Bad Atheist Arguments: “Atheists Have No Use for Faith”

Andy Bannister The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist book faithThis is part 10 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 10. The Panini Poisoner of Pimlico

In today’s episode, our hero is about to enjoy a quiet lunch when he spots Fred, who looks shockingly thin. When offered some lunch, Fred not only rejects the idea but knocks our hero’s sandwich onto the ground. “Haven’t you heard of the Panini poisoner of Pimlico?” Fred asks. It turns out that Fred is terrified of eating a randomly poisoned sandwich. He refuses to put his faith in the government’s health and safety agency and won’t eat anything that’s not proven safe, though he’s starving himself by playing it safe.

This is mercifully the last chapter where he does his childish best to attack atheist arguments. (There’s one final one where he works on the case for Christianity.)

What use do atheists have for faith?

Many atheists say that there is no room for faith in modern society. Bannister gives Sam Harris as an example: “Faith is what credulity becomes when it finally achieves escape velocity from the constraints of terrestrial discourse—constraints like reasonableness, internal coherence, civility, and candor.” Richard Dawkins says that faith is belief “in the very teeth of the evidence.”

Bannister then mocked the 2012 Reason Rally (which I attended) as an event where “20,000 people rallied for a noun.” You mean a noun like “justice”? Would that be worth rallying for? What about love or peace? Those are nouns—would they get you off the couch? If so, what’s wrong with “reason”? (And is this what passes for intellectual critique?)

In his typical long-winded style, he imagined an atheist attending the Reason Rally who wondered, How do I know that these other atheists really exist? He mulls over implausible explanations—he could be imagining them, or they could be robots. Could he prove these other “atheists” were who they appeared to be? And then, another question comes to mind: How do I know that any of this is real? He could be a brain in a jar, or he could be hallucinating. Then more questions: How do I know the world is ancient? How do I know hackers aren’t emptying my bank account right now? How do I know my return flight will go safely? How could he be certain? (To give an idea of Bannister’s style, he stretched the story in this paragraph to fill four pages.)

Bannister is saying that indeed we can’t know for sure, and that’s where faith comes in.

“Faith is the opposite of reason!” may make a great bumper sticker or tweetable moment, but when it bangs into reality—the small matter of how each and every one of us lives, every day, in the real world—it fails spectacularly. Try if you wish to live a totally faith-free existence, but that will require doing nothing, going nowhere, and trusting no one. . . . Faith is part of the bedrock of human experience and one on which we rely in a million different ways every day.

Predictably, he’s determined to obfuscate the word “faith.” In fact, it can mean two different things:

  • Faith can be belief that follows from the evidence. This belief would change if presented with compelling contrary evidence, and it is often called “trust.”
  • Or, faith can be belief not held primarily because of evidence and little shaken in the face of contrary evidence; that is, belief neither supported nor undercut by evidence. “Blind faith” is in this category, though it needn’t be as extreme as that.

(I explore the definition of “faith” and how it is deliberately misused here).

Acknowledging these two categories, assigning different words to them (may I suggest “trust” and “faith”?), and exploring the different areas where humans use them isn’t where apologists want to go. In my experience, they benefit from the confusion. They want to say that faith can be misused, but we’re stuck with it, which allows them to bolster the reputation of faith while it opens the door to the supernatural.

Let’s return to the atheist fretting about the safety of his return flight. Bannister wants to compare how we approach those worries—you will never be certain about the safety, but near certainty should be enough—with worries about God’s existence. However, he ignores the fundamental differences between airline flights and God. On one hand we have pilots, planes, mechanical failure, weather, and so on, and on the other, the supernatural. Not only do theists disagree about the supernatural, every single trait about it could be made up.


See also: How Reliable Is a Bridge Built on Faith?


Putting your faith into practice

Bannister moves on to Christian applications of faith. He imagines falling down a cliff and reaching for a branch to save himself. “What I know [about trees] can’t save me; rather, I have to put my facts to the test and exercise my faith. Now what goes for the tree goes for everything else in life. Facts without faith are causally effete, simply trivia, mere intellectual stamp-collecting.”

Here again, the comparison fails. Botanists are in agreement on the basic facts about trees, but not even Christians agree among themselves about the basic facts about God. First let’s get a reasonably objective factual foundation for your hypothesis and then we can worry about accepting it. You haven’t gotten off the ground.

With his definition (of the moment) of faith as a quest for evidence, Bannister encourages us to think about some tough questions, questions that he thinks he can answer best.

  • Why is there something rather than nothing? I’ve responded here.
  • What about fine tuning? I’ve responded here.
  • What holds up the laws of nature? I’ve responded here.
  • Why does mathematics work? I’ve responded here.
  • Where did beauty, meaning, and purpose come from? We can’t be like Douglas Adams’ puddle that marveled that its hole was perfectly tuned to fit it. We adapted to the conditions of our environment; it wasn’t tuned for our benefit or pleasure.

Making a list of God evidence

Bannister proposes that we consider different factors to see if they argue for God, against God, or neither. He gets us started with a few examples.

  • Evolution. He uses the Hypothetical God Fallacy (let’s assume God first and select facts to support this conclusion) to say that this fits in the Neither bin. Who’s to say that God couldn’t use evolution? Nope: evolution doesn’t prove God, but it explains a tough puzzle, why life is the way it is. This is a vote against God.
  • Evil. He concedes that this may be a vote against God, though he falls back on the “How can an atheist say anything is objectively wrong?” fallacy. Atheists don’t make that claim. Atheists are waiting impatiently for evidence that objective morality exists.
  • Reason. How can there be reason without God?? This is a vote for God. Nope. Reason is an emergent phenomenon. If you’re saying that science has unanswered questions about human consciousness works, that’s true, but Christianity doesn’t win by default. Christianity has never answered any scientific question, so there’s no reason to imagine it will this time. This topic is related to Alvin Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism, to which I respond here.

Bannister concludes: “Do you see how this works?” Sure, I see how this works: you put your thumb on the scale to get what you want. “As I fill in these three columns, where does the growing weight of evidence gather?” You’re 0 for 3 so far. Are you sure you want to continue? Only your cherry picking of the evidence helps support your presupposition.

And then, a page from the chapter’s end, he agrees that, yes, faith can be dangerous, too. But how is this possible, when he’s made clear that it’s how anyone knows anything, from that it’s safe to cross the street to God exists?

This is the problem he makes for himself when he refuses to make the obvious distinction between belief well-grounded on evidence and not. He doesn’t like this dichotomy because God belief would largely be lumped into the same category as “I just know I’m going to win the lottery this time!”

I’ll wrap up with a comment he made as he encouraged all of us to read or listen to people outside our comfort zone. I agree, of course; I read his book. He says he values Dawkins and the New Atheists “for forcing me to think.”

And I wish he’d force me to think.

See also: Top 10 Most Common Atheist Arguments—Do They Fail?

Concluded in part 11

“God” is merely a hypothesis
with a large marketing department.

— commenter Richard S. Russell

Image credit: flickr, CC

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  • Joe

    How do I know that any of this is real?

    More of a defeater for Christianity than for naturalism (which he keeps equivocating for atheism). Unless you beg the question that God makes everything ‘real’. Then how does he explain delusion? Either God is making a mistake, or a person is actively choosing to believe they are, for example, Napoleon.

    Once again, another apologetic argument that seemingly neglects reality.

  • epicurus

    Bannister has a Phd in Islamic studies, so I would assume he’s run into faith based Muslim arguments. It’s a shame that hasn’t made him more aware of the problems of faith.

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

      You’d think that he would be in an excellent position to self-critique. I guess it’s our job, since he won’t do it.

      • eric

        The veritable physician who smokes.

    • Doubting Thomas

      The issue with most religious people is that they see problems with other religions as evidence against those religions while they see problems with their own religion as a opportunity to make up excuses in order to square their religion with reality. That’s why we have apologetics. It’s just a fancy name for the religious form of motivated reasoning.

  • http://zachsmind.wordpress.com/ ZachsMind

    I shut down the concept of faith or belief when I argue with believers by saying I accept things provisionally given sufficient evidence. Or heck, sometimes just cuz i feel like it.

    They ask, “Well then how can you know?” I don’t know. That’s the beauty of it. I could be wrong about how I feel about gravity, but it works the way it works regardless of my faith in it. The argument isn’t “well you can’t do anything without faith.” The argument is “why do you believe faith is required to do anything?”

    There’s no evidence supporting that. I have been functioning fine since March 2009 when I stopped thinking in terms of belief and faith. They’re not tangible concrete things. They’re intangible, abstract, man made concepts and we don’t need them. Faith doesn’t even really exist in the natural world. We made it up. The laws of physics only exist as manmade constructs too. They are not what runs the universe. Sciences are what we call our perception of how the universe works, but physics and chemistry and molecular biology worked for ages before we started trying to figure it out.

    Like the bible, the laws of physics are just man made constructs we use to better understand our universe. The difference between Abrahamic dogma and scientific papers is that when we get something wrong in scientific papers, we can use an eraser. Or we can update the paper with a new edition. Can’t do that with bibles or qurans. At least not without one group of people insisting that’s sacrilege, and other groups forming entirely new religions. Like when Jesus’ followers started Christianity, or Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation. Or when one baptist church refuses to allow dancing, so youngsters go across down to some new church that offers live Christian rock bands. And on and on. Change happens, but it’s a lot slower when belief is in the mix, and it’s so unnecessary.

    Ideas are versatile and pliable. Once people turn ideas into beliefs, it’s trickier to change them. Suddenly there’s a challenge to one’s “faith.” Remove faith from the equation, and you can change your mind with new information at the drop of a hat. So can everyone else. So long as the new data is verifiable and rational, there’s no harm done.

    Though sometimes I prefer to suspend my disbelief for awhile so I can imagine a TARDIS is real or a Gorilla City can happen or a Victorian England in which Sherlock Holmes was real. Cuz I feel like it. I don’t need faith to do that either.

    • MNb

      “That’s the beauty of it.”
      This is the core, isn’t it? Being capable of accepting and living with uncertainties. Believers want absolute, 100%, eternal unchanging certainty. Everything else equals nothing to them.
      I rather have half an egg than an empty shell.

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

      I shut down the concept of faith or belief when I argue with believers by saying I accept things provisionally given sufficient evidence.

      When Francis Bacon and Galileo Galilei and crew said that great things could be done with science if only we give it enough time[1] were they merely “accept[ing] things provisionally”? I’m trying to understand what you mean by that phrase. Personally, I would say that Bacon and Galileo did found their beliefs in evidence/​reason[2], but they went so far beyond that it was crazy. It’s like they believed this:

      And without πίστις it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

      They certainly believed that Reason exists and rewards those who seek It. Comparing & contrasting ‘God’ and ‘Reason’ could be fun.

       
      [1] An atheist recently recommended the following article to me:

      I’m going to tangent for a moment. It really took two hundred years for Bacon’s academy to develop anything useful. There was a lot of dissecting animals, and exploding metal spheres, and refracting light, and describing gravity, and it was very, very exciting, and a lot of it was correct, but–as the eloquent James Hankins put it–it was actually the nineteenth century that finally paid Francis Bacon’s I.O.U., his promise that, if you channel an unfathomable research budget, and feed the smartest youths of your society into science, someday we’ll be able to do things we can’t do now, like refrigerate chickens, or cure rabies, or anesthetize. There were a few useful advances (better navigational instruments, Franklin’s lightning rod) but for two hundred years most of science’s fruits were devices with no function beyond demonstrating scientific principles. Two hundred years is a long time for a vastly-complex society-wide project to keep getting support and enthusiasm, fed by nothing but pure confidence that these discoveries streaming out of the Royal Society papers will eventually someday actually do something. I just think… I just think that keeping it up for two hundred years before it paid off, that’s… that’s really cool. (On Progress and Historical Change)

      [2] We must be careful about relying too much on “evidence” alone:

      It is commonly thought that the birth of modern natural science was made possible by an intellectual shift from a mainly abstract and speculative conception of the world to a carefully elaborated image based on observations. There is some grain of truth in this claim, but this grain depends very much on what one takes observation to be. In the philosophy of science of our century, observation has been practically equated with sense perception. This is understandable if we think of the attitude of radical empiricism that inspired Ernst Mach and the philosophers of the Vienna Circle, who powerfully influenced our century’s philosophy of science. However, this was not the attitude of the founders of modern science: Galileo, for example, expressed in a famous passage of the Assayer the conviction that perceptual features of the world are merely subjective, and are produced in the ‘animal’ by the motion and impacts of unobservable particles that are endowed uniquely with mathematically expressible properties, and which are therefore the real features of the world. Moreover, on other occasions, when defending the Copernican theory, he explicitly remarked that in admitting that the Sun is static and the Earth turns on its own axis, ‘reason must do violence to the sense’, and that it is thanks to this violence that one can know the true constitution of the universe. (The Reality of the Unobservable, 1)

      • MNb

        “I’m trying to understand what you mean by that phrase.”
        Then I suggest you reading chapter 1 of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. It discusses the question why we accept the model of the Earth revolving around the Sun and our Solar System revolving around the centre of the Milky Way vs. Turtles All the Way Down. In a serious manner. It’s brief, simplified and leaves both philosophers of science and physicists dissatisfied but is a pretty good introduction.

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

      Remove faith from the equation, and you can change your mind with new information at the drop of a hat.

      Hmm, I wonder how I can use that claim to interpret the following:

          There are several reasons why the contemporary social sciences make the idea of the person stand on its own, without social attributes or moral principles. Emptying the theoretical person of values and emotions is an atheoretical move. We shall see how it is a strategy to avoid threats to objectivity. But in effect it creates an unarticulated space whence theorizing is expelled and there are no words for saying what is going on. No wonder it is difficult for anthropologists to say what they know about other ideas on the nature of persons and other definitions of well-being and poverty. The path of their argument is closed. No one wants to hear about alternative theories of the person, because a theory of persons tends to be heavily prejudiced. It is insulting to be told that your idea about persons is flawed. It is like being told you have misunderstood human beings and morality, too. The context of this argument is always adversarial. (Missing Persons: A Critique of the Personhood in the Social Sciences, 10)

      Moral philosophy reflects this:

      Much contemporary moral philosophy, particularly but not only in the English-speaking world, has given such a narrow focus to morality that some of the crucial connections I want to draw here are incomprehensible in its terms. This moral philosophy has tended to focus on what it is right to do rather than on what it is good to be, on defining the content of obligation rather than the nature of the good life; and it has no conceptual place left for a notion of the good as the object of our love or allegiance or, as Iris Murdoch portrayed it in her work, as the privileged focus of attention or will.[1] This philosophy has accredited a cramped and truncated view of morality in a narrow sense as well as of the whole range of issues involved in the attempt to live the best possible life and this not only among professional philosophers, but with a wider public. (Sources of the Self, 3)

      Maybe people have tremendous πίστις in their particular beliefs about ‘human nature’ and ‘the good’, such that a challenge to these beliefs is seen as a challenge to their very being? This would explain the whole “safe spaces” phenomenon. The case that we are incredibly psychologically shallow (a result of not tending character/​soul) is quite compellingly laid out in Christopher Lasch’s 1984 The Minimal Self: Psychic Survival in Troubled Times.

      • MNb

        Oh my dear! You have figured out that human beings are imperfect! Stop the press!

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

      The difference between Abrahamic dogma and scientific papers is that when we get something wrong in scientific papers, we can use an eraser.

      Who says that YHWH ever intended to stop speaking and leave us with a finite νόμος (law)? The problem was, after YHWH spoke ten דָּבָר (words), this is what the Israelites said:

      Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” (Exodus 20:18–19)

      So YHWH had to wait until the human vessels could hold more words, more language. Jesus also encountered this “cup already full” phenomenon:

      Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. (John 8:43)

      This, despite the fact that in the OT, prophets had looked forward to YHWH having an intimate, one-on-one relationship with each person where he could constantly teach them more and more about reality, Psalm 119-style. See the two New Covenant passages, Jer 31:31–34 and Ezek 36:22–32. Now, what does it look like when a human is able to bear arbitrarily many words from God? Paul tells us:

      Jesus is the telos of the νόμος for righteousness to those who πιστεύω. (Romans 10:4)

      What does telos mean? Think of it as finite law (νόμος) being an approximation of the infinite Logos. This is what it means for Jesus to be the God-Man. There is more to say, drawing on Yoram Hazony’s The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture

      People say that Bible is about obeying God’s commands. But biblical figures such as Moses, Aaron, and Pinchas disobey God and are praised or rewarded for it.

      —but I’m not sure you can bear it. And perhaps I made an egregious logical error. So I’ll wait to see if you have anything to say.

      • eric

        perhaps I made an egregious logical error. So I’ll wait to see if you have anything to say.

        Well, I’d say the main error here is not addressing the giant gaping flaw in Bannister’s logic, which is, as Bob pointed out, that he conflates religious usages of the word faith with the usage of the word to mean something like ‘well supported inductive conclusion of which we are not absolutely certain.’ They aren’t the same thing. Its completely unwarranted to imply, as Bannister seems to do, that if the latter is reasonable, the former is too.

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

          Well, I’d say the main error here is not addressing the giant gaping flaw in Bannister’s logic

          Did I anywhere say that Bannister’s argument has no giant gaping flaws?

        • eric

          Let’s not beat around the bush then. Do you think Bob is right in his criticism? Or not? If not, why not?

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

          Bob seems to have a bunch of good points. But I was responding to @zachsmind:disqus, not @BobSeidensticker:disqus.

    • Jim Jones

      “If wanna watch tele, you should watch Scooby Doo.
      That show was so cool
      because every time there was a church with a ghoul
      Or a ghost in a school
      They looked beneath the mask and what was inside?
      The fucking janitor or the dude who ran the water-slide.
      Because throughout history
      Every mystery
      EVER solved has turned out to be
      Not Magic.”

      — Tim Minchin, Storm

    • Cady555

      Case in point. Genesis 1 says Adam was created last. Genesis 2 says Adam was created first.

      3000 years and counting with no correction.

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

      And with faith, there’s no mechanism for correction. At least with a guess, you’re open to reconsidering your position.

  • eric

    Acknowledging these two categories, assigning different words to them (may I suggest “trust” and “faith”?), and exploring the different areas
    where humans use them isn’t where apologists want to go. In my
    experience, they benefit from the confusion.

    Its remarkable to me that anyone would so confuse induction for religious faith. Has he not read his own bible? Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) – “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

    Who’s to say that God couldn’t use evolution?

    YEC christian theologians and believers, for the most part. This is not rocket surgery; when some believer like Ken Ham says ‘evolution is inconsistent with my conception of God,’ then we take them at their word that evolution is inconsistent with their conception of God. When the Pope says that it is a necessary requirement of Catholicism to believe that all humans descended from two real and actual individuals, a specific couple, then we take his authority as Pope seriously and consider that this is probably an important tenet of Catholicism…one which, unfortunately for them, modern science has shown (provisionally and subject to revision should new evidence arise etc.) to be wrong.

    Sure, there may be other conceptions of God that aren’t bothered by evolution and aren’t refuted by modern genetics. But these ones are.

    he falls back on the “How can an atheist say anything is objectively wrong?” fallacy. Atheists don’t make that claim. Atheists are waiting impatiently for evidence that objective morality exists.

    Actually we don’t really need to argue objective truth at all to point out that theodicy is a problem. Very much like the issue of evolution or A&E, it is sufficient to ask someone whether their conception of God is consistent with unnecessary human suffering. If the answer is any sort of “no, but…” with an appeal to humanity’s limited understanding or the inscrutability of God, then we have established at a minimum that the unnecessary suffering we see in the world today is not prima facie consistent with their conception of God. The theodicy problem merely depends on what theologians claim God wants, it does not depend on showing these wants refer to some objective good or not.

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

      Actually we don’t really need to argue objective truth at all to point out that theodicy is a problem. Very much like the issue of evolution or A&E, it is sufficient to ask someone whether their conception of God is consistent with unnecessary human suffering. If the answer is any sort of “no, but…” with an appeal to humanity’s limited understanding or the inscrutability of God, then we have established at a minimum that the unnecessary suffering we see in the world today is not consistent with their conception of God.

      So if a theist cannot explain every single instance of what you think constitutes “unnecessary human suffering”, theism is destroyed (or terribly altered).

      If a scientist cannot explain every single instance of what a theist thinks constitutes “shit science cannot explain”, is science destroyed (or terribly altered)?

      • Kodie

        then we have established at a minimum that the unnecessary suffering we see in the world today is not consistent with their conception of God.

      • Herald Newman

        > If a scientist cannot explain every single instance of what a theist thinks constitutes “shit science cannot explain”, is science destroyed (or terribly altered)?

        Depends on what you mean. If you’re talking about a scientific theory that cannot explain something it should, then yes, it is destroyed/falsified.

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

          Fascinating. When I was a creationist or an ID advocate, the best argument I heard for evolution was that “Even if evolution is wrong, it’s the best we’ve got and we’re not going to discard it until we get something better.” I think that was the argument which convinced me to buy into evolution! And yet, you seem to be saying that it’s wrong, that if some model of God is wrong, it must be discarded. Have I misunderstood?

        • Kodie

          No, you’re free to try to come to a closer approximation of god as pertains to reality. But how are you doing that? You’re really inventing a guy who did stuff you can’t demonstrate in a way that only makes sense to you, not that you can demonstrate to others in any meaningful way. If reality and your definition of god do not agree, then that god is false. Try another and another and another, tell us how you determined that a god is necessary to explain anything, or that you are merely clinging to the idea of there having to be a god or else your whole world is torn apart. We’re told over and over and over again that god is just too complex to comprehend; that is the excuse for the apparent contradictions, like why he doesn’t seem to answer prayers or why babies can be born with congenital fatal defects. And, might I add – not something god fixes, you’re satisfied with “his mysterious reasons” or even leap to the idea that the parents must have failed in some way and are being tested or punished – some people believe that. Babies can be born with birth defects that can be studied, and fixed in utero in some cases, no thanks to any gods.

          Please keep telling us that how one approaches god and one approaches science are the same? Well, kind of – when scientific findings fail to be consistent, we do discard them. When your god fails to be consistent, you keep patching him over with silly excuses.

        • Herald Newman

          Yes, evolution could be wrong. It’s very unlikely, but if we start turning up a pile of data that falsifies evolution, then evolution has to go because it’s demonstrably wrong. Given that we don’t have anything else we turn to “we cannot explain this” becomes the default position.

          Fortunately, science adapts, and often will accommodate the new data. In that case, the old theory is dead and replaced with a revised version.

          Evolution, as understood by Darwin, actually has had some revisions. in the past 150 years, largely because we’ve encountered a lot more data. We also know how traits are passed on (which wasn’t understood at Darwin’s time). Read a bit on neo-Darwinism to understand what I’m talking about here.

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

          It’s more probable that evolution is incomplete. You can see a rather comprehensive case made for this at The Third Way: evolution in the era of genomics and epigenomics. Here’s the main blurb:

          The vast majority of people believe that there are only two alternative ways to explain the origins of biological diversity. One way is Creationism that depends upon intervention by a divine Creator. That is clearly unscientific because it brings an arbitrary supernatural force into the evolution process. The commonly accepted alternative is Neo-Darwinism, which is clearly naturalistic science but ignores much contemporary molecular evidence and invokes a set of unsupported assumptions about the accidental nature of hereditary variation. Neo-Darwinism ignores important rapid evolutionary processes such as symbiogenesis, horizontal DNA transfer, action of mobile DNA and epigenetic modifications. Moreover, some Neo-Darwinists have elevated Natural Selection into a unique creative force that solves all the difficult evolutionary problems without a real empirical basis. Many scientists today see the need for a deeper and more complete exploration of all aspects of the evolutionary process.

          Now, in one sense the website is boring—it just says that “we had more to learn and here’s some of it”. But in another sense, it threatens any metaphysical structure that was or will be built on the state of evolutionary theory at time t &lgt; «many years after 2017». But society needs something to keep it together, something awfully like some sort of metaphysical structure (for example: political liberalism). So how do we think about that structure, that unifying force? Because … it seems like whatever unifying forces were in play, they’re getting pretty weak throughout the West. Perhaps it is worth rigorously exploring them instead of just blindly believing that things will be all right?

          My suggestion is that ‘religion’ is one candidate for “that unifying force”. There may be others, but if we explore them, we may find that they are of the same natural kind as ‘religion’. One way of putting this is that perhaps the following is true:

          Religious diversity stands in the way of achieving a moral and political global consensus. (The Outsider Test for Faith, 162)

          Then again, perhaps only this modified version is true:

          Religious Certain diversity in concepts of ‘the good’ stands in the way of achieving a moral and political global consensus. (The Outsider Test for Faith′, 162)

          If that is correct, then pretending we can discard all “unifying forces” because none is perfect would be like saying that we should discard all science because it hasn’t completed.

        • epeeist

          Much as I tend to ignore you as not worth the effort I think I ought to mention the last paragraph on the front page of your link:

          It has come to our attention that THE THIRD WAY web site is wrongly being referenced by proponents of Intelligent Design and creationist ideas as support for their arguments. We intend to make it clear that the website and scientists listed on the web site do not support or subscribe to any proposals that resort to inscrutable divine forces or supernatural intervention, whether they are called Creationism, Intelligent Design, or anything else.

          My emphasis.

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

          What have I suggested is inscrutable?

        • MNb

          Yes.

        • Cady555

          Even if new evidence is found and a theory must be revised, the revised theory must still account for the original data in addition to the marvelous new piece of information.

          When scientists discovered the Kuiper belt and demoted Pluto to a dwarf planet, we didn’t go back to the theory that Apollo pulls the sun across the sky with his chariot.

          Disproven nonsense remains disproven nonsense even when more evidence is found, unless evidence is found which speaks directly to that point.

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

          You haven’t a shred of evidence that I’m suggesting we “go back to the theory that Apollo pulls the sun across the sky with his chariot”, or anything analogous to that. Because I’m not. I’m actually one of those rare persons who was convinced by argument on the internet to change positions, from creationism → ID → evolution. (But the science of evolution, not the metaphysical barnacles so often attached.) What it looks like to me is that you wanted to blow smoke in order to indirectly, rhetorically, and irrationally dismiss the following:

          LB: Now, in one sense the website is boring—it just says that “we had more to learn and here’s some of it”. But in another sense, it threatens any metaphysical structure that was or will be built on the state of evolutionary theory at time t < «many years after 2017». But society needs something to keep it together, something awfully like some sort of metaphysical structure (for example: political liberalism). So how do we think about that structure, that unifying force? Because … it seems like whatever unifying forces were in play, they’re getting pretty weak throughout the West. Perhaps it is worth rigorously exploring them instead of just blindly believing that things will be all right?

          My suggestion is that ‘religion’ is one candidate for “that unifying force”. There may be others, but if we explore them, we may find that they are of the same natural kind as ‘religion’.

          Whelp, all you did was give me an opportunity to repeat the above and make clear that it has nothing to do with your comment, here. Your comment was an excellent specimen of red herring.

        • Cady555

          Touchy, are we? I made no claim that you believe anything whatsoever.

          You waxed eloquent on metaphysical structures and unifying forces and similar mumbo jumbo. There is still no evidence for supernatural forces of any kind. In fact, the evidence in favor of a cosmic unifying force (other than physical forces like gravity) is identical to the evidence in favor of Apollo’s chariot.

          I expanded on your comment. Agree or disagree at your option. I stand by what I wrote.

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

          Yep, you’re just completely innocent of rhetorical tricks.

        • Kodie

          What were those rhetorical tricks? One line, no 3-page essay with links? What kind of bullshit answer is that for Luke Breuer? Usually when you make an accusation, you go to the effort of requoting and referencing every single instance, and not just bitterly snitting!

        • MNb

          “It’s more probable that evolution is incomplete.”
          And you have fulfilled the first criterion for a creationist: the God of the Gaps.
          The only proper way to avoid this is theistic evolution – ie theology superimposed upon this particular scientific theories. That has its own problems, but as they are not mine I’m not interested.

        • MNb

          If that was the best argument according to you your intellectual skills are even lamer than I already thought.
          The best theory describing superconductivity still is BCS theory, despite we have been knowing for 30 years that it’s wrong. So physicists don’t use it to describe phenomena it predicts to be impossible.
          Any god model however is a theory of everything. So yes, when it’s shown to be wrong it must be discarded. If you can’t replace it by something better you must admit it. Openly. Which undermines the pretentions of god models, so apologists never do.

      • eric

        I’d be willing to grant theism a few unexplained phenomenon if there was anything it did explain in a useful and testable way. “God’s ways are inscrutable” would be far less of a dodge and far more reasonable if, for example, radiometric dating told us that the earth was only 6,000 years old. That species weren’t related and appeared suddenly in their present forms. If there was evidence of a global flood.

        These sorts of observations would make me think “well, it may not have all the answers, but it seems to get a lot right, so that’s okay.” IMO that’s the situation science is in; it doesn’t have all the answers but it gets a lot right. That is not the situation religion is in; in stark contrast, religion explains nothing in any testable or confirmable way. So, yes, I think theodicy is a much bigger problem for religion than, say, explaining gravity is for science. Because of all the other things science can explain, we most reasonably conclude it’s lack of an explanation for gravity means its incomplete. Because of the lack of things religion explains, we most reasonably conclude that it’s lack of explanation for suffering means it’s no good.

        It’s kind of like we just ran a stock car race. Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn’t win. Now we’re going to run another race, this time with Luke Breuer racing too. The smart money bets on Dale. “But wait!” says Luke. “Dale didn’t win last time! So aren’t we equally good bets?” Well, obviously no. Dale’s record is pretty solid even if it’s not perfect, while Luke has never won any professional races at all. Thus the smart money bets on Dale. Dale is science; Luke is theology. The race is ‘explaining phenomena.’ And pointing out that Dale has not won some races doesn’t make Luke a good bet.

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

          I’d be willing to grant theism a few unexplained phenomenon if there was anything it did explain in a useful and testable way.

          There you go. A more refined (and I think better) version of this principle can be found at Thagard’s #1 and #2. Or in Jesus’ words:

          “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15–20)

          Or in Paul’s words:

          But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. (1 Corinthians 4:19–20)

          What you seem to be saying is that you’ve yet to find any δύναμις among Christians you’ve encountered. Would that be a correct analysis?

          That is not the situation religion is in; in stark contrast, religion explains nothing in any testable or confirmable way.

          I’m curious; do you consider the principle of egalitarianism to be an important one? If so, can science test it, to confirm/​disconfirm it? To be clear, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to think that egalitarianism was a ‘natural’ evolution of human society. On the contrary:

          The Dutch historian Jan Romein coined the phrase “the common human pattern” to denote some features of society and culture that can be found throughout history. The modern West deviates sharply from this common pattern, not least in the character and degree of individuation. This is the sound empirical foundation for the claim that Western individualism is an aberration; the common pattern has the individual tightly bonded within his community. (A Far Glory, 101)

          I think I may have just discovered some Greek philosophical correlates of this “common human pattern”. I wonder: if Judaism and/or Christianity really did provoke a move toward egalitarianism, would that be a point in its favor? Or would it be rather irrelevant, since ‘egalitarianism’ lies 100% in the land of subjective fiction?

        • Herald Newman

          Science doesn’t test values because values are subjective.

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

          Really? Let’s test that claim:

          Epistemic Values are Values Too
          The classical pragmatists, Peirce, James, Dewey, and Mead, all held that value and normativity permeate all of experience. In the philosophy of science, what this point of view implied is that normative judgments are essential to the practice of science itself. These pragmatist philosophers did not refer only to the kind of normative judgments that we call “moral” or “ethical”; judgments of “coherence,” “plausibility,” “reasonableness,” “simplicity,” and of what Dirac famously called the beauty of a hypothesis, are all normative judgments in Charles Peirce’s sense, judgments of “what ought to be” in the case of reasoning.[7]
              Carnap tried to avoid admitting this by seeking to reduce hypothesis-selection to an algorithm—a project to which he devoted most of his energies beginning in the early 1950s, but without success. In Chapter 7, I shall look in detail at this and other unsuccessful attempts by various logical positivists (as well as Karl Popper) to avoid conceding that theory selection always presupposes values, and we shall see that they were, one and all, failures. But just as these empiricist philosophers were determined to shut their eyes to the fact that judgment of coherence, simplicity (which is itself a whole bundle of different values, not just one “parameter”), beauty, naturalness, and so on, are presupposed by physical science, likewise many today who refer to values as purely “subjective” and science as purely “objective” continue to shut their eyes to this same fact. Yet coherence and simplicity and the like are values. (The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy, 30–31)

          Is Hilary Putnam just screwed up in the head? Or were you talking about different ‘values’? If so, just what values are those—what’s the scientific definition of them? Or can there be no scientific definition of them?

        • Herald Newman

          > Or were you talking about different ‘values’?

          Yes, you’re equivocating here. We were talking about egalitarianism, which is a subjective value, and hence science does not, and cannot test it.

          Sometimes I wonder why I bother engaging with theists….

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

          Yes, you’re equivocating here. We were talking about egalitarianism, which is a subjective value, and hence science does not, and cannot test it.

          I have seen and heard many atheists use the terms ‘subjective’ and ‘value’ like you have. However, whenever I press enough on them, I seem to hit impenetrable vagueness and contradiction. Are you willing to define those terms, in a way analogous to how a theist is expected to define ‘God’?

          Sometimes I wonder why I bother engaging with theists….

          It might help you to realize that our world is not egalitarian, and it is plausibly becoming less egalitarian. See for example Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government. Or see this exercise of pure power:

          Schäuble came under criticism for his actions during the “Grexit” crisis of 2015: it was suggested by Yanis Varoufakis that Schäuble had intended to force Greece out of the Euro even before the election of the left-wing Syriza government in Greece.[77] This was confirmed by former US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in early 2014; calling Schäuble’s plan “frightening,” Geithner recorded that Schäuble believed a Greek exit from the Eurozone would scare other countries in to line.[78] Schäuble also received extensive criticism toward his austerity recommendations from Twitter via the hashtag #ThisIsACoup.[79] Such criticism focused on the fact that Schäuble’s insistence on policies of austerity was contradicted both by the empirical evidence that the policies he had insisted on had shrunk the Greek economy by 25%, a degree hitherto paralleled only in wartime, but also by reports from the IMF insisting that only massive debt relief, not further austerity, could be effective.[80][81] (WP: Wolfgang Schäuble § Criticism)

          And now Mark Zuckerberg has his manifesto which could give Facebook unprecedented hegemonic power—at least over democracies. Control the news people receive and you control their perception of reality. Control their perception of reality and you have quite a lot of flexibility to get them to see things you want them to see and not see things you do not want them to see.

          But hey, who gives a shit about egalitarianism? As long as I’m comfortable let’s just keep driving at 100mph.

        • Herald Newman

          Here’s what comes back when I search for epistemic values (note that the emphasis is mine):

          Definition: Values, like truth, approximate truth, closeness to the truth, empirical adequacy, predictive accuracy are called epistemic values. Social, political, and pragmatic values are non-epistemic values.

          Egalitarianism (which is a social value) clearly falls into the latter category of non-epistemic values. We’re clearly not talking about truth, which (when talking about reality) appears to be objective.

          Social, political, and pragmatic, values are values that tell us what is good, or not good. They require a mind and are therefore subject to the mind.

          > It might help you to realize that our world is not egalitarian

          No shit?!

          > and it is plausibly becoming less egalitarian

          Sorry, but I don’t understand the point you’re trying to make.

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

          Egalitarianism (which is a social value) clearly falls into the latter category of non-epistemic values. We’re clearly not talking about truth, which (when talking about reality) appears to be objective.

          Ahh, but if ‘epistemic values’ are those values required to do good science, is egalitarianism [among scientists] one of those necessary values? Or can the collective endeavor of science arbitrarily violate egalitarianism and yet remain healthy (that is, optimally efficient [ceteris paribus])?

          Social, political, and pragmatic, values are values that tell us what is good, or not good. They require a mind and are therefore subject to the mind.

          And if society decides that science is “not good”, what happens to science? It would appear that the collective endeavor of science must be considered sufficiently “good” to exist and continue existing. This is no academic matter these days. For example, from Between Understanding and Trust: The Public, Science and Technology:

              About 15 years ago, the American communication researcher Stanley Rothman of Smith College in Massachusetts developed a question model that has been used continuously ever since in the United States and Germany. A controversial issue of the day, such as the hole in the ozone layer, population growth, or the safety of nuclear energy, is presented in the same wording to scientists and experts in that field and to journalists specializing in scientific topics, star journalists in general, politicians, and the population at large. The findings in both countries are almost as consistent as clockwork. The responses that scientists and experts give to questions about controversial issues are located at one end of the spectrum, the journalists’ responses are at the other extreme, and the responses of the general population lie in close proximity to those of the journalists. Once, when I presented findings of this kind to a gathering of journalists, a member of the audience called out: “How do you know that the journalists aren’t right?” (xi)

          So, if those ‘objective’ values are values required for science to exist and continue existing, then surely “science is good” is one of them? And yet, if we dig further and ask what values are required to undergird “science is good”, maybe we’ll find even other values? Where does it stop?

          LB: and it is plausibly becoming less egalitarian

          HN: Sorry, but I don’t understand the point you’re trying to make.

          I am challenging the idea any domain where science cannot comprehensively and authoritatively speak is automatically “subjective”. It seems rather difficult, at least to me, to believe that fighting for egalitarianism in ways that actually work is merely “science” + “100% subjectivity”. It just doesn’t really make sense. But perhaps I’m just a religious knucklehead. 😀

        • Herald Newman

          > Ahh, but if ‘epistemic values’ are those values required to do good science, is egalitarianism [among scientists] one of those necessary values?

          Not that I can see… Science may not progress as fast, but it certainly doesn’t stop because of lacking the desire for equality.

          >And if society decides that science is “not good”, what happens to science?

          It falls by the wayside… Why would science continue when people decide they aren’t interested in knowing about objective reality?

          > I am challenging the idea any domain where science cannot comprehensively and authoritatively speak is automatically “subjective”

          You’ve got this backwards. Fields are subjective, not because science cannot speak to them, but rather science cannot speak to them because they are subjective.

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

          Not that I can see… Science may not progress as fast, but it certainly doesn’t stop because of lacking the desire for equality.

          That’s rather binary. Suppose that instead of lack of perfect equality, we lack substantial equality. Do you think science could then continue with the same asymptote of understanding of reality that exists if egalitarianism were to reign perfectly among scientists? Do you really think that the only change is just speed? And can you support that belief with sound reason + evidence, or is it more of a gut feeling—a subjective gut feeling?

          It falls by the wayside… Why would science continue when people decide they aren’t interested in knowing about objective reality?

          My point is to get at which “values” are which. If we separate based on which values are required for science to exist and continue existing, that leads to interesting places.

          You’ve got this backwards. Fields are subjective, not because science cannot speak to them, but rather science cannot speak to them because they are subjective.

          I just don’t believe you; I don’t believe that there is this utterly lawful aspect of reality juxtaposed to this utterly unlawful aspect of reality. That’s just a reproduction of Descartes’ res extensa and res cogitans. It’s crypto-Cartesian dualism.

        • Herald Newman

          > That’s rather binary. Suppose that instead of lack of perfect equality, we lack substantial equality.

          Again, I don’t see why science changes. If you think so, make an argument for it.

          As I see it, as long active scientists are committed to unlocking objective truths, it doesn’t matter who’s doing it.

          I really am having a hard time understanding what equality has to do with the process of science…

          >I just don’t believe you; I don’t believe that there is this utterly lawful aspect of reality juxtaposed to this utterly

          unlawful aspect of reality

          This all started because you asked:
          I’m curious; do you consider the principle of egalitarianism to be an important one? If so, can science test it, to confirm/​disconfirm it?

          Perhaps if you rephrase this question I can get a better insight into what you’re trying to ask.

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

          Again, I don’t see why science changes. If you think so, make an argument for it.

          The empirical evidence shows that power distorts rationality. Here:

          Rationalization presented as rationality is shown to be a principle strategy in the exercise of power. Kant said that the possession of power unavoidably spoils the free use of reason. We will see that the possession of more power soils reason even more, that the greater the power, the less the rationality. The empirical study is summed up in a number of propositions about the relationship between rationality and power, concluding that power has a rationality that rationality does not know, whereas rationality does not have a power that power does not know. I will argue that this asymmetry between rationality and power forms a basic weakness of modernity and of modern democracy, a weakness that needs to be reassessed in light of the context-dependent nature of rationality, taking a point of departure in thinkers like Machiavelli, Nietzsche, and Foucault.[2] (Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice, 2)

          So, lack of egalitarianism in science means that power differentials will build up, which means that rationalization will be passed off as rationality. BOOM, damage to science.

          As I see it, as long active scientists are committed to unlocking objective truths, it doesn’t matter who’s doing it.

          Hmm, I wonder if things like this would be antithetical to “unlocking … truths”:

              There are several reasons why the contemporary social sciences make the idea of the person stand on its own, without social attributes or moral principles. Emptying the theoretical person of values and emotions is an atheoretical move. We shall see how it is a strategy to avoid threats to objectivity. But in effect it creates an unarticulated space whence theorizing is expelled and there are no words for saying what is going on. No wonder it is difficult for anthropologists to say what they know about other ideas on the nature of persons and other definitions of well-being and poverty. The path of their argument is closed. No one wants to hear about alternative theories of the person, because a theory of persons tends to be heavily prejudiced. It is insulting to be told that your idea about persons is flawed. It is like being told you have misunderstood human beings and morality, too. The context of this argument is always adversarial. (Missing Persons: A Critique of the Personhood in the Social Sciences, 10)

          Uh oh.

          Perhaps if you rephrase this question I can get a better insight into what you’re trying to ask.

          Perhaps it would first help if you would better clarify whether values required for science to happen are thereby granted blessed objective status.

        • Herald Newman

          > The empirical evidence shows that power distorts rationality.

          Perhaps, but does it distort rationality the same way for every single person? Also, people generally value prestige, and a scientists can gain prestige by overturning existing theories. I don’t think the desire for prestige is required to do science.

          >So, lack of egalitarianism in science means that power differentials
          will build up, which means that rationalization will be passed off as
          rationality. BOOM, damage to science.

          I assume you mean the body of knowledge, not the methodology?

          Science doesn’t guarantee that it will discover the “truth”, rather it tries to find the best approximation of truth that it can given current data. If all of the experts have a particular bias, we may accept theories which are incorrect. This happens now!

          I accept Linus law, roughly stated as “With enough eyes, all bugs are shallow“, is true in science as well as software development. If only the powerful are doing science, how many eyes do you really have looking at what’s being turned out?

          > Perhaps it would first help if you would better clarify whether values required for science to happen are thereby granted objective status.

          Do we need to have a discussion on how we determine if something is objective, versus subjective? What empirical tests do you propose putting “I think highly of egalitarianism” through?

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

          LB: Ahh, but if ‘epistemic values’ are those values required to do good science, is egalitarianism [among scientists] one of those necessary values?

          HN: Not that I can see… Science may not progress as fast, but it certainly doesn’t stop because of lacking the desire for equality.

          LB: That’s rather binary. Suppose that instead of lack of perfect equality, we lack substantial equality. Do you think science could then continue with the same asymptote of understanding of reality that exists if egalitarianism were to reign perfectly among scientists?

          HN: Again, I don’t see why science changes. If you think so, make an argument for it.

          LB: The empirical evidence shows that power distorts rationality.

          HN: Perhaps, but does it distort rationality the same way for every single person?

          I believe I have cast enough doubt to establish my point. Unless you can show that all the distortions cancel out—and you don’t get to presuppose it—then concentrated power can easily result in an overall bias/​prejudice. If you really cared about science, you’d care about understanding that. But I forget myself: because I’m a Christian, I am automagically retarded when it comes to all matters science.

          I assume you mean the body of knowledge, not the methodology?

          Mostly yes, although there is A Canticle for Leibowitz.

          Science doesn’t guarantee that it will discover the “truth”, rather it tries to find the best approximation of truth that it can given current data. If all of the experts have a particular bias, we may accept theories which are incorrect. This happens now!

          Yes; I just discussed such collective error with a friend of mine. Although I think you made an error: such unity of opinion generally involves some amount of suppression of alternative points of view, via various means (e.g. Scott Aaronson’s “I call on FQXi, in the strongest possible terms, to stop lending its legitimacy to this now completely-unmasked charlatan. If it fails to do so, then I will resign from FQXi, and will encourage fellow FQXi members to do the same.”). This gets you a slowing down of science. Then we can add in non-science factors such as political instability. If we fail to prevent significant catastrophic global climate change, might both the body of knowledge and the methodology of science regress? Or are we going to pretend that these things couldn’t be meaningfully threatened?

          BTW, I’m kinda working off the lore of Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri: there is a planet about to become conscious, but every time this almost happens, it destroys itself. And so there is a cycling which can only be broken by outsiders who can see what is going on without being caught up in it. IMO, there is way too much trust/​faith in progress among atheists on the internet who like to “defend science”. Whether or not Brexit, Trump, et al will sufficiently damage that trust/​faith, I do not know. But I think we’re learning more of the conditions for science to even exist than we were aware of before—at least, more of us are learning, and those who already knew are having that knowledge honed.

          But shit, a Christian concerned that the conditions for continuing science might be threatened? What has this world come to? Christians who take their faith seriously and think it matters in the public domain are Enemy #2 (behind suicide bombers and other “terrorists”, defined as this, not this).

          I accept Linus law, roughly stated as “With enough eyes, all bugs are shallow“, is true in science as well as software development. If only the powerful are doing science, how many eyes do you really have looking at what’s being turned out?

          Ahh, but can that “enough” be small enough to relegate a number of people to de facto ‘slave’ status? (That is, deny a number of people any meaningful ability to make an impact on the public world—they can do whatever they want in their bedrooms of course!) I do like the idea of people’s biases and prejudices canceling or even building upon one another, but I worry about the idea that we can just piss on some people—an idea which seems very strong in the modern world.

          Do we need to have a discussion on how we determine if something is objective, versus subjective?

          It seems so. We need to figure out just what is res extensa and res cogitans, and then characterize the “pineal gland”. Unless you somehow have an understanding of subjective/​objective which isn’t implicitly dualistic?

          What empirical tests do you propose putting “I think highly of egalitarianism” through?

          You would need to first understand the content of “I think highly of egalitarianism”. Ostensibly, the statement would link deeply to a social imaginary, and have both recommended practices and predicted outcomes of those practices. It would also need to characterize possible failure modes and how to recover from them. I’m still understanding just what a ‘social imaginary’ is; Charles Taylor’s Modern Social Imaginaries is helping. But we’re so damn cognitive; we’re really retarded about embodied, ritual life. Or maybe some are good at the former and some are good at the latter, but they suck talking to each other. Have you encountered Iain McGilchrist’s The Master and His Emissary?

        • Herald Newman

          > I believe I have cast enough doubt to establish my point.

          Well, there are really two discussions here. One is the values that all scientists must have, in order to do good science, and one is the values that society must have, in order for science to succeed.

          A scientist who is a bigot, and who lives at the upper echelons of power, can still produce good science, and can still participate in peer review. The scientific community doesn’t care who you are, your work is going to be scrutinized just like everyone else. I would tend to call this commitment to truth (because of the appeal to authority fallacy), rather than egalitarianism, if this is where you were going?

          Having a good mix of scientists in the community is going to do a better job of finding systematic errors in everyone’s science. We all come in with biases, and there’s no way to escape that, and this is why peer review is so important. Having a good mix of views is definitely going to help peer review. It will also likely increase the areas that people are researching. People committed to truth, and uncovering errors, will eventually approximate truth.

          If your question is is egalitarianism necessary for good science, I suspect the answer is no (but I’m not wedded to this) but it should make for better results.

          > But I forget myself: because I’m a Christian, I am automagically retarded when it comes to all matters science.

          I never said this. My only point was that I was having a hard time understanding where you were coming from.

          > If we fail to prevent significant catastrophic global climate change,
          might both the body of knowledge and the methodology of science regress?

          We know the body of knowledge can be lost. We only have to look to history to see that the knowledge of ancient Greece was almost lost, and if not for Islamic societies that preserved that knowledge, there’s a lot we would have had to reconstruct. If the world lost interest in knowledge, it can be lost forever. I worry that the rise of anti-intellectualism will lead to death of science, or humanity.

          As for global climate change, I cannot entirely say. I think you may be right to be worried about it, and what it’s going to to mean to billions of people. We’ve made tremendous scientific progress because we have the infrastructure to better communicate with one another. If climate change worsens significantly, that infrastructure could be destroyed. If we have to spend billions to mitigate the effects, that’s money/effort that may be diverted from science budgets.

          > IMO, there is way too much trust/​faith in progress among atheists on the internet who like to “defend science”.

          Can you elaborate on this? I’m curious what you mean.

          > But shit, a Christian concerned that the conditions for continuing science might be threatened? What has this world come to?

          I know you’re being rhetorical, but I know there are plenty of Christians who are concerned about, and committed to, science. Those Christians aren’t fundamentalists who are wedded to a literal reading of their holy book. When you’re convinced that the empirical truth about reality is contained in an old book, and not reality itself, you have a fundamental bias against truth. People committed to the truth, regardless of their religious views, can put their religion on the shelf and do good science. I’ve never said that only atheists can do science.

          > but I worry about the idea that we can just piss on some people—an idea which seems very strong in the modern world.

          There are some people who deserve to be pissed on. There are people who carry ideologies that seek to impose itself on every facet of everyday life. Fascism comes in a lot of forms, and is harmful to everyone in a lot of different ways.

          > We need to figure out just what is res extensa and res cogitans […] Unless you somehow have an understanding of subjective/​objective which isn’t implicitly dualistic?

          I’ll give you my definitions of objective, and subjective.
          Objective: That which does not depend on the feelings, opinions, and preferences, of thinking beings.
          Subjective: That which comes from the feelings, and preferences, of thinking beings

          We could refer to that which is objective as a “fact”, or perhaps even empirically driven. ” exists” is an objective statement because it says something about reality itself (even if the statement is false). “X existing is good” is a subjective statement because what somebody finds good is a statement about their feelings.

          > Have you encountered Iain McGilchrist’s The Master and His Emissary?

          Unfortunately, outside of my work, and my hobbies, I don’t tend to read much. Looks like an interesting read, but my time is limited at the moment.

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

          Well, there are really two discussions here. One is the values that all scientists must have, in order to do good science, and one is the values that society must have, in order for science to succeed.

          True, but can we really say that one set of values is ‘subjective’ while the other is ‘objective’? That’s the dichotomy I’m putting under examination.

          A scientist who is a bigot, and who lives at the upper echelons of power, can still produce good science, and can still participate in peer review.

          True, but how many such scientists can ‘science’ tolerate? What if they are all bigots? Populations can often tolerate a few bad apples, but things go very badly if the number of bad apples multiplies too much.

          The scientific community doesn’t care who you are, your work is going to be scrutinized just like everyone else.

          Wait, what if that bigot is reviewing your paper? Are you going to claim that bigotry can be 100% compartmentalized?

          Having a good mix of scientists in the community is going to do a better job of finding systematic errors in everyone’s science.

          What do bigots, qua bigots, add which positively contributes?

          If your question is is egalitarianism necessary for good science, I suspect the answer is no (but I’m not wedded to this) but it should make for better results.

          Again, let’s not make this too binary. How far away can we drift from egalitarianism before science might run into serious problems—whether from within or from without?

          I never said this.

          Yes, I said that more because of how I’m often treated on this website, not so much because of you. It’s just tiring some times when so many people are such dicks, and sometimes it leaks out. My apologies.

          LB: IMO, there is way too much trust/​faith in progress among atheists on the internet who like to “defend science”.

          HN: Can you elaborate on this? I’m curious what you mean.

          How much of our scientific and technological process was fated to happen and how much was simply the free, contingent choices of human beings who could have chosen differently? According to the blog post On Progress and Historical Change, written by a self-described historian, it took 200 years for Francis Bacon’s predictions of “what science would bring us” to really show appreciable fruit. Well, why did Bacon et al have so much … faith? And does anyone have that kind of faith today? My suspicion is no, judging by stuff like The End of History and the Last Man, Alan Hudson’s argument in The Changing Role of the Public Intellectual that “the political imagination is too restricted” (3), what Yuval Levin says here:

              Avoiding the worst, rather than achieving the best, is the great goal of the moderns, even if we have done a very good job of gilding our gloom with all manner of ornament to avoid becoming jaded by a way of life directed most fundamentally to the avoidance of death. We have gilded it, above all, with the language of progress and hope, when in fact no human way of life has ever been more profoundly motivated by fear than our modern science-driven way. Our unique answer to fear, however, is not courage but techne, which is much less demanding. And so our fear does not debilitate us, but rather it moves us to act, and especially to pursue scientific discovery and technological advancement. (Imagining the Future, 11–12)

          , and what Charles Taylor says here:

              The worry has been repeatedly expressed that the individual lost something important along with the larger social and cosmic horizons of action. Some have written of this as the loss of a heroic dimension to life. People no longer have a sense of a higher purpose, of something worth dying for. Alexis de Tocqueville sometimes talked like this in the last century, referring to the “petits et vulgaires plaisirs” that people tend to seek in the democratic age.[1] In another articulation, we suffer from a lack of passion. Kierkegaard saw “the present age” in these terms. And Nietzsche’s “last men” are at the final nadir of this decline; they have no aspiration left in life but to a “pitiable comfort.”[2]    This loss of purpose was linked to a narrowing. People lost the broader vision because they focussed on their individual lives. Democratic equality, says Tocqueville, draws the individual towards himself, “et menace de la renfermer enfin tout entier dans la solitude de son propre coeur.”[3] In other words, the dark side of individualism is a centring on the self, which both flattens and narrows our lives, makes them poorer in meaning, and less concerned with others or society. (The Malaise of Modernity, 3–4)

          I’ll stop here to see if any of the above connects with you. I’m extremely annoyed with what I see as a pitiful, pathetic imagination on the part of most Westerners, including most of the people with whom I interact online. I realize that the rampant cynicism of our age makes it the greatest fun to rip others’ creative ideas to shreds, but it’s not healthy, and I think it’s part of why catastrophic global climate change is such a looming problem. If you don’t give people good enough reason to plan long-term, then they just won’t.

          I know you’re being rhetorical, but I know there are plenty of Christians who are concerned about, and committed to, science.

          Yeah, this is another “speaking to the peanut gallery” comment. I think I can recall exactly one atheist I do not know IRL who has said anything positive about my understanding/​caring about science, and there are many online who have claimed that I hate science, know nothing about it, etc.

          Those Christians aren’t fundamentalists who are wedded to a literal reading of their holy book.

          Those people obsessed with “literal readings” should read Nancy Cartwright’s How the Laws of Physics Lie. When scientists apply formalisms to real life, they also approximate; they don’t “literally” use the fundamental laws in the way which permeates the popular imagination. In college, we spoke of “spherical cows” in physics to make fun of the idea the correspondences are exact. The same is true of narrative and inner worlds. So this whole notion of “literal”—which I think only arose during the Enlightenment”—has serious problems. It has good aspects—axiomatic formal systems are very useful—but people apply it to domains where it is utterly inappropriate.

          There are some people who deserve to be pissed on.

          Disagree.

          I’ll give you my definitions of objective, and subjective.
          Objective: That which does not depend on the feelings, opinions, and preferences, of thinking beings.
          Subjective: That which comes from the feelings, and preferences, of thinking beings

          Clarifying question: do you think that what you call “subjective” can be eliminated from the scientist such that [s]he still does excellent science?

          Looks like an interesting read, but my time is limited at the moment.

          Tell me about it.

        • Kodie

          I have seen and heard many atheists use the terms ‘subjective’ and ‘value’ like you have. However, whenever I press enough on them, I seem to hit impenetrable vagueness and contradiction. Are you willing to define those terms, in a way analogous to how a theist is expected to define ‘God’?

          Again, this is where I would expect you to link to evidence of these conversations, but you just wave your hands and expect everyone to dance for you. I don’t see why you think those words’ definitions are analogous to god. You are only an expert at reaching.

  • Jim Jones

    I’d like him to explain the difference between religious faith and wishful thinking.

    • Greg G.

      There’s a difference?

      • Jim Jones

        Beats me, but I’d like to hear him explain it.

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

    Botanists are in agreement on the basic facts about trees, but not even Christians agree among themselves about the basic facts about God.

    This might be true, but it is a terrible comparison. Facts about trees are not heavily politicized. What we ought to talk about are models of human being and models of society. Oh wait, we’re not supposed to theorize about human being:

        There are several reasons why the contemporary social sciences make the idea of the person stand on its own, without social attributes or moral principles. Emptying the theoretical person of values and emotions is an atheoretical move. We shall see how it is a strategy to avoid threats to objectivity. But in effect it creates an unarticulated space whence theorizing is expelled and there are no words for saying what is going on. No wonder it is difficult for anthropologists to say what they know about other ideas on the nature of persons and other definitions of well-being and poverty. The path of their argument is closed. No one wants to hear about alternative theories of the person, because a theory of persons tends to be heavily prejudiced. It is insulting to be told that your idea about persons is flawed. It is like being told you have misunderstood human beings and morality, too. The context of this argument is always adversarial. (Missing Persons: A Critique of the Personhood in the Social Sciences, 10)

    Shit, what do we do? But wait, that was 1998; surely we’re more enlightened, now. Well, we didn’t fix that by 2010:

    What are humans? One would think that of all the personal and scientific subjects we study the one we would be most interested and proficient in understanding would be ourselves, human beings. Should we not be quite transparent to ourselves? Yet it is not obvious that we humans actually do understand ourselves as beings very well. I am not the first to observe that, of the many mysteries in the universe, we humans are perhaps the most mysterious of all to ourselves.[1] Even the social sciences, for all their sophistication in certain ways, have not helped us much to understand clearly the nature of our own species, humanity as such. Or so I believe. The social sciences are good at describing and analyzing human activities, cultures, institutions, social relations, and social structures. But that is not the same thing as actually understanding human beings per se, what we are, our constitution and condition. I will argue in the pages that follow that the social sciences have been frequently unhelpful in our search for self-understanding as a particular kind of existent and acting being. This seems to me most certainly true of my own discipline, sociology. I also find few in sociology who are particularly interested in engaging such questions directly. Perhaps the mystery we are to ourselves makes us uneasy. Perhaps the question seems too unscientific. And yet the wise have challenged us for millennia in different ways with the charge, “Know Thyself.” This I seek to do. (What is a Person?, 1)

    Maybe, just maybe, “diversity in understandings of God” ∝ “diversity in understandings of human nature”.

    • Herald Newman

      Your problems start with the fact that we have no reliable means to know anything about your God, let alone anything supernatural. As far as I know, we have no reliable access to the supernatural, so any claims about your God cannot be based on anything objective.

      Hell, even if we found out that praying to Jesus had demonstrable positive results, we’d still have no way to know that Jesus was actually the cause. At best we can only say that we don’t know what the cause is.

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

        Your problems start with the fact that we have no reliable means to know anything about your God, let alone anything supernatural.

        Do you have reliable means to know anything outside of yourself? Consider: you are the instrument with which you explore reality. You have defects, miscalibrations, and a limited range of things you can detect. Trying to use yourself to correct these things is of some value, but quite limited value (see Coherentism in Epistemology for gruesome details). How do you open yourself up to correction by others?

        Now, you might answer with the magic word “science”. That’s fine as far as it goes, but all of the same problems which plague a singular instrument can also plague a collection of instruments. You can certainly get all the instruments to give approximately the same result when measuring the same thing, but that doesn’t guarantee that (i) there isn’t a systematic miscalibration; (ii) there aren’t systematic defects; (iii) there aren’t systematic limitations of what can be detected.

        And so, you “have no reliable means to know anything [outside the current state of yourself/​all of scientists]”. (This is formalized in Fitch’s Paradox of Knowability.) Well, God is generally taken to be outside. He is more complex than we are. Either there is a way for us to grow which you cannot currently describe, or we are permanently limited in what we can know about God and reality. One way to explore this either/or is via the The Lucas-Penrose Argument about Gödel’s Theorem.

        I would also point to the complexity/​prediction issues I discuss in my answer to the Phil.SE question Could there ever be evidence for an infinite being?. Briefly, science is all about the model having a complexity much lower than the data. That means the data are very “repetitive” with respect to the model. This means we can be quite confident about the model. But what happens when God is actually tremendously more complex than our ability to model? Fail to think properly about this, and you’ll be stuck asking dumb questions.

        As far as I know, we have no reliable access to the supernatural, so any claims about your God cannot be based on anything objective.

        Feel free to define ‘supernatural’. One place you could start is @jlowder:disqus’s The Nature of Naturalism. Until you do that, I’m afraid I won’t know what we’re talking about. There are simply too many different definitions of that term.

        Hell, even if we found out that praying to Jesus had demonstrable positive results, we’d still have no way to know that Jesus was actually the cause. At best we can only say that we don’t know what the cause is.

        Can you say more on this? You seem to be attributing a limited ability of humans to discern causation (maybe: no ability to discern agent causation?) and that piques my interest.

        • Kodie

          You write a lot of words to make a tu quoque argument. It’s not that the instruments are perfect, but that the experiments can be repeated and logged, rather tentatively, which tends to work well for us. Our civilization is built on technology based on technology based on technology, and has gotten us pretty fucking far. What has your religious belief done?

        • epeeist

          You write a lot of words to make a tu quoque argument.

          Or to quote Tom Lehrer – “full of words and music, and signifying nothing,”

        • al kimeea

          Dulled many minds like his

        • Herald Newman

          > Do you have reliable means to know anything outside of yourself?

          Yes, science. It works, and has demonstrated its reliability. If you’re looking for epistemic certainty, you’ll never find it.

          Science doesn’t claim certainty, rather it claims that given the evidence, along with the peer review, that a certain theory is the best explanation that we have. All theories are tentative, and subject to revision should new evidence be encountered.

          > Can you say more on this? You seem to be attributing a limited ability of humans to discern causation

          Yes. We cannot establish supernatural causation. We have no means to access the supernatural, and that’s a fact. Given this, it necessarily follows that even if we find that prayers, to some deity, appear to have efficacy, the best we can say is that we cannot explain what’s happening.

          If you’re going to invoke a supernatural explanation for why certain prayers work, without having first established that the supernatural even exists, you’re simply building ideas on top of unjustified ideas. The two obvious problems are:
          1. How did you rule out all possible natural causes? This would require omniscience.
          2. How did you rule out any other possible supernatural causes?

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

          Yes, science. It works, and has demonstrated its reliability.

          It works in some domains. Science doesn’t seem to be “working” (that is, sufficient to solve the problem) when it comes to We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger. Science doesn’t seem to be “working” (same meaning as before) when it comes to preventing catastrophic global climactic instability. Science didn’t “work” to prevent the nonsense evil documented here:

          Schäuble came under criticism for his actions during the “Grexit” crisis of 2015: it was suggested by Yanis Varoufakis that Schäuble had intended to force Greece out of the Euro even before the election of the left-wing Syriza government in Greece.[77] This was confirmed by former US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in early 2014; calling Schäuble’s plan “frightening,” Geithner recorded that Schäuble believed a Greek exit from the Eurozone would scare other countries in to line.[78] Schäuble also received extensive criticism toward his austerity recommendations from Twitter via the hashtag #ThisIsACoup.[79] Such criticism focused on the fact that Schäuble’s insistence on policies of austerity was contradicted both by the empirical evidence that the policies he had insisted on had shrunk the Greek economy by 25%, a degree hitherto paralleled only in wartime, but also by reports from the IMF insisting that only massive debt relief, not further austerity, could be effective.[80][81] (WP: Wolfgang Schäuble § Criticism)

          So it seems like we need “science” + «something else». But what is that something else?

          If you’re looking for epistemic certainty, you’ll never find it.

          Did I say or logically entail that I’m “looking for epistemic certainty”? If I did, I need to make some corrections. What I think is necessary is sufficient confidence for powerful action, so that what W.B. Yeats observed becomes less true:

          The Second Coming

          Turning and turning in the widening gyre
          The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
          Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
          Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
          The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
          The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
          The best lack all conviction, while the worst
          Are full of passionate intensity.

          Surely that (i) that is a bad state of affairs; (ii) all too well describes our situation, today? What we seem to need is a kind of humble confidence, sufficient for action but willing to be corrected. I wonder what holy book rails against pride and arrogance over and over again…

          Yes. We cannot establish supernatural causation.

          What’s “supernatural”? For example, does the “not nomological” from Gregory W. Dawes qualify:

          3.4.1 Intentional and Causal ExplanationsA first objection rests on the very character of intentional explanations. It suggests that a theistic explanation could not be both intentional and causal, since these represent distinct and mutually exclusive forms of explanation. No intentional explanation is a causal explanation. But I believe this claim to be wrong, for reasons I shall outline later (Appendix 1.1). I have no argument with the idea, defended by Donald Davidson, that intentions are causes and that intentional explanations are also causal explanations.[76] There is one issue that needs to be clarified here. I have suggested that intentional explanations are not nomological (3.2.1). They do, if you like, depend on something resembling a law, namely the rationality principle. But they do not depend on law-like generalisations linking particular intentions and particular actions. Does this mean that they cannot be regarded as causal explanations? Only if you believe that the citing of causal laws is a necessary condition of a causal explanation. But I shall argue later that it is not (Appendix 3.3.1), that causal explanations do not necessarily involve causal laws.[77] If this is true, then there is no difficulty with the idea that an intentional explanation is also a causal explanation. (Theism and Explanation, 51)

          ?

        • MNb

          “It works in some domains.”
          Yes. And in all the other domains nothing works, as every single rambling comment of your confirms.

        • adam

          “Science doesn’t seem to be “working” (that is, sufficient to solve the problem) when it comes to We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger.”

          So SCIENCE has provided the means to feed everyone.

          And FAITH fails to actually feed everyone.

          No surprise there.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/49ee4ba4ad5022f9e462b55374323dfe6e70e21b0365a5c0edf83e35b9d58955.jpg

        • Michael Murray

          If only someone would throw all those money lenders out of that temple.

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          …and drag the beggars away from the pulpits.

        • eric

          It works in some domains.

          Which makes it a lot better than theology, which doesn’t seem to work at all. Most theologies shy away from anything that could be considered ‘workable claims’ altogether, while the theologies that make them (the end of the world is happening tomorrow! Sell all your stuff) are inevitably wrong.

          Theists criticizing science for not being able to answer some questions is like a witch doctor criticizing western medicine because it can’t cure cancer.

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

          Which makes it a lot better than theology, which doesn’t seem to work at all.

          Yeah, theology didn’t give us egalitarianism or anything. Fuck this guy:

              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)

          Nah, better not investigate the foundation of something as important as egalitarianism. I mean, if you do, maybe this will happen:

          In fact, magic is not to be compared with sacrifice; it is one of those collective customs which cannot be named, described, analysed without the fear that one may lose the feeling that they have any reality, form or function of their own. Magic is an institution only in the most weak sense; it is a kind of totality of actions and beliefs, poorly defined, poorly organized even as far as those who practise it and believe in it are concerned. (A General Theory of Magic, 12–13)

          Better not do that! Stay away!!!

          Most theologies shy away from anything that could be considered ‘workable claims’ altogether […]

          Sadly, I agree with that. It’s even worse; from theologian Roger Olson:

          RO: I feel a divine calling to do this bridging work–between scholarship and pastors/lay people. So I don’t write for university publishers. But I think that has dogged me for years because within academic circles, especially university ones, books not published with university publishers are often considered unworthy of serious consideration and someone who publishes mainly popular stuff–for the “great unwashed masses”–is often looked down on. How does that play out? Well, first, it makes it more difficult to get tenure. I got over that hurdle anyway. It makes it harder to get awards, pats on the back (literal or figurative), and even sabbatical and salary increases. None of this is the case where I teach, thank God. (Although I have the feeling sometimes I’m not much appreciated outside my unit of the university for those reasons.) I’m not a “scholar” but a popularizer–according to some. I have learned to live with that and don’t much care anymore. But you are absolutely right. Most academics care very little about communicating their discoveries to non-academics and the academic culture is one major cause of that.

          The bold text is true not just of theology. If you need convincing, see the peer-reviewed paper Doing Research that Makes a Difference (170 ‘citations’). For something less formal, see [now] Stanford faculty James Landay‘s I give up on CHI/UIST, where he talks about the academic incentive to produce nigh-useless research. We are obsessed with abstract, universal, timeless truths. They are useful, but they cannot be our only focus if we want ‘workable claims’.

        • Susan

          Yeah, theology didn’t give us egalitarianism or anything. Fuck this guy:

          Are you suggesting that egalitarianism was provided by theology? Or that theology can support egalitarianism?

          You haven’t shown how egalitarianism is supported by theology, nor how it is sufficient to support it.

          Egalitarianism is an argument of its own. Unsupported pet agent claims aren’t going to do it.

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

          Are you suggesting that egalitarianism was provided by theology?

          Strictly speaking: by Jews, Jesus, and Christians. These days, the term “theology” can easily mean an abstract formal system, the kind of thing which entered our conceptual lexicon after math was made perfectly abstract[1]. I need to refer to an earlier understanding of knowledge:

              In a Hellenistic environment, knowledge is true if it leads us into goodness, making us happy and good. The idea that knowing good things makes us good implies continuity between the knower and what she knows. It is not simply to be cognizant of the truth but to be assimilated into it. (But Is It All True?, 144–145)

          Given our love affair with the fact/​value dichotomy, the above is incredibly hard to even understand. But your questions provoked me to think that we seem rather bad at understanding that ideas have (i) likely histories; (ii) likely futures. The uncertainty involved in both (i) and (ii) violates Descartes’ desire for “clear and distinct ideas”. I will have to think about this more—thank you for the question!

          [1] See Jacob Klein’s Greek Mathematical Thought and the Origin of Algebra as well as Burt C. Hopkins’ The Origin of the Logic of Symbolic Mathematics.

          Or that theology can support egalitarianism?

          Not in its current abstract form where it lusts after timeless, universal truths. So much theology is like that; I think it’s responsible for stuff like On Being an Ex-Apologist (Hardman, part 1 of 3), where apologetics was seen as “all mind, no heart”. I could elaborate from Iain McGilchrist’s The Master and His Emissary on how consciousness ‘kills’ and decontextualizes ideas (quite like how you have to prepare samples for electron microscopy).

          To really support egalitarianism IMO, you need to believe that every individual has something unique to offer the whole. In the NT, I suspect a good word for this is poiēma. If God created reality, we could get this kind of property. If we were ‘merely’ evolved, then surely some people are just worthless and ought to either be disposed of or otherwise marginalized. (The pressure to dispose of or marginalize can come from artificially created scarcity; see for example the 2012-02-05 Huffington Post article, We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger.)

        • Susan

          Strictly speaking by Jews, Jesus, and Christians.

          Then, show it.

          These days, the term “theology can easily mean an abstract formal system”

          Theology refers to the study of god(s). Very much like the study of Immaterial Snowflake Fairies.

          If God created reality, we could get this kind of property

          I don’t see how. Nor do I see how it’s necessary for this kind of property. .

          If we were “merely” evolved, then surely some people are just worthless and ought to either be disposed of or otherwise marginalized.

          That does not follow. Nor does uttering “God” fix anything.

          And still, not a speck of evidence.

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

          Then, show it.

          You’ll first have to set forth what standards you require. It could be that the research effort would be massive (I’m not a professional historian); it could be that you have set me up to fail from the get-go.

          Theology refers to the study of god(s). Very much like the study of Immaterial Snowflake Fairies.

          Yes, yes, because you demand evidence that you, a finitely complex instrument, could observe which somehow leads you to conclude that an infinitely complex god exists, via you applying Ockham’s razor. It’s not like you’ve made things logically impossible from the start, no it couldn’t be. Only a dishonest person would do that, and surely you aren’t dishonest! (Technical details can be found in my answer to the Phil.SE question Could there ever be evidence for an infinite being?.)

          I don’t see how.

          Do you only believe things where you can “see how”?

          Nor do I see how it’s necessary for this kind of property.

          I can find no other reason which would be sufficiently psychologically motivating for humanity as a whole to push toward egalitarianism with it truly being an asymptote. Instead, I see ‘egalitarianism’ functioning rather like Marx understood ‘religion’. It’s a pretty little story we tell ourselves while the more powerful screw over the less powerful.

          That does not follow.

          It matches history quite well.

          And still, not a speck of evidence.

          See the paragraph above starting “Yes, yes,”. I predict you will continue asking for the logically impossible, instead of practicing intellectual honesty by showing how your request could possibly be met.

        • Susan

          You’ll first have to set forth what standards you require. It could be that the research effort would be massive (I’m not a professional historian); it could be that you have set me up to fail from the get-go.

          How could I have set you up? You rushed to defend theology with statements about egalitarianism and when prompted, went on to say that it is “Strictly speaking: by Jews, Jesus, and Christians”.

          I asked you to show it.

          Yes, yes, because you demand evidence that you, a finitely complex instrument, could observe which somehow leads you to conclude that an infinitely complex god exists

          And I demand it from finite beings who make god claims.

          The old “How can you question God?” tactic. I’m not. I’m questioning humans making god claims.

          It’s not like you’ve made things logically impossible from the start

          No. It’s not. Interesting though, that this is brought up by a finite being claiming an infinite being, who then waggles Occam’s Razor in my face.

          instead of practicing intellectual honesty by showing how your request could possibly be met.

          You make claims. If you can’t support them, if there is no possible way to support them/justify accepting them, then who is being intellectually dishonest?

          Come on, Luke.

          Got evidence?

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

          How could I have set you up?

          Because you will interpret everything I say through your own conceptual framework, through your categories of thought, through your presuppositions. Those things could easily set me up to fail.

          You rushed to defend theology with statements about egalitarianism and when prompted, went on to say that it is “Strictly speaking: by Jews, Jesus, and Christians”.

          Yes, I clarified what I meant by the term ‘theology’. Is there some unwritten rule here, that such clarifications are utterly disallowed?

          I asked you to show it.

          My asking you to articulate what would constitute “show” is not unreasonable. You pretend it is unreasonable because your articulating this may demonstrate that “you have set me up to fail from the get-go”. Or maybe it’d just take a bit of intellectual labor to articulate that and you’re lazy. Whatever the explanation is, if you’re not going to articulate, I’m not going to show.

          The old “How can you question God?” tactic.

          That makes no sense.

          LB: Yes, yes, because you demand evidence that you, a finitely complex instrument, could observe which somehow leads you to conclude that an infinitely complex god exists, via you applying Ockham’s razor. It’s not like you’ve made things logically impossible from the start, no it couldn’t be.

          S: No. It’s not. Interesting though, that this is brought up by a finite being claiming an infinite being, who then waggles Occam’s Razor in my face.

          Ockham’s razor, operating on finite data, will always “suggest” a finite model as the most preferable model of the data. True, or false?

          You make claims. If you can’t support them, if there is no possible way to support them/​justify accepting them, then who is being intellectually dishonest?

          I make claims I can justify from something sufficiently close to my own plausibility structure. That’s actually true for everyone. It may be that your own plausibility structure is so foreign that I cannot justify them from it. There is zero intellectual dishonesty in this.

        • Susan

          Because you will interpret everything I say through your own conceptual framework

          I will not accept your claims just because Luke Breuer makes them.

          Is that what you mean? I don’t ask you to do it on a unicycle while juggling flaming torches.

          I’m just asking your for ordinary clarity and evidence. Not just shitty claims. (Borrowed a page from LB when I used the term “shitty”.) You claim that theology is justified ’cause egalitarianism requires it and you haven’t shown a connection. You are bluffing, as you often do as far as I can tell.

          I am not going to address the rest of your comment.

          It’s just more Lukewittery. You make a claim. You are asked to support the claim you made. You claim your are being set up.

          When mechanics try that, I find another mechanic.

          I don’t give a hoot about your plausibility distinction.

          That just means you get to accuse people of hostility when they ask you to provide credibility to you claim and then wander down rabbit holes and evasion towards your plausibility manifesto when questioned.

          No evidence for a god. How many comments now, Luke?

          What are you claiming? What is it? How do you support it?

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

          I will not accept your claims just because Luke Breuer makes them.

          Did I ask you to? I’m well-aware that certain persons require anything I say be justifiable as if I did not exist, as if I were the stupidest person alive, and/or as if I were an utterly evil being. I can work according to those parameters. But I do set forth onerous conditions if I am required to work according to those parameters.

          I don’t ask you to do it on a unicycle while juggling flaming torches.

          That has yet to be seen. After all, you refused to continue this very important discussion:

          LB: Yes, yes, because you demand evidence that you, a finitely complex instrument, could observe which somehow leads you to conclude that an infinitely complex god exists, via you applying Ockham’s razor. It’s not like you’ve made things logically impossible from the start, no it couldn’t be.

          S: No. It’s not. Interesting though, that this is brought up by a finite being claiming an infinite being, who then waggles Occam’s Razor in my face.

          LB: Ockham’s razor, operating on finite data, will always “suggest” a finite model as the most preferable model of the data. True, or false?

          That is one aspect at the heart of this entire issue.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So it seems like we need “science” + «something else». But what is that something else?

          So what’s the something else that is required to be added to science in order to correct those things that science couldn’t deal with on your list?

          What would you add to science that would sort out the starving with all that the excess of food that is produced for example?

          What is it plus science that you think will sort out the problem with “catastrophic global climactic instability”?

          In the meantime, if the RCC would just sort itself out on the issue of contraception and let science get on with its business, a lot of lives would be saved from HIV on the planet. And a whole lot less unwanted children will be born therefore being prevented from unnecessary suffering.

        • Pofarmer

          I see Lukes gone the old “we cant know anything” route. Always a good time. If you can’t prove your point, throw all points into question.

        • epeeist

          If you can’t prove your point, throw all points into question.

          It’s our old friend the isolated demand for rigour.

          Alternatively you could consider it to be going nuclear (Stephen Law’s Believing Bullshit is highly recommended by the way).

        • TheNuszAbides

          thanks for the links! i keep forgetting to catch up with SSC in particular.

        • MNb

          It’s another old, tired trick – an error taken over from Ancient Greek Philosophers. Either we have access to the Absolute 100% Certain Never Changing Eternal Truth or we can throw knowledge and understanding into the dustbin. It’s a false dilemma that hindered philosophy for centuries. Science really took off when it was done away with, just 200+ years ago.
          The modern flip side of that false dilemma is post-modernism. Funny, isn’t it, how apologists tend to accept either one or the other extreme position?

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

          I see Lukes gone the old “we cant know anything” route.

          Huh?

               “So it seems like we need “science” + «something else».”
               ⇏
               “”we cant know anything””

        • MNb

          “Do you have reliable means to know anything outside of yourself?”
          Yes. And you confirm this every single time you post one of your way too long comments on this blog.
          Yes, science is imperfect. Still it yields concrete results, like every single comment of yours. Regarding your god: zilch, nada, zero, nothing, niets, rien.
          As soon as you manage to communicate your ramblings by means of prayer I’ll pay attention.

    • MNb

      “This might be true, but it is a terrible comparison.”
      Only if you willfully neglect the point, something that of course is an essential part of the Lukie Boy Show.
      Politicized or not has nothing to do with it. Heliocentrism once was heavily politicized. Geocentrism still lost.
      The point if of course that believers don’t have a method to settle disagreements, while biologists do.

      • al kimeea

        Believers used to have a method to settle disagreements – kill them all, doG will know his own – but since western society has learned to frown on this, the believers are reduced to dueling church signs. mostly.

  • Michael Neville

    Many of Bannister’s “tough questions” are really arguments from incredulity.

    “Something from nothing” is “I can’t understand how something could come from nothing so it can’t.” I’ve yet so see anyone other than possibly Lawrence Krauss give a definition of nothing.

    The fine tuning argument is completely backwards. The universe isn’t fine tuned for humans. Rather humans are fine tuned for the universe or at least one tiny bit of it. Humans aren’t capable of living in hard vacuum at 3K which describes 99.99 recurring percent of the universe so it appears the universe is not fine tuned for us.

    What holds up the laws of nature and the related why does mathematics work ignore where these concepts come from. I don’t know why the gravitational constant is 6.67408 × 10^-11 m^3 kg^-1 s^-2 but “God made it that way” isn’t a reasonable answer.

    Since beauty, meaning and purpose all all subjective then no gods are needed for each person to decide what those things mean to them.

    • Jim Jones

      “Fine tuning”. My prediction is that either the math system is wrong or the physics are wrong.

      Contemplate Euler’s Identity (NOT found in the bible).

    • Kodie

      I gather that in most places in the universe, a human would …. I really don’t know what happens. I’m going with the generic “vaporize” although I think that’s probably not right. Something to do with the immediate effect of pressure on the brain or the blood or something. Maybe the death isn’t immediate without oxygen, but that’s the idea I’ve always gotten – you lose your mask in space, goodbye, you won’t have time to put it back on.

      Anyway, what I like to remind others, the earth isn’t particularly hospitable to humans. It’s 3/4 covered in water, and if we’re just talking about the surface, most humans could survive a bit if they know how to swim, but will be eaten, suffer hypothermia, fatigue, or drown – that is, we can’t live on the water unless we’re in a boat. In a boat, we can live quite a while on the ocean, or even under the ocean. And if you’re on land, a lot of places are cold. Without a coat, you’ll have to build a fire. And if you’re near a volcano, well, don’t be near a volcano. What about sinkholes. You can be living somewhere civilized, warm, dry, fed a regular supermarket diet and not have to hunt, and the earth could swallow you. When there are floods or fires or hurricanes or tornadoes, people go out and tell you to evacuate – “evacuate” is the word that means “it’s not habitable here”. You’re alive, you have your loved ones around you, you’re watching tv, like you do, and your house is not on fire – what do you mean it’s not habitable? It means that spot on the earth will be on fire soon and you will not get out of it unless you get out ahead of it. People build boats, we sew coats, they can fly above an impending disaster and interrupt regular programming with a radio signal so people have time to save themselves, and some people firmly believe that god will save them in place.

      I mean, not only is the universe hostile to life, the earth is hostile to humans. We’re not covered with fur, even Michael Phelps can’t swim well, relatively, and our fingernails are weak. The mind is the only thing that can save us by inventing and innovating. There are creatures that live in environments we cannot, especially the oceans, frozen places, highly acidic places. We build houses on stilts and boots with sharp teeth on them, just to find, explore, and settle in places that would kill the naked human animal without tools. Just because humans can be almost anywhere on earth doesn’t mean it’s hospitable. We invent ways to adapt to it.

      • epeeist

        Anyway, what I like to remind others, the earth isn’t particularly hospitable to humans.

        Let’s forget about these “specially created” humans for the moment and consider life in general. We have discovered life in all sorts of unlikely places, from the depth of the ocean to high in the atmosphere. If we assume a layer from 15Km below the sea surface to 15Km above then the volume in which life is found is roughly 5*10^19 cubic metres.

        The radius of the solar system is approximatley 100 AU, from the sun to the heliopause. This gives a volume of 1.4*10^40 cubic metres.

        Thus the percentage of the solar system which is “fine tuned” for life is approximately 3*10^-19%

        • Michael Neville

          Here’s my favorite astronomical photograph, the Hubble eXtreme Ultra Deepfield:
          https://i.ytimg.com/vi/eUrD9DUeN-o/hqdefault.jpg

          There’s a couple of very faint stars in our galaxy in this picture but every other swirl, blot and smudge is a galaxy, some so far away that it took light, traveling at 300,000 km/sec some 12 billion years to reach the telescope. Why can we see things 12 billion light years away? Because there isn’t very much between us and those galaxies. The intergalactic density is estimated at one atom of hydrogen (one proton) per 10 cubic meters.

        • Cady555

          But but but … that picture proves a creator … who is totally fixated on what certain beings on a speck of dust do with their genitals.

          /snark

          I also love this photo. I also like the story behind it. Time on the Hubble telescope is precious. The director wanted to point the camera at an apparently empty spot of space over a period of 10 days. They found about 3,000 galaxies in that postage stamp sized “empty spot” in the sky.

          So remember, boys and girls, that the creator of all that is watching your every move, listening to your every thought, and arranging the universe so that parking spaces open up just for you. Or not.

        • Michael Neville

          The director wanted to point the camera at an apparently empty spot of space over a period of 10 days. They found about 3,000 galaxies in that postage stamp sized “empty spot” in the sky.

          That’s the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. The eXtreme Ultra Deep Field (HXUDF) had the CCD exposed for 2 million seconds (astronomical viewing time is measured in seconds) or about 23 days. The viewing area is 1/70th the size of the full moon.

        • Doug

          red herring.

          the vastness of the universe and the fact that there are many galaxies, etc. in no way diminishes the existence of God or calls into question the existence of God

        • Kodie

          It calls into question one of your favorite claims about god. That means either answer the question or stop making that claim.

        • Doug

          One of my favorite claims which is what the fine tuning argument? A lot of galaxies “out there” in no way diminishes the fine tuning argument in fact it enhances it which is why scientists are now only looking for planets within the “habitable zone” (isn’t that cute).

        • adam

          “A lot of galaxies “out there” in no way diminishes the fine tuning argument.”

          The fact that almost all of the universe is inhospitable TRASHES your fine tuning argument.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/637bfeb32fe76da958e611fbfd841246baeabb7b96c48f9a41144e316ea0e22d.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          I find it flabbergasting that Doug thinks a universe mostly all inhospitable to sustain life is evidence of fine tuning by an intelligent designer. That’s some fucked logical thinking right there.

          I mean,what sort of architect would design a city where one could only live in a single cupboard under the stairs in wee cottage in some suburban backwater? With a light in it that only works part of the time ta boot.

        • MNb

          Not to mention that the ratio Solar System vs. Universe is much larger than the ration cupboard vs. city.

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

          Great analogy.

        • Greg G.

          Luxury. We would have loved to live in a cupboard…

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

          “I watched my own birthday party through the keyhole of a locked closet, which also happened to be my bedroom.”

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87gPFUfvIsQ

          It was pretty much 24/7 ball gags, brownie mix, and clown porn.

        • TheNuszAbides

          woulda been a palace to us!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ya lucky barstewart, we ‘ad ta livt int ‘ole int middle o’ road…

        • TheNuszAbides

          you wa’ lucky to’ave youah hole in t’ground. we ‘ad t’go live in a lake!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Aye, but a bet ya didn’t ‘ave tee get up a half our a fore ye went tee bed… Ant ‘ave gravel for breakfast?

        • TheNuszAbides

          a lump o’ cold poison!

        • Michael Neville

          Always nice to see the Yorkshiremen reminiscing.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Greg G.

          No matter how many times I hear that skit, I get tears in my eyes from the laughter.

        • Ignorant Amos

          COLD?!?!….you really did have it bad me auld China.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i always wondered why eating freezing cold gravel was a one-up on eating hot gravel. not that i’m keen to find out.

        • Doug

          Again, an earth that is “mostly inhabited” by lots of rock and other lifeless matter doesn’t negate fine tuning especially when it exists on that planet! The same is true for the universe just on a grander scale. It’s entirely no different.

          Saying that the architect should’ve “built elsewhere” is like saying God should’ve made circles squares. The fact is that Earth is exactly where it should be, i.e. the “habitable zone.” And even within the “habitable zone” there is a strict point at which a planet can hold life.

        • Kodie

          You’re going to have to buckle down and deal with the challenge of explaining why you think that. There is no way to have a conversation with you if you don’t know what you’re talking about other than to believe everything coming out of your own keyboard.

          I mean, there you go again, being an asshole, by the way. It’s not cute that scientists call it a habitable zone. You don’t back up that insult with… I dunno, knowledge? Facts? Research? You just take your pants down and poop on it because you are too dumb to understand it.

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

          Don’t forget the black holes–there are trillions of them. The universe was clearly tuned for black holes. Maybe they’re God’s real purpose, and we’re just an accident.

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

          Cute? What’s cute?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Define the “fine tuning argument” as you understand it?

        • Doug

          That starting with the universe our galaxy our solar system and finally our planet every piece of the puzzle fits in such a way that without those piece life can’t exist. there are too many things that need to be in place for life to exist, too many variables for it to be a coincidence. Furthermore what we see with the naked eye (design) is even further exemplified under a microscope. Everything from the universe to the smallest observable particle plays a part in why life is possible. There are simply too many inconceivably incredible phenomenon both observable and microscopic that point to intelligent design and fine tuning.

        • Kodie

          Is that what you call an explanation?

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

          But there are billions and billions of planets per galaxy and billions of galaxies. You should quit embarrassing yourself.

        • MNb

          “Everything from the universe to the smallest observable particle plays a part in why life is possible.”
          I’d like you to swallow some antimatter, testing the part it plays in why your life is possible.

        • Greg G.

          You do not understand the fine-tuning argument. The way you are using the word “constants” shows it.

          Planets are made from the elements created by stars. The materials are pervasive. Your understanding is way stupid.

        • Pofarmer

          which is why scientists are now only looking for planets within the “habitable zone” (isn’t that cute).

          No. you dumbass. We’re looking for planets wherever we can find them. But we’re paying special attention to planets within areas which we think might include liquid water, because that’s the only placed we’re familiar with life arising.

        • Doug

          That’s the only place life can arise, i.e. within the “habitable zone”. In other words only in zones fine tuned for life. Like life on earth we don’t discount the existence of rocks and say “well the existence of rocks means there’s no fine tuning.” Same with the universe. Just because most of the universe is elemental doesn’t negate the fact that Earth is what it is.

        • Greg G.

          A star with multiple planets is likely to have at least one planet with liquid water. Life can fine-tune itself to the planet.

        • Michael Neville

          As of last Wednesday there were 3453 extrasolar planets found. Most of them are Jovian or sub-Jovian size.

        • Doug

          And they’re so far away that we’ll never know what’s on those planets, etc. It’s all conjecture.

        • Kodie

          You know how dumb you don’t know you are?

        • Michael Neville

          Another argument from incredulity. You don’t think we’ll ever know what on extrasolar planets and so you declare we’ll never know.

        • Doug
        • Halbe

          The Fermi paradox is not a “clobber verse”… http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/05/fermi-paradox.html

        • MNb

          The fine tuning argument diminishes the claim that there is only one god because there are about 30 natural constants to be fine tuned, which suggests about 30 fine tuners ie gods.

        • Doug

          Not really. When you think about it the head chef at a restaurant knows how to make a multitude of dishes in a variety of ways yet there is a “signature” between the dishes that is uniquely that chef’s. Same with God.

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

          When you look at a broad spectrum of life, you find atavisms and vestigial organs, plus pseudogenes and endogenous retroviruses taking up space in the genome, and other traits that point to a very sloppy designer.

          I’m surprised that you want to dump all that on your deity.

        • Greg G.

          Scientists are finding planets in the zones where water could exist in a liquid state. As the technology has improves, more and more are found. If a system has more than a few planets, it’s likely that one or more would be in the zone. I think if Venus and Mars were to trade orbits, there would be three such planets in our solar system.

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

          And our “Goldilocks” planet has had its oxygen level vary wildly over the epochs. It’s been both 0 and 50% higher than it is now (during two long periods).

        • Greg G.

          Even life as we know it doesn’t require oxygen. Oxygen is a waste product for anaerobic life and plants.

        • Doug

          oxygen isn’t necessary? So, you’re okay if I take your oxygen away or? Don’t be silly come on.

        • Kodie

          So you’re saying you’re so illiterate that you can’t read two sentences?

          You’re a fucking moron, just go away.

        • Doug

          It’s convenient that you say oxygen isn’t necessary considering you have it already. I’m hearing the taxi cab fallacy.

        • Kodie

          You’re hearing fart noises coming out of your butt and think they’re making a good point. You’re illiterate.

        • MNb

          She didn’t say that, Dougiedrool. Neither did Greg G. He wrote that oxygen isn’t necessary for life as we know it on Earth. Because you’re undoubtedly stupid enough to have missed the link the first time:

          http://serc.carleton.edu/microbelife/extreme/withoutoxygen/index.html

          If your god has appointed you to spread his word it’s obvious that your god has become tired of his stupid worshippers and doesn’t want to have anything to do with them anymore – your god has become an atheist.
          It’s because of stupidities like yours that religion is losing.

          xhttp://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/religion/article/72865-family-christian-stores-to-close-all-stores.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=0ed6a7b9f5-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_02_24&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-0ed6a7b9f5-304487285

        • Doug

          the link is irrelevant it’s still the taxi cab fallacy

        • Greg G.

          Look up “anaerobic life forms”.

          Too bad God doesn’t make that level of stupidity painful.

        • Pofarmer

          Too bad God doesn’t make that level of stupidity painful.

          So much for all loving.

        • Doug

          so you find an example of life forms that don’t need oxygen and that somehow makes your point?

        • Greg G.

          Exactly. Molecular oxygen is rare because it reacts with other elements to form oxides.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You really are that asinine with just the one head, aren’t you?

          Two armadillo’s!

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m hearing the taxi cab fallacy.

          That’s very funny, because it is obvious that you haven’t a fuckin’ clue what “The Taxicab Fallacy” is from what I’m reading.

          You are bandying it about like that other arsehole Christian apologist William Lane Craig, with little, or no regard, to what it means.

          http://neophilosophical.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/wlc-takes-us-for-ride.html

        • Kodie

          I noticed right after being shown their own heights and depths of idiocy, these poor dumbhead Christians like to spritz in their new pet concept. He said “taxi cab fallacy”, like 7 times – without elaboration. Then he moved on to “Fermi Paradox”, like waving a flag, “hey I’m smart, I read something!” He didn’t read anything, and he can’t explain anything. He never elaborates things as though he understands what he’s talking about, and lets everyone else respond with lists and articles and such of the flaws in the concepts he’s introduced.

          Hey Doug – concepts aren’t arguments if you can’t demonstrate that you know why they make your point, and then everyone else is actually familiar and shoot it down with facts. It looks like Doug can just skim articles from his favorite apologists and thinks that amounts to a meaningful engagement in the discussion. It’s ok if you’re still wrong, but we’re still not fooled that you are intelligent enough to know what your apologist said and why you think it wins the debate.

        • Doug

          the taxicab fallacy at its bear minimum is simply using something to get to where you need to go and then discarding it.

          In this case you said oxygen isn’t necessary for life (granted you mean complex life). I used the taxi cab fallacy against you because were we to take your oxygen away you would die. You can’t deny what you need to live is my point. There are multiple ways to use any number of fallacy’s during a debate.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, you used the taxicab fallacy because you didn’t think before speaking. You aren’t here to learn or to discuss, you are here to wield your god belief because you can oppose anything with dumbness that you heard from your cult. You aren’t engaging in good will, you are not concerned at all when your one answer here contradicts another answer you gave elsewhere, you don’t even seem smart enough to realize that’s what you’re doing.

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

          Go back to homonym school.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Your question is based on the assumption that Greg G is representative for all life possible.
          Congratulations – you have reached the next level of stupidity.

          http://serc.carleton.edu/microbelife/extreme/withoutoxygen/index.html

          Took me less of a second of googling, something which Dougiedrool isn’t capable of.

        • Greg G.

          Do you not know what “anaerobic” means?

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

          In fact, oxygen is pretty dangerous stuff–right next to fluorine on the periodic table. Chemically very active. It was impressive that cells evolved to use it for energy. Not surprising, but impressive.

        • Doug

          but again that’s the taxi cab fallacy. You can’t say “life as we know it doesn’t require oxygen” when “life as we know it” used oxygen to get to where it’s at and remains.

        • Greg G.

          Molecular oxygen is produced by life forms as a waste product. Life forms that use molecular oxygen did not evolve until there was molecular oxygen in the atmosphere. Animals need plants to produce oxygen. Most plants do not need animals.

        • Pofarmer

          How can one person be this stupid?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Religious mind virus must be taking its toll.

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

          I’d not heard of the taxi cab fallacy before. That sounds like what you do when you define faith to be based on evidence at one moment but then say that it’s not at another.

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

          But life as we know it doesn’t require oxygen. Humans do, but anaerobic bacteria don’t.

        • Doug

          what’s the problem with that? The “levels” in my house vary wildly over time. averages work out to a bell curve it’s no different with the oxygen levels on earth or the temperature for that matter. If the oxygen levels have gone from 0 to 50 that would coincide with Genesis wouldn’t it?

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

          what’s the problem with that?

          Because it’s a strike against your fine tuning argument? Or is this a trick question? Or are you too stupid to understand?

        • Doug

          Why do you have to be rude? I’m not being rude anymore. I’m trying really hard not to be a troll. I’m actually trying.

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

          I’m rude sometimes due to my frustration with this conversation. You don’t adapt/change based on new information. I assume that this is because you have an agenda (support nonexistent baby Jesus, regardless of the evidence), and that disinterest in following the evidence is frustrating as well.

        • MNb

          Where did BobS say it’s a problem?
          Given the fact that Genesis doesn’t mention oxygen (because the authors had no idea what that was) there is nothing to coincide. You’re not even wrong here.

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

          The levels of what vary wildly in your house? Temperature? Oxygen? Tell me more.

        • Greg G.

          His house has a thermostat but he doesn’t know how to use it, I’m guessing. He can’t tell a circle from a sphere.

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

          He mentioned wildly varying conditions, so maybe that’s it. I wonder if the nitrogen liquifies out of the air in his house.

        • Doug

          Nitrogen levels do change frequently…

          https://scied.ucar.edu/longcontent/changing-nitrogen-cycle

          What I would eventually be pointing out is that planet earth is a fluctuating organism one where the systems have built in self corrections. In other words, just because a group of scientists can replicate the atmosphere of earth in a laboratory doesn’t mean that same atmosphere will work on another planet. Bio domes on earth have historically been failures.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere_2

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

          I’ve been to Biosphere 2. It’s irrelevant to our discussion.

          The point is that the earth’s conditions change as they do, whether the life forms like it or not. They life forms adapt or die.

          Get it? Life adapts to environment; environment wasn’t tuned for life.

        • Doug

          Of course. The barometric pressure is another one that changes all the time.

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

          Yeah, I bet “wildly” describes how it changes.

        • Greg G.

          If the oxygen levels have gone from 0 to 50 that would coincide with Genesis wouldn’t it?

          No, not in a matter of days. Genesis doesn’t even say that God made oxygen.

          I think you should open some windows and let in some air. The oxygen level in your house seems to have reached a new low. Perhaps your brain is crying out for oxygen with the stupidity you are spewing.

        • Doug

          Genesis doesn’t have to give an exhaustive list of everything he made for him to of made of made it. Oxygen is a necessary element for life to exist which coincides with fine tuning.

        • Halbe

          No, oxygen (O2) is not a necessary element for life. The earliest life on earth developed without oxygen being present in the atmosphere. Then this early life started producing oxygen in large quantities, and what do you know: new organisms arose that use oxygen. Again: the environment changes, life adapts. Your fine tuning argument fails.

        • Greg G.

          Genesis gets the order wrong in its abbreviated list. The people who wrote the Bible didn’t know where the sun went at night. The author of Genesis thought it was a coincidence that the Sun was only seen in the day as Day and Night were created before the Sun.

          Oxygen as an element is common. Oxygen as a molecule is not because it is so reactive. It reacts with minerals which takes it out of the atmosphere. So the earliest life on a planet cannot be dependent on molecular oxygen because there isn’t any to speak of. The first life forms would be anaerobic and emit oxygen as a waste product. Only after a billion years could aerobic life forms develop.

          You shouldn’t depend on religion to inform you about science because they lie. If they lie about science, what else do they lie about?

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

          Modern science also typically doesn’t take into account the way different elements may have operated at given time periods in the past. This is most notable with carbon dating because scientists assume the same rate of decay as that of the past. The same could be true for oxygen.

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

          scientists assume the same rate of decay as that of the past

          You’re not a scientist. Keep that top of mind the next time you write something science-y.

          Scientists don’t assume that the accumulation rate of C14 is constant, and they have tables for correcting the data they get back from a C14 test. That is, the C14/C12 ratio in living things is known to vary slightly in years past.

          As for the rate of C14 decay, that is indeed a constant. No one (besides you) thinks that radioactive isotopes of oxygen might decay at some variable rate.

        • Doug

          Big deal. Water doesn’t equal life. It’s merely one of the necessary elements for life. There’s still a ridiculously long laundry list of things needed to be in place to have sustainable life.

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

          Wow. Someone seems to have an excellent understanding of the conditions for life–not just life here on earth (most biologists would say that the totality of life on earth–that is, the set of conditions under which life can exist–is poorly understood) but life in the entire universe.

          Tell us more! I think there’s a MacArthur Genius grant in your future, young prodigy!

        • Doug

          criticize all you want. You know it and I know it – there’s a laundry list for life to exist and water as well as the planet being within the habitable zone are only two of a multitude of conditions.

        • Kodie

          Doug, this isn’t an argument. You are blatantly uneducated on statistics. The universe is large, and the chances for things to happen like life, or whatever condition you want to single out are pretty much bound to happen somewhere, maybe more than one place. It’s a huge universe, and it’s entirely possible and plausible for some planets to end up in just the right place – not all of them, just the ones that do. You don’t fucking understand, it’s like I”m talking to a dog.

        • Doug

          size is irrelevant to the facts. There are so many constants that need to be in place for life to exists that it is beyond possibility of it occurring somewhere else by chance.

        • Kodie

          You are a gullible uneducated moron, Doug. You don’t know statistics and think there’s just “beyond possibility”!

          No explanation, just Doug doesn’t understand so it’s impossible.

        • MNb

          “There are so many constants that need to be in place for life to exists”
          That’s nothing but your religious prejudice.
          And we have yet another stupidity vintage Dougiedrool:

          “it occurring …. by chance”
          No scientist maintains that life on Earth occurred by chance.

        • Michael Neville

          Do you have any clue about how many galaxies there are in the universe and that each galaxy has billions of stars and that G type stars like our Sun are relatively common? You’re saying that only Earth is hospitable to life but you don’t know. You’re pulling that “fact” out of your rosy red rectum because it fits your prejudices and incredulity.

        • Doug

          Just because there are lots of suns like ours or lots of planets within the habitable zone is irrelevant. All of the constants have to be in place for their to be life. As of right now with all the data pouring in from outer space there isn’t one single planet in our solar system or even our galaxy that has life on it other than others. There isn’t one shred of evidence otherwise. Water? Yes. Habitable zone? Yes. The few that that are out there that manage to make two of the laundry list is not surprising given the odds.

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

          Yes, that’s right–there are uncountably many planets that have conditions that could plausibly (based on our immature knowledge of how life works) support life.

        • Doug

          “could plausibly” though should be looked at realistically. We have the Fermi Paradox to deal with besides the fact that “could plausibly” translates into .01 percent over 4 billion years according to at least one estimate (see below)

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox
          https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080416110124.htm

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

          Gibberish

        • Greg G.

          What constants? You need a planet with liquid water that could come from hydrothermal vents on a frozen planet. You need chemical elements that are produced as a star runs out of fuel and explodes, creating the atoms that make up the molecules of planets.

        • Kodie

          Your grasp of statistics is poor, and your standards are fucked up, since you believe a magical sky wizard did it without making this many protests.

        • Doug

          you think the Fermi Paradox is poor? I’m the one whose being intellectually honest here. How can you read the Fermi Paradox or even estimates done by non-Christians about the likelihood of life on other planets and not come away thinking Earth is completely unique statistically speaking?

        • Halbe

          Yes, the Fermi paradox is poor. And your reference about 0.01% is about the likelihood of intelligent life, not just life (he puts that likelihood at 10%). And even with a 0.01% likelihood there should be 1000s of planets with intelligent life out there based on what we know now about the ubiquity of earthlike planets.

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

          Holy shit, why is this hard? The earth is completely unique. There is no other planet that is identical.

          We’re simply asking how many planets have life and how many of them have intelligent life.

        • Michael Neville

          Just because there are lots of suns like ours or lots of planets within the habitable zone is irrelevant.

          You do love the argument from incredulity. Just because YOU, an ignorant, rather stupid godbot, think something is impossible doesn’t mean it’s impossible, it just means you’re an ignorant, rather stupid godbot.

          As of right now with all the data pouring in from outer space there isn’t one single planet in our solar system or even our galaxy that has life on it other than others.

          Another argument from incredulity.

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

          For the people who actually do have a brain, I’ll sharpen my point: you don’t know the conditions for life to exist. Ergo, you’re on thin ice when you pontificate about how hard it would be for life to exist on other planets.

        • Doug

          The conditions for life are incredibly long when you factor in needed elements, scientific laws that are in place on this planet, etc. and on and on. If we found life on another planet it would simply be a mirror image of our own that’s how exact the dials have to be set. You might find water. Great. You might find an atmosphere that vaguely resembles ours. Great. You’ve got so many constants that have to be there all at the same time. As I pointed out one secular estimate puts the likelihood at .01 over 4 billions years. Pretty sure those aren’t betting odds.

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

          “If we found life on another planet it would simply be a mirror image of our own”

          So you’re assuming life on other planets would be just like ours. You need to back up that remarkable claim with evidence.

        • MNb

          Merely repeating your stupidities doesn’t make them any less stupid.
          No, I don’t know it. You think you know, but that’s because you don’t understand the difference between your religious prejudices and actual knowledge.

        • DoorknobHead

          “criticize all you want” … that’s my in….
          For some reason, I imagine your brain dancing around in your skull wearing a leotard and tutu.

          Also, I have a question: have you ever done laundry?

          (sorry, I’m just making me laugh: Please go back to bringing down the beautiful, awe inspiring wonder and amazement generated by deeper and deeper study of universe with the scientific method [the most utilitarian, successful, and predictive method of understanding the true nature of reality ever created] and instead distill reality down into depressingly simplistic and ancient answers derived from early failed models of reality). PEACE

        • Doug

          Science doesn’t uncover the “true nature of reality” in any way. It only describes what it “uncovers.” The beginning of the universe is not a scientific event in any sense. Why? Because it’s not repeatable or observable. That means the beginning of the universe (the explanation for it I mean) is a question not for science but for some other branch of understanding namely theology.

        • Susan

          Science doesn’t uncover the “true nature of reality” in any way.

          Nor does it claim to. That is, it doesn’t proclaim truth. It does test its truth claims. You don’t.

          The beginning of the universe is not a scientific event in any sense

          Things aren’t scientific events. That’s not how it works.
          Science studies our assumptions about reality. And it comes to provisional conclusions based on the evidence. It does very hard and impressive work where you can’t be bothered.

          What do you mean when you say the universe “begins”? It doesn’t seem to be a word that matches up with scientific struggles to understand how reality behaves.

          is a question not for science

          Of course, it is. A guy on the internet currently named “Doug” proclaims it because his preacher said so.

          The same guy on the internet currently named “Doug” will proclaim that science can’t answer it because his preacher said so.

          So, no matter what science says, a guy on the internet currently named “Doug” will roll his eyes.

          And then, try to sell us the equivalent of a magnetic bracelet.

          but for some other branch of understanding, namely theology

          But theology seems to assume a fuzzy conclusion that only survives because people are afraid not to believe their preachers.

          So, you have a lot of work to do to justify calling it “understanding”.

          If you have access to “the true nature of reality”, you will have to show that it is modelled on something more reliable than science in a way that separates it from magnetic bracelets, Mormonism and astrology.

        • Doug

          1. faith relies more on what it knows than it doesn’t know.
          2. I mean the universe began to exist, i.e. it was caused. this is well established even within mainstream secular science. BobS may not agree with it but he’s left with few options, i.e. an eternal universe (which has the same problem of an eternal God or “who/’what made God?/”Who/what made the universe?”) or a multi verse (which kicks the can of the beginning of the universe or the eternity of the universe down the road).
          a. anything that begins to exist has a cause
          b. the universe began to exist
          c. therefore, the universe has a cause
          3. My preacher didn’t tell me that I studied up on it on my own. the beginning of the universe is an unrepatable/unobservable event. Science needs to be able to both repeat the experiment and observe the phenomenon both of which are impossible for the beginning of the universe which is why this question lies outside of science.
          4. bracelets, really?

        • Susan

          faith relies more on what it knows that it doesn’t know

          If it did, you could justifiably call it knowledge. You wouldn’t rely on equivocation of the “faith” word.

          I mean the universe began to exist.

          Explain. We’re all fascinated to hear you justify that statement.

          i.e. it was caused. this is well established even within mainstream secular science.

          Then, you should be able to make the argument. Not just make ignorant statements wrapped in equivocation. Explain. In a way that would go over respectably in a cosmology conference.

          Until you do, I can ignore the rest.

          My preacher didn’t tell me that I studied up on it on my own.

          Where? When did you consult the fiield of cosmology?

          You are just uttering standard apologetics which succeeds because people don’t check their work (about “beginnings” of universes).

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

          2. Read about cosmology. Our universe may have had a beginning, but that’s not the only possibility.

          2a. Wrong. Read up on the Copenhagen interpretation for quantum physics.

          3. You decided that the origin of the universe is outside of science? You’re a clever little boy, but you need to leave the science to the people who understand what the big words mean, OK? That’s simply wrong.

        • MNb

          “a. anything that begins to exist has a cause
          b. the universe began to exist
          c. therefore, the universe has a cause”

          Yup. And when cause is properly defined (in probabilistic terms) we recognize that physics has identified it:

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

          Thanks for convincingly showing that your god is superfluous and should be thrown into the dustbin.

        • Greg G.

          1. faith relies more on what it knows than it doesn’t know.

          The Bible disagrees with you. Faith starts where what you know ends. Faith is extrapolation beyond what you have evidence for.

          Hebrews 11:1
          Now faith is the conviction concerning those things that are in hope, as if it were these things in action, and the revelation of those things that are unseen;

        • adam

          “BobS may not agree with it but he’s left with few options, i.e. an eternal universe (which has the same problem of an eternal God ”

          No, an eternal universe does not require knowledge.

          Where did your “God” get it’s knowledge and power to create such a universe.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/38a372d179f379b51cdb5f1c227e4a5bd6dd543347d09566c2aedd943b72e754.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          4. bracelets, really?

          Magnetic bracelet…yes really. Do you even understand analogy?

          A 2007 review of research concluded that magnetic bracelets aren’t effective at treating pain caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia. Another, from 2013, agreed that both magnetic and copper wristbands have no more effect on pain management than placebos .Apr 7, 2015

          Swap out magnetic bracelet for whatever woo-woo snake oil you wish, the analogy stands.

        • MNb

          “The beginning of the universe is not a scientific event in any sense. Why? Because it’s not repeatable or observable.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Your birth is not repeatable either. According to Dougiedrool’s illogic I am allowed to maintain that you were found in a cauliflower.
          Forces aren’t observable either (my second graders learn that they can only observe the effects of a force) so according to Dougiedrool illogic we must accept

          http://www.theonion.com/article/evangelical-scientists-refute-gravity-with-new-int-1778

        • Ignorant Amos

          This guy Doug is a feckin’ rocket the likes of which we haven’t seen around here in quite a while.

          It astounds me that a person can be such a knuckle dragger and still be able to operate a computer.

        • Greg G.

          Amino acids can form in space. (Amino Acids and Their Production during the Photolysis of Astrophysically relevant Ices) Hydrocarbons are not uncommon. (TITAN HAS “HUNDREDS OF TIMES MORE” LIQUID HYDROCARBONS THAN EARTH) Water is not uncommon (The Solar System and Beyond is Awash in Water | NASA).

          It has been shown that splashing some hydrocarbons on a surface and letting them bake for a few hours, then splashing some water on them will create small lipid balls that can merge and divide. If you have an ocean full of hydrocarbons and liquid water with a tidal cycle, that would happen on every rock at the edge of every ocean on many planets for millions of years.

          Certain minerals that are common in rocks attract amino acids so every grain of sand is running thousands of molecular experiments.

          We only know of one type of bio-chemistry which makes two when you consider the opposite chirality. But we can’t rule out other types of bio-chemistry with different amino acids.

          Your faith has made you blind.

        • Doug

          but your forgetting that those experiments are happening on an earth where all of the constants already exist. They don’t exist on other planets or systems. there’s no evidence otherwise. Even if two or three or four constants exist you still have a laundry list beyond comprehension to be in place.

        • Greg G.

          This argument is way over your head. You should shut up. The “constants” you refer to apply to the whole fucking universe.

          All but one of the “experiments” I mentioned are observations of space, not just from earth. The only earth-bound experiment is a very simple chemical experiment.

          Science is not for you. You don’t know enough to realize how much religious web sites lie about science. Don’t be such a sucker.

        • Doug

          But “in space” is not the same as “on earth.” You can have all kinds of elements and laws at work out in space but the shear size of space in no way effects how impossibility lucky a scientist would have to be in order to fine just one other planet in the solar system that has life or is even habitable for that matter besides our own. The Fermi Paradox is a perfect example of the kinds of things I’m talking about.

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

        • Greg G.

          Planets form from the elements in space. The “laws” work everywhere in the universe.

          The Fermi Paradox is about technologically advanced life, not life in general. For at least half of the age of the universe, there was too little heavy elements to have complex chemistry or life. Some planet would have to be the first to create technology.

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

          Fermi simply asked, If the universe is so full of life, where is everybody? Great question, but hardly a show stopper. There are lots of plausible answers–what if there were an average of one planet with life in the galaxy? Even if we were to search planet by planet (and we don’t even know how hard that would be–it would seem, very hard), we’d come up empty 100,000,000,000 times for every planet with life.

        • MNb

          Yeah, yeah, that’s how apologetics goes.
          “Earth is the one and only one habitable planet – Goddiddid! Special Creation!”
          “There are thousands and thousands of habitable planets – Goddiddid! Fine Tuning!”

        • Pofarmer

          The reality is really a lot more amazing, isn’t it? I mean, you have hundreds of billions of galaxies each with hundreds of billions of stars each with the possibility of planets. The number of planets, I dunno, it’s a lot, what, in the hundreds of trillions? And each one of those would be an experiment at creating life, essentially. So we can be amazed that life arose, somewhere, here, but I don’t think the odds are as bleak as believers would have you think

        • Greg G.

          The number of planets, I dunno, it’s a lot, what, in the hundreds of trillions?

          I have seen estimates that there are about as many planets as there are stars.

        • Doug

          There aren’t “thousand and thousands” of habitable planets. You know it and I know it. Nobody has found one yet and has no evidence otherwise only conjecture.

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

          We have a hypothesis: “there are thousands of planets in the universe that have earth-like conditions” (or however you want to describe “habitable”).

          Is this hypothesis likely true or likely false, given the information we have now? You seriously want to go with likely false? I’d like to hear your reasoning.

        • Doug

          Well if we’re going to be intellectually honest I’d have to say likely false. The more information that comes in the more it turns out that Earth is utterly unique. Yes other planets exist within the habitable zone but that’s only one of the criteria. Yes, other planets have water on their surface but water is only one of the criteria. There are too many criteria that have to be in line for scientists to “hit the jackpot” on their being life “out there.” The only people who play the lotto are down and out folks who are hoping to get lucky. The odds don’t benefit their hope. How is it any different given the current evidence for modern scientists who are anti-theists?

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

          Yes, the earth is unique. That you don’t realize that this is irrelevant is reason #2375 that you’re a waste of space.

          Baby Jesus is crying.

        • MNb

          “Well if we’re going to be intellectually honest”
          Rather will the pope become a hindu than you going to be intellectually honest. Also you’re stupid, so I’m pretty sure you missed the point of BobS’ answer as well. Here it is: every single planet in the Universe is unique.
          And here we have another stupidite vintage Doug:

          “The odds don’t benefit their hope.”
          You don’t have enough information to even roughly estimate the odds. You’re talking out the lower end of your digestive system.

        • Greg G.

          The more information that comes in the more it turns out that Earth is utterly unique.

          All planets are unique.

          There are too many criteria that have to be in line for scientists to “hit the jackpot” on their being life “out there.”

          Your Doug persona is getting too stupid. Time to delete the account and come up with a new one.

          Hydrocarbons are pervasive. Water is pervasive. Elements used in our biochemistry are pervasive. Comets made of ice are pervasive and planets attract them by gravity. “Hitting the jackpot” often is a given.

        • Doug

          1. I said “utterly” unique. It’s unique even among the unique

          2. Water, hydrocarbons and elements are hardly enough to create life. You still have to have all of the scientific laws in place. The gravitational setting alone has to be exact and that’s just one setting among many. The more settings we move to (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc.) the less likely it becomes that scientists will “hit the jackpot” “out there”

        • Halbe

          Aha, uniquer than unique, or as Trump would say: Uniquest, believe me! That’s even sillier than most nonsense you came up with so far.

          The “scientific laws” are exactly the same across the whole universe, so what is your point there?

          Gravitational settings!? You think life cannot arise on planets with very different gravity than earth? Why not? Life on earth developed mostly in sea, a zero-g environment.

        • Greg G.

          You still have to have all of the scientific laws in place.

          Earth is not “utterly unique” in having “all of the scientific laws in place.” No planet ever detected is missing a single “scientific law”. No galaxy ever detected is missing a single “scientific law”.

          You shouldn’t depend on religion to inform you about science because they lie. If they lie about science, what else do they lie about?

        • MNb

          Actually I don’t know if there are thousands and thousands of habitable planets. We don’t have enough data for any conclusion. I do know I have found one. It’s called Earth. Nobody has found another one yet, but that’s not nearly the same.
          Thanks for your stupidities. I appreciate it.
          So of course you completely miss the point of my comment, which is: your illogic is nothing but “no matter what the facts are, Goddiddid”.

        • Michael Neville

          There aren’t “thousand and thousands” of habitable planets.

          How do you know this? Give evidence to support this conjecture.

        • Doug

          The Fermi Paradox is pretty solid evidence

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

        • Greg G.

          The universe is about 14 billion years old. The first third of that time, there weren’t many heavy elements to make planets out of. The second third of that time would have been fusing those elements. The last half of that time would be when planets would be forming and life evolving. There might not have been enough time for intelligent life to evolve and explore a whole galaxy.

        • Doug

          But as the Fermi Paradox illustrates there should be life “out there” and we should’ve communicated with it by now. It’s the difference between fashionably late and a standup which the Fermi Paradox is essentially saying “Hey, we’ve been stood up!”

        • Michael Neville

          Do you have any idea about how distant stars are from each other in our part of the galaxy? The nearest star to our Sun, Proxima Centauri (an M6 red dwarf 12% the mass of the Sun), is 4.25 light years away. That’s 268,770 AU* or 40,208,000,000,000 km.

          The Voyager 1 spacecraft is traveling away from the Sun at a rate of 17.3 km/s. If Voyager were to travel to Proxima Centauri (it’s headed in a different direction) it would take over 73,000 years to arrive.

          If the Sun is represented as a ping pong ball then Proxima Century is a pea some 2300 km away. That’s the distance between Toronto and Tampa, Florida. The universe is a whole lot bigger than you seem to think it is.

          *The AU or Astronomical Unit is the average distance of the Earth from the Sun, approximately 150,000,000 km.

        • Greg G.

          The FP assumes we are not the first technological life form.

        • Pofarmer

          The FP also assumes thAt the same problems that constrain us from traveling the galaxy don’t also constrain other civilizations. Add to that that pur own radio communications only reach a fraction of a light year and their could be life teaming out there that we simply can’t acess. Or not.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope…not even close.

        • Doug

          Not even close?

        • Michael Neville

          The Fermi Paradox assumed faster than light (FTL) travel. FTL is a staple of science fiction, it isn’t even a conjecture in science. Try again.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Is it ballix like….you didn’t even read the Wiki page you linked us all to….that sort of laziness is unforgivable.

          There Is No Fermi Paradox

          http://www.rfreitas.com/Astro/ThereIsNoFermiParadox1985.htm

          That is not even taking into consideration the list of alternative hypothetical reasons that have been put forward to undermine the paradox.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox#Hypothetical_explanations_for_the_paradox

        • Doug

          Regardless, the mathematical predictions for complex life on other planets agrees with the Fermi Paradox. There’s no way around it. You’ve got a .01 percent likelihood over 4 billion years for complex life. Those are impossible odds.

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

          You’re saying that it’s 0.01% likely over 4 billion years for complex life to form in the entire universe?

          Show me.

        • Ignorant Amos

          He won’t…because he can’t.

        • MNb

          Yeah, there are no mathematical predictions for complex on other planets and there is no Fermi Paradox. So something that is not there agrees with something else that is not there. Good job, Dougiedrool.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Wow. I’ve just gone through about 15 pages of your replies, and you still haven’t had one nice thing to say to anyone. You’re pretty rude, what with all the name calling. Go back and read your own posts. Fairly revealing. Your posts show the kind of person you are.

        • MNb

          Silly guy, I don’t need to reread my own posts to admit that I’m rude, mean, nasty etc. I openly admit it. Do you have something interesting left? My vile character is a boring topic.
          Just ask BobS himself – I posted this comment before I realized that I meant not to comment here anymore.

          “I’ve just gone through about 15 pages of your replies”
          Instead of trying to stroke my ego (apparently I am that important to you, but that can oxidate at the lower end of my disgestive system as well) you might considering getting yourself a life.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Evelyn Woodhead.

        • Greg G.

          Fairly revealing. Your posts show the kind of person you are.

          Did you see any of his posts about him being from the Netherlands but is now a high school teacher in Suriname and the pride he has in his students?

          I don’t think he even likes me but I do respect him.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          What about him do you respect?

        • Greg G.

          He is knowledgeable on many topics and doesn’t pretend. He cares about his family and his students. He never tone trolls.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          He’s a fairly typical troll. Not as clever as some I’ve seen. He writes a lot of words, but they don’t add up to much. I don’t think English is his first language, so that could be the problem.

        • Kodie

          You stumbled on an article, found some guy whose attitude you don’t like on a comment he made 2 whole months ago, and read 15 pages of his posting history like a crazy stalking lunatic, and the only contribution to this conversation is to tell some guy on the internet you think he too nasty? Go fuck yourself. You are a loser.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          You Atheists are an irritable bunch. Maybe you should look to get Jesus in your life. Or, get laid more often.

        • Kodie

          You Christians are perverts who complain about tone and then dictate how much sex everyone should have to be pleasant for you. Do you not see the problem with your arrogance, hypocrisy, and inappropriateness? You have too much pride to just walk away from something you probably got drunk and commented before you could stop yourself, so now you are making it my fault you’re such a goddamned asshole. You’re the one who believes in god, you’re not doing such a good job if you’re fighting a girl on the internet because I’m too obnoxious and you’re too sensitive. That’s what’s wrong with you. Go seek your own happiness and fuck off about trying to diagnose mine, you fuckwad.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Kodie, I didn’t know you were a woman. I apologize. I appreciate women and have the utmost respect for them. Including you.

        • Kodie

          Accusing people of being irritable after you have irritated them and then assuming it’s because they need to get laid and find Jesus makes you really fucking stupid. Stupidity such as yours is irritating. Harassment and acting like a salesman trying to pitch your idiotic beliefs straight after insulting everyone is the irritant here. Please show yourself out. I have already reported you, but you don’t have to wait for the boot if you’re actually a gentleman.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          If I leave can I follow you?

        • Kodie

          No, you’re disgusting. Why do you need to follow me as a condition for leaving the blog voluntarily? I will block you if you try to follow me. You’re gross and disgusting.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Okay, I won’t follow you.

          If I turn to Satan will you like me? I will.

        • Kodie

          You’re not having any respect for women. There’s no chance for you. I have to block you.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Okay, but I still adore you. Gotta go to bed now. Goodnight.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Kodie, I’m high on weed now. Don’t take anything seriously.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Again, with the potty mouth.
          Kodie, I’d like to talk to you about coming to Jesus. Jesus can help you be a better person. Jesus makes it possible to have a life without anger and hopelessness. What is there to lose? You can always say no.

        • Kodie

          Seeing as you’re already lubed up, go fuck yourself. And Jesus.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Kodie, answer one question for me. Are you happy?

          Dude, I’m through making fun now. Just answer one question for me. Are you a happy, satisfied person?

          I know you won’t answer, but you might want to ask yourself that question. Personally, I don’t think you are.

        • Kodie

          GTFO, asshole. You’re making me unhappy.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Sorry to hear that.

        • Kodie

          I can always report your account for harassment, so I did. You’re a loser, a pervert, and you don’t have any Jesus. If you have Jesus, I certainly don’t want any, it sounds like syphilis the way you sell it.

          I also flagged your posts to the moderator. You are bumping a 2-month-old post to harass a guy who hasn’t posted here in that long because you obsessively had no life and read 15 pages of his posting history and thought that Jesus needed you to tell him your stupid fucking opinion, and then you told me I needed to get laid more, and now you are just proselytizing without any regard for the topic. I think you are a terrible person. Good luck waking up in another pile of vomit.

        • Greg G.

          He is Dutch. English is not his first language.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Like I give a shit where he’s from.

        • Greg G.

          You stuck your nose in his business as a tone troll.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          He was being nasty to my friend who’s not able to defend himself. I don’t know, it could have been partially Blue’s fault.

          What’s your main problem with people who believe in god? I’ve noticed you spend an inordinate amount of time writing about it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          He was being nasty to my friend who’s not able to defend himself.

          If that is indeed the case, your friend has no business putting himself in a position where he needs defending.

          I don’t know, it could have been partially Blue’s fault.

          Then that makes YOU the troll, dufus.

          What’s your main problem with people who believe in god?

          We don’t have any problem when they keep their nonsense to themselves….unfortunately that seem to be a bit of a problem with just about all of them.

          I’ve noticed you spend an inordinate amount of time writing about it.

          It can become a bit of a hobby, good craic, and a means of expanding ones knowledge on the subject and others.

          I suppose it’s a bit like being a Sherlockian, or a Trekkie, or like a fan of any fiction really.

          http://www.sherlockian.net/

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

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Are you Greg? I was speaking to Greg. At least Greg seems to be willing to have a conversation without name calling. I don’t converse with children. Rephrase your response a little and maybe we can chat.

          You sound a lot like MNb. Or, you’ve learned how to speak to people from him. That doesn’t fly with me.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Are you Greg? I was speaking to Greg.

          Ah but ya see, this is an open forum where anyone is free to comment anywhere without permission to do so. Just like you did, remember?

          At least Greg seems to be willing to have a conversation without name calling.

          Yeah, Greg is a nice guy…mostly very polite too. Me, not so much. There are others here much like Greg and the are others much like me…and worse. You won’t like Kodie much.

          I don’t converse with children.

          Spoiiinnng! There goes another friggin’ meter ffs.

          You do realise that you have just engaged in doing what you are tone trolling about? Dufus.

          I could give zero fucks who you converse with, that is your prerogative. Great isn’t it?

          Rephrase your response a little and maybe we can chat.

          Nah…not gonna happen. Don’t say stupid stuff and you won’t get said descriptor. It’s that simple.

          You sound a lot like MNb.

          Not even close. MNb would have used a word much stronger than dufus. That’s yet another silly thing you’ve said.

          Or, you’ve learned how to speak to people from him.

          I’ll take that as a compliment. Mark and I don’t always see eye-to-eye on some things, and he has been scathing about it. But I respect his right to have his opinion and if he wants to use expletives while expressing said opinion, fair dues. It’s all part of language.

          That doesn’t fly with me.

          Like I said, I give zero fucks whether it flies with you or not. You came here, remember?

          You have a few options. You can ignore my comments. If that’s too hard, you can block me and you won’t see what I’m writing and therefore won’t get all bent outta shape about it. But everyone else will see the comments, and that might be even more aggravating, seeing as you seem to be a bit of a busy body. You could stop being a silly pants and quit saying silly pants stuff. Or you could just fuck off which, would be no great loss since you contribution so far has just been that of a whinging troll.

          You could also petition Bob S, who is the site owner and moderator to have me chastised or banhammered.

          Isn’t freedom and choice just dandy?

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Iggy, are you a devil worshipper from the Netherlands? You sound Dutch. Slayer wrote a song about a warlock from the Netherlands.

        • Michael Neville

          Who cares what does or does not fly with you, besides you, of course? You’ve been tone trolling your entire time here and, quite frankly, you’re not very good at it. If you have a point to make about atheism or faith then make it. If all you’re going to do is whine about other people then you can fuck off.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s spooky.

        • Michael Neville

          We were both taught not to suffer fools gladly.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Okay. The first point I’d like to make is—atheists have potty mouths. Why do ya’ll cuss so much?

        • Pofarmer

          So fuckin what? Honestly.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Well, the point is intelligent people don’t have to rely on curse words to express themselves. Are you black, Pofarmer? I’m just curious. You don’t have to answer that.

        • Pofarmer

          fuck you you ignorant racist fuck.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Jesus doesn’t like it when you cuss. It makes him “weep.”

        • Pofarmer

          Wow Larry, that’s powerful stuff there ya ignorant, racist twat.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          I thought it was amusing. “Jesus wept.” Get it? He-he!

          It looks like from your avatar you’re somewhat of a shepherd there, Po.
          You know, Jesus was a shepherd. He was a shepherd for human souls.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, I think he was a myth. So there’s that.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Po, I don’t think there’s any doubt Jesus existed. He may or may not have been the son of god, we can have a discussion about that, but he certainly walked the face of the earth. Too many (even secular) citations verifying that fact.

        • Pofarmer

          No we can’t have a discussion. You’ve already shown your purpose here is to proselytize.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Po, you seem like a pretty good dude. I don’t know if there’s a god or not. All I’m saying is the universe is a pretty big place. There’s stuff out there we don’t know about. Who’s to say what created all that we see?

          There are scientists who are becoming certain that this whole thing we’re in is some kind of giant computer game from the future. Sam Harris and others are giving credence to these theories.

          The bottom line is, WE DON’T KNOW HOW IT ALL BEGAN. We don’t know!

          Now, if you guys are mainly pissed because of these nitwits who are trying to teach creationism in public schools as opposed to evolution, (among their other stupid ideas) then don’t worry, I’m with you. I’m on your side.

        • Pofarmer

          Ya know what? If we don’t know we don’t know. But there are an awful lot if theists who act like we DO kniw, about an awful lot of things that we either know or wrong or we simply don’t know. People push an agenda based on mythology and want to give that mythology pride of place. They control more and more of our Healthcare and more and more of our legislatures. Yes, it’s a problem. And people who cobeleive in this woo are enablers.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          You think Christians are getting too many healthcare considerations? That’s a complaint I haven’t heard yet.

        • Greg G.

          It is Catholic hospitals that own about 1 in 6 hospital beds in this country. In some areas, those are the only hospitals around. It is not that there is anything wrong with their overall healthcare but they are very restrictive regarding reproduction healthcare.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Oh, I can see how this is a major reason for your hatred of Christians. Certainly.

        • Pofarmer

          Running too many hospital chains. Catholic Hospitals control an enormous amount of beds in the U.S., and get their marching orders from the USCCB. They can out compete other hospitals because they don’t pay taxes.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          This is your main complaint against Christians? Holy shit, aren’t there better things to worry about?

        • Pofarmer

          Considering we have far right Christian Dominionists in the highest levels of our govt right now, not really.

        • Rudy R

          He certainly did not walk the face of the earth.

          “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” (Christopher Hitchens).

          Incidentally, modern secular citations are increasingly less confident on a historical Jesus.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Let’s pray Hitchens is heaven right now smiling down on us. Good guy.

        • Rudy R

          Whatever floats your boat.

        • Kodie

          You’re scum.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          I know it. I still like you. I want to be friends.

        • Michael Neville

          Some atheists do, some don’t. In my case I’m a retired Navy Chief and, even though I usually don’t do so here, I can curse like a sailor. But that’s neither here nor there. The question is: Why do you care? Are you one of those simpletons who think foul language is the sign of a limited vocabulary? Or is it that you don’t like adults using adult language? Or does it offend your delicate fee-fees?

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Hi, Chief. I was in the Navy. Maybe we were on the same ship. I was on the USS Wiccan. How about you?

        • Michael Neville

          I was a submariner, YNCS(SS). I served in USS Gato (SSN 615), USS James K. Polk (SSBN 645), USS Ulysses S. Grant (SSBN 631) and USS Dallas (SSN 700). One serves in submarines rather than on them. which would get you very wet.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          I did training in Groton. Sonar Tech. I never made it to subs, though. Destroyer.

        • Kodie

          I reported his account for harassment after he told me I needed to get laid in order to be pleasant because my behavior offends him.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          Hey, I’m making some valid points here. I said I was sorry.

        • Lubed Up Larry

          How do you know he cares about his family and students? Do you live in his neighborhood? Certainly, you don’t believe what some internet warlock writes, do you? Come on, Greg.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Do you have to undergo some sorta special training to be such a dumb fuck?

        • Greg G.

          …and a refresher course every Sunday.

        • adam
        • adam

          “the vastness of the universe and the fact that there are many galaxies,
          etc. in no way diminishes the existence of God or calls into question
          the existence of God”

          It certainly TRASHES your claims for the existence of God.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d6bca93ae7c80d595c91fdafdb2bf026527bd663a5a400261e534679da52b2ef.jpg

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

          Do you truly not understand how this works? “You haven’t disproved my god!” (1) will always be true and (2) isn’t the atheist’s goal. We follow the evidence, and the evidence argues for no god, no supernatural.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “You haven’t disproved my god!” (1) will always be true…

          Well that would depend on how Doug defines HIS god of course.

        • al kimeea

          nor does it show the glory of doG, which you’ve failed to do, as have all the others for over 2000 years

        • Cady555

          Likewise

          … the vastness of the universe and the fact that there are many galaxies, etc. in no way diminishes the existence of invisible purple unicorns calls into question the existence of invisible purple unicorns.

          And likewise

          … the vastness of the universe and the fact that there are many galaxies, etc. in no way diminishes the existence of flying cows or calls into question the existence of flying cows.

          And likewise

          … the vastness of the universe and the fact that there are many galaxies, etc. in no way diminishes the existence of interstellar teapots or calls into question the existence of interstellar teapots.

          In my opinion, the vastness of the universe makes it highly unlikely that the genital absorbed, blood sacrifice loving deity of the buybull exists.

        • Zeta

          Doug: “the vastness of the universe and the fact that there are many galaxies, etc. in no way diminishes the existence of God or calls into question the existence of God

          Your supposed creator god knows nuts about the Universe he supposedly created. Just a few of the really stupid stuff from your holy book:

          1. In Genesis 1.2, he created the Earth and water before anything else. So your god created all the 94 naturally occurring chemical elements and all the chemical compounds on Earth first before the nucleosynthesis processes in supernova explosions.
          2. He created a flat Earth with the Sun moving around the stationary Earth. I often wonder whether he knew where the Sun went at night.
          3. He took one day to create the solid firmament covering the Earth but less than a day to create the hundreds of billions of galaxies, each containing hundreds of billions of stars and countless planets and other celestial objects, almost as an afterthought. Amazingly those trillions of stars were studded onto the solid firmament. Your amazing Jesus thought that these stars could fall onto the Earth.

          You have an ludicrously ignorant god. Could such a god who fails Astronomy 101 create the Universe?

        • Doug

          1. Genesis 1:1 says the heavens and the earth were created first. So sorry for you.
          2. Actually the Bible refers to the earth as a sphere (Isaiah 40:22; Job 26:10), that it “hangs in space upon nothing” (Job 26:7), Isaiah 40:22 teaches the expansion of the universe, and more (if you’d like I can provide references). Modern science has further corroborated the beginning of the universe which Genesis 1:1 has held to for millennia.
          3. God can take whatever time he wants. God isn’t constrained by time since he is eternal and exists outside of time.

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

          Genesis 1:1 is contradicted by the (older) Garden of Eden story. More here. So sorry for you.

          2. The Isaiah verse is referring to a circle. You know the difference between a circle and a sphere, don’t you? Curiously, so does the Bible. If it meant to call the earth a sphere, there was a word for it. In brief, science has gotten zilch from the Bible. More here.

          3. God is outside of time? Then how does he cause things?

        • Greg G.

          1. Genesis 1:14 is when God made the stars so Genesis 1:1 is way out of order.

          2. Isaiah 40:22 and Job 26:10 say “circle” which is flat, not a sphere. Job 26:7 is talking about stretching which indicates a flat world.

          3. Genesis 1 says six days and specifies that each was followed by a night, which was created the first day according to Genesis 1:1-5.

          Come on, if you are going to troll, at least be intelligent.

          Often, a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other parts of the world, about the motions and orbits of the stars and even their sizes and distances, … and this knowledge he holds with certainty from reason and experience. It is thus offensive and disgraceful for an unbeliever to hear a Christian talk nonsense about such things, claiming that what he is saying is based in Scripture. We should do all we can to avoid such an embarrassing situation, which people see as ignorance in the Christian and laugh to scorn.
                St. Augustine of Hippo (354AD – 430AD)

          The funniest thing about that Augustine quote is that he thought it was absurd that God would have taken 6 days as his argument was that God would have done it instantaneously.

        • MNb

          Yeah, but Augustinus of Hippo actually was a smart guy, very unlike Dougiedrool.

        • MNb

          I really love Dougiedrool’s stupidities. According to you flat things can’t hang in space upon nothing, only spheres can. Except that Earth doesn’t hang upon nothing either, because as apologists never cease to exist, the gravity that keeps Earth in her orbit around the Sun is not nothing.

        • Zeta

          Doug: “1. Genesis 1:1 says the heavens and the earth were created first. So sorry for you.

          So sorry for your sad state of education, thinking skills, and comprehension problems.

          If heaven and earth were all created already, why was there a need to create them again in later verses? Your god forgot that he had already done so in Genesis 1.1? He must have been extremely senile if he forgot so quickly.

          2. Actually the Bible refers to the earth as a sphere (Isaiah 40:22; Job 26:10), that it “hangs in space upon nothing” (Job 26:7),

          In your world (not in mine) a flat circular disk is a sphere. You really have a comprehension problem or you are just plain ignorant. Go back to learn math and science in a proper school.

          Isaiah 40:22 teaches the expansion of the universe, and more (if you’d like I can provide references).

          The most idiotic claim that I have heard for a long time. Your god is so ludicrously wrong about the Universe that he was totally unqualified to talk about cosmology.

          3. God can take whatever time he wants.
          He supposedly could create trillions of celestial objects in less than a day but he took one full day to create a non-existent solid firmament covering the Earth which is just a speck of dust in the Universe. How laughable! The real reason is that he was ignorant of how big the Universe is.

          BTW, where is that solid firmament?

          God isn’t constrained by time since he is eternal and exists outside of time.
          How do you know?

        • MNb

          Silly, it demonstrates the immense arrogance of believers like you. Saying that the Universe is fine tuned for Homo Sapiens is way, way more absurd than saying that the White House is fine tuned for a fly to give it a resting place.

        • Doug

          You and I both know that to date there hasn’t been one habitable planet discovered let alone life on other planets. Only conjecture.

        • Doug

          neat picture

        • Herald Newman

          No, but it certainly disproves the idea that the “universe was created for Humans”

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

          The issue isn’t proving God’s nonexistence.

          nice try

        • Doug

          almost every one of your blog posts is a red herring Bob

          Take the issue of slavery in the Bible for example. Even if you’re correct that still doesn’t negate the existence of God. You concede that, right? In other words they’re completely unrelated

        • Kodie

          God isn’t actually a problem for us. The problem is claims made by theists about god’s character, intentions, and preferences, etc. None of them seem to hold with reality, and there is plenty of evidence against the existence of the god you claim to believe in and frantically trying to convince us you’re not the one who is warped or idiotic. Not gonna happen. You don’t even support your claims, you just keep repeating them and complaining that nobody is nice to you.

        • Doug

          Well a. not very many are nice to me but if you notice I usually only punch back when someone punches me and b. are you saying you’re technically an agnostic then? Dan Barker says he’s an agnostic atheist and that he respects people who say they are agnostic theists. Would you respect me more if I said I was an agnostic theist?

        • adam

          ” Would you respect me more if I said I was an agnostic theist?”

          No because you still Lie for Jesus.

        • Kodie

          You are a spammer and a troll. You don’t say anything new, and when you say anything, you don’t back it up, and when someone tries to educate you (or for any lurkers out there who think they might think the same things as you do, or maybe doubting that, or anyone), you don’t have anything else to say but your original unsupported claims, your propaganda… I mean, we heard you the first 20 dozen times, what do you think you’re accomplishing? As I said before, what would “god” think he’s accomplishing, sending idiots like you instead of straightening this shit out. You’re not a nice person, so there’s no reason to be nice to you. You are inconsiderate and intentionally annoying, in lieu of the capability of being interesting or smart, which many Christians are. You don’t give a shit, you just have a bug up your ass and you like to bug people without contributing to an honest conversation. I treat that as hostile, and I respond with hostility. You’re not pushing back, you liar, you are an admitted troll and you just love to be annoying.

          I won’t respect you more at all for anything. I think you fucked up because you don’t have any intention of carrying on a mature conversation, and you know you are lacking the intellect to do so, you declare victory because you’re a Christian and nobody likes your behavior. I just doubt you have anything under the surface, you know it, and try to make yourself feel better by being an asshole spamming troll to atheists. That makes me feel atheism is secure for the time being. You’re too slow to keep up.

        • Michael Murray

          not very many are nice to me but if you notice I usually only punch back when someone punches me

          Aren’t you supposed to turn the other cheek so they can smite that one as well ?

        • Otto

          Let’s see…you come one here and tell us we have no morality and lack any purpose….basically you call us pieces of shit…and you are seriously complaining that people here don’t treat you nice…your lack of self awareness is astounding

        • Doug

          Morality and meaning were the topics were they not? You’re complaining that I brought an argument to the table?
          One of my arguments for both is this.

          + that morality and meaning can only be rational if God exists. So far no one has refuted this basic argument and instead has often quipped “But if I say I am/it is than I am/it is”

        • Kodie

          That wasn’t an argument, that was you repeating like the pawn you are, the basic unsupported claims your cult makes you believe so you won’t leave them. Seriously, you don’t know any better “arguments”, you really believe you are justified in insulting us and our intelligence! Go fuck yourself already.

        • Susan

          that morality and meaning can only be rational if God exists. So far no one has refuted this basic argument

          It’s not an argument. It’s a mindless assertion constructed of vague terminology.

          You have not provided a connection, nor have you defined “God” or “rational”.

          There is no argument to refute.

        • Doug

          God = a personal being who is ultimately good and desires ultimate good for his creation

          ration = corresponding to reality

        • Susan

          a personal being who is ultimately good

          1)”Ultimately good” is incoherent without some context.

          2) How would you know you were dealing with an “ultimately good” agent? By what criteria of goodness, do you evaluate this agent?

          3) “Good” is meaningless when you use it if it means your (so far) imaginary being can do whatever it wants, even if it is the opposite of what we generally mean when we describe an action as morally good. He can drown babies, torture kittens, engineer natural selection etc.but he’s still “good”.

          4) You have no supported model for the existence of any supernatural agent.

          Even if those problems didn’t exist, you have shown no necessary connection between human morality and meaning and a (so far imaginary) agent.

          Also:

          ration = corresponding to reality

          People usually use the word “real” for that. Rational has several meanings. But not that one.

          You still don’t have an argument. Just an unjustified conclusion.

          What is good? What criteria do you use to measure it?

          On what basis do you claim that your (so far) imaginary agent is good?

        • Doug

          What is good?

          God is good. “good” here means at its most basic “the best.” Good as a definition might mean “the best possible scenario, outcome, thing, person.”

        • Susan

          God is good.

          That is assuming what you are trying to prove.

          Good… might mean … best…”

          That is not helpful. It’s not a definition. It’s ;just a superlative form of the the thing you have yet to define.

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

          So what do we do when our understanding of good (not drowning the entire world in a global flood, for example) clashes with what God does? Just rewrite the dictionary?

        • Doug

          Like I’ve said elsewhere there’s no contradiction here. Someone could be a vegetarian yet have a strict diet of meat. How so? That’s the situation they’ve been dealt. In other words, a moral dilemma. The vegetarian finds herself in a situation where she can either eat meat and live or die of hunger.

          Another example would be of a married woman stuck in a concentration camp. The only way out of the concentration camp is if she is pregnant and the only way that can happen is if she sleeps with one of the guards. Either she stays in the concentration camp where she’s sure to die or she gets pregnant by one of the guards (thereby committing adultery) so that she can leave and join her family on the outside.

          It’s no different with some of the events of the Bible or throughout history for that matter. God has a standard just like the people in the examples I’ve given yet history dealt him a moral dilemma. We don’t have to like the situation, we don’t have to be excited about it and jump for joy, but we also don’t have to fault God for doing the right thing (if perhaps he has).

        • Kodie

          You come from the kind of people who would believe homosexuality is a sin and god sends natural disasters to send a message, but here you describe him as someone in a tight situation who has no choice but to abide what the people want to do, and give instructions how to be effective at it. Bullshit, Doug. This contradicts your other claims that god is “good” or “best” or “the ground of morality”. If he has to lower his standards and let people be assholes by owning other people, but shrimp cocktail is out of the question, bullshit.

          You can either claim god is the ground of all morality and shoot it out for all its worth, or give up that claim and depict god as flawed as any human. You can’t do both and expect much. Maybe you can lie to yourself and believe this bullshit, even at the same time, but you’re expecting the rest of us to be as stupid and gullible as you are. Please!

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

          Your examples are of people who are powerless to change things to correct a problem. Is that how it works with God, too? If not, why give me an example that doesn’t work?

          You can say is, “You haven’t proven God doesn’t exist,” but of course I have if not doing (or allowing) bad things is part of his charter. You can say, “God may have good reasons for something you don’t understand,” which is true but irrelevant. My job (yours, too) is to evaluate the evidence for God’s existence. A god who supports slavery? Not a good god who therefore doesn’t meet the job requirements for the Christian god.

        • Kodie

          Just admit you call god “good” because you are afraid of what will happen to your eternal soul if you don’t.

        • Doug

          I’ve wrestled with that but I thank-fully the Christian faith isn’t reliant on how self deceived I am. In other words, I can say “God your so good, your so loving, etc.” and not mean it and not be saved. On the other hand I can say the same thing and mean it and not be saved. How’s that? Because salvation in Christianity is not about our works getting us into heaven it’s about Gods grace to sinners and we are free to reject it or receive it. I would call God in any strict definition (Christianity aside) as “good” in the sense of being worthy of worship. If God by definition (hypothetically speaking) is who he says he is than nobody would be able to pull the wool over his eyes. I took a graduate level course on Islam where we had to read the entire Koran and Ibn Ishqs “Life of Muhammad” and I can tell you just from reading the Koran that Allah is more like what you’re describing, i.e. a god who wants people to cower before him.

        • Kodie

          The problem we get to is where you say “if god is who he says he is”, god didn’t say who he is, only Doug says who god is. Only whoever told Doug that convinced Doug what god said says who god is. There is no god at the bottom of that pile of messages. You describe a god who contradicts the god you describe.

        • Doug

          Fair enough.

          Even if God hasn’t spoken I still believe he exists. People become what they worship I suppose. “Good” subjective culturally but in the ultimate sense of the word God (a loving god for example) would be good.

        • Kodie

          Fair enough.

          Even if God hasn’t spoken I still believe God exists. God by definition would be good not evil because an evil deity wouldn’t be worthy of worship unless of course the person was evil.

          You don’t know what you are. You are just the victim of a scam.

        • Zeta

          Doug: “God by definition would be good not evil because an evil deity wouldn’t be worthy of worship unless of course the person was
          evil.

          Is your god Yahweh? Based on what he did as reported in your holy book, he is evil. Is he worthy of your worship?

        • Susan

          Only Doug says who god is.

          Yes. That’s a major problem.

          Or Luke. Or Karl.

          They reject the burden to support that there is any agent even remotely resembling the agent they claim they speak for.

          Also, they claim to speak for an agent.

          They evade all efforts to:

          Clearly define what they’re claiming and:

          To support their claims.

          (sigh)

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

          How can God be good if billions will rot in hell for eternity? That’s not the Plan of a good god.

          Because salvation in Christianity is not about our works getting us into heaven

          Wrong. Read the parable of the sheep and the goats.

        • Greg G.

          So far no one has refuted this basic argument

          Not counting all of those who have actually refuted your argument.

        • Greg G.

          Kodie shows that you have refuted your own assertions:

          http://disq.us/p/1gi73bx

        • Otto

          Yes those were the topics…and your argument was thoroughly refuted both in the post and in the comment section and yet you STILL hold to them even after they have been debunked …. and you haven’t given one piece of evidence nor one argument that shows otherwise.

          Your purpose and morality with a belief in God is no more grounded or objective than anyone else’s.

        • Doug

          only because you deny the existence of God. What I’m saying Otto is that to be rational and to claim one has meaning or morals God has to exist. That’s all I’m saying. All I’m talking about is rationality. It’s irrational to say that one has meaning and morality without God because morality and meaning are only meaningful if God exists.

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

          You ever think through your arguments? Think how a skeptic would see them? Or are they just words that you hit back over the net, thinking that you’ve honorably met your burden to contribute to the conversation?

          You boast that you’re rational and then give that as an argument? I’ve bitch-slapped your moral argument already. Don’t use it again until you’ve resolved the problems I’ve pointed out.

        • Doug

          I guess I’m confused about what you’re asking me to do.

          1. morality is only rational if God exists.
          2. God exists.
          3. Therefore morality is rational

          I’ll dissect premise 1 a little bit

          Morality (right and wrong that sort of thing) if God does not exist would only function as a “tool” for the survivalist. In other words, it’s only use would be to advance ones self or culture. Do you agree or disagree?

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

          You’re right to sense that 1 is bullshit.

          “Morality” is defined in the dictionary, and there’s no God element in it. We use morality just fine without God.

        • Otto

          >>What I’m saying Otto is that to be rational and to claim one has meaning or morals God has to exist.

          Yes you have said that over and over…you do not justify it though, you just assert it.

        • Ctharrot

          On another thread, you stated that you’d be “okay with self slavery to pay off debt and taking slaves as plunder during wartime absolutely.” (Emphasis added.) “Absolutely.” No hesitation. Presumably because Yahweh was cool with it (see Deuteronomy 20 :10-14).

          What you’re “okay with” is a war crime. Literally; I’m not just speaking rhetorically. “Enslavement” was one of several specified crimes over which the post-WWII Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals had jurisdiction, for example. More recently, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court lists “enslavement” as a crime against humanity. This isn’t controversial at all. Civilized nations unanimously condemn the taking of slaves during wartime.

          Your thinking that morality requires God is based on shaky assumptions to begin with. When it leads you to being cavalierly “okay with” criminal conduct that places people into involuntary bondage as “plunder,” you’ll find your interlocutors even less impressed.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So everyone on the planet that doesn’t believe in your God are both immoral and meaningless?

        • Doug

          No that’s not what I said. What I said was in order for morality and meaning to be rational God has to exist. It’s not to say that people who don’t believe in god aren’t moral or aren’t living meaningful lives. Rather, it’s just to say that philosophically speaking their adherence to morality and meaning without God is irrational whether they’re aware of it or not. For meaning and morality to be meaningful they must be both grounded in objectivity and God is the only being by definition who would fulfill the criteria for both of those categories.

        • Kodie

          You really are just repeating one sentiment here. Whenever Doug says “logically irrational” it just means “I don’t understand and I refuse to listen”, and there is no explanation here, although I don’t think you wouldn’t bother, you just don’t know how to elaborate your opinion of us. You live in a toxic mindset against atheism, and who told you about atheism? Who taught you something was meaningless and didn’t have morality about atheism? Your lying cult. Stop repeating this mess. Go ask your cult leader how to fix it, come and try again, and we’ll still beat that shit down but at least you’ll have supported a claim you made for a change. Do you know why you hate atheism and can’t understand the merits of not believing a fairy tale? Can’t understand what meaning and morality we can have without god – that you indeed also have without god? Because you are satisfied to believe there is a god without evidence, and you can live in a fantasy where you get meaning and morality from this figment of your imagination, but he’s not even there. You are a victim of propaganda. How much money have you given them so far?

        • Zeta

          Doug is just an immature, wannabe apologist who heard some deep-sounding nonsense from his religious teachers or
          preachers without much understanding and he just regurgitates the nonsense here.
          He repeats apologetics much like a parrot and wrote immature science-sounding
          posts. He does not realize that what he posted is nothing new to readers here.

          I have challenged him several times to explain or defend his posts but he evaded most of them.

        • Doug

          Is there no such thing as a moral dilemma? Can God not conceivably be the participant in such a situation?

        • Kodie

          Aren’t you the one trying to say morality has to be objective or it is worthless?

          Aren’t you the one making big claims for the sky daddy you are peddling like the cult pawn you are?

          You can’t contradict yourself.

        • Doug

          Like the vegetarian who is forced to eat meat or die they’re still a vegetarian and God is still morally perfect. You can both hate slavery and work with it. You can both hate murder and tell the Israelite’s to annihilate the Canaanites. You can both hate divorce and make exceptions for it. They’re not mutually exclusive ideas. You’re what I call an “all or nothing person.” Your worldview depends on everything lining up perfectly in your mind and if it doesn’t it’s scrapped. The reason you have a hard time wrapping your head around a God who would cause certain events, etc. is because you have an “all or nothing” view of God. Denying his existence is irrelevant. God can be involved in a moral dilemma just like anyone else.

        • Kodie

          As long as you sleep well at night, you can believe any contorted bullshit you want to believe, but don’t try to sell that bullshit to the rest of us. You’re really possibly in need of a home aide to keep you safe from hurting yourself with these twists and turns you can swallow. Really.

        • Doug

          moral dilemmas don’t bother me. They aren’t present I agree and ultimately not desirable. But one can hold to being a vegetarian (or any number of other things) yet exclusively eat meat given the context. I know these moral dilemmas bother you because you demand “perfection” in such a skewed manner.

        • Kodie

          I am not the one claiming god is perfect and then trying to win the argument by listing all the reasons why god had to break his perfection. God isn’t a vegetarian with hunger but no choices, he’s god – according to YOU!!! Stick by your claims or admit they’re wrong. You can’t expect smart people to ignore the glaring dishonesty in your approach. You can lie to yourself, but not to us.

        • Greg G.

          A vegetarian who eats meat is not a perfect vegetarian. Someone who is forced into a no-win moral position cannot be morally perfect ever again.

          If God forbids murder but people still get murdered, why couldn’t God forbid slavery, even if people still enslaved other people? Why forbid eating shellfish instead? Is eating shellfish worse than beating slaves?

        • TheNuszAbides

          If God forbids murder but people still get murdered, why couldn’t God
          forbid slavery, even if people still enslaved other people?

          THIS^[googolplex]

        • adam
        • Doug

          death happens to everyone. the way people die is irrelevant, i.e. nobody cares how they died when they’re dead. It’s also a red herring on whether God exists or not.

        • adam

          “nobody cares how they died when they’re dead.”

          LIAR

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/63efdbbf4898a8ba39e86976907dec2d61e70bc31feeb15e4e1fe2463b27fb7e.jpg

          ” It’s also a red herring on whether God exists or not.”

          Because it is not a commentary on God, but it’s ‘worshipers’ and ‘followers.

          you know like Faith in God and the Popemobile:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bc8c91ce5fc5aeffae0cfcb5116069d6d2233ca2f33ac546c1e496e1d45d8d89.jpg

        • al kimeea

          always looks like El Popo is gonna serve ice cream

        • adam
        • al kimeea

          shoulda been gelato

        • Kodie

          Another non sequitur. I just got done trying to explain to you that you’re really bad at this. We’re not after the existence of god, we’re after the claims. Either answer the question (coherently!) or stop claiming it.

        • Michael Murray

          But God wanted the serial killer to have free will. So that’s OK. I think. For some special Christian definition of OK ?

          I have the same problem with people saying “grace” before meals as long as someone somewhere else is hungry.

        • adam

          “But God wanted the serial killer to have free will. ”
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f142f77c52e865076a01b3a3efee03253df1fedf08474a3e33c625d3a5aea940.jpg
          All the while REMOVING the free will of the serial killers victims.

          “For some special Christian definition of OK ?”

          At this point, it is proper christianity to blame the victim, instead of the killer.

          “I have the same problem with people saying “grace” before meals as long as someone somewhere else is hungry.”

          I fully appreciate that.

        • Greg G.

          A person dies of starvation about every 4 seconds. Five seconds of saying grace becomes morbid.

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

          Almost every one of your comments is evidence-free, Woodchuck.

          Take the issue of slavery in the Bible for example. Even if you’re correct that still doesn’t negate the existence of God. You concede that, right?

          You’re seriously going with that one? “OK, I’ll grant you that God is morally a shithead, but you haven’t proven that he doesn’t exist, have you?! Gotcha!”

          I agree wholeheartedly that God could still exist. As a shithead. We have excellent evidence (from his own book!) that, if he does exist, he can’t have attributes such as all-good that Christians like to bestow upon him.

        • Doug

          You’re failure to understand a moral dilemma is somewhat embarrassing if you want to know the truth. The idea that complex moral situations that you deem “bad” in no way contradicts Gods goodness in the same sense that a vegetarian isn’t bad because he’s forced to eat meat provided that there aren’t any edible foods for him otherwise. God was dealt the situation by man, i.e. slavery, divorce, adultery, murder, etc. and he could’ve either scrapped the project all together or attempted to work with it. You’re faulting him for choosing the latter and not the former.

        • Kodie

          God was dealt the situation by man? And he couldn’t say “shut it down”? You are so fucking morally bankrupt to slobber all over the god you define, to make pretend excuses so you don’t have to face facts – the character you describe is very very bad. You love him. That’s who you are, that’s who you want to convince the rest of us to be. No fucking way. Besides the fact he’s imaginary. Obviously imaginary. You and idiots like you keep making claims and then the story doesn’t match up with reality doesn’t match up with the claims. All you have left is scrambling excuses together to lie to yourself that your story is coherent. It just isn’t.

        • Doug

          you think moral dilemmas are excuses? Sorry but they’re facts of life they happen all the time.

        • Kodie

          Not if you want to claim that objective morality is a thing and that it’s necessary for living to be worth anything at all. You either understand that you’re saying that it’s not a thing, and that god isn’t coherent or the ground of all morality or anything like that, or stop making any claims about god.

        • Doug

          because you’re an “all or nothing” person. If you were dealt a moral dilemma and lets say you were opposed to cannibalism yet to survive you’d have to consume the corpse of your shipmate. In order to remain consistent with what you’ve said so far you’d have to die of hunger and not eat your shipmate. There are tons of examples of men who were good men who were directly opposed to cannibalism. Yet in the situation they were dealt the options were a. die of hunger or b. live by making an exception. You’re faulting God for making an exception to his principles.

        • Kodie

          Moral dilemmas like you describe only really become a problem when you introduce the character “god” to give your life meaning, because you call life “meaningless” without “objective morality”. It’s not a problem for me, it’s a problem for you. God is not just a “good man” according to you, he is the ground of all meaning of your life, and the objective measure of all morality. According to you. You’re the one with a problem, not me. You’re the one who is building excuses for not a good man, but a perfect god to be morally conflicted, and go along with what the humans decide to do, and give them instructions. You are the one who is so full of problems right now, not me. Nothing you can try to scramble together to explain why god makes other decisions – the kinds of decisions that call your earlier claims about moral objectivity and perfection and meaningfulness into urgent doubt. You’re the one on fire here, not me. If god can be morally conflicted, then your claims about moral objectivity and meaningfulness and how we have none because we don’t believe in god or moral objectivity – all your claims and all your accusations have fallen apart. There is nothing you can say now.

          Either god exists but moral objectivity doesn’t, or you have to lie about god’s character – i.e. stick to your original story and forget all these excuses.
          Then you’d be wrong because that doesn’t match reality.

          Without god, none of this is actually a problem.

        • Doug

          Well I can’t abandon my belief in God because I firmly believe he exists and there’s good evidence for that (whether you want to believe the design argument, the ontological argument, the moral argument etc.). I think these and other reasons are good reasons to believe and rational as well. If I were to give up my belief in god I’d have to give up on my belief in objective morality which as I’ve discussed with you many times it seems fairly logical that morality (as opposed to preferences) only exists if God exists. Moreover, meaning is only meaningful if God exists because there’s no ultimate purpose to life. If meaning and morality are not handed down by a divine lawgiver anyone can define morality and meaning however they want probably more specifically culturally.

          I wholeheartedly agree with Bob and you and others on this sight that many of the stories in the Bible are troublesome. Honestly though I’m not making excuses for God I’m sincerely trying to understanding how God could philosophically speaking “have clean hands” within those troublesome stories. Some of the examples I’ve given such as the moral dilemma examples, etc. which is probably my favorite (as opposed to the “God is God and can do what he wants”) are an honest attempt to wrestle with the text. I can say from a lot of experience that most of my peers do not do the same thing as I’m doing.

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

          Here’s a good quote from Carl Sagan. This openness to follow the evidence is what Christians should follow.

          In science it often happens that scientists say, “You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,” and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.

          You’re totally making excuses for God. Let him come here and explain his actions himself.

          And the arguments you list suck. Why even list them? They’re not why you believe. If I convinced you that they were flawed (read my posts on them to get my arguments), you’d still believe.

        • Doug

          Antony Flu changed his mind didn’t he?

        • Zeta

          Antony Flu changed his mind didn’t he?

          Antony Flew changed his mind and believed in the Deist’s god who was supposed to have created the Universe and who did not bother with human affairs. He did not believe in the Christian god.

          Did you look into why he changed his mind? After seeing all your unthinking posts, I suspect the answer is NO. Flew began to change his mind in his old age when his mind and thinking power were on the decline. He was fed false science by the likes of the incompetent physicist Gerald Schroeder. Being scientifically very naive, he swallowed all the nonsense line, hook and sinker, leading him to believe in a Deist’s god.

          This god is supposedly undetectable, unfalsifiable and makes no difference at all to the Universe. What is the use of such a god? Why do you need him? Whether he exists or not makes no difference at all.

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

          He did, but why is that interesting? He certainly is no example for me to follow–he became a deist after believing arguments he couldn’t critique.

        • Doug

          correction *Flew

        • Kodie

          I don’t think any of those arguments are good, and I think they are PR for Christianity. They are lying to you about atheists not having meaning, and why, and they lie about science and statistics because they think you’re too stupid to notice, and you are. You are uneducated and have poor critical thinking skills, very obviously. There is no winning argument for Christianity. I don’t care about ultimate purpose, and I don’t think you can get it meaning something to a foggy figure of your imagination. Life is about making turds and thinking up new ways to avert boredom, in that order. If you had to ride the same roller coaster all day, it would probably stop being exciting and fun, and start being really annoying. But if it ends in 3 minutes, you’re satisfied and exhilarated. Maybe it was good and you want to stand on line to ride it again, but at some point, you want to hit a snack bar or sit around and people-watch, and eventually, you have to go back to your regular life, going to work, doing chores, seeing your doctor for regular check-ups. None of those things lasts forever, so why do you bother doing any of them? Same reason we live and don’t try to kill other people. We get along as best we can to enjoy life for as long as we can and expose ourselves to interesting experiences until we die, and that’s it. Why are you so greedy?

        • Michael Neville

          I’m sincerely trying to understanding how God could philosophically
          speaking “have clean hands” within those troublesome stories.

          According to your propaganda your god has absolutely dirty hands. He’s described as a sadistic, narcissistic bully who kills people just because he can*. He condones genocide, rape and slavery. And you’re pretending this thuggish brute is the source of morality?

          *I don’t accept that “God is the creator so he can kill his creation” bullshit. If I needlessly hurt or kill an animal I’m subject to legal consequences. So someone claiming that God can kill just because he’s supposedly the creator means that people are lower than animals in God’s eyes. It also means that people have a better morality than God does.

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

          Well, it’s not like God is going to do a reboot by drowning everyone or something. He has a moral attitude.

        • Kodie

          Imagine if god gave instructions for stealing in the bible, because, well, you can’t get the people to stop doing it, so at least help them be efficient at it.

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

          You’re failure to understand a moral dilemma is somewhat embarrassing if you want to know the truth. The idea that complex moral situations that you deem “bad” in no way contradicts Gods goodness

          Your failure to understand that proving God doesn’t exist isn’t the atheist’s goal—even though I’ve made that clear—is somewhat embarrassing. No, hilarious. No, pathetic.

          God was dealt the situation by man, i.e. slavery, divorce, adultery, murder, etc. and he could’ve either scrapped the project all together or attempted to work with it. You’re faulting him for choosing the latter and not the former.

          Poor baby! He created the entire fucking universe, is both omniscient and omnipotent, but his hands are tied.

          Guess again. Your own invented rules show you a liar or an idiot.

        • MNb

          Your failure to understand that a moral dilemma has exactly zilch to do with knowledge, let alone truth tells us all we need to know about your poor intellectual skills.

        • Greg G.

          slavery, divorce, adultery, murder

          God forbids murder but allows men to divorce but not women. Jesus forbids adultery. God also forbids cheeseburgers, mixing fabrics, sowing different kinds of seeds together in a field though other cultures found that to be a good thing*, trimming your beard but not slavery. All he says is to not treat the fellow Israelites harshly, the way you treat the other slaves. God allows slave-owners to beat a slave to death if they suffer long enough before dying.

          The Bible forbids many stupid things but can’t get the slavery issue right. Why? Because the priests who wrote the laws got more sacrifices from those wealthy enough to own slaves than they did from poor people.

          *Native Americans planted corn, beans, and squash together. The corn stalks gave the beans something to grow on, the beans added nitrogen to the soil, and the squash provided ground cover to keep the soil from drying out and kept weeds down. Eating beans and grains together make a complete protein. Too bad God never thought of that.

        • al kimeea

          Sure, but it puts the boots to the loving doG. I didn’t worship my parents, as per their instruction, so why worship the arsewipe you do?

          Oh it loves me. Unless I don’t worship it. Then it’s an abusive parent.

        • Greg G.

          If you mean the omnipotent, benevolent God, then the existence of unnecessary suffering negates its existence.

        • Otto

          The slavery issue isn’t meant to disprove God….it is meant to disprove that the Christian is in anyway a foundation for morality.

        • Doug

          And I’ve tried to help you understand that slavery in the Bible has been misconstrued (again to fit with the skeptics agenda) to be the same as slavery performed in the first century of the united states which is blatantly false and misleading. Just because slavery existed and God worked with that situation (just like he does divorce, unjust/immoral nations, etc.) doesn’t negate that God is good. Riddle me this: is it possible both to be a vegetarian but only eat meat? The answer is of course yes. Why? Because if a vegetarian were dealt a situation where there was only meat they’d be forced to either die of hunger or kill an animal and consume it to survive. The same is true of God with some of these complex moral situations. Gods desire is no slavery (likewise no divorce, no adultery, no murder, stealing, etc.) yet after the fall the situation cannot be rectified accept through people and nations changing their hearts. Legislation ultimately doesn’t change hearts but ideas do. Legislation can be overridden with other legislation but ideas and objective principles cannot. God was “dealt a hand” by man whereby he could’ve either overridden everyone’s free will and made everything “all better” (which by the way he did with the flood which is somewhat of a self vindication when you think about because someone was bound to say “Well God why in the world didn’t you just start over if it was so bad?”). Or he could work with the situation over time and achieve the end result that way. Evidently he ultimately chose the latter and not the former. Saying that God is evil because he allowed slavery is like saying all Nazis were bad because they allowed the internment of the Jews. It’s just not as simple as you want it to be and I’m trying to help you understand more of the nuances of the situation.

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

          We’ve been over this. The structure of slavery (indentured servitude for people like us and lifelong slavery for Others) was the same in the US and in the Old Testament.

          Praise the Lord

        • Greg G.

          Just because slavery existed and God worked with that situation (just like he does shellfish eating, cheeseburger eating nations, mixing fabrics, cutting your hair, etc.) negates that God is good.

          FTFY

        • Otto

          Your argument is so inane I can’t believe I have to explain this to you.

          Did God negate our free will by saying ‘don’t kill each other’? No…
          So how in the world can you argue God would negate our free will by saying ‘don’t own other people as property’ …? There was no nuance needed…your argument has more holes than a chain link fence.

          (and btw that is only one example of many of the immorality of God in the Bible).

        • Doug

          Again, Exodus 21:16 says not to own other people as property I’ve been trying to help you to understand this but you keep saying “they had slaves, they had slaves!” Yes, they did have slaves that’s correct. Did God say he hates divorce? Yes. Did people get divorced? Yes. Did God make concessions to divorce? Yes. Did he say don’t murder? Yes. Did people murder each other? Yes. Did he make concessions for different types of human death intentional or otherwise? Yes.

          I’m saying God would negate our free will not if he proclaimed “don’t have slaves” but if he scrapped the whole project all together, i.e. put planet earth in the trash and started over. But the problem with that is the same thing would happen over and over again. With human freedom came the power to choose contrary to Gods will and in that system human beings chose to enslave each other in various ways some not so bad some really terrible.

        • Otto

          >>Again, Exodus 21:16 says not to own other people as property I’ve been trying to help you to understand this…

          You are lying…it does not say that what so ever.

          I will not converse with you if you are a consistent liar.

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

          Did God say he hates divorce? Yes. Did people get divorced? Yes.

          Did God say he hates slavery? Nope. He regulated it, just like he regulated commerce.

        • Greg G.

          Again, Exodus 21:16 says not to own other people as property

          But Leviticus 25:44-46 does say that. Exodus 21:20 says it’s OK to beat a slave to death because they are the property of the owner.

          I’m saying God would negate our free will not if he proclaimed “don’t have slaves”

          The Ten Commandments negate our free will.

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

          What a nice, welcoming universe. Ain’t God marvelous!

        • Doug

          Because your god would’ve created less?

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

          Eden would point to a god. Our inhospitable universe does not.

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

          And less if you consider the habitable regions as a % of the entire universe, I imagine.

        • Doug

          which further proves the fine tuning argument

        • Kodie

          You never say how, so nobody will see it your way just because a credulous dummy like you says things.

        • Doug

          and when I do explain you dismiss. around and around we go I guess

        • adam

          “and when I do explain lie you dismiss. around and around we go I guess”

          FTFYT

        • Kodie

          Your “explanations” amount to “it’s illogical” “it doesn’t make any sense” – yeah, really explanatory. You’re just too dumb. We know why and how you’re dumb. We know the arguments you’d use if you had the intellect, but you seem to think we’re interested in your opinion about things that you’re gullible enough to believe or stupid enough to decide don’t make sense.

        • adam
        • Herald Newman

          Are you for real?! The universe has barely any places where life can be supported, and for most of our planets history life has been little more than single celled, and you somehow claim that this is proof that the universe is tuned for life?

          You have a strange idea of what constitutes proof…

        • adam

          “You have a strange idea of what constitutes proof…”

          What?
          Wishful thinking doesnt constitute proof?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b12fa1635e121ebbb3409640826d721ba93278771f0064bd133804faa3f01397.png

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

          Or disproves it. Eden was carefully tuned for human habitation. The universe was obviously not when the vast majority of it is painfully uninhabitable.

        • Otto

          It really doesn’t

        • epeeist

          Indeed. I think my example is probably more defensible though, extending it out to other stars and galaxies would get you the whine that you can’t know what is out there.

          For people like Doug I suspect the power notation is probably a bit too difficult. It would work better if you said, “Imagine if you got in your pick up and when you switched on the ignition the engine only fired once in every 3000000000000000000000 tries.”

      • MNb

        ” I really don’t know what happens.”
        … won’t last long.

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

      In most cases it’s also a strawman, since few people say anything came from literally nothing (this includes Krauss). Christians are ironically closer, with the idea of creation ex nihilo, though again it’s not literally true, but comes from God (which is not much different).

      • MNb

        Actually before (whether understood as science or as logic, ie a priori) the act of creation there was god + nothing. Afterwards (or a posteriori) there was god and our material nothing. God literally (I refer to Gen. 1) poofed our natural reality into existence from nothing.
        Christians are not closer – they totally believe that their god can create something from nothing. There is even a lame joke about it.

        https://pastorappreciationblog.com/tag/joke-about-scientists-and-god/

  • sandy

    faith
    1.complete trust or confidence in someone or something based on evidence.
    i.e.. “I have faith the sun will rise tomorrow”

    2. strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on belief without evidence. i.e.. ” I have faith in Jesus as my saviour and he died for my sins”

    Of course atheists have no use for a religious (#2) definition of faith. When discussing faith we should always start by asking “what definition of faith are we talking about”, just as we would when discussing if god exists, we should ask, “which god are we talking about, christian?”

  • Michael Murray

    As I have before I’ll borrow from Quine:

    http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/reasonable-expectations-based-on-prior.html

    It’s not faith it’s

    reasonable expectations based on prior evidence.

    • Ignorant Amos

      A steal that one myself from time to time…it’s kept in my favourites.

  • epeeist

    How do I know that these other atheists really exist?

    Roll up, roll up, this way to the solipsist.

  • Martin Thomas

    In his typical long-winded style, he imagined an atheist attending the
    Reason Rally who wondered, How do I know that these other atheists
    really exist?

    This is the famous ‘other minds’ problem. Many philosophers have had fun with it: either claiming that there are good arguments that other minds exist; or denying that any such argument has any merit.

    But, fun thought this is, I find it hard to take seriously: How on Earth could I deny that other minds exist? It is easy to do as a thought experiment, but can I really doubt that anyone else is out there?

    Even to think about it needs words – and I can only use words because I spent a few years around other people learning to talk. And anyone who takes philosophy seriously will read a lot of books. So the idea that there might be no one out there can hardly be taken seriously.

    There may be people with brain damage or severe mental illness who do not believe anyone else exists. And apparently a philosopher called Claude Brunet wrote a book in about 1700 arguing for solipsism, though the book has been lost. (Which is a great pity – I would love to look at such a book!)

    But for nearly everyone else, we just naturally believe that other people exist; this it just part of what it is to be human. No rational argument or irrational faith is needed.

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

      Yeah, it’s what many philosophers call a “basic belief” which needs no foundation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mr. Plantinga attempts to defend belief in God as this, explicitly comparing it with other minds.

      • MNb

        Which I still think a lame approach. It’s an assumption/ presupposition for which hence no foundation is possible. The assumption/ presupposition is necessary to make science work. That’s enough justification.
        If smarter people than me manage to develop a research method with similar results based on the assumption that there are no other minds I’ll be all ears.

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

          I can just hear them now: “See? This shows science is based on faith too!” I’d say other minds and science aren’t though, but a reasonable inference from the evidence.

        • MNb

          The problem remains that
          1) the assumption is about our natural reality, not about a supernatural reality;
          2) the assumption has allowed to develop internet and I’m still waiting for anything even remotely comparable;
          3) they don’t even have a method that can yield such results.
          So shrug.

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

          Indeed. People who doubt science’s efficacy often seem to me like those who doubt other minds’ existence.

    • Dannorth

      Once Zhuang Zhou dreamed he was a butterfly, a fluttering butterfly.
      What fun he had, doing as he pleased! He did not know he was Zhou.
      Suddenly he woke up and found himself to be Zhou. He did not know
      whether Zhou had dreamed he was a butterfly or a butterfly had dreamed
      he was Zhou.

      At best you know you exist, the famous I think therefore I am, and assume the rest of the world exists. Until proven wrong I’ll stick to this working hypothesis though.

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

    While we may all need a certain amount of “faith” in this regard, not all demands for this are made equal. Regardless, the word faith is equivocated.

    • MNb

      This is one advantage the English language has over Dutch. In the latter the same word is used: “vertrouwen”.
      The difference between faith and trust is that the latter in principle can be checked, tested, verified, given enough time, money and effort. The latter is exactly what you do when you fall off a cliff and reach for a tree. In more fortunate circumstances you can even do a controlled experiment. Exactly that was what the Mythbusters did.

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

        The problem is a lot of religious people define faith as their trust in God, claiming this can be checked. Of course, that’s pretty dubious to me. Incidentally, according to Google Translate “faith” is “geloof” in Dutch, though “vertrouwen” is given as the second translation. My trust lies in the word of a real Dutchman however 😀

        • sandy

          What I find is the religious treat faith as a virtue, and that of course is what the church is selling because that is their product. In fact, faith is a fault…having belief without evidence.

        • Greg G.

          The church sells faith. Faith without evidence is a virtue, but faith in spite of the evidence is even better.

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

          Well that’s not actually how they put it, naturally (at least the more sophisticated ones).

        • Greg G.

          Right, they try to say it is trust from the evidence but the faith goes beyond the evidence which is faith without evidence anyway, no matter how much they try to deny it.

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

          Yes, how do you have a reasonable faith that the Bible or the Quran is the word of God, for instance? The “evidence” that I’ve seen for this is simply pathetic. It’s telling how all of this would be agreed to if you criticize some other holy book too. Critical thinking vanishes often when you get to theirs.

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

          That’s a tricky point. Do you say that Christianity has no evidence? I suppose the Bible is some evidence, even though it’s a manmade book. The quality level that Christians accept as compelling evidence is something they would scoff at if it came from some other guy’s religion.

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

          Yes, it is tricky. If you find someone’s evidence (which may be testimony, predictions, archaeological finds, etc.) to be wrong or lacking, is it still “evidence”? Perhaps so, but in some cases even “evidence” might be the wrong word. Let’s say “alleged evidence” there.

        • Otto

          The courts have ground rules for what constitutes reasonable evidence…it would be nice if we had something similar for general use that people could agree upon.

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

          Yes, some have tried to use judicial standards, claiming the Bible is proven with them. It’s pretty laughable to anyone aware of these.

        • Otto

          I am not a lawyer but have some education in law…I am not aware of one shred of evidence that would be admissible.

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

          Me neither. I have a paralegal degree. Yet this argument has been seriously made by Christian lawyers. It just goes to show the poor apologetics that exist.

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

          The adversarial way courts work is very unlike the collaborative way scientists work, and yet apologists connected with the law often argue that the Jesus case would win in a courtroom. BS.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/08/scientist-thinking-vs-lawyer-thinking-2/

        • Otto

          The case would be dismissed before it ever got to trial…lol

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

          Yes, it’s malarkey. History is really where this is decided. Most historians do not support Christian dogma in regards to Jesus.

      • Cady555

        Yes. English has a lot of near synonyms, which is both a strength and weakness.

        I tend to use “faith” in the Hebrews 11 definition – faith is based on hope and wishful thinking rather than evidence. I use “confidence” as the opposite – a conclusion based on evidence.

        If it’s the difference between flying on a major US airline and flying on a plane operated by Billy Bob’s Bait and Air Tours after Billy Bob tells me he doesn’t need no FAA regulations.

        I don’t know anything about aircraft maintenance, but I have confidence in major airlines because I know the FAA enforces standards for maintenence, pilot qualifications and more. And airlines have a public track record.

        To fly with Billy Bob would require faith because there us no evidence whatsoever that Billy Bob is qualified or the aircraft is safe.

        Likewise, I don’t say I “believe in” evolution. Rather I have confidence that the theory of evolution is correct.

  • Doug

    This post here reminds me of the debate between Douglas Wilson vs. Dan Barker
    (see below)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzEi3w7M88c

    I disagree with Bannister that atheists have no use for faith in the same way that Douglas Wilson does. Both the theist and the atheist stands philosophically on faith. Wilson agreed with faith and acknowledged faith as his philosophical base. In contrast, the atheist disagrees with faith but stands on the same philosophical underpinnings that the theist does, i.e. faith. Wilson continues.

    Both the atheist and the theist are standing on the debate stage (Wilson and Barker). When Barker says “there’s no such thing as faith” it’s akin to saying “there’s no such thing as a stage.”

    • Michael Neville

      Define faith because I think you mean something different from what the rest of us understand faith to be.

      • Doug

        faith is the default presupposition held by everyone until they think they know something

        • Michael Neville

          That’s not a definition, that’s a non sequitur. Give an understandable definition of faith.

        • adam

          Come on Michael, get real, a definition would be ‘evidence’, and Doug doesnt want evidence floating around, it would destroy his imaginary #altreality

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

          And get him to give a rule for how to tell if something believed by faith is true or not.

        • adam

          “faith is the default presupposition held by everyone until they think they know something”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8b598571f4bd7f5b61e891132b8ee0da5dd875b77674a7e19a2b719b3119cc5b.jpg

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

          Define “faith” as “breathing air” and you’re right–everyone does it. You must make your definition clear up front.

        • al kimeea

          faith is believing a deity did it when you don’t know anything of the subject at hand

      • Doug

        Atheists discard faith once they think they don’t need it anymore.

        • Michael Neville

          You don’t pay attention, do you Doug Woo Murph? I said for you to define faith, not give a non sequitur. Now give a definition of faith or admit that you’re talking out of your ass again. Your choice, Doug Woo Murph.

        • sandy

          Doug “Woo Woo” Murph aka Troll

        • Jim Jones

          What is the difference between religious faith and wishful thinking?

        • adam

          “Atheists discard faith once they think they don’t need it anymore.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b23b2e7cd1bc09dec5b20c13ff961e710e7387e252ee87d90048e9613ef5f461.jpg

        • al kimeea

          I discarded religious faith once I read the BuyBull from end to end. I still can’t believe adults take it seriously, but then my parents didn’t teach that I would burn for eternity if I didn’t.

        • Greg G.

          Atheists Theists discard faith once they think realize they don’t need it anymore. Then they are atheists.

          FTFY. YW.

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

        Exactly. I hate the hassle of having to define terms up front, but when “faith” is one of the terms, it’s mandatory.

        • Otto

          Conflation is the primary tool of the apologist

    • RichardSRussell

      Short version of my essay on “How We Decide”: There are 8 available methods, in order from most to least reliable:
      (1) logic
      (2) reason
      (3) confidence
      (4) trust
      (5) chance
      (6) obedience
      (7) hope
      (8) faith

      It is very much in the interests of the clergy to have everyone conflate faith with one or more of the superior methods of making decisions, and they’ve been at it for centuries. But don’t be fooled. Prior experience (AKA evidence) gives you a solid basis for believing something and using it is properly described as trust or confidence. Faith is what you use when all prior experience indicates you shouldn’t believe something at all, or should believe its exact reverse.

      • Doug

        Well I agree with the list for the most part and think it’s pretty good except confidence (6) which is actually a byproduct of 1, 2, 4 7 and 8. Confidence isn’t a method. And I don’t think hope are methods per se. I think the proper category would be as expressions of 4 or 8. I’d remove them from the list leaving 1, 2, 4, 5, and 8.

        Faith is not mutually exclusive from reason or logic, etc. For example, the mountain climber expresses faith in his gear as he climbs the mountain. He knows from previous experience that the gear is good and reliable yet there’s a possibility for failure. In fact, in this situation the climber is apt to utilize faith more than reason. Why? If he were to use either of those methods he probably wouldn’t climb at all seeing how he’s engaging in a highly dangerous activity. So, he’s taking a chance in doing so but he’s certainly not using logic or reason because climbing the side of a mountain with ropes and “gear” is completely unreasonable. He also uses logic to decide which crevice to place his foot into and get up the mountain side.

        We shouldn’t downgrade methods of determining truth but instead know that each one of these are “tools” (1, 2, 4, 5, and 8) for getting through life. It’s the taxi cab fallacy to say faith is virtually unimportant in life. In actuality we use faith all the time and it’s only convenient to some to say otherwise.

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

          We do indeed use faith all the time … depending on how you define the word.

          Do so.

        • Doug

          faith is what everyone exercises until evidence comes in which they find to be contrary

          Example a: I walk out to my car in the morning hoping, trusting (i.e. “having faith”) that it will start for 1. because I’ve driven the car for a long time and it’s pretty reliable and 2. because I don’t actually know for certain that it will start. It might not and I have to be open to this if I’m going to be realistic.

        • Greg G.

          I walk out to my car expecting it to start because it usually does. If it doesn’t, I figure out why it won’t start and fix it. If I can’t fix it, I find someone who can.

          I don’t have faith that it will start because I know that sometimes it doesn’t, like if I forget to turn off the dome light, but well over 99% of the time it does. If it fails to start less than 99% of the time, I make sure I turn off the dome light or, if necessary, I get a new car.

          Comparing religious faith to the way you are trying to use the word would have appalled my grandmother because she would think you were trivializing faith.

        • Doug

          Your first sentence is an exercise of faith.

        • RichardSRussell

          No, his first sentence is an example of confidence — confidence based on prior experience. If he walked out to his car and expected it to sprout wings, despite no mechanical device in all of human history having ever done so, that would be an example of faith.

        • Greg G.

          Faith is expecting your car to fly like a magic carpet when you don’t even have a car. Expecting your car to start is learned because you have actually started the car in the past. That is the opposite of faith. If you apply this new standard of faith to cars starting, you should apply it to religion, too, and watch it fail again and again.

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

          So then “trust” is what you mean.

          Why not just use that word? Or do you want the confusion?

        • Greg G.

          Doug is so confused he doesn’t even know he is confused.

        • TheNuszAbides

          that seems to me to be the purest grade of Dunning-Kruger: meta-confusion, in which one is unwittingly confused about how confusion even works.

  • Dannorth

    Wiktionary:

    equivocation (plural equivocations)
    (logic) A logical fallacy resulting from the use of multiple meanings of a single expression.
    The use of expressions susceptible of a double signification, possibly intentionally and with the aim of misleading.

    Have I resumed your post to your satisfaction?

  • RichardSRussell

    Some time back, Bob was kind enuf to devote 3 issues of his Cross Examined blog to an essay of mine entitled “How We Decide”. In it, I identify 8 different methods of arriving at conclusions, starting with logic and running down the list of reliability before arriving at the last and least of them, which is faith. And I go into some detail as to why, but the subtitle of Bob’s current post (“Atheists Have No Use for Faith”) pretty well wraps it up in a nutshell.

    Not only do atheists have no use for faith, nobody else should, either.

    Religion per se isn’t a problem, it’s just a preference or a mindset, not intrinsically any worse than, say, my own fannish attraction to science fiction or the Green Bay Packers. Viewed as nothing more than a hobby or pastime, religion is just a benign social outlet.

    If only people would just leave it at that.

    But no, religionists (especially the clergy) have to insist on justifying their peculiar ideas using faith — the mindset that deludes people into thinking that they can somehow or other “know” things without a shred of supporting evidence, and frequently in the face of considerable evidence to the contrary. And religion is only one of its unfortunate consequences. Faith is also responsible for homeopathy, astrology, objectivism, ufology, conspiracy theories, climate-change denial, false accusations of ritual satanic child abuse, anti-vax movements, a host of superstitions, personality cults, jingoism, imperialism, racism, quackery, Chinese traditional “medicine”, feng shui, and the insidious brain parasite that leads people to endlessly obsess over anyone named Kardashian.

    Faith is humanity’s all-time, blue-ribbon, gold-medal, undisputed, undefeated, heavyweight world-champion worst method EVER of making decisions! Nobody ever uses faith for anything that can be tested or measured or that really matters in real life.

    The sooner we all recognize faith for the awful, horrible, misbegotten thing it is, instead of blindly singing its praises, the sooner we will have taken the next stage of our journey to becoming a sane society.

    • Otto

      I could not agree more…if religion was just regarded as an individuals hobby this would not be an issue. No one expects their personal hobby to be taken seriously by anyone else.

      I especially like the part about making decisions, I have well grounded family members/friends who would never use the same justifications/methods for their religious belief in any other area of life.

      P.S. I am sorry about the Packer thing….

      j/k…at least it’s not the Cowboys….lol

      • RichardSRussell

        Y’know, we habitually make fun of the Bears and insult their fans (and vice versa), but I’ve never heard a single Packer backer, with anything resembling seriousness, advocate bombing the crap out of Chicago or fricaseeing anyone caught wearing midnight blue and orange. Yet, for whatever reason, religions do that sort of thing all the time!

        PS: FWIW, the Falcons deserved to win the NFC championship. I’d never say anything comparable about ISIS.

    • Kevin K

      And, of course, the “faith” they’re talking about is almost exclusively used in service of the notion that their uber-deity exists (God the Father, Yahweh).

      Because if you try to disclaim the corporeal existence of the unter-deity Jesus, you’ll be given the chapters and verses of what passes as evidence among Christians to declare otherwise.

      Christians don’t have faith that Jesus exists. Instead, they’re relying on shaky evidence which wouldn’t pass muster in any court of law.

  • Jim Jones
  • Kevin K

    I’m reading Sean Carroll’s latest book. It’s an antidote to this drivel.

  • Ignorant Amos

    Dammit…did Doug get the hammer?

    I just tried to post this reply:-

    You didn’t use the Taxicab Fallacy against me, you used it against even cleverer folk than I ya fool.

    I’m going to suggest that you have gotten your idea of this from that clown Ray Comfort, but even then you have fucked it up.

    The “Taxi-Cab Fallacy” is committed when one hops in and assumes a certain system of thought or worldview in an attempt to make a particular point but then jumps out of the system of thought when it suits their fancy. Such practice lacks logical consistency and is therefore a logical fallacy.

    Perhaps if you cited your source then we can all appraise which Taxicab Fallacy you are using?

    In the meantime….

    It is you that has misused the Taxicab Fallacy ya Clampett.

    Oxygen wasn’t there at the start of your journey, and I’ve news for you, it won’t be there at the end of Earths journey. That’s just where you’ve chosen to get out.

    To get to the Great Oxygenation Event and therefore that luxury element you believe to be the big everything for life in abundance, your taxicab has to go through millions of years of no oxygen existing life.

    You see you are equating life to intelligent human life and that is your major malfunction. Intelligent human life has only existed on this planet for the merest fraction of time of all life. God went about his experiment in a wildly convoluted manner, not the intelligent design you want to apply.

    Water on the early Earth went through a sort of similar problem. And guess what, it’ll all be gone well before the Earth vaporizes in circa 5 billion years time…as will your intelligent designers intelligent human life. Unless we manage to find a life supporting rock somewhere else and develop a means to get there.

    But Disqus says his comment was deleted.

    • Greg G.

      Looks like he lost that sock in the dryer. He must have deleted himself as I see lots of missing comments and replies to “Guest”.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Indeed, just seen that myself.

        Cowardly bastard. It’s one thing to do a runner under pressure, but deleting the account and in doing so leaving a trail of destruction is just the act of a coward who has realised his position is that of a cockwomble.

        • adam

          “Cowardly LYING bastard”

          FTFY

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

          If he actually did realize the stupidity of his position, that would be so miraculous that I’d almost suspect divine intervention.

        • Pofarmer

          Would I have to re-deconvert? Would it be like re-virgining or something. This is so confusing.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Of course, I had an unthinking moment, silly me.

        • Susan

          If he actually did realize the stupidity of his position, that would be so miraculous that I’d almost suspect divine intervention.

          If he realized it and stuck around and acknowledged it instead of tearing up camp and running away, maybe.

          Instead, he’ll probably just show up in some new place and hit the reset button.

          With a new batch of names and the same old crappy arguments.

          Nothing supernatural about that. It’s just standard apologetics. Nothing to see here, folks.

    • Joe

      I blocked him ages ago. It’s fine to believe something different, but he showed no inclination to even understand the arguments we were putting forward. He was just another theist making bald-faced assertions, and there are already too many of them as it is.

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

      Nope–I didn’t do anything. I haven’t looked. Is his account deleted?

      Golly. What a tragedy that would be. Doug/Murph’s posts gone would be like another Library of Alexandria fire.

  • De Ha

    From the sound of it, this reveals a HUGE difference in the way of thinking between the author of the book and how we think.

    To HIM, the concept of admitting you don’t know something is abhorent and inconcieveable. To ME, that’s intelectual honesty. To HIM, the Matrix was a horror movie. To me, I ate popcorn though it.

    Questioning everything is what we do. It’s how we deconverted in the first place. I KNOW i don’t know everything. I don’t claim to. Admitting you don’t know everything is the first step to getting smarter.

    Hell, he contradicts himself even in his strawman. If the hypothetical Atheist randomly just started wondering if he was in the Matrix, that is the oposite of Faith. if you think about things, you have no faith. If you admit everything you know could be wrong, you have no faith. The only way suddeny randomply suspecting you’re in the Matrix could lead to Faith is if the concept of questioning things filled you with horror. In which case, why did you think in the first place?