Anti-Choicers’ Misfire on the Fertility Clinic Hypothetical: a Response (2 of 2)

Ice!

The fertility clinic problem is this: if a fertility clinic were on fire and you could save either a five-year-old child or a canister with a thousand human embryos, which would you save?

In part 1, I looked at the anti-choice responses by Matt Walsh, Ben Shapiro, and Greg Koukl. They largely accepted the point of the argument, that we’d all save the child over the embryos, but then rambled on down many tangents, oblivious to the fact that the case was closed. “An embryo is a child” is the foundational moral claim for many in the anti-choice community, and by admitting that one child is more important than many embryos, they showed that claim to be false.

Let’s wrap up our look at the points made in these anti-choice arguments.

Unfair! It’s an emotional argument.

One objection was to reject this as an emotional argument. Koukl complained, “The dilemma simply forces us to make a choice in a no-win situation. It doesn’t draw out buried intuitions that show our real values; it draws out our emotions in a forced choice.”

Koukl calls this a “dilemma” and a “no-win situation,” but there’s no dilemma here. The choice is obvious.

He’s also wrong about emotional arguments being unfair. This is basically the Portman Effect, named after Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who turned against his party in 2013 to support same-sex marriage. What caused the turnaround was his son coming out as gay. You’d think that people would be good at hypotheticals like, “Gee—what if my son were gay? Would I still oppose same-sex marriage?” But for some reason, having it happen for real puts things in a new focus.

And so it is with abortion. It’s one thing to stroke one’s chin thoughtfully and harrumph that an embryo is a child, but it’s another to be told, “Child or embryos—choose now!”

(And don’t get me started about men weighing in on a matter that can never affect them personally.)

It’s absurd hearing a Christian complain about the unfairness of emotional arguments in support of abortion when anti-choice advocates torment women needing an abortion with posters showing an aborted fetus, the height of emotional manipulation.

More hypotheticals

Shapiro complains that a dangerous fire needing a quick choice has no parallel with the question of whether to have an abortion. “No such hard choice exists in 99.99 percent of abortion cases.” That’s true, but that’s the nature of hypotheticals like this. They’re designed to flush out one’s real attitudes, which are often a surprise to the opinion holders themselves.

Anyway, the complaint is misguided since the hypothetical has done its work by exposing “embryo = child” as false.

Each author is eager to provide his own hypotheticals to replace the original series of tweets from Tomlinson. Shapiro’s contribution: Imagine now that those thousand embryos are required to save humanity. “Do you save the five-year-old and doom the human species to extinction, or do you save the embryos? . . . .  Does that mean the five-year-old is no longer a human being?”

And another: “You can save the box of embryos or you can save the life of a woman who will die of cancer tomorrow. Which one do you save? If you choose the embryos, is the cancer-ridden woman therefore of no moral value?”

Where did “no moral value” enter the discussion? Ditto for the five-year-old no longer being a human being. The point is that Shapiro has agreed that the child is more significant than an embryo, which destroys the capstone of his moral high ground. This admission has exposed an enormous hole in the anti-choice argument. Even if the boys never personally argued “embryo = child,” they must know that it’s central to the anti-choice position. I’m amazed that they don’t confront this directly. Maybe because they can’t.

 


See also: The Limits of Open Mindedness in Debates on Same-Sex Marriage and Abortion


 

Cluelessness

I can’t leave without highlighting some unrepentant, world class cluelessness. Walsh pounds the virtual table, proclaiming that silly hypotheticals are the tools of a coward. He says, “You don’t seem willing to put all of your fantasy scenarios aside and just deal with what abortion is 99% of the time: the willful choice by a healthy woman to kill a healthy unborn child because the child is inconvenient.”

Inconvenient? Is that your final answer? Have you ever used this argument with a real woman seeking an abortion? Have you told her that her pregnancy is merely an inconvenience? Share with us how she replied.

Consider this example. Suppose a 15-year-old girl got pregnant in large part because the sex ed in her public school focused on abstinence, so she didn’t really know how to prevent pregnancy, and because no contraception was available. She had dreamed of college and a career as a teacher or maybe a doctor, but that’s all in jeopardy now because to take the fetus to term means a life as a mother. And don’t say that there’s always adoption since less than one percent of never-married women relinquish their newborns for adoption.

Convenience isn’t the issue when the girl’s entire life is in the balance. What an idiot.

Spectrum argument

Much of these anti-choice rebuttals were shadow boxing against nonexistent arguments, outraged that the fertility clinic hypothetical didn’t do a better job making arguments it never intended to make.

Let me summarize how this fits into an effective pro-choice argument. Personhood is a spectrum, and the newborn is a person while the single cell isn’t. During the development process, the fetus increasingly becomes a person.

The anti-choice response had been to say that the embryo is 100% a person. In response, you can point at the enormous gulf separating the single cell from the newborn, far more than what separates a newborn from an adult, but evidence and reason can’t move a person away from an argument that they didn’t use evidence and reason to reach. I know—I’ve tried.

But the conclusion of the fertility clinic hypothetical changes that. With it, they admit that the embryo isn’t a person.

The spectrum argument doesn’t conclude that abortion should always (or ever) be moral. You could still conclude that the single cell, though not a person, still must be protected, but you’ve got to make that argument. No longer can they fall back on, “Well, you wouldn’t kill a newborn, would you? The single cell is the moral equivalent.”

The increasing personhood of the fetus during gestation is the foundation of any argument for abortion, and this hypothetical clears the way.

Ever notice that in fantasy roleplaying games
the admittedly fictional gods answer prayers
much better than the so-called real gods?
Bob Jase

Image credit: Wilhelm Joys Andersen, flickr, CC

 

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  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    The dilemma simply forces us to make a choice in a no-win situation

    No, it forces YOU into a no-win situation. Only because you don’t have the courage of your convictions.

    I have absolutely no ambiguity on the situation at all. I grab the kid and get out, and I’d call that a win.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    You’d think that people would be good at hypotheticals like, “Gee—what if my
    son were gay? Would I still oppose same-sex marriage?” But for some
    reason, having it happen for real puts things in a new focus.

    Especially for a politician, whose job is literally to represent other people. Empathy ought to be part of the job requirement.

  • Sonyaj

    Another hypothetical I came up with is, if these fetus-fetishists could be transported back in time, with the knowledge of current events as they’ve happened, what would they choose in this situation:
    Going with the last available statistics on elective abortion (2013, total of 664,465), that gives us an average of 1,866 procedures performed per day.

    Let’s take them back to Saturday, September 30, 2017. They have a choice: they can either stop Stephen Paddock from going on his shooting spree and killing 58 people the next day, OR they can prevent all abortions from happening for the rest of the year. That would mean they could prevent 171,672 abortions for the remaining 92 days of 2017.

    Which will it be, forced-birthers? I mean, 171,672 is a LOT more “lives saved” than 58, or 1 kid vs. 1000 embryos, even. If you pick the 58 Las Vegas concert goers – which should be a no-brainer – you’ve admitted that existing human beings have more value than a potential life in the form of any embryo, and you lose your argument. If you chose the former, you are indeed living your principles, and you also don’t deserve to be in any type of civilized society – you are a monster. And, you would get to explain to all the family, friends and everyone else why you felt those embryos had more value than the victims of the shooting. What about saving these 58 people, vs. stopping all abortions for the next 10 years?

    Of course, if god is so powerful and omnipotent, why doesn’t it stop all the unwanted pregnancies AND the shootings? More questions that just never get answered by this crowd of ignorant hypocrites.

    • That’s a good variant on the problem.

      • Sonyaj

        It’s a way to use real numbers and actual events for the thought experiment, which is why I like it.

        Of course, the entire abortion issue doesn’t even touch on the fact that there ceases to be an interest in the fetus once it enters the world as a newborn and has obtained personhood. These same people just aren’t interested in it after that. Or the moral issue of trying to feed/house/educate millions of those forced-birth children that weren’t wanted in a world that is already over-populated by humans to begin with.

        • I keep thinking that pointed arguments will have an effect. And I keep being disappointed.

          If they want to hold a position for no defensible reason, I’d appreciate the consideration of their just saying so. Never seems to work that way, though.

        • Sonyaj

          Same here. What’s even more shocking to me is those “my abortion is the only moral one” type of women that protest outside of PP clinics, find themselves knocked up, and have the audacity to go into the same PP clinic to terminate it…and then go right back to protesting with their signs.

          I mean, if these hypocrites don’t seem to get it, there’s almost no hope of it happening with the half of the population that can’t get pregnant!

          The best we can all do is vote to make sure the bible-thumpers don’t ever get to put (white christian men and some women) into office where they could impact abortion laws. We are getting frighteningly close to that now, and I hope it shakes some people out of their complacency.

        • ThaneOfDrones

          Pointed arguments are useless against pointed heads.

    • lady_black

      I would save the people in Las Vegas. Why? Because they have a mind, sentience. Embryos have neither.

  • MadScientist1023

    “(And don’t get me started about men weighing in on a matter that can never affect them personally.)”

    Did anyone else roll their eyes at this one, considering it was written by a man? If men aren’t allowed an opinion on this, Bob, why are you even making this post?

    • My opinion is: let women decide.

      See the difference?

    • lady_black

      Men are allowed opinions. What they aren’t allowed is their opinions to be forced upon anyone else. When a man is pregnant, he gets 100% of the say over what becomes of it. Until then, he gets the say she allows him to have.

      • jamesparson

        The political process forces opinions on other people all the time.

        ~~~~~~

        A somewhat better analogy would be: “Should women decide if men should get circumcision?” If 80% of women said yes, and 40% of men say yes, then it passes by majority. Men get circumcised even though most of them don’t want it.

        • lady_black

          Bodily autonomy doesn’t work that way.

  • Ctharrot

    The spectrum argument (although not called that) has been around for centuries in Christendom. Back in the day, depending on where and when you were, you might hear that “ensoulment” occurred at conception, or at 40 days, or 80 days, or at birth, or anywhere in between.

    At the time of the Founding, in the late 1700s, it was no crime at all under the Anglo-American common law to terminate a pregnancy anytime prior to “quickening”–the point at which the mother could feel movement (typically in the 15-20 week range).

    • frishy

      Never had a good answer to the question “why and how did the soul evolve?”

      • Joe

        Or at the very least “at what stage in our development did it decide to hitch a ride on this particular species of ape”?

  • frishy

    “as many as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage” (‘abortion’ is natural would be my conclusion!).

  • guadalupelavaca

    The problem with your premise is using a baby.
    We are instinctually programmed to save living babies. Try this…save 1000 embryos or one old man.

    • That’s an interesting question, but what’s your point? What does that change? Pro-lifers have (largely) still agreed, with this hypothetical example, that embryos aren’t children.

      • guadalupelavaca

        My point is that in these hypos we are forced to choose one human being over another. If I choose a baby over an old man…or over 1000 old men…it doesn’t mean the old men are not human. If I choose a young child over embryos that alone doesn’t say the embryos are not human.

        • eric

          Okay, let’s get rid of the forced choice of “one human being over another” as you put it. Let’s say the clinic is burning and your choice is between preventing the canister from burning or preventing a trapped Labrador retriever (say, one of the clinician’s pet that – in a terribly unfortunate choice – they happened to bring to work that day) from burning. I’d save the dog over the canister. How about you?

        • guadalupelavaca

          Canister.

        • lady_black

          OK. NOW WHAT? You have rescued them. They are STILL not rescued. Are you going to carry them to term yourself? Can you compel other women to carry them? No, you cannot. So, let’s review. You have allowed a sentient creature with a mind die in a fire. And you have “rescued” 1000 blastocysts that have no future anyway.

        • BlackMamba44

          Wow.

        • Are you making this hard on purpose? When most pro-life Christians pick the child over 1000 embryos, they’re admitting that “an embryo is a child” is false. That’s it. End of story.

        • guadalupelavaca

          Disagree. They are choosing one human being over another.

        • lady_black

          No. They are choosing one human being over 1000 blastocysts. Let’s be clear about that.

        • They are choosing one living thing over another. I guess that means that “living” isn’t the criteria they’re using to decide.

          Ditto “human being” (however you want to define that).

          Here’s another challenge for you. Like the fertility clinic challenge, pro-lifers often tap dance away from it. Let’s see how you do. I say that a newborn is a person and the single cell that it started at 9 months prior is not. I imagine you disagree–you’ll say that they’re both persons. OK. Parsing definitions is one of the most boring things for me (though pro-lifers seem to love it for some reason), so I won’t argue with you. But clarify for me what word you would use. That is, fill in the blank: “A newborn is a ___ [noun], while the single cell isn’t.”

          English has loads of words expressing subtle distinctions after birth: newborn, baby, child, one-year-old, toddler, and so on. Surely you can find a word that expresses the far vaster difference between single cell and trillion-cell newborn.

        • guadalupelavaca

          I am Catholic and of course pro life. A new born is a human baby. A single cell is a single cell human being. But I recognise the difference. Aborting a single cell is not as offensive as aborting a fetus that has the features of a developed human.

        • Are you just pro-life for yourself, or do you want to impose that view on the rest of society by law?

          So we agree that there’s a spectrum here? That a first-trimester abortion is better than a third-trimester one?

          I’m still looking for the word to fill in the blank. This is a trivial exercise for me: “person” fits nicely. Surely you can find a word. The difference is enormous.

        • guadalupelavaca

          Yes. The fill in the blank is a person. Once a baby is born it is legally a child.

          My views on abortion is this: it is morally wrong. However I don’t want it to be a criminal offense. I want legalized abortion. If a girl has an abortion that is between her and God. I don’t want to return to back ally abortions.

        • Otto

          I can respect that view. I also think most pro-choice people like myself would like to lessen the amount of abortions through non-coercive means. If we could get more people on board with your sensible view and mine we would have a decent chance of working together to try and solve this issue. Kudos

        • That’s an important point. It’s baffling that pro-lifers (with the possible exception of those like guada) focus on stopping abortion when they’d have much better success if they focused on reducing unwanted pregnancies. By doing so, they could reduce abortions by 90%.

          https://valerietarico.com/2015/09/11/if-the-anti-abortion-frenzy-were-actually-about-abortion-what-a-serious-anti-abortion-movement-would-actually-look-like/

        • Otto

          Well speaking from the Catholic teaching they can’t promote contraception because they believe that sex outside of marriage leads to the breakdown of the family. They won’t really admit it publicly but part of the issue is unapproved sex. They know saying that out loud will lose them allies so they frame all of this in vagaries and bullshit…like the idea that contraceptive use leads to more abortions.

        • Hmm. I’m starting to think that religion may be part of the problem.

        • Otto

          You know…I think you might be right…

        • eric

          Yet Catholics promote the concepts of confession, forgiveness, and penance, right?

          I don’t really see a big distinction between “don’t sin…but if you do, use confession and penance to make the situation better” and “don’t sin…but if you do, wear a condom to make the situation better.” In both cases, the church would be taking a pragmatic and realistic approach to sin. Yet in the case of sex (of all sins, possibly one of the ones they know people are least likely to forego!), they throw out the pragmatism altogether. It makes no sense to me.

        • Otto

          They couldn’t do that because if they say …’don’t sin but if you do…’ it would be like giving at least some prior ok to sinning. Penance and confession are things you do after the fact. Buying and using a condom is something you do before you ‘sin’, that would put the intent to sin before the act. The Catholic church cares nothing for pragmatism…they are idealists.

        • Kodie

          Their practical approach to sin is to expect it and funnel all the outcomes to their adoption agencies. They know everyone’s gonna do it, they say it’s naughty, don’t tell the teenagers in school about sex, they’ll never figure it out if you don’t tell them, they say they’re not paying for women to screw, they say that’s her punishment if she can’t afford to raise a child, she should have gone back in time and made a different decision but keep those baby hands off my tax dollars.

          They don’t want to prevent any pregnancies, and the don’t want women to be able to afford to keep their offspring. Abortion makes the most sense, but of course that’s “murder”, so you have to give them all your babies.

        • That’s a refreshingly honest response.

          If you want to be personally against abortion and argue this in the public square, that’s fine. I’m so used to pro-lifers demanding to impose their views on others by law that I’m not used to your position.

          I don’t want to return to back ally abortions.

          Remember the Kermit Gosnell case? Pro-lifers jumped on this as evidence that abortion was terrible, not realizing (as you apparently do) that Kermit Gosnell abortions was the future that they were pushing for.

        • guadalupelavaca

          Abortion and religion is not debated here in southern California much. In fact abortion was legal in California before for roe v wade. Signed into law by then gov. Ronald Reagan. I feel sorry for many on this site who live in places where religion has become a problem. Maybe that’s why southern California is so over crowded.

        • That’s interesting. I think of LA as being an important area for Christian fundamentalism–Greg Koukl, J. Warner Wallace, Biola University, Wm. Lane Craig, and so on. I realize that you’re Catholic, so maybe that fundamentalist stuff doesn’t matter much to you.

        • guadalupelavaca

          We have evangelists here. It’s just that they don’t dominate. More Catholics and main line protestants.

        • Chuck Johnson

          My views on abortion is this: it is morally wrong.-Guadalupe

          But you don’t mention the situations where not doing an abortion is morally wrong.

        • guadalupelavaca

          I would say that if the fetus posed a threat to the life of the mother it would be permitted.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Not just permitted, but morally imperative, especially if we don’t even have a fetus yet.

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

    • Joe

      We are instinctually programmed to save living babies.

      You say this like it isn’t significant in coming to an answer. There’s often (but not always) a good reason for our instinctive behavior. We have the instinct (“programming”) to save people from the fire, after all?

      Try this…save 1000 embryos or one old man.

      The old man.

      • guadalupelavaca

        Logical. The old man is a fully developed human being. But it doesn’t mean the embryos are not human beings.

        A ship is sinking. Not enough life boats. Who goes first? Children first. Are you saying the adults are not human?

        • Joe

          But it doesn’t mean the embryos are not human beings.

          It does, if you think about it. A thousand of them doesn’t equate to one elderly man. A million wouldn’t. So they are obviously lacking some worth compared to this actual human being.

          A ship is sinking. Not enough life boats. Who goes first? Children first. Are you saying the adults are not human?

          Children first. You’re correct in this sense. The original argument does beg the question that people are on board with the philosophy and science behind personhood. However, this doesn’t explain why people have difficulty even giving an answer.

          What’s your answer?

        • guadalupelavaca

          Look…we have a hypo where we have to choose one human life over another. A younger life is above an older life. A fully developed human being is above a 90% human being. The point is that doesn’t prove the embryos are not human beings.

        • Joe

          90%?

          You never gave your answer.

        • guadalupelavaca

          My personal answer is irrelevant. The point is that whichever I choose doesn’t make the other one a non human…which is what you are arguing.

        • Joe

          My personal answer is irrelevant.

          It’s the entire point of the article.

          If you won’t be honest when I’ve been kind enough to answer your hypotheticals, then there’s no point continuing this conversation.

        • lady_black

          There IS no “90%.” Either it’s a human being, or it isn’t. Blastocysts fail every test for human being, except for having H. sapiens DNA. They are not PERSONS. And I would save the person, every time.

        • You have to choose between saving a dog and saving a slug.

          You picked the dog? What are you saying–that the slug isn’t alive??

          You’ll (correctly) say that “alive” isn’t the criterion for deciding who gets saved in the dog vs. slug case. Similarly, “human” isn’t the criterion in the child vs. embryo case. Sure, they both have Homo sapiens DNA. Big deal–cancer has Homo sapiens DNA. Clearly, people see something else than just the kind of DNA when they choose the child over the embryos.

        • guadalupelavaca

          I would of course pick the dog over the slug.

        • Yes, me too. But you haven’t responded to the majority of that comment. You have nothing else to say in response?

        • guadalupelavaca

          I will reply but what is the question?

        • lady_black

          They are NOT human beings. They are human tissue.

    • lady_black

      I would save the old man.

      • guadalupelavaca

        And i have no doubt that you would.

    • BlackMamba44

      I’d save the old man. He is sentient.

  • Joe

    Each author is eager to provide his own hypotheticals to replace the original series of tweets from Tomlinson.

    Which I’m happy to answer. Throw any hypothetical at me and I’ll honestly give it my best shot (as long as it’s logically coherent). I just ask them to return the damn favour and answer the original question!

    I tried this in the original thread but only a handful would reciprocate. They just used the excuses Bob outlines above.

  • Anthrotheist

    I will take the notion of ‘personhood at conception’ more seriously as soon as the notion’s proponents take it seriously. Obviously abortion is an issue raised by defining personhood at conception, but it is very far from the only issue, and I have yet to see any pushes for legislation or judicial consideration of anything on this (incomplete) list:

    Conception certificates (helpful in applying for a social security number for your zygote)
    Age determined from first personhood: birthdays may be fun, but legally a person’s age would be from conception, meaning that every living citizen would need their age retroactively refigured; also, Hallmark needs to get busy with their line of “Happy Conception Day” cards
    Amending the 14th amendment: to ensure the purpose of the 14th amendment, the constitution would have to include all persons conceived in the U.S.
    Natural miscarriage: Probably the biggest unaddressed issue, ranging from improper disposal of human remains, to wrongful death investigation. Most of all, though, where is their push to research a cure for miscarriages? By their understanding it kills more people than literally any other single cause of death.

    • ThaneOfDrones

      What, you mean everybody doesn’t celebrate their Conception Day? ;

      • Anthrotheist

        I don’t know for sure, of course. But I am pretty confident that if there are things that ‘everybody does not do’, celebrating the day your parents coitus-ed you into the world is on the list. 🙂

    • lady_black

      There is usually no “cure” for miscarriages. And you wouldn’t want there to be. If a problem related to the woman’s response to pregnancy can be identified (such as low progesterone production, common in PCOS), then it can sometimes be hormonally mediated. I suspected that was why my sister was miscarrying, and it turned out that I was correct. She was prescribed progesterone vaginal suppositories and managed to carry a pregnancy to term after a threatened abortion.
      If the reason the pregnancy fails is for embryonic deficiencies, that cannot be fixed, and it shouldn’t even be attempted. The embryo ceases to develop, and dies because something incompatible with life is going on.
      There is also something called an incompetent cervix, where the cervix fails to remain closed. That usually causes later failures of pregnancy, and there is little that can be done for that. They used to stitch it closed, but the stitches would tear. Once the cervix has opened, infection is a risk to the mother’s life and the uterus should be evacuated in a timely manner. This condition should lead to permanent sterilization, IMHO, to avoid future risk. It doesn’t get better with time. Time to look for a surrogate or adopt.

      • Anthrotheist

        Personally, I certainly wouldn’t advocate for trying to “cure” something like miscarriage, for all the reasons that you provide (many of which I wasn’t aware of; thank you for enlightening me). I’m mostly trying to point out how 1) nobody who is advocating the notion that personhood starts at conception actually acts like they believe that outside of arguing against abortion, and 2) how the notion of personhood at conception is so utterly nonsensical for so many reasons — traditional, conceptual, and practical.

    • Joe

      I’d go further and allow child support the moment a positive pregnancy test is provided. Right Wingers would have a fit.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Obviously abortion is an issue raised by defining personhood at conception, but it is very far from the only issue, and I have yet to see any pushes for legislation or judicial consideration of anything on this (incomplete) list:

      Conception certificates (helpful in applying for a social security number for your zygote)

      Video. We need video of the conception.

      • TheNuszAbides

        immaculate until proven carnal!

    • jamesparson

      Keep going down this road. It gets worse. The more you think about it.

  • sandy

    Not sure how these pro lifers think or how it works. Aren’t they against abortions (killings fetuses) but most of them all for capital punishment? Doesn’t make much sense.

    • PhiloKGB

      I’m not convinced this is a great argument. It’s possible that a person can have a logically consistent reason to deny life — for example, that a person has the right to live unless they commit an act sufficiently heinous that they forfeit their right to continue to live. They could then, without contradiction, state that a fetus has not committed such an act.

      • lady_black

        Neither a fetus, nor a criminal is entitled to any organ or tissue belonging to another.

        • PhiloKGB

          Indeed. I happen to think this is the most defensible pro-choice argument. It doesn’t depend on a difficult philosophical definition, for one. I happen to consider birth the most reasonable beginning to personhood, but I don’t think I can make a case for objectivity.

        • lady_black

          I can. Live birth is a pretty objective point. Either you have breathed, or you haven’t. If you will notice, what are commonly called “birth certificates” are titled “Certificate of Live Birth” by the state. Meaning, a stillborn doesn’t get one. They do, however, get a death certificate (in case the parents want a funeral director’s services, they will need that).
          Some hospitals will give them a “hospital birth certificate” with a name they pick, and footprints, etc. Some will take photos if they want, and donate a baby hat and baby gown for burial. And I think that’s a compassionate thing to so. But those aren’t of any legal value. They are simply kind mementos given out of sympathy.

        • PhiloKGB

          While birth is indeed an objectively identifiable point, whether it is objectively the point at which personhood begins is uncertain and perhaps even fundamentally indeterminable. People certainly behave in conflicting ways, but those behaviors are not necessarily indicative of underlying universal truths.

        • lady_black

          Since personhood is a legal concept, I’ll bow to the legal definition. There needs to be an identity, separate and apart from that of anyone else. “Mrs. Jones’s pregnancy” doesn’t make the cut.

        • PhiloKGB

          I hope the legal definition continues to correspond to your own. My observations of things like fetal heartbeat bills suggest it won’t always.

        • lady_black

          Those never go anyplace.

        • RichardSRussell

          Live birth is a pretty objective point. Either you have breathed, or you haven’t.

          Indeed! And even theologians of old recognized that fact, since “spirit” is derived from the Latin word spirare (to breathe).

        • Herald Newman

          I thought that was derived from the idea that God supposedly “breathed” life into humans? Don’t remember where I heard that…

        • RichardSRussell

          You may be right. I’ll defer to anyone who’s got a more solid grip on the etymology than I do.

        • jamesparson

          And IMHO, that should really settle the argument. It ends it for me.

      • sandy

        I thought the whole reason to be against abortion was that ONLY god can take life, but those believing in capital punishment override god.

        • PhiloKGB

          I don’t think I’ve ever encountered that argument. It would certainly be inconsistent, should someone accept both that doctrine and that capital punishment is acceptable.

        • jamesparson

          It is the official position of the Catholic Church.

      • Joe

        It is a great argument, but the people who hold such a position can’t/won’t see the contradiction.

        The foetus is not on trial in any court, so any talk of guilt or innocence is irrelevant.

        The argument most make is that the foetus is a human, and humans have an ” inalienable right to life”. You can’t then turn round and say that “inalienable” doesn’t mean “inalienable.”

        • PhiloKGB

          I’ve rarely encountered the anti-choicer who parrots the “inalienable right” line from the Declaration of Independence, so I can’t really explain how that argument might go. In any case, it seems plausible that people are simply using the term wrong; some very obviously believe that rights can be forfeited under certain circumstances no matter their terminology.

        • Joe

          Go read the original post on the Friendly Atheist blog. That line is parroted all the time.

          I believe rights are contingent, but religious people, particularly anti abortion, won’t agree.

          I speak from experience, I’m not making this up.

        • Herald Newman

          I believe rights are contingent

          I’d like to hear more about this. Can you elaborate on your views on rights? I’ve argued that rights are an extension of our morality, and our subjective desires. Wondering if your arguments are different.

        • Joe

          Simply, rights are bestowed upon us, and enforced by, the society we find ourselves in.

          I guess it’s similar to morality, there’s a lot of overlap for sure.

    • RichardSRussell

      Just as it’s an overbroad generalization to claim that all atheists hold firmly that God does not exist (admittedly many do), so too it’s unrealistic to think that people who oppose abortion are also in favor of the death penalty (altho many are). There are enuf counter-examples to both positions that you can’t really draw very many reliable conclusions.

  • skl

    In part one yesterday, I stated the following:

    “The hypothetical flaming fertility clinic scenario could be
    likened to something such as an inflamed ICU where a healthy five year old
    child is next to a patient on life support with a grim prognosis.
    Both are people worth caring for, but the immediate situation dictates that only one can
    be saved from the fire. Choosing to save the five year old person doesn’t mean
    that the one on life support isn’t also a person. That choice is just made
    easier by the fact that the one on life support, like the embryo in the canister,
    has a much less rosy prognosis for what could be called a normal life.

    I’ll add now that while the five year old child is healthy, i.e. has a 100% chance of living what would be called a normal life right now, the frozen
    human embryos are far less so, i.e. apparently have about a 40% to 60% chance
    of successful IVF transfer and healthy birth. https://www.advancedfertility.com/ivf-success-rates.htm

    Even if one argued that this might mean 400 to 600 of the 1,000 embryos might be successfully birthed, there are no guarantees in this.
    Whereas, the healthy five year old child has a 100% guarantee.

    Bottom-line, I think all people would choose to save the
    five year old, no matter where they are on the spectrum of beliefs about personhood.
    And the hypothetical scenario fails to make the point the author thinks it does.

    • the hypothetical scenario fails to make the point the author thinks it does.

      You’ve lost me. Lots of words here, but I don’t see this point.

      • skl

        Bottom-line, I think all people would choose to save the
        five year old, no matter where they are on the spectrum of beliefs about personhood.

        • Herald Newman

          Bottom-line, I think all people would choose to save the five year old, no matter where they are on the spectrum of beliefs about personhood.

          Bottom line, apparently your intuition is wrong. From Bob’s first post on the subject:
          Walsh and Shapiro admit up front that they would save the child, while Koukl won’t.

          Most rational people would save the child. We recognize that children have the capacity to feel pain, and dying in a fire is a tragically, and painful, way to die. Most of us would prefer to be spared from burning to death. Apparently Greg Koukl doesn’t mind the idea of a human, that can feel pain, burning to death. It probably has something to do with his belief that lots of people are going to burn in hell forever when they die anyways.

        • Greg G.

          Most rational people would save the child.

          I would question the rationality of a person who would not.

        • skl

          “Bottom line, apparently your intuition is wrong. From Bob’s first post on the subject:
          “Walsh and Shapiro admit up front that they would save the child, while Koukl won’t.””

          I don’t see where Koukl says or makes clear that he would not save the child.

        • Herald Newman

          I may have actually misinterpreted what Bob was saying about this. It’s not that Greg wouldn’t save the child, it’s that he wouldn’t admit that he would. Not quite the same thing.

        • lady_black

          Correct. WHY do you think that is?

        • skl

          I already explained why.

        • lady_black

          Because, a five year old is a person, and a vial full of 1000 embryos is NOT a person, not a child. That’s why.

    • Anthrotheist

      How about some completely different hypotheticals, ones that are more realistic? (and more salient to reality if personhood was set to conception)

      If a pregnant woman slips and falls down a set of stairs, resulting in the termination of her pregnancy, should she be charged with involuntary manslaughter?
      If a woman confirms that she has conceived, can she immediately claim child support from the father? (thanks to Joe for that one)
      If a woman has conceived, can she file for a social security number for the embryo?
      If a woman miscarries, should she be investigated for wrongful death?
      If a woman miscarries and doesn’t save the discharge for medical examination, is she guilty of improper disposal of human remains?
      If somebody believes that personhood begins at conception, do they still consider their age to have started on the day of their birth?

      These kinds of questions are also meant (like the author’s scenario) to illustrate how even when people claim to believe that personhood begins at conception, they never argue or even appear to consider any of the other important issues surrounding personhood.

      • skl

        “If a pregnant woman slips and falls down a set of stairs, resulting in the
        termination of her pregnancy, should she be charged with involuntary
        manslaughter?”

        I can’t see why she would be.

        “If a woman confirms that she has conceived, can she immediately claim child support from the father?”

        That would depend on what the child support law says.

        “If a woman has conceived, can she file for a social security number for the
        embryo?”

        That would depend on what the social security law says.

        “If a woman miscarries, should she be investigated for wrongful death?”

        I can’t see why she would be, given the definition of miscarriage.

        “If a woman miscarries and doesn’t save the discharge for medical examination, is she guilty of improper disposal of human remains?”

        See immediately above.

        “If somebody believes that personhood begins at conception, do they still
        consider their age to have started on the day of their birth?”

        I think everybody considers their age to have started on the day of their
        birth, for legal reasons and custom.

        • Anthrotheist

          First point: “I can’t see why she would be.” My grandparents were tried for involuntary vehicular manslaughter because they hit a man who was drunkenly crossing a dark country road to get from one bar to the bar on the other side of the road (chicken jokes applied). Any act that is normally lawful that results in the death of a person is liable for involuntary manslaughter.

          Second point: “That would depend on what the child support law says.” The basic concept appear to be: “Child support is the financial obligation you have to support your child as he or she matures.” If one considers a conceived embryo as a ‘child’ then child support is sensible from the point of conception.

          Third point: “That would depend on what the social security law says.” The basic requirement for applying for a new person’s social security number is a legal document proving that they became a person within the United States of America. Right now, that means a birth certificate, but if personhood is changed to include conception then that would include the possibility of a conception certificate.

          Fourth point: “I can’t see why she would be, given the definition of miscarriage.” According to Marriam-Webster’s English definition: “spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus before it is viable and especially between the 12th and 28th weeks of gestation.” If personhood is established before that time, then the ‘expulsion’ of the human fetus is the immediate death of a legal person. The death of a legal person must entail the identification and examination of a coroner to determine if the cause of death was natural, accidental, homicide, suicide, or undetermined.

          Fifth point: “See immediate above.” Agreed.

          Sixth point: “I think everybody considers their age to have started on the day of their birth, for legal reasons and custom.” This is the essential issue:
          Anybody who advocates personhood at conception is advocating the overturning of both legal and customary reasons. If you don’t believe that your age begins at conception, instead of at birth, how can you possibly believe that your personhood began at conception and not at birth?

        • Otto

          I have argued with pro-birthers that if personhood starts at conception women should have to be required to report all pregnancies because we would need to be able to identify and protect those persons. We would need to investigate all miscarriages and would need to have consequences for women that drink or smoke during their pregnancies because they would be providing alcohol and drugs to minors. Of course my concerns were mostly hand waved away as being a bit ridiculous, which is a bit amusing since I seemed to be taking the idea far more seriously than they were willing to go. I guess some persons deserve more protection than others.

        • skl

          The laws are and will be whatever the peoples’ representatives make them to be. If laws relating to personhood have been forever settled, then pro-choicers and anti-pro-choicers and undecideds have nothing to discuss regarding personhood and the law. And there is no point to OPs such as Bob’s.

          “If you don’t believe that your age begins at conception, instead of at birth, how can you possibly believe that your personhood began at conception and not at birth?”

          Again, for reasons of existing law and custom. Related to this, it’s much easier to pinpoint accurately the day of birth than it is the day of conception.

          Analogously, people celebrate wedding days and the related anniversaries of same. Not as easy for others (and maybe even for the couple) to pinpoint the date they met or the date they knew they would be a married couple.

        • Anthrotheist

          “Analogously, people celebrate wedding days and the related anniversaries of same.”
          I’m not sure that you realize how perfectly you illustrate the position that you are arguing against.

          “Not as easy for others (and maybe even for the couple) to pinpoint the date they met or the date they knew they would be a married couple.”
          But it is often quite easy to mark the occasion of the couple getting engaged. The engagement itself culminates in the wedding event, which is the day that is celebrated in anniversaries. People don’t celebrate the anniversary of their engagement for exactly the same reason that they do not consider a couple that is engaged to be fully married. The engagement is a promise of marriage, a potential of marriage, and that is drastically different from an actual state of being married. At the same time, the relationship between the two people very closely resembles that of a married couple: love, closeness, usually intimacy, often cohabitation, and (hopefully) a commitment to each other. All of these traits, though resembling marriage, are still distinctly different.

          If your example is truly analogous to the issue of personhood, I argue that your example is better suited for my side of the conversation.

        • skl

          “… drastically different from an actual state of being married. At the same time, the relationship between the two people very closely resembles that of a married couple: love,
          closeness, usually intimacy, often cohabitation, and (hopefully) a commitment
          to each other. All of these traits, though resembling marriage, are still distinctly different.”

          Drastically and distinctly different for legal purposes only.

        • Anthrotheist

          I find it unsettling that you conclude the term “legal purposes” with the word only. You aren’t arguing that the law is wrong, or why should be changed; you are implying that the law is somehow insufficient.

        • skl

          I merely making what I believe to be a statement of fact.

    • lady_black

      I would choose the living person whether there were guarantees or not. There never ARE guarantees, by the way. A frozen blastocyst falls a lot short of a person, no matter how you look at it. It falls much shorter than the difference between a five year old and a 15 year old.
      Here’s why. A frozen blastocyst, or unfrozen blastocyst requires GESTATION. You cannot just hand-wave that away and say they are both people, when one is obviously a person, and the other one is going to require the help of someone else to BECOME a person.
      You may as well just admit that and be done with it.

  • guadalupelavaca

    I know everyone here says a fetus is not a human being but in California if you kill a fetus other than by abortion it is the murder of a human being.

    • Chuck Johnson

      How about the killing of a fertilized embryo in a test tube ?
      Is that murder in California ?

      • guadalupelavaca

        No. The fetus must be viable.

        • Chuck Johnson

          What “viable” is that ?
          Can survive outside of the mother’s womb ?

        • guadalupelavaca

          Yes.

        • lady_black

          And it must ALSO be MURDER. Which isn’t defined as “any killing of a fetus, other than by abortion.”

    • lady_black

      Really? What if it’s an accident? What if you kill a woman who happens to be pregnant, in self defense? You have a habit of putting forth assertions that are neither true, nor well-thought out.

      • guadalupelavaca

        Accident and self defense are affirmative defense. Therefore no criminal liability. Look up California penal code 187. It says fetus.

        • lady_black

          That is not my issue, sweetie. My issue is that you incorrectly defined murder.

        • guadalupelavaca

          How did I do that sweetheart? I gave you the California law. Are you a lawyer? Are you even competent to discuss the law. Read penal code 187.

        • lady_black

          Yes, I am competent. And “murder” isn’t defined as any killing of a fetus, other than abortion.

        • guadalupelavaca

          Here it is honeybun…(a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought. PC187

          All you had to do was read the law. Which obviously you didn’t do.

        • lady_black

          That isn’t “any killing other than by abortion.”

        • guadalupelavaca

          Here is the entire statute cuz for some reason you refuse to look it up…
          (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.

          (b) This section shall not apply to any person who commits an act that results in the death of a fetus if any of the following apply:

          (1) The act complied with the Therapeutic Abortion Act, Article 2 (commencing with Section 123400) of Chapter 2 of Part 2 of Division 106 of the Health and Safety Code .

          (2) The act was committed by a holder of a physician’s and surgeon’s certificate, as defined in the Business and Professions Code, in a case where, to a medical certainty, the result of childbirth would be death of the mother of the fetus or where her death from childbirth, although not medically certain, would be substantially certain or more likely than not.

          (3) The act was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother of the fetus.

          (c) Subdivision (b) shall not be construed

        • lady_black

          That does not mean that when a fetus is killed during an accident, or as an act of self defense, it is murder! There are not just two kinds of deaths, natural or murder. Even for fetuses.

        • guadalupelavaca

          You know what girlfriend…I’m done with you. I already told you that accident and self defense are affirmative defenses. Did you not read that? You are out of your league in debating law with me.

        • lady_black

          Affirmative defenses against WHAT?? First, there needs to be a trial. Someone needs to be facing charges. They will not be facing charges.

        • guadalupelavaca

          There was a trial. It was called People of the State of California vs Scott Peterson. He was convicted of killing his wife AND unborn (fetus) son. It was in all the papers. I guess you missed it.

        • lady_black

          Scott Peterson MURDERED his wife. In my opinion, that’s the only person he murdered. There was no such person as “Connor Peterson.”
          If California wants to play crazy with people who do not exist, I have nothing to say about it, except it should involve a person who actually DOES exist. With or without fetus, Scott Peterson is a murderer. That’s the difference!

        • guadalupelavaca

          Let me give you some advise sister…next time you debate law with a lawyer, and she actually points you to the specific statute, just take a few minutes to read that statute.

        • lady_black

          I did read it. It doesn’t say what you think it says.

    • Joe

      And in other states that don’t have that law in place, what then?

      • Kodie

        http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/fetal-homicide-state-laws.aspx

        Among the 50 states and D.C., I count 12 that don’t seem to have any law regarding the death of a fetus. The first state on the list, Alabama, considers any stage of development in utero to be a “person” for the purposes of homicide convictions, with apparently some careful wording that allows legal abortions. Most states that do have some law against willful harm to a fetus uses “quick” as a deciding line between murder and not murder. On links that I clicked on to read the specific words of the laws, I found several that did not work because the destination had been updated, but I only tried to click on about 3.

        • Joe

          The point I was trying to prod this poster into realizing was:

          It’s only a law in California because people made it so.

      • guadalupelavaca

        Then you can kill a fetus in those states.

    • Kodie

      Penal Code – PEN

      PART 1. OF CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS [25 – 680] ( Part 1 enacted 1872. )

      TITLE 8. OF CRIMES AGAINST THE PERSON [187 – 248] ( Title 8 enacted 1872. )

      CHAPTER 1. Homicide [187 – 199] ( Chapter 1 enacted 1872. )

      187.

      (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.

      (b) This section shall not apply to any person who commits an act that results in the death of a fetus if any of the following apply:

      (1) The
      act complied with the Therapeutic Abortion Act, Article 2 (commencing
      with Section 123400) of Chapter 2 of Part 2 of Division 106 of the
      Health and Safety Code.

      (2) The act
      was committed by a holder of a physician’s and surgeon’s certificate, as
      defined in the Business and Professions Code, in a case where, to a
      medical certainty, the result of childbirth would be death of the mother
      of the fetus or where her death from childbirth, although not medically certain, would be substantially certain or more likely than not.

      (3) The act was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother of the fetus.

      (c) Subdivision (b) shall not be construed to prohibit the prosecution of any person under any other provision of law.(Amended by Stats. 1996, Ch. 1023, Sec. 385. Effective September 29, 1996.)

      http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=187.&highlight=true&keyword=fetus

  • Chuck Johnson

    Back to the foundation of these arguments.
    Christian doctrine teaches that the afterlife, an eternity in paradise is more important than our lives here on Earth are.
    Then the Christian fundamentalists tried to define the beginning of human life and the beginning of a human soul as the union of a sperm and egg.
    Then they created the anti-abortion movement and called it pro-life. – – – This was to validate the beginning of a human soul.

    So their dishonesty and political manipulation, stage by stage, created a logical and moral absurdity.
    But they were obliged to believe and promote the absurdity. These folks are blindly obedient to authority.

    Then they are presented with the fertility clinic hypothetical, and their whole Rube Goldberg contraption of dishonest doctrine looks pretty stupid.
    It’s like a game of “telephone” where small errors add up to having the message become completely garbled.

    • abeggar

      Just a correction to your historical comment. Catholics defended the sacredness of life in the public square w.r.t. abortion well before evangelicals or fundamentalists joined them. Sorry to point you to a different boogie man. Also, the point of viability of a fetus in now in the lower twenties weeks of gestation, but the dishonest and politically manipulative abortion advocates still think a baby has to travel down a birth canal to avoid being aborted legally.

      • So you’re saying that abortion before 20 weeks is OK but later than that is not? That’s plausible. Given that, though, I wonder that the pro-lifers stand in the way of women in the earliest phases of their unwanted pregnancies instead of helping them get abortions ASAP.

        • Chuck Johnson

          A religious pro-lifer will assert that the fetus has a soul and is therefore human. Then, since it is human, abortion is murder.

          It’s the politics of controlling women and the politics of promoting belief in the creation of a human soul at the same time.

        • abeggar

          Your inference is incorrect, since you have jumped to an unfounded conclusion. I was stating that abortion advocates should not permit abortion past the point of viability; at the very least, they should recognize that they are ending a human life through abortion beyond the period of viability.

      • Chuck Johnson

        Yes, I knew that the Catholics started this kind of politics and then the Protestants followed a similar path.

      • Chuck Johnson

        Also, the point of viability of a fetus in now in the lower twenties weeks of gestation, but the dishonest and politically manipulative abortion advocates still think a baby has to travel down a birth canal to avoid being aborted legally.-abeggar

        Could you rephrase that?
        I can’t tell what you are trying to say.

        • abeggar

          In other words, prematurely delivered babies survive at 22-24 weeks of gestation as fully conscious human beings, but abortion advocates do not argue against abortion after that time period, but advocate for abortion through the full nine months of gestation. It is only after the trip down the birth canal that the baby has legal rights as an individual, as if that magically makes a human being. That is, unless Dr. Peter Singer and other supporters of infanticide have their way, since “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.”

        • Chuck Johnson

          In other words, prematurely delivered babies survive at 22-24 weeks of gestation as fully conscious human beings, but abortion advocates do not argue against abortion after that time period, but advocate for abortion through the full nine months of gestation.-abeggar

          A problem here is that advocates of various kinds of politics are looking for a magic signal that a human being has begun, a simple and obvious line of demarcation.

          No such line of demarcation exists.

          The development of a human being is a continuum, from fertilization through birth, right on into growth and maturation of the person.

          Trying to put a political or legal definition onto the question the beginning of human life will always give a less-than-perfect answer.

          Humanness does not begin at any instantaneous moment.

        • abeggar

          Chuck, which side should we error on, if indeed the line of demarcation is not yet clear (some would say brain activity, since lack thereof is a legal definition of death)? Isn’t it better to disallow abortion for fetuses at the age of viability, except in the case where the mother’s life is threatened, than to allow the potential murder of a human life? I think the same argument applies to the death penalty, since there is often imperfect evidence, except in the case of multiple witnesses and overwhelming evidence.

        • Chuck Johnson

          In the case of the death penalty, continued imprisonment is the alternative to execution that I would recommend.

          In the case of abortion, defining “human life” as beginning at viability is an arbitrary definition.

          “BY definition” versions of morality tend to be simpleminded and inadequate, and this abortion debate is gives examples of how that can happen.

          As a newly-fertilized egg develops and gradually turns into a human being, it becomes more valuable (in general) to human society.

        • abeggar

          Viability may be an arbitrary definition to you, but it is not to the babies born as fully conscious human beings at that point of gestation. So, because there is not a bright line of humanity in your view, it is fine to abort babies that could be delivered as viable??? As far as gradually turning into a human being, you’ll have to provide your definition of a human being. Since you apply a value criterion to human development, do you agree with Peter Singer that newborns have less value than pigs, and may be dispatched as well?

        • Chuck Johnson

          So, because there is not a bright line of humanity in your view, it is fine to abort babies that could be delivered as viable???-abeggar

          Frozen human sperm and human eggs have value before they join and become a fertilized egg.

          A frozen egg has value.
          Implanted in a mother, that egg has value.
          At every stage of development, the zygote, fetus, etc. has its value.

          A developing human tends to have increasing value as growth proceeds. All of this increasing value and developing humanity then gets weighed against whatever harms or problems might be associated with carrying that development full term.

          These are the things to consider when an abortion is contemplated.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “Since you apply a value criterion to human development, do you agree
          with Peter Singer that newborns have less value than pigs, and may be
          dispatched as well?”

          You apply a value criterion to human development as well.
          Stop being so dishonest.

        • abeggar

          No, my estimation of human value is constant, and does not depend on human development.Yours apparently varies with time, circumstances, and developmental stage. You didn’t answer either of my questions, which might expose your dishonesty.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Yes, mine varies with time, circumstances and developmental stage.
          A human being is less human before the sperm and egg unite, and more human after fertilization.

        • Kodie

          What is the value of any given human, say, a terrorist, or an intruder in your home, or the 6,316 people who have died in the last hour? I’m not a murderer, I’m not advocating killing anyone you don’t like or who is in your way, because society doesn’t work when we do this, but we still have wars (how is society during war?) and we selectively grieve over people who die, and we often do less than nothing about that. How often when the news is on, do you see someone who dies because the cops were closing in and they shot themselves, and you said, out loud to the tv, “GOOD!”

          And you’re worried about a woman taking control over her own body?

          Edited to include link: http://www.ecology.com/birth-death-rates/

        • abeggar

          Yes, the human condition is sad, and we are often selfish. I have many worries concerning the welfare of others, as do the others responding on this site, but hopefully the clash of worldviews will eventually lead to some progress in understanding for all of us.

        • Pofarmer

          You mean like understanding that woman who finds herself pregnant still has the right to bodily autonomy? That kind of understanding?

        • Pofarmer

          So, because there is not a bright line of humanity in your view, it is fine to abort babies that could be delivered as viable??

          This Simply. Doesn’t. Happen. Or if it does it is vanishingly rare. Something like 66% of abortions take place before 8 weeks. A full 40% take place before 6 weeks. Only about 1% of abortions happen after 21 weeks.

        • The “but shouldn’t we err on the side of caution” thing doesn’t work. We have to man up and put a stake in the ground.

          Is 2 years in prison the appropriate penalty for robbery? How do the various mitigating circumstances change that? And since this is someone’s life here, shouldn’t we err on the side of caution? How about 1.5 years? How about 1 year?

        • abeggar

          There was a stake in the ground in the U.S., until the unsound judicial ruling of 1973. I do not see how your robbery analogy applies, since to abort or not abort is binary w.r.t. life and death.

        • The robbery analogy is relevant because there, too, “shouldn’t we err on the side of caution?” applies.

          When in your mind is abortion allowable?

        • abeggar

          When the life of the mother is threatened. I find it difficult to continue this conversation, since those of you who believe in fractional personhood or the value of a human increasing as time goes on will not concede that a baby at the age of viability should not be aborted on demand. Here is another hypothetical: a pregnant woman at 24 weeks of gestation loses a large sum of money, and now wants to abort the perfectly healthy baby because it will be a financial strain. Before the abortionist can start, the woman has an event that causes the baby to be delivered live. If you wrote the legislation, would you make it legal for the baby to be killed on the operating table since the woman’s issue still remains, or has the accident conferred enough value on the baby to be protected? I already know how Peter Singer and those who push the fractional personhood logic to the extreme would respond.

        • Susan

          When the life of the mother is threatened.

          I have a friend who lost his twenty-one year old daughter two weeks after she gave birth. From factors related to pregnancy and childbirth. No one saw it coming but it happens.

          those of you who believe in fractional personhood or the value of a human increasing as time goes on will not concede that a baby at the age of viability should not be aborted on demand.

          It’s very rare that someone asks for abortion “on demand” who has been given choices and education about their pregnancy before viability.

          Before the abortionist can start

          “Abortionist” is an editorial term. I don’t advocate abortion, nor does the doctor who provides one. I can already see you’re trying to be dishonest. I advocate the choice of the person who is impregnated.

          I already know how Peter Singer and those who push the fractional personhood logic to the extreme would respond.

          I doubt you’ve read Singer’s argument. One doesn’t have to agree with it in order to see how much thought he put into it.

          Morality is complicated. Strawman Singer is a standard either/or of people who don’t seem to care about the details of personhood.

        • abeggar

          I have studied Singer, philosophy professor Jeffrey Reiman, and others justifying infanticide in certain cases, whose philosophies are based on moral judgments that I am hoping most Americans would reject. Certainly Dr. Singer has a reasoned, principled view, but is no strawman, since his philosophy exposes the logical conclusion of the moral framework that holds to “fractional personhood” and the changing value of a developing human being. It is the slippery slope when the value of a human is not considered intrinsic.

          Singer asserts (without any justification I am aware of) that self-awareness is part of the concept of personhood. I do agree with him in rejecting birth as a relevant demarcation between person and non-person (i.e., no ontological distinction between a fetus and a delivered baby). However, Singer degrades infants to non-persons, since they are not yet rational, self-conscious beings with a desire to live. He even contends some non-human animals are rational, self-conscious beings that qualify as persons in the relevant sense, leading to his judgment that a human infant is worth less than a pig. In Singer’s functionalist view, it is fine for parents of a disabled infant to kill it to make provision for another child with better attributes, thereby increasing the overall happiness of the family.

          I think it is difficult to reject Singer’s position if one holds to the variable personhood/human value espoused by some in this blog.

        • Susan

          I have studied Singer… justifying infanticide in certain cases

          In what cases? Be specific. I doubt you’ve studied him beyond christian websites. But I could be wrong.

          I’ll note that you’ve ignored the rest of my comment.

        • Pofarmer

          Keep in mind, that those here all upset about Singer, belong to an organization that had no problem keeping slaves until the dawn of the 21st century and killed their last heretic just over a century ago, and still would if they could.

        • abeggar

          I admit I am still a registered Democrat, the party of slavery and Jim Crow laws, for which I repent.

        • BlackMamba44

          The Democratic Party during slavery and Jim Crow is today’s Republican Party. You know the “sides” switched, right?

        • abeggar

          I’m sorry about your friend’s daughter, but you failed to tell whether she was forced to have the baby or wanted to have the baby or was happy it was delivered, so it is difficult to put her death in context. What statistics do you have to back up your assertion about abortion and education? I use the term abortionist for those working in abortion clinics and performing abortions as the vast majority of their medical practice, a more precise term than doctor. Since you have read Singer, you know the cases where infanticide is allowable are not specific, but where we cannot affirm that a particular animal is self-conscious and rational. I reject Singer’s functionalist distinction between the human being and the person, and you know about the four characteristics he uses as the value of personhood in his Practical Ethics. My question for you is, do you agree with Singer’s ethical stance and why or why not, or do you prefer to avoid the issue and continue accusing me?

        • Pofarmer

          I’ll not speak for Susan, but…..

          I ‘m sorry about your friend’s daughter, but you failed to tell whether
          she was forced to have the baby or wanted to have the baby or was happy
          it was delivered, so it is difficult to put her death in context.

          Context in this case doesn’t matter. People die in Childbirth, or because of Childbirth. People are permanently disabled because of it.

          What statistics do you have to back up your assertion about abortion and education?

          http://abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics/

          The vast majority of abortions are before 8 weeks. 66%. Edit 89-92% of abortions occur by 12 weeks. Only 1% occur after 20 weeks. Some percentage of those after 12 weeks are specifically because of obstructionist tactics to delay them. I’m not aware of any specific studies detailing how many.

        • Susan

          you failed to tell whether she was forced to have the baby or wanted to have the baby or was happy it was delivered,

          Because it’s irrelevant. She died from complications directly related to delivering a healthy baby. But you’d like to take her choice away, as far as I can tell.

          I reject Singer’s functionalist distinction between the human being and the person,

          I don’t have to accept functionalism to point out that personhood is not equivalent to human. That is a foundational point in the philosophy of personhood or there would be no philosophy of personhood.

          No person is obligated to provide their organs to another person.

          Singer is irrelevant.

        • Rudy R

          Susan,
          And if abeggar has no logical responses to the rest of your comment, it will go on being ignored. I’ve experienced that amongst the theists I debate. They only respond back to the comments they feel they have a reasonable counter-point. One can only wonder if their lack of response is a concession.
          If I choose to respond to comments pointed to me, I make it a point to respond to the entire comment, not just pick and choose questions I have a logical response.
          My debate with a Catholic, Ameribear, is a case in point. His position against abortion is geared toward a secular personhood position, when debating atheists. In his assessment, a human becomes a person at conception. While I’ll concede that a zygote is a human, I do not agree with him that a zygote is a person. When pressed for a definition of a person, he equivocates to a definition of a human. He’s smart enough to know that he must debate atheists using a secular argument, but fails by using circular logic and does not debate in good faith, no pun intended. He agrees with me that a characteristic of personhood is a human having consciousness and that there is a spectrum of consciousness. Where we disagree is that he believes consciousness starts at conception while I believe it starts much later. His belief is based on faith, while mine is based on empiricism.

          This is where my case in point starts. While he debates in bad faith, I have debated in good faith with him. My position on abortion is that it should be safe, legal and rare and that a woman’s consent to sex is not a consent to being pregnant and that a woman’s consent to getting pregnant is not a consent to carrying the fetus to term. But he has brought up some examples on personhood that have made me re-evaluate my belief in abortion. I believe the position of a woman’s right to choose can be distilled down to the right to kill something that is not person. For me then, the larger question is, should abortion be contingent on the status of consciousness? We know with certainty that a zygote does not have consciousness, but has the potential of becoming conscious. If we all agree that being a person qualifies as having special dispensation amongst the entire animal kingdom, worthy of legal protection, why wouldn’t a being shown to have the potential for consciousness also not be protected? Is potential consciousness of less value to protect then realized consciousness?

        • Kodie

          If every human has intrinsic vallue, where does that value come from? Why are there conditions where their intrinsic value can be decreased or eliminated, such as crimes they’ve committed, or how well you know them? You should grieve every single death of every human every hour of every day, no matter who they are, what they did, and that you don’t know and don’t care and don’t need most of them. I am not saying it’s ok to murder people you personally find useless, or to be apathetic about catastrophes (you know, those small ones that hit families and aren’t even reported in the local paper) that are on the news, kill and injure large numbers of people (who are numbered, numbers are news), etc., those people have value in the lives of other people, and we make a social agreement not to interfere with that stuff by not murdering them, but how many lives do you affect negatively, how many lives are made worse by your ideas and your actions? Maybe you have fired someone from your company, or maybe you have played your music too loud because your neighbor yells, so you do it to piss them off, or you voted so welfare gets cut and people can’t feed themselves or the children you think have intrinsic value, or you support all the wars we’ve been in for decades, because ‘murica and soldiers, well you know other people do that. I’s not murdering people, but it’s making their lives qualitatively worse. Saying humans have intrinsic value, regardless of their contribution or detriment to society, they are just pegs called humans that we can fuck with but we cannot ever eliminate, say, pre-emptively, because that would harm…. who exactly? What is their name, what is their intrinsic value? If that child is born and dies in poverty and you don’t hear about it, do they still have any value to you? It’s basically none of your business. If that child was born and was wanted and was loved, despite their parent’s inability to keep them clothed and fed, are you crying yourself to sleep every night, no, you are weeping over the unborn torn at 21 weeks limb from limb because you are hysterical. Abortions typically happen before 12 weeks, and any delay in that process isn’t usually some sudden whim – it’s caused because policy meant to delay women from instant, immediate, on-demand abortion (including keeping them from easily accessible birth control and birth control education) cause women to make the hard decision to do what they always intended to do, but you don’t care about their needs, you care about steering them towards a more guilty decision not to act when it seems way too late, but to birth an unwanted baby and be unable or unwilling to care for it.

          You hypocrite.

        • Pofarmer

          ^^^^^^^^^ This, right here, is awesome.

        • Pofarmer

          Let me just say, and you can think I’m as heinous as you like, but I’ve seen any number of “persons” who would have been much better off, and the world would have been much better off if they had been aborted. A friend of mine adopted a child from a woman who was known to have children with mental issues. This child also has fetal alcohol syndrome. Well, he’s not a child, he’s now 18. When he was 12, he went into a rage and went after his mother with a knife. He was put into long term care where he is a constant danger to himself and others. On the rare occasion that he comes “home” to stay for a day or so, his Dad “Sleeps” by his bedroom door in case he would get up and become violent. It would have been better for all if he’d been aborted. I’ve seen people so severely deformed and mentally retarded that they have no quality of life at all. It would have been better off if they had been aborted. They live a life of constant pain and misery, if they can even comprehend it. So, I guess what I’m saying is, screw your self righteous moralizing.

        • abeggar

          Have you also read the cases of people who were planned to be aborted, but were not, or survived a botched abortion, who are leading perfectly normal lives. Reflect on your own subjective morality.

        • Pofarmer

          Have you also read the cases of people who were planned to be aborted,

          Don’t care. This is a simple appeal to emotion. If they’d been aborted, nobody would know, including them.

          Reflect on your own subjective morality.

          Meh. Of all the billions of possible combinations this consciousness is here. It’s interesting to ponder, but????????????

        • I say that the newborn is a person while the single cell 9 months earlier wasn’t. I’m not much interested in your critique of Singer’s position, but you can critique mine.

        • abeggar

          That’s not much to go on, so flesh it out some more for me. Is it a linear function of humanhood vs. time, or some other function? Has a viable fetus delivered prematurely suddenly jumped to humanhood, or is it still a fractional person? Does the act of delivery confer special value regarding humanness? Feel free to cover other corner cases.

        • Is it a linear function of humanhood vs. time, or some other function?

          I don’t specify.

          Has a viable fetus delivered prematurely suddenly jumped to humanhood, or is it still a fractional person?

          Not particularly important. I’d say that it’s a person, but 95% of a person is pretty much the same thing. The point is that it starts at zero.

          You ask good questions (though curiously not the one Christians always want to retreat to: So when is the abortion cutoff point?), but they’re tangential to the main point, which is that it’s a person as a newborn, it’s not when it’s a single cell, and then its person increases over time.

          I discuss it in more detail here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/01/a-defense-of-abortion-rights-the-spectrum-argument-2/

          http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/files/2017/07/blue-green-spectrum.jpg

        • abeggar

          Bob, I read your interesting article, and I can see why the spectrum argument is a favored view for naturalists, since it only deals with physical development. Leavinig aside the question of a soul, the problem I find with it is your assertion that the birth event is the beginning of full personhood, regardless of when it occurs in the gestational period. Why not a day before birth or a day after, or a month after, or even not until the infant is judged rational and self-conscious with a desire to live?

          This is the point I have been making about Peter Singer’s functionalist perspective, which seems to have been largely ignored by everyone except Susan in this article’s comments. You need to argue as rigorous a definition of full personhood as Singer has, otherwise there is no reason to prefer your spectrum endpoint to his. I am particularly interested that you, if I may infer from your “not particularly important” response, consider the prematurely delivered infant to be ontologically equivalent to the fetus (which could be aborted if not delivered) at the same point of the spectrum. This is actually the position of pro-life advocates as well as Singer, with the exception that Singer would not consider it a full person with value. If not, how do you defend separation of the fetus from the mother’s circulatory system and breathing air in its lungs as making its mind and consciousness now fully human?

          Let me know if I’m misunderstanding your position, but your spectrum argument as presented is much too vague in my opinion to be self-consistent and preferable to Singer’s view.

        • the problem I find with it is your assertion that the birth event is the beginning of full personhood, regardless of when it occurs in the gestational period. Why not a day before birth or a day after, or a month after, or even not until the infant is judged rational and self-conscious with a desire to live?

          This is a quibble. You’re wonder whether to call a premie 90% a person or 100% a person? Doesn’t much matter. The point is that the single cell is 0% a person.

          This is the point I have been making about Peter Singer’s funct ionalist perspective, which seems to have been largely ignored by everyone except Susan in this article’s comments.

          I’m not beholden to Singer’s perspective, particularly since I don’t know what you’re referring to. I’ve read some Singer but not recently.

          I am particularly interested that you, if I may infer from your “not particularly important” response, consider the prematurely delivered infant to be ontologically equivalent to the fetus (which could be aborted if not delivered) at the same point of the spectrum.

          At some point in the spectrum, society says that the inherent value of the fetus becomes enough so that it must step in and forbid (or constrain) abortion. Before that point, the woman calls the shots. The personhood is a spectrum, but this dividing line is, obviously, binary.

          Let me know if I’m misunderstanding your position, but your spectrum argument as presented is much too vague in my opinion to be self-consistent and preferable to Singer’s view.

          I make no claim about my ideas with respect to Singer. Maybe I’d agree with you that Singer is better; that’s a tangent IMO. My main point is that personhood starts at 0%. That’s pretty much it. The abortion dividing line is left up for debate, but this attacks the common fundamentalist view that personhood begins at conception.

        • abeggar

          OK, then let’s explore your fundamental point. The problem with your assertion that personhood starts at 0% is that you presuppose a naturalistic framework that precludes any transcendent, metaphysical input. Your spectrum argument does not disprove the existence of a soul philosophically or logically, so you simply assume that no personhood could exist at conception. It is not convincing to those who do not hold your worldview that appears to be based on strict empiracalism and scientism.

          It would be helpful if you would respond to arguments for the existence of a substantive, spiritual soul, such as those made by J. P. Moreland, who has written several books on the topic. Here are references to a video and article presenting his case for the existence of a non-physical consciousness and soul:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x27aMcq-Kq8
          http://www.jpmoreland.com/articles/a-conceptualist-argument-for-a-spiritual-substantial-soul/ (need to download the PDF)

          If personhood does depend on a non-physical soul, then scientific naturalism alone is inadequate to confirm your spectrum argument.

        • Your spectrum argument does not disprove the existence of a soul philosophically or logically, so you simply assume that no personhood could exist at conception.

          Yes, I do assume no soul. That’s the default assumption. If you want to argue for a soul, go ahead. And, no, I don’t plan on watching a one-hour video to hear the argument for a soul.

          If personhood does depend on a non-physical soul, then scientific naturalism alone is inadequate to confirm your spectrum argument.

          If the soul is the stumbling block for personhood, then we can bypass that by finding another word besides person. I’m a flexible guy—give me a better word. Tell me what the newborn is and the single, microscopic cell isn’t. Said another way, you can fill in the blank: “the trillion-cell newborn is a ___, while the single cell it started out as isn’t.”

        • abeggar

          You are making the claim that personhood starts at 0%, so you need to defend your premise that there is no soul. Aristotle and other non-Christian philosophers have argued for the existence of a substantive soul, so it can’t be dismissed as a biblical myth. I gave an article by Moreland as an alternative to the video, and here is a third-party summary and concise defense of Moreland’s argument in two parts: http://www.randyeverist.com/2015/12/the-modal-argument-for-substance.html?m=1 and http://www.randyeverist.com/2015/12/the-modal-argument-for-substance_30.html?m=1

          From a dualist perspective, I can think of no substitute concept for human personhood that is dependent on the body’s physical development that your argument centers on. I am not clear about what you are looking for; if we fill in the blank with something like sentient body, what does that achieve?

        • MNb

          “You are making the claim that personhood starts at 0%, so you need to defend your premise that there is no soul.”
          Beautiful non-sequitur. Suggestion: ask BobS what he means with “person”. Shall we bet that the word “soul” will not be involved? Then he does not need to defend anything regarding soul, just like he doesn’t need to defend anything regarding the non-existence of Big Foot. Both are equally irrelevant for the topic.

        • Huh? The guy who questions the supernatural is the one who has the burden of proof? How did that happen?

          There is no soul in the definition of person. If you want to add that to our shared definition, go ahead and defend that remarkable claim.

          Aristotle and other non-Christian philosophers have argued for the existence of a substantive soul, so it can’t be dismissed as a biblical myth.

          Biblical myth, Mediterranean myth, ancient myth—does it really matter? It’s a supernatural claim. I will indeed dismiss it until I get good evidence for it.

          I gave an article by Moreland as an alternative to the video, and here is a third-party summary and concise defense of Moreland’s argument in two parts

          The guy argues that he can conceive of a soul, so that is evidence that a soul exists? He needs to appreciate that we can easily fool ourselves.

          From a dualist perspective, I can think of no substitute concept for human personhood that is dependent on the body’s physical development that your argument centers on. I am not clear about what you are looking for; if we fill in the blank with something like sentient body, what does that achieve?

          What I’m responding to is the glib, unevidenced, fundamentalist claim that there is no moral difference between a newborn and the single cell it started out as 9 months earlier. They can believe whatever they want for themselves. They can imagine the cell with tiny hands waving up at them if they want. What they can’t do is impose their delusion on the rest of us by law.

        • abeggar

          Leaving aside the question of the soul for now, and dealing with just what science can determine, please start by stating what your formal definition of personhood is, and how you assign value to it. Then reference what scientific evidence shows that personhood can be divided fractionally, and what scientific evidence shows that personhood does not exist at conception.

        • No thanks.

          I’m trying to show the difference between the newborn and the single cell, in particular, the spectrum-denying “the cell is a baby” or “the cell is a person” argument.

        • Susan

          Leaving aside the question of the soul for now

          Translation: I can’t define nor defend “soul”, so I won’t even bother.

          Rather than acknowledge that, I will insist that people work backward from my vague and unevidenced premise, assume it might exist, despite my unwillingness to defend it…

          What is you formal definition of personhood?

          Reference what scientific evidence sows that personhood can be divided fractionally

          That is a category error. Science can only inform discussions of personhood.

        • MNb

          “you presuppose a naturalistic framework”
          Actually naturalism is not a presupposition itself, but based upon presuppositions which can be independently confirmed. You have a point though – dualists like you will rather than naturalists become forced-birthers. Still the problem with your approach immediately raises its ugly head when you write

          “disprove the existence of a soul philosophically or logically”
          Unfortunately for you naturalists don’t have to. In the first place most naturalists have little use for “proof” the way you use the word. Right now I’m not sure if you made a category error or attacked a strawman. In the second place it’s perfectly possible to argue against the existence of a soul (I begin with the incapability of dualists to give a proper definition). In the third place in philosophy it’s the rule that the one who postulates (ie dualists like you, with their ill-defined soul) do the backing up. Your failure or refusal to do so is already sufficient reason to reject the idea.

          “your worldview that appears to be based on strict empiracalism and scientism.”
          These two strawmen do not help either. Once again you use an ill-defined term (scientism). The way dualists like you use it almost always impies a deliberate, fundamental and huge distortion of the naturalist approach towards science. At the other hand, as soon as scientism is properly defined it becomes clear that it’s rather an open door based upon a few simple observations. Moreover this naturalist worldview has gone way beyond 18th Century empiricism as developed by John Locke. The way naturalism has absorbed empiricism has been taken over by dualists like you, including many creationists, who have noticed the enormous success of scientific developments last 250 years.

          “It is not convincing to those who do not hold your worldview”
          But your approach is? Then show me any naturalist pro-choicer who you managed to convince. Haven’t got any? Then your remark means nothing.

        • abeggar

          In the third place in philosophy it’s the rule that the one who postulates (ie dualists like you, with their ill-defined soul) do the backing up. Your failure or refusal to do so is already sufficient reason to reject the idea.

          Bob is the one asking for his spectrum argument to be critiqued, so he is making the claim and must defend his premises. That’s how it works. I have given references to Moreland’s argument for a substantive soul, which you have obviously ignored. Finally, the second definition of scientism given by Merriam-Webster is an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities), which is certainly applicable in this forum. It’s doubtful you have managed to convince anyone with your smug attitude, so why don’t you try civil discourse as a change of pace?

        • MNb

          And I showed why your criticism isn’t valid.

          “which you have obviously ignored”
          Yes, I dislike videos in general and I have more pleasant ways to waste my time than watching a vidio of an hour long that begins with a crappy faith statement like Moreland’s. Give me a transcript and I will read it. Or summarize his points.

          “which is certainly applicable in this forum.”
          Until you have developed an objective standard for what constitutes “exaggerated” (instead of what makes your underbelly feel good) it doesn’t. Better still, nobody here holds that the methods of natural science apply to philosophy, the social sciences and the humanities. Though natural sciences, social sciences and humanities on a general level may have more in common than you think.
          So your accusatin of scientism remains a false testimony.
          ” It’s doubtful you have managed to convince anyone with your smug attitude,”
          My dear creacrapper, why do you assume it’s my intention to convince anyone? Creacrappers like you can’t be convinced and certainly not on an internet forum.
          “so why don’t you try civil discourse as a change of pace?”
          Because a civil attitude is a waste on creacrappers like you. From years of experience (and yes, I started out politely) I learned that a sensible discussion with creacrappers like you is impossible. Worse – they are very quick to abuse any civil discourse, because pushing their agenda trumps everything.

        • Rudy R

          If personhood does depend on a non-physical soul, then scientific naturalism alone is inadequate to confirm your spectrum argument.

          Personhood does not depend on a non-physical soul, so scientific naturalism alone is adequate to confirm Bob’s spectrum argument. See how easy that is to refute? You provided no evidence a soul exists, so I need no evidence to refute your claim. Contrary to the Christian apologist J.P. Moreland’s claim, there is no scientific evidence for a soul.

        • abeggar

          Since your empiricism doesn’t allow you to accept the possibility of a soul, which is outside of the realm of naturalism, without empirical evidence, you unjustifiably assert that personhood cannot depend on a soul. Moreland provides a logical argument for the existence of the soul, a spiritual substance that grounds personal identity, therefore having direct bearing on personhood. He has also noted that leading neuroscientists, such as Nobel Prize winner John Eccles, U. C. L. A. neuroscientist Jeffrey Schwartz, and Mario Beaureguard, are all dualists as well as experts in neuroscience, so perhaps you should reconsider your claim. If you can logically refute Moreland’s argument and dualism, then you can justify your assertion.

        • MNb

          And …. Abeggar nicely confirms one of my other hypotheses about creationists: he’s incapable of learning something new.
          RudyR is not an 18th Century empiricist either. He accepts the scientific method (which you don’t) and that’s the synthesis of 18th Century empiricism and rationalism.

          “Moreland provides a logical argument for the existence of the soul”
          Logic alone is not enough We (but not apologists like you and certainly not creationists) understand that since Descartes and should have understood since Euclides.

          “If you can logically refute Moreland’s argument and dualism, then you can justify your assertion.”
          Nope. Lack of evidence is already enough. See Ockham’s Razor, a widely accepted scientific principle.
          Moreover, as long as you don’t get your terminology right it’s a waste of time to even try to refute anything. At beforehand your ill-defined terms make sure you will Always have an escape route.

        • Rudy R

          I allow for the possibility for a soul. But because we live in a natural world, natural explanations are more probable. There is no preconditions in empiricism that does not allow for studying the supernatural.

          Eccles won the Nobel Prize for his work on the synapse, not on the soul. Kary Mullis is a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, but denied the role of HIV in AIDS. See why the appeal to authority is not a good pathway to knowledge?

          Eccles, Schwarz and Beauregard are all theists, so they are not exactly unbiased. Did they believe in the soul before they became theists or were they theists before they believed in the soul? If they were theists first, then they are just theist apologists.

          Moreland provides no empirical evidence to support his premises, so he has not made a sound logical argument for dualism. Can you provide one example of a premise Moreland uses to defend dualism that is supported by empirical evidence and has been peer-reviewed from the experts in neuroscience?

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          The Bible speaks of life and the breath of life as if they are synonymous. For example, Adam didn’t become alive when he was formed, but he was alive after he started breathing.

          Genesis 1:30 (NRSV)30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

          Genesis 2:7 (NRSV)7 then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.

          Genesis 6:17 (NRSV)17 For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.

          Genesis 7:15 (NRSV)15 They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life.

          Genesis 7:22 (NRSV)22 everything on dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died.

          Job 12:10 (NRSV)10 In his hand is the life of every living thing    and the breath of every human being.

          Job 27:3 (NRSV)3 as long as my breath is in me    and the spirit of God is in my nostrils,

          Job 33:4 (NRSV)4 The spirit of God has made me,    and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

          Isaiah 42:5 (NRSV)5 Thus says God, the Lord,    who created the heavens and stretched them out,    who spread out the earth and what comes from it,who gives breath to the people upon it    and spirit to those who walk in it:

          Jeremiah 4:31 (NRSV)31 For I heard a cry as of a woman in labor,    anguish as of one bringing forth her first child,the cry of daughter Zion gasping for breath,    stretching out her hands,“Woe is me! I am fainting before killers!”

          Revelation 11:11 (NRSV)11 But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and those who saw them were terrified.

        • abeggar

          Thanks for the verses, Greg; were you once a Christian? The point of ensoulment has been debated throughout Christian history, but I will lay out what I have concluded.

          I hold that the Old Testament distinguishes between the body and soul. The soul is the immaterial conscious/subconscious mind, emotions, and will, i.e., personality, which communes with God and the Holy Spirit. The soul is meant to reside in a body, but can exist apart from the body before life and after death of the body. Adam is a special creation of God, and the point of Gen. 2:7 is that man did not come to life naturally from the dust, but that God formed him and breathed life into him as a soul (Heb. nephesh) made in His image, so that he has a special relationship with God; it is reading too much into the passage to relate this act to normal human conception. The breath of life has to do with the animation of the body, and does not bear on the pre-existing soul and personhood.

          Skeptic web sites discount Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:13-14, and Matthew 1:20 as being irrelevant to when a fetus becomes a person, basically interpreting that God’s sanctification of Jeremiah or Jesus in the womb is special for prophets, and therefore others are not treated similarly for ensoulment. This ignores that the psalmist declares his days were also written when God saw him as a person before he was formed, which would argue that his unformed substance had a soul. Also, the fetus possess personal attributes such as sin and joy (Psalm 51:5, Luke 1:44), which are spiritual and emotional aspects of the soul. Furthermore, the relationship between the soul and the body it is meant to dwell with is best understood as joined at conception when the body is first instantiated.

          Early Christians held that personhood was from conception, such as Tertullian (Apologeticum IX, 8) :

          But Christians now are so far from homicide, that with them it is utterly unlawful to make away a child in the womb, when nature is in deliberation about the man; for to kill a child before it is born is to commit murder by way of advance; and there is no difference whether you destroy a child in its formation, or after it is formed and delivered. For we Christians look upon him as a man, who is one in embryo; for he is in being, like the fruit in blossom, and in a little time would have been a perfect man, had nature met with no disturbance.

          I am aware Aquinas and some later theologians did not hold this view and that their have been Hellenistic influences in the church, but, in my opinion, all other points for ensoulment are arbitrary, e.g., formed vs. unformed fetus, and maintain a forced separation of the soul from its body that is not demanded. That’s all I have time for now.

        • Rudy R

          Has a viable fetus delivered prematurely suddenly jumped to humanhood, or is it still a fractional person?

          Are you making an anti-choice argument based on humanhood or a person? It is a fact that a zygote is a human. It is not a fact that a zygote is a person.

        • abeggar

          Rudy, thanks for pointing out my error in terminology – “human” should be replaced with “person” in those sentences. I’ve got to stop staying up late to post.

        • Kodie

          What I get from your repeated fetish with Peter Singer is that you’re totally dishonest and uninformed what pro-choice typically proposes – ie. plenty of birth control options and early, easily accessible, non-dramatic, non-traumatic abortions. The main reason women might choose a later abortion, other than their life is suddenly in danger, is political obstacles meant to deter her from having the abortion she wants much earlier than she is able to get one.

          Just get the fuck out of the way, asshole. Nobody’s getting these late “viable” abortions that you keep whining about.

        • Susan

          What I get from your repeated fetish with Peter Singer

          What I’ve found with forced birthers who bring up Peter Singer is that they never show any indication that they’ve engaged with thevery thoughtful and well laid out position that he argues. Nor that he invites disagreement.

          They just take it for granted that microscopic human cells have the right to violate the bodies of over half the human race and also that pigs aren’t worthy of any moral concern for any reason.

          Apparently, thinking anything else is a nightmare because they say so.

          Morality is complicated.

        • MNb

          “They just take it for granted”
          It seems to me that almost all apologists that show up on this blog are guilty of this.

        • Pofarmer

          is political obstacles meant to deter her from having the abortion she wants much earlier than she is able to get one.

          This is probably true 99% of the time.

          Nobody’s getting these late “viable” abortions that you keep whining about.

          This is probably true 99.9% of the time. But, abeggar already resides pretty much in a fantasy world? What’s one more fantasy where 8 month fetus’s are being ripped from their mothers wombs?

        • MNb

          ” those of you who believe in fractional personhood or the value of a human increasing as time goes on will not concede that a baby at the age of viability should not be aborted on demand”
          Nice combination of a strawman and a non-sequitur.

          “Here is another hypothetical”
          Here is another hypothetical: Abeggar shuts up, quits and starts navel gazing. That’s about just as relevant.

        • I find it difficult to continue this conversation, since those of you who believe in fractional personhood or the value of a human increasing as time goes on will not concede that a baby at the age of viability should not be aborted on demand.

          Why would someone have a 3rd-trimester abortion? I’m pretty sure that inconvenience isn’t the issue. If the woman is aborting because of a newly discovered abnormality, delivering the baby for adoption isn’t a good option.

          Here is another hypothetical: a pregnant woman at 24 weeks of gestation loses a large sum of money, and now wants to abort the perfectly healthy baby because it will be a financial strain.

          Is this a red herring, or is this kind of thing common? I think the majority of third-trimester abortions are because of an abnormality in the fetus, but I honestly don’t know. I’d be interested in seeing the number of 3rd-trimester abortions with a breakdown of the reasons. Then we can know how big an issue your hypothetical is.

          I already know how Peter Singer and those who push the fractional personhood logic to the extreme would respond.

          Then tell us. I don’t know. I would’ve thought that Singer would argue that a healthy but unwanted baby should be put up for adoption.

          I presume that I’m one of those who pushes “the fractional personhood logic to the extreme.” What concerns do you have with that?

        • Pofarmer

          http://abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics/

          Third trimester abortions are exceedingly rare.

        • And I’ll bet that each one comes with a really good reason.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, that’s kind of teh point, yes. No abortions are just done willy nilly. And late term abortions even less so. They just don’t happen. There were a bunch abortion memes going around facebook a while back and nearly all of them were 8 month or near term fetuses. At that point, abortions just don’t happen except for severe fetal abnormalities, and the only one who has a right to have a say in that is the Dr. and the prospective parent.

        • Perhaps abeggar imagines women saying, “Wow, I didn’t know I was going to look so fat! None of my clothes fit! Yuck!”

        • abeggar

          The point is not how many abortions are happening after viability, but that society via the Supreme Court has made it legal to abort a baby at any time. The hypothetical I gave is a valid legal reason for aborting a viable baby by federal law (states may impose restrictions after viability), and I have read that the primary reason the majority of abortions are done is for financial reasons.

          I would’ve thought that Singer would argue that a healthy but unwanted baby should be put up for adoption.

          Please read up on him and see my summary of Singer’s position in my reply to Susan. Who will decide where the line for full humanness is drawn? You may not be as extreme as Singer and others, but would you argue that Singer’s position is not permitted in your paradigm of humanness?

        • The point is not how many abortions are happening after viability, but that society via the Supreme Court has made it legal to abort a baby at any time.

          States can and have constrained the options for 3rd trimester abortions.

          I have read that the primary reason the majority of abortions are done is for financial reasons.

          But that’s not the topic, is it? You’re focused on third-trimester abortions. What are the reasons for them?

          Please read up on him and see my summary of Singer’s position in my reply to Susan. Who will decide where the line for full humanness is drawn?

          When Singer is the Supreme Court, you may have a valid worry.

          You may not be as extreme as Singer and others, but would you argue that Singer’s position is not permitted in your paradigm of humanness?

          Dunno. Point me to your reply to Susan.

        • Pofarmer

          Look. This is stupid. Carrying on this tack doesn’t help your case any.

      • Greg G.

        If you found that you were possessed by an entity that would cause permanent physical and emotional changes to you with a chance of death to you and/or the entity, would you consent to the possession or would you obtain an exorcism that would result in the death of the other entity? If you consented to the possession, would you continue with a relationship with the entity after the possession ended (this option would affect your finances and other relationships) or would you drive it away knowing it may come looking for you to establish a relationship a few decades later?

        Would you, at least, want a choice of whether to obtain the exorcism and not be forced to maintain it?

        • abeggar

          Yes, if it were from the Alien movie or a parasite; no, if it is a human being carried by a woman under normal childbearing. Abstracting away the humanity of or treating as property various classes of humans beings has led to slavery, genocide, and abortion on demand.

        • Greg G.

          Normal childbearing requires the consent of the woman, not to be forced into motherhood. Normal childbearing has risks.

          Slavery, genocide, and abortion are sanctioned by the Bible.

        • abeggar

          Your last sentence is irrelevant to the point of the discussion, and is also hermeneutically wrong, e.g., cf. https://www.str.org/articles/what-exodus-21-22-says-about-abortion

        • Greg G.

          That article does not address what I am referring to. Read Numbers 5:11-31, particularly:

          Numbers 5:27 (NRSV)27 When he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has been unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her womb shall discharge, her uterus drop, and the woman shall become an execration among her people.

          If a man suspects his wife of being unfaithful, he takes her to the priest and she is forced to drink mud mixed with the dirt of the tabernacle, perhaps the filthiest place in the city, as animals that were never house-broken bleed to death there, so the floor would have animal blood and feces in all states of decay. If nothing happens, it means she did not cheat. If she has a miscarriage and prolapsed uterus, it means she did cheat. The whole ritual is intended to cause an abortion if she is pregnant, even making her permanently infertile if she survives.

        • abeggar

          First, despite some translations inferring a miscarriage, there is no indication here that the woman is even pregnant, only that the husband suspects she was defiled; how fair would it be if the woman was already pregnant by her husband when defiled? Second, the primary meaning of this passage concerns the law of jealousies, with God acting as a witness in trials having no witness. The Hebrew word translated as “womb” in the NSRV and NIV is yarek (יָרֵ ךְ), literally “thigh”, and other translations give “her thigh will rot” or “her thigh will rupture” (the Jewish translation at http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/9933/jewish/Chapter-5.htm). The Hebrew words for womb are beten (בטן), used commonly to express the area of the belly, and rechem (רחם), used exclusively to speak of the home of the first 9 months of a child. “Thigh” is used in a few places as an euphemism for covenant circumcised male genitalia, as when an oath is sweared by placing a hand under Abraham’s thigh (Gen. 24:2, 9), but this would not make sense applied to a woman.

          Third, the potion given to the woman is a mixture of holy water and earth/dust from the tabernacle floor; being the House of God, the Levites were responsible for the care of the tabernacle, and presumably kept the floor clean. There is no reason to presume an abortifacient, since the decision and curse of barrenness for a guilty woman is due to the judgment of God, not the result of a “ritual intended to cause an abortion.”

          Furthermore, the rabbinic understanding of this passage does not argue for a forced abortion: while the accused woman must actually drink the bitter waters, the waters affect her male partner in adultery identically. Just as the waters examine her, they also examine him (Talmud, Sotah 27b). Also, Rabbi Nachmanides points out that of all the 613 commandments, it is only the sotah law that requires God’s specific co-operation to make it work. The bitter waters can only be effective miraculously. Cf. http://www.aish.com/tp/i/m/48964791.html

          Given the many references in the Old Testament to the sanctity of life, it is a very weak argument to say the Bible sanctions abortion from this passage.

        • Greg G.

          Are you naive or are you trying to insult everybody’s intelligence? The passage is about a man suspecting that his wife was unfaithful. That means he thinks she had sex with another man. The Bible uses euphemisms for the crotch by referencing other body parts below the waist. When Naomi tells Ruth to watch where Boaz lays down to sleep, then go and “uncover his feet”. It doesn’t mean “feet”. Her mother-in-law is telling her to jump his bones to impress him into redeeming her. When David invites Uzziah to the palace, he tells him to go to his home to “wash his feet.” David wanted Uzziah to go sleep with his wife, Bathsheba, who was pregnant by David, so that Uzziah would think the baby was his own. Uzziah knows that does not mean to actually “wash his feet.” David then has Uzziah killed in battle to protect Bathsheba. “Thigh” is not so specific to mean only “circumcised male genitalia.”

          The tabernacle was not a building. You may be thinking of a temple There was a tent inside the tabernacle and a tent inside the tent. but the tabernacle included an altar that was not inside the tent. Are you thinking that the priests washed the dirt? At best, it would not be as clean as a stable after the manure had been shoveled out as a stable would not have large quantities of blood in the mix. The location where the dust was taken from would play a role in the outcome, the priest could make her sick from malice or ignorance, or help her to pass the test, perhaps if he was satisfied by the sacrifice her family offered. A woman who was pregnant would have more complications from the dysentery than a healthy unpregnant woman. The passage explicitly says that a wife who was faithful would still be able to have children. If the wife died became infertile, it was proof she was unfaithful. If she did not become infertile, it was proof she was innocent.

          But if she was pregnant, the poisoning was supposed to be an abortion. The test would not distinguish who the father was, however.

          The Talmud is just superstitious non-sense about the ritual.

          Given the slavery, death, destruction, and penalties for picking up sticks on the wrong day, the sanctity of life is not that big of a deal in the Old Testament.

        • Pofarmer

          Infoirmation is kinda sparse, but the Romans had abortifacents that were fermented mixtures. Since the “Offering” is that of barley, it makes me wonder if that isn’t what is going on here too. If the whole “Dust from the temple floor” thing, isn’t just a euphemism like thigh or feet. Doesn’t really matter, whatever it was and however it was done it’s a pretty clear case of causing an abortion.

        • Greg G.

          It’s another case of apologists translating the Bible to make it say what they want it to say.

        • abeggar

          You are making speculations that miss the main point of the passage, which is that there were no witnesses, so God is called upon as a judge via the ordeal of bitter waters. It is God, not the priest, who is causing the wife to be fertile or barren, not the potion. I checked some medical sites, and severe vomiting and nausea should not cause a miscarriage in themselves, unless it persists for over a week causing dehydration. You admit that the test, in your interpretation, would not distinguish if an innocent woman pregnant by her husband was falsely accused, whereas God would know. Reading abortifacients and abortion into this passage may be acceptable for 21st century atheists, but the text and rabbinic interpretation does not support your speculations. Your flippant last sentence shows you do not understand why the law was given by God to Israel.

        • Greg G.

          The science behind the Numbers passage may have been that some guy suspected his wife of being unfaithful and made her drink mud. Later, she had a miscarriage, perhaps unrelated but a priest heard the story and wrote it into the law. Maybe it was just an urban legend with no basis in fact. The whole ritual was about making a woman sick enough to have a prolapsed uterus or nothing. If she was pregnant from another man, it was believed it would cause an abortion. So the important point is that the Bible has what is supposed to be an abortion causing ritual. So the Bible does not support your anti-choice position. The Bible can be made to say almost anything but it can be made to say the opposite, too. Is it OK to run a spear through two people while they are presumably having sex? Certainly if you can make up a good reason, like “they had a different religions.”

          It may have been as effective as the method to remove mold from a house which involved taking two birds, killing one and draining its blood to sprinkle around the house and on the other bird. The live bird was released and the blood was supposed to be a magic conduit to carry the mold away. The Yom Kippur ritual was like that but with goats or sheep to take away the sins of the nation where one was killed and the other was released into the wilderness carrying some of the blood of the other. You can see that in the gospels. Mark introduces Bartimaeus to explain his name so his readers know that “bar” means “son of”. Then he has Jesus open the prayer in Gethsemane with “Abba, Father” to teach his readers that “abba” means “father”. Then he introduces Barabbas and the readers know that there are matching goats called “Son of the Father”. One is killed and one is released into the wilderness. Mark screwed it up by having this done several months early at passover, which is definitely not a sin offering.

          Your flippant last sentence shows you do not understand why the law was given by God to Israel.

          The events in the Old Testament before David are complete fiction. The rest of the Old Testament is mostly made up. There is no evidence in Egypt that the Israelis were there in large numbers. Archaeologists and Egyptologists have searched diligently. There is no evidence that a large group of people wandered the desert for decades. Israeli and Christian archaeologists have searched diligently. There is evidence found by Israeli archaeologists that show that around the time the Israelites were supposed to be invading and annihilating the Canaanites, there is no disruption of culture. If a group that had lived an Egyptian culture committing genocide would not and could not adopt the exact same culture. The biggest difference is that some sites had pig bones and some did not, which shows that the Hebrews were Canaanites who just followed a different Canaanite religion.

          Many OT hero stories are stories with polytheistic roots. Men noted for their hair are old sun gods. Those known for being hairless were moon gods. The name “Samson” sounds like the Hebrew word for “sun”. “Delilah” sounds like the word for “night”. Then there are the pairs, like the hairy Esau and his hairless twin, Jacob. Elijah was known for his hair while his sidekick Elisha called down 42 she-bears on children who called him “Baldy”. Noah put a curse on his grandson. Do humans do that?

          Any reason you think you have for why God gave the law to Israel is made up. The priests made an easy living requiring sacrifices for this and that. The city priests objected to the country priests in the mountains and vice versa. You see some back and forth between them in the OT.

        • abeggar

          While the numbers may be in dispute, there is archaeological evidence for the Exodus, and the majority of scholars do not dispute whether it took place, but when. Cf. https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/exodus/exodus-fact-or-fiction/, and the sources it references. Try to dial back your omniscience a bit.

        • MNb

          If that article ere reliable it should not be published on internet by a bunch of anonymous people whose credentials we can’t check but in a peer-reviewed journal on Ancient History.

        • abeggar

          You are correct about the Wikipedia articles. The Biblical Archaeological Society publishes the BAR magazine, and the article I linked was clearly cited as a free abstract from Manfred Bietak’s article “On the Historicity of the Exodus: What Egyptology Today Can Contribute to Assessing the Biblical Account of the Sojourn in Egypt” in Thomas E. Levy, Thomas Schneider and William H.C. Propp, eds., Israel’s Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective: Text, Archaeology, Culture and Geoscience (Cham: Springer, 2015).

        • Greg G.

          Most scholars think the Exodus is a myth. The dispute among scholars who want to believe it actually happened about when is due to the lack of evidence that it happened.

          While I found the claim about the four room house interesting and I enjoyed researching it, the evidence not only fails to support your claims of the Exodus, it effectively disputes it.

          From the link you provided: https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/exodus/exodus-fact-or-fiction/

          These specific place names recorded in the Biblical text demonstrate that the memory of the Biblical authors for these traditions predates Egypt’s Third Intermediate Period. This supports a 13th-century Exodus during the Ramesside Period because it is only during the Ramesside Period that the place names Pi-Ramesse, Pi-Atum and (Pa-)Tjuf (Red Sea or Reed Sea) are all in use.

          From the section on Anachronisms in “The Exodus” article on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exodus#Anachronisms

          Despite the Bible’s internal dating of the Exodus to the 2nd millennium BCE, details point to a 1st millennium date for the composition of the Book of Exodus: Ezion-Geber (one of the Stations of the Exodus), for example, dates to a period between the 8th and 6th centuries BCE with possible further occupation into the 4th century BCE,[40] and those place-names on the Exodus route which have been identified – Goshen, Pithom, Succoth, Ramesses and Kadesh Barnea – point to the geography of the 1st millennium rather than the 2nd.[41]

          So the evidence in the article you gave is evidence against a second millennium BC writing.

          Again, from the article you provided:

          A worker’s house from western Thebes also seems to support a 13th-century Exodus. In the 1930s, archaeologists at the University of Chicago were excavating the mortuary Temple of Aya and Horemheb, the last two pharaohs of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty, in western Thebes.

          The Wikipedia article [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_room_house ] on the “Four Room House” says ” Acknowledging these sub-types of the four room house, the popularity of the structure started at the beginning of Iron Age I (end of the eleventh century BC) and dominated the architecture of Israel through Iron Age II until the Babylonian Exile.”

          The article “An Ancient Israelite House in Egypt?” at https://www.baslibrary.org/biblical-archaeology-review/19/4/8 describes the house that is referenced in the article you linked to. It was one house that differed from the other houses at the site but showed a similarity to those in Palestine. But it was a century or three after the latest date assumed for the Exodus. It is better evidence that a builder from Palestine was working in Egypt.

          This article put the date of the house in the 11th or 12th century not the 13th century BC.

          From the article:

          A third piece of evidence for the Exodus is the Onomasticon Amenope.

          The Onomasticon Amenope is dated from the 20th Dynasty to the 22nd Dynasty, from the early 12th century BC to the late 8th century BC. How long did it take Lake Gennasaret to be called Tiberias? We have places in the US with Roman and Greek names but that doesn’t mean there were Roman and Greek slaves here.

          Also remember that the Hyksos, who were from Canaan, invaded eastern Egypt in the 17th century BC, when the Israelites should have been there, so they may have named a few things.

          Again from the article:

          Another compelling piece of evidence for the Exodus is found in the Biblical text itself. A history of enslavement is likely to be true. The article explains:

          The storyline of the Exodus, of a people fleeing from a humiliating slavery, suggests elements that are historically credible. Normally, it is only tales of glory and victory that are preserved in narratives from one generation to the next. A history of being slaves is likely to bear elements of truth.

          Incredulity should not be considered a “compelling piece of evidence.” If the history was invented from Babylonian records during or after the Exile, then saying that they rose from slaves would be a story of hope for them.

          Exodus claims that a couple of million workers walked out of Egypt taking their livestock. We have no evidence of millions of Israelites in Egypt. That would be a third of the population. Yet Egypt did not diminish as a world power at the time which implies that one third of their workforce did not leave and that a significant number of soldiers were drowned.

          That many people wandering through the desert would leave lots of evidence. It would be impossible to not find evidence in the Sinai. But if we pare down the number who left Egypt, then they are not great enough to conquer the Canaanites.

          Not only does the story fail as a historical event due to the lack of evidence that should be there, it fails logic as a good fictional account.

        • abeggar

          Greg, I’m glad you have researched the evidence for the Exodus, but you are favoring the conclusions of the historical minimalist approach that has arisen in the past decade, mainly by non-Egyptologists. The brief Wikipedia articles barely address the scope of the evidence and controversies involved, referencing only the information chosen. If you are interested in getting a broader overview of current scholarly thinking, I suggest viewing the videos (http://exodus.calit2.net/) of the transdisciplinary conference, Out of Egypt: Israel’s Exodus Between Text and Memory, History and Imagination, held at UCSD in 2013. For a discussion of the Onomasticon of Amenope, which lists Egyptian toponym sites from south to north ending with a marshy area in the NE that matches the sea of reeds, as well as a discussion of Teli el-Maskutta and geography mentioned in other ancient papyrii, see the video Egyptology, Egyptologists and the Exodus on the conference web site, by Egyptologist James Hoffmeier from TIU, who is also the author of the Oxford Press book, Israel in Egypt, which argues for the historicity of the Exodus. While the non-Biblical archaeological evidence is not yet sufficient to dispel all controversies, such as those concerning the Ipuwer papyrus and the effect of the eruption of Thera, archaeology does not tell the entire story.

        • adam

          You failed to mention the great work of Ron Wyatt, who ‘proves’ all this and more.

        • abeggar

          ;-). I have not read his site, but prefer referencing Egyptologists and related scholars in this regard.

        • Greg G.

          What is the best evidence for the Exodus? Did you give the best evidence and now are giving the second best evidence? I think the evidence I looked at before was poor. If this is worse than the first, I am disinclined to bother.

          Hoffmeier signs an annual faith statement as a condition of employment. Does he present the evidence he finds or just the evidence that won’t get him fired? How do you know? Does anybody at that conference not sign a faith statement?

        • abeggar

          No, it was not the “best” evidence, just one scholar’s findings. If you looked at the citation of the BAR article, you would see that it is the abstract of a book chapter by Dr. Manfred Bietak, professor emeritus of Egyptology at the University of Vienna and founder and Director of the Austrian Archaeological Institute in Cairo from 1973-2009. Dr. Hoffmeier covers some different lines of evidence, and his published work is peer-reviewed, so his TIU faith statement is irrelevant. I cannot say for certain, but I suspect very few of the “40 of the world’s leading archaeologists, Biblical scholars, Egyptologists, historians and geo-scientists” at the conference are Christians or work at institutions requiring a faith statement.

        • Greg G.

          I looked at the speakers from the conference. Israel Finkelstein and William Dever are two archaeologists that have influenced my opinion. I checked Dever’s Wikipedia page. It mentions his video from that conference and says, “He concludes, however, in this lecture that in the much greater part the Exodus is a myth or “pseudo-history,” and that the early Israelites were mostly indigenous Canaanites.”

          At least two of the speakers say the Exodus never happened and “the early Israelites were mostly indigenous Canaanites.” At least one of the speakers does accept that it happened but his employment depends on him saying that.

          I don’t intend to listen to them all. They are 30 to 40 minutes long and I don’t care to spend a 24 hour day on them. Which ones have the best evidence for your position?

        • abeggar

          I have only listened to a small set myself, others besides Hoffmeier’s including Bietak’s keynote, the one on the eruption of Thera which downgraded its importance, and Richard Friedman’s interesting talk on the Exodus and its sources, in which he defends the historicity of the Exodus, but limits it to the tribe of Levi. I have seen this theory gain support in the last five years by both Jewish and non-Jewish scholars, because it solves the problem of lack of archaeological evidence for 2MM people, and maintains the historicity of an exodus out of Egypt, in which the Levites eventually joined forces with other Israelite groups. The population numbers in Exodus 12:37-38 and Numbers 1:45-46 are explained as later redactions. I think it is an interesting theory, but reserve judgment since the power of Yahweh to perform miracles is not considered. At this point, I really have nothing further to say on the topic, as time is an issue for me too.

        • Greg G.

          I have read a couple of Friedman’s books on the documentary hypothesis. I didn’t know that there was an Exodus theory about the tribe of Levi considered by scholars. I have had my own pet theory about that where the priests of Akhenaten ended up in Canaan after being run out of Egypt, bringing monotheism. The Habiru [Link] are well-attested in ancient literature and that Levite tribe may convinced their Canaanite followers that they were the descendants of that tribe and those other Canaanites were evil swine eaters. So the Levite followers adopted the name and transliterated it to “Hebrew”. I think I’ll listen to Friedman first to see if I got anything in common with his ideas.

          I think it is an interesting theory, but reserve judgment since the power of Yahweh to perform miracles is not considered.

          Many of the stories and details in the Torah are anachronisms. You would have to consider time travel to make them fit.

        • We should see evidence in the Sinai of the 2M Israelites who died there while waiting for their time to enter Canaan. We don’t. Sometimes absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

        • abeggar

          Let me know who has searched where, and then maybe we can discuss that issue. It’s the same argument as lack of transitional forms in the fossil record disproving macro-evolution.

        • I don’t have the names of archaeologists of the Sinai. Do I need that? If they’d found the bodies, we’d know about it. It’s the desert, so bodies would last, and the Israelites wouldn’t have cremated their dead.

          I’m missing the connection with evolution. How many fossils can one legitimately demand? Anyway, it’s the consensus view. I don’t see how a layman will argue against that.

        • abeggar

          We’re getting far afield here, so I’ll give you a possibility, and then leave this track. How do we know that they are even buried in Sinai? I Cor. 10:5 states, “Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert” (NIV). The bodies may not have been buried at all, but left for the hyenas, jackals, and vultures in the wilderness, thus no graves.

        • The bodies could’ve been abandoned in the open, but why imagine that? There’s no evidence that Israelite society was chaotic or barbaric or even disordered. Sure, they were on God’s naughty list, but their 40 years in the desert was part of the purging process.

          Yes, I’m familiar with punctuated equilibrium.

          But I’m missing the connection. Ask the paleontologists where the fossils are, and they’ll likely give you a long lecture about the tenuous process from living thing to fossil in a museum. On the other hand, sometimes it works out like clockwork. I suppose you know the story of Tiktaalik? 2M corpses buried in a small desert should have left evidence. Heck, 40 years of poop from 2M people should have left evidence.

        • abeggar

          I remember Dawkins touting Tiktaalik as the perfect transitional fossil, but isn’t it now considered an evolutionary dead-end due to the older footprints found in Poland?

        • MNb

          Awesome! Another creacrapper! Lovely!
          Of course he immediately starts to distort Evolution Theory, by changing the meaning of “transitional fossil” to suit his anti-scientific agenda.

        • Michael Neville

          No, tiktaalik is still considered a perfect transitional fossil. If you were familiar with the literature you’d know this. AIG and other creationist websites lie about evolution in order to push their anti-scientific agenda.

        • It’s “perfect” because scientists were looking for a certain kind of fossil, so they found where sedimentary rock of the right age was present at the surface of the earth, then they looked there, and voila.

        • abeggar

          Yes, that’s Shubin’s Neo-Darwinist rationalization, since evolutionists now have evidence that tetrapods existed at least 18 million years earlier. It is certainly not Dawkins’ “perfect missing link,” since there is no evidence it links to anything. Feel free to reply, but I am done discussing this topic.

        • You have a doctorate in biology? Then I’ll admit that you have a warrant for reaching any conclusion with respect to evolution you want. Otherwise, you are obliged to accept the scientific consensus (y’know, like evolution) as the best provisional estimate of the truth that we have. That doesn’t mean that it’s correct or that it won’t change in the future, but you have no intellectual alternative.

        • Greg G.

          As I recall from even before the discovery, there was a fish fossil with an unusual jaw structure and a land creature with the same jaw structure and the ages were 50 million years apart. Shubin knew of two places where there were rock strata of that age, one in the US and one in Europe that were connected when the continents were one. But they were mostly under lots of dirt and cities. Then they found that there was exposed strata of that age which meant it would be easier to find an old shoreline. Searching old shorelines is the best way to find fossils semi-aquatic life forms. They have found transitional forms of frogs becoming adapted to land to land creatures becoming whales.

          If I recall correctly, Tiktaalik had the same unusual jaw structure as the fish and the land creature. Maybe vertebrates came out of the water more than once and maybe only one became established.

        • The story of Tiktaalik is about as phenomenal a piece of evidence for evolution as I can imagine. They found exposed sedimentary rock, they had an idea of what should be there … and they found it!

          abeggar seems determined to be unimpressed with evolution.

        • MNb

          “Dawkins’ “perfect missing link,”
          The term missing link is a creationist one (to rationalize lies) and hence certainly not Dawkins’.

          “there is no evidence it links to anything”
          Given the fact that your family tree only starts in the second half of the Middle Ages at best the evidence for your origins doesn’t link to anything either. According to your creacrap I can maintain that you are an alien, descending from aliens that were not born from humans, but found in cauliflowers and brought to their cradles by storks.
          Stupid? Yes, as stupid as your creationism.

        • MNb

          “He admitted to the extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record”
          Quote, please. Creacrappers like you are lying until proven otherwise. I bet that you have misquoted and minequoted Gould. You would be far from the first one.
          Evolution Theory is an ongoing process that never stands still. Every single sample in the fossil record is a transitional fossil. The bones of your great-grandparents represent a transitional fossil.

        • abeggar

          From Stephen Jay Gould’s article, Evolution’s erratic pace, Natural History 86(5):14, May 1977.

          ‘The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches … in any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the gradual transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and “fully formed.”’

          MNb, do you know anything about why Gould developed punctuated equilibrium? Have you even read him? You should really try to learn more about the theories undergirding what you believe, particularly what a transitional fossil means, instead of accusing everyone else of lying. Please stop responding to my posts until your attitude adjustment is completed.

        • Why the anxiety about punctuated equilibrium? Where are you going with this? I assume you’re saying that evolution is a strong, well-established theory and yet there remain exciting questions to answer. Is that it?

        • abeggar

          OK, let’s walk this back a bit. I gave the analogy that lack of evidence for Darwinian gradual evolution did not mean evolution was a myth, and lack of particular evidence for the Exodus does not make it a myth. I didn’t mean for anyone to pick it up as a separate topic to debate on this thread. So, I’m moving on.

        • MNb

          Now only if that analogy were correct – evidence for Evolution Theory is not lacking at all. But hey, a creacrapper and facts never go together well.

        • Greg G.

          Did you notice the phrase “in any local area” in the quote? A species may evolve in one location and move to another area where it thrives and leaves lots of similar fossils over a long period because it was adapted to that environment.

        • MNb

          Abeggar, do you have any proper reading skills? That quote does not contain the expression “extreme rarity” or anything similar at all.
          You are the one who needs to do some reading – for instance Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution Theory (even if I dislike the title) and Donald Prothero’s What the Fossils say. They address the “tips and nodes of their branches” issue and show that it by no means your “extreme rarity” lie.

          “Please stop responding to my posts until your attitude adjustment is completed.”
          As soon as you have done so – ie have stopped producing creationist lies, whether on behalf of other creationists or of your own.

        • Michael Neville

          Punctuated equilibrium is evolution, something that you reject in favor of a lie. Don’t try to use an evolutionary biologist’s theory, one that you don’t understand and would reject if you did, to argue for creationists’ lies. We know better.

          Also if you don’t like us sneering at your stupidity for believing in the lies of creationism, you can leave or you can stop whining about our sneers. That’s what you get for arguing for creationism with people who know it’s a lie.

        • Greg G.

          It’s the same argument as lack of transitional forms in the fossil record disproving macro-evolution.

          Not really. Some creatures lived in environments that where fossils were more likely to form and some lived where fossilization was nearly impossible. A fossil must be formed, then discovered before it erodes and millions of years will have lots of erosion. We have very good lineages for many lines.

          But the Exodus is supposed to have lost millions of people and livestock where their bones are likely to be preserved without fossilization for a few thousand years.

          Vanished Persian army said found in desert http://www.nbcnews.com/id/33791672/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/vanished-persian-army-said-found-desert/#.Wiv4JlWnHIU

          Not only are bones missing, but where is the coprolite? From The poop on ancient man
          https://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/science/the-poop-on-ancient-man/article1000688/

          However, in dry environments — including caves, deserts and high-altitude areas — feces are commonly preserved and found as part of archeological and paleontological digs.

          Here are references to a couple of long-term Bronze Age archaeological studies of the Sinai:

          Archaeology of Sinai: The Ophir Expedition http://archaeology.tau.ac.il/?page_id=1440

          The Riddle of Mount Sinai Archaeological Discoveries at Har Karkom http://www.harkarkom.com/

          They do not appear to support the Exodus account but I could be wrong as I have not read everything, or even a lot, of the material. From the Har Karkom article, THE TESTIMONY OF ARCHAEOLOGY, I read as far as:

          The biblical story of Exodus may be considered as eternal truth dictated by God, as a fairy tale or as history. To us it appears as a synthesis of oral tales that, passed for years from storyteller to storyteller, probably underwent adaptations and modifications prior to being put into writing.

          It is as if they are creating a new myth to account for why their evidence does not support the old myth. They are saying that the Exodus account was a game of Telephone but is an “eternal truth”, as opposed to an actual truth.

          IN the US, the early European settlers found great earthen mounds. They asked the local Native Americans but they had no clue who built them. Likewise, the Iron Age people would not know the actual events of the Bronze Age and before.

          Archaeology tells us the walls of Jericho were undercut by erosion long before the time Joshua would have arrived. It sounds like a cool campfire tale to say that the walls fell by blowing horns. The youngest pyramids were a thousand years old by the time the Exodus is supposed to have happened. Some pyramids were not completed. A campfire tale of a city building a tower to the sky to meet God would be a story worth retelling. It’s not like those were the only stories made up to explain the already ancient ruins. It’s just the ones written down by a culture.

        • MNb

          Yippeeeee! We are going to dance the micro-macro mambo once again!

          https://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/common-creationist-claims-confuted/

          Hey, macro-evolution has been disproven just like there is an excellent scientific case against stairs.

          https://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/the-scientific-case-against-stairs/

          Stupid, you say? I totally agree. Just as stupid as creacrap and your comment.
          How many branches of science are you going to throw into your religious dustbin?

        • Michael Neville

          You’re a creationist? Then I know that anything you say about any subject has been passed through a “I believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible” filter and so your conclusions are highly suspect. Anyone who accepts a couple of 2500 year old myths written by priests who didn’t know where the Sun went at night does not have a firm grasp of reality.

        • abeggar

          This forum seriously needs a webinar on avoiding ad hominem attacks and sterotyping. In regard to 2500 year old myths, it’s amusing that it took until the 20th century for cosmologists to agree with the Bible that the universe had a definite beginning. How’s that for reality? Save yourself the trouble of responding to my posts if you can’t be civil.

        • Are you seriously saying that on this one question–the universe did/didn’t have a definite beginning–that the Bible has anything valuable to add to the scientific conversation? It got lucky. Don’t list examples where, if you squint, you can imagine the Bible saying a little fragment of something correct when you must ignore so much else that is wrong.

          Not only has science gotten absolutely nothing from the Bible, science has gotten absolutely nothing from religion.

        • abeggar

          Not only has science gotten absolutely nothing from the Bible

          Many great scientists (Faraday, Kepler, Linnaeus, Lord Kelvin, Maxwell, Newton, Pascal, Pasteur, etc.) believed the Bible and that God had created the world with order, laws, and design, which gave them the framework with which to pursue what has become modern science. So “absolutely nothing” is only true in your worldview.

        • Greg G.

          Anybody is capable of doing good science. Those on that list are famous because they left out any factor for gods in their equations.

        • 1. Sure, lots of scientists were Christian because pretty much everyone back then in Europe was a Christian. Newton’s job required that he be a Christian.

          2. You’re telling me that Newton thought, “Well, I have clear experimental evidence supporting my hypothesis that f = ma, but, if I’m honest with myself, it’s the clear statement within the Bible that God created the universe with order is my real evidence”? I doubt that.

        • MNb

          “which gave them the framework with which to pursue what has become modern science.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          In the first place most of these scientists worked after science had become completely modern. That development was part of the Enlightenment, which had precious little to do with the Bible and some version of the christian god.
          In the second place the work of the three pre-completely modern scientists (Linnaeus, Newton and Pascal) is a mixture of science and religious nonsense.
          In the third place, if this were correct, science had become completely modern in say the Fourth Century, when all the intellectuals in the western world (ie the Roman Empire) were christian. Somehow neither the Bible nor some version of the christian god were capable back then to give them that framework. Especially in the Byzantine Empre scientific work was non-existent for an entire millennium.
          In the fourth place intelligent people from Japan, China and India quickly became modern scientists as well despite neither the Bible nor some version of the christian god giving them any framework.

          “So “absolutely nothing” is only true in your worldview.”
          Correct. Beecause this worldview tries to get rid of christian supremacism, something you very much suffer from.

        • Susan

          it took until the 20th century for cosmologists to agree with the Bible that the universe had a definite beginning.

          Neither cosmologists nor any of “the bibles” claim that “the universe” had a “definite beginning”.

          How’s that for reality?

          Nope.

        • abeggar

          Neither cosmologists nor any of “the bibles” claim that “the universe” had a “definite beginning”.

          Would you elaborate on what evidence you have for your statement?

          Please read Hawking’s lecture on the beginning of time, or just skip to the concluding paragraph: http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-beginning-of-time.html
          Even Vilenkin shows that inflation cannot be eternal in the past, and postulates that the universe began out of nothing, with many bubble universes thereafter. As an aside, Hawkings no boundary hypothesis is an attempt to circumvent a cause outside of the universe itself, which the space-time theorems require.

        • MNb

          While Hawking (without the “s” please) of course is a smart guy with lots of important contributions he is not the ultimate authority on “the beginning of time”. The issue hasn’t been settled yet. See for instance Victor Stenger, not entirely stupid either:

          https://infidels.org/library/modern/vic_stenger/otherside.html

          “what about the negative side of the t-axis, the other half dimension? If we look at Einstein’s equations, nothing forbids an expansion in that direction as well.”
          But of course you already have shown that your acceptance of science depends on the question of how it fits your faith, an attitude that cannot be reasoned with but only mocked. So there is no need for me to change my attitude you dislike so much, on the contrary.

        • It sounds like you’re taking the science as the truth and then going back to the Bible to show us how, if you pick and choose just the right way, you can find that factoid in the Bible. But then the Bible is just a sock puppet. It’s a middle man. Just drop the Bible and use science to tell you about reality, like an adult.

        • abeggar

          I was simply showing that science has led some well-respected cosmologists to suggest the universe had a beginning. Do you seriously suggest that no one thought the Bible spoke of a beginning of the universe until scientists realized they could no longer support a steady-state view of the universe? There is no conflict between experimental science and theism. However, there are certain questions that science can’t answer. The statement that only science can lead to truth is not itself deduced from science, and thereby refutes itself.

          Your last sentence reminds me of Dawkins’ remark about Christian theoretical physicist John Polkinghorne, “why [he wastes his] time going into this other stuff [religion] which never has added anything to the storehouse of human wisdom, and I don’t see that it ever will.” Polkinghorne stated in a CBC interview that Dawkins’ “very militant form of atheism” saddens him “because it seems to me it is so polemical, it is so argumentative. Its concern is not with truth but somehow to browbeat you into unbelief.” (https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/John_Polkinghorne)
          You would do well to reflect on that, like an adult.

        • MNb

          “Do you seriously suggest ….”
          You win internet points for lacking comprehensive reading skills. Nothing in BobS’ comment suggests that. This idea a strawman that’t just another product of your overheated fantasy – induced by your faith.

          “The statement that only science can lead to truth is not itself deduced from science, and thereby refutes itself.”
          The demand that science produced truth the way you define that word is part of creacrap, not of science.

          “You would do well to reflect on that”
          Let me do it.
          Gravity is a concept that means the same all over the world. There is largely consensus about it; the only exception I can think of now is Flat Earth Theory, which is advocated by …… gasp! …… christians, who tend to be even more literalist than you.
          God is a concept that has at least as many meanings as there are denominations.
          Perhaps Polkinghorne should do well to reflect on that instead of whining about “polemical and argmentative” – as long as there is no religious concensus at all about this basic concept and he doesn’t even try to develop a method to reach it is him the one not concerned with truth. Of course as a christian he can be expected to be a hypocrite (because sinner), so at least in this respect he is consistent.

        • abeggar

          I want to correct your falsehood regarding Flat Earth Theory and Christians. Mainstream Christianity has consistently supported a round or spherical view, from the early church through Aquinas up until today. The Flat Earth page on Wikipedia lists many more non-Christians than Christians who supported a flat earth. The Flat Earth Society web site uses science and philosophy to argue for their viewpoint, not religion.

        • MNb

          1. You didn’t point out any falsehood in my “Flat Earth Theory, which is advocated by …… gasp! …… christians, who tend to be even more literalist than you.”
          2. As I never argued that mainstream christianity ever advocated FET this is not even a correction.

          “who supported a flat earth”
          Another strawman – I was talking about contemporary Flat Earthers.
          Samuel Rowbotham: unspecified.
          His follower John Hampden: a christian polemicist.
          The first ones in the USA to pick it up: the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church.
          William Carpenter: a spiritualist.
          John Jasper: a christian speaker.
          Etc. etc. So much for your “many more” – but of course you haven’t exactly choked in your first lie; that’s what you are a creacrapper for.

          As for FET Society and religion:

          https://www.theflatearthsociety.org/home/index.php/featured/mythology-and-religion

          “uses science and philosophy to argue for their viewpoint, not religion”
          The variation of creacrap called IDiocy makes the same claim, so shrug.

        • Greg G.

          Mainstream Christianity also supports evolution. But creationists reject it because of what the Old Testament says. The Old Testament portrays a flat earth, so creationists should accept the flat earth or stop being creationists for the same methodology that makes them not be flat earthers.

        • adam
        • adam

          “Do you seriously suggest that no one thought the Bible spoke of a
          beginning of the universe until scientists realized they could no longer
          support a steady-state view of the universe? ”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2ceec26ad7b22af608c85ee0afb846b3763896e7e500d415999fbad78f93e1c2.jpg

          “There is no conflict between experimental science and theism.”

          Yes, there is, one involves the idea that MAGIC is real.

          “You would do well to reflect on that, like an adult.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ca9775db9e9cd1970bf86b87154c7eefb1c8db8ce2eaba244aeb12366eb5f5c9.jpg

        • Do you seriously suggest that no one thought the Bible spoke of a beginning of the universe until scientists realized they could no longer support a steady-state view of the universe?

          No, I’m suggesting that modern science didn’t get the idea of a beginning to the universe from the Bible. Indeed, it didn’t get any science from the Bible.

          There is no conflict between experimental science and theism.

          No, except that truths about reality don’t come from theism.

          However, there are certain questions that science can’t answer.

          Like “Does God exist?”

          Science answers “Does Bigfoot exist?” and the answer is No. I think the same process works for the God question.

          The statement that only science can lead to truth is not itself deduced from science, and thereby refutes itself.

          What other approaches do you suggest? History would be one route, though I’d suggest that some flavor of the scientific method is common here.

          Polkinghorne stated in a CBC interview that Dawkins’ “very militant form of atheism” saddens him “because it seems to me it is so polemical, it is so argumentative. Its concern is not with truth but somehow to browbeat you into unbelief.” (https://rationalwiki.org/wi
          You would do well to reflect on that, like an adult.

          My reflections: Dawkins is militant in that he will eagerly call a spade a spade. If religion is out of its depth, he will say so. Declaring that the emperor has no clothes is now “very militant”?

        • abeggar

          There are many interesting questions that science cannot answer, such as: Why did the universe come into being? What is the meaning of human existence? What happens after we die? For these questions, religion and philosophy are necessary, including Christianity and naturalism. With unrepeatable events, the method of inference to the best explanation (abduction) is valid, and allows non-materialistic explanations.

          Is your atheism based on science or rather on faith, similar to the a priori materialism that geneticist Richard Lewontin honestly confessed determines how he views science: “It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated…Moreover that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine foot in the door.”? (His review of Carl Sagan’s book The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997)

          The real conflict is between naturalistic and supernaturalistic worldviews, not between science and faith in God. Dawkins goes well beyond calling out religion, but would likely never give up his blind faith in materialism while calling for Polkinghorne to give up his faith in God.

          I am leaving on vacation, and won’t be able to respond until after Christmas, but, getting back to the main topic, I am still interested in your definition of personhood.

        • MNb

          “There are many interesting questions that science cannot answer,”
          Sure. It doesn’t follow that religion can answer them instead.

          “Why did the universe come into being?”
          Sure, because this question presupposes a purpose. The scientific formulation is “How did our Universe come into being?” and that one science can answer indeed.

          “What is the meaning of human existence?”
          Sure, because this question presupposes a purpose. The scientific formulation is “Which meaning(s) do human beings give to their own lives?” and that one science can answer just fine.

          “What happens after we die?”
          Science can answer that one. It’s even in the Bible – dust to dust, ashes to ashes.

          “The real conflict is between naturalistic and supernaturalistic worldviews, not between science and faith in God.”
          The real conflict is between science and supernatural worldviews that try to command science which conclusions are acceptable and which ones are not. Granted, there are some atheists who make a similar mistake like you with your supernatural worldview (and Dawkins is one of them – which is why believers are you are so quick to bring up the lie that he is the high priest of atheism), but there are both absolutely and relatively less of them.

        • Michael Neville

          There are many interesting questions that science cannot answer, such as: Why did the universe come into being? What is the meaning of human existence? What happens after we die? For these questions, religion and philosophy are necessary, including Christianity and naturalism.

          I read this and my favorite Dara O’Briain quote came immediately to mind: “Science knows that it doesn’t know everything, otherwise it’d stop. But just because science doesn’t know something doesn’t mean you can fill the gaps with whatever fairy tale most appeals to you.”

          Philosophy can help answer questions like “what is the meaning of human life” but religion can’t answer any of the questions you give. Science can’t explain the origin of the universe, although what the universe was like at 10X^-47 seconds after its creation can be described by science. GODDIDIT is an even more useless answer than science’s “we don’t know”. At least “we don’t know” is honest. GODDIDIT is an untestable hypothesis based on stories written by Iron Age priests who didn’t know where the Sun went at night.

          The real conflict is between naturalistic and supernaturalistic worldviews

          Naturalism answers questions, supernaturalism is wild guesses based on nothing but wishful thinking, hopes and fears. A naturalistic explanation has NEVER been superseded by a supernatural explanation. Never, not even once. So please excuse us when we go with a proven “worldview” that produces results instead of “I really wish and hope this is true”.

        • abeggar

          Michael, you are conflating a “god of the gaps” approach addressed by your favorite quote with my point about the limits of the scope of science to answer certain questions. For those questions, science is as helpful as a ship’s metacenter being below its center of gravity. Certainly your strawman view of religion can’t answer those questions. The naturalistic explanation for the resurrection of Christ is to claim it never happened, but there is a supernatural explanation many find fits the evidence better. Your “proven” worldview is proven to give you only the results that science can provide, which cannot encompass all truth. That 40% of scientists are theists argues that you should keep an open mind.

        • MNb

          You are the one who tries to abuse science for your religious purposes, not us. There is largely consensus on this blog among unbelievers that science can’t answer the god question.

          “there is a supernatural explanation”
          As long as religion is no methodology there is no way to determine the credibility of your supernatural explanations. MichaelN is right – every single supernatural explanation of yours consists of nothng but “I really wish and hope this is true”.

          “Your “proven” worldview is proven to give you only the results that science can provide, which cannot encompass all truth.”
          Begging the question. You assume that there is more to know than can be found with the scientific method. You use this assumption to conclude that science cannot encompass all truth. That assumption is nothing but “I really wish and hope this is true”. Thanks for confirming that MichaelN was right.

        • Kodie

          What I want to know is what in your experience, what naturalistic event or effect or indicator necessitates an answer such as Christ resurrected? What does that explain?

        • abeggar

          The rise of early Christianity under persecution is best explained by the existence of a resurrected Jesus Christ.

        • Kodie

          It’s not best explained by the fact that some people are easily persuaded to get worked up over someone else’s excitement about something that didn’t really happen until it turns into a movement? And like how people who are specifically warned (as the bible warns) that normal people will think they are fucking nuts, double down? It happens all the time.

        • Michael Neville

          So do you have any evidence that Christ was resurrected? Remember that the collection of myths, fables and lies called the Bible isn’t evidence.

          It’s true that science can’t answer various questions. Religion can’t answer them either because religion has so many different answers to those questions. As for evidence, religion doesn’t provide any, as in not even the slightest hint of a morsel of evidence. For instance, one question religion attempts and fails to answer is “where will I go when I die?” If you’re a Christian, then there’s heaven or hell. One popular view of heaven is a mob of people singing hymns of praise to a narcissistic megalomaniac sitting on a throne. How that can be appealing is beyond my comprehension. Hell comes in many different flavors ranging from The Lake of Fire™ to “the absence of god” (how being separated from a sadistic bully is some sort of punishment is something only the truly religious can answer). If you’re a Muslim then you get the wet dream of a 15 year old male virgin, but only if you’re male. What happens to female Muslims isn’t given. The Norse afterlife is a combination brawl and steak house, but only if you die valorously. Otherwise you spend eternity just hanging around doing nothing, not even singing praise at an egotist. Of course these various afterlifes aren’t based on anything but wishful thinking, hopes and fears. Nobody has ever been to these “heavens” or “hells” and reported back with descriptions.

          So please excuse me if I ignore the conjectures, hypotheses and wild-ass guesses with which the supernatural answers questions. I’ll go with a proven system that provides answers to questions and has evidence to support those answers.

        • abeggar

          Remember that the collection of myths, fables and lies called the Bible isn’t evidence.

          Are you a New Testament scholar, or have you personally examined the historical reliability of the New Testament manuscripts? What evidence do you have for your assertion? If you are willing to concede that there are reliable manuscripts that can be used for historical evidence, then you can start with a summary of the case for the resurrection at https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/scholarly-writings/historical-jesus/jesus-resurrection/

          You have to decide which worldview, naturalistic or religious, best fits the available data and has the best explanatory power regarding reality and the human condition. Being part Norwegian, I do appreciate your description of the Norse afterlife. Your low view of the heavenly experience seems derived from characters playing harps on clouds in Warner Bros cartoons; do some serious reading about what Christians believe heaven will be like, please.

        • Michael Neville

          Yes I have examined the historical reliability of the New Testament and the Old Testament as well. Their reliability is non-existent.

          Naturalism has it all over supernaturalism because there’s evidence that natural things ranging from sub-atomic particles of galactic superclusters exist. There no evidence that any supernatural things exist.

          I have read about what Christians believe heaven will be like. It’s contradictory, which isn’t surprising since nobody has ever returned from heaven to report on conditions there. So any descriptions of heaven come straight out of the describer’s imagination. But that’s all moot since heaven is as non-existent as your fairy tale god.

        • abeggar

          Well, then we’ll have to disagree about their reliability, since you have accepted an extreme judgment. If there were proof of a miracle, it would be concluded to be non-miraculous, per Hume. I find naturalism lacking in explaining origins, fine-tuning, morality, and consciousness. What we can know about heaven has been revealed in the Bible, but not all detail has been revealed; regarding major points, what have you found contradictory?

        • MNb

          Naturalism may be lacking in explaining a few things, religion (which has no methodology and hence lacks all reliability – one of your few smart remarks) doesn’t explain anything at all. Goddiddid applies to everything and anything.

          “What we can know about heaven has been revealed in the Bible.”
          No, what we can know about afterlife has been revealed in Greek mythology.
          Oops. Two religious, mutually exclusive claims. You having no methodlogy are incapable of deciding which one is correct. Never has the word “knowledge” been more inappropriate. Keyword: “reveal”. Revelations are subjective and hence cannot found knowledge.
          Once again Abeggar’s theology is unsystematic and incoherent.

        • Michael Neville

          Naturalism does a whole lot better job at explaining the origins of the universe, the Earth and life on Earth than GODDIDIT does. Also naturalism explains morality. Humans are social animals, we evolved morality to help us live together in groups. All groups have morals but what is or is not moral changes from group to group. That’s a better explanation than GODDIDIT. Fine tuning isn’t an argument for GODDIDIT since we don’t know what other universes could be like. GODDIDIT doesn’t explain consciousness so you fail again.

          I find supernaturalism completely lacking in explaining anything, as in not a single thing. At least naturalism can explain some things but supernaturalism is made up of wild-ass guesses based on imagination.

          Got any evidence that heaven or hell exist? The collection of myths, fables and lies called the Bible isn’t evidence. All you’ve got is hopes, fears and wishful thinking that there’s an afterlife.

        • You’ve not responded to links to my posts about the time gap from autograph to our best copies (the per-chapter average is 200 years for Matthew, for example) and the number of manuscripts. Rejecting claims of the NT’s reliability is hardly “extreme judgment.”

          I find naturalism lacking in explaining origins, fine-tuning, morality, and consciousness.

          Science has unanswered questions; therefore, God. Is that your argument?

        • abeggar

          I do not have time to respond to every post and link from the half-dozen of you that reply to my every post, although I try to read them, especially on topics that have been well-covered and defended already by conservative New Testament scholars, e.g., The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? by F.F. Bruce.

          The short answer to your question is that it’s not an argument but observations that various philosophical arguments for the existence of God have not been refuted, that the complexity and ordering of the universe (e.g., origin and fine-tuning) and life (e.g., origin and DNA) point to a designer, and that the special revelation of the Bible and words of Jesus match history and the experience I have had as a Christian. I was a skeptic, but found that faith in Christ and how the Christian worldview explains reality and gives meaning to be better than faith that science would eventually explain away the designer hypothesis, but still be unable to provide meaning.

        • epeeist

          that various philosophical arguments for the existence of God have not been refuted

          Try J.L. Mackie’s The Miracle of Theism.

          that the complexity and ordering of the universe (e.g., origin and fine-tuning) and life

          We have been over this and I have given you primary sources on fine tuning. To put it bluntly, you need a causal warrant to show that the universe is fine tuned for life, and specifically human life. Nobody (not even Luke Barnes) has produced such a thing, there is no substantive support for a “strong anthropic principle”.

          point to a designer

          A designer whose properties and existence you have refused to discuss.

          the special revelation of the Bible and words of Jesus match history and the experience I have had as a Christian

          Ah, so your “designer” is just a cover for Jesus, what a surprise. As it is even the arguments for fine-tuning don’t get you that far, at best they might possibly get you as far as a deist god but no further.

          but still be unable to provide meaning

          Not the “without god there is no meaning” shtick? I find it sad that people are unable to find meaning in their life without reference to an external super-daddy.

        • MNb

          “various philosophical arguments for the existence of God ”
          They all have been refuted. The best versions of the best ones make clear that you need faith to accept them. Unbelievers by definition lack the required faith and hence do not need to accept them. However, as Kierkegaard already noticed almost 200 years ago, if you reduce god arguments to exactly this core – faith – then we can throw all the superfluous ornaments where they belong: into the dustbin.

          “the complexity and ordering of the universe (e.g., origin and fine-tuning) and life (e.g., origin and DNA) point to a designer”
          presupposes a purpose to conclude a designer with a purpose – that’s begging the question. Pointing out this fallacy is enough to dismiss it as refuted.

          “the special revelation of the Bible and words of Jesus match history”
          So does pastafarianism, as you already admitted, so this is not philosophically valid either.

          “science would eventually explain away the designer hypothesis,”
          No scientific theory or hypothesis can ever explain the designer hypothesis, because science isn’t concerned with faith, with supernatural claims. Victor Stenger’s computer simulations do not contradict the designer hypothesis. Exactly because it’s not scientific but faith based the designer hypothesis can be adapted to be compatible with naturalistic explanations of origin of life and the multiverse as well.

          “but still be unable to provide meaning”
          Nobody ever claimed this. Unbelievers totally realize they need to provide meaning to their lives themselves. I am happy to report you that at the ripe age of 54 I have quite succeeded. I may die tomorrow and my life has been very meaningful.
          The big difference is that you need faith to provide meaning to your life while I don’t. That’s OK with me. What’s not OK with me is your need to give your faith some objective superiority it totally doesn’t have. Stalinists, nazis, witch hunters, the Spanish Inquisition, crusaders who looted Southern France, Contantinople and Jerusalem and killed off the pagan Balts were convinced of the same objective superiority.
          Apologetics is an obstacle on the road towards a tolerant world.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m sorry dude. The designer hypothesis is dead. It has no standing. Hadn’t for a hundred years or so.

          but still be unable to provide meaning.

          So what? Not it’s job.

        • abeggar

          Funny, then why are cosmologists debating the anthropic principle today, which is a modern form of the designer hypothesis?

        • Pofarmer

          Because religious numbnuts keep bringing it up.

        • abeggar
        • epeeist

          why are cosmologists debating the anthropic principle today

          Which anthropic principle, there are number of them including the weak, strong and final anthropic principles (which Martin Gardner referred to as the Completely Ridiculous Anthropic Principle).

        • abeggar

          Strong, per Carter.

        • epeeist

          Strong

          Citations required.

        • abeggar

          I was thinking of the this article that discusses abuses of the anthropic principle to support multiverses: https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2017/01/26/how-the-anthropic-principle-became-the-most-abused-idea-in-science/#37672827d690

        • epeeist

          https://www.forbes.com/site

          So where in this does it give any credence to a “designer” of any kind apart from Barrow and Tipler’s ideas (which have little currency in the physics and cosmology community)?

          Oh, and he repeats the bit about Hoyle using anthropic reasoning about the nucleosynthesis of carbon. This is untrue, Hoyle simply noted there must be a resonance in order for carbon to form, he said nothing about any kind of anthropic principle. This was a later addition.

        • I haven’t read Bruce’s book, however, I’ve not seen any apologists respond to these points: (1) the “25,000 NT manuscripts!” argument is meaningless because the vast majority are either not in Greek or many centuries late, and (2) the time gap from autograph to our best copies is (on average, chapter by chapter) 200 years for Matthew (more for Mark, less for Luke and John).

          various philosophical arguments for the existence of God have not been refuted

          OK. Philosophy isn’t where we get our science.

          faith in Christ and how the Christian worldview explains reality

          And what backs up that explanation? Science backs up its explanations with evidence. Religion can’t agree on anything beyond “the supernatural exists.” Sure, Christianity has explanations, but they’re contradicted by other religions. Admittedly, those religions don’t have evidence backing up their contradictory views . . . but then neither does Christianity.

          and gives meaning

          You have selected your meaning from your environment and experience, just like all of the rest of us. You’ve used Christianity, another manmade worldview, while others have used other religions or none. Don’t imagine that your worldview is inherently any better than the rest of us because you imagine a god behind it.

          faith that science would eventually explain away the designer hypothesis

          What’s left that we need God to explain?

        • (Your comment didn’t show up for some reason, so I’ll reply here.)

          Despite the large number of manuscripts, NT manuscripts agree in 99.5% of the text

          This post is one response:
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/04/a-simple-thought-experiment-defeats-claim-that-bible-is-accurate/

          science cannot provide all truth

          And religion cannot provide any.

          I tire of the constant pitting of science against Christianity.

          Science is a bit of a juggernaut, isn’t it?

          The question I think is which worldview has the best explanatory power.

          “God did it” explains anything. It does so without evidence, but if you have no use for evidence, there you go.

          I think the rest of us will follow the evidence.

          Well, you may not need God, but there is still no satisfactory explanation from science for the origin of the universe from nothing.

          Does science declare that the universe came from nothing? If not, why bring up this hypothesis?

          A quantum vacuum is still something, not to mention where the governing laws of physics came from. I want hold my breath until science figures that one out

          Maybe no explanation is required. Maybe “that’s just the way it is” is the answer, with the laws of physics being an inherent part of reality. Or maybe science will understand more long after we’re gone. But so what? “Science has unanswered questions; therefore, God” is a pathetic argument.

          I have not seen a successful refutation of either premise of the kalam cosmological argument as posed by Craig.

          Yeah, I usually go to theologians to get the latest physics, too.

          I’ve responded to the kalam argument here:
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/10/how-does-the-kalam-cosmological-argument-suck-let-me-count-the-ways/

        • abeggar

          I am finding increased difficulty in responding to comments because of Disqus’ poor behavior when the number of comments gets so large; some just seem to never show up. Is there a way to load all comments at once? Is there a better way than viewing page source to search for keywords in them?

          I’ll read your responses to the NT reliability and kalam argument.

          Maybe no explanation is required. Maybe “that’s just the way it is” is the answer, with the laws of physics being an inherent part of reality. Or maybe science will understand more long after we’re gone. But so what?

          Maybe, maybe not. Your PHYSICSDIDIT speculation is worse than your god-of-the-gaps GODDIDIT, since it presumes principles just exist with no intelligence required. Christians neither reject science or believe God is responsible for the universe because science can’t provide an answer, but continue to mention that strawman if it supports your argument. Sure, you can have faith that science will eventually come up with an acceptable theory, probably not before we die, but the problem is that men will not necessarily accept the evidence if it conflicts with their favored worldview. You should be more open to the God hypothesis than scientists a century ago. You have the advantage of living after Edwin Hubble’s and others discoveries that the universe had a beginning, yet it has had little impact on your acceptance of God as a possibility. Einstein contrived the Cosmological Constant to balance the expanding and contracting forces so a steady-state universe could still be assumed, and Arthur Eddington so hated the philosophical implications of Hubble’s discoveries that he tried to maintain Einstein’s Constant as crucial to the universe moving from a steady-state to an expanding state. That is simply a naturalistic worldview trumping scientific evidence, and doing so is wrong for both theists and atheists.

        • No, no way to load all comments at once. I’ve also used the trick of viewing page source on occasion. Disqus does rather suck.

          Your PHYSICSDIDIT speculation is worse than your god-of-the-gaps GODDIDIT, since it presumes principles just exist with no intelligence required.

          And the fact that physics has overturned countless “God dun it” claims from the past (with the reverse never happening) isn’t relevant?

          If you have evidence for God, then bring it to the table. Don’t blame the physicists for looking at religion, seeing nothing valuable, and moving on.

          Christians neither reject science or believe God is responsible for the universe because science can’t provide an answer, but continue to mention that strawman if it supports your argument.

          You’re saying you don’t say this yourself? OK, if you say so. Your “you may not need God, but there is still no satisfactory explanation from science for the origin of the universe from nothing” and other statements made me think otherwise.

          But you need to get out more—lots of Christians do make these claims.

          Sure, you can have faith that science will eventually come up with an acceptable theory

          I suppose I could, but I don’t.

          the problem is that men will not necessarily accept the evidence if it conflicts with their favored worldview.

          When science has won the last 10,000 contests, you can’t fault someone for betting on the previous winner.

          You have the advantage of living after Edwin Hubble’s and others discoveries that the universe had a beginning, yet it has had little impact on your acceptance of God as a possibility.

          Right. Have I missed something?

          You’re not going to argue (dare I say it?) that because science has no answer that that’s a plus for religion? A wise Christian philosopher I met recently said, “Christians neither reject science or believe God is responsible for the universe because science can’t provide an answer.”

        • abeggar

          From my experience, Christians may reject certain assumptions or interpretations of scientific data, which is far from rejecting science. There are some who twist scientific data unfairly, but neither side is pure in that regard. As I have mentioned elsewhere, my Christian faith depends on multiple lines of evidence, and is definitely not based on assuming God must have done it because science can’t explain it. Does that make sense?

          The point about Einstein and Eddington was that their philosophical bias kept them from accepting Hubble’s work, not the scientific data, which is a danger of naturalism. Christianity must stand on its own explanatory power and complement science, not be accepted because science has no explanation. I think the late astronomer, physicist, and cosmologist Robert Jastrow expressed very well what I mean in his book The Enchanted Loom:

          “Now we see how the astronomical evidence supports the Biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and Biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”

          “There is a strange ring of feeling and emotion in these reactions [of scientists to evidence that the universe had a sudden beginning]. They come from the heart whereas you would expect the judgments to come from the brain. Why? I think part of the answer is that scientists cannot bear the thought of a natural phenomenon which cannot be explained, even with unlimited time and money. There is a kind of religion in science; it is the religion of a person who believes there is order and harmony in the Universe. Every event can be explained in a rational way as the product of some previous event; every effect must have its cause, there is no First Cause. … This religious faith of the scientist is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examined the implications, he would be traumatized.”

        • When Christians reject exactly the science that steps on their theological toes (instead of the truly nonsensical, like quantum mechanics), it’s clear that they’re driven by an agenda.

          my Christian faith depends on multiple lines of evidence, and is definitely not based on assuming God must have done it because science can’t explain it. Does that make sense?

          Sure, it makes great sense. Some of your other comments seemed to be saying the opposite.

          The point about Einstein and Eddington was that their philosophical bias kept them from accepting Hubble’s work, not the scientific data , which is a danger of naturalism.

          Huh? What’s a danger of naturalism? If you’re saying that people can be biased, sure they can. That’s a problem in every domain.

          Christianity must stand on its own explanatory power and complement science, not be accepted because science has no explanation.

          Robert Jastrow expressed very well what I mean in his book The Enchanted Loom

          Should be the Enchanted Loon. The Bible’s two origin stories in Genesis match up with reality just as well as any other origin story—that is, not at all.

        • Michael Neville

          Just because science doesn’t know something doesn’t mean you can claim GODDIDIT.

          So Einstein and Eddington were wrong about the Cosmological Constant. So what? The universe expands and all your whining about it doesn’t mean for an instant that a god or gods has anything to do with the creation of the universe. If you want us to accept GODDIDIT then you need (a) to show that a god or gods exist and then (b) that this god or gods were involved with the creation of the universe. Looks like you’ve got a whole lot of work to do, so you better get started.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          So Einstein and Eddington were wrong about the Cosmological Constant.

          well, einstein and eddington were right about the cosmological constant for the wrong reasons. when einstein introduced his static model there was no evidence of an expanding universe. later eddington showed that this solution was unstable. it’s true that eddington (and lemaitre, apparently) didn’t dismiss the cosmological constant. one reason, besides eddington’s philosophical preferences, was that early estimates of the hubble constant were bigger than the modern value (~ 500 km/s/Mpc), which, in other “expansion models”, implied a too young universe (the infamous “cosmological age problem”). one justification for the “lemaitre-eddington model”* was that it circumvented that problem by postulating that there wasn’t just an expansion but also a static phase.

        • abeggar

          So what? Did you miss the philosophical bias that drove their research? Finally, they had to admit to what science was showing them. All I’m asking of you is to not get mired in the same tar pit. What would it take to show you that a God exists?

        • Michael Neville

          It would take (here’s the word that you theist apologists hate and fear) evidence to show me that any god, not just your favorite deity, exists. So, you got any evidence?

        • abeggar

          There are many kinds of evidence. Elsewhere in these comments, I cited famous lawyers who had found evidence beyond a reasonable doubt for the resurrection of Christ.

        • MNb

          For you there are only two kinds of evidence: the one that seems to confirm your predetermined conclusion and hence you think acceptable and the one that doesn’t and you will reject no matter what (non-)arguments you can think of.
          The fact that you accept lawyers as an authority on a topic that belongs to the experts called historians of Antiquity is an excellent example. Thanks for providing.

        • abeggar

          Funny, that’s what I’ve been documenting recently about some scientists, and perhaps you. Sorry, historians can attest to the historical authenticity and reliability of the documents, but lawyers are the experts at weighing the evidence presented in their content.

        • MNb

          Not at all. Lawyers are experts at formulating legal arguments.

        • Michael Neville

          I can cite famous bullshitters who will say anything. I don’t care what some lawyer says. Lawyers aren’t concerned with truth, they’re concerned with winning a case. So it appears that your “reasonable doubt” argument is going nowhere. But nice try. Next time bring some actual evidence instead of bullshit to the discussion.

        • MNb

          “it presumes principles just exist with no intelligence required.”
          Nope. Our natural reality (specifically quantum fields) just exist. Those principles are nothing but a tool to describe our natural reality.

          “You should be more open to the God hypothesis.”
          You already admitted that religion is not a methodology and without a methodology there is no hypothesis. There is only wishful thinking.

        • abeggar

          Please document your assertion that quantum fields have always existed.

          I think it is funny how your logic takes you from religion to wishful thinking, which is all your worldview can admit. Although historical, certain biblical assertions can be tested against scientific evidence. One is that the universe had a beginning. Another is that modern humans arose genetically from one source in one region. Another is that modern female genetic history will have a longer past than modern male genetic history.

        • MNb

          Why should I document an assertion I never made? I wrote “just exist”, not “always existed”.

          Another is that bats are birds. Another is that the Earth has corners. Another is that pi equals 3. Another is that we should find find waste. Oops, you already refused to accept that one. Thanks again for confirming what I wrote in the other comment – you only accept evidence that suits you.

        • abeggar

          Then, saying a quantum field just exists is pure speculation, something you like to accuse others of making, with reference to the Big Bang.

        • MNb

          Not at all. Quantum fields yield testable predictions. They neatly describe for instance that a positive charge and a negative charge attract each other. They possibly can accurately describe the Big Bang as well. Your god however doesn’t do such things.

          https://web.physics.ucsb.edu/~mark/ms-qft-DRAFT.pdf

          “In order to combine quantum mechanics and relativity,”
          Page 19. This means that everything that has accurately been described by both quantum mechanics and relativity and everything that is predicted by both is also accurately described and predicted by Quantum Field Theory. Because physics is so rigorous and demanding – incomparably more than your apologetics – that’s still not enough to accept quantum field theory as close to definite. But the conclusion is already justified that physics is totally capable of providing a good answer (and again – the standard for what constitues good is incomparably higher than yours with your mere “goddiddid”) for the origin of our Universe.
          From a philosophical view what matters is that everything that can be brought up for or against your god the creator can be brought up for or against quantum field theory as easily.
          God always exists you say? Really exists or as an abstract concept? So do quantum fields. God existed before the Big Bang, you say? Before refers to a chronological relation? No? You meant a priori philosophically a la Augustinus of Hippo, Confessions, Chapter 11? So do quantum fields.
          The gap apologists try to plug their god in using the Cosmological Argument (even the best version, in terms of explanation instead of cause) can and will be filled by physics. That’s the philosophical meaning of QFT. In our quest for the First Explanation you can make one further step and issue the decree that you’ve arrived by your god the creator. That will result in all kind of theological problems that don’t interest me too much. The point again is that that one further step is based on nothing but faith, something I don’t have. Believe if you need to. The fundament of your belief is and always will remain subjective faith. Apologetics only serves to obfuscate that inescapable conclusion. Kierkegaard was right.

        • Greg G.

          Are you a New Testament scholar, or have you personally examined the historical reliability of the New Testament manuscripts? What evidence do you have for your assertion?

          I would not say that I am an NT scholar but I have personally examined the historical reliability of the New Testament writings from a non-biased position. Not many NT scholars can make that claim. I do not believe in gods, so I do not believe Jesus was the son of a god, so whether he existed is irrelevant to me.

          I learned all the relevant evidence for his existence. The extra-biblical seems to be directly or indirectly dependent on the Gospels so it is not any more reliable than said Gospels.

          The Gospels tell about an itinerant preacher with followers, which is plausible but the miracle stories are not plausible. What’s more, the miracle stories are similar to miracles stories that were in the popular literature of the late first century. So we should reject the miracles as history because of their implausibility but we can also reject them because they appear to be based on miracles in the available literature that were performed by characters not named Jesus. But then we can reject the plausible stories because we can find parallels to those accounts in the same literature performed by other characters. So the Gospels are not reliable evidence which rules out the extra-biblical evidence at the same time.

          That leaves the Epistles. 1 Timothy and 2 Peter have information derived from the Gospels so they are no better than extra-biblical evidence and the Gospels themselves. The Epistles to not support the itinerant preacher theory so that is a point in their favor. The Epistles refer to Jesus by name a lot and by pronouns, too. For Paul in the “authentic” letters, he mentions “Jesus”, “Christ”, or the two together, more than once for every five verses. But very few facts about Jesus are given. Everything Paul says about Jesus appears to come from the OT scripture, not from recent sources, but that is what Paul tells us. He says he didn’t get his knowledge from human sources but by revelation from the Lord, which he also claims is through the prophets. So that is proved by the claims he makes about Jesus. The other Epistles make fewer claims about Jesus but those claims are also in Old Testament terms and allusions.

          So extra-biblical Jesus is based on Gospel Jesus, which is based on Epistle Jesus and fictional literature, and Epistle Jesus appears to have been invented from a midrashic reading of the then-centuries-old Old Testament.

          The claims in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 are not about visions of a resurrected Jesus. Paul is saying that the others saw what he saw, that is, they read about it in the Old Testament before he did. It explicitly says that Christ died for sins “according to the scriptures”, was buried and rose on the third day “according to the scriptures”. The scriptures are Isaiah 53:5 (“crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole”) & 53:9 (“They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich”) and Hosea 6:2 (“After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.”) Paul uses the same word for “appeared to” for all of the others that he uses for himself, which means he did think their “appeared to” was different than his own. Twice in 2 Corinthians, Paul insists his knowledge is not inferior to the knowledge of the super-apostles.

          Paul is very sarcastic in Galatians 5:11-12 where he says he wished the circumcision faction would go the whole way and cut it all off. He also pointed out that James was a leader of the circumcision faction who sent people on missions. But Paul opened the letter to the Galatians with a rant that he was sent by the Lord and not by human authority, then a few verses later, he states that he did not get his knowledge from human authority just before saying he spent time with Cephas and James, essentially spelling out that he didn’t learn anything from them in two weeks. So when he calls James “the Lord’s brother”, he is sarcastically saying that he acts like his human authority is comparable to the Lord’s. 1 Corinthians 9 has Paul objecting to others who seem to have wanted the Corinthians to not support Paul financially. He refers to the “brothers of the Lord” in verse 5 and brings up “human authority” in verse 8. When Paul calls somebody “the Lord’s brother,” he meant someone was acting like the Lord.

        • abeggar

          Thanks for the detailed discussion, Greg. I will try to respond to your points in time, but will address now your accusation that the miracle stories are implausible.

          First, the extent and depth of Jesus’ miracles is unparalleled, and they are essential to His claims to be the Son of God. If they did not occur, the Jews would have had little to worry about, since Jesus would have been just another self-proclaimed Messiah with no demonstration to back it up. Second, if God can create the universe ex nihilo, then He can certainly perform miracles of the type Jesus performed. Third, Craig Evans notes that “Messianic beliefs simply did not require a prospective Messiah to heal and exorcise demons. Therefore, one should hardly expect early Christians to find it necessary to create such a large number of miracle stories.” (“Life-of-Jesus Research and the Eclipse of Mythology”, Theological Studies 54, 1993, p. 28). Fourth, it is important to recognize how often the closest parallels to the canonical Gospel miracles (recorded by the apostles well within the first century*) appear in later Jewish or Greco-Roman sources, so it is probable that Christianity influenced these parallels, not the other way around; some examples cited by Douglas Groothuis include Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana (c. 200-220 A.D.), Talmudic accounts of Hanina ben Doss or Honi the Circle-drawer, Gnostic Redeemer myths, Greco-Roman “divine men,” and Roman Mithraism more generally. Thus, I find the miracle stories are reasonably plausible if God’s existence is presupposed.

          *Typical dates by liberal scholars place Mark in the late 60s or early 70s, and Matthew and Luke in the 80s; conservatives accept the church fathers’ testimony and date all three to the early or mid 60s.

        • Greg G.

          First, the extent and depth of Jesus’ miracles is unparalleled, and they are essential to His claims to be the Son of God.

          Which ones are unparalleled? It seems to me that there are parallels in the literature (possibly even propaganda) of the day. The mass feedings are exaggerations of Elisha’s mass feeding in 2 Kings 4:42-44 combined with the feasts in The Odyssey. Randel Helms accounts for most of them in Gospel Fictions. The spit miracles are similar to what apparently was Vespasian’s propaganda, and may have been why Matthew ans Luke rejected them. If the miracles are created from literary sources, you don’t get “son of God” from them. The worry of the Jews is just the fictional reaction to fictional miracles.

          Second, if God can create the universe ex nihilo, then He can certainly perform miracles of the type Jesus performed.

          The miracles are fiction, Psalm 77 laments that miracles are not being performed in the author’s day like they were in the past. It’s very much like the fact that we don’t have to deal with dragons like the knights of medieval times. They are fictional accounts and myths.

          Third, Craig Evans notes that “Messianic beliefs simply did not require a prospective Messiah to heal and exorcise demons. Therefore, one should hardly expect early Christians to find it necessary to create such a large number of miracle stories.”

          The Epistles do not have miracle accounts. The Gospels were written after Jerusalem was destroyed.

          ourth, it is important to recognize how often the closest parallels to the canonical Gospel miracles (recorded by the apostles well within the first century*) appear in later Jewish or Greco-Roman sources, so it is probable that Christianity influenced these parallels, not the other way around; some examples cited by Douglas Groothuis include Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana (c. 200-220 A.D.), Talmudic accounts of Hanina ben Doss or Honi the Circle-drawer, Gnostic Redeemer myths, Greco-Roman “divine men,” and Roman Mithraism more generally. Thus, I find the miracle stories are reasonably plausible if God’s existence is presupposed.

          I think that there were later writings based on the Gospels, too, but the Gospels were just part of the chain going back to Homer and probably before that. The Greeks called it mimesis, the Romans called it imitatio, and the Jews called it midrash.

          *Typical dates by liberal scholars place Mark in the late 60s or early 70s, and Matthew and Luke in the 80s; conservatives accept the church fathers’ testimony and date all three to the early or mid 60s.

          They all assume that there is a kernel of truth to them, so they must force the dates within the lifetimes of witnesses. But the nativity story in Matthew appears to rely heavily on Books, 2, 6, and 17 of Antiquities of the Jews and Luke appears to rely even more heavily on Josephus’ writings plus Luke relies on Matthew. Antiquities dates itself to about 94 AD which would make Luke more likely to be second century. I think the nativities and the genealogies are reactions to the conundrum in John where people are asking how the Messiah could be from Galilee when the prophecies said he should be from Bethlehem.

        • Pofarmer

          This whole deal with the Gospels strikes me as like trying to date something like “Gone with the Wind.” First of all, Gone with the wind, (1939) Was written just out side of the living memory of most eyewitnesses, 65 years after the civil war. If you tried to date it like NT “scholars” date the Gospels, you would come up with a date for it much early than when it was actually written. If you used the date whn it was “attested” ie, mentioned in other literature (reviewed) then you would get 1939 as the around the earliest possible date. This is why I think that the Gospels are almost certainly early to mid 2nd century works, because no one mentions them in any other literature before that time. That was the prevailing view until sometime in the middle of the 20th century. All the rest of the “scholarship” on the issue is really just mental masturbation and apologetics masquerading as “scholarship.”

        • Greg G.

          because no one mentions them in any other literature before that time.

          But doesn’t that assume you have the earliest mention of them? Writings that were not from the Christian world would be ignored and not preserved. Why would Christians who believed Jesus was only known from the Old Testament wouldn’t have paid attention to the Gospel of Mark. It may have taken a while for a sect to believe it and talk about it. The other gospels copied from it, so they would attest to its existence. The other gospels copied each other in sequence so they would be attesting to the gospels they copied from.

          Jane Austen died in 1817. Her novel, Lady Susan, was published in 1871.

        • Pofarmer

          So, we have evidence for the Lady Susan, after 1871, but we have actual evidence of Jane Austen before that. So, if we know the provenance of the novel, we can conclude that it was written earlier, but didn’t enter the record until, well, it entered the record.

          But doesn’t that assume you have the earliest mention of them?

          I think it assumes we’re looking for verifiable evidence, not wishful thinking. We know from well, shit tons of experience, that just because a story talks about something in the distant or not so distant past, doesn’t mean that it originated in the time period it tells the story in. Today we have publication dates. In antiquity we don’t have that, so we have to find other ways to date works. Often, we know when the authors lived and/or died. For the Gospels and the Epistles even, we have none of that. All we really know is when they start being mentioned by others. And we know that authors were referencing other works but they weren’t referencing the Gospels when they could have been handy, so we figure that the Gospels were written after that time period. Using the evidence of attestation, this puts them sometimes into the second century. Seeing as how they seem to use Josephus, this seems to also agree that they are 2nd century documents.

        • Greg G.

          If you can date a reference to a work, then you know it was earlier than the reference but it doesn’t say how much earlier, unless it is specified reliably in the reference. If the writing mentions something that is well dated, that is one way to determine the earliest possible date. (The fancy words are terminus post quem and terminus ante quem.)

          I think Mark used Jewish Wars, dated to about 75AD, but I am not convinced he used other Josephus works. I have noticed that Josephus calls Titus “Caesar” but it seems to me that would be presumptuous while his father, Vespasian, was still Caesar and healthy. Titus was Caesar from 79-81 AD. But I’m far from certain about that.

          I am pretty sure that Matthew and Luke used Antiquities and that Luke used Matthew, so Luke is probably written in the 2nd century but certainly earlier than the first mention we can date.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, I know, I just don’t find the terminus post quem method particularly convincing. Let’s give a for instance. There are some favorite stories of my Grandfalthers that I like to tell from time to time. He was born in 1918. The stories took place in the 1930’s and maybe very early 1940’s. If I write these stories down in 2018, then you would have a publication date for the stories of 2018, not 1936. Furthermore, there is really no way to verify the veracity of these stories, unless you were talking to an ancestor of one of those involved in the story, who also happened to tell the same story. There are some stories from the late 1940’s early 1950’s that could have been verified. But everyone involved with them is dead now, as well. The fact that I know details of the way things were done on farms in the 1930’s in no way indicates that the stories were written in the 1930’s, although it does indicate a family oral history. (Yeah, I know.) It also doesn’t indicate that the stories have any veracity nor imply that there would be any way to actually check. IE. They’re just stories, written 90 years after the fact, with no real way to corroborate, even though they happened close to the place I’m sitting. This, to me, is the problem with the problem with the terminus post quem. It tells you the period the tale is set in, but it doesn’t actually do anything to tell you when it was written down.

        • Pofarmer

          First, the extent and depth of Jesus’ miracles is unparalleled, and they are essential to His claims to be the Son of God.

          Read Randal Helms “The Gospel fictions” and get back to us. Jesus miracles were clearly not “Unparalleled”.

        • abeggar

          I’m speaking of the sheer number and demonstration of power, not any particular miracle being unique.

        • Pofarmer

          So, somebody stuffed all the miracles from the previous prophets into one story so they must be true? Check our the miracles of Elijah and Elisha. Raising people from the Dead, feeding miracles etc were old hat.

        • Greg G.

          I recall reading something about Elisha wishing for half the power of Elijah. One performed twice as many miracles as the other and the Jesus miracles match the total of Elijah and Elisha miracles. All of Elijah’s and Elisha’s miracles are in 1 Kings and 2 Kings but it took four books to accumulate Jesus’ miracles. So Elijah and his protégée have a greater density of miracles than Jesus. And they are just sun and moon gods, not masters of the universe.

        • Pofarmer

          I might look into that. Although my favorite Elijah story is the Miracle of the Bear.

        • Are you thinking of “Elisha and the Two Really Pissed-Off She-Bears” (2 Kings 2:23-25)? Great bedtime reading for the kids. I like to read it after “Goldilocks” to give some biblical balance.

        • Pofarmer

          Thats the one. The boys were doing their Bible class in school and they mysteriously missed that one. So I went over it with them for them. Just doing my part.

        • Greg G.

          I have a round-about way to keep them straight. Elijah comes first and he was hairy which indicates he was a sun god. Elisha was a moon god because he was bald, and he called the bears because he was called “Baldy”.

        • Pofarmer

          So, it seems the Jews had a habit of Euhumerizing dieties?

        • Greg G.

          I think it may have been a matter of converting from polytheism to monotheism. They had a lot of good stories they didn’t want to waste.

        • Elisha wishing for half the power of Elijah.

          Not twice the power?

        • Greg G.

          Maybe that’s it. I was trying to work it out but assumed he might be humble. I do think there are 8 Elijah miracles, 16 Elisha miracles and 24 Jesus miracles. I should refresh my memory. Maybe not soon, though. We are getting ready to travel and leaving for Asia on Thursday.

        • Vietnam? Safe travels!

        • Greg G.

          Yes, with a side of Australia. Melbourne and Sydney.

        • Pofarmer

          If Elisha is a Moon God. Wishing for half the power makes sense.

        • Greg G.

          I looked it up.

          2 King 2:9 (NIV)
          When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied

        • hiding behind numbers isn’t particularly honest. We convince you that one miracle is false, and then you say, “OK, no problem! Here’s a big pile more to check out.” The number just makes a ludicrous claim unfalsifiable.

        • abeggar

          I haven’t been convinced that any of the miracles attributed to Jesus is false. Just because some others appear to have done similar miracles is not surprising in a supernatural universe, but none other than Jesus have returned from the dead.

        • epeeist

          none other than Jesus have returned from the dead

          Osiris, Isis, Horus, Tammuz, Dionysus, Persephone, Attis, Odin, Baldr, Lemminkainen, Ganesha, Krishna, Quetzalcoatl…

        • abeggar

          So, you’re a Jesus mythicist? Even Bart Ehrman and John Dominic Crossan consider that an extreme position.

        • epeeist

          So, you’re a Jesus mythicist?

          Where did you get that from my post? You made a claim (which as usual you don’t substantiate), I pointed out counter-examples to refute your claim.

          As it is if I had to characterise my position on the existence of a minimal historical Jesus (an itinerant rabbi of the same name from the apocalyptic tradition who was executed for sedition at Passover) then it would be agnostic. I don’t know enough to say either way. Where I do side with the likes of Carrier though is that the best we can do is offer a probability that such a figure existed. What we cannot do is say for certain that he did (or didn’t).

        • abeggar

          I inferred it from your list of mythical characters, or did I miss an actual person? The probability that Jesus existed is exceedingly high, and virtually every scholar in related studies in the Western world believes he existed (cf. https://strangenotions.com/skeptic-bart-ehrman-on-whether-jesus-really-existed/).

        • epeeist

          I inferred it from your list of mythical characters, or did I miss an actual person?

          You know that all the above figures are mythical?

          The probability that Jesus existed is exceedingly high, and virtually
          every scholar in related studies in the Western world believes he
          existed

          So which of these scholars have made a probability estimate?

          cf. https://strangenotions.com/….

          Yes, I used to post on Strange Notions until Brandon Vogt banned me without warning and then claimed that he had given me several warnings. He did the exact same thing to a number of other posters. In a second purge he not only banned a large number of atheists but also delete their posts.

          Vogt isn’t someone I would characterise as having a great deal of integrity.

        • abeggar

          I don’t care about Vogt. Do you think he misquoted Ehrman’s book? You can find the same type of statements on Ehrman’s blog.

        • epeeist

          cf. https://strangenotions.com/….

          To follow up on this, according to Michael Murray the list of banned atheists includes Andre B, Andrew G, Argon, Articulett, Ben Posin, BenS, Danny Getchell, Darren, Epeeist, felixcox, Geena Safire, GodHatesYou, Gwen, Ignorant Amos, Jonathan West, josh, MichaelNewsham, Mike A, Noah Luck, M. Solange O’Brien, Papalinton, Paul Boillot, picklefactory, Pofarmer, Ray Vorkin, Renard Wolfe, Rob Tisinai, Stjepan Marusic, Susan, Zen Druid.

        • Strange Notions,
          Where never is heard a discouraging word

        • abeggar

          What do you think makes Ehrman different in his approach?

        • epeeist

          You need to ask someone else, my acquaintance with the work of Ehrman is minimal.

        • MNb

          Yes, but that doesn’t make “Jesus returning from death” unique, as you claimed.

        • Joe

          You’re an Osiris mythicist?

        • MNb

          Whistle ….. whistle ….. whistle ….. Heracles, Orpheus, Odysseus, Peirithoös, Theseus ….. whistle ….. whistle.

          None other than Mohammed has travelled from Mekka to Jerusalem in one night.
          None other than Gautama Buddha immediately stood up after birth, claiming “I am the chief of the world”. None other than him had lotus flowers blooming everywhere he placed his babyfeet.
          None other than Confucius’ birth was accompanied by beautiful music and aromas, a voice declaring “Heaven is moved at the birth of your son”, a spring of water bubbling up in a dry cave (confirming the prophecy that the baby was “the son of the essence of water”.

          As soon as you believers reach some kind of consensus on all these miracles (the list is not exactly complete) I’ll pay attention.

        • Greg G.

          Just because some others appear to have done similar miracles is not surprising in a supernatural universe, but none other than Jesus have returned from the dead.

          Make that all of the miracles have a precedent in the literature of the day. Inanna, the Sumerian Queen of Heaven, went down into the Underworld and was killed but returned to life. You get three guesses for how many days she was dead before being returned to life.

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

          If you believe the Bible story, see Mark 6:14-16 (Matthew 14:2, Luke 9:9) where Herod thought Jesus was John the Baptist risen from the dead. That should convince you that rising from the dead was not a new and unique concept.

        • Pofarmer

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dying-and-rising_deity

          Examples of gods who die and later return to life are most often cited from the religions of the Ancient Near East, and traditions influenced by them including Biblical and Greco-Roman mythology and by extension Christianity. The concept of a dying-and-rising god was first proposed in comparative mythology by James Frazer’s seminal The Golden Bough. Frazer associated the motif with fertility rites surrounding the yearly cycle of vegetation. Frazer cited the examples of Osiris, Tammuz, Adonis and Attis, Dionysus and Jesus Christ.[6]

          Frazer’s interpretation of the category has been critically discussed in 20th-century scholarship,[7] to the conclusion that many examples from the world’s mythologies included under “dying and rising” should only be considered “dying” but not “rising”, and that the genuine dying-and-rising god is a characteristic feature of Ancient Near Eastern mythologies and the derived mystery cults of Late Antiquity.[8]

        • none other than Jesus have returned from the dead.

          We have a story of Jesus returning from the dead. Is it history? Aren’t there natural explanations aplenty to explain a supernatural story from 2000 years ago?

        • abeggar

          There are, such as the swoon theory, but I do not know of any that have survived critical review.

        • Huh?? The resurrection story is a story. That it was just a legend that grew with the retelling explains things well enough.

          Like I said, natural explanations are sufficient.

        • abeggar

          That’s not where the evidence leads. See my other reply regarding whether the resurrection “story” would stand up in a modern court.

        • the extent and depth of Jesus’ miracles is unparalleled

          Why? Sathya Sai Baba did pretty much all of Jesus’s tricks, and he died in 2011 (if memory serves).

        • abeggar

          What proof do you have that he actually did any miracles? According to Wikipedia, he was accused of sleight of hand, and refused to perform his miracles under controlled conditions before his skeptics. Jesus demonstrated miracles before his critics, the Pharisees, multiple times.

        • epeeist

          This site is really heavy on irony meters.

        • MNb

          And you think the circumstances of Jesus’ miracles were “controlled”? Then I’d like to see the reports of those skeptics.

        • Greg G.

          Moses did tricks that the Egyptians could match. Acts 8:9–24 tells of a magician named Simon. Acts 13:4-6 says the apostles met a magician named Bar Jesus when they traveled to Cyprus. Antiquities of the Jews 20.7.2 §141-144 tells of a man born on Cyprus named Simon who fancied himself as a magician, which is probably where Luke got the idea for Simon and Bar Jesus. But it shows that people were impressed by magicians back then.

          Bob isn’t saying that Sathya Sai Baba did magic, only that his followers believed he did.

          People are inclined to believe that stories of miracles are real today and it was so thousands of years ago.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s funny that the Pharisses never recorded that or converted en masse. Considering they were highly literate and all.

        • The Pharisees got front-row seats to Jesus in person … and they still didn’t convert. Maybe they know something that we, separated by the fog of time, don’t or can’t.

          The Bible shoots itself in the foot again.

        • Pofarmer

          And it’s not like we don’t have Jewish writings from around the time in question.

        • abeggar

          Why would they record an embarrassment to their system of religious interpretation? Hard hearts are difficult to thaw. I would expect that many on this forum would consider an observed miracle to have some naturalistic explanation rather than accept the alternative.

        • Pofarmer

          You’re talking about miracles performed by God, right? The God the pharisees beleived in? You don’t think at least a few of them would have converted or written about it? Josephus wrotes about multiple religious factions within Judaism, but nothing about any of this. The naturalistic explanation here is that it didn’t happen.

        • abeggar

          Miracles that led to a conclusion the Pharisees wished to deny, so they sought to explain them away, except for Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimethea. Nothing has changed in human nature since then.

        • Pofarmer

          That’s the thing, The Pharisees didn’t seek to explain anything away. Nothing is ever said until something like the 5th century. LIkewise, Joseph of Arimathea leaves no record. Curious.

        • abeggar

          No record that has been discovered. Not so curious.

        • Pofarmer

          Not for a fictional character, no.

        • The strength of your position is that any evidence is clouded by doubt, but that’s not a good thing. Getting back from our oldest manuscripts to the original, from original through oral tradition to the events themselves, our incomplete understanding of the times 2000 years ago, and so on is the barrier behind which the Jesus claims hide.

          Sathya Sai Baba (or Mormonism or any other recent miracle or religion) are in our own time. The questions you can’t ask about the gospel story because of that cloudy barrier you can about Sai Baba. Your argument becomes, “Ah, but we can investigate Sai Baba and see that he was a fraud! We can look at the Book of Mormon and see that the claims of horses and elephants brought to the New World are false. You can’t do that about Christianity!”

          You’re right–we can’t. But that’s not a good thing.

        • abeggar

          I agree that Jesus’ miracles cannot be tested other than by weighing the historical evidence. There are, of course, anecdotal reports of miracles today, as well as testimonies of people antagonistic to Christianity seeing Jesus in visions or dreams and converting, such as overseas Muslims and the testimony of a feminist professor in the current issue of Christianity Today. I am not offering them as evidence, but as something to consider as more than simply a large number of independent hallucinations that somehow achieve a beneficial effect in the lives of those experiencing them.

        • Christianity’s claims are so distant and clouded by so much doubt that it’s untestable. Claims about Mormonism and Sai Baba are much more testable, and they fail, but don’t pretend that the untestable nature Christianity’s claims is a good thing.

        • abeggar

          Only clouded by doubt for some. Numerous famous lawyers and legal minds who have examined the Gospels and determined that the evidence for the resurrection would be satisfied in a court of law. These include Simon Greenleaf, Lord Darling, John Singleton Copley, Hugo Grotius, J. N. D. Anderson, Sir Edward Clark, and Irwin H. Linton (cf. https://www.jashow.org/articles/general/the-evidence-for-the-resurrection-of-jesus-christpart-2/ & (cf. http://www.creationstudies.org/Education/simon_greenleaf.html). I’m sure you are familiar with detective J. Warner Wallace and his writings at http://coldcasechristianity.com/.

        • Yes, I’m quite familiar with J. Warner Wallace. I’ve actually been on his podcast once. Nice guy, but very unconvincing.

          Only clouded by doubt for some.

          Yes, and that’s the frustrating thing, isn’t it? Christians look at pro-Christian evidence and say, “Well, that looks pretty solid to me.” Are they biased to say so because they’re Christian? That’s my conclusion, but we need an outside observer to give an unbiased critique. Not having one, we can’t make much progress.

          But this does get away from the point I was making. Christianity’s claims are clouded by time. That’s a simple fact. The per-chapter average of time from autograph to our best copy for Matthew is 200 years. The time gap from Jesus’s life to our earliest gospel is decades.

          The monumental nature of the claim needs extraordinary evidence. It isn’t there.

        • abeggar

          How belief happens is not that cut-and-dried. There are numerous stories of skeptics examining Christianity with the intent of disproving it, and ending up converting; I’m sure you’ve seen the list of famous cases, Simon Greenleaf included. In my case, I had strong philosophical objections to Christianity based on Camus’ arguments, but eventually determined the Christian worldview made more sense. C.S. Lewis was a skeptic, but felt “pursued by God,” ultimately leading to his conversion. Sure, there are de-conversions as well, which are often attributed to a common set of factors, such as unanswered prayer and lack of adequate teaching. In the end, we will all be accountable for our choice if Christianity is true.

        • My own hypothesis is that no one (1) who is an atheist well informed about the arguments on both sides of the questions converts to Christianity (2) for intellectual (not emotional) reasons. Christians deconvert to atheism for well-founded intellectual reasons every day, but the reverse isn’t true. This asymmetry IMO argues for atheism.

          C.S. Lewis was a skeptic, but felt “pursued by God,” ultimately leading to his conversion.

          Right–an emotional conversion.

          In the end, we will all be accountable for our choice if Christianity is true.

          And, if there is any cosmic justice, if Christianity is false as well. God didn’t give you that big brain to believe stupid stuff but to be skeptical of claims that deserve skepticism.

        • Michael Neville

          No, Jesus is reported to have performed miracles. Other than the Bible, we have no record of any miracles from Jesus.

        • abeggar

          I have no problem with that, since multiple eyewitnesses are reported. Why would the Sanhedrin or Romans record what was an embarrassment to them?

        • Michael Neville

          But the Sanhedrin and the Romans didn’t record anything about Jesus. The only record we have of Jesus is the Bible which was not written by eyewitnesses.

        • Kathab Epagonizomai

          Evidence that Jesus was known as” Chrestus” in the archives of the Roman government, is left to us by the writings of Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus. For more than 30 years, Suetonius had access to the Imperial and Senatorial archives, and many other contemporary memoirs and public documents. According to historical experts of that period, much of the information that is left to us from Suetonius about the Roman Caesars, came from eye-witness accounts. Unlike Tacitus, Suetonius fact-checked the material that was contained within the Roman archives for accuracy. According to Suetonius, Jesus was well know to the Roman government. He was known as Chrestus, the one responsible for the disturbances reported by Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem. In “The Twelve Caesars,” by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, he says:

          “Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (Christ), he expelled them from the City.”

          This is a direct corroboration of the text of Tacitus, who also received his information from the Roman archives. When we team both Tacitus and Suetonius together, there is no doubt that the text in the Roman record that describes Jesus in Jerusalem, creating a disturbance, which resulted in His crucifixion under Pilate, is a true record of these events. This serves a empirical evidence for Jesus as a genuine person of history, in specific confirmation of the New Testament narrative of Him.

          The text above from Suetonius, describing the expulsion of Christians from Rome is also reported by the New Testament book of Acts:

          “After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them.” —Acts 18:1-2

          This serves as further evidence for the precise nature of the New Testament accounts of Jesus and the influence that He presented in both Jerusalem and Rome. The fact that Suetonius recorded the expulsion of Christians in Rome, while Luke writes in describing the same event, is incredible proof of Biblical accuracy.

        • Kathab Epagonizomai

          Sanhedrin: Eliezer ben Hurcanus or Eliezer ben Hyrcanus (Hebrew: אליעזר בן הורקנוס‎), a Kohen, a Priest of the Jews, a direct descendant of Aaron.Married to the sister of the renowned teacher of the law; Gamaliel II, the sixth most mentioned person in the Jewish Mishna.

          Rabbi Eliezer was so devoted to the study of the Hebrew scriptures that he is said to have gone for several days without food, so that he might fully devote himself to study the Torah.

          In the Bavi Sanhedrin text of the Talmud, Rabbi Eliezer is described as coming to listen to Jesus of Nazareth. After this, he is chided by the Jewish leadership of Israel, as described in Bavi Avodah Zarah 16b-17a. The Roman governor who examined him asked: ““How can an old man like you occupy himself with such idle things?” R. Eliezer answered: “I acknowledge the judge as reliable.” This Roman judge believed that Eliezar was speaking of him, rather than Jesus teaching, and so he released Eliezar and found him not guilty. When Eliezar returned to his home, one of his servants said to him: “Master, will you permit me to say one thing of what you have taught me?” He answered: “Say it!” “Master, perhaps you encountered heresy and you enjoyed it and because of that you were arrested?” Eliezar answered his servant: “Aqiva, you have reminded me! Once I was walking in the upper market of Sepphoris when I came across one of the disciples of Jesus the Nazarene, and Jacob was his name.” “Jacob said to me:

          “It is written in your Torah: You shall not bring the hire of the harlot or the pay of a dog into the house of the Lord, your God (Deuteronomy 23: 19). May such money be used for making a latrine for the High Priest? To which I made no reply. Jacob said to me: Thus was I taught by Jesus the Nazarene: For from the hire of a harlot was it gathered and to the hire of a harlot shall it return (Micah 1: 7)— it came from a place of filth, and let it return to a place of filth.” “This word pleased me very much, and that is why I was arrested for heresy. Because I transgressed what is written in the Torah: Keep your way far from her (Prov. 5: 8).”

          These words are a matter of Jewish history. They were not recorded in an effort to preserve any evidence of Jesus, nor to endorse Him as the Messiah. The purpose of this record was to demonstrate that one of Israel’s great teachers, Rabbi Eliezar had heard Jesus teach. The existence of this record is sufficient proof to corroborate the existence of Jesus—in Jerusalem—during the period that the New Testament places Him there.

          Seemingly insignificant passages such as these, found in the Talmud, may appear to the reader as minor mentions of Jesus. The facts are, these tiny references of Jesus, validate that He was in Jerusalem at the time described by the four gospels.

        • Kathab Epagonizomai

          ..

        • abeggar

          OK, I’ll play. How were Gospel authors Matthew and John not eyewitnesses to the ministry of Jesus?

        • How could Matt be an eyewitness? He used Mark as a source. I could see him overtly correcting it (“There is a popular misconception of X. But what really happened was Y.”), but he simply copies many passages, some verbatim. No eyewitness would do this.

          As for John, the only claim that the author was there that I find is in the added-on chapter 21.

        • Here are a couple of posts in which I pointed out some of the flaws in the claim that the NT is reliable.

          About the time gap from originals to our best copies:
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/08/how-long-from-original-new-testament-books-to-oldest-copies-bible-reliability/

          About the huge number of manuscripts:
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2017/03/25000-new-testament-manuscripts-big-deal-2/

          And on the topic that our version of the NT is pretty much identical to the original:
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/04/a-simple-thought-experiment-defeats-claim-that-bible-is-accurate/

        • Greg G.

          Why did the universe come into being? What is the meaning of human existence? What happens after we die?

          Without science, philosophy cannot answer those questions. Religions can answer the questions with bafflegarb based on their presumptuous assumptions. Science may well answer those, and may have already, but the answers will not satisfy those with teleological assumptions.

          Why did the universe come into being? We know there is at least one universe so we know that universes can come into existence. It does not seem rational to think that the existence of one universe can prevent the existence of other universes. So universes may just be something the multiverse produces as it expands.

          What is the meaning of human existence? What is the meaning of blue whale existence? What is the meaning of amoeba existence? What is the meaning of periwinkle blue whale non-existence? Humans are just one species that happened to evolve on this planet. Evolve enough species and eventually one will eke out an existence with a large brain capable of asking existential questions.

          What happens after we die? Our minds are a function of our brains. When the brain stops functioning, the process that produces the mind ceases. When the rest of the body stops functioning the brain and body decay. We return to the state we were in during the events of history before we were born, the pre-historic times, the time before the solar system and so on. We won’t be aware of the universe’s continued existence nor will be aware that we are not aware of anything.

        • abeggar

          Regarding the multiverse, you may as well believe in God than accept that hypothesis. Regarding what happens after we die, the mind being a manifestation of the brain is currently a conjecture, and transcendental explanations of near-death experiences argue otherwise.

        • MNb

          Except that the multiverse hypothesis is a logical consequence of a theory arrived at by reliable methodology and your god isn’t.

          “transcendental explanations of near-death experiences argue otherwise.”
          So do transcendental explanations of the itch in my little left toe. Given that religion is not a methodology (your words) you’ll have to accept that the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists as it transcendentally explains that itch.

        • epeeist

          Regarding the multiverse, you may as well believe in God than accept that hypothesis.

          And yet the hypothesis arises from well tested and strongly evidenced physics. There may possibly be some evidence for it.

          the mind being a manifestation of the brain is currently a conjecture

          Somewhat more than conjecture, there is evidence from things like fMRI and PET and from the fact that specific brain lesions are associated with particular changes in mental states. There is no evidence that mind is a separate substance and strong arguments that this is not the case.

          transcendental explanations of near-death experiences argue otherwise

          No, these aren’t “explanations”, they are speculations, at best anecdotes.

        • abeggar

          Yes,the “Cold Spot” as as possible evidence for a multiverse is “an exotic explanation.” See my other multiverse comments in my reply to Bob S.

        • epeeist

          Yes,the “Cold Spot” as as possible evidence for a multiverse is “an exotic explanation.”

          You will note that I said “may be” not “is” evidence for a multiverse.

          See my other multiverse comments in my reply to Bob S.

          Yes, I had a look. You rather remind me of something coined by an acquaintance, the “Auguste Comte fallacy”. Comte famously claimed that we would never know the constitution of stars shortly before spectroscopy was invented.

          As you rightly say there is currently no evidence for a multiverse, as such it remains an hypothesis in the same way as Penrose’s conformal cyclic cosmology or Steinhardt and Turok’s ekypyrotic universe are hypotheses.

          But this is the way that science works, by raising hypotheses and subjecting them to test, weeding out those that do not fit the data in hand. All of these hypotheses (and others) are currently awaiting data, but just because we currently have little to none it does not follow that we will always have little to none.

          You raise the quibble that fine tuning might be necessary in order to produce a universe containing life. How do you know that life is not just an accident, a by-product of universe?

          You also speak of design, now design implies a designer. So why don’t you tell us about this purported designer, what its properties are and the evidence for its existence.

        • abeggar

          Sure, there could be other universes, but it is extremely unlikely they will be ones capable of supporting life. The point is that you are most likely going to get a Planck-sized universe out of the multiverse of eternal inflation, which would fail to tunnel, recollapse, and disappear. That is, unless you are willing to accept the Everett interpretation of quantum physics, with parallel universes being created for every quantum event. Not to mention that the constants of physics would need to vary greatly among the universes to provide the possibility of a universe sustaining life. The odds of life being a by-product of any given universe are infinitesimally small due to the narrow ranges that physical constants must have. Occam’s razor favors design here with no constraints on the designer, so you can postulate the FSM as the best choice if you wish.

        • MNb

          “odds of life being a by-product of any given universe are infinitesimally small”
          Probability calculation based upon a population of exactly 1 (one known universe) is not exactly reliable and meaningful.

          “due to the narrow ranges that physical constants must have”
          Based upon the unjustified assumption that the only life possible is the life as we know it.

          “Occam’s razor favors design here with no constraints on the designer”
          Ockham’s Razor always favours any natural explanation to any supernatural one, because the latter requires all kinds of assumptions apologists like you prefer to neglect. That’s one of the points of the FSM.

        • epeeist

          Sure, there could be other universes, but it is extremely unlikely they will be ones capable of supporting life.

          And your evidence for this would be?

          That is, unless you are willing to accept the Everett interpretation of quantum physics, with parallel universes being created for every quantum
          event.

          Don’t equate an Everett many-worlds interpretation of QM with a multiverse.

          Not to mention that the constants of physics would need to vary greatly among the universes to provide the possibility of a universe sustaining
          life.

          Would they? And your evidence for this would be?

          The odds of life being a by-product of any given universe are infinitesimally small due to the narrow ranges that physical constants must have.

          So can physicals constants vary? If so then over what range and with what probability distribution? What happens if you allow these constants to covary?

          Occam’s razor favors design here with no constraints on the designer, so you can postulate the FSM as the best choice if you wish.

          I note you carefully avoided answering my queries about the nature of the designer and the evidence for its existence.

        • abeggar

          I’m stating the opinion of Penrose and others as explained. What evidence do you have for the affirmative case? I didn’t equate them, but covered many worlds as an alternative that is often raised to escape the fine-tuning dilemma. If you are postulating an enormous number of universes, what is the probability of achieving one supporting life without each universe having different physical constants? If you say they can’t vary, you would need to show the multiverses all set up physics in such a way that some form of life is supported. The precise nature of the designer is irrelevant to this discussion; you can find plenty of discussion on this topic in other pathos.com articles and comments.

        • epeeist

          I’m stating the opinion of Penrose and others as explained.

          Are you? Or are you quoting apologetics sites that are supposedly quoting Penrose? Because I don’t see a lot of understanding of what he is saying. Now it sounds as though you (or your original source) are taking something from The Road to Reality out of context, why don’t you give me an exact reference (I have the Vantage edition from 2005).

          You do realise that Penrose has attempted to tackle the problem in his Cycles of Time? You do also realise that in neither of the books that I mentioned (or any of his other publications that I am aware of) does he attempt to show anything but a naturalistic description for the formation of the universe?

          Oh, and here is Sean Carroll’s take on the problem as one possible alternate amongst many others.

          I didn’t equate them, but covered many worlds as an alternative that is often raised to escape the fine-tuning dilemma.

          Which it doesn’t of course, the many worlds interpretation of QM doesn’t provide a physics with different fundamental constants.

          If you are postulating an enormous number of universes, what is the probability of achieving one supporting life without each universe having different physical constants?

          But you haven’t demonstrated that the universe is fine tuned for life. If it is fine tuned then why not for black holes or galaxies, there are more of them than us, they have been around a lot longer and will be around long after we are gone.

          Here is a simple calculation I have presented before:

          Life on earth has been discovered in some fairly unlikely places, but let’s assume it occurs between 25Km above the earth’s surface to 25Km below. This gives a volume of some 7.65*10^19 cubic metres.

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

          So the percentage of the solar system in which life is known to occur is 5.47*10^-19%. So in other words we cannot survive in
          99.999999999999999999453% of the volume of the solar system. Do you wan tto call that fine tuned?

          If you say they can’t vary, you would need to show the multiverses all set up physics in such a way that some form of life is supported.

          Nice attempt at an illicit shift of the burden. I put a set of questions to you, why don’t you actually make an attempt to answer them?

          The precise nature of the designer is irrelevant to this discussion

          You are claiming design, the nature of the designer is therefore very relevant to the discussion. I find it interesting that you want to avoid the subject.

        • abeggar

          How am I misinterpreting his reasons for objecting to cosmic inflation? In my hardcover Road to Reality (Knopf, 2005), section 28.5, p. 755, Penrose states “consider the horizon problem, and how this is dealt with in inflationary cosmology, where, for example, the almost equal background temperatures in different directions is perceived to be the result of thermalization. Inflation is brought in to remove the particle horizons that would otherwise preclude this thermalization. There is, however, something fundamentally misconceived about trying to explain the uniformity of the early universe as resulting from a thermalization process…Indeed, it is fundamentally misconceived to try to explain why the universe is special in any particular respect by appealing to a thermalization process…[two cases given]…In neither case have we explained the puzzle of why the universe is special, in this or any other particular respect, but we see that invoking arguments from thermalization, to address this particular problem, is worse than useless!”

          In section 28.7, pp. 762-765, Penrose discusses the “exceptional precision” needed for the Big Bang, “how impotent the anthropoid argument is,” and that “there was indeed something very special about how the universe started off.” He concludes that we should see how far math/science can go before taking the position that it was an act of God, which is reasonable. Notably, he doesn’t make misleading attempts to refute the possibility that God is responsible.

          I’ll try to read the Sean Carroll paper you linked, but his web site’s Eternity To Here FAQ says this about whether inflation can explain the low entropy of the early universe: “Not by itself, no. To get inflation to start requires even lower-entropy initial conditions than those implied by the conventional Big Bang model. Inflation just makes the problem harder.” I think he, being an atheist, has also admitted that the multiverse cannot explain fine-tuning.

          For life to be supported, a stricter form of fine-tuning is required than for the existence of galactic structures. Your volume calculation has nothing to do with fine-tuning of physical constants, but I give you an A for effort.

          How is the nature of the designer relevant to the recognition that there is design? How important is it for you to know who the designer of your toaster was for you to recognize it didn’t assemble itself randomly? I’m not avoiding the subject, it is just off-topic and irrelevant since design does not provide criteria for any particular designer, except that the designer must exist apart from the universe and have the power to create laws of physics.

        • epeeist

          Oh, you might want to try this paper on the variability of fundamental constants and Nick Bostrom’s book on selection bias and anthropic reasoning.

        • abeggar

          OK, I started reading the Uzan paper you linked, and skimmed the last half when I realized it was 50+ pages long. I’m an engineer, not a physicist, so I didn’t understand some of it. I knew Varying Speed of Light theories had been discredited, but he seems to be arguing that dimensionless ratios of fundamental constants have varied, and, with a lot of appeals to more research being needed, that this may help the multiverse theory. Perhaps you could summarize it in simpler terms for me. Also, do you know of any reviews of this paper by other cosmologists? Thanks.

        • epeeist

          Perhaps you could summarize it in simpler terms for me.

          You want me to summarise a summary?

          Also, do you know of any reviews of this paper by other cosmologists?

          You can follow the related articles and citations from this Google Scholar search.

        • abeggar

          Well, what was the key point you intended for me to understand from that paper, that certain ratios may have varied over the life of the universe? If so, do you imply we are an accident, having arisen when the constants were such that carbon-based life was possible? And that we could be extinct tomorrow if they vary again?

          Here’s a more recent papers and articles that indicate certain values have changed very little:
          http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2012/12/12/science.1224898

        • epeeist

          Well, what was the key point you intended for me to understand from that paper, that certain ratios may have varied over the life of the universe?

          One of the first estimates of the size of the Earth was done by Eratosthenes, he also estimated the size of the Sun and its distance from the Earth. All of these are different from modern values.

          So, were these actually different in the past or have measurement techniques improved?

        • abeggar

          The latter, but I fail to see your point w.r.t. the linked paper, which states “the theoretical models leading to the
          prediction of such variation are also reviewed.”

        • epeeist

          Can I suggest you read the Conclusion which summarises the state of play with respect to the “fundamental constants”. The whole point of giving you the article was to show you what is currently being done to determine whether the constants really are constant or whether there is a range over which they can vary.+

        • Vic Stenger’s Monkey God simulation argues that a good fraction of possible universes would be life permitting.

        • abeggar

          Sure, if you constrain the problem to 3 parameters, and assume that stellar lifetime is an adequate proxy for support of life. All he has done is cherry-picked a favorable case of fine-tuning, and not shown that life-permitting universes do not need to be fine-tuned. It is a very weak argument.

        • I believe he uses 4 constants in his simulation.

          not shown that life-permitting universes do not need to be fine-tuned

          The default assumption is that fine-tuning is not required. He’s simply verifying that that assumption is reasonable.

          Stellar lifetime is often used by fine-tuning advocates as a proxy for life (too-short a lifetime and no heavy elements). Are you saying that Stenger has at least defeated all of those claims?

        • abeggar

          I’m using information from Luke Barnes, a post-doctoral researcher on cosmology, who wrote two blog articles critiquing Stenger’s simulation, and concludes that it is “it is worse than irrelevant – it is misleading.” See https://letterstonature.wordpress.com/2010/04/11/what-chances-me-a-fine-tuned-critique-of-victor-stenger-part-1/ and https://letterstonature.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/no-faith-in-monkeygod-a-fine-tuned-critique-of-victor-stenger-part-2/
          I am not an expert, but I thought his analysis made sense.

        • I’ll take a look.

        • MNb

          I’m not an expert either,but understand two things: the FTA as a god argument
          1. depends on the Cosmological Argument and that one fails;
          2. begs the question (it assumes a purpose to argue for a purposeful intelligence).

          Especially the second will appeal to a creacrapper like you.

        • epeeist

          Since you seem to have made your response to me inactive for some reason I will respond here:

          All your first extract from The Road to Reality does is point out some of the problems with the current theories about the origin of the universe, there are many others. However just because there are problems in the current theories does not allow you to therefore infer god-did-it (since your designer is Jesus, as you exceptionally admit in this post).

          All theories stand on their own merits, if you want to claim a particular explanation or ontology then you have to provide justification, using the supposed “problems” with another theory is simply a false dichotomy, something that is also counter to the Duhem-Quine thesis.

          Notably, he doesn’t make misleading attempts to refute the possibility that God is responsible.

          And therefore it is? Argument from ignorance.

          whether inflation can explain the low entropy of the early universe

          No it can’t, it can’t explain why entropy wasn’t greater in the past than it is now. But again, that doesn’t allow you to infer that your preferred god-breathed universe is therefore the only alternative.

          For life to be supported, a stricter form of fine-tuning is required than for the existence of galactic structures.

          Something a bit more than a bare assertion is required. Especially as we have only a limited idea of what the initial replicators looked like.

          Your volume calculation has nothing to do with fine-tuning of physical constants, but I give you an A for effort.

          But you have yet to show that the parameters are fine tuned, what the range of variation and probability distributions are, never mind that these were specifically set so that life of the form that occurs on Earth would occur.

          What my calculation show is that even our solar system is hardly conducive to life, I haven’t even considered interstellar or inter-galactic space; these would make my figure even smaller.

          Consider it in terms of a lottery, would you buy a ticket if the odds of you winning were 1,828,153,564,899,451,553 to 1 against you winning?

          How important is it for you to know who the designer of your toaster was for you to recognize it didn’t assemble itself randomly?

          You see the thing about toasters (or watches for that matter) is that there isn’t a designer, there are teams of designers for the different parts, multiple fabricators who turn the designs for the individual parts into actuality and then others who assemble these parts. Further, all of these parts are made from already existing parts of the universe as are the designers and fabricators. On top of that toasters wear out, as do their makers, they may have design faults, as do their makers.

          In brief, your analogy fails because it bears little resemblance to a design for the universe, something that David Hume recognised a couple of centuries back.

          except that the designer must exist apart from the universe and have the power to create laws of physics.

          Again these are bare assertions.

        • abeggar

          Let’s get something straight. I am not arguing for God as the cause in this thread. The argument for design does not infer a particular designer, so I did not offer one. Yes, as a Christian, I have a view that Yahweh is the first cause, but the purpose of this thread is to show that naturalism does not have a compelling explanation, as much as many here would like to believe. Do you see the difference?

          Logically, if time and matter began with the creation of the universe, the first cause must transcend them both.

        • MNb

          “Logically, if time and matter began with the creation of the universe, the first cause must transcend them both.”
          There is nothing logical about the salto mortale from the first event in spacetime to a transcendental on a priori to it.

          The argument for design begs the question. It assumes a purpose to conclude a purpose. Your usage of the word creation does the same.

          Btw if you want to properly use the Cosmological Argument (ie in a way that doesn’t contradict Modern Science, something you’ve done several times before) get rid of the word cause. The beginning of our Universe was not a causal event but a probabilistic one, unless you reject Quantum Mechanics.

        • epeeist

          I have a view that Yahweh is the first cause, but the purpose of this
          thread is to show that naturalism does not have a compelling explanation

          As the first link in my above post shows there are quite a number of things that current hypotheses and theories do not address or do not address well.

          But all this says is that the “current hypotheses and theories do not address or do not address well”, it provides no support for any supposed “non-natural” explanations.

          If you want to make claims to some kind of non-natural explanation then do so, but until then all you have is a poor criticism of current theories.

          Logically, if time and matter began with the creation of the universe, the first cause must transcend them both.

          You are begging the question in assuming there has to be a “first cause”.

        • abeggar

          I am expressing the conclusion of the kalam cosmological argument that the existence of the universe had a cause.

        • epeeist

          But the first premiss of the Kalam, (Whatever begins to exist had a cause) is not a necessary truth, it is purely inductive and only applies to a limited range of observations. It certainly does not apply to things at the quantum level.

        • abeggar

          Yes, it is inductive, just as science is abductive, and can never hold anything in certainty. Do you think quantum level behavior is not causal in a probabilistic sense?

        • epeeist

          Yes, it is inductive, just as science is abductive, and can never hold anything in certainty.

          Given this and given that the second premiss of the Kalam is also not a necessary truth then the whole argument cannot be considered as sound, merely probabilistic.

          Do you think quantum level behavior is not causal in a probabilistic sense?

          My doctorate was concerned with a particular type of quantum tunnelling. In this you have two possible configurations each of which has a particular probability and probability density function. The major point being that unless you have an infinite potential barrier between the two configurations then the probability density functions will overlap. This being so then a measurement can lead to either configuration. So unless you subscribe to hidden variable interpretations of QM (contra John Bell) or a transactional interpretation then one is driven to conclude that QM is only statistically causal and not deterministic.

        • MNb

          Science is not abductive, unless you think Theoretical Physics and Experimental physics are not branches of science. The first mainly uses deduction, the latter induction.

          Next thing you need to do – and I have yet to meet the first apologist who actually does – is to define cause properly. As the Cosmological Argument tries to use the same physics you already misrepresented I’ll do it for you, even if my definition will be incomplete.

          We say X causes Y if

          1) X happened just before Y and
          2) there is a correlation of 1 (100%) between X and Y.

          It’s not a matter of thinking, it’s a matter of fact that this is not the case regarding quantum level behaviour. Two clear examples are quantum tunnelling and electron-positron pair production.
          Now we know that our Universe came into existence at the Big Bang. We also know that that was a quantum mechanical event, given the high densitiy involved. So your

          “I am expressing the conclusion of the kalam cosmological argument that the existence of the universe had a cause.”
          rejects the same physics it claims to use as a support.
          In short: Kalam is a failure.

        • rejects the same physics it claims to use as a support.

          A nice observation. I need to remember that.

        • MNb

          It’s basicall why WLC fell on his snout (to use yet another Dutch expression) in his debate with Sean Carroll.

        • abeggar

          Now we know that our Universe came into existence at the Big Bang. We also know that that was a quantum mechanical event, given the high densitiy involved.

          What we don’t know is what conditions that existed prior to the Big Bang. Quantum events do not occur from nothing, even in non-deterministic models. So, what caused the predicted quantum vacuum state that lead to the pre-inflationary universe? Do you assume some form of space-time existed beforehand?

        • abeggar
        • epeeist

          Sorry, I don’t watch videos, the rate of information transfer is much too low.

        • Greg G.

          Regarding the multiverse, you may as well believe in God than accept that hypothesis.

          If one universe can come into being, then the conditions are that universes can come into being. It is irrational to think that there are no other universes. A universe that can keep other universes from coming into being would be more complex than a universe that cannot prevent other universes.

          Regarding what happens after we die, the mind being a manifestation of the brain is currently a conjecture,

          The Bible authors thought the “mind” was a function of the heart and kidneys. You can go with that if you want. People have heart transplants and kidney transplants with no change in personality or mental abilities.

          But damage to brain structures show consistent changes to specific mental faculties of people. There are drugs can that block a process for producing a specific protein required for structural changes to the brain for long-term memory. What aspect of mind do you know of that is independent of the brain and brain chemistry?

          and transcendental explanations of near-death experiences argue otherwise.

          The claims tend to not hold up under scrutiny.

          Religion has been around for thousands of years trying to answer the question of what happens to us when we die, and it is still stuck at “wait until you die to find out”. In less than two centuries of studying the brain, science can read chemically-produced brain waves to predict choices at a rate far above chance several seconds before a person realizes they have made a choice.

          EDIT: Added the “Q” to a blockquote tag.

        • abeggar

          Is it irrational to not believe in other universes until there is empirical evidence for them? Odd, I would have thought you would have demanded evidence, so why not in this case, or please provide the evidence. No one is arguing for bowels being involved. If the soul operates through the brain for its physical interaction, than damage to the brain would necessarily impede the soul’s input. I expect neuroscience to provide many important discoveries, and J. P. Moreland is currently researching its implications for the dualist understanding.

        • Yeah, I also see JP Moreland as the go-to guy for the latest neuroscience.

        • abeggar

          Low blow, since I clearly stated he was relating neuroscientific research to its theological implications.

        • Greg G.

          Is it irrational to not believe in other universes until there is empirical evidence for them?

          There is evidence for one universe which is evidence for at least one universe. It is evidence that the conditions for universes is there. When we find one of something, we usually allow that there may be more than sample we found.

          Humans thought the stars and planets were fundamentally different than the sun and earth. Now we know that sun is just another star and the earth is one of many planets. It was only about a century ago that we realized that the universe was not identical to our galaxy but that there are billions of galaxies.

          It seems irrational to assume this universe is unique simply because we do not have the ability to prove it.

          When the conditions are right for a bubble bath, it is easier to explain lots of bubbles than it would be to explain just one soap bubble. Likewise, an explanation that allows for the generation of universes with zero energy input is simpler than an explanation that results in one and only one universe as it would then have to have a mechanism that prevents other universes at the same time.

          So Occam’s razor favors a multiverse more than a universe.

          No one is arguing for bowels being involved.

          Except for the Bible.

          If the soul operates through the brain for its physical interaction, than damage to the brain would necessarily impede the soul’s input.

          Why would long-term memory formation be chemically inhibited if the soul is in charge? If the soul has it in short-term memory, why does it need to form it in long-term memory through physical connections, just like animals? Why would accessing the memory actually weaken the physical structure and diminish the memory if a soul was involved? Why does our memory get worse as we age? Why does a soul need the part of the brain associated with math to do math?

          There are people who have had their corpus callosum severed as a last ditch effort to treat refractory epilepsy. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split-brain .

          When split-brain patients are shown an image only in their left visual field (the left half of what both eyes take in (see optic tract)), they cannot vocally name what they have seen. This can be explained in three steps: (1) The image seen in the left visual field is sent only to the right side of the brain; (2) For most people, the speech-control center is on the left side of the brain; and (3) Communication between the two sides of the brain is inhibited. Thus, the patient cannot say out loud the name of that which the right side of the brain is seeing. In the case that the speech-control center is on the right side of the brain, the image must now be presented to only the right visual field to achieve the same effect.

          Why should it matter which side of the brain saw the image if it is controlled by a soul? Why should the soul need the corpus callosum to function?

          The soul concept just doesn’t explain brain function as well as brain function without a soul.

        • abeggar

          Regarding Occam’s razor supporting a multiverse, I never expected to hear that multiple universes are a simpler explanation than one; please see my recent response on this topic to epeeist below.

          Let me clarify my view of the relationship between the body and soul. I believe that man does not receive a soul, but he is soul and he is body. He is not a body containing or imprisoning a soul, since Man is a unified being. The Bible never speaks of a distinction between the biological (animal) man and spiritual (fully human) man, which is a Neo-Platonic, not Hebrew, view. I remember you argued that Adam was a body first and not a person until the Divine act of inbreathing, but as soon as there is dust being formed by Spirit, Adam is. The Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Pentateuch states it this way:

          The formation of man from dust and the breathing of the breath of life we must not understand in a mechanical sense, as if God first of all constructed a human figure from dust [like a gingerbread man] and then, by breathing His breath of life into the clod of earth which he has shaped into the form of a man, made it into a living being…By an act of divine omnipotence man arose from the dust; and in the same moment in which the dust, by virtue of creative omnipotence, shaped itself into a human form, it was pervaded by the divine breath of life, and created a living being, so that we cannot say the body was earlier than the soul.”

          With that context, a possible answer to the questions you raise is that the brain is the center for information storage and processing, with the mind being conditioned by the soul. Thus, brain injury or age can affect the capability and personality of a person because of the integral relationship between the body and soul. I think the monist view is still far from explaining consciousness from a purely materialistic basis.

        • epeeist

          The Bible never speaks of a distinction between the biological (animal) man and spiritual (fully human) man, which is a Neo-Platonic, not Hebrew, view.

          It is earlier than that, it can be traced back at least as far as Aristotle and his De Anima.

          With that context, a possible answer to the questions you raise is that the brain is the center for information storage and processing, with the mind being conditioned by the soul.

          So a variant on substance dualism. Let’s go back to the good friar of Occam shall we, what does the concept of a soul add to the explanatory power of the hypotheses in the philosophy of mind and cognitive neuroscience? Does it add anything to the empirical fit of such hypotheses?

        • abeggar

          I agree that the concept of the soul does not contribute to the scientific pursuit of neuroscience, since it is outside the scope of science. However, consciousness arising from some naturalistic process needs significant evidence. What is your understanding of how consciousness arises?

        • epeeist

          I agree that the concept of the soul does not contribute to the
          scientific pursuit of neuroscience, since it is outside the scope of
          science.

          And this is where the dishonesty kicks in. You agree that the concept of a soul adds nothing in terms of explanatory power or empirical fit, this being so the razor would eliminate it as unnecessary. So you make the standard ad hoc move and claim it does exist but science is unable to detect it. In other words you produce a self-sealing argument that is immune from refutation. As I say, intellectually dishonest.

          However, consciousness arising from some naturalistic process needs significant evidence.

          Ah, the “Look; over there, a squirrel” move.

          First of all why don’t you tell me what you mean by “consciousness”, otherwise we are probably going to be talking past one another.

          However as a first move I am perfectly happy to accept that understanding how we come to be conscious needs an explanation. I am also happy to accept that the problem is a difficult one and at the present time we are only just beginning to tackle it (in this I am quite willing to accept that I am wrong about this, it is not a primary field of study of mine).

          But if you think you have an explanation then lay it out. I should note that when I say “explanation” I mean a theory coupled with some initial conditions which describes a particular set of phenomena.

        • abeggar

          No dishonesty at all. I did not say it has no explanatory power, but that the soul is outside the material realm of science, so cannot contribute to a pure scientific explanation. It can be logically argued for, per Moreland.

          Again, you want an explanation in scientific terms for something outside of science, a category error. From my perspective, the soul is where the personality is grounded, not in chemical and quantum behavior, and I derive that from the Christian worldview. Perhaps the naturalistic worldview will eventually establish a compelling explanation, which we will then have to all consider.

        • MNb

          That something can be logically argued for is not nearly enough to grant it explanatory power. Just take a look at any randomly chosen conspiracy theory:

          1. Evidence for X confirms my hypothesis.
          2. No evidence for X and evidence against X demonstrates governmental censorship and hence confirms my hypothesis.

          The explanatory power is exactly zero.
          As soul is outside of the material realm of science evidence (which by definition is taken from that material realm) for or against soul is impossible. As a result it can be used to explain everything and anything; the same with conspiracy theories. Btw this same problem applies to your attempt to use methods of historical research to back up miracles.

          “you want an explanation in scientific terms for something outside of science, a category error.”
          A false accusation. What we want is you developing a reliable method to separate correct claims about the immaterial/supernatural/transcendental from incorrect ones. But you already admitted that there is no such method when you wrote that religion is not a methodology. Concepts like soul and miracle are religious. Without a methodology there is zero explanatory power.
          Your theology remains unsystematic and incoherent.

        • epeeist

          but that the soul is outside the material realm of science

          In which case it can have no interaction with a physical realm. How does one tell the difference between something that is outside the physical realm (itself something for which we have no evidence) and something that does not exist?

        • Greg G.

          The Bible never speaks of a distinction between the biological (animal) man and spiritual (fully human) man, which is a Neo-Platonic, not Hebrew, view.

          AIUI, the early Jews thought of the body, the soul (which animates the body, associated with blood), and spirit (breath, which came from God). The last breath was the spirit returning to God. Later, perhaps under Greek influence, they began to think the spirit continued to live, at least the Pharisees did, but not the Sadducees. I can’t find the information I originally used to come to that conclusion but this site expresses it better: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/body-soul/ I doubt that the Jews were ever completely in agreement in their interpretations and midrash.

          I remember you argued that Adam was a body first and not a person until the Divine act of inbreathing, but as soon as there is dust being formed by Spirit, Adam is. The Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Pentateuch states it this way:

          But forming the dust is one thing and breathing into the nostrils is another.

          I think the monist view is still far from explaining consciousness from a purely materialistic basis.

          Why would a soul require a central nervous system rather than a distributed interaction? Why would it work across the different areas of the brain but not the whole body. It would be interacting with nerves that work by chemical reactions. Why would the soul need to wait for nerve impulses to reach the brain and be processed by the brain?

          I played sports when I was younger. Many times I reacted without thinking or deciding to act. Once I was dribbling the basketball to the left of the top of the key when my teammate broke to the basket. I saw a passing lane open but then close before I decided to pass so I decided to not make the pass, but it was too late because, to my surprise, I had already made the pass. It bounced into his hands and he made the lay-up.

          Many times when I played football and was trying to catch a pass, it would be like an out-of-body experience as if I was just observing. Sometimes I was paying attention to the defender while my eyes were on the ball. It was like I was above the action looking down yet also seeing the ball in flight. The first time I experience this phenomenon was in a high school game. I couldn’t wait to see the film to see if I could see an aura above my body or something. What I saw, however, was that the play didn’t happen as I had “seen” it from above. My opponent wasn’t as close to me as I saw from above. When he fell, his helmet didn’t hit my foot, it was his arm. I came to understand that I was creating two models of my immediate environment, one based on sight which was focused on the ball, and one based on touch and sound where I couldn’t see so it was from a different perspective. Normally, we combine all of our senses to model our immediate environment. But that makes more sense as the brain being many different agencies creating a mind than a unique soul.

        • Tommy

          There’s more than one planet; there’s more than one moon; there’s more than one star; there’s more than one black hole; there’s more than one galaxy; so why can’t there be more than one universe?

        • adam

          “Regarding what happens after we die, the mind being a manifestation of the brain is currently a conjecture,”

          No, its a fact
          Damage the brain, you damage the mind.

          “and transcendental explanations of near-death experiences argue otherwise.”

          No near-death experience has been demonstrated to be transcendental, quite the opposite, they are the simple effects of starving the brain.

          https://www.near-death.com/experiences/triggers/extreme-gravity.html

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d8d3ba2209471f7e1830bdc3d25fb419c6edaa96722eff144dae5f022e64b36a.jpg

        • I don’t think so. Cosmic Inflation has lots of evidence in its favor, and it predicts a multiverse. No, multiverse and God aren’t equally imaginary.

        • abeggar

          I’d be interested in the evidence beyond just being mathematically possible from the equations of eternal inflation, since I am unaware of any empirical evidence for any universe other than our own. Penrose calls the multiverse “worse than useless” as an explanation of the fine-tuned initial conditions, because the multiverse predicts hyper-exponentially more tiny universes than large ones that could support life like ours. Also, an universe-generating mechanism might require fine-tuning itself to generate the enormously large number of universes necessary to produce one supporting life. To deny design as a possible explanation is premature.

        • MNb

          Not mathematically possible, mathematically necessary.

          https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/multiverse-the-case-for-parallel-universe/

          https://www.space.com/18811-multiple-universes-5-theories.html

          Granted, at the moment the proposal is as shaky as the two theories describing HTG on that Wikipedia page. Still it confirms the incoherence of your theology that you reject the Multiverse hypothesis and are willing to accept those theories regarding HTS.

          “To deny design as a possible explanation is premature.”
          Spoken like a true creacrapper. The actual position is “to neglect design by a supernatural agent is the only scientific option, because considering it is a category error given methodological naturalism aka the scientific method.”
          But hey, a creacrapper like you can’t live without his favourite logical fallacies.
          Theology might be systematical and coherent, but creationist theology never will given its inbred dishonesty.

        • abeggar

          I never said I accepted the HTS theories, just that scientists have proposed them, so you’ll have to twist my words harder. I have given good reasons in other posts for why the multiverse is “worse than useless” for explaining our life-supporting universe, but you can argue that with Penrose.

        • Who’s denying design? I’m simply saying that no evidence points there.

          One of the most compelling aspects of science is when a theory makes a prediction and then that prediction is tested. I don’t know if we will ever get evidence of the multiverse–that may be perpetually untestable for humankind–but the multiverse is far more than some random idea pulled out of thin air to keep at bay those danged Christian apologists with their danged-good arguments.

          (Tangent: now that I think of it, the opposite does seem to be true. Esoteric and unintuitive philosophical arguments are often tossed out by apologists, with the demand that the atheist first prove that argument false.)

        • abeggar

          Far from a random idea, but equally far from explaining an universe that supports life. See my recent response to epeeist below.

        • Why did the universe come into being?

          Right—science can’t answer this one yet. Maybe it will. Religion is out of its depth here.

          What is the meaning of human existence?

          You mean some sort of assigned, objective meaning? There’s as much evidence that this exists as that Bigfoot exists. Since science says that Bigfoot probably doesn’t exist, I suggest the same tentative conclusion for objective meaning.

          What happens after we die?

          What happens after a slug dies? Why imagine that anything more interesting happens after we die? Sure, we can wish for an afterlife, while a slug can’t, but that’s no evidence.

          For these questions, religion and philosophy are necessary

          Do religion and philosophy answer any questions about reality? What’s their track records for telling us new things?

          With unrepeatable events, the method of inference to the best explanation (abduction) is valid, and allows non-materialistic explanations.

          Like what? I can’t think of any non-materialistic explanations that aren’t specific to a religious tradition.

          As for Lewontin, that quote is taken out of context. I wrote about that here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2017/01/bad-atheist-arguments-science-can-explain-everything-2-2/

          Here’s the relevant bit of my post:

          To support his position, he quotes geneticist Richard Lewontin who states that scientists “have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. . . . Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

          Aha! Have the scientists finally admitted their biases? Not at all, if we read what comes next (which Bannister omitted): “. . . we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.”

          Lewontin wasn’t saying that we must conclude beforehand that the supernatural isn’t possible but rather that using science with a God option is like blowing up a balloon with a hole in it. You can’t get anywhere since everything must have a God caveat. It’s “F = ma, God willing” or “PV = nRT, if it pleases God.” When you make a measurement in a world where God messes with reality (that is, you “allow a Divine Foot in the door”), what part of that measurement is the result of scientific laws and what part was added by some godly hanky panky?

          Why do you suppose you found that truncated quote? Unfortunately, I see quotes frequently taken out of context in Christian apologetics.

          The real conflict is between naturalistic and supernaturalistic worldviews

          And zero supernatural explanations are widely accepted, unlike science’s explanations.

          Dawkins goes well beyond calling out religion, but would likely never give up his blind faith in materialism while calling for Polkinghorne to give up his faith in God.

          Dawkins doesn’t have blind faith in materialism.

        • abeggar

          The Christian worldview is grounded in history and provides a systematic and coherent explanation for those questions and others outside the scope of science. Do you think religion is out of its depth because it cannot provide naturalistic explanations? Religion is not a methodology; it is not meant to predict new things. An example of a non-materialistic explanation from philosophy is George Berkeley’s immaterialism, in which objects only exist if perceived. The supernatural explanations of Christianity are accepted by over a billion people, not that wide acceptance has any real relevance.

          The issue with the Lewontin quote is that it does not qualify the allowance of the Divine foot in the door. Of course science should attempt to seek explanations in natural terms, but that is “a postulate, a working hypothesis that we should be prepared to abandon if faced with facts that defy every attempt at rational explanation. Many scientists, however, do not bother to make this distinction, tacitly extrapolating from hypothesis to affirmation. They are perfectly happy with the explanations provided by science. Like Laplace, they have no need for the ‘God hypothesis’ and equate the scientific attitude with agnosticism, if not with outright atheism.” (Nobel laureate Christian de Duve, Life Evolving, New York, Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 284)

          Getting back to the main subject, what is your definition of personhood?

        • MNb

          “a systematic and coherent explanation for those questions”
          If this means accepting decrees without asking any evidence or logical argument, yes.
          You give an excellent example yourself:

          “Religion is not a methodology”
          Then it can’t provide any systematical and coherent explanation. Good job contradicting yourself.

          “facts that defy every attempt at rational explanation”
          OK, then I have a little question for you. Thus far (about 30 years now) superconductivity at relatively high temperatures has defied every attempt at rational explanation. If you succeed you are in for a Nobel Price. Do we have any need for the God hypothesis now? What standards do you use? How long do we have to wait? How do you decide that we have that need or not?

          Oh wait – you just relieved yourself from the obligation to answer these questions with “religion is not a methodology”. So much for systematic and coherent explanations. It’s just plain randomness.

        • abeggar

          Religion is a system of beliefs with implications, not a method in the scientific sense. Do you not understand that a systematic theology can provide a coherent explanation? You are wrong about HTS; there are two theories providing a possible explanation. If there are no rational theories, then science should be open to non-materialistic explanations – open to, not dismissing any further evidence.

        • MNb

          “a systematic theology can provide”
          Don’t you understand the difference in meaning between “can” and “does”?

          “there are two theories providing a possible explanation.”
          Unlike you I am always eager to learn something new, no matter how unlikely it is when coming from you. So links, please.

          “should be open to non-materialistic explanations”
          An excellent example of incoherent and unsystematic theology, meant to avoid my questions.
          Science can’t be open for non-materialistic explanations, simply because the scientific method doesn’t allow for them. That doesn’t mean a priori that there aren’t; just that science has to remain silent on it. Of course you being a creacrapper can’t accept that – another thing you have in common with Flat Earthers.
          I repeat: as long there are phenomena in our natural reality that haven’t scientific explanations yet these questions rise:

          Do we have any need for the God hypothesis now? What standards do you use? How long do we have to wait? How do you decide that we have that need or not?
          Not answering them again will be taken as a confirmation that at least your theology is not systematic nor coherent. Of course that’s exactly what we should expect from creacrappers like you.

        • abeggar

          I learned something new by reading the Wikipedia page on HTS; maybe you could, too. I would say science does not have acceptable theories for the origin and fine-tuning of the universe or the origin of life, and scientists may eventually determine there are no viable naturalistic explanations.

        • MNb

          Fortunately you are a science rejector, so what you would say has exactly zero relevance on this issue.

          “science does not have acceptable theories”
          And of course you have declared yourself the ultimate authority of what constitutes an acceptable theory and what doesn’t , as you already have shown regarding the historicity of Moses and his tribe.

          Thanks for not answering my questions; especially thanks for not providing any link to confirm

          “there are two theories providing a possible explanation”
          for superconductivity at relatively high temperatures. Once again MNb’s Law applies: we must assume that creationist Abeggar is lying until the opposite is demonstrated.
          In general thanks for not addressing anything I wrote in my previous comment. It shows the emptiness, dishonesty and bias of your belief. I always appreciate that. Still unlike you I’m not only nasty, but also fair. You get a second chance to answer the questions of my previous comment.

        • MNb

          In addition: maybe you could stop beating your wife. I have read that Wikipedia page.
          There are problems with both suggestions, big enough not to be accepteble.
          According to your illogic you should conclude that your god loves juggling with magnets.

        • Greg G.

          Do you not understand that a systematic theology can provide a coherent explanation?

          Mathematics can provide a coherent explanation for many universes with lots of different topologies, but we want an explanation for the one we are in. Fairy tales can provide coherent explanations but are they correct?

          If there are no rational theories, then science should be open to non-materialistic explanations – open to, not dismissing any further evidence.

          How do you rule out that there are no possible rational explanations just because none have been found? Should we have just accepted the demon-theory of disease? I’m not sure what you mean by “non-materialistic” but it seems like you are wanting to accept explanations that do not actually explain a phenomenon.

          Science goes up a lot of alleys to see which ones are blind. Religionists seem to be far too anxious to force a “godidit” solution in. Science is provisional. All explanations are open to revision as new evidence is discovered. It’s just that “godidit” explanations do more harm to advancement than good.

        • MNb

          “Mathematics can provide a coherent explanation for many universes with lots of different topologies ….”
          Hey! I wanted to save this fun point for tomorrow, but now you stole it!

        • adam
        • adam
        • Do you not understand that a systematic theology can provide a coherent explanation?

          Coherent? We’re looking for accurate. That your theology isn’t self-contradictory (it isn’t, but let’s let that go for now) is hardly a big point in your favor.

        • adam

          “Do you not understand that a systematic theology can provide a coherent explanation?”

          All good fiction can provide a coherent explanation if you use FAITH

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8a1d48c6ea9ae94abc4986173c1c9496602e6dc86fef2062e9417b9a7f4f213b.jpg

        • Kodie

          Religion is a system of believing something magical outside the realm of reality has a power over you and many religious people therefore adhere to and try to enforce others to behave in certain ways to effect favor upon them from this conscious invisible power. That’s also known as superstition.

        • adam

          “The Christian worldview is grounded in history and provides a systematic
          and coherent explanation for those questions and others outside the
          scope of science.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/de704260c6038172c69830f5b8a4718830b6eecec8c4b134d8197a027a59c2d2.jpg

        • The Christian worldview is grounded in history and provides a systematic and coherent explanation for those questions and others outside the scope of science.

          “Systematic and coherent”? Christianity provides religious answers to those questions. When they are backed up with evidence, I’ll consider them. Until that point, they’re useless to me.

          Do you think religion is out of its depth because it cannot provide naturalistic explanations?

          When it comes to religion answering questions about reality, of course. What answer is worth listening to if there’s no evidence to back it up?

          The supernatural explanations of Christianity are accepted by over a billion people, not that wide acceptance has any real relevance.

          What’s weird is that those people usually accept science’s explanation when it has one. Religion is left to handwave answers to questions that it invents like “Wouldn’t it be nice to live on after you die?”

          Getting back to the main subject, what is your definition of personhood?

          We can’t just look it up in the dictionary?

        • abeggar

          Rather than asking for evidence for questions outside the scope of science, would you accept better explanatory power for reality and the human condition?

          Which dictionary definition of personhood do you suggest? “The state of being a person” is useless. The U.S. Medical Dictionary provides, “The state or condition of being a human individual accorded moral and/or legal rights. Criteria to be used to determine this status are subject to debate, and range from the requirement of simply being a human organism to such requirements as that the individual be self-aware and capable of rational thought and moral agency.” What I want to know is how you correlate personhood with biological development of the human from conception to birth. What definition of personhood allows fractional division, a functionalist one that includes sentience and/or consciousness, or something else? I see no reason to prefer your spectrum view over my dualist view without further definition.

        • MNb

          “would you accept better explanatory power for reality and the human condition?”
          Yes. Alas given your “religion is not a methodology” there is no way (except what makes your underbelly feel warm and cozy) to determine “better”. The fact that you refuse to answer my questions

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2017/11/anti-choicers-misfire-on-the-fertility-clinic-hypothetical-a-response-2-of-2/#comment-3682748076

          confirms that you can’t provide “better explanatory power”.

        • abeggar

          What I can’t provide is a reason to answer your rants beyond what I already have, because you are not interested in really learning anything that may conflict with your self-assured view of reality. Perhaps you hold the same faults you project onto others.

        • epeeist

          And there goes the brand new irony meter I got as a Christmas present.

        • MNb

          Perhaps. Now only if you would point them out. But you don’t. That suggests that your answer is just a cheap cop out.

          “beyond what I already have”
          What you already have provided equals zilch, nada, nothing.

        • Rather than asking for evidence for questions outside the scope of science, would you accept better explanatory power for reality and the human condition?

          Christianity is a changing, ill-defined set of customs and traditions. If you’re saying that it’s one way to organize the world (among many) that often pleases its adherents, I’ll agree.

          Which dictionary definition of personhood do you suggest?

          I don’t know why we’re haggling over definitions. Usually such discussions are a waste of time. I’ll say, “a newborn is a person and the single cell it started as 9 months prior wasn’t,” and then you say, “Nuh uh! According to my definition, they’re both persons!” Or at least that’s how it usually works. I’m not depending on a definition for my spectrum argument.

          What I want to know is how you correlate personhood with biological development of the human from conception to birth.

          This is a tangent. I’m saying that a newborn is a person and the single cell isn’t. If you don’t like “person” in that sentence, I’m flexible. Give me a better word.

        • abeggar

          We’re going in circles. In a previous post, I suggested “sentient human being” as a substitute, but then there is really no disagreement. I’m trying to pin down how you determine that separation from the umbilical cord somehow makes a 100% person with value, no matter when in the gestation period it occurs. That seems very arbitrary; why not a month before or after birth? If future technology provides viability for development of a zygote outside the womb, is a zygote still 0% but not 100% until detached from the machine? Without a definition to explain why a human zygote is not an actual person, since the zygote can do none other than develop into a newborn that is a 100% person by your decree, I find the spectrum argument ill-defined, arbitrary, and internally inconsistent.

        • I’m trying to pin down how you determine that separation from the umbilical cord somehow makes a 100% person with value, no matter when in the gestation period it occurs. That seems very arbitrary; why not a month before or after birth?

          Who cares? We could say that someone reaches the fullness of personhood at age 25, when they’re strongest. Or maybe age 35 when they’re smartest or 50 when they’re wisest (and, of course, argue over these dates). We could say that a newborn is 95% of a person and a premie is only 94%. Or, we could just be arbitrary and say that someone is 100% of a person at birth and it’s linear-ish before that point. I don’t care about trivialities. I’m saying that the newborn is really, really different from the single cell, so the Christian who is determined to say that they’re identical (or morally identical) is wrong.

          I find the spectrum argument ill-defined, arbitrary, and internally inconsistent.

          Cool. As long as we’re in agreement that applying moral rules that make sense for a newborn to the single cell because they’re the same is foolish thinking.

        • abeggar

          Trivialities? Not to an unborn child that is considered property rather than a person up until some arbitrary point. It may not be a triviality for you, too, if society decides at the other end of life that you are no longer a person functionally, and directs you to a Vonnegut-style suicide parlor.

          You seem to assume we are all operating with the same understanding of “moral rules that make sense,” while denying an objective basis for morality. Is the question of who or what culture decides what is moral also a triviality? Since physical development is irrelevant to my moral consideration of human personhood, on what basis do you determine my morality for the zygote is less correct than yours?

        • Trivialities?

          Compared to the actual issue at hand, you betcha. “Tangents” might be a better term.

          Is a newborn morally identical to a single cell? That’s the question. Yep, precisely where on the personhood spectrum each entity goes is debatable, but let’s get past the fiction that they’re identical and that this attitude must be imposed on the entire country by law.

          You seem to assume we are all operating with the same understanding of “moral rules that make sense,” while denying an objective basis for morality.

          I do assume that. I’ll admit that my assumption is often challenged.

          Objective basis for morality? Nope, I’ve seen zero evidence. Perhaps you’re thinking of a shared morality. Since we’re all the same species, that’s not too hard to see.

        • Kodie

          As it is now, society thinks you are their possession and you aren’t able to end your own life voluntarily in most places. When people are terminally ill and in pain, society says you have to stick it out and wait for god to call you, maybe there will be a cure, second-guess you about making a “rash” decision that might be totally in error and cause your family grief for no good reason. At the end of your own life, you still don’t belong to yourself, according to most in society. Even if you don’t have a family, and you have had enough hard times, society will bolt right in and revive you and tell you that it can all turn around. What if you don’t care? What kind of bullshit is that?

          A pre-sentient zygote or embryo or fetus is not a person then it must be a thing. It is as much like a bug that you smack, or probably even less. It has no hopes or dreams. Because you are superstitious, you seem to think it has like a soul that will go somewhere and watch life happen on earth and regret what it has missed in a way that the eggs that have flushed out of my body or sperm that have been squirted out of a man do not have the capacity to do. I don’t share your superstition, that fertilized egg is the same substantially as regular waste, and anything else is a projection of a woman who wants to call herself “mother”. If she doesn’t, it doesn’t cause anyone any harm to get it out and move on with your life.

        • BlackMamba44
        • adam
        • abeggar

          Funny how your graphic uses Dawkins instead of Stalin.

        • epeeist

          Funny how your graphic uses Dawkins instead of Stalin.

          So Stalin had people killed in the cause of atheism did he? That would presumably include members of the Politburo, the army and the NKVD.

        • adam

          Because Stalin didnt kill in the name of atheism

          And Stalin acted like God, in this Cult of Personality.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/02e138a94e0e986c44bf1d5302b01ee6b3bdd6db5247db119eea295d687465a8.jpg

          What’s most interesting is that people consider Dawkins a ‘militant atheist’ because he speaks the truth about faith and religion.

        • MNb

          We can’t help it that creationism like yours is build upon a lie and that hence creationists like you only can defend their pseudoscientific religious crap by producing lies. Let me define “lie” for your benefit. Fortunately your favourite Holy Book already has done so, in Exo. 20:16 and Deu. 5:20. You already have produced quite some false testimonies. Of course you won’t admit it – sinners like you never do.
          Yes, it’s a stereotype. It’s a stereotype because it’s true, even on a very fundamental level. The lies of creationists like you are very well documented.
          Btw MN is not guilty of an ad hominem, because he did not make an argument. He personally attacked you, but that;s not the same.

          “How’s that for reality?”
          Yeah, Genesis so accurately describes how our Universe expands and everything that is in it.

        • Michael Neville

          Like many Christian apologists you don’t know what ad hominem is. It’s refuting an argument by attacking its proponent. I did attack you however I did not attack any of your arguments. I made a general comment that, since you’re a creationist, anything you say should not be accepted without rigorous evidence. You see, creationism is a lie, that means it’s not true and should be obvious to the people pushing the lie that it is not true. Evolution and abiogenesis (which are not the same thing) have literally tons of evidence to support them. The Bible is a collection of myths and fables with little connection with reality. Given the choice between theories supported by evidence and a couple of myths, it should be obvious that the theories are true and the Bible is not.

          As for your nonsense about the universe having a beginning, cosmologists (that’s the physicists who study the origin of the universe) didn’t bother to look at a collection of myths and fables to determine if the universe had a definite beginning. They looked at the evidence. That a couple of the Bible’s myths also say the universe had a beginning is pure happenstance and has nothing to do with reality.

          If you don’t like me commenting on your creationism that’s your problem, not mine. It’s not my fault that you believe in an obvious lie. But there’s a simple fix for your complaints about me. Stop believing in a lie and I won’t comment on you and your favorite lie.

        • adam
        • Rudy R

          Only theists differentiate between micro and macro evolution. Biologists do not. Also, theists reveal a deep misunderstanding of science when they claim there is lack of transitional forms in the fossil record. It is a strawman argument because evolution does not rely solely on transitional fossils. It’s based on the convergence of evidence from geology, paleontology, biogeography, anatomy and physiology, molecular biology, and genetics.

        • abeggar

          I claimed it on the authority of Gould’s trade secret, remember? I’m done discussing it with you.

        • Rudy R

          Can’t take the heat, huh?

        • adam
        • adam

          Every fossil is transitional, you are transitional as well.

        • MNb

          So you don’t understand what historical minimalism means either.

          http://www.livius.org/articles/theory/maximalists-and-minimalists/

          “Maximalist scholars assume that the Biblical story is more or less correct, unless archaeologists prove that it is not”
          This is exactly what the archeologists Greg G mentions underneath have done. They digged until “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” became invalid.

        • abeggar

          Well, Greg gave you an upvote, but I think it is pretty well recognized that his favorite archaeologists Finkelstein and Devers are minimalists, and both critical of the Bible, as I believe are many of the Wikipedia article references.

        • Greg G.

          Devers insists he is not a minimalist.

          I gave links to information about two studies in the Sinai that went for over 20 years each. Combined, they spent more time than the Exodus is supposed to have happened. Their conclusions were that it was an eternal truth made from a bunch of misunderstandings and exaggerations. Which makes it an eternal lie.

        • MNb

          As the link above makes clear the minimalism-maximalism dispute is not about the question whether we must accept nothing or everything as written down in the Bible. It’s not even about the Bible; it’s a general dispute about the reliability of ancient text books and the relation with empirical sciences like archeology.
          I can’t imagine you being surprised that the dispute has been abused by christian literalists to push their agenda.

          For the benefit of bystanders: the classic case for minimalism vs. maximalism is not Moses and his Exodus. It’s the question if King David ruled an actual kingdom. Minimalists and maximalists have reached consensus on the proper definition (for Antiquity – it doesn’t even mean the same as in much later times) of “kingdom”, the most important feature being a palace. Archeologists (and iIrc Finkelstein is involved again) have found a candidate. Unfortunately radiometry, a branch of my favourite science physics, has been unable to decide the issue. It’s results were ambiguous. The beauty though is that this case also shows how minimalists and maximalists are capable of closing the gap between them, ie decreasing the dispute. Even the most pessimistic possible scenario says that David was a tribal chief of a village, his son Salomon build a small kingdom and his grandson Rehoboam ruled a proper kingdom. The origin of the kingdom of Judaea is a matter of just a handful of decades.

        • Greg G.

          I attempted to reply to this post but got ” You cannot reply to a post that is not active.” It happens occasionally on Disqus. I can’t get it by putting the link in another tab nor from my email notification. I will drop it here. My reply is below your post.

          _____________________________________________________________________

          Thanks for the verses, Greg; were you once a Christian? The point of ensoulment has been debated throughout Christian history, but I will lay out what I have concluded.

          I hold that the Old Testament distinguishes between the body and soul. The soul is the immaterial conscious/subconscious mind, emotions, and will, i.e., personality, which communes with God and the Holy Spirit. The soul is meant to reside in a body, but can exist apart from the body before life and after death of the body. Adam is a special creation of God, and the point of Gen. 2:7 is that man did not come to life naturally from the dust, but that God formed him and breathed life into him as a soul (Heb. nephesh) made in His image, so that he has a special relationship with God; it is reading too much into the passage to relate this act to normal human conception. The breath of life has to do with the animation of the body, and does not bear on the pre-existing soul and personhood.

          Skeptic web sites discount Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:13-14, and Matthew 1:20 as being irrelevant to when a fetus becomes a person, basically interpreting that God’s sanctification of Jeremiah or Jesus in the womb is special for prophets, and therefore others are not treated similarly for ensoulment. This ignores that the psalmist declares his days were also written when God saw him as a person before he was formed, which would argue that his unformed substance had a soul. Also, the fetus possess personal attributes such as sin and joy (Psalm 51:5, Luke 1:44), which are spiritual and emotional aspects of the soul. Furthermore, the relationship between the soul and the body it is meant to dwell with is best understood as joined at conception when the body is first instantiated.

          Early Christians held that personhood was from conception, such as Tertullian (Apologeticum IX, 8) :

          But Christians now are so far from homicide, that with them it is utterly unlawful to make away a child in the womb, when nature is in deliberation about the man; for to kill a child before it is born is to commit murder by way of advance; and there is no difference whether you destroy a child in its formation, or after it is formed and delivered. For we Christians look upon him as a man, who is one in embryo; for he is in being, like the fruit in blossom, and in a little time would have been a perfect man, had nature met with no disturbance.

          I am aware Aquinas and some later theologians did not hold this view and that their have been Hellenistic influences in the church, but, in my opinion, all other points for ensoulment are arbitrary, e.g., formed vs. unformed fetus, and maintain a forced separation of the soul from its body that is not demanded. That’s all I have time for now.
          ____________________________________________________________________

          Thanks for the verses, Greg; were you once a Christian?

          I was a serious Christian for a couple of years but it began to make no sense. That was 40 years ago. Back then, the group was into memorization of verses and meditating on verses for information. Not much on reading for comprehension. I think we were supposed to accept what the preacher said. I began to realize that the preachers were saying things about science that I knew was not true but was knowable to him while using the same tone of voice to tell about heaven which he couldn’t possible know. I struggled to maintain my faith for a couple of months but getting lousy answers to my questions. I went back to the church where I “got saved”. The sermon was about cussing and why people cussed. It was because There is POWERRRR in the NAAAAME of the LOOOORD. That’s how it sounded. My next thought was, “Bullshit… oh, there’s power in that word, too!” That silly sermon was the coup de grâce for my faith.

          About a dozen years ago, I got an interest in how Christianity came to be and started studying the New Testament, particularly Mark.

          The ancient writers of the Bible didn’t know where the sun went at night. They didn’t know what the brain did. They believed that thoughts were done by the heart and kidneys, even into the New Testament era. They knew that when a person stopped breathing, they were dead. That’s why we still have words like “spirit” and “respiration” because they used the same word for “life force” and breath. If they thought they were separate things, they would use different words to make the distinction. They knew that if you let the blood out of people, they stopped breathing and their hearts stopped beating, like it was magic. So they had ritual involving killing an animal for its blood to sprinkle on a second matching animal which was released as a conduit to carry the evil away magically.

          Do you know why the Levites were legitimate priests? See what was written in New Testament times:

          Hebrews 7:1-10 (NRSV)1 This “King Melchizedek of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he was returning from defeating the kings and blessed him”; 2 and to him Abraham apportioned “one-tenth of everything.” His name, in the first place, means “king of righteousness”; next he is also king of Salem, that is, “king of peace.” 3 Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.4 See how great he is! Even Abraham the patriarch gave him a tenth of the spoils. 5 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to collect tithes from the people, that is, from their kindred, though these also are descended from Abraham. 6 But this man, who does not belong to their ancestry, collected tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had received the promises. 7 It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 8 In the one case, tithes are received by those who are mortal; in the other, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. 9 One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.

          Melchizedek was a magic priest who came from no family. Abraham gave him a bunch of money. Levi was in Abraham’s loins at the time. But then, so was every other Jew, according to their legends, so there was nothing special about the Levites in that regard.

          So these people were not exactly knowledgeable. You seem to be reading modern science into their writings in order to see things that are not there.

          My favorite Tertullian quote is “It is certain because it is impossible.” Why would you argue with logic like that?

          Here’s a list of verses that use the words “heart”, “kidney”, and “brain”, plus their plurals. The list for verses using “brain” is a null list.

          reins in KJV = kidneys where NRSV & NIV substitute “mind”
          Psalm 7:9
          Psalm 16:7
          Psalm 26:2
          Jeremiah 11:20
          Jeremiah 12:2
          Jeremiah 17:10
          Jeremiah 20:12
          Isaiah 29:13
          Revelation 2:23

          reins in KJV = kidneys,
          Job 16:13
          Job 19:27
          Psalm 7:9
          Psalm 16:7
          Psalm 26:2
          Psalm 73:21
          Psalm 139:13
          Proverbs 23:16
          Isaiah 11:5
          Jeremiah 11:20
          Jeremiah 12:2
          Jeremiah 17:10
          Jeremiah 20:12
          Lamentations 3:13
          Revelation 2:23

          Revelation 2:23 only verse in New Testament that mentions kidneys, in a paraphrase from Jeremiah 17:10.

          Revelation 2:23 uses the Greek “nephros”, as in “nephritis”, imflammation of the kidneys.

          “heart*”
          occurs 771 times in 725 verses in the NIV, including 508 exact phrases

          “heart*”
          occurs 963 times in 884 verses in the KJV, including 762 exact phrases

          “brain*”
          occurs 0 times in 0 verses in the NIV

          “brain*”
          occurs 0 times in 0 verses in the KJV.

          “reins”
          occurs 15 times in 15 verses in the KJV.
          All refer to kidneys, none to horse tack.

          heart used 1038 times
          brain, 0 times
          reins, 15 times

        • From Wikipedia: “In the time of Aristotle, it was widely believed that the human soul entered the forming body at 40 days (male embryos) or 90 days (female embryos), and quickening was an indication of the presence of a soul.”

        • abeggar

          I didn’t say he was necessarily correct in all points, just that he and others have held to a dualist understanding of a substantive soul.

        • I was responding to your “personhood was from conception.”

        • abeggar

          That’s my favorite Tertullian quote as well, when translated as “It is absurd; therefore, it is to be believed.” Before coming to Christ, also 40 years ago, I held to Camus’ philosophy of the absurd. The quote struck me, since Tertullian was saying no men would make up something as absurd as God being incarnated to die for man’s sins. That got me rethinking how the Christian worldview addressed the absurdity of the human condition.

          Christ is a priest in the line of Melchizedek, since there are similarities such as each having no beginning, and it is used to show the superiority of Christ’s priesthood over the Levitical system (Heb. 7:4-10), since Christ only had to make one sacrifice once and for all.

          I agree that the ancients had a poor understanding of the concept of the mind and brain, but the intent of the scripture is to describe God’s relationship to man in a way that people at that time could understand. So, yes, there is a danger in reading modern thinking into OT passages.

        • Greg G.

          That’s my favorite Tertullian quote as well, when translated as “It is absurd; therefore, it is to be believed.” Before coming to Christ, also 40 years ago, I held to Camus’ philosophy of the absurd. The quote struck me, since Tertullian was saying no men would make up something as absurd as God being incarnated to die for man’s sins. That got me rethinking how the Christian worldview addressed the absurdity of the human condition.

          It started with a devotion to an absurd claim that David’s throne would endure forever. When that didn’t happen, they came up with more absurd justifications, making it a concept that would be restored by a Messiah. Then they began to hope it would happen during their lifetime. Daniel says it was written a few centuries earlier than when it was found. It says it was to be sealed up until the end times. How does one seal up something until the end times? The fact that it was being read then was to imply that they were in the end times to give them hope that the coming of the Messiah was imminent.

          It seems likely that every generation ever since has hoped that the Messiah would come and the reasoning became more absurd. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says “according to the scriptures” regarding the claim that Jesus died for sins, was buried, and rose on the third day? That does not refer to the gospels that were even written. It refers to Isaiah 53 for the died for sins and was buried. Hosea 6:2 tells them the resurrection on the third day bit. Zechariah 3 can be read as a parallel to Isaiah 53 to give them the name of “Jesus”. Remember that the New Testament writers favored the Septuagint which has the spellings of “Jesus” used throughout the New Testament. Even Hebrews 9 makes more sense if read in the light of Zechariah 3.

          Ephesians 3:5 says “In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” which implies that the early Christians thought that since the idea came to their generation, that it would be fulfilled during their generation. When Paul talks about the coming of the Lord, he uses the first person plural to refer to those who would be alive and the third person plural for those who are dead at that time.

          See Predictions and claims for the Second Coming of Christ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predictions_and_claims_for_the_Second_Coming_of_Christ for how pathetic these predictions have become. I recall Whisenant’s 88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in 1988 and the sequel 89 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in 1989.

        • I recall Whisenant’s 88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in 1988 and the sequel 89 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in 1989.

          But I hear the upcoming 2018 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in 2018 will be very compelling.

        • Tertullian isn’t just admitting that Christians believe regardless of the evidence, he’s bragging about it.No, that’s not a good thing.

        • abeggar

          Bragging? Far from it. First of all, the actual quote behind the credo quia absurdum is:

          “The Son of God was born: there is no shame, because it is shameful.
          And the Son of God died: it is wholly credible, because it is unsound.
          And, buried, He rose again: it is certain, because impossible.”

          Glenn Peoples has explained it this way:

          As for the meaning, in the context where this saying appears, Tertullian is responding to the Marcionite view, an early heresy that downplayed, even removed, the suffering and death of the Son of God from the Gospels. Tertullian is explaining that Christ did all the things that he lists, and that they are all beneath Christ, but done nonetheless for our benefit (saying only a few lines earlier of the things that Jesus underwent, “Whatever is beneath God’s dignity is for my advantage”). He is also offering a general apologetic for the facts proclaimed in the Gospel, that Jesus was born into the world, died for our sin, and rose again. In the last line, quoted above, he is actually making a similar point to the one made by some Christian apologists today: The theory of the Son of God dying and then rising again seems so impossible that nobody would have initially believed it – unless of course it were true, and people had witnessed it.

        • In the last line, quoted above, he is actually making a similar point to the one made by some Christian apologists today: The theory of the Son of God dying and then rising again seems so impossible that nobody would have initially believed it – unless of course it were true, and people had witnessed it.

          We’ve almost come full circle. You have a remarkable claim? Great–support it with remarkable evidence.

          “Whoa–that is just so completely batshit crazy that it just has to be true; who would be so insane as to invent that??” is not an argument, particularly when the culture from which the gospels rose was suffused in stories of dying-and-rising gods.

        • Kodie

          All you need is a rumor. You believe it, why wouldn’t they believe it, even if it wasn’t true and they hadn’t witnessed it.

        • MNb

          Thanks for confirming that you don’t understand what historical minimalism means. Apparently you haven’t read the link.

        • Kodie

          Your link describes a woman as property of her husband, and her fetus not even as her own body, but also the property of her husband.

        • Joe

          Erroneously Abstracting away the humanity of or treating as property various classes of humans beings has led to slavery, genocide,

          I’ve corrected your error in your statement. I also took the liberty of removing “abortion on demand” to avoid category error, and because it’s currently a legal right.

        • abeggar

          So kind of you, except there is no category error. Slavery was legal, and it was legal to imprison Jews in Nazi Germany, but that does not make those legal actions morally correct any more than aborting a viable fetus on demand.

        • Susan

          there is no category error.

          Saying there isn’t doesn’t mean there isn’t. Joe just explained that there reasonably is.

          does not make those legal actions morally correct any more than aborting a viable fetus on demand.

          If it is viable, it no longer requires a human host. In which case, we are talking about a delivery.

          Define “viable”.

        • abeggar

          Susan, let’s define viable medically as survival outside the womb without severe impairment. This does not mean all babies should be delivered when viable, but when they have the best chance of survival, which is full-term. You may be interested in this related article addressing viability and hospital practices from the New England Journal of Medicine: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1410689

        • Susan

          let’s define viable medically as survival outside the womb without severe impairment

          Agreed. That’s what I thought you meant. I just wanted to be clear we were on the same page.

          but when they have the best chance of survival, which is full-term.

          Agreed also

          So, now what?

          I don’t see your point.

        • abeggar

          You appear to feel the personhood of a woman is denigrated if she is not allowed, regardless of circumstances, to abort a viable baby, whose life is thereby ended. We can never come to any agreement while you deny the personhood of the baby and consider it a parasite in the woman’s body.

        • Pofarmer

          The abortion of “viable” fetuses is extremely rare, and is almost always done in the case of severe abnormality of the fetus.

        • abeggar

          That is true, but I am discussing a principle here, since it is still legal to abort at any point. If a line can be drawn at viability, I am confident that medical science and technology will continue to push the boundary earlier.

        • Pofarmer

          At what cost?

        • Kodie

          It’s because the lungs are still forming around that point. What are you going to deliver, a fetus without lungs and keep it breathing how?

        • BlackMamba44

          I don’t think you quite understand what “viable” means. It doesn’t mean fully formed and healthy. It just means that it has a chance to survive outside the uterus. Medical technology and science are great but they can only do so much.

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

          Limit of viability[edit]
          The limit of viability is the gestational age at which a prematurely born fetus/infant has a 50% chance of long-term survival outside its mother’s womb. With the support of neonatal intensive care units, the limit of viability in the developed world has declined since 50 years ago, but has remained unchanged in the last 12 years.[16][17] Currently the limit of viability is considered to be around 24 weeks although the incidence of major disabilities remains high at this point.[18][19] Neo-natologists generally would not provide intensive care at 23 weeks, but would from 26 weeks.[20][21][22]

          As of 2006, the two youngest children to survive premature birth are thought to be James Elgin Gill (born on 20 May 1987 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, at 21 weeks and 5 days gestational age),[23][24] and Amillia Taylor (an IVF pregnancy, born on 24 October 2006 in Miami, Florida, at 21 weeks and 6 days gestational age).[25][26] Both children were born just under 20 weeks from fertilization (or 22 weeks’ gestation). At birth, Taylor was 9 inches (22.86 cm) long and weighed 10 ounces (283 grams).[25] She suffered digestive and respiratory problems, together with a brain hemorrhage. She was discharged from the Baptist Children’s Hospital on 20 February 2007.[25] As of 2013, Taylor was in kindergarten and at the small end of the normal growth curve with some developmental delays.[27]

          A preterm birth, also known as premature birth, is defined as babies born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed.[28] There are three types of preterm births: extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks), very preterm (28 to 32 weeks) and moderate to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks).[29]

        • abeggar

          in my response to Susan, I gave my definition of viability as survival outside the womb without severe impairment, which obviously does not require full physical development, but development commensurate with the gestational age. The article I cited gave evidence that viability is related to the hospital practices employed.

        • BlackMamba44

          A viable, healthy baby will not be aborted and killed. It will be delivered and either kept by the woman or put up for adoption.

          And yes, it’s a parasitic relationship. Once implanted the fertilized egg secretes substances that lower the woman’s immune system so it doesn’t get rejected as a foreign invader. Then it starts pulling nutrients and materials from the woman to grow.

        • Kodie

          I am in favor of all women and girls getting honest information about abortion, and immediate no-waiting-period access, and not getting tangled up in emotional arguments that are meant to manipulate and guilt them and only delay them from their inevitable choice. Women should not end up getting an abortion so late if they don’t want to have a baby.

        • Joe

          Was. Not is. Was.

          If you want to argue legality, go ahead, but you can’t compare it to slavery and genocide.

          Or do you want to talk morality, which can be separate to legality?

        • abeggar

          Abortion was illegal, became legal in a controversial ruling, and may become illegal again in the U.S. depending on how the personhood of the fetus is resolved, just as the personhood of slaves and Jews was eventually affirmed.

          If you are an atheist, and want to discuss the moral grounds relating to abortion, you will have to define your frame of moral reference. I’d also be curious why you either agree or disagree with Peter Singer’s moral position regarding infants.

        • Susan

          may become illegal again in the U.S. depending on how the personhood of the fetus is resolved,

          Only if you ignore the personhood of the woman involved.

          just as the personhood of slaves and Jews was resolved

          I don’t see how the personhood of Jews and slaves ignores the personhood of other persons. Can you explain?

        • Slaves and Jews aren’t microscopic. Tossing the single cell into the mix won’t work.

        • Joe

          If you are an atheist, and want to discuss the moral grounds relating to abortion, you will have to define your frame of moral reference.

          Easy. I believe in minimizing the suffering of sentient beings.

          I’d also be curious why you either agree or disagree with Peter Singer’s moral position regarding infants.

          I don’t even know what that is, let alone why this person’s view is relevant to me.

        • abeggar

          So, given the situation where a woman wants to abort a viable baby for her convenience, it seems you would deny the abortion since the death of the sentient fetus would be worse suffering than the woman’s suffering if the baby were delivered? Google Peter Singer and infanticide, since he has taken the relative morality view of personhood to its logical conclusion.

        • Joe

          What sentient foetus? Do you know what “sentient” means?

          Why should I care about Peter Singer? I don’t even know who he is.

        • BlackMamba44

          So, given the situation where a woman wants to abort a viable baby for her convenience

          This doesn’t happen. If the fetus is viable then there WILL BE A DELIVERY, not an abortion.

        • Susan

          Yes, if it were from the Alien movie or a parasite;

          It is a parasite. By definition. Anyway, why yes in this case?

          no, if it is a human being carried by a woman under normal childbearing.

          Why not?

          Abstracting away the humanity of or treating as property various classes of humans beings has led to slavery, genocide,

          Sort of like what you’re suggesting we do with impregnated women?

        • abeggar

          No, not by the biological definition of the parasite being a different species, although I’ll grant family members may act as non-biological parasites. I should have elaborated that the affirmative was to the exorcism of the parasite.

          The tension that exists when there are two persons with inalienable rights in one body needs to be legally resolved so that neither person is treated as property – the current status of the fetus in most cases.

        • Kodie

          Besides what Susan said, most people do seem to think their children are their own property.

        • Sulie

          Abstracting away the humanity…that’s what my experience was like exactly.

    • abeggar

      Then they are presented with the fertility clinic hypothetical, and their whole Rube Goldberg contraption of dishonest doctrine looks pretty stupid.

      Besides being condescending, your glee is misplaced, since this hypothetical fails in its intended effect to discredit the humanity of the embryos. It is a rehash of the older “Burning IVF Facility” hypothetical that has been well-answered before, e.g.,
      http://christianapologeticsalliance.com/2012/08/22/thought-experiment-the-burning-ivf-facility/

      • Chuck Johnson

        Your link includes this:

        So as we see, allowing these embryos to die in the fire to rescue
        another human does nothing to show that we don’t believe embryos are
        full human persons, and it certainly doesn’t justify us taking their
        lives through abortion.

        This quote is another example of the ignorant and dishonest kind of politics that Christian apologetics will routinely produce.

        • abeggar

          Did you read the scenarios given in the article, or just skip to the ending? Since ad hominem attacks are your escape hatch, there is no point in continuing this thread.

        • Chuck Johnson

          The scenarios and the conclusion are both poor-quality thinking and poor-quality morality. It’s an embarrassment to the author.

      • What’s the argument at that link?

        • abeggar

          It’s short enough to read for yourself. Here is a quote explaining the basic thought: “In choices about who to save, various circumstances can determine who is chosen without a denial of the fundamental equality of the human beings involved. The embryo rescue case does not show that human embryos lack basic human rights.”

        • Susan

          In choices about who to save, various circumstances can determine who is chosen without a denial of the fundamental equality of the human beings involved.

          If they’re fundamentally equal, on what basis do you choose a single human being over many human beings?

          That doesn’t even ask you to address the fact that no one (other than impregnated women) is forced to donate their body through gestation and labour, with all the consequences attached, to another “human being”.

        • abeggar

          Those are good questions, and the article explains that various situations where the best judgment may not result in the greatest number of people being saved, e.g., in war medical triage, but this does not discredit intrinsic human value. I hope you are using the term “forced” to mean a woman impregnated against her will or accidentally, but that is indeed the tension of two people sharing the same body temporarily, as nature intended, which must be resolved legally by our pluralistic society comprising different views of personhood.

        • Sulie

          I agree with your general view, but am still pro choice.
          One shouldn’t have to prove they had no choice in having sex.

        • Greg G.

          Another poster presented a similar argument. The answer in both are to save the living person and screw the embryos. How many embryos would it take before you would save the embryos over a five year old? What if it was 100 billion embryos? You have to do mental gymnastics to argue that they are equal.

          An embryo has no brain so it does not have a mind to produce personhood. Souls are imaginary. If you read the Bible, the breath of life is the important factor to determine life.

    • Sulie

      “Christianity teaches…an eternity in paradise is more important than our lives here on earth.”

      In some circumstances, it sort of does. Huge oversimplification, strawman, but yes, sort of sometimes.

      Yes they justify their “pro-life” stance the way you describe. Not all religious people are pro-life. This turned into a back and forth on religion, it’s bigotry made politically useful.

  • Herald Newman

    Thankfully, many of us don’t live in Brazil, where the Evangelical congressional committee has just moved to ban abortions in all cases. Fortunately, it’s not law, and has some significant hurdles to become law, but it shows just what the Christian forced birthers want.

    It should also be noted that banning abortions hasn’t stopped abortions either, and women are ending up in hospital from botched procedures.

  • RichardSRussell

    And don’t get me started about men weighing in on a matter that can never affect them personally.

    This argument has of late made me uncomfortable, even tho I used to use it myself. It seems to me to be logically equivalent to saying that “Only people who have cancer are qualified to be opposed to cancer.”

    Anyone want to try to set me straight?

    • Herald Newman

      Don’t you think it’s just a bit too convenient for somebody, who cannot be personally affected by their own moral judgements, to say that something is immoral?

      • RichardSRussell

        So you’re saying it’s OK to steal as long as they aren’t stealing from you?

        The essence of moral judgments is that you’re looking at what other people do and evaluating whether those actions are OK in your book. Or not. And we all do it all the time, no qualifications or entrance exam required. Should there be?

        • Herald Newman

          So you’re saying it’s OK to steal as long as they aren’t stealing from you?

          No, because I’m fully capable of stealing. As a man, I’m not ever capable of becoming pregnant.

          What I am saying is that I would be suspicious of a moral judgement coming from somebody who cannot perform the action they’re judging. I would be suspicious that they may not be using empathy to evaluate all sides.

        • RichardSRussell

          OK, then, different scenario. Bob Dole (who doesn’t have the use of his right arm after he was wounded in WW2) isn’t qualified to judge whether Colin Kaepernick is a competent quarterback, since Bob himself is incapable of throwing a football at all, let alone well.

        • lady_black

          That’s an opinion.

        • RichardSRussell

          Opinions, practically by definition, are judgments.

        • lady_black

          No. They are opinions. They don’t need to be good or knowledgeable opinions. Nobody cares about your opinion of Colin Kaepernick as a QB. It likely means less than nothing to Mr. Kaepernick himself.

        • RichardSRussell

          o·pin·ion (noun) a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

        • lady_black

          That doesn’t help you.

        • RichardSRussell

          Well, it does show that the commonly understood meaning of the word “opinion” is that it is in fact a judgment, contrary to what you were saying.

        • lady_black

          What it SHOWS is exactly what I said. Nobody is meant to take opinions seriously. You are conflating different definitions of the word judgment.

        • RichardSRussell

          Quick reprise of exactly what you said:

          Me: “Opinions, practically by definition, are judgments.”

          You: “No. [sic] They are opinions. They don’t need to be good or knowledgeable opinions.”

          So you directly contradicted my assertion that opinions are judgments. The dictionary disagrees.

          I herewith avail myself of the opportunity to amend my original post by (upon having gone and looked for myself) retracting the word “practically”.

        • lady_black

          To me, there is a big difference between an opinion and a judgment. An opinion may or may not be informed, or come from a rational place. Therefore it’s pretty meaningless.

        • RichardSRussell

          Judgments likewise may or may not be informed, or come from a rational place. Therefore your attempt to distinguish between judgments and opinions, however appealing it may be to you personally, is also pretty meaningless. And not recognized by common usage of the English language.

          However, since you wrote of different definitions of “judgment”, please point out the one you prefer to use. These are the options offered up by the dictionary:

          judg·ment (noun)

          1. the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.

          2. an opinion or conclusion.

          3. a decision of a court or judge.

        • Herald Newman

          What I would say is that I would be suspicious of Bob Dole if he said that anybody using their right arm, to throw a football, was acting immorally, and needs to be thrown into jail. I’m not claiming he’s wrong, but since he can never face a situation where he has to make that choice (it’s already made for him), he never has to worry about the consequences of his moral judgement coming back to bite him personally. Some people have a lot of trouble looking at the world outside of themselves, and trying to understand the terrible dilemmas that other people face.

        • RichardSRussell

          But suppose Bob’s judgment was that Colin Kaepernick was a really good quarterback and deserved to be playing in the NFL. He’s still not in a position to BE Colin Kaepernick, but would you still contend that he’s incapable of imagining what it MIGHT be like?

        • Herald Newman

          Sure, he’s fully capable of imagining it. Perhaps we’re talking past each other. I’m not advocating that men CANNOT make moral judgements about women and abortions. What I’m saying is that many of the men who do so are doing so for purely irrational religious reasons, and aren’t considering what it would be like to even be put in the situation.

          I’m skeptical of men who say that abortion is always wrong. I don’t think they’ve done much more than take a cursory look at what the woman has to deal with.

        • RichardSRussell

          And I agree. It’s just that I don’t buy into the idea that one has to be personally susceptible to a particular condition or state of affairs to be entitled to an opinion about it.

        • lady_black

          It’s just that his opinion should be given the weight it deserves. Very little!

        • Herald Newman

          Agree. Everyone is entitled to offer their opinion, But that doesn’t mean that we have to consider all opinions as equally worthy of our attention. I don’t give much stock to the opinions of white supremacist on non-whites.

        • lady_black

          Bob Dole, at one time, had a fully functioning arm. He can perfectly well know how that feels. YOU, on the other hand, have never been pregnant, nor given birth. And there is no hope that you ever will.
          NO, I do NOT think that you can imagine how that feels, any more than I can imagine how it would feel to have testicular cancer. What I imagine about it is irrelevant. It will never happen to me. I must take the word of the person it’s happening to.

        • RichardSRussell

          And you will never imagine how John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, or Ted Kaczynski felt, so you should take their word for it that they were perfectly justified, right? That’s literally the argument you’re making — that you have no moral standing whatsoever to judge anyone else unless you can somehow or other put yourself in their position, even in your imagination.

        • lady_black

          Criminals? Nope. They are by definition NOT justified.

        • RichardSRussell

          Ah, so YOU’RE the person who would’ve turned in the criminal fugitive Anne Frank for her violation of the laws of the land. Good to know where one’s interlocutors are coming from in any discussion of morality.

        • lady_black

          Look troll… Why are you trying to conflate a pregnant woman and how she feels about it with mass murderers and Nazi sympathizers?
          In other words, what do they have in common? There is something WRONG with you. I repeat… NO you DO NOT know what it means to be pregnant or give birth.
          You want to do that, use your own body. Mine you do not get. Now get lost, Psycho. We’re done here.

        • Susan

          Look troll…

          Hi lady_black.

          Richard is not a troll.

          Why are you trying to conflate a pregnant woman and how she feels about it with mass murderers and Nazi sympathizers?

          He’s not. He’s trying to highlight the problems of excluding people from having moral opinions.

          I have never been a solider in armed combat. I am capable of having an opinion about the conduct of a soldier in armed combat.

          However, in doing so, I’d better acknowledge what a soldier in armed combat has to deal with. To dismiss it as incidental and to say “murder is murder” without factoring in the reality of being a soldier in armed combat dsqualifies my opinion.

          That I’ve never been a soldier in armed combat should not disqualify my opinion if I take those things into account.

          You want to do that to your own body?

          I doubt it. And he’s shown no indication that he wants to force you to do it to yours.

          He was pointing out the problem with saying that criminals are “by definition NOT justified:.”

          Anne Frank was “by definition” a “criminal”.

        • lady_black

          I don’t like the idea of someone making a claim that they deserve a say on something they will never personally experience (that involves their own body, and none of his) and comparing that to mass murderers and Nazis is trollish. Not to mention, totally creepy.
          When Richard is pregnant, he deserves 100% of the say. Until then, he deserves none of it.
          There are no one-size-fits-all opinions on pregnancy because pregnancy isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. And that is the main problem I have with anyone who isn’t pregnant thinking they have any right to an opinion about someone else’s pregnancy.
          I have been through a pregnancy that was life-threatening, and that’s hard enough without anyone else sticking in their two cents. I apologize if that isn’t Richard’s intention. He STILL has no right to voice his opinion on any pregnancy he’s not carrying. He can “think” whatever he wants.

        • Susan

          I don’t like the idea of someone making a claim that they deserve a say on something they will never personally experience

          I have no problem with that idea. Which is why I think I can justify a moral opinion on the actions of soldiers in armed combat IF I take into consideration what they personally experience.

          comparing that to mass murderers and Nazis is trollish.

          No. It’s not trollism when he legitimately probed your statement that “criminals are by definition NOT justified”. He was trying to highlight the problem with that statement. He was NOT trying to compare reproductive rights with mass murder and Nazism.

          There are no one-size-fits-all opinions on pregnancy because pregnancy isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation

          Agreed. I doubt Richard disagrees. I will let him speak for himself. He’s very good at it. I will only say that he never suggested that it IS a one-size-fits-all situation.

          that is the main problem I have with anyone who isn’t pregnant thinking they have any right to an opinion about someone else’s pregnancy.

          I would say the main problem with weighing in is with people who disregard what you (and so many women) have to contend with. Richard does not seem to be someone who’ disregards that.

          If I”m not a parent, but someone is abusing and depriving their child, am I unqualified to have a moral opinion? How about if someone drags a dog down a highway on their bumper? If I’m not a dog or a dog owner.

          No one uses these examples to compare pregnancy with any of these acts. The point is that a person with a moral opinion that factors in everything they possibly can in assessing the situation, has a right to a moral opinion.

          You have had to deal with too many assholes who dismiss the reality of pregnancy, childbirth, labour, bonding etc…

          Richard has never done that. He’s simply a thoughtful person who’s making the point that excluding people from participating in moral discussion doesn’t seem to be reasonable. (See my examples above.)

          He STILL has no right to voice his opinion on any pregnancy he’s not carrying.

          I disagree and I’ve provided many examples.

          My guess is that Richard would factor in everything you’re talking about when he assesses an opinion about morality.

          Being a man doesn’t disqualify him. Being a person who ignores the reality of pregnancy, labour, etc. would. But he hasn’t.

        • lady_black

          I don’t give two shits about your “guesses” or Richard’s. He, and you, need to keep your unsolicited advice to yourself.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You’re STILL conflating social interaction with a personal medical decision.

          Why?

        • Susan

          You’re STILL conflating social interaction with a personal medical decision.

          How am I doing that?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope. Unjust laws can’t define a criminal, and protecting one’s own life when one has done nothing wrong and is the victim of discrimination CAN NOT be a crime, barring a Typhoid Mary situation.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Social interaction vs. personal medical decision.

          What’s so hard to understand here?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You’re still conflating social acts with a personal medical decision.

          So your attempted point is STILL irrelevant.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Football is not innate biology.

          So, irrelevant.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Bob Dole could train himself to use his left arm to throw a football.

          Also, football is NOT a personal medical decision involving a sentient patient and a doctor, about an undesired medical state.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Giving less weight to the man’s opinion on a particular abortion makes sense.
          Completely ignoring the man’s opinion would be the wrong thing to do.
          Emotions and politics can hide this simple truth.

        • Susan

          What I am saying is that I would be suspicious of a moral judgement coming from somebody who cannot perform the action they’re judging

          If their judgement is that bodily autonomy is a right to which every established person is entitled (which covers reproductive rights), would you still be suspicious?

          Many men agree. Should I be suspicious of their position?

        • Herald Newman

          But bodily autonomy does affect me. Simply replace “must give birth” with “must give my liver”, and you have something that is analogous.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          On the basis that it doesn’t restrict your freedom (of bodily autonomy, in this case), I’d say it’s MUCH less likely to be suspicious.

        • lady_black

          I disagree wholeheartedly. I think morality is about thinking over an action, and deciding whether YOU should do it or not. You don’t get to sit in judgement of other people who are neither picking your pocket, nor breaking your leg. Of course, that extends to picking anyone’s pocket, or breaking anyone’s leg. Those are crimes.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Don’t just look at a person’s own moral judgements as a definition of morality.
          That person is also obliged to recognize the moral judgements of others and consider those judgements, too.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope. ALL morals are situational.

          And if you can’t be in the situation, it’s immoral of you to condemn a medical procedure in the name of a bronze-age superstition.

      • Chuck Johnson

        But they (in the case of abortion) are personally affected by their own moral judgements.
        You just don’t see it.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          They can be affected by their own moral judgements.

          They CAN’T affect the physical biological health decisions of women based on their moral judgements.

        • Chuck Johnson

          What do you mean CAN’T ?

          Not Possible ?
          Or should not be allowed to have a say ?

    • lady_black

      We don’t base laws on “morals.” Those are up to you. We base laws on rights. Since nobody has a right to use someone’s body without consent, I’m OK with abortion. You cannot steal, NOT because it’s immoral (personally, I don’t believe that to always be true), but because it’s wrong to deprive someone of their property without compensation. You cannot murder because you are depriving a person of his right to live. Killing isn’t always wrong, but murder is always wrong. For example, you can kill in self-defense, or in war, or as a part of law enforcement to protect yourself and others.

    • Chuck Johnson

      Yes, anyone can and should speak out about moral questions.
      But in fundamentalist Christianity, men have greater moral authority than women, and women are more directly impacted by abortion decisions.

      The real problem here is the ancient misogynistic pyramid of authority.

    • eric

      I don’t see it as an absolute negative so much as a big warning sign. We should seek to empathize with a person, see the situation from their perspective, before opining on how they ought to act. If for some reason it’s really hard to fully ‘get’ their perspective, we should tread very cautiously.

      So I would say the case with men and abortion is: yes of course we can have an opinion (it would be pretty hard to stop that from happening!). Yes we can voice it. But we should try to do a lot more listening than talking. This is a ‘tread cautiously’ situation for us, where we probably don’t and can’t grok the full psychological ramifications of the ‘unwanted pregnancy’ experience. (And a bone to the pro-lifers: we should also tread cautiously before opining on the women who choose to continue their pregnancies even in cases where it appears, to our perspective, a really bad or socially irresponsible idea. They are equally deserving of our ears over our mouths.)

    • Rudy R

      I wouldn’t frame it that way. I look at it as “Only people who don’t have cancer decide how people with cancer get treated.” And to add insult to injury, we’ve all heard about those Republican, Christian politicians who vehemently appose abortion for everyone else, but themselves. Rep Tim Murphy is a case in point.

    • I replied to Greg Koukl making a similar objection: it doesn’t matter man or woman because either can comment on immorality. My reply is here (search “Vietnam”):

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/01/why-is-it-always-men-advancing-the-pro-life-position-2/

    • Maybe it’d be more convenient if I just copied the relevant section:

      I remember a podcast by a popular Christian apologist during which a woman caller asked this question. The apologist (a man) seemed annoyed. He said that murder was murder. (I argue that abortion isn’t murder.)

      More to the point, he said that his moral opinion was relevant regardless of his gender. I’ll agree with that, as far as it goes. But I think that the woman had an important point that is rarely acknowledged, since only a woman can have an abortion.

      Let me try to create a symmetric male-only example. This apologist is of the age where he might have been in the draft pool during the Vietnam War. So let’s suppose it’s 1970, and this guy comes back from a tour fighting in Vietnam. Readjusting to life in America is tough, and he has nightmares and other symptoms of what we now call PTSD. His wife is sympathetic and, after some prodding, he shares the problem with her.

      “Oh, you should go see Dr. Jones about that,” she says. “I’m part of a community of veterans’ wives, and I’ve heard all about that. He does wonders with returning soldiers, and he’ll fix you up in no time.”

      Our hero hesitates, not comfortable discussing his demons with a stranger. “I don’t think so.”

      “No, really. I’ve heard a lot about this, and that treatment should work for you.”

      Tension increases as they go back and forth. Finally, he says, “Honey, I really appreciate your sympathy. I know you want to help. But you must understand that you will never, ever understand what I’ve been through. Put in 18 months in Vietnam and then we’ll have something to talk about. Until then, you really don’t get it.”

      Similarly, our 60-something male apologist will never, ever completely understand what it’s like to be 15 and pregnant, faced with disapproving parents and ridicule from classmates and pro-lifers shouting “murder!” at the suggestion of an abortion, wondering how she’s ever going to get her life back on track.

      If the male apologist wants to comment on the topic, that’s fine, but humility (and sympathy) would make his position easier to take.

  • Rudy R

    The increasing personhood of the fetus during gestation is the foundation of any argument for abortion, and this hypothetical clears the way.

    It could be argued that increasing personhood of the fetus is also the foundation of an argument against abortion. I disagree with the pro-lifer position that the fetus is a person at conception, however, the fetus is likely to become a person.

    • But how is what it’s likely to become relevant to our discussion of what it is right now?

      When the fetus becomes a person, then we can apply person-rules. Until that point, it’s not a person (though it may be fractionally a person).

      • Chuck Johnson

        You say that a fetus may be fractionally a person.
        Fractionally is how I would describe it.
        But then, I say that we should fractionally apply person-rules.

        Going from egg plus sperm to a human being is an evolutionary process.
        Our perception of personhood should evolve right along with the biological evolution which we observe.

        • Sure. Go ahead and apply fractional person-rules.

          A 100% person would have her life screwed over because of a 5% person. Can she kill the 5% person?

        • Chuck Johnson

          Bob, you have already applied fractional person-rules.
          That is the theme of this blog post.

          You are telling us that a canister of embryos has value, but less value than a 5 year old child. That is certainly true.

          The fractional person rules consist of understanding that personhood develops over time. You have shown that you believe this.

          Then applying the fractional person rules consists of taking the evolutionary process of going from egg and sperm to 5 year old child as a real, important developmental process.

          Applying the fractional person rules also means not declaring a particular event (such as fertilization or birth) to be the beginning of humanity or personhood. It’s a process involving many events.

          Here in the USA, legislation and case law recognize this kind of fractional person thinking. Medical practice and medical advice to expectant parents recognizes this kind of fractional-person thinking.

          Fractional person thinking is already here, and it has been here for many years. It does get applied to decision making.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Can she kill the 5% person?-Bob

          Sometimes yes, sometimes, no.
          Decisions like this are not made in an information vacuum.
          You have not provided that information in your theoretical 5% person question.

          Rules of thumb and theoretical questions can only be answered to a slight degree. When real people are involved, real information with extensive details are needed to guide decisions as important as the ones being discussed here.

          And that’s how (generally) people actually make these important decisions.

      • Rudy R

        Ameribear, in our ongoing abortion debate, has brought up a good point concerning the issue of sentience and personhood. As there is a physical spectrum between a fetus and baby, there is also a sentience spectrum between the two. His position is that a fetus is a person at conception, because it’s at the very beginning of the sentience spectrum and as such, makes abortion immoral. My position is that a human becomes a person when it is capable of living outside the mother’s womb and is sentient. And although I don’t agree with the starting point of sentience starting at conception, because the brain is not capable of cognition at that point, given time, the brain will become sentient.

        Does the sentience starting point matter, in terms of abortion, given that eventually, the end point of the sentience spectrum will be met.

        For example, sentience could be suspended, then restarted, in the case of a comatose human becoming conscious. The human in the comatose state was likely not sentient, then became sentient again after returning to consciousness. Given that the human is not brain dead, the comatose person has the potential for becoming sentient once again, and is afforded the opportunity to realize sentience after a given time. Since it has been proven comatose humans have awaken, and regained sentience, after many months and years, shouldn’t fetuses also be afforded the opportunity to realize sentience after a given time? In terms of who lives or dies, is there a difference between humans who initially become sentient and humans having sentience, losing it, and then regaining it?

        I don’t think there should be a difference, if we believe humans have intrinsic value. If we believe only persons have intrinsic value, are the fetus and comatose human different? Maybe. The fetus was never a person, while even though the comatose human is not sentient, they are considered still a person, akin to a dead human being considered a dead person.

        It’s the human becoming sentient, becoming a person that has provisionally made me rethink my position on abortion as it pertains to person-rules.

        • Joe

          Does the sentience starting point matter, in terms of abortion, given that eventually, the end point of the sentience spectrum will be met.

          Yes, because the decision on the future of the foetus has to be made before that point. You can’t put the cork back in the bottle.

          Since it has been proven comatose humans have awaken, and regained sentience, after many months and years, shouldn’t fetuses also be afforded the opportunity to realize sentience after a given time?

          Should we never switch off life support, for any reason?

          I don’t think there should be a difference, if we believe humans have intrinsic value.

          I don’t believe that.

        • Rudy R

          You don’t believe all humans have intrinsic value?

        • Joe

          Unless you can show me where this intrinsic value lies, and what properties it has, no.

        • TheNuszAbides

          especially the more crowded a planet gets. “life is precious” is a tenuously-derived ‘ought’. life is just about as cheap as talk, wherever it is plentiful.

    • Chuck Johnson

      You have not defined what a “person” is.
      We are all persons to some degree.
      The human being and the word “person” are not identical things.
      No one is a paragon of personhood or a paragon of humanity.
      Any person who gets injured and becomes brain dead becomes less of a person. The ability to think is an important part of being human and being a person.

      A developing fetus is somewhat a person. Bob states this as “fractionally a person”.

      • Rudy R

        No matter how you define “person”, should justification for abortion be based on actualized personhood? Or put another way, should abortion be justified based on the fetus not being a person? Should it matter that the fetus is a human and not a person, considering the fetus will eventually become a person?

        • Chuck Johnson

          No matter how you define “person”, should justification for abortion be based on actualized personhood?-Rudy

          The words person, personhood, human, fetus and abortion are useful to begin such conversations and to inform such decisions.

          These words are indispensable in writing legislation and in courts of law. But the words that you are asking me about are not well-defined enough defined to rely on to make a yes or no abortion decision.

          Along with those words, stories must be presented and understood.
          The woman and the man involved will have their stories.
          The medical professionals will have their stories.

          The legal professionals will have their stories.
          And all this applies to contentious cases where a court of law is needed.

          Many abortion decisions are not legally very contentious, and with a little advice from a medical professional, the yes or no decision for abortion is made.

        • Lark62

          The justification for abortion is the fully actualized personhood of the mother. She is not obligated to risk her life or health for any person, much less for a parasite that is not yet a person.

        • Rudy R

          I agree that the mother’s health and welfare comes first. But the mother’s health notwithstanding, what would be the reason for not allowing a zygote/fetus/baby to actualize their personhood?

        • Lark62

          The woman’s health comes first. First means first. That means if the living, breathing woman decides it is not in her best interest to remain pregnant, she can choose to not remain pregnant. End of discussion.

        • Kodie

          Why does she have to donate her body for 9 months if she doesn’t want to, or the outcome after 9 months?

        • Rudy R

          Just so we are clear, I’m pro-choice and believe abortions should be safe, legal and rare and the choice should be decided between the woman, her family, and her physician. The choice should not be decided by theistic, political zealots on the basis of their religious dogmas. I’m just re-examining the secular justification for abortion.

          What I’m essentially asking is, do all humans have intrinsic value? And if they do, why is a zygote’s intrinsic value less then a viable fetus, and a viable fetus less than the mother’s intrinsic value? If all humans don’t have intrinsic value, why?

          Here’s a thought experiment. If the medical technology was capable of extracting a zygote from a pregnant mother and the community nursed the zygote into a flourishing, fully formed and conscious human being, at no cost to the woman and the community, would it be morally right to do so?

        • TheNuszAbides

          in a system that efficient, we would presumably have fully ironed out questions regarding a) whether/how parents/guardians may profit off their genetic/intellectual [minor-age] property, b) whether fertile individuals may decline to fertilize/breed on the basis of hereditary risk of hostile-to-quality-of-life defects/disorders.
          also, how does a community carry a zygote to term at “no cost”? that needs just a little more detail than “but it’s a thought-experiment’, i think.

        • Rudy R

          You’re missing the point of the thought experiment. Would it be morally right to save the zygote, if we had the capability to do so?

        • TheNuszAbides

          it would be morally right to primarily honor the concerns of the immediate* source of the genetic material, who should have ultimate say over whether said material is propagated for any purpose. the technology and infrastructure to remove the zygote entirely from the equation of initially-impregnated-female would presumably mean [skipping the question of under what circumstances it is permitted to extract the zygote, chance of complications etc.] each biological-parent had equal say – or may even require agreement, unless an instilled societal value includes the state’s prerogative to ‘break a tie’ in its own favor.

          at this point we would probably develop cheap standardized contracts regarding all sexual activity that may result in pregnancy, assuming the ‘community’ hasn’t instituted ‘no-cost’ family law on a rigorous scale …

          *i.e. the potential grand[etc.]parents have no say, unless of course one or both potential parents aren’t independent citizens …

          and still, the “no cost” handwave is an over-reach in simplifying the question and thus renders it rather silly, IMO. it’s not unlike asking “if we figured out a way we’d never have to eat again – never mind the details – would it be morally right to keep eating?” to posit “all else being equal”, no unforeseen consequences, etc., makes the answers even more trivial.

          or maybe it’s merely that i prefer ‘hard’ sci-fi to ‘soft’.

        • Rudy R

          You continue to miss the point of the thought experiment. Your responses are like those of the theists responding to the Fertility Clinic Hypothetical by adding additionally hypotheticals to cloud the original hypothetical.

          “if we figured out a way we’d never have to eat again – never mind the details – would it be morally right to keep eating?”

          This hypothetical is a category error. Eating is not an action that would be categorized as being moral or immoral.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Eating is not an action that would be categorized as being moral or immoral.

          Tell that to a vegan while eating meat and see what response you get. Be wearing leather, wool, and down at the time.

        • TheNuszAbides

          nice try at making it my problem that you don’t see the thought-experimental-logical-extension of arguments that have already been made against eating meat.

        • Rudy R

          Not so good a try in refuting my reply. And how again is your moral eating example not flawed? And how again are you not mimicking theists in their response to the Fertility Clinic hypothetical?

        • TheNuszAbides

          if your thought-experiment, by design, renders the wishes of the initial zygote-carrier irrelevant, then it sounds like a society that would consider the extraction perfectly legitimate, and presumably moral assuming the majority of citizens were in fact responsible for putting such an infrastructure in place. but personally i don’t think it’s moral to pose the question as though said wishes are functionally irrelevant (hand-waved by “no cost”). and i still say it’s absurd to posit a moral question about obligation to nurturing hypothetical life considering so few factors. which is a cock-eyed way to characterize ‘mimicking theists’, who [apart from a handful of dubiously-intellectual outliers] are perfectly content with the most oversimplified garbage excuses available to ‘support’ their moral and/or political opinions.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Only if the woman didn’t have to host it, and the woman could deny any responsibility for the resultant baby.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and if this depends on skipping over the “do all born humans + all zygotes have equal intrinsic value” question then all of my other objections are wasted whether or not you imply that i’m “mimicking theists”.
          overpopulation is clearly not an already-solved problem, unless you’re posing it is in this “no cost” hypothetical. pretending that humans can go on blanketing the only planet where they are known to thrive is merely irresponsible. for a not-just-a-thought-experiment example, i don’t think China’s One Child policy was immoral (though I do think any cultural preference for male children is twisted, and it was certainly immoral to allow exceptions for the wealthy).

        • Kodie

          No. I am pro-choice, and I believe abortions should be safe, legal, and as common as they need to be. They are inconvenient and invasive, but there is nothing more unethical going on than going to get a haircut, so it is in a woman’s best interest to use something to prevent pregnancy, but not to feel ashamed or stigmatized for getting one of those rare abortions, as though there’s anything wrong with having one.

          There is no intrinsic value in a zygote. This is called a grace period, and nobody’s business what a woman chooses. There are and would be costs of raising humans, so acting like there could possibly be a situation where valuing every zygote such that every pregnant woman would be subject to its removal to the protection of some kind of community gives me chills. I’m imagining some Hand Maid’s Tale and shit.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Embryos / zygotes / morulas / etc have only as much ‘intrinsic value’ as hair, flaked off skin, menstruation, etc.

          It may have human cells, but it has NO personhood not granted by the host.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          That ‘actualization’ requires SLAVERY of an actualized human being, the pregnant woman.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          No more than it should matter that a cancer cell or tumor is human.

        • al kimeea

          May, not will, be born. The ever lovin deity has many ways of showing it before that happens.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      So? A cancer cell could become a tumor which kills the host.

      ‘WhatIfs’ are irrelevant when the host woman HAS DECIDED to not carry to term.

  • Aram

    No one who’s ever had a miscarriage – let me rephrase – no thinking person who’s had a miscarriage, no matter how saddened they were by it, would dare consider compare it as equal to losing a child. Because it isn’t.

  • Sulie

    People are irrational. Feelings demand it, and control us when they’re inflamed. Is that always “bad?” No and it requires nothing more than imagination and empathy to prove.

    The unlike I hood of junior year highschool thought experiments actually being common enough to deduce some behavior one should always strive for makes morality more of an absurdity than the common atheist position, a necessity of its logic, that life, especially human life is an utterly purposeless existence aside from pleasure and pain.
    Unless you’re going to eliminate pain, why lead people to support atheism? It has no humanist cause outside of battling abuse outside it’s realm of believers.

    • Sulie

      Oh…I’m Pro-choice up to when pain is an issue for the unborn btw. Seems like the only decently caring and reasonable position available to me.

      • Susan

        up to when pain is an issue for the unborn

        What about the pain of the gestater?

        • Sulie

          Oh yeah. I had a baby, but I’ve never been torn limb from limb so I really can’t say. Which do you think is worse?

    • eric

      the common atheist position, a necessity of its logic, that life, especially human life is an utterly purposeless existence aside from pleasure and pain

      I don’t think that’s the common atheist position. Do you know any atheists who hold it? I think most atheists hold the opinion that humans have purposes (aside from pleasure and pain) defined by them, the humans.

      What you’re talking about is existential nihilism. What Satre wrote about. I’m sure there are atheists out there who are existential nihilists, but the two categories are not identical either philosophically or in membership.

      • Sulie

        I take it for granted that you don’t all think that way. Guess that’s not obvious, though, sorry. To answer your question, yes. I thought about it and all but 2 are completely nihilistic, and not happy about it. Ever.

        I only know three atheists well, who are fanatically anti-religious. They seem to enjoy it more.

        I don’t go to church, but I’m a religious theist. I wouldn’t argue cosmology with a physisist, but I think it’s fair to tell HER it’s depressing and I shouldn’t be humiliating into agreeing to believe this truth, since she just proved truth is a monster. Same as a lot of atheists see the god of the bible. They shouldn’t feel forced to believe because of popularity, status, logic, or hell (now mostly tough as nothingness, to line up with westernized nirvana and materialism’s death) for all but the chosen few. Atheists with power can go ahead and materialise their chosen few status based on their group’s principles without the burden of causing scandal, judging by the men I know who believe there’s no god. These guys are anti-humanists and border on praying to aliens. They have trouble with relationships, and especially with women, drug and alcohol problems, not mere use, and wind up blaming weird things for problems, personal or in the world.
        I worry about them, and the crap they’re being fed. I picked apart the christian probkems, that fights over and I won in the 90’s, but atheists seem stuck there, on two current political issues, or in the 1970’s…or else atheism to them means shaming others they don’t understand…not just “the bad ones.” Most atheist creators of media never distinguish between good and bad belief, they just call un-scientific bad. Irrational, bad. Religious, bad.
        Challenging logic isn’t the same as challeging ethics, right? Atheist writers spend a lot of time challenging the logic of beliefs, and trying to prove that a failure to believe the logic is unethical. Just wretched behavior, believing something most certainly unrealistic. Never have I read a piece written by a Popular atheist, that conceded that religion has brought any good into “our” lives, collectively or as individuals. Not even historically.
        I don’t think it’s winning them many brownie points an longer. It’s certainly not winning votes for one particular party, and that makes me wonder who pays the community members to keep fighting a war between science and religion…and Badly, like it’s meant to gaslight people to vote against whoever hates religion more.

        • eric

          I wouldn’t argue cosmology with a physisist, but I think it’s fair to tell HER it’s depressing and I shouldn’t be humiliating into agreeing to believe this truth, since she just proved truth is a monster.

          I understand that materialism may be depressing and monstrous to you, but my point is many if not most atheist don’t feel that way about it.As you say, they may have those feelings about biblical theology.

          Never have I read a piece written by a Popular atheist, that conceded that religion has brought any good into “our” lives, collectively or as individuals. Not even historically

          Well here is Hitchens saying the biblical story of casting the first stone is lovely. That took me about 20 seconds to find. I think a lot of atheists are of the opinion that in net, religions do more harm than good. But I doubt many of them would say a donation to hurricane relief can’t be a morally good thing simply because it comes from a theist.

          I don’t think it’s winning them many brownie points an longer. It’s certainly not winning votes for one particular party

          Nones continue to increase in numbers, while believers decrease. So how is it not winning any longer?

        • Sulie

          How is not winning any longer? I grew up poor with a single mom on welare in an atheist houshold. I was not alive before the late 1970s. When and what do you think I won? How can you not tell your snotty attitude is why one quote from Dawkins doesn’t mean shit? You think hearing a rich asshole convince you all religious people should be labeled child abusers as a poor single mother who finds hope in god or a decent ass community of believers? Pull out some more quotes, please explain to me how loving and accepting atheist Writers and Leaders are…this century, please.

        • MNb

          “How can you not tell your snotty attitude is why one quote from Dawkins doesn’t mean shit?”
          That question is up to you to answer. If you are determined to the totally incorrect “atheism = nihiliism” it’s your problem, not ours. We can tell you how we deal with it – and we do largely the same way on a general level – but that’s it.

          “your snotty attitude”
          You brought up some points and asked some questions. If you don’t like the answers, don’t bring up those points and don’t ask those questions. It’s your problem, not ours. It’s OK with us if you refuse to deal with it.

          “hearing a rich asshole”
          Even rich assholes are right now and then.

          “convince you all religious people”
          I don’t care about convincing religious people. Never did.

          “atheist Writers and Leaders”
          There you are – just another believer who thinks we need a Leader just because you can’t do without, a Leader who is supposed to be always right and never wrong. I don’t have any. I have three main role models. None of them are caucasian like me. Two of them were religious; the third one never said much (if anything at all) about what he believed. All three of them have flawed characters, just like every single human.

          “I’m a religious theist.”
          Read Matth. 7:1-5 again. Learn that people are imperfect. Learn that it’s better to be forgiving – better for yourself. That’s the bitter irony of believers on internet: they practice the opposite of the humility and forgiveness they preach. Appareantly you are such a believer as well.

        • MNb

          “atheists seem stuck there, on two current political issues, or in the 1970’s”
          It’s a mistake to assume that atheists are better or should be better persons than believers. I’ve met way too many admirable believers.

          “I don’t think it’s winning them many brownie points an longer.”
          I’ve been an unbeliever since the late 1970’s and called myself an atheist since 1986 or so. I never cared about winning brownie points, exactly because many life questions are more important to me than the one about god.

          “I wouldn’t argue cosmology with a physisist, but I think it’s fair to tell HER it’s depressing.”
          I don’t think that fair at all. Our natural reality is largely awesome and when it is not science now and then gives us some tools to do something about it. Succeeding to do something about it – and I’ve done so – is the exact opposite of depressing. My entire life I’ve been capable of setting myself goals and to give my life meaning. It’s when I dont have goals to pursue anymore that I feel depressed. The awesome thing is that the science called psychology confirms that the human psyche (including mine) works that way. It seems to me that the nihilists you are talking about are whiners who fail and/or don’t feel like to do something about the void in their lives.

        • Sulie

          Brownie points with people. I’m not complaining about people not believing, I’m complaining about the way the atheists who have propagated the myth that atheism is Better than theism, not the same as, Better Than. For the reason you state, exactly. It’s a mistake to think atheism is superior, and religion must be ridiculed or taxed or legislated away

        • Greg G.

          Working with facts is better than working with mistakes. Reason is better than wishful thinking. All religions but one are definitely wrong but no one religion appears to be right or more likely than the other wrong religions.

          There is no reason religion should not be taxed. There is no reason it should be legislated away. If it cannot stand to reason on its own, it should not exist and people should not believe it.

        • Sulie

          Working toward what? What are we working on, and why “should” we be so careful to not make a mistake? Who told us to work on this thing?

          Well there are reasons, but you disagree with them.

          What in the world…can’t reason on their own so shouldn’t exist? Well, ok…you have every right to think so, but it really does sound like your beliefs would encourage something like a dictatorship. Should anything other than an individual, somehow determined by someone to be “reasoning on their own” be allowed to exist? Hopefully you mean “exist untaxed?”

          The “shoulds” + “proof” + “money for state” = dictatorship. Fascist, communist, regalist… wgaf? Too much power, no authority. None. At. All. Cuzzzz…duh…no purpose to should, no proof of proof.Dip.Shit.

        • adam
        • Sulie

          Non answer.

        • adam

          An exact answer.

          We’ve read the book, we understand how horribly EVIL it is.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6a63338701b6b38faa41671dd84a8503c103411b9543d8d39859e947895291cf.jpg

        • Sulie

          Well no you don’t understand much of anything.
          If you’re a kid or a robot that’s ok. Neither can help it much yet.

        • adam

          “Well no you don’t understand much of anything.”

          Well you apparently dont even understand enough to defend yourself.

          If you’re an IDiot or a asshole that’s ok. Neither can help it much yet.

        • BlackMamba44

          Your reading comprehension skills need some work.

          I’m trying to figure out how you got all that from his comment.

        • Sulie

          Yeah, sure you are.

        • BlackMamba44

          Yes. I was. I read his a few times and yours a few times and honestly cannot figure It out.

        • Greg G.

          Sorry. Your reply seems to be about your own fears than anything I said. Bring up dictatorship is a complete misreading of what I said.

        • Sulie

          I definately read far into it, and yeah, it’s a fear of something possible, not bound to happen.

        • adam

          “but it really does sound like your beliefs would encourage something like a dictatorship.”

          And yet the Bible is based entirely on the concept of dictatorship.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/02e138a94e0e986c44bf1d5302b01ee6b3bdd6db5247db119eea295d687465a8.jpg

        • Sulie

          Lmao, ok, you said it so it must be true.

        • adam
        • Michael Neville

          Atheists’ opinion that atheism is better than theism is due to fact that theists believe in myths, superstitions and just plain wrong ideas and we don’t. If you can show that our opinion is wrong then you can rant about us all you want. But until then all you’re doing is whining.

        • Sulie

          Yes sir. Sorry sir.

        • Michael Neville

          Your sarcasm is misplaced. Try again, only this time give some thought to what I wrote.

        • Sulie

          Lol! Yes sir! Right away!

        • Michael Neville

          You don’t have to call me sir. My proper title is Chief.

          Yes, little girl, I’m a retired Navy Chief. So the next time you decide to be snarky, remember that I know words and phrases you’ve never heard. Do you understand, you heap of maggot infested hog feces?

          Now that we’ve got that out of the way, do you want to actually give a reasonable response to what I wrote? Or do you want to continue to play silly games? Your choice, brain dead rectum sniffing piece of elephant snot.

        • Sulie

          “Brain dead rector sniffing piece of elephant snot?” Navy Chief, sir, we’re you commanded to speak to me that way? I’m 40 bitch.

        • Michael Neville

          Who gives a rat’s ass how old you are? Mentally you’re 12 going on 7. And learn the difference between we’re and were. You’ll look slightly less stupid.

        • Sulie

          Last word goes to you.

        • adam

          “I’m 40 bitch.”

          Surely a misprint, you are too ignorant to be over 14 and home schooled.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/02196a7c2d98acba7f1052d39836fc4d3ec454989a084962c43b055e30336fe9.jpg

        • Pofarmer

          Right. Look at the religious numbnuts running politics in the U.S. right now and tell me we can’t do better than this.

        • Sulie

          I want a lot of those religious politicians to lose too, but I do thinkt its biggoted to think the fact that their religious is a justification.

        • adam
        • adam

          “I’m complaining about the way the atheists who have propagated the myth that atheism is Better than theism, ”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5fc7ae814c0160c0c443e448af14c3b39fb8f9c14da1a96d478544a03093bbba.jpg

        • Kodie

          How is theism better?

        • Sulie

          Did I say it was? It’s better for me. I’m not an anomoly, it’s common.

        • Kodie

          You said it was a myth that atheism is better. I think you just have a chip on your shoulder because atheists are talking now instead of just letting you spread your lies.

        • Sulie

          I did. I said atheism was not better. I didn’t say theism was better.

          It seems like you might have a chip on your shoulder too, but I don’t think so, or not think so.

        • adam

          “I said atheism was not better. I didn’t say theism was better.”

          Let’s see atheism is not better than theism, what does that really mean,
          I mean besides you lying?

        • adam

          “It’s a mistake to think atheism is superior, and religion must be ridiculed or taxed or legislated away”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/96e15c847654824bdcec5148602fe87f0403e7c6c661f25a61bc19e1d593846d.png

        • Sulie

          Oh, sounds like Diplomatic Immunity has something to do with it.

          My mom and aunt were molested by a psychologist. Psychology is evil. My dad by his cousin and grandma. Family is evil.

        • adam

          “Oh, sounds like Diplomatic Immunity has something to do with it.”

          Yep, just another persons of FAITH who thinks THEY should be above the law.

          “My mom and aunt were molested by a psychologist. Psychology is evil. My dad by his cousin and grandma. Family is evil.”

          So the Head of all Psychology interveened to protect your mom and aunts molester?

          And demonstrates a LONG history of ‘sanctioned’ abuse?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/870086376a3039ed8ff43904fc455354e88f434aa1a491d68683492f7a9e351e.jpg

        • Sulie

          1. You assume just because he was a pope, catholics have knowledge of and obey his every word and always have. That isn’t how it works. Pope Pervert never taught that shit in public and it sure as hell isn’t “Ex Cathedra.”
          – If this is actually recorded somewhere other than Dante (isn’t he anticatholic btw?), it was done by someone with enough money for ink and paper who moved in upper class circles.
          – “Widely known pedophile” … This is being swept under the rug in a lot of our powerful and wealthy institutions, and importantly, in their social circles. We need to raise the statute of limitations on sexual crimes and throw them in jail.
          – Some people will use whatever power and money they have to take advantage of whoever they can. That’s why I brought up the doctor and family member. Propose a realistic policy solution to pedophilia if you care. Or attack money power and religion because, I guess you’re a communist.

        • MNb

          No, Dante was not anticatholic. He was anti institutional corruption of the RCC. I wish there were more catholics like him. Apparently you aren’t, given your instinctive reaction to look for lame excuses.

        • Sulie

          Instinctive reaction to look for lame excuses for what?

        • MNb

          Oops, I seem to have forgotten. But hey, you are so involved in this discussion that there can’t be any doubt you will know its topic.

        • adam

          “Instinctive reaction to look for lame excuses for what?”

          For you, apparently, you are looking for a lame excuse for your Church and its abuse

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d1e5c63313f26b206be4cb6d5f63033a8eb8d402db4244f0be9bfb2222e8ae8d.gif

        • Michael Neville

          Like many Catholics, you’re not considering the priestly pedophilia problem as widely as you should.

          There will be sexual predators in any large group of people. So while child-raping clergy are deplorable and should be dealt with legally, they’re almost inevitable. But for me and a vast number of other people the real problem is the bishops who supported and protected the child rapists. If the Catholic Church informed the appropriate civil authorities of pedophile priests then there wouldn’t be an outcry against the Church. But instead Fr. Kiddyfucker was moved from parish to parish, diocese to diocese and even country to country to keep him out of the hands of the police. That is immoral.

          The Catholic Church claims to be the moral authority on Earth. It has the choice of either making that claim or acting in an immoral manner. The Church decided to act immorally, which means its moral authority doesn’t exist.

        • Sulie

          How am I not considering it as “widely” as I should? The laws in many countries don’t imprison people for the crime, including ours. Do you have other solutions?

          The church itself does not claim to be “the moral authority” on earth, that’s a misunderstanding. They claim to have “the fulness of the truth concerning our salvation.”
          It’s a very different claim.

          The elimination of the Catholic Church, or any religion, is the issue I think people are skirting here, possibly using legal means. That or an endless bitchfest (for profit of course, but it still affects me others, and my political intentions honestly, personally… the bigotry. No matter it’s motive).

          Again, if you think “and no religion too” is a swell plan it’s your god given, or goddamn, and for now state santioned right. But I think it’s fair to say We All resent being experimeted on when it isn’t our choice (if you advocate, let’s call them “religion elimination tactics” even in education) and insulted, bullied and poorly understood. Especially by donor class, media savy douchbags and morons who shove their culture in everyone’s face, and veil their intentions to boot.

          Being misunderstood by moronic jerks is no big deal when it isn’t connected to what I describe.

          Increase statutes of limitations for sexually based crimes.

        • Michael Neville

          The laws in many countries don’t imprison people for the crime, including ours.

          I’ll assume you’re just ignorant instead of lying. Child rape is a felony in our country as is sexual molestation of minors. Learn something about the legal system before you spout off obvious stupidities.

          The church itself does not claim to be “the moral authority” on earth, that’s a misunderstanding. They claim to have “the fulness of the truth concerning our salvation.”

          You say “tomato” I say “tomahtoe”. Your feeble attempt to refute my claim by semantics is just plain silly. A difference that makes no difference is no difference. “The fullness of truth concerning our salvation” should not include supporting and protecting child rapists. Even a silly, stupid Catholic like you should be able to understand that.

          But I think it’s fair to say We All resent being experimeted on when it isn’t our choice (if you advocate, let’s call them “religion elimination tactics” even in education) and insulted, bullied and poorly understood.

          I understand you perfectly. You want to impose your superstitious nonsense on us, you reject evidence that your church is an immoral institution, and you don’t care about real people. If you don’t like me calling your cult immoral that’s your problem, not mine.

        • adam

          “I’ll assume you’re just ignorant instead of lying.”

          Hey she’s 40 bitch.

          Doubtful it is ignorance.

        • Kodie

          The problem is you are crying about bigotry while ignoring the history of bigotry you are perpetuating with your paranoia and lies about atheists and atheism.

          You have a lot of homework to do but you are pouting and stubborn and just won’t have an honest discussion. You prefer to hate atheists and you look for ways to increase your opportunities to justify it by behaving like a whiny fucking asshole.

        • adam

          ” Do you have other solutions?”

          You mean like hold abusers ACCOUNTABLE for abuse, and hold the Church ACCOUNTABLE for letting the abuse continue?

          HOLY SHIT, that might actually work.

          “Increase statutes of limitations for sexually based crimes.”

          DONT GIVE THE CHURCH A FREE RIDE TO ABUSE

        • adam

          “1. You assume just because he was a pope, catholics have knowledge of and obey his every word and always have.”

          No, I dont, you are an IDiot
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/70922944ec76f17241a00012a57d1240ae15c5e95b9d31b34da2d88c88a6be40.jpg

          YOU do understand that this was not the only pedo-Pope right?
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5dec59a3b2da3b71063b6c8261446f996d4593cdad46165888de05326c67b600.jpg

          This is church culture

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/96e15c847654824bdcec5148602fe87f0403e7c6c661f25a61bc19e1d593846d.png

        • adam

          “Or attack money power and religion because, I guess you’re a communist.”

          Or I just call out the ABUSE of the INNOCENT by the POWERFUL, but I guess you’re a pedophile supporter like your church.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c7b26fa63bd62710b5b0bda13321c325b5f32009b7ac947dd6169bdc88c7b54d.jpg

        • Sulie

          I think you have some good intentions but, if you want to fix sexual abuse…
          Increase the statute of limitations!!!
          Don’t go to Thailand! Protest Human Traficing At Sturgis! Catholics were the only white people besides pagan anarchists showing solidarity with native people protesting the sex trafficing of their poverty stricken community. Do something that helps.

          They have different laws in different countries. The church does not govern them. They don’t govern ours. Do they govern any “country” other than vatican city? I don’t think so. But it isn’t mine either way. Details.

        • adam

          ” but, if you want to fix sexual abuse…”

          HOLD THOSE RESPONSIBLE ACCOUNTABLE
          Instead of giving them a free ride.

          “The church does not govern them.”

          Still trying to give the church a free ride.

          It governs its Priest and Popes

          “. Do they govern any “country” other than vatican city? ”

          Still trying to give the church a free ride.

          It governs its Priest and Popes

          But the problem is more than just the church, it is the Bible the foundation of the Church that is fundamentally flawed

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

        • adam
        • Susan

          Guess that’s not obvious

          It should be. There is no connection between not believing invented beings exist and nihilism. None, whatsoever. If you can show a link, have at it.

          Sorry.

          K. I’ll assume by “Sorry” that you won’t make that mistake again in your discussions on the subject.

          atheists seems stuck there

          Again, you seem to be missing the point.

          I don’t believe gods exist. There is no good reason to believe god(s) exist.

          If you can’t provide one, none of your red herrings are useful.

          Atheist writers spend a lot of time challenging the logic of beliefs, and trying to prove that a failure to believe the logic is unethical.

          There you go again. No.

          The logic doesn’t add up.

          Thee is no evidence.

          And the invented gods, in many cases are unethical.

          That’s what atheists across the ages have addressed.

          If you’d like to believe in fairies, help yourself. There is no reason to.

          If the fairies are assholes and you claim to speak for them, that’s another thing.

          Then you will have to show that they exist, that you speak form them and that, if they’re unethical, we should care what they have to say.

          If you’d just like to believe in them for your own sake and make no moral claims based on their message, help yourself.

        • Sulie

          Experience isn’t the same as scientific evidence. I’m not responsible for what you require in order to believe anything.

        • MNb

          No, but you are responsible for your jumping to the hasty generalization from your three atheists you happen to know to all atheists over the world.

        • Sulie

          Oh you verified that did you? Way to respect good scientific standards.!

        • MNb

          Yes, I did verify that. With your very own comments.
          And since when do comments on some blog have to fullful scientific standards?!

        • Sulie

          Lol, sure you did.
          What does it have to do with it?! I thought truth was important to atheist science fans???

        • MNb

          What sense does it make to answer you questions if you think I’m a liar anyway?

        • Susan

          Experience isn’t the same as scientific evidence.

          It certainly isn’t.

          I’m not responsible for what you require to believe anything.

          I didn’t say you were. I explained why I don’t believe gods exist.

          Now, if you’re going to suggest that not believing in apparently imaginary beings is somehow connected to nihilism, you are responsible for showing that.

          If you aren’t going to do that, it would be dishonest to use that tactic again.

      • Sulie

        Oh my, sorry that’s so long. Short answer, yes, most of my atheist friends and relatives are nihilists.
        I’m glad it isn’t common where you are. My family, social group, and my media, are primarily agnostic to anti-theistic. I don’t agree with or aprove of (sort of a fine line for me, maybe for religious people in general) most religious people about religion, either.

        • Susan

          Short answer, yes, most of my atheist friends and relatives are nihilists.

          That’s highly unusual. There is nothing about not believing in incoherent and unevidenced deities that necessarily leads to nihilism. How do you define “nihilism”?

          I don’t agree with or aprove of (sort of a fine line for me, maybe for religious people in general) most religious people about religion, either.

          That’s pretty standard.

          Which one of you can demonstrate that your deity exists and that it has the qualities you believe it has? That’s the point.

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

        • Sulie

          Oh is it unusual? I grew up in apartments and trailer parks so I wouldn’t know that either. You’re right tuough, it takes a lot more than incoherent deities to get to those nihilist that can’t create their perfect happy selves.
          I’m not trying to convince anyone of be living in any type of cosmological reality, deity infested or not. Cutting religious, or hell, even just agnostics here, out of what it means to be a rational…and to a lot of people that seems to mean Worthy…human being.

        • MNb

          “Oh is it unusual?”
          Yes. I’ve met only one such nihilist – here on this very blog, never in real life. I’m from one of the most unbelieving countries in the world, The Netherlands.

        • Susan

          Oh is it unusual?

          Yes. Highly.

          I grew up in apartments and trailer parks so I wouldn’t know that either

          I’m not sure why that would prevent you from knowing that. There is no logical line between not believing in deities and nihilism.

          I couldn’t make sense of your second paragraph. Not sure what you mean.