Bad Atheist Arguments: “Religion Poisons Everything”

Andy Bannister The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist book religion poisons everything hitchensThis is part 6 of a critique of The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: The Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments (2015) by Andy Bannister (part 1). The book promises to critique a number of atheist arguments.

Chapter 6. Sven and the art of refrigerator maintenance

In today’s opening episode, Sven comes downstairs one morning and finds that all the kitchen appliances don’t work. Hmm . . . what do all the failed appliances have in common? They’re white—that must be the problem! So he paints everything and is surprised to find that they still don’t work. When our hero suggests the fuse box, Sven gets ready to paint that, too.

Bannister wants to imagine that this confusion of correlation and causation applies to today’s atheists (yes, whiteness does correlate to the failed appliances, but was that the cause of the problem?). The subtitle of Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great is “How Religion Poisons Everything.” Similarly, Sam Harris said, “The most monstrous crimes against humanity have invariably been inspired by unjustified belief.”

In response to John Lennon’s “Imagine,” Bannister says:

What I really wanted to question . . . is that quaint suggestion that, if you simply remove religion from the equation, everybody will automatically begin living their lives in peace. Seriously? Is the suggestion really that if we waggled our magic wand . . . and made religion disappear, then instantly we would have brought about universal peace and harmony?

No, most atheists wouldn’t say that. Even Hitchens doesn’t say that. I wouldn’t want to defend “religion poisons everything” myself, but it’s quite different from “religion is the sole cause of all problems,” which Bannister apparently wants to set up as a strawman.

He gives as examples of atheist non-utopias the French Revolution, the Soviet Union, and Mao’s China. Yes, even in the absence of religion, conditions can be bad. I think we’re on the same page.

What about “Religion poisons most things”?

Bannister argues that most wars weren’t caused by religion and indirectly cites the Encyclopedia of Wars, which concludes that just seven percent of their catalog of 1763 wars through all of history were religious.

He then wonders, “If it were possible to magically remove all religion from the Middle East, do you imagine that all the competing land claims would instantly vanish?”

Trying to untangle the various religious and political positions in the Middle East is an interesting puzzle, but it’s academic since today’s positions of the various parties happened in part because of religion. How many illegal Israeli squatters in the West Bank justify their position in part because God gave the land to them? How many Muslim suicide bombers were motivated by religious beliefs?

Bannister is again asking if conditions would be blissful without religion. No, they wouldn’t, but Hitchens didn’t say that, and neither would I.

He runs through other categories that can cause problems such as access to scarce water, politics, and business. “The basic problem with ‘religion poisons everything’ is that it’s woefully simplistic and naïve. For sure, religion can sometimes be poisonous, but so can many other things.”

But not really in the same way. Everyone seems to hate politics, and yet it may be a necessary evil. We have to make laws and engage with other countries somehow. Capitalism does a lot of good (electronics, transportation, food, and so on), even though greed can get in the way.

What good within religion can’t come from elsewhere?

He wants to imagine that religion is like this—an imperfect product that is a net good. But what good within religion can’t be provided elsewhere? Community, philanthropy, self-improvement, working to improve the lives of the less fortunate—these are human activities, not just religious ones.

The biggest example in favor of religion for me is groundless hope. When life sucks—I’m talking about Third World, “I’m starving while living in the middle of an interminable civil war” suckage—what keeps you going? Mother Teresa had an answer: “There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s Passion. The world gains much from their suffering.”

But do we want to reproduce groundless hope with secular means? Instead of the dead end “Just trust God—this is all part of his plan,” shouldn’t we focus on solving the problem? This was what Marx meant when he said that religion is the opium of the people. Marx agreed that religion helped, but only in the same way that opium does—it reduces pain. But let’s concentrate on solving the problem.

The positive side of the ledger

Bannister says,

Despite all of Hitchens’s flustered fulminations, religion has done some good things, too. Do a little historical delving and you’ll discover from where we got the idea for one or two important things such as universities, hospitals, the modern scientific method, and human rights.

And where was that? Modern universities, hospitals, science, and attitudes toward human rights didn’t come from either the Bible or Judeo-Christian society. They’re the result of thousands of years of tinkering by society. The most generous spin I can think of is that Christianity gave us the germ that became modern universities and hospitals, it didn’t stand in the way of science much (and contributed a tiny bit), and the Bible can be cherry picked to support modern ideas about human rights.

So where should we put the blame?

Bannister wants to replace “religion poisons everything” with the idea that imperfect humans are the common thread (the word he uses is “fallen”). Solzhenitsyn said, “The line between good and evil passes . . . through the middle of every human heart,” and Christianity is quick with an explanation: original sin.

This Iron Age just-so story, that two people with zero moral understanding disobeyed a moral command, which condemned all future generations (more), does nothing to inform society today.

Let’s respond to one concluding zinger. Bannister says that, if atheism is true,

Religion simply shows, on your view of the world, just how utterly irrational humans can be: in which case, could you perchance explain precisely why we should trust you and the rest of the New Atheist Illuminati to run the world on enlightened secular principles?

Enlightened secular principles? You mean like those defined in the completely secular U.S. Constitution? This idea of a secular government, the world’s first, is one of the greatest examples the U.S. has given to the world. Its very clear church/state separation is the ally of both the atheist and the believer. What alternative could Bannister possibly have in mind?

Continue to part 7.

To read the Bible without horror,
we must undo everything
that is tender, sympathizing, and benevolent
in the heart of man.
— Thomas Paine

Image credit: Your Best Digsflickr, CC

"I didn't say a woman couldn't decide for herself to consider it a person, her ..."

Spectrum Argument for Abortion, Revisited
"Unfortunately as soon as you begin to talk about a supernatural realm and the entities ..."

What Good Is Philosophy?
"You will need to do more than whine like a legion of spirits headed for ..."

What Good Is Philosophy?
"Watch and learn. Watch and learn..."

What Good Is Philosophy?

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Otto

    If by poison we mean ‘make the situation worse’ I think the statement could hold up to scrutiny. We will have wars, but when religion is added to the conflict it is inevitably made worse. We will have sexual hang ups, but when religion is added to the mix it is made worse, etc.

    • eric

      I’m fine with accepting the notion that religion sometimes inspires people to act better. But I’m not sure how making that point is any sort of defense of Christianity writ large, any of its sects in particular, any other religion, or any specific action taken for religious motives. That religion writ large can inspire people to noble deeds is certainly not an argument for any specific religion being true, since contradictory faiths as well as no faith at all can lead to the same noble inspiration.

      • Otto

        Even when religion inspires people to act better they are often doing so for poor reasons in my opinion. I am not claiming there could not be exceptions to this but when the motivations are unpacked the foundation for such actions are many times flawed. If the foundations for acting decently are the same ones other people of religion use when acting poorly (i.e. It is God’s will) it really highlights the problem.

        • eric

          I don’t think we really have the luxury of turning up our noses at people who do charity work, help the poor, give their time and money and effort to make the world a better place, etc., merely because “the foundation for such actions are many times flawed.” They should be our allies. Heck, the foundations of my actions are many times flawed. I’m only human, after all. How about you? Do you sometimes do good things for flawed reasons or mixed motivations? Are they still good things?

          I’m not talking about the faiths that use charity as an evangelism mechanism; that’s slimy. But I think if our standards for considering someone ‘moral’ excludes people who do genuinely good things because they think doing so is following Jesus’ example, well, I’d say in that case that our definition of moral may be a bit too stringent.

        • Otto

          I never accused those people who do good of being immoral, nor did I say that I was turning my nose up at them, only that religion when used as a motivation makes those things less positive than they could be. Additionally there are many people who are religious who do positive things for the right reasons, but then they aren’t adding religion to it are they.

        • Kodie

          I think by observation, it makes humans worse even if it makes them do better things. I think so because they think they wouldn’t do those things without god, i.e., they’d be worse people, and so by extension, they are worse. They are as broken as they’ve been taught that they are, because they rely on their motivation coming from a phantom’s approval and not on what the right thing to do just is, the person who might benefit from their help. These people do not consider life on earth or love between humans as meaningful, so there is something lacking in their expression toward others, that they might thank god instead of a doctor or a person who stopped to see why their car broke down and call a tow truck in the rain for them.

          I just feel this detachment from reality, or their motivation is not to comfort the needy in material things like food and shelter, but to make sure they know that Jesus loves them and save them from banishment to hell, if we are able to calculate outcomes, well, maybe the outcomes are the same, but if they are able to convince a homeless drug addict that the reason they got that way was because they didn’t have Jesus, and then that person attributes Jesus to their recovery, we’re living in a world that is wacky… maybe nobody else would have helped, maybe no other message from the rest of the world would help that addict get clean and restore their life to something normal and healthy, and so you see that as a good thing anyone at all for any reason at all spotted the person in need and helped. Anyway, I think that’s also how IS recruits, how the KKK recruits, any given cult drags in people who have nothing to lose and give them a chance to change their lives, and use them as pawns.

          I believe when you say well the outcomes are good so maybe we shouldn’t care where the motivation to help comes from, but, if without a god (or any authority, really), those people cannot see themselves in the role of helper, then I would consider them the cold heartless ones. In reality, they are probably kind people looking for justification because they’ve been taught that without god, everyone is just naturally out for themselves, and are taught that atheists reject god because we do not want to be nice, generous, helpful, or grateful to god. That’s another thing about them that’s broken and ugly.

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

          Just to be devil’s advocate, Otto’s point may carry here as well. Which is better: helping the poor because my church told me to, or helping the poor just because I know it’s the right thing to do?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Collecting browny points in order to get a VIP pass to see the Big I Am of course.

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

          So he can zap me into a small pile of soot.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Let me tell ya this Bob, if there was anything real about God, you and I would’ve been smote into a big pile of soot a long time ago. That we are not, is proof positive that the whole thing is a loada ballix, if ever we needed it.

          Yer man in the sky was not one bit shy about the smoting thing for a hell of a lot less then what we get up to on these message boards.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t think we really have the luxury of turning up our noses at
          people who do charity work, help the poor, give their time and money and
          effort to make the world a better place, etc., merely because “the
          foundation for such actions are many times flawed.”

          Absolutely we can, and we should. We need people doing the right things for the right reasons. Turning off the lights because Jesus, while technically the right thing to do, is a bogus reason. What other not so good things can a person be made to do because Jesus? We absolutely have a right and a duty to criticize others motivations and beliefs even if they are doing things that might be beneficial. Because they can use the exact same beliefs to do things that are harmful.

        • Tuna

          This line of reasoning also discounts all of the people who do good things for non-religious reasons.

        • Pofarmer

          Yep.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The bottom line is, that being altruistic gives a buzz. The reason behind looking for that buzz is the question.

        • Tuna

          I don’t help people to get a buzz, or because I fear some supernatural punishment; I help people because I remember when I needed help myself, and I know I may need help again.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I didn’t say you help people in order to get a buzz, but a buzz you invariably get.

          The theory of psychological egoism suggests that no act of sharing, helping or sacrificing can be described as truly altruistic, as the actor may receive an intrinsic reward in the form of personal gratification. The validity of this argument depends on whether intrinsic rewards qualify as “benefits”. The actor also may not be expecting a reward.

          Most normal people get a feel good factor when they help others, regardless of their reason for helping.

          I help people because I remember when I needed help myself, and I know I may need help again.

          Reciprocity is your reason then? When you help others, do you feel good about it?

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

        But the truth of religion isn’t really to topic here. For this argument, Bannister simply wants to argue that it’s beneficial.

    • Ignorant Amos

      The Troubles in Northern Ireland are sectarian. The world news will portray them as political. But I can assure you that at a grassroots level it is an inbred hatred over centuries between Protestants and Catholics that is at the heart of the matter.

      • MNb

        Of course the roots again are political:

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

        After

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

        needed an anti-French coalition, of which the equally catholic Spain also was part.

        In a sense The Troubles are the price you folks paid for Dutch liberty.
        Religion is always politics.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The religious politics in Ireland goes way further back than your fellow countryman’s involvement Mark.

          The first, which also has a religious angle….

          In May 1169, Cambro-Norman mercenaries landed in Ireland at the request of Diarmait Mac Murchada (Dermot MacMurragh), the ousted King of Leinster, who had sought their help in regaining his kingdom. This military intervention had the backing of King Henry II of England. Pope Adrian IV had authorized Henry to conquer Ireland as a means of bringing the Irish church into line. Diarmait and the Normans seized Leinster within weeks and launched raids into neighbouring kingdoms.

          Pope Adrian IV is the only Englishman to have held the papal seal btw.

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

          The Protestant v Catholic angle comes into play with the Tudors…

          After a neutral period in 1558–70, Pope Pius V declared Elizabeth a heretic in his 1570 papal bull Regnans in Excelsis. This complicated the conquest further, as her authority to rule was denied and her officials were considered by observant Roman Catholics to be acting unlawfully. Most Irish people of all ranks remained Catholic and the bull gave Protestant administrators a new reason to expedite the conquest. The Second Desmond Rebellion in 1579–83 was assisted by hundreds of papal troops. Religion had become a new marker of loyalty to the administration.

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

          Then came Cromwell’s foray, he was particularly ruthless…

          Following the Irish Rebellion of 1641, most of Ireland came under the control of the Irish Catholic Confederation. In early 1649, the Confederates allied with the English Royalists, who had been defeated by the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War. By May 1652, Cromwell’s Parliamentarian army had defeated the Confederate and Royalist coalition in Ireland and occupied the country—bringing to an end the Irish Confederate Wars (or Eleven Years’ War). However, guerrilla warfare continued for a further year. Cromwell passed a series of Penal Laws against Roman Catholics (the vast majority of the population) and confiscated large amounts of their land.

          There’s irony for ya, Irish Catholics were Royalists and not Republicans.

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

          Then we have King Billy. His was less of an invasion and more of a bid to oust the dethroned James, who had invaded Ireland a few years previously. Much of King Billy’s army was made up of Catholic mercenaries.

          The Williamite conflict was less about religion than politics for sure, but the legacy has been all about religion.

          http://www.historynet.com/battle-of-the-boyne-king-william-iiis-victory-in-ireland.htm

          http://struggle.ws/talks/king_billy.html

          I wish more people on this island knew their history.

          In a sense The Troubles are the price you folks paid for Dutch liberty.

          Well, at a stretch. Like all these things, it is much more complicated of course. Northern Irish Republicans still quote the 800 years of British occupation as the case. There was no Britain per se when the Normans invaded Ireland.

          The Troubles are the price paid for Government of Ireland Act 1920 which resulted in partition.

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/nireland/overview.htm

          Religion is always politics.

          To which I wholeheartedly agree. It’s the politics that are religion that is much less understood by much of the knuckle dragger’s and doesn’t form part of the hatred in the mindset that fires them off.

          Just for interest, King Billy landed in Ireland less than half a mile from my front door. Every June a big pageant is held c/w re-enactment of the landing. A commemorative statue was erected near the spot.

          http://c8.alamy.com/comp/CEDPCN/statue-of-william-of-orange-king-billy-at-carrickfergus-castle-northern-CEDPCN.jpg

        • MNb

          “Then we have King Billy.”
          His far relative the protestant Billy Alex now is married to a pretty blonde catholic chic.

          http://www.veendammer.nl/files/2015/02/Zijne-Majesteit-Koning-Willem-Alexander-en-Hare-Majesteit-Koningin-Maxima-e1422890718259.jpg

          I think you’ll recognize his sash.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes, the Sash is very familiar indeed. As a juvenile under indoctrination, I wore a version myself.

          https://seachranaidhe1.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/screenshot_2013-04-03-22-51-04.png

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’d only heard as far back as Cromwell’s “to Hell or to Connacht”, with a brief digression into ‘Celtic Communism’; my first college class in 1990 being a version of PPE with
          a focus on a different historical ‘trouble spot’ each quarter. this was on the reading list but i knew nothing of its provenance and loaned it to a friend’s dad before getting very far in: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1307158.THE_PROVISIONAL_IRA?from_search=true

          always glad of documentary recommendations from someone who appears to know the arses from the elbows and is as detached as a lifelong local lad can be for at least one of the right reasons 😉
          ! can’t believe i hadn’t stumbled across the struggle site before. thanks again.

      • Otto

        You don’t have to assure me…my wife is full Irish, she was adopted because her Catholic father got it one with her Protestant mother. Neither family could handle it, no politics caused that….lol

        • Ignorant Amos

          It is not the issue it was, certainly a world away from the old days.

          I have a friend whose father was a UDA commander. My friend got involved in a relationship through work with a girl whose father was an IRA commander.

          Both my friend and his partner co-habit and have children together. This is less a rarity than it once was when mixed marrying was a taboo and both parties would be shunned by they’re respective communities. But this was mostly a working class phenomena.

          But yes, you will be well appraised of the Shenanigans I’m referring to here.

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

          Wow–a perfect Capulet-Montague analogy. It’s good to hear that this isn’t as much a rarity.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Never thought of it that way, but yes…every bit as severe at one time. Otto is testament to that.

          No doubt that there is still that amount of bigotry in some places. Maybe it’s just that more and more people are seeing it for what it is and don’t give a fuck anymore. But certainly, I here more and more examples where the old fashioned stigma is not being applied.

  • alverant

    What is the criteria “Encyclopedia of Wars” used in deciding if a war was religious? What happened when a war had both religious and non-religious motivations? Do they include wars that probably wouldn’t have started earlier than they did (or at all) without religion even if they were other factors involved?

    • adam

      My guess is that they have neglected religions political aspects and motivations.

      Religions are after all political parties.

      • alverant

        Either that or they only counted wars where religion was the only main factor. In my experience people defending religion will use any excuse to shift blame away when it comes to why wars started. But they also won’t accept the same excuses if they want to blame wars on other things.

      • Michael Neville

        The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) is generally considered a religious war. However considering that Catholic Cardinal Richelieu supported Protestant Gustavus Adolphus there were other considerations besides religion involved.

        • MNb

          In the first place The Thirty Years War was a war against Habsburg hegemony, together with Dutch Rebellion/ Eighty Years War, the Turkish-Spanish Wars (Lepanto) and the Italian Wars.
          Still Adam is right. These wars coincided with the Reformation and the leaders of the resulting religious movements tried to use the anti-Habsburg wars to their advantage. Slogan from the 16the Century: “rather Turkish than Papal”. Christianity doesn’t come off any better than in Bannister’s strawman.

        • epicurus

          I just came across this on the weekend as I’m working through Owen Chadwick’s book on the Reformation:

          “The Thirty Years War was a religious war only until 1635. It was at first a war of Calvinists against Catholics, for Saxony and some other Lutheran states stood aloof, believing the Elector Palatine’s action to be foolish and Illegal . . . But the war was prolonged because the success of the Imperial arms was so overwhelming as to bring other states into action against it . . . After 1635 the war was no longer in any real sense a religious war, but a modern European war dependent on rivalry between revived France and Imperial Germany”.

          The Penguin History of The Church 3, The Reformation

          Owen Chadwick, 1990, p.317

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

          That war killed two percent of the population of the entire world.

    • eric

      I’m still stuck on the fact that evidently Bannister thinks ‘7% of wars are religious’ is a defense of the goodness of religion.

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

        !

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

      You’d think that it wouldn’t be binary. How many wars had a nonzero element of religion?

      • Ignorant Amos

        If the belligerents on the ground believe religion is the reason they are chopping each other to pieces, then I don’t see how the politics of the powers that be is of much relevance.

        • MNb

          Simple – the politics of the powers that be is making the belligerents on the ground believing exactly that. If they don’t do that (nationalism also works) you get wars like

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

          Total of casualties: exactly one.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s true that the politics of the powers that be is the controlling factor of the belligerents, whether that is understood by the belligerents, or not.

          My point is, that the politics driving the conflicts are not necessarily understood, or even known, by the foot soldiers. And in some cases those politics are moot, it’s the religious angle that is inspiring the grunt into battle.

          Am not sure the Cod War’s can be technically described as war. It seems to have been a bit of a hyperbole sound bite that got adopted as a bit of a play on the term “Cold War”.

          From the Wiki…

          The term “cod war” was coined by a British journalist in early September 1958. None of the Cod Wars meets any of the common thresholds for a conventional war, though, and they may more accurately be described as militarized interstate disputes. There is only one confirmed death during the Cod Wars: an Icelandic engineer accidentally killed in the Second Cod War while repairing damages on an Icelandic gunboat.

          More severe engagements didn’t warrant the label “war”.

          The U.S. own conflict with an old mate of mine which also involved fishing rights, is one such example.

          1831–32 – Falkland Islands: Captain Silas Duncan of the USS Lexington attacked, looted and burned the Argentine town of Puerto Soledad in Malvinas islands. This was in response to the capture of three American sailing vessels which were detained after ignoring orders to stop depredation of local fishing resources without permission from the Argentine government. Subsequently the islands were invaded by the UK in 1833 remaining to this day.

          Just saying.

      • MNb

        Interesting question. The endless Greek wars perhaps?

        Edit: the Cod Wars!

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

      • Ignorant Amos

        Some civil wars?

        The American War of Independence and the American Civil War?

  • eric

    Bannister wants to replace “religion poisons everything” with the idea that imperfect humans are the common thread (the word he uses is “fallen”). Solzhenitsyn said, “The line between good and evil passes . . . through the middle of every human heart,” and Christianity is quick with an explanation: original sin.

    Well that’s funny. It was God’s theological choice to set up Eden the way he did. To plonk the tree down where he did, to put knowledge in an apple, to make the apple easily reached, to state that the punishment for taking one would be Eternal Poison Of Everything, and to actually carry out that threat when A&E broke the rule. An omnipotent deity would not have had to make any of those choices. So by blaming original sin, Bannister is saying it isn’t human religion that poisoned everything, it’s God’s religion that poisoned everything.

    Let’s say I design a Universal Poisoner. It’s got a big red start button on it. It poisons literally everything in the universe if the button is pushed. I tell you “don’t push that button,” but you do. Now, arguably, you’re to blame for everything being poisoned. But you know what? So am I. Why the frack did I build a Universal Poisoner machine in the first place? What was I thinking? How stupid could I be, to create such a horribly monstrous machine? In a real sense, it was my poisoner machine that poisoned everything, too. You, the button pusher, did not have that power to negatively affect everything until I handed it to you in neat box form. Had God’s theological choice been to make the tree’s fruit 200′ off the ground where A&E couldn’t reach it, or had his theological choice been to make the punishment “slight discomfort in your left pinkie on Thursdays,” then all of creation would not now be poisoned with serious imperfection. It’s God’s set-up that poisoned literally everything. Every. Single. Thing. At least, according to the doctrine of original sin. He built a universal poisoner and handed it to us.

    Unless God had no choice as to the Edenic set-up or punishments, of course. In that case, it’s not God’s religion that’s at fault. But if that’s the case…not omnipotent.

    • Otto

      Using humans as a common thread does not help religion either as the common thread among all religions is humans, i.e. if humans poison everything we poison religion too.

    • adam
      • Ignorant Amos

        Or is it the eejit’s that made up the stories?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Off topic, but I am jazzed that I put up Hand Wave for Moanna before anyone else noticed:

          http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HandWave

          https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=79DijItQXMM/t=97

        • Michael Neville

          I’ve seen few characters as comfortable with their arrogance as that one.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Oh, he was hilarious!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Cool.

          Coincidentally, I had a red face experience last week with that movie. My seven year old granddaughter came in from school and asked me to put “Moana” on the telly for her. I used the search function in Specto on Kodi which displays billboard posters for any movie relevant to that title. The new animated film came up, but it was accompanied in a screen filled with a lot of adverts for movies of an adult content and the ad’s left very little to the imagination. A major fumble for the remote and the “return button” took place.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Ha! I read about Disney having to change the name in European countries because of the porn star and some other properties with the name. Sorry the granddaughter saw that junk.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        “of the bible”

        Why would a God need a book? The people who wrote Jesus/YHWH up had some dim… lamps… torches?… in their possession indeed.

        • Michael Neville

          some dim… lamps… torches?

          Camp fires?

    • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

      That’s always got me too. It’s like throwing your kid onto the street for touching the stove after you told them not to, but even worse.

      • rabbit

        Pandora (remember the forbidden box?) was the ancient Greek creation story

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          Yes, very similar.

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

      The Universal Poisoner is a great example. Unfortunately, it makes me think of Ren and Stimpy’s History Eraser button.

      https://i.ytimg.com/vi/yv-c4-2sYF4/hqdefault.jpg

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      “slight discomfort in your left pinkie on Thursdays,”

      My FSM! Are you my alt? AM I YOUR ALT? Our thoughts concerning such absurdities sound so similar!

  • MNb

    “Bannister argues that most wars weren’t caused by religion”
    There aren’t any wars prevented or ended by religion either. What does that tell us?

    “Bannister wants to replace “religion poisons everything” with the idea that imperfect humans are the common thread.”
    I agree with this. And then add that religion overall doesn’t make any difference. Evil people don’t become any less evil when they convert. Religion allows them to rationalize and justify many of their evil deeds.

    • Joe

      Exactly. I’d actually tend to agree with Bannister on some points here, but that leads to the unforeseen (to him) conclusion that religion is merely a useless layer of window dressing humans add to things.

      Wars start and end without religion. People are good and bad without religion. Life goes on exactly as it would without religion. So why bother? Because people like pageantry?

      • al kimeea

        TRADITION!!

      • rabbit

        and some people like the money and therefore power that accompanies leadership positions in religions

    • Kodie

      Nobody thinks they are a bad person…. I guess some people do, or they know they are, but, in general, I really think that most people justify what they do as they think they are right and good and doing everything for a justifiable reason. They are appealed to their sense of right and drawn diagrams they might never have noticed, but if you are the leader of some group, some cult, some religion, or a political affiliation, the picture you are drawing for a new recruit is highly edited and makes you think you are in the right. People who are racists are afraid of something they value being destroyed, and that makes their comments “ok” to them, and anyone who doesn’t like it a whiner or somehow deserving of their insults. See, “black lives matter” vs. “blue lives matter”. This puts cops automatically in the martyr category, who never breaks the rules, and puts their lives on the line every day for all of us, and how dare anyone disrespect the law by killing an officer…. nobody can really say it’s right to kill a cop just for being a cop, but it ignores a huge problem that those people would like to put on the other foot – people who get shot by a cop were probably doing something wrong and threatening, and it’s regrettable, but happens sometimes, and we should get over it. It’s very hard for people who may be wrong to admit that they are on the wrong side, that they’re bad, that they have bad intentions or are part of the problem instead of part of the solution, because, to them, they wouldn’t join a cause unless they were convinced it were right.

      So I’m not saying people who join IS started out evil. They started out having a position they thought was good and being told and sold a vision where they could fight the good fight, and solve all their problems. It’s not that they see “how can I join a cause where I get to be evil?” and just because they are quite violent, it is quite like the Crusades, where they have to do what they have to do to reach the goals of what they perceive is an overall goodness. They never think of themselves as evil.

      People who think they are charitable can feed the hungry, clothe the poor, these missionaries who go to poor countries think the most important thing to do is preach Jesus and make sure these people can go to heaven when they die, and makes sure those people know it’s bad to use condoms and bad to be gay, and Jesus doesn’t like this or that, and how good and restrained and restrictive we are, we compulsively obey the law of the bible instead of our human urges, and that is “good”. They don’t think they’re bad for not selling wedding cake or issuing wedding licenses. Besides these nasty judgmental qualities, they might be the nicest person you ever met, give you the coat off their back, never turn you away from dinnertime, so they get validation from others as good, kind, generous people. They don’t think they are evil, they don’t understand why anyone calls them that. They don’t understand that the bible is fiction, and helping each other is just what we do, and some of the other things humans do isn’t actually bad or hurting anyone, and that there’s no valid reason for them to judge those people as “evil” either.

      • MNb

        That’s what I mean with “rationalize and justify their evil deeds”.

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

      There aren’t any wars prevented or ended by religion either. What does that tell us?

      Oh yeah? What about Joan of Arc? Oh, wait a minute–she just fueled the fire.

      Never mind.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Am sure I’ve read that the Crusades were caused by religion, but maybe I picked it up wrong.

        • rabbit

          sly

        • MNb

          As always it’s more complicated.
          For one thing Byzantium wanted military assistance after the disastrous defeat at Manzikert.
          For another it was a papal political move in the ongoing Investiture Controversy.
          Ie politics.
          Of course religion is politics by definition, so of course and especially in the 11th Century it played a major role, but not all politics is religious.

        • Kodie

          So religion still poisons everything, in using religion as a rationale or motivation to move pawns to carry out political ambitions, etc. I guess people can also be moved by political causes that don’t have any obvious ties to a religion, just because they believe in that cause and not for a “higher” reason. For someone with my background, all lies and pawns are about the same. Making lies about a cosmic fantasy or an economic (for example) fantasy are the same, with regard to motivating masses to vote or act against their own best interest.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah, I’ve read a bit about it.

          Certainly complicated.

          The Battle of Manzikert was in 1071, the first Crusade wasn’t called for until 1095.

          So complicated is the history that there are a couple of hypotheses as to the reasons.

          I’ve seen a documentary that claims recent studies show that it had nothing to do with anything that was really going on in the east and was more about Pope Urban saving his failing papacy. It appears that Pope Urban made a lot of shite up in order to fire up the masses.

          But yes, religious politics for sure. Without a doubt. But the grunts on the ground believed it was all about religion and went because of promises of indulgences to the afterlife for doing God’s work.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmYzcwsKe1Y

          http://www.historytoday.com/jonathan-phillips/crusades-complete-history

  • sandy

    One of the biggest problems with religion and why it poisons everything is their holy books. When they are taken as inerrant and literally true terrible things can be done in the name of their God who actual does these things (genocide, racism, slavery, etc.) and endorses and recommends its followers to do so as well, to appease their God and to achieve, heaven or paradise.
    Luckily, liberal Christians now see the bible as allegory, man made and not to be taken literally as they did hundreds of years ago when they used the bible to start crusades, burn witches and all those other unchristian like things Yahweh did. As a result, Christianity is much less violent than in the past. Unfortunately today, we have too many fundamentalists still using their holy book to rationalize their atrocities, with too many Muslims still taking the Koran literally as well as a minority of Christians. The problem is the sacred books.
    As David E. Comings summarizes in his book Did Man Create God? “Man’s persistent yearning for transcendent spirituality indicates that for the human species religion and a belief in God will never die. Rather than relying on atheism or the elimination of faith to solve the problem of religious wars and terrorism, retaining faith and religion but eliminating the illusion that the sacred texts are literally true is far more likely to attain this goal and far more likely to prevent new outbursts of jihads, crusades and inquisitions.”
    So, we need to keep hammering away at the Bible and Koran and exposing them for what they are, man made, myths and legend. Scholars are doing a great job with the Bible as we speak…the Koran? Well maybe in another 500 years we will be where Christianity is but hopefully sooner.

    • Rt1583

      That it would be taken as inerrant and literally true is only one aspect of the problem.
      I’ve always felt that the bigger part of the problem is that the religious (all religions) only apply inerrancy and literal truth to their holy books on a situational basis and only if it is beneficial to them and their particular group.
      Two prime examples:
      Homosexuality being a sin but all other sins (just as abhorrent in the eyes of their god) listed right along side are absolutely ignored.
      The fight for the ten commandments. #2 explicitly prohibits any form of monument yet they don’t care. #4 prohibits them from doing anything that isn’t church/god related on the sabbath. We all know the vast majority don’t practice this.

      • sandy

        I agree The Book is used, quite often, to justify the religious person’s bias and personal justifications for their actions, but it does work both ways. We have the religious refusing blood transfusions for themselves/children and/or other basic medical care, opting for prayer or God’s will, when doing this is not obviously beneficial to them. They are putting their trust in God and what he says in the book to do. The Book is ruling them.
        It’s a double edge sword for sure and that is way these books are so dangerous.

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

          Nice summary

  • Rt1583

    I think the tower of Babel is a good example here.
    All these people speaking a common language and living/working together until god got scared and made them start speaking different languages and scattered them around the world.
    Seems to me that if god had kept his shit together and just let them be we’d all be one big happy family today.

    • TheNuszAbides

      thanks to your comment, i just imagined a protest sign: “get your stupid divine hands off my medicare”

  • Cranky Squirrel

    I thought that the Hitchens book subtitle indicated that religion infected every aspect of life–not that it had only negative influences. His point was that it touched every single aspect of life, from birth to death and everything in between–what we eat, what we wear, who we marry, the shows and movies we’re allowed to watch, legislation, even bathrooms. There is nothing that some religion does not seek to influence and control. In that respect, religion poisons everything. Hitchens was correct.

    • Herald Newman

      Hitchens, and you, are both dead right!

      Imagine, if you will, what the world would be like if a religious institution was given much more power than they have today. Imagine more theocracies in world, and then try to convince me that we wouldn’t have those same religions telling us exactly how we need to live our lives.

      Fortunately (or unfortunately for those who live there), there are only two theocracies in the world. One of them is a state that lives under a tremendous amount of sanctions. The other has it’s claws into areas like health care in much of the free world.

    • Kevin K

      I suppose if I had been Hitchens’ editor, I might have argued for the word “taint” instead of the word “poison”. And he probably would have gutted me like a mackerel.

      Sometimes, a little hyperbole is what’s needed to get a point across … and to sell books.

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

        “The root of all evil?” was the title for a 2006 Dawkins atheist documentary. I believe he later said that he thought the title was over the top (it wasn’t his choice IIRC), but it does draw attention.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Correct. The title was intended to stir things up a bit by the producers. We are talking about Channel 4 after all. Later it was changed to “The God Delusion” for a rebroadcast.

          Dawkins has said that the title The Root of All Evil? was not his preferred choice, but that Channel 4 had insisted on it to create controversy. The sole concession from the producers on the title was the addition of the question mark. Dawkins has stated that the notion of anything being the root of all evil is ridiculous. Dawkins’ book The God Delusion, released in September 2006, goes on to examine the topics raised in the documentary in greater detail. The documentary was rebroadcast on the More4 channel on 25 August 2010 under the title of The God Delusion.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Root_of_All_Evil%3F

        • MNb

          Hey – you can’t expect someone like AndyB to read or listen, let alone think, beyond the title.

        • Kevin K

          Dawkins is a scientist by training and inclination…Hitchens was a rhetorician and a purveyor of popular media content. I would expect the former to be more cautious in use of language than the latter.

      • TheNuszAbides

        in the UK the subtitle was “the case against religion”.
        can’t find it at the moment — i think it was one of his many CSPAN sessions — but he generally didn’t choose his titles. however, i only recall him going into detail regarding Letters to a Young Contrarian, and Hitch-22 was definitely an exception.

        • Ignorant Amos

          in the UK the subtitle was “the case against religion”.

          Indeed…I’m looking at it on my bookshelf right now. One of the few books I have in hard copy as well as on Kindle.

          https://d39ttiideeq0ys.cloudfront.net/assets/images/book/large/9781/8435/9781843545866.jpg

        • TheNuszAbides

          i got a cheapo yellow-bound softback while Borders was in its death throes.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I don’t suppose it really matters as long as ya can read it.

          I have a fondness for my paperback copy of “The God Delusion”…it’s falling apart and the pages have yellowed…which was fine until I had the opportunity to get it signed by the man. I ended up taking my hardback copies of “The Magic of Reality” and “The Greatest Show on Earth” to be signed instead.

  • Jim Jones

    Bannister is confused. The point is that religion is the excuse – it is rarely the reason. Hate gays? Leviticus gives you a weak excuse – but Leviticus is ignored when it comes to bacon wrapped scallops. And then there’s slavery.

    In the bible, Yahweh could have banned slavery or he could have banned bacon. He chose bacon. Wrong on both counts.

    • Kevin K

      Dietary guidelines for people without ice…it’s no wonder scallops are traif.

      • Robert Baden

        For fishermen?

        • Kevin K

          Well, it’s not the fishermen who got sick and made the rule, is it? It’s the smart guy with the indoor job who got sold the one-day-too-old clam.

  • epeeist

    Bannister wants to replace “religion poisons everything” with the idea that imperfect humans are the common thread

    Whereas the examples he gives point to uncritically held ideologies being the common thread.

    • rabbit

      one of the most insidious human imperfections is a vulnerability to religion (us– insiders vs them–outsiders)

      • TheNuszAbides

        even though it was weird that he ended up debating [e.g.] Sam Harris, one of the more justifiable hair-splittings Chris Hedges made is to refer to this as ‘hyper-tribalism’. that way ultra-nationalists [e.g.] don’t get wriggle room.

  • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

    The problem: what is the “cause” of war? Sure, we can point to one specific thing in many cases, but a lot of times that isn’t possible. Religion can be one among many causes of a war, and a contributing factor in most. For instance, take World War One. There it wasn’t a religious war, but due to many old conflicts among the European powers. So religion wasn’t the “cause”, but it still played a part. Because, as in most wars, religion was used to justify combat (on all sides). In this case then Christianity, as usual, in rank contradiction to the supposed teachings of fraternity and non-violence, was quickly used to justify it.

    As for universities, hospitals, science and human rights, I’ve yet to see any good evidence that they were a product solely of Christianity. Even were that the case however it wouldn’t by itself make religion true, or more useful than not.

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

      “Kill them all–God will know his own” was from the war against the Cathars (a Christian minority) in the early 1200s, said to be “one of the most conclusive cases of genocide in religious history” (Wikipedia).

      • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

        I know. What was your point? I’m not saying there are no religious wars, quite the opposite. Religion contributes even ones that aren’t specifically about that.

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

          My point was to add a datum to your point.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          Okay.

    • Robert Baden

      Look at the Crimean War. Protestant/Catholics/Muslims against Orthodox. And much more open about it.

      • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

        I’m aware that happens. Your point doesn’t contradict mine.

  • Kevin K

    Wow. That’s just. Wow.

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

      And this guy found a publisher for this.

      • TheNuszAbides

        so there have always been theists who control means-of-production, hearts-&-minds propaganda machines etc. … and never necessarily require technical know-how in order to do so. what terrifies me is the idea of humans expanding beyond this planet (cf. Type I Civilization) before such people have been appropriately stripped of such power — is it even conceivable that the species can be ‘cured’ of demagogues and control freaks? i guess in the meantime it’s a matter of mind-reading vs. thought control, though, since we can’t as of yet prove whether any individual believes, e.g., YEC, so someone could earn the relevant degree to infiltrate [e.g.] NASA but still string along the masses once they were in position …

  • Andrea Fitzgerald

    ‘Mother Teresa had an answer: “There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s Passion. The world gains much from their suffering.” Please tell me what the world gains from people suffering.

    • Kodie

      Just like the world gains a lot from people who don’t eat carbs or eat pork – more pancakes and bacon for the rest of us.

      • Robert Baden

        I restrict carbs because of diabetes.
        Reach for my bacon and you’ll get your arm chewed off………

        • Kodie

          The world gains much pancakes from your diabetes, and you get your share of bacon plus gain what the Jews, Muslims, and vegans don’t want.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A bit of a bone [pun] of contention around my bit at the moment.

          TELLING PORKIES Restaurant giant Whitbread ‘secretly’ added pork to lasagne in cost-cutting move — and sold nearly 250,000 dishes to unaware diners

          Move will cause outrage among Jews and Muslims, whose religions forbid the eating of pork.

          https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2574959/restaurant-giant-whitbread-secretly-added-pork-to-lasagne-in-cost-cutting-move-and-sold-nearly-250000-dishes-to-unaware-diners/

        • Kodie

          I will try to tell the story of the day I moved to Boston as briefly as I can. So much happened that day that had very little to do with the move. Anyway, my parents helped me in, and after a long day of other shit that happened, where to eat dinner, so my dad picks a China buffet, which is weird, and I am skeptical. He hates these places and I tend to like it, but this is a new town and how can we just eat someplace so random, so I am beholden so we go in and eat there. I can’t stand it, I am overwhelmed by a smell only I can smell that I call “mousy”. Mouse shit smells just like other shit, like at the zoo or a farm, that smell. The whole place might not have actually smelled, but the tiny cups you put sauce in smelled mousy and the straws smelled mousy. I am skeptical of everything, and as I think of it almost a dozen years later, the lighting seemed green. By the way, a Papa John’s (pizza) next door has closed in the meantime, and this place is still open.

          For whatever reason, like trying not to die of food poisoning my first week in, I decided to avoid meat things there, which are usually my favorite Chinese food things, and picked something that said eggplant something or other. Long story shortened, it was meat. Eggplant isn’t usually ground and doesn’t have any gristly texture whatsoever. It’s kind of a PTSD I have with this place, and I see it is still fucking open.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sounds like the place was gross.

          The thing is, we can’t always be sure of the quality of what it is we are eating if we are sourcing it outside our immediate control. Particularly processed foods. A glut of documentaries came out on telly over this side of the pond because of the horse meat scandal. They collected samples of food stuffs from all sorts of sources, including restaurants and fast food outlets, and sent them to be analysed. The results were eye popping.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_horse_meat_scandal

        • Kodie

          I was just catching up on Bob’s Burgers and they had a horse meat episode that was kind of hilarious.

          They Serve Horses, Don’t They?

          I don’t know if you can watch it in other countries, but the horse-loving teenage daughter, Tina, was infuriated and also thought all the meat came from one horse and that they could still save that horse.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nah…it’s blocked. I might try and run it through an IP proxy later.

        • rabbit

          doesn’t all that sugar and salt bother you?

    • Michael Neville

      Hitchens explained her best: “MT [Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty.”

      • adam

        She could have had a nice position in tRump’s cabinet.

      • Andrea Fitzgerald

        I totally agree, Michael.

    • Pofarmer

      Do you want the theological answer or the real one? Also be aware the Catholic Church has opposed things like vaccinations on the same grounds.

      • Andrea Fitzgerald

        I am so glad you are differentiating between the theological answer and the real one. Because we all know the theological answer is not real.

    • MNb

      And please, please ignore the inconvenient fact that this is a very unchristian because utilitarian argument.

  • Lerk!

    Granted, for people who tend to be rabid when it comes to people who are different, religion is just their excuse. Without religion, they would be just as terrible.
    But those types of people’s prejudices get written into the religions, and then people who might be inclined to be kind, but who believe the religion, insist that things are “sinful” or wrong, and try to have laws passed (or keep antiquated laws that were based on prejudices) because the prejudice codified in the ancient book informs their beliefs.

    No, religion is not the only poison, but it does poison everything. Even without the codified prejudice, religion poisons minds by preventing people from knowing the truth. Capital-T “Truth” isn’t truth at all.

  • Robert Baden

    I think most good people would think burning someone alive is a horrible thing to do. What could possibly make them think it is ever something permissible ?

  • Ignorant Amos

    I don’t have a single white appliance in my kitchen.

    But even if they were all white, a rational person would immediately consider the thing that makes electrical appliances work is electric, not there whiteness, and start about a fault finding exercise. Try the light switch, that’ll tell one if it is circuit specific. The it’s off to the fuse box, or consumer unit as they are called these days. Fuses are so last millennia.

    What is it with these halfwits and their idiotic analogies?

    Or maybe it’s because I’m a qualified Electrician.

    • Michael Neville

      Or maybe it’s because I’m a qualified Electrician.

      I know which choice I’d put my money on.

    • MNb

      My bet is on the third option: you understand how science works (and for that you don’t need to be a qualified electrician; I’m not).

      1. You have empirical data (regarding electricity in this case).
      2. You have a theory that describes those empirical data quite well (regarding electrical circuits in this case).

      That’s called knowledge.

      Only if you were a total ignorant you might have wrongly guessed that you should start painting all your stuff white.

      But hey, if you insist that “science can’t capture the entirety of reality and hence you need metaphysics to do so” or foolishness like that all you have is idiotic analogies.

      • Ignorant Amos

        But hey, if you insist that “science can’t capture the entirety of reality and hence you need metaphysics to do so” or foolishness like that all you have is idiotic analogies.

        100%…the problem for Sven is obviously in the whiteness of the appliances.

        Only if you were a total ignorant you might have wrongly guessed that you should start painting all your stuff white.

        Well, the appliances are all white already. It was my bet that Sven was painting them a different colour. Just what colour he thought was going to make them work is beyond me. But this is just another reason why the analogy is so fucked up, and I’m digressing.

        Sven is is obviously an tribesman from the deep Amazon.

        Even someone completely imbecilic daft isn’t going to rush to the paint brush as a means to solve the dilemma. The analogy is stark raving bonkers.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “the problem for Sven”

          The douche who keeps leaving me poorly spelled profanity?

        • Ignorant Amos

          No, the dopey fecker Sven who is the hero of Bannister’s ballix of a book at the centre of Bob’s series of OP’s.

          Who is this other douche Sven that is giving you grief?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          No idea. He just seems to pick a post at random maybe twice a month and type two or three profanities with a space where some letter should be or perhaps he thinks calling me gay is an insult to me. I’ve mostly just been flagging and blocking, but he still shows back up and never replies when I do “fight back”.

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

      What is it with these halfwits and their idiotic analogies?

      Worse, they’re 3-4 pages long of chirpy, nauseating, and idiotic thinking. I distill them down into a couple of sentences for everyone’s benefit.

      A thoughtful atheist is not the target audience for this book. But if we’re not the audience, we can at least have some fun with it (while we’re seeing what passes for thoughtful discourse in the apologetics community).

      • Ignorant Amos

        Of course, and there is nothing like a bit of piss taking out of complete gibberish when things are slow.

        There is also nothing wrong with using the Principle of Analogy, which you yerself have written about on this blog.

        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/02/principle-of-analogy-2/

        It just seems that apologists are so pathetic at employing it, and worse still, are unaware of that fact.

        Coincidentally, I was reading about this very subject in Price last night, as applied to history. Particularly the problem of “the Brother of the Lord” passage in the Pauline corpus…which Price calls the Achilles heel of the mythicist position.

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

          It is amazing how poor quality this stuff is. Even from professional “philosophers” like WLC, who presumably are smart.

          I may be biased, so it’d be fun to see an objective critique of the intellectual level of something like cosmology vs. whatever WLC does (theology? apologetics? philosophy?).

          I think about someone like Krauss or Carroll who got doctorates in physics and now teach. They do research, and they popularize this for lay audiences.

          I’ve taken physics. I did OK, but I’m no prodigy. That shit is hard. How does this compare to whatever WLC does?

        • Pofarmer

          What Krauss and Carroll does doesn’t compare whatsoever. To loosely quote Carroll, applied astrophysics is math, that’s the language. The models are math. Philosophy isn’t particularly relevant unless it can be translated into math. I would like to see WLC look at one of the models that he banters on about and tell what it says. I would be utterly surprised if he had the first clue. My understanding is that Philosophy of Religion, which is what WLC really does, isn’t even that well regarded within Philosophy, at this point. I think that Craig is probably an intelligent guy, but, c’mon. What has he done that is in any way relevant to current cosmology or physics?

        • Ignorant Amos

          If you can stomach it….

          http://www.reasonablefaith.org/lawrence-krauss-response-and-perspective

          Craig has been told time and again that he is misrepresenting the experts he is citing. Carroll expresses this much in debate with Craig….here’s just one example…

          So I’d like to talk about the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem since Dr. Craig emphasizes it. The rough translation is that in some universes, not all, the space-time description that we have as a classical space-time breaks down at some point in the past. Where Dr. Craig says that the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem implies the universe had a beginning, that is false. That is not what it says. What it says is that our ability to describe the universe classically, that is to say, not including the effects of quantum mechanics, gives out. That may be because there’s a beginning or it may be because the universe is eternal, either because the assumptions of the theorem were violated or because quantum mechanics becomes important. If you need to invoke a theorem, because that’s what you like to do rather than building models, I would suggest the quantum eternity theorem. If you have a universe that obeys the conventional rules of quantum mechanics, has a non-zero energy, and the individual laws of physics are themselves not changing with time, that universe is necessarily eternal. The time parameter in Schrödinger’s equation, telling you how the universe evolves, goes from minus infinity to infinity. Now this might not be the definitive answer to the real world because you could always violate the assumptions of the theorem but because it takes quantum mechanics seriously it’s a much more likely starting point for analyzing the history of the universe. But again, I will keep reiterating that what matters are the models, not the abstract principles.

          Carroll makes a post debate analysis here…

          http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2014/02/24/post-debate-reflections/

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

          Perhaps WLC is little more than a degreed version of Ray Comfort, whose childish views of how evolution should work have been corrected by many biologists. Does he absorb the new information and correct his position? Of course not–if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

          Well, actually it is broke, but it’s working in the area he cares about–it confuses people so that he can pretend to gain souls.

        • Ignorant Amos

          WLC is a Gish Galloper that preaches to the converted and plays to a loaded peanut gallery.

          He is more astute and refined than the Banana Man, he plays to a more sophisticated audience, with more sophisticated words, in more sophisticated arenas, but yeah, essentially he boils down to a version of Ray Comfort in a collar and tie.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ray Comfort has recanted on his intelligently designed banana argument fuckwittery afaicr.

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

          True, so let’s give him the tiny bit of credit due for changing his mind.

          What I’m thinking about is his idea that evolution works like this: a pair of lizards mate and they produce a rabbit. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes. So then this rabbit looks around for a mate, but since rabbits are super rare, it doesn’t find one and dies without propagating its species.

          That’s why evolution is bullshit–no new species could possibly arrive. QED

        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh Comfort and his side kick are a pair of pig ignorant clowns, no two ways about it.

          His crockaduck ballix is a class example of some fubar thinking for sure.

          In 2007 Young-earth creationists Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort participated in a televised debate, parts of which were aired on ABC Nightline, on the existence of God. Kirk Cameron held up composite pictures of what “we imagined would be genuine species-to-species transitional forms. We called one a ‘crocoduck’ and another was called a ‘birddog’.” The “crocoduck” was an animal with the head of a crocodile and the body of a duck, the “bullfrog” was an animal with the head of a bull and the body of a frog, and the “sheepdog” was an animal with the head of a dog and the body of a sheep. These pictures were used as a straw man argument to ridicule the theory of evolution as represented by Cameron and Comfort.

          Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron…both members of Asshats-R-Us.

        • Greg G.

          The cockatrice is in the Bible and it was thought to be half-snake and half-chicken, sort of the opposite of the crocoduck.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Bible usurping evolution again..damn it.

    • Kodie

      My two major appliances are white, and I know why the refrigerator doesn’t work or the stove doesn’t work, but it’s never about the same thing… unless they get shut off the same day because I didn’t pay the electric or gas bills. The stove occasionally gets tripped off by the faulty old coffee machine, which is black, that barely turns on but doesn’t shut off except automatically, except I have to unplug it when I go out in case it doesn’t shut off automatically, and occasionally, this makes the refrigerator turn off so I just press the reset button in the outlet, no qualified electrician necessary. The stove goes out sometimes and I have to light the pilot again. It’s kind of scary to reach my hand way back there and hope it doesn’t flare up, but it never has in the half dozen times I’ve had to relight it in 10 years or so living here. I have one other small appliance that is white. My coffee maker I said is black, the blender is red, and my mom bought me some kind of electric roaster that’s white, rarely used, except when I did get the gas shut off that one time.

      • Ignorant Amos

        By the sounds of things Kodie, ya need to get the paint brush out in that kitchen to get some order of semblance.

        • Michael Neville

          Blue, I think. Definitely not avacado green, that’s so 1970s, and red or purple wouldn’t do at all. Blue is a restful color, so I vote that Kodie should paint her appliances green blue.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Am good with blue. I had a kitchen when I lived in a big house that had all matching blue appliances. Mind you, the ensuite in the master bedroom was avacado green. But I was loathed to replace it as it had a whirlpool bath. Anyway, who was going to be in my ensuite.

          The football team I follow play in blue and one of their nicknames is the Royal Blues. Their arch rivals play in green.

          That said, I was led to believe that green was the most relaxing colour on the eyes, hence the reason for the colour on the inside of a military peaked cap being traditionally green. Could be nonsense though, but more than just the British army had green undersides to the peak.

          https://hatchfive.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/image71.jpeg

          https://giga.joesalter.com/photo/28943/28943-05.jpg

        • Michael Neville

          The football team I follow play in blue

          That’s interesting. I would never have figured you being a Chelsea fan.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope, not Chelsea….and a made a boob…not Royal Blues, The Light Blues.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rangers_F.C.

        • Michael Neville

          Oh you meant light blue. That’s Manchester City.

          http://image1.kbobject.com/mcfc-177321.jpg?width=170&height=170&quality=95

        • Ignorant Amos
        • TheNuszAbides

          by the Byzantine era the only teams with any influence were the Blues and Greens

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nika_riots#Background

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’ll save that for conversation at the next match…cheers.

          Relatively limited riots were not unknown at chariot races, similar to the football hooliganism that occasionally erupts after association football matches in modern times.

          Somethings are timeless.

          The Old Firm rivalry fuelled many assaults on Derby days, and some deaths in the past have been directly related to the aftermath of Old Firm matches. An activist group that monitors sectarian activity in Glasgow has reported that on Old Firm weekends, violent attacks increase ninefold over normal levels. An increase in domestic abuse can also be attributed to Old Firm fixtures.

          Although things have improved since I was a youth. The law has had a big part to play in that.

          From 1 March 2012, the police were given more powers to act against Sectarian acts at football matches through the new Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act. The law was designed specifically to target the Old Firm rivalry by reducing the religious hatred between the two opposing sides. The Act created two new offences, one covering behaviour in and around football matches and the other related to posts sent by either electronic or postal methods. People convicted under the act could face up to five years imprisonment. This is a much higher sentence than was previously in place. It will now make it much easier to prosecute this misbehaviour, which has proved difficult in the past.

        • TheNuszAbides

          color is powerful stuff; i’m surprised blues’n’greens sticks in my head so. context helps of course. i first stumbled over it during a lot of armchair history obsessing over Byzantinopbul.

        • Ignorant Amos

          color is powerful stuff;

          Especially in this here land of orange and green.

          Did I mention I’m colour blind…no seriously, I am.

          My mother was told at the time that it was nothing to worry about. It would only matter when it came to taking up certain professions such as joining he services or becoming an electrician. Guess what, I joined the army and became an Electrician RE…go figure.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and i suppose added to that, our hometown team is the Seahawks.

        • TheNuszAbides

          definitely marking down the OBFTCA, cheers!

        • Kodie

          But blue doesn’t go.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There is always the paint brush….and that way you’ll be sure everything will operate.

        • Kodie

          Well, technically, everything is a shade of brown, so I scrubbed the kitchen real hard is kind of like painting so everything is white now.

        • Michael Neville

          Okay, consider yellow instead.

        • Kodie

          I only noticed now that I have two stoves.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not one for spending a lot of time in the kitchen I take it?

        • Kodie

          If it’s not a refrigerator or a coffee maker, I don’t know what term to use.

        • Ignorant Amos

          LOL….I’d have thought in that case, the two appliances in your kitchen that would be top notch, would be those two.

        • Kodie

          Fridge is less than 5 years probably, the old one was from the 60s, probably! Made the landlord replace it. My coffee maker is kinda old, and I had to super clean it out one time, and the buttons were stuck, so I was gonna buy a new one but I didn’t since the on button works, only one that matters. I like the coffee maker to shut off itself, even if I don’t trust it anymore, so I couldn’t find the feature on a cheap enough but decent machine. Was a pain, I forgot about the microwave. The issue is all 3 need to plug in the same outlet, so I bought a thingie they can share instead of unplugging the coffee to plug in the microwave, rarely used also, everything is quicker on stovetop or baked. I don’t even have a toaster, I make toast when I do, in the actual oven.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I like yer style.

        • Greg G.

          Fortunately, I also have a microwave. It’s good because the only recipe I know is “Microwave until hot.”

  • Pofarmer

    It seems to me that the scientific method was as much about dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s to avoid running afoul of religious authorities as anything.

  • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

    How many illegal Israeli squatters in the West Bank justify their position in part because God gave the land to them? How many Muslim suicide bombers were motivated by religious beliefs?

    These are completely irrelevant, unless you can convincingly show that removing religious influence from history would mean that the altered result would be better than what we have, now. Not “blissful”, just better.

    But what good within religion can’t be provided elsewhere?

    One possibility is egalitarianism:

        The possibilities [for grounding equal worth] are frighteningly innumerable. My point is that you need some metaphysical explanation to ground the doctrine of equal worth, if it is to serve as the basis for equal human rights. It is not enough simply to assert, as philosophers like Dworkin do, that their egalitarian doctrines are “metaphysically unambiguous.” But, of course, there are severe epistemological difficulties with the kinds of metaphysical systems I have been discussing. My point has not been to defend religion. For purposes of this paper I am neutral on the question of whether any religion is true. Rather my purpose is to show that we cannot burn our bridges and still drive Mack trucks over them. But, if we cannot return to religion, then it would seem perhaps we should abandon egalitarianism and devise political philosophies that reflect naturalistic assumptions, theories which are forthright in viewing humans as differentially talented animals who must get on together. (Equality: Selected Readings, 296)

    I’m not sure what your position on egalitarianism is; perhaps we’ll see in your continuing of this conversation:

    LB: So does that mean while you currently value your wife more than mine, you wish you could value them the same?

    BS: No. You’ve given us a dozen permutations of “Are all humans of equal worth or do some matter more than the rest?” and I’m reminding you of what we already know: very few of us see all people equally.

    LB: Then what does the underlined mean:

    LB: So… should we ditch egalitarianism?

    BS: Let’s do our best. But let’s agree that very few people truly believe that we’re all equal.

    ? For example, should we give up on Western liberal ideals of justice, which seem predicated upon egalitarianism?