10 Questions Christians Must Answer (2 of 2)

Banda Ache earthquake damage, Indonesia

As an homage to a powerful video from GodIsImaginary.com, I summarized five tough questions in Part 1. Here are five more of my own. I’ll give popular Christian answers for each question and then conclude with a single answer that neatly resolves all of these dilemmas.

6. Why is faith required? In John’s gospel, Thomas missed Jesus’s first appearance. He didn’t believe the others’ story that Jesus had risen and said that he needed to see the nail marks in the hands of Jesus as proof. After Jesus appeared again and satisfied Thomas, Jesus said, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me” (John 20:29). In other words, Thomas believed because he had evidence—nothing special there. But someone who can believe without that evidence? Ah, that person is blessed!

Richard Dawkins challenged Kenneth Miller on some religious matter (both men are biologists, but Miller is Catholic), and Miller replied, “There’s a reason it’s called faith!” Christianity without faith wouldn’t be Christianity. Some say that faith isn’t earned but neither is it a right. Instead, the Holy Spirit gives faith to some using some unknown algorithm.

7. Why is God hidden? Thomas had a scientific attitude. Any scientific claim must respond to the demand for evidence. For example, cold fusion would be nice, but “nice” has no currency within science. There is insufficient evidence for any mechanism of cold fusion, so it is rejected. “God exists” is another claim, and the obvious supporting evidence—God simply making his existence known—is unapologetically unavailable.

God works in mysterious ways. This is yet another test of Christians’ faith.

Mother Teresa wrote about God’s silence: “the silence and the emptiness is so great” and “I have no Faith … [the thoughts in my heart] make me suffer untold agony.” She soldiered on despite her weak faith, and she has been beatified by Rome.

8. Why are there natural disasters? Haiti and Indonesia have been devastated by tsunamis in recent years, each disaster killing about a quarter of a million people. The worst tropical cyclones have killed this many people as well. The disaster area can take years to recover, especially if it hits a third-world region. How can God allow these to happen when it would be trivial to prevent the damage?

Christians have responded that the forces of nature have a good side. Earthquakes recycle minerals, and hurricanes are a consequence of the same weather system that brings sunshine and gentle rains. Disasters test Christians and give them an opportunity to help through prayer or donations. Christians infer God’s hand in the “miracle child” that survives the disaster that killed its parents.

Then there’s the tough-love response. About the 9/11 terrorist attack, Jerry Falwell declared:

The pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way—all of them who have tried to secularize America—I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.”

If all else fails, Christians can fall back on the idea that God is there to comfort the grieving.

9. Why does the Bible show God doing terrible things? God demands genocide, and he gives rules regulating slavery just like the rules he gives regulating commerce.

Christians often argue that genocide and slavery were accepted components of society back then. God was simply working within the system. The tribes that God demanded be destroyed must’ve been morally rotten—how could an all-good God act otherwise?—and even leaving their babies alive would risk a future for a tribe that God knew might tempt Israel in the future.

10. Why is the historical record so weak for Christianity? Outside the gospels, there are no biographies of Jesus from contemporary historians, of which there were many. There are not even any mentions of Jesus, aside from disputed passages in Josephus.

God’s plan apparently was to appear on earth in a low-profile way. A grand entrance is apparently not God’s style, and we’re just going to have to live with that.

The other way of resolving these questions

Instead of individual reasons that clumsily address these questions by assuming God’s existence, let’s again try to resolve these questions with a simple hypothesis: there is no god. This simple and obvious explanation—which Christians themselves apply to the other guy’s god—neatly cuts the Gordian Knot.

Let’s revisit those five challenges with this new response.

Why is faith required? All supernatural religious claims require faith because there is insufficient evidence to accept them otherwise. If there were evidence, you can be sure that that would be celebrated, not faith. (More on faith.)

Why is God hidden? Because he doesn’t exist (more). As for God not wanting to provide evidence, he had no problem doing so in the Old Testament.

Why are there natural disasters? We can assign “good” and “bad” labels to events according to how they affect us, but that’s not nature’s perspective. Nature has no obligation to provide a pleasing environment for anyone. We have to do “the Lord’s work” because he sure isn’t doing it.

Why does the Bible show God doing terrible things? Because “God” is just a character in a mythological tale. His imagination and morality are reflections of that of the Iron Age people who created him.

Why is the historical record so weak for Christianity? Because Christianity is a legend that began after decades of oral history. After this, dogmas like the Trinity gradually developed over the centuries, and unpopular interpretations like Gnosticism were pruned away.

Convoluted answers that demand a presupposition of the very thing in question crumble when we simply consider that the fanciful claim is just what it looks like: legend and myth.

We could list lots more questions—Why create an enormous universe if the point was just to create humans? Why does the view of God change through the Bible? If God created the universe, what created God? and so on—but they are all neatly resolved by dropping the God hypothesis.

Elbow deodorant

Elbow deodorant is a solution in search of a problem. We could imagine a society in which the elbows of any cultured person smell like flowers and only the uncouth go au naturel, but smelly elbows just aren’t a problem in our society.

Christianity is elbow deodorant. It is a solution in search of a problem. So Christian leaders invent one: they imagine a god who gets furious if you do bad stuff and will punish you forever. But if you believe certain things, you get a free pass to the Good Place when you die.

No, smelly elbows and a god that doesn’t exist aren’t worth worrying about.

Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt.
It is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure.
Fundamentalism is, therefore, inevitable in an age
which has destroyed so many certainties

by which faith once expressed itself and upon which it relied.
— Reinhold Niebuhr, American theologian

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 5/28/14.)

Photo credit: Wikipedia

 

"Edit:Deleted by me because it referred to the wrong theist and was misplaced."

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  • Tony D’Arcy

    Aye indeed ! To put it shortly God might as well not be there. Natural explanations for things have far more power than any imaginary God.

    • RichardSRussell

      Right you are! The only help you’re ever going to get in this world will come from your fellow human beings.

    • carbonUnit

      A difference which makes no difference is no difference.

  • RichardSRussell

    God demands genocide, …

    And commits omnicide!

  • Bob Jase

    I see that believers are still arguing over the first five questions but still not answering them.

    • Greg G.

      I see 1162 comments in the other thread and very few addressing the questions. I thought maybe I was reading too fast and missing the key points but slowing down didn’t help. Glad to see it’s not just me.

    • Tommy

      They are trying their best not to answer them.

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

        Willing suspension of disbelief, perhaps.

      • Kodie

        The overwhelming answer is god is mysterious.

  • Ficino

    Just an impression, not a tight argument – if Jesus was who Christians say he was, why is there such a big and apparently intractable “Historical Jesus” industry? Liar, Lunatic, Lord or Legend … well, if he was and is LORD, wouldn’t you think he could or would or should act like it now?

    [note: I’m not thinking this because I am mad at God or was hurt by mean people at church or never heard the true gospel, or even particularly just want to sin – though maybe I’m too dumb to understand Aquinas, lol]

    • Castilliano

      Heck, Jesus isn’t much of a Lord in the fiction, so why now? Plus a Christian can waffle between Lord and “one of us, a pauper” as needed, much like they can with his other traits (i.e pro-war & pro-peace). It’s a neat trick they pulled, giving him opposing properties so he could appeal to a wider range of devotees. (Hmm…maybe Trump did learn something from Christianity.)

      But to a Christian, Jesus does show he’s Lord. It’s bubble thinking that I get a tangential glimpse at via Facebook.
      Awesome sunset? Wow, Jesus is Lord.
      Found a job? Wow, that Jesus again.
      Sunday emotional fix? Lordy, Lordy, Lordy.
      Talking to friends about the Jeez? Wow, everybody else sees it too!
      Depth of indoctrination will vary, often by amount of time spent within that bubble, not by actual wisdom, insight, or goodness.

      Having billions of followers helps too, never mind that that’s a minority (just blame it on the nonbelievers) or that there’s little consensus among Christians (blame it on those other versions not having the Holy Spirit), but wow Jesus has sure done well! (Except when Satan has his way.) And so forth…

      • Kevin K

        Depends on which “gospel” (always in scare quotes). I don’t think gJohn has Jesus conveyed as much more than a firebrand revolutionary and the original anti-Semite, with a few odd miracles thrown in just to keep the plot moving. But with gMark, it’s almost all Jesus Christ, Demon Hunter™. With a few tweaks, he could get his own series on The CW.

    • Herald Newman

      though maybe I’m too dumb to understand Aquinas, lol

      Aquinas, and Aristotle who much of his work was based on, haven’t had their ideas considered useful for quite a long time. Not getting Aquinas is a sign that you’ve gotten a modern education, and should be worn with a sense of pride.

      • Ficino

        I think there are notable fissures in the thomistic synthesis, even as viewed from its own metaphysics. But that’s another topic, and then … what do I know?

    • Kevin K

      Of course, that’s the “hiddeness problem”, isn’t it?

      Here is a god that;
      1. Wants us to know that it exists.
      2. Went out of its way to demonstrate its existence and hinted at its powers.
      3. Promised that its followers would be able to borrow some of those powers whenever they asked.
      4. And who is completely and utterly gone. As well as his powers.

      If I were a god and I wanted to be known so that I could be worshiped and my pets ensouled animals could join me in heaven by virtue of their belief in me … well, I’d do a better job at being omni-present.

      The more I think about it, the more I think there needs to be an Inigo Montoya meme about the “omni” properties of that god. They keep using that prefix — I do not think it means what they think it means.

  • skl

    The first of these two articles, from January 1, got over 1,100 comments.
    This second article has received decidedly less.
    Perhaps the whole argument is running out of gas.
    As I posted on the first article:

    I don’t know what would be required to de-convert the mass
    of Christians but it seems it would take a lot more than the
    questions above. Because Christians have always recognized, as has all the
    humanity who came before them, that very bad things happen in this world, topped
    off by death. Even their own god was not immune from this (i.e. crucifixion).
    And Christians have always acknowledged that their god rarely, if ever, appears
    before them.

    • Ficino

      So the ground of credibility is pretty much zero.

      • skl

        I don’t know what you mean.

    • Doubting Thomas

      I don’t know what would be required to de-convert the mass
      of Christians but it seems it would take a lot more than the
      questions above.

      It would take Christians as a group behaving reasonably and rationally. It would take a lot of lessons on critical thinking. It would take people who change their mind in the face of overwhelming evidence instead of making up bullshit excuses to rationalize their beliefs.

      If the Christians who post here are any indication, we have a long, long way to go.

      • Grimlock

        I dunno, I think that a couple of generations that were not raised to be Christians during childhood would do the trick rather well.

        • al kimeea

          True, but how often might that happen? Not very, at least in the US, it seems.

        • Grimlock

          Sad but true. I’d say that the best long term plan to achieve this would be to increase the social security, well-being, and equality of the population. This decreasing the need for the psychological safety net of religious belief.

        • Doubting Thomas

          That would definitely be the quickest way to rid ourselves of Christianity, but skl asked specifically about how we could get people to deconvert. You can’t deconvert if you were never a convert.

        • Grimlock

          True enough. I stand corrected.

        • Jim Jones

          It didn’t work in Russia.

        • Grimlock

          Fair point. I wonder, though, if the population in general just stopped being religious simply because the state didn’t approve.

        • Jim Jones

          They had a couple of generations. However in reality, under Stalin many more churches were built. Later leaders suppressed the ROC.

        • Otto

          I think nothing would kill religion quicker than making it state approved.

        • Grimlock

          Well, we did have an official state religion her in Norway for a long time. Technically we don’t any more, but 70-80 % of the population are still members of the old state church. Though when measuring belief, around 40 % believe in some god or higher spirit, while around 25 % believe in something akin to a personal god.

          On the other hand, other factors play a role, sure as great social security, high levels of equality, and a general high standard of living, so it might not be due to the state church thing…

        • Otto

          It seems in Europe religiosity is lower in those countries that have a state religion. With the way Americans distrust government nothing would kill Christianity faster than the government overtly sponsoring it, though I am certainly not arguing that it should be done. The funny thing is as much as I am an anti-theist I really want to protect the right to believe as one sees fit, the best way to protect all religious belief is the separation of church and state, I will never understand why many Christians don’t understand that…

        • Nick G

          It seems in Europe religiosity is lower in those countries that have a state religion.

          Can you give a source for that? According to Wikipedia, the lowest levels of belief in a deity are in the Czech Republic and Estonia, neither of which has a state church. Some countries with among the highest prevalence of religious belief (e.g. Greece, Italy) give one church a special status short of being explicitly a “state church”.

        • basenjibrian

          Adding together those who are undecided, those who are spiritual but not religious, and those who are atheistic, as of a 2012 survey, 43.5% of Russians claim no particular religious affiliation.
          A quite high percentage by world standards?
          The current religiosity of the Russian State is a combination of Slavic Chauvinism and convenience (for Putin). Putin is interested primarily in his power. The church is a useful adjunct to the Putinite state.

        • Jim Jones

          Indeed, although IIRC, some places in Eastern Europe are very religion free.

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

        Is that image a metaphor for John Hagee? Or maybe I’m seeing Jim Bakker.

        • Otto

          Ugh…tough call, I would have to go with Bakker and his buckets of food. I hear that’s what it tastes like.

    • MNb

      “I don’t know what would be required to de-convert the mass of Christians”
      And what I don’t know is what takes to get the message through the thick skulls of silly people like you: that few atheists (and none here) care about deconverting even one christian. See, every single christian always can put up a very effective road block: “I still have faith”.

      • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

        If I were interested in deconverting Christians, I would be participating in the comments for Christian blogs. A quick look at my Disqus comment history will show that I don’t do that. At all. I’m simply not interested in arguing with them there. I only respond to them when they start spewing their nonsense in response to atheist blogs.

        • Kevin K

          Same here. Of course, there’s a bit of an issue with even trying to comment on Christian blogs, because many, many of them disable commenting.

      • Jim Jones

        It’s rarely worth the effort. Most people are too gullible. Trump is one recent proof of this.

    • Kevin K

      Yes, it’s the issue of cognitive dissonance that we’re addressing here.

      The bible clearly lays out some expectations of how the world is going to work in light of Jesus’ appearance on Earth. Provides examples, even, of it working in exactly that way. God is indeed a “vending machine” to the apostles and church elders. It grants wishes like a magic genie, but not just three wishes but an unlimited supply.

      At least that’s the claim — because none of those stories can be verified as actually having happened. And these days, 2000 years after Jesus said “I’ll be right back”, people still believe? It’s incredible. At what point do you declare that the prophecy was false?

      And yet, you’re still a believer (please, please, please don’t lie about it). And a billion or so other people. Why? Is it fear of death? Or fear of hell? The promised of the kitchen upgrade in your after-death apartment? What is the hold that these pernicious liars have over you?

      • Jim Jones

        The interesting thing about all religions is how poor they are in terms of logic.People really want to believe in something, and oddly, nonsense will do. Here’s a recent example:

        NXIVM – Wikipedia

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

        NXIVM is a multi-level marketing organization that offers personal and professional development seminars. Based in Albany County, New York, NXIVM was founded in 1998 by Keith Raniere. News reports and former members have referred to NXIVM as a cult.

        There are far too many other examples.

        • Kevin K

          Ha! Yes. Of course, the anti-vaxx mommy brigade, the anti-GMO crowd, and the people who follow Goop and think it’s OK to stick rocks up their yonis probably also qualify.

          What was the book on heuristics?

        • Jim Jones

          > What was the book on heuristics?

          ??

        • Kevin K

          Mental short-cuts. People use them all the time .. and they get them into trouble all the time. There was a pretty popular book — I have it somewhere…Gah! Can’t find it! Religion is an example of a heuristic gone wrong.

        • Jim Jones

          There seem to be plenty. Example:

          “Religion as Magical Ideology: How the Supernatural Reflects Rationality” By Konrad Talmont-Kaminski

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

          Daniel Dennett’s book in intuition pumps?

        • Kathab Epagonizomai

          Good Afternoon Bob,

          I am new to your forum and I have question regarding posts

          I am experiencing my posts being flagged as “spam.”

          Is this an automatic function, or deliberate for censure?

          I would appreciate your feedback on how I can prevent this from occurring.

          The material that I post here is my own, and does not come from any copyright material from another author

          Thank You

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

          I’ve seen that problem, but I don’t know what to do about it. It’s not under my control. Maybe paste your comments in and try again?

        • Kathab Epagonizomai

          Thank you for the reply,

          Will the status of “spam” change and post my comments or stay invisible?

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

          Don’t know, sorry. I’m afraid you’ll have to experiment. Maybe chop your comments up into smaller ones.

        • Kathab Epagonizomai

          Thank You Bob!

        • Kathab Epagonizomai

          Sorry to bother you once more…

          I just looked at my recent comments and two have been deleted. Both made in the last hour, Once regarding the Sanhedrin and the other The Romans.

          Is that your doing as moderator, or Disqus?

          If You, why? If Disqus where do I inquire to ask them why?

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

          I’ve deleted nothing. Can’t help, sorry. I can only suggest you take it up with Disqus.

        • Kathab Epagonizomai

          Bob,

          I contacted Disqus Administration and they informed me that only you can delete my comments. If so, I would like to talk to you privately about this if you would be so kind as to send me your email address

          The following is the message I received from Disqus Admin

          When it comes to individual sites and communities, Disqus takes no part in moderation decisions (e.g., approving comments, deleting comments, opening/closing discussions or handling disputes among commenters) nor can we offer an explanation as to why a comment, post or a user account has been moderated. These decisions are made by websites using the Disqus service (the “site moderators”).

          As your account is quite new, my guess is that your comment(s) may have been detected as spam automatically through the filter. The site administrator can reverse false positives for spam by looking in the administrative panel, under the “Spam” tab, and clicking approve. This will also subtract the comments from your spam count and thus, improve your account reputation.

          Unfortunately, we cannot push through comments on a website’s panel, only an administrator for that site can do so.

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

          I contacted Disqus Administration and they informed me that only you can delete my comments.

          If your comments were deleted, it wasn’t by me.

          I checked for spam, and I may have found your comment. I approved it.

        • Klapaucius

          Disqus appears to be an occasional pain when used on the Patheos site (not sure if it’s a pain on other sites, I haven’t used it enough) – I’ve posted comments, only to have them disappear into the ether, or appear hours later. Sometimes it’s a problem, sometimes not.

          Finding something to sacrifice to the Disqus Gods might help?

        • Tommy

          Reminds me of scAmway.

        • Jim Jones

          Of most pyramid schemes.

    • Greg G.

      We don’t want to deconvert Christians. They are free to practice their religion as long as they don’t practice it on other people. It is like a person’s right to swing a fist ends at the next person’s nose.

      • Doubting Thomas

        We don’t want to deconvert Christians.

        Speak for yourself. I think the less people who believe the dumb shit we call Christianity, the better off everyone will be.

        • Pofarmer

          At least the toxic fundagelical strain that’s way to prevalent in the U.S. right now.

      • skl

        The freedom to practice doesn’t seem to be the topic here.

        • Greg G.

          We discuss it here with Christians who are trying to push their religion on atheists. Most of us do not habitually go to theist blogs to attack them, unless invited. The ones I have seen are not general attacks on the religion but a discussion of a single claim.

        • skl

          The freedom to practice is not the topic of this OP or thread.

        • Kodie

          Are you fucking kidding me?

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

      Are you still pretending to be an atheist? Or are you a Christian now?

      • skl

        No pretending.
        If you’d rather not address my post in substance then just say so.

        • Otto

          When you have a point that contains substance be sure to let us know.

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

          What substance? “Christians are immune to arguments pointing out how their religion is weak because they already know that it’s weak”–is that your argument?

        • skl

          I doubt they would use the word “weak.”

          But they’ve heard and thought your questions, and experienced the realities of life, for many centuries. Yet they still believe.

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

          So what is your point? Are you suggesting ways to make arguments more convincing to Christians? Are you saying to not bother, since Christians will never change their minds?

        • skl

          Just what I’ve written.

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

          Uh huh. Much clearer now, thanks.

    • eric

      It appears the first got as many posts as it did because a few commentators engaged in a rapid back-and-forth. This has little to do with the popularity of the topic writ large.

      I don’t know what would be required to de-convert the mass of Christians…

      Straw man; even if a sound argument convinces nobody, it’s still a sound argument. Do you agree or not?

      Moreover, there is no reason we can’t play the long game. Convince a few here, a few there, more later…that’s progress. Slow, incremental, and dissatisfying for anyone desiring an action-movie, kill-the-leader-and-all-the-enemies-topple victory after 90 minutes, but still progress. Putting up a big “Mission Accomplished” banner after the opening move is for fools. Its sad but probably fairly true that the vast majority of both physical and ideological conflicts are going to be about attrition. And Christianity is attriting – in part (IMO) thanks to open conversation by critics, like Bob, because their writing gets more young people to question childhood beliefs they might not otherwise question. Any single website or article isn’t going to cause a sea change. There is no domino effect here; no silver bullet. But an increase in accessible, solid, and well-written critical arguments leads to an increase in Christians exposed to good criticism, creating a net statistical change in demographics of Christians vs. nones. And lo and behold, guess what has been happening since the internet took off?

      • skl

        One day the attrition may leave Christian numbers as small as they were in the first century. But I doubt they’ll ever go away completely.

        “And lo and behold, guess what has been happening since the internet took off?”

        Yes, the Christians have been decreasing and the Nones have been increasing since the internet took off.

        So have the number of young people favoring socialism and even communism.
        http://www.sacbee.com/news/nation-world/national/article182765121.html

        • Damien Priestly

          And 20% of millennials identify as LGBTQ…

          https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/survey-20-percent-millennials-identify-lgbtq-n740791

          Yahweh, Jesus and their sidekick Holy-Spirit are crying their eyes out !!

        • skl

          “And 20% of millennials identify as LGBTQ…”

          That’s quite a disconnect from the 7% given by Gallup.

          http://news.gallup.com/poll/201731/lgbt-identification-rises.aspx

        • eric

          But I doubt they’ll ever go away completely.

          Another straw man. Did Bob claim that as his goal? Did anyone?

          Given that there are flat-earthers running around, I doubt any argument or evidence no matter how compelling will ever convince 100% of the 7+ billion humans on the planet. So implying that that level of success is the goal and anything less is failure is simply an apologetic dodge. “You will fail at convincing everyone” serves the same apologetic purpose as “you can’t philosophically prove it isn’t true” – to find something, anything to defend an otherwise fatally weak position.

        • skl

          Then again, if the internet drives Christians back to paltry first
          century numbers, maybe Christians will eventually again grow to 2 billion.

        • eric

          As I said, if that’s the best rejoinder you’ve got, you’re simply grasping at straws. ‘Hmmm, well I cant find a flaw in the substance. Better go with “you won’t convince all of us!”‘

        • skl

          But I doubt they’ll ever go away completely.

          “Another straw man. Did Bob claim that as his goal? Did anyone?”

          Good luck meeting your goal(s), whatever they are.

        • Klapaucius

          “maybe Christians will eventually again grow to 2 billion”

          And maybe the lizard people from Alpha Squamata will convert us all to the One-True_Religion.

          Is there any point at all to your endless speculating?

        • Klapaucius

          Flat-earthers? Heretics!

          Everyone knows the earth is hollow and concave!

        • Nick G

          So have the number of young people favoring socialism and even communism.

          So, another point in its favour! It helps people see through right-wing lies* as well as Christian nonsense!

          *I admit that it also helps the spread of such lies.

        • epeeist

          http://www.sacbee.com/news/

          What odds that Marion Smith has never actually read any of the works of Marx or the Victorian socialists.

  • Ficino

    Does anyone here have a professional background in NT studies NOT in the employ of an inerrantist denomination?

    Bart Ehrman says that in addition to gMark, Luke and Matthew also drew on sources Q (stuff common to both and not in Mark), M (stuff only in gMatt), and L (stuff only in gLuke). Plus there were two or more passion narratives, a signs source, two discourse sources, the kernel behind gThomas, and possibly others (Did Jesus Exist? p. 83)..

    It seems to me that Ehrman, in repeating what I take is a general consensus, assumes that no gospel writer invented much of anything, but that all worked by stitching together disparate sources. Why is this assumption credible? Ancient Greek poets and later historians gave different versions of various stories, and we need not always assume that they were ALWAYS working from “sources” and NEVER just inventing things.

    Ehrman shunts the possibility of invention onto the oral story tellers about Jesus who, acc to Form Criticism, shaped, even invented, stories about Jesus (pp. 84ff). Are we on firm ground in thinking that the gospel writers could not have been the inventors of stories?

    • Grimlock

      Matthew Ferguson over at Celcus (https://celsus.blog) has made the points that a) the gospel authors fall short when compared to actual historians of that time, and b) even reasonable credible historians of that time would simply make up speeches and dialogues.

      So while I’m not even close to having a professional background in NT studies, my inclination is to be skeptical of the gospel authors not making stuff up.

      • Ficino

        Yes, I recall reading that by Ferguson. Thanks. I noticed that Ehrman talks about the gospels as “historical sources” without, as far as I can see, distinguishing their genre from that of bona fide Greek and Roman historians. He does recognize bias but simply says that all ancient authors displayed bias, as though Tacitus’ bias and gospel writer bias are to be made equivalent. But maybe he goes into more subtle distinctions elsewhere. I have not read the bulk of Ehrman’s writing.

        • Grimlock

          My impression is that Ehrman tends to adapt is writing to the ones he’s addressing. When he writes his popular novels, they are often aimed at people who think more highly of the Bible than he thinks is warranted, so the focus is on criticisms and weaknesses. When aimed at mythicists, he focuses on what strengthens their reliability.

          Granted, it’s been a while since I read his books or his blog.

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

        I’ve heard people marvel at how accurate Luke’s history was (that history was checked against Josephus). But of course that’s not that amazing if Josephus was a source for Luke.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Would you mind posting a link to that article (if you have it handy)? I clicked the link for the blog, but it isn’t easy to dig through the archives.

    • LeekSoup

      Theology degree from a secular university. (But 20 years ago)

      IIRC the 4 source hypothesis for the Synoptics assume shared sources (Mark, Q) and original sources. The latter could well be “made up” but that isn’t explicitly stated. The form of many of the stories indicates an oral origin, a bit like if you picked up a book of limericks you’d see they are structured the same. Commentators tend to use oblique references to unique material in the gospels because no one can be totally certain on its origin so people wouldn’t say the author made it up. Also the redaction process means it’s hard to know what was in the first manuscript.

      • Ficino

        As to form of stories as evidence of oral origin: Ehrman talks about how many of the episodes have standard structures. He says, “Their [i.e. German Form Critics] assumption was that after Jesus’ life, when Christian missionaries founded churches throughout the Mediterranean, stories about Jesus were told and retold in various kinds of situations that Christians found themselves in. … Why is it that so many miracle stories seem to follow the same basic pattern? A person comes up to Jesus, his or her problem (or illness) is described, there is a brief interchange with Jesus, Jesus agrees to heal the person, he does so by a word or by a touch, and all the crowds marvel. Every miracle story seems to have the same elements.
        Or take the controversy stories. Jesus or his disciples do something that offends the Jewish leaders; the leaders protest; Jesus has a conversation with them; and the story ends with Jesus delivering a withering one-liner that shows that he gets the better of them. Time after time, same form.” (p. 84)

        Hmm… I guess we can conclude from the epistles that there existed churches in the eastern Mediterranean and in Rome, but is it safe to assume that missionaries told stories about Jesus’ life in order to address present-day situations of converts? The epistles tell no stories of Jesus’ life except that he was crucified and buried.

        So far I’m not convinced that the repetition of basic “primae fabulae” is sound proof of origin in oral tradition, but maybe it is.

        • LeekSoup

          Ehrmann is fairly late to the game as the pericopes have been accepted by many NT scholars for over a century. I’m not sure about the missionary angle. They could well have been used in church settings to teach the believers. The pattern suggests an oral origin but we can’t be sure. They may have been collected as extant individual things then placed into order by the Gospel writers.

    • Kevin K

      With regard to oral history, from what I understand, there was no such person as “Homer”. All the works attributed to him were crowdsourced. Of course, that also means that there is more than one “true” version of each Homeric epic, with bits and bobs being added and subtracted over the decades/centuries.

      If theologists are counting on the reliability of oral history, then I think they’re in for a rude shock.

      I’m also very interested in the concept that gMark was an allegory written as a Homeric epic. I think that has the most “legs” as far as how the whole notion of a corporeal Jesus got off the ground. Someone will be around shortly (if they aren’t already) to flesh that concept out.

      • Tommy

        Crowdsourced. A very apt word. I’m going to use this from now on. :)

    • Jim Jones

      http://pocm.info/

      What you’ll discover at POCM is that ancient cultures around the Mediterranean shared a set of ideas about Gods and their powers and place in the universe—and that Christianity adopted those ideas, and applied them to Jesus.

      Ancient people knew godmen did miracles. The first Christians knew Jesus was a godman, so the stories they told about Him included miracles. He even did the same miracles other, earlier Pagan godmen did.

      The core of Christianity—the worship of a miracle working, walking, talking godman who brings salvation—was also the core of other ancient religions that began a thousand years before Jesus.

    • Pofarmer

      Have you, by chance, read Raphael Lataster on this issue? He’s gotten published in at least one peer reviewed journal I believe, basically talking about how shoddy NT “Scholarship” is. I’m currently working on a short Paper by Burton L. Mack titled “On redescribing Christian Origins” This might be of interest to you.

      • Ficino

        Thanks, i see it appears with other papers in his The Christian Myth: Origins, Logic and Legacy. His looks like the sort of interesting and thought-provoking work that gets largely dismissed because it is too out of the mainstream and doesn’t even have many footnotes!

        The same JSTOR search brought up some other things that I hope to read in a day or two.

        I have not seen anything by Lataster so far.

        • Pofarmer

          Search on Amazon. The name of his book escapes me right now.

        • Pofarmer

          too out of the mainstream

          You mean “Adheres to reality.”

          Lol

  • Grimlock

    I’d like to point out that god not existing doesn’t provide explanations for these questions. In order to provide explanations one needs further information, such as information about human behaviour and our tendency to create legends, and knowledge about how nature behaves. In short, one needs additional hypotheses.

    This is analogous to Christians claiming that Jesus rising from the dead explains the so-called “facts” apologists keep touting. One requires additional hypotheses to explains these… propositions, such as the ability of someone to fly into the sky, etc.

    The difference, of course, is that the hypotheses for the naturalist position that explains the questions above are found in our background knowledge. The hypotheses that the Christian apologist requires are rather ad hoc.

    • MNb

      “doesn’t provide explanations for these questions”
      Reformulate them and explanations that include god not existing become very possible. Just replace “why” with “how comes”.

      How comes that faith is required? Because the scientific method won’t do.
      How comes that god is hidden? Because a god not existing won’t show up anytime.
      How comes there are natural disasters? Aks meteorologists and geologists, ao.
      How comes the Bible shows God doing terrible things? Because the Hebrew nation was trapped between two superpowers. This god served as deterrence: “Egypt, Assyria, stay away, because know what a terrible god sides with us”.
      How comes the historical record is so weak for Christianity? Because the first fans (from fanatics) believed that Jesus’ Second Coming could happen anytime soon – they did not expect to wait for more than 2000 years, given Jesus’s own prophecies. Records were considered a waste of time and effort.

      “Why” implies a purpose. Abandon teleology and things become a lot easier.

      • Grimlock

        Reformulate them and explanations that include god not existing become very possible.

        Kind of my point. The explanations include god not existing, but they also require additional information. As such, god not existing is not by itself sufficient.

        • Michael Neville

          God not existing makes many of the questions moot. A critter cannot be more hidden than a non-existent one.

        • Grimlock

          Oh, yeah, that’s true. Neat.

        • Tommy

          A non-existent kid hiding in a dark room would be the all-time hide-n-seek champion, hands down.

        • MNb

          Yeah, my comment was meant as an addition, not as a contradiction.

          “The explanations include god not existing, but they also require additional information.”
          Such as? Let’s take a popular example, the origin of Earthly life.
          1. A natural explanation requires information like the biochemical reactions, the environment. Ie answers on questions like how, where, when etc.
          2. The divine explanation “goddiddid” doesn’t explain anything unless it provides answers on the questions how, where, when etc. as well.

          So it seems to me that any divine explanation requires the same information as natural explanations plus some more.
          God not existing is not by itself sufficient of course, but that’s a wide open door. Unbelievers tend to rely on the scientific method for explanations.

          Have I misunderstood you?

        • Grimlock

          Well said. So many of the theistic explanations lack an actual mechanism for the event in question, and even the motivations of their god seems often utterly ad hoc.

          Have I misunderstood you?</blockquote<

          Not at all. I misunderstood your first post.

  • Lerk!

    “Christianity is elbow deodorant. It is a solution in search of a problem.”

    When Nietzsche said “God is dead” he was concerned about the implications of a world where people no longer believed in that deity. As it turned out, he had nothing to worry about. People have become more moral because they’re actually allowed to think about it instead of just regarding ancient ideas about morality as being set in stone.

    • Kevin K

      Especially the Abrahamaic religions, which have all of the slavery, patriarchal and genocidal baggage attached to them. Once you get over the notion that it doesn’t matter that the bible says that a woman’s labor pains are a punishment from Yahweh himself, then it’s OK to provide her with an epidural during delivery. And no kidding, it was as late as the 1930s in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA that this was still being debated.

    • basenjibrian

      “people no longer believing in that deity” is very much a First World situation. People believe even more fervently in places like Nigeria (whose megachurch leaders make Jim Bakker seem like a humble country preacher). And that does not even include Islamic irredentism, a new and toxic Hindu nationalism, or the rise of Buddhist tribalism in places like Myanmar and Bhutan (which expelled 40% of its population in this century for not being pious Buddhists)

  • Kevin K

    Well, of course, “faith” is required because “god isn’t a vending machine” and doesn’t heal anyone willy-nilly, and most especially fuck all those amputees. He does, apparently, find Aunt Sue’s car keys so she can get to BINGO on time.

  • Nullifidian

    I think there’s another question, important in my opinion, that Christers should address. The Ten Commandments might have been suitable for the Israelites back in the Bronze Age, but why didn’t “God” updated them for the societies that forged the Industrial Revolution, or our modern age? Any god (worthy of the title) would not be so remiss, surely?

    I guess one answer could be that the Bible Bogey only hands out commandments at roughly three thousand year intervals, so now we’re about due for an update.

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

      Yes, a 10 Cs that was surprisingly modern, leading us into new moral territory that sounded weird (equal rights for all, no slavery, democracy, and so on) is what an actual god would do.

      • Nullifidian

        Exactly! Yet another reason for concluding that Jehovah/Yahweh/Allah doesn’t exist.

  • Michael Neville

    I’m in Connecticut where we’re having a blizzard. It stopped snowing and then the power went out. We just got it back. Tomorrow I’ll see what sort of mess is waiting for me and whoever else comes to work. I wish you all a good night. See you all tomorrow

    • epicurus

      Out west we didn’t get huge snow falls but did manage some -40 windchills.

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

      Good luck!

  • eric

    The thing I find more interesting about the Thomas story is that AFAIK, pretty much every Christian will accept that Thomas is in heaven. But if he is, that means one can achieve salvation even if ones’ faith rests on credible evidence of the miraculous. And that undermines any defense for why God must or should remain hidden. Worse, it makes hiddenness morally wrong, since it leads to people not being saved who otherwise would be.

    • Nullifidian

      Eric, you seem to make a damn good point there. Are there any readers who have training in theology who can verify this about Thomas’ supposed beliefs and the Christers’ beliefs that he’s in “Heaven”?

      • Kevin K

        Thomas’ appearance is an interesting one … since this particular scene is AFAIK the one-and-only time he appears anywhere. Almost as if someone writing a “gospel” was trying to overcome an objection from an early skeptic.

        “What do you mean, he’s invisible in heaven? I thought you said he had risen from the grave! Why isn’t he still here on Earth? I’ll believe it when I see him with my own eyes.”

        • eric

          There’s a bunch of places in the bible where the twelve disciples or a subset of them are listed; Thomas is listed in at least three of those lists. This character is also the same “St. Thomas” of Catholicism. So while I don’t dispute your idea that they may have stuck the story in as a dig at skeptics, the character himself was probably not invented purely for that reason since he appears in other places in multiple books.

          But back to the theology of it…turns out, not only can you get to heaven after demanding evidence of God before you believe, you can become a saint after doing it! Of course, God has to actually provide the proof for that. He could, obviously, because he has in the bible. But he doesn’t now. Surprise surprise.

        • Kevin K

          This meme, I think, is pertinent…

        • Kevin K
        • Kodie

          It fills in the hole for the reading skeptic. Christians know what bullshit it must sound like. They’re always going on about how martyry they are about all the hard work it is to walk this path. Advertising often inserts someone who is hard to please, or is a hard-to-please archetype, like the mother-in-law who’s not sure you should be using that new laundry detergent for her grandkids’ underwear, or someone who is brand-loyal choosing something else in a blind taste-test, or the picky eater. They are anticipating skepticism on the subject or the product. The bible preempts the reader’s doubts by making a character who finds this bullshit and is convinced.

        • OutsideLookingIn

          Yes, it absolutely sounds like EXACTLY what someone would invent to counter someone asking, “Where’s the proof?”

    • Otto

      Being internally consistent is not exactly a strong suit for Christianity.

  • disqus_KZV54l7H97

    Prey pray. See FB Atheists La Jolla CA. Religimums jeebus aay_laay yaay_waay ree_lijjee_mumbo_jumbo

    • Max Doubt

      “Prey pray. See FB Atheists La Jolla CA. Religimums jeebus aay_laay yaay_waay ree_lijjee_mumbo_jumbo”

      If your Facebook page wasn’t a piece of shit, you wouldn’t have to spam other people’s blogs to get some traffic.

      • disqus_KZV54l7H97

        “Maja look. Maja look.”
        Actually I pick up followers with my sophisticated tactics. YUGE crowds.!
        And yunz, ol’ kook, iz now blocked.

  • Kevin K

    So, can we add our own questions? I’d like to propose this one…

    Did Jesus ever run anywhere? All of the depictions of him have him walking at a leisurely stroll (and speaking very softly for the most part). Even in the temple, when the Pharisees were trying to stone him, the bible says he “hid” and then “went away” — presumably at the same leisurely pace that he went into the temple. When did Jesus get his cardio in?

    • epeeist

      Did Jesus ever run anywhere?

      Only after eating a dodgy prawn curry…

      • Kevin K

        Another important question!

        Did Jesus shit along the side of the road like everyone else? And if so, did he ever get the runs? Were his e coli godly or not?

        • Michael Neville

          How about wet dreams? Did Jesus ever have a nocturnal emission? What about “morning wood”?

        • Kevin K

          As a pharmashill, I helped launch one of the ED drugs…true fact…that “morning wood” has nothing to do with sexual desire. It’s part of the body’s daily housekeeping system. If you don’t get nocturnal/morning erections, you likely have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other disease and should get checked out by your physician.

        • Pofarmer

          Who hooooo. At least that part of me is healthy.

          Does that mean I, uhm, shouldn’t bother my wife about them then?

        • Kevin K

          Well…you wouldn’t want to let a good thing go to waste…

        • Kodie

          No, Jesus never shit along the side of the road. The reason he cursed the fig tree was because he was constipated.

        • Robert Templeton

          That raises other questions: Were Jesus’ symbiotic bacteria both ‘natural’ and ‘god’ simultaneously? Or were they simply natural bacteria transferred by Mary? Could Jesus ever have fleas or lose (godly) blood to a mosquito? How many angels are dancing on the head of this flea?

        • Kevin K

          Did Jesus fart angels? Inquiring minds want to know!

    • Kodie

      You need a good bit of upper body strength and core strength to carry a cross and then hang on it. I bet he did planks.

  • adriancrutch

    …people who existed in the past with limited technology tried to explain questions about why this or that happened…it’s just a product of using the “wisdom” of elders to answer the questions posed to them by children or students…and they and their answers become venerated as current “facts”…and it’s proven that some humans are prone to stay hostile to new changes in lifestyle… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/de704260c6038172c69830f5b8a4718830b6eecec8c4b134d8197a027a59c2d2.jpg

  • Tommy

    Off Topic: I no longer believe that Jesus is myth. Remember the trilemma :

    Jesus is either:
    1.) Liar
    2.) Lunatic
    3.) Lord

    Many have offered a fourth option:
    4.) Legend

    I offer a fifth option:
    5.) Literary

    And that’s what I’m now convinced of. Jesus is a character of literature. Jesus is no more a legend than the X-men or the Justice League are legends. But Jesus is literary like the X-men and the Justice League.

    • Otto

      You make a great point. If nothing else ‘literary’ is all that can be proven.

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

      Yes, this is an intriguing option. The oral history period vanishes, and Jesus is just pieced together from literature. Here’s a Robert G. Price article on this topic:

      http://web.archive.org/web/20150218004315/http:/rationalrevolution.net/articles/fictional_jesus.htm

      • Ficino

        Having just finished reading the bulk of Bart Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist?, in which he seeks to refute Price and Carrier among others, I’d like to see someone post a strong case, published in an academically recognized venue, against the assumption that there were either earlier documents and/or oral traditions as sources for gMark, gMatt and gLuke. I remember reading an article in a refereed journal arguing against “Q”, but I forget where I saw it.

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

          The simple case against Q is to say that Matthew used Mark (and maybe other sources), and then Luke used both Mark and Matthew. No need for Q in this case, because you have another explanation (copying from Matt) to explain the material common to Matt and Luke but not in Mark.

          From Wikipedia:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/31370a3ab9e8c20833b13575c07a63e889dc839496e055ad7bf9a0b595d1b830.jpg

        • Ficino

          Hi Bob, thanks. As I’m sure you know, Ehrman – and I assume he follows a consensus – rejects the above scheme because, he says, some of the material shared by Matt/Luke, and not in Mark, cannot for various reasons be explained as borrowing by Luke from Matt plus invention by Luke. And similarly w/ Luke placed before Matthew.

          I remember reading a whole journal article attacking the Q hypothesis as superfluous, but can’t find it again yet. I’ll find it eventually.

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

          I’ve heard people reject the “drop Q” argument, but I’ve not understood the reasoning. How would you tell that Luke didn’t borrow the common material from Matt but that they shared a common source?

          If you don’t remember easily, don’t worry about it. I could look it up.

        • Ficino

          I only read Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist?, and not all of it, and in that book Ehrman does not present arguments in favor of the Q hypothesis. He only says that scholars have determined that the material shared by Matt and Luke and not in Mark cannot have come from Luke copying/adapting Matthew or Matthew copying/adapting Luke. I don’t know the evidence for the claim that instead, both are drawing on a shared source now lost, i.e. Q. Ehrman also says that the material unique to Matt must have come from some document/s, called M, and unique to Luke, from other documents called L. In addition, he allows that all these generators of the story embellished, made up stuff, etc., so that the secure historical core is extremely thin.

          That’s all I know!

        • Rudy R

          Keep in mind, there are no artifacts to prove the existence of Q. There is zero physical evidence that Q exists, so Q is only a hypothesis. Ehrman relies on Q to justify his belief that Jesus was a historical person rather than a fictional one.

        • OutsideLookingIn
  • Ficino

    Re the synoptic gospels and Q (see further down), I think the study I was trying to remember is Mark Goodacre, The Case Against Q: Studies in the Synoptics and Markan Priority (Harrisburg 2002). Some of it is accessible via Google:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=MPfBso3TwGkC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

  • JP

    Here are some answers to: “Why create an enormous universe if the point was just to create humans? Why does the view of God change through the Bible? If God created the universe, what created God? and so on—but they are all neatly resolved by dropping the God hypothesis.
    Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/01/10-questions-christians-must-answer-2-2/#0k77oUF6iW6BSST1.99

    1- who says God created the universe just for humans? The Bible doesn’t say that.
    2- Depends what you mean by change. Different circumstances demand different responses.
    3- God was not created but has always existed.

    Reality cannot be understood without God. No way to account for so many things.

    • Max Doubt

      “Reality cannot be understood without God. No way to account for so many things.”

      As far as we know, objectively, gods can’t do anything outside the imaginations of those who believe they exist. There is nothing in reality that you believe to be the result of the powers of gods that can’t be equally as well explained, objectively, as the result of my magical powers. Bottom line, the conjecture that your gods explain anything is objectively unsupportable. Gods are pussies that way.

    • Otto

      ‘Gravity cannot be understood without invisible pixies’….

      This is equally coherent…

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

      As far as I can tell, adding God does nothing to simplify the issue. Are you just proposing “God did it!” as the answer to the problems at the frontier of science, even though that’s never worked in the past?

      1. Then what does the Bible say?
      2. No idea what you’re responding to. The questions in this post are 6-10.
      3. Prove it.

      • JP

        1- The Bible doesn’t say. All it says is the God created the universe.
        2-responding to questions near the end of the article.
        3- The origin of the universe and life is best explained by an intelligence that is called God. To many things required to be just right to have these things happen by lucky coincidences.

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

          1. Then what did God create the universe for except for humans? God’s creation of the rest of the universe besides the sun, moon, and earth is given in the 6-day story with a single word. Seems pretty anthropocentric to me.
          3. So the fine tuning argument is all you’re referring to. Nope: multiverse. If you want more arguments, search this blog.

        • JP

          1-Who knows? No reason to think that God did not have multiple reasons to create a universe. We do know from Scripture the uniqueness of man from the rest of creation by God creating man in His image. That is not said of anything else.
          3- The problem is how do you get an atom let alone a universe from nothing. There is no evidence of a multiverse. Even if there was, you would still have to show what relationship it has with us.

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

          1. Good point. Sounds like God created the universe for humans.

          3. One answer: science doesn’t know. But so what? Are you saying, “Ooo! I have an answer! It’s God!!”? You need to back that up with evidence.

          One possibility: zero-energy universe, a 40-yo hypothesis that says that positive energy in the universe is balanced by negative energy. Result: the universe has a net zero energy and zero mass. It’s the ultimate free lunch.

        • JP

          3- God is an answer. Have yet to see a better one.
          Do you believe that energy is eternal?
          If there ever was a “time” or state when nothing existed (no energy, no atoms, no God) there would be no existence of anything today.

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

          3. You’ve got a pretty low bar! God is the best answer despite the fact that there’s no evidence for God. You’re an intellectual powerhouse. I wouldn’t want to debate you.

        • JP

          3-there is no is no bar to be an atheist. No evidence needed.
          No debate would be possible because you no facts to debate with.

        • Michael Neville

          Our “facts” are the complete and utter lack of evidence that even hints at the slightest suggestion that possibly perhaps a god or gods could maybe exist. If you’ve got evidence then we’ll stop being atheists. So pull something out of your ass to show that you’re not talking out of your ass.

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

          And, as epeeist noted, you hit the reset button.

          Get me off this carousel. You have no interest in learning anything. You’re a waste of time.

        • Michael Neville

          3- God is an answer. Have yet to see a better one.

          So what’s the evidence that a god or gods exist? You have to show that before you can make WAGs* about gods creating anything.

          *WAG = Wild Ass Guess

        • Max Doubt

          “3- God is an answer. Have yet to see a better one.”

          I’ve offered a better explanation several times. From what we can objectively determine, outside your own head I can do anything the god you imagine can do. So to credit me with these events or occurrences is equally reasonable before the conversation even starts. But then I have this extreme advantage as a plausible explanation for those things that amaze you. I exist. I can show that I exist. No god has ever been able to do that. So, yes, the better explanation is “Max Doubt did it”.

        • MNb

          Quantum fields very well be eternal, whatever that means.

        • Nick G

          Time itself is not nothing, so there cannot have been a time or state when nothing existed – the very notion is incoherent. There may have been an earliest time, or first event, and there is nothing known that rules out that possibility.

        • MNb

          Main thing from Scripture I know is that its content is badly outdated.
          As long as you don’t properly define “nothing” you can’t say there is a problem.
          Getting an atom from physical nothing (all quantum fields having value zero) is no problem at all: quantum field fluctuations.
          Demonstrating that philosophical nothing even makes sense is a problem for you, not for us atheists.

        • Nick G

          We do know from Scripture the uniqueness of man from the rest of creation by God creating man in His image.

          We don’t know anything from “Scripture”, apart from the facts about its authors that can be deduced from its contents (particularly its glaring inconsistencies and absurdities).

        • Nick G

          There is no evidence of a creator – and it would have been very easy for a creator to make its existence absolutely evident and undeniable. And if the universe did indeed have a beginning (which we don’t know), then it did not “come from nothing”, because that presumes that there was a time before the beginning.

        • JP

          Don’t know how you can say that. Just look at the planet we live on and how well it works together to make our lives possible. It would take more faith to believe that this was all due to chance.

          Notice what this scientist says about God and the universe:
          “Michio Kaku has made a name for himself as a world-leading theoretical physicist unafraid to speak his mind.

          Kaku, the Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in theoretical physics at the City College of New York, has published more than 70 articles in physics journals on topics such as supersymmetry, superstring theory, supergravity, and hadronic physics.

          His latest claim is likely to make waves in the world of science.

          “I have concluded that we are in a world made by rules created by an intelligence,” Kaku said, as quoted by the Geophilosophical Association of Anthropological and Cultural Studies. “To me it is clear that we exist in a plan which is governed by rules that were created, shaped by a universal intelligence and not by chance.”
          http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/world-famous-scientist-god-created-universe

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

          Oh, please. Human life is adapted to the environment on earth, not the other way around.

        • JP

          How? How did evolution “know” to create a human being?

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

          ?? Humans were no goal of evolution. It just happened that way. With different conditions, it might be smart lizards wrestling with these issues.

          Your 2018 resolution: read a textbook on evolution.

        • JP

          So stuff happens. That is not an explanation.

        • MNb

          No. It’s a fact.

        • Joe

          With different conditions, it might be smart lizards wrestling with these issues futilely arguing with a particularly dumb and willfully ignorant lizard.

          I hope you don’t mind me amending your quote to better fit the current situation.

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

          Nice touch.

        • NZL72

          How does combustion know to create CO2?

        • Max Doubt

          “How? How did evolution “know” to create a human being?”

          Your question is what we’d expect from a rather unintelligent grade school kid. Let me know what grade you’re in at school. I’ll help you find an age appropriate science tutor to help you with your ignorance, incredulity, and misunderstandings. Seriously. It’ll help you avoid looking so stupid.

        • MNb

          You insist on begging the question, I see.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, some people are fucking nuts.

        • Michael Neville

          Kaku is notorious for saying stupid things when he’s not discussing physics. Like many intelligent, educated people, he thinks he’s smarter and more knowledgeable than he actually is.

        • eric

          Just look at the planet we live on and how well it works together to make our lives possible.

          If ‘look how suitable Earth is’ = argument for God, then ‘look how unsuitable rest of the solar system is’ = argument against God. The argument swings both ways…and unfortunately for the theist, the cubic area of the solar system which is suitable for human habitation is much much smaller than the cubic area of the solar system which isn’t. If the universe is designed, it’s designed for beings that love 4 kelvin vacuum with lots of hard radiation traveling through it.

          Another way to think about it: let’s say you came across a hamster habitrail. It’s a nice habitrail, but it’s encased in a box that hamsters would have a very hard time escaping. And surrounding that box is miles upon miles of concentrated nitric acid in all directions. Just for a hamster or two! Would you say the designer of such a system had a pleasant view of hamsters? I’d say no. That type of enclosure screams “cage for keeping hamsters away from everything else” to me. But of course, the space between even hypothetically habitable planets is just as inimical to human life as nitric acid. Our universe doesn’t resemble anything built ‘for us’ in a pleasant sense, it resembles a cage.

        • JP

          Its all the more amazing that we have a planet like ours.
          “Professor Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in high energy physics (a field of science that deals with the very early universe), writing in the journal “Scientific American”, reflects on:
          how surprising it is that the laws of nature and the initial conditions of the universe should allow for the existence of beings who could observe it. Life as we know it would be impossible if any one of several physical quantities had slightly different values.”

        • eric

          Its all the more amazing that we have a planet like ours.

          So no matter how the universe is described, it points to Jesus? If it’s unlikely, Jesus. If we can’t figure out the probability, Jesus. If some part of the solar system is a good fit, that points to Jesus…but when someone brings up the fact that other parts are a bad fit, that also points to Jesus?

          This is not reasoning; it’s a fixed conclusion to which any and every fact is adopted as needed.

        • Hans-Richard Grümm

          Another quote from Steve Weinberg:

          “One of the great achievements of science has been, if not to make it impossible for intelligent people to be religious, then at least to make it possible for them not to be religious. We should not retreat from this accomplishment. “

        • MNb

          “Just look at the planet we live on and how well it works together to make our lives possible.”
          Begging the question. You assume a purpose (to make our lives possible) to argue that there is a purposeful immaterial agent. It doesn’t require any faith to reject that there is a purpose. Lack of faith is sufficient.
          That a theoretical physicist’s latest claim is guilty of exactly the same logical fallacy doesn’t mean we suddenly have to accept it.
          Also Kaku has been talking out of the lower end of his digestive system for years.

          https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Michio_Kaku

        • Gary Whittenberger

          If you talk to many Christians, as I have, you discover that most of them do believe that God created the whole universe as the habitat for humans, i.e. the main goal was creation of Adam and Even and their descendants. But this makes no sense. God would not be inefficient. If God existed and humans were the pinnacle of his creation, then he would have created our one sun, an Earth, and the Moon — that’s it! No need to create anything else.

        • Maximum Chagrin

          And the Sun should just have been a Godly flashlight pointing at Earth. As it is a radiating sphere 1AU distance away, we on Earth only receive about one two-billionth of the energy it sends. The considerable remainder doesn’t ever interact with Earth and zips away at light speed.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Good point. If God did exist, he would have been much more efficient.

        • Max Doubt

          “But this makes no sense.”

          Your incredulity is noted.

          “God would not be inefficient.”

          You only know the mind of the god you imagine. Your god does not have the same characteristics as other people’s gods.

          “If God existed and humans were the pinnacle of his creation, then he would have created our one sun, an Earth, and the Moon — that’s it! No need to create anything else.”

          Again, you’re imagining properties for a god of your own invention. Nobody else’s gods are subject to the way you imagine them.

        • epeeist

          The origin of the universe and life is best explained by an intelligence that is called God.

          I see the reset button has been pressed.

          Just over a week since I gave you links to a couple of papers by Vilenkin where he proposes mechanisms for the formation of universes without the need for a god of any kind.

        • JP

          No forces of nature existed before the big bang. That means no mechanisms.

        • epeeist

          No forces of nature existed before the big bang

          Tackle the content of the papers and stop making stuff up.

        • JP

          You brought it up so presented it in your own words here.

        • Michael Neville

          You’re the one making the claim there were no forces of nature before the Big Bang. So what’s your evidence to support this supposition?

        • epeeist

          You brought it up so presented it in your own words here.

          No Sonny Jim, that isn’t how it works. I gave you papers which show hypotheses which give mechanisms for a naturalistic formation of the universe. If you think that they are wrong then it is down to you to show why they are wrong.

          Not that you will do so, I have provided posts to you which shown an omnipotent and omni-benevolent god is incoherent, that an omnipotent and omniscient god is incoherent, that there is better evidence for the existence of King Arthur than Jesus, that a meaningless universe does not imply that our lives are meaningless and finally that facts are mutable.

          None of these have you responded to. The same is true for other posters.

          I think the phrase “all mouth and no trousers” sums up your posting history on this site.

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

          This is big, my friend. Big! If you know the conditions of reality before the big bang, write it up and get it published. The scientific community has a lot of questions here that you’ve obviously answered.

        • JP

          Let me give you the answer: “We have very good evidence that there was a Big Bang, so the universe as we know it almost certainly started some 14 billion years ago. But was that the absolute beginning, or was there something before it?” asks Alexander Vilenkin, a cosmologist at Tufts University near Boston. It seems like the kind of question that can never be truly answered because every time someone proposes a solution, someone else can keep asking the annoying question: What happened before that?

          But now Vilenkin says he has convincing evidence in hand: The universe had a distinct beginning — though he can’t pinpoint the time. After 35 years of looking backward, he says, he’s found that before our universe there was nothing, nothing at all, not even time itself.” http://discovermagazine.com/2013/september/13-starting-point

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

          It seems like the kind of question that can never be truly answered because every time someone proposes a solution, someone else can keep asking the annoying question: What happened before that?

          Tell me about it! I’ve got the same problem. Christians are pleased with themselves when they claim that God did something, and then I ask where God came from. They want to hand-wave “Oh, you can’t ask that” or “God always existed—everyone knows that” or “God by definition has always existed” or some other bullshit answer.

          I share your pain.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          If God always existed, then I don’t know why something else couldn’t have always existed. Maybe the universe itself, where universe is defined as “all orderly-dynamic energy-matter in spacetime.”

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

          Yes, this does nicely undercut their argument.

        • Hans-Richard Grümm

          “Before our universe” would require a time, to make sense of “before”. The same holds for “creating the universe”.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Yes, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. If there were no time, then there would be no events. Could the Big Bang have been The First Event? That seems very unlikely to me.

        • Pofarmer

          To think of “Time” before the big bang doesn’t work, because “Time” exists because of space and matter. It’s contingent.

        • Pofarmer

          That seems very unlikely to me.

          So? unlikely events happen constantly.

        • Max Doubt

          “So? unlikely events happen constantly.”

          Yep. Rare, uncommon, unlikely events happen all the time.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          But I must disagree with Vilenkin. How could something come from Absolute Nothing? This seems unreasonable to me. It sounds like magic.

          When I dig into the ideas of these scientists who think this way, I usually find out that they do not mean Absolute Nothing. They mean something very different like quantum foam or pure energy, etc.

        • epeeist

          When I dig into the ideas of these scientists who think this way, I usually find out that they do not mean Absolute Nothing.

          Which is still better than most theists, they can’t come up with a definition of what they mean by “nothing” nor if it ever was the case.

        • Pofarmer

          Absolute nothing is a philosophical construct. It may not be attainable in reality. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDmQINlntJ4

        • MNb

          How do you know? What do you mean with “before” the Big Bang? Also your refusal to read chapter 11 of Augustinus of Hippo’s Confessions is duly noted. You’ve made it very clear that only you don’t know what you’re talking about, you refuse to understand it as well.

        • eric

          If you’re saying there were no conservation laws, then God isn’t necessary; something could just spring from nothing. OTOH if you’re saying physical laws predate the universe, then God isn’t necessary as QM laws as we understand them also allow something to spring from nothing.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          How do you know this? How did you discover this? How did you reach this conclusion?

        • Max Doubt

          “How do you know this? How did you discover this? How did you reach this conclusion?”

          Same way you claim to know the characteristics of other people’s gods. He made it up.

        • Max Doubt

          “3- The origin of the universe and life is best explained by an intelligence that is called God.”

          Your persistent willful ignorance is noted.

          “To many things required to be just right to have these things happen by lucky coincidences.”

          Yet here I am, a living breathing creature with powers and abilities far beyond those of the gods you imagine. There is more evidence that I, and not a god, did all that creating and manipulating that has you so incredulous.

        • eric

          To many things required to be just right

          What things? In order to make such a statement you must know the conditions under which the first life formed. Please let us know what those were – I sure would be interested in knowing them!

        • JP

          Dr. Dennis Scania, the distinguished head of Cambridge University Observatories:
          If you change a little bit the laws of nature, or you change a little bit the constants of nature — like the charge on the electron — then the way the universe develops is so changed, it is very likely that intelligent life would not have been able to develop.

          Dr. David D. Deutsch, Institute of Mathematics, Oxford University:
          If we nudge one of these constants just a few percent in one direction, stars burn out within a million years of their formation, and there is no time for evolution. If we nudge it a few percent in the other direction, then no elements heavier than helium form. No carbon, no life. Not even any chemistry. No complexity at all.

          Dr. Paul Davies, noted author and professor of theoretical physics at Adelaide University:
          “The really amazing thing is not that life on Earth is balanced on a knife-edge, but that the entire universe is balanced on a knife-edge, and would be total chaos if any of the natural ‘constants’ were off even slightly. You see,” Davies adds, “even if you dismiss man as a chance happening, the fact remains that the universe seems unreasonably suited to the existence of life — almost contrived — you might say a ‘put-up job’.”

        • eric

          If you change a little bit the laws of nature…

          …If we nudge one of these constants just a few percent…

          … would be total chaos if any of the natural ‘constants’ were off even slightly….

          What is the probability of them being different? Please show your work. Because for your argument to be at all relevant, you must know that the probability of them being different is quite high…but you don’t know that. Nobody knows what range these values can attain. Nobody knows within that range whether they can take on literally any value or whether there is some quantization of values. Nobody knows if all the values they can attain are equiprobable or not. Nobody knows anything that would allow you to say that the constants we have are extremely unlikely or extremely likely, or perhaps even logically necessary. Nobody knows.

          It’s like saying “there was a lottery, and I got number 50. That’s extremely improbable!!” without knowing the range of numbers given out (1-1,000,000? 49&50?), or how they were given out (random draw? #50 was saved for JP?). The statement “that’s extremely improbable” is completely unwarranted. It’s nothing more than a guess.

        • JP

          Talk to pros. If the cosmos was not fine tuned you couldn’t bake a cake.

        • eric

          The pros you quote are just guessing too. They have a purpose for guessing; cosmologists wonder about this stuff as part of the process of hypothesis development. But I would not mistake their hypothesizing for an authoritative probability estimate.

          Nobody knows if our universe is fine tuned or not, because nobody knows if the fundamental constants in our universe could have been different. Nobody knows how different they could be. Nobody knows what the probability of them being different is. And if you want to claim differently, show me.

        • Kodie

          OMFG, but you’re just an incredulous moron.

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

          “The universe was fine tuned to bake a cake” isn’t an interesting argument.

        • Kevin K

          Well, in actuality, the universe isn’t fine-tuned to bake a cake. It’s actually fine-tuned to not bake a cake. Name one place other than Earth where you can bake a cake? So, we’re the anomaly out of the trillions upon trillions of possible places in the universe. Therefore, the universe doesn’t give a fuck-all about cakes.

          The “fine tuning” argument presupposes that the entire structure of the universe was created just for this single tiny rock and the biologic scum on top of it.

        • MNb

          If the White House was not fine tuned flies would not have a resting place.
          Few things are as stupid as christian hybris.

        • Nick G

          Pros differ on the matter. I’ve already cited Victor Stenger. David Deutsch, whom you quote, is an atheist, and a proponent of the “many worlds” interpretation of quantum mechanics, which postulates that all possible universes exist. So even if one accepts the claims of the fine-tuners, the existence of a creator does not follow. Let alone of a creator with anything like the attributes religions asssign to it.

        • JP

          Then how would you account for the fine-tuning and design of the universe if not God? What else could explain it?

        • eric

          The point is, you have no empirical or knowledge basis to say it’s improbable. And until you have that, there is nothing to explain. Right now, saying “how do we explain improbable fine tuning without God” is sort of like saying “how do we explain the unicorn without magic.” First, show me the unicorn – don’t assume it. Likewise, show me a credible improbability calculation – don’t assume it.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          You are begging the question. Neither you nor anybody else knows that the universe was fine-tuned. Sure, if things were different near the time of the Big Bang, then things would be different now. So what? This does not mean that things could have been different and it certainly does not mean that somebody, like a deity, controlled things at the Big Bang.

          You are jumping to unwarranted conclusions. Remember Occam’s Razor?

        • Jim Jones

          Eric the Magic Penguin sets those in his spare time.

        • Max Doubt

          “Talk to pros. If the cosmos was not fine tuned you couldn’t bake a cake.”

          The pros will tell you we can bake a cake at the top of a mountain or at sea level, but we have to make a few changes to accommodate the difference in air pressure. We adjust to the cosmos. We do it all the time. It is objectively obvious. The cosmos adjusting to us, for us, or on our behalf is an altogether unevidenced conjecture.

        • Kodie

          If the cosmos was fine-tuned, why was it too fucking cold to stand outside for 10 minutes without human technology? Much less, inside is human technology. I live in a brick building with a pretty decent heating system. Life on earth where I live is not possible without human intervention and improvement upon a few constants.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Or make a nuclear weapon?

        • Jim Jones

          If the moon was made of green cheese, we’d have pizza forever.

        • Nick G

          Despite what these people say, we don’t actually know enough to say with confidence that other values of the constants would not permit life – although it might be entirely different from life in the actual universe. Victor Stenger, in The Fallacy of Fine Tuning argues in some detail the case that the ranges of values that would permit life is much larger than the “fine-tuning” argument claims. In any cae, we don’t know what the space of possible values is. That means we cannot actually assign a probability to the constants having any particular range of values, so the argument would have little force even if the fine-tuners were right about the required precision.

          But let’s suppose for a moment the fine-tuners are right, and we live in a very unlikely universe. So what? That is not evidence that it was designed, let alone that it was designed to permit intelligent life. After all, however precise the initial conditions required for intelligent life to emerge, the precision required for me to emerge, or for Hitler to emerge, must be much greater. Should I conclude that the universe was designed for me to emerge? Or should we conclude that it was designed for Hitler to emerge?

          Considering how easy it would be for an agent that could design and create a universe to make its existence absolutely evident, we can reasonably conclude that if the universe was designed, the designer is at best unconcerend with whether we recognise its existence. Which is quite contrary to what Christianity, and the other Abrahamic religions, would have us believe.

        • JP

          As a Christian I think I have good reason to think the designer has communicated with us and its recorded in the Bible. This record tells us He is concerned about us.

        • Max Doubt

          “As a Christian I think I have good reason to think the designer has communicated with us and its recorded in the Bible. This record tells us He is concerned about us.”

          As a person whose thinking is not jaded by indoctrination into ancient myths and fantasies, I’ll remind you that there is nothing the god you imagine can do that I can’t do, too. And there are several things I can do that no gods are able to do. I could do most of them when I was an infant. Does it not concern you a bit that the god you imagine is as puny and incapable as a human child?

        • Kodie

          As a Christian, you are a superstitious fool.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          With us? Speak for yourself. No god has communicated with me. If God did exist, he would appear, communicate, and put on a show for all of us. This has not happened. Therefore, God does not exist.

          The Bible is a mixture of fact and fiction. All the alleged acts of God therein are the fiction. If God did exist, he wouldn’t hide.

        • Max Doubt

          “If God did exist, he would appear, communicate, and put on a show for all of us.”

          Only the god you imagine is subject to the rules and regulations you endow it with.

        • Kevin K

          Mainly fiction. Very, very, very few of the historical facts contained within the NT can be verified, and most of them can be positively ruled out. The walls of Jericho did not come a-tumbling down, because the town didn’t have high walls. And on and on.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I probably agree that it is “mainly fiction,” but this is only speculation. Nobody has done a comprehensive study of the Bible to determine what percentage of its “statements of fact” are true vs. false or probably true vs probably false or supported vs. unsupported. And so on.

        • Kevin K

          Actually, The Bible Unearthed by Israeli archaeologists thoroughly examined the OT. They found precious little in the way of historical or archaeological verification of any of the stories, and a great deal of gross exaggeration to boot (like David being a great king, when he was merely a tribal chieftan). It’s well worth a read.

          And the NT? Well, that’s my main problem with the “gospels”. None of the events described therein have been verified from any relevant discipline — history, archaeology, whatever. Absence of evidence in this case being evidence of absence.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I agree with you well-informed guess.

        • Victor Polk

          So arachaeologists for the biblical events are morons? You’re so critical.

        • Kevin K

          Read for comprehension. The Bible Unearthed was written by archaeologists who found zero evidence of the historical claims made in the OT. (Being Jewish, they were not interested in the NT).

        • Victor Polk

          Again saying that it’s “mostly fiction” is not much.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          If my recollection is correct, I think the Jesus Seminar concluded that Jesus (if he existed) said only about 18% of what is attributed to him in the Gospels. So, this implies that the other 82% of those statements are fictional.

        • Victor Polk

          Burn then again, experts have agreed said that Jesus was a real person based on evidence.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          It depends on how you define a relevant expert in this area. Although the evidence is not strong, I believe that it is more likely that Jesus did exist than he did not. I’ve debated this issue many times, and I’m not inclined to debate it again.

          Jesus — an itinerant Jewish preacher in the first third of the first century CE who preached an apocalyptic message, gained a small following, was crucified by Roman authorities, and around whom a religion was started.

        • Victor Polk

          Like you even know.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I haven’t claimed to know. Have you? Read me words again: “I believe…”

        • Victor Polk

          Except no actual scholar or respected historian would jump to the conclusion to even consider it “mostly fiction”.

        • Kevin K

          Gross exaggeration? Lying? Whatever term you use, it’s clear that the major events declared to have happened in the bible did not. From the first verse of Genesis onward, the book is nothing more than myths, legends, highly revisionist Jewish history, and dietary guidelines for people without ice.

        • Michael Neville

          How many of those scholars and “respected historians” are Christians? Does the expression “confirmation bias” mean anything to you?

        • Victor Polk

          No not automatically. Besides, does agreeing that evolution happened make it a “confirmation bias”, because not every person (some scientists included) accept evolution as a fact.

        • Michael Neville

          Do you even know what confirmation bias is? Here’s a hint: A Christian scholar is not going to call the Bible “mostly fiction”. A Muslim, Hindu or atheist scholar quite likely would, just like the Christian scholar would call the Quran and the Vedas “mostly fiction”.

          Scientists who don’t accept evolution are called ignorant creationists. They are only called scientists by other ignorant creationists.

        • Victor Polk

          Who knows? One them can be honest.

          Sames goes.

        • Michael Neville

          Creationism is not the honest one. If you pretend it is then it’s up to you to provide evidence for it. And trying to poke holes in reality is not evidence for GODDIDIT.

        • Jim Jones

          Your masturbatory fantasies are yours alone.

        • adam
        • Kevin K

          It was Todd from the race of universe-building aliens. We’re his 8th grade Science Fair project at Msk&lrgth Middle School. He got a B+.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          None of these three persons knows that any of those things could be changed or nudged. There is a reason they are called “constants.”

        • Jim Jones

          > The entire universe … would be total
          chaos if any of the natural ‘constants’ were off even slightly.

          All that means is that we either have the physics wrong or we have the math wrong. When they thought the Large Hadron Collider was producing FTL particles it turned out the wiring was wrong.

        • adam

          “If you change a little bit the laws of nature, or you change a little
          bit the constants of nature — like the charge on the electron — then
          the way the universe develops is so changed, it is very likely that
          intelligent life would not have been able to develop.”

          I vote we change the laws and see.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c16373740f3fbbd90db552ffc42d7d89dee7edf48b5d7491a41b83ff636c1e00.jpg

        • MNb

          That intelligence you randomly call “God” offers no explanation at all, because it does not yield any testable prediction. For instance it doesn’t predict how many gods there are. Even if we erroneously accept the non-argument there are about 30 natural constants. Hindus will claim its evidence for their polytheism.
          Quantum fields do yield testable predictions. Hence the origin of the Universe is better explained by quantum fields fluctuation. There might be better explanations, but I predict they will be natural.

        • JP

          Notice what this world-renowned scientist says about this:
          “Michio Kaku has made a name for himself as a world-leading theoretical physicist unafraid to speak his mind.

          Kaku, the Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in theoretical physics at the City College of New York, has published more than 70 articles in physics journals on topics such as supersymmetry, superstring theory, supergravity, and hadronic physics.

          His latest claim is likely to make waves in the world of science.

          “I have concluded that we are in a world made by rules created by an intelligence,” Kaku said, as quoted by the Geophilosophical Association of Anthropological and Cultural Studies. “To me it is clear that we exist in a plan which is governed by rules that were created, shaped by a universal intelligence and not by chance.”
          http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/world-famous-scientist-god-created-universe

        • Otto

          Well if he can convince the other astrophysicist’s that he has empirical evidence for his claim he might get a Nobel prize….

          Maybe we are in a Massive Multiplayer Online Game…that would fit his claim as much as your God does…just sayin

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Even the great Kaku appears to be mistaken.

        • Jim Jones

          Kaku speaks kaka.

        • adam

          ““I have concluded that we are in a world made by rules created by an intelligence,” Kaku said”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fb4831e1694c2ba934736efcb24fc7f67501a3f169ecaeac7e1a8fd31de3d3f6.png

        • Jim Jones

          > All it says is the God created the universe.

          Nope. It doesn’t know what the universe is. Or the sun, or the moon, or the stars, or the planets.

          In fact it knows sweet fuck all.

    • MNb

      Quantum fields were not created but have always existed.
      Reality perfectly can be understood without imaginary sky daddies. Rather becomes our understanding better, because imaginary sky daddies don’t offer any explanation. They keep people stupid by robbing them from their learning skills, as you demonstrate over and over again.

    • adam
  • Gary Whittenberger

    Bob, thanks once again for an excellent post. Here are my supporting comments:

    “Jesus said, ‘You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me’ (John 20:29).”

    GW: If God did exist, he would not bless those who believe something on insufficient evidence. Instead, he would bless those who believe something on sufficient evidence.

    “…and the obvious supporting evidence-God simply making his existence known-is unapologetically unavailable.”

    GW: 1. If God did exist, then he would be all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfectly moral.
    2. If God did exist, then there would be plentiful, objective, unequivocal, and universal evidence that he exists because he would present this, namely himself.
    3. This kind of evidence does not exist.
    4. Therefore, God does not exist.

    “Christians have responded that the forces of nature have a good side.”

    GW: 1. If God did exist, then he would be all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfectly moral.
    2. If God did exist, then the benefits of natural disasters would outweigh their harms either in all cases, on average, on in the aggregate.
    3. But the benefits of natural disasters do not outweigh the harms in any of these ways.
    4. Therefore, God does not exist.

    “Christians often argue that genocide and slavery were accepted components of society back then. God was simply working within the system.”

    GW: If God did exist, he wouldn’t have to “work within the system.” After all, he would be God! He could easily prevent genocide and slavery or clearly instruct humans to prevent or stop them. But neither has happened.

    “God’s plan apparently was to appear on earth in a low-profile way. “

    GW: If God did exist, his plan would be to appear on Earth in a high-profile way, providing plentiful, objective, unequivocal, and universal evidence that he exists.

    • Max Doubt

      “GW: If God did exist, he would not bless those who believe something on insufficient evidence. Instead, he would bless those who believe something on sufficient evidence.”

      That applies only to the god you imagine.

      “GW: 1. If God did exist, then he would be all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfectly moral. 2. If God did exist, then there would be plentiful, objective, unequivocal, and universal evidence that he exists because he would present this, namely himself. 3. This kind of evidence does not exist. 4. Therefore, God does not exist.”

      The god you imagine is vulnerable to your reasoning. Not so with the gods other people imagine. They’re immune to your reasoning.

      “GW: If God did exist, he wouldn’t have to “work within the system.” After all, he would be God! He could easily prevent genocide and slavery or clearly instruct humans to prevent or stop them. But neither has happened.”

      Again, your god-killer weapon only works on the god you imagine.

      “GW: If God did exist, his plan would be to appear on Earth in a high-profile way, providing plentiful, objective, unequivocal, and universal evidence that he exists.”

      You don’t know the mind of a god any more than other people who believe gods exist. If any gods exist, you don’t have the slightest idea what its properties or plans or characteristics are.

  • Sulie

    Not all christians have to answer to you you know. You’re acting like an fundamentalist who thinks they’re correct, and be correct means they’re doing good by pointing out the flaws of others. Like me, now, only it has jack to do with the fundamental nature of reality, so no grand authoritative justification making me pass as an enlightened heroic type.

    • Otto

      I will put you down for a ‘no comment’ on the 10 questions