The Frustration of Arguing with Christians

BusterI argue with Christians on this blog and in real life. It’s a frustrating process, but I’ve come up with a comparison to illustrate the problem: Christians often talk about how God acts in our reality like a medieval doctor would talk about how leeches work.

Imagine such a conversation between a modern Westerner and a medieval doctor:

“Leeches are an important way to correct an imbalance in bodily humors. For example, they can cure pneumonia.”

“How do you know?”

“This comes from Galen! Anyway, I had pneumonia myself last winter, and I took a treatment of leeches. Look at me now.”

“How do you know the leeches were a part of the cure? Maybe you would’ve gotten over it yourself. Maybe the leeches hurt you, and you got well in spite of them.”

You can imagine how this would continue. The doctor would defend his tradition; he would cite other anecdotes of supposed cures; he might explain the theory of the four humors in Hippocratic medicine; he might say that that’s just how they do things here, and you should keep your nose out of it; he might say that leeches only push things in the right direction, not that they’re a guaranteed cure; he might demand that you prove that leeches are useless or harmful; and so on.

Before you shake your head at the shallowness of thought of our medieval ancestors, at least they had an excuse. Modern science didn’t exist and so hadn’t demonstrated the benefits of hypothesis testing and evidence following. It’s more puzzling when you compare this with a discussion you could have with a Christian today.

“God answers prayers.”

“How do you know?”

“It’s in the Bible! Anyway, I was jobless for months last year, and the finances were getting desperate, but then I prayed about it. I had a great job in two weeks.

“How do you know that God was involved? If it was God, why did it take two weeks—shouldn’t you have heard the phone ringing with the job offer right after you said ‘Amen’? Maybe it was all the work you put into the job search that finally paid off.”

You can imagine how this would continue. The Christian would defend his tradition; he would give anecdotes of answered prayer; he might explain how and why prayer works; he might say that that’s just how they do things here, and you should keep your nose out of it; he might say that God has his own perfect way of doing things, not that prayer always works as you’d want it to; he might demand that you prove that prayers aren’t answered or that God doesn’t exist; and so on.

Unfortunately, prayer is just the start of it. You can have similar medieval conversations today about God’s hand in current political events or natural disasters, about God steering Christians’ lives or standing with them during hardship, about the Bible being so remarkable that only divine inspiration explains it, and so on. While these claims are usually stated with confidence, they’re not backed up by convincing evidence.

Evidence didn’t matter much to the medieval doctor, but you’d think that it would be important to a Christian today, living in 21st century society and with a modern education. The problem is that we’re the same superstitious humans with imperfect brains that we were a thousand years ago. And if we’ve been indoctrinated as children, our adult intellect is usually focused on defending our stance, not questioning it.

In a time before modern science, religion answered questions, but only because it was the only option. It exists today, not because it provides useful answers (it doesn’t—its answers are culturally specific and depend on which religion is answering) but because of inertia. Religion has outlived its usefulness.

Here is a thought experiment . . . tell your wife
that you have a lot of invisible qualities that can be clearly seen
and see what kind of response you get.
— commenter Otto

Image credit: jimmy brown, flickr, CC

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  • RichardSRussell

    … if we’ve been indoctrinated as children, our adult intellect is usually focused on defending our stance, not questioning it.

    Galbraith’s Law: Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof. —John Kenneth Galbraith, American economist

    In a time before modern science, religion answered questions, but only because it was the only option.

    Yes, religion DOES have answers to all of life’s persistent questions. It’s been around long enuf that it has had time to consider every question that might possibly be asked of it, and it’s come up with answers to every one of them. Some of those answers are even correct.

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

      Great quote, thanks.

  • busterggi

    Outlived its usefullness?

    Never, not as long as people seek a justification to hate people who are different from them.

  • Kevin K

    It’s a hobby. Although I have no tolerance for trolly trolls and their sock puppets.

  • Victoria Strab

    I’ve been wondering about how to respond to people believing in miracles for a while now and I wonder if you could help. My mother recently told me that some time ago my parents were in dire need of a specific amount of money, but they did not tell anyone about this. They prayed and a while later they get a letter from my grandparents with a check for that exact amount of money. How can I answer to that? This is more than just the run-of-the-mill “God answered my prayers”. I just don’t know what arguments to use.

    • Tony D’Arcy

      We rarely or never hear of all those prayers where God didn’t answer, or worse, let that crazy motorcyclist crash into that tree at 90 mph ! God was too busy supporting the New England Patriots, and the Chicago Cubs maybe ? Too bad God let another 20,000 innocent kids die in the world today, of poverty related issues. But then ” mysterious ways” n all that !

    • busterggi

      Ask for proof including the transcript of their prayers signed by god.

    • guerillasurgeon

      Maybe if God had intended for them to have the money anyway he should have given it to them before they prayed. Dammit you can get really tangled up in these things. :)

      • Kodie

        Needing a certain amount of money, and a physical real person writing a check for that amount, or an amount, for you… just doesn’t seem that mysterious to me. Oooh, spooky, how could someone guess I needed money and send it to me? Maybe they have asked for money before. Maybe someone called and explained the debt now. If I were writing a check in some large amount of money to someone, without having been asked, I would be pretty skeptical about this sudden mysterious urge to send a significant (I’m guessing) amount of money. It would be hard to explain to myself why I was suddenly compelled to write and send a check to my grown son if no one asked me to.

        • Kingasaurus

          If god is answering your prayer for money in this way, isn’t he violating the free will of the person writing the check?

          I thought this “free will” thing was so super-important that god couldn’t do stuff like that?

        • Pofarmer

          Free Will is complicated.

        • Kingasaurus

          Especially when the apologists need it to be.

        • quinsha

          Not enough information. I have been known to send money to my mother, unasked. Usually in a birthday or christmas card.

        • Kodie

          I’m not sure how much other people give or get or expect in a birthday card, so it is enough information as far as I can tell. If you want to tell me god intercepted your brain function and compelled you to write a check in a large enough amount that someone would need to resort to pray for it, and it wasn’t their birthday or Christmas, wouldn’t you at least pause?

          If it’s someone you regularly give money to, I mean, someone you are helping out, whom you know is always short of cash, and every once in a while you surprise them with a check, are you answering their prayers, are you being transmitted mentally the command to do so as an answer to their prayer? Or are you just a person who knows a person who could use some money in hand once in a while?

          I mean, if I need exactly [$679] and prayed for that strangely specific amount, and payday comes, and the check is in the amount of [$679], was it an answer to prayer or just what happens every payday? If my birthday is coming, I know to expect a certain amount of money, but I never know if it’s the last year. Everyone’s getting old.

        • quinsha

          What I mean by ‘not enough information’ is that there is “I prayed. The money I prayed for showed up” does not give the context of why the money showed up. Birthday? Christmas? Someone won the lotto and knew that a relative needed help? The only reason we are given is God without the surrounding circumstances. Without that information, you cannot claim miracle. I can claim miracle by traveling over 100 miles in a day without the information that I own a car and live in the 21st century.

    • epicurus

      I guess it’s human nature to embellish, but I also wonder if it really was the exact amount of money, or just some money. No way to know for sure of course, but if the cheque arrived soon after the prayer, but wasn’t the exact amount needed, the temptation to give the the answered prayer/miracle/coincidence a bit of an upgrade to the needed amount would be very strong, because then it really seems amazing, rather than just a coincidence of “we need x amount, we got some but nowhere near x.” I think this happens frequently, from the many stories in Church and religious history, to Christian friends I’ve caught upgrading coincidences when I was able to verify. I probably even did it myself way back in my Christian days.

      • Greg G.

        A young woman began to preach at me a little. She told me how she was looking for a place to live but everywhere was too expensive. She prayed for a place that was much for $500 per month (I forget the exact amount) and two weeks later, she found a place for $600 per month. I’ve long wondered if she was in the process of making them closer and if she now tells the story as being the same amount.

      • Victoria Strab

        Well, the thing is, my mother isn’t someone who exaggerates easily. And it was the whole point of her story that it was the exact amount of money they needed… I mean, I’ve also heard stories about faith healing and stuff from pastors in our church, but I know that that could easily be exaggerated and it’s often hearsay and I don’t know these people personally etc. But my mother… Hmm. I just don’t know what to think, you know?

        • Joe

          What’s your intention here? To disprove your mother or to rationalize this in your own head?

          Do you think it might be a miracle? If so why, or why not?

        • epicurus

          Yes, well that’s a tough call. I do believe and have experienced that even level headed people can get caught up exaggerating answered prayer/miracle stories, which after they’ve told them enough times start to believe the truth of it themselves. And the more you press them on it, the more they will dig in and stick to their story, just so they won’t lose face after telling the story for years.
          Maybe that’s your mothers case, maybe not.
          But if it did happen, and you don’t want to call it coincedence, then don’t you and/or your mother have to believe all the billion other claims of answered prayer in all the other religions, because they all have similar stories, which means God is helping everybody regardless of religion.

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

          And surely your mother believes the story. But if you probed (probably not polite in this case), you might find that it was simply a welcome and timely surprise, nothing more.

    • democommiescrazierbrother

      Victoria:

      I haven’t been able to GET a job for about 11 years (about 5 weeks shy of that anniversary, as I type). I have been in varying amounts of pain–at times it’s quite debilitating–suffering from undiagnosed fatigue, carpal tunnel in both wrists, arthritis…other “stuff”.

      I went from being homeless with around $90K net worth to being in the house I’m in now with about $16-18K in debt.

      This time a year ago I was over $35K in debt and then an aunt died. She left me and 25 other people about $25K per. After fees and whatnot, I got about $22.4K and used most of it to pay down debt buy some things I needed for the house and live a little better than I had in a while. There was no praying involved. I gave up asking GOD for anything a long, long time ago and getting the windfall did not in any way make me think, “Oh, yeah, that’s a sign that allathose times when I got squat by asking, I was just being tested.”.

      A GOD that gives people in need a lift is something that I could get into. A GOD that only helps folks who beg, swear fealty and worship him? Hell, no.

      If there was any miracle involved in my getting that windfall it is that my aunt gave me anything. She and I did not get along and if I had been the only one in my family who she skipped I would have been a little sad but, it wasn’t my money to give away. What WAS surprising was that she gave money to me, my sibs and one group of cousins. All the others cousins,
      approximately 20 people, got jackshit. They were, by all accounts the ones that JEEZUZ (expeshly Republican JEEZUZ) loved best.

    • Greg G.

      Perhaps after they prayed, your father asked your grandparents for that amount but couldn’t break it to your mother that he had asked them in addition to praying.

      • Joe

        That’s like how I give my niece the exact present she’s been wanting for her Birthday. No miracle required.

      • TheNuszAbides

        That’s what immediately came to my mind while reading VS’s report. Clrly, Ol’ Scratch was beaming those nasty divisive thoughts into more than one head!

    • Joe

      There are lots of reasons, with even the remote possibility of blind chance.

      The key question is: What makes them think it was a miracle?

      Some people get cheques in the mail, other pray for financial aid that never comes.

      • Jim Jones

        Works fantastically for TV evangelists:

        Fifteen American Pastors Worth Millions, Who’s The Wealthiest?

        15. Minister Louis Farrakhan – Net Worth: $3 million

        14. Bishop Noel Jones – Net Worth: $5 million

        13. Bishop Eddie Long – Net Worth: $5 million

        12. Paula White – Net Worth: $5 million

        11. Rev. John Hagee – Net Worth: $5 million

        10. Joyce Meyer – Net Worth: $8 million

        9. Juanita Bynum – Net Worth: $10 million

        8. Bishop T.D. Jakes – Net Worth: $18 million

        7. Rick Warren – Net Worth: $25 million

        6. Billy Graham – Net Worth: $25 million

        5. Creflo Dollar – Net Worth: $27 million

        4. Joel Osteen – Net Worth: $40 million

        3. Benny Hinn – Net Worth: $42 million

        2. Pat Robertson – Net Worth: $100 million

        1. Kenneth Copeland – Net Worth: $760 million (Bloody hell!)

    • Ficino

      My grandmother used to gather her two daughters in the living room, and all three on their knees would pray for money. This was during the Depression, when my alcoholic grandfather had been blacklisted.

      Sometimes money would come. An answer to prayer?

      Fast forward a few decades and my father, a compulsive addict for voodoo, gave away all his money. Down on knees, prayers. Nothing.

      My friend was 27. He had cancer. EVERYONE prayed, even little children. Rod died anyway.

      No pattern to answered prayer. The outcome is consistent with the thesis that there is no interventionist God. The outcome is not consistent with the promises of the NT.

      And Christian apologists, don’t dare tell me we weren’t praying with enough faith. God is supposed to be the one with the power.

    • Kodie

      I’m going with “someone called grandma”.

    • Otto

      Boy that sounds like a story I have heard passed around Christian circles before…

    • Ignorant Amos

      How specific was the amount?

      Something along the lines of $17, 573 and 37 cents?

      Or was the figure rounded up a to the nearest $1,000?

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

      As Amos said: was it a precise amount or just $1000?

      When the check is signed by God, then you should take notice. When it’s signed Grandma, that’s not particularly surprising.

      Keep in mind also that many stories like this crumble, at least a bit, under investigation. Was it truly a secret? Could the grandparents have known that a gift of money would have been appreciated?

      • Ignorant Amos

        Back in the 80’s, when I was serving in the BAOR, my grandmother had the uncanny knack of sending me a card with a few quid when I was really on my uppers. Looking back, it wasn’t such a coincidence, because I was on my uppers more often than I care to remember.

        The bugbear was getting the Northern Irish Pounds Sterling banknotes exchanged at the correct rate in Deutsche Marks as the moment the word Ireland was read on the money the bank teller wanted to give me the rate for Irish Punts, which was somewhat less than Pounds Sterling. Still, it was always seen as granny to the rescue.

        • Greg G.

          My grandmother always sent a birthday card with a $5 bill smothered in perfume. She was convinced that the postal workers could detect the smell of money through the envelope and would steal it. I had to spend it quickly so my wallet didn’t smell like that for a month.

          But I still enjoyed getting the card and the thought more than the money.

    • TheNuszAbides

      ” … did not tell anyone about this.”

      Well that’s convenient for either of them to claim, and perfectly unprovable either way, owing to the lack of mind-reading or complete recording of all communications. Pure speculation, i admit, but perhaps your father wasn’t too proud/stubborn to discreetly ask either grandparent for help. And there’s never been a shortage of folks who’ll tweak the facts (even convincing themselves of ‘alternative facts’) for the sake of furthering a tribal narrative.

    • TheNuszAbides

      “How can I answer to that?”

      I’m sure they’re more comfortable with you not answering it at all — hence the sheer, airtight convenience of their story.

      “I just don’t know what arguments to use.”

      Even more convenient for them: the only ones i can think of are inherently skeptical (which they can defensively spin as you being distrustful, cynical etc. — how shameful, to ‘harden your heart’ against those who raised you, etc. etc.).

  • Mr. A

    Here is the real problem when arguging against (many) Christians: they expect you to be willing to change your mind about thier god, but do not offer you the same courtesy. All too often, “nothing” will change thier minds, yet they expect you not to follow suite and be open minded for thier worldview.

    In short, these ones don’t actually want conversation. They just want to tell you what to do.

    • guerillasurgeon

      Just like vegetarians. They expect you to make special provision when they come round to your house for dinner, but refuse to make the same concession for you. :)

      • epicurus

        Isn’t that because they think it’s ethically wrong to eat meat, but you probably don’t think its wrong to eat plants?

        • busterggi

          I’ve had that discussion with my vegan daughter – plants are just as alive as animals but they don’t look at you with big brown eyes so…

        • epicurus

          Just as alive? Meaning plants feel pain and fear? Could be, I’m no expert, but anything I’ve read or heard would lead me to believe they don’t.

        • enlyghten

          There a few rather fascinating documentaries that suggest they do, just on a timescale we have a difficult time processing as an immediate reaction. With very few exceptions, everything a plant does is extremely slow, but with the right cameras and sensors, it’s becoming more evident that at least some plants react to damage in a manner that is equivalent to an animal’s pain reaction. It just happens on a different timescale (mostly) and with different tools.

          Interestingly, some plants have been shown to share resources between other plants of the same species nearby. They have also been shown to have a reaction to predation that’s stimulated not only by actual predation, but by the predation of nearby plants of the same species.

          I think the difference is that people don’t empathize with plants as much as they do with animals. It’s certainly harder for me to anthropomorphize plants than animals.

        • epicurus

          Interesting. I grew up on a farm and killed animals on occasion. What concerns me more than the actual death is the rise of the factory farm system and the way animals are put through the industrial food complex.
          The days of walking up to a contented cow or pig in a field and putting a bullet through the brain are long gone.

        • Joe

          The days of walking up to a contented cow or pig in a field and putting a bullet through the brain are long gone.

          You probably could have phrased that a bit better.

        • epicurus

          Not sure what you’re getting at. Do you mean I should have been more precise, as in put the bullet through the animal’s brain and not mine? Or do you mean taking about bullets through brains is too disturbing an image for some?

        • Joe

          No, it just seems you were lamenting not being able to walk up and shoot contented animals in the head rather than criticizing modern slaughter techniques.

        • epicurus

          Oh, ok. Well I never got any joy from killing an animal. What I was trying to get across was that I think many people still assume that most meat we eat comes from small family farms where animals are content and happy until the day they are killed by a farmer who walks up and quckly kills them. But the reality in the 21st century is that almost all meat comes from factory farms where animals are raised in very crowded unnatural conditions where some never see the light of day or get to walk on actual earth. From calves raised for veal to hens in battery cages to pigs in crates that can’t move side to side to cattle in feedlots up to their knees in mud and manure with nowhere dry to laydown, animals get treated terribly in order to squeeze out more and more profit.
          So when people say there is nothing wrong with killing animals for food, I don’t necessarily disagree with them, I just want to make sure they take into account the whole system of how animals are treated up to the actual moment they are dead, because if you are going to eat meat, for the vast majority of people, that is how the meat got to your plate.

        • guerillasurgeon

          Can’t argue with that. Although when I did home kill, it was a slice across the arteries rather than a bullet to the brain.

        • enlyghten

          Oh, fair enough. I hunt for as much meat as I can, but it’s still a valid point.

        • Joe

          Meaning plants feel pain and fear

          Yes, in a away. They just don’t have a brain to comprehend the meaning of it.

        • Halbe

          There could maybe be other reasons for being a vegan/vegetarian, e.g.:
          – The meat consumption of the western world is totally unsustainable from an environmental perspective
          – Meat consumption is one of the largest causes of climate change, and one of the easiest to do something about
          – The meat and dairy industry are treating animals very badly (i.e. it’s not their death that is the problem, it is their life)
          – The meat and dairy industry are a major cause of bacteria resistance to antibiotics

        • Greg G.

          I saw a YouTube video years ago with a young vegan woman defending fellatio because someone had challenged that she was ingesting animal protein. She explained that her veganism was based on the suffering of the animals and that fellatio done properly was the opposite of suffering.

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

          I vote for more research into synthetic meat.

        • Kuno

          I’ve had a similar discussion with a friend who won’t eat veal. “But they are innocent baby cows!”. But my question what crimes a mature cow has commited to no longer be considered innocent didn’t get an answer…

        • Pofarmer

          Lol. Built in evolutionary bias at it’s finest.

        • guerillasurgeon

          No, I don’t think it’s wrong to eat plants, but I think it’s wrong not to eat meat. I’m quite happy to eat vegan once in a while, but I don’t think you can get all the requisite nutrients without taking supplements. Which is “unnatural” – something I often hit them with.

      • democommiescrazierbrother

        I have no problem with people believing in GOD or thinking that eating meat is wrong. If they start telling me that I have to believe in their GOD or that I’m wrong for eating meat. Well, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

      • Mr. A

        Lol, that’s hilarious.

      • Joe

        To borrow a cliche: Not all vegetarians.

    • Brad Feaker

      And just try and get one to even give you a concrete definition of the attributes of their deity. Impossible for me so far.

      • Mr. A

        Yet they wonder why we have trouble believing in thiers.

        • RichardSRussell

          “#12: People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.”

          —Dave Barry, syndicated humor columnist, “25 Things I Have Learned in 50 Years” (1997)

      • Mrislandliving

        Richard Dawkin’s description is accurate but unpalatable to Christians who prefer kind, forgiving, loving and benevolent.

        “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.”

        ― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

        • Brad Feaker

          Yeah – that is a money quote. And describes the OT god perfectly.

    • watcher_b

      I argue that Christians who say that nothing will change their minds have made themselves out to be God. They believe perfectly the correct things. If there is a perfect God and it is the only perfect thing, then that means you could be wrong about that God.

      It is the similar with having to believe the right things in order to be saved. You have to have perfect belief in that Soteriology.

      • Mr. A

        I agree that this fits some I’ve met over the years. I have met christians who try to sell me the whole “humanity is fallibale” thing, but then never apply that idea to thier own beliefs.

        • Otto

          …or apply it to the writers, editors and interpreters of the Bible.

          (this was one of the bricks that fell out of my wall and helped it crumble)

    • TheNuszAbides

      Like a lurking desire to carve off a piece of that Authority(TM) for themselves.

  • Clement Agonistes

    Ironically, Bob, that’s kinda how atheists sound to Christians.

    “You know, leeches are science, and science explains everything. You Christians pray for other people to be healed, clean their wounds, and comfort them. If you’d only listen to us medieval doctors, you’d know that leeches and a good bleeding are what remove the bad humors that cause diseases. All the scientists know this.”

    • Greg G.

      Really? Christians are that out of touch with science? Who would have thought that?

    • adam
    • Michael Neville

      Science doesn’t explain everything. However it’s got better explanations than anything else. GODDIDIT explains nothing. If you’re looking for explanations then the scientific method is the way to go. Science does explain why leaches will not cure your pneumonia while antibiotics will.

      If you need gods to feel good then go for it. But remember that gods are as effective as leaches in curing pneumonia.

    • Joe

      Ironically, Bob, that’s kinda how atheists sound to Christians.

      Atheists? So Christians shouldn’t pat heed to science?

      Quite a straw man argument there. There is some scientific support for using leeches to increase circulation, but none for blood letting, so we don’t use leeches for that purpose anymore.

      Are you saying that’s the wrong approach?

      • Clement Agonistes

        That’s an ironic post, given that I did not say Christians shouldn’t pay heed to science.
        My real point (as opposed to the one you argued) was that the state of science in medieval times was leeches and bleeding to remove ill-humors, and atheists come off sounding as if they worship science. I did not mean to offend the object of your worship.

        • Joe

          that the state of science in medieval times was leeches and bleeding to remove ill-humors,

          What was religions answer to the problem if ill health at that time?

        • Clement Agonistes

          Pray that the scientists don’t drain your sick daughter’s blood?

          Seriously, as I understand it, medieval people viewed life as something temporary and miserable, and looked to the afterlife for health, prosperity, and social justice. Even today, when science cannot help, people turn to religion for hope.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Pray that the scientists don’t drain your sick daughter’s blood?

          I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest you didn’t read the O/P.

          Before you shake your head at the shallowness of thought of our medieval ancestors, at least they had an excuse. Modern science didn’t exist and so hadn’t demonstrated the benefits of hypothesis testing and evidence following.

          Seriously, as I understand it, medieval people viewed life as something temporary and miserable,…

          For the majority of people, it was miserable.

          …and looked to the afterlife for health, prosperity, and social justice.

          Which is just how the religious establishment liked to keep it. The Mushroom Club.

          Even today, when science cannot help, people turn to religion for hope.

          Silly non-thinking people you mean. How’s that been working out for them?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Xtians *still* believe that this life is something temprary and a “Vale of Tears”

          So enlightenment thought has moved us forward away from Ecclesiastes and its fierce pessimism, leaving the bible behind once again.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ecclesiastes is my favourite book…lots of advice to party on down in Ecclesiastes.

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

          Even today, when science cannot help, people turn to religion for hope.

          Right. Religion is the option of last resort.

          It doesn’t actually do anything. It’s just the option of last resort.

        • Clement Agonistes

          It provides hope and comfort when science comes up empty. Hope and comfort are difficult to weigh – the evidence is personal to the recipient.

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

          I guess we agree–that’s worth celebrating.

          Religion provides hope and comfort. If someone’s life is so fucked up that they need that, I won’t stand in the way to tell them that they’re wrong to do so. But for the rest of humanity, I encourage them to seek the route that tells them the actual truth, not the pleasing “truth.”

        • Clement Agonistes

          I had in mind people whose loved ones are dead or dying. If that kind of thing fits the criteria for being “fucked up” (what is it with atheists and the word “fuck”?), then so be it – there are a *lot* of fucked up people in the world.

          The truth is that physical death awaits us all, and the best we can physically do is to kick that can down the road some. L’chaim!

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          I don’t think it is worthwhile to believe in fairy tales just so you have something to say at a funeral.

        • Kodie

          I think there is plenty to say at a funeral without talking about god or heaven or using so-called comforting words like “better place” or “journey”. Praise that person’s life and remember them well. If they are still alive but dying, don’t tell them they’re going to heaven, tell them how you feel about them. Tell them a memory of you together and how much they mean to you.

          What comfort is it to a dying person to tell them a fictional story about where they’re going once they shut their eyes? If you’re the last person they see while they’re still alive, guess what – no matter what you say, they soon forget everything, so it doesn’t matter if you comfort them with a lie, unless they’re me and it will piss someone off for the last minute of their life. I think that’s disrespectful. That’s what I hate most about Christians! They are disrespectful and think, what’s the best use of the last minute of this dying person’s life – make sure I get one more chance to sell the atheist on the good news so they can convert in time to be saved!

          What arrogant fuckery.

        • Greg G.

          At my uncle’s funeral, the preacher said that whenever my bedridden uncle saw him, he would raise his arms and say, “Hallelujah, brother!”

          On the drive to the cemetery, my mother said that one of their cousins told my mom that he had saved my uncle and told her about the beautiful Bible he gave to him. The next time my mother visited him, she asked to see the Bible. He told her he had thrown it in the trash.

          He’s the uncle who taught me about pulling someone’s leg.

        • Pofarmer

          That’s funny shit right there. d;0)

        • Ignorant Amos

          The holy rollers love any occasion to spout nonsense to a captive audience. I remain outside these days. The last funeral I attended the pastor had a dig at atheists during the service…what a wanker. It was as much as I could do to maintain my cool afterwards and maintain respect for the occasion.

        • TheNuszAbides

          More respect than Pastor Wanker showed. Ye and yer bloody high horse. ;P

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

          what is it with atheists and the word “fuck”?

          It’s a word. It has its uses.

          I had in mind people whose loved ones are dead or dying. If that kind of thing fits the criteria for being “fucked up” (what is it with atheists and the word “fuck”?), then so be it – there are a *lot* of fucked up people in the world.

          In most cases, that wouldn’t rise to the level that I was talking about. I’m talking about someone who’s a slave. Someone who lives on the street in desperate circumstances. Someone who lives in the DRC or CAR or Sudan or a refugee camp that is harassed by civil war. A decent fraction of the billion people who live on less than $1/day.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I’m not following you here, Bob. Are you saying that mere fatal illness of death of a loved one isn’t good enough to justify hope of health and reunion in the afterlife? They don’t rise to the level in which comfort would be warranted?

          For those in refugee camps, on the streets, or in slavery, *then* religion would be OK in those circumstances?

          But, for those who are not totally destitute …. the rest of humanity … they should seek the truth (your truth?), not merely a truth that they like?

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

          I’m not following you here, Bob.

          I’m surprised that any of this is hard.

          Are you saying that mere fatal illness of death of a loved one isn’t good enough to justify hope of health and reunion in the afterlife?

          No. Do I really need to repeat what I said in the last several comments? Perhaps you could just read that.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The reason I am asking for clarification here … rephrasing what I understood you to be saying … is that this *is* hard.

          You stated,

          “If someone’s life is so fucked up that they need that, I won’t stand in
          the way to tell them that they’re wrong to do so. But for the rest of
          humanity, I encourage them to seek the route that tells them the actual
          truth, not the pleasing “truth.”

          When I stated that the time people need hope and comfort was when the face serious illness or death of a loved one, you clarified that you had in mind Sudan-style “fucked up”, but that the “rest of humanity” (who weren’t living on $1/day in a refugee camp) needed the “actual truth”, not the “pleasing truth”.

          The way that reads, those having economic security are not “fucked up” enough; they “don’t rise to the level” of needing the pleasing truth, and should be encouraged to seek the actual truth. Here, you “clarify” with a simple “No”, that wasn’t what you meant, which clarifies nothing. It seems to contradict what you said previously.

          So, what you said previously is what confused me. Repeating it would not clarify things. What am I missing? Can you elaborate on what you meant?

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

          The way that reads, those having economic security are not “fucked up” enough; they “don’t rise to the level” of needing the pleasing truth, and should be encouraged to seek the actual truth.

          Right.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s a word. It has its uses.

          Being the most versatile word in the English language, it most certainly does. Getting up the nose of fuckin’ arsehole tone trolls being one of them..

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHRDfut2Vx0

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04_rIuVc_qM

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

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

          “Fuck” is a magical word? Interesting–I’ll have to work it into my everyday speech more often.

        • Michael Neville

          Fuckin’ right!

        • Michael Neville

          Getting up the nose of fuckin’ arsehole tone trolls being one of them.

          Probably my favorite use of fuck. Incidentally, in that version of the “Pope Song” Minchin uses the word fuck in various ways some 87 times. I counted.

        • EMiles

          Apparently some people find hope and comfort in making anti-intellectual atheist memes that attack a religion “straw man”.

          The truth is, and most atheist bloggers who religiously post about their anti-religious theories, all people have a religion.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0279e42041153b3ce16a6d9de31849e790a5995c6885c34d01817a0cd7e7dcd6.jpg

        • dala

          That’s some straight up nonsense right there. But hey, why not. Let’s pretend that atheists are just as fanatical as ISIS or those idiot parents who let their kids die while they pray.

        • Giauz Ragnarock
        • Greg G.

          Everybody in a foxhole is a practical atheist who understands the true power of prayer.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I knew plenty….

        • epeeist

          And as usual they are wrong – http://militaryatheists.org/

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Michael Neville

          “‘There are no atheists in foxholes’ isn’t an argument against atheism, it’s an argument against foxholes.” –James Marrow

          The mental state of an extremely frightened and desperate person can hardly be imagined to be more rational than those of a person in a calm state.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Damn it…am an hour too late.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Ignorant Amos

          Atheists in foxholes, some say they are myths,
          Creations of the mind who just don’t exist.
          Yet, they answered the call to defend, with great pride.
          With reason their watchword, they bled and they died.
          ~Alice Shiver

        • adam

          ” Even today, when science cannot help, people turn to religion for hope.”

          Of course:

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

        • Ignorant Amos

          Even today, when science cannot help, people turn to religion for hope.

          Even today, when science can help, some religious fuckwits would rather turn to religion for hope. With dire consequences to the sick.

          Guess why? Because contrary to your claim to know what the purpose of prayer, their religious authority has led them to believe that prayer is more effective than science…and they get that idea from the same book as you get your ideas from.

        • Michael Neville

          Shocking Numbers of Children Die in America When Their Parents Turn to Faith-Based Healing

          Travis Rossiter, 39, and Wenona Rossiter, 37, were convicted of first- and second-degree manslaughter in the death of their daughter, Syble after the 12-year-old died from untreated diabetic ketoacidosis. In Oregon, where the family is from, the sentence conviction carries a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence.

          “I always prayed that God would allow the body to naturally take care of itself… I had no idea – the day my daughter died – that the body was destroying itself. Instead of taking care of itself. I had no idea,” Wenona said on the stand. “It’s been hard,” she said about listening to testimony in the trial. “Especially hearing from the doctors. It just tore me up inside that as a mother, I had no idea that that was going on.”

          At the time, local Police Captain Eric Carter insisted the 12-year-old “had a treatable medical condition and the parents did not provide adequate and necessary medical care to that child.”

          Travis Rossiter told a detective that doctors are for people who don’t believe strongly enough in God.

        • adam

          “Travis Rossiter told a detective that doctors are for people who don’t believe strongly enough in God.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/98d6f0128b8af0c7099d981d0028fdce9cf890c7b4e1a4e7b8c1d16db7e1572d.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          Shocking indeed….

          And those Jehovah’s Witness fuckwits take me to the fair too.

          James

          14 Is there anyone sick among you? Let him call the elders of the congregation to him, and let them pray over him, applying oil to him in the name of Jehovah. 15 And the prayer of faith will make the sick one well, and Jehovah will raise him up. Also, if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

          So much for auld Agonistes true “purpose of prayer” fudgery ballix.

        • adam

          ” Even today, when science cannot help, people turn to religion for hope.”

          Even with science CAN help, IDiots turn to ‘faith’

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c0aec5bb6e3813d658dc99a8138b4905b1dbed26d29a303d2d70f69694c44450.jpg

        • Joe

          Pray that the scientists don’t drain your sick daughter’s blood?

          Yet you’ll probably find the church supported bloodletting, so in reality they did nothing, and had no solution.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Unless there was some biblical taboo, the church pretty much went with the state of science then.

          …. and now.

        • Joe

          Then your argument is next to useless.

        • Otto

          Self flagellation was an option….

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          The virgin Mary seems to have been caught up with the four humors according to testimonies.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Yes, I must have skipped school the day when we learned about the Christian revolt against leeching and all of religion’s contributions to modern medicine.

        • Max Doubt

          “My real point (as opposed to the one you argued) was…”

          Let’s see how you do making your point, since you started by dishonestly (or maybe just ignorantly) misrepresenting any actual atheist position…

          “… that the state of science in medieval times was leeches and bleeding to remove ill-humors,…”

          Yes, that was some early science. And the state of Christianity back then? A whole lot of people believed without a speck of objective evidence that there was an invisible magical being who wielded some control over the workings of the universe. Let’s see how those two compare as we bring them up to modern times.

          Science: We’ve applied science to medical research and practices. We almost never use leeches anymore, and clearly understand why bloodletting wasn’t a reasonable medical procedure even in the Middle Ages. We also know how leeches can be used for some procedures, how to use them safely and cleanly, and why they’re effective.

          Christianity: A whole lot of people still believe without a speck of objective evidence that there is an invisible magical being who wields some control over the workings of the universe. Not a lick of change in hundreds, or even thousands of years. No answers to any questions, no progress toward understanding the universe, no medical advances, no improvements in mechanical or electronic technology, no gains in our knowledge of space or weather or the oceans or plants or animals or, well, anything at all really. Christianity hasn’t helped humanity make an inch of progress in hundreds upon hundreds of years.

          “… and atheists come off sounding as if they worship science.”

          Well, worship would surely be a dishonest way to describe how atheists generally feel about science. First, atheism only addresses one thing, a person’s rejection of claims that gods exist. It doesn’t speak to a particular position on science, but leaving that aside…

          Science has kicked Christianity’s ass all over the globe for centuries. Christianity is headed for the dustbin of mythology just like Zeus and Isis and thousands of other gods from thousands of obsolete religions. Science? It just keeps getting better.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “Yes, that was some early science.”

          They were still bleeding people into the 19th century. Science goes back thousands of years before medieval times.

        • Pofarmer

          Science goes back thousands of years before medieval times.

          Yeah, not so much.

          There really wasn’t any such thing as “science” before at least Francis Bacon. At the beginning of the 17tth century. After the use of the scientific method took hold, discoveries literally sky rocketed.

        • Clement Agonistes

          So, you are eliminating Leonardo, Galileo, Alhazen, Euclid, Aristotle, and Socrates (not to mention nameless Chinese, Mayan, etc. scientists)?

          Everything is build on the foundations of those who came before.

        • Pofarmer

          Not eliminating, just noting that there wasn’t an idea of an organized “scientific method” which included skeptical analysis, ie, trying to disprove your own findings, until after the time of Bacon. Aristotle was mainly a philosopher, and nearly all of his physics and metaphysics were wrong, for instance. Socrates was a philosopher, not a scientist. Which, science rather started out in philosophy with “pure thought” and dancing around the edges of what we could detect. And, if you take Galileo and DaVinci and Copernicus, and folks like Giordano Bruno, they had trouble with the Church because it still believed that it’s theology was ascendant over observations.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I don’t think there was anything particularly biblical about geocentrism. The church was OK with Galileo until he stepped onto clergy turf by proclaiming how God created the solar system.

        • Carol Lynn

          I don’t think there was anything particularly biblical about geocentrism.

          Then you know extremely little about both geocentrism and the Bible.

          Here’s a small sample, not comprehensive, of Biblical quotes about a clearly geocentric universe.

          Joshua 10:12-13
          Then spoke Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the men of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

          1 Chronicles 16:30
          tremble before him, all earth; yea, the world stands firm, never to be moved.

          Psalms 93:1
          The Lord reigns; he is robbed in majesty; the lord is robbed, he is girded with strength. Yea, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

          Proverbs 8:27-29
          When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,

          1 Samuel 2:8
          For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.

          Isaiah 40:22
          It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

          Job 38:13
          that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?

          Isaiah 11:12
          He will raise an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

          Revelation 7:1
          After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on the earth or sea or against any tree.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Well, there were the Greeks, but a LOT of that was lost during the Roman period and later the Dark Ages, and had ot be rediscovered by the Renaissance & Enlightenment

        • epeeist

          There really wasn’t any such thing as “science” before at least Francis Bacon.

          And not really even then, remember Newton wrote Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, in other words he was dealing with natural philosophy.

          David Wooton deals with this in his The Invention of Science, well worth a read.

        • Max Doubt

          “After the use of the scientific method took hold, discoveries literally sky rocketed.”

          Yup. And even long before science grew into a formalized process, people were using it to learn about their world. Go back tens of thousands of years when people started modifying their surroundings for their own comfort and needs. Make a grass hut from these palm leaves and they’ll rot and blow away in a month. Make it from this other kind of grass and it’ll last all year. And we discovered that by trying all kinds of grass and leaves and stuff, repeatedly, then moving forward with the results that worked. And no kind of greenery ever made a more durable grass hut because someone wished or hoped or believed it would.

        • Max Doubt

          “They were still bleeding people into the 19th century. Science goes back thousands of years before medieval times.”

          So? It’s now 2017 and we still haven’t found the cure for cancer, Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s, or even the common cold. Big deal. The fact that science isn’t magic, instantly responsive to the wishes of humanity, doesn’t detract one bit from its efficacy as a tool for helping us better understand the universe we live in. There isn’t one area of your life that science hasn’t made easier or more comfortable or safer or healthier or…

          Christianity goes back hundreds of years before medieval times. Yet here we are in 2017, and god belief hasn’t answered a single question about our universe. Not one. Christianity is about magic. Not only has it failed to be instantly responsive to the desires of humanity, it fails to live up to any of its claims. Believing that something is true is an altogether ineffective method for better understanding the universe. It. Does. Not. Work.

        • Kodie

          A million ^

        • Clement Agonistes

          We are talking about a mindset to explain reality. You point to the physical world and complain that prayer doesn’t change physical reality. We can apply the scientific method to prayer, and we just don’t get predictable results.

          The Christian view of reality is that the physical world is a subset of reality, not the sum total. The purpose of prayer to bring one in contact with God. I think it is a straw man argument to say that prayer has a different purpose. The Christian view of eternal life is not one of being repeatedly healed over and over. No Christian expects to live forever in this world. Even calling a healing a “miracle” acknowledges how unlikely the healing is.

        • Ignorant Amos

          We can apply the scientific method to prayer, and we just don’t get predictable results.

          Hmmmm!

          What method do you use when claiming the veracity of prayer…for whatever reason you use it?

        • Max Doubt

          “We are talking about a mindset to explain reality.”

          If we’re talking about science it’d be more accurate to call it a method or tool or process we use to help us explain everything that can be objectively observed.

          “You point to the physical world and complain that prayer doesn’t change physical reality.”

          I don’t complain that prayer doesn’t change reality any more than I complain that there’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

          “We can apply the scientific method to prayer, and we just don’t get predictable results.”

          On the contrary, we get fairly predictable results. Prayer doesn’t have any effect outside the heads of those who are praying, with a single notable exception. In some instances, when the prayer is for improved recovery from illness, and the subject of the prayer is aware of it, they are slower to recover than those who received no prayer at all.

          “The Christian view of reality is that the physical world is a subset of reality, not the sum total.”

          Yes, I know. It’s a tiny-minded nonsensical view of reality. Everything we can objectively observe is reality. There’s nothing outside that, not that you know of, not known to science, not known to popes or imams or rabbis or teachers or parents or anyone. Anything we can’t objectively observe fits exactly the criteria we use to describe something as non-existent.

          To suggest there’s something to observe outside the bounds of that which can be observed is ridiculous. If it can’t be observed it can’t be observed. Duh. It’s a truism.

          “The purpose of prayer to bring one in contact with God. I think it is a straw man argument to say that prayer has a different purpose.”

          As far as we know, objectively, your god does not exist outside your imagination. When you talk about contact with a god you sound like Elwood P. Dowd talking about Harvey.

          “The Christian view of eternal life is not one of being repeatedly healed over and over. No Christian expects to live forever in this world.”

          Yea I say unto you verily… preach it brother Clement! Or don’t. You don’t seem to have anything to say about your “alternative reality” that we haven’t heard a thousands times in this forum.

          “Even calling a healing a “miracle” acknowledges how unlikely the healing is.”

          Uh, so fuckin’ what. Doctors and scientists don’t generally call healings miracles. They would rarely use the term other than to mean infrequent or uncommon or unexpected. There’s some humorous irony there, however, because infrequent uncommon unexpected shit happens all the time!

          Oh, and your dishonest equivocation is noted.

        • adam

          “We are talking about a mindset to explain reality. ”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/831e274b356c03b8778b1d9672b8ab244560e2fda7a4cd57b0436d5bda02694f.jpg

          Which religion does NOT do.

        • adam

          “The Christian view of reality is that the physical world is a subset of reality, not the sum total.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e8d06962d4285a26a26dd0f6b5ce20ea4207eef26617bb6f4c0cb3e5f25e3394.jpg

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          The scientific method didn’t become common until then, as it would get people into trouble with the governmental/religious authorities.

          When religion weakened, science flourished. When religion has become strong (the Dark Ages in Europe, Fundamentalist islam taking over the Middle East), science hides for its own safety and it’s progress is severely retarded.

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

          Yes, that was some early science. And the state of Christianity back then?

          Early science was embarrassing, wasn’t it? So was Christianity.

          Unfortunately for Clement, science has moved on. No so Christianity.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Having justifiable confidence in science and the products of the scientific method is FAR from *worship*!

          The fact that YOUR KIND *see* it that way is part of the problem.

        • epeeist

          The fact that YOUR KIND *see* it that way is part of the problem.

          Indeed, one grows weary of people who only see things through belief coloured goggles.

        • adam

          “My real point (as opposed to the one you argued) was that the state of
          science in medieval times was leeches and bleeding to remove ill-humors”

          And the religious approach was ‘evil spirits’ who could be vanished by MAGIC.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ef407d23e2be8fcdc9acf3948763219ef19d1e53c08d25a1c440a62047a02d28.jpg

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

          Modern science vs. medieval science–see the difference?

          You’d have a less feeble case (though I’d still reject it) if you pointed out how even modern science changes its mind (the model of the atom or plate tectonics, for example).

        • Clement Agonistes

          So, let’s go back to medieval times, when Plate Tectonic theory was unheard of. That would be what, 1960? Or, perhaps the bloodletting of George Washington?

          The point was how we sound to you when discussing (in response to a question, usually) prayer, and how you guys sound to us when discussing reality. We are as frustrated with you guys as you are with us.

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

          Be as frustrated as you want. But don’t tell me it’s for the same reasons.

          Your point about plate tectonics completely went over my head. Is your point that science is wrong sometimes? Yes, that’s true. Tell me where we go with that. Extra credit if you work in how religion is a superior way of finding out the truth about nature.

        • Clement Agonistes

          You cited plate tectonics as “modern science”, as opposed to that old “medieval” stuff.

          My thesis is that theism is a superior (it includes the non-physical) explanation of reality, and that science is a subset of theism (science is a tool to understand God’s physical creation).

        • Michael Neville

          My thesis is that theism is a superior (it includes the non-physical) explanation of reality

          Could you give some examples of non-physical reality? Do you mean emotions like love or intangibles like wisdom or something else? After you’ve defined non-physical reality, could you show how theism explains it?

          science is a subset of theism (science is a tool to understand God’s physical creation).

          Science is godless. No gods of any flavors are needed for science to work nor does science attempt to explain gods. Since gods are imaginary, fictitious, non-existent beings there’s no way they are or were involved in physical creation. If you claim they are then you need to show that either (1) unreal gods affect reality or (b) gods are substantial critters.

        • adam

          “My thesis is that theism is a superior (it includes the non-physical) explanation of reality”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7d25f4c9006df8ef1a311b0eea0580844f129c209627aa4c1313dd108978baf5.jpg

        • Greg G.

          The idea that the continents were once connected goes back to 1925 or so. The main reason it was rejected was because there was no method for how the continents could move. As soon as the movement of continents could be explained, it was accepted.

          My thesis is that theism is a superior (it includes the non-physical) explanation of reality, and that science is a subset of theism (science is a tool to understand God’s physical creation).

          Funny that this subset of theism explains God’s physical creation with no reference to God or even a need for that hypothesis. Science really took off when scientists stopped trying to explain things in terms of God.

        • MR

          I guess all you have to do is put your stamp on it and call it your own and that settles it.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The Plate Tectonics theory didn’t exist until the ’60s.

          A house makes reference to the builder, but we all know it was a human who built it. You are creating a red herring argument. Science merely explains how things work.

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

          Science merely explains how things work.

          Which is a heckuva lot more than religion has ever done.

        • Greg G.

          The Plate Tectonics theory didn’t exist until the ’60s.

          That’s why I didn’t say that Plate Tectonics theory went back to the about 1925. Wegener (not sure about the spelling) had a theory that the continents were once connected with lots of evidence but no mechanism for their movement. When they found evidence of the oceanic ridges, it became Plate Tectonics theory.

          Science merely explains how things work.

          And religion pretends godidit.

        • Clement Agonistes

          My point about PTT was that it did not replace a “medieval” idea. As evidence, I pointed out that it wasn’t spelled out as a theory until the mid 60s. You argued that evidence of it had been known since the 20s. Either way, its predecessor not medieval. I love trivia, but if this is all its about, let’s label it as such.

        • Greg G.

          What was the medieval theory? Didn’t they think the continents were “set” from their reading of the Bible?

          Psalm 104:5 (NRSV)5 You set the earth on its foundations,    so that it shall never be shaken.

        • adam

          “I love trivia, but if this is all its about, let’s label it as such.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6fdb39aadd75100b6a42a22589cc237e66125efb7c16def734b5dcc49a03caaa.jpg

          Trivia

        • epeeist

          My thesis is that theism is a superior (it includes the non-physical) explanation of reality

          First you have to show that the “non-physical” exists, after that we can decide what it does in terms of providing better explanations or stronger empirical fit.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I have to show ….. physical evidence of the non-physical? Who makes these rules?

        • Greg G.

          If you can show the non-physical exists without physical evidence, go for it. All you have to do is show an actual distinction between it and the imaginary.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Just to make sure we’re on the same page here, when you say “non-physical”, you mean it can’t be felt, seen, weighed, has no dimensions; cannot be measured by physical means, right?

          So, I’m thinking things like: emotions, beauty, truth, virtue, wisdom, good, evil, conscience, self, justice, free will, mercy, infinity, objectivity, subjectivity, quality, reason, logic, suffering, humanity, and freedom.I would hope we can all agree that these things exist, yet do not have physical qualities.

        • Joe

          They are all concepts in the physical world. All involve a physical brain. Are you saying god is a concept, or physically real?

          Even if you were correct, how do we differentiate between say, a unicorn and a god?

        • Clement Agonistes

          Concepts do not exist in the physical sense. They are abstractions. They may not even be real things.

        • Joe

          Concepts do not exist in the physical sense. They are abstractions.

          Agreed

          They may not even be real things.

          Even a hard naturalist like myself wouldn’t say a concept isn’t a ‘real thing’.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t know that “infinity” actually exists. I don’t know that “beauty” is an intrinsic thing. Carrion might be beautiful to a hyena. So many of those are just “eye of the beholder” things.

          Religions contradict one another so some of them must be imaginary, yet all claim to explain those types of qualities. How would those qualities distinguish one real religion from all of the imaginary ones and from imagination itself?

        • Clement Agonistes

          For the sake of discussion, let’s strike “infinity” and “beauty” (hyenas? Really?) from the list. Do we agree that there are things which exist which do not have physical properties; things which are “non-physical”?

          Can we then agree that those things are a part of reality?

        • busterggi

          What have you got against hyenas?

          Don’t you believe that all living creatures glorify god by their existance?

        • Greg G.

          What have you got against hyenas?

          It’s personal. I always feel like they are talking about me and laughing behind my back.

        • Greg G.

          Virtue, good, evil, justice, and mercy are not intrinsic properties but are just emotional values compared to expectations. Is suffering not an emotion?

          Is logic not just reason with a strong restriction against fallacies.

          We can put labels on physical things and labels on feelings and ideas that are not physical things. This ability has been observed in chimpanzees and gorillas who were taught sign language. But if you can show that some idea could only come from a divine source, you might be able to prove something. I wouldn’t rule it out a priori.

        • Kodie

          You have demonstrated a long time ago that you are totally ignorant about animals. Why would you discount a hyena’s opinion? Humans are just animals with language. Thank you for almost recognizing this but totally avoiding it somehow.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I discount hyena’s opinions because:
          1. We are talking about human opinions, and

          2. I respect hyenas’ privacy. They do not discuss their privately held opinions with me either verbally or on internet blogs.

        • Kodie

          It’s clear to me that you think animals are just robotically programmed to behave as each species behaves, but that humans are different. This is what I know – the more I learn about animals, the stupider religious beliefs are to me.

        • Michael Neville

          There is reason to believe that dolphins and other cetaceans are sentient. Dolphins and some whales appear to have complex languages and carry on conversations. Intelligence may be defined as a measure of the brain’s ability to process information in ways that solve problems and enhance one’s survival. Measuring intelligence may be quite different for animals that have evolved in water versus those living on land, as the challenges required to survive in water are quite different than those required on land. Dolphins have a large brain compared to their body size and the brain cortex is even more folded than that of humans. Large brain animals like humans, chimpanzees, and dolphins have a number of things in common. They generally live long lives. They form stable communities. They live in fluid social groups. They demonstrate total parental dependence during childhood.

        • Clement Agonistes

          It’s night and day. No comparison.

        • Kodie

          Nobody has to take you seriously. You are obviously proud of knowing nothing.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I am rubber, you are glue …

          If you have nothing to add, you can always pass.

        • Kodie

          Your whole attitude is “I prefer to know nothing about animals”. You had nothing to add, all you said was “It’s night and day. No comparison.” What the hell do you expect as a response to that? If you want to be proud of your ignorance, all you have to do is keep going, but nobody has to take your shit seriously, you know-nothing.

        • Meepestos

          Have you heard about a gene recently discovered only active in humans that divides many times that forms neurons when embryos develop. When this DNA was smuggled into mice embryos, their neural development skyrocketed indicating a growth driver causing an increased area in the cerebral cortex by creating folds. It is these folds – sulci – that gives all primates their exceptional intelligence.

        • Michael Neville

          That’s interesting. Thank you for telling me. I’d like to look into it but there’s so much other stuff I’d like to look into that I probably won’t get around to it.

        • Greg G.

          2. I respect hyenas’ privacy. They do not discuss their privately held opinions with me either verbally or on internet blogs.

          That is the sort of thing we would expect a hyena to say on the internet to make people and other animals think he was not a hyena.

        • Clement Agonistes

          LOL. Well done, sir.

        • Kodie

          Every one of those things is a human noun to describe some physical event, or relationship between physical objects, or judgments. Those things exist because we do them or need to name them. What is god? You need to name, aka anthropomorphize the creation of the universe and the things and relationships that humans value, along with giving this “being” other qualities and powers, and you have to show evidence for that. All you do so far is make excuses for it.

        • adam

          “I would hope we can all agree that these things exist, yet do not have physical qualities.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b5b25761e502c632aaed6d0c167af42157463e47206725f5887b24fe7150d8c1.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          ….go for it.

          He can’t. Hence the smoke & mirrors, obfuscation, and “look, over there, squirrels” nonsense about rules.

        • adam

          “I have to show ….. physical evidence of the non-physical?”

          No, fiction doesnt do that.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/03420e650d003effe5c0b043ec390f90a8e3d28bfb4aea9940a78df39ca15f71.jpg

        • EMiles

          “Who makes these rules?”

          They are unproven philosophical materialist theories. Not rules. Outside the anti-theistic blogosphere nobody has to follow their dogmas.

        • Joe

          I have to show ….. physical evidence of the non-physical?

          Any evidence would be nice. nobody said it had to be physical.

        • epeeist

          I have to show ….. physical evidence of the non-physical?

          Where did I say that? All I asked for was you to demonstrate that the non-physical exists. It shouldn’t be too hard should it?

        • adam

          “First you have to show that the “non-physical” exists, ”

          If only…..

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

          Uh, yeah. Plate tectonics is modern. And modern science makes mistakes. And the key point remains: modern science delivers. Religion doesn’t.

          My thesis is that theism is a superior (it includes the non-physical) explanation of reality

          Fascinating. Tell me more. Don’t forget to include evidence for the claims.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “And the key point remains: modern science delivers. Religion doesn’t.”

          In what respect does religion not deliver? IOW, what is it that religions is *supposed* to deliver that it doesn’t?

          I think I see the nit you are picking now. “Nature” is best explained by natural means. The supernatural would not be “nature”. You ought to be a politician.

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

          In what respect does religion not deliver? IOW, what is it that religions is *supposed* to deliver that it doesn’t?

          Religion should tell us truths about reality.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Awesome! Religion does that! Hey, thanks for the specifics on that, Bob.

        • Greg G.

          “Should” does not necessarily imply “does”. In that context, though, it implies “does not”.

          Don’t you want to be better than that?

        • Clement Agonistes

          It implies an objective ideal that leads to an objective truth. We expect that religion would be a tool in guiding us to the truth about reality. It helps us to understand what we inherently know.

        • Greg G.

          Religion might explain things but when the explanation doesn’t extend to animals when animals are shown to “know” this, too, it is reason to think the religious explanation is simply a contrivance from an assumption.

        • Clement Agonistes

          It is tough to know what animals think. In scientific circles, it is considered bad form to personify animals, imposing our thoughts on them. I think you are making another unsupported claim here.

        • Greg G.

          Chimpanzees and gorillas have been taught to speak using sign language. They express emotions and create combinations of words to express ideas they were not taught. If an animal can communicate its thoughts to you and has demonstrated that it considers itself to be a human and not a gorilla, then that restriction should not be applied.

          Have you not seen the monkeys that were taught to retrieve an object and receive a reward? When the monkey see another monkey getting a grape for a reward when it only gets a piece of cucumber, the monkey will reject the cucumber and throw it back at the experimenter. It has been reported that the preferences for fruits and vegetables are aligned with the cost of each at the supermarket.

          Monkeys have also been taught that they can redeem a coin or a button for a treat later. One monkey took the coin to a female and traded it for sex.

          Dogs will do a trick for no reward until they see another dog get a reward for doing the same thing. Dogs don’t much care about the value of reward.

        • busterggi

          Cats express their emotions when they damn well feel like it and if you don’t like it too bad.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Soooooo, that kind of conditioning proves that we know what animals think, and they are just like humans in their ability to grasp higher concepts? Like, if you poked a clam with a needle, that means it cries when it reads Romeo & Juliet?

        • Michael Neville

          Proof only exists for logic, mathematics and alcohol. The scientific method, which you appear to despise, deals with evidence. Greg G. gave you evidence. It’s up to you to show that evidence is either misinterpreted or false.

        • Greg G.

          What conditioning? Many businesses prefer their employees do not discuss their salaries with other employees because it upsets them when one is making more than the other. Monkeys and dogs are the same way. That is not conditioning. It is an obvious sense of fairness that evolved.

          To think otherwise is just a religious prejudice that animals are completely different than humans. It is solipsism on a species level. We can’t know what thoughts go on in another animal’s brain anymore than we can in another person’s brain. We can infer that somewhat similar thoughts go on when we see similar reactions to similar situations.

          Remember that chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than they are to gorillas and that gorillas are more closely related to humans than they are to orangutans and that gorillas are related exactly as closely to chimpanzees as they are to humans.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “What conditioning?”

          Here’s what I had in mind:
          “Have you not seen the monkeys that were taught to retrieve an object and receive a reward?”

          Rewarding a particular behavior is merely training. When you assert as fact that animals “know” about topics covered by higher intelligence, that is a totally different topic. Your support . . . . isn’t.

        • Greg G.

          Your information is many years out of date. Gorillas and chimpanzees create new phrases to express things they were not taught or conditioned.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The kind reward-for-behavior you described does not require the intelligence of a chimp. What would you estimate the IQ of a chimp to be? High enough to carry on a conversation about the nature of reality?

          Why are we off on this tangent?

        • adam
        • Kodie

          You take this to an extreme by being totally ignorant of animals and in denial that humans are also animals. Looks like animals don’t need religion.

        • busterggi

          “We expect that religion would be a tool in guiding us to the truth about reality.”

          So do all religions guide us to truth or just yours?

          Bet I already know the answer.

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

          I could do with some specifics myself. how does religion tell us truths about reality? Religion can’t even figure out how many gods there are.

          Give me examples.

        • Kodie

          What does religion deliver that god does not? I mean, it’s imaginary and it keeps people enslaved to fiction. Maybe it feels good, but so do drugs.

        • adam
        • MR

          Be as frustrated as you want.

          I don’t believe they’re frustrated about that. I think that when science advances, they then take advantage of those advances. They don’t sit there and go, “Oh, I’m not going to take this pill that has a good chance of curing me because tomorrow science might learn something new that has an even better chance of curing me. Science is always changing, how stupid!” Religion doesn’t change. They’ll still pray to get well, but they’ll still take the pill, won’t they?

        • adam

          ” We are as frustrated with you guys as you are with us.”

          Then demonstrate that your “God” is anything but IMAGINARY.

          Verify that prayer works as advertised.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ac157bca7bfa94c0911b54c231ff2cd4638e1b60a6e31bafb85be83bc43eac5b.jpg

    • Ficino

      Do you avail yourself of the benefits of modern technology, which rests on the scientific method? You typed on a computer. Why do you even have one, when Jesus said to give all you have to the poor and to follow him?

    • Kodie

      You think so because you don’t actually pay attention to what atheists say to you.

    • http://twitch.tv/gmbigkev/ GMBigKev

      Except you’re talking about medieval doctors, and we’ve grown and learned since medieval times to better, modern medicine. Christianity has barely evolved, except in that it split into countless smaller denominations.

    • Otto

      Science doesn’t explain everything, religion does. Religion just doesn’t produce any reliable results.

      • Clement Agonistes

        The reason medieval science said to use leeches was for the reliable results.

        Atheists blind faith in science sounds like medieval doctors to Christians. If science can’t explain something, it’s just a matter of time – the Science Of The Gaps.

        “”You know, medicine is not an exact science, but we are learning all the time. Why, just fifty years ago, they thought a disease like your daughter’s was caused by demonic possession or witchcraft. But nowadays we know that Isabelle is suffering from an imbalance of bodily humors, perhaps caused by a toad or a small dwarf living in her stomach.”
        -Theodoric of York.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You must know you are shooting yourself in the foot here?

        • adam
        • Otto

          Science belief/knowledge converges, i.e a consensus is formed based on repeatable, observed results and a greater understanding of our shared reality. Religious belief/’knowledge’ diverges, as is shown by 40,000 Christian denominations with always more and more disagreement of the shared beliefs.

          When a religion (any religion anywhere) can demonstrate any piece of understanding regarding our shared reality that is reliable using its religious ‘knowledge’ you be sure to let us all know…. it will be big news because it will be a first.

        • Clement Agonistes

          You are reading far too much into “divergence”.

        • Otto

          lol…I don’t think you are reading enough into it…

          Maybe you would like to explain how that is not divergence rather than just asserting I am somehow mistaken.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Your point was that 44,000 sects that by and large agree enough to be called “Christian” is enough of a divergence to disprove Christianity. It is a divergence in details about an infinite topic, but agreement in principle.

        • Otto

          I didn’t say it ‘disproves’ Christianity.

          My point was that the belief(s) do not converge, they are diverging. That is due to the lack of demonstrable evidence for the belief(s). It is not proof that Christianity is false, it IS proof that Christianity does not have a reliable way to ascertain the truth of its world view.

          As a side note there really isn’t one thing that all Christians believe as a group so your ‘agreement in principle’ only exists in the most widely defined way possible.

        • Clement Agonistes

          How narrowly would it have to be defined? The definition of Christian – what makes them “Christian” – is that commonality.

          Half of all Christians are Catholics. You hit the 90% mark by about the 5th sect. That means 43,995 of those sects divide up a small percentage. Your factoid doesn’t even give an accurate picture of reality.

        • adam

          “Half of all Christians are Catholics.”

          And THAT is the VERY BEST that faith demonstrates.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b23b2e7cd1bc09dec5b20c13ff961e710e7387e252ee87d90048e9613ef5f461.jpg

        • Greg G.

          But most of the killing one another is between the first division, Catholics vs Protestants.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Once again, I keep hearing “medieval” in you guys’ posts.

        • Otto

          That is true, today they don’t kill each other, they just deny that the other is Christian in many instances.

        • adam

          “Once again, I keep hearing “medieval” in you guys’ posts.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5d9a6e5bb90cd0dbb6a9003371b57028504532691cbce5037c4865618420dd68.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Troubles here in Northern Ireland was very much 20th century and the sectarianism is very much alive today.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sectarian_violence#Northern_Ireland

        • Michael Neville

          As I’m sure Clement will be happy to explain to you, Norn Iron is a figment of the imagination. It no more exists than Middle Earth or the Isles of the Blessed exist. So any “Troubles” were fictional as well.

          Map of Ireland

          http://schools.look4.net.nz/geography/country_information/outline_maps/files_OM/ireland.jpg

          Seriously, in the US while the conflicts and controversies between evangelical fundamentalist Christians and their more liberal counterparts haven’t become bloody yet, they’re just as real as the “disputes” between the Catholics and Protestants in Ulster.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Clement Agonistes

          So, the exception disproves the rule, huh? I thought the troubles were pretty much on hold (and related to political actions taken by King William (?))

        • Ignorant Amos

          So, the exception disproves the rule, huh?

          What rule? That there has been no religiously motivated sectarian violence in Christianity since the medieval period?

          I thought the troubles were pretty much on hold …

          Yeah, not everyone is on board with that. Sectarian violence between Protestants and Catholics here is an everyday occurrence.

          (and related to political actions taken by King William (?))

          Nope. Christian based sponsored violence kicked off way before King Billy came on the scene. Go back to the pope’s sanctioning of the Norman invasion.

          But the Protestant v Catholic angle started as soon as there was Christians that became Protestants.

          Religion As A Cause Of War In Ireland

          Almost as soon as England became Protestant there was a rebellion. In 1534 Silken Thomas hoped to gain the support of Catholics in his rebellion, but was unsuccessful. In 1579, the Pope and the Spanish sent troops to help the Catholics in the Second Desmond Rebellion. The O’Neill’s also received aid from Catholic Spain during the Nine Years War (1594-1603).

          During the 1641 rebellion, thousands of Protestants were massacred by Catholics because of their religion. While it is true that the dispossession of Catholics was also a factor, they were dispossessed because they were Catholics and given to people on condition they were Protestants. In response Oliver Cromwell massacred thousands of Catholics.

          Religion has hugely affected Irish history. It has caused war, violence and the deaths of thousands. It has been a source of hatred and the prime divider of Irish society. We would have been far better off without it.

          https://whistlinginthewind.org/2012/05/23/religion-as-a-cause-of-war-in-ireland/

        • Clement Agonistes

          I stand corrected. It was James who shipped the trouble-making Protestant Scots to live in N. Ireland among the trouble-making Irish Catholics to let them fight among themselves.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope.

          James I was the main driving force behind the Plantation of Ulster.

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

          But Protestants were battling Catholics well before that. The Nine Years War of Elizabeth I.

          The Nine Years’ War was caused by the clashes between the Gaelic Irish lord Hugh O’Neill and the advance of the English state in Ireland, from control over the Pale to ruling the whole island. In resisting this advance, O’Neill managed to rally other Irish septs who were dissatisfied with English government and some Catholics who opposed the spread of Protestantism in Ireland.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nine_Years%27_War_(Ireland)

          Henry VIII started the plantations in Ireland during his conquest of the island. Followed by Mary, then Elizabeth…then James.

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

        • Pofarmer

          The Christeros rebellion was at the start of the 20th century, fer Pete’s sake.

        • Greg G.

          How old are you? You don’t remember the end of the 20th century?

        • Clement Agonistes

          I’m so old that I remember when the Great Lakes were just “OK”.

          If it helps, there are probably places in Africa where Christians are still killing people in the name of religion.

          If you’re hung up on N. Ireland, we’re talking about something like, what, 100 people/yr? Chicago is worse.

        • Michael Neville

          Ignorant Amos brought up Northern Ireland because that’s where he lives. He has first hand knowledge of The Troubles.

          Chicago has gangs fighting over turf. Northern Ireland had Catholics murdering Protestants and vice-versa. A different situation with religious groups literally battling each other because of the sectarian differences you pretend don’t exist.

        • Clement Agonistes

          There is always a strong mix of worldly concerns mixed in with the religious. Even when atheist governments (the Control Group of the experiment) have had power, the violence did not go away.

          That said, if the hypothesis is that Christians are continuing to diverge, that case is much harder to make based on the evidence. The mere existence of many sects with similar beliefs (and identical core beliefs) is not proof. The diminishment of violence between sects both suggests convergence (accepting the premise that the hypocrisy of violence shows divergence) and explains the growth in the number of sects.

          IMO, the direction you guys should be going in order to make your case is to take something like the Apostles Creed, and show a growing percentage of Christians over the millennia who say they cannot accept that as their view.

        • Michael Neville

          The only “core belief” that all Christians accept is that salvation is through God. There are Christian sects who differ on how that salvation is granted, there are Christian sects who deny the Trinity, there are even Christian sects who deny the divinity of Jesus. So don’t clutch your “core beliefs” too firmly to your bosom.

          Obviously you’ve never heard of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). While like most wars the causes were complex, one of the major causes was Protestants versus Catholics. There was a concept called cuius regio, eius religio which literally translates as “whose realm, his religion” meaning that the religion of the ruler was to dictate the religion of those ruled. Rulers like the Catholic Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperors and the Protestant Electors Palatine tried to expand their territories ostensibly to bring more people to “the True Religion™” but in reality just to extend their rule. However religion did play a major part in causing and perpetuating a war which killed approximately one-third of the population of Central Europe.

        • Ignorant Amos

          How many Christians even know the “Apostles Creed” ffs?

          I’m ex Church of Ireland and I had never heard it before becoming an atheist.

          Many don’t even know what the first book of the NT is called, never mind the Apostles Creed. I only know one Christian that has read the bible and that was in order to gain a credential. Of all the “Christians” around me, I only know of one that attends church, my aunt. Though I witness plenty of them drinking in the pubs and clubs where I live getting bevied up on a Sunday afternoon.

          A poll by Ipsos MORI commissioned by RDFRS revealed just how much Christians engage in their Christianity…

          But in any case, do the 59 per cent who ticked the Christian box really believe in Christianity? Of course they are free to fasten any label they like to whatever it is they believe. But though they may call it Christianity, are bishops, priests and Christian lobbyists entitled to draw support from the 59 per cent? That depends on what the 59 per cent really do believe. To discover exactly that, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (UK) commissioned an Ipsos MORI poll in the very week after the census. We asked only those who ticked the Christian box a series of supplementary questions. The results should be devastating to anybody who wants to claim that this is still a Christian country, which should be run in accordance with Christian values.

          Only 32 per cent of the census “Christians” believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Only 35 per cent could pick out the correct answer to “What is the first book of the New Testament?” when given a 4-way choice of Matthew, Genesis, Acts, Psalms. When asked why they had ticked the Christian box, only 28 per cent of those who did so said it was because they believe the teachings of Christianity. The most popular answer to that question was, “I like to think of myself as a good person.” What? You ticked the Christian box because you like to think of yourself as a good person? Are you serious? Do you think atheists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists don’t think of themselves as good people?

          Yet, when these “Census Christians” were asked where they turned when faced with a moral dilemma, only ten per cent said they turned to their religion. The majority turned to relatives or to their own inner moral sense, which of course is what good atheists do. So much for the cliché that you need God to be good. And those who think that our laws and governance should follow Christian values should be disconcerted by the following. Seventy four per cent of the Census Christians are secular in that they think religion should have no special influence on public policy.

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9738031/Richard-Dawkins-Census-shows-that-Christianity-in-Britain-is-on-the-way-out.html

        • Ignorant Amos

          If you’re hung up on N. Ireland, we’re talking about something like, what, 100 people/yr?

          Fallacious argument…your point?

          Chicago is worse.

          Christians murdering Christians in Chicago because of their diverse Christianity? Didn’t know that.

          So you admit you are as a matter of fact, in error?

          You could’ve just said so. It would be easier all around. But I suppose you would’ve dipped out on a wee bit of free education, so not a complete waste.

        • Otto

          None of that refutes my point that religious belief diverges and does not converge.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I’m not sure I buy into either claim. How does one measure convergence? Would one expect convergence? What has been the pattern with other (true) Gods of the past?

        • Otto

          >>>”How does one measure convergence?”

          I cannot overstate how appropriate this question is for the point of the blog post

          >>>”Would one expect convergence?”

          If the religious claims actually comported with reality….yes we would.

        • Clement Agonistes

          That’s kind of the problem, isn’t it? i mean, how can we recognize a pattern when there is not template to follow? If the sects of Christianity were converging, it may look exactly like what we are witnessing.

          The subject, God, is infinite. There is no “converging” on something infinite. The more one learns about it, the more one realizes that there is still more to be learned (kinda like science, huh?).

          So, my point is that you are pretty much just making claims with no basis.

        • Joe

          If the sects of Christianity were converging, it may look exactly like what we are witnessing.

          A divergence?

          A few sects —> 45,000+ can’t be called a convergence.

          The subject, God, is infinite. There is no “converging” on something infinite.

          What does that even mean? How can a monotheistic god be infinite gods?

        • Clement Agonistes

          God would not be infinite in number, but in qualities to be known; infinite data points comprising God.

          If we don’t know what divergence would look like, we can’t know if we are seeing it. Defining it as the number of sects doesn’t make sense. Each sect could merely be grasping different data points of an infinite set. As a whole they would be converging on a better understanding of God,

        • Joe

          God would not be infinite in number, but in qualities to be known; infinite data points comprising God.

          So God won’t even know all his qualities?

          If we don’t know what divergence would look like, we can’t know if we are seeing

          This. This, is a great example of the frustrations involved in dealing with Christians. Their propensity to take whatever information is thrown their way and use it as evidence for God.

          “Evil?That’s evidence for good, which is evidence for God!”

          “45,000 sects and growing? That’s evidence for convergence!”

          The frustration comes because we have a perfectly good definition for divergence, and we do in fact know what it looks like. It’s frustrating when things like this aren’t acknowledged.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “So God won’t even know all his qualities?”

          I apologize if I gave you the impression that was what I was saying. God would be infinite in His knowledge, so, no, that wouldn’t be the case.

          So, to summarize, One God, with an infinite number of qualities … perceived by finite humans picking up on different aspects of that infinite number.

          The theist frustration is with atheists also drawing contradictory conclusions from the same set of data points. “Christianity is unchanged over 2000 years.” “Christianity is totally different than it was 2000 years ago.” The Bible is very clear where it says ‘X’.” “The Bible is very vague where it says ‘X’.” Large number prove everything.” “Large numbers prove nothing.”

          The definition of divergence is not the problem. The application of that definition is that problem.

        • Joe

          The theist frustration is with atheists also drawing contradictory conclusions from the same set of data points.”

          Those are straw man frustrations. Straw frustrations, if you will. Again the pig-headed stubbornness of theists to never ever try to understand the correct arguments. Let me try to unpack your statement:

          Christianity is totally different has many more different sects than it had 2000 years ago

          vs.

          The bulk of Christian theology is unchanged over 2000 years

          Can you see how your post of “Christianity is unchanged over 2000 years.” “Christianity is totally different than it was 2000 years ago.” is different?

          That’s more frustration heaped on the pile.

        • Clement Agonistes

          So, you’re OK with the other contradictions?

          Are we also clear on the qualities of God vs the quantities of God(s)? If so, are we also clear on the qualities of Christianity vs the quantities?

        • Joe

          So, you’re OK with the other contradictions?

          Absolutely not.

          Are we also clear on the qualities of God vs the quantities of God(s)? If so, are we also clear on the qualities of Christianity vs the quantities?

          Are we? I certainly am not clear on what you just said, and how it acknowledges the discrepancy I pointed out.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I had stated earlier that God was infinite (in qualities to be understood), and therefore it should be expected that people would have a tough time grasping the entirety of God. You misunderstood me to be saying God was infinite in number – an infinite number of Gods. I clarified (I hope) that i meant God had qualities which were infinite. So, I am trying to pick up where we left off before going off on the tangent.

          The second distinction I making is the qualities (of thought) which define Christianity, as opposed to the quantity of of sects (there are only 9 denominations of Christianity). If the sects all agree on the core of Christianity, then their differences are trivial and the logic of pointing to the number of sects is fallacious.

        • Joe

          I had stated earlier that God was infinite (in qualities to be understood), and therefore it should be expected that people would have a tough time grasping the entirety of God

          That seems irrelevant here as we’re talking specifically about Christians.

          I clarified (I hope) that i meant God had qualities which were infinite. So, I am trying to pick up where we left off before going off on the tangent.

          You can’t have a set of qualities, that are infinite. You can’t have an infinite set of anything, since ‘infinity’ can’t be contained in a set.

          If the sects all agree on the core of Christianity, then their differences are trivial and the logic of pointing to the number of sects is fallacious.

          That’s a mighty big ‘If’ though. Good luck with that.

        • Michael Neville

          Clement thinks all Christian sects agree on everything except for minor points like immersion vs sprinkling baptisms or wine vs grape juice communions. When things like actual wars between Christian sects and major theological debates like salvation through works versus through faith or the existence of the Trinity are mentioned then Clement has the perfect response. He either minimizes them or ignores them completely.

        • Joe

          Yet more frustrations of people who have to bend reality to fit their wolrdview.

          People here have tried their best, some respectfully, others not so much, to explain the very real and significant differences in theology, doctrine and practice. As long as Clement here believes the differences are no big deal then nothing will change his mind.

          It’s only the fate of you and your loved one’s immortal soul at risk, after all. No biggie.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Like favouring what Paul said over what Jesus is alleged to have said for example.

          i.e. The Law of Moses v a New Covenant, as being discussed elsewhere on this forum.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I had stated earlier that God was infinite (in qualities to be understood), and therefore it should be expected that people would have a tough time grasping the entirety of God…. I clarified (I hope) that i meant God had qualities which were infinite.

          Good luck trying to demonstrate the veracity of that nonsense.

          How could you know?

          You have the cheek to talk about others not commenting with reason and logic. Pah!

          The second distinction I making is the qualities (of thought) which define Christianity, as opposed to the quantity of of sects (there are only 9 denominations of Christianity). If the sects all agree on the core of Christianity, then their differences are trivial and the logic of pointing to the number of sects is fallacious.

          And you are still wrong.

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

          However, even nine denominations is enough to show the failure of the NT passage.

        • busterggi

          But all these denominations & sub-denominations do share one simple core belief – they all believe that they are better than every other denomination/sub-denomination/other religion/non-religious group.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That must be what Clement is punting at….damn it.

        • adam
        • busterggi

          That girl in the middle of the group is the only true Christian there and she’ll be starting her own sect in a few months.

        • Clement Agonistes

          So, let’s start with your last claim and work our way backward (proofread for errors that do not represent your view):

          P1: Any prayer by Jesus would be answered by God positively, and in a manner and time frame that human beings dictate.

          P2: Since All Christians agree on the core issues that define Christianity, but not the peripheral issues that do not define it, the prayer was not answered. Christians are not unified in the manner or time frame they should be if there truly was a God as Christians define God.

          CONCLUSION: Christianity is wrong about God.

          Now, the topic is “God as envisioned by Christianity”. In order to disprove the premises of Christianity,

          P1: We can look at the claims of Christianity about God and show how they are not true.

          P2: Christianity makes claims that God has qualities which are infinite in scope.

          P3: Those claims cannot be demonstrated in a way that could be known without doubt. We cannot know if they are true or not.

          CONCLUSION: Christianity is nonsense.

        • Michael Neville

          Since All Christians agree on the core issues that define Christianity

          No evidence has been presented to support this proposition. For that matter “core issues that define Christianity” are not given.

        • Greg G.

          Isn’t Christianity any religion having something to do with someone called “Christ”? But some denominations will define it in terms of their denominational beliefs.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I guess we have to play the Definition Game. Is someone a Christian merely because they identify themselves as such, or is there a defining set of ideas?

          I proposed earlier that we use an objective measure like the Apostles’ (or Nicene, if it pleases the crowd) Creed . So, by definition, Christians would be Christians regardless of anyone’s opinion on the topic.

        • Greg G.

          Everybody who claims to be a Christian thinks he or she is a Christian. One Christian doesn’t get to decide who is really a Christian. You can’t prove another person or denomination is wrong and they can’t prove you are wrong. Since it is all based on faith, which is more wishful thinking than actual valid facts, you could all be wrong.

          Baptists think Catholics are not real Christians, fundamentalists think main stream Christians are “salad bar” Christians who pick and choose what they want to believe like grazing a salad bar. There are many viciously independent churches who insist that they follow the Bible and would reject creeds.

          So the most objective measure is one not decided by a particular type of Christian. It would have to include all Christians, which is a self-selected designation.

        • Clement Agonistes

          So, the most objective measure would be people’s own subjective opinion (“he or she thinks she is a Christian”)?

          If there is no remotely objective definition, then there is no place to go with this. That is why I call it the “Definition Game” – it is an effort to “win” by destroying coherency in a conversation.

          I picked the most objective measure I could find. The creeds were written for the expressed purpose of defining what it means to be a Christian.

          However, in this light, I now propose that atheists are not objective enough to define atheism, so I get to do it. Sound fair?

        • Kodie

          Can’t you see that Christianity is artificial? “What it means to be Christian” is up to the individual and the denomination and the sect, what they agree makes them a Christian and those who don’t follow their way “aren’t”, according TO CHRISTIANS. They are not objective definitions, they are arbitrary. They are meant to define what it means to be Christian to whoever follows those rules, and every denomination has their own definitive qualifications, if you fit into there, you’re their kind of Christian, if you don’t, they say you’re not Christian.

          I don’t say who is Christian or who is not Christian. Billions of Christians that you want to say fit under your umbrella are mostly not doing it according to your own definition. You can’t have it both ways.

        • Clement Agonistes

          You allow yourself to construct the argument for those you disagree with, and then call them names for coming up with such a stupid argument. Let me construct an argument on your behalf, and I’ll win every time.

          Of the 2.4 billion Christians, 2.3+ billion agree with the creeds I mentioned.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Of the 2.4 billion Christians, 2.3+ billion agree with the creeds I mentioned.

          Clement, that is the fallacious argument of appealing to numbers.

          The wee bit might be the true Christians and the rest are heretics.

          It is also a non sequitur. Even if Christianity is only fractured just a wee bit, you still lose. By your own admission, there isn’t a unified Christianity.

          And Christianity is fractured more than just a wee bit btw.

        • Clement Agonistes

          1. “Clement, that is the fallacious argument of appealing to numbers.”

          We’re talking about “What Christians believe. The overwhelming majority – bordering on universal – adhere to those creeds. Numbers are at the core of the issue.

          2. “It is also a non sequitur. Even if Christianity is only fractured just a wee bit, you still lose. By your own admission, there isn’t a unified Christianity.”

          These claims about the manner and timing of unity is you guys’ red herring, not mine. You, in particular, equate 100 people dying in N. Ireland (decades ago) with millions dying during the Religious Wars of 400 years ago. If Christians are more united than they were centuries ago, then that fact is very much relevant to the topic of unity.

        • Michael Neville

          You, in particular, equate 100 people dying in N. Ireland

          100 people? That must have been a slow year during The Troubles. About 3600 people died, including over 2000 civilians. Learn some history before you stick your foot further in your mouth.

          Christians have been killing each other for centuries for being the wrong flavor of Christian. Have you ever heard of Arnaud Amalric? He coined a famous phrase in 1209: Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius. This literally means “Kill them. For the Lord knows those who are his own.” A more informal translation is “Kill them all, let God sort them out.” Abbot Amalric was involved in a crusade in southern France against the Cathars, who were declared heretics by Pope Innocent III. After the Siege of Béziers, Abbot Amalric reported to the Pope: “Today, your Holiness, twenty thousand heretics were put to the sword, regardless of rank, age, or sex.”

          Want to tell us again how Christians are so unified?

        • Clement Agonistes

          So, over 30 years, 3600 people died. 3600/30 = 120 people/yr. I rounded down – shoot me.

          For perspective, over a comparable period of time, a low estimate of deaths due to the 30 Years War was 3 million.

          1209? Go for it! Let’s get medieval. That is my point. Are Christians more united now, or less than they were 500 years ago?

          Now, that presumes that unity is measured by an absence of hypocrisy and sin. Even if i accept that premise, you guys’ conclusion does not stand up. The premises have to be:

          P1: Jesus’ prayer must be answered affirmatively.
          P2: Unity of belief = absence of hypocrisy (violence).

          Neither premise is good.

          BTW, Chicago had over 770 murders last year.

        • Michael Neville

          Christians are less bloodthirsty now (the civil authorities have reined them in) but they’re less united than ever.

          Nobody in Chicago is killing other people because the victims are the wrong kind of Christian. So you can take your red herring and stick it where the Sun don’t shine.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The point about Chicago was perspective. 120 people/yr (you raised no objection to my math) is far less than 700.

          Civil authorities had the power to rein in the violence … because they controlled it from Day One.

        • Michael Neville

          But as I said and you’ve gone out of your way to ignore, the people in Chicago aren’t killing each other because of religious differences. The people in Northern Ireland were. So much for your fictitious, imaginary, non-existent, make-believe, does not and never has existed “Christian unity”

        • Clement Agonistes

          I’m not ignoring your point about Chicago. It is a good one, just not one that addresses my point. My point was perspective. If we are equating The Troubles (3.000 dead) with the Thirty Years War (3-11 million dead), that is a False Equivalency on a massive scale. The Troubles aren’t even equivalent with Chicago. If the absolute best we can do to point to modern disunity is 100 dead/yr … 2 decades ago … the “best’ isn’t very good.

          But, speaking of ignoring points, I note that you blew right past my description of the 2 (flawed) premises of your side’s argument here. Either my premises are wrong, and we’re making Cross Examined history by letting an epic mistake of a theist go un-touted …. or the premises are on the money, and you guys are scrambling to some sort of a fall-back diversion.

        • Michael Neville

          The Troubles were mentioned because Ignorant Amos, who lives in Belfast, has first hand knowledge about them. You’ve been told this before but since you want to poo-poo The Troubles you ignore that reason.

          Of course your premises are wrong. You’re a Christian, a believer in a religion with no evidence that its god exists. Christian theology was made up by the people who shouted loudest. Do you know why the 325 Council of Nicea condemned Arianism? Because Emperor Constantine, who had torturers and executioners on his payroll, ordered the Council to declare Arianism a heresy. If you’re wrong about something as basic as reality, then why should I think you’re right about anything else?

        • Clement Agonistes

          The Troubles were mentioned as proof that the kind of violence in the name of Christianity seen in the Middle Ages is ongoing, not a thing of the distant past. THAT is why I poo-poo it.

          So, my premises are wrong? Let’s look at the premises presented that support that premise:

          P1: I am a Christian. (Hey, it’s true. Irrelevant to your claim, but it *is* true.)
          P2: Christian theology was made up by people who shouted the loudest. That is such a bizarre assertion, especially in a forum where shouting is treated as sound logic. And, as support, there is the innuendo of Constantine threatening torture if he didn’t get his way. Innuendo is what one uses when facts contradict the desired conclusion. Boy, speaking of making things up with no evidence …

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Troubles were mentioned as proof that the kind of violence in the name of Christianity seen in the Middle Ages is ongoing, not a thing of the distant past. THAT is why I poo-poo it.

          Liar!

          The Troubles were mentioned as an example of Christian divergence to the point of killing each other over their differences…as recently as two decades ago. You poo-poo’d fuck all. You pulled a non sequitur and argumentum ad populum, about murder rates in Chicago, out of yer arse, for some inexplicable reason only you can comprehend. Unless the level of killing in Chicago is a result of Christian divergence, then it has fuck all to do with this conversation. What puzzles me is that you really are too stupid to see it.

          For the nth time. the doctrines and dogmas that separates Protestantism and Catholicism to the point of murdering each other…are the same today, as they were 20 years ago…or 400 years ago. The numbers being killed is academic to this discussion. Your wanting to make the numbers an issue is just an exercise in obfuscation.

          And, as support, there is the innuendo of Constantine threatening torture if he didn’t get his way. Innuendo is what one uses when facts contradict the desired conclusion. Boy, speaking of making things up with no evidence …

          Seriously? Constantine wasn’t the worst of them, but he still persecuted those diverging Christian groups branded heretical schismatics.

          After a preamble filled with passion and reproach, Constantine absolutely prohibits the assemblies of the heretics and confiscates their public property to the use either of the revenue or of the catholic church. The sects against whom the Imperial severity was directed appear to have been the adherents of Paul of Samosata; the Montanists of Phrygia, who maintained an enthusiastic succession of prophesy; the Novatians, who sternly rejected the temporal efficacy of repentance; the Marcionites and Valentinians, under whose leading banners the various Gnostics of Asia and Egypt had insensibly rallied; and perhaps the Manichæans who had recently imported from Persia a more artful composition of oriental and Christian theology.

          “The design of extirpating the name, or at least of restraining the progress, of these odious heretics was prosecuted with vigour and effect. Some of the penal regulations were copied from the edicts of Diocletian; and this method of conversion was applauded by the same bishops who had felt the hand of oppression and had pleaded for the rights of humanity”

          http://www.heretication.info/_heretics.html

        • Clement Agonistes

          “The Troubles were mentioned as proof that the kind of
          violence in the name of Christianity seen in the Middle Ages is ongoing,
          not a thing of the distant past. THAT is why I poo-poo it.”

          “Liar!The
          Troubles were mentioned as an example of Christian divergence to the
          point of killing each other over their differences…as recently as two decades ago.”

          For the life of me, I cannot slip a razor blade between what you just said and my characterization of your previous comment.

          Yet, my characterization earns a “Liar” with an exclamation point. If you would put as much effort into conversation as you put into name-calling, there might be something of substance to work with here. As it is, I’ve got nothing to work with here.

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

          The 30 Years War was indeed a crazy lot of killing–2% of the entire world’s population, according to Wikipedia. There were other motives, of course, but it was largely/initially a Protestant vs. Catholic war.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I find myself in agreement with every single statement you made in that paragraph. IYO, was my characterization of the premises of the atheist premises about Jesus’ prayer in the Gospel of John accurate?

          Whether theist or atheist, I think we all perceive a duality of human nature. On one hand, we are violent in a way other animals aren’t OTOH, we feel that tug on our conscience that we shouldn’t be that way. Theists attribute it to the supernatural; atheists to evolutionary natural selection (as if there is another kind).

        • Greg G.

          You are still missing the point of the prayer. See John 17:21. The amount of unity is not what will satisfy Clement Agonistes, it is must be impressive enough to the world that they know that Jesus was sent by the father. Since less than a third of the world, being as generous as possible for that estimate, even identifies with that type of belief, it is a failed prayer.

        • Clement Agonistes

          1. I have conceded … numerous times now … that the prayer has been a failure so far. Jesus’ request has not been answered affirmatively, yet.

          2. But, let’s not over-reach. It is a prayer that those who come to God through the words of the Apostles can be united … so that the world may believe that God has sent Jesus and know that God loved the Apostles just as God has loved Jesus.

          Satan would know that Jesus was from God. Satan would believe that Jesus is who He claims to be. Satan would not be a Christian.

          The assertion has been one of divergence; an ever-widening gap between Christians that gets worse with every passing year. The proof is what happened 500 years ago, not what is ongoing. The evidence over the last few centuries is stronger for convergence than a divergence.

          3. As I pointed out previously, John, (ostensibly) the author of Revelation, still has people not accepting God at the end of time. If there was an expectation that the entire world would be Christian, then that aspect of Revelation makes no sense. This evidence also points toward your possessing a flawed premise about the entire world being Christian.

        • Ignorant Amos

          1. I have conceded … numerous times now … that the prayer has been a failure so far. Jesus’ request has not been answered affirmatively, yet.

          That answer only opens up a raft of other questions which leave the gospel writers with egg on their faces via failure.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The assertion has been one of divergence; an ever-widening gap between Christians that gets worse with every passing year.

          Yip…an assertion with evidence. According to the research…by Christians…there will be 2 more different Christian groups tomorrow than there are today.

          The proof is what happened 500 years ago, not what is ongoing.

          Show this is the case? The Reformation wasn’t the first great schism. The faith has been schismatic since the authors of the stories wrote it down in the NT books.

          Christianity can be taxonomically divided into five main groups: the Church of the East, Oriental Orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and Protestantism. The latter is a broad umbrella term including many groups which do not share any ecclesiastical governance and have widely diverging beliefs and practices.

          The evidence over the last few centuries is stronger for convergence than a divergence.

          It really isn’t Clement.

          The Great Awakening and the Restoration Movement were a failed attempt to unify. Causing even more splits.

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

        • Ignorant Amos

          We’re talking about “What Christians believe.

          No, you are. We were talking about the divergence of Christianity. We were talking about all the differences between the Christianities that make them divergent.

          The overwhelming majority – bordering on universal – adhere to those creeds.

          An assertion without evidence can be ignored. And anyway, bordering on universal, still isn’t everyone. So the prayer has failed.

          Numbers are at the core of the issue.

          Not those numbers though. Your 2.3+ billion Christians agree with the creeds you mentioned is complete nonsense. A quarter of those that claim to be Christian here in Britain, don’t believe in a resurrected Jesus.

          In Holland, 42% of Protestants are non believers.

          As for Catholics….

          Catholic atheism is a belief in which the culture, traditions, rituals, and norms of Catholicism are accepted, but the existence of God is rejected. It is illustrated in Miguel de Unamuno’s novel San Manuel Bueno, Mártir (1930). According to research in 2007, only 27% of Catholics in the Netherlands considered themselves theist, while 55% were ietsist or agnostic deist, and 17% were agnostic or atheist. Many Dutch people still affiliate with the term “Catholic”, and use it within certain traditions as a basis of their cultural identity, rather than as a religious identity. The vast majority of the Catholic population in the Netherlands is now largely irreligious in practice.

          And it has already been explained to you that the RCC fudges its numbers by including all those that have been baptised, regardless if they subsequently lost their faith.

          I already told you, I grew up a Church of Ireland Protestant…though they claim Catholicism…I never heard any creeds…and of all the Christians I know, not one goes to Church, let alone can recite a creed.

          Christianity diversified from the get-go….give it up already.

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

          IIRC there was a poll in France 5 years ago or so. Of all the people who call themselves Catholic, half don’t believe in God.

          I see that as a good thing–Christianity becoming just a lifestyle thing.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I see that as a good thing–Christianity becoming just a lifestyle thing.

          I reckon so.

          Most folk here in the UK are only Christian when it comes to polls or census collections. They no next to nothing about the religion under whose banner they claim. At all other times they are no more Christian than I am, which is why Clements figures are balderdash.

          But it only takes one example of Christians without creeds to make Clements claim of Christian unity under creeds a load of nonsense. That there is a number of Christian flavours that reject creedal Christianity means yet again, Clement is talking bubbles.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creed#Christians_without_creeds

          A lot of goalpost shifting and redefining John has resulted….he is all over the place on this point.

        • Ignorant Amos

          These claims about the manner and timing of unity is you guys’ red herring, not mine.

          You clearly don’t know the meaning of the term “red herring”…no surprise there then.

          You, in particular, equate 100 people dying in N. Ireland (decades ago) with millions dying during the Religious Wars of 400 years ago.

          No I didn’t ya fucking liar.

          But you are still wrong anyway.

          If Christians are more united than they were centuries ago, then that fact is very much relevant to the topic of unity.

          When Christians kill other Christians because of conflicting doctrine, they are divergent. It doesn’t matter whether it was a couple of thousand over a forty year period at the end of the last century, or millions 400 years ago…the reason is the same…differences in doctrine and dogma.

          The differences are the same differences ya doughnut. That they aren’t murdering one another over them today, doesn’t mean the denominations are all of a sudden converging, let alone unified. The prayer is a failure.

        • Greg G.

          The Pentecostals and Baptists alone nearly quadruple what you are counting as non-creedal. The whole Sola Scriptura crowd includes many of the independent churches, which usually have “Bible” in the name. They like to point out Matthew 7:15-27 that says many who think they are Christians will be told by Jesus that he never knew them.

          Then there are the Easter and Christmas Christians who occasionally show up on those holidays and recall very little of what was said so they have no idea what their denomination believes nor any creeds. Most Christians “believe” the Bible but they have never read it and know very little of what it says. To them, it’s just an End User License Agreement where you scroll to the bottom and click “OK”.

          If you are going to count 2.3 billion Christians, you are including so many nominal Christians, you may as well count them all.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Christians love to play the “numbers game” when it suits one argument and then the “No True Scotsman game” when it suits another. Hypocritical feckers.

        • Clement Agonistes

          You are … again … making presumptions which are not logical.

          First, you need to support your claim that Baptists (and Pentecostals) reject the creeds of early Christianity.

          Keep in mind that what people think about the truth does not affect the truth. “Nominal” Christians would have a core of belief that is accurately summarized by the creeds. Church attendance or biblical literacy are not part of those creeds.

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          Choosing a creed eliminates Jesus, Paul, the twelve disciples, and many early church fathers.

          Let Jesus define it, then. He says you have to sell everything you own and give to the poor. Or that you believeth in him in another gospel. There are many mentions of “following” him. Paul says it requires faith but not in any teachings of Jesus. James is big on works, meaning following the law, but not faith or teachings.

          If you haven’t sold everything and given the money to the poor and have faith and follow all the Old Testament laws, you are in no position to say that the person who follows the teachings of the gospels without saying a creed is less of a Christian.

          As I replied to IA, smug Christians tell other Christians that they can worship the Lord in their own way while the smug Christian worships the Lord in His way.

          The real test is not whether Christians have a degree of unity. The unity must impress the rest of the world so much that the rest of the world believes, too. Since even the most inclusive standard for Christianity is still less than a third of the population, you will have a failure. Unless the unity is so great as to impress two thousand years worth of dead non-Christians, the prayer will always be a failure as they were part of the world.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The creed nonsense is a red herring.

          Marks of a true Christian. Romans 12:9-21

          https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+12%3A9-21&version=ESV

          There really isn’t any true Christians, they are all hypocrites.

          http://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/founders-ministries-blog/how-to-distinguish-a-true-christian-from-a-hypocrite.html

        • adam

          “Unless the unity is so great as to impress two thousand years worth of dead non-Christians, the prayer will always be a failure as they were part of the world.”

          Exactly

        • Clement Agonistes

          Every single paragraph is a logical and/or factual fail. I can’t even begin . . . . .

        • Kodie

          No, you have to. I can’t take you seriously when you just stamp your foot and whine like you do.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Stamping one’s foot and whining is all Clement has got…that’s why he’s doing it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s not how it works.

          You need to point out where and explain why.

          If you can’t even begin, it’s because you CAN’T begin.

          Otherwise your comment can be taken as just another loada ballix.

        • Clement Agonistes

          1. Greg makes a claim about creeds eliminating Jesus, Paul, and the Disciples (after Greg requested I call “Apostles”). HE has a claim to support, yet you make no demands of him like you do me.

          2. “Let Jesus define it (Christianity”). Hes says sell everything.” That is not even a definition. It is a course of action proscribed for ONE man (to make a specific point). Greg also makes the fallacious argument of asserting that a dubious omission proves an unmentioned point.

          3. Greg starts with an unsupported, fallacious claim from the 2nd paragraph and adds a straw man fallacy of “saying” a creed. “Belief” is the issue.

          4. Introduces the adjective “smug” (ad hominem fallacy) to enhance another red herring argument of non-creedal worship.

          5. “The real test” …. is another straw man argument. “… must impress …” is yet another unsupported straw man assertion. If the prayer was a failure, it would merely mean that the prayer was not answered in the affirmative. It means Greg determines success or failure of the prayer (which only calls for unity of those taught correctly by the Apostles).

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s better.

          Now that you can and did begin…Greg can see the issues you have with his comment and is at least in a position to defend himself.

          A couple of things though…

          HE has a claim to support, yet you make no demands of him like you do me.

          Reading for comprehension issues AGAIN. I made no demands off you. I merely pointed out that a proper rebuttal is required if you wished to be considered seriously.

          4. Introduces the adjective “smug” (ad hominem fallacy) to enhance another red herring argument of non-creedal worship.

          Oh ffs…learn what the ad hominem fallacy is before being so stupid.

          Would it help if I swapped out the word “smug” for a synonym so you can see just how stupid you are being?

          As I replied to IA, smug superior Christians tell other Christians that they can worship the Lord in their own way while the smug superior Christian worships the Lord in His way.

        • adam
        • Ignorant Amos

          If there is no remotely objective definition, then there is no place to go with this. That is why I call it the “Definition Game” – it is an effort to “win” by destroying coherency in a conversation.

          That’s the whole crux of the matter. Who decides what it means to be a true Christian? It IS incoherent.

          I picked the most objective measure I could find. The creeds were written for the expressed purpose of defining what it means to be a Christian.

          Which creeds? Written by whom?

          However, in this light, I now propose that atheists are not objective enough to define atheism, so I get to do it. Sound fair?

          As long as you can demonstrate your definition is not the usual theist loada ballix and is an accurate definition and not a straw man, knock yerself out.

          Atheists don’t deny there are various levels of atheism and not all atheists are at the same level.

          There is an underlying factor that defines the term atheism…

          Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Atheism is contrasted with theism,[which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.

          The problem you have, is defining one kind of atheist as another, and insisting that to be the case. Something no one here is doing with Christians other than you.

          How this helps your predicament is way beyond me. But might be an interesting exercise all the same.

          Another toe shot off methinks.

        • adam

          ” I now propose that atheists are not objective enough to define atheism,”

          Definition of atheism

          1a : a lack of belief or a strong disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods

        • epeeist

          I guess we have to play the Definition Game. Is someone a Christian merely because they identify themselves as such, or is there a defining set of ideas?

          I thought we had been through this?

          I seem to recollect that you would consider me Catholic because I was baptised and confirmed even though I identify as atheist.

          You seem to be changing your view on this, so am I still Catholic or would you accept I am atheist?

          As a follow up, are the 56% of all those in Britain who report themselves to be Christian but never attend services to be regarded as Christian or not?

        • Clement Agonistes

          You have me confused with someone else about baptism.

          Church attendance, IMO, is unrelated to one’s beliefs. In general, though, it probably does suggest the depth of those beliefs; a target-rich environment for atheist evangelism.

        • adam

          “is unrelated to one’s beliefs. In general, though, it probably does suggest the depth of those beliefs;”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7123c548a1342e2d1779d51809c0ce85d82e0551dcde5fa0f6496d68284963dd.jpg

        • Michael Neville

          Oriental Orthodox Christians have modified the Nicene Creed. Are they still Christians?

        • Clement Agonistes

          Yes. I offered flexibility in choice of creed. Their creeds are the same ones other Christians agreed to.

          It’s pretty obvious that you guys are digging in you heels on this point. This is the low-hanging fruit. These are the easy calls; the no-brainers. If even these are getting the irrational treatment, there is no hope for the deeper topics. I can’t begin to tell you how comforting this is to me.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what you’re yammering on about actually. Of course you think “victory” when you don’t know what’s going on.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s pretty obvious that you guys are digging in you heels on this point.

          We will concede defeat to your argument when you make a rational defence that stands scrutiny…that hasn’t happened yet. So far, you are doing the usual Christian two-step and redefining definitions.

          This is the low-hanging fruit.

          We know it is, that’s how easy you are to refute.

          These are the easy calls; the no-brainers.

          Yet you are really struggling with them.

          If even these are getting the irrational treatment, there is no hope for the deeper topics.

          Spoiiing! The only person being irrational in this back and forth is you.

          I can’t begin to tell you how comforting this is to me.

          Hardly surprising, given how easily the theist get’s the warm and fuzzies.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So non-creedal Christians are not “real” Christians?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creed#Christians_without_creeds

          The Nicene creed is 4th century. What about all those other creeds that other Christians take up? What about all the confessions of faith?

          If everyone is singing off the same hymn sheet, why the need for so many?

          What about pre-creedal Christians, are they burning in Hell?

          The disciples were non-creedal Christians btw.

          Here’s a wee Catholic apologetic you might enjoy. Bullshit btw, but you’ll like it.

          http://www.ancient-future.net/denom.html

          Some pretzelmania apologetics going on there I’d say.

          Just as well heretics are no longer burnt at the stake, I say. You’d be too busy burning fellow Christians to have the time concerning yerselves with us non-believers. }8O)~

        • adam

          “I guess we have to play the Definition Game.”

          Definition of Christian

          1a : one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/89d230f179881be8275da4101e50e5e24d2a0bb95addba201026fbc36fa9a751.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          P1: Any prayer by Jesus would be answered by God positively, and in a manner and time frame that human beings dictate.

          First, schizophrenia aside and hypothetically speaking, are you presuming that God always answers prayers? Are you then suggesting that when God answers prayers, it is always in positive? How do you know this? There is no evidence whatsoever to support such an assertion. In fact, what we experience is exactly the opposite. If one is a believer in what the books say, in one of them, God has forsaken himself.

          http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-GEzxmMDv7g4/Uh1t5-MGvyI/AAAAAAAAAM4/sX1Vp5pZeaI/s1600/d1ccdecad1dcfc294e63623fb10a69e8.jpg

          Then there is your straw man caveat. The non fulfilled yet prophecy apologetic. Since you have invoked the “hasn’t yet happened yet” inference, I will take it that you are admitting that the faith really isn’t a unified faith…yet?

          What humans are you suggesting that are dictating time frames other than those “end times” Christian fuckwits? Whom of which must be a cause of concern to the likes of yerself…the faith not being unified yet and there being no notion of such in the foreseeable future. An apocalypse anytime soon will stuff the prayer right up good and proper.

          Atheists are not dictating time frames. We are looking at the text in the here and now. We observe that we are two millennia down the road and if anything, the faith looks like going defunct before it ever becomes one. Now you can wax as lyrically as you like about how what a sensible person see’s as a faith diverging is actually a sign of convergence,while at the same time trying to convince yourself that the convergence will be complete before the whole thing fizzles out, ergo justifying the prayer, but that is the scrambling of a Christian trying to make excuses for what at this moment is a failure.

          The point being made is the prayer is poorly worded if made by an omniscience who created beings with a thinking mind that deals in timescales as we do. Or perhaps it is just a yarn that makes no sense by today’s standards.

        • Greg G.

          Now you can wax as lyrically as you like about how what a sensible person see’s as a faith diverging is actually a sign of convergence,while at the same time trying to convince yourself that the convergence will be complete before the whole thing fizzles out, ergo justifying the prayer, but that is the scrambling of a Christian trying to make excuses for what at this moment is a failure.

          Just after the penultimate Christian loses faith or dies, there will be unity in Christianity.

        • Clement Agonistes

          After reading your replies to this post, I don’t think you are following what I am doing here. My purpose was to engage you in conversation (always challenging) by trying to understand your argument.

          The exercise was me re-phrasing your arguments in a format that allows us to examine your claims and the premises that they are built upon. I was hoping that you would:
          1) Go through the premises and conclusions to see if they accurately represent your views.
          2) Correct any places where I misstated your views, and
          3) Begin to realize how poorly your argument is constructed so you can modify or abandon the parts that make no sense.

          Once we have a coherent argument for your case, then we can discuss the various aspects.

        • Ignorant Amos

          After reading your replies to this post, I don’t think you are following what I am doing here. My purpose was to engage you in conversation (always challenging) by trying to understand your argument.

          It’s quite simple.

          P1: The anonymous writers of the gospel called John claim the character Jesus pray to the character god.

          The prayer was for the message the apostles were taking to the world that the listener believe that Jesus as being sent by God so they would all be one [?} because of the impact of this message.

          Jesus Prays for All Believers

          20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

          https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+17%3A20-21&version=NIV

          Now the question is, one what?

          P2: The so-called believers in the message have not been one of anything for the past two millennia.

          C: The prayer failed.

          The exercise was me re-phrasing your arguments in a format that allows us to examine your claims and the premises that they are built upon.

          No…it wasn’t.

          Once we have a coherent argument for your case, then we can discuss the various aspects.

          Deal with the syllogism in this combox.

        • Ignorant Amos

          P2: Since All Christians agree on the core issues that define Christianity, but not the peripheral issues that do not define it, the prayer was not answered.
          Christians are not unified in the manner or time frame they should be if there truly was a God as Christians define God.

          Oh dear.

          Since All Christians agree on the core issues that define Christianity, but not the peripheral issues that do not define it, the prayer was not answered.

          You have failed to demonstrate this assertion. What are the “core issues” you think “All” Christians agree they are defined by?

          Let’s clear a point up here, because you seem to be all over the place on it. In P1 you infer that the prayer has yet to be fulfilled. Here in P2, you infer that the prayer has already been fulfilled. Do you think the prayer has been fulfilled, or is going to be fulfilled some day before all the days are done?

          Christians are not unified in the manner or time frame they should be if there truly was a God as Christians define God.

          Which Christians? Which Christian definition of God are we all working off, and do ALL Christians agree on your definition?

          You seem to be suggesting that Christians are already unified, and yet not unified in the time frame. Which is it?

          If there truly is a God, it is acting just as if there was no God at all…it is missing in action…this is the problem. Try transposing the same concept onto another belief system and honestly claim that faith is converging, is a unified faith, and the 2000 year old prayer has been realised.

          The prayer for unity by Jesus was a resounding failure, and there is no reason to believe he was sent by God.

          Perhaps the prayer attributed to him was a pious fiction, or maybe he was a false messiah rejected by a real god. Most likely, there was no god to hear his prayer.

        • Ignorant Amos

          CONCLUSION: Christianity is wrong about God.

          Here is your major malfunction. There is no one fucking Christianity…there never has been. That is an understood scholarly fact.

          At least one Christianity is/was wrong about their concept of God. If at least one is wrong, then they all can be wrong, and likely are. Your concept isn’t the correct one because Clement says so, you have to demonstrate your assertion and given you can’t, all you have is a “No True Scotsman” fallacious argument.

        • Greg G.

          all you have is a “No True Scotsman” fallacious argument.

          Smug Christians say to other Christians, “You worship the Lord in your way, and I will worship the Lord in His.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          Now, the topic is “God as envisioned by Christianity”.

          Which one?

          Ya can flog the dead horse as much as you like, but until you can demonstrate there is one God envisioned by one Christianity then it is all just a loada bubbles.

          In order to disprove the premises of Christianity,

          What are the premises of Christianity? Be specific.

        • Ignorant Amos

          P1: We can look at the claims of Christianity about God and show how they are not true.

          Yip.

        • Ignorant Amos

          P2: Christianity makes claims that God has qualities which are infinite in scope.

          Which Christianity gain?

          P2: Christians make claims that God has qualities which are infinite in scope.

          FTFY.

          Christians can make whatever claims about an imaginary entity they like. Until they can demonstrate the veracity of said entity and such claims, I couldn’t give a fiddlers fuck.

          It has already been demonstrated to you that those infinite qualities are a logical nonsense when applied to YahwehJesus of the Buy-bull.

          But for the sake of this sub-thread, list these infinite qualities if you can.

        • Michael Neville

          Mormons hold that God the Father (a different God than Jesus or the Spook) does not have infinite qualities. Basically he’s the god in charge of Earth with his two subordinate gods helping him.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes…the Mormons got it right.

          Mormonism is the one true Christianity don’t ya know?

          Joseph Smith recorded his meetings with the angel Moroni and eleven, of his contemporaries in two groups actually seen the Golden Plates…they all wrote witness statements that can be read right therein the book of Mormon.

          Three of the witnesses seen the plates in the company of Moroni and heard Gods voice testify that the plates were the real McCoy.

          Not forgetting…

          Mary Musselman Whitmer (1778–1856), the mother of five Witnesses who took care of the household in Fayette, New York, where much of the translation occurred, said that an angel showed her the plates and thus made her more content to continue her daily labors. Joseph Smith made no mention of this visitation in his journal.

          How cool is that?

          However…

          Critics of the Latter Day Saint movement—from late nineteenth-century clergymen to Mark Twain to modern agnostics, evangelical Christians, and even some unorthodox (“Big Tent”) Mormons—argue that the testimonies of the witnesses cannot be taken at face value.

          Well I never…tut! tut!…how could they?

          Even after being chucked out of the Church, the witnesses maintained their claims to witness.

          Oh should the rest of those not-real-Christians have anything remotely like the same…they’d be on a pigs back.

        • Ignorant Amos

          P3: Those claims cannot be demonstrated in a way that could be known without doubt. We cannot know if they are true or not.

          Bingo!

          Who can know infinite qualities exist? It’s a nonsense.

          Theist’s can’t even agree on the definition of the infinite qualities.

          Some modern Christian theologians argue that God’s omniscience is inherent rather than total, and that God chooses to limit his omniscience in order to preserve the freewill and dignity of his creatures. John Calvin, among other theologians of the 16th century, comfortable with the definition of God as being omniscient in the total sense, in order for worthy beings’ abilities to choose freely, embraced the doctrine of predestination.

          Even a hypothetical being with claimed infinite qualities can’t know if another being with claimed infinite qualities, if they both indeed had infinite qualities …it’s a paradox.

          Since no non-infinite qualities being can know if any being has an infinite quality, it is an assumption to claim a being has infinite qualities.

          Here we have an example of the “no mortal man can know the mind of God, but I’m still claiming to know the mind of God” nonsense.

        • Ignorant Amos

          CONCLUSION: Christianity is nonsense.

          Yip.

          Tell me this, do you think the claims of Scientology, Mormonism, Hinduism, John Frumism, Jediism, Aetheriusism, Prince Phillipism, Nuwaubianism, Raëlianism, Islamism, yadda, yadda, yadda…are nonsense?

          Why do you think they are nonsense, if indeed ya do? Once you’ve realised the reason’s why you think they are nonsense, then the penny might drop.

          If you don’t think they are nonsense, why have you tied your flag to the mast of a particular flavour of Christianity?

        • adam
        • Otto

          >>>”God would not be infinite in number, but in qualities to be known; infinite data points comprising God.”

          Many of which apparently directly contradict each other.

        • adam
        • Ignorant Amos

          You won’t concede the point even though the evidence is smacking you right up the face.

          Divergence is the state of tending to be different or develop in different directions.

          If there is one thing that Christianity has been from the get-go, it is divergent.

          http://www.churchgoers.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/800px-Christianity-Branches-2013update3.png

        • Max Doubt

          “So, my point is that you are pretty much just making claims with no basis.”

          Making claims with no basis, eh?

          “The subject, God, is infinite.”

          You don’t have a speck of objective evidence to support the claim that a god even exists, yet here you are with the arrogance to make claims about one’s alleged characteristics.

          “There is no “converging” on something infinite.”

          No, you haven’t established the basis for that claim. You don’t get to attribute characteristics to your god thing without providing objective evidence that it even exists.

          “The more one learns about it, the more one realizes that there is still more to be learned (kinda like science, huh?).”

          You are pretty much just making claims with no basis.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “Making claims with no basis, eh?”

          Yeah. Ironic, no?

          I am presented with a hypothetical proposition, “If God were as Christians describe him, then he would do X.” The premise of the conversation is that God would exist and have the qualities Christians attribute to God. You are under no obligation to participate in the conversation.

        • Otto

          >>>”That’s kind of the problem, isn’t it? i mean, how can we recognize a pattern when there is not template to follow?”

          No template? You mean our comparison of science to religion just suddenly stopped?

          >>>”If the sects of Christianity were converging, it may look exactly like what we are witnessing.”

          Umm…you got anything that supports this cause that is not what I am seeing, I have never even heard anyone claim Christian belief is converging, not even Christians. I have heard it needs to happen, but no claims that it has, or is. Do you plan on providing anything for this ‘maybe’ or are you just going to pretend as if this is the case?

          >>>”The subject, God, is infinite. There is no “converging” on something infinite. The more one learns about it, the more one realizes that there is still more to be learned (kinda like science, huh?).”

          Not really…science can demonstrate current knowledge and can make predictions as to what we should see if the current understanding is correct. It then tests those predictions to verify and then moves forward to do it again. I have never seen anything even resembling that from religion. Oh there are predictions…but none pan out except the most broad, obvious ones.

          >>>”So, my point is that you are pretty much just making claims with no basis.”

          You are right, science hasn’t gotten anything right. Planes don’t fly, electricity isn’t understood, plague is still blamed on evil spirits and witchcraft.

          On the other hand religion has mostly converged on real, demonstrable truths that can be replicated and most people in religion generally agree on what they are.

        • Joe

          The definition of Christian – what makes them “Christian” – is that commonality.

          Sure, if you can get all the sects to agree on a common definition.

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

          Your factoid doesn’t even give an accurate picture of reality.

          Why is this hard? The factoid shows that earnest Christians can’t read your holy book and come up with a single interpretation of it. That casts doubt on the claim that the book was inspired by an omniscient god.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Because ……?

          … all infinite knowledgeable Gods do it that way, right? The assumptions you make are really remarkable, especially given the constant demands for scientific methodology and evidence. You just skip right from Hypothesis to Conclusion without any of those messy steps in between.

          I would expect an infinite, personal God with a unique, personal relationship with every single human (who wants that relationship) to be perceived differently by every single human. Our relationships are that way. I allow that this analogy could be wrong. But if it’s right, there could be 2.2 billion differing perceptions of the nature of an infinite God. No one person could grasp it all. No group, no matter how large, could grasp it all. By definition, “infinite” implies that.

          So, 40,000 differing perceptions is a drop in the bucket if that is the case.

          Let’s try another angle. Suppose you were a police detective trying to piece together the details of a crime (insert joke here). How many witness accounts would you want in order to make your determination? As many as possible, right? So, 40,000 would be pretty good. You wouldn’t expect any one account to be totally accurate. You might still have doubts about some of the insignificant details. but, there would be little doubt about the important stuff.

          I think these points present a plausible explanation for how there could be so many interpretations of the insignificant details; so many sects, yet have agreement on the major details. Your support for your claim is essentially that correlation proves causation; that the numbers themselves are proof. You make unwarranted leaps of logic.

        • Greg G.

          … all infinite knowledgeable Gods do it that way, right?

          That’s what Jesus prayed for, and he was part of the Trinity, or was the Trinity, or whatever makes sense to you about the Trinity.

          John 17:20-23 (NRSV)20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

        • Clement Agonistes

          That quote does not support the claims being made. It is a prayer for unity (debatably of just the Apostles), not a statement of fact. One prays for good conditions which do not exist. One gives thanks for good conditions which do exist (are factual).

        • Greg G.

          “those who will believe in me through their word”

          How do you limit that to “just the Apostles”? “Who will believe” indicates he meant future believers. We even see dissent among the apostles.

        • busterggi

          Between the apostles? Heck, Christianity is largly Paulism as created by a non-apostle who never met any Jesus (if one existed) and staged a hostile takeover of several early churches.

        • Clement Agonistes

          We’ve been through that already. Even if I accept that premise, it still doesn’t transform that prayer into a statement of reality. The evidence is unrelated to the claim it is supposed to support. It is a red herring.

        • Greg G.

          Of course it is not a statement of reality. It is fictional story from a fictional writing. But if you accept that gospel as true and that the power of prayer is effective, it is inconsistent with reality.

          But even if it is about the apostles only, then it failed. Judas Iscariot shows that the agreement never happened. Many generations have come and gone without the whole world being impressed enough by their agreement to believe.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Let’s walk through this point-by-point:

          1. “Of course it is not a statement of reality. It is fictional story from a fictional writing.”

          a. The “reality” would be based on the hypotheticals that God exists, that Jesus would see his prayer replied to, and that all prayers are answered affirmatively.

          You can’t simply go running back to the “out” of disbelief if that disbelief is based on the impossibility of the hypothetical that your disbelief disproves. That is circular reasoning – “The proof that God could not behave this way is that God does not exist. God does not exist because God could not behave this way”.

          b. The “fictional” argument is yet another claim. Claims cannot be supported by more unsupported claims. You asserted
          that the proof there should be no divergence was a prayer you assert
          couldn’t have happened. It’s an endless loop of fallacious logic.

          2. “But if you accept that gospel as true and that the power of prayer is effective, it is inconsistent with reality.”

          You did just fine until the leap of logic after the comma. Ibuprophen is an effective pain-killer. That it doesn’t relieve the pain of child birth does not make that statement inconsistent with reality. It can be both effective and not always the answer.

          3. “Judas Iscariot shows that the agreement never happened.”

          Judas shows that sometimes ibuprophen isn’t enough. Judas has Free Will. If Judas does not betray Jesus, the Jesus doesn’t die. Jesus knows he must die, and instructs Judas to “Do what you must do.” Jesus has known that he must die. He has known that Judas will betray him. He prays for Judas anyway, just as Christians must pray even for those they are confident will reject God.

          4. “Many generations have come and gone without the whole world being impressed enough by their agreement to believe.” You make (imply) the claim here that 100% of people would be Christians if unity existed. There is no support for this claim other than your own opinion.

          Forgive me, Greg, but every single sentence in that post was a logical fail.

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

          Because ……?
          … all infinite knowledgeable Gods do it that way, right?

          You’re groping for the “God is inscrutable” loophole? Yes, that exists, but that would be relevant only if I declared that I’d proven that God doesn’t exist. Instead, I simply said, “That casts doubt on the claim that the book was inspired by an omniscient god.”

          The assumptions you make are really remarkable,

          Are they? You’ll have to share one of them. I like reading about remarkable things.

          I would expect an infinite, personal God with a unique, personal relationship with every single human (who wants that relationship) to be perceived differently by every single human.

          Nice save! A holy book written (or at least inspired) by an omniscient, omnipotent god actually should be so ambiguous and/or contradictory that two earnest seekers will come up with fundamentally different interpretations of the major tenets of the religion! Trinitarian vs. Unitarian, Calvinist vs. Arminianist, and so on. Vive la difference, amirite??

          there could be 2.2 billion differing perceptions of the nature of an infinite God. No one person could grasp it all. No group, no matter how large, could grasp it all. By definition, “infinite” implies that.

          Another nice rhetorical move. I completely missed that you changed the subject!

          Suppose you were a police detective trying to piece together the details of a crime

          You’re asking about how fallible eyewitnesses would work? But why is that an analogy? Is God also fallible? I know he’s busy with not answering all those prayers, but is it too much of a burden for him to convey an unambiguous message?

          I think these points present a plausible explanation for how there could be so many interpretations of the insignificant details

          Actually, I agree. Humans wrote the Bible. It’s enormous and ambiguous. It’s hardly a wonder that people, driven by various agendas, twist it to mean so many things.

          It gets weird only when you try to shoehorn a perfect god into the picture.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Let’s try another angle. Suppose you were a police detective trying to piece together the details of a crime (insert joke here). How many witness accounts would you want in order to make your determination? As many as possible, right? So, 40,000 would be pretty good. You wouldn’t expect any one account to be totally accurate.

          Another shite analogy from a Christian, who’d have thought it?

          The details you want to be insignificant…aren’t though, are they?

          Having 45,000 witnesses giving such diverse witness accounts amounts to reasonable doubt ya eejit.

          You might still have doubts about some of the insignificant details. but, there would be little doubt about the important stuff.

          You keep clutching at that straw. That’s the denominationalism hanging out of you.

          Problem is, even that doctrine ain’t universally accepted.

          This particular doctrine is rejected by Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and the Oriental Orthodoxy. In these churches, it is not possible to have a separation over doctrinal or leadership issues, and any such attempts automatically are a type of schism. Some Protestant groups reject denominationalism as well.

          So much for your ad populum argument from before.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ha ha ha…..you’re funny guy.

          Not so much Otto’s factoid as a theist source survey.

          I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one… The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. ~John 17:20,22,23

          Epic fail.

          I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. ~1 Corinthians 1:10

          Epic fail.

          According to a report published by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, in mid-2014 there were over 45,000 Christian denominations worldwide. Furthermore, that number is increasing at the rate of 2.2 new denominations per day.

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

          BTW…Catholics are not one unified denomination and beliefs vary even within denominations. There are 23 eastern Catholic Churches for starters.

          Then there are those splitters that are the independent Catholics.

          The Old Catholics, the Liberal Catholic Church, the Augustana Catholic Church, the American National Catholic Church, the Apostolic Catholic Church (ACC), the Aglipayans (Philippine Independent Church), the African Orthodox Church, the Polish National Catholic Church of America, and many Independent Catholic churches, which emerged directly or indirectly from and have beliefs and practices largely similar to Latin Rite Catholicism, regard themselves as “Catholic” without full communion with the Bishop of Rome, whose claimed status and authority they generally reject. The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, a division of the People’s Republic of China’s Religious Affairs Bureau exercising state supervision over mainland China’s Catholics, holds a similar position, while attempting, as with Buddhism and Protestantism, to indoctrinate and mobilize for Communist Party objectives.

          Whose the True Scotsman?

        • Michael Neville

          Just about the only thing that high church Anglicans and fundamentalist Pentecostals agree on is that Jesus is god. Mormons and Christadelphians don’t accept the Trinity (Christadelphians don’t believe the Holy Spirit exists). The Pope accepts evolution and a 4.5 billion year old Earth, Ken Ham thinks the Earth and all life on it were poofed into existence 6000 years ago.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I don’t think the age of the Earth is an example of the kind of divergence that disproves Christianity. There might be some argument as to whether the groups you mentioned are Christian. Even at that, we’re talking about 99% agreement.

        • Michael Neville

          Neither Otto nor I are using the divergence in Christianity to disprove it. What we are saying is that there’s no one Christianity, instead there’s literally thousands of Christianities, some of which don’t acknowledge others as being Christians. It’s just plain silly for you to say there’s 99% agreement among Christians. The profound and sincere differences between different groups of Christians are more apparent to me than to you, perhaps because I’m an outsider.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Again, we go up against the idea of just how divergent beliefs have to be in order to prove your point. Logically, the insiders would have a better understanding of the differences because they are making decisions; distinctions based on those differences. It is the Muslim who will be most aware of the differences between Quranism and Sufism.

          All those various creeds of early Christianity spell out the basics that define Christianity. 99% of Christians sects adhere to those basics. That is just plain truth.

        • Michael Neville

          Logically, the insiders would have a better understanding of the differences because they are making decisions; distinctions based on those differences.

          Nope, doesn’t necessarily follow. You may be too close to the problem to recognize it as a problem. If 99% (a number which both of us know you pulled right out of your rosy red rectum) of Christians agreed on the tenets of Christianity then there wouldn’t be over 40,000 different flavors of Christianity, many of which claims that other flavors of Christians aren’t Christians because there’s too much difference in dogma.

          All those various creeds of early Christianity spell out the basics that define Christianity.

          I see, you’re talking about early Christians while I’m talking about modern Christians. Of course you ignore the arguments that Paul and James had about faith and works, the circumcision controversy, the Incident in Antioch and other suchlike matters. The Council of Jerusalem around 50 CE had to be called to settle some of these problems. So please don’t tell me that the “early church” was controversy-free. I know better.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “If 99% (a number which both of us know you pulled right out of your rosy red rectum)”

          2.2 billion Christians. 25 million Mormons/Whatevers. 25M/2.2B = 0.011 X100 = 1%. 100% – 1% = 99%.

          “If 99% of Christians agreed on the tenets of Christianity then there wouldn’t be over 40,000 different flavors of Christianity,”

          I don’t see how Part B follows from Part A. They don’t disagree about the tenets, but the other aspects.

          The early church agreed about the big stuff. Circumcision, etc. is not big stuff.

        • Joe

          2.2 billion Christians. 25 million Mormons/Whatevers. 25M/2.2B = 0.011 X100 = 1%. 100% – 1% = 99%.

          Missing from that calculation are the assumptions that Mormons are wrong and that the remaining 99% of Christians are in agreement.

          It’s the second part we take issue with.

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

          Is the Bible inerrant and infallible? Some denominations say yes; others say no.

          I’m surprised that this is not “big stuff” to you. Your list of “not big stuff” might startle many Christians.

        • Joe

          Lets not forget the elephant in the room: Soteriology.

          I keep hearing it’s kind of a big deal.

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

          Calvinism! No–Arminianism!

          Or something.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Most people don’t understand those terms and just fill in the definition that fits the purpose. The gist of it is that the Bible is true on the big stuff, but not necessarily in the fine details. That works for the fundamentalists and the progressives, alike.

          If people want to get into fistfights about whether baptism should be dunking or sprinkling, that seems silly to me.

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

          Huh? We’re not talking about dunking vs. sprinkling; we’re talking about Bible as inerrant vs. not. We’re talking Trinity vs. not. We’re talking Calvinism vs. not.

          Or, at least I am.

        • Clement Agonistes

          The Trinity is significant. You are talking about a tiny minority, but as you said, it must be 100% agreement in order to satisfy you (You establish the criteria, then … GASP! … “discover” that you are right). Calvinism fits within the 4th century creeds that define the core of Christianity.

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

          I take Christians at their word, that the Bible was inspired by the omniscient, omnipotent creator of the universe and discover–GASP!–that I’ve been lied to.

          I do indeed have high standards for your god. Being able to convey a clear and unambiguous message is the least I’d expect. That’s how I roll.

          You want me to apologize for that?

        • Clement Agonistes

          First, the absolute *last* things I ever expect on this blog are apologies or admissions of error. The evasions are as close as I’ll ever get to that level of conversation.

          As to your expectations of what God would do, well, the comedy will just have to suffice. It is totally implausible that you could be wrong – that’s the way you roll.

        • Michael Neville

          So faith vs works? Biblical inerrancy? Allegorical vs literal interpretation of Genesis? King James Onlyism? Historicity of Jesus and the resurrection? Primacy of Peter? Hell being the lake of fire vs absence of God? Definition of the “unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit”? Role of women in the church? These and many other things are controversies in modern Christianity, with Christians holding such strong attitudes about their beliefs that some of them proclaim others holding opposite beliefs to be non-Christians.

          Also if you think that circumcision was not a big deal in the early church then you’re more ignorant than I already thought. And I thought you were pretty damn ignorant about the history of your church. The Council of Jerusalem was “big stuff”.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Paper vs plastic, wooden vs padded pews . . . . . . .

          The Council of Jerusalem resolved the issue quickly. All parties agreed about the truth of the gospel. They disagreed about whether it was a Jewish thing or one for everybody. They had probably already lost touch with several of the Apostles who were spreading the word in distant lands.

        • Michael Neville

          They disagreed about whether it [the gospel] was a Jewish thing or one for everybody.

          You think this wasn’t an important controversy? You really are trying to rewrite history to support your argument.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I had to laugh when I read this line of bullshit from Clement.

          All those various creeds of early Christianity spell out the basics that define Christianity.

          He apparently knows very little about the origins of his faith. Or chooses to ignore it.

          Divergent flavours of the faith were put down by the sword and no sooner had the predominant flavour gained control than the divergence began again.

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

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

          99% isn’t bad in many situations. I have higher expectations of your god, however.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Ahh, well then it just got easier to diagnose where the problem lies.

        • Pofarmer

          All those various creeds of early Christianity spell out the basics that define Christianity.

          Uhm, actually they don’t. There was Gnosticism and Marcionism and Arianism early on that were at large loggerheads with what later became orthodox Christianity. Catharism persisted up until the 11th Century, when the Catholic Church thought that it was divergent enough to wipe it out, and by wipe it out I mean Genocide the movement.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Yeah, they do. What you saw was the reining in of divergence from the original.

          As an aside, there is a tendency to view Christianity only through the lens of Europe (because that is what survived to become mainstream).

        • Pofarmer

          What you saw was the reining in of divergence from the original.

          Uhm, no. What we see is wide divergence from the very beginning of the cult. Read some Bart Ehrman, for Pete’s sake.

        • Clement Agonistes

          My computer froze up again, so I apologize if this is a re-post.

          You are describing efforts that reined in divergence. The creeds kept focus on the core beliefs that define Christianity. Cults are always a tough call. The immoral killing you describe shows the temptation to leap off the proper path. Being Christian means being a hypocrite.

        • Pofarmer

          The “Creeds” weren’t universalized until at least the 4th Century. And even then, there were groups that didn’t use them. They were only used in what would be Roman Catholicism.

          The immoral killing you describe shows the temptation to leap off the proper path

          See, that’s the problem, they thought it was quite moral. Imperative even to protect the faithful.

        • Clement Agonistes

          We have the epistles (and probably the Gospels, as well) of the NT because early efforts were being made to rein in divergence. It wasn’t until succeeding centuries that the problem became so bad that the creeds were needed. The divergence imagined now doesn’t hold a candle to what was nipped int he bud then. The creeds would represent convergence, if anything.

          Jesus specifically condemned using faith as an excuse to do evil. His death was an example of faith being used to do evil. Hypocrisy is the tribute virtue pays to vice.

        • busterggi

          “We have the epistles (and probably the Gospels, as well) of the NT because early efforts were being made to rein in divergence.”

          Then clearly divergences existed right from the beginning or there wouldn’t have been a need to rein them in.

        • Clement Agonistes

          As an analogy to help clarify my point, think about geometric divergence. 2 rays leave from a single point at, say, a 10 degree angle. As you move out from that point, does the distance between the points on the rays increase, or decrease?

          So, 2000 years out, is the theological distance increasing? The divergence was nipped in the bud.

        • Pofarmer

          Jesus specifically condemned using faith as an excuse to do evil

          quote?

          We have the epistles (and probably the Gospels, as well) of the NT because early efforts were being made to rein in divergence

          Yes, the Gospels that we have, were an effort of the Church to come up with an orthodoxy. There was loads of what is now considered apocrypha, that were Gospels for early sects of Christianity. See the Gospel of Thomas, or the Ascension of Isiah, for examples. We don’t know what else was lost or burned because it wasn’t copied or destroyed, but we know that there was a goodly amount that didn’t conform with what would become the orthodox view.

          His death was an example of faith being used to do evil.

          Not really. Under Christian theology his death was necessary, for several different and conflicting reasons.

        • Greg G.

          Jesus’ prayer for unity in John is an indication that the author knew there was divergence. 2 Peter 1:16 is defending against charges that they followed cleverly devised myths yet he then tries to prove it by citing a cleverly designed myth from Matthew, which even least mythical parts shows it was created from two different passages from Mark.

        • adam
        • adam
        • Two Americas

          There might be some argument as to whether the groups you mentioned are Christian. Even at that, we’re talking about 99% agreement.

          So, those who are not in agreement can just be dismissed as not being real Christians?

        • Clement Agonistes

          Or, “There might be some argument” about it.

          Being right 99% of the time works for me.

        • Kodie

          You keep saying this, but I don’t know why you think that’s anything like evidence.

        • Two Americas

          There is far from 99% agreement among Christians on anything. The more important the issue, the less agreement.

        • adam

          “Being right 99% of the time works for me.”

          Said the Catholics killing the Protestants in NI.

          So what are the major issues that carry enough weight for Christians to argue over?
          1. Abortion.

          2. Foreign Policy.

          3. Economics.

          A. Welfare.

          B. Obama care.

          https://worthyofthegospel.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/the-major-issues-in-politics-where-christians-disagree/

          So not even 50%

        • adam

          ” It is a divergence in details about an infinite topic,”

          the bible is not infinite,

          “Your point was that 44,000 sects that by and large agree enough to be
          called “Christian” is enough of a divergence to disprove Christianity. ”

          That and trillions of god claims by christians that fail

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5fc7ae814c0160c0c443e448af14c3b39fb8f9c14da1a96d478544a03093bbba.jpg

        • Greg G.

          Christians agree on barely enough things to be labeled “Christians” but their disagreements show that Jesus was the biggest prayer failure of all time. Christians are supposed to agree on so many things that it would impress the rest of the world enough to make them believe. Instead all we can do is laugh at:

          John 17:20-23 (NRSV)20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Damn it….am only a day late.

        • Kodie

          The details are significant – how do you know god is talking to you, if he’s giving other people equally strong feelings of conflicting significant details?

          The “principle” that Jesus rose from the dead and saves you by believing that bullshit is the significantly impossible core of the belief. You all unite under the umbrella that you believe a dead son of god rose from the dead and saves you from sin after death.

          Lol.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You all unite under the umbrella that you believe a dead son of god rose from the dead and saves you from sin after death.

          Not quite.

          Resurrection did not happen, say quarter of Christians

          A quarter of people who describe themselves as Christians in Great Britain do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, a survey commissioned by the BBC suggests.

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-39153121

        • Greg G.

          Where did Otto say that it “disproves” Christianity? He is just pointing out that as investigators get closer to a truth, they find clues which lead them into agreement. When a bunch of people start with the same set of assumptions and diverge in their opinions, it is a sign that they are not finding any actual clues. It’s a sign they are finding imaginary clues and following them.

          If a religion were true, people should be able to arrive at it independently by the evidence. If religion were divine, they should be able to arrive at it by revelation, rather than disparate claims of revelation.

        • Clement Agonistes

          As investigators get closer to a *finite* truth, they should find clues …

          There is broad agreement … convergence, except that there was never divergence … on the existence and nature of God. There is narrow disagreement about insignificant details. Even in a search for a finite truth, the details aren’t the crucial point.

          “If a religion were true, people should be able to arrive at it
          independently by the evidence. If religion were divine, they should be able to arrive at it by revelation, rather than disparate claims of revelation.”

          Again, Greg, you are making claims …. as if the mere making of the claims established their truth. Religion, as with all wisdom passed down, negates the need to “re-invent the wheel” every generation.

        • Greg G.

          Again, Greg, you are making claims

          I am making observations. When a niche is discovered, many different strategies will be tried to exploit it. When an objective measure comes into play, competition to best survive or gas mileage of a vehicle, the designs tend to converge. When gas mileage became an issue, the wind resistance of a vehicle became very important so now it’s harder now to tell cars apart than it was before I started driving because some body shapes are objectively better at conserving fuel.

          Christianity has one major point of agreement, which is equivalent to distinguish passenger cars from other vehicles, but they look different. The large denominations count members who went to Sunday school as children but don’t go anymore while the small denominations tend to have a higher concentration fervent believers who disagree more vigorously with other denominations. There’s nothing objective about it to drive a consensus.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “If a religion were true, people should be able to arrive at it
          independently by the evidence. If religion were divine, they should be
          able to arrive at it by revelation, rather than disparate claims of
          revelation.”

          Those are claims, Greg.

        • Greg G.

          If you are saying the claims are false, then you are admitting that no true religion can be demonstrated to be true and not imaginary.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Straw man.

        • adam

          “There is broad agreement … convergence, except that there was never divergence …”

          Yes, all those wars between the followers of the God of Abraham were all convergent.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7123c548a1342e2d1779d51809c0ce85d82e0551dcde5fa0f6496d68284963dd.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          Don’t talk ballix.

          There are Christian beliefs that range from the sublime to the ridiculous.

          JW’s…

          Jesus. We follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ and honor him as our Savior and as the Son of God. (Matthew 20:28; Acts 5:31) Thus, we are Christians. (Acts 11:26) However, we have learned from the Bible that Jesus is not Almighty God and that there is no Scriptural basis for the Trinity doctrine.—John 14:28.

          All the way to the Christian Atheists…

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

          Christians that believe Jesus was a myth.

          To folk that believe Jesus was an alien, i.e. the Aetherius Society.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You really have no idea how divergent Christianity is, or has been in the past, do you?

        • busterggi

          ‘Not Real Christianities’ in one, two…

        • adam

          “You are reading far too much into “divergence”.”

          Really?

          Just look at all the divergence just in the God of Abraham.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/130fd73d4d1fb8d44561582f5da3d25a01a3ce6610d72d62008d60c7e7067449.jpg

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cd298430ec0142a27d3b4df489113b880b74231c62c045d6d9b1effe70165e2d.jpg

          Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

          All kill each other over the petty sibling rivalry of who will inherit their ‘father’s kingdom’ https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8405941ed9f5c1c9bf717f00591e0b5455633b20f6c5705754c71d7decaa52be.jpg

        • Greg G.

          Deuteronomy 13 doesn’t require them to kill atheists who say that their religion is silly, so that’s a relief.

        • adam

          A man is guilty of blasphemy, when he speaks of God, or his attributes,
          injuriously; when he calumniously ascribe such qualities to him as do
          not belong to him, or robs him of those which do. The law sentenced
          blasphemers to death, Le 24:12-16.

          Good ol Leviticus….

        • Greg G.

          SHHHHHHHHHUSH! Don’t give them ideas.

          Wait. All a hard atheist ascribes is is non-existence. If he has the property of existence, it is not robbed from him.

        • josh

          “Atheists blind faith in science …”

          This is like saying ‘atheists’ blind faith in not having blind faith’, you seem to be confused on what science means in this context.

          “The reason medieval science said to use leeches was for the reliable results.”

          No, medieval doctors (science didn’t really exist as a discipline at the time) believed in the unreliable theory of humors based on anecdotal and authoritarian evidence. If your point is only that people can be mistaken, both scientists and atheists fully acknowledge this. The point of science is to pursue the most informed position available to us.

          “If science can’t explain something, it’s just a matter of time…”

          Science is not an explanation, it’s a method of finding explanations. Nonetheless, nothing guarantees that an explanation will be found, science is just the best method for seeking one.

        • Lark62

          You are quoting Saturday Night Live to discredit science?? Steve Martin is your source? You have got to be freaking kidding me.

          Look at it this way:

          Number of times a supernatural explanation has been replaced by a scientific explanation – Too many to count.

          Number of times a scientific explanation has been replaced by a supernatural explanation – Exactly Zero.

          So yeah, I am comfortable with the fact that science has not yet provided a reliable explanation for everything, especially when the only other alternative is religious mythology which has provided a reliable explanation for nothing whatsoever.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Good, then you do understand the SOTG argument.

      • Lark62

        Yes. As they say:

        Science has questions that have not been answered.

        Religion has answers that may not be questioned.

      • Pofarmer

        “Science doesn’t know everything. Religion doesn’t know anything.”

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Religion is certain, but useless and false.

      Science is uncertain and protean, but useful and approaches truth.

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

      I don’t see the comparison.

      There’s a big difference between modern medicine and whatever they practiced in medieval times. Similarly, there’s a difference between modern science and most of that from before 200 years ago.

      • Clement Agonistes

        I agree.

        That has nothing to do with the analogy. Atheists always come off as making excuses for science, just like the medieval doctors.

        I think your premises about prayer could use some work, as well. The purpose of prayer is not to heal the sick. That may well happen, but it isn’t the purpose.

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

          Atheists make excuses for science? I’ve never seen that. Heck, what is there to excuse? Fill me in.

          The purpose of prayer is not to heal the sick

          And yet Jesus says that it can be used that way. Weird.

          “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.

          James 5:14–

        • Clement Agonistes

          Technically, that is James, but you are still making acclaim that is not supported by the evidence. For your claim to be true, the *only* time Christians would pray was when physical healings was needed. The Lord’s Prayer makes no mention of illness. Your quote makes no mention of the *purpose* of prayer. You are making a claim on behalf of others you disagree with for the purpose of shooting down your argument, not theirs.

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

          Technically, that is James

          You’re right. Thanks for the correction.

          For your claim to be true, the *only* time Christians would pray was when physical healings was needed.

          Did I say that the Bible declares that prayer is good for cures and nothing else? I don’t recall that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Jesus says in the gospels that prayer is for whatever the person praying wants.

          Matthew 21:21:

          I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

          In Matthew 18:19 Jesus says it again:

          Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

          In John chapter 14, verses 12 through 14, Jesus tells all of us just how easy prayer can be:

          “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.

          https://whywontgodhealamputees.com/god5.htm

          Seems pretty cut and dry to me. The fact that it is a loada nonsense means that Clement has to come up with this “purpose of prayer” fudge.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Come on, Bob, don’t play that game. You provided a biblical quote on the subject of healing in response to a comment about the purpose of prayer being healing.

        • Greg G.

          He supported a single claim. Why are you playing that game?

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

          Oh, I’m the one playing the game? It’s good you clarified, because I thought it was you.

          You said, “The purpose of prayer is not to heal the sick.” I found that quite startling, since I remember quotes both that say that you can ask for anything and you’ll get it and that specifically mention prayer for healing.

          In response, you said, “For your claim to be true, the *only* time Christians would pray was when physical healings was needed.” Huh? We have somehow morphed from talking about prayer never being used about healing to it always being used about healing. Perhaps I can be excused for being surprised.

          Now, if I did indeed say that IMO Christian prayer is useful for (and only for) healing, then point out my statement to that effect so that I can retract it. Failing that, I think it’s you who needs to be doing the retracting.

        • MR

          Oh, I’m the one playing the game? It’s good you clarified, because I thought it was you

          No, you’re right, Bob. He’s the one playing games.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “You said, “The purpose of prayer is not to heal the sick.” I found that
          quite startling, since I remember quotes both that say that you can ask
          for anything and you’ll get it and that specifically mention prayer for
          healing.”

          You have very selective memory. You provided a quote – from James – saying that sick people should have the church elders pray over his, annoint him with oil, and then the Lord will raise up the sick person.

          There is also a quote in which Jesus tells the Apostles that they can ask for anything in the name of the Lord, and they would get it. I think you have conflated those quotes into something new.

          You said, Jesus stated it can be used that way.

          THE PURPOSE of prayer is not a goody list of presents to be given out upon request. The purpose of prayer is to bring the pray-er closer to God.

          Oh, and the examples of atheist making excuses for science was your blog about tough questions from a couple of weeks ago. You offered speculation for scientific answers to the questions raised.

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

          For your claim to be true, the *only* time Christians would pray was when physical healings was needed.

          Since you’ve dropped this line of inquiry, I take it that I’m absolved of this error?

          THE PURPOSE of prayer is not a goody list of presents to be given out upon request. The purpose of prayer is to bring the pray-er closer to God.

          Someone needs to reread his Bible.

          If you’re saying that this is what Christians say today, I agree. But Jesus in the Bible says otherwise.

          Or are you making the point that prayer is indeed good for getting presents but that that’s not the purpose? In that case, you’ll have to expand on that. What is the purpose? And how do we explain that prayer isn’t good for much more than spiritual meditation?

          Oh, and the examples of atheist making excuses for science was your blog about tough questions from a couple of weeks ago. You offered speculation for scientific answers to the questions raised.

          It’s like a puzzle—fun! Luckily, I’m really, really eager to hear what you have to say on the matter.

          The post is 10 Tough Questions for the Atheist to Answer
          , I believe.

          Now that we have the offending post, what is your point?

        • Clement Agonistes

          “Since you’ve dropped this line of inquiry, I take it that “I’m absolved of this error?”

          Yes, I think so. I think I conflated your “Santa Claus” understanding of prayer with the “doctor” analogy and came up with praying for health. You were kind enough to accept that premise with the James quote and defense of that misunderstanding. I was wrong. Sorry about that.

          “Or are you making the point that prayer is indeed good for getting presents but that that’s not the purpose?”

          Bingo! If a Christian were to pray for something sinful (like having sex with his neighbor’s wife), it wouldn’t make sense for that prayer to be answered, given the biblical understanding of how we are to behave. So, “everything” can’t be a correct interpretation of the presents to be received.

          “What is the purpose? And how do we explain that prayer isn’t good for much more than spiritual meditation?”

          As I said in that post, “The purpose of prayer is to bring the pray-er closer to God.” To elaborate, when Jesus says we need to pray in the name of the Lord, that suggests a modifier. One isn’t merely praying for selfish gain, but as one who is seeking a deeper relationship with God.

          That is not to go to the other extreme, though. That doesn’t mean that all prayers go unanswered. The answer to the neighbor’s wife prayer is “No”. As you point out with the job prayer point in this article, through hard work one may achieve it through worldly means on one’s own and wrongly attribute it to prayer – how would you know (If I may be so bold as to make your point for you)?

          As a personal … rhetorical … analogy, how do you know if someone *sincerely* loves you?

        • Greg G.

          Bingo! If a Christian were to pray for something sinful (like having sex with his neighbor’s wife), it wouldn’t make sense for that prayer to be answered, given the biblical understanding of how we are to behave. So, “everything” can’t be a correct interpretation of the presents to be received.

          The success of the endeavor wouldn’t matter what God wanted, but what the neighbor’s wife wanted. Unless he was the preacher and he could convince her that God told him it was alright. I expect the preacher prays before, during, and after the sex. But, then there are women who like to have affairs with preachermen. Maybe it is because preachermen pray for it.

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

          Bingo! If a Christian were to pray for something sinful (like having sex with his neighbor’s wife), it wouldn’t make sense for that prayer to be answered, given the biblical understanding of how we are to behave. So, “everything” can’t be a correct interpretation of the presents to be received.

          Jesus pretty much says “everything.” More precisely, he doesn’t qualify the power of prayer.

          One can assume that a good Christian wouldn’t ask for sinful things, though.

          As I said in that post, “The purpose of prayer is to bring the pray-er closer to God.” To elaborate, when Jesus says we need to pray in the name of the Lord, that suggests a modifier. One isn’t merely praying for selfish gain, but as one who is seeking a deeper relationship with God.

          Yes, bringing the pray-er closer to God is what Christians today say. If Jesus’s words can be seen to suggest that I could accept, but that’s hardly the sole message Jesus was giving w/r prayer.

          And that doesn’t help us with the problem that Jesus’s bold claims about prayer are false.

          That doesn’t mean that all prayers go unanswered.

          “Ask and you will receive.”

          As a personal … rhetorical … analogy, how do you know if someone *sincerely* loves you?

          One can’t know for certain. But if I pray for a bike and it doesn’t arrive, that I can know for certain.

        • Greg G.

          Peter was able to make people drop dead. Jesus said that if two people agree in prayer, it would be done. If you prayed to have an affair with your neighbor’s wife while his wife was praying for a tryst with you, the Bible guarantees it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Steal the bike and pray for forgiveness…it’ll all be grand in the end.

        • adam
        • Ignorant Amos

          Funny thing is…other Christians don’t agree with you.

          God actually invites us to ask him for things: Philippians 4:6″Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” It’s also the model Jesus sets for us. Jesus himself is God yet he still prayed to the Father, and asked him for things (e.g. Mark 14:36), showing us that prayer is part of a relationship. So the fact that God knows better than us what we need, what we want, and what’s good for us, shouldn’t actually stop us from talking with him about those things. When we do ask God for things we’re also expressing our dependence on him, acknowledging that he is in control of all of the details of our lives, and we need his involvement – all true prayer is faith in action.

        • EMiles

          Why not? Richard Dawkins did it in “The God Delusion”. Who cares about being accurate? Ridiculing those who don’t agree with anti-theist beliefs is the most important thing.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Help me out here. You sound as if you agree with my POV. That kind of thing only confuses me. I’m used to blind aggression with a smattering of obscenity. Am i missing something here?

        • Ignorant Amos

          That has nothing to do with the analogy.

          Another theist with a shite analogy.

          Atheists always come off as making excuses for science, just like the medieval doctors.

          Citation please.

          In the meantime, were medieval doctors making excuses for science?

          I think your premises about prayer could use some work, as well.

          What are Bob’s premises about prayer then?

          The purpose of prayer is not to heal the sick.

          Makes me wonder why so many Christians pray for the well being of others, particularly the sick. They must’ve missed the memo.

          Funny thing that folk like those at the Templeton Foundation have spent a lot of time and money investigating such nonsense too.

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

          That may well happen, but it isn’t the purpose.

          What do you think the purpose of prayer is then?

          Mark 21:21

          Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

          Someone needs to tell all those millions of sick Catholics that troop to places like Lourdes to pray for healing that they are doing it wrong.

        • Greg G.

          That’s Mark 11:24 or Matthew 21:22. I had to look it up but I knew Mark doesn’t have 21 chapters.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Aye….feckin’ typo…ave fixed it.

        • adam

          “Atheists always come off as making excuses for science, just like the medieval doctors.”

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

        • Michael Neville

          Why does science need excusing? Science is a process or method of determining explanations for physical phenomena. When science has been wrong scientists have admitted the errors and corrected them. This is known as “self-correcting”, it’s seen as a feature, not a bug.

        • adam

          ” Atheists always come off as making excuses for science, just like the medieval doctors.”

          And yet doctors are no longer medieval, but religion still is.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/25454387ea22aa35adc98263232598c2569533f9867658c4a1cec23fc8ba8ccb.png

    • EMiles

      Atheists sound that way to agnostics, too.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Against my better judgement, I’ll bite: how do you define “agnostic”?

    • Lark62

      Let’s compare.

      Scientists no longer accept the four humors, as that concept has been replaced by the Germ Theory of Disease which is verified by evidence. This is because science advances and discards concepts shown to be inaccurate.

      Christians still visit Lourdes for healing. Christians believe demons exist and some continue to blame demons for some physical and emotional ills. Many christians believe the earth is 6000 years old because of writings of iron age goat herders who didn’t know where the sun goes at night. Christians claim that a book that is fine with slavery and selling daughters to rapists is the perfect moral guide.

      This is because Christianity does not and cannot advance. Christianity does not and cannot discard concepts shown to be inaccurate.

      • Michael Neville

        Scientists no longer accept the four humors

        Of course not. Modern studies have shown that humor comes in many varieties: Anecdotal, burlesque, deadpan, droll, epigrammatic, farce, high, hyperbolic, ironic, morbid, mordant, parody, satire, self-deprecating, situational and slapstick. One of my favorite forms is sophomoric or juvenile humor.

      • MR

        And let’s not forget that even though Christians believe all that crazy shit, when it really matters, they sneak over to the science camp to steal their medicine, technology and all the other good shit. They pray for healing, hedge their bets with medicine, then give god all the glory instead of the scientists and doctors. It’s a thankless job. You do all the work, get criticized for it, and all the glory goes to a fictional character.

      • Greg G.

        It has been pointed out that more people have died in accidents traveling to Lourdes than have been proved to have been cured.

        Please don’t blame the hard-working Iron Age goat-herders for the writings they were exploited by.

        • Ignorant Amos

          As Richard Dawkins points out…a buddy is more likely to pick up a disease at Lourdes than have an existing one cured…and you don’t see too many disregarded prosthetic’s lying about the place, do you?

          The odds are not very remarkable either…millions of sick visitors doing all that praying and only sixty something “miracles” recognised, “miracles” that could just have easily been natural remissions.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GH9aHTkRRw0

        • Joe

          I use that argument whenever somebody brings up Lourdes.

          Factor in that the success rate there is less than the placebo effect, and that people have been ‘cured’ in hospital beds, or their own homes, all over the world. Allegedly.

          So some believers don’t even need to get off their ass, while others need to take a (relatively) more risky and expensive journey to get the same effect!

        • Michael Neville

          There’s also the argument that there are canes and crutches stacked outside the Lourdes Shrine but not a single prosthetic leg.

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      We have records that people claim to have seen Mary extol the virtues of the four humors back when that bullshit was in vogue.

  • Thanks4AllTheFish

    My favorite tactic is to insist that I also have a close personal relationship with (insert chosen deity) and that’s not what He/She/It told me. When they use Bible verses to prove I am wrong I insist that God told me He/She/It was misquoted and rewrite the verse to say what God told me it was supposed to say. The Tower of Babel is sometimes used to explain the discrepancy of translation. If theists are going to insist that God exists and use declarative sentences to show how right they are, I merely use the same tactic to show them how demonstrably inane they sound to us.

  • wtfwjtd

    I like how Godless Mama puts it–arguing with Christians feels like Groundhog’s day, having to cover the same ground over and over and over. No matter how many times it’s been discredited, or outright disproved, many Christians will still regurgitate the same discredited and evidence-less arguments, over and over, with nothing new to offer. Yes, it does get frustrating at times.

    http://churchandstate.org.uk/2016/01/ten-contradictions-theists-just-cant-stop-making/

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

      Great analogy.

  • Joe

    It is frustrating.

    So much so that I’m resorting to blocking people now rather than keep going over the same points again and again. The absolutely will not budge on their position, even if it is shown (to the best of my knowledge) to be false.

    The fact that they perform mental gymnastics to justify their faith causes other problems when they twist their world view to fit their beliefs.

    Am I (are we) that dogmatic? They accuse us of such behavior. I certainly would hope not. But how do I know when all I’m confronted with are bad/dishonest philosophical arguments or appeals to faith?

    The fact that I’ve changed political views, and other strongly held beliefs, in the past would point to me not being dogmatic.

    • Pofarmer

      But how do I know when all I’m confronted with are bad/dishonest philosophical arguments or appeals to faith?

      To be fair, that’s all they’ve got.

      The fact that I’ve changed political views, and other strongly held beliefs, in the past would point to me not being dogmatic.

      Same here.

    • RichardSRussell

      I bypass arguing about their conclusions (to which they have firm emotional attachments) and concentrate on their methods (which they haven’t typically become invested in). Ask them where else in their lives they rely on faith (blind faith, to be tautologous) to make decisions. Just plant the seed, don’t wait for it to sprout.

      Comparisons to other lies their parents told them — about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, hairy palms, and what’ll happen to your face if you make it look like that — also plant similar seeds.

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

        And another category: Scientology, Mormonism, Islam, Shinto, and so on–they’re just invented (inadvertently, in most cases), right? What does that tell you about your own religion?

  • Max Doubt

    “The Frustration of Arguing with Christians”

    One of the most frustrating aspects of arguing with Christians is the claim that a god exists cannot be defended with honesty. And as soon as the Christian ventures into dishonesty-land, which is virtually inevitable if the subject has anything to do with the alleged existence of a god, they are demonstrating unequivocally that they’re willing to lie to defend their belief. Anything else they say about it after that isn’t worth the toilet paper they wipe with.

    • Joe

      Apologetics is really about how best to disguise the fact you’re making things up.

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

      If Christians would say, “Look, I just believe, OK? Leave me alone.” then I would comply (except where they want to violate church/state boundaries). And yet here I am, because so many actually say, “My belief is on solid ground, and if you saw reality honestly, you’d become a believer, too.”

      • Max Doubt

        “If Christians would say, “Look, I just believe, OK? Leave me alone.” then I would comply…”

        I agree. It would be an honest defense of god belief if they’d admit it’s just a belief, that they have no way to objectively separate it from any other imaginary thing, and acknowledge they hang on to this particular fantasy because it makes them feel good. Maye if they’d approach it like this… “I pretend I’ll get my wish if I break a wishbone and end up with the bigger piece. I giggle when I do it. I’m going to keep on doing it.” I might even say cool, I’m glad you have something that makes you feel good, and leave it at that. Unfortunately it rarely almost never seems to go that way.

        • Michael Neville

          I can’t find it now but recently on another Patheos blog someone said: “I don’t mind God, it’s his fan club I have problems with.”

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

          “Dear God, protect me from your followers.”

          — atheist prayer

        • Syzygy

          It’s usually the xians pushing religion, tho. Never heard of atheists going door-to-door about it.

        • Greg G.

          Hi, we’re atheists wondering if you would like to talk about nothing in particular.

        • Syzygy

          It might be fun to do that, but I’m stuck in Texas. I’d probably be killed on day 1.

        • Greg G.

          Somehow, I am reminded of a joke John Wayne did on Laugh In which I have never forgot after all theses years. He said, “My Daddy told me to shoot first and ask questions later. I shot him before I asked him why.”

        • MR

          “Hi, we’re atheists and we’d like to sweep the dust off your porch that the Christians left behind.”

        • Greg G.

          Whew! At first I thought you meant Left Behind, with Kirk Cameron.

        • MR

          The art of misdirection :-)

      • Otto

        I have had people say that and I back down, it is when they assert the belief as being a part of our shared reality that I have an issue.

        • Max Doubt

          “I have had people say that and I back down, it is when they assert the belief as being a part of our shared reality that I have an issue.”

          If someone is talking about something that allegedly affects my life, they should be prepared to demonstrate that it objectively exists and has the alleged affecting properties. If they can’t do that, their notion that it is true is indistinguishable from them just pretending it’s true. If they can’t show it’s true and still try to include me in their game of let’s-pretend, they have some pretty lousy respect for boundaries.

      • adam

        “If Christians would say, “Look, I just believe, OK? Leave me alone.””

        If you push past this, what I normally get is.

        “Look I just WANT to believe”

        the problem I have with that is this:

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/96f7282d507681a8f2d9b1e0df55dadf5d1ee80173cca0745ada61eda096d945.jpg

  • Snagglefritz Sagenschnitter

    …if we’ve been indoctrinated as children…

    There’s the problem. Religious parents will ALWAYS indoctrinate their children. There is no chance they will ever stop doing it and therefore, sadly, religion will never die.

    • Jim Jones

      Finland: Church Attendance Falls; Religion Seen as Private

      The holiday weekend filled pews in some churches, but regular church attendance at Finland’s Lutheran services continues to fall. Just 1.8 percent of parishioners go to church weekly. Religion remains a very private affair for Finns—even for those who are active churchgoers.
      ——————————————————

      Nearly eight in 10 Danish people are members of the Church of Denmark, known as “the People’s Church”. The Church is both Protestant and episcopally-led. Everyone who is baptised automatically becomes a member. Just 2.4 per cent of members attend every week.

      Thousands Quit Church of Denmark After Atheist Tax Campaign
      ——————————————————

      Attendance at Church of England services has plunged to its lowest level ever as the Archbishop of Canterbury warned it was battling to maintain its place in an increasingly “anti-Christian” culture.

      Official figures – based on an annual pew count – show that only 1.4 per cent of the population of England now attend Anglican services on a typical Sunday morning.
      ——————————————————

      7 Startling Facts: An Up Close Look at Church Attendance in America

      Southern Baptists see baptising in steep decline

      3500 People Leave the Church Every Day

      Every denomination in the U.S. is losing both affiliation and church attendance. In some ways the country is a half-generation behind the declining rate of Christianity in other western countries like the U.K., Australia, Germany, Sweden, Norway, France, and the Netherlands.

      • epeeist

        show that only 1.4 per cent of the population of England now attend Anglican services on a typical Sunday morning.

        The actual number (around 900,000) is about the same as those attending Catholic services. The RCC claims about 4.2 million members in England and Wales.

        This page shows the fall in attendance. The spreadsheet is worth perusing, have a glance at things like the number of ordinations, baptisms and marriages.

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

          interesting data, thanks. I wonder if in those graphs, we’re seeing the future of the US.

        • Odd Jørgensen

          The Catlicks are notorious for inflating their numbers though, they got a smack on the wrist and had to return millions of monies after they cheated on the member rolls.
          https://www.thelocal.no/20160506/catholic-church-told-to-pay-back-millions-to-norway

        • Ignorant Amos

          The RCC lying?

          Really?

          Now there’s a surprise…NOT!

    • Halbe

      I agree that religion will probably never die, but it is declining rapidly in the western world, especially in north-western Europe. The societal influence and power of the church has diminished a lot; even staunchly Catholic Ireland voted in favor of SSM with a large majority recently, going directly against the frantic lobbying of the once all-powerful RCC.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Kids are breaking free of religion, and those who already have aren’t indoctrinating their children.

      It may be asymptotic, but it’s accelerating.

      • Odd Jørgensen

        Yet in 3rd world countries, it is growing. So the numbers stay mostly the same, the demographic is just migrating.

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

          At the moment, yes, numbers are just migrating. If the third world follows the West in this area, as it has in many others, perhaps religion will wane there in 50 years or so.

        • Joe

          Well, global warming is going to hit these countries first and hardest, so that will move the timescale forward a few decades.

          Not sure if they’ll become less religious though.

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

      That’s a problem. It seems that ethically, parents should have the right to teach their children whatever they think suitable.

      The flip side of this is that this makes a powerful counter-apologetic argument: imagine a society in which children weren’t indoctrinated as children. How long do you suppose that religion would last?

    • Max Doubt

      “There is no chance they will ever stop doing it and therefore, sadly, religion will never die.”

      While it seems likely there will always be people who believe stuff without evidence, and who will succeed at passing along a version of those beliefs, particular religions do die. There’s some comfort in knowing even the very most enduring religions have died. The Arrogance of Religious Thought: Information Kills Religion, by Wm Zingrone offers some ideas on that issue.

    • Joe

      I see religion, or any extreme belief, like the half-life of radioactive decay: It will keep getting smaller, but will never get to zero.

      It seems to be a feature of human cognition.

    • EMiles

      “Religious parents will ALWAYS indoctrinate their children.”

      No, they actually do not always do so. First off, not all religions are the same. And secondly, there are religions that expose people to differing world views (including yours) and allow children to choose for themselves.

      I was indoctrinated into leftist and anti-theist ideology. I grew out of it and began to think for myself.

  • http://somaticstrength.wordpress.com/ Tor

    There was a moment, when I was a Christian, where I realized that nothing would ever shake my faith or the faith of those around me. And I found it terrifying, because if there was no proof, no new information, no circumstance, that could change our minds about our God, then we had no test to determine whether we were truly saved or whether we were false converts to a fake religion. How could I have assurance that I was going to heaven, that I had actually found God, if I had already tossed aside any other thought, experience, or knowledge that contradicted that?

    • Halbe

      And that was the moment you became destined to shed your faith, even if you did not know it yet :-) Anyone able to think these thoughts while “in the bubble” ends up outside the bubble I think.

    • Pofarmer

      then we had no test to determine whether we were truly saved or whether
      we were false converts to a fake religion. How could I have assurance
      that I was going to heaven, that I had actually found God,

      I see a lot of fear and uncertainty in some really devout people. And I think this is the root of it.

    • Kevin K

      So, Pascal’s wager in reverse.

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

      The angle that I find fascinating is the “What if my unbelief will send me to hell?”

      Intellectually, if God doesn’t exist, then a hell created by that god also doesn’t exist. So no worries. But that argument won’t get you very far when speaking to the visceral fear planted in your psyche when you were 6.

      • http://somaticstrength.wordpress.com/ Tor

        Oh yeah. It’s why it’s incredibly frustrating that any residual guilt you might have once you stop believing is often used by the members of your former faith to argue that that totally proves you understand, on a spiritual level, that x thing is really wrong. And not that when you come to a different conclusion about something, your feelings don’t follow.

        Especially with any kind of trauma. I know firsthand what it’s like to constantly be living with two modes of thinking — what I know logically is true, and what my emotions are telling me is real.

        I think that’s why, more than a lot of non-Christians, I constantly “test the faith” as it was called. I lived for far too long with a belief system that defined how God would reveal himself and what your life would look like through belief in Jesus vs. without, for me to not gain some kind of satisfaction in occasionally playing by the rules (either through things we said would ensure God would reveal himself, or through the things we said that would bring about destruction and hardship) and noticing that not a damn thing actually happens.

      • Pofarmer

        Btdt, seen the fear, though not in myself

      • Mrislandliving

        Here’s a popular source of visceral fear for young children…

        Now I lay me down to sleep,

        I pray to Lord my soul to keep,

        If I should die before I wake,

        I pray the Lord my soul to take.

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

          You know what would be fun? Add another verse that talks about what would happen if the Lord didn’t choose to take the soul of the child.

          I’m sure the church would thank us.

        • Questioning54

          I remember that one! Then it goes,
          “There are four corners in my bed
          There are four angels in them spread
          Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
          God bless the bed that I lie on.”
          As I recall Matthew, Mark, Luke and John weren’t actually said to be angels. Maybe I got the wrong version.

        • Greg G.

          I never heard that verse but it sounds like something Irenaeus would write.

        • Michael Neville

          Now I lay me down to rest
          Break an egg upon my chest.

          Sounds like something a six year old would come up with.

      • Robert Templeton

        Or even stranger is the “What if my belief will send me to hell?” – because it isn’t the correct one or I am being deceived. That is the beginning of real contemplation and query about your beliefs and religion.

    • EMiles

      Sounds like a toxic religion.

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

    I think that I’ve read somewhere leeches really can be useful, and for bloodletting specifically sometimes. Of course, not nearly to the degree it was once thought. It makes sense that there would be a kernel of truth under this. The problem is that things get blown completely out of proportion.

    • Otto

      I agree it does make sense, like maggots in a wound. What is important is the ‘why’.

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

        Yes, exactly. It was a “right for the wrong reason” issue at times. The maggots would devour infected tissue-that could save people’s lives before antibiotics (some antibiotic things were also used without it being known just how they worked as well).

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

          And if you have the right kind of maggots, they’ll eat dead tissue only–useful if you’re living in a pre-modern-medicine environment.

        • Derk King

          I’ve read that maggots are still used in modern medicine for wound care/healing, especially when super bugs (MRSA) are resistant to antibiotics (as I recall).

        • Jim Jones

          The US is finally following the Soviets and trying out phages.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or even a modern medicine environment.

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

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

          Very.

    • Kevin K

      Leeches are sometimes used after microvascular surgery, particularly of digits that have been re-attached after being severed in accidents. They prevent the small vessels from clotting so that circulation can be maintained to the digit.

      I’m not aware of any other use.

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

        Okay. That may be wrong.

      • Phil Rimmer

        The anti-coagulant effects of leach saliva may well have been an unwitting benefit. Extracted or synthesised it is a useful medication even now.

    • Lark62

      It’s not to a different degree. Bloodletting in the past was for a totally different purpose and had zero medical benefit. The ancient Greeks believed there were 4 humors – black bile, yellow bile, blood and phlegm. They believed both disease and emotions were caused by imbalances between the humors.

      This view of medicine persisted for millenia into the 20th century. During the flu pandemic of 1918, some old doctors refused to believe influenza was caused by a virus and prescribed mustard to balance the humors.

      Bloodletting was intended to balance the humors and thus cure disease. George Washington and lots of others died as a result.

      Modern use of leeches to target specific swelling or malfunctioning veins is totally different.

      It would make add much sense to say that astrology has a kernal of truth because it’s based on stars just like astronomy.

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

        I knew their theory, but thought it might have some medical benefit by accident in some cases anyway.

  • quinsha

    Actually, properly used, leeches have a place in modern medicine. They are not used for the old purpose application of blood-letting though.

    http://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-leech-therapy#how-it-works2

  • EMiles

    Christians, just like atheist bloggers, can be frustrating. We are all human. Welcome to the world.

    • Joe

      Yet skeptical atheists, at least, will admit to being frustrating.

      I have yet to see an admission from our usual theistic bloggers that they could be wrong in any way. Despite many holding to the belief that we are fallen creatures.

      Agnostic theists are a rare breed, around these parts at least.
      .

      • EMiles

        You believe that skeptical atheists will admit to being frustrating? But your usual theistic bloggers will not? Ok. Noted.

        • Joe

          If they are frustrating, yes.

          They will admit to being hairless apes.

          It’s not a belief, it’s an anecdote. Take a look through some of Bob’s other posts and show me a theist admiring they could be wrong about God. I can’t remember the last time I met one.

        • EMiles

          You are frustrated by your usual theistic bloggers, but not with skeptical atheists? Ok. Good to know! Thanks for sharing. My experience is different. I’ve found some interesting and kind skeptical atheists and theist bloggers, and some vile and rude ones (which frustrate me, regardless of their atheistic or theistic leanings).

        • Joe

          My experience is different. I’ve found some interesting and kind skeptical atheists and theist bloggers, and some vile and rude ones

          Good to know.

        • frishy

          As an Atheist, I’m not skeptical, are any of us?
          I am certain there can’t be, and there is no reason for, any sort of god.
          It would have to work faster than light for one thing, and, if it preceded the universe upon what did it’s thoughts occupy, there was no matter upon which to encode data before the big bang, so god couldn’t exist prior to that event.
          (Besides the fact there was no “prior” since time didn’t exist yet either).

        • Joe

          As an Atheist, I’m not skeptical, are any of us?

          Yes. Skepticism is a term for an approach to life where you try to align your views with reality, or wht is true.

          If you aren’t skeptical, your liable to hold any number of fallacious beliefs. There are atheists who are 9/11 truthers, moon landing denialists, anti-vaxers and more.

  • Joe Monte

    My wife let our kids go to Vacation Bible School last Summer with one of her Evangelical friend’s kids. One day they told me that “Jesus is the Savior”. I asked them point blank: “What did he save you from?” Now, just think about that. There are kids going around thinking that “Jesus is the Savior” without really knowing what that means. When would they find out the answer? Who would tell them? At what age? Why not now when they are six and five years old?
    It was a moment of weakness on my wife’s part to have someone watch the kids for a morning. We both agreed that it won’t happen again.

    • Pofarmer

      Kids at that age take stuff very literally, and also follow authority figures. It’s tough. Tell them the truth and talk about things, because they are going to be around religions from now on in the U.S.

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

        I read a children’s Bible to my kids. Simply living in the West, it’s important to know the stories from the Bible for cultural literacy. I think it helped inoculate them against bullshit.

        • busterggi

          “For she doted upon their paramours, whose dingies are as the dingies of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of my little ponies.”

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

          Classic Bowdlerization! Thank you for bringing sanity to the Bible.

        • Lark62

          Off topic – funniest thing ever – play “My Ding-A-Ling” for your kids, introducing it only as a popular song they used to play on the radio back in the dark ages.

          This is the only time I’ve ever seen someone laugh so uncontrollably that they literally fell and rolled on the floor.

        • islandbrewer

          You HAD to bring up My Little Pony porn!

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

          Rule 34, I’m afraid.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I have two apps on my Iphone…”Bible for Kids” and the Olive Tree “Bible Study”…it’s a wheeze to read how the fuckers will cherry pick and lie to children to get the shitty message across.

          https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/bible-app-for-kids/id668692393?mt=8

          https://www.olivetree.com/bible-study-apps/

        • Lark62

          When we stay in hotels, my kid’s two favotite things are the weight rooms and the Gideon Bibles.

          Bear in mind this is the same kid who took “God. The most unpleasant character in all of fiction” to school for free reading time and shared it with his friends at recess. Yes. In elemetary school.

          He actually has had bibles of his own. I gave him one of my old bibles with a leather cover and it fell victim to a puppy. He brought home a Gideon once but left it on the floor like kids do. Our other dog is elderly and leaves puddles…. Oh well.

          I agree with you. Reading the bible stories and thinking about them is the best vaccine around.

        • Dom Saunders

          Bear in mind this is the same kid who took “God. The most unpleasant character in all of fiction” to school for free reading time and shared it with his friends at recess. Yes. In elemetary school.

          That’s almost exactly what I did back in the second grade. It created a minor controversy and I was made to give a note to my mom from my teacher explaining what I did, as if it were a bad thing. Naturally that got me curious as to what it was even about so I ended up reading the whole thing, cover to cover.

          By the fourth grade, dropped it entirely.

    • sandy

      Apparently indoctrination takes a firm grip prior to the age of 8. After the age of 8 children are not as susceptible. Now is the time to straighten them out. No wonder Sunday school starts at such a young age.

    • sandy

      “What did he save you from?” Save them from what he will do to them if they don’t believe in him. Straight to hell!

  • Ficino

    “You ought not to discuss with everybody or exercise yourself against any casual person; for against some people argument is sure to deteriorate; for with a man who tries every means to seem to avoid defeat you are justified in using every means to obtain your conclusion, but this is not a seemly proceeding. You should not, therefore, readily join issue with casual persons; this can only result in a debased kind of discussion; for those who are practicing cannot forbear from disputing contentiously.” ~ Aristotle, Topics VIII.14 (tr. Forster)

    • Bravo Sierra

      “Nine times out of ten, an argument ends with each of the contestants more firmly convinced than ever that he is absolutely right.

      “You can’t win an argument. You can’t because if you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Why? Well, suppose you triumph over the other man and shoot his argument full of holes and prove that he is non compos mentis. Then what? You will feel fine. But what about him? You have made him feel inferior. You have hurt his pride. He will resent your triumph. And –

      “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still”

      — Dale Carnegie

      • Wesley Baines

        That’s why the delivery of even the most well-reasoned argument is vital. If you convey truth in an unkind way, you strengthen the lie.

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    FWIW Bob, the inane argument offered by Clement below is what I was referring to in my, “you have faith in science!” comment on your earlier post. He isn’t challenging laymen acceptance of science, he is challenging science and knowledge in general.

  • Mrislandliving

    When I’ve reached my limit with Bible toting, proselytizing Christians claiming the Bible is the inerrant word of god, I sometimes ask them where the 10 commandments are located. They will normally go to Exodus 20 and gleefully begin reciting them for me. Then I have them turn to Exodus 34 and begin reading from verse 14 and ending with the jaw dropping verse 28.

    34:28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

    This claim is not made in Exodus 20 and I have yet to hear an acceptable explanation for this obvious contradiction.

    My favourite of the real 10 Commandments is the last one… “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk”.

    • Lark62

      Did you notice the command that the first born of every womb must be sacrificed to god? There are exactly 2 exceptions.
      1. You don’t have to kill a donkey if you “redeem it” by killing a sheep instead.
      2. First born sons must be redeemed by killing something else instead.

      That’s it. No other exceptions. Tough luck if the first born is a daughter.

      • Mrislandliving

        Tough luck for women seems to be a biblical standard, Lark62.
        These 10 are more in keeping with the maniacal O/T monster God that we’ve grown to love, fear, ignore or mock (depending on our individual levels of gullibility)

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

      All the Christians you talk to will know that Mo broke the first set and had to go back for a second set. Ex. 34 is that second set (quite different from the first, even though it is stated to be identical). And the 10 Commandments that were put in the Ark of the Covenant? That was, obviously, that second set.

      Kinda puts you off goat meat, doesn’t it?

      • Ignorant Amos

        The twenty-five, “Ten Commandments”.

        Technically there are three versions, though only one version is actually called the “Ten Commandments” in the book and that is the version in Exodus 34 that no one has heard about and isn’t used by the holy rollers in their inane displays. Those embarrassing ones noted by you and Mrislandliving.

        The writers who put the words into Jesus mouth seemed a wee bit confused also.

        http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Ten_Commandments#How_many_Commandments.3F

        Of course in Clements eyes, these are mere foibles of non-importance. But…

        The general perception in this country [USA] is that the “Ten Commandments” are part of the common religious heritage of Judaism, Catholicism and Protestantism, part of the sacred scriptures that we all share, and should not be controversial. But most people involved in the debate seem to have missed the fact that these three religions divide up the commandments in different ways! Judaism, unlike Catholicism and Protestantism, considers “I am the L-rd, your G-d” to be the first “commandment.” Catholicism, unlike Judaism and Protestantism, considers coveting property to be separate from coveting a spouse. Protestantism, unlike Judaism and Catholicism, considers the prohibition against idolatry to be separate from the prohibition against worshipping other gods. No two religions agree on a single list. So whose list should we post?

        These may seem like trivial differences to some [Clement], but they are serious issues to those of us who take these words seriously. When a government agency chooses one version over another, it implicitly chooses one religion over another, something that the First Amendment prohibits. This is the heart of the controversy.

        Of course in Judaism the whole idea is nonsense. There is 613 Mitzvot and all of them are commandments with equal footing.

        According to Jewish tradition, G-d gave the Jewish people 613 mitzvot (commandments). All 613 of those mitzvot are equally sacred, equally binding and equally the word of G-d. All of these mitzvot are treated as equally important, because human beings, with our limited understanding of the universe, have no way of knowing which mitzvot are more important in the eyes of the Creator.

        In Judaism the Decalogue isn’t ten commandments, they are ten category headings.

        http://www.jewfaq.org/10.htm

        Mind you, even the Jews can’t make up their minds on what those 613 commandments should be either.

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

        Ican see why Christians would want fuck all to do with that list. It is contradictory and contains idiotic nonsense…ohhhps, where have I seen that before?

        A loada ballix the lot of it.

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

          Helpful observations.

          I’ve heard atheists respond to the “But I wanna have the 10 Commandments up in public! Because my faith is so weak that it makes me feel better if I can make the government say it!” by saying, sure, let’s go ahead and put up the 10 Cs, but you’ve got to put all 3 versions up, not just your sanitized Ex. 20 version.

  • DoorknobHead

    THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON RELIGION
    > There was a (another) meta-study done recently showing that a major preponderance of studies show negative correlation between religion and intelligence. “Atheists are more intelligent than religious people” was the title for the Independent, UK article. Keeping in mind that intelligence is not strictly static and is not just something that people are born with, but that it is, more significantly, dynamic and can increase or decrease over time, then it is not entirely unreasonable to suggest religion must be a significant factor in lowering the average intelligence of religious populations (and therefore of some individuals in that population) or for generally discouraging intelligence growth. Arguing with people which have been artificially made less intelligent by religion, or have been artificially vectored towards medieval thinking, is frustrating — it is out of our control, but could be controlled if harmful inculcation was mitigated and better thinking was substituted. I would therefore submit that it is not always out of bounds to claim a religious individual is less intelligent (everything else assumed equal), and that it often may be a fair way to attack their person when it becomes self-evident that this is the case. Even though attacking intelligence sounds like it might always be an irrelevant ad hominem attack, I would say it may very well be a relevant ad hominem attack appropriate for many of the religious that demonstrate such lack of intelligence. If they have been taught to avoid, deny, or not allow themselves to think certain avenues of thought or to engage in introspection, sympathy, or empathy when a freethinker does not have that limitation, then the religious person, all other things being equal (even being extremely high intelligence in all other areas), is indeed less intelligent than an equivalent freethinker. Oh, let me just add, rhetorically, “duh.”

    RELIGIOUS PROMOTION OF INSTINCTS OVER INTELLECT
    > I liked the take reported by the UK article that religiosity favors instinct while intelligence can be thought of as a way to overcome instincts (or as I am often fond of saying, a way to employ countermeasures against human biases). It is instinctual to think every rustle of the grass by the wind may be a dangerous agent about to pounce and to instinctually retreat, but with intelligence we can conclude with high probability that under the circumstances that the dangerous predator we first thought existed presenting a threat in our way was only in our imagination, and therefore we can advance towards a reward that will be beneficial for all members of the tribe, that might be otherwise denied, because we overcame our instincts when it was appropriate. Sure, it is important to attack the arguments instead of the individual, but sometimes it is frustrating that an otherwise very intelligent being is not, in reality, as intelligent as they might be because they are infected with religious dogma and their intelligence has been artificially and self-evidently lowered.

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

      I’ve heard of studies like that. I don’t find this kind of statistic useful in convincing Christians to challenge their assumptions, as you can imagine. But it is amusing nonetheless.

      Cool name, BTW.

      • DoorknobHead

        WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH BACKFIRE EFFECT, TOO? REALLY? NOT FAIR.
        > Agreed. The backfire effect causes frustration in trying to convince the religious to challenge their assumptions, and attempting to provide evidence in how religion has made them functionally less intelligent would surely backfire in the majority of cases even when done as judiciously and cogently as possible. It might be fair to do so, but not efficacious, surely. Yep, Yep.

        PLANTING SEEDS IN THE DARK
        > I have found that conversations that only talk about the ideas, and strictly avoid referring to the interlocutor at all in the second person, as “you” for example, can make for less frustrating or at least less volatile conversations — except for the fact that Eureka moments don’t seem to ever happen. It is like planting seeds, but not ever being around to see if anything will grow.

        STATE OF MIND-GAMES
        > It might be best to always think of the religious as victims, and have sympathy and empathy towards them as fellow human beings, but, gosh darn it, sometimes it is fun, and frustration-relieving, to go off script and try new, clever ways to say true but offensive things that may be high risk in shutting them down, especially if they seem to be people with irredeemable character flaws (obviously doing so, though is one of my own character flaws).

        DOING IT FOR YOU, NOT FOR THEM, MAKES IT LESS FRUSTRATING
        > I won’t necessarily change minds; that is frustrating. The game is rigged; that is frustrating. One thing that makes it less frustrating, though, is that during the process of forming thoughts writing and arguing, I am actually forcing myself to refine my own thoughts. I am obviously, very long winded, and it may be true that no one but I will read what I’ve written, but just the very act of writing out your own thoughts makes your own thoughts more robust and refined. I also enjoy the interaction because when people bring up new things, and especially when they challenge me, I often find I have to do a little bit of research, and for me leaning isn’t frustrating but is rewarding.

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

          That’s a great point about speaking generally and avoiding “you” in discussions with Christians.

      • epeeist

        I don’t find this kind of statistic useful in convincing Christians to challenge their assumptions, as you can imagine.

        My understanding is that the intelligence/religiosity correlation is fairly weak anyway.

        The stronger correlation is education/religiosity and while I wouldn’t use the is to challenge assumptions I would certainly take it into account when exposing people to information they may not have come across before.

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    Reposted due to the same disqus spam filter issue as before.

    I finally got the chance to read some of the comments and thought I’d bring a few choice selections to the top of the page.

    There might be some argument as to whether the groups you mentioned are Christian. Even at that, we’re talking about 99% agreement.

    Clement is engaging in some serious equivocation here. Christians are defined by belief commonality so finding said commonality is not convergence, it’s a useless tautology. It is no more meaningful than me saying, “100% of people who think I’m the sexiest man on the planet consider me the sexiest man on the planet, so I have consensus support in believing I’m the sexiest man on the planet!”

    By contrast, scientists are defined not by conclusion but by methodology. “Activity X generates result Y.” Since Activity X can be repeated and tested by people of any ideology, place of birth, etc., a consensus is uniquely meaningful.

    I’ll grant that Clement’s argument is a bit more nuanced since he doesn’t narrow the definition quite as much as my sarcastic response does. The problem is that he offsets this by utilizing an obvious sharp-shooter fallacy: cherry pick the similarities of Christian claims, draw the circle around them and call that a “consensus”. That simply is not the way legitimate search for truth operates.

    If Clement wants to be on equal footing, he needs to provide a methodology by which theistic consensuses are reached. Give me the “X” that generates a consistent conclusion “Y” that god exists… or Jesus resurrected… or whatever. Whether that’s reading the bible, or studying at seminary or going to church, it really doesn’t matter. But the “99%” means nothing until there is a driving methodological consensus as well.

    You’re groping for the “God is inscrutable” loophole?

    Pretty much the last refuge of every theist. My favorite example was when WLC, after having his claim of Earth’s “design for life” thrown back in his face, stammering something like, “why would you expect god to do it like that? He may have had artistic reasons for making only part of the planet be habitable by humans!”

    Ah yes….. the stuff that superficially indicates precision is evidence of design by an all powerful, all knowing, all good god. The stuff that indicates a lack of precision is evidence of design by an all powerful, all knowing, all good artistic god. Makes perfect sense.

    I have to ask, though, how do you discern between a god who chose to be inefficient for artistic reasons and one that did so due to incompetence or lack of power….. or one that doesn’t exist at all? And if precision supposedly indicates god, but the lack of precision doesn’t indicate the lack of god, what would?

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    Alright! Hopefully 5th time is a charm with this damn spam filter!

    I finally got the chance to read some of the comments and thought I’d bring a few choice selections to the top of the page.

    There might be some argument as to whether the groups you mentioned are Christian. Even at that, we’re talking about 99% agreement.

    Clement is engaging in some serious equivocation here. Christians are defined by belief commonality so finding said commonality is not convergence, it’s a useless tautology. It’s as meaningful as me saying, “100% of people who think I’m the sexiest man on the planet consider me the sexiest man on the planet, so I have consensus support in believing I’m the sexiest man on the planet!”

    By contrast, scientists are defined not by conclusion but by methodology. “Activity X generates result Y.” Since Activity X can be repeated and tested by people of any ideology, place of birth, etc., a consensus is uniquely meaningful.

    I’ll grant that Clement’s argument is a bit more nuanced since he doesn’t narrow the definition quite as much as my sarcastic response does. The problem is that he offsets this by utilizing an obvious sharp-shooter fallacy: cherry pick the similarities of Christian claims, draw the circle around them and call that a “consensus”. That simply is not the way legitimate search for truth operates.

    If Clement wants to be on equal footing, he needs to provide a methodology by which theistic consensuses are reached. Give me the “X” by which doing so will generate a consistent conclusion “Y” that god exists… or Jesus resurrected… or whatever. Whether that’s reading the bible, or studying at seminary or going to church, it really doesn’t matter. But the “99%” means nothing until there is driving methodological consensus as well.

    You’re groping for the “God is inscrutable” loophole?

    Pretty much the last refuge of every theist. My favorite example was when WLC, after having his claim of Earth’s “design for life” thrown back in his face, stammering something like, “why would you expect god to do it like that? He may have had artistic reasons for making only part of the planet be habitable by humans!”

    Ah yes….. the stuff that superficially indicates precision is evidence of design by an all powerful, all knowing, all good god. The stuff that indicates a lack of precision is evidence of design by an all powerful, all knowing, all good artistic god. Makes perfect sense.

    I have to ask, though, how do you discern between a god who chose to be inefficient for artistic reasons and one that did so due to incompetence or lack of power? Or one that doesn’t exist at all? And if precision supposedly indicates god, but the lack of precision doesn’t indicate the lack god, what would?

    • Kodie

      Hi, I haven’t really done any research on your issue, and I guess the others have ruled out the one where you can’t find your posts but they are there, they’re just not showing up after reload.

      @BobSeidensticker:disqus, on another blog I used to post on, posts got deleted as spam if the word “socialism” because it contains the same string of letters as a popular boner pill. I don’t know if that’s something that could happen on your blog, or what word or words is triggering it. It might be in the name, since it seems to only happen to this one guy.

      Just a suggestion, hope it turns up something.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        The problem seems to arise after edits. Three edits virtually ensures the post will disappear, but it’s gone for mod approval after only one at times as well. I’ve had some get devoured immediately, but that was after the spam filter was already eagerly awaiting my next post.

        I’ve taken to composing comments off site and this helps with the typos, but I’ll often think of better ways to state things afterward. Having to give myself the day or two to ensure no clarity appears would be a pain in the ass and keep me from participating in active discussions.

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

          That’s crazy. I edit my comments maybe 1% of the time, and I don’t recall any problem. Of course, it might’ve been that I see the correction, but Disqus has still lost it.

          If you want to experiment, you could find a post that has few comments (less than 50) and make a comment, refresh, then make an edit, then refresh. See if there’s a rule that will avoid this.

          Or just get it right the first time so edits are unnecessary!

        • Ignorant Amos

          I edit comments way more than 1% and in threads of all sizes and ages without issues….it’s defo a strange one.

        • Michael Neville

          Or just get it right the first time so edits are unnecessary!

          What’s the fun in that?

        • https://www.jonmorgan.info Jon Morgan

          I too think it’s edits that trip the spam filter. And I’m not sure that composing off site helps – I’ve seen issues with that too, and am guessing they think composing off site and then pasting it in is much more indicative of a spammer trying to hit as many places as possible.

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

        Oh–Cialis. It took me a moment.

        Given all the naughty words that both you and I have gotten away with, I don’t think we have any kind of word-matching filter here.

        • Max Doubt

          “… I don’t think we have any kind of word-matching filter here.”

          Trust me on this one. No swear word filters here. I’ve tested for them. Frequently.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Me too!

        • Michael Neville

          Me three!

        • Greg G.

          No, me three. You, infinity!

        • Michael Neville

          I was referring to my emotional maturity age. :^þ

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

          Dang! Durn! Heck!

          (Just testing)

        • Michael Neville

          Maternal fornicator! Bovine feces! Rectum!

        • Greg G.

          Oh, fudge! Why is your post blank?

        • Kodie

          We used filthy language at the other blog too, but that’s not a dirty word, it’s a spam word, and may be out of your control and is a spam setting of patheos, maybe not disqus at all.

          That’s why spammers spell it with symbols and maybe a capital i instead of a lowercase L. There seems to be something specific to that particular poster! Maybe it’s in the email address with a spam word or maybe he used to be a spammer and created a new account for regular posting using the same email. I don’t know, but it’s peculiar. Ask him to change his handle and see if it stops happening. If it doesn’t, try changing his profile to another email.

      • Michael Neville

        The infamous Scunthorpe syndrome.

    • Greg G.

      That is what I keep trying to tell Clement. Christians agree on the minimal thing that identifies them as Christian. Everything else is up for grabs.

      But Jesus’ prayer is that they agree to such a degree that the whole world is so impressed that they know that Christianity is true. Since two-thirds of the world doesn’t believe that and most of the believers barely believe it, the prayer is a failure. Apparently Jesus didn’t have the faith of a mustard seed.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Christians agree on the minimal thing that identifies them as Christian.

        Exactly, disagree with these and you are no longer a Christian. Scientists don’t stop being scientists when they disagree.

      • busterggi

        “Christians agree on the minimal thing that identifies them as Christian.”

        Well they claim that but they are constantly saying that others that claim that identity aren’t true Christians so even the minimal thing isn’t true.

        • Greg G.

          Well, they say that until they need an argument about the percentage of the world’s population being Christian, then they count the not-True Christians.

        • busterggi

          Situational ethics has no place in divine morality (snerk)

        • Max Doubt

          “… then they count the not-True Christians.”

          … and the Catholics.

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

      Crazy. This comment of yours showed “This comment is awaiting moderation. Show comment.”

      I checked, and I didn’t see anything odd about the comment or your account. I approved it, just for good measure. Maybe it’s working fine now.

      Poltergeists?

      • Guy Fawkes

        I’ve had that happen to several comments over the years on Discus. No idea what it is. Some have been here and some other blogs.

    • Ignorant Amos

      I seen at least three of the previous copies, read one of them and upvoted it, so they are definitely hitting the comments section.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Are they still there? If not, I’d guess that you squeezed in an upvote before the hungry spam filter did its thing. :)

        • Ignorant Amos

          Unfortunately I didn’t leave a comment, so the task of hoking them out would be too cost benefit intense.

  • frishy

    Bob: I am sorry for your frustration, perhaps I can help.

    Faith = BELIEF WITHOUT EVIDENCE.

    Those who profess belief in higher powers (I generalize for all religious traditions) represent 70-80% of humanity.

    Having faith has been an ‘evolutionary good’, that is, those who have faith are more likely to have children.

    Consider: it is natural to follow leaders, that is what social primates do, since we evolved to live in groups. So, respect for ‘higher powers’ comes built in…

    Secondly, we are born helpless, and, higher powers wipe our butts and stick a teat in our mouths for MANY months, so our experience suggests higher powers are around.

    Those who believe in higher powers have an entire reality with no basis in reality, therefore, you cannot ‘logically’ present anything that would dissuade them from their beliefs.

    (And, just because you are RIGHT doesn’t MEAN ANYTHING. I know your “sense of justice” (we all have this) is being bruised, since they won’t acknowledge you are correct, but, get over it or you will remain frustrated!!!)

    Bob, don’t try to teach a pig to whistle. Since they can’t whistle, it will frustrate you, but worse, it annoys the pig.

    • John Do’h

      Faith = a rationalization for what you WANT to believe, one chooses a reality they PREFER.

      • Rick

        That may be your definition, but it is not what the dictionary says, and it is not the way in which most of the reasonable believers I know use the term.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, so…. evidence? The kind of evidence you have for the other examples you offered? Or shit, no evidence, like the kind all Christians have?

    • Rick

      Your definition of “faith” is at odds with the dictionary. Faith is defined as confidence or trust in a person or thing. Evidence is frequently a component of the movement of an individual to a position of having faith in a person or thing. Examples:

      I have faith that the next article Bob posts will be from the standpoint of an atheist.

      I have faith that the bridges I drive across will not fall while I am driving across them.

      I have faith that things which appear to be man-made are not caused by natural processes without the intervention of intelligent agents.

      Each of these is based on experience, previous patterns, etc. None is characterized by a lack of evidence.

      • adam
        • Rick

          That passage does not mandate lack of evidence.

        • adam

          And certain of what we do not see.

          Being sure of what we hope for

          Pure WISHFUL THINKING

          No evidence required.

      • Kodie

        The dictionary’s definition is at odds with how the word ‘faith’ is used by religious people when talking about god. You can’t use the word if you don’t follow the definition, then, how about that.

        • Rick

          I don’t see how it is at odds. It isn’t at odds with the term as I have heard it used most often. Since I use the term as the dictionary defines it, I will continue using it.

        • Kodie

          If you have confidence in something without evidence, you cannot compare it to confidence in something with evidence. Atheists tend to distinguish what it means to have faith because faith usually means god, as in, some lady walked up to my car I was sitting in, parked on the street, and asked if I was a “woman of faith”. When I told her I was an atheist, she said, “Great! So you have faith that there’s no god” so I told her we’re done talking, and she left me alone.

          It usually means “confidence without evidence” which is fine for you, but don’t try to tell me I have to do your superstitions or think your failed arguments are evidence for god.

        • Rick

          You make a good point. But I think you misunderstand my position. I don’t have faith without evidence.

          You answer posts on a computer that has software. You have never seen the programmer, yet you have no doubt about the programmer’s existence.

          The least complex DNA has coding millions of times more complex than your computer software. Whether it is bacteria or a single celled organism, that DNA is encased in a biosphere capable of providing nutritional metabolism, elimination of waste, and reproduction. To me, that is all evidence of design and programming, which in turn require intelligent agency.

          We both have faith in something. We both have faith in the programmer we have not seen, but you have faith that nothing ordered life except undirected natural forces acting over time. To me, yours is the greater leap of faith.

        • Kodie

          I know how programming works. You don’t know how biology and evolution works, so you pretend to recognize a terrible analogous “person” who programmed biological functions and DNA. You can continue to pretend that’s the same kind of confidence, but you can’t convince me that you have evidence of a designer. And so what, you think you have evidence for a designer because of your ignorance. You extend that confidence into other areas of faith that you have no evidence for. You think if there’s a designer, you have an “ultimate purpose” and that when you die, you go somewhere even better. There’s no substance to back that faith.

        • Rick

          You presume I know nothing about biology and evolution. What evidence do you have for that? The analogy actually works pretty well, but you chose to ignore the evidence I offered concerning information content and complex functioning of life forms. Do you hope to convince me by ignoring the argument? Do you think calling me ignorant will somehow strengthen your case when you ignore evidence presented?

          You are correct on one point. I am not likely to convince you of anything. You have all your answers and your mind is made up.

          As for evidence of life after death, we have eyewitness accounts that it happened.

        • Kodie

          Lol, you still don’t have evidence. Pretending you know something you obviously demonstrate that you don’t isn’t EVIDENCE. We have stories, you believe stories.

        • Rick

          I provided evidence from complexity of DNA. Do you want to deal with that or simply repeat your line over and over that there is no evidence? If so, then I don’t see a point in rehashing the same argument you have failed to address.

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

          DNA is complex, but lots of things are complex. Your challenge is to show that complexity demands intelligence. Biologists don’t think so.

        • Kodie

          That’s not evidence of a designer, that’s evidence that you are uneducated but feel competent to fill in the blanks of what you know nothing about with imaginary storybook characters.

          There is no point rehashing this, you believe what you want to believe. You have confidence in unevidenced beings, and that’s not the same as when you cross a bridge.

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

          As for evidence of life after death, we have eyewitness accounts that it happened.

          And thousands of people claim to have been abducted by aliens. Maybe we shouldn’t believe everything we read.

        • Rick

          Or maybe we should consider the veracity of the claims. The corroboration of independent witnesses. The character of the individuals who make the claims. I haven’t looked closely at alien abduction stories enough to speak to their reasonableness. It would be interesting to do a side by side comparison of the investigation of those stories next to the narratives found in the New Testament. I’m sure that will be a future post, if you haven’t written on that yet.

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

          It would be interesting to do a side by side comparison of the investigation of those stories next to the narratives found in the New Testament. I’m sure that will be a future post, if you haven’t written on that yet.

          What’s there to write about? You’ve got words on paper from long ago, of unknown provenance, full of supernatural elements that would invalidate them as historical documents in your mind if they came from some other religion than your own.

          And (on the other side of the question) you’ve got living people—thousands of them—that you can interview today, in English.

          Yes, you could do a side-by-side comparison, but the Christian side of the ledger is basically nonexistent.

          In fact, I’ve already written that post.

        • Michael Neville

          Are you saying Fox Mulder was wrong? Next you’re going to tell us that Han didn’t shoot first.

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

          Wow–I didn’t even know that that was a thing.

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

        • Michael Neville

          I offered concerning information content and complex functioning of life forms.

          Your ignorance and incredulity are not evidence of anything.

          I am not likely to convince you of anything. You have all your answers and your mind is made up.

          We can make exactly the same comment about you, especially since you brag about your invincible ignorance.

          As for evidence of life after death, we have eyewitness accounts that it happened.

          We do? How about a link or two to reputable, reliable, non-bullshit accounts of this. Remember Carl Sagan’s dictum: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

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

          I don’t have faith without evidence.

          I presume that you see the problem with faith being defined 2 ways. If you only use the one definition, “faith = belief firmly grounded in evidence and changed with contravening evidence,” then why couldn’t you use “trust”?

          Thought experiment: replace “faith” by “trust” in every religious discussion for the next month. Would things be unchanged?

          You have never seen the programmer, yet you have no doubt about the programmer’s existence.

          Not based on faith but on good evidence that human programmers are the sole source of computer software. Heck, I’ve seen them.

          Not so for a DNA programmer. Nor have I seen a programmer without a physical brain.

          To me, that is all evidence of design and programming, which in turn require intelligent agency.

          All I see is complexity—lots and lots of complexity. Complexity might indeed come from an intelligence, but it doesn’t have to.

          We both have faith in something. We both have faith in the programmer we have not seen, but you have faith that nothing ordered life except undirected natural forces acting over time. To me, yours is the greater leap of faith.

          Despite the fact that Kodie might have met computer programmers. Or that she might be one herself.

          When you’ve met a DNA programmer (aside from the human kind), I’ll see your analogy.

        • Rick

          Looks like you raised the issue of faith and believing in two places. I will defer to my other clarifying comments on the two concepts answering your other response.

          You haven’t seen every programmer, but you still believe they exist. I haven’t seen every possible concept of how DNA could happen by accident, but I have yet to see complex code without a programmer. By deduction, it is logical to extrapolate a programmer to ubercomplex code like we see in life forms.

          Complexity might indeed come from an intelligence, but it doesn’t have to.

          Show me examples, and hint I don’t buy that ordered crystals have information content. We have gone back and forth on this one and it is a nonstarter. No information content equals no necessary programmer.

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

          You haven’t seen every programmer, but you still believe they exist.

          I’ve seen one programmer. That’s the key thing. You’ve seen zero supernatural DNA programmers.

          I haven’t seen every possible concept of how DNA could happen by accident, but I have yet to see complex code without a programmer.

          So what? You posit a mind without a brain with no problem. So posit complex DNA without a programmer.

          “Complexity might indeed come from an intelligence, but it doesn’t have to.”
          Show me examples, and hint I don’t buy that ordered crystals have information content.

          I never said it did. You asked for an example of order, not information. My response: sugar crystals from evaporating sugar water. Stop asking for examples of order and I’ll stop suggesting sugar crystals.

        • Rick

          You’ve seen zero natural examples of macroevolutionary change. Not a single undisputed major change in body type or increase in capability has ever been demonstrated by science. Yet you believe science will eventually solve the riddle. This is blind faith in science.

          I’m no longer asking for order. I have been asking for examples of information content complexity increase for many iterations of our conversations. Continuing to point to geometric molecular shape instead does not advance the conversation. If I haven’t been clear enough before, hopefully this will clarify what I’m talking about.

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

          You’ve seen zero natural examples of macroevolutionary change. Not a single undisputed major change in body type or increase in capability has ever been demonstrated by science.

          You’re mixing quite a lot of things there. “Major change in body type”? Are you asking for new phyla? You’re right—we’ve seen no examples of that. It might be another billion years before we see a new animal phylum. But if you’re asking for a new species, those examples exist. Look them up on talkorigins.org. Or look up Lenski. Or nylonase.

          I’d expand on this, but there’s no point. Whatever I say, you’ll reject. These speciation events satisfy biologists, but they won’t satisfy Rick. Oh, well, I guess I’ll just have to live with that.

          Yet you believe science will eventually solve the riddle. This is blind faith in science.

          And not the way science works. Or I think.

          I have been asking for examples of information content complexity increase for many iterations of our conversations.

          And the same frustrating problem I mentioned above exists here.

          There is, right now, somewhere in the world, a transcription error happening. AT is turning into AAT. And that will, at some point, become (due to another error) AGT.

          You had AT, and then you have AGT. We call that “new information,” and you call it, “No, it’s not!” Probably no way to make progress, eh?

        • Rick

          Are you asking for new phyla?

          Well, of course. What good does microevolutionary change do? We all acknowledge the possibility of microevolution to effect change between species within phyla.

          Probably no way to make progress, eh?

          That is not the way I see it! We are making progress here!

          You’re right—we’ve seen no examples of that. It might be another billion years before we see a new animal phylum.

          Now that is progress! We agree that each phyla would take long periods, in your prose a billion years or more, for a phyla to form. We agree that there are no indisputable examples of new phyla (macroevolutionary parent-daughter relationships, even over long periods.)

          We have less than a billion years in your timeline during which life was evolving on earth. There is simply not enough time for all of the multiple phyla to form. The universe is believed to be 13.5B years old, the Earth 4.5B years old, and habitable conditions during the latter part of that 4.5B years. My position is that it is unlikely in terms of irreducibly complex subsystems that make up organisms for even one functioning, living phyla to ever form, let alone all the ones we see.

          Do a Google search for “not enough time for evolution,” and you will find this is a field in which there are multiple positions, peer-reviewed papers on both sides of the issue, and a robust debate showing this is not “settled science.”

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

          “Are you asking for new phyla?”
          Well, of course. What good does microevolutionary change do?

          There’s a lot of change at a level below new phyla—new species, new genera, etc. You can’t see new phyla evolve in the lab—is that your defeater to evolution?

          That is not the way I see it! We are making progress here!

          I applaud your optimism, but I fear that we’ve had this conversation 20 years ago.

          “You’re right—we’ve seen no examples of that. It might be another billion years before we see a new animal phylum.”
          Now that is progress!

          Why? It’s Biology 101; it’s not a concession.

          We agree that each phyla would take long periods, in your term a billion years or more, for a phyla to form. We agree that there are no indisputable examples of new phyla (macroevolutionary parent-daughter relationships, even over long periods.)
          We have less than a billion years in your timeline during which life was evolving on earth. There is simply not enough time for all of the multiple phyla to form.

          Oh, please. This also is Biology 101.

          It might take a billion years for a new phylum to develop because the niches for phyla are all taken. Given an undeveloped field, new phyla develop. In a crowded field, there is no room.

          My position is that it is unlikely in terms of irreducibly complex subsystems that make up organisms for even one functioning, living phyla to ever form, let alone all the ones we see.

          That’s an interesting position, but you’re wasting your time sharing it with me. I can’t do anything about it. Go convince the biologists. They’re the ones I’ll listen to. I won’t change my view of evolution given anything you say.

          Do a Google search for “not enough time for evolution,” and you will find this is a field in which there are multiple positions, peer-reviewed papers on both sides of the issue, and a robust debate showing this is not “settled science.”

          Catalog the biologists in this debate, and give me the percentage who no longer accept evolution.

        • Rick

          No thanks. The list of biologists who actually care about evolution is too short to worry about. They do biology experiments in the here and now, for the most part, and care little for what happened (or didn’t) millions of years ago. That is my best guess. I’m sure you disagree, but I don’t think this line of discussion will get us anywhere.

        • Michael Neville

          If you don’t want to talk about evolution then I suggest you not bring it up. Incidentally the list of biologists who care about evolution is approximately 100% of all biologists. So probably it’s a good idea that you don’t talk about something you don’t know squat about.

        • Rick

          I didn’t say I didn’t want to talk about evolution. Read the post again.

          What is your evidence for 100% of biologists caring about evolution?

        • Michael Neville

          Because evolution is the consensus of biologists. There are a few outliers, like Michael Behe, who don’t accept it, but other than a dozen or so creationists with some claim to being in biology or allied trades, biologists accept evolution.

          But it doesn’t matter. You’re a self-admitted creationist (if you’re going to say you do “intelligent design” then you’re agreeing that you’re a creationist) so nothing I can say will change your mind. You’ve reached a conclusion and mere facts and logic aren’t going to sway you.

        • Rick

          Au contraire… I am convinced by the evidence. Did I miss it or did you refute Behe? He is an actual microbiologist who has looked at the evidence and his argument makes sense to me. Where do you fault it?

        • Michael Neville

          I see reading comprehension is not one of your attributes. Did I or did I not say that I was an accountant? Is accountancy one of the fields of biology? This is a yes or no question and your final grade depends on you making the right guess.

          I don’t refute Behe. However his colleagues in the Lehigh University Biology Department have posted the following on the department website:

          While we respect Prof. Behe’s right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.

          Seems like the rest of his department refutes him, so input from me isn’t needed.

          Intelligent design (ID) was invented by a lawyer named Phillip Johnson to get around the Constitutional prohibition about teaching religious mythology in US public schools. The “intelligent designer” is the fundamentalist evangelical Christian god with the serial number filed off. After a judge determined that ID is repackaged creationism, the Discovery Institute admitted as much.

        • Rick

          Is it your impression that starting with an insult strengthens your case? Just curious.

          If being an accountant disqualifies you from having an informed position about intelligent design, then I’m not sure why you are arguing the issue. I think you can use common sense to evaluate the claims made by a philosophical position backed by evidence, which is the sort of material Behe generated.

          Since you didn’t refute Behe, but only attacked his position without evidence, I have nothing to rebut.

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

          his argument makes sense to me

          It does?? That surprises me. The guy accepts common descent, for goodness sake. Last time I checked, you don’t even accept speciation.

        • epeeist

          He is an actual microbiologist

          Nope, he is a biochemist.

        • Greg G.

          Behe’s idea of irreducible complexity was theorized from the principles of evolution about a hundred years ago. He was presented with many books that explained the claims he thought were unexplainable at the Dover trial.

          The Mullerian Two-Step, or Why Behe’s “Irreducible Complexity” is silly

        • Joe

          I haven’t seen every possible concept of how DNA could happen by accident,

          ‘Accident’?

          but I have yet to see complex code without a programmer.

          I thought we were talking about DNA? Why do you keep bringing up programming code?

      • Greg G.

        The definition of “faith” that you are using is for persons or things that are known to exist. The religious sense of the word is for the very existence of things that have no evidence.

        • Rick

          I assume you believe in some version of the big bang. So do I. I assume you believe it was caused by something bigger than itself. So do I.

          I have evidence (the universe) that something outside of, and greater than, the universe in terms of power and intelligence created matter, the rules of physics and the order we see in everything from the atom to the galaxies.

          What do you believe those causes to have been?

        • Greg G.

          A perfectly stable perfect nothingness is an imaginary concept, like a perfect equilateral triangle. It can be imagined but cannot exist in reality. It would require something to maintain stability so an unstable nothingness is a more reasonable starting point.

          Theoretical physicists have shown that creating energy and space together is like creating kinetic energy and potential energy in equal and opposite amounts, creating something from nothing. Since such events would happen independently, there is a non-zero chance that many would happen simultaneously. Since there is a non-zero chance of a universe size event and no time limit, it is inevitable.

          It eliminates the need for the “Where did God come from?” question that gets swept under the rug.

        • Rick

          Nothing yielding something is inevitable? That is what I read from your comment. And you criticize Christians for having “blind faith?” Wow.

          God, if he exists, would need to be outside our boundaries of time, space and matter in order to create those three realities. I don’t see another option.

        • Greg G.

          There are observations, such as the tunneling effect, that are not explained by classical physics but is explained by virtual particles, which are “something from nothing”.

          Time as we know it would also come from the creation of the spatial dimension along with the energy and the potential energy. So it’s not so different than your theory except it requires no extra entity. Your theory still leaves a “question mark shaped” lump under the rug.

        • Rick

          I can live with that. Your question mark shaped lump is the size of the universe and its matter.

        • Ignorant Amos

          When was there “nothing” and explain what it is?

          God, if he exists, would need to be outside our boundaries of time, space and matter in order to create those three realities.

          For existence and something to be outside something else, it must be temporal, occupying a space, and have substance. This is why the whole idea breaks down. You can’t get away with just defining god into existence without explanation.

          Then you have the special pleading that everything that exists has a creator. So who created god? Then who created the creator of god? Then who created the creator of the creator of god…ad infinitum. If god has no creator then why not invoke William of Ockham’s razor and just say the universe began to exist.

          I don’t see another option.

          Of course ya don’t, but that’s just your personal incredulity at work.

        • Rick

          Nothingness exists in Greg G’s post above.

          You have the same problem with infinite regress you suggested for God’s existence. What do YOU say existed before the Big Bang? Cite scientific evidence, as you required of me.

          Both of us have to describe a state before… For you, it is before the Big Bang and what causes made it come about. For me, it is an entity bigger than time, space and matter. Whatever that entity is that created the forces we describe in the Big Bang, theists would describe it as a supernatural entity. It has to be bigger than the big bang, such that the entity could have created the universe as we know it. The shortcut term for that entity is God. As for who created God, we can solve that one when we get past the existence of a big bang creator question.

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

          What do YOU say existed before the Big Bang? Cite scientific evidence, as you required of me.

          Science doesn’t know.

        • Rick

          Science says every effect has a cause.

        • Joe

          No it doesn’t.

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

          No, I’m pretty sure that it says that some quantum effects have no cause.

          Don’t you know this already? Haven’t I’ve pointed you to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics before?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nothingness exists in Greg G’s post above.

          Thanks for proving the point. Even though you believe nothingness exists in Greg G’s post above, everyone with a brain between their ears can see there is still something.

          You have the same problem with infinite regress you suggested for God’s existence.

          It’s not my problem though is it?

          What do YOU say existed before the Big Bang?

          I don’t know. You don’t know. Nobody knows. Scientists are working on the answer. If they never get one, as unsatisfactory as that is, hard cheese…I have no desire to fill the gap with mumbo jumbo figments of my imagination, let alone nonsense mumbo jumbo from some other fuckwits imagination.

          Cite scientific evidence, as you required of me.

          Nope. No need for scientific evidence for the “I don’t know” hypothesis. You have the onus probandi incumbit ei qui dicit, non ei qui negatin this discussion.

          Both of us have to describe a state before…

          Nope…that is you setting up the straw man. I have no idea what was “before”…I don’t even think “before” is a word that can be used in this situation. Apparently folk cleverer than you and I posit “before” a non idea.

          For you, it is before the Big Bang and what causes made it come about.

          Nope. This concept seems difficult for you to comprehend, heck, it’s hard enough for me. But brainiacs that work on this stuff say that spacetime started at the singularity…or something like that. They’ve constructed mathematical models in support of these ideas…no one knows what was “before” because there probably wasn’t a before to begin with.

          For me, it is an entity bigger than time, space and matter.

          Define this entity? What was it made of if not matter? Where was it if not in space? For an entity to exist and be something, it is temporal…and if it is something, then there is no nothing.

          Whatever that entity is that created the forces we describe in the Big Bang, theists would describe it as a supernatural entity. It has to be bigger than the big bang, such that the entity could have created the universe as we know it.

          I know what theists call it. But here’s the rub. Theists just can’t define this supernatural entity into existence and expect the rest of us who say “I don’t know” to fall into line. Get your sleeves rolled up and get to work demonstrating such an entity is possible, never mind the problem of demonstrating its existence.

          The shortcut term for that entity is God.

          The word God is just meaningless jibber-jabber until its veracity is confidently explained with sound evidence. Hence my igtheism.

          If you want to use God as a placeholder name for the same thing I use “I don’t know”, that’s fine. The problem is, scientists are working tirelessly to come up with a sound explanation based, while theists are content with god-did-it as all is required.

          God-did-it is a more unsatisfactory explanation than “I don’t know” and I’ll tell you why. Because in every avenue of human thinking that we really didn’t know the answer,but posited a god-did-it…guess what? It was never, not once, in the entire history of human endeavour, turned out to be a supernatural entity that did it. So given that a god doing it as the answer has a batting average of zero. While science has whacked the ball out of the park every time. I have a reasonable expectation based on prior probability that it will be science and not theology that will be the answer to all unanswered questions.

          As for who created God, we can solve that one when we get past the existence of a big bang creator question.

          No, no, no….I’m saying “I don’t know” along with the rest of the rational, critical thinkers. You are trying shoehorn in an extra step…that’s not how it works…. cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater. Show me this extra step exists and what method you use to come to your conclusion.

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

          But brainiacs that work on this stuff say that spacetime started at the singularity…or something like that.

          My (poor) understanding is that they say the singularity is that point at which we no longer can extrapolate back in time. Or: that point at which we can no longer say anything with confidence.

        • Michael Neville

          I read somewhere, I don’t remember where, that time started 1×10^-43 seconds after the Big Bang. Cutting edge physics is not common sense.

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

          Right. We can go to one Planck time before the singularity before our physics has nothing more to say.

          Of course, that doesn’t mean that in the future, new physics won’t be able to tell us new information.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Aye….that would by limited understanding based on what I’ve comprehended from the books and internet articles I’ve read on the subject. I just communicated it badly. It makes my brain hurt just thinking about it, still, am a glutton for punishment.

          If an actual physicist, epeeist for example, or those with a better handle on these things and have any issues on this, I’m up for having my understanding being put straight.

        • Rick

          Glad you can live with an “I don’t know,” rather than using the best logic available, namely that an entity beyond time, space and matter created time, space and matter.

          The expansion of the universe is accelerating, rather than decelerating. Looks like a once-and-done universe creation event.

        • Joe

          rather than using the best logic available, namely that an entity beyond time, space and matter created time, space and matter.

          The ‘best logic available’ is not to posit an entity that is illogical.

          The expansion of the universe is accelerating, rather than decelerating. Looks like a once-and-done universe creation event.

          For this version of the local universe, possibly.

          Why would an infinite God create a finite universe, with an end?

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

          Huh? The “best logic available” is impotent at the frontier of science.

          You’re going to logic your way through? Then tell those pointy-headed scientists what they can do with their quantum entanglement and quantum simultaneity. It just doesn’t make sense!

        • Rick

          In case you hadn’t noticed, this blog is a philosophy and logic blog, not a science blog. You use logic all the time. It is your stock in trade. I’m somewhat surprised at your mock annoyance that someone else would attempt to use logic to reach a conclusion.

        • Michael Neville

          One other element is commonly used on this blog besides logic: evidence. Since there’s no evidence to support “an entity beyond time, space and matter” then, logically, we don’t accept that such an entity exists. If you want us to accept that this imaginary entity has existence then it’s up to you to show the evidence to support your claim.

        • Rick

          Great point!

          Since you brought it up, what is your evidence for where the matter, time and space came from? I said that an entity beyond time, space and matter was my best guess. No evidence needed for that claim, other than knowing what my personal best guess might be.

          How about for your claim? If it is an entity found within time, space and matter, then I’m sure you can provide evidence.

        • Michael Neville

          For all I know, the universe created itself. But I’m an accountant, not a cosmologist.

          Regardless, I did not say that your favorite entity didn’t exist, I said there was no evidence for its existence. I say again, if you want us to accept that this imaginary entity exists then you have to provide evidence that you didn’t pull this magic entity out of thin air. On your mark, get set, go….

        • Rick

          Nice dodge. I will be happy to provide evidence. We know if no example of something that was created by anything lesser than the sum of itself. Therefore, my contention is that something that is greater than time, space and matter created time, space and matter (and organized it, by the way.)

          Your turn. Provide evidence of anything that created itself.

          On your mark, get set, go….

        • Michael Neville

          We know if no example of something that was created by anything lesser than the sum of itself.

          Your ignorance and incredulity are not evidence of anything but your ignorance and incredulity. Besides, if the universe was created by a creator, who or what created that creator? According to your logic, your creator needs a creator equal or greater than itself, ad infinitum.

          As for me providing evidence, I’ve already told you that (and I’ll type this slowly so you can understand it) I DO NOT KNOW HOW THE UNIVERSE WAS CREATED. Does your creationist mind understand that? I realize that being a creationist you aren’t used to thinking and reaching logical conclusions but cut the cooling water into your brain and give it a try.

        • Rick

          Seems to me the universe is here. You don’t like the term, “created.” OK. Tell me why there is something rather than nothing and give me your best guess as to why there is time, matter and space at all.

          As for who created the entity that created, you got me. All I know is that there must be a cause greater than time, space and matter. If your universe can create itself out of nothing (“For all I know the universe created itself.”) then surely the entity that created the universe can do the same, by your logic.

          But my brain is too unsophisticated to understand that possibility.

        • Joe

          As for who created the entity that created, you got me

          Then why won’t you accept that answer from atheists?

          If your universe can create itself out of nothing (“For all I know the universe created itself.”) then surely the entity that created the universe can do the same, by your logic.

          Exactly. So we’re left with two competing claims, neither of which can be proven. Atheists like myself and Michael go with the simplest answer, theists like yourself say it’s their particular deity, with all the baggage that comes along with it.

        • Rick

          That is actually a fair summary—two competing and non-provable claims.

          Even if a person accepts the necessity of a first cause, however, you can’t get to a particular deity from this line of discussion. I have not tried to go there. All you can determine is the necessity of a creator or not, but you can’t identify the deity directly. So you can get to theism but not Christianity, for instance.

          The alternatives are that something created everything, or that everything in the universe (space, time and matter) is uncaused. After one accepts the need for a causation entity, the next step is trying to figure out if there is a most reasonable candidate. That is an entirely different discussion.

          I can accept “I don’t know” from atheists. What is difficult is to accept, “I know and there is no possibility of God.” That is a stretch.

        • MR

          I don’t think you’re going to find many atheists around here who would make that claim…, depending on your definition of God. Some of us have no problem dismissing the possibility of the basic concept of the Christian God of the Bible.

        • Joe

          All you can determine is the necessity of a creator or not

          And we’ve established a creator is not needed, but there could have been one.

          The alternatives are that something created everything

          No.

          or that everything in the universe (space, time and matter) is uncaused

          No.

          That’s a false dichotomy.

        • MR

          That’s a false dichotomy.

          And it’s hard to believe that he doesn’t know that. It’s an incurious mind that wouldn’t have already researched what atheists or science might respond, and it’s an unimaginative mind that hadn’t thought about the possibilities on their own. It’s a disingenuous mind who does know other arguments, but ignores them in favor of a false dichotomy.

        • Joe

          Of course, he’s not going to believe me. Or accept the myriad of other options I put to him, but we already know that, don’t we?

        • MR

          Not accepting is one thing, it’s the false dichotomy that is telling, to me.

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

          Yes, it is a false dichotomy, but it’s easy to create an actual one.

          Let A = “something created everything.” Then the only two possibilities are A and not-A.

          I’d prefer it be “a supernatural being created everything” since the “something” could be an intelligent being or an unintelligent natural force. And in that case, the supernatural option looks quite weak given that a supernatural being doing anything has a nonexistent track record of explaining anything.

        • Pofarmer

          “Tell me why there is something rather than nothing”

          Why not?

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

          Tell me why there is something rather than nothing

          Why is this startling? Something, nothing—which one would you expect in a godless world? If you’re saying nothing, then tell us why.

          give me your best guess as to why there is time, matter and space at all.

          I have no idea. Without evidence, neither do you.

        • epeeist

          Tell me why there is something rather than nothing and give me your best guess as to why there is time, matter and space at all.

          Before we get into that it is probably best to define our terms, what do you mean by “nothing”?

        • Michael Neville

          All I know is that there must be a cause greater than time, space and matter.

          You don’t know that, you guess it because it fits your prejudices better than “the universe created itself” or my stance, “I don’t know”.

        • epeeist

          All I know is that there must be a cause greater than time, space and matter.

          To use the classical theory of knowledge:

          1. The proposition “there must be a cause greater than time, space and matter” must be true

          2. You must believe it to be true

          3. You must have justification for that belief.

          Unless you can provide justification then you don’t know this at all.

        • Rudy R

          Tell me why there is something rather than nothing…

          You’re supposing that there was nothing before there was something. You should also consider the other logical option that there was always something.

        • Michael Neville

          Define “nothing” and explain how it isn’t something. As for why there is time, space and matter, I don’t know. What part of “I am not a cosmologist” do you have trouble understanding?

          As for there being a creator, that’s your guess, based on nothing but your biases and prejudices. Using Occam’s Razor, a separate creator isn’t necessary for the universe to exist since it could have created itself in some manner which I can’t explain because I’m not a cosmologist.

        • Greg G.

          Tell me why there is something rather than nothing and give me your best guess as to why there is time, matter and space at all.

          I told you about Alan Guth’s ideas. Here are some articles from 2002, 2011, 2014, and his Wikipedia page.

          Guth’s Grand Guess
          Most people really want to know where we came from. We have evidence. We no longer have to rely on stories we were told when we were young’
          http://discovermagazine.com/2002/apr/cover/

          3 Questions: Alan Guth on new insights into the ‘Big Bang’
          MIT physicist explains how new results bolster his 1980 theory of cosmic inflation.
          http://news.mit.edu/2014/3-q-alan-guth-on-new-insights-into-the-big-bang

          New Scientist TV:
          How the universe appeared from nothing
          https://www.newscientist.com/blogs/nstv/2011/07/how-the-universe-appeared-from-nothing.html

          Alan Guth
          From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Guth
          Inflationary theory[edit]
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Guth#Inflationary_theory

        • Dys

          Tell me why there is something rather than nothing

          How do you know that “nothing” is a valid option?

        • MR

          Why created and not transformed?

        • Joe

          We know if no example of something that was created by anything lesser than the sum of itself

          Do we?

          herefore, my contention is that something that is greater than time, space and matter created time, space and matter ,/blockquote>

          What’s ‘greater’ than time? How great is time anyway? Is it fab, groovy, cool or just ‘alright’?

        • Tommy

          Another universe, then.

        • MR

          We could just be the giant hemorrhage of another universe, or the recycling of our own, or something we haven’t thought of yet. We also have zero evidence of something creating something out of nothing, so that fails, too. It’s almost like they never look beyond the solution they hope supports their fantasy. I mean, there have been any number of theories for decades. He’s never bothered to find out what the possibilities are, or even think about it himself? Or has he really heard about these things before and is just being deceptive?

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

          Provide evidence of anything that created itself.

          I’m speaking out of turn, but I have no such evidence. Why would you expect that I would? “The universe created itself” is not my claim, so who cares whether I have evidence for the claim you mention?

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

          We know if no example of something that was created by anything lesser than the sum of itself.

          Could you rephrase?

        • epeeist

          We know if no example of something that was created by anything lesser than the sum of itself.

          Now “created” is a loaded term, but all the molecules in your body were formed by chemical reactions from other molecules and ultimately atoms, and all the atoms more complex than hydrogen were formed from reactions in stars.

        • Greg G.
        • Greg G.

          We know if no example of something that was created by anything lesser than the sum of itself.

          But space + energy = 0

        • Joe

          Since you brought it up, what is your evidence for where the matter, time and space came from?

          See, you’re asking the wrong question. It’s not where, but how. ‘Where’ supposes a location and source, which is nonsensical when talking about events before there was time and space.

        • Rick

          Fair enough. I can go with your semantic change.

          So how did the time, space and matter come about? I gave you my best guess. Your turn.

        • Joe

          It’s the correct semantics, so you don’t really have an option but to go with it.

          There are Multiple Models, based on general relativity or Quantum Mechanics. Probably my favourite is vacuum energy causing quantum fluctuations. Which it does anyway. These fluctuations caused spacetime, and then big bang as we observe it.

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

          Yes, and your best guess is: “an entity beyond time, space and matter.”

          Do you have any evidence for this remarkable claim? Without it, I think Joe could just remain silent and give an equal amount of evidence for his side of the argument as you have for yours.

        • epeeist

          So how did the time, space and matter come about?

          Quantum vacuum fluctuations.

        • Joe

          Rick doesn’t believe in those.

        • epeeist

          Rick doesn’t believe in those.

          Tough.

          How does he explain that value of the magnetic dipole number g is 2.002331836±0.0000000048 rather than 2.0 exactly?

        • Michael Neville

          Because the Intelligent Designer™ decided for his own mysterious reasons to make it that way. In other words, it’s PFM (pure fucking magic).

        • Greg G.

          How does he explain that value of the magnetic dipole number g is 2.002331836±0.0000000048 rather than 2.0 exactly?

          “godidit”, obviously.

          BTW, I can’t wait for the opportunity to drop that into a conversation.

        • MR

          Where did where begin? heh-heh

        • Kodie

          Doesn’t matter.

        • Joe

          See my answer below.

        • MR

          Just laughing at the paradox.

        • Joe

          What paradox?

        • MR

          Where where?

        • Pofarmer

          Trust- but verify.

          That’s where logic alone fails.

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

          Sounds like we’re talking about different definitions for “logic.”

        • Tommy

          God, if he exists, would need to be outside our boundaries of time,
          space and matter
          in order to create those three realities. I don’t see
          another option.

          So your god would need to be non-existent, then?

        • Rick

          No.

        • Tommy

          Yes.

        • MR

          Right? All I know is that every example we have of anything existing involved space, time, matter…, maybe throw in energy, but you know what I mean. We know stm exists, why complicate the, ahem, matter by positing something in addition for which we have no evidence?

        • Joe

          I. I assume you believe it was caused by something bigger than itself.

          You assume incorrectly, in my case.

        • Tommy

          Do you believe something can come from nothing?

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

          He has to. That’s apparently how the biblical god did things (though I see paltry evidence of that in the Genesis 1 story).

        • Rick

          No, and neither should the many of you who responded. I’m happy to have given you all something to get excited about!

          It should be intuitively obvious that something as massive and complex as the universe, and something as magnificently functional as the millions of actual living, breathing, metabolizing and reproducing species we see that there is some entity that had to have ordered such complexity. Maybe it is time for all of us to realize that there is such an entity, stop railing against it, and think about what may be the actual state of things rather than what you want to be true.

          Slow down and think. I have no interest in responding to nonsense phrases like “quantum vacuum fluctuations.” Let’s get real with what can be reasonably deduced, rather than fiction.

          Just a suggestion. But in any case we are now rehashing old topics so I’m kind of done for now.

          Good thinking to all of you!

        • MR

          Your false dichotomy failed, but you declare victory anyway. Ri-ight. You’re not fooling anyone.

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

          Tommy: Do you believe something can come from nothing?
          Rick: No, and neither should the many of you who responded.

          Huh? I thought you said that God created something from nothing.

          It should be intuitively obvious that something as massive and complex as the universe, and something as magnificently functional as the millions of actual living, breathing, metabolizing and reproducing species we see that there is some entity that had to have ordered such complexity.

          Ah—I think we’ve found your problem. Intuition is of little help at the frontier of science. Quantum entanglement or quantum superposition or cosmic inflation make no sense . . . and yet science shows that they’re probably true.

          WLC also likes the “C’mon—that’s just obvious, right?” argument. He has 2 doctorates, so it’s hilarious when he does it. But I’m afraid that doesn’t get you off the hook either. You need an actual argument, and “Well, heck—it just makes sense” isn’t one.

        • MR

          Especially when it doesn’t make sense.

        • Kodie

          The only god I can only sort of believe might exist is that we’re kind of in a pot or a garden or an art gallery or something. The universe as some kind of project by some kind of mediocre kind of guy, not some amazing magical fantastic all-loving, omnipotent kind of guy. When we die, we still die, though. It doesn’t make sense to give this god any characteristics, although it may have some. It can almost make a tiny bit of sense to think this god is watching you. It may be fascinated particularly by any one of us, but not all of us at the same time.

        • Michael Neville

          It should be intuitively obvious that something as massive and complex as the universe, and something as magnificently functional as the millions of actual living, breathing, metabolizing and reproducing species we see that there is some entity that had to have ordered such complexity.

          As I said previously, your ignorance and incredulity are evidence only of your ignorance and incredulity. What may be “intuitively obvious” to you isn’t to anyone else in this conversation. Besides, you never have answered who or what created your creator.

        • Philmonomer

          It should be intuitively obvious that something as massive and complex
          as the universe, and something as magnificently functional as the
          millions of actual living, breathing, metabolizing and reproducing
          species we see that there is some entity that had to have ordered such
          complexity

          Just because you believe something to be intuitively obvious doesn’t mean it’s true. Indeed, most all of science over the last 300 years has found things that aren’t intuitively obvious, but are, in fact, true.

          As but one example, try to explain to a 5 year old (or a 40 year old) that a feather and a bowling ball fall at the same rate. Nothing intuitive there.

        • Tommy

          So if you don’t believe that something can come from nothing, then what was the universe created out of?

        • Kodie

          How are the mansions built in heaven?

        • Greg G.

          Where does gold pavement come from? Is it real gold made by fusion of massive stars or is it the cheap imitation gold produced by poofing?

        • MR

          Slave labor.

        • Dys

          I have no interest in responding to nonsense phrases like “quantum vacuum fluctuations.”

          Translated: Let’s not bother with any of the science that I don’t accept, regardless of its bearing on the topic at hand.

          Let’s get real with what can be reasonably deduced, rather than fiction.

          Well, you can throw God out then.

          It should be intuitively obvious that something as massive and complex as the universe

          Funny thing about intuition…it can be incredibly wrong. But following that path, it should also be intuitively obvious that whatever is responsible for the universe would need to be more complex than it. Which would then require something more complex to explain that. And then it’s turtles all the way down.

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

          I have no interest in responding to nonsense phrases like “quantum vacuum fluctuations.”

          Rick doesn’t like ideas like vacuum fluctuations, thought that’s established science, but he’s cool with ideas like “God wuvs you this much!” with paltry evidence. Weird.

          http://fashion-design.pop-cult.com/images/sillisculpts.jpg

        • Pofarmer

          ” I assume you believe it was caused by something bigger than itself. ”

          Already off the rails. So sad.

        • Pofarmer

          “I have evidence (the universe) that something outside of, and greater than, the universe in terms of power and intelligence created matter, the rules of physics and the order we see in everything from the atom to the galaxies.”

          Wow, this could be game changing.

        • Greg G.

          What do you believe those causes to have been?

          I don’t believe anything. I think some ideas are more plausible than others.

          According to the Theory of Relativity, time does not pass at light speed, and according to Quantum Mechanics, antimatter is mathematically equivalent to matter traveling backwards in time. So a quantum fluctuation should be able to cause itself. A few of these fluctuations happening in a small patch would be able to multiply into 10^90 particles, according to Guth’s explanation.

          I gave you links to articles about Guth’s theory that explain the expansion of the universe in layman’s terms. His idea has been challenged many times in the last 37 years but is still the favored theory, though it has had a few additions.

          This originating patch would not be bigger than us. After growing exponentially very rapidly, it would still be about a centimeter in diameter.

          I don’t know what cause the physics to be so constant, how electrons and positrons always have the same charge. If you propose magic, then the various charges would be irrelevant, as magic could work anyway.

      • Michael Neville

        Paul would disagree with you:

        Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

        • Rick

          Not at all. Paul does not suggest that the confidence of which he writes is devoid of evidence. He said he had assurance about something that was not seen. Many things we don’t see still have evidence and we believe in them. Black holes and gravity come to mind.

        • Michael Neville

          Au contraire! (That’s foreign for “nope”.) Paul is saying exactly and without nuance that faith is all about believing in things when there’s no evidence to support that belief. Like how theists believe in various gods with zip point shit evidence that any gods exist.

          And if you’re so ignorant that you think there’s no evidence for black holes or gravity then I suggest you jump out of an airplane. You’ll appreciate the evidence for gravity quite quickly but not for very long.

          There’s a song that American paratroopers sing called “Blood on the Risers”. It’s sung to the tune of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the chorus goes:

          Gory, gory, what a hell of a way to die,
          Gory, gory, what a hell of a way to die,
          Gory, gory, what a hell of a way to die,
          And he ain’t gonna jump no more!

        • Rick

          Paul seems to disagree, since he used logic extensively in many places I can point you to, including a passage where he states logically that the creation points to a creator and how he (Paul) uses reason to destroy weak arguments. He does not refer to evidence one way or another in the Hebrews passage cited.

          As for jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, I have done that, and though the army has a way of taking all the fun out of it, when you do it you have reason to believe your equipment will work. The citing of the chorus you brought up has no evidentiary value, but thanks for the opportunity to remind everyone that this is Memorial Day weekend.

          What I said was that we have confidence (faith) in things we don’t see, not that we have confidence in things for which we don’t have evidence. We do have evidence for black holes and gravity, though we don’t see them. That is the term the verse referenced uses.

        • Michael Neville

          I interpret the verse differently than you do. I see the verse saying that faith is used because there’s no evidence, either facts or logical argument. Sure Paul uses logic when he can but he or his forger (Bob pointed out that Hebrews probably wasn’t written by Paul) have to rely on faith when evidence isn’t available.

          As for jumping out of aircraft, again I did something different. I was a submariner.

        • Rick

          Thanks for your service. I was Air Force but did a side trip through Airborne school.

          As for Paul, since he does not mention evidence one way or another, perhaps you could reconsider your understanding of this verse in view of his body of teaching overall.

        • Michael Neville

          I’ve reconsidered. No, you’re still wrong. “What we do not see” means “there’s no evidence we can see, smell, taste, feel or detect in any way”.

        • Rick

          Oops. You are correct. Paul didn’t write Hebrews. The logic of the verse is clear however. And New Testament as well as Old Testament writers did use logic and reason in defense of positions. Jesus did as well.

        • Ignorant Amos

          We do have evidence for black holes and gravity, though we don’t see them.

          Hmmmmm! But for how long?

          http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/04/black-hole-event-horizon-telescope-pictures-genius-science/

        • Michael Neville

          One reason to go back to the Moon would be to set up radio and optical telescopes there. Weather would not be a problem and, using time-stamps, it would be possible to set up interferometry with a 384,400 km (239,900 mile) baseline.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Wouldn’t satellite telescopes be a cheaper option and suffice to do the job too in avoiding the weather issues?

        • Michael Neville

          There’s always trade-offs in every option. Satellites would be cheaper but the base line would be shorter.

        • Pofarmer

          You talking about this?

          For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his
          eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being
          understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

          That certainly wouldn’t be an argument unique to Paul. Other religions had used it before him.

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

          (Paul isn’t thought to have written Hebrews.)

        • Michael Neville

          I stand corrected. Pseudo-Paul.

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

          The depth of my ignorance is profound.

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

        “Faith” is a tricky word. IMO, Christians (often inadvertently, perhaps) use it to mean “trust,” as you point out above, as well as the “believe not well grounded in evidence.” I’ve written a post about this; perhaps you saw it.

        As an example, I’m sure you know of the book, I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.” Which definition of “faith” was used here?

        • Rick

          I am reading that book. I hope you have read it and will consider it seriously. I use faith as defined in the Hebrews passage—”assurance of things hoped for and conviction of things not seen.” That does not mean that there is no evidence on which that faith may be based. I haven’t gotten to a discussion of different definitions of faith in the book. Is that what you meant?

          The other operative word, as you and I have discussed, is “believe.” Believing is the conscious act of placing trust in something. You can do that with or without evidence, but in my case I chose to believe because of the preponderance of evidence. As I researched the issues of complexity and order found in creation, I don’t see that evolutionary processes can do the heavy lifting required to result in the complexity we see. Therefore, I choose to place trust in (believe) the stronger likelihood of an entity that did the creating and ordering.

          One can choose to believe in something with minimal evidence, or with a lot of evidence. That would be the contrast between justified faith or ungrounded faith.

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

          I haven’t gotten to a discussion of different definitions of faith in the book. Is that what you meant?

          No, I’m referring to the two definitions of “faith” that we use in English—belief well grounded in evidence and which will be overturned with contravening evidence vs. not.

          Believing is the conscious act of placing trust in something. You can do that with or without evidence

          Can you? Not as I understand it. For example, I can’t just believe in leprechauns. It’s not something you can do with intellect. It’s simply the result of being presented with convincing evidence. You may like or not like a belief, but you’re stuck with it.

          Or do I not understand your use of the word?

          As I researched the issues of complexity and order found in creation, I don’t see that evolutionary processes can do the heavy lifting required to result in the complexity we see.

          Right. This is the Argument from Complexity (or Incredulity). I don’t find that compelling.

          Therefore, I choose to place trust in (believe) the stronger likelihood of an entity that did the creating and ordering.

          Seems like you’ve only dug your hole deeper. You’ve solved the “How the heck can the cell be so complex?” by positing a supernatural answer. It’s deus ex machina, literally.

          One can choose to believe in something with minimal evidence, or with a lot of evidence. That would be the contrast between justified faith or ungrounded faith.

          Don’t forget to add that justified faith (I’d prefer “trust” since it’s far less confusing) would change as necessary based on new evidence.

        • Rick

          You can bring up leprechauns (again) but that is not the topic. Stay with me here. We are talking about programming something complex. Not just order. Complex information.

          You have no evidence it can come about without a programmer. Zip. Zero. Nada. That is your blind faith.

          I didn’t say anything about “supernatural.” I just said complexity requires a complex source. It may be supernatural or it may not be, but as I said previously, I haven’t seen anything on your side to provide evidence that complex information can arise without a complex process and intelligent action.

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

          You can bring up leprechauns (again) but that is not the topic. Stay with me here. We are talking about programming something complex.

          Huh? You claim that I’ve strayed from the topic, but I’m not seeing it.

          You said, “Believing is the conscious act of placing trust in something. You can do that with or without evidence.” I disagree. I use believing in leprechauns to illustrate the problem.

          You have no evidence it can come about without a programmer.

          Huh again? You’re happy with what you call “microevolution”—antibiotic resistance, for example. You’re happy with mutation and natural selection, right? If you’re talking about the magnitude of change (you’ll accept some DNA change but not a lot) make that clear.

          I didn’t say anything about “supernatural.” I just said complexity requires a complex source.

          That’s OK—I did.

          You’re arguing that my argument is silly-er than yours. We need to explore what your argument is to make that comparison. If DNA is super unlikely from a natural source, that’s interesting only if your option is less unlikely.

          I haven’t seen anything on your side to provide evidence that complex information can arise without a complex process and intelligent action.

          First base.

          I’m not sure what you’re looking for or what would convince you, but the succinct answer is (as always) the observation that evolution is the consensus of the people who understand the evidence.

        • Rick

          No need to use leprechauns. Simply use evolutionary processes. They have not been observed nor have you any evidence they work to do anything other than microevolutionary changes within a species. The species tend toward stasis, and not toward dramatic change. This concept is observational and evidentiary in nature. Macro evolution is not.

          I don’t know what you mean about my option being less likely. Intelligent sources are known to be needed for complex code to arise in every case where we see complex code. We see complex code in DNA. Looks like accidental building up of complexity over time by itself is less likely. But that’s just from my perspective. Feel free to dispute it with evidence.

          I care not a whit about your consensus claims. I don’t believe the consensus is as strong as you claim. Most practicing scientists care about what works and how to research making things work, but don’t focus that much on forensic nature of how it got to the state it is in. They may give lip service to evolution to get their papers published. They tend to be practical, not historic in their concerns.

          These are two branches of scientific inquiry (historic/forensic versus experimental.) Geisler and Turek cover this well in the book you mentioned. Have you read their discussion of this aspect?

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

          No need to use leprechauns.

          Since I’m clearly unable to follow why we can dismiss leprechauns, let’s just lower things to my level so that we can make progress.

          You said, “Believing is the conscious act of placing trust in something. You can do that with or without evidence.” I disagree. I use believing in leprechauns to illustrate the problem. I can’t just believe in leprechauns. My conclusion: believing is inherently and unavoidably built on evidence, and I can’t believe or not as a deliberate act.

          They have not been observed nor have you any evidence they work to do anything other than microevolutionary changes within a species. The species tend toward stasis, and not toward dramatic change. This concept is observational and evidentiary in nature. Macro evolution is not.

          “Macro evolution” is simply lots of microevolution. If you disagree, show me the force that constrains a species from becomes anything more than more of the same.

          But why are we discussing this? You offer a very simple challenge, I’ll take the bait (proposing nylonase, for example), you’ll then reject whatever I offer for some reason, and then, in frustration, I will remind you that evolution is the consensus of the people who understand this stuff (which excludes you and me).

          I don’t know what you mean about my option being less likely.

          Natural explanation or supernatural explanation—which one is more likely?

          Intelligent sources are known to be needed for complex code to arise in every case where we see complex code.

          Brains are needed for minds in every case. You lose zero sleep over saying, “Well, sure, but God is the exception.”

          I care not a whit about your consensus claims.

          I know—incredible, isn’t it? When you look at the ludicrous claims made in quantum physics, do you slap some sense into those guys as well? If not, why not?

          I don’t believe the consensus is as strong as you claim.

          Tell me then how you would describe the consensus of biologists with respect to evolution.

          Most practicing scientists care about what works and how to research making things work, but don’t focus that much on forensic nature of how it got to the state it is in.

          You’re saying that scientists don’t much care about the consensus? For their day to day work, yes, I agree. The consensus is binding on knuckleheads who don’t know any better like you and me.

          These are two branches of scientific inquiry (historic/forensic versus experimental.) Geisler and Turek cover this well in the book you mentioned. Have you read their discussion of this aspect?

          Read the book and blogged about it.

          Which reminds me—since the title of that book clearly illustrates Christians using “faith” to mean “faith poorly supported by evidence,” why didn’t you respond to that in our faith vs. trust discussion?

      • frishy

        Sure, see definition 2. instead of definition 1.
        “strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.”

        https://www.google.com/search?q=faith&oq=faith&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i60j69i65j69i60l2j35i39.1040j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

        • Ignorant Amos

          What is it about theists and their illiteracy in the definitions of words? It is a common trend we see even in the “cleverest” of them.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s hard to argue woo and be honest.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s true enough.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    ““God answers prayers.””

    He ( or she? it? ) never answers prayers that would require divine intervention.

    • Greg G.

      He ( or she? it? ) never answers prayers that would require divine intervention.

      Bingo!

      • E.A. Blair

        “He ( or she? it? )”

        and if you delete the punctuation and write that as a contraction, it’s spelled “h’or’sh’it”

        • C_Alan_Nault

          LOL… Nice catch, I was unaware…

        • E.A. Blair

          I came up with that when I taught college English years ago and had to deal with someone who tried to use a “gender-neutral” pronoun for English in one of his papers. I told him to either borrow from a language like Finnish, which has pronouns for “animate” and “inanimate” but not distinguished by gender (but would require him moving to Finland and learning the language), or use “he-or-she-it”, which I wrote on the board then used an eraser and added the apostrophes. I told him, “Words are your tools and you have to use just what’s in your kit, and that’s the dictionary. When you can write your own book on grammar, you can invent new ones.”

        • Greg G.

          Good point! Or just removing the punctuation and the letter “e” gives “Horshit”.

        • E.A. Blair

          A proper contraction requires apostrophes to show omitted letters and spaces.

    • Syzygy

      If I’m asked about religion, or god, I just say, “I’m not superstitious.”
      They almost always blink a few times, then sputter some gibberish about their beliefs.
      Then I ask them, “What’s the difference between superstitions and religion?”
      They leave me alone after that.

      • Greg G.

        I did that about 20 years ago and got a lecture about rites, traditions, and minutia. When I said, “Right, all superstitions,” the top of his head came off.

        • C_Alan_Nault

          I enjoy talking to Catholics about witchcraft ( Wiccan).

          I point out that the difference between witchcraft & a true religion is that witches do ritual chanting… then remind them that the Catholic church has ritual prayers.

          Witchcraft also has:

          – trying to evoke the will of a deity to get what you want… just like praying in a church

          – the use of candles & burning herbs & potions….. just like Catholic rituals with candles and incense and holy water

          – the use of ceremonial robes & other paraphanelia.. just like the Catholic church

        • Greg G.

          Wiccans use ritual chanting.
          Catholics use ritual prayers.

          Wiccans try to get natural spirits to help them.
          Catholics try to get saints to help them.

          Wiccans use candles, burning herbs, and potions.
          Catholics use candles, burning incense, and holy water.

          Wiccans use ceremonial robes and chalices containing wine.
          Catholics use ceremonial robes and communion cups containing wine.

          Hmmm, I don’t expect Ameribear to see any similarity.

      • C_Alan_Nault

        If asked about god, I always ask them which god?

  • Bob Pattinson

    Christians are as brainless as the sheep they like to emulate.

  • safetynet2razorwire

    People whose lives are founded on, and built from, wishful thinking only change their worldview and ways when the dissonance between their dogma and reality transcends a critical level. Debate is less than useless and consequences potent.
    Devotion to a deity dies when, for instance, a beloved child dies of something the inidel blasphemous heretic next door’s child gets over in a day. When the faithful return home from that funeral and hear that neighbour child laughing at play it is hard not to reject the absent nonexistent deity.

  • John Do’h

    This argument has always been around but is fruitless… religion/ spirituality is not stupidity, it is selfishness. You have to ask WHY they want to believe. Religion is not objective, it is subjective. The religious believe that they MUST be important and significant, they just must be, because that is how they want to view themselves. The religion is all meant to rationalize the delusion that they must be special, not mundane. They don’t care about the objective view of the world, they care about the subjective view that they are significant beyond our material world. It is not about smart or stupid, it is about me! me! me! I must be immortal and special, screw you if you say I’m not.

    • Questioning54

      Christians are constantly taught that they are born nothing but worthless depraved sinners deserving punishment . Nothing mundane about that! They are taught that the only way they can escape from themselves is to be “in Christ” where Christ is living through them and they become nothing and he is everything. It is about a lot more than being significant beyond the material world; it is about being insignificant and Christ being everything. Can’t really explain exactly how that is supposed to work, but that is how it goes.

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

      They’ve dug their hole so deep, that to admit that they’ve backed the wrong horse for decades would be difficult. Better to keep digging.

  • Plowjogger1776

    What a stupid article. Are you really suggesting that all people who claim to be Christians have the same level of knowledge about their faith or the same level of education in general? I’ve never seen a more blatant example of the Scarecrow Fallacy in my life! I say “Scarecrow” because I would be attacked for being sexist if I said “Straw Man,” I’m sure.

    • adam
      • Plowjogger1776

        Do you have a real argument?

        • adam

          Of course, do you?

        • Plowjogger1776

          I responded to the inanity of the title and content of the argument. You have given nothing.

        • Susan

          I responded to the inanity of the title and content of the argument.

          Not yet.

          You have given nothing.

          What are you claiming and how do you support it? If you have a good argument for Yahwehjesus, provide it.

          In the meantime, Bob Seidensticker addressed a common christian argument.

          If you would like to provide a better argument, here’s your chance.

        • Plowjogger1776

          Bob posted that he agrees with my assessment of the title and is going to update it. See above.

        • Susan

          Bob posted…

          Yep. Not all christians make this claim. We can play whack-a-mole all day.

          I asked if you had a better supported christian claim.

          If you do, provide it.

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

          You had one quibble (being unclear about whether this was a charge about all Christians or only some). You seemed to portray it as a really, really, huge, gigantic issue, though I disagree.

          I don’t recall hearing any concerns about the title.

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

      Are you really suggesting that all people who claim to be Christians have the same level of knowledge about their faith or the same level of education in general?

      No.

      I’ve never seen a more blatant example of the Scarecrow Fallacy in my life!

      • Plowjogger1776

        Excuse me, but the article just says, “Christians” with no qualifiers. If that isn’t a gross overgeneralization and Scarecrow fallacy I don’t know what is. If it said that about “Americans” you would agree with me.

        • Greg G.

          If it had no qualifiers, why did you assume it meant “all” instead of “some”. He did not generalize but you attacked a straw man you made up yourself.

        • Plowjogger1776

          Because it didn’t specify exactly who it meant.

        • Kodie

          It meant Christians who say this. We know “we’re not all like that (my god makes sense!)”.

        • Greg G.

          It seems that almost all Christians think their Christianity is the Christianity that almost all Christians believe. We deal with Christians almost all the time in this forum and we find that Christians do not agree with one another as much as the they assume they do. You have Catholics, Protestants who think Catholics will go to heaven, and Protestants who think Catholics are going to hell. They were killing each other in Ireland within the last quarter of a century. There are Arianists and Calvinists. You have Sola Scripturalists and Prima Scripturalists. You have Young Earth Creationists, Old Earth Creationists, and Intelligent Designists. Some Christians do not believe that Jesus was resurrected, some that he was not divine, some that he did not exist. You have Trinitarians and Unitarians. Some are inerrantists regarding the Bible and some aren’t. Some think it is the “Word of God”, but most Christians have little interest in what the Bible says, little curiosity about what God might have to say, and little knowledge about the denomination they say they belong to. Christianity to them is nothing more than Easter candy, Christmas presents, marriages, and funerals.

          So when we see “Christians say” we keep reading to get the context and understand it as a tautological statement where “Christians say X” means “the Christians who say X say X”, then X is shown to be silly. Poe’s Law says, “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake for the genuine article.” This should not be taken to imply that this only applies to Creationists, though.

          It seems that Christians agree only enough to be identified as Christians. But Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount that he will tell some that he never knew them. So you must believe that some are false Christians but all Christians think think they are the True Christians™ and that others are false. That makes John 17:20-23 the biggest prayer failure of all time:

          John 17:20-23 (NRSV)20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

          Jesus wanted believers to have such unity of belief that it would impress everybody else in the world so much that they would know Jesus came from God. But Christians believe only enough to be identified as Christians and then their disagreements become evident to the rest of the world.
          __________________________
          EDITED a minute later to remove a double negative.

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

          I didn’t mean that every Christian makes identical claims.

          But surely that’s not the problem with the article. If I clarified that “every single Christian” isn’t who I was referring to, would you agree with the point of the article? Or are there other issues as well?

        • Plowjogger1776

          No, I deal with same inanities in dealing with my fellow believers.

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

          Are you responding to the question I asked? Now that we have your quibble resolved, are you saying that you’re OK with the rest of the post? That would surprise me.

        • Plowjogger1776

          I constantly deal with people in church being lazy/irresponsible thinkers. That fries my grits.

        • Plowjogger1776

          Yes, as far as raking people over the coals for not thinking clearly. It’s like an average American citizen making ludicrous claims about the Constitution. They are to be held accountable for uninformed statements, but that doesn’t disqualify the form of government or the freedoms championed within it. I apologize for starting off like such a dick. I had been on other threads today where we got hot and bothered and I was short-tempered and impatient.

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

          No problem. We have too few thoughtful, civil Christian commentators here. If you’re one of those, welcome.

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

          I updated the post (should take about 10 minutes to go live) to correct your concern. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

        • Plowjogger1776

          You are welcome. I appreciate a sensible discussion.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Have you met Clement Agonistes?

          Of the 2.4 billion Christians, 2.3+ billion agree with the creeds I mentioned.

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/the_frustration_of_arguing_with_christians/#comment-3322774192

          Clement, a Christian who has provided no qualifiers, is happy enough to use generalisations without qualifiers when it suits his position…as do most Christians we engage with on atheist type forums. But only when they are not using the contrary “No True Scotsman” fallacy to disavow themselves of the more embarrassing issues.

          Do you have a particular flavour of Christian in mind? We can only talk about the sort of Christian we have knowledge in dealing with and when it comes to discussing issues of their faith, even the smartest of them start to flounder under inspection.

        • Plowjogger1776

          I can only answer for myself. If this individual violates the rules of logic feed him/her to a wood chipper (metaphorically). There is no religion or irreligion higher than truth.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The hypocrisy is hanging clear right out of ya.

          You don’t seem to have a problem generalising when it comes to slating Democrats.

          The vileness of the Democrats never ceases to amaze me. Shameless, traitorous, rapacious, inhuman.

          Historically, yes, Democrats have been disgustingly violent against black folks.

          Then there is this…

          No rational argument, just ad hominem. Typical atheist fall back.

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/friendlyatheist1/conservative_host_even_peaceful_muslims_8220need_to_be_eradicated8221_after_manchester_attack/#comment-3324675920

          WTF is a “typical” atheist?

          What about this bit of generalising.

          Because Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, etc. are not strapping nail bombs to themselves and blowing up peaceful Muslims en masse. Get it?

          While Christian bombers are usually about self preservation, enough of the fuckers have blown themselves up while planting bombs.

          And if you think Buddhists, Jews and Hindus do not engage in acts of terrorism involving murder, you are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

          I’ve got the wood chipper warmed up nicely here, so just when you’re ready.

        • Plowjogger1776

          To even entertain the idea that there is a moral equivalency between violence in other religions and Islamic jihadi terrorism is ludicrous. Try thereligionofpeace.com. And this one:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_terrorism#United_States. No comparison to Islamists and their global terror campaign and attempt to build a Caliphate and force Sharia Law on everybody.
          Yeah, I get snippy when people get snippy with me. Deal with it.

        • Kodie

          Yet a concerted effort just like that is why you’re a Christian.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Way to go to miss the point of my comment. Typical theist obfuscation, colour me unsurprised.

          To even entertain the idea that there is a moral equivalency between violence in other religions and Islamic jihadi terrorism is ludicrous.

          Nice straw man you’ve got there. Where did I compare terrorist violence?

          The point is, you came to this forum whinging about the O/P and how you perceived the title as generalising Christians as a particular stereotype and then set about acting out that stereotype.

          Now, about this non sequitur of a rabbit hole you want me to go down with you…

          Having been on the receiving end of sectarian Christian terrorism directed at innocent people, I can assure you it is nothing to be so flippant about.

          Try thereligionofpeace.com. And this one:https://en.wikipedia.org/wi….

          I’m well versed on both those sites and am well aware of the extent of Islamic terrorism, so pah!

          I’ve read “Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism and Slavery” by M.A. Kahn…I paid for mine, but here’s a free version.

          http://guruprasad.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/islamic-jihad-legacy-of-forced-conversion-imperialism-slavery.pdf

          No comparison to Islamists and their global terror campaign and attempt to build a Caliphate and force Sharia Law on everybody.

          Just as well that nowhere in my comment was there a competition being suggested on who is the nastiest terrorist then, isn’t it?

          That said, the victims of terrorists don’t much care which bunch of murdering bastards make the bombs…folk like this poor cunt.

          http://www.atangledweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/La+Mon+_6.jpeg

          Going out to a dinner dance didn’t work out so well for that victim, along with 11 other revellers trying to enjoy the same night out.

          Yeah, I get snippy when people get snippy with me.

          I get “snippy” when holier than thou arseholes pitch up here and display their arseholiness from the get go.

          Nobody got snippy with you. It was you that came here to get snippy in the first place, remember?

          Yeah, I also get snippy when people get snippy with me too. But not when I’m at fault.

          Deal with it.

          I thought I was dealing with it. I’m showing everyone reading this thread how much of a two-faced dick you are being…so you deal with it.

        • Susan

          Excuse me, but the article just says, “Christians” with no qualifiers.

          Because many christians make these arguments. If you have an argument for your position as a christian that does a better job than those christians, please provide it.

        • Plowjogger1776

          Then the title should have reflected that. It didn’t, so I asked the question. Don’t get your undies in a wad.

        • Kodie

          I always love it so when someone with their panties in a bunch tells someone else not to get their undies in a wad. Susan gave you no attitude, so why you being a dick?

        • Ignorant Amos

          …why you being a dick?

          Because it’s what theists do.

        • Plowjogger1776

          As the Joker says, “why so serious?” It was a gentle jab, not a right cross.

        • Kodie

          You’re the one who’s being really petty, but you just have to diminish your critics with a condescending remark meant to shut them up so you don’t have to deal with the questions.

        • Plowjogger1776

          Awww. Need a safe space? How the hell am I going to “shut up” anybody on the internet?

        • Kodie

          You’re not going to shut up anyone on the internet, but what you’re doing is dismissing people and not listening or answering questions directed to you. Instead, you act like a big fucking baby. Don’t also pretend it’s about “safe space”, you dickwad. It’s about you pretending you’re the only one allowed to say any fucking thing and everyone else who criticizes you goes into some imaginary category of people who mean nothing and said nothing and you don’t have to answer them. You’re the big dummy who had the petty little heart attack because someone lumped you in with a bunch of dumb fucking Christians and you wish you weren’t thought of as dumb, but your defensive little deflections demonstrate that you are not that witty. All you have is douchey little aw, snaps so you can belittle your opponent and compensate for your little dick and your poor arguments. Not to mention, all you had after that was pure hypocrisy and prejudice.

          Why don’t you just answer Susan’s question, you ass. Why do you want to start up? ‘Cause I will.

        • Plowjogger1776

          I did answer. The title had no qualifiers. It was a gross over generalization. That was my point. She came at me with attitude and I answered in kind, but it didn’t take several lines of ad hominem to do so. I only had one point and I made it numerous times on this thread and the author even saw my point. Geez. Lighten up.

        • Michael Neville

          Another Christian who doesn’t know what ad hominem is.

          After trying unsuccessfully to teach Candy Smith that theft and lying are not things she should do, I’m getting tired of explaining things to Christian whiners. So I won’t bother to tell you why what Kodie wrote isn’t ad hominem.

        • Plowjogger1776

          “big fucking baby,” “dickwad,” “big dummy,” “dumb fucking Christians,” “your little dick.” Sounds like ad hominem to me. You disagree?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yip….that’s name calling.

          Gratuitous verbal abuse or “name-calling” is not on its own an example of the argumentum ad hominem logical fallacy. The fallacy occurs only if personal attacks are employed to devalue a speaker’s argument by attacking the speaker; personal insults in the middle of an otherwise sound argument are not ad hominem attacks.

          Name calling is what is winding Candy up by meat the moment…ad hom is a different animal altogether.

        • Michael Neville

          Those are insults. Ad hominem is attacking you instead of your arguments. Ad hominem is “you’re wrong because you’re an idiot.” Not Ad hominem is “you’re wrong because of facts A, B and C, you idiot.”

        • Plowjogger1776

          Dictionary.com defines it as, “attacking an opponent’s character rather than answering his argument.” You should stop em-bare-assing yourself.

        • Greg G.

          That’s what he said. When you address the person instead of the argument, then it is an ad hominem fallacy. When you refute the argument and attack the person, then it is just insults but there is no fallacy.

          If you say “you’re stupid” in reply to an argument, you have committed the fallacy.

          If you point out the ligical error in the structure of the other person’s argument or show that it is based on a false premise, and say “you’re stupid”, it is not a fallacy.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You don’t seem to be clever enough to be relying on a simple dictionary definition.

          Try a more extensive explanation for comprehension purposes.

          First off, Kodie was answering a comment that asked two questions, not addressing a proposition in an argument.

          Taking out the name-calling, Kodie’s comment addresses your questions competently.

          You’re not going to shut up anyone on the internet, but what you’re doing is dismissing people and not listening or answering questions directed to you. Don’t also pretend it’s about “safe space”. It’s about you pretending you’re the only one allowed to say anything and everyone else who criticizes you goes into some imaginary category of people who mean nothing and said nothing and you don’t have to answer them. You had the petty little heart attack because someone lumped you in with a bunch of dumb Christians and you wish you weren’t thought of as dumb, but your defensive little deflections demonstrate that you are not that witty. All you have is little aw, snaps so you can belittle your opponent and compensate for your poor arguments. Not to mention, all you had after that was pure hypocrisy and prejudice.

          The name-calling just added the trademark colourful flair we have become accustomed to, and which many here appreciate and enjoy.

          Therefore the name-calling was not an ad hominem attack at an argument.

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

          Tone trolling on the other hand though, well that is fallacious.

        • Michael Neville

          And since your argument was answered then ad hominem wasn’t used, per your definition. Plus, as an extra added attraction, you were insulted. In fact, I’ve just answered your argument successfully so I haven’t used ad hominem in this post. And you’re still a dumb fucking dickwad.

        • Kodie

          Your exact first remark here was:

          What a stupid article. Are you really suggesting that all people who claim to be Christians have the same level of knowledge about their faith or the same level of education in general? I’ve never seen a more blatant example of the Scarecrow Fallacy in my life! I say “Scarecrow” because I would be attacked for being sexist if I said “Straw Man,” I’m sure.

          Susan wrote:

          Because many christians make these arguments. If you have an argument for your position as a christian that does a better job than those christians, please provide it.

          I didn’t see any attitude there. I see it here, though:

          Then the title should have reflected that. It didn’t, so I asked the question. Don’t get your undies in a wad.

          Instead of answering her question, you deflected and did it douchewise, i.e. “I don’t have to concern myself with your question so I’m not only going to ignore you, I’m going to blather some remark about how you are uptight and angry now.” That’s ad hominem. You’re all about the insults and zero substance, so don’t be surprised or sob big baby tears when you get called out on it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The title had no qualifiers.

          The forum isn’t big enough for all the qualifiers that I can imagine you would require.

          When Bob uses the word Christian, the rest of us know what he means. The word Christian is its own qualifier for purpose.

          Perhaps it would be easier if you list those Christians that you think should be exempt from the label and we could take it from there?

        • Plowjogger1776

          I don’t think that’s a very good excuse. There was no room to put in “some,” or “many?”

        • Ignorant Amos

          Is it “some” or “many”?

          What about a “couple” or a “few”?

          Why don’t you use such qualifiers when you are generalising? Is it because you realise your readers will know you are not talking about each and every single individual of the group, or just the group in general?

          You are just being pedantic. The more important aspect of your opening salvo was…

          What a stupid article.

          …which you seem reluctant to expand upon and give reasons. Unless you are suggesting the article is stupid because it lacked the qualifier “some” or “many”.

          The article is qualified with Christians on this blog and in real life being the Christians he is on about, so is the article still stupid, and if yes, what about it do you say is stupid?

        • Michael Neville

          Okay, we get the idea that your Christian feelings are hurt because you imagine you’re smarter than the average Christian, who you think is a dumbshit. Congratulations, you’ve crossed the low hurdle of not being as dumb as you think other people are.

          http://cdn.quotesgram.com/img/7/2/248175574-o7V81aM_jpg.jpg

        • Kodie

          If you choose to perceive straightforward questions as “attitude” then you got no business telling anyone else they got their panties in a bunch. The other thing you busted in here with was some kind of backhanded slam at feminism. You’re just a douche.

        • Raging Bee

          Pointing out the wad in your neighbor’s undies while ignoring the huge smelly stain in your own? Isn’t there a Bible prohibition against that?

    • Susan

      I’ve never seen a more blatant example of the Scarecrow Fallacy in my life

      It’s not a Strawman if you are addressing the argument made by a substantial number of christians.

      It’s a response to their argument.

      I say “Scarecrow” because I would be attacked for being sexist if I said “Straw Man,” I’m sure.

      In all the years I’ve folowed these discussions, I have NEVER seen a single person insist we change “Strawman” to “Scarecrow”.
      .

      So, you should reconsider your certainty about that and get back to the subject.

    • Kodie

      Nobody in the fucking world cares if a weak misrepresentation of one’s opponent’s argument is represented by a straw man with no penis.

      So already, you’re being a hypocrite.

  • Daniel Hill

    From our previous discussion. – Bob a couple of thoughts dealing with your post. If indeed
    there was no God—-Why do we have a name for what does not exist? What would God’s name be if there was no
    God? To deny something it first must exist. Delusions don’t happen to mass/large groups
    of people they happen to individuals.

    Physical Laws only allow for the status quoi, if you will the
    orderly repeat(ing) of something (process).
    Laws create nothing and add no addition/new information to any process.

    We have only two choices for this order and rationality we
    call the Universe: Either it arose from a preexisting supernatural intelligence
    or they did not. There are two possibilities. Either God, or some divine being
    who is not bound by the rules [of physics], who lives outside of them,
    determines them—either by whim or with malice aforethought—or they arise by
    some less supernatural mechanism. Which of those two possibilities is the most
    likely? Since nature had a beginning and can’t explain itself, it seems much
    more reasonable to posit that the same cause that created the universe is also
    the source of its order and rationality. After all, experience tells us that
    laws always come from lawgivers.

    Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence,
    either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause. Things that
    exist necessarily exist by a necessity of their own nature. It’s impossible for
    them not to exist.

    So If God exists, He is a necessarily existing, uncaused
    being, a spaceless timeless mind. God’s revelation about Himself is – that he
    is a sprit, that must be worshiped as a sprit in truth and that truth is that
    which is spoken by Him. So God the necessary Source and Sustainer of all things
    is:


    Self-existing: not caused by another; the foundation of all being

    • Infinite:
    unlimited; the completely maximized or actualized Being

    • Simple:
    undivided in being; is not made up of parts


    Immaterial: spirit; not made of matter

    • Spaceless:
    transcends space

    • Timeless:
    transcends time; eternal; had no beginning and will have no end


    Omnipotent: all powerful; can do whatever is logically possible


    Omnipresent: everywhere present


    Omniscient: all knowing; knows all actual and possible states of affairs

    • Immutable:
    changeless; the anchor and standard by which everything else is measured

    • Holy: set
    apart; morally perfect; is perfectly just and loving

    • Personal:
    has mind, emotion, and will; makes choices.

    These attributes and others are coexistent, infinite, and
    unified in God the Source and Sustainer.

    A key question Bob is this: If Christianity were true, would you become a Christian? Is
    Christianity true? Atheists say that’s merely wishful thinking—all good
    thinking leads to atheism. Who’s right?

    The intellectual crimes of atheists begin with their views of
    the law essential to all science and knowledge: the law of causality.

    If space, time, and matter had a beginning, then the cause
    must transcend space, time, and matter. In other words, the cause must be
    spaceless, timeless, and immaterial. This cause also must be enormously
    powerful to create the universe out of nothing. And it must be a personal agent
    in order to choose to create, since an impersonal force has no capacity to
    choose to create anything. Agents create, Impersonal forces, which we call
    natural laws, merely govern what is already created.

    Since nature had a beginning, nature can’t be its own cause.
    The cause must be beyond nature, which is what we mean by the term
    “supernatural.”

    Those who conclude that a theistic God is the cause of the
    universe are not arguing from what we don’t know (a gap), but what we do know.
    Since space, time, and matter had a beginning, we know that the cause can’t be
    made of space, time, or matter. In fact, the conclusion that there is a
    spaceless, timeless, immaterial, powerful, personal first cause flows logically
    from the evidence itself. If anyone is committing a fallacy, it is the atheist.
    Call it the “natural law of the gaps fallacy”—having faith that an undiscovered
    natural law will one day explain the beginning of the universe.

    If there is no God, why is there something rather than
    nothing?

    Another issue is information theory. To transfer information, that information
    must come from outside of and independent of a process. If creation and anything in it is rightfully
    seen as a process then the information contained in the creation must come from
    outside of and independent of that creation process. The only explanation to meet this challenge
    is a necessarily existing, uncaused being, a spaceless timeless mind.

    • Michael Neville

      I started reading your long post and you tripped over the first hurdle.

      If indeed there was no God—-Why do we have a name for what does not exist?

      Does Harry Potter exist? How about Gandalf and Frodo? Do you keep running into Romeo and Juliet shopping at the Pick ‘n Save? None of these characters exist yet they all have names. The point the God has a name (which isn’t God, that’s a title) does not mean he, she or it exists.

      Since your first point was nonsensical I didn’t bother to read further.

      • Daniel Hill

        The point is simply this. Each of these names have a certain characteristics that explains and defines that person. Generally each has certain abilities or disabilities and attributes that define that person. Gods name (I AM that I AM) goes way beyond where we tend to label our made-up gods. That name is a description unique to Gods nature. it encompasses nature, intrinsic characteristics, personal characteristics and the fact that God is a personal being. All is wrapped in a name. We give names to characters in a play, Bigfoot, unicorns and the like but Gods name is self given. I could say more but I think you get the general picture about a name. Thanks for the comment.

        • Michael Neville

          Your god has three names, Yahweh, Jesus and The Spook (don’t ask, it’s a mystery). So what? As I pointed out, all sorts of fictional characters have names and generally we know the abilities and attributes of these characters. Since Ol’ YahwehJesusSpook is a main character in a long book, we know about his characteristics (those characteristics can be contradictory, Yahweh comes across as a real asshole who kills people just because he can, Jesus promotes mercy and kindness towards others, The Spook is colorless, mainly because he wasn’t actually fleshed out until the Council of Nicea in 325 and even now he/she/it is pretty enigmatic).

          Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva all have names and are given characteristics. Do you accept that they are gods or even aspects of the same god? Hindus claim these three gods are the Trimurti, a trinity of supreme divinity in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified as a triad of deities. These three gods are incarnated into a single avatar called Dattatreya. (I work with an Indian Brahmin who was trained as a priest. I’ve been picking up the basics of Hinduism, a rather more complicated religion than Christianity.)

          No, the point that your god has various names and has been given various aspects and attributes still doesn’t mean it’s anything more than a figment of Iron Age priests’ imaginations as modified by Christian theologians, Byzantine emperors and assorted others.

        • Daniel Hill

          This response doesn’t surprise me. I have been listening to this, for all practical purposes, canned response for more than thirty years but much more since Mr. Browns book. You obviously have not done serious study/work prior to Council of Nicea all the way back to the first century. With respect, I’m disappointed; I expected a better informed and critical response.

          As for the response to my name statement/discussion i will take that feedback seriously and work and refine that discussion. Thanks

        • Michael Neville

          Supposed the Holy Spirit was mentioned in Genesis and throughout the Old and New Testament. In reality, the Holy Spirit was invented because a dual god seemed too Zoroastrian to the Council of Nicea. Jews do not accept the Holy Spirit and disagree that it’s mentioned anywhere in the OT.

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

          What is the “canned response” that you’re disappointed with?

          And as for canned responses, I think you’re living in a glass house. Your comments look to be inspired by Greg Koukl, Wm. Lane Craig, Frank Turek, or someone similar.

          I’m not demanding that you not learn from or get inspired by others; I’m simply wondering how your position is any different from the one you’re criticizing.

        • Raging Bee

          You’ve been pushing that word-salad for THIRTY YEARS?! What a waste of a life!

        • Ignorant Amos

          The NT Jesus character is every bit as big an arsehole as the OT Yahweh character, with all that eternal Hell-fire and damnation, getting a red hot poker up the arse malarkey.

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

          God has a name just like all the other gods. God’s name is Yahweh. Except when he’s called Elohim. You first need to explain why there are multiple names.

          As for the “I am” thing, names had power in ancient mythology. If you know someone’s name, you have power over them, like Rumplestiltskin or Beetlejuice, to use more modern stories. God was reluctant to give his name, but that’s no clue that this religion is more real than all the others.

        • Michael Neville

          You reminded me of an Arthur C. Clarke short story: “The Nine Billion Names of God”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Except when he’s called Elohim.

          And a clatter of other handles…none of which is actually “I am that I am”. Why would we expect a theist to know this stuff?

          Although Ehyeh asher ehyeh is generally rendered in English “I am that I am”, better renderings might be “I will be what I will be” or “I will be who I will be”, or “I shall prove to be whatsoever I shall prove to be” or even “I will be because I will be”. Other renderings include: Leeser, “I Will Be that I Will Be”; Rotherham, “I Will Become whatsoever I please”, New World Translation (2013 Edition): “I Will Become What I Choose to Become.” Greek, Ego eimi ho on (ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν), “I am The Being” in the Septuagint, and Philo, and Revelation or, “I am The Existing One”; Lat., ego sum qui sum, “I am Who I am.”

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

        • Greg G.

          A wizard is never late, nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.

        • Greg G.

          In Acts 20, we are introduced to Eutychus, the boy who Paul literally bored to death but was resurrected by Paul. Eutychus is a Greek name that means “Lucky”. It’s fictional name made up to fit the fictional story. “God” having implications ascribed over time is no different.

          When I was struggling with my faith, I returned to the church where I was saved. The sermon was about the reason people take the Lord’s name in vain. His big reveal was “There’s power in the name!” (It seemed to have been spoken in bold text.) I thought, “Bullshit… oh, there’s the same power in that word, too!” At least, it ended my struggle with faith.

        • Pofarmer

          The last sermon I sat through was one on how “God is infinitely Good” and how Gad brings Good through suffering, and etc, and etc. That did it for me.

        • Raging Bee

          Gods name (I AM that I AM) goes way beyond where we tend to label our made-up gods.

          Only in your imagination.

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

      (I’ve copied my reply from World Table to here.)

      If indeed there was no God—-Why do we have a name for what does not exist?

      If there indeed is no Bigfoot, why do we have a name for what doesn’t exist? Same for the Loch Ness Monster and unicorns.

      Delusions don’t happen to mass/large groups of people they happen to individuals.

      OK. How do delusions fit into our discussion?

      We have only two choices for this order and rationality we call the Universe: Either it arose from a preexisting supernatural intelligence or they did not.

      There’s no good evidence for a supernatural intelligence causing the universe, so I guess that’s not the answer.

      Which of those two possibilities is the most likely?

      Probably the one that has always turned out to be the answer: the naturalistic one.

      Since nature had a beginning and can’t explain itself, it seems much more reasonable to posit that the same cause that created the universe is also the source of its order and rationality.

      Or, we could say, “We just don’t know what caused the Big Bang” and have the physicists work on it. How does that sound?

      So God the necessary Source and Sustainer of all things is:

      That’s an interesting list of properties. Instead of just inferring them, I’d like to see actual evidence of this god.

      If Christianity were true, would you become a Christian?

      I’m not sure what you’re asking. You’re asking, If God existed, would you believe in him? In that case, of course.

      If you’re asking, If God (as defined by the Old Testament) existed, would you worship him? In that case, no, unless doing so would get me out of hell. Read the OT—the guy’s a jerk.

      The intellectual crimes of atheists begin with their views of the law essential to all science and knowledge: the law of causality.

      What’s this law? That all things have a cause?

      You tell me that it’s false since God had no cause. Anyway, quantum physics says that quantum events don’t have to have causes.

      If space, time, and matter had a beginning, then the cause must transcend space, time, and matter. In other words, the cause must be spaceless, timeless, and immaterial.

      I read the same fundamentalist/evangelical blogs that you do and have seen this far too many times. The core problem with this argument is that common sense and simple logic applied at the frontier of science often fails. Consider quantum physics—pretty much everything violates common sense.

      You say God exists? Show him to me.

      Call it the “natural law of the gaps fallacy”—having faith that an undiscovered natural law will one day explain the beginning of the universe.

      Science says: We don’t know the cause of the beginning of the universe or what was “before.” Where’s the problem?

      If there is no God, why is there something rather than nothing?

      Why would you expect something rather than nothing? Is nothing more likely in a godless universe? Prove it.

      • Daniel Hill

        Bob @ patheos

        If indeed there was no God—-Why do we have a name for what
        does not exist?

        If there indeed is no Bigfoot, why
        do we have a name for what doesn’t exist? Same for the Loch Ness Monster and
        unicorns.

        #We know about the Unicorn myth, and I notice you said IF there is no Bigfoot or Loch Ness. By the way I am not a fan of Bigfoot or Nessie but I’ll agree with your IF.

        Delusions don’t happen to mass/large groups of people they
        happen to individuals.

        OK. How do delusions fit into our
        discussion?

        #For those that think God is something people have madeup in their mind.

        We have only two choices for this order and rationality we
        call the Universe: Either it arose from a preexisting supernatural intelligence or they did not.

        There’s no good evidence for a
        supernatural intelligence causing the universe, so I guess that’s not the answer.

        #I gave possible answers below where is your explanation?

        Which of those two possibilities is the most likely?

        Probably the one that has always turned out to be the answer: the naturalistic one.

        #This is no answer it is your position.

        Since nature had a beginning and can’t explain itself, it
        seems much more reasonable to posit that the same cause that created the universe is also the source of its order and rationality.

        Or, we could say, “We just don’t know what caused the Big Bang” and have the physicists work on it. How does that sound?

        #It sounds quite shallow for a computer type that understands basic information theory.

        So God the necessary Source and Sustainer of all things is:

        That’s an interesting list of properties. Instead of just inferring them, I’d like to see actual evidence of this god.

        #Looking up would be a great start.

        If Christianity were true, would you become a Christian?

        I’m not sure what you’re asking. You’re asking, If God existed, would you believe in him? In that case, of course.

        If you’re asking, If God (as defined by the Old Testament) existed, would you worship him? In that case, no, unless
        doing so would get me out of hell. Read the OT—the guy’s a jerk.

        #I’ve read it in great detail many times and I don’t see
        the Jerk you talk about. For you to make that assertion you have a personal sense of morality, where did that come from? In other words what is your ultimate foundation for your moral judgement on Gods actions in the OT?

        The intellectual crimes of atheists begin with their views
        of the law essential to all science and knowledge: the law of causality.

        What’s this law? That all things have a cause?

        #The law of causality—please. Physical Laws only allow for the
        status quo, as do civil laws and such if you will they give assurance the orderly repeat(ing) of something (process).
        Physical Laws create nothing and add no addition/new information to any process.

        You tell me that it’s false since
        God had no cause. Anyway, quantum physics says that quantum events don’t have
        to have causes.

        #Quantum physics can only see what it is looking at, Brownian movement and other EM types are all the time interacting with mass objects and other EM types in space causing all types of what we may call random movements that are no more than an amalgamation of both physical and electromagnetic interactions that we cannot predict. There are causes they just cannot be predicted. Especially with the little knowledge of resonance energies for involved particles and EM interactions we have. As for Gods cause, remember you are applying what you know about this finite creation that you understand to some extent to
        something that does not have its nature trapped in this creation that God made in the first place. Cause and effect involve interactions with this creation, leave this creation and the rules here don’t apply there.

        If space, time, and matter had a beginning, then the cause
        must transcend space, time, and matter. In other words, the cause must be spaceless, timeless, and immaterial.

        I read the same fundamentalist/evangelical blogs that you do and have seen this far too many times. The core problem with this argument is that common sense and simple logic applied at the frontier of science often fails. Consider quantum physics—pretty much everything violates common sense.

        #Let’s say simply you have made no effort to address my statement.

        You say God exists? Show him to me.

        #Already answered this above you want a finite answer to an infinite question. Hilbert has clearly shown the fallacy of that
        argument, but God did send Jesus who clearly said if you have seen me you have seen the Father. (note that this is a very Eastern answer which is what Judaism and Christianity are in nature and nearly all of your responses are Western in there structure and nature.)

        Call it the “natural law of the gaps fallacy”—having faith
        that an undiscovered natural law will one day explain the beginning of the universe.

        Science says: We don’t know the cause of the beginning of the universe or what was “before.” Where’s the problem?

        #Nothing —Nothing at all and we still see this in the expansion of the Universe “into nothing,” space is somehow being made every moment in time since this all began.

        If there is no God, why is there something rather than
        nothing?

        Why would you expect something rather than nothing? Is nothing more likely in a godless universe? Prove it.

        #You have as much responsibility for burden of proof for your position as I do If there was indeed nothing we would not be having this conversation. I have given some basic proofs and explanations for God. I have not seen any serious arguments or casual arguments against a theistic God.

        Thanks for the time to dialog with you.

        • Michael Neville

          Three things:

          1. When you’re quoting someone use <blockquote> </blockquote>, <i>italics&lt/i> or even “quotation marks” to set off the quotes. (I leave as an exercise for the student how I was able to show html codes without them becoming html.)

          b. Fix your formatting. You wrote your post somewhere other than a posting block and then copied it over into the posting block. That’s perfectly fine, except the formatting becomes screwy. Remove the extraneous line returns.

          iii. “Dialog” is not a verb. As Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes put it so well: “Verbing weirds language.”

          I had a high school English teacher who kept saying: “If you make something difficult to read then people won’t read it.”

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

          Helpful

        • Dys

          iii. “Dialog” is not a verb.

          This is the only bit I disagree with.

          “Dialog” can be used as a noun or a verb, although to be fair, the verb usage is usually considered obselete, and Mr. Hill’s usage is clunky as hell.

        • Michael Neville

          So when you invite someone to dinner do you ask, “shall we meal together?”.

        • Dys

          Me personally? No. But along with “dialogue”, using “meal” as a verb is one of those generally obsolete Shakespearean usages.

        • Michael Neville

          Exactly.

        • Raging Bee

          I think that’s part of his intent: make his crap hard to read and then declare victory when we give up reading it or admit we have no idea what he’s talking about.

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

          We know about the Unicorn myth

          Sure, and we know about the myth of Quetzalcoatl, Shiva, and Xenu. Naming something is no acknowledgement that it exists in physical form.

          “How do delusions fit into our discussion?”
          #For those that think God is something people have madeup in their mind.

          I wouldn’t call God a delusion. I’d call him a myth.

          “There’s no good evidence for a supernatural intelligence causing the universe, so I guess that’s not the answer.”
          #I gave possible answers below where is your explanation?

          You gave zero evidence for Yahweh. Instead, you tried to create a God-shaped hole. I’m afraid I need the direct evidence of Yahweh. Surely since he’s so eager for a relationship, his existence would be obvious, right?

          Probably the one that has always turned out to be the answer: the naturalistic one.
          #This is no answer it is your position.

          The last myriad questions that had “God did it!” as an explanation (but that now have a natural explanation) are indeed evidence that the natural explanation will again be the way to go.

          “Or, we could say, “We just don’t know what caused the Big Bang” and have the physicists work on it. How does that sound?”
          #It sounds quite shallow for a computer type that understands basic information theory.

          What’s the rush? You’re eager to have the teacher say, “Put your pencils down and pass your tests to the front” because you have an answer while I don’t?

          You have an answer without evidence. I have a question without an answer (just like science wrestles with all the time).

          “I’d like to see actual evidence of this god.”
          #Looking up would be a great start.

          Stars. Sky. What are you talking about? This guy who’s eager to have a relationship with me is still a no-show. Sorry.

          #I’ve read it in great detail many times and I don’t see the Jerk you talk about.

          “Jerk” in this case means doing something that you wouldn’t do if you had the capability. Would you drown everyone? Would you demand genocide? Support slavery? God did. He’s a jerk.

          For you to make that assertion you have a personal sense of morality, where did that come from?

          Evolution. Or is this a trick question?

          #The law of causality—please.

          Yes—explain it to me.

          Physical Laws create nothing and add no addition/new information to any process.

          No idea what this means.

          Maybe you’re referring to an error in DNA transcription where AB turns into AAB (say)? In that case, that’s new information.

          #Quantum physics can only see what it is looking at

          Huh? Quantum physics says that not all effects have causes. Not all things that begin to exist had causes.

          As for Gods cause, remember you are applying what you know about this finite creation that you understand to some extent to something that does not have its nature trapped in this creation that God made in the first place. Cause and effect involve interactions with this creation, leave this creation and the rules here don’t apply there.

          You’re saying that God doesn’t have a cause, but that that doesn’t violate your law of causality because it doesn’t apply everywhere? Sounds like you need to expand on your law of causality, making clear where it does and doesn’t apply, and showing why “Oh, but that doesn’t apply to God” isn’t just ad hoc reasoning. Oh—and show how the Copenhagen interpretation doesn’t reject it.

          #Let’s say simply you have made no effort to address my statement.

          Sounds good to me. Your statement is philosophical handwaving. When the cosmologists have something to say, then I’ll be interested.

          “You say God exists? Show him to me.”
          #Already answered this above you want a finite answer to an infinite question.

          No, I want an object to ground for your demand that I worship God. Show me this guy.

          God did send Jesus who clearly said if you have seen me you have seen the Father.

          Did he? Show me. And “Just read the Bible!” isn’t an answer until you show me that the supernatural claims in the Bible are actually history and not myth/legend.

          (note that this is a very Eastern answer which is what Judaism and Christianity are in nature and nearly all of your responses are Western in there structure and nature.)

          I don’t know why these distinctions are relevant. You say that there’s solid evidence for God? Cool—I’m all ears. If you don’t have evidence, then I’m obviously not likely to be swayed by your argument.

          “Why would you expect something rather than nothing? Is nothing more likely in a godless universe? Prove it.”
          #You have as much responsibility for burden of proof for your position as I do

          How fortunate for me that I’m making no claims here.

          You, on the other hand, seem to be saying that a godless universe would have nothing (rather than something). I’m simply asking for evidence of this remarkable claim.

          If there was indeed nothing we would not be having this conversation.

          Right . . . and so therefore God exists?? No, you need to show that a godless universe would look different than what we see around us.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I wouldn’t call God a delusion. I’d call him a myth.

          It becomes a delusion when the believer claims that this God is talking to them and answering prayers.

        • Pofarmer

          “Delusions don’t happen to mass/large groups of people they
          happen to individual”

          Uhm, sure they do. Ever heard of Medjugorge?

        • Raging Bee

          #We know about the Unicorn myth, and I notice you said IF there is no Bigfoot or Loch Ness. By the way I am not a fan of Bigfoot or Nessie but I’ll agree with your IF.

          I notice you don’t answer the question. You really can’t answer it, can you?

        • Greg G.

          Physical Laws create nothing and add no addition/new information to any process.

          The part of the spectrum of light that a star emits its light give information about the temperature of the star.

          Elements and molecules absorb certain frequencies that act as fingerprints to identify the make-up of the star which can tell what stage it is in and which generation of a star it is.

          If the absorption line patterns are shifted, information about the speed and direction of the star relative to the viewer can be attained.

          If the starlight passes through a gas cloud, the viewer can see a second set of absorption lines, giving information about the make-up of the gas cloud and its velocity relative to the viewer.

          According to the information theory that cdesign proponentsists use to define information, all of those absorption lines and stretched wavelengths are a loss of information.

          That shows how silly and desperate creationists and IDiots have become.

      • Andrea Fitzgerald

        Here, here!

    • Raging Bee

      If indeed there were no unicorns, , why do we have a name for what does not exist?

  • james warren

    An intention to argue is not the same thing as an intention to learn.