Combat Myth: The Curious Story of Yahweh and the Gods Who Preceded Him

The Combat Myth is a supernatural battle between order and chaos (or good and evil) that we see in mythologies of civilizations throughout the Ancient Near East, culminating with Judaism. Yahweh isn’t a remarkable god, different from the made-up gods in surrounding cultures. Instead, his story is just one stage in a long line of mythology. If the Akkadian god Anzu or the Babylonian god Marduk are obvious myths, Yahweh is the same.

While the Mesopotamian myths are unfamiliar to most of us, we see a hint in Greek mythology. Zeus wasn’t always the chief god of the Greek pantheon but took that role from his father Cronos. And Cronos succeeded his own father, Uranus. Though there are important differences, this succession is common to the Combat Myth.

1. Akkadian myth: Ninurta defeats Anzu

The Akkadian Empire followed Sumer as the primary Mesopotamian civilization. This myth developed about a thousand years before the Yahweh story in the Old Testament.

In the Akkadian pantheon, Enlil was the king of the gods. Kingship was invested in the god who possessed the Tablet of Destinies, which showed all that has happened and all that will happen.

The griffin-like Anzu, assistant to Enlil, steals the Tablet and flies away. Chaos threatens the order of the gods. Kingship will go to the god who restores order, but none steps up to respond to the challenge. Finally, Ninurta, an unimportant god to that point, volunteers.

Besides being able to fly, Anzu has two useful powers. One is that he can make all his feathers fly out and then come back, which distracts his opponents. The other is that he can disassemble things (such as arrows shot at him) into their component parts. And, of course, he has the Tablet, which is handy for seeing what an opponent is about to do.

The first battle is a stalemate. Anzu is able to disassemble Ninurta’s arrows. But Ninurta enters the second battle with a new stratagem. He shoots an arrow disguised as a feather at just the right moment so that it’s lost in Anzu’s cloud of feathers. Anzu pulls the feathers back in and is killed by the arrow. Order is restored, and Ninurta ascends to become the king of the gods.

The Combat Myth

From this, let’s distill out the Combat Myth. It begins with a chaotic threat to the council of the gods. None of the gods from the older generation is willing to face the challenge, but one young god steps up. He defeats the monster and becomes the new chief god. This structure is constant, though the details are customized in subsequent civilizations.

Two features are not shared by all examples. In some, we see the hero god dying and being reborn in the process. Also, our human world is sometimes created from the carcass of the slain chaos monster.

2. Babylonian myth: Marduk defeats Tiamat

This story comes from the Enuma Elis, the Babylonian creation epic. In the beginning were Tiamat, the female serpent or dragon who was salt water, and Absu, the male god who was the fresh water.

(I’ve written more about how the Genesis story parallels the Mesopotamian myth of a saltwater dome above the primordial earth and a fresh water ocean underneath.)

Tiamat and Absu create a generation of younger gods who become too noisy for Absu’s liking. He plans to kill them all, but they learn of his plan and kill him first. Tiamat is furious.

Marduk the storm god steps up to respond. He kills Tiamat, forms the universe from her body, and installs himself as king of the gods.

3. Ugaritic myth: Baal defeats Yam and then Mot

This myth comes from Ugarit, just north of Israel. It’s dated to roughly 1300 BCE. This is the environment from which Judaism emerged.

Our historical record is fragmentary, but El is the chief god, and Baal (“Lord”) volunteers to fight the chaos threat. (Yes, these are the same El and Baal mentioned in the Old Testament.) He uses a supernatural club to kill Yam (“Sea”), the serpent-like sea god. Some variations give Yam seven heads and use Lotan and Leviathan as synonyms.

Next, Baal fights Mot (“Death”), another threat to order. Baal dies in this battle but is brought back to life to finally overcome Mot.

4. Israelite myth: Yahweh defeats Leviathan

Early Judaism had the same council of the gods as in Ugaritic mythology. (I’ve written more on Israelite polytheism here.) Yahweh is a son of El (also called Elyon) and was just one of many in the council of the gods.

When Elyon divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he established the borders of the nations according to the number of the sons of the gods. Yahweh’s portion was his people, [Israel] his allotted inheritance. (Deuteronomy 32:8–9)

Yahweh was assigned Israel, and other gods in the council were given their own tribes to rule.

We see the Bible’s version of the Combat Myth in Psalms 89:5–12. First, Yahweh has taken his place as king of the council of the gods.

The heavens praise your wonders, Yahweh, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with Yahweh? Who is like Yahweh among the heavenly beings? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him.

Yahweh has slain the chaos monster Rahab (yet another name for the sea monster).

You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them. You crushed Rahab like one of the slain; with your strong arm you scattered your enemies.

Finally, Yahweh created the earth.

The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it.

We read a similar retelling in Psalms 74, where Yahweh is credited with creation. But first, he defeated the monster(s):

It was you who split open the sea [Yam] by your power; you broke the heads of the monster in the waters. It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert. (Ps. 74:13–14)

We see this multi-headed dragon both looking back as Lotan in Ugaritic mythology and looking forward as the sea dragon in Revelation 13.

With Yahweh as just one more step in the evolution of the Combat Myth, little besides wishful thinking supports the idea that he alone is for real.

And that’s the point about beliefs—they don’t change facts.
Facts, if you’re rational, should change beliefs.
— Ricky Gervais (The Unbelievers movie trailer)

Acknowledgment: My primary source for this post was a podcast episode by Dr. Phil Harland (York University, Toronto) “Podcast 7.2: Origins part 1 – Ancient Near Eastern Combat Myths.” I recommend his “Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean” podcast.

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 10/11/13.)

Photo credit: Wikipedia

 

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  • Aldo Jackson

    What if all the myths are accurate? As chaos is ontologically prior to order, there needs to be some method of maintaining order in the universe. With God being a title/office, rather than the name of a particular entity, the post could change hands over time. Enough entities make a bid for power to maintain or restore order, that it warrants inquiry in into the methods described in the stories.

    • Lerk!

      So, supposing it warrants inquiry, to whom shall we inquire?

      • Aldo Jackson

        Cross references folklore, sacred texts, histories, and other sources, to get as many perspectives as possible. There are two magisteria: objects, which are governed by the laws of physics, and entities, which are discussed in psychology, theology, game theory, social science, etc. The nature of entities (like the ones in the myths) and the reasons behind their actions, are complex. But the Milgram, Zimbardo, and Wave experiments can help, along with the stuff mentioned above. If you have specific questions, I can answer them as best I can. Discussion in crucial for learning the nature of truth.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “Cross references folklore, sacred texts, histories, and other sources”

          I simply ask supernaturalbeings if any of those works from our human pens and presses bares any resemblance to them. So far no supernatural beings have been present to answer.

        • Aldo Jackson

          One of the things that these texts describe is how to contact supernatural beings. Unless they decide that they want to meet you on your own ground, for whatever reason, entering into a trance state is important. There are various varieties of shamanic or prophetic initiations; once you go through one or more of these processes, communication with the metaphysical world becomes much easier. It is rather like being able to see ultraviolet light patterns on flowers. We all select which things we want to experience for ourselves, and which we want to research and assess, or if we want to combine both approaches (which is my preference).

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “One of the things that these texts describe is how to contact supernatural beings.”

          I am asking supernatural beings if these texts do describe how to contact them. None are present to say one way or another on the accuracy of the text.

          “for whatever reason, entering into a trance state is important.”

          Yes, no communication, including this one right now between us and anyone reading this, happens at all without mental manipulation and possibly hard drugs. People talking to each other totally works like that. Why, ‘trance state’ is the very definition of communication.

    • adam
      • Aldo Jackson

        As Arthur C. Clarke said: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. We have worldviews and paradigms. Lore and myths are our unconscious attempts to render stuff that is outside our paradigm into a form that we can understand. Knowledge is power; so, those who know the most can influence events so that the world turns out more or less the way that they would like it to be. Considering that society is still guided by these myths to this day, that implies that there is something interesting going on, rotted in knowledge.

        • al kimeea

          Indoctrination is interesting and seems to work wonders on children

        • Aldo Jackson

          Yes; that could explain how it continued. But, there’s still the puzzle of how religions got to the point where they could begin indoctrinating. Also unresolved is the question of how indoctrination could fail.

        • al kimeea

          For the early days of Xianity, there’s plenty of evidence of the preachers preying on children and the uneducated and women, iirc. All these people are already primed by their society to accept deities, so the mythology put forth by apocalyptic death cult preachers is as reasonable as any to follow.

          Social animals socialise and the cult takes hold and slowly grows until it envelops a Roman Emperor who makes it the state mythology and the reign of mortal coercion began.

          Indoctrination fails today, in many cases, including mine, when people read the BuyBull for the first time. Today, it is also allowed to fail when not all that long ago, rejecting the cult meant a tortuous death.

          In any mythology, the indoctrination began when the first shaman claimed to know what was moving the environment and had some lucky guesses along with some astute observations so that people put trust in the shaman’s cult. Over time, the rituals become formalized and widely adopted through familial osmosis and executive order – religion.

      • Woo

        are you directly opposed to the supernatural? If so, how are you able to logically rule it out, i.e. disprove Gods existence which so far even the best atheists have been unsuccessful at.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Can the supernatural read and talk to us?

        • Halbe

          “Opposed to the supernatural” has nothing to do with it. My take on it is that there is no evidence for any of the gods invented by humanity so far, so we can discount their existence (like you discount the existence of all gods except your very own favourite, without any proof for the non-existence of all these other gods). The “supernatural” does not exist; if we might discover evidence for a “god” than this god is just a part of the natural world, which can be examined using the Scientific method. If not, we can again discount its existence.

        • adam

          “are you directly opposed to the supernatural?”

          Of course not, just demonstrate how it works.

          ” If so, how are you able to logically rule it out,”

          Thousands of years and trillions of MAGICAL claims unevidenced and scientific evidences explaining what it isnt MAGIC to begin with.

    • Greg G.

      What worries me is that all the ambitious gods will kill each other off and I will get stuck with picking up the pieces.

      • aikidaves

        Here we have the basis for many fantasy stories about reluctant protagonists.

        • Greg G.

          Call me a reluctant reluctant protagonist.

        • TheNuszAbides

          St Gregory the Twice-Reluctant

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        With Thought2Much, the guy who did all the miracles EVAR, around I think you can breath easy.

      • Aldo Jackson

        To prevent this dynamic we have codes of honor (as shown in folklore/fairy tales) and the establishment of a henotheistic system. The ideas of Hobbes and Locke can come in handy to provide a conceptual framework.

      • Otto

        You would be an anti-hero…lol

      • Jim Jones

        Don’t worry. The gods never do that. They die when humans kill them.

        “Where is the Graveyard of Dead Gods?” by H. L. Mencken.
        .
        .
        .
        Ask the rector to lend you any good book on comparative religion; you will find them all listed. They were gods of the highest dignity – gods of civilized peoples – worshipped and believed in by millions.

        All were omnipotent, omniscient and immortal.

        . . . . And all are dead.

        • Greg G.

          Well, at least I am still immortal. So far, so good, anyway.

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

          That or God has abandoned us because we think we’re all that. Since we have refused to trust, we must instead learn based on the evidence. And so, we are living in a world with less and less grace, more and more law. Let us see if humankind saves itself or destroys itself thereby. With God’s agency dialed back to zero, we get to discover exactly what human agency can accomplish, and what it cannot.

          BTW, those who think the only real causal powers in existence are the forces of nature merely worship an omnipotent god which is amoral. The forces of nature, after all, are blind to truth of any sort. They simply make what is. To worship them is to do this:

          For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:18–23)

          You become like what you worship. We humans have bifurcated into two groups:

                (I) Nietzsche’s last man
              (II) Nietzsche’s Übermensch

          See W. B. Yeats:

          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.

          But hey, maybe we need more empirical evidence. Surely the thing we need now, even with nuclear weapons and the ability to cause catastrophic global climate change, is more power. Yep, that’s the ticket. More money to science, everyone! That is all we need! (That is, we do not need anything to which science is blind, to fix our problems.)

        • Halbe

          Besides the obvious bullshit of your claim that naturalists “worship an amoral omnipotent God”, I am curious how more Christianity (or religion in general) would be the answer to your worries. You do know that it are (American) Christians that are the most vehement climate change deniers? You do know that the only use of nuclear weapons so far was ordered by a Christian president and executed by a Christian crew? Would the Middle East be a better place with more religion or with less religion?

          Science (in a broad sense, i.e. including e.g. philosophy and sociology) has given us a secular moral framework that is far superior to that of the Christian bible. And, luckily, this superior secular morality has influenced Christianity so much in the last centuries that Christians think that they invented it (whereas they in reality have fought it every step of the way). So, indeed: more Science, less religion!

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

          Besides the obvious bullshit of your claim that naturalists “worship an amoral omnipotent God”,

          How is it obviously bullshit? One can connect “the forces of nature” to some conceptions of ‘God’. Then you just need to say that morality is an epiphenomenon and that no causal powers can challenge “the forces of nature”. Voila, “an omnipotent god which is amoral”. Whereas the OT can be seen as moving from ANE conceptions from:

               (1) a god → the God
               (2) challengeable → unchallengeable
               (3) amoral → moral
               (4) dominating → serving

          , we moderns are regressing. Scoffing at such a thing via sophistry like “obvious bullshit” doesn’t change the facts. Or do you disagree with stuff like:

               • Against Moral Responsibility
               • The Non-Reality of Free Will
               • Free Will [doesn’t exist—Sam Harris]
               • Democracy for Realists
               • Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice

          ? Oh wait, I’m a stupid Christian, nevermind me. I couldn’t possibly have understand a single thing better than you. As you were, ideas unchallenged!

          I am curious how more Christianity (or religion in general) would be the answer to your worries.

          Because I think most of what goes by ‘Christianity’ is well-described by Marx and Feuerbach on ‘religion’. For a viewpoint amenable to mine, see Jacques Ellul’s The Subversion of Christianity. The tl;dr is that many Christians have long said “fuck you” to Jesus in Mt 20:20–28. That’s because actually obeying Jesus means no (I) or (II), and that means something like United States Marine Corps Recruit Training for everyone instead of happily believing basically what you were raised to believe. Oh wait, did a Christian just say that? Shit. Maybe you’re dreaming?

          Would the Middle East be a better place with more religion or with less religion?

          Have fun defining ‘religion’. Maybe you believe John Loftus:

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

          ? If so, I’d love to see any and all science and/or scholarly literature you have to support this. If all you can provide is propagandistic pop books to support your position, well, you will have exposed how much you care about what is true.

          Science (in a broad sense, i.e. including e.g. philosophy and sociology) has given us a secular moral framework that is far superior to that of the Christian bible.

          Oh has it? Let’s see:

              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)

          But don’t take Louis Pojman’s word. As we progress, let’s see if the Secular Forces of Awesome lead to more egalitarianism or less egalitarianism. Would you agree that’d be a good test of whether you’re actually the one full of bullshit? Or do you dislike empirical tests when they could possibly show you to be full of bullshit? Perhaps you are actually certain of your position on this matter? Perhaps you believe that when Peter Buffett writes something like his 2013 NYT piece The Charitable–Industrial Complex, he’s actually full of shit?

        • Halbe

          Wow, that were by far the most words I have seen anybody wasting so far without actually addressing the actual questions I raised. The forces of nature are in no way, shape or form a God or a deity, so yes, your assertion is bullshit. The rest of your long-winded blather does absolutely nothing to refute my claim that Christian morality has been influenced heavily (and positively) by secular philosophy since the Enlightenment. A 17th century Christian would be absolutely appalled by the morality of modern Christianity. “Hate the sin, love the sinner, you say? My ass! Hate the sin, kill the sinner!”.

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

          Evidence and reason sometimes do require a few words. I guess you’re just not that used to these things beying deployed with any level of rigor beyond, say, second grade?

        • epeeist

          Wow, that were by far the most words I have seen anybody wasting so far without actually addressing the actual questions

          SOP for Lukey boy. Lots of links, most of which are irrelevant, others are out of context or don’t make the point that he thinks they make.It’s a sort of combox Gish Gallop.

        • MNb

          Welcome to the Lukeyboy Show.

        • Steven Watson

          And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
          Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

          Whatever Yeats thinks Jesus might be, I don’t think it’s the Son of fucking God.

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

        You would make a terrible Klingon.

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

      What if all the myths are accurate?

      What if none of them were? Wouldn’t that be more likely?

      • Aldo Jackson

        Similar myths can also be found among the Norse and in Polynesia, among other far-flung locales. When we see the same thing in a variety of locations, it increase the odds of the off-observed phenomena’s reality. That, or it implied a vast and co-ordinated propaganda campaign.

        • Halbe

          That is a false dichotomy. A much more plausible explanation for these similar myths is of course the human tendency to see agency where there is none. And that unsurprisingly results in inventing an ‘Agent of Good’ and an ‘Agent of Evil’ in many different cultures. Duh.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Game theory says that it’s adaptive to have a bias in favor of agency. When faced with a ambiguous phenomena, there a much greater penalty for assuming that is it an object while it is actually an agent, then for assuming that it is an agent when it is actually an object. For example, it is adaptive, when interacting with what appears to be a Homo Sapiens, to assume that said primate is an agent, unless proven otherwise.

        • Greg G.

          It is prudent to run to safety when a noise cannot be determined to be safe if you would make a meal for the local predators. It is better to have a lot of false alarms for predators because being wrong once when it is a predator is a disaster.

          So our agency detector is usually wrong so we shouldn’t heed it’s warning for ghosts, demons, or gods that have never done anything to anyone.

        • Aldo Jackson

          These paranormal entities abide by our physical laws after entering our realm (although they delight in taking full advantage of quantum physics and other weird science). It is simply their alien motivations which it is useful to understand. To be able to detect their subtle influence, it is important to be consistent and coherent. (Descartes has some useful things to say about truth and illusion.) On the other hand, a direct encounter with the paranormal usually leaves some memories behind. However, hypnosis can cause memories to be buried, and paranormal entities often use this method to hide portions of the experience. Many people have been much affected by an encounter with the paranormal. As you note with regards to predators, it is better to have learnt good heuristics and not need them, then to need good heuristics and not have them.

        • adam

          “These paranormal entities abide by our physical laws after entering our realm”

          how?

        • Aldo Jackson

          Events are probabilistic in nature. By expending energy, it’s possible to tilt the odds in favor of one outcome or another. Among these events are neural activity (such as that associated with thinking), and whether rain or other natural event happen at a particular time and place or not. Science deals in broad patterns. But, our lives are full of particularities. If you’re building airplanes, you want the planes you make to have low odds of crashing. However, if you are flying in a plane, you want the plane to not crashing. People do not take solace in the fact that a disease they have is very rare; they simply want to be cured of it.

        • adam

          “These paranormal entities abide by our physical laws after entering our realm”

          how?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “These paranormal entities”

          showed up and say you are full of it. They also told me that I could speak for both sides of this claimed two-sided interaction and that they would not be detectable in the slightest should anyone want corroboration of this meeting from their viewpoint. That’s the height of honesty. Their message was only convenient by destiny.

        • Aldo Jackson

          If I am full of it, then I will make fertilize my garden with it, build houses with it, and cook over it. What is most convenient for me is well-being extended into the future. What defines convenience for you? If that involves typing the words that I have been provided with, so be it. The story of the Rabbi and the Treasure speaks to this point. People use different kinds of paradigms depending on what their purpose is. We use Euclidian geometry for some things and the Non-Euclidian geometries for other things, for instance.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Comically missing the point, but I find your comment has spunk!

        • Kodie

          You are a space cadet.

        • Joe

          (although they delight in taking full advantage of quantum physics and other weird science

          More meaningless and unsupported assertions. You’re full of crap.

        • Halbe

          Well, yes, I know. The question is: what is your point exactly with this? Are you saying I am right? I am not sure…

        • Aldo Jackson

          I’m saying that I’m not only looking for stuff that is scientifically provable; I’m also looking for useful heuristics.
          Indeed; I’m saying to you’re right about the agency dynamic, and that it is a useful point to make. However, at the same time, I’m defending the pragmatic utility of this bias, or worldview.

        • Pofarmer

          Or it implies that all humans have similar cognitive biases.

        • Woo

          In other words something intrinsic to the human psyche already assumes the existence of a higher power

        • Halbe

          No, something intrinsic in the human psyche assumes agency where there is none. So, humans (wrongly) assume agency when something bad happens, e.g. a storm, or an earthquake, and thus invent one or more ‘Agent(s) of Evil’ (like Satan). And humans (wrongly) assume agency as well when something good happens, like a good harvest, or winning the lottery, and thus invent one or more ‘Agent(s) of Good’ (like God, although the God of the Bible is not good at all). This Good/Evil Agent dynamic can be seen consistently through many different religions humans have invented so far. Claiming this is evidence for the existence of your favorite deity is actually just the very bad ‘God of the Gaps’ argument.

        • Pofarmer

          Not assumes the existence of. Basically manufactures out of existing cognitive functions.

        • al kimeea

          And then teaches it to all and sundry from birth.

        • Chuck Farley

          Or it implies that early humans who came from the same land mass copied from each other and came up with slightly different stories.

        • Joe

          Or, they experience nature the same way everyone else does (particularly the circle of birth/creation and death), and put it into a story.

        • Joe

          when we see the same thing in a variety of locations, it increase the odds of the off-observed phenomena’s reality.

          What of the differences? They just get ignored, I guess?

        • Aldo Jackson

          The differences imply that we are dealing with a complex, multifarious, phenomenon. The diverse array of mystical techniques found in cultures around the world all lead to a particular “transcendent” state, where people have received myths and legends (among other things).

        • Joe

          The differences imply that we are dealing with a complex, multifarious, phenomenon

          No they don’t.

          The diverse array of mystical techniques found in cultures around the world all lead to a particular “transcendent” state, where people have received myths and legends (among other things).

          Meaningless gibberish.

        • Aldo Jackson

          When people fast, or meditate, or live in a pitch black cave, or spin round and round in circle, these sensory deprivation and trance inducing practices start to take effect. Once you set aside your initial paradigm, you start to see things differently. The main use of the various texts regarding these matters, is to help with the process of maintaining sanity during these endeavors. I regret any lack of clarity.

        • Joe

          “When people fast, or meditate, or live in a pitch black cave, or spin round and round in circle, these sensory deprivation and trance inducing practices start to take effect. ”

          How are these effects ANYTHING but natural phenomena?

        • al kimeea

          It’s the old bait and switch of medi-woo

        • Greg G.

          multifarious, phenomenon. The diverse array of mystical techniques found in cultures around the world all lead to a particular “transcendent” state, where people have received myths and legends (among other things).

          The differences imply that we are dealing with many different imaginations.

        • al kimeea

          From many different cultures with many different misunderstandings of what was happening in their different environments.

        • Greg G.

          Similar myths can also be found among the Norse and in Polynesia, among other far-flung locales. When we see the same thing in a variety of locations, it increase the odds of the off-observed phenomena’s reality. That, or it implied a vast and co-ordinated propaganda campaign.

          The gods that have physical interactions with the world have been eliminated by scientific explanations. That leaves only the invisible, undetectable gods. They all look alike to me.

      • Woo

        You’re asking the wrong questions.
        You have to work with evidence. If you as the investigator are holding the knife in your hand at the crime scene and you ask the same questions you ask about Yahweh you’ll invariably come to false conclusions. What other evidence beside the knife is there, etc. etc.? You have to put all of the pieces together to form the most accurate opinion as possible. Doing anything less is prejudicial.

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

          Yes, we should follow the evidence in an unbiased manner. What is the right conclusion and why?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Accepting that Jesus/God is an omnipresent immortal person as a baseline assumption, it’s rather damning evidence against their existence that religious texts and apologetics books for their existence exists if one thinks about it (hint:I don’t have to read any of them to see the fraud).

        • Aldo Jackson

          Bacteria are omnipresent in many environments, but we need microscopes or textbooks to demonstrate their existence to ourselves. Maybe mystical practices and sacred texts fill a similar role regarding this matter under discussion.

        • Michael Neville

          But we can demonstrate the existence of bacteria, we cannot demonstrate the existence of gods. In short, if you want us atheists to accept that any gods exist, it’s up to you to show (here’s the word all you theists hate and fear) evidence that gods aren’t just figments of the imagination.

        • Aldo Jackson

          People meditate, fast, do yoga, and engage it a variety of different practices, to encounter the metaphysical. The idea is to harmonize your nature with the god that you would like to meet. Naturally, faith is important, but it can be the same kind of faith as the entrepreneur has.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          You are of the “the supernatural is non-talking cryptid plankton (they just kinda drift/eat/shit, but not really… somehow)” variety of believer, then? In that case, the texts can’t have come from them, unless any cryptid plankton want to voice their disagreement over that statement with all of humanity? No? Ok, posting…

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “mystical practices and sacred texts”

          Again, one need not know of or read any of that to see that they are fraudulent. Think about it.

        • busterggi

          “Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my ass”

        • MNb

          OK. Tell us what the mystical counterpart of the microscope is to detect god and how it works. All above show us that that counterpart is a reliable instrument.

        • Zeta

          Woo: “You’re asking the wrong questions. You have to work with evidence….
          You have to put all of the pieces together to form the most accurate opinion as possible.

          Sensible advice in general. So you have pieces of evidence that led you to the “most accurate opinion” about Yahweh. Please tell readers here precisely what they are.

        • Halbe

          Nice try in shifting the burden of proof, but unfortunately a bit transparent. Maybe you first give us a coherent definition of ‘Yahweh’, and it’s defining attributes, since there are quite a lot of different ‘Yahweh’s’ out there. Then you could present some evidence of the existence of your Yahweh, and then we take it from there. Without a definition and some evidence the most accurate opinion about ‘Yahweh’ is of course the same opinion that you have of all other deities mankind has invented so far.

        • Zeta

          I don’t know what you are talking about. Woo implied that he has evidences about Yahweh and I asked him to provide such evidences for all to see. What is this nonsense about “shifting the burden of proof”? I am an atheist and I do not even believe that Yahweh or any other god exists. “the existence of your Yahweh”? I don’t have a Yahweh. In any case, the only Yahweh I have heard of is the one in the OT. Who or what are the other Yahwehs?

        • Halbe

          Sorry, mixed up the replies, thought I was replying to Zoo… will correct.

        • Halbe

          Nice try in shifting the burden of proof, but unfortunately a bit transparent. Maybe you first give us a coherent definition of ‘Yahweh’, and it’s defining attributes, since there are quite a lot of different ‘Yahweh’s’ out there. Then you could present some evidence of the existence of your Yahweh, and then we take it from there. Without a definition and at least some evidence the most accurate opinion about ‘Yahweh’ is of course the same opinion that you have of all other deities mankind has invented so far.

        • MNb

          Tell us more. How is it even possible to collect empirical evidence (which by definition is taken from our natural reality) about a character that is defined to be supernatural? Answer: not. Only possible conclusion: evidence regarding Yahweh is an incoherent idea. Anything else is prejudicial.

        • al kimeea

          Supernatural? Aldo J claims a deity will always dwell in material form in our material universe, which does allow for observation and collection of evidence.

          Unfortunately arguing by analogy is all the evidence Woo and Aldo seem to have. If all Einstein had were analogies and compelling math supporting his arguments, there’d be no nukes, or GPS, or…

        • Greg G.

          Yes, we have to look at the evidence but it is necessary to eliminate confirmation bias or your conclusions from the evidence will have that bias.

    • Halbe

      Physics and Evolution Theory explain the ‘order in the universe’ quite nicely, without the need for any supernatural caretaker. And the ‘order in the universe’ is also quite an overrated notion, since the universe appears to be slowly but surely on its way to either a Big Crunch, a Big Rip or a Big Freeze…

      • MNb

        All three could be called the summum of order – except that that supernatural caretaker then doesn’t care about the survival of Homo Sapiens.when the time has come.
        Unless you have faith, of course.

        • Halbe

          That’s true of course :-)

      • Aldo Jackson

        When tea flows out of a kettle into a cup, gravity is the physical cause of the event. However, there is also an entity poring the tea, who has a motive for doing so. God is quite content to employ Physics, Evolution, or any number of other methods. Entities have written position papers, where they explain how they intend of avoid having their actions attributed to themselves.

        • Halbe

          Your last sentence really does not make any sense (to me). And again, I fail to see your point. If you are trying to make a case for the supernatural you are doing a very bad job…

        • Aldo Jackson

          R.e. Last Setence: Watergate is a popular example of (human) entities making arrangements to conceal their activity, devising things with the hope that, should the break-in be detected, it would be attributed to random burglars, rather than to Nixon.
          Also, the Bible advises people to hide their good deeds, so concealment seems like a fitting method for God to employ. Physics deals with objects; theology with entities. These are distinct magisteria. If the activity of entities was not a public concern, then the coroner would be the only court employee, as the state would be content to know the technical cause of death, rather than who did it. For various reasons, when some event happens, it is useful to develop theories about agents who cause events, as well as about the technical nature of the events themselves.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          The humans were supermen, and their deception served no purpose for them whatsoever? Aaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnndddddd, anything supernatural is still not even close to having anything to say about the wild speculations of humans using written language technology.

        • Aldo Jackson

          No; Watergate was perpetrated by perfectly ordinary humans. I was just providing an example of the manifest utility of deception and concealment, which results in having your actions separated from yourself, to avert opposition. As for me, I am simply enjoying investigating these questions.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          So you are saying that the deception actually served a functional purpose for these non-super humans? When their deception was found out, they actually faced consequences for their actions? Perhaps you are saying that the supernatural is Smurfs, and we humans discovering them would lead to them being eaten/turned to gold/used to increase our “magic powers”?

        • Aldo Jackson

          Yes, that sounds like a good part of the overall picture. Some humans believe the rhinoceros horn has magic powers, which has lead to many rhinoceros perishing. So, any entity that actually has magic powers, or is made of some kind of non-standard matter, would take note, and strive to avoid a similar fate.

        • busterggi

          Well no wonder no one sees the omnipotent god, he’s hiding so we don’t kill him.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Our strength is in relation to the intensity of the gravitational field of the planet we live upon. When we visit the Moon, we are stronger. Should we go to Jupiter, we would be weaker. God’s omnipotence is in relation to physical laws (ordaining them in perpetuity in a deistic fashion), and is relation to God’s colleagues (other paranormal beings). Christianity records God dying once; maybe he’s not too keen on having it happen again. Earth is full of constraints, and God and crew end up seeming like Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, should we encounter them.

        • al kimeea

          Aliens constrained by iron chariots.

        • Aldo Jackson

          And that is why stories about them describe them resorting to trickery.

        • Halbe

          You might want to take a Physics 101 as well. “Our strength” is of course always exactly the same, fully independent of the “intensity of the gravitational field” we happen to experience. Or do you really think you can suddenly bend steel bars much more easily on the moon? And even easier in the ISS, with zero gravity?

        • Aldo Jackson

          Good point; correct regarding the steel bars. I used sloppy terms. To use more accurate terms; we evolved on a planet that requires a specific amount of strength for us to prosper in our forms. We need to be able to pick up objects, etc. If we had evolved on the moon, we would be weaker, and if we had evolved on Jupiter we would be stronger.

        • Kodie

          You are making shit up and guessing, just like people who use rhino horn powder.

        • Aldo Jackson

          When I began this journey, I didn’t know where I’d end up. I will keep up my end of the deal, with regards to God and my fellow humans, not because of who they are, or even if they exist, but because of who I am. Already, I feel the delightful sensation of greater understanding. When someone has a paradigm, and it seems useful, I fold it in. That’s what I’ve done this time.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, your paradigms that you reveal seem to lack discernment or critical thinking. You are willing to try everything you can try to believe there’s a god that you can personally comprehend. From what I’ve heard, god is whatever you want to believe, and also humans are inadequate to understand. That’s a contradictory trap, as is the idea that anything that might pull you off the path is demonic or satanic. The answer is simple – you can be a good person and make good decisions, and even have good results without consulting the figment of your imagination. You get better results with actual information. Folklore is basically a cultural impression and may be enforced by tribalism, just like anyone who belongs to a church has to basically submit to the group’s agenda and propaganda if necessary, in order to succeed socially within that group. The truth is that a person-like feature of the universe who is holding all this together like some kind of stage manager is a figment of your imagination. Are you afraid that you might be all alone?

        • Aldo Jackson

          I cannot comprehend God. I can comprehend my guardian angel, who explains those portions of God’s plan that I need to know. I do not necessarily want to believe the things I am provided with by this method, but I examine them regardless. If I imply that humans have a hard time understanding God, it is because so few are willing to engage in kenosis. And, of those who are, few are willing to tests the spirits. And, this is among those who profess some kind of religion or spirituality. I don’t believe I’ve made the second claim, about stuff that might pull me off the path. Instead I say; we are to simply place our faith in the process, not in the precise nature of beliefs. Contests are part of the plan, and we all have legitimacy. Purifying ourselves of partisanship so that we can be in the flow and harmonize with the universe is a lifelong endeavor. And indeed; you can achieve all kinds of things without mystical guidance. Actual information is excellent, but it can be hard to find the information that will get you where you want to go. For instance, how do you win the aid of massive centralized bureaucratic institutions. Because of the tribalism, I like to cross-reference folklore from various sources, and place them in a Venn diagram. It wouldn’t be so bad to be all alone. The problem is being all alone with powerful human organizations that are driving us off a cliff.

        • MNb

          Kodie’s entire comment applies equally to your guardian angel.

        • Aldo Jackson

          It’s just that angels would be simpler to comprehend than God; that would be the main difference. It’s easier to understand entities who are somewhat similar to ourselves.

        • MNb

          There is nothing to comprehend about angels. There is nothing to comprehend about your god either. No difference.

        • Aldo Jackson

          So, neither fits in your paradigm. Fair enough.

        • Kodie

          It’s easier to pretend a lot of things, that doesn’t mean they’re true.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Sure. Very few people believe everything based on fact, because (among other reasons) for many things they care about, there are no facts available. I tried the nothing-but-the-facts belief system for a while, and it wasn’t getting me where I wanted to go, because there were a ton of things it didn’t have the answers for, and some bit of like are like on of those tests where it’s better to guess than to leave the bubble blank. So, I’ve been experimenting with various alternatives.

        • Kodie

          In reality, it’s sometimes better to leave the bubble blank.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Indeed; this is a task for discernment.

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

          I cannot comprehend God. I can comprehend my guardian angel,

          Are you able to step back and ask if there is a God and angels?

        • Aldo Jackson

          Maybe there aren’t. But, I’m okay with calling them what they want to be called. If it’s a figment of my imagination, then it won’t care what I call it. If, on the other hand, it’s the real deal, I might as well be polite to it.

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

          My question isn’t about what to call supernatural beings; it’s whether they exist or not. If there’s no good evidence, are you entitled to believe in them?

        • Aldo Jackson

          They probably are natural beings, like bacteria, that help to answer my questions. Once a being is sufficiently powerful it’s of modest importance whether people call it a god or not. It is one, for all practical purposes. This is the ancient use of the God concept, which was the one in use in Biblical times.

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

          I need evidence.

        • Aldo Jackson

          There are institutions that can decide the fate of vast numbers of people, like the WTO or IMF as a few examples. The day that theology will be obsolete is the day that large concentrations of power are nonexistent.

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

          I’m not following. Yes, there are powerful institutions made by people. How does theology fit in?

        • Aldo Jackson

          We can read the Bible as a collection of answers to any kind of “power or principality” that people might interact with. I like to compare it to the Tao Te Ching or the Sun Tzu, in this regard. Relativity doesn’t just tell us about light, it tells us about things that approach the speed of light. As institutions approach godlike power and knowledge, the body of religion and folklore that comprises theology becomes more and more relevant, as these are a reflection upon the nature and dynamics of vast power and knowledge.

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

          except that the Bible is bullshit. Theology is just mental masturbation, like memorizing the stats for your favorite baseball team back to the beginning.

          But perhaps I’m wrong. You’d need to show me some evidence.

        • Aldo Jackson

          http://cpt.org/files/BN%20-%20Jesus'%20Third%20Way.pdf
          Also, Christianity had a ton of competition from similar mystery cults, such as Mithraism, yet prevailed on a field that was tilted against it. I see three explanations for Christianity’s success; divine favor, sounds strategy, or both.

        • Pofarmer

          Don’t forget willingness to use violence.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Mithraism was a common faith among pirates and soldiers. The early Christians (pre-Constantine) seem to have been less willing to use violence than their competitors, according to the historical record.

        • TheNuszAbides

          according to the historical record.

          1: ‘history is written by the victors’
          +
          2: what was that you said about deception?

        • Aldo Jackson

          Well, the historical record doesn’t seem to hide later Christian violence. Regardless of how wiling early Christians were to use violence, they were most likely less skilled at it than people who made their living by it.

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

          The world is a primordial soup, and religions happen all the time. Some develop, some fail. What’s surprising here? Christianity isn’t the oldest, and it soon won’t be the biggest. Why wonder if divine favor is an option for Christianity and not wonder the same thing about all the others?

        • Kodie

          Looking to fantasy to cope with real problems or whatever you perceive to be real problems is like taking drugs to fix your car, or watching tv to pay for your home.

        • Kodie

          I really have no idea what you’re talking about. You reference a lot of different figments of your imagination, but I can’t be sure you’re not just anthopomorphizing concepts. You live in some kind of fractured imaginary world where you pretend events are caused by characters. They’re not.

        • Aldo Jackson

          I apologize for any confusion.
          Let’s try again; I am still learning how to harmonize enough to be clear. We can demonstrates that events are caused by particular characters called humans. How to become a human who can solve some or all of the world’s problems seems the key question, from within your paradigm. What techniques can get us there, and what techniques got them there.

        • Kodie

          I’m sure trying to integrate religious ideas and motifs and folklore is causing you to overthink a lot of things. It’s pretty simple when you realize there’s no god pulling any strings, or any angels giving you hints. I mean, reality can be complicated, but no need to build up layer after layer after layer of convoluted bullshit. I see it is just holding you back!

        • Aldo Jackson

          The project of integrating religion and folklore is part of an overall attempt to understand a complicated reality.
          Ok; if it’s not God or angels, then it’s got to be something else that can upload stuff into my mind, or some other internal stuff that I have difficulty integrating entirely. Having God be a mental process inside of you leads to the same general position, as, because of the vastness and foreignness of the perspective, it is hard to integrate. I will continue to reflect on what the best course is to prosper as a person.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Maybe he is saying the supernatural is a fabrication/dead/invalids/non-talking cryptid plankton (they just kinda drift/eat/shit, but not really… somehow).

        • Aldo Jackson

          I’m saying that now you see them, now you don’t. And our minds edit them so that they are comprehensible (rather like the hollow mask illusion).

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Ok, no supernatural whatsit is coming forward with these claims nor supporting evidence, so which of my options are you arguing for?

        • busterggi

          You do love meaningless babble.

        • Aldo Jackson

          When you see steam rising from a kettle, it fades away into the atmosphere after a short period of time. I’m saying that the supernatural is like that. It either is material in some form or other (while it’s here), or absent from our universe entirely, in which case we don’t interact with it. As to the second part, with our secular culture, people are encountering fewer angels and demons, and more UFOs and aliens. Ancient divinity like the ones described in the article have definitely faded from view. The uncanny phenomena certainly play to the crowd. But, there are enough commonalties to warrant interest, as many rational citizens of repute have been affected by the uncanny. I regret any absence of clarity.

        • busterggi

          And how did an immaterial god create a material universe using science?

          Cause the bibble says he used a magic word.

        • Aldo Jackson

          When you make a simulation, to demonstrate a model of the universe, you can describe a world (using words and concepts), and then cause it to come into being. Standing from the outside, it looks like a simulation, but from the inside (where we are) it looks real. This is a herustic; from discussion, I realize that we can’t prove things that are outside of our realm.

        • MNb

          When I make a simulation I do that by using material means and following material procedures. You’re invited to tell us how an immaterial god is supposed to do something like that. Busterggi already told you the answer of the Bible: a magical word. Unfortunately words are material as well, so that’s an incoherent answer.

        • Aldo Jackson

          That’s a good point. God in immaterial in the sense of not being tethered to our universe. However, God will always dwell in a material form in our material universe. We have an analogy for the process in the way a transistor translates energy from one form to another. With the large amount of space between atoms in objects, and our universe continually expanding, the universe is increasingly porous, which could make it easier for spiritual entities to “cross over” and take up residence in our realm. There is some metaphysical lore claiming that this is indeed what is taking place.

        • MNb

          “God will always dwell in a material form in our material universe.”
          1. For a statement like “God created the Universe” this makes exactly zero sense.
          2. Tell us more about this material form. What’s its mass? Its volume? Or if you prefer: its spin and charge?

          That’s the thing: if your “God dwells in a material form” you must be able to describe him/her/it in terms of physics.

          “We have an analogy for the process in the way a transistor translates energy from one form to another”
          What kind of energy transformation takes place in your “God dwelling in a material form”? Heat? Light? Sound? Movement? Electricity?

          “With the large amount of space between atoms in objects”
          This is based on the oversimplified planetary model of atoms.

          “make it easier for spiritual entities to “cross over” and take up residence in our realm”
          And you’re back at the initial problem. What does “make it easier” even mean? How do you measure or calculate how easy or difficult this is? What do determine “take up residence”? Without such specifics you present nothing but meaningless woo.
          For instance we can specify this for atoms in terms of volume and mass; in terms of probability distributions; or in terms of quantum fields. What do you have for your supposed spiritual entities? “Taking up residence in our natural reality” requires interaction. How does that happen? How do you research this? What is your method?
          No answer means you produce less than baked air.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Genesis describes God creating various things in the universe, rather than the universe itself. Further, the activity of creation seems to be a matter of naming and categorization, rather creating out of nothing.
          God and company often use the form of light, but heat and sound also appear. They may well use electricity now. It addition, folklore describes spirits, or elementals that take the form of earth, air, fire, and water. As for the remainder; maybe it isn’t that it is easier, but that it’s always been feasible in theory; with the universe expanding faster than our perceptions can expand, and with the large quantities of dark matter present in the universe, any entities that live in other dimensions and other realms will find is easy to cross over undetected should they have the methods to do that in the first place. If you sunbathe, the light from the sun with take up residence inside you. Usually, this has only modest effects, but Paul, on the Road to Damascus, was “filled with the Spirit” by this process.
          Method of research? Well, you take a Geiger counter and other scientific measuring gear to a place where paranormal activity has been reported by reliable witnesses, for instance, and compare results with those of ordinary places. You can also test and inquire into those who experience the phenomena, to see whether their experiences are caused by the taking of psychoactive substances, some kind of intense but ordinary stress (like a car crash causing a near-death experience), or a preexisting mental condition. Or if, instead, they had some kind of mysterious experience that might act as a cause, rather than be an effect of other stuff.

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

          the activity of creation seems to be a matter of naming and categorization, rather creating out of nothing.

          This is an interesting angle that I’ve heard before, but I don’t see the support in Genesis 1 for it. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” That seems to say that it was creation out of nothing.

          You don’t see it that way?

        • Aldo Jackson

          We see people create corporations, governments, and religions. But, there is some basic substance to begin with, that these things are formed out of. You’d create the earth, by inducing the gradual development of life. You’d create the heavens by getting the planets to orbit, rather than drift erratically. By defining cosmic laws, and arranging for their enforcement, you can create everything. People can only record what they can understand, and the ancient scribes might not have comprehended the complex subtlety of creation, with all the details of how it works.

        • MNb

          “there is some basic substance to begin with, that these things are formed out of.”

          Like quantum fields.

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

          No god necessary.
          God is possible, but adds zero to our knowledge and understanding – except if you combine quantum fields with some version of the abrahamist god you’re guilty of inconsistency.

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

          But doesn’t a plain reading of Gen. 1 have God creating the universe out of nothing?

        • MNb

          Your question is based on the false assumption that AJ is interested in a plain reading.

        • Kodie

          The sun can make plants grown from photosynthesis, or give you skin cancer, or more generally, we need sunlight to make essential Vitamin D from exposure. It’s also something we symbolize or equate with happiness, and people can say they feel happier when it’s sunny out, but that is not necessarily so. Without a lot of sunlight during the winter months, deprivation causes SAD (seasonal affective disorder), a type of depression, but a lot of sunlight or a major lack of sunlight is not a necessary indicator of happiness.

          The problem is you’re trying to seek evidence from shit like “folklore” and whatever the bible says Paul was “filled with the Spirit” from the sun and trying to detect god from earthquake detectors. Everyone knows, even Christians, that rain is also necessary for plants to grow. For many people in the popular culture, that’s what’s known as a rationalization. We’re taught that rain or clouds or sun transmit a mood that we’re not in control of. Even the fucking news tells us that sunny means great and rain or clouds put an emotional damper on our plans or excitement about those plans. I believe in mind over matter and less on the power of suggestion.

          You believe extremely in the power of suggestion!

        • Aldo Jackson

          I’m not so much referring to the cases where sunshine has a commonplace effect on someone. I’m referring more to cases where someone is going about their business in a normal fashion, and a bright light appears, and an intense and complex mystical experience immediately follows. As a side note, what’s the difference between mind over matter, and the power of suggestion? I’m interested in both of these things, as, from my brief research, the both seem useful when harnessed correctly.

        • MNb

          Define “useful”.
          As far as I can see “mind over matter” is not useful at all, simply because mind is material. It makes as little sense as saying “water over H2O molecules”.

        • Kodie

          I meant more it more like you can decide to be in a different mood and not be manipulated. It seems like the world has decided a rainy day is bad, even when you need the rain, and too much not-rain is evidently bad for us as too much rain can be. You don’t have to be a slave to your emotions or what everyone else defines your emotions must be. You can’t overcome everything just from thinking of it, but it seems like, grief and confusion are very normal, but you don’t have to fall apart or make excuses not to get on with your normal day, just like being pressured by others to cheer up and get over it and try not to have to validate your emotions, which is just easier for them. You don’t have to necessarily feel like everyone else has conditioned you to feel. Another example is guilt, which is imposed by certain religions, regarding certain behaviors, and which adult apostates still very much feel even when they rationally should not.

          So really all I meant, it’s a common expression in English, and maybe I didn’t overthink it, obviously, but that you don’t have to feel or pretend you feel something just because everyone is talking about it like you’re weird to them if you don’t. Another example would be the abortion haters thinking abortions bring great guilt upon women that they never get over, when most women get over it just fine, and those that don’t are imposed with those emotions because they’re supposed to have them, or those pro-forced birth who have been propagandaized into being horrified at “murdering innocent babies” instead of what abortion actually is. There are tons of examples of this, but I started with “the meteorologist reports the weather in an editorial way that dictates sun is good and rain is terrible, warm is fantastic and cold is bullshit.

          I feel like Aldo isn’t absolutely sure there’s a god but is operating on the premises claimed by so many people, and yet not manifesting that belief like other believers and trying to force it to be true via whatever means available, i.e. making up shit and sounding like an alien from outer space.

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

          That’s a fine thing to be interested in, though the human mind being so clearly a finicky, unreliable, not-bad-but-not-perfect organ, subject to mental illness, confused by illusions (pareidolia, visual and auditory illusions, etc.), and even responding poorly to low blood sugar, that I would think that natural causes spring to mind as the likeliest explanation for why someone might have a “spiritual” experience.

        • Kodie

          What you’re describing is what is often called a transcendental experience. but is common and not divine, and happens in the brain, and is completely normal and isn’t caused by transmission from a spook from beyond or traveling through the black holes or whatever weird story you made up to maintain control. I’m not sure it’s that safe to talk to you about this because your beliefs sound really fragile and if I inadvertently drop a bomb on it, you’ll freak the fuck out.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Ok. Can transcendental experiences be reproduced in the laboratory? If so, how? Is there a precise set of conditions that can cause these experiences reliably? I will grant that it happens in the brain; but, so does syphilis, which a cause that comes from outside the system of the human who catches it. It’s quite fine to talk to me about this, as it’s better that my beliefs be tested by someone who means me well than by someone who means me ill.

        • Kodie
        • Aldo Jackson

          Excellent article. It sounds as though this sort of thing can be therapeutic, if you avoid harming yourself with religious extremism. We detect on the scan simply the portion of the experience available to outside observation, which is a modest portion of the overall experience. We must not only reason our way towards the correct course, but we need the faith to persist in it, and not give up hope.

        • Kodie

          You excel in leaping to conclusions, I can tell you that much. I’m ready to dismiss you as full-on batshit, and wonder why you think whatever bullshit is floating around the attics of your mind is of any interest to us.

        • Aldo Jackson

          I apologize for any over-enthusiasm.
          Let’s say that two people are talking. We can’t hear what they are saying, but we do have a brain scanner hooked up to one (or both) of them. Can we reconstruct the content of the conversation from the brain scan? How accurate would our reconstruction be?

        • MNb

          “Genesis describes God creating various things in the universe, rather than the universe itself.”
          Take that up with your cobelievers. As soon as you have reached some kind of consensus I’ll pay attention. The rest of your comment comes straight out of your big fat thumb and can be dismissed as such without any further do. Your “everything goes” means zero knowledge and understanding. When interested in fiction I prefer Rowling and Tolkien.

        • epeeist

          You appear to be responding to someone who is using this website to generate posts.

          It appears to be sentences produced at random and concatenated, the kind of stream of consciousness rambling that Trump produces.

        • adam

          “: God is quite content to employ Physics, Evolution, or any number of other methods.:”

          Is this what your “God” tells YOU?

        • Aldo Jackson

          Sure; but, inspiration is only the first step. Unless you’re in dire straits, and need to act first and think later, you also need sufficiently good reasons. Why break the laws you established when you can simply use them to your benefit?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I asked his “God” if it tells him this. No reply as of this comment posting.

        • epeeist

          “No reply” is what you get when you ask god about anything. Almost as though he wasn’t there…

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

          Or, our desires are so antithetical† to God’s that he simply has nothing to say to us. But no, that couldn’t possibly be true, because we Reason-based Enlightened awesomepants Modern gods humans are almost completely righteous, at least in concept-land. We have a bit of mop-up work to do, but that’s it. Per capita, we’re doing great. Don’t walk away!

          † Alternatively, they can simply be utterly pathetic desires. Like this:

              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)

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “Or, our desires are so antithetical† to God’s that he simply has nothing to say to us.”

          There is no God saying anything remotely like this. Please, check to make sure they use some spray deodorizer when they do get off the toilet.

        • Halbe

          In the good old days of the OT God had no problem at all talking to people with desires that were antithetical to God’s (like David’s desire for Bathsheba). But now He seems to be completely silent… Our only hope is that He is not planning a new genocide like in Genesis 6-9. At least we know that this time He will not drown us all in a global flood, because we see rainbows since the last time God hit the reset button…

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

          In the good old days of the OT God had no problem at all talking to people with desires that were antithetical to God’s (like David’s desire for Bathsheba).

          That is probably the worst example you could possibly have chosen. Shall I destroy it, or would you like to pick one more amenable to your argument?

          But now He seems to be completely silent… Our only hope is that He is not planning a new genocide like in Genesis 6-9.

          Your imagination is quite pitiful if you think that’s “our only hope”. I would rather be concerned about what humans can do to each other and what nature can do to us. As it turns out, those are precisely the dominant matters of worry in the OT—not another Flood. It’s almost as if the Flood being the only Flood was intended to prevent that from ever being considered a viable explanation again. Hmmm, I wonder why YHWH would do that…

          At least we know that this time He will not drown us all in a global flood, because we see rainbows since the last time God hit the reset button…

          What I find curious is how many people now think that if only we were to start with a righteous group of humans (you know, kill all the rest or let them starve or otherwise die and not leave as many progeny so that the asymptote is “small population”), things would be hunky dory down the line. One might take the story of the Flood as saying that even God can’t pull that off, so don’t try. But no, the Bible is just stories and nonsense. We are SMART.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lxIL1WlxSQ

        • adam

          “Your imagination is quite pitiful if you think that’s “our only hope”.”

          Yes, Halbe

          Go to Revelation, to see what the only hope they have:
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cdf1945c329723ddbb7c03a5aa7c5a3ef1bae3c5f93caabe7aed79f438227c78.jpg

        • Halbe

          I had no idea that God also thought Bathsheba was hot! And I am really impressed that you found a way to squeeze at least some sort of positive moral out of the story of genocide and incest that is Genesis 6-9.

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

          Hahaha, “some sort of positive moral”. You need to learn about the history of utopianism. You also need to learn about the rationales for allowing millions of people to die under the Communist regimes in China and the USSR. (No, I’m not saying “atheism” = “communism” or “atheism” ⇒ “communism”. Just talking about how the Flood narrative prohibits certain rationalizations that have been deployed to great human harm.)

        • Halbe

          Well, I call bullshit on your far-fetched interpretation of the Global Flood story. Firstly, committing genocide is a really weird way to convey the message that committing genocide is a bad idea. Secondly of course the small fact that God committed genocide again in e.g. Exodus 12:29, and ordered and helped people to commit genocide all over the place in Joshua, Deuteronomy, and 1 Samuel. But hey, whatever works for you in order to reconcile the horrors of the God of the bible with modern secular morality.

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

          Firstly, committing genocide is a really weird way to convey the message that committing genocide is a bad idea.

          Weird to you, or weird to the people it needed to convince of this? To say that you will fail at X because God himself tried X and failed seems like a pretty potent argument to me. Especially for a time when history was understood quite a bit differently from how we understand it. My developing understanding is that there were times at which “historical events” had binding normative force. With the fact/​value dichotomy firmly in our ideological DNA, we don’t really know what that would be like, do we? I mean, Christians might claim that Jesus’ death and resurrection means X, Y, and Z—but we haven’t a clue as to how this works other than basically legal fictions.

          Secondly of course the small fact that God committed genocide again in e.g. Exodus 12:29, and ordered and helped people to commit genocide all over the place in Joshua, Deuteronomy, and 1 Samuel.

          There are more verbs for the notion of “drive out” than for “utterly destroy” and there are numerous questions as to exactly what was going on. (For example, were “cities” military installations or civilian population centers?) But I’m not going to be driven very far down this rabbit hole if the only person who’s going to be cross examined is I. As they say, it is much easier to attack a viewpoint that defend one. My experience online leads me to believe that if you actually permitted to examine how you view reality, I’d encounter the following:

              In one definition of the word, it is of course impossible to find any assertions of full skepticism; even silent enactments are difficult. A good general rule is: scratch a skeptic and find a dogmatist. (Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent, 56)

          But hey, whatever works for you in order to reconcile the horrors of the God of the bible with modern secular morality.

          Modern secular morality, like faint praise and no condemnation of the 1999 NATO bombing of a Serbian news station, but a huge outcry over the 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting? Like Meryl Streep’s condemnation of Trump and clapping for Roman Polanski? Like the US knowing full well that a genocide was going on and going to hit the max killing in Rwanda and doing jack shit? Like the conscience-assuaging that is the The Charitable–Industrial Complex (Peter Buffett 2013 NYT)? Like this:

          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)

          ? Like that man of power saying to Yanis Varoufakis, “Elections cannot be allowed to change the economic policies of any country.” (Full transcript of the Yanis Varoufakis | Noam Chomsky NYPL discussion)? Like Doctor who asked dementia patient’s family to hold her down while she gave lethal injection cleared? I could go on.

        • adam

          “Weird to you, or weird to the people it needed to convince of this?”

          No, weird PSYCHOTIC.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1e284ecfcf8f4a4da8adb8c8992def60d555414158c237b83a5d3f4c4ffb2fa2.jpg

        • Aldo Jackson

          Inspiration is great in practice, but not good for proofs, because no one else can confirm it, as a general rule.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I ask your God if they have ever inspired anyone. Go on. Guess. You say you were one of at least two sides in this interaction, but you are the only side talking (as if talking out both sides of your mouth counts).

        • Aldo Jackson

          I’m agreeing with your point, but saying it matters less than you might think. Let’s say you are trying to figure out which horse to bet on. You befriend some of the people who are associated with the race and the horses, jockey, tipsters etc. After you decipher their dialect, you realize that they all think that Snowball is a good bet. You check with the bookies, and discover that Snowball offers favorable odds. You then bet on Snowball, and tell your friends about it. You describe your reasoning, and they say “Why should we believe you? How about we ask them? Nope, they didn’t reply.” You say, “Well, they are people, not Google. You need to get to know them first, before they’ll answer you. This method that I use, has worked for me in the past, so I’ll bet on Snowball.”

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “You befriend some of the people who are associated with the race and the horses, jockey, tipsters etc. ”

          Except in this weirdverse, those things don’t exist outside of ancient supernatural stories and fantasy novels, and none of them quite agree on the details. Whatever serves the story at the time is what they are. Your friends can give an account of talking to you as you can give an account of talking to them, but no “associated people, etc” have any idea of ever speaking to you. They are no where to be found to even ask.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Maybe you know the winning horse already. In which case, you can place your bets. Or, you can try to find some tips. If you’re lucky, you’ll succeed at this. Unless we’re going to be Epicureans, we’ll need to take our chances some of the time, and we might as well do whatever we can to enhance our odds. Maybe Plato is right; we have all the power and knowledge that we need in our heads, just hidden away. Let’s hope this stuff really work, because it would be handy if it did. But, I’ll grant you that it’s important to be open to the possibility that it doesn’t.

        • Kodie

          There’s no god involved in using available information and sorting out odds. You are describing how most people navigate their decision process every day. The “knowledge” isn’t hidden away, you are accessing available information and making a decision about an actual horse, based on actual information. There is no analogy here for god!

        • Aldo Jackson

          Indeed; it would be nice if we just used our abilities to solve the world’s problems. That way God could take a nice long holiday, knowing that we had applied reason to take charge and clear up all the troubles.

        • Kodie

          I hate to break it to you, but there is no god and I don’t know why you think there is one or that he’s done anything already. You and I both live in a world without god, evidently, but it’s something you don’t accept. The weird part is you think if humans stepped up, god could take a break, but I see no evidence of god doing anything but taking a break (if he exists anyway), and only humans solving our problems, and obviously not being good enough at it, all together, to completely do so. You play games with your mind to cope through it all, but it’s absolute nonsense. The lack of a god is evident. If he exists, he has always been on a break, and everything is up to humans, including discovering the knowledge, agreeing about it, deciding what we could and should do with it, and applying it, which is all fucked up because we’re people and are easily manipulated mentally and emotionally to battle over what is even knowledge. There’s no evidence of anything else interfering so that problems get solved. What the fuck are you even rambling on about?

        • Aldo Jackson

          What holds you (the atheists) back from using the various mental arts that you have mastered in order to follow reason and overcome social conditioning, to take power from the sociopaths, psychopaths, and narcissists who currently rule much of the world, and implementing marvelous solutions to transform the world? I’ve been known to lapse into misotheism sometimes.

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

          Miso theism? I’ve only had it with tofu. I didn’t know they made miso with theists.

          https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/00/Miso_Soup.jpg/250px-Miso_Soup.jpg

        • Greg G.

          If you add crackers to it, do they transubstantiate into meat?

        • Michael Neville

          Theists replace the bonito flakes customarily used in miso soup.

        • Kodie

          Apparently, it’s a hatred of god, i.e, the belief that there is a god and he didn’t do what you wanted or thought should happen or just be nice. It’s as absurd as eating soup with chopsticks!

        • MR

          Ooh…, speaking of hating things that don’t exist…. I have a hatred for greeting card fairies. Nasty little things that put glitter on your Christmas cards and that shit gets all over you and all over your house and you’re looking at your cat, and you’re like, “What’s that on your nose? Where did that come from?” And then you’re out with friends and they’re all, like, “What the hell is that on your forehead? Is that glitter? Ha-ha, look at MR, he’s got glitter all over his forehead….”

          They’re just nasty vile little creatures (the fairies, not your friends, though they can be cruel sometimes, too). I just HATE them. I must be suffering from misonoelfaeism.

        • Kodie

          I like glitter! You have to learn to accept glitter, glitter is good, glitter is destiny and also punishment if you reject and deny glitter makes greeting cards mean just a little more than the paper it’s printed on, or the picture on the front, or the greeting inside, or the other bullshit that makes it cost so much to buy a card that you can’t afford a little present, and plus postage increase because a regular sized card is too thick to send first class for the regular price of one stamp. Glitter is forever because it’s awesome.

        • Susan

          Glitter is forever because it’s awesome.

          And it’s awesome because it’s forever.

        • Susan

          “What’s that on your nose? Where did that come from?”

          Obviously, the universe was fine-tuned for glitter.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Maybe having some will help me feel better about our overall prospects.

        • Kodie

          We’re not fucking superheroes, you dummy. You seem to think it’s a matter of just wanting something, thinking of how to solve it, and then doing it. It still takes politics to accomplish almost anything, that is, the engagement of people to make a movement to cause things to change. You say you hate god sometimes, but that’s stupid. It doesn’t accomplish anything, and it really just means you hate yourself for being too small to make change, and then passing the blame on to an agent that doesn’t even exist.

          That’s bullshit. Come on.

        • Aldo Jackson

          People have intermittently achieved changes out of all promotion to the size of their group, like the invention of the printing press, or Ghengis Khan’s conquest of China, Arabia, and Russia. The puzzle I see, is how to bring about that scale of change, with similar simplicity of method.

        • Kodie

          Yeah sure, you are looking for a simple way out by overthinking everything to death, and then telling us all about it. Where do you live and what school/mall/movie theater should we warn of your approach?

        • Aldo Jackson

          I remember a story about someone failing 999 on their attempt to make an invention, and succeeding on the 1,000th attempt. The important thing is to have the actual plan be simple and effective, so that it doesn’t backfire. I think it’s hard to overthink the most important questions, as they remain unresolved, despite all the thought. I have adequate sense to realize that atrocities will not resolve the world’s problems, and have been directed not to perpetrate any.

        • TheNuszAbides

          What holds you (the atheists) back

          overwhelming numbers of fellow humans who are less inclined to question unfalsifiable claims? exhaustion? lack of ambition?

          various mental arts that you have mastered

          still you have to be vague about it? not even one specific straw-example?

        • Aldo Jackson

          Ok; fair enough. I’m not sure exactly how these mental arts work; (maybe intensive analysis is one of them) there is probably something that you employed to achieve your goal. Unless, of course, atheism/theism are natures of people, and thus inherent.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          However, this is the universe of your apologetics argument. No one can make up their minds what a “horse” is, and no “horse” even cares to participate in that debate if they even exist to care at all.

          Watch the Sean Carroll and WLC debate and see the “horse” is just whatever fits the current story- from only one believer in only one debate (I witnessed the same thing last church service I went to with my mom. Jesus’ power-level went up and down depending on the song and what part of the sermon they were on).

        • adam
        • Aldo Jackson

          Maintaining sanity is key. Finding ways to convert whatever strangeness you may experience into a source of eudamonia is an excellent plan.

        • adam

          “Finding ways to convert whatever strangeness you may experience into a source of https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ef3f3e7a882aca5027be9e8bd75b2760cd70392c861920c96190c2b215d1ac7e.jpg is an excellent plan.”

        • Aldo Jackson

          Later in the bible, in the new testament, God commands Peter to eat assorted wildlife, thus abrogating the old testament purity codes.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter's_vision_of_a_sheet_with_animals
          So, I’m not going to jump in and defend that stuff, and just note that God can change His mind, especially when He see techniques that work better in the shifting circumstances.
          As a side note, there’s a lot of other stuff in Leviticus. Thank God I don’t have to do any of it, because it would be a real nuisance all round.

        • adam

          ” just note that God can change His mind,”

          How does this work for an IMAGINARY character in a collection of stories?

          “especially when He see techniques that work better in the shifting circumstances.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9370bdaaa4ce47ef14fd6ff4ae1eeedf100948a5914eb7992c570698c1cbafcf.jpg

        • Kodie

          Like a dollhouse.

        • Aldo Jackson

          A most intriguing image.

        • Kodie

          Puppets don’t get intrigued.

        • Aldo Jackson

          While the tea-poring humans could be being manipulated, the could also be acting according to their own will. In any case, the notion is, that with events, it helps to ask “Why would this happen?” as well as “How did this happen?”.

        • Kodie

          Yes, that is kind of normal…. the problem is people answer their own questions with stories based on feelings and then fight over these stories. The problem is that there are real answers and people like you aren’t interested in any of them. You are interested in blathering idiocy and trying to be taken seriously. I beg of you, put down the bong.

        • Aldo Jackson

          See, I’d be okay with the scientifically-provable answers if the individual was the strongest power, and we all had roughly the same amount of power. But, with the rise of secular gods like Super PACS, some of us feel a need to answer stuff that might step on us to get a few more bits of faith-based currency. With mad gods on the prowl, we need to befriend a god to answer them; at least that’s how I see it.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, we know you invented an imaginary friend who behaves in a way consistent with what you see or think, but there is no “entity” in control like a god would be. When you’re talking to us, I don’t know what your goal is. Is it to merely share your ideas, or to convince us that whatever soup you believe to be true is at least plausible, or to convince yourself if you can get someone who isn’t from outer space to consider your ideations plausible?

        • Aldo Jackson

          Well, it feels like the classic kind of human-God communication, because I’m getting thoughts I didn’t have before, and that leap from one thing to another. My goal is to share the ideas I have been granted with my atheist inner child, and examine the feedback about it. This process has let me acquire some clarity, and make progress towards addressing stuff from earlier in my life. It is also good practice for the discussions I will need to have with other factions, when the stakes are higher.

        • Kodie

          You seem to frame a lot of things as though you are some kind of warrior or epic character … not sure where you’re coming from. You are having thoughts you never had before? What’s wrong with that. If you are exposed to new information or things that never occurred to you from your narrow perspective, it’s bound to affect your thinking and I don’t know about your “atheist inner child” I have no idea what that means, but it’s very weird to refer to your own mind as though it is another person you have to talk to. I don’t know what other factions you are talking about either, but maybe you are practicing your schtick and are only a fictional character yourself. Who knows, and I don’t know why you think we care. You seem to have a childish kindness about you, but I feel like you’re hiding ideas and thoughts that you plan to explore later in a much bigger and maybe violent exposition.

        • Aldo Jackson

          The world needs to be delivered from its woes, and those we have relied upon to do so have decided that they prefer to line their pockets and crush any and all alternatives to their relentless greed, instead. I looked around for someone to provide a new way forward, and, on failing to find such a person, realized that I could wait no longer, and needed to do something myself. In short, I realized I needed to be the thing that I sought. I’m totally okay with with new thoughts; they are quite handy. By “atheist inner child” I am using a psychological concept to refer to my childhood as an atheist. By factions I mean the various tribes that maintain our current system of tribalism; churches, political parties, etc. They need to make some changes if we are to have hope. If I am a fictional character, I hope that I am a useful fiction, like an imaginary number, or the rule of law. However, I don’t think I can be a fictional character, because I can type. But, then again, no fictional character thinks of themselves that way. By your assessment, God is a fiction, but by the history books, he hasn’t let that hold him back. It’s okay, either caring or not caring is fine. People can care or not care for any number of reasons. Thank you. Developing kindness is crucial for the road ahead, and being like little children is another Biblical motif. You can’t expect to get the results, unless you use the correct ingredients. I will unfold the full complexity of the plan as it is provided to me. It will be provided to me as circumstances require. I am directed to fulfill my nature, and to let others fulfill theirs, because that is how our realm is stabilized. It is far better to act second then to act first, so there is no cause to harm; merely to expound.

        • Kodie

          Please don’t do what the voices in your head tell you to do. You sound almost frighteningly delusional.

        • Aldo Jackson

          The essential thing is to exemplify honor, to provide an antidote to tribalism. I are not to destroy, but to restore by being a beacon of hope in desperate times.

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

          Is there a name for your beliefs? Or is this something ad hoc?

        • Susan

          However, there is also an entity poring the tea

          Yes. A human.

          God is quite content to employ Physics, Evolution or any number of other methods.

          So are my Immaterial Snowflake Fairies.

          “God” is ill-defined.
          “God” is unsupported evidentially whenever it is even slightly defined.
          “God” adds nothing. .

          So.. I beg you. Don’t try the tea analogy again.

          It’s dreadful.

          Humans exist and make tea.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Let’s try this definition: Power is the capacity to influence the course of events. Gods are entities that possess significant quantities of inherent power, or power that is part of their nature like the pelt of an animal. They may be human, or not. The term “God” is a title, referring to the most powerful of these entities, who arbitrates their disputes, and performs other functions as needed. Presidents and Prime Ministers aren’t supported evidentially either; entities merely enact the roles, and fulfill the corresponding duties.

        • Halbe

          You are just asserting a lot of stuff here, without any shred of evidence. You also throw around terms like “entity”, “object”, “event” and “power” in a weird way without providing your definitions for these terms. The end result: what you write is just incoherent gibberish to me.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Perhaps, like me, he has watched too many shonen anime? Then there’s X-Men: Apocalypse:

          Prof. X: “I have never felt power like this before!”

          It’s a cliched line that adds egotistical drama to some character’s super-empowerment scene in fantasy fiction. No one in the stories ever seems to ask what type of power/energy they are talking about. Tahdah! They can now kick ass because MAGIC! ::”Ooooohhhh!!!” waveshands::

        • Aldo Jackson

          Sort of. I teach and enjoy playing Magic: the Gathering. Shonen anime and X-Men: Apocalypse both sound intriguing, though. Maybe they have this attitude because the power is a black box, and lets them do what they want to do, so they aren’t too concerned about how it actually works. The old “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” motif.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          More like ANY explanation at all would make the superpowers seem much more hokey than just having a flaming aura with rocks floating up/Prof. X’s eyes going black and then super-fast punching and “energy blasts”/all the weapons defense personnel jettisoning their missiles just happening as if the two events in each pair are related to one another… somehow… HANDWAVESITSMAGIC!!!

        • Aldo Jackson

          I’m okay with assuming that it’s hokey, and doing what I can, when I need to.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Perhaps, like me, he has watched too many shonen anime

          i was gonna say … several of his premises are great for gaming.

          and when MNb remarked that Aldo wasn’t interested in a ‘plain reading’ of scripture, i thought “yup, smelled that Fancy Reader from afar.”

        • Aldo Jackson

          “Entity” and “Object” are meant as a dichotomy. An entity has more to it than its observable form would suggest; more specifically, the capacity for intent, plans etc. By contrast, an object simply does what the physical laws require of it. “Event” means some meaningful occurrence. The news reports on some events. Other events don’t make it there. With sufficient power, you can alter these; you can decide when to send aid convoys or topple a regime, for example. Further, I apologize for any lack of clarity.

        • Halbe

          These definitions only raise more questions than they answer.

          Is a human being an Entity or an Object? Why? Is an ape/monkey/dolphin/dog an Entity or an Object? Why? What about an ant or a flatworm? What about an advanced AI, like a self-driving car? Etc.

          How do you define “meaningful” in your definition of Event? “Meaning” is always ‘in the eye of the beholder’, so this definition implies the existence of a beholder for each event to determine its ‘meaningfulness’. Who is the beholder and how does it determine ‘meaningfulness’?

          Is every quantum state change an Event? Why / why not? Is every raindrop falling an event, or is it only the resulting rain shower? Is every air molecule moving an event, or is it only the resulting storm? Why? Etc.

          Your definition of Power rests completely on you definition of Event, and is thus also completely unclear.

          You might want to take some Philosophy 101, because you seem to be completely out of your depth here.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Ok, I’ll try to be clearer. Entities can reason. Entities can choose to change their behavior. Many humans are entities, because they meet these criteria. Also, some AI can meet these criteria, like the hypothetical transhuman AI. God, gods and sufficiently advanced aliens (which are similar in nature) qualify, in so far as they exist.
          The law has a “reasonable person” standard. Meaning is in the eye of this character.
          Do these work, and if not, why not?

        • Susan

          Entities can reason. Entities can choose to change their behavior.

          Let me respond and rephrase based on your response to Halbe’s question.

          Can an ape/monkey/dog/object reason? Can an ant or a flatworm?

          Will you consistently apply your concepts of reason or just divert to undefined language?

          What does it mean to reason?

          God, gods and sufficiently advanced aliens (which are similar in nature) qualify, in so far as they exist.

          Firstly, their is no reason to say that a sufficiently advanced alien is omni-anything, just that it’s sufficiently advanced to cause people to make and buy outrageous claims about infinite qualities.

          God, gods and SFA are not the same. Nor, does there seem to be a speck of evidence for any of them.

          Do these work, and if not, why not?

          No. Because you are vague and have already succumbed to equivocation, intentionally or not.

          What are you suggesting/claiming? How do you support it?

        • Aldo Jackson

          I’ll use this definition:

          Reason: The power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic.

          We can’t see into the minds of apes, but I’m not sure that they can do that.

          Agreed; infinite qualities don’t work, and I haven’t found much support for them in the Bible either.

          As for the aliens:
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/02/dont-believe-christianity-until-you-believe-in-aliens/
          I’ll go with this article here for evidence.

          We can also note that we can define God as the strongest of the aliens, and gods as either powerful aliens or human powers who successfully emulate said aliens. Using these definitions, they are not the same, but they are similar. The claim is that these entities provide a common thread, woven throughout history, and it would be prudent to bear this in mind when interpreting the Bible, other holy books, legends, and folklore. There are definite commonalities here; aliens abduct, the fae abduct, God abducts prophets, as an example.

        • Kodie
        • Aldo Jackson

          Ok; I’ll grant that apes are entities. They simply lack interest in many human enterprises, so we can leave them to their own devices, while we continue with ours.

        • Kodie

          Apes are animals, and people are animals. Plenty of theists think humans are a completely different type of thing than those species we call animals, and think we are alone in our abilities to feel, think, and do. That’s just false.

          I don’t know why you think calling things entities means something to me. You have your superstitions, don’t try to convince me that you are anything but a little bit, and hopelessly harmlessly, cuckoo.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Non-human animals care about the stuff that they care about, which are quite different from the things that humans care about. Most often we and the other animals are like ships passing in the night. The entity concept is designed to tie into game theory. I use it because it means something to me. But, to make it easier, we could use terms like person or (rational) actor instead, and those would work as well. We fulfill our natures, and hope that that can help make things better. You can believe what you like. Not being a tribalist, I don’t need to persuade. I simply make my various claims. Thus, I fulfill my nature, and do not hinder you from fulfilling yours.

        • TheNuszAbides

          so we can leave them to their own devices

          that’s a weird copout after you presented yourself as so very curious/seeky.

        • Aldo Jackson

          We might engage in some interesting research regarding them, but there’s no reason I can see to entangle them in our affairs, and get them caught in the crossfire.

        • al kimeea

          No apologies needed. Most defenses of the indefensible end up in the word salad bowl often due to humpty-dumptyness where words have to mean whatever the defender needs them to mean in order for the argument to hold.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Thanks. Maybe this is like the time I tried to learn about cooking. I asked “How do I know if it’s ready to eat”. The answer “When it smells done”. This stuff is an art, and I’m not as good at the practical application as I would like to be, let alone explaining how it works.

        • al kimeea

          an art that smells like bullshit

        • Aldo Jackson

          Then, I’ll fertilize my garden with it. Since entities do what they like, it’s hard to make a science around them, or to prove or disprove the existence of persons. (You know that you are a reasoning person, but you simply infer it about others). For example, social science has been unable to predict many world events.

        • Kodie

          A lot of food smells ready when it’s just heating up. It’s not hard to make a science around it – things brown, and there are thermometers to check.

          What world events are you thinking social science could never have predicted? You sound like you might be in an institution and they give you a little bit of computer time each day.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Thanks for explaining that. I’m interested in all kinds of technique; and I keep using the ones that work in my life. I’m disappointed that the economists failed to predict the recession and depressions, and that social scientists detect a number of distressing phenomena, but fail to come up with answers to them. The method I’m bringing in is Cartesian skepticism, wherein the certain truth is small. Instead, we live our lives based on the best practices that we can find. We construct paradigms with unprovable foundations of necessity, because of Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem. At some point, I became okay with that, and decided to sit back and enjoy the ride. Maybe acceptance is a great means to maintain sanity, so that you don’t need to be in institutions.

        • Kodie

          Look, here’s the thing. We’re all alone together, and things aren’t perfect and things aren’t even all good and certainly not even a little good for many people, and there’s no god going to fix it. You do have to accept a lot sometimes, and sometimes you can play an active part, just as long as you don’t think humanity is waiting for you to do anything. Life goes on, just don’t try to convince me I need to believe there’s something more in order to hang on.

        • Aldo Jackson

          No, that’s fine. You do what you like, and best of luck with it all working out.

        • MNb

          That’s what I mean. I understand how material entities like human beings and ants can have the capacity to influence the course of events. I don’t understand how an immaterial entity like gods can have that capacity.

          “Presidents and Prime Ministers aren’t supported evidentially either.”
          No? Then I’d like to know how this is not evidence for DD Bouterse being President (of Suriname).

          http://static1.ad.nl/static/photo/2015/16/7/8/20150812185533/media_xll_3221048.jpg

        • Aldo Jackson

          Granted. Gods need to take on material forms before they can act in our world. When people report seeing an immaterial they are seeing either a vision (a kind of hologram), or an energy being (which is simply a different variety of material being, because energy is a kind of matter).

          The photo is evidence that people regard him as the person who currently hold the office of President (of Suriname). God is regarded by enough of the gods as God, to be able to hold the office.

        • adam

          “God is regarded by enough of the gods as God, to be able to hold the office.”

          Hardly as no too people regard God in the same manner.

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

        • Woo

          We could easily create a meme for you looking into a picture of a scientist. Let’s be honest here if you were looking into a mirror you might see a picture of Bob Seidenplinker of which…

          a. his opinions are yours
          b. only the parts you like are true
          c. why he knows you so well
          d. he is you – and he only exists in your head

        • adam

          “We could easily create a meme for you looking into a picture of a scientist.”

          Yes, feel free to do so, but I dont see science or scientists as MAGICAL, and I certainly dont worship either.

          ” Let’s be honest here if you were looking into a mirror you might see a picture of Bob Seidenplinker of which…”

          So you are NOT going to be honest.

          “a. his opinions are yours”
          Nope you are bearing false witness.

          “b. only the parts you like are true”

          Nope, I accept as true many parts I dont like.

          “c. why he knows you so well”

          He doesnt know me at all, he doesnt even know who I am.

          So just more LYING for Jesus, I guess.

          “d. he is you – and he only exists in your head”

          There are videos of Bob actually attending conferences and actually being a real person.

          So NOW that we understand what YOU think is honesty, should we just dismiss you as a dishonest troll, or just someone with dishonest Faith?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/95408c17c744e1523ad5e31da0806274d0b9ef6b38a0d87c101e431dc3dff63a.jpg

        • Aldo Jackson

          Most people don’t have god-level power. I’m quite a ways from there, myself. Should you get there, you’ll get to help pick the next God, if that’s what’s needed. But, there some advantages for God that come from confusion about His nature. It’s rather like having an unlisted phone number. People can try to reach you day and night, but they can’t get through, and so you can ignore their petty egotism.

        • adam

          “Most people don’t have god-level power.”

          Yet, most people create their own God in their own mind.

          “But, there some advantages for God that come from confusion about His nature. ”

          Of course, money and power. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c7c540786b83c1a7f16529fbc116998cfda8fa8948ac1342a6416b282d9ad215.jpg

          ” It’s rather like having an unlisted phone number. People can try to
          reach you day and night, but they can’t get through, and so you can
          ignore their petty egotism.”

          Why should such a god create such petty egotism?
          When it is already inherent in mankind.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f129a7bb7ea79a7ffaf34193b3acfc8faccdb90b56e91e4d332db01634847a89.jpg

        • Joe

          Let’s try this definition: Power is the capacity to influence the course of events

          Why should we just accept your definition of power?

        • Aldo Jackson

          It’s a commonplace kind of definition, rather like the definition of power used in physics. We could call it something else, like arete for instance; that would be okay too.

        • Joe

          No, your definition isn’t common. You’re making things up.

        • Aldo Jackson
        • MNb

          The definition of power used in physics is not at all “the capacity to influence the course of events”. The definition of power used in physics is transformed energy divided by the time-interval in which that transformation takes place.
          That doesn’t mean your definition is a bad one. It’s just not justified by physics.

        • Aldo Jackson

          Thanks, and indeed; I’m using the social and abstract definition of power, rather than the physics one. The thing it shares with the physics definition is that it’s commonplace, not more specialized properties.

        • MNb

          The commonplace definition of power in the social sciences is “capability to make other people do something they otherwise would not do”. Nothing abstract here.

        • adam

          ” Power is the capacity to influence the course of events.”

          So mosquitos are Power?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Well, not compared to Saitama… but he is basically GOD XD

          https://youtu.be/haruV6-M3U8?t=13

        • Aldo Jackson

          If the mosquito developed reason and carried malaria, it could definitely influence events and would have power. Without reason, the mosquito would be a means for another to exercise power. Without malaria, the mosquito would have difficulty influencing the course of events.

        • adam

          Mosquitos dont need reason to influence the course of evenst.

          “Without malaria, the mosquito would have difficulty influencing the course of events.”

          Mosquitos can carry more than malaria.

        • MNb

          I understand how material entities employ gravity. I don’t understand how an immaterial entity is supposed to do that, given that gravity is part of our material reality.

      • boneheadaudio

        There will be plenty of order once every atom in the universe has degraded into its component parts.

    • Joe

      What if all the myths are accurate?

      Then modern Christian theology is a lie. Try convincing Christians of your ideas first, and let us know how they respond.

    • TheNuszAbides

      that reminds me of a putatively Mormon visitor who suggested that God is promoted from among some sort of council. (i.e. among all these supposed planetary rulers, a small number are super-wise enough to Actually Run Things. and whoever is acting God at any time is their vested president or something.)

      • Aldo Jackson

        Indeed; it is important to have a system that maintains equilibrium in the cosmos.

  • Sophia Sadek

    And then there is the Kraken.

  • Jeroen Metselaar

    Am I the only one who is reminded of Pratchett’s brilliant Small Gods?

  • Kevin K

    Fascinating. Can you recommend further reading? Is there a book you can recommend that walks through some of this. I’m really interested in the early history of the gods.

    • Greg G.

      Did you watch the podcast he linked to?

      • Kevin K

        I’m a “reader”, not a “pod person”.

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

      One good source, as Greg G pointed out, is the podcast. However, if you search for “combat myth,” I think you’ll find more.

    • TheNuszAbides

      Joseph Campbell’s unfinished series is possibly the best straightforward treatment:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_Atlas_of_World_Mythology

      not easy to find, though. i grabbed a few installments of the second printing on a lucky pass through a local bookstore — coffee-table dimensions but soft covers — so if you’re ever near Seattle …

      also, not the earliest, but anyone who follows the style of Graves is all right in my book:
      https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/510569.The_Greek_Myths?ac=1&from_search=true

      makes plain the interpretation of various deities/spirits as more like tribal mascots than super-elevated fantasy entities; the ‘human foibles’ of the Olympian pantheon make far more sense in this regard.

    • Charles Coryn

      Here’s a couple from the old days when we used books……
      Encyclopedia of GODS … Over 2,500 Deities of the World……. Michael Jordan,
      Guide to the Gods….. Marjorie Leach, 925 pages,
      Ye Gods, A Dictionary of the Gods, Anne S. Baumgartner,
      The Encyclopaedia of Middle Eastern Mythology and Religion, Jan Knappert

  • Alma Mercer

    fascinating, and indeed food for thought , but are they then all dead ? if we are left with no creator or other wise, is science all we have left ? curious .

    • Sandpirate

      Pretty much.

    • epeeist

      If and when belief in Yahweh/Jesus disappears then can we conclude that this peculiar triune god no longer exists, assuming it ever existed in the first place.

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

      Science is imperfect. Indeed, science itself makes very clear that science is imperfect. But it’s the best we’ve got–just look at its track record.

      • Woo

        Here you define “best” as understanding a process but science can’t tell you why something exists (the existential questions) it can only answer the what questions.

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

          A radioactive nucleus decays, and an electron comes out. The electron wasn’t there before. Can I ask science, “Why does that electron exist?”?

        • Woo

          I’m talking about the initial original cause not a later cause to effect relationship.

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

          Me, too.

    • Joe

      if we are left with no creator or other wise, is science all we have left

      What do you mean ‘if‘? The existence of a creator has yet to be proven.

      And no, we also have art, philososphy, sociology etc.

      • Woo

        Romans 1:20 says that nature is so wrought with Gods fingerprints that “men are without excuse”

        I second that

        • busterggi

          As millions see no god or a different god then clearly Romans is wrong.

        • Woo

          We don’t determine truth by majority. What Romans is saying is that because God has created nature his fingerprints are there (design) so that men are without excuse. Denying that makes you rebellious to the truth.

        • adam

          ” What Romans is saying is that because God has created nature his fingerprints are there (design) so that men are without excuse.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bf3ab7ed04d447ff091f3cf19fcdefc6aafeccae006445994adc3759435c0aa5.jpg

        • adam

          “What Romans is saying is that because God has created nature his
          fingerprints are there (design) so that men are without excuse.”

          then what purpose does Jesus serve?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9b6e9c7edc0424ae229731b657e578c29099206ffd21075dd3a5cdeef56da60d.jpg

        • busterggi

          I’m not denying anything – I don’t see those ‘fingerprints’ and neither do billions of others.

          Just because YOU see pink elephants doesn’t make them real.

        • 70happyatheist

          I have a built-in “bull crap” detector! It is called ” , “critical thinking”, use of reason, thinking for myself, being rational! And not just accepting just anything that I am taught! It can be difficult when we all were expected to be believers or we were not accepted into the general community. Many gave in early as youngsters and never left and others thought and rejected anywhere from early years but most not until teens or college or older and something got them thinking others took even longer. For many believers giving up their beliefs are not easy for them and got through a number of crisis! We have a Clergy Project with over 600 members that was set up to help those who wanted to leave the preaching profession but have many difficulties in leaving and making a living. Divorces are not uncommon! I personally know many who only when in graduate school did they first learn of
          biblical criticism that was done as far back as 200 yrs and more since that they never heard off! After learning of this knowledge they never became preachers!

        • Woo

          I’ve taken those Biblical criticism classes and they’re great classes but lets be clear here there aren’t any scholars alive today that espouse the theories of Bultmann except maybe Bob Price and by extension Bob Seidensticker (who isn’t a scholar) in this blog who thinks rather highly of Price.

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

          Be specific. Are there errors in this or any other post? Then share them with us.

        • Woo

          Your errors lie in your presumption of truth finding which you for the most part fail to do. Again, in respect to this post similarities are not the same as copying.

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

          Can you actually answer the question? Apparently not.

        • Woo

          the exception isn’t the rule

        • adam

          “Romans 1:20 says that nature is so wrought with Gods fingerprints ”

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

        • Joe

          I don’t agree. It’s an unqualified and unsupported statement.

        • 70happyatheist

          Does that include birth defects, all diseases, Christian babies and children and parents that die in car wrecks , fires, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes,robbers with beatings, shootings, stabbings, rapes, ships that sinks, airplanes that crash or blown up. etc. are these included in the finger prints of God. What about this 74 atheist who has never had a headache and only mild colds while Christians I worked with had all kinds of aches, pains, sickness, broken bones, died in all kinds of accidents! Am I a favorite of God to be an active atheists, civil rights, activist, feminist, early supporters of gay when accidentally living in an apartment building with seven in 1963, early environmentalist, anti-Vietnam War activist, and socialist for over 40 years? My coworkers declared I could not be an Earthling but must be some alien!-smile!

        • Woo

          defects don’t negate design
          diseases don’t negate design
          death doesn’t negate design
          fires don’t negate design
          tornadoes don’t negate design
          floods don’t negate design
          hurricanes don’t negate design
          robbers with beatings don’t negate design
          shootings don’t negate design
          stabbing, rapes and ships that sink, airplanes that crash, etc. don’t negate design

          Why do you presuppose that for God to a. exist and b. to be good that there must not be any pain and suffering in this life?

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

          defects don’t negate design

          Agreed, but where does the evidence point? If something doesn’t look designed by a perfect Designer, why conclude that it was?

          I use DNA alone to reject the Design Hypothesis here:
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/11/argument-from-design-busted-2/

        • Woo

          Everything was good and perfect in the beginning then sin entered the picture which is why some people get sick or their bodies are deformed etc. It’s not that they sinned personally to obtain those conditions. Think of a polluted river for example. Someone pollutes the river but everyone downstream is still drinking out of it. Is it the people downstreams fault if they get sick or get a disease from the pollution – no. That still doesn’t negate that the original condition was good.

  • busterggi

    No matter how many gods defeat chaos it just keeps coming back.

    Looks like the Great Old Ones won’t stay down.

  • Zeta

    Yahweh was assigned Israel, and other gods in the council were given their own tribes to rule.

    Yahweh started off as a tribal god of the ancient Israelites. Initially he only had limited power and had many unsavory characteristics. Richard Dawkins has a long string of uncomplimentary adjectives to describe this god in his book “The God Delusion”. Over the ages believers, apologists and theologians use their imagination to embellish him with fantastic attributes and evolve him to become an omni-everything and all-loving god. This shows very clearly that this absentee god is really a myth based on the imagination of ancient people, and later apologists and theologians.

    How can anyone believe in such a made-up god is beyond me. It is sad that countless people have wasted their lives, have been tortured and killed because of this myth.

    • Woo

      Are you familiar with the other Ancient Near Eastern gods of the Old Testament? Yahweh is the equivalent of Ghandi compared to them.

      • Zeta

        What is the point that you are trying to make here? Be more specific and clearer.

        • Woo

          that comparisons or similarities do not equate to “sameness”

        • Zeta

          Did I talk about “comparisons or similarities equate to “sameness”” in my comment about Yahweh?

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

        Indeed. One could consult the following:

             • Joshua A. Berman’s Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought
             • Yoram Hazony’s The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture
             • Norman K. Gottwald’s The Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel, 1250–1050 BCE
             • John H. Walton’s Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible
             • Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Justice: Rights and Wrongs
             • Peter Berger’s A Far Glory

        But that would be to engage in evidence and reason, something I find too many atheists only do when it suits them. The rest of the time, these apply:

            In one definition of the word, it is of course impossible to find any assertions of full skepticism; even silent enactments are difficult. A good general rule is: scratch a skeptic and find a dogmatist. (Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent, 56)

            Another exaggeration may have been the conventional view of the reach of scientific rationality. One does not have to look at religion only in order to find this thought plausible. It is amazing what people educated to the highest levels of scientific rationality are prepared to believe by way of irrational prejudices; one only has to look at the political and social beliefs of the most educated classes of Western societies to gain an appreciation of this. Just one case: What Western intellectuals over the last decades have managed to believe about the character of Communist societies is alone sufficient to cast serious doubt on the proposition that rationality is enhanced as a result of scientifically sophisticated education or of living in a modern technological society. (A Far Glory, 30)

        • adam

          ” • Joshua A. Berman’s Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought”

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

        • al kimeea

          It is amazing what people educated to the highest levels of scientific rationality are prepared to believe by way of irrational prejudices; one only has to look at the political and social beliefs of the most educated classes of Western societies to gain an appreciation of this.

          Yes, very large numbers of the people described believe in an imaginary friend.

        • Woo

          and a very small number of people believe they’re not going to be accountable when they die for their actions here on earth. Interesting.

        • Zeta

          Woo: “and a very small number of people believe they’re not going to be accountable when they die for their actions here on earth. Interesting.

          Many Christians believe that what is essential is to accept Jesus into your heart and you will be saved. Do you agree?

        • Woo

          the Bible no where says to “accept Jesus into your heart” but it does talk about placing your faith in Christ, i.e. “calling on the name of the Lord”, etc. but this doesn’t negate what theologians have always talked about as general revelation in Romans 1:20. In other words, even if a person doesn’t accept Christ they’d still have to contend with the created order which plainly reveals a designer. As a foundation then men are “without excuse” to deny that God exists.

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

          Christians can declare whatever they want to be self-evident, but the rest of us will be glad to show you any flaws in the claim.

          The idea that men are without excuse is one of them. Everyone knows God exists, just cuz? That won’t work for me, I’m afraid.

        • Zeta

          Woo: “the Bible no where says to “accept Jesus into your heart” but it does talk about placing your faith in Christ, i.e. “calling on the name of the Lord”, etc.

          You are just nit-picking. I do not mean the exact wording appears in the bible. This is the message that many Christians adviced me to do. Let me use your words above to rephrase my question. If a person places his faith in Christ, will he be saved no matter what he has done in this world?

        • Woo

          Glad you clarified.

          Yes faith is all that’s required to be saved however as Romans 8 and other passages explain God will guarantee salvation by sanctifying the individual. Someone can’t proclaim faith and then do whatever they please. That would in fact mean that the individual wasn’t saved to begin with.

        • Zeta

          Murphy: “Someone can’t proclaim faith and then do whatever they please.

          What if he proclaims faith AFTER he has done what he pleases?

        • al kimeea

          Held accountable by your imaginary friend?

        • Michael Neville

          Or imaginary enemy, take your pick.

        • Woo

          You’ll see

        • adam

          How, the dead see nothing, the eyes and brain decays so that sight is impossible.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/474299198fa468cb412454dc5c43a24444b671b390af392fb7d2e088f0031e1d.jpg

        • al kimeea

          Been through the process already eh?

        • Michael Neville

          Got any evidence to support your claim that there’s an afterlife? I mean real evidence, not make-believe pulled out of that collection of myths, fables and lies called the Bible.

        • Woo

          NDE’s are scientifically verified. Do you find those to be credible? Let me guess, any evidence put forth isn’t good enough?

        • Michael Neville

          The problem with NDEs is that Christians see Jesus, Muslims see Allah, Hindus see Vishnu or Shiva and who knows what animists see. No, I don’t find NDEs to be credible except to show the brain creates weird images when it’s oxygen starved.

          So, got any evidence to support your claim that there’s an afterlife?

        • adam

          “and a very small number of people believe they’re not going to be accountable when they die for their actions here on earth.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a29efcba0ee94d4f84d4a43b6bc78a04d7180523d05f7132222fdad4c7046acd.jpg

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

          Tu quoque? Because that’s clearly not what the excerpt is about. Or do you quote-mine [& distort] with the best of creationists?

        • al kimeea

          Homeopathy, moxibustion or imaginary friend, people with letters after their names will believe these things

          Still not evidence for the Abrahamic prick.

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

          Yep, there’s a lot of dumb shit out there. For example, see this nine minute clip (transcript), where Neil deGrasse Tyson expresses incredible prejudice against scientists who pray to a personal God. This, despite that he doesn’t have a shred of evidence that:

               (I) upon deconverting from theist → atheist, a scientist starts doing better science
              (II) upon converting from atheist → theist, a scientist starts doing worse science

          Neil deGrass Tyson’s rant has no more evidence to support it (recall that correlation ⇏ causation) than the idea that being black makes you worse at science. And so, that whole talk can be understood by replacing the concept of “religious” / “prays to a personal god” with “is black”, and by replacing the concept of deconversion with that of taking a pill that turns black skin white. And yeah, maybe the pill doesn’t work on all blacks—maybe some just have an evolutionary defect which isn’t their fault.

          But you’ll probably approve of what Tyson did because you’re probably irrationally bigoted.

        • al kimeea

          none of those words have any relation to evidence for a deity, any deity

          I know of a guy who runs an aerospace company. He may be good at science, but he also wrote a book which explains the week long creation story in a sciencey way. It only works if you ignore the fact that our best, most current knowledge of the age of this universe is not the number he came up with.

          I know of another guy who came up with a whole new math to explain the heavens, but gave up on an aspect of his work when he assigned agency to a deity.

          I know of two other guys with lots of letters after their names and specialised training who believed that since probiotic bacteria is all naturally good for your gut, it would work on brain tumours. So, during their next brain surgery they infected the patient – giving them bacterial meningitis.

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

          none of those words have any relation to evidence for a deity, any deity

          Non sequitur.

          I know of a guy who runs an aerospace company. He may be good at science, but he also wrote a book which explains the week long creation story in a sciencey way.

          “Compartmentalization” as an explanation for why you cannot demonstrate (I) or (II) is weak sauce. If ‘religion’ can be so fully hived off from day-to-day life, then why is it so dangerous? If it is so dangerous, then demonstrate where it is, using science. Show me the peer-reviewed papers. Or can you not do that because they don’t exist? Are you limited to hand-waving and correlation ⇒ causation? That’d be pathetic.

          I know of another guy

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5yW8TvzpvI

        • al kimeea

          Oh man, your eyes are so brown

          and

          none of those words still have no relation to evidence for a deity, any deity

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

          Until you actually deal with the evidence you were already presented I presented to @disqus_izbe2ncxYD:disqus, until you stop the tu quoque fallacies and non sequiturs, all you’re getting from me in this thread is my answer to the Phil.SE question Could there ever be evidence for an infinite being?.

        • Kodie

          Jesus F. you are a chore.

        • al kimeea

          I’ve never seen a more thorough and comprehensive case made for Vishnu. Excuse me while I go make a shrine.

        • Greg G.

          I dreamed I was Vishnu. Send offerings to my bank account.

        • al kimeea

          Send your details to my princely Ethiopian intermediaries post haste

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

          Nah, make shrines for Mediocrity and perhaps Hypocrisy.

        • al kimeea

          Churches already abound

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

          Mediocrity abounds more.

        • al kimeea

          As your comment shows

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

          Nah, you got me beat, sorely beat.

        • al kimeea

          I’m pretty sure you beat yourself

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

          If by ‘beat’ you mean ‘transcend’.

        • al kimeea

          Humpty Dumptyism, Quelle surprise

        • 70happyatheist

          Exodus 21:20 KJV ” and if a man smite his servant(actually slave!) or his maid(slave), with a rod and he die under his hand: he shall be surely be punished(does not say how!) 21 Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.(property!)- none of that do unto others as you would want them to do to you! American slaveowners used all these quotes in both old and NT to defend their right to have slaves! It is even worse in the NT because it is ok to enslave Christians also. Jesus tells slaves to obey your masters!

        • adam

          ” • Joshua A. Berman’s Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought”

          Yes lets see that:
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/86effa5e2bc761ae95f687bf44f1632c13ebd40a54b07502d779f242a887cc3e.jpg

      • Joe

        How many people did Gandhi personally kill?

        • Woo

          You’re missing the point. The point is if we contrast Yahweh with the Canaanite fertility gods, etc. he is extremely loving and tame in comparison. Moreover, Ghandi was a pacifist and pacifism as we well know has caused undo harm the world over. At one point do you yourself consider war and violence a means of obstructing even more war and violence?

        • busterggi

          Oh sure, extremely loving like when he screwed up communication within humanity to cause wars & disruption because he was afraid they were builing too tall a tower or when he killed off everything except a handful of people & animals by drowning them or when he killed off the Egyptian first born or…

          Not that I believe in any sky-monster/daddy but still.

        • Joe

          he point is if we contrast Yahweh with the Canaanite fertility gods, etc. he is extremely loving and tame in comparison.

          If you compare Hitler to Stalin, he wasn’t so bad.

          oreover, Ghandi was a pacifist and pacifism as we well know has caused undo harm the world over.

          It’s your analogy. Either way, pacifism is preferable to slaughter.

        • adam

          “Ghandi was a pacifist and pacifism as we well know has caused undo harm the world over. ”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a18a3237d360e002dbdd901e4a3f5688a3463b7d939dbc595090ceadb5ae4faa.png

        • Michael Neville

          One of my pet peeves is when Gandhi’s name is misspelled.

        • adam

          I was quoting Murph

          Not that spelling is one of my strong points.

        • Zeta

          Woo: “The point is if we contrast Yahweh with the Canaanite fertility gods, etc. he is extremely loving and tame in comparison.

          You obviously did not read your holy book carefully or you read it without understanding.

          Richard Dawkins in his “The God Delusion” says it much better than I can:

          The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

          Why not you try to refute what Dawkins says in the above?

        • Woo

          That’s easy

          Dawkins is an atheist and as an atheist he has no objective moral grounding to be judging YHWH’s actions in the Old Testament. Dawkins has no groundwork to find anything unpleasant morally speaking unless he becomes a theist.

        • Zeta

          Woo: “Dawkins is an atheist and as an atheist he has no objective moral grounding to be judging YHWH’s actions in the Old Testament. Dawkins has no groundwork to find anything unpleasant morally speaking unless he becomes a theist.

          This is complete garbage. Don’t just regurgitate what your pastor or religious teacher told you. I have seen this nonsensical argument many, many times before. It is stinkingly stale. You are just trying to give your evil god a free pass. The proper and honorable thing to do is to refute Dawkins’ descriptions, showing that he is mistaken in his reading of the OT. If you cannot do that, you are just deluded beyond redemption.

          You are really blind to all the cruel killings (including drowning or burning alive innocent children and babies), genocide and other immoral behavior of Yahweh. Is Yahweh’s obnoxious behavior the source of your “objective morality”?

          BTW, tell us what objective morality means and give some examples that this kind of morality can only come from Yahweh.

        • Woo

          Well just as an aside God did save millions of people in Egypt. Does that up YHWH on your “good-o-meter”?

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Prove that. There’s no evidence to support that story.

        • Murph

          How about history?

        • Murph

          Let me guess the Bible is an invalid source because it’s primarily a religious work?

        • adam

          “Let me guess the Bible is an invalid source because it’s primarily a religious work?”

          No, because it depends on MAGIC.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/04570f3531aa4e675333fdcce29973e95d6ad5b518125333d607badb96b99c03.png

          Buddhism doesnt.

        • Zeta

          Murph: “God did save millions of people in Egypt.

          You are very confused. Assuming that the slavery in Egypt is true, did your god save his so-called “Chosen People” from being killed? He was a racist and only helped his favored race. He was nothing more than a tribal war god of the ancient Israelites helping them to immorally grab the land of others and in the process engaging in totally exterminating those other races (including children, babies and “babies in the womb”) without mercy.

          Even assuming that he saved a small number of ancient Israelites from being killed in Egypt, that does not mean that he could be excused from the other millions that he killed without good reasons.

        • Murph

          No he desired to use the Israelite community not only as a model community to the surrounding nations but as the eventual means by which Jesus Christ would be born and provide the means of salvation to the entire world.

          It’s okay for God to take life as he sees fit. Whether we think it’s okay or not we’re in no place to judge. Whatever he did he did it for good reason.

          Can human beings be excused for killing babies in the womb?

        • Laniakea

          I think it is YOU without any moral grounding. Otherwise,
          you would not worship a (quote): ‘jealous, petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully’ and pretend at the same time that this disgusting, abhorrent and repulsive asshole is all-loving!

          This god is NOT a loving god, not even in the slightest sense of meaning of the word, it is a fucking assholic monster that you worship!
          Read your fucking silly bronce-age book and THINK for once, man!

          I really wonder, how people like you can even imagine to worship such a despicable being, let alone to actually do so with a straight face and then have the guts to claim that WE atheists are the ones without a ‘moral grounding’.

        • Murph

          Because you define love in a manner that’s conducive to your cultural norms

        • Laniakea

          You’re wrong, once again, which is not really surprising.

          Interesting though, that you seem to know exactly how I define something without even knowing me a bit.
          At least, I used the word “maybe” in front of my sentence when I was making an assumption..

          So, can you at least explain to me WHY exactly you believe in the god of the bible?
          Have you even read your bible from cover to cover, ever? And if so and you really still worship that dick, why the heck do you do that?

        • Kodie

          You mean like a functional healthy human and not as a victim of abuse?

        • Laniakea

          Maybe, you just don’t understand what love means, let alone what ‘all-loving’ would mean.

          This is a quote from Dan Barker, a former preacher and firm believer in Christianity for 17 years, now atheist, who eventually realized (like so many of us) that he was wrong:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b8e5f7c0bc393b549f1e7ae890ce110d53ce0d1e7c52e1fb7f923c11de67e935.jpg

        • Murph

          Barker is a con artist

        • Michael Neville

          Your second favorite fallacy is ad hominem. If you can’t rebut someone or they make a stance you find threatening, you insult them. Your favorite fallacy is the argument by assertion, where you say something and then don’t give the slightest hint about why you believe whatever happy horseshit you’ve just puked up.

        • Murph

          unless it’s a fact (which in this case it is) its not ad hominem

        • Laniakea

          And you know that how?

        • Murph

          Because I don’t buy that he was in the faith for that many years and all of a sudden abandoned it.

        • Murph

          If he’s so smart why did it take his m so long to abandon the faith?

        • Laniakea

          Because being smart has nothing to do with believing nonsense but with critical thinking skills that can be trained?

          Remember that most of the atheists and agnostics were once believers like you still are, and I don’t think, that our IQ has increased significantly just because of our atheism :)

          By the way, if you really want to know how Dan Barker, John Loftus and other former believers (there are plenty former Christians who wrote books where they also talk about their transition) eventually lost their faith in Christianity and why, I would recommend to actually read their books.

        • Murph

          Well if he’s so smart he would’ve known way ahead of time so I don’t buy it that he’s all of a sudden this super smart Christian musician turned atheist and after decades in the faith it occurred to him that it’s all false? You’d have to be pretty naive to believe his story.

        • Murph

          People like Loftus and Barker become atheists because they become disenfranchised with the faith

        • Michael Neville

          If you’re so smart why haven’t you abandoned the faith?

        • Murph

          I haven’t abandoned the faith because I don’t set up unfair expectations on God like Barker did. I’ve listened to several of his debates. Barker expected God to answer all of his prayers which I don’t. I expect God to answer the prayers that conform to Gods will not mine. So for starters Barker holds God to a standard that is human centered not God centered which is why he is so upset that his prayers weren’t answered in the way he desired.

        • MNb

          Dawkins never claimed he had any objective moral grounding. He just expressed his own, ie subjective opinion on those actions.
          He has groundwork though. It’s called empathy. Something apologists like you totally lack, if you took your own arguments seriously. That’s something I doubt, given your hypocrisy.

        • 70happyatheist

          I like, Richard Dawkins ,found the Bible God to be a horrible character with really bad morals. Obviously not at all believable or even in any way positive! So far from “perfect” as to be amazed my mother could believe this stuff! I put a big dent in her view but she quit wanting to talk about before I graduated from high school in 1960! I learned a lot more as time went allow and found out few believers wanted to talk with me for very long once they learned that I could pull out my small notebook and provide them with chapter and verse! Time for them to move along! Their God did not seem to be any help when dealing with me! Now I have my iphone!

        • McJakome

          I loved history so in reading outside the Bible and church dogma and outside the school curriculum I encountered Epicurus, who wrote:
          “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
          Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
          Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
          Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
          After which I became an agnostic. I spent some time like Diogenes, looking for truth in religion, but found very little.

        • Woo

          Well, sorry to tell you but Richard Dawkins is a biologist not a Bible scholar. Moreover, I think it’s convenient for Dawkins to claim the moral high ground when he denies Gods existence. Let me be clear here – you can’t claim a moral high ground when you nothing objective to stand on! Dawkins claims YHWH has “bad morals” yet as an atheist he denies objective morality!

          You need to reevaluate your worldview by considering how you have ground for morality as an atheist. Where do your morals come from? If they aren’t found in an objective source (God) than they’re subjective which means you can’t complain when there are wars and crimes committed which you disprove of.

        • Halbe

          “Richard Dawkins is a biologist not a Bible scholar”. So what? I am not a historian or a political scientist either, but that does not stop me from criticizing both Hitler and Stalin. Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham, Albert Mohler are all fiercely critical of Islam, but neither of them is a “Koran scholar”, so why take them seriously?

          “You can’t claim a moral high ground when you [have] nothing objective to stand on” – Why not? Give us one coherent argument for that grand claim please. It is the rise of subjective, secular morality that has turned modern Christianity away from the abject morals it preached in the not too distant past.

        • Woo

          True, you can offer your opinion but it has no credibility on the subject.

          1. If God does not exist than objective moral values and duties do not exist
          2. Moral values and duties exist

          3. Therefore, God exists

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

          Objective moral values and duties exist? Show me.

        • adam

          “1. If God does not exist than objective moral values and duties do not exist”

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

          So your FIRST statement is demonstrated FALSE, therefor your God is IMAGINARY.

        • Halbe

          Really!? You come to an atheist blog and drop the totally debunked “Argument from Morality” on us and think that anyone will be impressed? You have a lot to learn I am afraid…

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Your argument is not sound. You might consider studying up on basic logic.

        • Michael Neville

          The infamous Courtier’s Reply raises its head. “Youse guys ain’t godologists so ya can’t talk about god because youse guys ain’t godologists.”

          There’s no such thing as “objective morality”. All morality is subjective, even the “morality” that the incredibly immoral Yahweh is supposed to have is subjective. “Objective morality” would be recognized as such by everyone. Since people have honest disagreements on what is or isn’t moral, then it’s obvious that “objective morality” is something that doesn’t exist. If you pretend it does exist then you need to give examples and justify them as “objective”.

        • Woo

          The funny thing about Courtiers is it’s often brought up even though in cases like this Dawkins has literally zero credibility on the subject. So, if we we’re looking at his job resume for example he’d have no experience in the area of Biblical studies. So sorry for you but this is in fact the case not to mention Dawkins has no business making moral judgments as an atheist.

        • Michael Neville

          Like Dawkins, I’ve read the Bible cover to cover a couple of times (three times for me, I don’t know how many for Dawkins). That’s sufficient to get a feel for how utterly immoral Ol’ Yahweh is. According to the propaganda he kills people just because he can. He condones slavery and orders genocide and rape. Now I admit I’m not a board-certified godologist but, again like Dawkins, I’m reasonably intelligent, reasonably educated and reasonably well read in other areas beside my particular profession.

          The only reason and I mean the ONLY reason why you’re sneering at Dawkins is because he’s reached a conclusion about your god that you don’t like. But instead of rebutting Dawkins by showing how good and great your god is, you toss the ad hominem known as the Courtier’s Reply at him, saying he “has literally zero credibility on the subject.”

          As for atheists making moral judgements, who are you to say that we can’t? All morality is subjective and atheists’ opinions on what is and is not moral are just as good as any theists’ opinions.

        • Laniakea

          Why does anyone have to be a bible scholar in order to understand this supposed God’s message in the first place?

          Isn’t the bible, the claimed ‘Word of God’, supposed to be understood by all of humanity or was it written for just the few who happened to be able to read and understand Hebrew and Greek? And if so, why?

          And don’t you think that an all-loving, omni-benevolent, perfect, omniscient and omnipotent creator god would have been able to find better ways to deliver his message than by a freakin’ book riddled with verses that one is only able to understand if they spent years of studying it?

        • Murph

          Why does anyone have to be a scientist to be a scientist?

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

          Because there are objectively true things that you must know and understand.

          Unlike in theology.

        • Michael Neville

          Because science is hard. Gods are easy because you can make up anything about gods that you want. I’ve studied enough theology to know that theologians literally make it up as they go along. And yes, I can give examples.

          In 325 the Byzantine emperor Constantine I called the Council of Nicea because there was a major dispute amongst Christians about the divinity of Jesus. An Alexandrian priest named Arius was promoting the belief that Jesus was not divine. Constantine didn’t like this idea and so he ordered the priests and bishops at the council to declare Arius a heretic and proclaim the divinity of Jesus. Wanting to keep the guy with the torturers and executioners on his payroll happy, the council clerics clicked their heels, shouted “Jawohl mein Kaiser!” and Arianism became heretical.

          So the divinity of Jesus was settled because that’s what the guy in charge, who wasn’t a priest or theologian, wanted.

        • Murph

          correction – some science is difficult. the practice of science is incredibly simple which is why you can have a children’s television show like the Magic School Bus which tests the hypothesis brought forth at the beginning of the show. The essence of science is a hypothesis, investigation and discovery – that’s it.

          Are you kidding me about Constantine? It’s true that he called the council but the Gospel’s predate Constantine by hundreds of years and they describe Jesus as divine. Arius was taking issue with the Gospel accounts themselves and misleading a lot of people.

        • Michael Neville

          The Council of Nicea decided that Arius was “misleading a lot of people” and the reason they made that decision was that Constantine ordered them to do so. If you’re going to lecture me on history then you need to learn some before you do it. As I said previously, you’re nowhere near as smart or knowledgeable as you think you are.

        • Murph

          but you don’t have to be a scientist to practice hypothesis, investigation and discovery just like you don’t have to be a theologian to see links between Scriptures, themes in the Bible, doctrines, etc.

          But the point is you need credibility if you’re going to lecture others on it which Dawkins in this case does not have.

        • Michael Neville

          As I said before, the ONLY reason you pretend that Dawkins doesn’t have “credibility” (whatever the fuck that means) is because he says things about your imaginary god that you don’t like. You’re like many Christians, you’re a hypocrite.

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

          I’ll grant that a doctorate in theology is helpful if one wants to teach or pontificate about subtle aspects of a specific religion. But to critique the idea of the supernatural itself is not off limits to anyone.

        • Greg G.

          Theology is the study of what other people have said about theology, not the actual study of a god.

        • Kodie

          With all due respect, theology is just a fancier shovel for the bullshit.

        • Greg G.

          theology is just a fancier shovel for the bullshit.

          I’m stealing that description.

        • Kodie

          Well, now we’re even.

        • MNb

          “just like you don’t have to be a theologian to see ….”
          that the OT god is “arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
          Also nice that you now suddenly accept the answer you just rejected: you must be a scientist to be a scientist in order to get credibility.
          You’re a christian hypocrite indeed.

        • MNb

          This question has nothing to do with Laniakea’s question. So I repeat: why does anyone have to be a biblical scholar in order to understand this supposed God’s message in the first place? Especially if the Holy Book in which this supposed God’s message is written down claims to be for every single human being?
          Not answering this question again will confirm what MN wrote underneath: that you’re just another christian hypocrite.

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

          I see no evidence of objective morality. Give me some.

        • Murph

          Objective morality – it’s wrong to kill babies in the womb.

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

          Thank you for sharing your opinion.

          Now, back to the issue: give me evidence for objective morality. Or should I assume that that is indeed your best attempt?

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Prove that.

        • Murph

          Sure. Let’s start with a basic question…Do you yourself think it’s okay to kill babies in utero or otherwise?

        • MNb

          You’re missing the point. The point is if we contrast Hermann Göring with Ilse Koch and Irma Grese he was extremely loving and tame in comparison. Moreover neither YHWH nor Göring was a pacifist like Gandhi.

        • Woo

          If we were forced to compare these characters in a moral dilemma scenario Göring would probably be morally superior to the other two. However, we have to also consider the extent of each individuals destruction. If we consider Utilitarianism for example Göring might be at the bottom of the pool. Because Koch and Grese’s acts are arguably more personal in nature it makes them more likely to be more reprehensible. Although YHWH and Göring were not pacifists like Gandhi that still doesn’t change my point. My point is that when we contrast YHWH with other ancient near eastern gods of the time he is like Gandhi in comparison.

        • MNb

          “we have to also consider the extent of each individuals destruction.”
          Excellent idea. YHWH destructed the entire globe according to the Global Flood Story, so he beats them all: Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Dzhengis Khan, Attila the Hun, you name it. So what your analogy shows is that other ancient gods may be worse than YHWH, but that YHWH is worse than the most evil men who ever lived combined.
          Thank you.

        • Woo

          Not really because God is allowed to take life as he sees fit. On the other hand the men you listed have no right to take life as they see fit.

          If we added up all of the wars in history and other evils such as the murder of millions of babies in utero I guarantee we’d have more pain and suffering and death falling on the side of men rather than God.

        • adam

          “If we added up all of the wars in history and other evils such as the murder of millions of babies in utero I guarantee we’d have more pain and suffering and death falling on the side of men rather than God.”

          Demonstrating how IMAGINARY your ‘God’ really is.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cd8ca4651d958209af25cfcb8e197b584fb20d8e2f002068b9eefba40d148c2c.jpg

        • Michael Neville

          Not really because God is allowed to take life as he sees fit.

          Why is your god allowed to kill people whenever he likes? Is it because he’s the biggest bad-ass around and might makes right?

        • Murph

          Death isn’t as big a deal to God as it is to us. As Creator he’s allowed to give and take life accordingly

        • Michael Neville

          Death isn’t a big deal to a concentration camp executioner, so that argument doesn’t fly. As for your imaginary god being a creator, what’s your evidence that this is true? After you’ve shown your magic sky pixie created anything then we can discuss whether or not that gives any sort of justification for your asshole of a fictitious god to kill people.

        • Murph

          But the death camp executioner is a human being you’re forgetting that

          So you don’t see any assembly of parts in a normal human body? Can’t operate without a heart for starters

        • Michael Neville

          That you claim your god doesn’t see death as a big deal tells me that he’s a sociopathic bully and you think that’s great. It doesn’t say much for you that you worship a psychotic thug.

          So you don’t see any assembly of parts in a normal human body? Can’t operate without a heart for starters

          What exactly do you mean by that spew of non sequiturs?

          Also you still haven’t given any reason to (a) believe your god exists, (b) believe an iron age tribal god created anything and (c) accept that being a creator allows him to kill just for grins and giggles.

        • Murph

          a. God exists because nature and the universe is obviously fine tuned
          b. God is the best and most rational/logical reason for why nature exists
          c. God as creator of life is able to take life away as he sees fit. Again death isn’t as big a deal to God as it is to us. Whatever he has done he has done for good reason.

        • Susan

          The point is if we contrast Yahweh with the Canaanite fertility gods, etc. he is extremely loving and tame in comparison.

          Provide more than your conclusion. List all the fertility gods, all of their qualities and make your case.

          That’s only for interest.

          There is no reason to assume that any of them (including Yahweh) exist.

      • MNb

        Yeah, like Hermann Göring was the equivalent of Ghandi compared to Ilse Koch.

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

        • Woo

          Maybe. See my reply above. Under Utilitarianism Göring might be lower than Koch.

    • 70happyatheist

      I know how because where I grew up everyone learn what they were supposed to believe if you wanted to stay out of trouble and be accepted! All this at a very young age. When everyone around you seems to believe then it seems rational that it must be true. Children in school also learn what to do and say and not say if they want to be part of the group! Adults realize how quickly they can be ostracized and most have learned what to believe based on their community and what all the newspaper, radio and tv expect you to believe! Muslim countries or Mormons are no different! But now with books and internet challenges to people believe are available that was not there when I grew up! Born 1942! I wanted to publish my critique of the Bible in the 1970’s but me and my professor friends did not know who would print it or how it could have been distributed so it never happened. Others came along with the “Four Horsemen” and others in last 10 yrs or so!

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

        And now we have the internet, where a book can be put up for all to read for free. Or print on demand sites like CreateSpace.

        Things certainly have changed.

  • Woo

    Yahweh definitely has some characteristics that are similar to other gods but that doesn’t negate his existence or offer any credibility that he’s a conglomeration of other characters. In fact, most human beings have similarities with (you guessed it) other human beings. Similarities doesn’t equate to copying. Just because one artist’s style is similar to anothers doesn’t mean the one copied or borrowed from the other. In fact, many religions the world over share common characteristics but we can’t jump from that to they’re all wrong or that one of them isn’t right. We still need to investigate the existence of Yahweh on it’s own merits.

    You’ve also failed to provide any references to your findings. Where are your citations?

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

      You seem to be saying that we can’t be certain that Yahweh was copied, and I agree. But that’s not the point. Rather, it’s that the precedents we see in other religions is strong evidence that it was copied.

      Look at Apollonius of Tyana. His life very closely matches that of Jesus, and he came afterwards. Is his story actual history, or was much of it copied?

      This post expands on that idea:
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2012/10/why-christianity-looks-invented/

      The footnote at the end cites my primary source.

      • Woo

        “closely matches” doesn’t equate to “same.” Your picture “closely matches” that of a middle aged pedophile but does that mean that you are one?

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

          So what are you saying? That Apollonius of Tyana was indeed the real deal? His miracles actually happened? “Closely matches” doesn’t equal “the same,” after all.

        • busterggi

          Not just Apollonius but Glycon too must have been real.

        • Woo

          What’s your source material for Apollonius of Tyana? Pretty sure your source credibility will unravel fairly quickly. What’s your super credible source material?

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

          Yes, there are loads of reasons to reject Apollonius as an actual god-man. Unfortunately, those reasons also defeat the Jesus claim.

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

        • 70happyatheist

          No the claim is that there were stories from surrounding religions that were popular at one time but wars would changes who the declared ‘God: would be officially by the new government. People borrowed and changed stories and even Christianity has so any copyist changes over the course of hundreds of years where copyists changed a hand copied writing to suit themselves to what they thought it should say. Scholar know this. We understand that your minister may deny this but believers are not the only ones studying the writings of the Bible. I rejected the Bible early at 7 in 1949 at my mother’s Methodist Sunday school class-no walking on water, no raising from the dead and no swallowing by big fish and coughed up three days later! That was just the beginning! I have been through it taking notes while in high school and needed a second notebook and many times since because so many in this society claim to believe it and most by their own admission have never read it let alone to read it with a questioning mind! Notice in the Bible how many in Israel who did not live close to Jerusalem and especially along the borders were believing in the neighboring God of Baal or another!

    • Kodie

      It’s called a genre.

    • Greg G.

      Many different religions show that either all religions are wrong or all religions are wrong except for one. It shows that humans have a tendency to create and fall for false religions. If there is a hidden god, the blame is on it if we reject it.

      • Giauz Ragnarock
        • al kimeea

          It was aliens!!

      • Woo

        But the questions is evidence – where does it lead? You’re correct that each has its claims but we must investigate the claims to find out if they’re true or not.

        • adam

          “But the questions is evidence – where does it lead? ”

          Humans create IMAGINARY gods.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cec86c13ff651044ebf846246f7b360fb2d8a3eccf42e97c497a2d680eb4b44d.jpg

        • 70happyatheist

          The fact that not all cultures even believe in any god plus the thousands of “Gods” that people have believed in whose stories are completely different which different origin claims and names raises the obvious question of the origin of all this different ‘Gods” if not from the imagination of one or more persons! Made up by humans to explain the things they at that time could not understand! Mormonisms was made up by Joseph Smith in 1838 in upper New York! Reverend Moon ad his Unification Church was founded in 1954!– Muslims 610CE–Religions crop up commonly! How else if not created by humans! Many religions long before the Jews era and Christianity long after the Jewish era. Bible God was one of 70 gods of the Ugritic religion, Jahweh was claimed to have been given Israel as his territory. Deut 22:8: Psalms 68:16; psalms 74;Psalms 84:5-12

        • Woo

          Correct, man doesn’t invent other gods. They’re idol factories.

        • MNb

          Evidence invariably is taken from our natural reality. How is it even possible that it can say something about a supposed supernatural reality?

        • Greg G.

          When you have investigated one invisible god that requires faith to believe in, you’ve investigated them all. You are only investigating the same logical errors that believers make.

          “Rekcit S. Nedeis”

          Your obsession with BobS seems to be getting unhealthier. Is there a counselor at your school that you can talk to?

    • Joe

      You’ve also failed to provide any references to your findings. Where are your citations?

      For some of them, Bob referred to a little book known as The Bible. You may have heard of it.

      • Woo

        but you admitted when you said “you’ve ALSO FAILED to provide any references to your findings” that Bob in fact failed to provide enough for his, i.e. when you use the word “also”

        whether purposeful or not – tushea

        • BlackMamba44

          “you’ve also failed to provide any reference to your findings” was Joe quoting you.

          Not his words. Yours.

        • Joe

          I just noted that. What an idiot!

        • Joe

          Touche?

          Why do you get a free pass?

    • adam

      “Yahweh definitely has some characteristics that are similar to other
      gods but that doesn’t negate his existence or offer any credibility that
      he’s a conglomeration of other characters.”

      Actually, it does.
      It demonstrates how human beings create IMAGINARY gods. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/05cafdf4e54d70a9410dfd45f846304eb9891592e53b7561d59d1be03b899362.jpg

      • Woo

        What’s crazier than believing it’s okay to kill babies in the womb? Not much else.

        • Zeta

          Your god killed millions (including children, babies, babies in the womb) in very cruel ways by drowning (the Great Flood) and burning them to death (Sodom and Gomorrah). Who is crazier than Yahweh?

        • Woo

          God is able to take life as he sees fit since he is after all God. You presuppose that the Noahic flood or Sodom and Gomorrah weren’t warranted. Who are you to have an opinion about what God should or should not do? It’s similar to the recent court case in the 9th circuit court. In other words, appointed unellected judges should have no say on what the President does or does not do when it comes to executive orders to protect our nation.

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

          unellected judges should have no say on what the President does or does not do when it comes to executive orders

          Take a civics class and learn how the government actually works.

        • TheNuszAbides
        • adam

          “God is able to take life as he sees fit since he is after all God. ”

          Although in reality, God is IMAGINARY. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/eb8a7e73957ded447269085abf01df5d5cb0416d10b2f8752001a8d27bc8e2d9.jpg

        • Zeta

          Murph: “You presuppose that the Noahic flood or Sodom and Gomorrah weren’t warranted.

          I presuppose that children and babies (including “those in the womb”) were innocent of whatever moral depravation you apologists claim for those killed in the Flood, and Sodom & Gomorrah. Now refute me on this point. You are worshiping a moral monster.

        • Murph

          Because you’re God?

        • Zeta

          You don’t need to be a god (which I don’t believe exists) to see that children and babies (including “those in the womb”) are not morally responsible for any moral perversion you claimed unless you are as depraved as your god or you don’t live on planet Earth.

          Now, don’t be evasive and answer directly: In what way children and babies are depraved and deserve to be killed cruelly? Where is your objective morality?

        • Murph

          I don’t have the authority to take those lives but God does because he’s the creator. Death isn’t as big a deal to him as it is to us.

        • Zeta

          One more time.

          Now, don’t be evasive and answer directly: In what way children and babies are depraved and deserve to be killed cruelly? Where is your objective morality?

          Don’t have an answer and just hide behind some nonsense?

        • Kodie

          Then there’s no objectivity.

        • adam

          “Not much else.”

          Truly describes your God, then, as it would be responsible for most of these killings.

        • adam
        • al kimeea

          Yep, Yahweh is the bestest early term abortionist ever. No slouch on deformities and other abnormalities too.

        • Woo

          God as the author of life has the right to take it away any time he pleases.

          However, women who kill their babies for convenience do not have that right.

        • adam

          “God as the author of life has the right to take it away any time he pleases.”

          First demonstrate that this “God” of yours is anything but IMAGINARY.

          Second, you sound like a psychopath

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a18a3237d360e002dbdd901e4a3f5688a3463b7d939dbc595090ceadb5ae4faa.png

        • BlackMamba44
        • TheNuszAbides

          i think ‘turns wine into koolaid’ [a la traditional communion] would work better; then it could even be a two-parter.

        • Murph

          Which is why I don’t worship myself unlike atheists

        • adam

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

          Atheist dont worship themselves, theist do

          Which is why you are just as cruel as your ‘god’

        • BlackMamba44
        • Murph

          Dare we talk about what scientists/atheists did in Nazi Germany? How about abortion since you’re so morally great? You complain that this poor child died yet if the same child were in utero you’d say it was okay for the mother to take its life? Hmmmm…

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5e6c4d9088df98da7ec85cb6b4cde23db0b13700ebc5cab4b064e207f99ec134.jpg

        • BlackMamba44

          Wow.

          You are wacko.

          First. I don’t claim to be “morally great.” You don’t know me and therefore cannot say a goddamn thing about me.

          Children don’t reside in the uterus.

          And yes, I would say it is okay for the woman to make whatever decision she needs to make, whether I agree with it or not – her body and her choice.

          So, let’s talk about what the “scientists/atheists did in Nazi Germany.” But make sure to provide plenty of citations/evidence so I know you’re not talking out of your ass.

          The belt buckle of the Nazi uniform. Do you know what it says? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/69933a1a21645a0c567861b6c2084430ee361fec93b10049c6a5fcd2f480865b.jpg

        • Michael Neville

          Most 1930s and 1940s Germans were Lutherans or Catholics. Himmler refused to allow atheists to join the SS. Learn some history before you post stupidities.

        • Murph

          I don’t doubt that many Nazis were decent men and women. Unfortunately they had an evil dictator for a commander.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Who remained Catholic to the end.

        • Michael Neville

          You’re the one who claimed that Nazis were scientists and atheists.

          You’re nowhere near as smart or knowledgeable as you like to think you are. I suggest that you learn something about the world before you continue spouting your hatred of atheists any more.

        • adam

          “However, women who kill their babies for convenience do not have that right.”

          But women are the authors of that life.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fe3b6e666be78e0d82aa897b20a788edbe62268deabf9959680627ca7a98d270.jpg

        • Woo

          That was Pharaoh’s choice if you read the story. God simply told him what he would do if Pharaoh didn’t release the millions of people he was holding in bondage. Interesting isn’t it how Pharaoh is the one who inflicted those plagues on his people because of his own personal pride. If God hadn’t given Pharaoh the chance to change (which by the way demonstrates that he is merciful with even the most terrible people) you’d be complaining about that but instead you think God should’ve just wiped him out! Which is it – mercy or immediate death?

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

          Interesting isn’t it how Pharaoh is the one who inflicted those plagues on his people because of his own personal pride.

          Someone needs to reread the Bible. Pharaoh wanted to capitulate, but God wouldn’t let him.

        • Murph

          Passage please for those in the studio audience?

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

          Studio audience? I think you mean: those too lazy to look it up in the book that they should know very well themselves.

          Ex. 9:12 for starters.

          Do a little thinking before you click Post next time.

        • busterggi

          Exodus 4:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.

        • adam
        • BlackMamba44

          As usual, it’s the atheist who needs to correct the Christian on what the holy book of stories actually says. And apparently needs the passage pointed out, too.

        • busterggi

          That’s just a metaphor!

        • adam

          “That was Pharaoh’s choice if you read the story. ”

          i read the STORY, it was all YOUR ‘God’

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

        • Zeta

          Murph: “That was Pharaoh’s choice if you read the story.

          Complete garbage again.

          Again you show your ignorance of your very own “holey book”. Go back and read your bible again several more times. In the mean time, let an atheist help you along and enlighten you: your god asked Moses to go get Pharaoh to release the slaves but he hardened Pharaoh’s heart many times to make sure that Pharaoh would time and again refuse to release the slaves. What was the purpose? So that he could sadistically impose untold sufferings on innocent ordinary Egyptians. Your god could have just as easily softened Pharaoh’s heart to settle the issue. But he chose not to. How do you describe such a being? Sneaky, sadistic, immoral, and evil. That is your perfect, moral and all-loving god! Come on, wake up from your stupor before you make a fool of yourself again!

        • Murph

          Well lets read the story shall we?

          + God already knew that Pharaohs heart was “unyielding” (Exodus 7:14)
          + Pharaoh mocked God by having his own magicians turn the river to blood and he hardened his own heart demonstrating he didn’t care about his own people (the full passage is below from 7:22-24

          “But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. 23 Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river.”

          + God allowed 7 days to pass before the next offer was made (begging of chapter 8). This illustrates that God gave Pharaoh time to think it over and change his mind. Obviously this didn’t happen so Aaron and Moses approach him again.

          + The plague of frogs happens and Pharaoh has his magicians do the same thing again yet Pharaoh doesn’t give in even though he could have avoided this whole mess. Again, he chooses his own way (see below from Exodus 8:15)

          “15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.”

          + Just so we’re clear that’s two plagues that Pharaoh has chosen so far.

          + The plague of gnats happens which is the first that Pharaoh’s magicians can’t produce (8:18). Ironically even the magicians try to talk sense into Pharaoh (see below 8:18-19)

          “18 But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not.
          Since the gnats were on people and animals everywhere, 19 the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said.”

          + Even though Pharaoh let the Israelite’s sacrifice in the wilderness (8:25) he continues to harden his heart further after the plague of flies (8:32)

          + This is now the the fourth plague that Pharaoh has pulled the trigger on his own people

          + The plague of livestock happens yet…(see below 9:7)

          “7 Pharaoh investigated and found that not even one of the animals of the Israelites had died. Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go.”

          + now the the fifth plague that Pharaoh has pulled the trigger on his own people

          + The plague of boils is where God begins to harden Pharaohs heart. It’s important to understand here that Pharaohs heart is already hardened to begin with. As you’ve read above Pharaohs heart now further hardened by God is not some innocent person who God is overriding. Rather, this is a wicked dictator (obviously by his willingness to pull the trigger on five horrible plagues on his own people) who is at the near full extent of his evil. Why would God do this? Obviously there are some great answers by scholars on this specific passage. The best answer I have is that God would not cause someone to do something that that person already doesn’t want to do. The doctrine of middle knowledge makes good sense out of this passage by including Gods complete knowledge of all counterfactuals in this case what Pharaoh would do were he (God) to harden his heart. God isn’t doing anything to Pharaoh that Pharaoh doesn’t already want to do.

          Shall we continue?

        • Kevin K

          Ahem: God killed the first-born of every living creature in Egypt. Including the cattle that it had previously killed in an earlier demonstration of its sadism.

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

          I’ve written quite a bit about abortion here. Search for some of those posts and point out the errors, if any.

        • Murph

          Is it wrong to kill babies in utero?

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

          If there were babies in utero, then yes. Before birth, they’re “fetuses.”

        • Murph

          One second they’re in the womb the next they’re outside of it. The former moment it’s okay for the mother to have her baby murdered the latter its not. Who are the crazy ones here?

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

          Who are the crazy ones here?

          The ones who think that they can accurately state the other person’s position using stereotyping alone.

    • 70happyatheist

      I have been able to scientifically prove that the Christian “God” does not exist for 40 years! The Bible claims that God will do anything you ask even so much as to move a mountain! I have had many believers ask their God to do something that we both could observe and they have agreed and tried and nothing happens. I call that scientific testable and others have thought so also! Failed. Christian God does not exist!

      • Woo

        You’re not understanding the passage in question which like all great writings the Bible utilizes a variety of genres. When the Bible says “a mountain can be moved” it doesn’t mean literally it means figuratively speaking. The broader point is that faith can can change your life in incredible ways.

        • Zeta

          How do you figure out whether particular verses in your holy book are just figurative? When they are embarrassingly false? Do you have a direct line to Yahweh to ask him?

        • Woo

          Like any book the Bible is a book of differing literary styles. Unlike a science textbook it has genres – over 200 to be exact. I know that’s difficult for you to understand.

        • Zeta

          Murph: “Like any book the Bible is a book of differing literary styles.

          You have not answered my question. Typical weaseling effort and evasion from apologists.
          Here is my question again: How do you figure out whether particular verses in your holy book are just figurative?

          Which genres are the following?
          1. Your god created the Earth and water before the rest of the Universe.
          2. Your god was powerless against enemies riding iron chariots.
          3. The Sun could be made to stand still for hours.

        • Zeta

          Where is your long post trying to rebut me on my claim that your evil god hardened Pharaoh’s heart? I took the trouble of extracting some of the relevant verses from KJV. I tried to reply to your “invitation”:
          Well lets read the story shall we?
          and got an error message from Disqus saying that “You cannot reply to a post that is not active.”

          I presume you chickened out. Since I have already prepared the reply, I post it here so that those not familiar with this detestable behavior of your god can read the relevant verses without having to find those verses in their copy of the bible.

          ——–

          My reply to Murph is as follows:

          Murph: “Well lets read the story shall we?

          Sure! Why not? Actual quotes from KJV which says:

          Exodus 7.3 “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.
          Who is that “I”? Your god.

          Exodus 9.12: “And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh.”

          Exodus 10.20:“The LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.”

          Exodus 10.27: “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go.”

  • Pofarmer

    I’ve posted before about the “Pray For X” page that I got linked to on Facebook. Here is the latest. Makes me think of the Mark Twain Quote “People do all the work, God gets all the credit.

    A few weeks ago I posted a status asking all of my prayer warriors to go
    to battle for me once again. I didn’t specify why but I’m so excited to
    say that all of you guys fought the
    good fight and that our prayers have been answered! I have been accepted
    by a company named Unique Access to undergo the greatest blessing I’ve
    ever received. This June or July I will be headed to Bangkok, Thailand
    to have a surgery to implant a device in my back called an epidural
    stimulator. What this device does is connects two electrodes above the
    injury in my spinal cord which will pick up the brain waves that are
    blocked by my injury and reroutes them to the device. It then sends the
    signals to two electrodes that are hooked in my spinal cord below my
    injury and shocks my spinal cord telling my nerves to perform the task
    my brain was trying to tell it to perform. In other words, it bypasses
    my injury which is causing the brain waves to not reach the lower
    portion of my spinal cord and allows them to tell my spinal cord what
    part of my body I am wanting to move! This is also paired with stem cell
    therapy to help to repair my spinal cord and damaged nerves and 40 days
    of the most grueling rehab that you can think of. Now, this is not a
    miracle surgery that will allow me to just stand up and walk right out
    of the hospital. I will work harder in the following months than I ever
    have. I’m going to be completely exhausted for quite a while. As you
    guys know, I’m no stranger to working hard and that I will never stop as
    long as there are improvements to be made. Hopefully this will be the
    kick start that I need to hopefully help me make an almost full
    recovery! To all of you who have been praying for me I can never thank
    you enough. I ask that you guys continue to pray first of all praising
    God for this amazing blessing that I am so unworthy of yet He has given
    to me anyway and also asking to keep me safe and to guide the hands of
    the doctors and therapy staff to do what they can to allow me the most
    recovery possible. I can never thank God enough for all the many
    blessings He has given to me even though I do not deserve them. It just
    goes to show the absolute grace of the Lord we serve!!

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

      Ain’t science marvelous!

      No–I mean God. Ain’t God marvelous!

      • Woo

        I know it’s difficult for you to comprehend it but in Christianity we believe in providence. We believe that God overseas everything in such a way as to say that were he not involved on a micro level procedures such as the one mentioned would not be possible. It’s similar to how in certain countries freedoms exist because of their governmental structure. The freedom (in this case a medical procedure) occurs because of the overarching laws which govern the nation or the nation from where the talent sprang forth. A person could therefore be thankful that they live in such a country that allows such procedures and has the talent to perform them. Providence is reasonable and logical within theism not delusional or stupid.

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

          Yes, you believe in providence, but you do so with no support from evidence. That’s a show stopper for me.

        • Woo

          Really, no evidence? So you believe that everything is a coincidence?

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

          I believe that it’s easy to convince yourself, in a Skinner-esque kind of intermittent reinforcement, that prayers are answered or things happen for a reason. I need evidence.

          How good must the evidence be? I want the same quality of evidence that you’d want when critiquing supernatural claims from some other religion.

        • adam
        • busterggi

          Do you believe that everything is part of god’s plan?

          Then there is no free will and we are mere meat puppets. But at least that means there are no good or evil either.

        • Joe

          I wish Christians would come to an agreement amongst themselves before engaging us in dialogue.

        • adam
        • busterggi

          Desperate times call for desperate measures – though if one has faith there should be no desperation.

        • adam
        • MNb

          “How wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know.”

          Dietrich Bonhöffer, a famous German theologian.

        • Woo

          I agree with Bonhöffer but eventually we arrive at the beginning and that’s something that only theology can answer not science. Bonhöffer wouldn’t disagree with that.

        • Leigh

          If the beginning, the “why”, can only be explained with “god did it” ( evidencing a spectacular lack of imagination ) then what about the beginning before that, when god was created by (?), and so on, ad infinitum? Unfortunately theology throws up more question than answers. Theology presumes that gods are real things to study/ discuss. A theologist is about as creditable as a fairyologist.

        • Woo

          lack of spectacular imagination or not what’s your best answer for why the universe began to exist?
          God wasn’t created he’s eternal.
          A scientist is only credible so far as his hypothosis match up with reality

        • adam

          “God wasn’t created he’s eternal. ”

          God is IMAGINARY

          “A scientist is only credible so far as his hypothosis match up with reality”

          Same with a theologists, only their best tool is MAGIC, which is IMAGINARY.

        • epeeist

          God wasn’t created he’s eternal.

          Really? Got evidence?

        • Leigh

          I don’t have an answer for why the universe began to exist – so I wont make up an untestable one.
          How do you know god is eternal? Did you decide for yourself? Did you read it in an ancient ‘holy’ book, written at a time when the authors didn’t know where the sun went at night? Did a man in fancy robes and a funny hat tell you? Which one of the approximately 3,000 gods humanity has known are you referring to? Zeus perhaps? He seemed to lose his eternal status when people stopped believing in him.
          A scientist is credible if he/ she applies the scientific method – ie., hypothesis, followed by documented and copyable evidence collecting, followed by publishing, followed by peer review, followed by willingness to alter hypothesis if facts don’t match.

        • TheNuszAbides
        • MNb

          “We arrive at the beginning”
          Actually physics does a provisional answer: in the beginning there were Quantum Fields. But let me ignore that for the moment.
          If science can’t answer “the beginning” that beginning is something we don’t know. So according to Bonhöffer we must not look for God there. No – he totally would disagree with you.
          You are wrong on your own terms.

        • Woo

          It can’t tell us why the universe exists as opposed to nothing. You’re misinterpreting one of the greatest Christian minds of the 20th century – Bonhoeffer believed that God was responsible for the beginning.

        • adam

          “It can’t tell us why the universe exists as opposed to nothing.”

          So neither can you or your ‘Faith’

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cb49f25b842aef4e0a6e36dccd4c0d86c43e6e95e934f6a511dc718c5fd1fac3.jpg

        • Woo
        • adam

          But his opinions are not mine.

          Bob posts things I dont like.
          And Bob doesnt know me at all

        • BlackMamba44

          I bet if we asked if Bob existed we would get an answer…from Bob.

          Bob! Do you exist?

        • adam

          I think probably everyone here has received an answer from Bob.

          That we all can verify.

        • BlackMamba44

          And with that Bob has accomplished more than any god ever has.

        • busterggi

          Which of us are you addressing?

        • BlackMamba44

          The one in the meme above, but you’ll do just fine. Bob exists! All praise Bob!

          I believe in all Bobs as there are many. I’m a poly-Bobist! ;P

        • busterggi

          Indeed, we outnumber the gods themselves!

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

          I do exist, though admittedly, that’s what an artificial intelligence would say as well.

          And let me add that if Woo/Murph wants to worship me, don’t rain on my parade. Religions have started with smaller causes, and it’s about time that I got the adoration that I deserve.

        • BlackMamba44

          Haha! Praise Bob! 😀

        • busterggi

          If you wanted adoration you should have been born a cat.

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

          “one of the greatest Christian minds of the 20th century”

          That’s like saying, “one of the greatest alchemists.”

        • Pofarmer

          It can’t tell us why the universe exists as opposed to nothing.

          To paraphrase a philosophy paper I read.

          “Why does the Universe exist? Why not?”

        • Murph

          That’s cute. The eternality of the universe is a fools errand

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          You mean it’s religious?

        • Pofarmer

          “The inability of established physics to describe the Big Bang event makes it tempting to consider the possibility that God has a crucial role to play at this unique moment in the history of the universe. If we were able to construct a complete and compelling naturalistic account, the necessity of appealing to God would be diminished. A number of avenues toward this goal are being explored. They can be divided into two types: “beginning” cosmologies, in which there is a first moment of time, and “eternal” cosmologies, where time stretches to the past without limit.”

          https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/writings/dtung/

        • MNb

          That totally doesn’t answer the questin “Why would our Universe not exist?” For the time being you are the fool.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Bonhoeffer’ personal beliefs are…just that.

        • MNb

          Merely repeating your error does nothing to remedy it – on the contrary, in your case it turns it into a lie.
          Very unsurprising.

          Again: “science can’t answer the beginning of the Universe hence God” is a God of the Gaps – rejected by Bonhöffer in the quote I gave.

        • Kevin K

          How in the world can theology solve a science question? What methodology is theology using to solve a science question that science hasn’t already thought of and tried?

        • Woo

          science is only able to observe – that’s it. The question of how the universe began to exist (which is no longer in debate) lies outside of science because it requires an external agent to reality to be put into play.

        • adam

          “science is only able to observe”

          Yet, theology is only able to PRETEND.

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

        • Pofarmer

          science is only able to observe – that’s it

          Yeah, sorry, no. The hallmark of science is being able to make correct predictions.

          The question of how the universe began to exist (which is no longer in debate)

          Uhm, Sure it is. Read some Stephen Hawking. There are many models of the Universe, some of which are past eternal. Some aren’t. And the whole “begin to exist” thing is kind of meaningless since in the conditions before the big bang there would be nothing like time as we experience it.

          lies outside of science because it requires an external agent to reality to be put into play.

          If science can’t access it, your priests can’t either. It’s really that simple.

        • Murph

          Hawking Time? That was laughed out of his own group of science gurus

        • Pofarmer

          From Sean Carroll

          One sometimes hears the claim that the Big Bang was the beginning of both time and space; that to ask about spacetime “before the Big Bang” is like asking about land “north of the North Pole.” This may turn out to be true, but it is not an established understanding. The singularity at the Big Bang doesn’t indicate a beginning to the universe, only an end to our theoretical comprehension. It may be that this moment does indeed correspond to a beginning, and a complete theory of quantum gravity will eventually explain how the universe started at approximately this time. But it is equally plausible that what we think of as the Big Bang is merely a phase in the history of the universe, which stretches long before that time – perhaps infinitely far in the past. The present state of the art is simply insufficient to decide between these alternatives; to do so, we will need to formulate and test a working theory of quantum gravity.

          https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/writings/dtung/

        • Murph

          unless God has intervened…

        • Pofarmer

          Which would leave evidence…….

        • MNb

          Not at all. Quantum fields may very well lie outside our Universe and have induced our Universe to begin to exist. No agent needed.
          Of course you now can ask “who created those Quantum Fields”. That turns your god into a gambling one, as Einstein already realized. So if you’re serious about this argument you should reconvert to a religion that’s compatible. I suggest pastafarianism.
          But you won’t. Because you’re an apologist. Hence by definition you’re intellectually dishonest, unwilling to accept unconvenient but correct conclusions from your own arguments.

        • adam

          “I agree with Bonhöffer but eventually we arrive at the beginning and that’s something that only theology can answer not science”

          Theology cant answer that any better than Harry Potter.
          Theology claims it is MAGIC.

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

          But theology can’t answer it! There are hundreds of religions, each with incompatible answers. Religion fails.

        • busterggi

          Why Bob, you know that his honest answer would be “My god is real, all others are false because that’s what I believe” but you’ll never get an honest answer from a woomeister.

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

          Yep, I keep taking the bait.

          Maybe this will help the lurkers.

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

          Completely unrelated: I came across some cool GIFs that might be fun for your chemistry/physics students to marvel over. FYI.

          http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2z4mhl/:16qDFwBmH:eOc!_goM/www.pbh2.com/science-nature/awesome-chemistry-gifs

        • Woo

          Tyson misses the point. We Christians aren’t criticizing the ability to understand an object, a process, etc. as science attempts to do. We’re criticizing Scientism and the idea that science can explain why the universe began to exist which is virtually undebated in modern science.

        • adam

          ” We’re criticizing Scientism and the idea that science can explain why
          the universe began to exist which is virtually undebated in modern
          science.”

          Strange, science on the beginning of the universe is hotly debated IN SCIENCE, but NEVER by Creationists.

          So shouldnt you go after Creationist for CLAIMING that they KNOW?
          When obviously they dont.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ba84f8055b4d39d6678611c48e8069dd2234f9f79dc706a30b4b5d3546aa5665.jpg

        • Woo

          nothing has ever macro evolved. variation within species is obviously true but not macro evolution. funny that you’re entire worldview hinges on whether or not whales crawled out of the ocean.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5e6c4d9088df98da7ec85cb6b4cde23db0b13700ebc5cab4b064e207f99ec134.jpg

        • adam

          “Within the modern evolutionary synthesis school of thought, macroevolution is thought of as the compounded effects of microevolution.[8]
          Thus, the distinction between micro- and macroevolution is not a
          fundamental one – the only difference between them is of time and scale.
          As Ernst W. Mayr
          observes, “transspecific evolution is nothing but an extrapolation and
          magnification of the events that take place within populations and
          species…it is misleading to make a distinction between the causes of
          micro- and macroevolution”.[8] “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macroevolution

          You are STILL the Dummy.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6865a4cce3282762d39ccbf755e5a9a9ac316fdc6eeed7b3093b367aedf73658.jpg

        • Murph

          Well, as you may know the “great” Stephen Hawking was recently laughed out of his own theories, i.e. Hawking time. Sometimes common sense just prevails over so called “smart” people.

        • adam

          “Well, as you may know the “great” Stephen Hawking was recently laughed out of his own theories, i.e. Hawking time.”

          No, I dont, tell me all about it, Ace.

          After your failed understanding of macroevolution, I am all ears.

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

          Who’s the scientist now? You’re pretty smart for not having a doctorate in biology.

        • epeeist

          nothing has ever macro evolved.

          Can I suggest that you have a look at this set of pages before you go shooting your mouth off.

          whether or not whales crawled out of the ocean.

          Whale evolution? Here you go.

        • Kevin K

          Um…no. Your premise is totally and completely ignorant of the actual and real work being done by the actual and real scientists.

        • Woo

          no matter what science does it won’t be able to answer a question that lies outside of science, i.e. why the universe began to exist.

        • adam

          “no matter what science does it won’t be able to answer a question that lies outside of science,”

          Of course not.

          “why the universe began to exist.”

          presupposes someone you cant demonstrate.
          presupposes a purpose

          HOW the universes began to exist

          Is the proper question.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7e6eceefda06b08605b3653301b5e246ee7fbd6ce2a594a4e6a0d18e41ce10f5.jpg

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

          I’ve not heard of a consensus view of how the universe started. What is it?

          And if you’re simply saying that science has unanswerd questions, sure. But so what? You got anything better than science for telling us new things about reality?

        • Kuno

          The God of the gaps, and the gaps are getting smaller and smaller…

        • Joe

          Really, no evidence? So you believe that everything is a coincidence?

          No.

        • Woo

          So if not providence and not coincidence than what?

        • Joe

          Fundamental physical forces. There’s nothing coincidental about gravity, for example.

        • Woo

          I agree that gravity isn’t coincidental. So, why do we have gravity as opposed to something else? Don’t describe the process tell me why it came into existence in the first place?

        • al kimeea

          I don’t have the arrogance to claim to know a deity did it.

        • adam

          “So, why do we have gravity as opposed to something else?”

          the property of matter.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b7a05ecb937e0cbec525ced92dbab15d3bbf30824d7c53116f3ece09dcaff384.jpg

        • Joe

          Why? Don’t you mean ‘how’?

        • 70happyatheist

          You are the one claiming “coincidence”! I am 74 and I have always read and studied. I have 19 of 20 top list he books on evolution and read them. I am a history and economics major plus I read on lots of other areas. I played tennis, ran in the park for 40 years and lots of volleyball, 5 first place trophies! I am not a superman but I make a effort than many will not and so it is common for people to make errors in the beliefs! Jerry Coyne has to great books anyone can learn a lot from. “Why Evolution is True?” and”Faith versus Fact:” But first you have to make a serious effort! Good reading!

        • Woo

          faith and facts aren’t mutually exclusive

        • adam
        • Susan

          Really, no evidence? So you believe that everything is a coincidence?

          And rather than provide evidence, you went for a non sequitur.

          Smooth.

        • Woo

          my conclusion follows from your original premise, i.e. that there’s no providence

          if there’s no providence than everything is a coincidence is it not? That’s not a non sequiter

        • adam

          “if there’s no providence than everything is a coincidence is it not?”

          Of course not,
          there is not providence in the product I make, and the product is made deliberately

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d0d0298251c444a7ed04da50dce984d9062e4ab3cd35d48cb69c11eabfe078e2.jpg

        • Questioning54

          Events such as the toddler who was tortured and died after having a ruptured bowel (agony with no medical treatment) create some problems with providence.
          Those who go on about God intervening in everything are either wrong or their God is as cruel as the perpetrator who killed that little boy. Or maybe He couldn’t intervene because the child could not spend hours repeatedly begging in prayer and trumping up the right number of “prayer warriors” to intercede for him. Too bad for him eh?

        • Woo

          Death isn’t as big a deal to God as it is to us. One of the reasons you worship life is because it’s all you have which is why you cry fowl every time someone stubs their toe. “Well if God existed!” you opine

          There’s no mutual exclusivity between the existence of pain and suffering and Gods existence or goodness. So sorry that ones been covered already

        • Questioning54

          You are obviously as heartless as the god you invent. I was talking about a tortured and murdered toddler and you, like your god, were unmoved! You even compared it to someone stubbing their toe!
          You fall for the old “there is a purpose to suffering” cop-out. I am talking about the torture and murder of a child! You are the one who is terrified by the possibility suffering is meaningless. You would rather be no more than an object for a god to play with like chessmen on a chessboard than admit that some things are just plain evil, should never happen, and for some reason we DON’T understand God CAN’T intervene. That is the only way the existence and goodness of God and the terrible suffering in the world are not mutually exclusive.
          When you say death isn’t as big a deal to God as it is to us you show your true colours. I am sure all the murderers in the world like that one! Yet you would think it a big deal that Jesus suffered and gave his life. Can’t have life as a “big deal” only when it suits you.
          As for that one being dealt with already you only THINK it has been dealt with already because you state your beliefs about it. You cannot imagine you could be wrong or that the differing thoughts of others matter!

        • adam

          “Death isn’t as big a deal to God as it is to us.”

          It never is to IMAGINARY characters from stories in books.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8638fdedfe8fad3b245ca0981085794967c878d6bfba020d03d8b426a1c98936.jpg

        • RM666

          substitute the word WISH for “pray” , you will get the exact same result every time – which is NOTHING. Here is proof that prayer fails: http://www.ahjonline.com/article/S0002-8703(05)00649-6/fulltext

        • Questioning54

          Interesting but I don’t think prayer can be clinically examined that easily. The prayer warriors would say prayer has to be offered up genuinely for it to work, not as part of an experiment.
          Their stance is that if it doesn’t work the person didn’t pray enough or with enough faith or the prayer was opposed to the will of God (why pray at all if God has already made up his mind what is or is not his will?) or the person being prayed for didn’t have enough faith. The credit if it works is all to God but if it doesn’t work people are to blame. And as I previously pointed out too bad for someone is not in a position to pray or to get others to pray for them! They get no help from him if prayer is required to obtain his attention.

        • adam

          “Their stance is ”

          Their source stance is clear on what it take for prayer to work and it is inopposition to what you stated.

        • Questioning54

          Do YOUR prayers ALWAYS work?

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

          But the prayer was genuine, no?

        • Questioning54

          I guess if they didn’t know it was an experiment and were sincerely praying for the health of those people.
          I think the prayer warriors would say though that God did not respond because He would not participate in an experiment.
          I personally think prayer is a fancy way to say “I am thinking of you”
          If God is our heavenly father and he expects us to beg over and over for what we need (not want) and get others to beg on our behalf before He reluctantly (so it seems to me) does anything SOMETIMES He has big shortcomings as a father. A father meets the needs of his children as soon as he becomes aware of them. And God is supposed to know everything.

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

          They did know it was an experiment, but that doesn’t mean that the prayers weren’t sincere.

          I agree that Christians would say that God doesn’t like being party to an experiment, but he had no problem with it in the Bible. Example: Elijah and the priests of Baal in 1 Kings 18.

        • Greg G.

          There were many prayer tests before that one with poor protocols where a person was choosing which patients were put into which group rather than random assignment or the evaluators knew which group the patient was in, which could affect the outcomes of the study and they often came out in favor of the studies. The Templeton study eliminated those biases. Would God only participate in poorly designed, thus inconclusive studies, but not in unbiased studies?

        • Questioning54

          Good point. I didn’t realise that the study paid so much attention to eliminating bias. (I do know people do use biased “studies” to make various arguments so the care with which that study was done makes it very interesting). Of course it is possible that God did not participate in ANY of the studies and all outcomes were, dare I say it, coincidental? The study seems to assume there is a God and try to put him to the test. It does not prove there is no God, but that if there is one he doesn’t answer prayer.

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

          No one can prove that there is no God, but this seems to me to be strong evidence in that direction. You?

        • Greg G.

          It proves that a reliable prayer-answering god doesn’t exist.

        • Pofarmer

          The credit if it works is all to God but if it doesn’t work people are to blame.

          Which is a really damaging piece of nasty theology. Fuck. You.

        • Questioning54

          I was meaning that it is what Christians say to explain unanswered prayer, not that I agree. I am currently re-evaluating what I have previously believed and been taught. I don’t need your bad language to encourage me along the way!

        • Pofarmer

          Really need to reexamine that teaching on language.

        • Questioning54

          No need to be so smart ass. I came here because I have grave doubts about Christianity and I find some people who are as opposed to allowing thinking as much as the Christian camp. I simply speculated on how Christians might TRY to explain God not answering prayer and you jump down my throat, just like Christians do when you question them. . Sometimes I find non religious people to be as arrogant, self-satisfied and smug as Christians (at least they don’t swear at people and poke fun at the people for not liking it!)

        • Pofarmer

          OH, C’mon. Lighten up a weeeeee bit. The particular piece of theology that you listed is one that I find particularly damaging and have all too much experience. Language is just one of those things. If you think that was bad, you ain’t seen nuthin yet. Words are words. Use em.

        • Questioning54

          Ok. I agree that the theology of prayer generally can be very damaging. Been there done that (and more). Sorry for complaining about the language. As a child bad language was used against me in conjunction with abuse to demean and belittle me personally and I have trouble with not seeing it that way. I will try to lighten up and hope that you will too.

        • Susan

          Really need to reexamine that teaching on language.

          Po, I used to find it extremely frustrating (on other forums) to see you accused of being hostile or inhospitable when I didn’t think you were doing any such thing.

          But in this case, I think “Fuck. You.” was unnecessarily hostile. It wasn’t the language but the “You” part.

          All I read in Questioning 54’s comment was an examination of standard christian apologetics. Not necessarily advocation. In fact, possibly the contrary.

          Unless you’ve met Questioning54 in other forums, and his comment is just a setup, I understand his objection.

          Am I missing something?

        • Susan

          I am currently re-evaluating what I have previously believed and been taught.

          That’s always a good thing to do. I’m glad to hear it.

        • Pofarmer

          They get no help from him if prayer is required to obtain his attention.

          Sorry, the Templeton study showed that people who knew they were being prayed for actually faired worse. And they were prayed for by at least one and maybe two groups of Nuns, so they ought to know how to go about it.

        • Aldo Jackson

          I wonder what would happen if various people tried to pray to (lobby) Congress? Would they all have the same success rate, or would their success rate vary?

        • RM666

          “I don’t think prayer can be clinically examined that easily” it has been done numerous times, and prayer has failed numerous times. praying is more a placebo effect for the one who prays rather than the one prayed for. Plenty of articles on the ‘efficacy of prayer under controlled double blind conditions” on PubMed http://www.ahjonline.com/article/S0002-8703(06)00640-5/abstract http://www.ahjonline.com/article/S0002-8703(06)00636-3/fulltext

        • Greg G.

          The Templeton Foundation study on intercessory prayer randomly divided patients into three groups of approximately 1500 each. One group was not prayed for, one was prayed for but not told about it, and one group was prayed for and informed they were being prayed for. The third group did the worst. That should indicate to the apologists that God must have worked against them.

          Or it means that prayer had no effect but those who thought they were receiving prayer tended to rely on that more instead of paying more attention to doctor’s orders.

          Edit: I see Pofarmer made the point already.

        • Susan

          I don’t think prayer can be clinically examined that easily.

          The claims people make about prayer that are worth examining can be examined. I think that’s basic.

          For instance, if someone claims praying for the sick is a useful thing to do for the sick, that it can affect their health and that occasionally miracles can be obtained, that is easily examined.

          Their stance is that if it doesn’t work the person didn’t pray enough or with enough faith or the prayer was opposed to the will of God (why pray at all if God has already made up his mind what is or is not his will?) or the person being prayed for didn’t have enough faith.

          And I could have the same stance if I made claims about the efficacy of praying to my cat. My claims and their claims can be dismissed on this basis.

          The credit if it works is all to God but if it doesn’t work people are to blame. And as I previously pointed out too bad for someone is not in a position to pray or to get others to pray for them! They get no help from him if prayer is required to obtain his attention.

          Exactly.

        • epeeist

          And I could have the same stance if I made claims about the efficacy of praying to my cat.

          According to Terry Pratchett he nice thing about praying to Om was the fact that he never responded so you could just make up what you wanted.

        • RM666
        • Kevin K

          “Providence” adds precisely and exactly nothing to the equation. “No providence” looks, acts, and tastes exactly like “providence”. You can’t demonstrate “providence” versus “no providence” in any respect. It’s therefore a meaningless concept.

          And, as others rightly pointed out, “providence” is an admission that your god is not all-powerful. Because it favors a tiny, tiny few — as in the example above — at the expense of every other person with a spinal cord injury who doesn’t have access to experimental treatments.

          Which might not actually WORK, by the way, so let’s wait until after the treatment is completed before we declare something providential has occurred. As I read that post, there’s at least as high a likelihood that the person is walking into a scam that will take his money and leave him exactly as before — or worse.

        • Woo

          You’re assuming that pain or suffering can’t factor into providence which is false – in fact it can especially if God thinks the ends justify the means.

        • RM666

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

          Then there is the fun line in Isaiah 45:7 “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” Your deity is both an alleged savior and a mass murderer. The words psychopath and sociopath qualify that description.

        • Charles Coryn

          RM666….. Yes, again you’ve isolated an aspect of God that is so…. literary, to my mind. But that is what is taught to children, in sunday school, that God can do whatever he wants because he is always right ….. yet when you read the text, such as when God himself is killing people by throwing

          hailstones on them at Josh 10:11, you would think it was a Manual for Genocide. Moses kills an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew, so God puts him in charge of the whole show.

          And finally, to threaten children with ‘Hell’, and everlasting punishment, for any reason, is cruel and inhuman treatment to my mind. Just look at Deut 28:58 …… “If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book….”

        • Greg G.

          What can pain and suffering do that an omnipotent god cannot do without the pain and suffering? The pain and suffering is unnecessary if there is an omnipotent god. If there is an omnipotent god, it has chosen that pain and suffering to be experienced for no reason. Therefore, if there is an omnipotent being, it is sadistic, and not benevolent.

        • Woo

          but if God who is omniscient is able to see into the future and know who will place their faith in him shouldn’t he favor them over others in that specific sense? No where does the Bible claim that God doesn’t bless the unjust and the just in the sense of rain for example (“he causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust” – Mathew 5:45). So, there are specific blessings that come maybe as a result of providence and others are general and go out to everyone.

        • adam

          “but if God who is omniscient is able to see into the future ”

          IF

          Demonstrate this “God” of yours so we can move from the childrens table and talk as adults.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7786df5050a13684367f90eb753b953b17c746ef048fe8e05b1f3a989a977fd3.jpg

        • adam

          “(“he causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust” – Mathew 5:45).
          So, there are specific blessings that come maybe as a result of
          providence and others are general and go out to everyone.”

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

        • Charles Winter

          This is rather like the plane crash where the sole survivor praises God for saving them. Were the rest of the people on that plane all atheists? No.

        • adam
        • Zeta

          Murph (aka Woo): “but if God who is omniscient is able to see into the future

          This is laughable garbage. You are again just regurgitating the lies that you have swallowed without thinking. Go and read your holy book again. Your god is ignorant about lots of things.

          Just one example out of many: Remember the Tower of Babel. Your god had to come down from heaven personally to see what humans were up to. If he was omniscient, why did he have to do so? He was worried about what humans could achieve and had to make them speak different languages. This also shows that he is NOT omnipotent and it makes him a coward too.

        • TheNuszAbides

          in my experience, replacing ‘providence’ with ‘luck’ (or even ‘fortune’) is pretty much a seamless transition.

        • RM666

          god overseas [sic] oversees [recte] everything. Belief is not proof. The burden of proof is always upon the claimant. Whether one person believes or 1 million people believe is a logical fallacy known as Argumentum ad Populum. In argumentation theory, an argumentum ad populum is a fallacious argument that concludes that a proposition is true because many or most people believe it. The word ‘providence’ means “timely preparation for future eventualities”. You might as well substitute “circumstance” or “Blind Luck”. Had you, ‘woo’ been born in India, you would be a Muslim, Hindu, Jain, Sikh, or Buddhist. It was simply circumstantial that you were a person born in a country where christianity is practiced, and that you were indoctrinated and brainwashed into believing that serpents can speak, that we are all the product of incest, and that 8 people created the 5 races of humankind. Religion is based upon an unprovable faith of things no one can see. That is delusional, and not logical nor reasonable.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah. He’s going to Bangkok Thailand, which is primarily Buddhist and Hindu, and doesn’t have the same hangups with research leading to the treatments he will be getting.

      • TheNuszAbides

        best recalibrate yer Attribution Errormaker!

  • Woo

    Hmmmmmm…..

  • RM666

    let’s see where to begin. Yahweh comes from the Aramaic language of the OT. The problem is, is that Aramaic has NO VOWEL structure. The later language from which Hebrew was created had no vowel points until the 6th century, due to the masoretic scribes. Aramaic was a consonantal language. No A, E, I, O or U. They did have a “y” however, and in ancient Aramaic, the name of their deity was sometimes written as Y”, that is correct a letter ‘y’ followed by a modern day (but also quite ancient) quotation mark. The latter Greeks placed vowels in between the unpronounceable yhvh, to make it more intelligible to them. The polytheist Jews of old, who came from Cannanite stock would not write or use the name of their deity out of respect and fear. “yahweh” is a bastardization of yhvh. The Greeks could have made that name yehuuah or yihuuoh, or the other fake name of jehovah, which came much later. Point of fact: there was no letter “w” before the Goths created it in the early middle ages. before then it was, in English, written as “uu”, or double U, which later became “w”. Next is the letter J which until the middle ages was a numeric appendage, used by the Romans as part of their system of writing numbers, until the Arabic numeral system took hold. Thus the roman numeral for the number 8 was written as VIIJ. The OT being written solely in Aramaic, was made up before Hebrew was even a common language, had no proper vowels in it. Now lets consider the word ‘god’. The word “god” is not a Latin name, not a Greek name, and not a Aramaic or Hebrew name. You will not find the word ‘god’ in any of those languages. God is a TITLE. It is what one is, not whom one is. It stems from the proto-indo-european or proto-indo-germanic language. It is a euphemism for the Hindu deity named INDRA. The word means “That which is invoked”. The same goes for the Greek name for the jewish demi-deity IIsous Christos. Christos means ‘anointed’. It is not a name, but is just a title. The greek name eventually morphed into (Latin) as Iesv Christus, which later became Ihesu Crist, and much later, after the 14th Century of the Common Era into Jesus (the) Christ. The entire book of the jews and later the sub cult of so-called ‘christianity’, is a sheer fraud. All deities are the deluded creations of ignorant and uneducated people, down through the centuries. They are no more real than Fritz the Cat, or the Great Pumpkin.

    • busterggi

      Ythulhu

    • Michael Neville

      TP:DR (Too pretentious: didn’t read)

      • RM666

        you mean you are too under-educated and couldn’t wrap your ‘mind’ around the facts of the matter. more’s the pity.

        • Michael Neville

          I mean that a lecture on the derivation of Yahweh and Jesus, especially one that’s pompous, pedantic and poorly written, isn’t interesting. But thank you for the ad hominem, at least it was short, unlike your pontification.

          Here’s a suggestion you might want to consider. Paragraphs are your friends. If you break up your harangues into paragraphs then you might not get criticism. I had a high school English teacher who kept saying, “If you make something difficult to read then people won’t read it.”

    • Charles Coryn

      Greetings RM666….. You stated above: “All deities are the deluded creations of ignorant and uneducated people, down through the centuries.”
      Yes, but I believe it is much more complex. I’ll elaborate elsewhere if possible, but I think gods and belief systems acted functionally as a social glue that bound all group members from birth. Think back, thousands and thousands of years ago, even before gods, when there were water and wind spirits, when your group was likely the most important thing to your life, and to rebel against the group meant you could be thrown out and ostracized, not permitted to come back. Then your beliefs would serve to identify you to all other groups, and force you to be an outsider wherever you went.
      I believe it is religion that keeps anthropology and mythology from being taught in the schools to young children…. it isn’t permitted for them to know reality, they must learn the myths from preacher and teacher as well as from parents themselves.

  • firebubbles310

    We just read the Enuma Elish in Mythology class last week and talked about the comparisons between that and Genesis. We also talked about there being two creation myths in Genesis which probably came from different environments. It was very uncomfortable for the Christians and Muslims in class who believe strongly in the word of God being the Bible or Quran. I felt kind of bad, but we are talking mythology and it is uncomfortable when they hit their living one. They also tend to ask the questions that try and make sense of the old myths to make them make more internal sense. I guess it is practice from their own religions.

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

      The most entrenched Christians will happily read about prior myths but still find a way to see things to allow their beliefs to continue. It’s like the liquid metal guy in “Terminator 2.”

      • firebubbles310

        Great reference!!

  • Mary E. Oney

    Several years ago Archeology mmagazine had an article about an ancient temple, the oldest ever found. I believe it was in the region of Sumeria, but can’t remember exactly. The temple was dedicated to the Storm God, whose name was Yahweh…it predated the Jewish religion…I have always wanted to know more about that…thanks for this article, very interesting…

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

      Look up Ugarit. That was a culture that died out at the Bronze Age Collapse in the 12th century BCE. A remarkably well-preserved library of tablets was found, and that documents what appears to be the proto-Israelite religion.

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

  • Grigori Schmidt

    I am just curious: If Abzu had had a tablet to see the future, why did not he see that his enemy will use “an arrow disguised as a feather”?

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

      Tragically, the ancient clay tablets don’t tell us. But if you’re poking holes in ancient myths, I doubt that this one has any more holes than Genesis.