad (or good!) day and are untroubled at others’ bad days and unmoved by others’ good days, then you don’t need to be asking these questions. Otherwise, you are either failing to follow through on your reasoning for reasons unknown, or are essentially misunderstanding what I mean by “existential questions”. Any of the books or essays I’ve mentioned anywhere in this whole thread would let you know what I’m talking about if I’ve been too abstruse.

        • Pofarmer

          In response to the first, an answer which is not true will not be existentially satisfying,

          Actually, that’s exactly backwards. Just because an answer is satisfying, doesn’t mean it is true. We can’t tell, intuitively, between a true or false answer as long as it appears to answer the question in a satisfying way.

        • MR

          In response to the first, an answer which is not true will not be existentially satisfying, at least to me.

          I sense equivocation. I don’t equate “existentially satisfying” with “existential needs.” So you don’t find the narrative of no God “existentially satisfying.” Big whoop. We’re back to your fallacy. It makes no difference what you find satisfying, if there is no God, there is no God. To quote you: “Why a person believes something is irrelevant to whether that thing is true or not.”

          When you say, “an answer which is not true will not be existentially satisfying…,” well, since you have no access to that truth, you have no way of knowing whether it’s existentially satisfying or not, so forgive me if my bullshit meter goes off the charts.

          Let’s drop the equivocating heuristics and call a spade a spade. What you really mean is, “an ‘existential’ answer (whatever that is) which is not satisfying to me, is not something I want to believe is true.”

          None of this provides us any answer to the existence of God, just your desire for there to be one.

          As for the (existential) questions, you have them…, Blah, blah, blah…

          And as for answers, no one has them, and I have to judge on the likelihood of their answers being correct. Christianity has failed miserably in that regard. The concept of the God of the Bible defies sense, and I have not problem rejecting it. If there are answers, I don’t think we’re going to find them there.

          If you have a better sense of priorities in what to think about than Plato, Euripedes….

          Well, sure I do, thanks in large part to them (a dwarf on the shoulders of giants, so to speak) and to many others who have shown the many, many areas where they have been wrong. They asked hard questions for their times, and we can confidently reject many of their beliefs. Equally, I think that in the current age, we can just as confidently reject Christianity.

          Yes, I have questions, and I don’t expect to have a definitive answer in my lifetime, and frankly that’s perfectly fine. No one before me had them either. That you have some kind of “existential need” that give you heartburn doesn’t mean we all do, nor, even, that other Christians do. I know plenty of believers willing to say they can’t know for certain and are fine with that. I don’t know why you think this is some big deal.

          And, yes, I have other questions, too, questions you avoided answering:

          How do you determine if [your belief in Christianity is] actually true vs. a comforting story? [Would] you care whether they are true? That is, would it make a difference if they were not?

        • Pofarmer

          I’m not sure how anyone can look at the world and conclude that everything is fine and nothing needs to change or develop.

          What we can do, is look at the world and say, “Hey, this looks like a world that is inhabited by evolved primates, and we can trace much of our behavior and problems back to that. That doesn’t mean that everything is “fine” or that nothing needs to “change.” But it does mean that we can honestly understand who and what we are. To quote Christopher Hitchens “We are evolved primates, not fallen Angels.”

          what is, simply is and there’s no real goal about it

          Well. sort of, if you’ve never read Dawkins, or Carroll, or Sagan.

          (and no judgments can really be made)

          Of course they can. We’re sentient beings after all, interacting with other sentient beings of all types.

          I’ve encountered who really embraces this, if this is what you mean.

          Then you’ve not looked very hard.

        • Philmonomer

          All of these issues I bring up remain live issues for philosophers, sociologists and even historians (not just Christians),

          If you are still around, which historians are you referring to here?

        • Thomas Goodnow

          General historical interest in these issues goes back to Thucydides and Philo that I’m aware of. In terms of current historians who address these issues (that I’m familiar with) would be Arendt in “Eichmann in Jerusalem”, “Black Earth” by Snyder, and “The Nazi Doctors” by Lifton to start (I’ve an interest in WWII, obviously). Pearcey’s “Saving Leonardo” or “Who Killed Homer” by Hanson also go here. The general idea that historiography is concerned with human flourishing, mistakes and victories in histories and the motives and worldviews that led to these is pretty standard. The idea that history should be a value-free accounting of facts is rarely believed and even more rarely applied, even among historians of a post-modern bent. If you’re thinking of some particular issues (typical would be inquisition or crusades or historical relations between science and Christianity) I could offer other suggestions.

        • Philmonomer

          Thanks for the response.

        • Argus

          Why do so many theistic polemics eventually devolve into “but evolution..blah blah blah..” do they really not realize that evo has nothing to do with the god claims (or even that most theists accept evolution)?

    • MNb

      “the complexity of the Bible seems a very weak argument”
      Depends on how you formulate it.
      Given the complexity of the Bible, what’s more likely,
      a) that it’s entirely the product of human beings or
      b) that it’s divinely inspired?

      • Thomas Goodnow

        Most of what I’ve seen would argue this is, if not a false dichotomy, at least somewhat unnecessary. It is divinely inspired communication to humans who are embedded in a cultural, historical and linguistic context. As such, it should be expected to be both comprehensible to the culture and transcending of it, at least to an understandable extent. Some critics have pointed out that the Bible doesn’t have a coherent monotheism: parts of the OT seem to be more henotheistic than monotheistic, for instance. In the 9th century BCE even this was a novel concept, whereas by the end of the exile, there was arising a more hardened monotheism which would be complete by the time of the NT, and any talk of ‘gods’ by Jesus time was understood to be metaphorical and not a statement about a plurality of divinities (like the Greek or Roman popular religion). I suppose this makes the bible “complex” in that if you’re looking for one statement about whether there is only one God, or a bunch of gods among whom Yahweh is the best, you won’t find it (without appreciating that there is some development, anyway). Examples could be multiplied. Generally, if you’re hoping to open Leviticus and have it make perfect and obvious sense to a 21st century Anglophone Westerner, you’ll be disappointed. Isaiah (for instance) is a bit easier to understand, Nehemiah moreso, and Luke is pretty understandable to most people off the shelf (decreasing cultural distance, IOW; we have much more in common with GraecoRoman society than ancient Sumerian).

        This doesn’t sit well with some Christians, as you know, who want the Bible to be a monolithic project, straight from the mouth of God to the KJV, though realistically today you only find this in some KJV-only churches, a few third-string televangelists, and the interwebs (of course). Some skeptics were raised with this (or at least remember this being what was taught) and so tend to assume that Christians tend to hold to a simpler dictation-theory for the text. However, a sense of progressive and contextualized revelation goes back at least to Augustine, so I don’t feel too heretical recommending it. More than you wanted to know, I’m sure. References available (I’m even more sure more than you want!).

        • MNb

          I don’t care what’s most that you have seen.
          I asked a simple question.
          The fact that you needed to write such a long comment to avoid picking option a) speaks quite some volumes.
          So thanks for confirming the point of my question.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          Is your response:
          a) intended to reassure yourself or
          b) the result of casual off-hand study of what seems interesting to you about ancient history and religious texts from whatever sources are convenient?
          Just a simple answer please, no evasion. 😉

          Sometimes life is complicated.

        • MNb

          None of both. It’s a conclusion derived from your comment plus an expression of my gratitude for your cooperation to arrive at that conclusion.
          Sometimes life is complicated indeed, but not in this case.

          But I don’t get your “;-)”. Did you assume I wasn’t capable of a simple answer without evasion?

        • Thomas Goodnow

          The “;-)” was on the assumption that the question couldn’t be answered without evasion: that you would want to pick something other than “a” or “b”.
          I’m probably being too coy. The initial question was obviously rather loaded. There is no way to answer the question completely without being inaccurate. I appreciate that you think the question was fair; I disagree, and was attempting to use some humor to point this out. There’s a reason I don’t do standup, however.
          About the only thing that might move things forward is if you expand on “speaks quite some volumes”: volumes of what? I’m not seriously expecting an answer, but sometimes it’s an interesting exercise.

        • MNb

          “The initial question was obviously rather loaded”
          How so?
          Look, I’m a simple atheist, not a sophisticated theologian. In my simple mind there are only two possibilities: the Bible is nothing but a compilation of books written in very different time periods and by very different authors (ie not divinely inspired) or it is divinely inspired indeed. Did I miss any possibility?
          The reason I formulate it this way is also simple. I don’t exclude that option b) is the right pick. It might be very well be the case that some apologist might bring up the correct reason why a god communicates his message via such a hodgepodge. It seems to me though that any reason that hypothetical apologist will bring up is also a complicated hodgepodge – like your first answer. Then I compare it with the simple “no god inspired the Bible” and it’s obvious to me which answer is more likely the correct one.
          That’s all.

          “volumes of what? I’m not seriously expecting an answer”
          You like your hasty assumptions, don’t you? I thought that “what” would be clear – maybe I was hasty. I thought the phrase “to avoid picking option a)” would be a clear hint.
          Your long answer speaks quite some volumes of how difficult it is to defend picking option b) – that the Bible is divinely inspired. Were it easy and simple your answer would have been much shorter and simpler.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          I’ve been in the debate business for too long probably. Most Christians I know are, indeed, happy simply with “b”. If you start bringing up things like textual variants, evidence of editorial emendation, the nature of the use of the septuagint in the New Testament and so on, their answer is much like yours:” I’m a simple Christian, not a sophisticated theologian”, and there are only 2 possibilities (and they opt for “God-inspired”). If you want a simple answer, I choose “b” also as the most likely option.
          However, if someone, in return starts bringing up these other issues as defeaters of my position (and this is frankly more common than your position), then I’m happy to wander off into these other interesting areas. If these things are not issues for you, then they are not, and that’s fine. I have found that chasing these ideas (like “inerrancy” or “inspiration”) down until they tire itself reveals a lot of interesting things about God and humanity and the relation of the two, which I suppose is why my partner labels me a “theology nerd”. I appreciate that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, however.

        • adam

          ” Most Christians I know are, indeed, happy simply with “b”.”

          As they seem happy with this: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/62da10177de8c12d9feedf1a0ff3d448ed929feef887a1192640edb3a8a15953.jpg

        • Thomas Goodnow

          So what are we arguing about? I think Christians who think this way (and I would argue they are much rarer than most atheists would like to think) are, indeed, not worth debating with, and I usually don’t bother (or take the skeptic side just to make a point). The ultimate question is, “do you disbelieve in Christian claims because some Christians are dumb, or because you’ve looked at the best arguments, proven by history and debate to be robust and persistent, and concluded that Christianity is still unconvincing for similarly robust reasons?” I can dismiss atheism by dismissing Richard Dawkins, just like you can dismiss Christianity by dismissing Ken Ham. Neither tactic is confronting the best arguments, which is fine (life is short, and we’re both busy people), but we shouldn’t flatter ourselves by thinking that we’ve encompassed the subject.

        • Pofarmer

          I haven’t seen any good arguments for theism in general or Christianity in particular. So you’ve set a pretty low bar at “best.”

        • Susan

          Do you believe in Christian claims because some Christians are dumb?

          This is very simple. No.

          or because you’ve looked at the best arguments, proven by history to be robust and persistent

          Persistent is not robust. Bad ideas survive through repetition all the time.

          and concluded that Christianity is still unconvincing for similarly robust reasons?

          Classic burden shifting. I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you because your claims are incoherent and not supported by evidence. That is, if you’re claiming that an immaterial being pulled all of reality out of its metaphysical ear (classical theism) all the way to claiming that Yahwehjesus created the world in six days. Neither claim is better supported than the other.

          You dismiss Ken Ham but believe in demons. So…

          I don’t believe you because you have provided no reason to believe you. A lot of words and endless burden shifting.

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

        • MR

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

          He don’t do the claimin’, his shtick is f’llacious arg’mentation.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          (by “persistent”, I mean something akin to “continuing to be robust through time”, not merely “doesn’t go away”, though if a belief refuses to go away, it has implications either for the belief, or for the natures of the people who continue to hold it, or both)

          This is all getting very far indeed from Bob’s original post, but it’s an interesting topic, so I’ll keep going.

          What do I believe? The Westminster Shorter is probably a good a place to start as any. Obviously, I believe a lot of things in addition to this, but I’m neither interested in defending every last thing I believe about life, the universe and everything nor are you interested in reading it.

          As for the basic idea (i.e. “there is a God”), there’s one basic elementary argument in answer to ignorant amos above.
          As for your longer paragraph (“Classic burden…”), my beliefs are coherent and supported by evidence, unlike many materialistic beliefs. Nagel has cataloged these deficiencies, as has Eagleton and Berlinski (among the non-Christians). My overall strategy with Bob was, and continues to be, “Christianity has problems, but also has evidences and explanatory power; materialistic atheism has problems, more severe and persistent at a more fundamental level, and tends to insist it needs no evidences and should just be believed because it doesn’t seem as superficially wacky as all that demon-haunted-world-Noah’s-ark-virgin-birth thing (I mean seriously, who believes all that?) Outrage is not actually an argument, however, nor a rebuttal to someone else’s argument.

          The usual problem with atheist arguments (and arguing with atheists) is the tendency for them to insist that their shit don’t smell. “WE are reasonable and rational, as evidenced by our atheism, unlike Christians, who have no evidence and nothing but blind faith, as we all know. And bone cancer in children and Creationism, they can’t explain that, as well all know, ergo atheism, QED.” I appreciate this is an atheist thread, and I’m not asking for “proof of atheism”, merely some engagement with atheism’s problems. Arguing “Christianity (or even generic theism) has issues, therefore atheism” is, I presume, not warranted. Is there anyone who appreciates this out there?

          If you’re actually looking for a summary of Christian belief, here’s some basics:
          1. The universe was created at a finite point in time by an eternal agent we conventionally call God, as evidenced by the current cosmological consensus, philosophical necessity and as confirmed by the Biblical record.
          2. Humanity is screwed up. I presume this doesn’t require an argument, though I appreciate that calling it “sin” is a trigger for some people.
          3. Humanity has repeatedly shown no ability to either control its baser instincts, develop meaning or grounding for ethics or aesthetics outside itself that is consistent with rational principles it claims to hold dear, or even act consistently with what it claims to believe. I presume this also does not require an argument beyond pointing out that it has been the most advanced civilizations that gave rise to WWI, WWII, the Cold War, and centuries of imperialism and colonialism. A little of this (not most) claimed to have religious justification, but I’m not here to defend generic religion, nor Christian religion which, in its scripture and tradition, repeatedly opposes these sorts of things anyway.
          4. God acts as a rescuer for humanity in providing a solution and a hope and grounding for these things (meaning, ethics, etc.) It also provides hope for restoration to a non-fallen state (a “new heaven and earth”), ultimately through Jesus Christ, God incarnate who provides the beginning of this restoration through his life, death and resurrection, and has superintended the preservation of God’s acts in history. This is largely a matter of historical record and inferences to the best explanation (and a lack of more viable alternatives).

          All of this could be parodied and mocked (and I’m sure will be!). Realistically, defending historically orthodox Christianity in a brief, readable, unassailable format is impossible. It’s a truism in philosophy that you can be easily readable, or you can be difficult, lengthy and comprehensive, but you can’t be both. That no doubt applies here as well. I always point people to books for this reason, and am always willing to consider others’ recommendations. If someone thinks that this can be decided on the basis of social media posts, they’re crazier than Pat Robertson. And if someone thinks, “hey, he didn’t answer all my questions to my satisfaction, so what he believes is false”, then, well, there’s really no cure for that kind of stupid. But as I’ve stated repeatedly, humans aren’t rational, generally, though it’s a noble goal.

        • Susan

          What do I believe?

          I didn’t ask you what you believe. I already said that what you believe is not interesting unless you can support it.

          I’m neither interested in defending every last thing I believe about life, the universe and everything nor are you interested in reading it.

          I didn’t ask you to do so. I asked you what you are claiming on this particular subject and how you support it.

          Please focus.

          my beliefs are coherent and supported by evidence,

          Excellent. Claiming that they are doesn’t make it so. So, show that they are. How many times are you going to make me ask?

          if someone thinks, “hey, he didn’t answer all my questions to my satisfaction, so what he believes is false”,

          You’ve been in the compound too long. You will not answer a simple question and seem to have ready-made justifications for your inability to do so.

          then, well, there’s really no cure for that kind of stupid.

          No one claimed anything of the sort. Tilt at strawmen all day if you’d like. But it’s obvious that you won’t address honest and straightforward questions.

          I don’t think I’ve ever put an entire sentence in block quotes in my life but you’ve left me no choice.

          WHAT ARE YOU CLAIMING AND HOW DO YOU SUPPORT IT?

        • adam

          “though if a belief refuses to go away, it has implications either for
          the belief, or for the natures of the people who continue to hold it, or
          both)”

          Or the interest of power structures who depend on gullible ‘belief’

          “my beliefs are coherent and supported by evidence,”

          Then lets see those ‘coherent’ beliefs and their evidence.

        • adam

          “Realistically, defending historically orthodox Christianity in a brief, readable, unassailable format is impossible.”

          Let’s be HONEST.

          Defending Christianity is ONLY possible by a belief in MAGIC and the wishful thinking of FAITH.

        • adam

          “1. The universe was created at a finite point in time by an eternal agent we conventionally call God”

          God has not been demonstrated to be anything but IMAGINARY

          “2. Humanity is screwed up”

          As an atheist I understand that humanity is responsible.
          As a theist you should understand that YOUR ‘God’ is responsible, thus demonstrated no Omni God.

          “3. Humanity has repeatedly shown no ability to either control its baser
          instincts, develop meaning or grounding for ethics or aesthetics outside
          itself that is consistent with rational principles it claims to hold
          dear, or even act consistently with what it claims to believe”

          Of course it has, and it is more moral that bible God

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

          “4. God acts as a rescuer for humanity in providing a solution and a hope and grounding for these things (meaning, ethics, etc.) ”

          But it doesnt see YOUR #3

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/06e5cbc11c0b5e348b2f3f1cc50a68e15b60d8ebc251479c2a18bd5f8bc97478.jpg

          “All of this could be parodied and mocked (and I’m sure will be!). ”

          As should be claims of MAGIC.

          ” And if someone thinks, “hey, he didn’t answer all my questions to my
          satisfaction, so what he believes is false”, then, well, there’s really
          no cure for that kind of stupid.”

          Hey, YOU are the one making unsupported vacuous STUPID claims. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/637bfeb32fe76da958e611fbfd841246baeabb7b96c48f9a41144e316ea0e22d.jpg

        • Michael Neville

          God acts as a rescuer for humanity in providing a solution and a hope and grounding for these things (meaning, ethics, etc.)

          Do you mean the same God who killed the first born of Egypt for grins and giggles? Or the God who supposedly drowned the entire world because he was feeling pissed off? Or the God who nuked Sodom and Gomorrah just because? How you can claim a sadistic, narcissistic bully has any kind of ethics or provides any sort of hope is something only the most deluded Christian can answer.

        • adam

          ” How you can claim a sadistic, narcissistic bully has any kind of ethics or provides any sort of hope is something only the most deluded Christian can answer.”

          It’s easy:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bc3d2f2cc6d56454300f773d819a6ad3a142b9a220646a2efef4b5414944542b.jpg

        • Thomas Goodnow

          If only the most deluded Christian can answer this, then obviously there is no answer and you are secure in your epistemic castle.
          If you’re actually looking for an answer:
          No, not that God.
          Here’s the question that this atheist boilerplate never really considers:
          Suppose an author writes a text: Sophocles writes a play, Jefferson writes a constitution, Nissan writes an automobile owner’s manual, whatever. Does the text mean what the author intends it to mean, or does it mean what the reader assumes it means, or wants it to mean, or think it might mean because of variables out of his control (culture, language, background, education)?
          If you are of a fairly hardcore postmodern/reader-response hermeneutic, you may be comfortable with “the text means what it means to me”, but this is rare among skeptics. So if I say, “you are importing your culture into the text and insisting that it conform to your literary (and ethical) guidelines you consider normative for all cultures and times”, what is your response? Or are you assuming that a text written to be relevant and understandable to 7th century Jews is going to be equally relevant and understandable to 21st century Anglophone Westerners? Or that God should somehow make a text which is equally understandable and relevant to both, being omnipotent and all that (and finally we’ve circled back to the original blogpost!)?
          The actual answer (a “deluded” one, if you wish to go ahead and judge it now) is found in the likes of Copan’s “Is God a Moral Monster?”. In short, death is not the ultimate evil, something that most atheists actually agree with, and the Biblical authors appreciate this, as evidenced in part by the stories you mention. If this answer is inadequate, Copan is available. If it’s deluded, then I have no non-deluded answer for you.

        • adam

          “No, not that God. ”

          But isnt that the God, Jesus CLAIMED to be?

          ” or does it mean what the reader assumes it means, or wants it to mean, or think it might mean because of variables out of his control (culture, language, background, education)?”

          But none of those are written by a ‘God’, nor where they claimed to. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1fe90d396e4d4703c73fc5e1ae60cbd0e56aa66a2d4f8519d7b044c62dd6be56.jpg

          ” Or that God should somehow make a text which is equally understandable and relevant to both, being omnipotent and all that (and finally we’ve
          circled back to the original blogpost!)?”

          Which is where we are, and you’ve added NOTHING to the conversation.

          ” In short, death is not the ultimate evil, ”

          Of course not, ETERNAL TORTURE is.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9bfb7cbb09a39ae8911c3879d7def113ab5277eb302961e16b02b2a649a0e7d6.jpg

        • Michael Neville

          So if I say, “you are importing your culture into the text and insisting that it conform to your literary (and ethical) guidelines you consider normative for all cultures and times”, what is your response?

          So it was acceptable for your God to kill whoever he felt needed killin’ because that’s how Iron Age Hebrews rolled but in these more enlightened times that sort of thing is a definite faux pas. After all, 7tth Century (CE or BCE?) Jews just emptied their chamber pots out of the window but nowadays the 1st World has flush toilets. O tempora, o morales as a near-contemporary of Jesus said.

          In short, death is not the ultimate evil, something that most atheists actually agree with, and the Biblical authors appreciate this, as evidenced in part by the stories you mention.

          Death may not be the ultimate evil but large scale killing is pretty high up on the evil scale. The Khmer Rouge are not considered paragons of virtue after wiping out an estimated 25% of the Cambodian population in the 1970s. Nor do “most atheists” hail Stalin, Hitler or Mao Zedong as role models to emulate. As for the Biblical authors, they seemed to take great joy and pride in Yahweh killing massive numbers of people. Certainly the authors didn’t waste any ink expressing regrets that their god was a mass murderer.

          Copan co-authored a book with William Lane Craig. He’s the apologist who claims that your god is so moral that any act this god does is automatically good and moral, even if that act would be universally condemned as evil and immoral if done by anyone else. Having just read some of the reviews of Is God a Moral Monster at Amazon, I’ve reached two conclusions: (1) Copan agrees with Lane Craig that Ol’ Yahweh’s killing is just neato-spiffy-keen and we should excuse the killing, ordering rape and condoning slavery. because GOD IS GOOD! (2) I won’t bother to read a Christian apologist excusing his god’s moral lapses.

          I wish just once that one of you Christians would admit “Yeah, in the Old Testament our God is a real asshole, a moral monster.” But as the saying goes, wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up first.

        • adam

          “I wish just once that one of you Christians would admit “Yeah, in the Old Testament our God is a real asshole,”

          They can’t because that asshole is Jesus.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ae1afb4336eb43eac4eb6542320889b4c9068fa20364f91b3a3a3b8f6e3a0f88.png

        • MNb

          “there’s one basic elementary argument in answer to ignorant amos above”
          Could you repeat it or give a link? Disqus isn’t helpful for tracing it down and I’m not going to wade through 600+ comments to find it.

          “my beliefs are coherent and supported by evidence, unlike many materialistic beliefs. Nagel has cataloged these deficiencies, as has Eagleton and Berlinski.”
          Examples? See, I think Nagel’s attempts rather poor. Especially his critique of Evolution Theory is seriously lacking. I can’t remember Eagleton and Berlinski right now, but I do seem to remember that their attempts have been heavily criticized as well.

          “I appreciate this is an atheist thread, and I’m not asking for “proof of atheism”, merely some engagement with atheism’s problems.”
          Unfortunately quite a few of those problems are nothing but strawmen – including the paraphrasing that just preceeded this quote. I don’t think I’m reasonable and rational at all. I just try to use reason and rationality to arrive at the correct conclusions and happen to think that atheism is one.

          “Arguing “Christianity (or even generic theism) has issues, therefore atheism” is, I presume, not warranted.”
          And this is another strawman, which directly flows from “I’m not asking for “proof of atheism”. You want to have the cake and eat it too.

          The four points you mention only address the first part of Susan’s question

          “What are you claiming and how do you support it?”
          You do nothing to demonstrate how these four points support christianity. Granted, you don’t claim you do. It’s still nothing but preaching. And you know the typical atheist reaction: yawn. Throw us a bone just for a change.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          “elementary argument”: to be honest, I can’t find it either. I have all this in a Word document which is now over 200 pages, but haven’t been able to track down anything specific. What was Amos’ issue?

          Beliefs critiqued by Nagel et al: These are things which atheistic materialism has trouble accounting for, but which have some grounding or norming in a theistic worldview.
          1. Ethics: materialistic accounts argue that ethics are contingent, survival-enhancing mechanisms developed by higher primates to ensure group cooperation. This is not ridiculous, but is not what most people mean by “ethics”. For instance, slavery is not “OK” for people today, but has been OK or even expected in the past in most cultures. To say, “slavery is wrong” is nonsense: the best that can be said on atheism is “it is counter-productive for me and people like me at this point in human history”. Certainly, any objection based on human dignity or a right to self-determination is absurd (see #4 and 5). In this way, ethics becomes entirely descriptive, not prescriptive: it can’t tell you what you should do, only what is being done, or at best tells you what you should do to help you and people like you to survive and reproduce in conformity with your neurochemistry.
          2. Meaning: there is none in an atheistic universe. Russell’s essay “Free Man’s Worship” is blunt about this, but Dawkins has also mentioned it. If you love your kids, that great, but there is no “value” in them outside of what you place there (and which will die with you). Value is a relational character (there must be a “value-er”), and as such has no existence outside of the one doing the valuing; if two people disagree about value, they either must separate or someone’s ‘value’ was illusory. There is no court to appeal to, to say “this is more valuable than that”. Human value is likewise illusory: humans are electrochemical meatbags. I have yet to hear a rational argument against voluntary human extinction, for instance, or an argument against carefully considered genocide (if they are less well-adapted, then they will die off anyway).
          3. Aesthetics: I prefer for my living room paintings of flowers over photographs of Auschwitz. Is there anything other than evopsych to explain this? Flowers = fields = game = food, vs Auschwitz = lack of cooperation/altruism = poor outcomes? If so, the choice is effectively arbitrary, a side-effect of neurochemistry, not an actual expression of something beautiful/ugly. Rebecca Black = Mozart.
          4. Speaking of which, rationality: there is no evopsych explanation for the applicability of reasoning beyond the basics. My brain evolved to help me hunt, mate and protect my kind on the plains of Africa; it is an evolved survival mechanism. As such, there is no reason to think it has any utility beyond that: calculus won’t help you fight off a lion, and thinking about black holes won’t actually give you more opportunities to copulate. “But it works” arguments are circular: if your arguments supporting rationality are rational arguments, you fall into a circular ditch rather easily.
          5. Freedom: Everything you have ever thought, felt or done has been governed by deterministic or stochastic neurochemistry, freedom is an illusion (Sam Harris admits this, though he doesn’t tend to live like he believes it), and “being responsible” is an evolutionary mechanism for ensuring group conformity, to be discarded if it gets in the way of my genetic heritage. Ironically, materialists and hyper-Calvinists agree on this: you are what you are, you think what you think, and you can’t help it or even really know that you can’t help it.
          6. Consciousness and qualia: there is no known scientific process for generating consciousness. Few think atoms are conscious, and there is no known mechanism for creating consciousness by multiplying atoms’ number and complexity until they look like a human. Of course, this may succumb to future research: I’ve heard it referred to as “naturalism of the gaps” however. Qualia, perceived qualities or properties, likewise have no explanation on a naturalistic model: no matter how careful your dissection, if you taste someone’s brain who is experiencing the taste of chocolate, their brain will not taste like chocolate. Relatively few atheists even see this as a problem, though I have yet to figure out why not.
          7. Existence: things exist, and move forward in time, and the Big Bang is well-established. Physics cannot “see” prior to this, as there is no framework for doing physics in the absence of physical laws. To argue that the universe was self-creating seems absurd; to argue that there is no explanation seems obscurantist (it’s usually Christians who are accused of being “science-stoppers”), and the basic problems that Leibniz and the Kalam argument confront are not solved by recourse to assorted “multiverse” theories (themselves entirely lacking in scientific evidence, incidentally).
          Those are the ones off the top of my head. In response, Christian theism grounds most of these in the existence of an eternal, uncaused, rational, conscious, good, powerful creator. Being made in the image of God transfers to humans value, the ability to choose, be conscious and thoughtful and be meaningfully ethical. We can meaningfully experience qualia because we are given, in part, a “god’s eye” view of reality. Justification or warrant for all these belief (#1-7) is available through Christian theism, if not directly through the Bible. You are free to disbelieve it, obviously, but are burdened with trying to explain them all using a more believable mechanism. If evolutionary atheistic naturalism is true, of course, there will be no forthcoming explanation: evolution has not equipped us to “understand meaning”, but usually skeptics continue to vaunt science as the answer to all these problems, exhibiting a depth of faith too much for me to put much credit in. I am not “anti-science”: it pays my bills, after all, but I feel I know its limitations better than many, and no scientist follows the scientific method or philosophy in all (or even most) areas of her life.
          There are a number of objections to all this (obviously), but I won’t make this post longer by trying to anticipate all of them. Broadly speaking, many objections fail to maintain a basic creature/creator distinction: we are given these characters by God, but the relationship is fundamentally asymmetric. To ask “who created God” or “why is God valuable” is to misunderstand the questions (without God, these questions fail to contain any meaning). Susan, at this point, will likely accuse this of being “foggy”, to which I have no response: it’s not foggy to most philosophers and theologians, and not understanding something is not the same as disproving it. I can’t realistically write to everyone’s reading level simultaneously, and I would argue that insisting on simple answers to complex questions is either an expression of naivete (it can’t be THAT complicated, srsly!) or dishonesty (haha! I knew he couldn’t “answer” that one!).

          Is the second half of Susan’s question the one about being smarter than in the past? My contention is not that we don’t know more, but that our actual ability to think is no different. Are we more rational, less influenced by emotion or culture or loyalties or bias? If not, then why should we think the quality of our arguments has improved?

          As for her question about authors and books, this isn’t relevant to the truth of an idea, but communication is facilitated by knowing where people are coming from. I’ve been in grad school too long and tend to assume that if a writer doesn’t know where an idea came from, he’s probably pulling it out of his *ss, but I appreciate that it’s a unique sickness to check books out of the library just to mine their references. I need to stop assuming that the rest of the world operates with the same criteria (it’s no doubt made my writing ‘foggy’). If Susan is a 10th-grade dropout who has self-educated about religion and philosophy, it puts my answers in a different frame than if she’s in a graduate philosophy program at USC. She seems especially put off by what she sees as pretensions to scholarship; I don’t know if there’s a solution to this or not.

          I’m having a hard time answering the rest, since I’m losing contact with the referents. I’m always available at Tommeltj (at ) yahoo, if you’re looking for a forum less unwieldy. At this point, there are so many conversations and cross-talk that I’m having a hard time telling who’s talking about what. I am relieved that there are at least 2 atheists who’ve read Nagel; obviously, I came to a different assessment of his arguments.

        • adam

          “To argue that the universe was self-creating seems absurd; ”

          yet not nearly as absurd as postulating a “God” of the gaps, who only adds more and more complexity to the issue. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/39e1355efb0f60a3e343f10e95a042b7f70109cec58af3727be235ac575ca13f.jpg

        • Thomas Goodnow

          As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’m not a “God of the Gaps” kinda guy.
          As science reveals more neurochemistry especially, it’s pushing (materialist/naturalist) evolutionary biologists into a corner. There’s just not enough time between the Hadean and the arrival of complex life for the necessary random mutations to cumulate in the right manner to give rise to creatures with nervous systems (Behe’s “The Edge of Evolution”, Dembski’s “The Design Inference” or especially Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell” all bang this drum). But no doubt future discoveries will find the mechanism that created such order in such a small period of time (this does sound a bit like “Naturalism of the Gaps”, with a healthy dose of faith in science, i.e. claiming to know what you can’t know, but we all live by faith, amiright?).

        • Kodie

          Argument from incredulity. How much time do your favorite apologists think is necessary?

        • Thomas Goodnow

          I don’t recall right off hand. Dembski and Behe have actually crunched the numbers however (in “The Design Inference” and “The Edge of Evolution” respectively, neither of which is inaccessible for a determined non-mathematically inclined non-biochemist). It isn’t incredulity, it’s math. I seem to recall that their best guesses were somewhere on the order of 1 x 10^70ish years, give or take a couple dozen orders of magnitude. Ironically, saying that it all occurred in the 8 x 10^8 or so years the earth actually had is much closer to magic than anything they propose. But hey, it’s only a difference of a few vigintillion years, I have faith that (atheistic/materialistic) science will close that gap in no time.

        • Kodie

          Lol, Discovery Institute.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          At least none of the New Atheists have formed any groups with names like “The Chris Hitchens Foundation for Reason and Science” or “Intelligent Response Squad” or any such pompous nonsense 😉

        • Kodie

          I’m so sorry you can’t tell the difference between science and pretend science. It’s not even pseudo-science, it’s intentionally deceitful. You want to bring numbers and say evolution from the beginning of life to humans didn’t take long enough to be possible, and then back up your statements from liars for Jesus, you are not to be taken seriously.

        • Cuz, yeah—who needs reason and science?!

          Don’t get me started.

        • adam

          “As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’m not a “God of the Gaps” kinda guy.”

          But THAT is all that you’ve presented here.
          Morals=God
          Because you cant understand the evolutionary mechanisms of morals

          ” but we all live by faith, amiright?”

          Not by the biblical faith of wishful thinking.

          I have no problems dealing with reality without having to invoke MAGIC as an explanation.

          But you know, MANY people just LOVE MAGIC…

        • Pofarmer

          Have you thought to ask any, ya know, actual evolutionary biologists? And the funny thing here, well, not ha ha funny but “the is so stupid” funny is that what we would see is the amount of time(approximately) that it took. We can’t then look and say, “Well, it should have taken this long, or it should have happened faster.” Dealing with reality is what it is.

        • adam

          ” and I’m not asking for “proof of atheism””

          I present myself as proof of atheism.
          I have disbelief in deity.

          ” merely some engagement with atheism’s problems. ”

          What are ‘atheism’s problems?

          “Arguing “Christianity (or even generic theism) has issues, therefore atheism” is, I presume, not warranted.”

          It is because it requires MAGIC and FAITH, neither which are justifiable.

          ” Is there anyone who appreciates this out there?”

          All of us atheists out here appreciate that christianity makes CRAZY claims that they cant support with evidence.

          You think this is an atheist problem?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e60da69b09f90cdf455366214de1c302250519c28b2fc82edbcdee62ca93a7e3.jpg

        • Thomas Goodnow

          Well, yes, I suppose you are proof of your own psychological state having the referent “atheism”. I was thinking of something more philosophically interesting (like whether God exists independent of my thoughts about the matter).

          I think we’ve beat “magic” to death at this point. Christian belief does not require belief in magic; if you feel it does, you are mistaken. I am a Christian, and I’ve approved this message (IAACAIATM). If you mean “Christian belief requires a rejection of metaphysical naturalism”, then you are correct, of course. I haven’t seen an argument yet that metaphysical naturalism is correct, and have presented quite a few at this point that it’s mistaken.

          I’m rather afraid to ask you for a definition of faith. Peter Boghossian might crawl out of the screen and start drooling on my keyboard, and I hate it when he does that. If his is the sort of definition of faith you’re working with, Christianity doesn’t require faith either (IAAAIATM).

          I am glad that Jefferson took a break from buggering his slaves to critique Christian ethics. It’s good to have a variety of interests. X-P

        • Kodie

          I think we’ve beat “magic” to death at this point. Christian belief does not require belief in magic; if you feel it does, you are mistaken. I am a Christian, and I’ve approved this message (IAACAIATM). If you mean “Christian belief requires a rejection of metaphysical naturalism”, then you are correct, of course. I haven’t seen an argument yet that metaphysical naturalism is correct, and have presented quite a few at this point that it’s mistaken.

          You might not like to call it magic, but that’s something you can’t explain, which you believe, namely, a man-like being intentionally creating the universe as it is, creating a place or places where people go after they die, without their bodies, and a more man-like being dying corporeally but disappearing from a tomb also corporeally, i.e, not just his “soul” left the building, but there was nothing left inside the tomb. I call it a myth, and you call it the most rational explanation for things you can’t understand but deeply wish to be true. The line in the middle is called in the vernacular, “magic.” You can try to walk away from it, but it’s there. That’s the difference between us.

        • adam

          Well stated.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          Hmm. I propose that suggesting that a pile of complexly arranged atoms making meaningful decisions sounds like magic. Hairless primates successfully doing calculus, and someone from 21st century America deciding how a 7th century BC Jew should have lived his life also smells rather magical. You didn’t decide when or where you were born, your genetic heritage, your language or culture or where you went to school, but you can decide that your life is meaningful because you want it to be? Also a tad magical (and there’s more than a touch of a Bogghosian-style faith in there, too).

          This is one of the points I’ve hammered on with Bob over and over again: a strict atheistic materialism is, indeed, devoid of magic and the miraculous: it’s atoms in motion and absolutely, positively, nothing more (sure, throw in some “quantum foam” or similar woo if that helps). But then don’t try to tell me what is ethical or meaningful or beautiful or logical, because I know you have no rational basis for it. Why should I listen to another hairless ape on a middling planet, whose entire life constitutes 5.5 x 10^(-7) % of the history of the universe? But you’re made of star-stuff? Congratulations, now you have something in common with Flint, Michigan’s chief water contaminant.
          If naturalism is true, your life and mine have the exact same value as the bacterium that just lost a duel with a neutrophil in the zit on a rat’s ass. Sometimes truth hurts. Live with it.

          Or not, actually: if hypocrisy makes you feel better, go for it, it’s not like it’ll matter in 100 years. If you feel your life means something and this helps you reproduce, then your genes have accomplished their mission. However, this sounds disturbingly like slavery, so don’t think about it, whatever you do. I hear there’s a new season of “Celebrity Apprentice” in the works! That show is HILARIOUS. And there’s a sale at Best Buy this weekend!

        • Kodie

          Yeah, you don’t know how brains work, you find evolution hard to grasp, and that’s why you believe there has to be a god. Please don’t talk to me about what my life should mean.

        • This is one of the points I’ve hammered on with Bob over and over again: a strict atheistic materialism is, indeed, devoid of magic and the miraculous: it’s atoms in motion and absolutely, positively, nothing more (sure, throw in some “quantum foam” or similar woo if that helps). But then don’t try to tell me what is ethical or meaningful or beautiful or logical, because I know you have no rational basis for it.

          I disagree. But perhaps you have a dictionary that defines these words to support your position. Show me.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          Is a dictionary actually going to help? Which words?

        • Huh??

          You said: “don’t try to tell me what is ethical or meaningful or beautiful or logical.” Those words.

          You have a radically different definition than I do–odd since we’re both fluent English speakers–since you declare that I have “no rational basis” for using them.

          Bold claim. Now back it up.

        • adam

          “I was thinking of something more philosophically interesting (like whether God exists independent of my thoughts about the matter).”

          Why is that interesting?
          Should I consider Vampires, Werewolves, Shiva and Thor in the same manner? Like whether they exist independent of my thoughts on the matter?

          When a decades long personal study into the claims for such a God have all proven to be EXACTLY what you present here:

          FAITH and MAGIC are required to understand.

          And THAT is backed up by THOUSANDS of YEARS of religion making claims of MAGIC.

          ” Christian belief does not require belief in magic;”

          It ABSOLUTELY does, and I’ve posted the definition from Merriam Webster and listed christian beliefs requiring such magic.

          ” if you feel it does, you are mistaken. ”

          No , not me.

          “I’m rather afraid to ask you for a definition of faith. ”

          Why?
          I’ve listed this one as well – wishful thinking as defined by the bible:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b12fa1635e121ebbb3409640826d721ba93278771f0064bd133804faa3f01397.png

          “I am glad that Jefferson took a break from buggering his slaves to critique Christian ethics.”

          Of course
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ae1afb4336eb43eac4eb6542320889b4c9068fa20364f91b3a3a3b8f6e3a0f88.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/86effa5e2bc761ae95f687bf44f1632c13ebd40a54b07502d779f242a887cc3e.jpg

          See bible God supports slavery….

        • Thomas Goodnow

          1. I find reality interesting, and it seems like whether the universe is a closed system of cause and effect, devoid of human value or freedom, or superintended by a personal God, to be interesting. Many people find misunderstanding another’s argument as an incentive to troll interesting. To each his own, I suppose.
          2. If you define words any way you wish, you control the conversation; that’s basic Orwell. Miracle is magic, faith is wishful thinking, freedom is slavery and so on. When it comes to defining “faith” or “magic”, I’m going to stick with the definitions that are in, say, “Dictionary of New Testament Theology” (3v.); you can go with dictionary.com if you like, or, if that doesn’t work, “Manual for Creating Atheists” if that’s more to your liking; Boghossian’s entire book is about how to control definitions in order to win arguments. Cherry picking: it’s not just for Christians! I find reality interesting, but bandying semantics, not so much. I’ll be over here with the rest of the world, let us know when you’ve an argument to make rather than an argument to control.
          3. The Bible supports slavery: and your car owner’s manual clearly, and probably in more than one place, says, “do not drive your vehicle.” If you are a responsible car owner, why are you disregarding the manufacturer recommendations? (This is not a rhetorical question: it DOES say that in there somewhere, probably in the “warning lights” section or the “what to do in case of an accident” section).
          4. I appreciate that billboards are more truthy these days among young people than texts, but am curious how you reconcile your billboards with Rom 6, Gal 3:28, Luke 4:18 or Ex 2:23ff? Or with the fact that abolitionism was nearly an entirely Christian-run movement? Believe it or not, Lev 25:44 wasn’t put in the Bible in 1996 to sell Chris Hitchens books.

        • adam

          “Many people find misunderstanding another’s argument as an incentive to troll interesting.”

          Then why do you do it?

          “2. If you define words any way you wish, you control the conversation; that’s basic Orwell. ”

          And THAT is what you HAVE to do, cherry pick from THEOLOGY a definition that doesnt expose your belief in MAGIC.

          “and your car owner’s manual clearly, and probably in more than one place, says, “do not drive your vehicle.” ”

          See how you have to LIE.

          “4. I appreciate that billboards are more truthy these days among young people than texts,”

          I wouldnt know, being old as I am.

          ” but am curious how you reconcile your billboards”

          Quotes from your “God” themselves is how.

          ” Or with the fact that abolitionism was nearly an entirely Christian-run movement?”

          Obviously, that some of your God followers have BETTER morals than the God they worship.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          Your manual doesn’t say that? Every one I’ve ever read says that. Well, I guess ya learn something new every day. And I bet I’m still older than you. It takes decades to learn how to lie like I do 😉

        • adam

          “Well, yes, I suppose you are proof of your own psychological state having the referent “atheism”.”

          So I am proof of atheism.

        • Susan

          I was thinking of something more philosophically interesting (like whether God exists independent of my thoughts about the matter).

          If you were doing that, you would have responded to the question, “What are you claiming and how do you support it?” a long while back. That you’ve willfully dodged such a simple question is telling.

          Christian belief does not require belief in magic.

          Here is where I will ask you to demonstrate how specificially christian claims can distinguish themselves from claims of magic. But given your track record thus far, I doubt you will respond. You seem to want to avoid straightforward questions about your position. Until you do, Adam’s claim that it is indistinguishable from claims of magic stands.

          If you mean “Christian belief requires a rejection of metaphysical naturalism”, then you are correct

          That is not what he meant. He meant that christian claims look exactly like claims of magic and you have yet to show how they’re distinct from claims of magic.

          Interesting that you keep shifting the burden. Do believers in other forms of magic that you reject out of hand get to accuse you of metaphysical naturalism because you don’t accept their claims?

          I’m rather afraid of asking you for a definition of faith.

          It’s the word theists tend to use when their claims that their arguments are reasoned fall apart. The “mystery”. “Faith”. All get-out-of-jail-free cards that can be equivocated depending on the position the theist requires.

          Peter Boghossian might crawl out of the screen and start drooling on my keyboard

          You are a piece of work. Peter Boghossian is not here. While I don’t agree with him on many things, he is a much more honest and thoughtful contributor that you’ve ever been. That is, he isn’t foggy and doesn’t spend most of his time avoiding the point and attacking strawmen when asked what his position is.

          Chrisitianity doesn’t require faith.

          Christianity requires faith. It advocates faith. It insists on faith.

          It has to. It has no evidence.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          “You would’ve responded”: I thought I did, but this conversation is getting so unmanageable that it may have been your response sent to someone else, so I’ll try to reproduce it here (or maybe, because of my inherent degeneracy and craven anti-intellectualism, I have been intentionally dodging your question 😉 ):
          I am claiming:
          I generally affirm the Westminster Shorter Catechism. It’s available online. In very brief, and ignoring the Bible as a source of warrant for the moment:
          The universe was created a finite time ago by the eternal, uncaused, personal, moral, free God, eventually with humanity as an expression of his nature and person. Humanity used and continues to use this freedom to injure one another and themselves in rebellion against the wishes of God. As proof of this last, I would point to the most recent election cycle in the US, and my hunch is that we’ll have years more to enjoy human irrationality, greed, rebellion, vindictiveness and lust of all sorts (there are obviously innumerable examples; as Chesterton quipped, the Doctrine of the Fall is the one empirically obvious Christian doctrine). For the former, I would point to cosmology (e.g. the cosmological argument in one of its forms), biochemistry (e.g. the incredulity necessary to accept that unguided natural processes resulted in eukaryotes in less than a billion years) and philosophy (that nothing can’t produce something, for instance). In response to this, God initiated a rescue plan initially through what would be the Jewish people, and ultimately through Jesus of Nazareth, whose life, miracles, death and resurrection inaugurated the eschaton (as warrant for this, I would point to both history generally and 1st century documents that record the events). Hopefully this answers the question; I’m sure you’ll let me know.

          In re magic: I won’t rehearse the debate between adam and myself here (it’s somewhere on the page you’re viewing), save to reiterate that folklorists and Biblical scholars would point out that “magic” as conventionally used not only does not occur in the Bible, but much of the Bible is specifically written to counter this impression (there’s the whole field of “polemical theology” that looks at this among other issues). This is why I was attempting to charitably rephrase adam’s thoughts into a less Orwellian, use-words-to-guarantee-I-win sort of phraseology. If you ask a Christian, ‘so, you believe in magic”, you’ll have to work awfully hard to find one, which suggests either that they don’t know what they believe, or that you don’t know what they believe, or that the two of you are using the word differently (I assume this last, though for an atheist to assume she knows what Christians generally believe is… displaying a high level of confidence, so to speak). To continue to insist that only one side of the conversation is allowed to define words, and insist that, when the other person avoids the word entirely, that he still REALLY means the Forbidden Word, seems more like bullying than debate. But that’s pretty par for the course for the interwebs, and I have a thick skin.

          Re faith as “the word theists tend to use when their claims that their arguments are reasoned fall apart”: I can’t claim to speak for all theists, and you may be right. I do not use it this way. To insist that I am using it this way is to imply that you have a greater depth of insight into an internet stranger’s psychology than I’m willing to hazard, but you may have some extraordinary abilities in this regard.

          “Faith” as I would use it implies trust and loyalty; it implies belief and knowledge, but this is not its thrust. My anthropology insists that for humans, “knowing” something is not a morally neutral act. If your partner says, “I was stuck in that parking-lot for hours waiting for you to come get me, didn’t you get my text?!” and you respond, “yeah, yeah, I know”, it’s not going to get you off the hook. Knowledge of metaphysics or even science is similarly freighted, though admittedly, knowing about mu-receptor agonism is less likely to have immediate effects (though knowing about it doesn’t guarantee you can’t get hooked on oxycontin). The definition of faith in play here is largely Boghossian’s, though of course he didn’t originate it and it’s been widely parroted by others. He defines it as he does because it helps him win arguments, not because he consulted with his colleagues in the philosophy department and came up with a consensus statement. For this reason, I insist that Christianity doesn’t require faith (i.e. I’m letting you do the defining; you’re welcome).

          Luke 1:1-4, I John 1:1, John 20:31, Ex 20:22 among the ones I can immediately come up with suggest that God does not commend belief based on a lack of, or in spite of, evidence. Bogghossian and his ilk are mistaken, if this is what they think the Bible commends (Heb 11:1 inevitably comes up here, and yes, I’m playing the context card: you’re taking it out of context). The Dictionary of New Testament Theology devotes a couple dozen pages to how the Bible uses and defines ‘faith’. IOW, if people are really concerned about not attacking straw men, saying, “you have faith, and let me define it for you so I can savage it” would be a textbook example.

          I would allow that belief in Christ is not an entirely rational decision. This is because human beings are not entirely rational, and God is interested in saving the whole person, not merely the intellect (some theologies argue that Satan has an unfallen intellect). I presume it’s obvious by this point that humans aren’t entirely rational, and you and I would only differ on who’s being less rational: you would say I am, and I would say I am not qualified to determine this, you being a stranger to me (given your background, your comments may be perfectly rational).

          As for the last, yes, Christianity requires faith, as I have here defined it. It does not require but actually argues against faith if we’re using your definition. You can use whichever definition you like; I avoid the word because it triggers people. As to whether Christianity has no evidence, individuals much closer to the events than we are obviously thought it did (see above) and there are philosophical, historical, scientific and personal evidences. If you mean “no evidence I find convincing”, of course you are correct. If you mean “no evidence anyone finds convincing,” you are obviously mistaken. If you mean “no evidence a rational person would find convincing”, you are making an immense claim about knowledge of some 20 billion+ people’s psychology. If you mean “”no evidence that a rational person would find convincing, because if they found it convincing they are not rational”, then I presume you see the problem.

        • Myna

          you are making an immense claim about knowledge of some 20 billion+ people’s psychology.

          Islam (1.6 billion) and Christianity (2.2 billion) are pretty much running neck and neck at this juncture in history. It is estimated Islam will surpass Christianity by 2050. All things must pass, as the Hindus (at 1.08 billion) would say.

        • Michael Neville

          Please see my response to Susan above.

        • Pofarmer

          as Chesterton quipped, the Doctrine of the Fall is the one empirically obvious Christian doctrine).

          Really?

        • Thomas Goodnow

          Sure. Do you honestly think the world is as good as it could possibly be, right now? Or that humanity is not responsible for at least a significant portion of the suffering in the world? Or that they are completely non-culpable for any of it? Do you think this is true for you or me?
          I often bang the drum that there is no such thing as “religion”, and that any comment that starts “religion is….” will be wrong if enough examples are considered. However, the one thing all the ones I’ve ever seen do agree upon is that there is something deeply wrong with the world. For that matter, this extends to Humanism and Marxism and nearly all -isms.

        • Pofarmer

          None of that has anything to do with Fall Doctrine specifically. What is the Emperical evidence for “The Fall”. Let’s see the hypothesis, and the data, and the evidence.

          I’ll probably deal with the rest of your post separately.

        • Pofarmer

          Do you honestly think the world is as good as it could possibly be, right now?

          Uhm, sure, why not? It’s a circular question.

          Or that humanity is not responsible for at least a significant portion of the suffering in the world?

          Sure it is, but so are bacteria and parasitic wasps.

          Or that they are completely non-culpable for any of it?

          Don’t understand the question.

          Do you think this is true for you or me?

          Not a clue, once again, what you’re getting at.

          However, the one thing all the ones I’ve ever seen do agree upon is that there is something deeply wrong with the world.

          Sure, it’s a powerful motivator. Read “The True Believers” by Eric Hoffer.

          For that matter, this extends to Humanism and Marxism and nearly all -isms.

          Once again, no mystery here. Read “The True Believers” by Eric Hoffer.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          Ah, a book recommendation! Excellent, and it looks like it’s at the library (free is even better than cheap).
          “good as it could possibly be”: I was aiming at the idea that no one, looking at the news or the TV or out their fron window says, ‘wow, I guess nothing needs to be done, the world is doing great!’ Similarly, no one looks in the mirror and says, “wow, I guess I’m the best human I could ever be!” or, if he does, he only needs to ask someone who knows him well, “tell me honestly, is there anything I should change about my life or the way I relate to people or anything” and watch the other person begin to squirm. It’s not a purely academic religiophilosophical question, IOW. You don’t have to be a Bible-believer to appreciate the wisdom behind “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

        • Pofarmer

          ‘wow, I guess nothing needs to be done, the world is doing great!’

          Which doesn’t follow “because Jesus.”

          “wow, I guess I’m the best human I could ever be!”

          Which is also meaningless bafflegab, which also doesn’t point to “because Jesus.”

          Now, back to that emperical evidence for The Fall?

        • Or that humanity is not responsible for at least a significant portion of the suffering in the world?

          Of course it is. But then it’s also responsible for all of the technological advances–artificial fertilizer, vaccines, clean water, etc.

        • MNb

          And how exactly does that make the Doctrine of the Fall empirically obvious?
          See, as far as I can see the Earthly world never was as good as it could possibly be. Examples:

          https://skepticalscience.com/Earths-five-mass-extinction-events.html

          http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/snowball.htm

          Not exactly the Garden of Eden.

          So yes, I agree with Andy Cairns:

          “world is fucked
          And so am I
          Maybe it’s the other way ’round
          I can’t seem to decide”

          As that’s always been the case and it seems to me that the world (I’m not sure about myself) is less fucked than it used to be I’d say it’s empirically obvious that the Doctrine of the Fall is total bogus.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          Chesterton was speaking somewhat figuratively, as was his wont, but he seems basically correct. It could be debated whether the world has ever been detectably Edenic, so I don’t worry about that much. The doctrine doesn’t argue that you can’t ever improve, either, merely that utopia isn’t going to happen as a result of human effort.

        • Kodie

          When you water all the magical ideas out of it, you’re really just saying “I admit there’s no fall”.

          Nobody was talking about utopia, not even you. What you’re saying is that your beliefs don’t have anything to add or explain.

        • MNb

          Sorry, but your literary critical approach is not for me, so I have no idea what you mean with “basically correct”. Also I’d like you to correct my ignorance – I always thought that the Doctrine of the Fall was a lot more than just “utopia isn’t going to happen as a result of human effort”, which is not a spectacular claim anyway. These links

          https://www.monergism.com/doctrine-fall
          http://www.repentorperish.ca/fallofman.html
          http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p7.htm

          seem to confirm that thought of mine.
          For the time being I maintain that its’ empirically obvious that the Doctrine of the Fall is total bogus.

        • Susan

          he seem basically correct.

          No. He doesn’t.

          It could be debated whether the world has ever been detectably Edenic.

          In order for there to be a debate, there would have to be evidence that it ever was. There is no evidence that it was. No debate.

          utopia isn’t going to happen as a result of human effort.

          A mundane claim. That doesn’t mean humans can’t improve things. As all we have is human effort to work with, that is going to have to suffice.

        • Greg G.

          Do you honestly think the world is as good as it could possibly be, right now?

          No, but it is better with smallpox and polio being diminished. If there was a benevolent omnipotence, you wouldn’t be asking that question.

          Or that humanity is not responsible for at least a significant portion of the suffering in the world?

          Humanity is not responsible for another significant portion.

          Or that they are completely non-culpable for any of it?

          Humanity is not for earthquakes, predators, and most diseases.

          Do you think this is true for you or me?

          I try to mitigate suffering but I am not omnipotent.

          However, the one thing all the ones I’ve ever seen do agree upon is that there is something deeply wrong with the world.

          But the different religions do not agree on what that something is and their conclusions are often wacky. I recall when a hurricane hit Florida and Christians said it was God’s wrath because they were not Christian enough while the Muslim leaders inother countries were saying it was God’s wrath because they were too Christian.

        • it is better with smallpox and polio being diminished. If there was a benevolent omnipotence, you wouldn’t be asking that question.

          http://theatheistpig.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/IMG_1997-768×288.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s at this point that all your deepities just become totally ludicrous.

        • MNb

          And I already told you that preaching is not the same as the second, underlined part of “What are you claiming and how do you support it?”.
          You might have missed of course because Disqus is hard to manage indeed.
          Point is: whatever you claim without supporting it we can reject without supporting it. So shrug. Again.

          “you and I would only differ on who’s being less rational”
          Wrong way to formulate it. It’s impossible to measure “more” and “less” rational, so this doesn’t have much meaning.
          What we claim is that the rational approach to the god question leads to the conclusion that there isn’t one. We might be wrong because we’re fallible. Hence you’re invited to point out errors. As far as I can see (and again I might not see far enough) you haven’t got any farther than “Nagel rejects philosophical naturalism” and “you atheists all think you’re so rational and christians so dumb that you don’t recognize the circularity you’re guilty of”. The first is an appeal to authority and the latter a strawman.
          But you remain invited and granted, as a support you brought up Leibniz’ version of the Cosmological Argument.

        • Pofarmer

          Does Nagel reject philosophical naturalism or just materialism where it relates to consciousness?

        • MNb

          I have not really any idea, but I was under the impression that he is a dualist.

        • Herald Newman

          > If you ask a Christian, ‘so, you believe in magic”, you’ll
          > have to work awfully hard to find one.

          If you’ve ever met a Catholic who accepts the transubstantiation claims, they accept magic. Any Christian who believes the Jesus turned water into wine believes in magic. They just don’t call it “magic.”

        • Susan

          The universe was created a finite time ago by the eternal, uncaused, personal, moral, free God, eventually with humanity as an expression of his nature and person. Humanity used and continues to use this freedom to injure one another and themselves in rebellion against the wishes of God

          As proof of this last, I would point to the most recent election cycle in the US,

          That’s quite a non-sequitur, Thomas. Is this one of your “robust” arguments?

          as Chesterton quipped, the Doctrine of the Fall is the one empirically obvious Christian doctrine)

          The doctrine of the Fall is not supported empirically. Rather, the evidence says that we are one species in a continuum of life forms on a very, old planet with suffering and death going back hundreds of millions of years, long before anything resembling a human existed.

          For the former, I would point to cosmology (e.g. the cosmological argument in one of its forms)

          None of the cosmological arguments work. Even if they did, the leap to your “God” claims is not supported by them.

          folklorists and Biblical scholars would point out that “magic” as conventionally used not only does not occur in the Bible, but much of the Bible is specifically written to counter this impression

          So they say and so you say but you have done nothing to show a distinction between your claims and claims of magic. What is the distinction?

          My anthropology insists that for humans, “knowing” something is not a morally neutral act

          Fog. Your “Yeah, yeah. I know” texting example is just silly. And a diversion.

          I should allow that belief in Christ is not an entirely rational decision.

          What do you mean by rational and in what sense is your belief in any way rational?

          As to whether Christianity has no evidence, individuals much closer to the events than we are obviously thought it did

          The same can be said for mormonism and alien abductees.

          If you mean “no evidence I find convincing”, of course you are correct

          I mean no evidence that separates it from the white noise of countless human claims that aren’t supported by evidence. Special pleading is not acceptable.

          Try to focus. Walls of stale apolegetics are tiresome to wade through. Gish galloping seems to be your strategy of choice.

        • Greg G.

          Luke 1:1-4, I John 1:1, John 20:31, Ex 20:22 among the ones I can immediately come up with suggest that God does not commend belief based on a lack of, or in spite of, evidence.

          Luke says he is going to put the other gospels in order but we can see that he rejects many passages of Mark so he doesn’t really trust the gospels as eyewitnesses. Luke 10 through Luke 17 is about Jesus’ trip to Jerusalem but it appears to be based on Deuteronomy, not on eyewitnesses.

          1 John is about what they saw as revealed in the scriptures. The rest of the chapter does not describe any earthly events that they actually witnessed. How could they have witnessed eternal life? It is really all about taking things on faith.

          Move up two verses before John 20:31 to see that John 20:29 says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” That really undercuts your claim.

          Exodus never happened. Egyptian archaeology shows that there were never large numbers of Hebrew slaves there. Israeli archaeology shows that the culture never changed dramatically as if a population was replaced by another. It shows that there were culturally identical sites except that some had pig bones and some did not., which shows that the early Hebrews were the same as Canaanites with an aversion to pork. Are we to accept the claim of God talking from space to be so when the evidence shows the earthly events depicted are fiction?

          “Bogghossian and his ilk are mistakencorrect as your examples show.

          As to whether Christianity has no evidence, individuals much closer to the events than we are obviously thought it did

          But no individual who was contemporary to the alleged events saw anything worth writing down.

        • Michael Neville

          Chrisitianity doesn’t require faith.

          Christianity requires faith. It advocates faith. It insists on faith. It has to. It has no evidence.

          Quoted for truth.

          Paul gives a definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (NIV) This was echoed centuries later by Thomas Aquinas, “Faith is a habit of the mind whereby eternal life is begun in us making the intellect assent to what is non-apparent.”

          “Faith is a habit.” A habit is an action done many times. You have a habit of getting up at a certain time because you do it every day and have done it for years. Faith is a habit, an action done so often that it is has become normal.

          “Of the mind.” Faith is an action of the mind done over and over again.

          “Whereby eternal life is begun in us.” This phrase looks to the object of faith. It answers the question “why?” Everything acts towards an end. You exercise for the purpose of getting in shape. You eat for the purpose of staying alive. You drive for the purpose of going somewhere. Eternal life is the endgame for which the habit of faith acts. What then is eternal life? Sure it’s life without end, but Aquinas is speaking of an ultimate union with God in heaven.

          “Making the intellect assent to what is non-apparent.” This phrase speaks of what faith is made up of, the subject matter of faith. The intellect must assent to is “non-apparent”. This means that the truth of God is not fully understandable and is clouded in mystery. Furthermore, there is no tangible evidence to support the concept of God, who must therefore be taken as an object of faith.

          Damn, it’s annoying when I have to explain basic concepts of theism to a theist.

        • Thomas: “Chrisitianity doesn’t require faith.”

          Susan: “Christianity requires faith. It advocates faith. It insists on faith.”

          But then Thomas says: “I should allow that belief in Christ is not an entirely rational decision.” I’m not sure what hair splitting he’s doing to say that no faith is required while a willingness to irrationally leap is.

        • MNb

          “I haven’t seen an argument yet that metaphysical naturalism is correct, and have presented quite a few at this point that it’s mistaken.”
          Such as? Because I have only seen you referring to Nagel and some others. Again a link would do as well.
          PS: I have found your answer to Ignorant Amos and answered it.

        • Pofarmer

          I haven’t seen an argument yet that metaphysical naturalism is
          correct, and have presented quite a few at this point that it’s
          mistaken.

          Tell ya what. I’ll go through my week next week using only the products of methodological naturalism. You go through your week next week using the only the products of religion. No synthetics, computers, phones, pressurized water, etc, etc, etc.

        • !

        • Myna

          As an agnostic raised in the Anglican church and under its toleration of Spiritualism and who has, over these many years, given intermittent consideration to the pantheist proposition, I remain adamantly unconvinced by your argument. It just isn’t compelling. Not historically, not scientifically, not philosophically, not intellectually, not in any terms of relationship between those things.

          Having said this, and I’ve said it before, I find the poets, artists, mystics and heretics of more value to the “spiritually” inquisitive mind in search of any depth of meaning than through all religious doctrines and pondering thereof, combined.

        • MNb

          I’ve spend a few years searching for and looking at the best arguments and found none of them proven by history to be robust and persistent. Thus far you are no exception.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          I’ve spent a couple decades searching for and looking at the best arguments for atheism and found none of them proven by history to be robust and persistent (especially the ones written since about 1995). Thus far this whole thread is no exception.

        • MNb

          That’s OK with me.
          You’re defending christianity. I haven’t brought up any argument for atheism yet bar “all arguments for christianity fail”, which I don’t think as strong an argument for atheism as some do. Unlike for instance BobS I think the default position is agnosticism.
          You are the one who wrote

          “The ultimate question is, “do you disbelieve in Christian claims because some Christians are dumb, or because you’ve looked at the best arguments, proven by history and debate to be robust and persistent, and concluded that Christianity is still unconvincing for similarly robust reasons?”
          I didn’t ask that question regarding atheism. I just answered your question and notice that you haven’t brought up any such argument on this blog. Yet? Because you remain invited.
          So your attempt to demonstrate symmetry has failed. Sorry, TG, such cheap tricks don’t work with me anymore – I’ve been too long around on internet. If anything you just discouraged me to bring up any argument for atheism exactly by answering a question I didn’t ask. Your cheap trick has convinced me that you’re not actually interested.

        • adam

          “I’ve spent a couple decades searching for and looking at the best arguments for atheism”

          The best arguments for atheism are MAGIC and FAITH.

          And we know what you’ve stated about MAGIC

          “4. As for MAGIC never being the scientific answer, of course it isn’t,”

          So that leaves you with ‘wishful thinking’ – FAITH

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b12fa1635e121ebbb3409640826d721ba93278771f0064bd133804faa3f01397.png

        • Ignorant Amos

          Try taking the Outsider Test for Faith….once you conclude why every other religion is cow dung, then you will realise why the atheist goes that one wee step further.

        • Greg G.

          1995, huh? About that time, a super-Christian at work began to debate me often. He was bringing up arguments that I later learned were from current apologist books but I recognized them from books I read in the mid-1970s when I was a Christian. One of his arguments was that evolution would be overthrown in the next 10 to 15 years. I had heard that 20 years earlier. In 2010, I reminded him of his claim and was able to point out that the claim goes back to the 1820s when they were saying “gradualism” in geology would be overturned in the next 10 to 15 years. You brought up the Kalam Cosmological Argument that is over 12 centuries old and was based on Aristotle’s prime mover which is about twice that old.

          Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NRSV)9 What has been is what will be,    and what has been done is what will be done;    there is nothing new under the sun.

        • Susan

          I’ve spent a couple decades searching for and looking at the best arguments for atheism and found none of them proven by history to be robust and persistent (especially the ones written since about 1995)

          That’s clearly bullshit. Or you wouldn’t have come here attacking strawmen, referencing Nagel, bringing up cosmological arguments, referring to the Fall, and reciting a laundry list of standard apologetics as though they had never been addressed.

          You show no evidence of examining your position . Only protecting it with verbosity and fog.

          Thus far, this whole thread is no exception.

          Imagine my surprise that you would say that.

          It’s hard to take your opinion very seriously given your performance so far.

        • adam

          ” I think Christians who think this way (and I would argue they are much rarer than most atheists would like to think)”

          There is no argument to be had

          “These beliefs differ strongly by religious group. White evangelical
          Protestants are particularly likely to believe that humans have existed
          in their present form since the beginning of time. Roughly two-thirds
          (64%) express this view, as do half of black Protestants (50%). By
          comparison, only 15% of white mainline Protestants share this opinion.” http://www.pewforum.org/2013/12/30/publics-views-on-human-evolution/

          “just like you can dismiss Christianity by dismissing Ken Ham.”

          But I dont dismiss christianity by dismissing Ken Ham.

          “The ultimate question is, “do you disbelieve in Christian claims because some Christians are dumb, ”

          No, but because christian claims depend on MAGIC.

          “because you’ve looked at the best arguments”

          Their ‘best’ argument is that you must believe (have faith in wishful thinking) before you can believe the claims.

          ” proven by history”

          NEVER has the real answer been MAGIC.

          “debate to be robust and persistent,”

          Almost 2000 YEARS of debate and christianity is MORE divided than ever, and no two single individuals appear to view christianity the same.

          “we shouldn’t flatter ourselves by thinking that we’ve encompassed the subject.”

          I have spent much of the past 40 years researching, and what I have found is that MAGIC is NEVER the scientific answer, I have found scientific reasons for the Shamanic Experience of ‘finding God’ that is the foundation of this belief in MAGIC.

          40 years of personal research and almost 2000 years of historical research tells me that I shouldn’t kid myself that I havent encompassed the subject.

          But as always, YOU, yes YOU could end atheism by demonstrated that the christian god is anything but IMAGINARY. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fb4704343876725a21851b3d98421cb54aacc77e7dd6dd0e20c6ac3d7b38de3a.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          “because you’ve looked at the best arguments”

          Wouldn’t it have saved a lot of spilt ink if Thomas would just cut to the chase and present us with the finest argument he believes there is for Christianity, like he was requested to do a week ago ffs?

        • Michael Neville

          The finest argument is found in an 800 page book written by a Christian apologist so famous that other Christian apologists have even heard of him. And if you don’t find that argument convincing there’s another 800 page book written by a different Christian apologist that has an even better argument.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There’s libraries full of such books, me auld China. Still, it seems to be a chore of some degree for the theist to reproduce the best one here.

        • adam

          “Definition of best Merriam Webster

          1 : excelling all others

          2 : most productive of good : offering or producing the greatest advantage, utility, or satisfaction

          It is ‘best’ that is the problem.

          for #1 – from my experience it doesnt exist.

          for #2 – FAITH is what gives THEM greatest satisfaction.

          I think THAT is why ‘faith’ is always the ‘best’ ‘argument’ for MAGIC.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          It seems a calling for atheists to not read them themselves as well. I’ve cited quite a number in the 12000+ words this thread is now occupying.

        • adam

          So is it your CLAIM, that there is NO best book out there or best argument, that they all fail as bad as those you’ve reference?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8ff695a5f415185e045cb84b8be90c0f09ba803d7a70922432c28b9cd55cd243.jpg

        • Thomas Goodnow

          This whole thread, as I’m sure you appreciate, is becoming terribly repetitive. Whatever book I cite will be dismissed by someone, not because it’s weak, but because atheists aren’t any more rational than I am. You bring your hopes and fears, loyalties and desires and histories, to every book you read. It won’t be solved here, because (among other reasons) the argument is fragmentary, anonymous, and neither of us has any real investment in it.
          But for the sake of completeness, and in the event that some weird outlier is reading this thread who might actually go to a library, here’s where I (again) refer people:
          – NT Wright’s “Simply Christian”: readable, accessible, not terribly long. It’s a reworking of some of CS Lewis’s arguments, primarily but not exclusively his moral argument.
          – Timothy Keller’s “The Reason for God”: have not read it, but it comes recommended, including from people who aren’t especially sympathetic to Christians (it has the usual “SO bad!!!!” reviews from angry former Christians, of course, as do all of these books)
          – Licona’s “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach” is rather at the other end of accessibility, but especially if you combine it with Pannenberg’s “Jesus: God and Man” makes a very strong case for the resurrection. It will take a determined and well-educated adult a few weeks to get through both, however. Even if you don’ agree with it, it will keep you from making statements on the interwebs that cause Biblical scholars like Erhman from peeing his pants laughing.
          – Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell” is probably still the gold-standard for the design argument, especially if combined with some Behe or Dembski. Again, you may not agree with it, but it might prevent this “yah, you religitards and your shrinking gawd of the gaps” sort of embarrassment.
          – Bauckham’s “Jesus and the Eye-Witnesses” does the same for the historicity of the NT. Again, you don’t have to agree with it, but it prevents the “yah, you christardic fundagelicals and your game-of-telephone Bible” sort of embarrassment.

          I have modest expectations. I think atheists and Christians do agree that people are not rational, especially in these matters. A “best book” approach is unlikely to change anyone’s mind, not because the arguments are awful, but because people rarely think straight about such things. It is always nice to see the level of dialog rise just a bit, however, and I think Bob has, in fact, done that at least.

        • Kodie

          This whole thread, as I’m sure you appreciate, is becoming terribly repetitive. Whatever book I cite will be dismissed by someone, not because it’s weak, but because atheists aren’t any more rational than I am. You bring your hopes and fears, loyalties and desires and histories, to every book you read. It won’t be solved here, because (among other reasons) the argument is fragmentary, anonymous, and neither of us has any real investment in it.

          No, sir. It’s weak. You have to lie to yourself to win this argument, and pretend you don’t care, and pretend that we don’t care. Your position is fucking fucked up nuts irrational. That’s why we do not find your books or your arguments convincing. You have an imaginary friend and a high esteem on your low education to give you the critical thinking skills you delude yourself that you have to know what’s going on with everything. Sorry, because I know you are trying to save face and try to lose gracefully, but you are wrong, and you don’t just get to plug a bunch of books and label us irrational because you think if you’re self-deprecating, it’s only fair to deprecate everyone else. You’re wrong, and you’re insulting.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          Hopefully it isn’t about winning, though I appreciate that this is usually the agenda in the background when things go to this length. I am sharpening my rhetorical, polemical and logical skills, acquiring the ability to spot different permutations of the same arguments, and gaining some insight into human interactions online, which is obviously a bizarre way of interacting. Hopefully you’re doing the same. I try to call a spade a spade in the interest of cutting through a bit of the rhetoric (or at least forcing an improvement in its quality): has this conversation actually changed anything in your life? If not, is there any real investment in it?
          If I have been insulting, allow me to apologize, this was certainly not my intent. I have enjoyed the interactions, though I also enjoy winter mountaineering, which is a rather masochistic thing to do as my partner regularly points out.
          (Just out of curiosity, how did you determine my educational level? Facebook stallking? Google?)

        • Kodie

          The investment is and always will be, is this Christian going to tell us anything new? And the answer is always a disappointing “no”. You may feel that you have personally sharpened your arguments, but from here, they are still very dull and repetitious and lacking the evidence. The insult comes from when you assert that we’re all just irrational humans coming from our corners with some kind of equally valid assertions, changing no one’s mind, and not really care about it. This is false, and your way of backing out. You have placed yourself here to say something, it didn’t go as well, so you say you’re just practicing, and we’re still as wrong as you are, and ah well. Listen up, fucker. You’re not the first or the smartest or the most articulate Christian by here, and it doesn’t even matter. Until you have evidence, all your beliefs are kooky and unconvincing to the non-believer. I don’t know your actual degrees but I can tell you’re as ignorant as they come by your reliance on shitty arguments, lack of critical thinking, and that you are bought into the Intelligent Design lies, that are creationism with a sciency facade. They are concerned that reality does not match the bible, so they make shit up and pretend to sound intellectual for the mere fact that biblical teaching cannot compete with science, as science will always win. If they can pretend to compete with science by looking sciency and saying sciency things with the air of authority, they have a shot at capturing the rest of the fools who would look toward science for answers instead of the bible or their religious leaders. But it’s fake, all of it is fake nonsense.

          YOU CAN’T TELL THE DIFFERENCE. That makes your intellectual capabilities open for judgment, from just what you posted here. Please don’t try to pretend that we’re all barely interested and barely educated and come here as equals. You believe in a magical sky daddy, you have an imaginary friend, you pretend that’s not true, you try to call it something else, you attempt to validate your worldview, but you don’t know where we’re coming from, and you haven’t listened to a single response if you want to tell us we’re just equally bad at recognizing rational arguments as you are. Admit you are bad at it, but don’t sweep us under the bus with you. That isn’t a counter-argument. You can’t dismiss what we say with logic or evidence, or answers to questions you keep ignoring; your intellectual dishonesty is typically Christian. If you can’t handle it, just wave the white flag instead of declaring a draw.

        • Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell” is probably still the gold-standard for the design argument

          You may be right, but consider what that says. Stephen Meyer isn’t even a frikkin’ biologist!

          Bauckham’s “Jesus and the Eye-Witnesses” does the same for the historicity of the NT. Again, you don’t have to agree with it, but it prevents the “yah, you christardic fundagelicals and your game-of-telephone Bible” sort of embarrassment.

          I’m not seeing the embarrassment. If the gospel story was told from person to person and spread to eventually be documented in four (at least) locations decades later, what else would you call it? Are you simply quibbling that “telephone” should be replaced by “oral history”?

          It is always nice to see the level of dialog rise just a bit, however, and I think Bob has, in fact, done that at least.

          Thanks. And I appreciate your civility as well. That contrasts with Tim O’Neill, a recent (atheist) commenter on the “How Christianity Retarded Modern Society by 1500 Years” post. He has a lot of energy for the subject and–who knows?–he might have a lot that he could teach us. But since he leads with his arrogance and assholery, I have no interest in listening. He apparently is determined to ensure that everyone hates him by the time he leaves.

        • adam

          “This whole thread, as I’m sure you appreciate, is becoming terribly repetitive.”

          Of course, the same old crappy ‘best’ evidence is no evidence that every apologetic offers.

          ” Whatever book I cite will be dismissed by someone, not because it’s
          weak, but because atheists aren’t any more rational than I am. ”

          Nope, but because it is crappy weak, and doesnt demonstrate what you delusionally claim.

          You bring your hopes and fears, loyalties and desires and histories, to every book you read.””

          AGAIN, I am not retarded by biblical ‘wishful – thinking’ ‘faith’, as you are.

          I simply go where the facts demonstrate.

          ” It won’t be solved here, because”
          you dont have the evidence you lied about.

          ” It’s a reworking of some of CS Lewis’s arguments, primarily but not exclusively his moral argument.”

          I’ve read CS, he DEPENDS on deception and emotion and LIKE YOU, can’t demonstrate that his “God” is anything but IMAGINARY.

          “I have modest expectations.”
          No you have expectations of MAGIC, that is EXTRAORDINARY expectations, but you have no extraordinary evidence outside your own wishful thinking.

          ” I think atheists and Christians do agree that people are not rational, especially in these matters.”

          Nope, atheism IS the rational choice, believe in IMAGINARY characters in a set of stories with magic is the EXTRAORDINARY choice, and certainly NOT the rational choice in view of your INABILITY to demonstrate that such MAGIC is anything but IMAGINARY.

          “A “best book” approach is unlikely to change anyone’s mind, ” BECAUSE it’s arguments are awful for the reasons stated.

          ” It is always nice to see the level of dialog rise just a bit, however, and I think Bob has, in fact, done that at least.”

          You’ve certainly done NOTHING to participate in the rising of the level of dialog, You’ve failed in your mission here, you’ve demonstrated your willingness to believe in a childish superstition without rational cause.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fa881448a9c3a7a1911ee03a63ac0097909432f68f233a2e55212be0de6afced.jpg

        • Pofarmer

          Timothy Keller’s “The Reason for God”

          I believe Neil Godfrey has been taking that one apart over at “Godless in Dixie.”

          makes a very strong case for the resurrection.

          There is no “strong case” for the resurrection. It didn’t happen just like the resurrection of Osiris didn’t happen. There are strong cases for why people use the symbol of resurrection, or might believe that a resurrection occurred

          but it might prevent this “yah, you religitards and your shrinking gawd of the gaps”

          No, it really doesn’t. Because it’s wishful thinking nonsense not backed by empirical data and science.

          You seem to have convinced yourself of a whole lot of things, by reading a whole lot of things that you assume are reasonable and which strengthen your beliefs, so that you probably can’t understand why other people reject your beliefs, and your authors list confirms that you fall into exactly the magical thinking that Adam accuses you of. Sad really. You are wasting what seems to be a good intellect.

        • Greg G.

          “I believe Neil Godfrey”

          Neil Carter

        • Pofarmer

          Well, shit.

        • Greg G.

          I got excited to see that Godfrey was posting at Patheos, then I remembered the other Neil.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s not the first time I’ve conflated the two. I would also love to see Neil Godfrey posting on Patheos.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Apologetics books? Once you’ve read one, you’ve pretty much read them all. Most of the atheists here have read at least a couple, myself included, colour me unimpressed by any of them. If there is something in particular you are finding impressive, spit it out. Don’t expect any of us to expend any time and effort in digging through mountains of dross to find one of your pearls of wisdom.

          Your best favourite argument, the cosmological argument, is absolute cow dung. If that’s the best you’ve got, you are well out of your depth here with all of these folk you are engaging with.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          I hear all the cool kids are reading “books” these days 😉

        • Michael Neville

          You probably read that on the internet.

          Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. –Abraham Lincoln

        • adam

          “Wouldn’t it have saved a lot of spilt ink if Thomas would just cut to
          the chase and present us with the finest argument he believes there is
          for Christianity, like he was requested to do a week ago ffs?”

          Funny, I started watching a ‘documentary’ something like Best Evidence of UFO’s.

          Most were either grainy, out of focus images that couldnt be discerned or clear photos where you could tell it was a hoax.

          Maybe Thomas has seen such ‘evidence’….

        • Ignorant Amos

          Maybe Thomas has seen such ‘evidence’….

          Good enough reason why he won’t ante up a suppose.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          Take your pick, there’s a number of decent ones out there, e.g. Leibniz:
          1. Everything has an explanation for its existence, either in its own nature or in an external cause (evidence: presumably intuitively obvious: if you can think of something which violates this principle, I’m willing to be corrected).
          2. If the universe has an explanation for its existence, that explanation is God (the universe cannot cause itself, while God’s existence is necessary (or else it is not “God” in any meaningful sense)).
          3. The universe exists (presumably we agree on this)
          4. Therefore the universe has a cause for its existence (from 1 +3)
          5. Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the universe is God (from 2 +4)
          There are others, and this choice is somewhat arbitrary on my part. There are standard objections, but I’ll let them come forth accidentally rather than trying to answer them all proleptically.

        • Yeah, when there’s a conundrum at the frontier of modern science, I always go back to the scholars who don’t even understand the vocabulary of the discipline.

          For bonus points, mention Aristotle next time.

        • Rudy R

          Somewhat arbitrary on your part? Duhhh. Two and four are unnecessary and are unfounded presuppositions. Philosophy can both prove and disprove the existence of a god, so evidence accumulated by the scientific method is the only thing that will tip the scales. I’d suggest you start there.
          To suggest the only other alternative to a god creating the universe is a universe causing itself is a false dilemma. It could be a god or a, b, c, d… The consensus scientific model for the creation of the universe is the Big Bang theory. We don’t know the laws of physics prior to the singularity, so we can only make guesses on what existed prior to the Big Bang. But if anyone is going to find the answer, it will be through the scientific method. It most certainly won’t be discovered by theists, because they have already found their answer.

        • Greg G.

          1) That is a non sequitur as it infers that things that are caused to exist from material that already exists is anything like the material itself coming into existence. An example of something coming into existence would be virtual particles, say an electron-positron pair. A positron is mathematically equivalent to an electron going backward in time. The creation event to our time frame is as if the positron traveled backward in time to create the electron and the annihilation is as if the electron created the positron to go backward in time to create itself. There is no external cause for the event. Such a positron could annihilate a different electron, leaving the new electron in its place. It makes no sense to think that a cause acting on nothing could have an effect.

          2) No, that is assuming your conclusion because you haven’t eliminated all other possibilities.

          3) At least one universe exists.

          4) This doesn’t follow because you haven’t established 1 & 2, and 1 seems irrational.

          5) Fail. You haven’t gone beyond the existence of at least one universe.

          Do you have any good arguments?

        • adam

          “Do you have any good arguments?”

          Obviously NOT.

        • Greg G.

          The Greg Cosmological Argument Contra the Universe Creator God

          1. All things that exist were caused by events in the universe.
          2. The universe exists.
          3. Therefore, the universe caused itself to exist.

        • adam

          But you are not using MAGIC…..

        • Greg G.

          I’m appealing to bi-directional time.

        • MNb

          Yeah, that’s a fine point I haven’t given any thought yet.

        • Greg G.

          I read about this nearly 30 years ago and have been trying to find it again for the last 20 years and recently found it.

          One-electron universe

          Feynman was struck by Wheeler’s insight that antiparticles could be represented by reversed world lines, and credits this to Wheeler, saying in his Nobel speech:

          I did not take the idea that all the electrons were the same one from [Wheeler] as seriously as I took the observation that positrons could simply be represented as electrons going from the future to the past in a back section of their world lines. That, I stole![1]

          Feynman later proposed this interpretation of the positron as an electron moving backward in time in his 1949 paper “The Theory of Positrons”.[2] Yoichiro Nambu later applied it to all production and annihilation of particle-antiparticle pairs, stating that “the eventual creation and annihilation of pairs that may occur now and then is no creation or annihilation, but only a change of direction of moving particles, from past to future, or from future to past.”[3]

          I recall seeing Feynman diagrams of the production and annihilation event but so far no luck finding those.

        • I found fascinating an explanation for quantum entanglement. Imagine that reality were just 2 dimensions. In a 3-dimensional space, the surface of our reality could touch in multiple places. And that’s what happens with the entangled pair–they’re touching in n+1 dimensional space, and the particles’ movement through our space means that the touching point in n+1 dimensional space moves. When the entanglement ends, the touching point is released.

        • Greg G.

          Or is it when the touching point ends, the entanglement is released?

          Could that explain interference patterns of an interferometer?

        • TheNuszAbides

          now i’m wondering whether anyone has proposed consciousness as a dimension (more than metaphorically) and if so, whether it’s a better read than Timecube.

        • MNb

          I have been familiar with the idea of bi-directional time since I studied. A teacher of mine showed it to me when he applied the Schrödinger Equations to Relativistic spacetime. A few years later I saw it mentioned in Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.
          What I never realized is the consequence for the Cosmological Argument. That’s something I’ll give a few thoughts, if you pardon me the understatement. That will take a while.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i wish i could remember when/where i first heard about it–probably Patheos, definitely an off-hand mention rather than an extensive discussion of Feynman in particular (re whose work i still have a lifetime of catching up to do).

        • MNb

          I like my version of Leibniz’ argument (quantum fields are the First Explanation) equally well, especially as it’s open plagiarism.

        • adam

          “2. If the universe has an explanation for its existence, that
          explanation is God”

          No, that explanation is Flying Invisible Pink Unicorns.

          See how claims work?

          (the universe cannot cause itself,

          Sorry, you’ve demonstrated no such thing.

          “while God’s existence is necessary”

          while Flying Invisible Pink Unicorn is necessary

          See how claim work?

          (or else it is not “God” in any meaningful sense)).”

          You’ve not demonstrated that your “God’ is in any meanful sense not IMAGINARY

          “4. Therefore the universe has a cause for its existence (from 1 +3)”

          But you’ve not demonstrated that 1 is true.

          “5. Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the universe is God (from 2 +4)”

          5. Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the universe is Flying Invisible Pink Unicor(from 2 +4)

          See AGAIN how vacuous claims work?

        • MNb

          Ah – found it, so you can neglect my request to provide a link.

          “If the universe has an explanation for its existence, that explanation is God (the universe cannot cause itself.”
          These are not the same. A cause may be an explanation (though not always is) but not all explanations are causes. So we have to treat them separately.

          2a. Demonstrate causality. Modern Physics rejects it and replaces it by probability. Sure you can reformulate Leibniz’ argument in probabilistic terms, but as the abrahamistic gods don’t play dice (Einstein) you have then demonstrated judaism, christianity and islam incorrect.
          2b. Demonstrate that a causal chain has to be linear and can’t be circular. Demonstrate beyond doubt that the pulsating universe model is incorrect. If it happens to be correct (or some variation of it) the universe is explained without having a first cause and god is superfluous.
          2c. Demonstrate that a linear causal chain has exactly one cause – ie that you’re not arguing for polytheism. The evidence (about 30 natural constants that typify our Universe) suggests polytheism indeed – about 30 first causes.
          2d. Demonstrate that the Universe – our rather our natural reality – can’t cause itself.
          2e. Justify the jump from the first natural cause to the supernatural cause that immediately precedes it. In other words: how did Leibniz’ god do it? What means did he use? Which procedures did he follow? We can answer those questions for all natural causal (and also probabilistic) relations at least in principle. Dropping this to suddenly introduce a supernatural cause is special pleading.

          In terms of explanation the argument doesn’t get any better. One important proposal in physics is that the First Explanation is quantum fields. In terms of Leibniz:

          1. Everything has an explanation for its existence, either in its own nature or in an external explanation.
          2. If the universe has an explanation for its existence, that explanation is quantum fields. The universe cannot explain itself, while the existence (*1) of quantum fields is necessary or else they are not “quantum fields” in any meaningful sense.
          *1 (whatever existence means in this context – philosophers can even question if “quantum fields exist” is a meaningful phrase; however that bears zero influence on them being the first explanation).
          3. The universe exists (presumably we agree on this)
          4. Therefore the universe has an explanation for its existence (from 1 +3).
          5. Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the universe are quantum fields (from 2 +4).

          The big advantage of quantum fields is that they yield testable results, while Leibniz’ god doesn’t. So if anything Leibniz’ argument in terms of explanation actually argue against gods. Though I must admit at this point that I have made use of David Hume’s On Miracles by providing a natural explanation (quantum fields) instead of a supernatural one.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But your claim is that atheists, and sites such as this, don’t address the most robust arguments for God… YahwehJesus in particular. Then you present the pish that is the cosmological argument as your first attempt. Not even the “best” version of it btw.

          First, I have to point out to you, even if the argument is sound, which it isn’t, it doesn’t get you to YahwehJesus.

          Next, the cosmological argument has and is addressed by atheists and philosophers continually and it is demonstrably unsound, severely so. As recently as November on this very forum there was an thread….

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/11/revisiting-the-kalam-cosmological-argument-3-of-3/

          Cosmology arguments in general….

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/category/science/cosmology/

          In fact, I recently purchased a book by a contributor to this very site that takes the nonsense apart.

          “Did God Create the Universe from Nothing?: Countering William Lane Craig’s Kalam Cosmological Argument” by Jonathan MS Pearce

          https://www.amazon.com/Did-God-Create-Universe-Nothing/dp/099260009X

          There are a raft of decent videos at Carneades.org that explain the plethora of problems with the variations of the cosmological argument…

          https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1VzCyqpmCaRh8_BnijbOvg

          Therefore on this particular argument and it not being one of the best and we don’t address it, you are just talking out of your arse, so far.

        • MNb
        • Ignorant Amos

          Just seen this.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          I would argue that you’re operating under a number of unproven assumptions that seem to inform your posting, such as:
          1. That people are rational. No, I could not end atheism by demonstrating anything, any more than you could end Christianity. People’s reasoning is informed by reason, but also by loyalties, desires, fears, culture, friends and family, employment relations, government and media. Scratch a vocal atheist, and most often underneath it all is a person who grew up in a highly religiously charged environment. Your typical Spaniard or Cuban may be an atheist, but doesn’t tend to get his panties in a bunch about it, unlike people from American fundagelical, Mormon or Islamist backgrounds. Neither of us is a Vulcan in terms of rationality anyway.
          2. Christian claims depend on magic: was this the thread where someone was equating the actions of God as depicted in the Bible as “magic”? I think I made the point there that this can only be meant purely for rhetorical effect. It is neither “magic” as in “sleight of hand” nor “magic” as in using ritual or incantation to effect changes in the natural world. Biblical scholars have repeatedly pointed out that most or all of the Hebrew Bible is specifically anti-magical in the sense used by Canaanite and Sumerian cultures: in Gen 1, the repeated formula is “God said, ‘let there be..’”, mundane words (together used over 4000 times) in contrast to pagan ritualistic formulas. About the only parts of the Bible that could be seen as being “magical” might be Gen 30:37-39 and I Sam 28. Here, the examples are generally let to lie without comment, while elsewhere magic is explicitly condemned (e.g. Dt 18:9-13 or Ac 19:19 among others). The example of Jesus in exorcism, for instance, is specifically contrasted with the rituals and incantation used by other exorcists.
          3. It may be that by “magic”, you essentially mean “things explicitly not describable by physics, even in theory.” This is more commonly called “miraculous” than “magical”, but if this is what you mean, the Bible does not shy from ascribing what we would call miraculous acts to God. I would argue that the distinction between natural and miraculous really only holds if you assume a modernist and scientistic worldview, and I appreciate that this is largely what you affirm, though I would differ with this characterization of reality. Science has not and cannot prove that the miraculous (i.e. purposeful acts by God contrary to usual expectations) is impossible.
          4. As for MAGIC never being the scientific answer, of course it isn’t, any more than “the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the square of the two sides” is going the be the answer to a history question. Of course, as I have repeatedly pointed out to Bob in this thread, “scientific answers” are very limited in their scope, and almost nothing you or I know is “scientific” in the sense of being the result of experiments or as the result of a peer-reviewed research project. Much of what I use in my job is of this sort, but I only work about 40 hours a week, and the rest of my knowledge is rarely “scientific” in this sense. I doubt yours rises much higher, though I’m willing to be corrected.
          5. Finally, as for divisions within Christianity, it is exceptionally difficult (not strictly impossible) to find a Christian theology which is atheistic, and nearly all of it agrees with, for instance, the Nicene Creed. “Because Baptists and Catholics disagree on the mode of baptism, therefore Christianity as a whole is false” does not make a lot of sense. I presume what you mean is “because there is disagreement, and God presumably has some particular opinions, therefore one cannot tell what to believe and/or God is not motivated to resolve the dispute”. Again, not actually an argument for atheism or even against Christianity unless you are insisting that real Christianity is necessarily devoid of disagreements. If this is your argument, then I would need more than an implicit assertion to be convinced.

        • as I have repeatedly pointed out to Bob in this thread, “scientific answers” are very limited in their scope, and almost nothing you or I know is “scientific” in the sense of being the result of experiments or as the result of a peer-reviewed research project.

          And almost everything we do is “scientific” in the sense of being the result of seeking, analyzing, and evaluating evidence. From physics and chemistry to history and sociology to choosing from the menu and crossing the street–it’s all “scientific” in this sense.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and crossing the street

          my most recent physics instructor gave a smooth intro to Newtonian mechanics by suggesting that we all already had at least an intuitive grasp of them, because we had all survived an industrialized environment for long enough to reach the classroom.

        • adam

          “1. That people are rational.”

          Atheism is a rational view point.

          “No, I could not end atheism by demonstrating anything,”

          By demonstrating that YOUR DEITY is anything but IMAGINARY, you certainly could, but I understand your point, it is IMPOSSIBLE to demonstrate IMAGINARY MAGIC.

          “People’s reasoning is informed by reason, but also by loyalties,
          desires, fears, culture, friends and family, employment relations,
          government and media. ”

          Loyalties, desires, fears, culture, friends and family, employment relations, government and media DEPEND on the propaganda of MAGIC (The Big LIe) to sustain ‘faith’.

          “2. Christian claims depend on magic:”

          They do, resurrection is based on MAGIC.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/240e76b809830834292884152c7c7a48f8ec22c813ae1f56a7ed4223ab63de54.jpg

          “3. It may be that by “magic”, you essentially mean”

          Definition of magic Merriam Webster

          1 a : the use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces

          b : magic rites or incantations

          2 a : an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source”

          ” This is more commonly called “miraculous” than “magical”, ”

          A PROPAGANDA term, still requiring MAGIC

          ” Science has not and cannot prove that the miraculous (i.e. MAGICAL acts by God contrary to usual expectations) is impossible.”

          But NO ONE has demonstrated that this “God” is anything but IMAGINARY, here is where you could end atheism forever.

          “4. As for MAGIC never being the scientific answer, of course it isn’t,”

          MAGIC never has been the scientific answer, but it is ALWAYS the christian answer.

          ” Of course, as I have repeatedly pointed out to Bob in this thread, “scientific answers” are very limited in their scope,”

          Although not NEARLY as limited as the belief in MAGIC.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c6338d1c2d9058da691571a6688df25eccabd8e89b7749c14069533aa53e08b8.jpg

          Magic does nothing to describe the world in which we all live in and its reality, science DOES.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cd8ca4651d958209af25cfcb8e197b584fb20d8e2f002068b9eefba40d148c2c.jpg

          ” it is exceptionally difficult (not strictly impossible) to find a Christian theology which is atheistic,”

          Of course, because Jesus’s MAGIC, depends on the belief of a MAGICAL SKY DADDY.

          “I presume what you mean is “because there is disagreement, and God presumably has some particular opinions, therefore one cannot tell what to believe and/or God is not motivated to resolve the dispute”.”

          No, because ONCE AGAIN, such a ‘God’ has not been demonstrated to be anything but IMAGINARY.

          So we understand who has particular opinions, MEN, who create and use religion as a tool for power.

          ” unless you are insisting that real Christianity is necessarily devoid of disagreements.”

          Which is what one would expect of an OmniMax ‘God’.
          That it would have it’s shit together enough to keep its own people from cannibalizing each other.

          Again, you dont have the right to make claims for an IMAGINARY ‘God’, any more than anyone else defending their IMAGINARY ‘God’.

          Demonstrate that such a ‘God’ is anything but IMAGINARY, THEN you makes claims. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/57d8812041d27bff15f48eb5ac5edd1f3cb26a8df7bfd55a8bae3b5a093d53c8.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          Finally, as for divisions within Christianity, it is exceptionally difficult (not strictly impossible) to find a Christian theology which is atheistic,…

          You appear to know less about your religion than you accuse the rest of us here.

          To begin with, theology, by the strict sense of its definition, excludes atheism. Christian atheists don’t hold with the divine in Jesus. As Thomas Paine put it, theology is the study of nothing…I prefer the term hierology as more all encompassing.

          You may be interested to know that as of 2006, 42% of Dutch Protestants had no belief in God, while in 2007 only 27% of Dutch Catholics were theists. Of 860 pastors in 7 Protestant denominations in Holland, 1 in 6 was an agnostic or atheist. Given the trend, those figures will likely be worse/better depending on your or my position.

          Then you have those “Cafeteria Christians” who are just playing house.

          Sometimes the most unbelieving people we will ever meet are Christians.

          https://kingdomseeking.com/2013/01/09/unbelieving-christians/

          And Christians know it. Once you realise all this, your religion isn’t really the big cheese ya think it is.

          …and nearly all of it agrees with, for instance, the Nicene Creed.

          You might think that is the case. Define your caveat, “nearly all of it”…I’m getting fed up with all your fluffy jargon…or fog as Susan would say.

          The hierarchy might think/believe one thing, the rank and file is a different ball game all together.

          Examples of non-Nicene Christianity today include the various non-trinitarian groups, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Unitarian Church of Transylvania, or the Oneness Pentecostals.

          Non-trinitarian groups of Christians also include the following…

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nontrinitarianism#Christian_groups_with_nontrinitarian_positions

          And given that no fucker in Christianity has given a coherent explanation of the Trinity and if asked, most Christians will give the 1000 mile stare, it matters not who chants the Nicene creed…it’s a loada ballix.

        • TheNuszAbides

          a coherent explanation of the Trinity

          eh? with ~Mystery~ already baked in? what incentive could they possibly have to bother trying? pearls before swine indeed.

          i almost asked whether anyone has tried to square that particular triangle … can’t say i’d relish the prospect of slogging through such an attempt but figure it’s the sort of thing that might have popped up on Strange Notions?

        • Argus

          I can dismiss Christianity by its paucity of evidence.

        • MR

          Warning! Strawmen ahead!

        • TheNuszAbides

          No Open Flames Please*

          *exception for Scorched Earth Policy-holders

        • Argus

          Yes life is indeed complicated. Inserting a god claim into the mix makes it more so.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          How so? If “God” as an agent has greater explanatory scope, is more elegant and consistent with the evidence, then it is a necessary complication. No one told Newton, “all this talk of the acceleration of gravity is needlessly complicated: stuff falls down, why multiply entities?”

        • Kodie

          But you still have to ask, “is it, really?” God is a fictional character who wants things and makes them happen, but not all the time, and not just because you ask, but then people ask, but then they credit god when they don’t really know, and they say “mysterious ways” when they mean “I don’t have a fucking clue”. GOD HAS ZERO EXPLANATORY POWERS, is what I’m saying. You have to be fucking kidding me with this shit.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i wonder whether TG would get along with Yonah.

        • adam

          “How so?”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bf3ab7ed04d447ff091f3cf19fcdefc6aafeccae006445994adc3759435c0aa5.jpg

          ” If “God” as an agent has greater explanatory scope, ”

          But “God” explains exactly NOTHING, until you demonstrate that it is not IMAGINARY. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9370bdaaa4ce47ef14fd6ff4ae1eeedf100948a5914eb7992c570698c1cbafcf.jpg

        • Argus

          You are adding an unnecessary entity into the mix.

        • Michael Neville

          It is divinely inspired communication to humans

          As they say in Wikipedia, https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-bD0gt8dhFDQ/V1CocyP1evI/AAAAAAAAAkg/bc9-A7Wo7rkITQSqsUOmAPqYiHVSoMkqQCLcB/s1600/xkcd-citation_needed.png

          You have to remember you’re talking to atheists. We hold the Bible in the same regard as the Quran, the Rig Veda and the Book of the Dead.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          I appreciate that; I was merely pointing out that, from a Christian perspective, it’s a false dichotomy. Is Bob talking to atheists, or to Christians? “Cross Examined” suggests the latter, but it may be that his goal is primarily encouragement for atheists. I suppose it’s fine in this regard, but he probably should flatter himself that it’s convincing to Christians. It’s in about the same vein as “creation science”: encouraging to Creationists, but not particularly convincing to scientists.

        • Susan

          It’s in about the same vein as “creation science”: encouraging to Creationists, but not particularly convincing to scientists.

          How so? How do you separate yourself from a creationist? How are your claims better supported?

        • Thomas Goodnow

          “Creationist” is a bit vague: I suppose I am a creationist in the sense of believing that God is the ultimate cause of the universe, and has and continues to take an active interest in its functioning. I am not a Young Earth Creationist, nor am I a particular fan of the “day age” theory or the “gap” theory. More generally, I am a fan of theistic evolution as a cause of speciation and generally a believer in intelligent design theory for the universe as a whole, but I don’t primarily get either of these from the Bible exactly.
          My point is that Bob, like many atheist bloggers, tends to understand his own community of atheists well enough to write for their predilections and preferences (i.e. uses “in-group language”) but his understanding of good Christian arguments is relatively superficial, at least in this forum. My hunch is that he and I sitting down over a beer might make some headway in understanding each other, but social media and blogging isn’t particularly good for this. Most atheist blogs probably DO in fact understand Christianity better than most Christian blogs understand atheism, but that isn’t saying much. “Sophistication” or “careful thought” are not words generally used to describe either one, though there are exceptions, mostly on blogs run by academics. Christian blogs tend to be written for the faithful every bit as much as atheist blogs, and the two usually do an excellent job of talking past each other, feeling smug about their own conclusions, and assuming that rebutting the weakest and most inarticulate arguments constitutes evidence that the opposing worldview is false.

        • My point is that Bob, like many atheist bloggers, tends to understand his own community of atheists well enough to write for their predilections and preferences (i.e. uses “in-group language”) but his understanding of good Christian arguments is relatively superficial

          It’s not for lack of trying. For the past decade, understanding Christian arguments has been my primary focus. I’ve been to Strasbourg to attend John Warwick Montgomery’s apologetics academy. I’ve tried to attend other Christian apologetics conferences but have been turned away by the obligatory faith statement (don’t get me started on what that says). I’ve read apologetics books and endless blog articles and listened to countless podcasts.

          You seem to be saying that there’s a big world of excellent Christian apologetic arguments that I’ve only peeked at. Open this door for me. Show me the good stuff. Point out the top few arguments and let’s see if they indeed are largely new to me.

          rebutting the weakest and most inarticulate arguments constitutes evidence that the opposing worldview is false.

          But you know how it should be done. You know the good arguments that atheists are too afraid or ignorant or timid to respond to.

          Go.

        • TheNuszAbides

          still working through this thread but waiting for the “highly recommending a rehash of C.S. Lewis? really??” shoe to drop.

        • Greg Koukl says that his latest book trying to be a modern Mere Christianity. Apologists just can’t resist, I suppose.

        • Susan

          “Creationist” is a bit vague: I suppose I am a creationist in the sense of believing that God is the ultimate cause of the universe, and has and continues to take an active interest in its functioning. I am not a Young Earth Creationist, nor am I a particular fan of the “day age” theory or the “gap” theory. More generally, I am a fan of theistic evolution as a cause of speciation and generally a believer in intelligent design theory for the universe as a whole, but I don’t primarily get either of these from the Bible exactly.

          As I said earlier, I don’t find any christian claims about “God” well supported. They’re not even well-defined. So, your beliefs aren’t interesting until you address a very simple and normal question.

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

          The rest just looks like unsupported apologetic blathering aimed at fogging up the issue.

          You seem to be claiming that if you and Bob were sittind down over a beer, that you would make more sense. That social media is necessarily shallow, even though it looks like normal meatspace conversation to me. . You’re accusing us of terrible bias without supporting it. .

          You are making “God” claims. What do you mean? How do you support them?

          Would it help if I ran to the fridge and got a beer?

          I asked for less fog. And you’ve answered with fog.

          You also keep trying to malign people who ask you honest questions without lifting a finger to support your meandering characteriztions and rather than answer their honest and reasonable questions, you decide once again to shift the burden.

          I’ll type slowly.

          What are you claimingand how do you support it??

        • adam

          “You seem to be claiming that if you and Bob were sittind down over a beer, that you would make more sense. ”

          Well after a few dozen beers, he MIGHT make more sense to himself, but never to Bob.

        • Kodie

          but his understanding of good Christian arguments is relatively superficial

          Christian arguments are superficial. At least my understanding from Christians is that you have nothing. You believe what you believe, but it is a pile of manure, sometimes very fancy artisanal manure, but you are warped by what you want to be true, and drawn in by fallacies, and immune to expositions of those fallacies. That’s not Bob’s fault.

        • TheNuszAbides

          fancy artisanal manure

          delicious.

        • adam

          “”Creationist” is a bit vague: I suppose I am a creationist in the sense of believing that God is the ultimate cause of the universe, and has and continues to take an active interest in its functioning.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6865a4cce3282762d39ccbf755e5a9a9ac316fdc6eeed7b3093b367aedf73658.jpg

          “I am a fan of theistic evolution as a cause of speciation and generally a believer in intelligent design theory for the universe as a whole,”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bf3ab7ed04d447ff091f3cf19fcdefc6aafeccae006445994adc3759435c0aa5.jpg

          “but his understanding of good Christian arguments is relatively superficial, ”

          That’s because christian arguments ARE superficial.

          You need FAITH and MAGIC to make the ‘good claims’

          “assuming that rebutting the weakest and most inarticulate arguments constitutes evidence that the opposing worldview is false.”

          But YOU have presented the strongest and most articulate arguments you have demonstrating your NEED for MAGIC and DISHONESTY, demonstrating that that worldview IS false.

        • MNb

          “Creationist” is a bit vague”
          Not at all. Every creationist

          1) rejects Evolution Theory;
          2) uses the God of the Gaps argument;
          3) defends Paley’s False Watchmaker Analogy.

          Hence Susan’s question is valid. How are your claims

          “I am a fan of theistic evolution as a cause of speciation and generally a believer in intelligent design theory for the universe as a whole”
          better supported than creationist claims?

          “his understanding of good Christian arguments is relatively superficial”
          That’s why he explicitly invites christians like you to explain them. However thus far you hardly have tried.

          “social media and blogging isn’t particularly good for this.”
          Agreed. That’s one reason and an important one that I don’t care about convincing you.

          “assuming that rebutting the weakest and most inarticulate arguments constitutes evidence that the opposing worldview is false.”
          Again BobS – and every regular here – recognizes the problem and hence explicitly invite christians to bring up the strongest and most articulate arguments. Thus far you have rejected that invitation. That’s your full right of course. You just cannot expect anything more than us shrugging this criticism of yours off.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          If this is the definition of “creationist” we’re using, then I’m not a creationist and we can put that behind us. We may get sucked into a debate over the definition of “creationist”, which is likely to be as useless as debates over “magic”; the basic problem is that you and I seem to have a rather different philosophy of language. You seem to prefer relatively fixed and immutable definitions whereas I tend to adopt a more literary-critical view, where the basic unit of meaning is not a word but a context. I think there is good reasoning based in linguistics, anthropology and philosophy to argue this way, and that a dictionary-reliant method is overly simplistic to deal with complex topics, but it’s a free country.

          As far as “invites christians like you to explain them”, the Westminster shorter is online, Leibniz is above, and Bob at least says he is familiar with what I believe, though as near as I can tell, he’s the only one on this thread who reads books, especially books he disagrees with. There is also the summary above I provided for Susan. I routinely refer people to Wright’s “Simply Christian” or Keller’s “The Reason for God” if they want something that they’re not ever going to get on social media (i.e. a comprehensive description of adequate length and depth to begin to express a belief that has been in evolution for 2000 years).

          My strategy with Bob was different: he’s familiar with a lot of Christian apologetics and has found it unconvincing. My argument with him was that a) Christianity has well-known issues and b) atheism has well-known issues and that c) he is much more familiar with ‘a’ than ‘b’ and might find it challenging to construct a worldview which avoid problems that atheistic materialism runs into. It’s easy to say, “Christianity is dumb, atheism is smart”, and, when asked to provide examples of atheism’s explanatory scope, to retreat into “well, atheism is really just ‘lack of belief in god(s)’ so I don’t have to defend anything to you, the burden of proof is all yours.” I argue that if you’re gonna be an atheist, be one, but at least be willing to follow through on your presuppositions. If you find them problematic or distasteful, feel free to admit it (hopefully a forum like this is friendly to atheists?) and work to come up with an alternative.

          My other issue with Bob revolves around his theory of belief: are humans rational? To put it bluntly, does he think that Ken Ham or William Lane Craig can read “The God Delusion” or Russell’s “Why I am not a Christian” and not bring their religious loyalties into the discussion? Can he read Craig without bringing his religious issues to bear? What does this say about human rationality? And which is more logical, to say, “well, thank goodness I’m not like that”, or to say, “what if this is true of me also?”

          The intent isn’t to humiliate, but to point out that his implicit anthropology seems to suggest that carefully constructed arguments reveal a (atheistic) reality which will be obvious to anyone rational, and that religious people are not rational because they are religious. The argument is circular: there is no way that a person can be adequately rational and still affirm anything other than atheistic materialism, and atheistic materialism is confirmed by alone embracing adequately rational arguments. Christian anthropology explains this as “the fallenness of the intellect”; atheism explains this…. well, that’s not obvious. Perhaps people need more education, or legislation, or time, or evolution or well,…. something. Maybe more atheist blogs would help, I dunno. Religious people I guess are just dumb, it’s a brute fact, why try to explain it? It’s a clever ploy: the universal acid of skepticism must be employed judiciously if it’s not going to dissolve the chair you’re sitting on. But it does seem a bit dishonest and self-seeking to those outside the atheist/skeptic community.

        • MNb

          “where the basic unit of meaning is not a word but a context.”
          Well, I’m a teacher math and physics, two disciplines that have had some success exactly thanks to their approach to definitions. I’m not sure a literary-critical approach can compare. But yeah, it’s a free world.

          “a dictionary-reliant method is overly simplistic to deal with complex topics”
          This caricature strongly suggests you don’t have a good clue what the approach in math and physics is. For one thing my description of creationism is not a simplistic dictionary-reliant one. It’s an inductive one, ie it sums up the essential characteristics of creationists. As such it yields a testable prediction. Indeed any creationist I’ve ever met meets these three characteristics. And indeed I strongly suspected that you weren’t one, though you might have one or two things in common.
          The over-simplicity is rather yours, not mine.

          “My strategy with Bob was ….”
          This merely repeats what you already wrote in your previous comments, so I only can repeat what I answered already. That’s something I dislike, so I’m going to neglect it here.

          “there is no way that a person can be adequately rational and still affirm anything other than atheistic materialism”
          I already wrote that this is a strawman of yours. This is a claim, if made, that has to be backed up. But you already indicated that you’re not interested in us backing it up. So nobody thus far has taken the effort. Our only appropriate reaction is shrug. Again.
          That you merely repeat your vague accusations without substantiating them doesn’t speak well for your literary-critical approach.
          At the other hand your already have stuck your neck out with Leibniz’s Cosmological Argument. None of the answers you got went the way “christians are not rational because they are rational”, so this endless repeating of your fetish is getting intellectually dishonest.
          Plus you still didn’t answer Susan’s question.

          How are your claims

          “I am a fan of theistic evolution as a cause of speciation and generally a believer in intelligent design theory for the universe as a whole”
          better supported than creationist claims?
          Especially given that creationists like all kind of versions of the Cosmological Argument as well.
          You satisfying your fetish about atheism and rationality again iso answering it doesn’t say anything good about your intellectual honesty either.

        • adam

          “which is likely to be as useless as debates over “magic”;”

          Only useless to YOU, since you cant demonstrate that MAGIC is anything but IMAGINARY, in the very same manner that you cant demonstrate a God or Jesus whose story depends on MAGIC.

          ” b) atheism has well-known issues and that”

          Doesnt seem that you can demonstrate THAT either.

          “. It’s easy to say, “Christianity is dumb, atheism is smart”, and, when asked to provide examples of atheism’s explanatory scope, ”

          You mean atheism’s dis-belief?

          Christianity IS dumb for depending on superstition for a belief system, yes being sceptical of MAGICAL claims IS smart.

          ” I argue that if you’re gonna be an atheist, be one, but at least be willing to follow through on your presuppositions.”

          What presuppositions does dis-belief have?

          ” If you find them problematic or distasteful, ”

          I do find claims of MAGIC to be both.

          ” but to point out that his implicit anthropology seems to suggest that carefully constructed arguments reveal a (atheistic) reality which will be obvious to anyone rational, and that religious people are not rational because they are religious.”

          Of course religious people are not rational because their belief system is based on irrational SUPERSTITIONS and IGNORANCE.

          THAT is why FAITH and IGNORANCE is so IMPORTANT to religion.

        • TheNuszAbides

          a believer in intelligent design theory for the universe as a whole, but I don’t primarily get [this] from the Bible exactly

          no, not exactly, just indirectly from DI hacks who explicitly presuppose the fuzzy-inerrancy of Biblical narrative.

        • adam

          “I appreciate that; I was merely pointing out that, from a Christian perspective, it’s a false dichotomy. ”

          But you’ve failed to make that point as well.

          I’m with MR, a more honest approach would be to simply answer and explain rather than dancing pretending to know something you cant demonstrate.

        • MR

          I see he ignored your request for citation.

        • Thomas Goodnow

          I was explaining the implicit mischaracterization of the Christian position, not attempting to provide an apologetic for the Bible, so assumed it was a bit of a wild-goose chase. In order to provide a relevant answer, I would necessarily ask “what do you think I would mean by ‘divinely inspired'”? My hunch is that what I believe (and why), what I think has reasonable evidence, and what you think I mean by this are three rather different things.

        • MR

          A more honest approach would be to simply answer and explain instead of continuing to avoid answering it.

        • Kodie

          Christians mischaracterize themselves just fine. Please don’t blame atheists for the simple idea that your supernatural fantasies just don’t shake out.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I suppose this makes the bible “complex” in that if you’re looking for one statement about whether there is only one God, or a bunch of gods among whom Yahweh is the best, you won’t find it (without appreciating that there is some development, anyway).

          “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3)

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/02/polytheism-in-the-bible/

    • Michael Neville

      of course the obvious solution is that he values some level of freedom of will.

      The Christian apologists’ claim “gawd can’t reveal himself ’cause free will would be violated” just doesn’t make sense.

      According to most Christians, Yahweh wants or even needs to be believed in. There are even Christians who claim Yahweh will punish non-believers forever for the “sin” of disbelief. A god that narcissistic would make it obvious that he exists. But I realize you have not made the claim that Yahweh wants belief so perhaps this argument doesn’t apply to you.

      How is free will violated if Yahweh makes himself obvious? I believe that Akihito is the current Emperor of Japan but that information doesn’t affect me in any way. Likewise knowing that Yahweh exists wouldn’t affect me because I wouldn’t worship that genocidal, sadistic bully of a god under any conditions. My freewill would keep me from worshiping Yahweh whether or not I knew he existed.

      According to the propaganda Satan knew Yahweh exists but that didn’t keep Satan and a third of the other angels from rebelling. So freewill isn’t violated by knowing about Yahweh’s existence.

      Or there’s the argument that Yahweh doesn’t reveal himself because he’s a figment of some Iron Age Hebrew priests’ imagination. Fictitious beings have a really hard time revealing themselves. It’s my belief that the free will argument is an attempt by Christian apologists to excuse the non-revelation of their non-existent god. Like all other apologists’ arguments, it fails.

      • Thomas Goodnow

        I suppose you could argue that Yahweh wants to be believed in; a more conventional way of putting it is that Yahweh desires a loving relationship with his creation. As you point out, belief in the existence of God isn’t the issue: demons presumably have better theology than either of us, and don’t “believe” in the sense of “have a relationship characterized by a reciprocal relationship of friendship”.
        “Love” requires not merely knowledge (I know my partner exists) but knowledge of the person (what she is like) and loyalty (a commitment characterized by reciprocal sacrifice and empathy). As these analogies suggest, belief in God is necessarily freely chosen, at least after a fashion. I presume that we would agree that absolute freedom doesn’t exist: I can’t fly no matter how much I believe I’m a bird. On the other hand, I do think people can make meaningful choices (Sam Harris, among others, would disagree). Some are more freely chosen than others, and I am always constrained by my culture, language, history, situation and physiology.

        A strict Calvinist says you don’t believe because God has destined you for wrath to his greater glory, and it is only expected that you would say with the Book of Mormon actors, “fuck you, God!” At the other extreme are rationalists or Pelagians, where your beliefs are entirely rationally chosen (or at least rationally influenced), and one result is conversations like this. I tend to take a middle course (somewhat Molinist in orientation), which is why I’m neither of the “preach the Gospel and let God sort ‘em out” sort of evangelist, nor do I expect to make a lot of progress in forums like this, where though reason is ostensibly valued, few people are coming without an agenda (Bob is very open about his).

        However, I do tend to assume that skeptics and atheists value intellectual consistency and dislike hypocrisy (and I enjoy the thinking as an exercise). It is for these reasons that I tend to push questions like, “how is your worldview superior to the Christian one” and “how far have you worked out and enacted the consequences of what you do believe?” In my limited experience, most pop-level atheism is heavy on the anti-theism and very light on the question of “now how do we live”? It’s a reactionary philosophy, not concerned with building anything but only with tearing down what it finds objectionable (often appropriately so). For instance, your characterization of Yahweh (“genocidal” etc.) is your opinion, obviously, but is historically and culturally idiosyncratic. Certainly the thought is not new to the 21st century (or 20th, or 18th), but even Jefferson and Paine and Voltaire, and pagan critics during the Antonine and Cyprian plagues, did not read Christianity through the interpretive lens you’re using. My only question would be, “why the difference?” Are you really smarter or more enlightened, or they in darkness that you have somehow eluded? And why should I believe this intellectual creation narrative which your reading relies upon?

        I am not swayed by arguments that argue that we are just smarter today than people in the past; I have too much background in history (ancient and modern) to buy this. Boethius and Dante and Calvin were extremely intelligent people, as have been Goebbels and Francis Collins and the Plantingas. I am not swayed by arguments that we are entering a new age of rational and careful thought that will lead to ever greater heights of benign humanism; the world has generally gotten better over the last 300 years, but this has both been with the active participation of Christians and other theists and with notable setbacks by other intelligent and often religious (after a fashion) humans. Utopian dreams are not unique to modern skeptics: it was very popular (even in Christian post-millenial circles) up until 1914, but has had hard times since then. Is there some author or thinker who has led you to think that the humanist narrative, that the death of religion is the elevation of humanity, is actually correct (if this is your belief, or if you have beliefs this comprehensive)?

        • Michael Neville

          I’ve always been bewildered by Calvinists. “We believe in a god who hates most of us and, unless we win his lottery, we’ll be tortured forever regardless of how good a life we’ve lived.” TULIP strikes me as taking self-loathing to an extreme.

          The Old Testament god is a sadistic bully who kills people just because he can. In Exodus Yahweh kills the first born of Egypt because Pharaoh won’t listen to Moses. But why doesn’t Pharaoh listen? Because Yahweh “hardened his heart” (Ex 9:12). Yahweh set up Pharaoh to fail so Yahweh could kill a bunch of kids.

          Actually most Biblical scholars and all Egyptologists think that Exodus is fiction, a propaganda story where a minor country says that their god is a bigger badass than the gods of the local superpower. Regardless, Exodus does not show Yahweh to be a particularly loving god.

          In my limited experience, most pop-level atheism is heavy on the anti-theism and very light on the question of “now how do we live”? It’s a reactionary philosophy, not concerned with building anything but only with tearing down what it finds objectionable (often appropriately so).

          Many atheists are also humanists. The Humanist Manifesto is a broad outline on how to live life.

          We assert that humanism will: (a) affirm life rather than deny it; (b) seek to elicit the possibilities of life, not flee from them; and (c) endeavor to establish the conditions of a satisfactory life for all, not merely for the few. By this positive morale and intention humanism will be guided, and from this perspective and alignment the techniques and efforts of humanism will flow.

          EDIT (because I clicked on post by mistake)

          I don’t think that people nowadays are more intelligent than our predecessors. We’re more knowledgeable about some things but I doubt we’re any wiser. Often our knowledge is ignored or misused to the detriment of our fellow human beings or the world in general.

          Incidentally I do not think Alvin Plantinga is particularly wise or intelligent. He dislikes naturalism and so derides it by attacking a parody of evolution (he quite obviously does not understand how evolution works). He also misuses statistics (I’m an accountant, I use statistics on a daily basis, I know Plantinga doesn’t understand it) in a vain attempt to “disprove” naturalism.

        • adam

          “I’ve always been bewildered by Calvinists. ”

          Not me, it seems so……………… human.

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

        • adam

          ““Love” requires not merely knowledge”

          No, but once one has an knowledge of what Love is, it becomes obvious that the OT ‘God’ has no understanding of it. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/64635b0f247a44ac0db2c0b6003572c26a0ddfeda0e0e1a2235a1d5f7e4f5017.jpg
          ” “how is your worldview superior to the Christian one” ”

          No MAGIC, no fear of the MONSTEROUS OT ‘God’, no cognitive dissonance trying to understand the contradictions and mistruths of the bible as ‘true’

          And no goal of the mass destruction needed to ‘bring Jesus back’ for his second time, because he failed so poorly the first time around.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cdf1945c329723ddbb7c03a5aa7c5a3ef1bae3c5f93caabe7aed79f438227c78.jpg

          ” “how far have you worked out and enacted the consequences of what you do believe?””

          Infinity is as far as I have worked it out.

          ““now how do we live””

          How do we not?

          “even Jefferson and Paine and Voltaire, and pagan critics during the Antonine and Cyprian plagues, did not read Christianity through the interpretive lens you’re using. My only question would be, “why the difference?””

          Presupposing that bible God exists, EASILY explains the difference in interpretation.

          “the world has generally gotten better over the last 300 years, ”

          Yes, since the rise of SCIENCE and HUMANISM

          “The intellectual basis of the Renaissance was its own invented version of humanism, derived from the rediscovery of classical Greek philosophy, such as that of Protagoras, who said that “Man is the measure of all things.” This new thinking became manifest in art, architecture, politics, science and literature”

          ” that the death of religion is the elevation of humanity, is actually correct ”

          Well OF COURSE, the death of authoritarian superstition and magical thinking and the rise of Truth through SCIENCE actually elevates humanity and brings people to consensus rather than religious DIVISION.

          We can see what authoritarian superstition and magical thinking did for Christianity – Crusades, Inquisitions, Witch Burnings and we can see what it STILL does to those equally indoctrinated in Islam.

          Reality helps humanity in a way that superstition and magic can NEVER….

        • adam

          “I suppose you could argue that Yahweh wants to be believed in”

          And you know what a God/god is without believers?

          Nada https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8a1d48c6ea9ae94abc4986173c1c9496602e6dc86fef2062e9417b9a7f4f213b.jpg

        • MNb

          How do you decide which theology is better? What’s your standard?

          “As these analogies suggest”
          There is a problem though: that god desiring a loving relationship is supposed to be immaterial/ supernatural/ transcendental. My partner typical isn’t.
          That makes those analogies false ones – you sneakily made a salto mortale from our concrete world to a divine world, as my compatriot the eloquent theologian and apostate Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis formulated it at the end of the 19th Century.

        • MR

          There is a problem though: that god desiring a loving relationship is supposed to be immaterial/ supernatural/ transcendental. My partner typical isn’t.

          !! You just have a way, MNb!

          Awkward scene at a dinner party:
          “I’d like to introduce you to my loving wife….”
          “Oh, so nice to meet you!”
          “And, of course, you simply must meet my loving God….”
          “Oh, um, well, yes, lovely to meet….”
          “No, no, he’s over here…, no, no, here….”
          “Yes, well, charmed. You know, I do think it’s time I refilled my drink. Nice to meet you all!”

        • Susan

          I suppose you could argue that Yawhweh wants to be believed in

          First, you would have to argue that Yahweh exists. Without fog.

          “Love” requires not merely knowledge (I know my partner exists)

          If by “knowledge”, you mean “knowing someone exists”, then “knowledge” is necessary. Any discussion about loving someone who doesn’t seem to exist is silly.

          As these analogies suggest, belief in God is necessarily freely chosen,

          Nice switcharoo. “Love” suddenly means “belief” that someone actually exists. That is, our free will would be violated if we were given ordinary evidence that someone exists.

          I do believe that people can make meaningful choices

          Who doesn’t (depending on how you define “meaningful”)?

          why I’m neither of the “preach the Gospel and let God sort ‘em out” sort of evangelist

          I don’t see how anyone on any part of the christian spectrum can justify their claims/beliefs so where you fall isn’t particularly interesting unless you can define your terms and support them. Try less fog.

          I am not swayed by arguments that argue that we are just smarter today than people in the past;

          We have excellent models for germ theory and a tremendous amount of evidence. Not so for demon theory. This does not make me smarter than people in the past. I can see the evidence for germ theory. It required many people in the past refining methods for studying reality and so the issue is not whether I am “smarter” than any particular individual in the past but whether standing on the shoulders of giants over many, many generations, we can see further and justify what we see. (Germs… demons… who am I to say germs? I’m nobody special but it’s clearly germs, so just another strawman.)

          Is there some author or thinker who has led you to think that the humanist narrative, that the death of religion is the elevation of humanity,

          Is there some author or thinker who has led you to think that the humanist narrative, that the death of (religion astrology ghosts aliens among us Elvis is alive) is the elevation of humanity?

          I don’t see how that has anything to do with whether or not your beliefs are true.

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

        • MR

          Oh, I loved the “Love” argument. An Olympic pole vaulter couldn’t have made that leap!

          Knowledge. Such a nebulous thing!

          S: Try less fog.

          Phht.

          Smarter. Such an ambiguous term. Don’t you think he uses that ambiguity nicely to his advantage? Innocently, I’m sure!

          TG: Is there some author or thinker who has led you to see through my bullshit…?

          My grandmother was a pretty good role model for that.

          I don’t see how that has anything to do with whether or not your beliefs are true.

          He’s not interested in that.

          S: What are you claiming and how do you support it?

          Oh, my God, Susan. How many times are you going to ask this question when you know they never have an honest answer!

        • Susan

          S: What are you claiming and how do you support it?

          Oh my God, Susan. How many times are you going to ask this question when you know they never have an honest answer!

          The results keep pouring in. That is, it’s hard to keep up with the tally.

          So far, it’s n+1 to nil.

          Still, they keep coming back telling us that we haven’t engaged with the most “robust” (a term I’ve only heard theists use) and “intellectual” (a term I’ve never seen theists define or justify) arguments.

          After a lifetime on the carousel and seeing nothing but lies and fog, I should just quit and spend more time studying Spanish.

        • MR

          Ay, amor, si quieres, puedo ser tu maestro. Pero no quiero que dejes esto nunca, nunca, mi amor. Porque tu eres la maestra en descubrir las mentiras de estos gilipollas.

        • Susan

          si quieres, puedo ser tu maestro.

          Por supuesto. Lo quiero.

          tu eres la maestra en descubrir las mentiras de estos gilipollas.

          Muchissimas gracias por ensenarme (damn. I hate how English keyboards don’t have appropriate punctuation) la palabra “gilipollas”.

          Yo nunca habia ecsuchado esa palabra.

        • MR

          Es una palabra española…, de España. No se dice por estas partes. Es como decir, jerks, idiots, cabrones…, como quieras.

        • Susan

          Where do you get punctuation on Disqus for Spanish?

          Comprendi lo todo pero no me gusta responder sin punctuacion apropiado.

          It’s a thing for me in English. It remains a thing in Spanish.

        • MR

          If you’re using Windows:

          á: alt-160
          é: alt-130
          í: alt-161
          ó: alt-162
          ú: alt-163
          ñ: alt-164

          [And I should have said “tú eres….”]

        • Susan

          Didn’t work.

          Probably a problem on my side.

        • MR

          Oh, my, looks like it’s not working for you. 🙁

          Bueno, el español aprendí en España, la cual es una cultura que se tutea mucho–es decir, que utiliza más que nada. Por lo menos, más que los mexicanos, que me parecen a mí demasiado formales. Anyway, como soy gringo, mi español no es perfecto, pero tiene una pinta española más que latina americana.

          Y sí…, ceceo; no jodas.

        • Susan

          Quiero continuar hablando contigo en espanol.

          Pero es muy “off-topic”.

          (sigh)

          Necesito practicar.

        • Kodie

          I would like to get more off-topic. Necessito practicar aussi. Lo siento, mi espanol et francais estan malos, pero cognito que hablando en un otro lengua es una idea buena para los gringos en los EU durante los anos del administration “Trump”. Podemos practicar. Se mas de lo que pense si includo un poco Latin y Spanglish.

        • MR

          ¡Joder! I had no idea we were so multilingual. ¿¡Ves @oldsearcher:disqus!? I love your, Franglish, Kodie!

          (Whispers: Be careful, though, we might get deported. )

        • Kodie

          Dos anos de espanol y quatre semestres de francais a universite, et un peu d’alemaine et ukrainian. Gusta, seis o siete palabras. Por favor, deportame por favor!

        • MR

          Por favor, deportame por favor

          Lol! ¡Ya lo sé!

          My ancestors on my dad’s side come from the Santa Fe area. I’ve been joking lately that Trump is so clueless he’d probably have me deported to New Mexico.

        • Kodie

          I’ve been hearing a lot of shit about people who don’t speak English being harassed, and obviously my Spanish and French is weak…. it’s easier to seem a little fluent and quick on a forum even if the words are semi-fucked than in real life trying to pass as someone who may or may not understand English for theatrical purposes. As an American who really only understands English, and often made to feel as though the rest of the world is superior with bilingualism, well, guess the other language they all speak, it’s English. What other language am I supposed to opt to learn? When I was in school considering French for it’s foofy fanciness, I was pressured to learn Spanish as though it would be useful in an increasingly Spanish-speaking America. It’s not. If someone in the world is learning a second language, it’s English, and I already speak English. Learning another language doesn’t seem that effective, it’s just vain to learn something kind of interesting that will only help you communicate in that country. I take my cue from travelmaster Rick Steves who speaks only English (even if he says it’s nothing to brag about), and manages because everyone else in the world speaks at least enough English.

        • MR

          I think some people have an affinity for learning languages. I think I do, and I certainly enjoy it. I particularly enjoy reading literature in another language. It really does make a difference to read something in the original. Don Quixote, for example, bored me to tears in English, but I laughed out loud when I read it in Spanish.

          I found that in Spain, speaking Spanish was very useful as people were not as proficient in English as they were in other countries. Trying to speak German in Germany, for example, was almost useless because everyone speaks it so fluently that they just automatically switch to English whether you want them to or not. That makes it hard to become conversant.

          I also find it handy to read other countries’ newspapers. Since they don’t have the same dog in the fight that we do, it’s always informative to read their take on things.

          I hear what you’re saying, though. Still there are those of us who do like languages, and I personally feel it has enhanced my life.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Don Quixote, for example, bored me to tears in English, but I laughed out loud when I read it in Spanish.

          silly Nietzsche seems to think that this LOL was the exclusive domain of the Older, Crueler Spaniard:

          Today we [1880s Europe] read Don Quixote with a bitter taste in our mouths, almost with a feeling of torment, and would thus seem very strange and incomprehensible to its author and his contemporaries: they read it with the clearest conscience in the world as the most cheerful of books, they laughed themselves almost to death over it).

        • MR

          Sí, lo sé. 🙁 Lo podemos hacer de cuando en cuando si quieres. Un aparte de vez en cuando. Y si alguna vez quieras pasarlo por Bob, estoy bien con cambiar de correo electrónico. ¡Y, ¿quién sabe si alguna vez no haya un hispano hablante que quiera discutir en español?! ¡Qué bien sería eso, ¿no?

        • Susan

          Y si alguna vez quieras pasarlo por Bob, estoy bien con cambiar de correo electrónico.

          Eso seria mejor.

          Quieres que yo le pida a el?

          No se como hacerlo. Hay un protocolo?

          (Edit: Apologies to everyone else. I swear we’re almost done here.)

        • MR

          Bueno, he visto en otras situaciones que él mismo ha ofrecido poner gente en contacto. Yo se lo voy a pedir por correo, y tú tambien puedes pedirselo. Su correo se encuentra en la página de “About” arriba, en el último párrafo. (No es obivio, tienes que mirarlo bien.)

        • Susan

          Tomorrow, between baking and shopping and working, I will try to follow up on this.

          I would like to follow up.

          Must sleep.

        • MR

          Dos años, pero hace muchos años.

        • OldSearcher

          Puede que tu español no sea perfecto, pero desde luego que es muy bueno, MR.

        • Herald Newman

          did you use the number pad, rather than the keys at the top of the keyboard? It does make a difference.

        • Susan

          No. That would be the problem.

          This laptop doesn’t have a number pad.

        • TheNuszAbides

          stupid laptop!

        • They need to be 4 digits. Put a zero in front.

          And (to answer Susan’s question) I believe a number pad is indeed required.

          Plan B: have a file in which you store all these characters and then copy and paste.

        • Another option: customize Autocorrect in Microsoft Office to give you the special characters. For example, “ee1” could correct to è and so on.

        • MR

          For me the 3 digits work. 4 digits with the 0 give me a different character. Does seem to be dependent on number pad, though; doesn’t work on the top line numbers. Using AutoHotKey, a text expander/replacer, is an option, too. It also comes in handy for using “blockquote” and the like.

        • OldSearcher

          Jejejejeje. “Gilipollas” es una de las palabras más usadas del idioma español. ¡Al menos en España!

        • OldSearcher

          (Maybe it’s because there are a lot of “gilipollas” around here)

        • Argus

          HEY HEY HEY Now..

          This is Trump’s Murika Now, by gawd…none of that non-murikan talk.

        • Susan

          🙂

        • TheNuszAbides

          “robust” (a term I’ve only heard theists use)

          it almost seems that TG wants us to mistake this for “rigorous” and be pre-emptively intimidated, or something.

        • Argus

          Also..if Yahweh is all powerful and all knowing, he cannot by definition have an unfulfilled want. Whatever he wants is instantly fulfilled.

        • TheNuszAbides

          First, you would have to argue that Yahweh exists. Without fog.

          but He is fog! And thunder! And lightning! The way He loves us is frightening!

          (h/t E.Floyd and The Colonel)

      • MR

        Warning! Strawmen, unevidenced, unsupported assertions, non-sequiturs, mischaracterizations, ambiguities, dissimulations, red herrings, well-poisoning, hand-waving, obfuscations, omissions, loaded questions, and God knows what else ahead! (And that’s just from a skim!)

        These arguments remind me of that snake Ravi Zacharias.

        • Susan

          Warning!

          Well called. More than anything, I hate fog.

          The theists who dismiss Ken Ham (and equate him with Richard Dawkins, despite the gaping chasm between the two) only bring fog.

        • Michael Neville

          I missed No True Scotsman, ad hominem and argumentum ad populum. I’m sorry, I’ll try harder next time.

        • MR

          No, *I* missed them. And, of course, his favorite: argumentum ad consequentiam.

  • Without Malice

    Come on, Bob, you’re telling me that it doesn’t make perfect sense (the only kind a God would ever have) for God to spend a couple of thousand years telling his “chosen people” that he was the one and only God around and that he was complete and undivided in his godhood, and that if the would keep the laws he gave them, that were meant to last forever according to him, he would bless them, and if they kept them not he would punish them until they repented of their errant ways, that one day he would peek out from behind a cloud and tell them it had all been a joke and the law didn’t amount to a hill of beans and that he actually had a son just like all the pagan gods. Makes perfect sense to me. Now, on to the truth about how aliens brought down the Twin Towers . . .

    • Yep–God as a divine trickster.

      Heck–you gonna say that God can’t mess with a creation that he put here to mess with?