25 Reasons We Don’t Live in a World with a God (Part 6)

Do we live in a world with a god? It doesn’t look like it (part 1 here).

Let’s continue our survey with the next clue that we live in a godless world:

13. Because “Christianity answers life’s Big Questions!” is irrelevant

Christians like to claim that their religion can answer the Big Questions, the questions that are fundamental to all of us. (It’s usually just one Big Question, some variation of “What is the meaning of life?”) However, the power of this question and Christianity’s claim to answer it crumble under closer inspection.

This is a special case of C. S. Lewis’s Argument from Desire. Sure, we can want things—a blissful afterlife, a big brother to watch out for us, or God-given meaning for our lives—but that doesn’t mean that those things exist. The same is true with any big question: just because we can think up supernatural answers doesn’t mean that they’re valid.

Alister McGrath, a priest and professor of theology who wrote a book about his journey from atheism to Christianity (responded to here), explains the motivation of his quest to faith this way: “I began to realize that human beings need existential answers about meaning, purpose and value, not just an understanding about how the universe works.” We find a similar drive from apologist William Lane Craig, who traced his life’s work back to the “fear and unbearable sadness” he had as a boy when he first learned about death (more here).

Can we find common ground? Perhaps we must retreat to something as obvious as this: fear of death is no evidence of the afterlife. And I doubt that even this straightforward observation is agreed to by all Christian apologists.

Christians’ big questions (“Why are we here?” or “What is my purpose?”) are actually childish questions. Few people ask why a dog is here or what its purpose is, and science makes clear that humans are just another animal. If there’s no profound reason or purpose for dogs or badgers or mosquitos, why imagine that there should be for humans?

Think of some other biggish questions. Questions like “Why can’t I fly like Superman?” or “Why can’t I move things with my mind?” are frivolous, not important. Most of us accept that this just isn’t how reality works and move on. Questions like “Is this the right person to marry?” or “Should I take that new job?” are individual, not universal. We know that there is no perfect answer.

“Why are we here?” is both universal and important, which gives it few peers . . . but it’s still childish. Let me clarify that asking this question, which many of us wrestle with, is itself not childish. The problem comes when we see that this is a widely asked question and conclude that it must have a bigger-than-us answer. It’s as if they imagine that this question is powerful enough to create a God-shaped vacuum that will suck a supernatural answer into existence if asked by enough people.

Let’s grow up. It doesn’t work that way.

McGrath explains his frustration with science: “The epistemic dilemma of humanity is that we cannot prove the things that matter most to us. We can only prove shallow truths.” But McGrath has it backwards. Show us that there’s more than life here on earth, and then we can worry about those unanswered questions. Until that point, science is the discipline that’s tackling issues that actually exist rather than chasing pink elephants that don’t.

What McGrath labels as “shallow truths” are the fruits of science that prevent and treat disease, feed billions, and teach us about the workings of the atom, the cell, the solar system, and the universe. Religion can’t even get its act together to tell us how many gods there are or what their names are.

That Christians have the luxury of pondering these existential questions is proof of how comfortable their life is. These Western Christians don’t worry about their next meal or staying warm. They can think that food comes from the grocery store, that their favorite sitcom is real, or that Jesus invisibly walks next to them when life is tough. Contrast this with people who have real problems—boys used as soldiers in Congo or girls used as sex slaves in Cambodia. The “Big Questions” are the ultimate #FirstWorldProblems in a society with air bags and training wheels.

Many Christians ignore this and return, like a dog to his vomit, to claim, “Yeah, but I have the answers!” Uh huh. Lots of people have answers. Jim Jones had answers. The Westboro Baptist Church has answers. The Mormons who knock on your door have answers. Are your answers worth listening to? Why should I listen to your answers over theirs?

You ask what you say are the most profound questions of all, and yet the answers are location specific. In Pakistan, Muslims will give you one meaning for life; in India, Hindus will give you another; and in Mississippi, fundamentalist Christians will give you another. What kind of truth depends on location?

And we return to the legitimacy of the question itself. To the Christian who pouts, “Yeah, but what is the purpose of my life?” I wonder if someone needs a hug. Jesus Christ, stop being a baby and answer it yourself. You’re an adult—if your life needs a purpose, give it one!

If you want answers to these questions, they’re right in front of you. You just don’t like them. What is the meaning of life? It’s the meaning you assign to it.

Why are we here? For no more eternally significant reason than why a dog or badger or mosquito is here.

Where did we come from? Big Bang explains the matter, and evolution explains the biology.

Science does a good job at answering questions about reality, it’s just that Christians don’t always like the answers.

Continued in part 7.

Religion convinces you you’re poisoned, when you’re not,
and then offers you the homeopathic remedy.
— Matt Dillahunty

.
Image via johndal, CC license

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  • Halbe

    Not so very long ago religion answered a lot more questions than it does today, because science has shown that more or less all of their answers were completely wrong. Given that track record I cannot understand why people would trust religion with answering any question at all, let alone big ones.

  • nmgirl

    A big question I saw yesterday: Why is a heat wave in New York the same temperature as a cold snap in southern California?

    • Cozmo the Magician

      ,A while back I read a great document that showed that heaven is MUCH hotter than hell. Xtians don’t like that (;I’ll have to see if I can find itEdit: One of many : https://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=909849

    • Greg G.

      I recall from another forum where a respondent said he went to a funeral in Missouri in the spring. All the Minnesota relatives wore short sleeve shirts while the Texas relatives wore coats.

      • al kimeea

        We went to Vegas many years ago in February. The people on the street we could see were all bundled up. We layered up and went out. We soon stripped down to t-shirts. It was 70ish F and the sun was strong. All outdoor pools were closed. It was 35ishF in T.O.

      • Ctharrot

        It’ll get into the 30s today in Minnesota. Shorts weather, according my older son.

      • Illithid

        Went to London (from Texas) last summer. They had a heatstroke warning in the Underground, with attendants on hand with water bottles. It was 80°F. My wife and I almost got laughstroke. We had a hundred days of 100°F+ a few years back.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        After reading this small reply thread, it seems just freaky how much the climate patterns we live in affect us.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    the xtian (especially catholic) church has been REAL good at answering this question: I am an authoritarian with no real skills and possibly an attraction little boys; What can I do with my life?

  • “I began to realize that human beings need existential answers about meaning, purpose and value, not just an understanding about how the universe works.”

    But why, oh why, do those answers need to come from an outside source? We find our meaning in our families, friends and acquaintances, and in our accomplishments. We have purpose in our careers, hobbies, interests and social connections. We value those things and people that bring us comfort and joy, and we attempt to make ourselves valued by others (through methods both kind and unkind), often seeking to leave behind some legacy, even if only one of simple kindness to those around us. These things are why we are here, and we all know it. I can say that with confidence because that is how we all live our lives (though our individual paths vary infinitely). Our ethics, morality and personal philosophies come from our surroundings and experiences.

    These things are common to all humanity, regardless of any particular religion (or lack thereof). And they supply all of the real answers to our needs. Religions are neutral at best—and ofttimes harmful—when dealing with these, the truly important things in life.

    As far as I can tell, the only “answer” that religion gives is either immortality or some other validation against death. I don’t need any of that nonsense. The desire for life after death strikes me as rather childish, like wishing to “fly like Superman.”

    “You’re an adult—if your life needs a purpose, give it one!”

    Amen, Bob, Amen. Keep up the great work.

    • Michael Neville

      I pity those people who only find meaning in life from their god. What bleak, dreary lives they live, hoping that the imaginary sky pixie will smile on them and give them joy in the future. I try to find joy in this life because it’s all I’ll have.

      We find our meaning in our families, friends and acquaintances, and in our accomplishments. We have purpose in our careers, hobbies, interests and social connections.

      Exactly. No external source is needed, especially one that doesn’t exist.

      • And then the Christians tell us that we’re the pathetic ones!

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        The whole thing is also yet another example of theists abusing language. If I say “music gives my life meaning” I don’t mean that music has reached into my being and implanted something external. No, I’m merely saying that I find music meaningful.

        The same is true of their god. Try as they might, no amount of metaphor and colorful language can ever indicate more than them finding personal and subjective value in the divine. Which is all well and good, but it’s no more substantial than my meaning above.

        Of course, there are serious problems with beings whose purpose is to fawn over their creator – at least in terms with Christian construct of god – but that’s a subject for another time.

    • Kevin K

      As far as I can tell, the only “answer” that religion gives is either immortality or some other validation against death.

      ^^This. People around these parts are tired of me saying it, but the word “meaning”, especially coupled with the modifier “ultimate” is theist code for the state of my after-death apartment.” They’re trying for the kitchen upgrade.

  • I think we can still say there is a purpose-to seek happiness. Just not is some afterlife, but here.

    • Kodie

      Is purpose the same thing as what drives a person to find living worthwhile?

      • I’d say so.

        • Kodie

          And if you don’t find anything to be worth living, then what?

        • Depression, and in some cases suicide. Of course, it’s also possible for this to change, and some live for loved one’s happiness as well.

        • Kodie

          So you can’t say happiness is the purpose of life.

        • Why not?

        • Kodie

          It might be your purpose, but you can’t impose that on everyone.

        • I’m trying to describe it, not impose. What do you think is the purpose of life, if not happiness?

        • Kodie

          Happiness is very popular, but regular pooping and staving off boredom is pretty much the basics.

        • Sure, but unless you think those are in fact the purpose of life, I’m not seeing the point.

        • Kodie

          I don’t think there’s a purpose.

        • Okay. I disagree.

        • Kodie

          Do you think animals’ lives have a purpose? What about plants? I mean, some things live because humans purposely cause them to live for our own purpose of making poop.

        • I think so. Which things do you mean?

    • “The purpose of life is to find what the purpose of your life is.”

  • Max Doubt

    Regarding the photo at the top of this article…

    Behold the duck.
    It does not cluck.
    A cluck it lacks.
    It quacks.
    It is specially fond
    Of a puddle or pond.
    When it dines or sups,
    It bottoms ups.

    – Ogden Nash

  • eric

    Here’s one of life’s eternal questions: why would an organization that has the answers to life’s universal questions have to ask other people for their money?

    • Greg G.

      Shazam!

    • Michael Neville

      As the late, great George Carlin explained, God is terrible with money.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZ8hefESt7c

    • Kodie

      Why do people need to go to church every week anyway. If you have the answer to the question that bothers you, it should be profound enough to affect you. But alas, it’s a marketing pitch. You’re not strong enough or wise enough or important enough to give your life its own meaning, you’re just a person. Everyone’s love and respect for you is garbage. You need a deity to love you, but since he’s really subtle and weak, you need to listen to the stories and interpretations of just a person every week, spend the rest of the week being an animal.

    • Since prayer works and God approves of their work, why can’t they just pray for money?

  • Ficino

    As Bob quotes Alistair McGrath: “I began to realize that human beings need existential answers about meaning, purpose and value, not just an understanding about how the universe works … The epistemic dilemma of humanity is that we cannot prove the things that matter most to us. We can only prove shallow truths.”

    ” … human beings need …” You mean, some human beings “want”?

    A former student, whom I remember as a staunch atheist in high school, now says that she has given up being a “hard atheist” and is “a person of faith.”

    I haven’t had the nerve to ask her about this change of heart/mind. Perhaps we’ll talk about it some day. Her trajectory so far is the opposite of mine. But I am wondering whether behind her change is something like what McGrath describes. The heart wants what it wants.

    But is the wanted thing there? I want my cat, but my cat will never be back with me. As Shaka Zulu says in the TV series, we have to live in reality. Then we can start putting something together. That’s the best I can think of.

    I appreciate this series very much, Bob.

    • I’m glad it’s helpful for you. I’m enjoying it so far.

      The heart wants what it wants.

      And that’s the key IMO. Conversions to Christianity are emotional, not intellectual.

    • Halbe

      The heartbrain wants what it wants. The heart is just an organ for pumping blood. 😉

  • Susan

    Great article, Bob.

  • skl

    Bob,

    I’m having a problem seeing consistency here in science and logic:

    “Few people ask why a dog is here or what its purpose is,
    and science makes clear that humans are just another animal. If
    there’s no profound reason or purpose for dogs or badgers or mosquitos, why
    imagine that there should be for humans?

    … That Christians have the luxury of pondering these
    existential questions is proof of how comfortable their life is...
    Contrast this with people who have real problems—boys used as soldiers in Congo or girls used as sex slaves in
    Cambodia. The “Big Questions” are the ultimate #FirstWorldProblems in a society
    with air bags and training wheels.
    … Why are we here? For no more eternally significant reason than why a dog or badger or mosquito is here.”

    If one takes the above as true, then for humans there should
    be neither the “Big Questions” you mention nor the “real problems”
    you note. Because humans are “just another animal.” None of those other animals
    ask the Big Questions. And they don’t have any “real
    problems” (i.e. abuse/travails of other members of their species in another
    country or even in the same “neighborhood”). They concern themselves only
    with how comfortable their life is
    (i.e. having enough mating
    partners and enough food and shelter for their brood).

    In other words, if the dogs, badgers, mosquitos, and other animals aren’t bothered about meaning or about others’
    poverty/slavery/abuse/etc., neither should humans.

    • Susan

      If one takes the above as true, then for humans there should
      be neither the “Big Questions”

      Why shouldn’t there be? Humans asking why I am here and mistaking it for a “Big Question”.

      if the dogs, badgers, mosquitos, and other animals aren’t bothered about meaning

      They’re not bothered about what is meaningful to humans.

      Do you think “meaning” just popped up out of nowhere?

      Define “meaning”.

      Do you think in hunting season in Ontario when a moose calf is killed and the mother goes crazy (the regulations are aimed at hunting moose calves before they can repopulate, and the mother does go crazy with what seems to be grief, according to hunters I’ve talked to), that it doesn’t mean something to the mother?

      Do you think it doesn’t mean something to prey to escape the predator or to protect her young from predation?

      Do you think it doesn’t mean something to the predator to lose the prey and fail to feed their young?

      What do you mean by “meaning”?

      What does it mean to be meaningful?

      It meant something to many humans to conquer vulnerable tribes and make slaves of the ones you didn’t slaughter.

      It meant something to those vulnerable tribes to not be conquered. Or for one tribe fairly evenly matched to another to emerge victorious.

      • MR

        We deserve everything we get…the troll feeding shoulda stopped ages ago,

        ++

        • Pofarmer

          Either the troll needs to leave, or be banned, or it’s still useful to question and debunk his nonsense.

        • MR

          And when it’s no longer useful?

    • Kodie

      You clearly don’t learn a damn thing from asking questions, so why not just write in your pathetic diary?

      • Reminds me of a comedy bit with Xavier from the X-Men firing Wolverine. One of his complaints is that Wolverine has these periods of fretting about where he came from, where he’s not much use to anyone. Xavier’s suggestion, “Get a journal, Logan!”

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhko3m7D6UA

        • Pofarmer

          Well shit. Logan’s journey as the journey of Humanity. Thanks Bob, for making think about this now.

    • Clint W. (Thought2Much)
    • Pofarmer

      There’s something you’re missing here. What could it be?

      • Otto

        In my experience with him it is usually a point.

    • Kodie

      As typical animals, many humans don’t! Religious people think god will handle it, or they address things like hunger and poverty with Christing at poor people, while voting for policies that keep people poor and hungry.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Your last assertion is incorrect.

      Since we have the *capability* to ponder it, and the *curiosity* to ponder it, it’s part of the human experience.

  • It seems pretty arrogant and ignorant (and requires a HUGE leap of faith) to assume science is the only tool necessary (or capable of) discovering all known truths.
    The greatest and deepest truths are unseen (ex. like mathematical equations), and objectively permanent. What is seen or can be observed is always changing, thus can never be objective.

    • Kodie

      It’s pretty arrogant and ignorant to think you’re the center of the purpose of the whole universe. That’s religion though.

      • Ctharrot

        Team Homo sapiens has been around for maybe 1/500th of one percent of the universe’s existence, tops. There are more stars in the breathtakingly vast cosmos than there are grains of sand in every beach and desert on Earth.

        So of course God answers prayers that he meddle in professional sporting events.

        • Pofarmer

          Even in the existance of life on earth. As Neil Degrasse Tyson puts it. If the time of life on Earth were a football field, the time of human existence would be the thickness of a blade of grass next to the end zone.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          He must have said/meant complex life or intelligent life, because the evidence now indicates that life began very quickly once the bombardment settled down.

        • Pofarmer

          It was in Cosmos, last year, and they were measuring life in the billions of years.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Still, life began within the first billion years, so it’s been around for at least 70% of the Earth’s life span. That’s why I’m pretty sure the analogy was about intelligent life, not life altogether.

        • Pofarmer

          Dammit, don’t make me go look it up.

        • epicurus

          Look at the bright side, at least you won’t have to learn Chinese to find the answer.

        • Pofarmer

          Dammit.

          If a football field were a timeline of cosmic history, cavemen to now spans the thickness of a blade of grass in the end zone

          https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/397857324561215489?lang=en

        • Greg G.

          You mentioned “life on earth” in the first sentence, then “human existence” in the second sentence. I think JAA2 missed that you referred to “human existence”.

        • Pofarmer

          If nothing else it was a good demonstration of the fallability of human memory. I was part right.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          LOL!

        • Greg G.

          SMBC from yesterday was about Neil Degrasse Tyson.
          https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/inaccuracy

        • epicurus

          While at the same time He appears to ignore prayers from refugee camps. Must be a sports fan.

        • Pofarmer
        • epicurus

          Some of the 2 star reviews describe the problems with her views, as if I didn’t know there would be.

        • Pofarmer

          And some of the 2 star reviews are from Catholics.

      • Amen.

    • All I know is that science is the tool that delivers. I know of nothing better.

      In fact, if you broaden the idea of the scientific method (such that “science” captures evidence-based fields like history), I know of no approach besides this broad view of science to find out truths about reality. Am I missing something?

    • epeeist

      It seems pretty arrogant and ignorant (and requires a HUGE leap of faith) to assume science is the only tool necessary (or capable of) discovering all known truths

      Sorry, who (and in particular which scientists) are saying that?

      The greatest and deepest truths are unseen (ex. like mathematical equations), and objectively permanent.

      Given that “truth” is a property of propositions then I fail to see that they are unseen. Oh as for permanent, you might want to consider Euclid’s fifth postulate.

      • Study Eastern philosophy. And using the Chinese language. You’ll learn a lot mote than living in the confines of Western thought.

        • Michael Neville

          Oh, you’re one of those “the ancient Chinese were masters of thought” people. Ho hum. Been there, done that, was completely unimpressed by the pompous yet shallow ruminations of people like you. The Chinese were and are impressive philosophers. Chinese philosophy differs from Aristotelian philosophy but both are valid, sound and complete. One is not superior to the other. The Sanskriti Indians formulated a third system of philosophy which, again, is neither superior nor inferior to the other two.

          Arguments by sound bite are not convincing. Instead of an airy “using the Chinese language” (and which one are you talking about, there are five distinct modern Chinese languages with some 200 different dialects) you need to explain why expressing thoughts in Cantonese or Hakka is better or at least different than expressing thoughts in Australian English or Riograndenser Hunsrückisch German.

        • epeeist

          Study Eastern philosophy

          I have studied enough Western philosophy and in particular informal logic to recognise evasion when I see it.

          As for mathematics, I note that you addressed precisely none of the points raised.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Do you understand the Eastern philosophy you’re encouraging us to learn? Do you know English? Then why not tell it to us in English instead of insisting we go learn another language to understand your point?

        • Michael Neville

          “Oh, but they’re [the Chinese] so wise. They have one word for ‘crisis’
          and ‘opportunity’.” Yes, but they also have one word for ‘China’ and
          ‘Tibet’ and it’s ‘China’, so fuck them.” –Dara O’Briain

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      It seems pretty arrogant and ignorant (and requires a HUGE leap of faith) to assume science is the only tool necessary (or capable of) discovering all known truths.

      I’m open to other options, can you offer one?

      Also, do you realize that “truth” is merely an assignment given to propositions that satisfy epistemic criteria?

      What is seen or can be observed is always changing, thus can never be objective.

      Please define “objective”. You seem to be saying that reality must be wholly stagnant to be considered “objective”, which makes no sense whatsoever.

    • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

      What is seen or can be observed is always changing, thus can never be objective.

      um … wikipedia: mathematical visualization.

    • Michael Neville

      So what’s the other “tools” capable of discovering truths? Please be specific and rigorous.

      https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/science.jpg

      • First, what is your definition of “truth”? (Just so we don’t end up talking past each other.)

        • Michael Neville

          You’re the one claiming that “truth” can be found using other processes besides science, so it’s your burden to define “truth”, not mine. I’m not the one making grandiose claims about “tools” which the scientific hoi polloi are ignorant about. I won’t do your homework.

        • Oh. Another “burden of proof” claim. YOU must show science is the only tool available to discover truth. Premises, conclusion, etc. Good luck. I’ll throw out a couple of my definitions.

          FACT: A mind independent reality that may or may not be knowable by me
          FAITH: A trust in and commitment to what we have reason to believe is true

        • Michael Neville

          I don’t claim that science is the “only” tool available to discover things. I’ve asked YOU to give examples of “other tools” and so far all you’ve done is hand-wave at “Eastern philosophy” and “Chinese language”. Your “FACT” and “FAITH” definitions are reasonable but trite.

          Your thinking or at least your writing is extremely flabby. Instead of pretentiously talking about “truth” (which you still have yet to define, along with “science”, “burden of proof” and several other terms you’ve used), how about explaining why Chinese (which dialect do you prefer?) gives new insights into “truth”?

        • Pofarmer

          Chinese language must be like the language in “Arrival”. Once you understand the language you can see the future. Or whatever.

        • Greg G.

          FACT: what we have reason to believe is true
          FAITH: A trust in and commitment to what we have no reason to believe is true

          If we are 99.9% certain about a million things, we are probably wrong about 1,000 of those things. The human brain is capable of thinking about a lot of concepts, many of which are just imagination, and much is indistinguishable from imagination. If you don’t have a way to evaluate something outside your brain, you do not have an objective way to evaluate it.

        • Inference to the best explanation.

        • Greg G.

          Inference is no more reliable than the premises it is based on and then only if your logical structure is sound. If your inference can be tested and validated, it can be a data point for making your premises more reliable.

          Science works that way, A hypothesis based on available information is proposed. The hypothesis will make predictions. Other hypotheses will also be proposed that make predictions. If the predictions are testable, the hypothesis can be supported by the results or refuted by them.

          Einstein’s theory predicted that light would be affected by gravity. Somebody noticed that an approaching eclipse would occur when a star was just obscured by the sun but would be visible if Einstein’s theory was correct. Astronomers made the observations and saw the star precisely where Einstein’s equations predicted it would be seen.

          Every time you successfully use GPS, you are confirming Einstein’s equations because they are used in the calculations.

        • Greg G.

          Disqus seems to have not liked the Mandarin as I cannot reply to either and neither shows up in a new window so my reply to either of them is below:

          There was a big debate about how to title a Jet Li movie where languages differentiated between singular and plural because the title was ambiguous in Asian languages that do not conjugate for plurality. The movie, Hero (in English), left unanswered whether the one was a hero or the others were the heroes.

          It is easy to allow equivocation to muck up an inference. How do you prevent using more than one meaning for words in your inferences?

          We see theists with PhDs in philosophy presenting ontological arguments using equivocation.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          another example is “the last jedi”. is “jedi” singular or plural? some translations of the title suggested it was plural while the director said it’s singular.

        • Greg G.

          Does “last” mean “last so far” or “last from now on”?

        • Pofarmer

          What about “Last for now”?

          midiclorians would still be a thing, so they could rise again.

        • Greg G.

          midiclorians would still be a thing, so they could rise again.

          That is what I believe.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          i think “last from now on” was the intention of johnson (or in-universe: of skywalker). if the next director honors this is a different matter (or if it will be this way in-universe. now it’s no longer up to skywalker, at least if he doesn’t come back as a force ghost … now it’s up to rey).

        • Pofarmer

          But then you have the kid at the end with the broom who obviously has force powers.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          yes, of course there will still be force-sensitive people in the galaxy. they are just not jedi (a member of the jedi order or a follower of the “jedi philosophy”). there was some talk that rey (and maybe kylo) might turn out to be a “grey jedi” (i’m not sure if this is an in-universe term).

        • Kevin K

          “Best explanation” is an evidence-based assertion.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          YOU must show science is the only tool available to discover truth.

          This statement is fraught with problems. First, science doesn’t concern itself with “truth”, its only interest is designing models that best account for data and, more importantly, make the most accurate predictions.

          As for burdens, you are the only person to date who claimed that science is the only method for investigating reality. All anyone else has said it’s the best one we’ve figured out so far, which is easily demonstrated. The burden is yours to provide your method and demonstrate its efficacy.

        • Kodie

          You’re the one bringing up the ol’ “other ways of knowing” crap, so you have the burden of proof.

          What do you have any reason to believe is true that the rest of us think is bullshit?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Our position is that nothing besides the scientific method has produced any worthwhile results.

          If you disagree, demonstrate another method and the results you assert.

        • Doubting Thomas

          How would someone demonstrate that a method is as useful as the scientific method without using the scientific method?

          It’s quite the dilemma.

        • Kevin K

          I prefer Mark Twain’s definition: “Faith is believing in things you know ain’t so.”

          You’ll have to reconcile those two definitions in order to continue to use yours.

        • That which can’t be seen or detected is unchanging truth. The physical is always changing. It cannot be objective.

        • Michael Neville

          Define “physical”, “changing”, and “objective”. Then show with (and here’s the word you flabby-minded pseudo-intellectuals hate) evidence that whatever “can’t be seen or detected is unchanging truth”.

          So far all you’ve tossed out are meaningless sound bites and truthy half-witticisms.

        • Physical is that which can be detected by the scientific method. Changing = not remaining in the same state, but still physical. Objective is unchanging.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          thankfully how physical systems change doesn’t change and we can describe those changes with unchanging physical laws, for example in terms of differential equations, like the schrödinger equation.

        • I agree. Physical laws and laws of logic (invisible and undetectable) presuppose science.

        • Greg G.

          1. Some inferences are prudent, even if they are usually wrong, because for some things, it is better to be wrong often and live than to be wrong once and die, because most decisions aren’t worth dying for.
          2. Some inferences are worthwhile because they are usually right and save time and resources, even accounting for the times they are wrong. Correcting a mistake can be easier than acquiring enough information to avoid the mistake.
          3. Some inferences are always sound.

          Logic is using only those in the third class.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          then you can modify those physical laws (and even the laws of logic) and see what you end up with (some people call that mathematics). in this sense they don’t presuppose science. thankfully, we also learned to check some of those laws and see to what extent they actually apply to the physical world. in this sense they are not invisible or undetectable.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i don’t even get what T.A. thinks “undetectable” is supposed to mean in this context. what value does the term have if applied to something we obviously can articulate and consistently verify as an accurate assessment of how _____ functions/is/works? i mean, i get that we don’t have a tricorder that beeps approvingly when a sound and valid statement passes in front of it, but surely none of us needs anyone to point that out.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          it’s nice that he thinks that “mathematical equations” are among the “the greatest and deepest truths”. it’s too bad that this also shows his ignorance. they should include some (history of) math in the sermons (i guess i’d still be a believer if that were the case, “god the mathematician” would be a far better character than the god they usually present).

          “You don’t have to believe in God, but you should believe in The Book.” – paul erdös (wikipedia)

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope. Physical laws and laws of logic are *descriptive*, NOT *proscriptive*, and derive from a careful examination of reality, collection of data, and analysis of the collected data.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          “Objective” is unchanging? Since when? So if someone describes “objective reality” you think they mean the part of reality that never changes?

        • Kevin K

          BZZT. “Objective” means accessible to empirical verification. Lots of “objective” things change … actually … EVERY “objective” thing changes. It’s kinda baked into the universe. 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, actually.

        • Greg G.

          That which can’t be seen or detected is indistinguishable from imagination.

        • A huge assumption. Laws of logic?

        • Greg G.

          We can test the laws of logic.

        • Pofarmer

          Testing them is the whole point, actually.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          What are the “laws of logic”?

        • Rational Human

          Hahahaha, oohboy.

          Sounds familiar…kind of like “evidence of things not seen”.

        • Cady555

          “That which can’t be seen or detected is unchanging truth.”

          I can’t see or detect unicorns. Yippee. Unicorns are true.

        • Pofarmer

          Objectively true and unchanging. I believe in invisible pink Unicorns. I know they are invisible because I can’t see them. I know they are pink because of faith.

        • Greg G.

          Cuttlefish are objectively true but pink cuttlefish are not because they keep changing colors.

        • Pofarmer

          But they only have the accidents of being grey, even if they always have the substance of pink.

        • Jim Dailey

          Do you believe in mathematics?

        • Pofarmer

          You don’t have to “believe” in mathematics any more than you have to “believe” in English.

        • Jim Dailey

          Is mathematics an unchanging truth that cannot be seen?
          Does the truth of mathematics exist outside human consciousness and ability to articulate it?

        • Pofarmer

          Mathematics is a language that humans use to describe the world around us.

        • Jim Dailey

          So does the truth of mathematics exist independently of human ability to articulate it?

        • Pofarmer

          I would say there is no “truth” of mathematics. Mathematics, is a description, not a proscription. Is Euclidean geometry true? Well, sort of.

        • Jim Dailey

          I cannot discuss truth with somebody who denies that mathematics is true. I am not being snarky, I simply have no idea what you are trying to say.

        • Michael Neville

          So what’s “true” about mathematics which makes it “truer” than English or any other means of communication?

        • Doubting Thomas

          Is 2+2=5 true? Is it math? Just because something is math doesn’t make it true. Math is like another language. We define the terms so that we can communicate ideas. The ideas themselves aren’t necessarily true. They are true when they meet our definitions and conform to reality.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m saying that you’re mistaking the map for the territory, basically.

          Math isn’t the territory, it’s our map for understanding the territory, and sometimes it’s wrong.

        • Jim Dailey

          Well if the map is correct – if we can rely on the represntion of the map to reliably deliver us to the point in the territory we desire, is the map “true”?

        • Doubting Thomas

          Yes, correct math is correct in so far as it correctly describes reality. That doesn’t mean that the blanket statement “mathematics is true” is accurate.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Well said, I wish I could be this succinct.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’m here to assure you that it’s all down to habit/practice. not that i have any habit/practice of being succinct, specifically …

        • Greg G.

          Mathematics cannot be true. One crumb multiplied by two is two crumbs. But one crumb divided by two is two crumbs.. That can’t be right.

        • Don’t blame the math–it’s those damn crumbs. They’re evil.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i was trained early to believe that i was gifted with regard to numbers’n’maths. but it took me until my twenties to conceive of such issues of scale/context – when i realized that [e.g.] a meter cubed is 100 cm cubed, but a dollar cubed isn’t 100 cents cubed. (if only pure math could so slyly leap-frog ye auld dreams of alchemy!)

        • Pofarmer

          To add to what Doubting Thomas said below. The only way we know that math(map) is correct, is by comparing it to the territory. It is not independent of the territory. Euclidian Geometry is correct or “true” over a certain set of circumstances. Relativity is “true” over a much larger set of circumstances,(as far as we know) but may not still be the last word. We develop more and new math as our understanding of the world around us increases.

        • Greg G.

          Treasure Map
          Point A .________/____/__________. Point B

          That would satisfy reliably delivering you to Point B as being true, but it doesn’t mean there is a treasure buried there.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          The problem is much worse than that. Even if the treasure is there, it only makes the map accurate, truth is something else entirely. Until Jim stops conflating these (and more) issues, meaningful dialog is impossible.

        • Otto

          But…what if I really like treasure?

        • TheNuszAbides

          don’t skip Xeno’s dissparadox – as soon as any measurement is set loose, you can’t even get from A to B!

        • Michael Neville

          Poor Achilles will never catch that tortoise.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Well if the map is correct – if we can rely on the represntion of the map to reliably deliver us to the point in the territory we desire, is the map “true”?

          Not without making up an entirely new definition of “true”.

          Rather than continue to mangle the English language and confuse your imprecision for profundity, why don’t you offer a concise definition of “true” for us to work with?

        • Jim Dailey

          Truth is an label given to propositions that satisfy epistemic criteria. In my case, alignment with external reality is how I decide whether something is true or not

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          So, how does “math” align with external reality? Please note that I’m not asking how certain mathematical statements align, but math itself.

        • Kodie

          Why don’t you just skip ahead to your real question/point? This is getting so tedious holding your hand through this stuff.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Read up on Kurt Godel. He showed that even in a sufficiently strong system of description (which math is) there will be statements of fact that comport with reality that cannot be built inside the system.

          Until then, go away?

        • Kodie

          You’re talking like you just came from the moon, you know. 2+2=5 is mathematics and is false. It’s obvious you have no prior concept of the questions you’re asking, so you’re not really going to understand the answers.

        • Pofarmer

          So let’s just grant the premise for the sake of argument.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          how should we know? i have never seen a mathematical truth which was not articulated by some human beings. some theorems have the “air of discovery”. others feel more like (human) inventions. also, it’s not necessarily one or the other for all of mathematics. it also depends on if you are a mathematical realist or antirealist (or if you think that aliens would discover the same kind of mathematics, irrespective of if math somehow exists when nobody thinks about it).

        • Jim Dailey

          We can know since we have seen that the truth of mathematics existed outside of human ability to articulate it.
          Or, put another way, do you suppose there is further truth of mathematics that we are still struggling to articulate? Do you think humans can ever know all there is to know about mathematics?

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          that’s why i added the passage about aliens. it’s possible that aliens could articulate a similar/the same mathematics, say in one billion years from now (and nobody, no conscious being, was there to formulate any mathematics for most of those one billion years, say). it’s not clear in what sense those mathematical truths can be said to exist if nobody thinks about them. it’s still possible that math is universal, in the sense that the aliens come up with the same math.

        • Pofarmer

          it’s still possible that math is universal, in the sense that the aliens will come up with the same math.

          It seems we won’t know until we meet some.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          well, there are examples of independent discoveries, but this could be because we have being human and living on this world in common. if the aliens (do and can) view the universe in a sufficiently similar manner, besides mathematics, then it wouldn’t necessarily answer anything related to mathematical realism. they still live in the same universe, so to speak.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          And even if it is, that doesn’t make math “true”, whatever the hell that means.

        • Pofarmer

          It means baby Jesus is real, obviously.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          I’m convinced.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          well, many mathematicians do think they discover “mathematical truths” and that it’s not just some formal game, including the idea that the statements of proven theorems are simply true (and were always true even when we didn’t knew it). this attitude shouldn’t be surprising. the problem is that many mathematicians don’t care to explain what they mean by that. that’s philosophy and not math (with the exception of things like gödel’s incompleteness theorems, then we have to be a bit more precise about truth and provability).

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          This comment is guilty of the same language imprecision I described earlier. “Mathematical truths” is merely linguistic shorthand for the possibility of something integral to reality that substantiates math’s functionality; that it isn’t just man-made symbols and axioms.

          This, however, doesn’t make math true because that is completely nonsensical. Amusingly, even if their is a fundamental basis to mathematics, that wouldn’t be true either! Because things are not and cannot be true, only propositions about things can be.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          i don’t know if “mathematical truths” are “integral to reality” (i don’t think all of them are) but math is surprisingly successful in describing reality (at least in physics), sometimes in unintended ways (the complex numbers and groups are nice examples).

          having said that, mathematical statements are never just about real world objects, if at all. they are at most about idealizations, abstractions and generalizations of (properties of) those real world objects (we call them “mathematical objects”, which, i guess, is equally nonsensical to you), otherwise you’d lose a lot of these “mathematical truths”. as soon as you talk about (physical) “reality” it becomes an empirical matter and is no longer (just) mathematics.

          “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” – albert einstein

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          My apologies, I thought you were going down the Platonism road. I certainly agree with the last statement in the second paragraph.

          That said, I’m still confused why you introduced “mathematical truths” into the conversation. Even the proper interpretation doesn’t satisfy the definition of “true” that Jim is going for. We’re you merely pointing out that the topics are prone to conflation?

          we call them “mathematical objects”, which, i guess, is equally nonsensical to you

          Just a point of clarification: “mathematical objects” is nonsensical to everyone if you mean “object” in the “independent, external entity” sense. But that isn’t what you mean, so it’s fine for its particular usage.

          The same goes for “mathematical truths”, if that phrase has utility in the field, great! The problem is when people like Jim want to equivocate and use the alternate usage in support of their error.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          well, i am a mathematical realist (so yes, i do mean object in the “independent, external entity” sense. that’s why i guessed you’ll find it nonsensical). this doesn’t mean i’m not aware that there are (more and more) people who think differently or that i think mathematical realism (like platonism) is the only possible or sensible philosophical position.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Thanks for the clarity, but the link hasn’t yet been made; even if mathematical realism is accurate, that doesn’t make math “true”. It just means the proposition, “mathematical realism is accurate” is true.

        • Pofarmer

          I kinda sorta want to see where Jim thinks he’s going with this. Anyone want to grant him the premise just for fun?

        • Kodie

          I already asked him to skip ahead because this is clearly some sort of set-up he thinks he has. Christians, please just ask your real questions and not pretend you have any background in logic, math, philosophy, biology, cosmology, or anything else you think will trap us inside your shitty apologetic arguments. Ask the fucking question you wanted to ask and get it over with.

        • When someone launches into the long prelude of a Socratic dialogue, I want to kill them or me. It doesn’t much matter which as long as the pain stops.

          I agree: if you have a point to make, then make it.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          yes, but this way the talk of “mathematical truth” makes sense. i know that this only postpones other problems: even if one thinks that math is somehow “out there” doesn’t guarantee that our axioms actually reflect this (mathematical) “reality” flawlessly (or that my aliens have the same kind of “access” as we do). another problem are “junk theorems” or questions like “is 2 an element of pi?” (or not), something which makes sense in a set theory, but is not exactly the kind of question anybody cares about (it depends on “implementation details”).

          based on what you wrote i guess you are a deflationist about truth, something like that?

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          but this way the talk about mathematical truth makes sense.

          Sure, as I said before it is a useful linguistic shortcut… but that’s all it is.

          i know that this only postpones the problem, in the sense that even if one thinks that math is somehow “out there” this doesn’t guarantee that our axioms actually reflect this “reality” flawlessly

          This isn’t the problem we’re encountering in this discussion at all. Even if we presume flawless modeling, math itself still isn’t “true”. It just means that propositions utilizing math are true, and that propositions regarding math’s realism are as well.

        • Kodie

          I have a side question about math as a language – since humans best learn language at earlier ages, like by the age of 2, can infants be taught mathematics as a language and comprehend it to, for example, bypass being “bad at math”? I learned something a while ago about bilingual children – it helps if each parent sticks to a language, then an infant will know 2 languages. I had to wait until 7th grade to choose a foreign language at school, and was restricted to 3 languages. I have heard recent ideas about introducing second languages in lower grades because it is much easier to grasp. I have no idea if language is any easier to grasp at the age of 5 than the age of 12 or 20, just that “age 2” is around the age when experienced language tends to solidify. Can complex math concepts be easier to learn at earlier ages?

        • Pofarmer

          In Europe they teach English as a second language from Kindergarten. Most of the foreign exchange students that come here speak excellent English.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          I don’t know. I’d consider it certain that kids are ready for math at earlier ages than people think (which the market of math education tools geared toward infants and toddlers attests to). My own son was solving Sodoku puzzles at 5 and doing squares and square roots at 6.

          I’m not sure if it can be learned like a language though, due to the necessarily cumulative nature of mathematics. Accelerated or interest/faculties instilled earlier, sure, but I don’t know if that’s what you mean.

        • Kodie

          Well, math isn’t such a fluent thing to speak, is what I think. But children are learning language before they can put together sentences. I have also wondered if the point where children start coming up with tons too many questions for a parent to answer is the flood of language reaching all the questions they’ve been wondering until they were able to speak them, which would account for asking them all at once, after waiting a couple years looking and watching.

          It might be that people don’t speak mathematically, where a child could burn neural pathways of that language by being immersed in it like a spoken language.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          I don’t disagree with your concluding statement. It is certainly a plausible hypothesis.

        • Kodie

          I’m not sure but I think part of the problem is that math is already within a language. I have known very articulate toddlers, by which I mean, their grammar and enunciation is different from other kids, and I attribute it to their parents speaking to them properly instead of dumbing down baby talk, but I don’t know so much about childhood development to know if concepts like math introduces is something that only makes more sense when you’re older. Just because language is learned much easier at a younger age doesn’t mean advanced concepts sink in at that age – kids learn new vocabulary throughout their education, or say, someone learning to speak a new language. My language is English, so if I know someone for whom English is not their first language, when they don’t understand a new word, you can explain it to them in other English words they do know (similar to looking it up in the dictionary), and I think a lot of math concepts are necessarily built on more basic ones. You might be able to get a baby Einstein who can memorize formulas and sound smart and get on a talk show, but I think learning the language of the environment you’re born in, or the parents who speak their language to you, only gets you so far with some fluency, but it takes more years to (if you are exposed to or expose yourself to) expand the vocabulary.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Sure, that’s why I said math was too cumulative for it to be that accessible for the very young.

          I think analogy that works is the distinction between learning to use a language and learning complex rules around grammar. Toddlers are certainly ready to do the former, but the latter is likely too much too soon.

        • TheNuszAbides

          It might be that people don’t speak mathematically

          sometimes I write algebraically (attempting to embed clarifications of concepts in parentheses within sentences (and within parentheses)) and it seems to piss people off more often than get my thoughts across.

        • The idea of “If a kid raised in a Mandarin (or French or Farsi) environment learns that language, what would happen if they were immersed in a math environment. Would they learn math more innately/easily?” It might’ve been in Mindstorms by Papert.

          In the early days of computers, the thought was that a computer language like Logo would be that math environment. I still like that idea, though I suppose it’s passe.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          sometimes i wonder if turtle graphics is useful for teaching children about coordinate geometry (and simple programming; in python: import turtle). one obvious hurdle is using the keyboard.

        • Have you heard of any turtle programming environments designed for kids?

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          i think scratch is a pretty well-known example (i heard of it). it’s block-based and not text-based (i’m not sure how helpful this is in the long run).

          … designed for kids?

          um … it’s a turtle.

        • Thanks.

        • Ignorant Amos

          My 8 year old grandson takes one hour class in programming every Friday night using a BASIC language and Sphero. He loves it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I was on a course many years ago with two Gurkha’s. We had to use a lot of, quadratic equations, transformation of formula, vectors, etc., and the two Gurkha’s took the learning like ducks to water. I asked them the question of how they were able to pick it up so easily and their answer was that they approached it like it was learning a new language. They cut out the middle man, or middle men in their case. Math to English to Nepalese to solving the problem. I still can’t my head around it to this day, but whatever they were doing worked, they came top of the class in math.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          ah, you don’t like the sentence “math is true” (or the phrase “the truth of mathematics”, singular)? ok. i don’t have a problem with it.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          In many other contexts, I’d have no issue with it either. But when Jim’s argument rests entirely on conflating formal truth and linguistic shorthand, adding more linguistic shorthand to the pile doesn’t exactly help clarify things.

        • Joe

          Just show me negative-two apples and I’ll concede maths is “true”.

        • Joe

          If they get the same answers, then it doesn’t matter if their maths isn’t true like ours. That’s how ridiculous the example is.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Given that math is abstracted from reality and reality appears to be the same everywhere, it should be expected that all intelligent beings formulate the same basic rules around it. Or, perhaps more accurately, a similar progression of basic rules, since concepts can be harvested and developed over time.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          and if their mathematical developement is mature enough they can also start to ask (and answer) mathematical questions for their own sake, which necessitates the development of concepts which are not (or not easily) abstracted from, related to or “harvested from” reality. if they manage that, then it pretty much doesn’t matter with what they start (number theory, geometry, topology, algebra, whatever). math is surprisingly interconnected and self-sufficient, at least for a while.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Of course. ☺️

        • Greg G.

          Mathematics can describe a lot of things whether they are true or not. We have Euclidean geometry and many non-Euclidean geometries. Which one is true? All of them or the one that describes our universe? What if our universe is curved ever so slightly that we cannot measure the curve because the universe isn’t big enough?

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          if space were positively or negatively curved we could decide that through measurement (if the error bars become small enough), but if it’s exactly flat, then the error bar will always include all three possibilities …

          ultimately is the geometry of spacetime dynamical, so no fixed geometry is always and everywhere, locally, the true geometry.

        • Kodie

          The way you’re asking these questions gives away that you don’t know very much, and can’t understand answers you’ve already been given, or are ignoring them to run down your rehearsed Christian bullshit and poor Christian comprehension. There is no secret mathematics that we are looking for. If there are things in reality that we don’t know yet, mathematical vocabulary may need to be expanded. Get that through your thick skull already.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          This sentence is complete gibberish. What does “truth of mathematics” mean?

        • Jim Dailey

          You are the one that said “Truth is an label given to propositions that satisfy epistemic criteria. In my case, alignment with external reality is how I decide whether something is true or not”

          So do mathematics fit the bill?

          Are mathematical formulations not yet conceived of by humans nonethess true?

        • Pofarmer

          Are mathematical formulations not yet conceived of by humans nonethess true?

          How could we know? Sometimes things that look “true” turn out either not to be or turn out to only be part of the picture. Euclidean geometry has been given as an example. Can we come up with models of mathematics and mathematical formulations for other worlds or optional series of events that don’t exist in our Universe? It turns out that yes, yes we can. Math can also model fiction. None of this means that math is “true” any more than 7 is “Green”. Mathematical results may be true, but only to the extent they conform to reality. It’s one of the reasons we do experiments in cosmology. There are numerous mathematical models for the Universe and the early Universe. They are all mathematically complete, but not all of them can be “true” and in fact, none of them may be. Which is still O.K.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Mathematics is not a proposition.

          Are mathematical formulations not yet conceived of by humans nonethess true?

          You are conflating two distinct propositions here.

          1) Are there propositions not yet conceived that, once conceived, will be true?

          2) If the above answer is “yes”, does that mean the proposition, “the content of the proposition is accurate prior to it being conceived” is true?

          When elucidated properly, it is clear that “truth” only relates to the propositions, not the thing itself.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Are mathematical formulations not yet conceived of by humans nonethess true?

          The true ones are.

        • Joe

          Is the still-undiscovered Loch Ness Monster true?

          Unknown, undiscovered propositions would fit the definition of “not true”.

        • Joe

          No.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Is mathematics an unchanging truth that cannot be seen?

          No.

          Does the truth of mathematics exist outside human consciousness and ability to articulate it?

          Mathematics possesses no “truth”. Statements made using math can align with realty (making them true if mirroring reality is your epistemological foundation), but that’s it.

          Like Pofarmer said, a “true” statement made using the English language doesn’t make English itself true, and it’s the same for mathematics.

        • Kodie

          What an absurd question to ask.

        • Kevin K

          Ask Goedel.

        • Kevin K

          The invisible dragon in my garage agrees with you.

        • RichardSRussell

          But what is truth?
          Is truth unchanging law?
          We both have truths.
          Are mine the same as yours?

          —”Trial before Pilate” from Jesus Christ Superstar, lyrics by Tim Rice, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

        • Kodie

          I can’t wait to watch this on Easter https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Christ_Superstar_Live_in_Concert!

          NBC has been doing live musicals over the air over the past couple years, and I never bothered to watch one, but this one has Alice Cooper in it, and I pretty much know all the songs.

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

        • Joe

          So we can never know unchanging truth?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          “That which can’t be seen or detected” effectively DOESN’T EXIST.

          Try harder.

        • Kevin K

          You’re feeding the trolls.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Truth is an label given to propositions that satisfy epistemic criteria. In my case, alignment with external reality is how I decide whether something is true or not

          What is your definition?

        • Joe

          For me: “That which consistently conforms to reality.”

    • RichardSRussell

      By “ex.” do you mean “except” or “example”?

      • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

        it doesn’t make much sense either way (it’s like saying the moral of a story are the verbs).

    • Greg G.

      A linear equation based on dimensions is unchanging. But if you integrate the equation with respect to time, you get change, all you have to do is measure the current velocity and work back to the intercept of the dimension. Integrate that equation with respect to time again and you get the rate of change.

    • Joe

      A mathematical truth is only true within mathematics. Scientific truths can have broader applications.

      How does one measure the depth of truth? A nautical measure, like fathoms, or are their depths on a nano scale?

    • Kevin K

      Yeah, no. Not unless you’ve come up with the Grand Unified Theorem.

      If you have, the Nobel Prize awaits … so, I’m thinking you’d be spending your time writing it up rather than making silly statements on the internet.

  • Michael Tymn

    Bob, I don’t believe in god, either, at least the anthropomorphic god of orthodox religions. Nor do I believe in the heaven of orthodoxy. However, I do believe that consciousness survives death in ways that are for the most part beyond human comprehension, and I believe there is strong evidence of this coming to us through psychical research. It is not evidence that establishes survival with “absolute certainty,” but at the very least it meets the preponderance of evidence standard of our civil courts. It meets the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of our criminal courts for me, although it took me 20 or so years of study to get to that point. I’m 98.8% certain that we do survive death in a much larger reality. I’m well aware of all the debunking arguments set forth by materialists who really don’t understand psychic phenomena, and I know it takes a certain dedication to the subject to overcome the brainwashing scientific materialists have been subjected to, but the evidence is there for anyone willing to approach it with an open mind and who understands that religion has nothing to do with it. In fact, religion opposes the evidence because it is not consistent with its dogma and doctrines. Your photo suggests that you are a fairly young guy, so there is still time for you to “see the light.” Good luck!

    • Interesting, but I need to see the evidence. Is there a succinct summary somewhere?

      • Otto

        It took him 20 years Bob, and you want to do it in an hour? Sheesh

        • My bad.

        • Pofarmer

          Time to learn Mandarin.

          Or something.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Why does understanding the supernatural always require learning a new language?

        • epicurus

          Those King James version is the true word of God people have it easy.

      • Michael Tymn

        You can begin with the archives of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in London. The SPR has had many esteemed scientists as members over the past 135 years. If that is too much trouble, you can simply go to my blog at http://whitecrowbooks.com/michaeltymn/ Not all of them deal with the evidence, but at least 30 of the 200+ entries in the archives do.

        • It sounds like this is the way to find all the arguments for psychic events. That sounds like where you’d go if you were hoping to bolster an already-held opinion. I don’t have much interest in that. I want to see an evaluation of these claims from a conventional scientific standpoint.

        • Halbe

          The Catholic church also has had many esteemed scientists as members over the past 1600 years. Does that lend any credence to the RCC’s supernatural claims?

          I took a quick look at your blog and was immediately disappointed. “EVP researcher Dr Anabela Cardoso”!? She is neither a Dr (she has no earned degree at all), nor a researcher. So that’s two lies/deceptions right off the bat. How can I then trust anything on your blog at all?

          Oh, and flagged your comment as spam for pushing your own blog here.

        • BlackMamba44

          Five days after you post this, I decide to click on his link:

          From the 3/12 post re: Dr. Frank Juszczyk (A former “professor of English”):

          http://whitecrowbooks.com/michaeltymn/entry/english_professor_discovers_a_different_reality/

          https://beliefinstitute.com/bio/frank-juszczyk-phd

          “Having completed a career as a university professor in 2004, I began to investigate the fascinating implications of quantum physics for a reconfiguration of what life is about and what it could mean.

          In 2009 I was undergoing radiation and chemo therapy for a recurrence of prostate cancer when I discovered Matrix Energetics. I attended a seminar in San Diego and was amazed by the experience. At another seminar in Albuquerque, I had a direct encounter with a double of myself in a parallel universe in which I did not experience cancer. The cancer disappeared. This is pretty intriguing. I have been exploring the possibilities of a reorientation of consciousness in my life since.

          LOL!

        • Greg G.

          Having completed a career as a university professor in 2004,

          A whole career in one year?

        • Joe

          How many of those members won the lottery? Or conversely, died an accidental death?

        • Damien Priestly

          At least the Jesus “rises from the dead” believers try to cover themselves by saying it happened 2000 years ago. — Your blog is so lame, that my local Tarot Card reading Physic would be too embarrassed to mention that stuff on the site, including…

          -> “English Professor Discovers a Different Reality…”
          -> “Researcher explains what the Spirit World is like!”
          -> “To levitate or to be levitated? That is the question….”
          -> “The electronic voices received through ITC tell us that they originate ‘in another dimension beyond time, a world where the dead also live’,” Dr. Anabela Cardoso states …

          Stay off the psychedelic drugs !!

        • Doubting Thomas

          Hey, hey, hey…..no reason to blame the drugs for that sort of crazy.

        • BlackMamba44

          That English professor:

          “Having completed a career as a university professor in 2004, I began to investigate the fascinating implications of quantum physics for a reconfiguration of what life is about and what it could mean.

          In 2009 I was undergoing radiation and chemo therapy for a recurrence of prostate cancer when I discovered Matrix Energetics. I attended a seminar in San Diego and was amazed by the experience. At another seminar in Albuquerque, I had a direct encounter with a double of myself in a parallel universe in which I did not experience cancer. The cancer disappeared. This is pretty intriguing. I have been exploring the possibilities of a reorientation of consciousness in my life since.”

          That’s some serious acid.

    • Halbe

      I am >98.8% sure that you cannot back up any of your claims with peer-reviewed scientific research. But that’s probably because I am a “dogmatic materialist” who has been “brainwashed”, so that I lack the “open mind” and “dedication” required to “understand psychic phenomena”. But of course you can summarize you arguments and evidence for us, accumulated through “20 years or so of study” of something that is “beyond human comprehension”.

      • TheNuszAbides

        summaries of spooky unfalsifiable anecdotes are never compelling.

    • Jim Dailey

      What do you mean by anthropomorphic god?

      • Michael Tymn

        Don’t ;you have a dictionary?

        • Michael Neville

          Yes, I have a dictionary. However you’re the one who brought the term into the conversation so we’d like you to define it. While you’re at it, define some other terms you’ve been using: consciousness; psychical research; larger reality; materialists and scientific materialists; psychic phenomena; evidence; and open mind. I know what I mean when I use those terms but I need to know if you have special, particular, arbitrary definitions of your own. All too often when we’re talking to woo-meisters like yourself we’ll say something like “science doesn’t work that way” and get the response “science as I understand it does say that.”

        • Max Doubt

          “While you’re at it, define some other terms you’ve been using: …”

          I’ve crossed paths with incredulous psychic believers since middle school. They have buckets of excuses for why they don’t have evidence. Magical shit fascinates them so much they’ll abandon reason in order to believe it. The ESP, ghost, psi, dowsing, etc. crowd may not be about gods, but the fundamental flaw in thinking is the same. They fancy themselves special for knowing some special stuff that plain old ordinary regular people don’t know. It’s like a toxic mix of religion and conspiracy theoryism.

        • On the topic of magic, have you seen “yogic flying”? Apparently the students actually think they’ll get more and more to actually flying. Perhaps I’m just too skeptical, but I suspect that they’ll always be hopping and looking like gullible idiots.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyXAB5L3EIQ

        • epicurus

          Believe it or not Canada actually had a political party in the 1990’s called The Natural Law Party that featured yogic hopping, err, ahh, I mean flying, and would put on demonstrations. Some of their political ideas were not half bad, but their insistence on these hopping oops, I mean flying demonstrations turned them into a laughing stock, and they eventually melted away.
          https://youtu.be/CIS788uf0cA

          And if you’ve got an hour of life you don’t care if you can get back, here is an hour long version complete sleep inducing narration and magician Doug Henning
          https://youtu.be/KQK9htM3il0

        • al kimeea

          beat me to it

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          This reminds me…

          15 or so years ago a coworker showed me a candidate-match site that paired your leanings with candidates in an upcoming election. His inputs returned someone who was so similar that it was uncanny. Literally, every position was aligned so perfectly that my friend could have written it himself…

          Up to the tag line which said something to the effect of, “and I believe the Great Spirit is working to unite us all”.

          Needless to say, woo cost that man at least one vote.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Wow.

        • Max Doubt

          “Perhaps I’m just too skeptical, but I suspect that they’ll always be hopping and looking like gullible idiots.”

          I recall first seeing something like this on one of those “That’s Incredible” type TV shows back in the olden days. This isn’t a case of bad evidence or flawed evidence. These people are providing pretty good evidence that their claim is false.

          “Look at me, I’m floating.” “No, you’re not.” “Yes, I am. I’m floating now… and now… and now…”

          Maybe inside their heads they can tell the difference between floating and bouncing. From out here, I can’t. Call me a closed minded pessimistic nay-sayer, but I’m calling it bouncing. 🙂

        • I presume that they’re told that the adepts can actually fly, and they just need to keep working at it. Why the adepts don’t just fly in public, I don’t know.

        • TheNuszAbides

          same reason you’ve never heard of most high-level Scientologists: being a vending machine of marvels is below their pay-grade, i.e. no such pay-grade exists because reasons.

        • Jim Dailey

          I am not sure of how you conceive of any god with no human characteristics, since your experience is necessarily limited to being a human.
          Your observation of consciousness was interesting, and I thought maybe you conceived of a god as somehow related to that – but to me that is still a part of being human.

        • Pofarmer

          Catholic Theologians do it with the “Ground of all being” type God. Etc, etc.

    • Rational Human

      The Woo circus just rolled into town…

    • Max Doubt

      “Bob, I don’t believe in god, either, at least the anthropomorphic god of orthodox religions. Nor do I believe in the heaven of orthodoxy. However, I do believe that consciousness survives death in ways that are for the most part beyond human comprehension, and I believe there is strong evidence of this coming to us through psychical research.”

      LOL. Seriously, LOL.

      “It is not evidence that establishes survival with “absolute certainty,” but at the very least it meets the preponderance of evidence standard of our civil courts. It meets the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of our criminal courts for me, although it took me 20 or so years of study to get to that point.”

      Nonsense. I’m betting you can’t offer a speck of objective evidence to support your claim, but I bet in 20 years you’ve come up with a lot of really shitty reasons why you don’t have the evidence. I also bet you’ve re-named those rationalizations and excuses “evidence”.

      “I’m 98.8% certain that we do survive death in a much larger reality.”

      And I’m 98.8% certain you’re blowing smoke and you’ve got nothin’ but arguments from ignorance and incredulity.

      “I’m well aware of all the debunking arguments set forth by materialists who really don’t understand psychic phenomena, and I know it takes a certain dedication to the subject to overcome the brainwashing scientific materialists have been subjected to, but the evidence is there for anyone willing to approach it with an open mind and who understands that religion has nothing to do with it.”

      That’s the same kind of taunting and teasing that god believers do in order to – pay a-fuckin’-tention now because this applies to you – in order to dishonestly shoehorn their incredulity into some crappy excuse for “evidence”. Your use of it isn’t going to get you any further than theirs.

      “In fact, religion opposes the evidence because it is not consistent with its dogma and doctrines.”

      When you’re unable to objectively distinguish between what you think of as evidence for psychic phenomena and any other figment of your imagination, the reasonable conclusion is, you’re imagining shit.

      “Your photo suggests that you are a fairly young guy, so there is still time for you to “see the light.” Good luck!”

      It’s not up to other people to see the light of your delusion. It’s up to you to demonstrate that what you believe is objectively supportable, something other than your imagination, incredulity, wishful thinking, and ignorance.

    • Chuck Johnson

      However, I do believe that consciousness survives death in ways that are for the most part beyond human comprehension, . . .-Michael

      Human consciousness does survive after death, but not in the way that you are thinking of.
      Your life, your thoughts and your actions add to the ever-growing accumulation of human culture.
      This accumulation has been going on for a long time, possibly 100,000 years.

      That’s less “surviving after death” than the religionists claim, and this might be less than you would have wanted.
      That’s all the surviving after death that we have.

      In the long run, such an accumulation of culture is an astounding thing to behold, it’s who we are now and who we are becoming.

      I know it takes a certain dedication to scientific thinking to overcome the brainwashing that superstitious people have been subjected to, but the evidence is there for you, me and anyone else to examine and to understand.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Beautiful comment, Chuck. I’m genuinely moved.

      • TheNuszAbides

        Hear, hear. My shorthand version is “Memory is the only immortality we have.”

    • Chuck Johnson

      Your photo suggests that you are a fairly young guy, so there is still time for you to “see the light.” Good luck!-Michael

      You didn’t read the “about” section.
      In the past, Bob actually did “see the light”.

      But as he got closer to it, it turned out to be a 15 watt bulb.

      • as he got closer to it, it turned out to be a 15 watt bulb.

        It was a nightlight, as I recall.

    • Joe

      I believe the exact opposite of you. How do we resolve our differences?

      • Glad2BGodless

        Violence seems to be the go-to.

    • Lark62

      I believe little green teapot people live in Jupiter. It must be true because I get feelings in my little toe, and there is no other possible explanation.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Holy shit! What else does your toe tell you?

        • Lark62

          My toe assures me that The little green teapot people think you’re naughty. They will punish you with an eternity of Leave it to Beaver reruns.

          But they are willing to forgive you if you prove your contrition by sending me money. Lots of money. Every week.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Do I make the check out to “Lark62”?

        • Doubting Thomas

          I’m guessing that Lark is smart enough to incorporate as a religious organization in order to avoid paying taxes on any income. If the churches have taught us anything, it’s how to be shitty citizens by shirking our financial obligations.

        • Lark62

          If only it were that easy. I could be rich and join those scamming gullible religious people out of their money if it weren’t for my pesky conscience.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          They have surgery for that now.

        • Are you thinking of the conscience-ectomy? I wonder why that’s not more popular as elective surgery.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          I had mine done when I was applying for atheism. Aligning morally with Satan was easy enough, but I kept gagging on the babies. Now they go down like a charm.

    • Kevin K
    • Ignorant Amos

      Isn’t it a pity that James Randi prize is no longer available? You woulda been a wealthier man otherwise.

      The James Randi Educational Foundation’s Million Dollar Challenge has been terminated.

      https://web.randi.org/home/jref-status

      • al kimeea

        Many who tried were quite happy to be tested. All disavowed the negative results, iirc. The power of skepticism!!! Same with people who claim wi-fi sensitivity. Asking questions is too many negative waves…

    • al kimeea

      I hope you don’t have a neon sign. Real psychics don’t have neon signs.

  • I think poor people do care about such questions, but they have less time and learning to ponder them usually. Thus one of the “answer systems” (mostly religions) will simply be adopted if they didn’t already have one.

    • Rational Human

      Yes, ponderings like this follow Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

  • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

    when i first learned about death i was also oddly fascinated by it. i didn’t always existed, as far as i remember, and i won’t always exist (maybe). then i tried sensory deprivation to simulate nonexistence. i couldn’t do it, which only made it more fascinating to me.

    the interesting thing about scientific answers is not so much the answers themselves but that those answers lead to new (unanswered) questions, sometimes questions one couldn’t ask or address beforehand. the interesting thing about unanswered scientific questions is also that they don’t have an answer (for a child this might be news) and are explicitly identified as such (i always admired this kind of honesty). it doesn’t matter how much you want an answer now. another nice feature about science is that many questions aren’t directly about me or the vagaries of human life. i find it refreshing.

    • Chuck Johnson

      Science like that is the way, the truth and the life.

      • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

        or it’s “just an understanding about how the universe works” without any influence on how one views “meaning, purpose and value”. (edit: /s)

        • Chuck Johnson

          Don’t kid yourself.
          Understanding how the universe works always influences “meaning, purpose and values”.
          Even though some people might want you to believe otherwise.

        • martin_exp(pi*sqrt(163))

          i partly quoted mcgrath. the full quote is “I began to realize that human beings need existential answers about meaning, purpose and value, not just an understanding about how the universe works.”

        • Chuck Johnson

          My understanding of meaning, purpose and value is closely related to my understanding of how the universe works.

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    Why are we here?

    Because we’re here, roll the bones.

    Great post, Bob. This is undoubtedly my favorite in the series to date.

    • Michael Neville

      “We’re Here Because We’re Here” was a song sung by WWI soldiers to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne”. You can listen to Edward Dwyer singing it in a 1916 recording. Dwyer was killed in action at Guillemont, France on 3 September 1916.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UA730QtjOBE

  • Rational Human

    Why does it happen? Because it happens. Roll the bones.

  • RichardSRussell

    Speaking of finding answers …

    “John, you and Jenny seem to have such a successful marriage. Apparently you never fight about anything. How do you do it?”

    “Pretty easy. Early on we decided that I’d handle all the big questions and Jenny would deal with the little ones.”

    “Like what, for example?”

    “Oh, she decides whether we should move out of state, if we should buy a new car, what college to send the kids to, if it’s time to change jobs … that kind of thing.”

    “Really!? Those sound like pretty big decisions to me. What is it that you get to decide?”

    “Like I said, the big stuff. Is there a God, what’s the meaning of life, should we triple the defense budget, how can we fix economic inequality, and so on.”

    • The version I heard attributed to Einstein was that his wife took care of the small matters and he took care of the big ones … though he couldn’t think of any big issues that’d ever come up.

    • Greg G.

      I have it made. When we got married, I told my wife I would make all the big decisions and she could make all the little decisions. Deciding what is a big decision is a little decision. I never have to make a decision or take the blame for anything!

      • Kodie

        It’s a tough world for women – men keep faking incompetence and women have to do everything.

        • Ah, but are they faking it? The world may be tougher for women than you think.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, men are so fucking stupid.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          But we’re good at opening jar lids!

          😉

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Speak for yourself! The only things I’m good at are writing melodies and saying snarky comments that come out a bit more biting than intended. The latter means I’m practiced at the art of apology, though I can’t say I’ve quite reached “good” level yet..

  • Kevin K

    No no no no no. Religion does not answer “life’s big questions”. Religion asks questions, and then completely muffs the answers.

    • Worse, the questions Religion often asks are questions discovered by Science.

      • Kevin K

        Yeah, that’s the biggest problem with the claim. Religion won’t stay in its lane.

        • You’d hope that when an apologist says, “Yeah, smartass? What about abiogenesis? And be sure to tell me what preceded the Big Bang.” that they would have a pang of common sense that would prompt them to reconcile the fact that their worldview did bupkis to uncover those questions. And that maybe they should switch to the one that did.

          But of course that hope would be in vain.

        • Kevin K

          The troll known as skl was on an abiogenesis kick a while back. I tried to get it to declare just how the well-understood laws of chemistry and biology were insufficient to determine the process by which the chemical reactions we call “life” arose. He was incapable of making the connection and stuck with his argument from incredulity and declared ME to be closed-minded on the subject. That’s when I blocked him.

        • Yep. That’s a strange one.

        • Kodie

          Theology liberally borrows and rearranges science and history, etc. to suit itself, but you never see any other field of study ask theology for its input. Maybe literature. Maybe humanities of a sort. I had to take 2 parts of a Humanities course in college, in which the bible was required reading…. there was a requirement to take these courses, but the professors came from different disciplines, so you might get a different angle of the course depending on who taught the courses. I think both of my profs were English (or lately known as English Language Arts, ELA) profs, but they might have been sociology, history, anthropology… soft sciences. I have a pretty good record of not doing not much required reading since 7th grade, but I think the gist of the bible’s inclusion in the course readings was (considering it was a state school) to learn about the beliefs that influenced history, such like you might learn Shakespeare’s plays to understand common phrases in English and not to appreciate the plays themselves. I wish I had kept the syllabus as to which parts we were assigned to read. I do remember it was a thick paperback textbook looking bible, but the prof was also alleged to be deeply religiously Christian.

        • Kevin K

          The only reason to read the bible these days is if you intend to be a contestant on Jeopardy!

  • watcher_b

    I keep trying to argue that Christianity does not actually answer these questions in any clear way. There are not any clear cut and dry answers to these questions in the bible unless you want to start cherry picking verses and pulling them out of context. The idea of a God just promises that answers to those questions exist in some deductive way (“God loves me, so there must be some purpose to my life since it would not have created me for no reason”). But in reality there is no difference between there being a god or no god, you will still have no answers if those questions are important to you.

    • Doubting Thomas

      The Bible will give you all the answers you need. The problem comes when you need the answers to actually be correct.

      • watcher_b

        The bible will give you answers like your horoscope in the newspaper will give you answers. It’ll be so vague as to apply to anyone in any situation.

        • !

        • Greg G.

          It’ll be so vague as to apply to anyone in any situation in bed.

        • TheNuszAbides

          to me it seems more than merely analogous to the placebo effect – if you’re focused on a ‘prophesied’ outcome (especially something as vague as “things will improve”), you’re liable to gravitate subconsciously towards any factors that ‘finesse’ the odds.

      • Andrea Fitzgerald

        The buybull is merely a book of legends and myths.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Agreed, but that doesn’t mean it can’t contain answers. For example, if you were to come down with a case of epilepsy, the Bible tells you how to cure it with a herd of pigs and a body of water. The issue arises when you want your answers to be correct. Then the Bible is probably the last place you should turn.

        • Kevin K

          You forgot “dietary guidelines for people without ice”.

        • Kodie

          This meat makes us sick because god doesn’t want us to eat it.

        • Kevin K

          And forget about the shrimp!

        • Kodie

          This isn’t about biblical dietary laws per se, but the genetic mutation allowing adults to drink milk was HUGE. I would like to know if perhaps the kosher dietary law about not mixing meat and milk might have had anything to do with being lactose-intolerant, or some superstitious association that milk and meat together causes the stomach-aches and diarrhea, though they flower it in sentimental language. It’s perfectly ok to cook a baby animal as long as it’s not in its mother’s milk, because that would be sad for whom?

          https://www.nature.com/news/archaeology-the-milk-revolution-1.13471

        • Kevin K

          Good point. I’d like to see the Venn diagram of the distribution of that mutation and the distribution of religious prohibitions against cheeseburgers.

        • Alcohol tolerance is similar. I vaguely remember a map showing the isobars of when tolerance was widespread in the population–many thousands of years BCE along the edge of the Mediterranean, and maybe only a thousand years ago or less (?) when you get to Viking country?

          We often forget that the alleles for milk or alcohol tolerance becoming widespread must’ve meant selective pressure against those who weren’t lucky in the gene lottery. They died so we could have wine and cheese … we mustn’t forget their sacrifice.

        • Greg G.

          The Canaanites eat swine and we don’t want to be like the Canaanites.

          The Canaanites drink wine but we don’t want to be ridiculous.

        • TheNuszAbides

          you know who else drank water? HITLER.

    • TheNuszAbides

      they are only “clear” inside the curated in-group bubble that manages to sleep well at night because they’ve convinced themselves that following “the rules” as often as possible is all that’s going to matter “in the next life”. (of course this doesn’t resolve the rabbit-holes of where “the rules” came from or unjustified confidence in any “next life”)

  • Kevin K

    Of course, the question of the “meaning” of the universe is a teleological one. It presupposes that the entire megillah was created for the express purpose of having humans occupy the tiniest bit of it possible. In fact, we are essentially a rounding error in the grand statistics of the lifeless, meaningless, purposeless universe.

    Here ends today’s lesson in nihilism.

    • Your argument would work if it the universe were just the solar system. Humans would still make up a vanishingly small number of the total atoms and total space of the universe. You can even invert the argument: because you are but 1 in 7,000,000,000 people, you are a rounding error.

  • Alister McGrath … explains the motivation of his quest to faith this way: “I began to realize that human beings need existential answers about meaning, purpose and value, not just an understanding about how the universe works.”

    This conflates curve-fitting explanation and predictive explanation. The former is ambiguous: it can be merely a way to make sense of extant perceptions. The latter requires that we extrapolate from here to more than just here. If gravity works like this on earth, maybe it works that way in the heavens as well. I find that a lot of Christianity in the West today is exclusively of the first type; it seems to operate shockingly well as a rationalization for divine hiddenness, for why God is not acting more than he seems to. (Some Christians see God acting in sudden remission from cancer; atheists see that as yet-to-be-explained natural phenomena which happen with zero measurable correlation with anything religious excepting perhaps the placebo effect.)

    There is a kind of faith which is itself a quest:

    These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13–16)

    There are [at least] two ways of understanding the above:

    (1) All of the “progress” a pilgrim makes is 100% irrelevant to his/her physical life in reality. The only deliverable in the here and now is subjective; everything else comes in the afterlife.

    (2) A significant portion of the benefit created by one’s actions will only be enjoyed by others. Therefore, a significant portion of the psychological “pull” one feels has to come from elsewhere.

    The first view would have been absolutely and utterly foreign to the Jews of the 1st century AD; this is why Jesus’ disciples were astonished when he said “… it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” The Torah was obvious: obey God and you will be physically blessed, remain in the land, and be protected from marauders. Let us suppose that instead, Jesus, Paul, et al were pushing toward (2). Well, isn’t that what science is? But it can be a lot more than science; I wouldn’t be surprised if all the work on jurisprudence during those “Dark Ages” were critical for the social stability which permitted the Republic of Letters to flourish and thereby provided a foundation for the modern research university. (For the connection between the Republic of Letters and the modern research university, see Chad Wellmon’s Organizing Enlightenment: Information Overload and the Invention of the Modern Research University.)

    If in fact God wants us to explore more of reality, deal more honestly with our failings, and work to have ever-deeper relationships with him/​each other/​creation/​ourselves, that would lead to a rather different Christianity than can be seen in much of the West (especially if you base a lot of your opinion off of nationwide news networks). It wouldn’t be mere curve-fitting; on the contrary it would be a disciplined march forward toward a fantastically better destination which can become more real as actions make it more real. One could then use evidence to question whether we really are headed toward that destination and whether it seems as good (or even better) the closer we draw to it.

    What I find particularly sad is that no atheist I know of sees this as a live option for Christianity; this despite the fact that they claim they can see more of the live options than dogma-blinded believers. Perhaps they are not as awesome as they lead me to believe. If this isn’t the right explanation then I am tempted to move to a more nefarious one: that atheists want religion to fail, that any interesting success would be threatening. After all, as long as religious folks show no statistical increase in competence in any domain, there is no threat. Now, maybe there is nothing better than Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man (18,000 ‘citations’) and I’m delusional for thinking humans could be rather more awesome than his “universal homogenous state” where “all human needs are satisfied” via … consumerism. And ultimately, I most blame Christians for claiming to have the Power of God when it often looks like the Power of Mediocrity.

    • Damien Priestly

      -> “…and work to have ever-deeper relationships with him [God] /​each other/​creation/​ourselves…”

      LoL… If God wants anybody to have a relationship with him, he is free to contact anybody at anytime, he knows exactly what it would take to get our attention…Burden is on him, not us. Unverified two-thousand year old stories by primitives don’ t count !!

      -> “…that atheists want religion to fail, that any interesting success would be threatening…”

      Yes definitely, religion’s history has shown a net effect that is dangerous. Ok, so let the Jain’s religion succeed…But all the mono-theists need to go the way of the Shakers !!

      • Greg G.

        Ok, so let the Jain’s religion succeed…

        Even that religion becomes insane when taken to its logical conclusion. They walk with a broom, sweeping in front of them lest they step on a bug by accident. Not only do they not eat meat because of the suffering it would cause the animal, they apply the idea to plants, as they are not sure a plant is not injured by plucking a fruit or vegetable. When they are served a meal, they must be assured for everything they eat that it fell to the ground of its own accord.

        Some of them eschew clothing, especially those made from animal and plant materials.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Humanity would be well fucked if all 7 billion became Jainist over night.

        • Kevin K

          For one, all of the farm animals would overrun us…not to mention the feral cats and dogs.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not much call for farm animals…and as for exterminating vermin, that would go right out the window…and do head lice make good pets?

        • Kevin K

          And fleas, and pubic crabs.

        • TheNuszAbides

          especially when we seem to be nearing a tipping point of needing (logistically) to cultivate insects for food.

      • If God wants anybody to have a relationship with him, he is free to contact anybody at anytime, he knows exactly what it would take to get our attention…Burden is on him, not us.

        Ahh, because humans cannot shut themselves off to deepening relationship. That doesn’t match what I’ve learned from how marriages can fail, it doesn’t match what I’ve learned about how friendships can shatter, and it doesn’t match how I’ve explored my own failures to relate well with others. It is a nice story which excuses oneself from doing painful introspection, though!

        Yes definitely, religion’s history has shown a net effect that is dangerous.

        Interesting; you can cite peer-reviewed empirical science on this? In particular, I expect to find evidence and reasoning which supports the following historical counterfactual:

             (W) Without religion, history would have turned out better.

        I doubt it is possible to do this for all of history, so you are welcome to pick some appropriate subset that is not so ridiculously small that it is dangerous to generalize from. I also look forward to seeing an operationalized definition of ‘religion’.

        • Damien Priestly

          -> “Ahh, because humans cannot shut themselves off to deepening relationship [from God]….”

          Say what ?? You could equally say somebody is shutting themselves off from Fred, their imaginary friend. This is an atheist blog — you do realize most here will require evidence of existence before any relationship, Right?

          -> “Interesting; you can cite peer-reviewed empirical science on this?”

          History is not like physics…peer reviewed history does not necessarily give science like conclusions. History is interpreted….

          …But I look at highly religious societies…Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Ireland (pre-1970s), Czarist Russia under the anti-Jewish Pale, current evangelical Christian and LDS communities. current rise of Hindu fundamentalism in India — as starters for the net effect of religion being negative.

        • Say what ?? You could equally say somebody is shutting themselves off from Fred, their imaginary friend. This is an atheist blog — you do realize most here will require evidence of existence before any relationship, Right?

          I’ve probably talked to atheists for close to 20,000 hours total—online and IRL. I’ve been around this block many a time. I’ve seen what atheists have to offer for “evidence which indicates that God exists”; it almost universally reduces to power, usually in the form of violating the laws of nature. And yet, Deuteronomy 13:1–5 commands the ancient Hebrews to execute anyone who uses power as evidence of God (or a different god). An atheist friend of mine who grew up speaking Hebrew recently reminded me of The Oven of Akhnai, a Talmudic story which illustrates this very point. What is unfortunate about the request for power is that it only makes sense if one universalizes “Might makes right.” Arguably, that is precisely what the ancient Hebrews were trying to break out of. I can make the same argument for Christianity, at least before the High Middle Ages.

          But there is a way for individuals to impact you which does not involve them wielding power over you. It generally involves, but is not reducible to, shaping your conception of what is good and right and beautiful. Such conceptions can be predictive and not just curve-fitting. But they start by deeply respecting your status as an individual; they refuse to coerce or manipulate you. For others to show up to you in this way, you must voluntarily open yourself to deep, penetrating influence. In my experience, most humans are closed to any sort of Other, except via violent (physical or psychological) contact. Expel the Other!

          DP: Yes definitely, religion’s history has shown a net effect that is dangerous.

          LB: Interesting; you can cite peer-reviewed empirical science on this? In particular, I expect to find evidence and reasoning which supports the following historical counterfactual:

               (W) Without religion, history would have turned out better.

          DP: …But I look at highly religious societies…Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Ireland (pre-1970s), Czarist Russia under the anti-Jewish Pale, current evangelical Christian and LDS communities. current rise of Hindu fundamentalism in India — as starters for the net effect of religion being negative.

          That doesn’t seem to be nearly enough to show (W) in anything but the most narrow domains. If you look at Saudi Arabia and Iran, you’ve got to take into account the West’s influence on them. (See e.g. Karen Armstrong’s The Battle for God; I suspect it is or soon will be well-accepted that ‘fundamentalism’ is a reaction to modernity, not something which has always been there.) As to Czarist Russia, the replacement of the USSR doesn’t seem better to me!

          What I find especially ironic is that some evolutionary explanations of ‘religion’ make it out to be a violence-reducing, society-building instrument: WP: Evolutionary psychology of religion § Religion as an adaptation. René Girard advanced the scapegoat mechanism, which ends up explaining religion as a means for reducing violence.

          By only examining the religion you have, I claim your selection bias destroys any generalizability. I am happy to note that some religion is dangerous. Sharp knives are sharp.

        • Doubting Thomas

          And yet, Deuteronomy 13:1–5 commands the ancient Hebrews to execute anyone who uses power as evidence of God

          So, first off, your god is an ass for commanding the death penalty for such an offense.

          Second, Jesus himself used his power (miracles and resurrection) to evidence himself as god. Your god should follow his own rule and kill himself.

        • LB: And yet, Deuteronomy 13:1–5 commands the ancient Hebrews to execute anyone who uses power as evidence of God (or a different god).

          DT: So, first off, your god is an ass for commanding the death penalty for such an offense.

          Why? This seems like the perfect antidote to “Might makes right.” Exactly which humans would benefit from offending in this way?

          Second, Jesus himself used his power (miracles and resurrection) to evidence himself as god. Your god should follow his own rule and kill himself.

          J. H. H. Weiler explores whether the Jewish elite saw themselves as enacting Deut 13:1–5 with Jesus in his 2010 First Things article The Trial of Jesus. The question is: was Jesus calling on the Jews to deviate from the Law in any way? You might want to read Deut 13:1–5 carefully:

          “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 13:1–5)

          There is also:

          “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17–20)

        • Doubting Thomas

          You might want to read Deut 13:1–5 carefully:

          And you might want to take this nonsense back to the Catholic forums where people will fawn over all sorts of bullshit as long as it’s verbose enough.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Luke Breuer Show is back in down,

          He doesn’t follow his own advice and read the passage he cites, while ignoring the mountains of contradictory verses that rebut such nonsense.

          https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God-Showed-His-Power

        • Doubting Thomas

          He’s also very impressed with Catholic metaphysics, which can be summed up as: “I did an experiment in my head according to some things people thought three thousand years ago and it turns out I was right all along. Hurrah.”

        • He’s also very impressed with Catholic metaphysics …

          Evidence?

        • Doubting Thomas

          Strange Notions

        • The fact that I post there doesn’t mean I’m “very impressed with Catholic metaphysics”. Here’s the kind of thing I post when it comes to A/T metaphysics:

          LB: I ask things like: “How would science improve if more scientists were to accept an A/T manner of thinking?” So far, I haven’t gotten any concrete answer to that question. Maybe A/T is in a phase rather like string theory, where a bunch of work has to be done in theory-land before it touches down in empirical reality. If so, I wish them well and I look forward to chatting with them when they re-enter the practical atmosphere from abstract orbit.

          Try again.

        • Doubting Thomas

          If you’re not impressed by the dumbassery of Catholic metaphysics, then good on you.

        • DT: He’s also very impressed with Catholic metaphysics …

          DT: If you’re not impressed by the dumbassery of Catholic metaphysics, then good on you.

          How often do you form beliefs in the teeth of the evidence? I thought that was my job.

        • Where is it claimed that power ⇒ goodness?

        • TheNuszAbides

          so which ones did Paul legitimately write off?

        • Which … laws?

        • Ignorant Amos

          And yet, Deuteronomy 13:1–5 commands the ancient Hebrews to execute anyone who uses power as evidence of God (or a different god).

          Whaaaa? Not God aka YahwehJesus…all the other gods.

          Deuteronomy 13:1-5 1If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, 2and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” 3you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. 5That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.

          The OT is rife with examples of God’s power being used to demonstrate his veracity.

          The whole Exodus narrative is full of it. Moses is given instructions on how to demonstrate Gods power ffs.

          Joshua runs amok throughout the land wiping folk out with God’s power behind him.

          Then there is the example of Elijah…

          The northern nation, Israel, was trying to worship other gods, especially one called Baal, and God at the same time.
          The King and Queen then, Ahab and Jezebel are remembered for their wickedness and idolatry.
          1 Kings 16:30-33

          God decided to demonstrate His power to Ahab and Jezebel, and the rebellious nation of Israel. He decided to demonstrate it through the prophet Elijah. God had warned Israel many times about turning away from the God of Israel to worship other Gods. He warned that there would be consequences.
          Deuteronomy 11:16-17

          So one day, God sent Elijah the Prophet to King Ahab to make an announcement. It was a demonstration of the Power of God working through Elijah. 1 Kings 17:1

        • Kevin K

          Didn’t Elijah make the offering pile burn while the priests of the other gods couldn’t?

          Yes. 1 Kings 18.

        • Ignorant Amos

          When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses. Exodus 14:31

        • Kevin K

          So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Exodus 7:10-13.

          Methinks Luke hasn’t actually read the bible.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The verses he cites order the people to kill the false prophets if they think there is shenanigan’s a foot…yet elsewhere, YahwehJesus has no qualms smoting folk for the merest of digression’s, like accidentally burning the wrong incense. Total and absolute nonsense.

        • Accidentally?

        • Kevin K

          Well, if we were to kill false prophets…why not the guy who declared that he would be back within the lifetime of those listening to him?

          If he ever existed, Jesus’ bones should be found, put up in the public square, and stoned into dust.

        • For how long? Fear can instill belief for a time. But the quality of that belief seems exceedingly suspect. Which might be why YHWH didn’t actually use power all that much in the OT, but much preferred sending prophets whom the powers that be would seek to kill.

        • Greg G.

          For how long?

          At least 37 seconds.

        • Ignorant Amos

          For how long?

          What does it matter?

          Fear can instill belief for a time.

          A multi-Omni entity has no need for such a convention. One second of fear is excessive. But the wrath of the OT god was intended to be real, as was the fear of it for anyone stupid enough to court it…and there were plenty of those about.

          But the quality of that belief seems exceedingly suspect.

          Good luck demonstrating that assertion. Religions and beliefs are built on fear, usually fear of dying. How anyone could demonstrate the quality of such a fear based belief as suspect, let alone exceedingly suspect, is beyond me. But when I look around and see how peoples fears are manipulated into making them do all manner of stuff that seems alien to me, I can see that quite a bit of fear driven belief is anything but suspect.

          As for OT examples of those driven by fear, Adam, Job, Abraham, and Moses spring straight to mind for starters.

          Which might be why YHWH didn’t actually use power all that much in the OT, but much preferred sending prophets whom the powers that be would seek to kill.

          Yeah, that never happened. But for the sake of discussion, I’ll be DA and call foul on that one. The storybook has God using his power on numerous occasions.
          He uses it directly as with Sodom and Gomorrah, Noah’s Flood, The Tower of Babel, but God killed loads, mostly for the crime of complaining.

          https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Examples_of_God_personally_killing_people

          The prophet thing is just nonsense. God sent prophets who had God’s power seconded to them in order to demonstrate that he wasn’t to be fucked about with. It only needs one example to refute your claim, there are more than that. The thing about the OT prophets is knowing what a prophet is, and how many there were, before claiming the powers that be wanted to kill them.

          http://www.jewfaq.org/prophet.htm

          Now as for them being offed by the powers that be, yep some were, but more weren’t…most died in peace…or killed not by the powers that be. Or as with Elijah, didn’t die at all. I was under the impression that the power that be was supposed to be Yahweh, I guess not though. Omnipotence ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

        • IA: When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses. Exodus 14:31

          LB: For how long? Fear can instill belief for a time.

          IA: What does it matter?

          See the second sentence. Also: there is a huge difference between power used to temporarily grab a people’s attention and power used as evidence of goodness.

          LB: Fear can instill belief for a time.

          IA: A multi-Omni entity has no need for such a convention. One second of fear is excessive. But the wrath of the OT god was intended to be real, as was the fear of it for anyone stupid enough to court it…and there were plenty of those about.

          Fear that evil behavior will lead to undesirable consequences is not in any way the same as power ⇒ goodness. There is a reason that “perfect love casts out fear”. Fear is not life-giving; instead it is “the ministry of death”.

          LB: But the quality of that belief seems exceedingly suspect.

          IA: Good luck demonstrating that assertion. Religions and beliefs are built on fear, usually fear of dying.

          I simply doubt that all religion, including all Christianity, is built on fear. Indeed, the Gospel seems to be that “God finds nobody unlovable” and that belief in this means you have to become like God and find nobody unlovable yourself. That actually seems to expel fear, to create a world where no actions are predicated upon the fear of not being loved. For the quibblers, we could contrast רָצְתָ֣ה (MT) with προσδέχομαι (LXX) and εὐδόκησεν (NT) when it comes to Isaiah 42:1 and the quotations in Matthew 12:18. There is reason to suspect that the MT means “accepted” instead of the NT’s “well pleased”. Do we want society to “love” us or “accept” us?

          How anyone could demonstrate the quality of such a fear based belief as suspect, let alone exceedingly suspect, is beyond me. But when I look around and see how peoples fears are manipulated into making them do all manner of stuff that seems alien to me, I can see that quite a bit of fear driven belief is anything but suspect.

          The reason that we cannot distinguish manipulative social relations and non-manipulative social relations is dealt with by Alasdair MacIntyre, starting with:

              What is the key to the social content of emotivism? It is the fact that emotivism entails the obliteration of any genuine distinction between manipulative and non-manipulative social relations. Consider the contrast between, for example. Kantian ethics and emotivism on this point. For Kant—and a parallel point could be made about many earlier moral philosophers—the difference between a human relationship uninformed by morality and one so informed is precisely the difference between one in which each person treats the other primarily as a means to his or her ends and one in which each treats the other as an end. To treat someone else as an end is to offer them what I take to be good reasons for acting in one way rather than another, but to leave it to them to evaluate those reasons. It is to be unwilling to influence another except by reasons which that other he or she judges to be good. It is to appeal to impersonal criteria of the validity of which each rational agent must be his or her own judge. By contrast, to treat someone else as a means is to seek to make him or her an instrument of my purposes by adducing whatever influences or considerations will in fact be effective on this or that occasion. The generalizations of the sociology and psychology of persuasion are what I shall need to guide me, not the standards of a normative rationality. (After Virtue, 23–24)

          Only if power ⇏ goodness can one distinguish between manipulative and non-manipulative relations. That much of Christianity is atrocious in this domain is nothing new to the Bible; see Ezekiel 34 and Matthew 23. What is important is whether a tradition of thinking (be it Christianity or liberalism or progressivism) has internal resources for critique. Those are generally much more potent, as Charles Taylor explains in Explanation and Practical Reason.

          As for OT examples of those driven by fear, Adam, Job, Abraham, and Moses spring straight to mind for starters.

          Huh? Let’s just pick one: Job. How is he driven by fear? The fact that he is willing to say so much about God, toward God, seems to prove precisely the opposite.

          The storybook has God using his power on numerous occasions.

          That’s a red herring; what I have argued is that never does the Bible affirm that power ⇒ goodness and at multiple points it affirms the opposite: power ⇏ goodness.

          God sent prophets who had God’s power seconded to them in order to demonstrate that he wasn’t to be fucked about with. It only needs one example to refute your claim, there are more than that.

          Provide your one example where the Bible asserts, implies, or presupposes that power ⇒ goodness. If you can’t, yield the point.

          Omnipotence ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

          Alternatively: God is not as paternalistic and/or domineering as you would be.

        • And what exactly did it accomplish?

        • Whaaaa? Not God aka YahwehJesus…all the other gods.

          Nope, YHWH included. Check out WP: The Oven of Akhnai. Power was not to be used as evidence.

          The OT is rife with examples of God’s power being used to demonstrate his veracity.

          “Veracity”? That’s a weird way to talk about a moral agent. There’s no power here:

          See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today? (Deuteronomy 4:5–8)

          This isn’t God being near in the sense of the Israelites having a lamp to rub and out pops the genie. It’s more like this:

          If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5–8)

          I hear atheists who constantly want humans to be empowered with wisdom and knowledge instead of being kept enslaved by woo woo, being drugged by opium. When they are actually presented with that thing, they balk. I find that exceedingly suspicious, like a no-win scenario. And then when Jewish descendants win 22.5% of Nobel Prizes while being less than 0.2% of the world’s population, their religious heritage magically shows up as completely irrelevant. (For example, it might be believed that there is basically no cultural inertia/​social capital which lasts more than a hundred years or two.) I personally suspect that the belief I’m working with—

               (P) Power is orthogonal to goodness.

          —is an extremely hard lesson for humans to learn and hold on to. A person’s power tells you nothing—exactly nothing!—about how good he/​she/​it is. See the warnings in Mt 24:23–25 and Rev 13. The Bible criticizes the current fad of saying that if my party’s President exercises Executive Orders it is good, while if the other party’s President exercises Executive Orders it is bad. Or if my side shuts down the government over some issue it is good, while if their side shuts down the government they must be bad.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope, YHWH included. Check out WP: The Oven of Akhnai. Power was not to be used as evidence.

          Whoa…you are citing a 2nd century rabbinical story from the Talmud that you think refutes the meanings in the OT? Seriously?

          You cited Deuteronomy 13:1-5 as instruction that anyone who uses power as evidence of God should be executed. There is no commentary that I’ve read that supports your nonsense. Chapter three is about idolatry. The worship of other gods and those who attempt to entice. And how they should be dealt with. Prophet’s, family, whole cities. They all had to die for inciting worship of other gods. Read the whole thing. I has nothing whatsoever to do with God’s power and anyone misrepresenting it.

          In this chapter three situations are discussed, in each of which, Israel was ordered to put to death the offender.

          (1) First, there is the case of some alleged “prophet” soliciting the people to idolatry on the basis of some dream, portent, or wonder which he claimed as proof of his authority (Deuteronomy 13:1-5);

          (2) there is the case of solicitation to idolatry by one’s close kinsman (Deuteronomy 13:6-12),

          (3) and then there is the case of a whole city that has fallen under the power of Satan (Deuteronomy 13:13-18).

          In every instance, the commandment was to put to death the offenders, and in the case of a whole city, it was to be placed under the ban and utterly destroyed.

          https://www.studylight.org/commentary/deuteronomy/13-1.html

          If anything, it is Satan’s power being channelled through the false prophet that Christian commentaries allude to in this text.

        • Whoa…you are citing a 2nd century rabbinical story from the Talmud that you think refutes the meanings in the OT? Seriously?

          I think you are conflating the use of power as a signal to “Look here!” and the use of power as evidence of goodness.

          You cited Deuteronomy 13:1-5 as instruction that anyone who uses power as evidence of God should be executed. There is no commentary that I’ve read that supports your nonsense.

          Feel free to show me a single instance in the Bible which argues or presupposes that power ⇒ goodness. Two counterexamples are Mt 24:23–25 and Rev 13. The latter could be referring to a resurrection.

          I has nothing whatsoever to do with God’s power and anyone misrepresenting it.

          No power is being misrepresented. Instead, the lesson is that power is ethically neutral; this is why we have:

          Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23–24)

          A consistent lesson of the Bible is that power and wisdom and wealth are not indicators that God approves of the person. They are neutral; the question “Why do the wicked prosper?” can therefore be valid. This is how Asalph’s “steps had nearly slipped”. In Jesus’ time, all three attributes had been so perverted that Jesus chose the disciples he did and Paul wrote:

          For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26–31)

          Today, I claim we live in a similar time. Wealth, power, and wisdom are so disconnected from goodness that they are tempting as indicators of badness. The hope of the oppressed is that God will undermine their oppressors; the hope of the oppressors is that God does not exist.

          If anything, it is Satan’s power being channelled through the false prophet that Christian commentaries allude to in this text.

          That may be, but power itself is never to be understood as evidence of goodness. Humans cannot be trusted to distinguish between God’s use of power and Satan’s use of power, merely from the power aspect. Perhaps such distinguishing is logically impossible.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think you are conflating the use of power as a signal to “Look here!” and the use of power as evidence of goodness.

          Only where it is not being used as an example of goodness. Which an omnipotent omnibenevolent has no need of.

          Smoting whinging complainers to death with fire as a show of strength is not an example of goodness no matter what way ya cut it. Especially for a being powerful enough and perfect enough, to have no need of it. The acts of power in the OT are gratuitous.

          Feel free to show me a single instance in the Bible which argues or presupposes that power ⇒ goodness. Two counterexamples are Mt 24:23–25 and Rev 13. The latter could be referring to a resurrection.

          A non sequitur to your erroneous assertion on the meaning of the passage you cited.

          No power is being misrepresented. Instead, the lesson is that power is ethically neutral; this is why we have:

          The power Yahweh yielded was ethically neutral only in so much as that when the Hebrews fell foul of his wrath, the result was the same as when the non-Hebrews fell foul of his wrath, but the net result was that Yahweh was not to be fucked with…even the by the merest misdemeanour’s. His justice was not just.

          A consistent lesson of the Bible is that power and wisdom and wealth are not indicators that God approves of the person.

          This has nothing to with the argument, but it is still wrong. God endowed power, wisdom, and even wealth…on the righteous.

          Righteousness is one of the chief attributes of God as portrayed in the Hebrew Bible. Its chief meaning concerns ethical conduct (for example, Leviticus 19:36; Deuteronomy 25:1; Psalm 1:6; Proverbs 8:20). In the Book of Job the title character is introduced to us as a person who is perfect in righteousness.

          God gives Moses miraculous power.

          https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+4&version=GNT

          Why?

          Because Moses was the most righteous man of God from among the chosen people.

          https://www.directessays.com/viewpaper/14328.html

          They are neutral; the question “Why do the wicked prosper?” can therefore be valid. This is how Asalph’s “steps had nearly slipped”. In Jesus’ time, all three attributes had been so perverted that Jesus chose the disciples he did and Paul wrote:

          This is Christian jazz. The passage you cited was Jewish jazz. I’m dealing with the Jewish jazz. Jesus didn’t choose anyone. That’s a story. Paul wrote what he wrote for his own reasons. Old Testament theology is not New Testament theology. New Testament theology/Christology is far from all the theology/Christology of early Christianity.

          Christianity was a powerless cult in it’s earliest forms, it had to appeal to the yearnings of other powerless groups with a special promise to get out of the starting blocks. Everything is not as it seems.

        • DP: … you do realize most here will require evidence of existence before any relationship, Right?

          LB: … And yet, Deuteronomy 13:1–5 commands the ancient Hebrews to execute anyone who uses power as evidence of God (or a different god). …

          IA: Whaaaa? Not God aka YahwehJesus…all the other gods.

          LB: Nope, YHWH included. Check out WP: The Oven of Akhnai. Power was not to be used as evidence.

          IA: Whoa…you are citing a 2nd century rabbinical story from the Talmud that you think refutes the meanings in the OT? Seriously?

          LB: I think you are conflating the use of power as a signal to “Look here!” and the use of power as evidence of goodness.

          IA: Only where it is not being used as an example of goodness. Which an omnipotent omnibenevolent has no need of.

          Has no need of for what purposes? God could certainly force us to acknowledge his existence, but that is orthogonal to our openness to relationship which is not based on power, not based on coercion and manipulation.

          Smoting whinging complainers to death with fire as a show of strength is not an example of goodness no matter what way ya cut it. Especially for a being powerful enough and perfect enough, to have no need of it. The acts of power in the OT are gratuitous.

          I never said they were an example of goodness. I’ve been repeatedly arguing that power ⇏ goodness is both what the Bible shows and what is actually true. As to the acts of power in the OT being gratuitous, that’s another discussion which I’m happy to get into after the main issue is dealt with.

          The power Yahweh yielded was ethically neutral only in so much as that when the Hebrews fell foul of his wrath, the result was the same as when the non-Hebrews fell foul of his wrath, but the net result was that Yahweh was not to be fucked with…even the by the merest misdemeanour’s.

          The time span over which “Yahweh was not to be fucked with” was actually quite small. The percentage of time in which YHWH uses lots of power in the OT is very, very small. As to your “merest misdemeanours”, those are actually very specific and there are very few of them. But that distracts from my point that power ⇏ goodness. Contrary to your initial “Whaaaa?”.

          LB: A consistent lesson of the Bible is that power and wisdom and wealth are not indicators that God approves of the person.

          IA: This has nothing to with the argument, but it is still wrong. God endowed power, wisdom, and even wealth…on the righteous.

          It’s central to the argument; the claim is that if only God would make his existence obvious to the atheist, there would be increased probability of the atheist wanting to be in relationship with God. I say that does not necessarily flow, in precisely the same way that power ⇏ goodness. Furthermore you need to learn some logic: (A ⇒ B) ⇏ (B ⇒ A). So while God might bless the righteous and justice with power and wealth and wisdom, that does not make their power and wealth and wisdom evidence of their goodness. This is precisely the lesson that humans do not want to learn. We desperately want to see power, wealth, and/or wisdom as evidence of goodness. (At least, those of us who have them!) And yet, time and again history shows that any or all of those have been used for great evil.

          God gives Moses miraculous power. … Because Moses was the most righteous man of God from among the chosen people.

          LOL, Moses the coward–murderer–traitor as “righteous”. That’s fricken hilarious. The idea that all of God’s other chosen people were even worse is a possibility, but that doesn’t help your overall point.

          This is Christian jazz. The passage you cited was Jewish jazz. I’m dealing with the Jewish jazz. Jesus didn’t choose anyone. That’s a story. Paul wrote what he wrote for his own reasons. Old Testament theology is not New Testament theology. New Testament theology/​Christology is far from all the theology/​Christology of early Christianity.

          The trajectory one can draw through the entire OT has the NT within its continuation possibilities. It’s only if one is utterly irresponsible in understanding the historical trajectory of the OT—like you have been—that one can fail to see the trajectory isn’t anything like a constant value.

          Christianity was a powerless cult in it’s earliest forms, it had to appeal to the yearnings of other powerless groups with a special promise to get out of the starting blocks. Everything is not as it seems.

          That’s also how the Israelites started:

          “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:6–8)

          See also Norman K. Gottwald’s take on 1250–1050 BCE Israel:

              Israel’s sociopolitical egalitarian mode of life, involving an entire populace of formerly oppressed peoples, was unique in its explicitness and in its spatiotemporal effectiveness. Admittedly, two centuries is not a long period in terms of the millennia of ancient Near Eastern history, but the relevant point in my view is that we do not know of any other egalitarian structure that came into autonomous existence in historic times in that region. Obviously the base of the Israelite social revolution lay in the social unrest running as an undercurrent through the ancient Near East, surfacing only indirectly in literature and official documents that reflect the viewpoint of the rulers rather than of the ruled. Indeed, it was the concentrating and heightening in early Israel of forms of social conflict elsewhere diffused in the Near East that gives the necessary field of evidence for forming an historical-dialectical, causal and comparative model of Israel’s religion. This “concentration” and “heightening” of social conflict in early Israel is evident in the fact that only there, to our knowledge, did an egalitarian tribal life wrest control from imperial-feudal hands and succeed in establishing a sustained vocal alternative social order. In the case of Israel alone in the ancient Near East did the struggle of the antimorphemes of urban statism and egalitarian countryside issue for a time in such a clear and decisive provisional victory of the countryside over the city. (The Tribes of Yahweh, 593–594)

          For Jewish thought on this egalitarian matter, see Joshua A. Berman’s Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought. Of special interest is Deut 17:14–20, meant to limit power differentials. Orthodox Jew Yoram Hazony notes in The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture that Solomon violated every tenet of that bit of Torah.

        • Ignorant Amos

          LOL, Moses the coward–murderer–traitor as “righteous”. That’s fricken hilarious.

          I know…too stupid for words, right?

          Don’t shot the messenger. As I said, it’s a complete loada ballix in my view, but Jews, Christians and Muslims believe the crap is true.

          Why did God decide upon a coward-murderer-traitor to do the job…is that the best he could come up with.

          The story is not my problem.

          And you think that there are no other biblical characters that were real bad bastards and claimed righteous by the Jews?

          King David, another murdering bastard that broke every one of the Decalogue and he was one of the righteous rich ffs.

          The “Righteous Rich” in the Old Testament

          https://theotherjournal.com/2010/08/05/the-righteous-rich-in-the-old-testament/

          The idea that all of God’s other chosen people were even worse is a possibility, but that doesn’t help your overall point.

          That wasn’t really my inference, but according to the Jews, he is arguably the greatest figure in Judaism after God.

          But anyway, my overall point being?

        • LB: A consistent lesson of the Bible is that power and wisdom and wealth are not indicators that God approves of the person.

          IA: This has nothing to with the argument, but it is still wrong. God endowed power, wisdom, and even wealth…on the righteous.

          God gives Moses miraculous power. … Because Moses was the most righteous man of God from among the chosen people.

          LB: LOL, Moses the coward–murderer–traitor as “righteous”. That’s fricken hilarious. The idea that all of God’s other chosen people were even worse is a possibility, but that doesn’t help your overall point.

          IA: I know…too stupid for words, right?

          Don’t shot the messenger. As I said, it’s a complete loada ballix in my view, but Jews, Christians and Muslims believe the crap is true.

          What you’ve said doesn’t actually provide evidence against the bit I wrote which I’ve quoted above: power and wisdom and wealth are not indicators that God approves of the person”.

          Why did God decide upon a coward-murderer-traitor to do the job…is that the best he could come up with.

          And you think that there are no other biblical characters that were real bad bastards and claimed righteous by the Jews?

          King David, another murdering bastard that broke every one of the Decalogue and he was one of the righteous rich ffs.

          You haven’t even scratched the surface of the people listed in Hebrews 11.

          LB: The idea that all of God’s other chosen people were even worse is a possibility, but that doesn’t help your overall point.

          IA: That wasn’t really my inference, but according to the Jews, he is arguably the greatest figure in Judaism after God.

          Ok? It is still the case that “A consistent lesson of the Bible is that power and wisdom and wealth are not indicators that God approves of the person.”

          But anyway, my overall point being?

          Your “it is still wrong”, quoted above.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What you’ve said doesn’t actually provide evidence against the bit I wrote which I’ve quoted above: “power and wisdom and wealth are not indicators that God approves of the person”.

          Why leave out the other bit?

          A consistent lesson of the Bible is that power and wisdom and wealth are not indicators that God approves of the person.

          And you saying it makes it so, does it?

          Not that consistent unfortunately. Plenty of well heeled favourites of God are listed. Didn’t you read the link I cited…“The Righteous Rich”?

          Yet clearly the Old Testament has a lot more to say on the subject than we can glean from the prophetic monochrome of Amos. It does not assert that all wealth must have been gained through wickedness. To paraphrase Shakespeare: some are born rich, some achieve riches, and others have riches thrust upon them. And, as the Old Testament would doubtlessly say, some are blessed by God with riches within the framework of covenant obedience.

          Job. For any lingering doubts that righteousness and riches could ever inhabit the same universe, Job is the classic proof. Indeed, the three opening verses of the book affirm both truths about him: Job was a model of righteousness (“blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil”), and he was simultaneously very wealthy—a legend in his own time. The former is a verdict endorsed even by God himself (1:8, 2:3). The latter is cynically offered by Satan (the accuser) as an alleged mercenary motive. Job would not be so righteous, he sneers, if he were not being so richly blessed by God. So the test to which Job is unwittingly exposed is to see if his righteousness (which he more often describes as his integrity) will survive the loss of all his substance, even his health. And it does.

          You haven’t even scratched the surface of the people listed in Hebrews 11.

          No doubt. Like Jefferson’s misgivings, it doesn’t seem to be much of a barrier to God…regardless of what rules are getting broke. That alone should ring alarms to anyone wondering what the purpose of the book seems to be.

          Ok? It is still the case that “A consistent lesson of the Bible is that power and wisdom and wealth are not indicators that God approves of the person.”

          I nowhere remember making such a claim…could that be a straw man of you’re making? You scoffed at the idea that Moses was righteous. I agreed that it was silly, nevertheless Jews believe he was second only to God, and that being a wrong’ne doesn’t appear to be an obstacle to getting God’s favour, nor does being powerful, having wisdom, or being wealthy. So I don’t see this “consistent lesson” you infer…it just doesn’t seem to be necessary credentials either way.

          Your “it is still wrong”, quoted above.

          That it is a “consistent lesson”? There is no lesson, consistent or otherwise. Some of God’s chosen in the Bible are powerful, some not, some have wisdom, some not, some have wealth, some not, some have all three, some don’t. There appears to be no consistency in there at all. But point to the consistency you believe you think is in there and support it and I’ll concede, otherwise hold your hands up and shame the devil.

        • LB: What you’ve said doesn’t actually provide evidence against the bit I wrote which I’ve quoted above: power and wisdom and wealth are not indicators that God approves of the person”.

          IA: Why leave out the other bit?

          LB: A consistent lesson of the Bible is that power and wisdom and wealth are not indicators that God approves of the person.

          And you saying it makes it so, does it?

          Erm, when I was doing my standard context-clarification thing in that comment, I included both bits. And no, my saying it does not make it so. You have failed to provide any compelling counterexamples. It may help to understand how logic works:

               (W ⇏ R) ⇏ (R ⇒ ¬W)

          In English, with replacements: the fact that wealth/​power/​wisdom are not indicators of righteousness does not mean that wealth/​power/​wisdom are indicators of wickedness. Nothing I said has asserted, implied, or presupposed that … all wealth must have been gained through wickedness. Now let’s integrate the other piece of logic you aren’t obeying:

               (R ⇒ W) ⇏ (W ⇒ R)

          In English, with replacements: the fact that God [sometimes†] gives wealth/power/​wisdom to the righteous does not mean that wealth/​power/​wisdom are indicators of righteousness. Nothing I said has asserted, implied, or presupposed that (W ⇒ R). Indeed, I have consistently argued that (W ⇏ R). I’ve already said this by the way, with different variable names: (A ⇒ B) ⇏ (B ⇒ A).

          The above two logical facts are why the following can be consistently commanded, given all the other bits of scripture:

          Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23–24)

          The Bible never claims, implies, or presupposes that wealth/​power/​wisdom ⇒ righteousness. Nor that wealth/​power/​wisdom ⇒ wickedness. Instead, this is how one gets righteousness: “And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.” (Deut 6:25) Any attempt to redefine righteousness—Deut 12:32–13:5—is anathema. That means “a sign or wonder” cannot serve as evidence about what is or is not righteous. Which is precisely the lesson of The Oven of Akhnai. As the Jeremiah bit indicates, “righteousness” is a key attribute of God. Indeed, it distinguishes God from Satan, as well as every other god. So this key distinguishing aspect of God cannot be pointed to by “sign or wonder”.

           
          † Strictly speaking, the “sometimes” means I should write something like:

               (R ⤳ W) ⇏ (W ⇒ R)

          However, what I did write is actually stronger and still true. That is, let us suppose that righteousness always leads to wealth/​power/​wisdom. That doesn’t entail that there are no other ways to obtain wealth/​power/​wisdom.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You want to debate the number of angels dancing on the point of a pin.

          The fact of the matter is, there is no consistent lesson, God’s criteria for selection is known only to God apparently.

          “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2).

          Theologies abound.

          God Wants You Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

          Dear Father,
          I thank You that Your will and desire is for me to be healthy, wealthy and wise. I thank You for the Lord Jesus Christ, who bore my sin that I might be made righteous before You. Who bore my sicknesses and pains, that I might be made healthy and whole. Who was made poor, that I might know every provision of heaven upon the earth. Who has become for me the very wisdom of God in my life. I receive Him now, by faith.
          In Jesus’ name, Amen.

          http://www.walkingbarefoot.com/writings/HWW.htm

          Righteousness is synonymous with justice, OT God isn’t that.

        • You want to debate the number of angels dancing on the point of a pin.

          Sorry, I don’t see what you’re referring to. The question of whether wealth/​power/​wisdom are indicators of righteousness seems like a rather important topic. So you must be referring to something else.

          The fact of the matter is, there is no consistent lesson, God’s criteria for selection is known only to God apparently.

          Or Satan can give wealth/​power/​wisdom.
          Or people can turn from righteous to unrighteous and vice versa.

          God Wants You Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

          That’s woefully underdetermined. A consistent problem in the OT was that when God did this for Israel, it abandoned him. So, what to do?

          Righteousness is synonymous with justice,

          Disagree. Righteousness is more a characteristic of the individual while justice is more a characteristic of relationships. It is important to pay attention to the one and the many, instead of try to reduce to a monism.

          OT God isn’t that.

          I disagree with assumptions about human nature and society which, as far as I can tell, are required for that to be necessarily true.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sorry, I don’t see what you’re referring to. The question of whether wealth/​power/​wisdom are indicators of righteousness seems like a rather important topic. So you must be referring to something else.

          To you perhaps, to me it is as much use as an irrelevant debating exercise about the true colour of navel lint. Or the righteousness characteristics of Dumbledore.

          Or Satan can give wealth/​power/​wisdom.

          We should talk again when you can demonstrate a Satan and not literary device in a book.

          Or people can turn from righteous to unrighteous and vice versa.

          Are wealth/power/wisdom indicators of that happening either way? Certainly not in the bible.

          That’s woefully underdetermined.

          It’s merely an example of the diversity in religious thinking on the subject.

          A consistent problem in the OT was that when God did this for Israel, it abandoned him.

          No, the story in the OT is that when God did this for Israel, it abandoned him, in order to shift the blame for why Israel was in a constant cycle of invasion/conquer/captivity. This is the theme outlined in books such as Amos.

          The central idea of the book of Amos is that God puts his people on the same level as the surrounding nations – God expects the same purity of them all. As it is with all nations that rise up against the kingdom of God, even Israel and Judah will not be exempt from the judgment of God because of their idolatry and unjust ways. The nation that represents YHWH must be made pure of anything or anyone that profanes the name of God. God’s name must be exalted.

          It’s an apologetic for why the chosen ones get forsaken by God in the same way as everyone else.

          So, what to do?

          See it for what it is would be a good place to start.

          Disagree.

          Of course ya do…if it doesn’t fit your particular narrative.

          Righteousness is more a characteristic of the individual while justice is more a characteristic of relationships. It is important to pay attention to the one and the many, instead of try to reduce to a monism.

          Apologies, mea culpa…what I shoulda wrote is…

          “Righteousness is synonymous with justice, OT God isn’t that.”

          But still.

          And the Abrahamic God still isn’t that.

          I disagree with assumptions about human nature and society which, as far as I can tell, are required for that to be necessarily true.

          But that’s all we have got to go on, and it is far from universal.

        • We should talk again when you can demonstrate a Satan and not literary device in a book.

          Oh, so you’re willing to admit that God exists? Because if you think he’s equally as fictional, then your point is undermined. שָׂטָן is clearly understood as an [im]moral agent separate from אֱלֹהִים: Job 1:6–12. It sounds rather like you want to collapse both into one: Power. But if the OT does anything, it differentiates them. To pretend that such differentiation is easy and unaffected by the noetic effects of sin is to be an ambassador (a non-autonomous agent) of Power.

          IA: God Wants You Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

          LB: That’s woefully underdetermined. A consistent problem in the OT was that when God did this for Israel, it abandoned him. So, what to do?

          IA: No, the story in the OT is that when God did this for Israel, it abandoned him, in order to shift the blame for why Israel was in a constant cycle of invasion/​conquer/​captivity.

          Let me get this straight; according to the story:

               (1) YHWH rescues Israel.
               (2) YHWH gives Israel tons of nice things.
               (3) Israel becomes rich and powerful.
               (4) Israel abandons YHWH.
               (5) YHWH tries to call them back.
               (6) Israel tells YHWH to go fuck himself.
               (7) Israel gets conquered, true to prediction.
               (8) GOTO (1)

          You’re saying that Israel getting conquered is somehow … not its fault in any way, shape or form? Or perhaps, not in any way the fault of the masses? (Perhaps we can blame the leaders.)

          IA: God Wants You Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

          LB: That’s woefully underdetermined. A consistent problem in the OT was that when God did this for Israel, it abandoned him. So, what to do?

          IA: See it for what it is would be a good place to start.

          Do please tell us “how it is”. Apparently you’re the one human with a [nigh?] perfect view of Objective Reality™, so please share your knowledge and wisdom with the rest of us mere mortals.

          IA: Righteousness is synonymous with justice, OT God isn’t that.

          LB: Righteousness is more a characteristic of the individual while justice is more a characteristic of relationships. It is important to pay attention to the one and the many, instead of try to reduce to a monism.

          IA: Apologies, mea culpa…what I shoulda wrote is…

          “Righteousness is synonymous with justice, OT God isn’t that.”

          Yeah I’m still concerned that you’re pushing toward a monism. Individuals are not just society and society isn’t just individuals. If you’re really saying that “OT God” isn’t clearly a Trinity, then I agree—the notion of Trinity is too close to polytheism for the ancient Hebrews’ context; The Shema was most important for them. One could say that the Trinity really breaks in with Eph 2:11–3:6, with the tearing down of the “dividing wall of hostility”.

          IA: Righteousness is synonymous with justice, OT God isn’t that.

          LB: I disagree with assumptions about human nature and society which, as far as I can tell, are required for that to be necessarily true.

          IA: But that’s all we have got to go on, and it is far from universal.

          Is it all we have to go on? How does logic or the evidence necessitate that we go with those precise “assumptions about human nature and society”? On the contrary, I’m going to run with this line of reasoning:

              Finally, however, I am not convinced that the social and behavioral sciences, at least implicitly, do accept the fact-value distinction. I argue that they are committed to a utopian program by their history and by the expectations that keep them alive and funded, namely, that they will help to improve the future prospects of mankind. This is so taken for granted that many people will not see that there is an issue: of course these disciplines are intended for the future betterment of mankind; why else would we have them? One answer might be to look for the truth about human social nature whether or not the ensuing news be good or bad. In other words, it is certainly a logical possibility that there is no improvable future for mankind, that the news is indeed bad. At least the issue must be faced, not assumed to be settled. It is hard for the social sciences to face it, however; it is a poor basis for research proposals.
              The result is that there is a tremendous bias in all the sciences towards the bearing of good news. It is inconceivable that any news refuting any part of the utopian program should be well received, however incontrovertible. The funds would immediately dry up. The bad news is, therefore, usually delivered by renegade philosophers (Nietzsche, Sartre), or by humanists (Orwell, Golding), or by theologians of an orthodox stripe, who can all be discounted by the social scientists of the academies. H. G. Wells spent his long and active life dutifully delivering the good news about the possibilities of a scientific utopia. But just before his death, and having witnessed World War II, he wrote the remarkable Mind at the End of Its Tether (1945), in which he concluded, “Homo sapiens, as he has been pleased to call himself, is in his present form played out.” Certainly not a sound basis for a research proposal. Or Orwell’s proposition that the vision of the future is a boot stamping on a human face; or Sartre’s that evil cannot be redeemed (What Is Literature?); or Doris Lessing’s that we have very little idea what is going on, and what idea we have is largely erroneous (The Sirian Experiments).
              Yet this alternative message has been with us since the Greeks and the Prophets and perhaps we should pay it some respect. Very few of us do or dare to. Like the dean’s wife with Darwinism, we hope that if it be true it not become generally known. Lately, the human sciences have become particularly strident in their collective condemnations of the bearers of bad news. Given the nature of the Enlightenment project of which they are the heirs, one can see why. If, for example, we were to treat Margaret Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa as utopia, not as ethnography, then we would understand it better and save a lot of pointless debate.
              Occasionally, I find an anthropologist with the same information as mine making a similar point to the one that concludes this book (or that pervades my The Violent Imagination.) Thus Melvin Konner, in The Tangled Wing, quotes Shakespeare, Henry James, Goethe, and Malraux—all bearers of bad news, and continues:

              Let us invite these, as it were, artists of the soul to a cocktail party. On one side of the room are a group of tinkerers arguing cheerfully about various strategies for making everything just fine. On the other side, a group of biologists are discussing, rather glumly, the unchanging facts of human nature. Which group would they join?

              There is little doubt where they would feel more at home.
              If the bearers of bad news have any hope to offer, it is that by facing the unpalatable truths we are better off than if we ignore them. They will continue to urge this morsel of wisdom on an ungrateful world. For even if mankind cannot achieve perfection, it can perhaps learn to live more tolerantly with its imperfections. But this rallying cry for moderation will never get the masses to the barricades, nor the tinkerers to cross the room to our side of the cosmic cocktail party.
              The reader not familiar with the present state of sectarian fragmentation in the social sciences—anthropology in particular—may be baffled by some of the responses this book will provoke. The social sciences, unlike most of the natural sciences, do not have a consensus of ‘normal science’ to which appeal can be made in judging a contribution. What they have are competing ideologies. And as with all sectarian disputes, judgements are made on the basis of ideological purity versus heresy. It is almost impossible these days to get a reasoned discussion of issues in the social sciences. The dominance of neo-relativist, hermeneutic, critical, symbolic, deconstructionist, and interpretative versions of the social science enterprise involve a retreat from science and the very idea of objective knowledge. This book, therefore, represents an almost puritanical appeal for an attempt at a theory of social action based on the natural sciences. Obviously, it will be treated as heresy by those with contrary views. I have no idea where all this will end, except perhaps in the development of a natural science of society that simply bypasses the social sciences as we know them. This may become necessary, because while they are fiddling, Rome is burning, and someone has to attend to the fire rather than debate whether we can ever have sure and objective, nonrelative knowledge of the fire’s existence. (The Search for Society, 3–4)

          P.S. You have italics problems in your comment.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh, so you’re willing to admit that God exists?

          No more than Harry Potter exists to Rowlings Voldemort.

          Because if you think he’s equally as fictional, then your point is undermined.

          Is there something such as unequally fictional I can opt to?

          שָׂטָן is clearly understood as an [im]moral agent separate from אֱלֹהִים: Job 1:6–12. It sounds rather like you want to collapse both into one: Power. But if the OT does anything, it differentiates them. To pretend that such differentiation is easy and unaffected by the noetic effects of sin is to be an ambassador (a non-autonomous agent) of Power.

          Back to more theological crap…it is a made up story. I’m only interested in your erroneous application of Deuteronomy 13…and not even that anymore, given your pig-headedness.

          Let me get this straight; according to the story:
          (1) YHWH rescues Israel.
          (2) YHWH gives Israel tons of nice things.
          (3) Israel becomes rich and powerful.
          (4) Israel abandons YHWH.
          (5) YHWH tries to call them back.
          (6) Israel tells YHWH to go fuck himself.
          (7) Israel gets conquered, true to prediction.
          (8) GOTO (1)

          More or less.

          You’re saying that Israel getting conquered is somehow … not its fault in any way, shape or form?

          Nope. I’m saying shit happened. The OT, in order to prevent the blame going to Yahweh’s feet, blames the sinning ways of the Jewish people, absolving Yahweh for not intervening to help his chosen ones. A cop-out by human authors.

          The Old Testament stresses the special relationship between God and his chosen people, Israel, but includes instructions for proselytes as well. This relationship is expressed in the biblical covenant (contract) between the two, received by Moses. The law codes in books such as Exodus and especially Deuteronomy are the terms of the contract: Israel swears faithfulness to God, and God swears to be Israel’s special protector and supporter.

          Or perhaps, not in any way the fault of the masses? (Perhaps we can blame the leaders.)

          What is it you think it was that the masses or leaders did that courted invasion by the Assyrian’s?

          First Chronicles 5:26 notes, “So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and he took them into exile, namely, the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river Gozan, to this day.” These tribes, located east of the Jordan River, were the first ones conquered by Assyria.

          Or was it a politically motivated and militarily strategic manoeuvre?

          http://www.ucl.ac.uk/sargon/essentials/countries/israel/

          Do please tell us “how it is”. Apparently you’re the one human with a [nigh?] perfect view of Objective Reality™, so please share your knowledge and wisdom with the rest of us mere mortals.

          Me? The one human who knows how it is? Nah. Most here know how it is okay.

          The OT is a made up treatise for a people who had been passed from pillar to post in order to
          give them a history and purpose.

          The process by which scriptures became canons and Bibles was a long one, and its complexities account for the many different Old Testaments which exist today. Timothy H. Lim, a professor of Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism at the University of Edinburgh, identifies the Old Testament as “a collection of authoritative texts of apparently divine origin that went through a human process of writing and editing.” He states that it is not a magical book, nor was it literally written by God and passed to mankind. By about the 5th century BC Jews saw the five books of the Torah (the Old Testament Pentateuch) as having authoritative status; by the 2nd century BC the Prophets had a similar status, although without quite the same level of respect as the Torah; beyond that, the Jewish scriptures were fluid, with different groups seeing authority in different books.

          It’s a story book that has been taken way too seriously by those that should know better.

        • Greg G.

          More than a decade ago, I read a book on the history of China. They would be warlike for a while and conquer their neighbors, then they would have a peaceful time when they became farmers. Then some other group would conquer them and take their riches so then they would have a period of aggression and expansion.

          The Jews seem to have gone through the same cycles but they missed the causes. They got rich until someone else wanted it and took it from them. But they decided it must have been because they were worshiping God wrong, so they would try something else (often claiming it was how their ancestors actually worshiped), and try some other religious practice until someone wanted what they had., and so on.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That means “a sign or wonder” cannot serve as evidence about what is or is not righteous.

          So what? It’s not something I’m asserting.

          Which is precisely the lesson of The Oven of Akhnai.

          No it isn’t. Read it for comprehension.

          “But R. Joshua arose and exclaimed: ‘It is not in heaven.’4 What did he mean by this? — Said R. Jeremiah: That the Torah had already been given at Mount Sinai; we pay no attention to a Heavenly Voice, because Thou hast long since written in the Torah at Mount Sinai, After the majority must one incline.”

          There are perhaps many morals to this story, but its punch line makes an important point about legal authority in Judaism: it rests with people, through defined processes that take place here on Earth. Not only do we not rely on divine revelation to ascertain what to do, but signs and omens are explicitly not valid ways of knowing what our obligations are. Rational argument and logic have replaced miraculous signs of God’s preferences as sources of authority.

          https://npgovernancedotorg.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/the-oven-of-akhnai.pdf

          Again, the oven refers to a time more than a millennia after the Torah had been given…Deuteronomy 13 is part of that ancient and much older tradition.

          As the Jeremiah bit indicates, “righteousness” is a key attribute of God. Indeed, it distinguishes God from Satan, as well as every other god. So this key distinguishing aspect of God cannot be pointed to by “sign or wonder”.

          Which has bugger all to do with what is the message in Deuteronomy 13…deal with that point.

          Among you, i.e. one of your nation, for such might be both seduced and afterwards seducers.

          A dreamer of dreams; one that pretends himself to be one to whom God hath revealed himself, either by visions or dreams. See Numbers 12:6.

          Giveth thee a sign or a wonder, i.e. shall foretell some strange and wonderful thing to come, as appears from Deu 13:2, as the true prophets used to do, as 1Sa 10.

          http://biblehub.com/commentaries/deuteronomy/13-1.htm

          You are mincing and fudging. Own it.

        • LB: That means “a sign or wonder” cannot serve as evidence about what is or is not righteous.

          IA: So what? It’s not something I’m asserting.

          If it is a fact that a prophet’s ability to do [real!] signs and wonders indicates nothing about whether [s]he is righteous, then they indicate nothing about God. Because to talk about God, you must talk about his righteousness, not just his power. Scratch the righteousness and you could be talking about Satan.

          Again, the oven refers to a time more than a millennia after the Torah had been given…Deuteronomy 13 is part of that ancient and much older tradition.

          So … we should ignore the fact that Maimonides connected the Oven to Deuteronomy 13:1 (Jewish numbering)?

          LB: As the Jeremiah bit indicates, “righteousness” is a key attribute of God. Indeed, it distinguishes God from Satan, as well as every other god. So this key distinguishing aspect of God cannot be pointed to by “sign or wonder”.

          IA: Which has bugger all to do with what is the message in Deuteronomy 13…deal with that point.

          The passage, once again:

          “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 12:32–13:5)

          How does one define “other gods”? By them having “other righteousness”, of course. What other differentiator is there? How does one define “righteousness”? “And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.” (Deut 6:25)

          You are mincing and fudging. Own it.

          The more we talk, the more I am convinced that what I said was absolutely true:

          LB: … And yet, Deuteronomy 13:1–5 commands the ancient Hebrews to execute anyone who uses power as evidence of God (or a different god). …

          All power does is say “Look here!” That’s why there’s a fancy show during the giving of the law in Deut 5 (vv22–23). We see the bit that’s actually YHWH show up to Elijah: “a low whisper” (1 Kings 19:9–18, esp. vv11–12). That’s the antithesis to power, both physical and rhetorical.

          Now, we’ve been at this long enough that I can do a write-up and send it to my friend who is a Messianic Jew, living in Israel and going to school at the Technion. I’ll bet he can get that writeup to a rabbi or three and we could see what they have to say. Would that interest you?

        • Ignorant Amos

          If it is a fact that a prophet’s ability to do [real!] signs and wonders indicates nothing about whether [s]he is righteous, then they indicate nothing about God. Because to talk about God, you must talk about his righteousness, not just his power. Scratch the righteousness and you could be talking about Satan.

          But what has that got to do with Deuteronomy 13? The chapter isa warning against apostasy and what to do with those that would attempt to lead a buddy along that path.

          So … we should ignore the fact that Maimonides connected the Oven to Deuteronomy 13:1 (Jewish numbering)?

          Well, without knowing how he connected the oven to Deuteronomy 13:1, I can’t comment.

          LB: As the Jeremiah bit indicates, “righteousness” is a key attribute of God. Indeed, it distinguishes God from Satan, as well as every other god. So this key distinguishing aspect of God cannot be pointed to by “sign or wonder”.

          IA: Which has bugger all to do with what is the message in Deuteronomy 13…deal with that point.

          The passage, once again:

          The righteousness of God in chapter 13 is not at issue.

          How does one define “other gods”? By them having “other righteousness”, of course. What other differentiator is there? How does one define “righteousness”? “And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.” (Deut 6:25)

          This is more red herring stuff…chapter 13 is about those that would attempt to corrupt the Godly away from being Godly to being other godly. It starts with false prophets, then friends and family, then other tens, cities, or nations…and it espouses the death penalty for those corruptors.

          The more we talk, the more I am convinced that what I said was absolutely true:

          How many examples of theological commentaries will it take?

          : … And yet, Deuteronomy 13:1–5 commands the ancient Hebrews to execute anyone who uses power as evidence of God (or a different god). …

          No, no, no…it’s about using a perceived “power”, or “look here!” if it makes you happier, to tempt apostates away from God. How can it mean kill anyone who uses “power” or “look here!” as evidence God when the OT is full of that very thing, including the actions of the author himself, Moses? There’d be wholesale slaughter of anyone claiming to be a prophet and that just isn’t what we see in the OT.

          All power does is say “Look here!” That’s why there’s a fancy show during the giving of the law in Deut 5 (vv22–23). We see the bit that’s actually YHWH show up to Elijah: “a low whisper” (1 Kings 19:9–18, esp. vv11–12). That’s the antithesis to power, both physical and rhetorical.

          Ffs…why is this so difficult?

          God causes the pharaoh to pursue the Israelites with chariots, and he overtakes them at Pi-hahiroth. When the Israelites see the Egyptian army they are afraid, but the pillar of fire and the cloud separates the Israelites and the Egyptians. At God’s command Moses holds his staff out over the water, and throughout the night a strong east wind divides the sea, and the Israelites pass through with a wall of water on either side. The Egyptians pursue, but at daybreak God clogs their chariot-wheels and throws them into a panic, and with the return of the water the pharaoh and his entire army are destroyed. When the Israelites see the power of God they put their faith in God and in Moses, and sing a song of praise to the Lord for the crossing of the sea and the destruction of their enemies. (This song, at Exodus 15, is called the Song of the Sea).

          Now, we’ve been at this long enough that I can do a write-up and send it to my friend who is a Messianic Jew, living in Israel and going to school at the Technion. I’ll bet he can get that writeup to a rabbi or three and we could see what they have to say. Would that interest you?

          Sure, why not?

          Will the result be more authoritative than current online commentaries…Jewish…

          Ch. xxix. 2-xxx. 20: Moses’ third discourse, emphasizing afresh the fundamental duty of loyalty to Yhwh and the dangers of apostasy.

          …or Christian?

          Chapter 13 Verses 1-5: Here we have divine provision made for all cases of false teaching and false religious influence. The human heart is easily led astray by any thing that appears to be a sign or a wonder, especially if such are connected with religion. We do not have the ability in ourselves to resist the influence of signs and wonders. Only the Word of God can fortify the soul against such. In this way error, even when backed up by miracles, can be detected. Security is to be found in the love of the truth which is only another way of expressing love for God. Verses 6-11: Withstanding and rejecting a prophet or dreamer with whom there was no personal relationship is nothing as compared with having to treat severely one who is loved. The teacher of idolatry was to be put to death. One could not spare nor conceal his most intimate one if he was guilty of such sin. This was the highest offense against God and had to be punished by death. Verses 12-18: The evil referred to in the text was of the very gravest character. It was an attempt to draw the people away from the one living and true God. It touched the very foundation of Israel’s national existence. It was not merely a local municipal question, but a national one. If one city was permitted to practice idolatry, the evil would soon spread; therefore the contagion had to be destroyed in its birth. God did not permit them to take the spoils of these idolatrous cities. Therefore this work of destruction could not be a temptation to them; it was only done in obedience to the law of God.

        • But what has that got to do with Deuteronomy 13? The chapter isa warning against apostasy and what to do with those that would attempt to lead a buddy along that path.

          It’s more than that. It’s a warning against anyone who would attempt to correct understandings of what/​who is righteous with miracle power or prediction power.

          LB: So … we should ignore the fact that Maimonides connected the Oven to Deuteronomy 13:1 (Jewish numbering)?

          IA: Well, without knowing how he connected the oven to Deuteronomy 13:1, I can’t comment.

          You missed the end of this comment. Or … you deliberately ignored it.

          The righteousness of God in chapter 13 is not at issue.

          I don’t know precisely what you mean by that claim. Feel free to explain it a bit more fully.

          … chapter 13 is about those that would attempt to corrupt the Godly away from being Godly to being other godly.

          Yeah, because it cannot possibly be the case that someone thinks [s]he is better worshiping the true YHWH, and tries to demonstrate it via miracle power and/or predictive power. It’s not like the referents to words can change … oh, fuck.

          How many examples of theological commentaries will it take?

          As long as they fail to make your point: ∞.

          No, no, no…it’s about using a perceived “power”, or “look here!” …

          Incorrect:

          “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 12:32–13:5)

          You seem to have quite a lot of trouble reading the most basic of things. That could explain a lot …

          How can it mean kill anyone who uses “power” or “look here!” as evidence God when the OT is full of that very thing, including the actions of the author himself, Moses? There’d be wholesale slaughter of anyone claiming to be a prophet and that just isn’t what we see in the OT.

          Feel free to provide instances of power ⇒ goodness/​righteousness in the OT. If you can’t, your point is irrelevant.

          LB: All power does is say “Look here!” That’s why there’s a fancy show during the giving of the law in Deut 5 (vv22–23). We see the bit that’s actually YHWH show up to Elijah: “a low whisper” (1 Kings 19:9–18, esp. vv11–12). That’s the antithesis to power, both physical and rhetorical.

          IA: Ffs…why is this so difficult?

          God causes the pharaoh to pursue the Israelites with chariots, and he overtakes them at Pi-hahiroth. When the Israelites see the Egyptian army they are afraid, but the pillar of fire and the cloud separates the Israelites and the Egyptians. At God’s command Moses holds his staff out over the water, and throughout the night a strong east wind divides the sea, and the Israelites pass through with a wall of water on either side. The Egyptians pursue, but at daybreak God clogs their chariot-wheels and throws them into a panic, and with the return of the water the pharaoh and his entire army are destroyed. When the Israelites see the power of God they put their faith in God and in Moses, and sing a song of praise to the Lord for the crossing of the sea and the destruction of their enemies. (This song, at Exodus 15, is called the Song of the Sea).

          You’ve conflated two very different interpretations:

          (A) God is worthy of praise because he was more powerful than Pharaoh and the Egyptians.

          (B) God is worthy of praise because he destroyed the oppressors and liberated the oppressed.

          A close read helps us see (B):

          The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake,
              I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.
              I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.’
          You blew with your wind; the sea covered them;
              they sank like lead in the mighty waters.

          “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
              Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
              awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
          You stretched out your right hand;
              the earth swallowed them.

          “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed;
              you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.
          The peoples have heard; they tremble;
              pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia.
          (Exodus 15:9–14)

          What is absolutely radical here is that a god would empower the underdogs. That didn’t happen back then:

              Israel’s sociopolitical egalitarian mode of life, involving an entire populace of formerly oppressed peoples, was unique in its explicitness and in its spatiotemporal effectiveness. Admittedly, two centuries is not a long period in terms of the millennia of ancient Near Eastern history, but the relevant point in my view is that we do not know of any other egalitarian structure that came into autonomous existence in historic times in that region. Obviously the base of the Israelite social revolution lay in the social unrest running as an undercurrent through the ancient Near East, surfacing only indirectly in literature and official documents that reflect the viewpoint of the rulers rather than of the ruled. Indeed, it was the concentrating and heightening in early Israel of forms of social conflict elsewhere diffused in the Near East that gives the necessary field of evidence for forming an historical-dialectical, causal and comparative model of Israel’s religion. This “concentration” and “heightening” of social conflict in early Israel is evident in the fact that only there, to our knowledge, did an egalitarian tribal life wrest control from imperial-feudal hands and succeed in establishing a sustained vocal alternative social order. In the case of Israel alone in the ancient Near East did the struggle of the antimorphemes of urban statism and egalitarian countryside issue for a time in such a clear and decisive provisional victory of the countryside over the city. (The Tribes of Yahweh, 593–594)

          Well, except for Israel, which had a god which fought for the oppressed. In other words: what makes a god worthy of worship is not merely that it’s the god with the most power. In fact, to worship a god solely on that basis would be to celebrate oppression. Which is exactly the opposite of what the ancient Israelites were doing.

          IA: You are mincing and fudging. Own it.

          LB: …

          Now, we’ve been at this long enough that I can do a write-up and send it to my friend who is a Messianic Jew, living in Israel and going to school at the Technion. I’ll bet he can get that writeup to a rabbi or three and we could see what they have to say. Would that interest you?

          IA: Sure, why not?

          Will the result be more authoritative than current online commentaries…Jewish…

          Ch. xxix. 2-xxx. 20: Moses’ third discourse, emphasizing afresh the fundamental duty of loyalty to Yhwh and the dangers of apostasy.

          First, that’s chapters 29–30; we are dealing with [Jewish numbering:] chapter 13.

          Second, I thought we were discussing “mincing and fudging”, not “authoritative”. Unless you mean the two to be the same?

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s more than that. It’s a warning against anyone who would attempt to correct understandings of what/​who is righteous with miracle power or prediction power.

          And when you can produce a single theological commentary to support your assertion and interpretation, you’ll have me attention.

          You missed the end of this comment. Or … you deliberately ignored it.

          Well it is obvious that I missed it otherwise you wouldn’t need to point me to that comment again…think it through, it’s this sort of assholery that courts distain. Those last four words of that comment I mean.

          The précis you supplied doesn’t support your position. Maimonides is talking about changing the Torah Law commandment’s, not the leading of Jews to apostasy. That is what the Oven is also talking about. But it is not relevant to defining verses 1-6 meaning.

          Here’s the best expose that I can find that even get’s anywhere near you interpretation…

          https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+4%3A2%2CDeuteronomy+13%3A1-6%2CJoshua+1%3A7%2CProverbs+30%3A6&version=CJB

          …but what it says is that a prophet demonstrating prophetic abilities, but wants you to understand these prophetic abilities as a sign to go off and worship other gods, don’t do it, because it is a test loyalty. The prophet is to be executed. But that makes no sense. Why execute the prophet if he is an instrument of God’s test?

          And that interpretation still doesn’t get you to where you want to be.

          That verse being the last of 12 or the first of 13 has no relevance on the issue as far as I’m concerned. And nor does it seem to have mattered to those who divvied up the Old Testament in the first place.

        • But that makes no sense. Why execute the prophet if he is an instrument of God’s test?

          If the people think they’re worshiping YHWH when they aren’t, then a prophet who calls them back to the true YHWH either (i) succeeds and they return; (ii) fails and gets executed. The stakes couldn’t be more extreme. All one needs to top this off is ensure that the prophet only ever volunteers for the job.

        • Ignorant Amos

          If the people think they’re worshiping YHWH when they aren’t, then a prophet who calls them back to the true YHWH either (i) succeeds and they return; (ii) fails and gets executed.

          Un-fucking-believable…how does that even work? How can someone think they are worshiping one imaginary deity, while actually worshiping a different imaginary deity? And wouldn’t the omniscient imaginary deity know this?

          How would the people thinking they were worshipping the YHWH, know that they weren’t? What’s the difference? Why would they believe the prophet since there’s no way of telling if he’s a bluffer or not? Why would YHWH allow a prophet doing his utmost to get the strayers back on track, but failing, allow him to be killed? How just is that? Such absolute nonsense.

          The stakes couldn’t be more extreme.

          It’s nonsense.

          All one needs to top this off is ensure that the prophet only ever volunteers for the job.

          Do prophets volunteer? I thought they got a calling. See, more nonsense.

        • How can someone think they are worshiping one imaginary deity, while actually worshiping a different imaginary deity?

          Actually, I think this is where I have to stop writing “as if God did not [have to] exist”. You might actually be right when it comes to imaginary deities and idols:

          Has a nation changed its gods,
              even though they are no gods?
          But my people have changed their glory
              for that which does not profit.
          (Jeremiah 2:11)

          The actual human tendency is to shift from reality to fiction. That’s why Max Planck wrote:

          A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. (Max Planck)

          This is somewhat of an exaggeration, but not too much of one. People love their abstractions. Abstractions don’t demand you do more intellectual work; reality does. Abstractions let you write off outliers, even suppress them or destroy them.

          And wouldn’t the omniscient imaginary deity know this?

          Imaginary deities don’t “know” anything. In the Feuerbachian sense of “God ≡ society”, if all of society has detached from reality, “the omniscient imaginary deity” wouldn’t know it. I may have to draw in Fitch’s paradox of knowability, which based on some apparently reasonable axioms, leads to the conclusion: “the existence of an unknown truth is unknowable”. This means it would be impossible to know one is not omniscient. If you weaken the axioms and/or rules of inference such that this doesn’t happen, we might get somewhere interesting. 🙂

          How would the people thinking they were worshipping the YHWH, know that they weren’t?

          They would need an outside source to tell them, and they would need to be willing (and able!) to hear that outside source. BTW, the Bible deals with terms which have had their meanings radically morph: Jeremiah 7, where “the temple of the LORD” had shifted from “the place where you draw near to God and be sanctified” to “the place where you can come and be absolved of your sins so that you can get back to sinning with a clean slate”.

          Why would they believe the prophet since there’s no way of telling if he’s a bluffer or not?

          They don’t have “no way”; they have the Law.

          Why would YHWH allow a prophet doing his utmost to get the strayers back on track, but failing, allow him to be killed? How just is that?

          It is better than “just”: it is merciful and gracious and loving and self-sacrificial. Surely you understand these terms from having practiced them?

          Do prophets volunteer? I thought they got a calling. See, more nonsense.

          Oops:

          And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

          You also see God coaxing Jeremiah to be ok speaking in Jeremiah 1. In Exodus 3–4, Moses pulls out all the stops to avoid representing YHWH to Pharaoh, but is ultimately convinced—not coerced:

              What is the key to the social content of emotivism? It is the fact that emotivism entails the obliteration of any genuine distinction between manipulative and non-manipulative social relations. Consider the contrast between, for example, Kantian ethics and emotivism on this point. For Kant—and a parallel point could be made about many earlier moral philosophers—the difference between a human relationship uninformed by morality and one so informed is precisely the difference between one in which each person treats the other primarily as a means to his or her ends and one in which each treats the other as an end. To treat someone else as an end is to offer them what I take to be good reasons for acting in one way rather than another, but to leave it to them to evaluate those reasons. It is to be unwilling to influence another except by reasons which that other he or she judges to be good. It is to appeal to impersonal criteria of the validity of which each rational agent must be his or her own judge. By contrast, to treat someone else as a means is to seek to make him or her an instrument of my purposes by adducing whatever influences or considerations will in fact be effective on this or that occasion. The generalizations of the sociology and psychology of persuasion are what I shall need to guide me, not the standards of a normative rationality. (After Virtue, 23–24)

          You can always tell God to go fuck himself. He’ll leave you alone after a try or three. That’s what you want, isn’t it?

        • Ignorant Amos

          You can always tell God to go fuck himself.

          I stopped talking to that imaginary being quite a long time ago.

          He’ll leave you alone after a try or three.

          I’m just as left alone now, as I was prior to stopping talking to the fresh air.

          That’s what you want, isn’t it?

          Nope…it’s all the deluded followers of imaginary beings that want to fuck up every aspect of my life if they could, that I want to fuck off and keep their silly business to themselves.

        • I stopped talking to that imaginary being quite a long time ago.

          And yet for some reason you’re throwing more Bible commentaries at me than any atheist ever has. I don’t know if I’ve ever encountered an atheist as excited about something in the Bible. As as you would say: “something not in the Bible”.

          I’m just as left alone now, as I was prior to stopping talking to the fresh air.

          I am sure you believe that with all your heart (= seat of the understanding). Whether or not you’ve retconned your personal history is another thing. Perhaps you claim you are immune to that, in the teeth of the evidence?

          Nope…it’s all the deluded followers of imaginary beings that want to fuck up every aspect of my life if they could, that I want to fuck off and keep their silly business to themselves.

          Unless this isn’t at all targeted at me: I apparently have a lot of power over you, even though all I can do is post comments on websites with social atmospheres extremely hostile to theists. Actually, I have long been banned from one of the two websites where we’ve interacted. So it’s just Cross Examined. For some reason, you cannot use Disqus’ “Block User” feature. Are you that powerless?

        • Kodie

          This post is absolutely a perfect PERFECT example of Luke Breuer behaving like a pompous asshole.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What? Luke? A pompous asshole? Well, I never….what next?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I stopped talking to that imaginary being quite a long time ago.

          And yet for some reason you’re throwing more Bible commentaries at me than any atheist ever has. I don’t know if I’ve ever encountered an atheist as excited about something in the Bible. As as you would say: “something not in the Bible”.

          There’s irony for ya, coming from the man that litters comments full of dross and Amazon links to all manner of books.

          Anyway, how does my not talking to an imaginary being bear any relevance to pointing out your delusional thinking on what is the consensus opinion on the meaning of Deuteronomy 13?

          You dropped in here, made an assertion on what you understand a particular OT passage to mean and used it to support an argument. I pointed out that I think you are erroneous. I’ve attempted to support my claim with evidence, something that you have failed to do, to date. You refuse to accept the common conclusion on the meaning of the passage at every hands turn, regardless of the mountains of theologians that support my assertion that you are wrong. Now you are criticising me for the amount of evidence I’m amounting in support of my claim? Why not concern yourself less with the amount of evidence I’m amounting and find an expository that supports your interpretation?

          And you criticise me for my atrocious logic skills?

          Will any amount of theological commentaries detailing how Deuteronomy 13 is meant, sway your understand of the passage?

          And explain the relevance of this rant to me not talking to empty space?

        • There’s irony for ya, coming from the man that litters comments full of dross and Amazon links to all manner of books.

          Oh noes, Amazon links. Without referrer data which would give me any cash money.

          Anyway, how does my not talking to an imaginary being bear any relevance to pointing out your delusional thinking on what is the consensus opinion on the meaning of Deuteronomy 13?

          You appear to care incredibly much about what an imaginary being supposedly did or did not say.

          You dropped in here, made an assertion on what you understand a particular OT passage to mean and used it to support an argument. I pointed out that I think you are erroneous.

          Oh interesting, it starts out with “I think”. But then you wanted to bring in the commentaries to add weight. At this point in time, you’ve shifted all the argument to the commentaries, as if the “I” has disappeared.

          I’ve attempted to support my claim with evidence, something that you have failed to do, to date.

          Yeah, I’ve cited no articles whatsoever. Zero.

          You refuse to accept the common conclusion on the meaning of the passage at every hands turn, regardless of the mountains of theologians that support my assertion that you are wrong.

          That’s because none of them I’ve seen (but I haven’t read them in perhaps as much detail as you?) deal with the case where Israel thinks it’s worshiping YHWH when it’s actually not. My suspicion is that you want to omit this because you want to presuppose that “YHWH ≡ the god Israel worships”. But that’s precisely what the Tanakh refutes.

          Now you are criticising me for the amount of evidence I’m amounting in support of my claim?

          Nope, it wasn’t a criticism. It was amazement.

          And you criticise me for my atrocious logic skills?

          Yes.

          And explain the relevance of this rant to me not talking to empty space?

          ¬(power ⇒ goodness) ⇒ ¬(God is imaginary)

          Maybe you wantpower ≡ goodness”?

           
          Edit: I replaced ‘YHWH’ with ‘God’ in the mathy bit.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh noes, Amazon links. Without referrer data which would give me any cash money.

          Whoooosh!

          You appear to care incredibly much about what an imaginary being supposedly did or did not say.

          Seriously? Never hear of Devil’s Advocate? That’s what CE is mostly about. I don’t care so much about what an imaginary being is alleged to have said, so much as those that say an imaginary being said it, then use that to influence the world around them negatively.

          Deuteronomy 13 is about what folk said Moses said an imaginary being said. Moses was imaginary too. Now how many people do you think were put to death because of what folk invented an invented Moses said an invented being said? Do you think it was more than one, and is one too many?

          And get this, you appear to care about what I appear to care about…to the point you’d visit websites with social atmospheres extremely hostile to theists and then whinge about it.

          Oh interesting, it starts out with “I think”. But then you wanted to bring in the commentaries to add weight. At this point in time, you’ve shifted all the argument to the commentaries, as if the “I” has disappeared.

          Whaaa? Isn’t that what you do every time you paste a citation or a blue link? Move from the “I think” to using external sources to support what you think?

          I read your assertion about Deuteronomy 13. I thought it was erroneous based on my previous reading and understanding of the chapter. I went and checked to see if I might have got my understanding wrong…that happens…I found that there was a large body of writing that supported my understanding. So I challenged your understanding of the passage. The commentaries and other stuff are me supporting my position. Ya know, the same as when you do it? You are free to use the same method and stop this pedantic bollixing about. Everyone is seeing through your game of smoke and mirrors.

          Yeah, I’ve cited no articles whatsoever. Zero.

          I never said you hadn’t cited any articles, what I said was that you hadn’t cited any evidence to support your claim. That citation backs up a lot of what I’ve been saying. Even using some of the terminology I used.

          Whether a false prophet, as some interpret, or a pukka prophet, as some others interpret, the fact remains that the passage is about apostasy. The crime is apparently committed when the prophet invites the ‘gullible’ away from the true God.

          The prophet described in Deuteronomy 13 begins by encouraging his listeners to go after and serve elohim acherim , which is usually translated in English as “other gods,” which is plausible. But the real evil lies in inviting people not to “walk after the Lord your God and fear him, and keep his commandments and obey his voice.”

          Once the prophet crosses that line, it appears he is doomed. This makes no sense if the prophet is God’s agent doing God’s bidding in testing the minions, and not a false prophet usurping God’s authority.

          Nevertheless, the chapter is about proselytising apostates. The chapter has to be taken in context in full.

          Family members and friends are not using prophetic methods to create apostates, yet those that attempt such apostate creating, are doomed like the prophet.

          6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. 9 You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.

          City nations that are not using prophetic methods to create apostates, yet those city states that attempt such apostate creating, are doomed like the prophet.

          If you hear it said about one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you to live in 13 that troublemakers have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods you have not known), 14 then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, 15 you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely,[b] both its people and its livestock. 16 You are to gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. That town is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt, 17 and none of the condemned things[c] are to be found in your hands. Then the Lord will turn from his fierce anger, will show you mercy, and will have compassion on you. He will increase your numbers, as he promised on oath to your ancestors— 18 because you obey the Lord your God by keeping all his commands that I am giving you today and doing what is right in his eyes.

          No testing it seems here.

        • IA: I’ve attempted to support my claim with evidence, something that you have failed to do, to date.

          LB: Yeah, I’ve cited no articles whatsoever. Zero.

          IA: I never said you hadn’t cited any articles, what I said was that you hadn’t cited any evidence to support your claim. That citation backs up a lot of what I’ve been saying. Even using some of the terminology I used.

          Whether a false prophet, as some interpret, or a pukka prophet, as some others interpret, the fact remains that the passage is about apostasy. The crime is apparently committed when the prophet invites the ‘gullible’ away from the true God.

          The prophet described in Deuteronomy 13 begins by encouraging his listeners to go after and serve elohim acherim, which is usually translated in English as “other gods,” which is plausible. But the real evil lies in inviting people not to “walk after the Lord your God and fear him, and keep his commandments and obey his voice.”

          Once the prophet crosses that line, it appears he is doomed. This makes no sense if the prophet is God’s agent doing God’s bidding in testing the minions, and not a false prophet usurping God’s authority.

          So let me get this straight:

               (I) Either the people are following YHWH—not an imposter;
              (II) or the people are following ¬YHWH (regardless of what words they use) but think they are following YHWH.

          If (I), then what purpose(s) would signs and wonders accomplish?

          If (II), signs and wonders force the people to take the prophet / dreamer of dreams seriously, return to their Law, and see if they’ve slid away from YHWH. If they find that the duder is calling to follow any other god, the correct response is to execute the duder.

          Never in all this does power ⇒ goodness. Never in all this does power ⇒ righteousness. What you don’t appear to understand is that what holds of Talmudic reasoning holds of Torah reasoning:

              I first began to look at Christian materials in relationship to the legal teachings of Judaism when working on my MA at the University of Toronto. I soon discovered that most seasoned scholars of New Testament, not knowing the intricacies of talmudic texts from deep study but from secondary sources, formed skewed opinions and could not penetrate the meanings that lay behind some remarkable rabbinic texts. I found it difficult to explain to them that unlike most literature talmudic texts often do not, for whatever reasons, expose the precise contexts upon which their cases rest. The ability to discern these contexts develops from the experience of spending years of concentrated study utilizing the works of the best talmudists over the last thousand years as well as developing a critical sense of how talmudic passages are constructed from earlier materials. This experience permits dedicated students to engage not only the rabbinic texts they study but also early Christian texts from unique standpoints. Most scholars of the New Testament lack such training. (Studies in Exegesis, 2)

          I learned to do the above by sussing out various possible presuppositions that could undergird a given argument. You have to ask why the author might have written thus and so, instead of just accepting “The Bible tells me so”—or “commentators tell me so”. This applies to what humans right just as much as to what’s contained in any holy text. You apparently didn’t learn to stop checking your brain at the door when it comes to religious texts, IA.

          One more thing. Commentators who don’t have to worry about Deuteronomy 12:32–13:5 actually happening aren’t going to have as much pressure on them to explore all of its intricacies. If we were to look at commentaries written by people who still leave in areas suffused with magic—real or fake, I don’t care—maybe we would find something a bit more interesting than the many(!) commentaries you’ve cited. I’m still amazed, by the way. I’ve never had an atheist cite so many commentaries before.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Never in all this does power ⇒ goodness. Never in all this does power ⇒ righteousness.

          Your fascination with an argument I nowhere instigated is befuddling.

          My position is that the whole chapter is all about apostasy and the punishment that was to be met out to those that would incite said.

          What you don’t appear to understand is that what holds of Talmudic reasoning holds of Torah reasoning:

          What you fail to understand is that I don’t think it does.

          It (Talmud) is written in Tannaitic Hebrew and Jewish Babylonian Aramaic and contains the teachings and opinions of thousands of rabbis (dating from before the Common Era through to the fifth century) on a variety of subjects, including Halakha (law), Jewish ethics, philosophy, customs, history, lore and many other topics.

          And there are plenty of Jews that agree with me.

          The collection of controversies, dissertations, and prescriptions commonly designated by the name Talmud possesses for us no authority, from either the dogmatic or the practical standpoint.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talmud#Role_in_Judaism

          The Talmud represents the written record of an oral tradition. It became the basis for many rabbinic legal codes and customs, most importantly for the Mishneh Torah and for the Shulchan Aruch. Orthodox and, to a lesser extent, Conservative Judaism accepts the Talmud as authoritative, while Samaritan, Karaite, Reconstructionist, and Reform Judaism do not. This section briefly outlines past and current movements and their view of the Talmud’s role.

          I learned to do the above by sussing out various possible presuppositions that could undergird a given argument.

          Indeed. When, where, and by whom was Deuteronomy being penned? For what purposes?

          Traditionally seen as the words of Moses delivered before the conquest of Canaan, a broad consensus of modern scholars see its origin in traditions from Israel (the northern kingdom) brought south to the Kingdom of Judah in the wake of the Assyrian conquest of Aram (8th century BC) and then adapted to a program of nationalist reform in the time of Josiah (late 7th century BC), with the final form of the modern book emerging in the milieu of the return from the Babylonian captivity during the late 6th century BC. Many scholars see the book as reflecting the economic needs and social status of the Levite caste, who are believed to have provided its authors.

          Chapters 12–26, the Deuteronomic code: Laws governing Israel’s worship (chapters 12–16a), the appointment and regulation of community and religious leaders (16b–18), social regulation (19–25), and confession of identity and loyalty (26).

          You have to ask why the author might have written thus and so, instead of just accepting “The Bible tells me so”—or “commentators tell me so”.

          Yeah…ya see that’s what commentator’s think they are doing too. You are quite at liberty to look at a passage and make up whatever nonsense about it you like, just as long as you hold your hands up and admit that’s what you are doing. A plain reading of the text tells me that it is not what you think it is about. And I’m not on my on.

          But, according to the Deuteronomists, Israel’s prime sin is lack of faith, apostasy: contrary to the first and fundamental commandment (“Thou shalt have no other gods before me”) the people have entered into relations with other gods.

          http://everything.explained.today/Book_of_Deuteronomy/

          This applies to what humans right just as much as to what’s contained in any holy text.

          That’s the problem with exegesis, it is just interpretation. A multi-Omni entity should be able to do much better. So much ambiguity that has resulted in so much suffering…but then it’s just a collection of old yarns for a superstitious people at a different time and place.

          You apparently didn’t learn to stop checking your brain at the door when it comes to religious texts, IA.

          You’ll have something there when you can demonstrate that your position is on solid footing…just one supporting commentary will do…otherwise it is just you pulling nonsense from yer arse.

        • Fascinating discussion!

          LB: Never in all this does power ⇒ goodness. Never in all this does power ⇒ righteousness.

          IA: Your fascination with an argument I nowhere instigated is befuddling.

          I guessed that you would be in favor of it. I was right. (my response) Presuppositions are important, yo.

          My position is that the whole chapter is all about apostasy and the punishment that was to be met out to those that would incite said.

          As far as I can see, your position is carefully constructed to permit power ⇒ righteousness. More strictly speaking, it appears unfalsifiable that your position was not constructed with this intent. I say this because you don’t appear to have any way to make it the case that power ⇏ righteousness. If appearance is actuality, I would find that extremely interesting.

          LB: What you don’t appear to understand is that what holds of Talmudic reasoning holds of Torah reasoning:

          … I found it difficult to explain to them that unlike most literature talmudic texts often do not, for whatever reasons, expose the precise contexts upon which their cases rest. … (Studies in Exegesis, 2)

          IA: What you fail to understand is that I don’t think it does.

          You’ve provided no reason to reject my claim that “unlike most literature, talmudic and Torah texts often do not, for whatever reasons, expose the precise contexts upon which their cases rest”. I didn’t say “everything that is true of Talmudic reasoning holds of Torah reasoning”.

          Indeed. When, where, and by whom was Deuteronomy being penned? For what purposes?

          That’s its own rabbit hole, so feel free to demonstrate how the variety of the plausible answers is relevant to our present conversation.

          LB: I learned to do the above by sussing out various possible presuppositions that could undergird a given argument. You have to ask why the author might have written thus and so, instead of just accepting “The Bible tells me so”—or “commentators tell me so”. This applies to what humans right just as much as to what’s contained in any holy text. You apparently didn’t learn to stop checking your brain at the door when it comes to religious texts, IA.

          IA: Yeah…ya see that’s what commentator’s think they are doing too. You are quite at liberty to look at a passage and make up whatever nonsense about it you like, just as long as you hold your hands up and admit that’s what you are doing. A plain reading of the text tells me that it is not what you think it is about. And I’m not on my on.

          No sorry, I reject the underlined. I do not give myself that liberty. You are writing as if I’m the only one reading Deuteronomy 12:32–13:5 that way, but I’m not: see The Trial of Jesus, my excerpt, and your response. Not only this, but your underlined violates Wittgenstein’s private language argument, which makes me find it quite suspicious. There is also @hairyeyedwordbombthrower:disqus’s “Interpreting words for consistency, however, is necessary for clear communication.”, to which I responded “Something slightly weaker than what you say suffices.” But you would weaken it to oblivion. You would destroy communication.

          Measurements are only as good as the measuring instrument; this applies to all “plain reading of the text”, including you and including me. If you believe/​presuppose that power ⇒ righteousness, that’s going to critically influence your reading of … probably most of the text. I’m quite happy to read the text according to power ⇒ righteousness and power ⇏ righteousness and then compare & contrast. Maybe once this is done in a rigorous fashion, your way of interpreting will show itself superior. Or maybe mine will. Or maybe it’ll appear to be a toss-up. What I’m against is just presupposing it’s one way. That way lies madness, instability, and destruction.

          But, according to the Deuteronomists, Israel’s prime sin is lack of faith, apostasy: contrary to the first and fundamental commandment (“Thou shalt have no other gods before me”) the people have entered into relations with other gods. (everything.explained.today/Book_of_Deuteronomy/)

          I can understand this just fine on power ⇏ righteousness. Indeed, it makes no sense on power ⇒ righteousness, because YHWH would just force the Israelites to follow him. Now, I realize you may respond that “YHWH doesn’t exist and the priestly caste hadn’t yet amassed enough power to do that”. I can address that criticism if you’d like.

          LB: This applies to what humans right just as much as to what’s contained in any holy text.

          IA: That’s the problem with exegesis, it is just interpretation.

          No, Derrida, it isn’t.

          A multi-Omni entity should be able to do much better.

          I have yet to see a compelling demonstration of this which does not rely on power ⇒ righteousness.

          So much ambiguity that has resulted in so much suffering…

          I have yet to see a compelling demonstration that the causation runs as you imply.

          LB: You apparently didn’t learn to stop checking your brain at the door when it comes to religious texts, IA.

          IA: You’ll have something there when you can demonstrate that your position is on solid footing…just one supporting commentary will do…otherwise it is just you pulling nonsense from yer arse.

          See above on The Trial of Jesus; it isn’t an “official” commentary, but if in fact you haven’t checked your brain at the door, then you won’t require it to be a officially labeled commentary.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s because none of them I’ve seen (but I haven’t read them in perhaps as much detail as you?) deal with the case where Israel thinks it’s worshiping YHWH when it’s actually not.

          Well maybe that’s because none of them think that’s a reasonable hypothesis. Tell me how one thinks they are worshiping a particular god, when in fact, they are not? Where does this idea of yours get its root from?

          Feel free to present a commentary of Deuteronomy 13 that asserts those that are being tempted to apostasy didn’t realise they were already apostates and were not following the one true Lord, as they believed they had been?

          All sounds a bit fanciful to me…well, even more fanciful that the fanciful nonsense already is without your help.

          My suspicion is that you want to omit this because you want to presuppose that “YHWH ≡ the god Israel worships”. But that’s precisely what the Tanakh refutes.

          I’ll omit it until you can demonstrate that it is the case that their were people who thought they were worshipping a god that they really weren’t worshipping…and how anyone could know.

          How to you know that you are worshipping the correct god, if you really believe the god you are worshipping is the god you believe to be the real god? What method do you use to confirm this, and what method could anyone use to demonstrate you were not actually worshipping the real true god?

          Nope, it wasn’t a criticism. It was amazement.

          Oh, amazement was it? Why are you amazed?

          ¬(power ⇒ goodness) ⇒ ¬(YHWH is imaginary)

          That still doesn’t explain the relevance. YHWH is imaginary until you, or anyone, can define what it is you are claiming, demonstrate what it is you are claiming is not imaginary, and state the methods you use to support your claims.

          Maybe you want “power ≡ goodness”?

          That would be nice, in an ideal world.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m just as left alone now, as I was prior to stopping talking to the fresh air.

          I am sure you believe that with all your heart (= seat of the understanding). Whether or not you’ve retconned your personal history is another thing. Perhaps you claim you are immune to that, in the teeth of the evidence?

          A wee bit of psychoanalysis, eh?

          How does that fit in with both of our not talking to, nor missing, other imaginary entities constructed by human minds?

          Do you feel the need to be left alone by Quetzalcoatl?

          See, you are starting from the silly premise that your particular god exits at some level other than in the imagination. Then making all manner of assumptions from there on out. Something not in evidence.

        • Have you read Feuerbach?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Wadda you think?

          No…just a few articles and Wiki…why?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope…it’s all the deluded followers of imaginary beings that want to fuck up every aspect of my life if they could, that I want to fuck off and keep their silly business to themselves.

          Unless this isn’t at all targeted at me:

          Ah ha, your narcissism clouds your reading comprehension.

          Are you a deluded follower of an imaginary being that wants to fuck up every aspect of my life if you could? If yes, then consider yourself included and fuck away off and mind your own silly business.

          I don’t want left alone by an imaginary being, because I’m already left alone by them, because, well, they’re imaginary. Do you yearn to be left alone by all those other imaginary beings invented by human minds that you don’t consider real, in the way their fuckwit follower’s do/did? No, you don’t give it a second thought. Now fuckwits following those imaginary beings that, if they could have their way, would have your head on a pike, I bet you consider those a wee bit differently.

          I apparently have a lot of power over you, even though all I can do is post comments on websites with social atmospheres extremely hostile to theists.

          I just don’t know how you can come to that conclusion. I all you do is post comments on websites with social atmospheres that are extremely hostile to theists, then you are not too much of a problem. And you have zero power over me, I chose to be here and engage in your asininity…remember?

          Actually, I have long been banned from one of the two websites where we’ve interacted. So it’s just Cross Examined. For some reason, you cannot use Disqus’ “Block User” feature. Are you that powerless?

          Oh I can use it okay…and have done, although do so very rarely…three times only, myintx on another blog, Louis E. and Candy Smith here…unlike yerself, they were complete unentertaining knuckle-draggers.

          In the meantime, should I decide I’m no longer enjoying the craic in engaging you, I will just stop doing it…simples. I reserve the right to use “Block User” when I no longer want to see any of your interactions with others.

          The sort of fuckwit delusional followers I’m referring to are a lot closer to home, if ya didn’t already know, I live in Northern Ireland, where we have a special kind of Christian fuckwits with all manner of delusions and they impact all levels of living here, from the sublime, to the ridiculous. Though I’m sure you’d be a supporter of a few of the ridiculous.

        • Ignorant Amos

          They would need an outside source to tell them, and they would need to be willing (and able!) to hear that outside source.

          Why would they not take the chapter at face value and treat that outside source as part of a test and reject it as such, thereby condemning the source to death by your thinking? Being able is the problem when one really believes they have the true faith. How would it work when someone asked you who it is you worship and when you replied Yahweh, they said no you’re not, this is Yahweh over here?

          Ezekiel 13:3 “Thus saith the Master YAHWEH, ‘woe to the foolish prophets, who are following their own spirit, without having had a vision’.”

          BTW, the Bible deals with terms which have had their meanings radically morph: Jeremiah 7, where “the temple of the LORD” had shifted from “the place where you draw near to God and be sanctified” to “the place where you can come and be absolved of your sins so that you can get back to sinning with a clean slate”.

          That’s all well and good for those that had an OT complete to reference, but the first followers of the Law’s of Moses had no such luxury or reference points.

        • Why would they not take the chapter at face value and treat that outside source as part of a test and reject it as such, thereby condemning the source to death by your thinking?

          If they understand the purpose of the passage. Also, I hear it’s actually rather hard to kill another human being. That built-in resistance is very useful, here.

          Being able is the problem when one really believes they have the true faith. How would it work when someone asked you who it is you worship and when you replied Yahweh, they said no you’re not, this is Yahweh over here?

          We need to bifurcate on those who do or do not violate:

          “‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Deuteronomy 5:8–10)

          We might be able to [approximately] render this as rejecting or accepting K(p & q) → (Kp & Kq); I need to think about that.

          Ezekiel 13:3 “Thus saith the Master YAHWEH, ‘woe to the foolish prophets, who are following their own spirit, without having had a vision’.”

          That’s interesting; the error is not:

               (1) following their own spirit

          , but also doing so while:

               (2) not having had a vision

          I wonder if the problem is trying to act autonomously, instead of cooperatively. I’m reminded of Mt 18:19.

          LB: BTW, the Bible deals with terms which have had their meanings radically morph: Jeremiah 7, where “the temple of the LORD” had shifted from “the place where you draw near to God and be sanctified” to “the place where you can come and be absolved of your sins so that you can get back to sinning with a clean slate”.

          IA: That’s all well and good for those that had an OT complete to reference, but the first followers of the Law’s of Moses had no such luxury or reference points.

          You only need the reference after the signal has risen below the noise.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Why would they believe the prophet since there’s no way of telling if he’s a bluffer or not?

          They don’t have “no way”; they have the Law.

          That seems a bit circular.

        • Kodie

          A bit? How does one zero in on the point of these obnoxious flare-ups?

        • Ignorant Amos

          A “bit”, or a “wee bit” is just a colloquialism…a bit sarcastic if am honest.

        • Do please explain.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Why would YHWH allow a prophet doing his utmost to get the strayers back on track, but failing, allow him to be killed? How just is that?

          It is better than “just”: it is merciful and gracious and loving and self-sacrificial.

          That’s what they told the Kamikaze pilots, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if that’s part of the sales pitch that Imam’s sell suicide bombers of fundamentalist Islam.

          Surely you understand these terms from having practiced them?

          You are somewhat confused…that’s not what most soldiers do.

        • IA: Why would YHWH allow a prophet doing his utmost to get the strayers back on track, but failing, allow him to be killed? How just is that?

          LB: It is better than “just”: it is merciful and gracious and loving and self-sacrificial. Surely you understand these terms from having practiced them?

          IA: That’s what they told the Kamikaze pilots, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if that’s part of the sales pitch that Imam’s sell suicide bombers of fundamentalist Islam.

          Let’s look for the victims of the “prophet or a dreamer of dreams”:

          “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 12:32–13:5)

          It looks like I was wrong to use the plural, “victims”. It rather looks like the OT has the solution to this very real problem:

          Futurism is of course especially dangerous when the engineer is not personally required to share in present sacrifice. (Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent, 22n15)

          See also:

          Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:20–28)

          Does that disturb you?

          IA: Why would YHWH allow a prophet doing his utmost to get the strayers back on track, but failing, allow him to be killed? How just is that?

          LB: It is better than “just”: it is merciful and gracious and loving and self-sacrificial. Surely you understand these terms from having practiced them?

          IA: You are somewhat confused…that’s not what most soldiers do.

          Sturgeon’s law

        • Ignorant Amos

          Do prophets volunteer? I thought they got a calling. See, more nonsense.

          Oops:

          And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

          Ah, I see where there is confusion. The whole thing is nonsense. They all volunteer, because there really isn’t any calling, there’s nothing there to do any calling. What they claim is another matter altogether.

          You also see God coaxing Jeremiah to be ok speaking in Jeremiah 1. In Exodus 3–4, Moses pulls out all the stops to avoid representing YHWH to Pharaoh, but is ultimately convinced—not coerced:

          But in the story, Moses initially “gets a calling”….he is drawn to the mountain of God…Horeb, in chapter 3….then in chapter 3 verse 10, he is told what he will be doing, he certainly doesn’t appear to be a willing volunteer as you note…

          10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt.’

        • Greg G.

          Moses and God got in a fist fight that was settled by a circumcision.

        • IA: Do prophets volunteer? I thought they got a calling. See, more nonsense.

          LB: Oops:

          And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

          You also see God coaxing Jeremiah to be ok speaking in Jeremiah 1. In Exodus 3–4, Moses pulls out all the stops to avoid representing YHWH to Pharaoh, but is ultimately convinced—not coerced: [After Virtue, 23–24]

          IA: Ah, I see where there is confusion. The whole thing is nonsense. They all volunteer, because there really isn’t any calling, there’s nothing there to do any calling. What they claim is another matter altogether.

          Ah, “the obliteration of any genuine distinction between manipulative and non-manipulative social relations”. Well done!

          But in the story, Moses initially “gets a calling”….he is drawn to the mountain of God…Horeb, in chapter 3….then in chapter 3 verse 10, he is told what he will be doing, he certainly doesn’t appear to be a willing volunteer as you note…

          10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt.’

          Moses could have said “no”. Jonah said “no” initially. How would we know of those who just said “no” permanently?

        • Kodie

          Yeah, a prophet could volunteer (“to help people”), or they could keep their visions to themselves. How does one keep from profiting as a prophet? Seems like you would have to have a day job or ask for handouts like a psychic. What’s the difference between a prophet and a psychic anyway? If you think you have visions, I don’t think you could keep your mouth shut. Ever sit on a city bus? You almost have to ask for money to get anyone to believe you, create a forum, and be sane enough to realize that’s what you’re doing even if you think you have a “gift”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The righteousness of God in chapter 13 is not at issue.

          I don’t know precisely what you mean by that claim. Feel free to explain it a bit more fully

          Chapter 13 is not about whether God is righteous or not. Clearly, imo, God is not if he is being sleeked enough to be setting up tests and then having the testee’s that pass the test kill the tester. It is analogous to entrapment and those that don’t fall for the trap, offing the cop doing the trapping…that ain’t just, or justice. But that’s another argument.

          The issue is one of apostasy. A literary plot device to fear God fearing folk into not considering jumping ship.

        • Chapter 13 is not about whether God is righteous or not.

          How is “God” separable from “righteous”, in the Torah?

          Clearly, imo, God is not if he is being sleeked enough to be setting up tests and then having the testee’s that pass the test kill the tester.

          That’s in your opinion, which is utterly separate from the probable opinions of those who wrote Deuteronomy. If you conflate your understanding of “righteous” with the best fits people have come up with to the Torah, you’ll royally mess things up.

          It is analogous to entrapment and those that don’t fall for the trap, offing the cop doing the trapping…that ain’t just, or justice.

          Who on earth would do the thing described in Deut 12:32–13:5, if [s]he knew the punishment was death? I really don’t understand what scenario you’re trying to set out—care to make it rather concrete? You might want to check out the First Things article The Trial of Jesus. An excerpt:

          The prophet described in Deuteronomy 13 begins by encouraging his listeners to go after and serve elohim acherim, which is usually translated in English as “other gods,” which is plausible. But the real evil lies in inviting people not to “walk after the Lord your God and fear him, and keep his commandments and obey his voice.” Keeping the commandments and obeying the voice that spoke at Sinai is the way in which the people will manifest that they have withstood the test and show that they love the Lord with all their heart and soul.

          In the gospels Jesus inveighs against the corruption and hypocrisy of those who follow the ritual but forget the commandments of the heart to do justice and show mercy. He is annoying, threatening, and destabilizing, but fully within the prophetic tradition of an Amos or an Isaiah. And, as far as the law goes”the “customs that Moses gave”—did not Jesus explicitly claim, “I have not come to change one iota of the law”?

          A close reading of all passages where Jesus engages with the law reveals a constant and tantalizing duality, which can lead to an explosive ambivalence in the perception of them. In Mark 2:27–28, for example, when the Pharisees question him, he answers, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath; so the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (The Trial of Jesus)

          The issue is one of apostasy. A literary plot device to fear God fearing folk into not considering jumping ship.

          There’s a grammatical ambiguity in my attempts to understand what you meant; I don’t think “fear” can be used as you did. Here are two options I came up with; feel free to suggest a third:

          IA′: The issue is one of apostasy. A literary plot device to fear scare God fearing folk into not considering jumping ship.

          IA″: The issue is one of apostasy. A literary plot device to instill fear of God fearing folk into not who won’t considering jumping ship.

          To IA″: People whose righteousness is [apparently] incorruptible are indeed to be feared by those whose righteousness has been compromised.

          To IA′: I don’t see what the big deal is, given that plenty of people today are in constant fear of losing their jobs and reputations for saying just one wrong thing. What’s worse about today is that oftentimes the actual codes they must not transgress are not written down and explained! The idea that “well, they aren’t killed so they can start over” isn’t necessarily true, as Jacques Ellul explains:

              We have to try to understand the meaning of this inhuman insanity. To scorn is to condemn the other person to complete and final sterility, to expect nothing more from him and to put him in such circumstances that he will never again have anything to give. It is to negate him in his possibilities, in his gifts, in the development of his experience. To scorn him is to rip his fingernails out by the roots so that they will never grow back again. The person who is physically maimed, or overwhelmed by mourning or hunger, can regain his strength, can live again as a person as long as he retains his honor and dignity, but to destroy the honor and dignity of a person is to cancel his future, to condemn him to sterility forever. In other words, to scorn is to put an end to the other person’s hope and to one’s hope for the other person, to hope for nothing more from him and also to stop his having any hope for himself. (Hope in Time of Abandonment, 47)

          We could also consult the literature on psychological suffering vs. physical suffering. I thought I read Freud saying that psychological suffering could be 100x as bad as physical suffering, but I can’t seem to find it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Chapter 13 is not about whether God is righteous or not.

          How is “God” separable from “righteous”, in the Torah?

          How is “God” separable from “omniscience” in the Torah? Is Chapter 13 about his omniscience?

          How is “God” separable from “omnibenevolence” in the Torah? Is Chapter 13 about his omnibenevolence?

          How is “God” separable from “perfection” in the Torah? Is Chapter 13 about his perfection?

          It’s a literary plot device in an attempt to stop desertion.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There’s a grammatical ambiguity in my attempts to understand what you meant; I don’t think “fear” can be used as you did. Here are two options I came up with; feel free to suggest a third:

          IA′: The issue is one of apostasy. A literary plot device to fear scare God fearing folk into not considering jumping ship.

          Nah…am good with…

          The issue is one of apostasy. A literary plot device to fear God fearing folk into not considering jumping ship.

          http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/fear

          But be a semantic pedant and swap out “fear” for “scare” if it better helps your reading ability with regard comprehension skills. I could give zero fucks either way.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It is analogous to entrapment and those that don’t fall for the trap, offing the cop doing the trapping…that ain’t just, or justice.

          You might want to check out the First Things article The Trial of Jesus. An excerpt:

          Another excerpt:

          Of course, it is not self-evident why God would want to test the people in the manner suggested by these verses. If they are transgressing, as they seemed regularly to do throughout the biblical narrative, there is nothing to test. And if they are actually following the ways of the Almighty and observing his commandments, why seek to entrap them?

          No it isn’t, that’s why others don’t interpret it that way.

          Nonetheless, Deuteronomy clearly indicates that God contemplates such a test. The prophet here is an agent of God, an instrument for testing Israel, which suggests a grave moral dilemma in putting this agent to death. After all, in fulfilling his agency, he was following what God permitted or intended for him. If he is acting in accordance with God’s scheme and empowered by God to give signs and wonders, then, unlike Joseph’s brothers, he is innocent. Why, then, must he die? Why does the test of Israel ”God’s trial of the nation ”implicate God’s demand for killing the innocent messenger of God? There have been attempts over the centuries, more or less plausible, to attach moral blameworthiness to him, but his agency, manifest in both the signs and wonders and his functional role in the hands of God, is undeniable. The dilemma persists.

          It’s obviously fuck all of the sort. This an interpretation out of many. If it clearly indicated a test, then theologians would not be contradictory. Ambiguity abounds.

          The prophet described in Deuteronomy 13 begins by encouraging his listeners to go after and serve elohim acherim , which is usually translated in English as “other gods,” which is plausible. But the real evil lies in inviting people not to “walk after the Lord your God and fear him, and keep his commandments and obey his voice.” Keeping the commandments and obeying the voice that spoke at Sinai is the way in which the people will manifest that they have withstood the test and show that they love the Lord with all their heart and soul.

          Not only plausible, but taken in context with the rest of the chapters theme, very probable.

          It makes sense: These are the commandments that the same text has instructed us neither to add to nor to subtract from ”with all the attendant problems between the ontological necessity of interpretation and the theological imperative of not tampering. From the perspective of his listeners, he must be considered as an evil that needs to be put away” and, from his perspective, he appears innocent because he is simply following God’s wishes.

          Well, no it doesn’t make sense when taken in context with the whole of chapter 13…but anyway, it is still not talking about what you want it to be. So pah!

        • … but anyway, it is still not talking about what you want it to be. So pah!

          Where’s the difference?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah, because it cannot possibly be the case that someone thinks [s]he is better worshiping the true YHWH, and tries to demonstrate it via miracle power and/or predictive power. It’s not like the referents to words can change … oh, fuck.

          I’m just taking the accepted interpretation of the text. And that doesn’t include a Luke Breuer expository. Show me one that supports your interpretation and we are good.

          https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy%2013%3A1-6&version=NASB

          Benson’s Commentary

          Deuteronomy 13:1. Moses, foreseeing how liable the Israelites, in after ages, would be to be deluded by false prophets, who, under pretence of divine revelations, or communications of divine power, while indeed they were assisted by no other than wicked and infernal spirits, might foretel some future events, or work some wondrous and unaccountable things as demonstrations of their false doctrine, and thereby persuade others to join in their idolatrous worship, here proceeds to show how such false pretenders to divine inspiration might be known, and lays down a law, according to which they were to be dealt with. If there arise among you — One of your own nation, for such might both be seduced, and afterward become seducers of others; a prophet — That is, a false prophet, one who falsely pretends to have received a divine message. Or a dreamer of dreams — One that pretends some god has revealed himself to him in visions or dreams. And giveth thee a sign — Foretels some future and wonderful events as a sure sign thereof; as the prophets of Jehovah were wont to do, 1 Samuel 10:2-7; 1 Kings 13:3. It must be observed that sign and wonder here signify the same thing, and comprehend all miracles whatsoever, whether the foretelling of something that is out of the reach of human knowledge, or the performing some work that exceeds human power.

          http://biblehub.com/commentaries/benson/deuteronomy/13.htm

        • Ignorant Amos

          Feel free to provide instances of power ⇒ goodness/​righteousness in the OT. If you can’t, your point is irrelevant.

          I’m not claiming that power ⇒ goodness/righteousness, I’m failing to understand why you continue repeating this nonsense. So relevance is moot.

          That said,…

          The Letters of Paul. The uses the noun dikaiosune [dikaiosuvnh] (righteousness), the adjective dikaios [divkaio”] (righteous), and the verb dikaio [dikaiovw] (to justify or to declare and treat as righteous) over one hundred times and his usage reflects a particular development from the use of sdq [q;d’x] in the Old Testament.
          God is righteous when he Acts according to the terms of the covenant he has established. Righteousness is God’s faithfulness as the Lord of the covenant. God Acts righteously when he performs saving deeds for his people and thereby in delivering them places them in a right relation to himself (see especially Isa. 51 and 61).The interchangeability of righteousness and salvation is seen in this verse: “I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel” ( Isa 46:13 ).

          https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/righteousness/

        • Ignorant Amos

          You’ve conflated two very different interpretations:

          (A) God is worthy of praise because he was more powerful than Pharaoh and the Egyptians.
          (B) God is worthy of praise because he destroyed the oppressors and liberated the oppressed.

          A close read helps us see (B):

          The question was to provide instances of power ⇒ goodness/​righteousness in the OT.

          Was the display of God’s power in Exodus an example of his power ⇒ goodness/​righteousness in the OT? Given…

          God Acts righteously when he performs saving deeds for his people and thereby in delivering them places them in a right relation to himself (see especially Isa. 51 and 61).

        • Ignorant Amos

          What is absolutely radical here is that a god would empower the underdogs.

          Not really, it’s a plot device in a made up story…we are back to angel pin point dancing again…like we never left it in the first place }8O)~

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well, except for Israel, which had a god which fought for the oppressed.

          Sometimes.

          In other words: what makes a god worthy of worship is not merely that it’s the god with the most power. In fact, to worship a god solely on that basis would be to celebrate oppression. Which is exactly the opposite of what the ancient Israelites were doing.

          Tell that to the Midianite virgins and babies….amongst others.

        • Pofarmer

          That argument is particularly blind and dumb, even considering who is involved.

        • Tell that to the Midianite virgins and babies….amongst others.

          And what do we say to all the aborted humans? Or do they not “count”?

        • Ignorant Amos

          WTF?

        • Paul B. Lot

          Right?

          Total dumbfuck, disanalogous redherring dipshittery.

          PS. Happy St. Pat’s!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Total dumbfuck, disanalogous redherring dipshittery.

          I think his boiler is bursting.

          PS. Happy St. Pat’s!

          Sláinte…though I don’t celebrate such divisive bullshit here. I know ya meant well.

        • Paul B. Lot

          though I don’t celebrate such divisive bullshit here. I know ya meant well.

          Oh damn.

          FWIW I *did* wonder if I might be skating on thin ice, but only because I’d heard it said before that native Irish people look down on the shallow/commercial/hedonistic nature of American festivities where we throw a bunch of food dye into rivers and as much Guinness as possible before passing out.

          It didn’t even occur to me to think about it that way, which now that I’m sober and have done some quick googling I’m assuming you’re talking about green vs. orange?

          I have some Irish heritage, but I’ve never really dug back into the history or politics (besides liking U2). I apologize for the insensitivity.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m assuming you’re talking about green vs. orange?

          Aye…Christian sectarian bigotry at its finest…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=13&v=RMyuinNsvTI

          Funny if it wasn’t true…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=13&v=RFJwaxinCFk

        • Ignorant Amos

          I apologize for the insensitivity.

          Don’t be daft pal.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Ig, just occurred to me: missed opportunity.

          Don’t be daft, punk.

        • That’s what I thought.

        • Kodie

          Luke Breuer being a pompous asshole again.

        • Pofarmer

          What do you mean “again”?

        • Kodie

          Since he has requested context, that was the second one I picked out since I started counting officially.

        • Pofarmer

          I mean it’s continuous and ongoing.

        • Kodie

          I also pointed out it’s just the general way of his being here. But it is also some of the things he says and how he says them and how often he says them, and how we are held hostage by him.

        • Michael Neville

          The correct word is “still”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What did you think?

          And what do we say to all the aborted humans? Or do they not “count”?

          When you say “all” the aborted babies, do you really mean “all” the aborted babies? Or just the purposeful human induced ones?

          Which ones do you not count?

          And explain why a woman having autonomy over her own reproduction rights is relevant to imaginary YHWH ordering the genocide of the Midianites, except for all virgin females, who can be kept as sex slaves. And how that makes your imaginary God worthy of worship, given the oppression of all those folk in the Bible that the Israelite’s under imaginary God’s instruction, oppressed?

        • Ignorant Amos

          You seem to have quite a lot of trouble reading the most basic of things. That could explain a lot …

          Spoooiiiinng!

          It’s not even a case of reading comprehension, something you seem to struggle with from time to time with too…it’s the various versions and the different ways they are interpreted. I’ve given you a load of different commentaries with different interpretations of the meaning…but none support your leftfield take.

        • I’ve given you a load of different commentaries with different interpretations of the meaning…but none support your leftfield take.

          That’s a very Jewish way to argue. (Jesus broke that mold by speaking on his own authority.) Is that the only way you know how to argue? If so, I will up the priority of getting Jewish commentary on the passage.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s a very Jewish way to argue. (Jesus broke that mold by speaking on his own authority.) Is that the only way you know how to argue?

          I’m arguing from an impartial observers position vis a vis your assertion.

          You are a Christian. Christian’s see it as I’ve pointed out and any commentary I’ve read backs that up. Get me one that doesn’t and that’ll be the end of it. All those Christian theologians and me, will be wrong.

          If so, I will up the priority of getting Jewish commentary on the passage.

          Do that. I’ve given you one already.

        • I’m arguing from an impartial observers position vis a vis your assertion.

          Haha, “impartial”. From what I’ve seen, nothing about you is impartial.

          You are a Christian. Christian’s see it as I’ve pointed out and any commentary I’ve read backs that up. Get me one that doesn’t and that’ll be the end of it. All those Christian theologians and me, will be wrong.

          That’s really weird reasoning. Why would the one automatically take precedence over the many?

          P.S. May I assume that you’ve failed to read any of my excerpts (maybe just one?) of The Trial of Jesus and that you haven’t read it (I’ve posted that link at least twice)?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m arguing from an impartial observers position vis a vis your assertion.

          Haha, “impartial”. From what I’ve seen, nothing about you is impartial.

          The key part here being the bolded bit.

          impartial:not prejudiced towards or against any particular side or party; fair; unbiased

          I have used the words of your fellow religionists, both Christian and Jew, against your assertion. I’ve also stated, more than once, that if you can produce a single referent that supports your fuckwittery, I’ll concede the point and walk away. I don’t know how much more impartial I could possibly get. Using unbiased sources in my argument is the height of impartiality.

          I’m guessing that you are struggling to find a commentary that supports your assertion, lest it would have been cited ages ago and this would be done and dusted?

          You are a Christian. Christian’s see it as I’ve pointed out and any commentary I’ve read backs that up. Get me one that doesn’t and that’ll be the end of it. All those Christian theologians and me, will be wrong.

          That’s really weird reasoning. Why would the one automatically take precedence over the many?

          So does that mean that you are conceding the point then?

          What I meant is, that with one commentary, you’ll have an interpretation that supports your conclusion. Therefore, as far as you are concerned, you can demonstrate you are not pulling this theory of yours out of yer arse, and by default, we must have got it wrong. So while I, and all those other sources, will still think you are wrong. I’ll concede that you have a valid hypothesis. That’s all.

          P.S. May I assume that you’ve failed to read any of my excerpts (maybe just one?) of The Trial of Jesus and that you haven’t read it (I’ve posted that link at least twice)?

          No, you may not. I read it, all of it, even the irrelevant bits…more than once. Like has been the case in the past, that citation doesn’t support you in the way you imagine it does. Without pasting a wall of text from it, I invite anyone taking an interest in this argument to read it and judge for themselves.

        • Ignorant Amos

          First, that’s chapters 29–30; we are dealing with [Jewish numbering:] chapter 13.

          i. Religious Observances: 1. Law of single sanctuary, 12:1-28‡ (burnt offerings, sacrifices [i.e. , peace-offerings, tithes, heave-offerings [first-fruits and other offerings from the produce of the soil], vows, free-will offerings, and firstlings, all to be offered at the central sanctuary).2. Laws against the worship of “other gods,” 12:29-31, xiii* .3. Sanctity of the laity, 14:1-21 (person not to be disfigured in mourning, 14:1-2 law of clean and unclean animals, 14:3-20 flesh of animals dying a natural death not to be eaten, 14:21).4. Laws tending to ameliorate the condition of the poor, 14:22-xv:18 (disposition of the charitable tithe, 14:22-29‡ relief secured to debtors every seventh year, 15:1-11† ‡ law of slavery, 15:12-18† ‡ ).5. Offerings and festivals (firstling males to be offered to Yhwh , 15:19-23‡ regulations respecting the observance of the three annual pilgrimages, 16:1-17‡ ).
          ii. The Office-Bearers of the Theocracy: 1. Judges to be appointed in every city, 16:18* and judgment to be impartial, 16:19,20.

          https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tje/d/deuteronomy.html

        • Ignorant Amos

          I never said they were an example of goodness. I’ve been repeatedly arguing that power ⇏ goodness is both what the Bible shows and what is actually true.

          And I keep telling you that it is not an argument I’m contesting, because it is irrelevant to my initial point that the Deuteronomy passage isn’t referring to what you’ve stated it is.

          As to the acts of power in the OT being gratuitous, that’s another discussion which I’m happy to get into after the main issue is dealt with.

          Perhaps.

        • And I keep telling you that it is not an argument I’m contesting, because it is irrelevant to my initial point that the Deuteronomy passage isn’t referring to what you’ve stated it is.

          In addition to my other response, I will add that YHWH never tells anyone to understand his character solely via his power. Instead, the closest you get is YHWH claiming that unlike other beings out there, he uses power in a way that is good. The mere display of arbitrary amounts of power is not evidence that the agent behind it all is YHWH.

        • ildi

          “Instead, the closest you get is YHWH claiming that unlike other beings out there, he uses power in a way that is good.”

          I guess YHYWYH is in denial about his fondness for smiting.

        • Yup, there sure is so much smiting in the OT, especially later on. Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel—they did so much smiting in YHWH’s name.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s an interesting apologetics.

          Yahweh never tells anyone anything….it’s a story in a book made up from other likeminded stories.

          But what you are saying is that in your opinion, all the demonstrations of power in the Buybull should not be construed as that from the claimant?

          What’s with the word power in bold text fetish?

        • IA: And I keep telling you that it is not an argument I’m contesting, because it is irrelevant to my initial point that the Deuteronomy passage isn’t referring to what you’ve stated it is.

          LB: In addition to my other response, I will add that YHWH never tells anyone to understand his character solely via his power. Instead, the closest you get is YHWH claiming that unlike other beings out there, he uses power in a way that is good. The mere display of arbitrary amounts of power is not evidence that the agent behind it all is YHWH.

          IA: That’s an interesting apologetics.

          Do you dislike with the idea that power ⇏ goodness?

          But what you are saying is that in your opinion, all the demonstrations of power in the Buybull should not be construed as that from the claimant?

          I cannot think of any instances where power ⇒ goodness.

          What’s with the word power in bold text fetish?

          To draw attention to the word, and to go meta: power draws attention to itself. I’ve also tried to use bold where I mean the term to possibly include coercion, but I’m pretty sure that I’ve not done that with perfect accuracy. I’ll try harder. There’s also the problem of lex talionis coercion vs. dominating coercion. Gotta figure that one out.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The trajectory one can draw through the entire OT has the NT within its continuation possibilities.

          Of course…ambiguity can do that. And that trajectory can also be drawn through the many other non-canonical Christian scriptures, right up to, and including the Book of Mormon. So what. Other Christian texts of the first centuries of Christianity nip it right off.

          It’s only if one is utterly irresponsible in understanding the historical trajectory of the OT—like you have been—that one can fail to see the trajectory isn’t anything like a constant value.

          Of course, because only you could possibly have the correct interpretation, you being so sophisticated and the deep meaning of scripture only having one interpretation, which happens to be the same one as you. As for those millions of fake uneducated Christians out there, they’ve no chance.

          And yet I’m in very good company with a number of theologians that reckon that you are the one taking the utterly irresponsible understanding of the historical trajectory of the OT with regard to early Christian beliefs–like you have been. Go-figure.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s also how the Israelites started:

          Nope. Not exactly. You present one hypothesis that is rejected by many other scholars.

          Citing Deuteronomy is not history.

          NOT MILITARY CONQUESTS FROM HAVE-NOTS MISFITS. [Ai, a] Canaanite city-state that Joshua and his army of Israelites are credited with laying waste . . . has been discovered in what is now the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. But when archaeologists date the destruction, they discover it occurred about 2200 B.C. They date the destruction of Jericho to 1500 B.C., and Hazor’s to about 1250 B.C. Clearly, these city-states were not destroyed at the same time; they range over nearly a thousand years. In fact, of the 31 sites the Bible says that Joshua conquered, few showed any signs of war.

          It was discovered that most of the large Canaanite towns that were supposed to have been destroyed by these Israelites were either not destroyed at all or destroyed by others.

          Excavations reveal that Hazor had a lower city of commoners, serfs and slaves, and an upper city with a king and wealthy elites.
          The entire Canaanite city-state system, including Hazor and Jericho, breaks down. Archaeology and ancient texts clearly show that it is the result of a long period of decline and upheaval that sweeps through Mesopotamia, the Aegean region and the Egyptian empire around 1200 B.C.

          About the origins of the ancient Israelites . . .
          The notion is that most of the early Israelites were originally Canaanites, displaced Canaanites.

          The Israelites were always in the land of Israel. They were natives, but they were different kinds of groups. They were basically the have-nots.

          Archaeology reveals that the Israelites were themselves originally Canaanites.

        • You present one hypothesis that is rejected by many other scholars.

          Oops:

          Gottwald proposed Israelites emerged as local Canaanite peasants sought to overthrow the corrupt regimes they lived in. (WP: Norman K. Gottwald)

          That looks rather like:

          Archaeology reveals that the Israelites were themselves originally Canaanites.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ohhps…you didn’t cite the Wiki and what you did cite didn’t refer to the Israelite’s emerging from the Canaanites and a link to an Amazon purchasing page is useless. You didn’t really believe I was going to buy a book on your recommendation, did ya?

          Now the Wiki of the author you cited looks more or less exactly like what I cited, but neither reflect the issue I was taking with your comment…

          Christianity was a powerless cult in it’s earliest forms, it had to appeal to the yearnings of other powerless groups with a special promise to get out of the starting blocks. Everything is not as it seems.

          That’s also how the Israelites started:

          “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:6–8)

          So your citing of both Deuteronomy and Norman K. Gottwald nowhere reflects the hypothesis that the Israelites emerged from the existing Canaanite culture. And your assertion that how the Israelites emerged is also the same as the Christians started, is very likely completely wrong. For a start, the difference is cultural versus religious reasons.

          You need to check out how the first Christians arose and who they were…it wasn’t man centric at one place and time in a place called Jerusalem in the Roman empire.

          We are led to conclude that the beginning of the Christian movement was not a response to any human individual at one time and location. Christianity was born in a thousand places, out of the fertile religious and philosophical soil of the time, expressing faith in an intermediary Son who was a channel to God, providing knowledge, love and salvation. It sprang up in many innovative minds like Paul’s, among independent communities and sects all over the empire, producing a variety of forms and doctrines. Some of it tapped into traditional Jewish Messiah expectation and apocalyptic sentiment, other expressions were tied to more Platonic ways of thinking. Greek mystery concepts also fed into the volatile mix. Many groups (though not all) adopted the term “Christ” for their divine figure, as well as the name “Jesus”, which in Hebrew has the meaning of “Savior”. Paul and the Jerusalem brotherhood around Peter and James were simply one strand of this broad salvation movement, although an important and ultimately very influential one. Later, in a mythmaking process of its own, the Jerusalem circle with Paul as its satellite was adopted as the originating cell of the whole Christian movement.

          http://jesuspuzzle.org/jhcjp.htm

        • Ohhps…you didn’t cite the Wiki and what you did cite didn’t refer to the Israelite’s emerging from the Canaanites and a link to an Amazon purchasing page is useless. You didn’t really believe I was going to buy a book on your recommendation, did ya?

          No, I expected you to be true to your nature—with some slight hope that you might be a bit better. You weren’t. You appear to be playing a mere gotcha game.

          So your citing of both Deuteronomy and Norman K. Gottwald nowhere reflects the hypothesis that the Israelites emerged from the existing Canaanite culture.

          That was not the purpose of my bringing those up. Instead, it was to argue that it is plausible to think that “Christianity was a powerless cult in it’s earliest forms” has great similarity to how the ancient Israelites started out.

          We are led to conclude that the beginning of the Christian movement was not a response to any human individual at one time and location. …

          We can go down that rabbit trail another time.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s central to the argument;

          Not any argument that I’m engaged in, which is simply your misuse of the Deuteronomy passage.

          … the claim is that if only God would make his existence obvious to the atheist, there would be increased probability of the atheist wanting to be in relationship with God. I say that does not necessarily flow, in precisely the same way that power ⇏ goodness. Furthermore you need to learn some logic: (A ⇒ B) ⇏ (B ⇒ A). So while God might bless the righteous and justice with power and wealth and wisdom, that does not make their power and wealth and wisdom evidence of their goodness. This is precisely the lesson that humans do not want to learn. We desperately want to see power, wealth, and/or wisdom as evidence of goodness. (At least, those of us who have them!) And yet, time and again history shows that any or all of those have been used for great evil.

          Which is not what I was challenging in my initial comment, so pah!

          You’ve completely gone off on one…here is my complaint again…

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/25_reasons_we_dont_live_in_a_world_with_a_god_part_6/#comment-3799616946

        • … your misuse of the Deuteronomy passage …

          I have no idea what you think that is. Evidence of God’s existence must include evidence of his goodness, else power is equally evidence of Satan as it is of God. Your original complaint used the weirdest language:

          IA: The OT is rife with examples of God’s power being used to demonstrate his veracity.

          LB: “Veracity”? That’s a weird way to talk about a moral agent.

          IA: The “veracity” I’m talking about, is the character’s use of power to demonstrate not only that it exists, but that it is superior to all the other pretender’s to such power.

          That’s indistinguishable from “might makes right”, from power ⇒ goodness. The being who is demonstrating his/​her/​its existence here could easily be Satan. When you decide who is ‘God’ by the metric you’ve provided, you end up worshiping Power. And thus, here’s how I continued the above conversation:

          LB: This is exactly the story of YHWH out-competing Pharaoh. What was demonstrated is that such out-competing does not promote goodness. power ⇏ goodness

          The story of Pharaoh and the Exodus does not tell us that the being who out-competed him is good. It just tells us that being is more powerful. That’s all! And so, it just doesn’t suffice:

          LB: And yet, Deuteronomy 13:1–5 commands the ancient Hebrews to execute anyone who uses power as evidence of God (or a different god).

          I have no idea what you think I got wrong, unless your purpose all along has been to equate ‘God’ = ‘Satan’ via removing goodness from being relevant and making power the only thing that matters. Perhaps you have a better explanation; if so I’m all ears.

        • Ignorant Amos

          … your misuse of the Deuteronomy passage …

          I have no idea what you think that is.

          Evidently…or being wilfully obtuse.

          Let me try one last time.

          And yet, Deuteronomy 13:1–5 commands the ancient Hebrews to execute anyone who uses power as evidence of God (or a different god).

          That statement is false. It’s false because that is NOT what the passage says. It’s not what it means. No reading of it could come to that conclusion. An interpretation of like you have asserted is illogical, because the prophets in the OT who subsequently did that, would require putting to death. The passage has been quote mined out of context with the remainder of chapter 13, which is about various whoever’s that tries leading people to worship FALSE gods, being put to death.

          Those particular verses are not about anyone using Gods powers as a means to anything. They are about nefarious individuals pretending to have insights they don’t have in order to fool folk into following them to idolotary.

          http://www.bible-studys.org/Bible%20Books/Deuteronomy/Deuteronomy%20Chapter%2013.html

          Evidence of God’s existence must include evidence of his goodness, else power is equally evidence of Satan as it is of God.

          You are getting away ahead of yourself. I don’t give a hoot about any goodness perceived in Gods actions. Satan wasn’t a bad ass either, so pah!

          It’s just a story. The alleged power given to the “true” prophets, or used by God, is not always used for “good”.

          But since you think it is important, try Stephen Law’s “Evil God Challenge”…. http://lawpapers.blogspot.co.uk/2009/06/evil-god-challenge-forthcoming-in.html

          Your original complaint used the weirdest language:…

          That wasn’t my original complaint, my original complaint is your erroneous use of an OT passage to make an argument that it doesn’t support, but then that’s typical Luke Breuer from bygone days, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

          “The OT is rife with examples of God’s power being used to demonstrate his veracity.”

          Is to bolster my complaint i.e. if prophets using power as evidence of God are to be put to death, then numerous prophets, including Moses, should have been put to death. That God, according to the story, gave prophets the very power they used, and used indeed to demonstrate that “might makes right” if you are on the side of the “true God” is a sidebar.

          That’s indistinguishable from “might makes right”, from power ⇒ goodness.

          That’s correct, but it isn’t an argument I’m defending on this occasion. But for some reason have preferred to focus on.

          The being who is demonstrating his/​her/​its existence here could easily be Satan.

          Or another god trying to give God bad press, or Stephen Law’s Evil God, or good God just pissed off and being a cunt for shits and giggles like OT God tends to be, or it is all just plagiarised bullshit from previous cultures and religions…or…or…Space Ponies.

          When you decide who is ‘God’ by the metric you’ve provided, you end up worshiping Power.

          I don’t decide what “God” is by any metric. I’m contesting your silly citation of a OT passage and calling it nonsense. I’m an igtheist, trying to work out what God is , is like trying to stitch a button onto a fart. What we can show from the texts is what God is not, and the God of the Bible is NOT always good by normal human standards, and those are the standards I’m using.

          And thus, here’s how I continued the above conversation:…

          The story of Pharaoh and the Exodus does not tell us that the being who out-competed him is good. It just tells us that being is more powerful. That’s all!

          I DON’T CARE! It’s a story in a book. It is irrelevant.

          To the Jews, God’s power equated to good…to some Christian’s God’s power equated to good…

          According to the exegesis above, Exod 9:13-16 unpacks God’s purpose in Pharaoh to reveal his power and manifest his covenant name. In v. 13, the Lord commissions Moses to go before Pharaoh and demand the release of his covenant people. Due to Pharaoh’s continued obstinacy, God intends to strike the Egyptian kingdom soon with several severe plagues that testify the Lord has no equal (9:14). Why, then, has Pharaoh remained this long, and not been swept off the face of the earth? According to 9:15, the Lord could have done so. On the other hand, the Lord caused him to stand in
          order to accomplish his sovereign purpose. Though Pharaoh was unmoved by the Lord’s demands, his rebellion served God’s ends, so that the earth might marvel at God’s power and know his covenant name (9:16).

          As part of God’s covenant people, mercifully grafted in to the Abrahamic promises by the cross-work of Jesus Christ, Christians should allow these verses to accomplish at least three objectives. (1) Allow the sovereign purposes of the Lord to bring about celebration, not merely speculation. Exod 15:6 teaches the people to sing, “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power; Your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.” (2) Allow God’s own passion to manifest his name in all the earth to be the foundation and drive for missions and evangelism. Unless the church’s passion is rooted
          in God’s, her attempts to win the lost will be misdirected and man-centered. (3) Allow the Lord’s faithful commitment to fight for the salvation of his elect to produce trust in the Lord within the hearts of believers. In Christ, there is only omnipotent grace working for them.

          And so, it just doesn’t suffice:

          LB: And yet, Deuteronomy 13:1–5 commands the ancient Hebrews to execute anyone who uses power as evidence of God (or a different god).

          You need to show me a relevance that this passage has, and that you know what it refers to…so far you are avoiding it.

          I have no idea what you think I got wrong, unless your purpose all along has been to equate ‘God’ = ‘Satan’ via removing goodness from being relevant and making power the only thing that matters. Perhaps you have a better explanation; if so I’m all ears.

          What you got wrong is that this whole chapter has got fuck all to do with God’s power or goodness. Neither power nor goodness is mentioned anywhere in the whole chapter.

          It is all about following false idol’s and what punishment should befall those dumb enough to cross Moses decree…they were to be put to death.

          Deuteronomy 13

          Verses 1-18: After the general prohibition of involvement in Canaanite worship (12:29-31), Moses discussed 3 ways in which the temptation to idolatry was likely to come to Israel:

          (1) Through a false prophet (verses 1-5);

          (2) Through a family member (verses 6-11); or

          (3) Through apostates in some Canaanite city (verses 12-18).

          Address my complaint, not the nonsense you’ve made up in your head….again.

        • Let me try one last time.

          Before I say much more, I would like your answers to these three questions, which seem obviously related to the topic of our conversation. In the meantime, you might compare & contrast your “pretending to have insights they don’t have” with “gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Before I say much more, I would like your answers to these three questions, which seem obviously related to the topic of our conversation.

          Answered at…. https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/25_reasons_we_dont_live_in_a_world_with_a_god_part_6/#comment-3804170745

          Disqus notifies me at sixes and sevens…apologies for any disarray in answering.

          In the meantime, you might compare & contrast your “pretending to have insights they don’t have” with “gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass”.

          Already done. I’ve given you commentary enough as to what theologians see it to mean.

          13:1 Not all persons claiming to speak for deity can be trusted. We must test them (cf. Deut. 18:20-22; Matthew 7; 24:24; 1 John 4:1-6; 2 Pet. 3:15-16).

          http://www.freebiblecommentary.org/old_testament_studies/VOL03OT/VOL03OT_13.html

          For someone so well read, you don’t appear to be all that well read on this one issue.

        • Disqus notifies me at sixes and sevens…apologies for any disarray in answering.

          Oh I’m happy to blame Disqus for quite a lot. They can’t even send email notifies if the reply is moderated and not authored by a mod. I can barely tolerate Disqus due to: (i) its threading; (ii) its per-thread email notification—flawed as it is; (iii) its well-styled block quotations.

          LB: In the meantime, you might compare & contrast your “pretending to have insights they don’t have” with “gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass”.

          IA: Already done. I’ve given you commentary enough as to what theologians see it to mean.

          13:1 Not all persons claiming to speak for deity can be trusted. We must test them (cf. Deut. 18:20-22; Matthew 7; 24:24; 1 John 4:1-6; 2 Pet. 3:15-16).

          http://www.freebiblecommentary.org/old_testament_studies/VOL03OT/VOL03OT_13.html

          For someone so well read, you don’t appear to be all that well read on this one issue.

          What do you mean by “pretending to have insights they don’t have”? Did you mean said “insights” to be 100% orthogonal to the underlined:

          “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ (Deuteronomy 13:1–2)

          ? Because the sign or wonder (prediction or power) isn’t pretend. It’s very real. What this means is that neither prediction nor power constitutes evidence of God. Which is what I said in the beginning:

          LB: And yet, Deuteronomy 13:1–5 commands the ancient Hebrews to execute anyone who uses power as evidence of God (or a different god).

          You seem to think I ought to have written:

          LB′: And yet, Deuteronomy 13:1–5 commands the ancient Hebrews to execute anyone who uses power as evidence of God (or a different god).

          But that is incorrect. And that is what The Oven of Akhnai so nicely. According to this handout, Maimonides himself references the verse immediately preceding Deuteronomy 13:1–5 wrt the Oven. Curiously enough, according to Jewish chapter divisions, Deuteronomy 12:32–13:5 becomes Deuteronomy 13:1–6. That probably makes more sense, because otherwise “Everything I command you that you shall be careful to do it. You shall neither add to it, nor subtract from it.” might be relativized by predictive power and/or miracle power.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Today, I claim we live in a similar time. Wealth, power, and wisdom are so disconnected from goodness that they are tempting as indicators of badness.

          Seems to me to be a myopic generalisation.

          The hope of the oppressed is that God will undermine their oppressors; the hope of the oppressors is that God does not exist.

          Except that a large number of the oppressors are godbots. What’s that all about?

          If we live in a similar time, as you claim, the promise is failing miserably for most.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That may be, but power itself is never to be understood as evidence of goodness. Humans cannot be trusted to distinguish between God’s use of power and Satan’s use of power, merely from the power aspect. Perhaps such distinguishing is logically impossible.

          Given that they are both imaginary, I hold no truck with either, but the humans that claim knowledge of such and have power, they’re the fuckers that need taken to task and dealt with.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “Veracity”? That’s a weird way to talk about a moral agent.

          What moral agent? I don’t accept any moral agent and your opinion is subjective. An assertion not in evidence. We are talking about an imaginary character in a story book.

          The “veracity” I’m talking about, is the character’s use of power to demonstrate not only that it exists, but that it is superior to all the other pretender’s to such power.

          There’s no power here:

          See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today? (Deuteronomy 4:5–8)

          This isn’t God being near in the sense of the Israelites having a lamp to rub and out pops the genie.

          Except that it is. Ten times the genie popped out of the lamp for Moses. Of course the hardening of the pharaohs heart in between times was just so God could continue to demonstrate how powerful he was.

          The power of God is in the understanding that if you don’t toe the line, there’ll be smoting. The Old Testament is full of it. Smoting of unruly Hebrews when they disobey. And smoting of the out-groups when the Hebrews were in good favour.

          It’s more like this:

          If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5–8)

          No it isn’t. The Epistle to James is pseudonymous. It’s a forgery, which means the author was lying. Anyway, you are trying to read a Christian text back into a Jewish one to corrupt it’s meaning.

          Now Christian’s have a fudged apologetic as to why the OT God was different to the God described in the NT, it’s called “Progressive Revelation”…but early Christians like Marcion were having none of it.

          The interwebs are full of Christian apologetics trying to square the circle between the two Gods. Some of the extremes gone to are downright disgusting, if not so ridiculous.

          http://www.broadcaster.org.uk/section2/biblegodviolence/biblegod1.html

        • We are talking about an imaginary character in a story book.

          Imaginary characters in story books are still moral agents.

          The “veracity” I’m talking about, is the character’s use of power to demonstrate not only that it exists, but that it is superior to all the other pretender’s to such power.

          This is exactly the story of YHWH out-competing Pharaoh. What was demonstrated is that such out-competing does not promote goodness. power ⇏ goodness

          Ten times the genie popped out of the lamp for Moses.

          That’s a terrible analogy; Moses never had a desire which he then manifested by activating his genie. Putting aside the terrible analogy, never was it established that power ⇒ goodness.

          Of course the hardening of the pharaohs heart in between times was just so God could continue to demonstrate how powerful he was.

          Yeah I tend not to have too much of a problem with that given that Pharaoh and many of the Egyptians participated in genocide against the Israelites, to prevent Moses’ birth. But back to the point, “how powerful” ⇏ “how good”.

          The power of God is in the understanding that if you don’t toe the line, there’ll be smoting. The Old Testament is full of it. Smoting of unruly Hebrews when they disobey. And smoting of the out-groups when the Hebrews were in good favour.

          Actually, the smiting greatly decreases over time, from the Flood to the captivities. What we see, time and again, is that power ⇏ goodness. The desire was that God’s shouting at Mt Sinai (Deut 5, especially v22) would become the whisper at Mt Horeb (1 Kings 19, especially vv11–13). You see a shift from compulsory communication to children to reasoning with adults. Children have to be shaped, sometimes in ways that are against their wills but sometimes in ways that are prior to their wills; but they also need to grow up. Or so claims the OT; in the West today it seems like many are being kept in perpetual childhood, with Christians being no exception (e.g. CT‘s When Are We Going to Grow Up? The Juvenilization of American Christianity, pdf).

          The Epistle to James is pseudonymous.

          That’s by no means established and unless you think you must claim this for your argument to go forward, it’s a distracting red herring meant to spread me so thinly that any point I have is forced to evaporate.

          Anyway, you are trying to read a Christian text back into a Jewish one to corrupt it’s meaning.

          Shall we consult some Jews on how much the book of James is considered “corrupting”? My point here was to explain what “whenever we call upon him” probably means in Deut 4:5–8. If you have an alternate suggestion, do please share it. Surely you don’t mean that the ancient Hebrews could call down fire and brimstone whenever they wanted. The key question is whether that phrase has to do more with power or more with goodness.

          Now Christian’s have a fudged apologetic as to why the OT God was different to the God described in the NT, it’s called “Progressive Revelation”…but early Christians like Marcion were having none of it.

          There is an obvious trajectory in the OT of God exercising less and less power, which is precisely what a healthy parenting relationship looks like. The goal is maturity, of each person knowing God so that they don’t have to force God on each other. Contrast this to the goal of immaturity of modern liberal democracy, visible by a completely and utter failure to try and change the situation characterized by Converse 1964. It is no mistake that where there are two Jews, there are three opinions.

          The interwebs are full of Christian apologetics trying to square the circle between the two Gods. Some of the extremes gone to are downright disgusting, if not so ridiculous.

          I’m sure there are. We could switch to someone who edited his Bible to make it palatable, and then look at the kind of beliefs he espoused:

              Later Jefferson wrote even more extravagantly to William Short, his private secretary, about the execution of Louis XVI (“the expunging of that officer”). The logic of his words has rightly been described as closer to Stalin, Mao Tse-tung and Pol Pot than to Washington, Hamilton and Burke.

          The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of the contest, and was ever such a prize won with so little innocent blood? My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause, but rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated. Were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than as it is now. (The Long Affair, 147)

          (A Free People’s Suicide, KL 766–72)

          That goes well beyond disgusting.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Imaginary characters in story books are still moral agents.

          Only if the imaginary stuff they are doing is in anyway moral.

          This is exactly the story of YHWH out-competing Pharaoh. What was demonstrated is that such out-competing does not promote goodness. power ⇏ goodness

          It’s you that is associating goodness to the nefarious biblical shenanigan’s, either pro or con. What God did with the Egyptian pharaoh was far from good. But OT God wasn’t about goodness, that’s the point. Even when God got the desired response from the pharaoh, he went and did a bit of heart hardening to extend the whole Egyptian nations suffering. Of course the whole saga is made up plagiarised tosh, but that takes nothing away from the moral intended and the fact that for two and a half millennia millions have followed the “moral entity” in the story as real.

          That’s a terrible analogy; Moses never had a desire which he then manifested by activating his genie. Putting aside the terrible analogy, never was it established that power ⇒ goodness.

          It was your analogy, shite as it is. Whatever Moses’ desire, his genie came out of the lamp, when there was really no call for it. Each time the genie was back in the lamp, it slipped out behind Moses’ back to undermine the work he’d done through the day. And again, I’m not, nor never have, associated power to being equal to, or greater than goodness. It’s you bag that doesn’t interest me. I know the Old Testament God is an imaginary cunt.

          That’s by no means established and unless you think you must claim this for your argument to go forward, it’s a distracting red herring meant to spread me so thinly that any point I have is forced to evaporate.

          It’s established well enough for me to disregard the nonsense. I’m not claiming anything for my argument to go forward. My argument is actually back up there a few comments, this is an irrelevant woo-woo tangent that is totally uninteresting.

          But hey, if any old made up nonsense can be cited as a source, where do you draw the line? And yes, the James passage is a red herring and nothing to do with the conversation on the meaning of Deuteronomy as intended by it’s author(s)…whoever they were.

          The point, that I was contending, is your erroneous interpretation of Deuteronomy 3:1-5 and it including Yahweh in it’s grouping about what is to happen to those who preach false gods. But rather than hold your hands up and admit that you were talking bubbles, the Luke Breuer show of multiple rabbit holes gets opened up.

        • Only if the imaginary stuff they are doing is in anyway moral.

          Actually, the condition is if they are doing anything in the dimension of morality. Evil characters are also moral agents. Computers often aren’t moral agents.

          It’s you that is associating goodness to the nefarious biblical shenanigan’s, either pro or con.

          Huh?

          It was your analogy, shite as it is.

          Huh?

          And again, I’m not, nor never have, associated power to being equal to, or greater than goodness.

          Category mistake. I’ve said that power ⇏ goodness. Not power ≠ goodness.

          But hey, if any old made up nonsense can be cited as a source, where do you draw the line?

          Depends on whether you’re talking about a character in said text.

          And yes, the James passage is a red herring and nothing to do with the conversation on the meaning of Deuteronomy as intended by it’s author(s)…whoever they were.

          Then feel free to indicate what you think is meant by “whenever we call upon him”, via 100% pure genuine “Jewish jazz”.

          The point, that I was contending, is your erroneous interpretation of Deuteronomy 3:1-5 and it including Yahweh in it’s grouping about what is to happen to those who preach false gods.

          You have never shown an instance where God’s power is used as evidence for his goodness. When all one sees is power, one cannot know on that basis alone whether it is God or Satan acting.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Actually, the condition is if they are doing anything in the dimension of morality. Evil characters are also moral agents. Computers often aren’t moral agents.

          Okay, but let’s not pretend you didn’t know what I was punting at.

          A moral agent is “a being who is capable of acting with reference to right and wrong.”

          Call me pedantic…Evil characters are more readily identified as immoral.

          Huh?

          Goodness wasn’t relevant, you associated it with power, which was also irrelevant to my point.

          Huh?

          You mentioned the genie and the lamp first.

          Category mistake. I’ve said that power ⇏ goodness. Not power ≠ goodness.

          Try reading what I wrote.

          I give zero fucks about your power vis a vis goodness Malarkey. It is a straw man that I’m not contesting one way or the other.

          Then feel free to indicate what you think is meant by “whenever we call upon him”, via 100% pure genuine “Jewish jazz”.

          Why? It has bugger all to do with your claim…

          And yet, Deuteronomy 13:1–5 commands the ancient Hebrews to execute anyone who uses power as evidence of God (or a different god).

          Which is wrong. The asininity in your comment is obvious. The passage doesn’t even mention power. It refers to false prophets making false prophetic statements to lead the believer away from Yahweh to a false god. Can we get back to this assertion you made and it being wrong? Rather than the wild goose chase I’ve been led on.

          You have never shown an instance where God’s power is used as evidence for his goodness.

          Because it isn’t an argument I’m making…and why would I?

          When all one sees is power, one cannot know on that basis alone whether it is God or Satan acting.

          Pssst…I don’t believe it’s neither of those imaginary entities acting. Nor is it relevant. Try and stay focused.

        • Sigh. Are we agreed on the fact that the overall topic here is “evidence of God” and I’ve claimed that “the exercise of power” does not constitute “evidence of God” per Deuteronomy 13:1–5? Furthermore, can we consider the following to be talking about “evidence of God”:

          See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today? (Deuteronomy 4:5–8)

          ? Furthermore, can we agree that one of the ways that “whenever we call upon him” can be understood is via the genie trope, whereby (i) I want something I cannot get; (ii) I rub a lamp; (iii) a genie pops out and grants the desire?

          Hopefully the above is obviously on-topic from your perspective.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sigh. Are we agreed on the fact that the overall topic here is “evidence of God”…

          Sigh…The “overall topic” has nothing to do with what I’m contesting in that particular comment where you cited Deuteronomy 13:1-5 in support of your argument erroneously.

          …and I’ve claimed that “the exercise of power” does not constitute “evidence of God” per Deuteronomy 13:1–5?

          But when you understand that Deuteronomy 13 has nothing to do with the “exercise of power” constituting “evidence of God”. Deuteronomy 13:1-5 is about false prophets pretending to know stuff and then using that to entice the Hebrews away from the God of Moses, Yahweh, to follow false gods. If anything, it is about prophets claiming special insight as evidence of other gods.

          Furthermore, can we consider the following to be talking about “evidence of God”:

          NO! Because it is not an argument I’m making, either for or against.

          I don’t know why this is so difficult. My complaint is simple. You have cited a chapter from Deuteronomy that does not support your claim. Until you demonstrate that it does and explain why, we are stuck where we are.

          ? Furthermore, can we agree that one of the ways that “whenever we call upon him” can be understood is via the genie trope, whereby (i) I want something I cannot get; (ii) I rub a lamp; (iii) a genie pops out and grants the desire?

          While that is still not relevant, I can agree that many Christians believe that to be the case. While many others do not…citing the “God is not vending machine apologetic” for the reason why fuck all happens no matter how hard one rubs the lamp.

          https://dailydependence.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/67-daily-dependence-god-is-not-a-vending-machine.jpg

          Hopefully the above is obviously on-topic from your perspective.

          When you demonstrate you understand the meaning of Deuteronomy 13 and why it is not applicable, it will be.

          It’s not like there is nothing out there to help you along. I’ve given you some commentaries to ponder…there are loads…here’s another…

          https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/jamieson-fausset-brown/deuteronomy/deuteronomy-13.html

        • Deuteronomy 13:1-5 is about false prophets pretending to know stuff and then using that to entice the Hebrews away from the God of Moses, Yahweh, to follow false gods.

          Incorrect:

          “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ (Deuteronomy 13:1–2)

          There is no such “pretending” in the passage. One of the sources you linked agrees with me:

          13:1, 2 “sign” It seems to me the word “sign” (BDB 16) in the Bible is used when talking about something that had been predicted and then fulfilled. …

          ▣ “or wonder” “Wonder” (BDB 65) seems to refer to a miraculous deed done in the presence of witnesses. It is often used in tandem with “signs.” (http://www.freebiblecommentary.org: DEUTERONOMY 13)

          There is no “pretending”—the prophet has the [empirical!] goods! The only possible “pretending” is if we construe your “insights” as “superior understanding of God to what is currently known”.

          If anything, it is about prophets claiming special insight as evidence of other gods.

          I would say it rather differently: it is about prophets claiming that their ability to predict or do miracles is reason to trust what they say about following “other gods”, which means among other things violating the preceding verse:

          “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. (Deuteronomy 12:32)

          My complaint is simple. You have cited a chapter from Deuteronomy that does not support your claim. Until you demonstrate that it does and explain why, we are stuck where we are.

          I can point to another random person who made the same connection:

          R. Eleazer, siding with Akhnai (apparently the owner of the oven, or a nickname for such, meaning “snake” in Aramaic), is the classic representation of the false prophet warned against in Deuteronomy 13. (Akhnai’s Oven)

          By the way, the point under contention in the story is hard to construe as “Let us go after other gods”:

          In the story, a new type of oven is brought before the Sanhedrin and the rabbis debate whether or not this oven is susceptible to ritual impurity. Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurcanus argues that the oven is ritually pure while the other rabbis, including the nasi Rabban Gamaliel, argue that the oven is impure. (WP: The Oven of Akhnai)

          There is also what I wrote in my other comment:

          LB: According to this handout, Maimonides himself references the verse immediately preceding Deuteronomy 13:1–5 wrt the Oven. Curiously enough, according to Jewish chapter divisions, Deuteronomy 12:32–13:5 becomes Deuteronomy 13:1–6. That probably makes more sense, because otherwise “Everything I command you that you shall be careful to do it. You shall neither add to it, nor subtract from it.” might be relativized by predictive power and/or miracle power.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ (Deuteronomy 13:1–2)

          There is no such “pretending” in the passage.

          Look, Luke…the world is full of charlatans that pretend to know shit they don’t. Psychics today employ all manner of convincing chicanery to con the gullible. Why do think things were any different back then?

          Someone with an understanding of the celestial bodies could impress.

          And that’s not even what the politics of the chapter was about.

          One of the sources you linked agrees with me:

          Dynamo can fly and walk on water…not really.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=53&v=u-c3p1d-Sb4

          There is no “pretending”—the prophet has the [empirical!] goods! The only possible “pretending” is if we construe your “insights” as “superior understanding of God to what is currently known”.

          This is getting painful. No prophet has ever had the empirical goods…they all pretend ffs.

        • Look, Luke…the world is full of charlatans that pretend to know shit they don’t.

          Agreed. Jesus predicted that would happen among those who claim to be his followers:

          “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:15–23)

          As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. (Matthew 24:3–5)

          The question is, how do we differentiate? It isn’t just charlatans we have to detect; some have the goods and yet are still evil. Competence ⇏ righteousness.

          Why do think things were any different back then?

          They would have had less history from which to learn. I suspect that makes rather a large difference.

          And that’s not even what the politics of the chapter was about.

          I’m not convinced you have a good grasp of what you think the politics of that chapter was about. But feel free to give it a shot; I ask you to use entirely your own words with no hyperlinks.

          Dynamo can fly and walk on water…not really.

          That’s peanuts; we could be living in a simulation and our simulators could get us to believe anything if we believe that power ⇒ righteousness. Or maybe the true laws of nature permit much more than we think and aliens could appear to violate the laws of nature. Those who believe Deut 12:32–13:5 as well as Mt 24:23–25 and Rev 13 will not be deceived. Others are in danger. Humans really do like power, it seems.

          LB: There is no “pretending”—the prophet has the [empirical!] goods! The only possible “pretending” is if we construe your “insights” as “superior understanding of God to what is currently known”.

          IA: This is getting painful. No prophet has ever had the empirical goods…they all pretend ffs.

          That may be what you believe, but the passage allows for the real thing:

          “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 12:32–13:5)

          Who’s not reading what’s actually there, again?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Shall we consult some Jews on how much the book of James is considered “corrupting”?

          Nope, because I’m talking about you using NT jazz to retcon the meaning of OT jazz to try an make it mean something it doesn’t.

          My point here was to explain what “whenever we call upon him” probably means in Deut 4:5–8.

          I don’t care, because I wasn’t talking about Deuteronomy 4:5-8 to begin with, that’s your shifting of the goalposts.

          If you have an alternate suggestion, do please share it.

          I’m sure there is any number of possibilities. Your probably, doesn’t mean necessarily.

          Surely you don’t mean that the ancient Hebrews could call down fire and brimstone whenever they wanted.

          Well, indirectly, that’s what they did. Yahweh is an imaginary character from an earlier time who was eventually promoted to the top spot in Judaism. The yarns attributed were for religio-political purposes. So when the message was this is what happens to those that don’t fall into line, a story was invented…or plagiarised from another culture, time, and embellished.

          But anyway, God was sought when needed…and answered apparently…

          “And Asa cried out to the LORD his God, and said, ‘LORD, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!’” 2 Chronicles 14:11

          “Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless.” Psalm 60:11

          The Psalms make a number of references to God being the helper who answers the call.

          Jephthah and the burnt offering of his daughter to God is particularly nasty.

          Then there is Elisha calling down a curse on the 42 boys for mocking his baldness. Two she-bears to tear the lads asunder is a bity extreme by anyone’s standards.

          The key question is whether that phrase has to do more with power or more with goodness.

          To you perhaps. I’ve nothing invested in the matter and it is not relevant to my initial complaint.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There is an obvious trajectory in the OT of God exercising less and less power, which is precisely what a healthy parenting relationship looks like. The goal is maturity, of each person knowing God so that they don’t have to force God on each other. Contrast this to the goal of immaturity of modern liberal democracy, visible by a completely and utter failure to try and change the situation characterized by Converse 1964. It is no mistake that where there are two Jews, there are three opinions.

          Oh Jaysus not this wank analogy again. Parents are not multi-Omni entities, but even a parent wouldn’t be as malicious and gratuitous as the OT God, and those that are and get caught, usually get punished. If God is no better than an abusive parent, then I agree…in principle.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m sure there are. We could switch to someone who edited his Bible to make it palatable, and then look at the kind of beliefs he espoused:

          Jefferson was a deist. Jefferson kept slaves, most of them children. Jefferson was a rapist.

          Are you going to counter the modern apologetics by fuckwit Christians in defending OT God by citing a statesman from 3 centuries ago who shoulda, probably did, know better, but didn’t have the gumption to do the right thing?

          I’m with ya on that score.

        • I’m just providing an interesting anecdotal falsification of the idea that editing the Bible to be just the parts one considers nice appears not to make one nicer and may just allow one to get away with more terribleness. It’s as weak as anecdotes are, but AFAIK I’m not pushing against anything as strong as a solid anecdote.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m just providing an interesting anecdotal falsification of the idea that editing the Bible to be just the parts one considers nice appears not to make one nicer and may just allow one to get away with more terribleness.

          I just don’t get the relevance or correlation to what I said.

          There are plenty of so-called pious people throughout history that make Jefferson look the proverbially innocent alter boy, and they didn’t even make a token attempt to hide where they got their inspiration from.

          I don’t think anyone needs to take a razor blade to a Bible and excise the offensive bits in order to marry it up with ones own sensibilities. Quicker to bin the whole thing altogether for what it is.

          Do you really believe terrible people need a revised Bible just to allow them to think they can get away with more terribleness? You need to take a look around you Luke.

          It’s as weak as anecdotes are, but AFAIK I’m not pushing against anything as strong as a solid anecdote.

          Okay. I just don’t see where it had anything to do with what we were discussing, that’s all. So anecdote for what?

        • Greg G.

          No it isn’t. The Epistle to James is pseudonymous. It’s a forgery, which means the author was lying. Anyway, you are trying to read a Christian text back into a Jewish one to corrupt it’s meaning.

          I think the Epistle of James was a response to the Epistle to the Galatians and that Epistle to the Romans was a response to the Epistle of James.

          James 2:8-11 appears to be refuting Galatians 5:14 and Romans 13:8-10 appears to be refuting James 2:8-11. All quote from Leviticus 19:18. James mentions two commandments about adultery and murder and Romans mentions them in the order James does, which is opposite the order in Exodus and Deuteronomy, and adds two more. James seems to have thought that Paul saying that if there was no need to follow the Law, he would be murdering and committing adultery, but Paul points out in Romans that love does no wrong to your neighbor so Leviticus 19:18 fulfills the law.

          James 2:17-26 is refuting Galatians 3 where Paul says that Abraham’s faith justified him. James argues that it was his works when he offered Isaac on the altar. Romans 4:1-12 argues that it was Abraham’s faith again. All three passages quote the Septuagint version of Genesis 15:6, all three agreeing with Genesis in the last two thirds but only Romans 4:3 and James 2:23 agree at the beginning. Paul wins the argument in Romans by pointing out that Genesis 15:6 says Abraham was justified before he was circumcised, which was before Aaron was even born.

          That James passage has seven words and phrases that are found nowhere else in the New Testament but Galatians, James, and Romans. James 1:22 and Romans 2:13 discuss hearers [ἀκροαταὶ] and doers [ποιηταὶ], the only places those two Greek words are used in the New Testament. James 1:22 also share “and not only[καὶ μὴ μόνον]” with Galatians 4:18, the only two places for that phrase.

          There are seven words and phrases from both Galatians and James that are found nowhere else in the New Testament. That might not be unusual but of the words and phrases found nowhere else but Romans and James, eight are in chapter 1 of James, thirteen in chapter 2, eight in chapters 3 and 4, and seven in James 5. Apparently, Paul was more impressed with James’ sue of the Greek language than James was with Paul.

        • Damien Priestly

          What selection bias?…I put in a good word for the Jains!! I’m an ex-Christian myself…so I know the downside of monotheism.

          But, I’m having a difficulty parsing paragraphs of semi-coherent pleading for atheists to change — like this …

          -> “…conceptions can be predictive and not just curve-fitting…”

          Ughh, spare us !! I stopped trying to understand…So I am going to leave it up to others to debate. But the offer stands open — any deity is free to check-in with humanity for a relationship at any time !! That way we don’t have to do the inward navel-gazing you recommend. above.

        • What selection bias?…I put in a good word for the Jains !! I’m an ex-Christian myself…so I know the downside of monotheism.

          Sufficient selection bias such that generalizing from your samples is fraught with hazards. Adding an extreme from the other side doesn’t all of a sudden make your sampling representative. This shows up in your inability to pick any peer-reviewed history text which supports your claim that “religion’s history has shown a net effect that is dangerous”. Were you to find such a text, I would look for peer reviews and citations which examine said claim of “net effect”. Maybe you’re right, but you’re not going to convince me with cherry-picked data.

          But, I’m having a difficulty parsing paragraphs of semi-coherent pleading for atheists to change, like this …

          -> “…conceptions can be predictive and not just curve-fitting…”

          I linked that text to my original comment, which explains:

          LB: This conflates curve-fitting explanation and predictive explanation. The former is ambiguous: it can be merely a way to make sense of extant perceptions. The latter requires that we extrapolate from here to more than just here. If gravity works like this on earth, maybe it works that way in the heavens as well. I find that a lot of Christianity in the West today is exclusively of the first type; it seems to operate shockingly well as a rationalization for divine hiddenness, for why God is not acting more than he seems to.

          If you cannot deal with the crucial difference between those two different kinds of explanation, then this whole discussion will be lost on you. Suffice it to say that Aristotle’s “I don’t need to go out in the world and check whether men have more teeth than women.” is an example of what I have termed ‘curve fitting’; modern science never would have happened if we had remained content with this kind of explanation.

          Any deity is free to check-in with humanity for a relationship at any time !! That way we don’t have to do the inward navel-gazing you recommend.

          Feel free to explain how God could non-manipulatively, non-coercively convince you that your understanding of what is good and right and beautiful could use some tweaking (some corrections, but mostly enhancement). More science and technology do not magically make humans treat each other better.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I’m an ex-Christian myself…so I know the downside of monotheism.

          careful, that’s leaving you wide-open to the “but did you ever reallytrulyseriouslyyouguys know the upside?” derail.

        • Doubting Thomas

          That doesn’t match what I’ve learned from how marriages can fail, it
          doesn’t match what I’ve learned about how friendships can shatter, and
          it doesn’t match how I’ve explored my own failures to relate well with
          others.

          Have you ever seen a marriage fail or a friendship shatter because one party didn’t know the other existed? In fact, your entire argument is based upon a relationship already being established which is assuming the argument.

        • The analogy is from individuals and the history of their relationships to multiple generations of humans and the history of their relationship with God. How did humans in 11th century Europe, for whom God’s existence was rarely a question, become humans in 21st century Europe, for whom God’s existence outside of subjectivity is increasingly dubious? One option is that the kind of growth in relationship which keeps it living and active died. In moral philosophy, the growth and development of the moral individual is ignored:

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

          We are no longer able to measure progress in exactly the domain of being “normed” by other moral agents. We have deliberately destroyed the tools to understand God making us “better” than we were before. (See the first two paragraphs of WP: After Virtue § Summary.) The only “better” which now exists is that of addiction: more of the same in ever increasing intensity. In other words, the consumerism of Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man.

          N.B. It is incumbent on me to ensure I am not just curve-fitting.

        • Doubting Thomas

          How did humans in 11th century Europe, for whom God’s existence was
          rarely a question, become humans in 21st century Europe, for whom God’s
          existence outside of subjectivity is increasingly dubious?

          Simple. They became less ignorant. You should try it.

        • Less ignorant in some areas, positively delusional in others. I’m pretty sure that the average human in 11th century Europe was less delusional about human nature than the average human in the 21st century West. We believe we’re awesome; they knew they weren’t. On average, I think I will take one of America’s top sociologists’ judgment over yours—seeing as the judgment is a sociological one:

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

          I’ll add a well-known French sociologist as well:

              Modern man is impervious to the preaching of the Gospel. That is connected with a number of sociological causes which I shall not recapitulate here. I shall emphasize one factor only. Man is said to have acquired a critical intellect, and for that reason he can no longer accept the simplistic message of the Bible as it had been proclaimed two thousand years ago. That is indeed one aspect of the diagnostic error, for we have in no way progressed to the stage of the critical intellect. Western man is still as naïve, as much a dupe, as ready to believe all the yarns as ever. Never has man gone along, to such a degree, with every propaganda. Never has he applied so little rational criticism to what is fed him by the mass media. (Hope in Time of Abandonment, 75)

          A fantastic example of this is the conflict thesis; it is rejected by scholars and yet 70% of 18–23-year-olds in the US believe it. I was just talking to an old boss of mine who is an atheist; he lamented that so many people seem to believe there is a necessary conflict (Religious Right included!).

        • Doubting Thomas

          Most people know that pigs don’t cure crazy or that people don’t rise from the dead or that virgins don’t give birth or that magic words don’t work. You’re not most people.

        • So … fuck real sociologists and let you be an amateur sociologist?

        • Doubting Thomas

          I fail to see where I said anything about sociologists. You’re just pissy because I’m not following your misdirection.

        • “They became less ignorant.” is a sociological claim.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Do you really think people aren’t less ignorant today than they were in the 11th century? Do you need a sociologist to tell you that?

        • I think people today know some things better but other things worse. The fact that the 2008 Obama campaign won two top advertising awards does not bode well for the “informed” status of very many Americans. Philip E. Converse probably could have predicted that from his 1964 The nature of belief systems in mass publics. Jacques Ellul definitely would have from his 1962 Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes. Is this widely publicized? No, because there is a new opium of the masses which serves nicely to keep them in their place. Just like religion used to do. 😀

          On average, I would guess that humans in the West have traded knowledge of human nature and humans in society for knowledge of the hard sciences. But there is also a concern about hyperspecialization, where people know more and more about less and less. The term ‘university’ is a combination of the terms ‘unity’ and ‘diversity’, but that is happening less and less. The derogatory phrase is “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Finally, there is this, again from sociologists:

              The presumption that one knows exactly what modernity is all about rests, in turn, on the deceptions of familiarity. An individual is generally ready to admit that he is ignorant of periods in the past or places on the other side of the globe. But he is much less likely to admit ignorance of his own period and his own place, especially if he is an intellectual. Everyone, of course, knows about his own society. Most of what he knows, however, is what Alfred Schutz has aptly called ‘recipe knowledge’—just enough to get him through his essential transactions in social life. Intellectuals have a particular variety of ‘recipe knowledge’; they know just enough to be able to get through their dealings with other intellectuals. There is a ‘recipe knowledge’ for dealing with modernity in intellectual circles: the individual must be able to reproduce a small number of stock phrases and interpretive schemes, to apply them in ‘analysis’ or ‘criticism’ of new things that come up in discussion, and thereby to authenticate his participation in what has been collectively defined as reality in these circles. Statistically speaking, the scientific validity of this intellectuals’ ‘recipe knowledge’ is roughly random. The only safe course is to ignore it as much as one can if (for better or for worse) one moves in intellectual circles. Put simply: one must, as far as possible, examine the problem afresh. (The Homeless Mind, 12)

        • Doubting Thomas

          I’m guessing the question “Why do people get frustrated trying to deal with my pedantic verbose bullshit?” has never crossed your mind.

        • I am constantly looking for how to communicate the same ideas with less text. In this case though, my bet is that you just don’t want to believe that intellectuals trade in “recipe knowledge”.

        • Doubting Thomas

          I am constantly looking for how to communicate the same ideas with less text.

          Well, keep at it. Maybe one of these days you’ll be successful. You could be like the “Rudy” of the Pedant U football team.

          “There’s not much time left and the game is on the line. Due to numerous injuries, coach is forced to send in Luke B for the final play. No one thinks it will work, but, as time expires, Luke writes something concise and coherent. The crowd goes wild!!!”

          Dream big.

        • Kodie

          Your bet is so fucking pompous. Why not actually land on earth and talk to the earthlings?

        • TheNuszAbides

          he’d have to forget that he’s Elect (or pretend that he isn’t). that can’t be simple for such an ego.

        • Ummm, you majored in sociology. What’s wrong with “recipe knowledge”? Do you think Peter Berger, Bridgitte Berger, and Hansfried Kellner, are just talking crap, that laypersons are better at talking about “what people believe” than experts in the sociology of knowledge? Am I only supposed to respect science when atheists tell me to, and then ignore it when they tell me that?

        • Kodie

          Wake the fuck up – nobody here gives a fuck what you believe or why you are deluded to believe it.

          You are a horrible person who drives away interesting posters.

        • Wake the fuck up – nobody here gives a fuck what you believe or why you are deluded to believe it.

          Apparently you also don’t give a fuck about what scientists say about matters relevant to the conversation.

          You are a horrible person who drives away interesting posters.

          Do you have a shred of evidence to back that up?

        • Kodie

          No, Luke, I don’t give a fuck about anything that grinds your gears here. Your presence here is killing the blog and driving interesting commenters away.

          Acknowledge how toxic you are.

        • No, Luke, I don’t give a fuck about anything that grinds your gears here.

          And yet you respond to me …

          Your presence here is killing the blog and driving interesting commenters away.

          “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

          Acknowledge how toxic you are.

          That depends on to whom. Who are your two best examples of “interesting posters”/​“interesting commenters”?

        • Kodie

          You surprised me by actually responding to me after so fucking long. I have been mocking you all the while and… nothing.

          I HATE YOU. I actually hate the fucking shit out of who you are.

          You are a liar who won’t respond to people unless you approve of their use to you. FUCKING SELFISH.

          Everyone else has to WITNESS how toxic you are, and you are OBLIVIOUS.

          I don’t have to name names. They are names! Every blog post you are in becomes about YOU! Why? Because you are a selfish and antisocial moron. You pretend your personality is not defective. You require “proof” from a post, so that you can deny that and blame everyone else. You’re doing that now. FUCK YOU.

          The effect you have on this blog is destructive and detriment. You are a horrible person who destroys blogs. Maybe you don’t mean to, but that’s nobody’s personal problem but yours. Seek help outside of the internet for your personality defects. You’re not modeling SHIT here. You are just a liar in denial and can’t cope in reality, and fuck up this blog for people who liked it.

          You are not allowed to ask for “proof”. Your effect is noticeable. LEAVE!!!!!

        • You surprised me by actually responding to me after so fucking long. I have been mocking you all the while and… nothing.

          Yes, I decided to give discussions with you another spin, to see where they might go. But can’t you make the mockery interesting?

          I HATE YOU. I actually hate the fucking shit out of who you are.

          Ok? And you spewing that hatred makes the world a better place?

          You are a liar

          I’ll apply @disqus_4rvHZwPMCR:disqus’s logic:

          PBL: Accusing someone of xyz, and then placing the burden on them to disprove it is absurd, dishonest behavior.

          who won’t respond to people unless you approve of their use to you. FUCKING SELFISH.

          That doesn’t appear to be true. Here’s what I wrote to you two years ago:

          K: Silly fool theist

          LB: Hey, if you’re going to apply the “idiot filter” to what I write, I’m just going to respond to other people. Your nick is unique enough that I can make a gmail filter to send those Disqus notifications immediately to the trash.

          However, if you would like to define that as “selfish”, I’ll use that meaning with you.

          Everyone else has to WITNESS how toxic you are, and you are OBLIVIOUS.

          Disqus has this neat User Blocking feature.

          Every blog post you are in becomes about YOU!

          Only when people like you start in with the baseless character assassination. I think Otto nailed it:

          O: I think many of us on CE have been treated poorly in our personal lives by religious people and religious authorities, and unfortunately that anger gets thrown around. I am just guessing at this though from what I have been able to glean from the comments, it would be and interesting topic to explore. I know frustrations I have had in my personal life with religion, where I have had to hold my tongue, will get released here at times. It is a safe space to respond to those frustrations.

          Because you are a selfish and antisocial moron. You pretend your personality is not defective.

          When [atheist] Ron Garret (his blog is Rondam Ramblings) first met me in person, he did note that I come across very differently IRL than online. That being said, I would associate “personality defect” more with those who feel compelled to tell random internet strangers that they hate them. But hey, maybe I’m just defective.

          You require “proof” from a post, so that you can deny that and blame everyone else.

          I do think that empirical claims ought to be supported by empirical evidence. I’m not the only one:

          PBL: Accusing someone of xyz, and then placing the burden on them to disprove it is absurd, dishonest behavior.

          The effect you have on this blog is destructive and detriment.

          Then ask Bob Seidensticker to ban me. Surely he agrees with you?

          You are just a liar in denial and can’t cope in reality …

          “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

          LEAVE!!!!!

          Disqus has this neat User Blocking feature.

        • Paul B. Lot

          I’ll apply [my understanding of]* Paul B. Lot’s logic

          * Correction.

        • K: You are a liar

          LB′: I’ll apply “my understanding of” @disqus_4rvHZwPMCR:disqus’s logic:

          PBL: Accusing someone of xyz, and then placing the burden on them to disprove it is absurd, dishonest behavior.

          What’s the difference, in this case? Here’s the substitution:

          PBL′: Accusing someone of “[being] a liar”, and then placing the burden on them to disprove it is absurd, dishonest behavior.

          Why is that not a valid substitution of “xyz“?

        • Kodie

          I DID ASK BOB TO CONTAIN YOU.

          You’re in complete denial that you cause any problems. You are enjoying your selfish stay here, so you don’t think there are any problems. The rest of us see others MISSING AND NO LONGER CONTRIBUTING BECAUSE YOU INSIST ON RUNNING YOUR SELFISH BULLSHIT HERE.

          You are in complete denial that that happens. You think you are someone you’re not. You think you are modeling behavior but you’re not. You think there are no problems but you are in complete denial. You keep responding to me with excuses why you couldn’t possibly be a problem. You’re not capable of looking at you from outside yourself and seeing that your toxic effect messes up many enjoyments of this blog. Get your ego the fuck out. What good is your religious belief if you have to lie to yourself?

        • Paul B. Lot

          You are in complete denial that that happens.

          No, I don’t think that’s true.

          I think he knows that that happens, and he doesn’t care.

          Because he’s here to “kill evil”.

          Because he’s doing “god’s work”.

          Because you “can” ignore him (nevermind that the blog owner has asked him to stop – he won’t until/unless *force* is threatened, because that’s the only thing Lukey boy the narcissist respects).

          Because mean things were done to him before.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know. I feel like there are a couple different kinds of people in the world – the kind who adapts to the rules and the kind who flouts the rules, and I might be like 80/20. I really don’t like to piss off the law, per se, so I just can even understand someone who calls themselves a Christian, you know, the most obedient and strict and conscientious and considerate persons on the face of the fucking earth ignoring signals that they are not welcome or adapting well by shrugging their shoulders and pretending you didn’t just say that. I couldn’t with a straight face just lie like that unless there was something disturbingly wrong with me.

        • ignoring signals that they are not welcome

          If I were considered truly unwelcome by everyone, everyone would ignore me or completely fail to respond rationally to my arguments. Recall what Susan and Paul B. Lot wrote:

          S: Let’s all stop talking about him. It’s what he wants. It seems to be what he wants most.

          +

          PBL: I didn’t read her as swearing off [addressing Luke/his positions at all].

          LB: Thank you, yes. It saddens me how incapable so many atheists seem to be at targeting only a person’s beliefs and not the person’s character.

          Now, I admit that I may have interpreted Susan’s words differently than she intended—I really do want people to stop it with the character assassination so we can have real substance to discuss. However, given how often people do that to me here—overwrite my own stated intention with their own—I thought that maybe doing it once in a blue moon would be ok. Anyhow, maybe you could try listening to Susan.

        • Kodie

          You’re not even a little bit humble enough to look at the problem from our perspective. Every blog post you inhabit becomes about Luke Breuer’s control over this blog. It’s fucked up. You’re fucked up. You deny every criticism and pretend you’re not annoying at all, while pretending you need to change and never fucking change.

          I listen to Susan, she is wise. I think she has a different approach than I do, but we’re all after the same thing. Get the fuck out, you bloviating goddamned asshole.

        • You’re not even a little bit humble enough to look at the problem from our perspective. Every blog post you inhabit becomes about Luke Breuer’s control over this blog.

          How am I controlling this blog? I’m not the moderator and I’m at the mercy of other people to continue conversations or leave them. You aren’t making any sense here, Kodie.

          You deny every criticism

          False.

          and pretend you’re not annoying at all,

          False.

          while pretending you need to change and never fucking change.

          False and false:

          O: I feel you and I have done a better job at communicating than we have in the past, I think both of us get credit for that. I know I have adjusted how I respond in an effort to facilitate that, and I feel you have too, at least that has been my impression.

          You’re really bad at this “saying true things” thing.

        • Kodie

          You’re a disgusting person in denial. Your Christianity has made you pretend you’re never at fault. Please get the fuck out of here. Do you need Bob to make it formal? Are you devoid of social cues?

        • Paul B. Lot

          If I were considered truly unwelcome by everyone, everyone would ignore me or completely fail to respond rationally to my arguments.

          [Citation Needed]

        • I DID ASK BOB TO CONTAIN YOU.

          Why did he say “no”? (or fail to respond)

          You’re in complete denial that you cause any problems.

          Nope, I’m actually happy to change, but I have to be given reasons to change. What I wrote recently still applies:

          LB: If I’m doing some bad thing, I generally need it to be called out concretely (with concise example, linked to context), sometimes I need multiple examples with the same label attached to them, and sometimes I cannot alter my behavior perfectly on one try. I endeavor to not require these crutches and to be able to alter my behavior to exactly what is required, virtually instantaneously, but it is difficult for me—apparently much more difficult than for most people.

          Do you not find that this is the case for people in general? I suppose that if they’re in your social group they can take vague accusations and figure out how you intend them, but I’m not in your social group. That means you gotta be more explicit. Is that so hard for you?

          [A] You are enjoying your selfish stay here, so [B] you don’t think there are any problems.

          [A] Frequently, I do not enjoy my stay (selfish or otherwise) on CE.
          [B] False; I am sure I have problems. See above.

          The rest of us see others MISSING AND NO LONGER CONTRIBUTING BECAUSE YOU INSIST ON RUNNING YOUR SELFISH BULLSHIT HERE.

          “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

          You are in complete denial that that happens.

          I just need empirical evidence. Is that so hard?

          You think you are someone you’re not.

          Uhhhh, what?

          You think you are modeling behavior but you’re not.

          Nope. I’m just being broken me.

          You’re not capable of looking at you from outside yourself and seeing that your toxic effect messes up many enjoyments of this blog.

          Enjoyments … like what?

          What good is your religious belief if you have to lie to yourself?

          I have no idea what you’re talking about.

        • Kodie

          Bob did say he would. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/03/more-sloppy-thinking-from-william-lane-craig-2/#comment-3833402096

          You’re not happy to change. You’re happy to blame everyone else why no one likes you.

        • Bob did say he would. http://www.patheos.com/blog

          The exchange, for the lazy:

          K: @BobSeidensticker:disqus Is Luke Breuer a thoughtful Christian or a lying fucking dumbass?

          BS: I don’t read his stuff enough to get past “bloviate” as a descriptor.

          K: As long as people are talking to him in a thread or two, can I suggest he be contained? He hasn’t come up in more recent threads than #7, but can I request if he starts coming into every thread, you ask him to contain his conversations (which become entirely irrelevant of topic)? I think things are ok if we just minimize the leakage. I think he’s useless, but apparently people still enjoy him here.

          BS: I’d like to see him contained as well. I’ll try to corral him.

          As you point out, people engaging with him is the problem. If they get something (a buzz? counter-apologetics practice? a workout on the speed bag?) out of it, I guess that keeps them coming back.

          Don’t worry @disqus_0FsPDLqpUy:disqus, once the ratio of interesting discussion to character assassination gets low enough, I’ll take a break from CE. I think last time the break was about one year?

          You’re not happy to change.

          Do you frequently delete others’ stated intentions and replace them with your own?

          You’re happy to blame everyone else why no one likes you.

          I don’t trust you to speak for every regular on CE; indeed that seems rather arrogant of you.

        • Kodie

          Nobody here gives a fuck whether you’re comfortable enough to stay. The discussion isn’t interesting to EVERYONE ELSE, especially as you’re so dishonest enough to block almost everyone. There is no other activity around this post while you’re camping in it, and it’s disgustingly boring to everyone who (1) can’t even get you to notice they’re alive, you selfish fuck, and (2) you’re in deep denial. Your posts are longwinded windbag denials of everything anyone ever says to you, so you can pretend to believe in god the devoted way you do. Why should we give a shit to support your beliefs? You can believe them without us, can’t you?

          CAN’T YOU??????

        • Ignorant Amos

          You surprised me by actually responding to me after so fucking long. I have been mocking you all the while and… nothing.

          That’s what happens when the pool gets so small…persona non grata suddenly become not that.

        • Kodie

          It’s terribly frustrating when you feel you have something to say that the person needs to hear, but they purposely block those kinds of messages so they can pretend they’re not bothering anyone.

        • Also, if this were true:

          … nobody here gives a fuck what you believe or why you are deluded to believe it.

          then there wouldn’t be the engagement required for this to be true:

          You are a horrible person who drives away interesting posters.

        • Kodie

          You absolutely suck up all the oxygen in this place. You don’t engage with people honestly, you don’t fucking care what 90% of the posters have to say to you, so you make this your selfish project. Nobody wants you here, really.

        • epeeist

          Especially when it so rarely has anything to do with the topic in hand.

        • TheNuszAbides

          he’s supposedly had a taste, in transitioning from YEC to OEC, but since everything outside the physical sciences is still blurry enough, he still finds plenty of rabbit-holes to double down on as rationale for clinging to theism. I’m perversely hoping that he and Lockett get into a deep confabulation about Demonz (preferably without scriptural references, though obviously that’s asking a lot).

        • Doubting Thomas

          I think the transition from young to old earth creationists counts as a mere whiff of reality, not a taste.

          Good news for Luke is that science will always have questions, and if you write in the Chopric style you can make any question sound like an answer in your favor if you try hard enough and use the prefix “meta” enough.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Spot.
          On.

        • Otto

          >>>”It is a nice story which excuses oneself from doing painful introspection, though!”

          Thanks for being completely dismissive of all the people, including myself, that did go through years of painful introspection before giving up Christianity. I guess that would get you off the hook for the painful introspection of trying to figure out why Christianity does not work for so many who tried though.

        • Thanks for being completely dismissive of all the people, including myself, that did go through years of painful introspection before giving up Christianity.

          Why are you treating something I wrote to @damienpriestly:disqus as applying to all people in all times in all situations?

          I guess that would get you off the hook for the painful introspection of trying to figure out why Christianity does not work for so many who tried though.

          Christianity barely works for me. I just think all the other options are terribly worse. Kind of like Churchill & democracy. One of the reasons I spend so much time talking to atheists is to see how it has failed them. God knows it would be beyond stupid to try to proselytize on CE. 😀

        • RichardSRussell

          “God knows” is kind of like “The Shadow knows”, in that both statements are about fictional characters.

        • Otto

          Your comment was general as if it applied to all times in all situations. I don’t see the problem.

          >>>”God knows it would be beyond stupid to try to proselytize on CE.”

          I agree and did not think you were proselytizing, and I am fine with people finding personal answers and personal betterment in their personal religion. I do have a problem when the insinuation is made that those who eschew that religion do so in willful ignorance or lack of effort as if it is a personal failing.

        • Your comment was general as if it applied to all times in all situations. I don’t see the problem.

          Adding all the qualifiers all the time would make my already long posts much worse—and yes, that’s possible.

          I do have a problem when the insinuation is made that those who eschew that religion do so in willful ignorance or lack of effort as if it is a personal failing.

          I almost never insinuate, and this wasn’t one of those times. Surely you know there are other ways to interpret what I wrote? Or must I spell them out?

        • Otto

          In this case I think the qualifiers would be rather important because otherwise the comment gives that impression.

          How else should I interpret that comment? You were responding to Damien putting the burden on God for the failure, and your comment put the burden on humans. My comment was pointing out how many, many humans have tried and shows we are not the problem for such a failure.

        • How else should I interpret that comment?

          Here’s the text in context:

          LB: If in fact God wants us to explore more of reality, deal more honestly with our failings, and work to have ever-deeper relationships with him/​each other/​creation/​ourselves, that would lead to a rather different Christianity than can be seen in much of the West (especially if you base a lot of your opinion off of nationwide news networks).

          DP: If God wants anybody to have a relationship with him, he is free to contact anybody at anytime, he knows exactly what it would take to get our attention…Burden is on him, not us.

          LB: Ahh, because humans cannot shut themselves off to deepening relationship. That doesn’t match what I’ve learned from how marriages can fail, it doesn’t match what I’ve learned about how friendships can shatter, and it doesn’t match how I’ve explored my own failures to relate well with others. It is a nice story which excuses oneself from doing painful introspection, though!

          The “It” in the bold (last quote) refers to the first sentence: “humans cannot shut themselves off to deepening relationship”. What I’m suggesting is that God’s ability to contact someone [in a non-coercive manner] depends on his/her openness to a deeper relationship with God, such that the person is willing to actively participate instead of sitting back like a coach potato watching TV. In OT language, the “heart” is the “seat of the understanding”, such that a “hardened heart” is a fixed & closed understanding of the world. On precisely that matter, one can lead a horse to water but there’s no forcing the horse to drink. To deny this, or suppose that God could appear nonetheless in a way which further’s God’s interests (first quote), is to set the theist up for a no-win scenario which is properly suspicious.

          You were responding to Damien putting the burden on God for the failure, and your comment put the burden on humans. My comment was pointing out how many, many humans have tried and shows we are not the problem for such a failure.

          Did you mean to assert the claim “humans cannot shut themselves off to deepening relationship”? If not, then the offensive bit does not apply to you. At this point in the argument, I hadn’t even placed the burden on humans! I had merely suggested that it could be placed in humans. If your response is to deny that possibility, then I will want to examine just what kind of relationships you’ve had in the past (from which you surely have extrapolated how God ought to interact with us—if he exists, of course). The idea that God would necessarily force himself on us is disturbing to me on multiple levels; I think it also doesn’t work rationally. I think it destroys the distinction between moral agents, between individuals.

        • Otto

          Is my friend ‘coercing me’ when he calls up to have lunch? I find this whole idea that humans are to be open to God (Yahweh) and if at the point they feel they have been open long enough. and God is a no-show, the correct answer is to just keep trying, and if we don’t keep trying the only correct answer is ‘we are a failure in the God/Human relationship’ to be absolutely absurd. It is nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy. The ‘no-win’ scenario is the one you and Christianity have set up. No one can ever prove they tried hard enough, therefore we lose every time. Unless it can be explained how a person can put in enough effort to where the Christian can admit the now atheist tried in good faith, I have no problem rejecting this whole idea as a farce.

          >>>” I had merely suggested that it could be placed in humans.”

          In any real world relationship I would agree with you. Husband/wife, brother/sister, friends; are all two way relationships. That is nothing like the God/human relationship I ever experienced. If you are going to coherently analogize all these as being similar, they need to be … similar.

        • Is my friend ‘coercing me’ when he calls up to have lunch?

          No. But if all you’re going to do is profess your self-righteousness to your friend and refuse to let him meaningfully question anything about what you think is the best kind of future is or how to optimally get there, your friend might be utterly wasting his time. That depends on whether the purpose is to chum around or actually try to head to a better place in a better way. I think God wants to do more than just chum around. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable belief.

          I find this whole idea that humans are to be open to God (Yahweh) and if at the point they feel they have been open long enough. and God is a no-show, the correct answer is to just keep trying, and if we don’t keep trying the only correct answer is ‘we are a failure in the God/Human relationship’ absolutely absurd.

          But have humans made themselves open to God long enough, profoundly enough? We have a problem here, between specific individuals and society at large. Let me describe society at large: in my failure to socialize well with most other humans up to my early 20s, I was taught that it was 100% my fault. Society was righteous and I was evil—or at least incompetent. So it’s completely acceptable for society to communicate that message to individuals, but simultaneously it is open to God challenging it? I think not. I think we humans have told God to go fuck himself for much of our existence, but especially starting in the ninth century when certainty of knowledge started to be preferred over against healthy relationship. (I’m drawing on Ellen T. Charry’s arguments in But Is It All True?, but there is also plenty in Colin E. Gunton’s The One, the Three and the Many. The common theme is Christians fucking up, not secularists or atheists or anyone else.)

          Now, I’ve said elsewhere that God values the individual. So what happens if society at large is so hard of heart that it will weakly praise the 1999 NATO bombing of a Serbian news station while harshly condemning the 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting? How ought God respect the individual while finding society utterly closed off? I think there are options, but they involve realizing how your own identity was formed by evil and repenting of that. Once you start repenting (changing), you get increasingly bombarded with mental stones meant to obliterate that which is different from society. A society in which conformity is paramount actively harms one’s ability to do this. Assuming you can, the next step is to grapple with Isaiah 6 and Jeremiah 12, which talk about (i) the stubbornness of society in its evil; (ii) the extreme demands on you—”If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, / how will you compete with horses? / And if in a safe land you are so trusting, / what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?”.

          I fully get that the above requirement of the individual seems unfair. And yet, that’s precisely what society required of me in order to not be squeezed into its mold. We fall all over ourselves with regard to our Better Angels while we are better at Disciplining and Punishing than any previous humans, better at The Formation of Men’s Attitudes—now with the ability to do that with few understanding it. What I’m saying God requires of us is only epsilon more than what society requires us in order to challenge it.

          I’m going to stop here and see if you agree with me so far but still think that overall, your point remains valid. There is much to say on how God might help us push toward a better future, which I would say is one of the major ways one can be in relationship with him.

          The ‘no-win’ scenario is the one you and Christianity have set up.

          I’ve seen exactly one person suggest what I’m suggesting here: Jacques Ellul in Hope in Time of Abandonment. He places all (or almost all—I forget) of the burden on Christians to fix their fuck-up, not non-Christians. Almost every other Christian I’ve encountered places most of the blame outside of themselves, following the pattern of Adam & Eve and rejecting Jesus’ claim that bondage comes from within. But I can still see you complaining about the strategy in Deut 4:5–8.

          O: Did you mean to assert the claim “humans cannot shut themselves off to deepening relationship”? If not, then the offensive bit does not apply to you. At this point in the argument, I hadn’t even placed the burden on humans! I had merely suggested that it could be placed in humans.

          O: In any real world relationship I would agree with you. Husband/wife, brother/sister, friends; are all two way relationships. That is nothing like the God/human relationship I ever experienced. If you are going to coherently analogize all these as being similar, they need to be … similar.

          So is your answer “yes” or “no” to my question? Perhaps you think that while humans could close themselves off from deepening relationship with other humans, it is logically impossible for humans to do that with God?

        • Kodie

          I think God wants to do more than just chum around. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable belief.

          It’s so fucking unreasonable.

        • Do please explain.

        • Kodie

          I DON”T FUCKING HAVE TO.

          You are a CHORE. You are a terrible person. Nobody needs this shit.

        • Otto

          >>>”No. But if all you’re going to do is profess your self-righteousness to your friend and refuse to let him meaningfully question anything about what you think is the best kind of future is or how to optimally get there, your friend might be utterly wasting his time.”

          That has exactly nothing to do with my point.

          >>>”I think God wants to do more than just chum around. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable belief.”

          The onus is on him to show that he wants to do anything. For some reason the only information about God comes from other people. That makes him lazy or non-existent, either way it is not a ‘me’ problem.

          >>>”But have humans made themselves open to God long enough, profoundly enough?”

          I already answered this, until you can tell me what ‘enough’ is I have no reason to worry about it.

          >>>”I’m going to stop here and see if you agree with me so far but still think that overall, your point remains valid.”

          I appreciate that.

          >>>”There is much to say on how God might help us push toward a better future, which I would say is one of the major ways one can be in relationship with him.”

          He could start by making himself known to such an extent that people would stop squabbling over him and his likes and dislikes. While I don’t see religion as THE problem of the world, it is most certainly baggage, at least until a coherent way of dealing with this problem can be found. God, could help us find it; he doesn’t, so either he doesn’t want to or he doesn’t exist.

          >>>”He places all (or almost all—I forget) of the burden on Christians to fix their fuck-up, not non-Christians.”

          Good for him, and I mean that very sincerely, and good for you for pointing that out and attempting to be self-aware when it comes to your religion. BTW, I do agree that bondage comes often from within. We build our own prisons. My college professor had a cartoon that dealt with that concept on his door, I have never forgotten it and I wish I could find it.

          >>>”So is your answer “yes” or “no” to my question?”

          My answer is ‘yes’ that people can, and very, very often do shut themselves off from their interpersonal relationships. If you are saying people do that with some external God; I have no personal reason to believe that because there has to actually be a relationship to shut ourselves off from. (In this discussion you seem to be fluctuating from the individual to the group haphazardly as it benefits your point. I can’t control or have power over the group. I can only deal with the situation as I see it.)

          Do we shut ourselves off from trying to discover personal truths? Yep, I see that all the time. I do that myself, though I try to fight against it. I see a whole lot of people that really don’t try and fight that, and it does not seem to discriminate based on religious conviction, or lack thereof.

        • Sorry for the length, but I’m short on time.

          O: Is my friend ‘coercing me’ when he calls up to have lunch?

          LB: No. But if all you’re going to do is profess your self-righteousness to your friend and refuse to let him meaningfully question anything about what you think is the best kind of future is or how to optimally get there, your friend might be utterly wasting his time.

          O: That has exactly nothing to do with my point.

          If God were to try interacting with you and you were to utterly close yourself to him either correcting your ideas of what is good/​right/​beautiful or enhancing them (Christians tend to forget this second category), he would not accomplish what I say is are some of his central purposes: (i) to enhance us; (ii) to improve our relationships with others and creation; (iii) to push us to explore all of creation. Obliterating our individuality is not the way to accomplish these things.

          One of the fundamental tenets of the Enlightenment was autonomy: freedom from the norming influence of anyone and everyone. We can dig into Schneewind’s The Invention of Autonomy if you want. This shows up today as the claim that what is good/​right/​beautiful is 100% subjective, with zero correlate in “mind-independent reality”. This represents the most profound sundering of relationship between moral/​aesthetic agents possible. Any agent can pick and choose from other agents, cafeteria-style. Now, this isn’t actually what happens, but it is a dogma which we believe so strongly that our hearts are mostly 100% stone. I’m speaking according to the Hebrew understanding of “heart” which is “seat of the understanding”. It’s like we have stopped growing aside from an increase in instrumental knowledge and power.

          The onus is on him to show that he wants to do anything. For some reason the only information about God comes from other people. That makes him lazy or non-existent, either way it is not a ‘me’ problem.

          You are welcome to indicate what it would look like for him to do something which furthers his goals (at least as I’ve construed them—you’re welcome to counter-propose). I have thought through this myself, for there are many ways I have struggled and suffered where God has not shown up in the way I expected. But as far as I can tell, the best thing for the West right now is to see the empirical evidence which will flow from its stated belief that it does not need God. Sometimes when someone stubbornly wants something that’s bad for them, the only way to convince them it is bad is to give it to them. (Aquinas held this, per Bertrand Russell.) This is a longstanding pattern in the Bible. It also seems to be true to human psychology and sociology in my experience.

          BTW, there are precisely three situations in which I recall getting any cognitive content from a non-human source outside of me, and only one where it was something other than a shockingly strong affirmation of something I was already thinking. The single instance was that “learning is like diagonalizing a matrix”, which is more correctly stated as “learning is like eigenizing a matrix”. One of my goals in life is to make competence easier to attain, and I can see how this would be precisely aligned with God’s will. But I can also make plenty of progress just by processing what I believe God has already communicated. If and when I and others need additional wisdom which has not yet been granted to humans in some way, I do expect God to communicate it somehow. But there is so much where we are so fucked up that for the most part, I think there’s still a tremendous amount to learn from the OT and NT.

          Finally, I don’t think God wants individuals to advance too much beyond society; I don’t think he wants us to be able to leave others in the dust any more than we already do. If I’m right, this puts some limits on what he will do for the individual who refuses to go back to society and try to bring the whole group closer to God. We are our brother’s and sister’s keepers.

          LB: But have humans made themselves open to God long enough, profoundly enough?

          O: I already answered this, until you can tell me what ‘enough’ is I have no reason to worry about it.

          Roughly, have we learned enough of the lessons which we could have learned from the Bible and however else God has revealed himself to humanity, such that we need new wisdom? Or are we screwed up in ways so different from how targets of criticism in the OT and NT were screwed up so that we need new corrective prophecy? The Bible is already tremendously redundant, saying approximately the same thing from many different perspectives. At some point, Jesus’ “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” applies.

          By the way, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were closer to God than most self-identified Christians. I’m reminded of the parable of the two sons. If there’s a sufficiently non-retarded form of Christianity out there (I don’t claim to have it) you might just find it interesting, and that might be rather profound evidence. I’m rather skeptical of those who have not struggled significantly with their faith.

          He could start by making himself known to such an extent that people would stop squabbling over him and his likes and dislikes. While I don’t see religion as THE problem of the world, it is most certainly baggage, at least until a coherent way of dealing with this problem can be found. God, could help us find it; he doesn’t, so either he doesn’t want to or he doesn’t exist.

          I don’t think mere power would do it, and if autonomy is assumed (see above), that’s all God can do. Might does not make right! If I am wrong, I want to be damned to hell (and I’d get my wish, because I will have refused to bow to power). I make myself an enemy of anyone who claims or implies or presupposes that might makes right. Even the slightest tinge of that is an insidious infection, like putting on the One Ring for even a moment.

          To your desire to see unity, that’s actually supposed to be evidence that God sent Jesus: John 17:20–23. That there isn’t unity ought to be deeply troubling to Christians; I find it rarely is. (An exception would be Ephraim Radner; see his The End of the Church and A Brutal Unity.) Francis Schaeffer is a high-profile exception with his The Mark of the Christian, but Christians have mostly told him to go fuck himself, or they’ve appealed to the weakness of the flesh, which is the same as denying any measurable power of God to sanctify.

          My own answer is that each of us has a unique perspective on God and only by us all [sufficiently] joining each other’s perspectives, Power Rangers-style, will we be able to see God. (I’m going a bit further than “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”) Only by me recognizing something valuable in you which I do not myself have, does this work. And I don’t mean that I want to eat the food your culture cooks and appreciate the art it performs. I mean something fantastically deeper, something which would blow the pathetic imagination of Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man out of the water. This process of recognizing deep—infinite—value in others requires coming to terms with my own limitations and helping them actualize that value while they help me actualize mine. Were this to happen on any interesting level, I think we’d see God. But fuck that, we want our precious autonomy because people imposing themselves on us in any way is anathema to “my identity”.

          BTW, I do agree that bondage comes often from within. We build our own prisons. My college professor had a cartoon that dealt with that concept on his door, I have never forgotten it and I wish I could find it.

          Oooh, any hints you can share which would help me find it would be great. Or you could email him if he’s alive and reachable.

          (In this discussion you seem to be fluctuating from the individual to the group haphazardly as it benefits your point. I can’t control or have power over the group. I can only deal with the situation as I see it.)

          That’s partly because I’m being taught that the individual is actually a community by my sociologist mentor and this matches perfectly with “It is from Marx that the sociology of knowledge derived its root proposition—that man’s consciousness is determined by his social being.[5]” (The Social Construction of Reality, 5–6) The book has 50,000 ‘citations’ and is ranked as the 5th most important sociological work of the 20th century. I’d be willing to bet a decent sum that those who study the development of personality and identity would generally agree. We are not as “individual” as we like to think. That all being said, perhaps I am fluctuating invalidly.

          Do we shut ourselves off from trying to discover personal truths? Yep, I see that all the time. I do that myself, though I try to fight against it. I see a whole lot of people that really don’t try and fight that, and it does not seem to discriminate based on religious conviction, or lack thereof.

          The Bible indicates rather clearly that the people who claim to know God go through phases where they are worse than the surrounding nations. My pastor said he heard from one of NASA’s flight psychologists (who ensures astronauts will be ok with each other for months at a time in a cramped space) that Christians tend to be some of the least self-aware people out there. This is of course not a representative sampling, nor a scientific study, but I find the expert testimony worth considering.

        • Paul B. Lot

          The onus is on him to show that he wants to do anything. For some reason the only information about God comes from other people. That makes him lazy or non-existent, either way it is not a ‘me’ problem.

          You are welcome to indicate what it would look like for him to do something which furthers his goals (at least as I’ve construed them—you’re welcome to counter-propose).

          Yes, @disqus_K3l83uMZuy:disqus , the burden is on you to tell Luke what you think it *would* look like if a) his Hypothetical Space Daddy existed in the first place, and b) the HSD wanted to interact with you in the manner in which Luke assumes it must wish to.

          That way, when you fail to accurately reproduce what Luke’s delusions about the HSD *would do were it real*, he can accuse you of rejecting a false Scotsman.

          It’s not Luke’s responsibility to articulate a position on why we should view [a lack of interaction] as evidence of [interaction].

          Nope, it’s your job to prove the negative.

        • My bad; I forgot that we’ve so fucked up language that even innocuous things (“You’re welcome to have a slice of pie!”) can be used with obligatory force. I meant to ask the question in a non-coercive, non-manipulative manner; I explained to @disqus_K3l83uMZuy:disqus who also took my language in a way I didn’t intend:

          O: The onus is on him to show that he wants to do anything. For some reason the only information about God comes from other people. That makes him lazy or non-existent, either way it is not a ‘me’ problem.

          LB: You are welcome to indicate what it would look like for him to do something which furthers his goals (at least as I’ve construed them—you’re welcome to counter-propose).

          O: No, you are putting words in my mouth. I can’t tell God what to do or what should be done. I can only say I have no reason or evidence to think I am in a relationship with him, my hypothetical is only a suggestion as to what could be done, but regardless I don’t see how it is my problem.

          LB: I don’t see how I’ve put words in your mouth; I’m inviting you to partake in imagining how God could act, not demanding it or saying your argument requires you to do so. What might get interesting is how imagining good things about another person (and then communicating them, for the other person to correct or accept) might be a way to deepen the relationship in a non-coercive, non-manipulative fashion.

          I have therefore made the following edit:

          LB′: You are welcome to† I invite you to indicate what it would look like for him to do something which furthers his goals (at least as I’ve construed them—you’re welcome to counter-propose).

          Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Paul.

        • Paul B. Lot

          My bad; I forgot that we’ve so fucked up language that even innocuous things

          Passive-aggressive non-apologies are among my favorite menu items on offer from the church of martyrdom.

          “We” didn’t fuck up language, you used it ineptly. It’s a poor workman as blames the tool.

          Edit:

          BTW, your edit does nothing to address the problem of burden of proof. You’re still asking Otto to do your work for you.

        • Passive-aggressive non-apologies are among my favorite menu items on offer from the church of martyrdom.

          I know, you just like being aggressive:

          PBL: Lol, you don’t understand. I would very much like to believe that you are actually upset. It gives me great joy.

          PBL: You’re a human shit stain, Luke. You, on a day to to day basis, make the world a worse place with your evil behavior.

          PBL: This is an infinitely worse string of characters than “human shit-stain”, Luke, and if you’re right that there’s a Hell to go to after you’re dead, I sincerely hope you have a ticket.

          Given you as an alternative, I’ll go with my version.

          “We” didn’t fuck up language, you used it ineptly. It’s a poor workman as blames the tool.

          There is zero obligatory sense to: “You are welcome to take a slice of pie!” It was more ambiguous in how I used it because the options for using non-manipulative, non-coercive language are diminishing—partially by becoming ambiguous. Do you really want to deny this? I’m going to stick with Ralph Waldo Emerson on this one:

          The corruption of man is followed by the corruption of language. (Nature, Ch. 4: Language)

          If that makes him or me “a poor workman”, so be it.

          BTW, your edit does nothing to address the problem of burden of proof. You’re still asking Otto to do your work for you.

          I’m inviting him to participate; this is how he responded:

          LB: I’m inviting you to partake in imagining how God could act, not demanding it or saying your argument requires you to do so.

          O: Fair enough…recently I went round and round with an apologist who claimed I was not justified to reject God unless I could say what God would ‘look’ like. I wasn’t sure if that was what you meant.

          For me I don’t find the way that Christianity attempts to imagine God as coherent. I don’t claim I know there is no God, but much of my atheism is certainly based on not seeing evidence where I feel I would expect to see it, i.e. God specific attributes not connected to human speculation.

          Given that I’m not talking to the PBL Police but to Otto, I’ll take his response over yours.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Given you as an alternative, I’ll go with my version.

          Why not just be a version of someone !me who is also less bad than you? Sounds like a great idea to me.

          There is zero obligatory sense to: “You are welcome to take a slice of pie!” It was more ambiguous in how I used it because the options for using non-manipulative, non-coercive language are diminishing—partially by becoming ambiguous. Do you really want to deny this?

          Did I ever say I did deny it dear? No, I didn’t. I merely pointed out that you should take responsibility for choosing imprecise words.

          I’m inviting him to participate; this is how he responded:

          That he was willing to do some of your work for you alters nothing. Otto’s a good sport, and I admire his equanimity greatly.

        • Why not just be a version of someone !me who is also less bad than you? Sounds like a great idea to me.

          “We love because he first loved us.”

          I merely pointed out that you should take responsibility for choosing imprecise words.

          You must hate natural language. Would you prefer to speak Lojban? I myself find that most people can tolerate a certain amount of ambiguity and in fact, that allows for the discussion to start out succinctly and only get more precise when it is necessary. This also happens to function well as a test of the other person’s understanding (errors can be revealing for how to best correct understanding) and of the other person’s intentions (persistent nitpicking in obviously unimportant areas indicates understanding is not the top priority). Indeed, I have found most humans despise the kind of precision you seem to adore, unless it is absolutely necessary for the task at hand.

          That he was willing to do some of your work for you alters nothing.

          That just makes it more clear that you have rather different intentions and desires and interests than Otto when it comes to this topic. It’s a good thing I said the words under discussion to him, and not to you. 🙂

        • Paul B. Lot

          most people can tolerate a certain amount of ambiguity

          To be sure. And, without taking the teeth/sting out of your later observations about my personality:

          It can *both* be the case that I love precision more than most *and* that you used words so imprecisely as to warrant correction.

          I have found most humans despise the kind of precision you seem to adore, unless it is absolutely necessary for the task at hand.

          As have I.

          It’s a good thing I said the words under discussion to him, and not to you. 🙂

          Sure, I just like to help a brother out from time to time.

        • It can *both* be the case that I love precision more than most *and* that you used words so imprecisely as to warrant correction.

          What if you have different demands of precision than the person I was talking to?

          LB: I have found most humans despise the kind of precision you seem to adore, unless it is absolutely necessary for the task at hand.

          PBL: As have I.

          Then why are you approximately as brutal as possible whenever I don’t match up to the kind of precision you seem to adore? That is, were you to be more brutal, I think you’d end up being a laughingstock. I’m really curious, because the brutality and insistence seem to waste so much time and energy. I’m learning to make the cost of it rapidly approach zero, btw—so if it’s super important to you that you continue as you were, go for it.

          LB: It’s a good thing I said the words under discussion to him, and not to you. 🙂

          PBL: Sure, I just like to help a brother out from time to time.

          “a brother” = Otto?

        • Paul B. Lot

          It can *both* be the case that I love precision more than most *and* that you used words so imprecisely as to warrant correction.

          What if you have different demands of precision than the person I was talking to?

          I don’t see how the question is relevant in this context.

          Then why are you approximately as brutal as possible

          Oh dear. See, this is a great example of why my dedication to precision is not always a bad thing!

          You seem to have read more into my “As have I.” than it meant. I agreed with you that most humans do not attempt the level of precision which I tend to favor even in daily life, let alone in a semi-serious exchange of ideas.

          Your use of “despise” and “adore” were unnecessarily dramatic and over-broad: but that’s your general stock in trade and I didn’t think your statement was sufficiently imprecise to warrant wrangling over, not-least because of your incessant bleating about my “nit-picks”! ;-D

          Again: I agree with your statement insofar as it indicates that I conduct myself fairly untypically, and in a manner which many people don’t particularly find entertaining.

          But, no: I accept the characterization as neither despicable nor brutal.

          I think you’d end up being a laughingstock

          But, my dear Luke, I’ve watched you submit yourself to being a laughingstock over and over. It has never seemed to do you any harm. Why, then, should I be scared of it?

        • PBL: It can *both* be the case that I love precision more than most *and* that you used words so imprecisely as to warrant correction.

          LB: What if you have different demands of precision than the person I was talking to?

          PBL: I don’t see how the question is relevant in this context.

          In that case, I don’t see your purpose in injecting yourself into a conversation I was having with someone else and suggesting I should speak differently, when what I was doing was working pretty well for that person. Were I to adopt your apparent standards of precision, I would be fantastically more irritating to that person. You don’t seem to be offering much of any useful advice. On the one issue where you were correct, I was able to easily fix the issue without your help.

          Your use of “despise” and “adore” were unnecessarily dramatic and over-broad

          For reference of other readers, apparently softer language should be used to describe:

          PBL: Lol, you don’t understand. I would very much like to believe that you are actually upset. It gives me great joy.

          PBL: I *ACTUALLY* THINK YOU ARE A BAD PERSON.

          PBL: You’re a human shit stain, Luke. You, on a day to to day basis, make the world a worse place with your evil behavior.

          I myself disagree; I think “despise” and “adore” are spot-on.

          But, no: I accept the characterization as neither despicable nor brutal.

          Of course not, otherwise you wouldn’t do it. Humans almost universally need to feel righteous in what they are doing—regardless of whether history will later judge it to be good, evil, or pathetic. This is a more general version of: “people who enjoy verbally abusing other people need a justification to continue” (follow-up).

        • Otto

          So when you are short on time your posts actually gets longer? 😉

          >>>”You are welcome to indicate what it would look like for him to do something which furthers his goals”

          No, you are putting words in my mouth. I can’t tell God what to do or what should be done. I can only say I have no reason or evidence to think I am in a relationship with him, my hypothetical is only a suggestion as to what could be done, but regardless I don’t see how it is my problem.

          >>>”Sometimes when someone stubbornly wants something that’s bad for them, the only way to convince them it is bad is to give it to them.”

          How can I tell that is actually what God is doing or if there is no God, they both look the same.

          >>>”I think there’s still a tremendous amount to learn from the OT and NT.”

          We can learn a lot from a Rorschach test.

          >>>”Finally, I don’t think God wants individuals to advance too much beyond society; I don’t think he wants us to be able to leave others in the dust any more than we already do.”

          That is too conveniently self fulfilling for my taste.

          >>>”Roughly, have we learned enough of the lessons which we could have learned from the Bible and however else God has revealed himself to humanity, such that we need new wisdom?”

          Feel free to get back to me when Christians can agree on what the lessons are and how they can be reliably accessed. I gave up on Christianity because it is to this point wholly unreliable.

          >>>”The Bible is already tremendously redundant, saying approximately the same thing from many different perspectives. At some point, Jesus’ “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” applies.”

          For saying ‘approximately the same thing’ Christians have a very difficult time agreeing what that is exactly.

          >>>”By the way, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were closer to God than most self-identified Christians.”

          Maybe what God wants are for people to be skeptics.

          >>>”I don’t think mere power would do it…”

          I don’t think it would be necessary, if God is wise beyond our measure I am sure he could figure it out sans a demonstration of mere power.

          >>>”My own answer is that each of us has a unique perspective on God and only by us all [sufficiently] joining each other’s perspectives, Power Rangers-style, will we be able to see God.”

          I think we are all united in some way and can be greater than the sum of our parts, I know this was something I considered before letting go of religion, I still think there is possibly a truth to this, I just think to get there we are going to have to let go of tribalism (religious and otherwise) though I don’t expect it to happen anytime soon, and maybe not at all.

        • So when you are short on time your posts actually gets longer? 😉

          Surely you’ve heard of Mark Twain and writing a shorter letter?

          O: The onus is on him to show that he wants to do anything. For some reason the only information about God comes from other people. That makes him lazy or non-existent, either way it is not a ‘me’ problem.

          LB: You are welcome to indicate what it would look like for him to do something which furthers his goals (at least as I’ve construed them—you’re welcome to counter-propose).

          O: No, you are putting words in my mouth. I can’t tell God what to do or what should be done. I can only say I have no reason or evidence to think I am in a relationship with him, my hypothetical is only a suggestion as to what could be done, but regardless I don’t see how it is my problem.

          I don’t see how I’ve put words in your mouth; I’m inviting you to partake in imagining how God could act, not demanding it or saying your argument requires you to do so. What might get interesting is how imagining good things about another person (and then communicating them, for the other person to correct or accept) might be a way to deepen the relationship in a non-coercive, non-manipulative fashion.

          How can I tell that is actually what God is doing or if there is no God, they both look the same.

          You would first have to have some sense of what God wants. There is also a problem with contemporary metaphysics denying the existence of any truly real agents … (All that exists are impersonal forces and every conceivable phenomenon can be reduced to them.)

          LB: I think there’s still a tremendous amount to learn from the OT and NT.

          O: We can learn a lot from a Rorschach test.

          Heh, I proposed the Bible as Rorschach test three years ago.

          LB: Finally, I don’t think God wants individuals to advance too much beyond society; I don’t think he wants us to be able to leave others in the dust any more than we already do.

          O: That is too conveniently self fulfilling for my taste.

          So if you were to design reality, you’d let some human-like agents just leave others in the dust? I mean, I get that it seems self-fulfilling, but doesn’t it also seem like a pretty good design strategy if egalitarianism is important?

          Feel free to get back to me when Christians can agree on what the lessons are and how they can be reliably accessed. I gave up on Christianity because it is to this point wholly unreliable.

          Fair enough. Although, I have to point out that the human sciences aren’t all that reliable either, in precisely the same way. So maybe the variability is in humans and not religion. This doesn’t get religion off the hook, because one can expect God to exert some sort of unifying force—as Jn 17:20–23 and 13:34–35 indicate.

          For saying ‘approximately the same thing’ Christians have a very difficult time agreeing what that is exactly.

          Do you think that’s more a matter of innocent desire to know the truth, or more a matter of the will to dominate and self-aggrandize? Just take a wild guess.

          Maybe what God wants are for people to be skeptics.

          That’s critical for (i)–(iii).

          I don’t think it would be necessary, if God is wise beyond our measure I am sure he could figure it out sans a demonstration of mere power.

          Not if we elevate autonomy to the ultimate good. (And I think we have.) Infinite wisdom does not allow one to circumvent logical impossibility.

          … I just think to get there we are going to have to let go of tribalism …

          I’m not sure that’s quite the right answer; there’s no reason why different groups of people can be better at some things than others, such that their culture, their way of doing things, is not something which needs to be dissipated into the undulating mass. There are negative aspects of ‘tribalism’ to be sure, but the idea that my tribe might actually be special isn’t necessarily wrong. The multiculturalism I’ve seen can be incredibly flattening; it’s really just cultural imperialism by letting the conquered keep the trappings. Difference is not evil unless we value part of the whole more than the rest.

        • Surely you’ve heard of Mark Twain and writing a shorter letter?

          Sure, we have, but who could imagine that your comments are actually edited and pruned?

        • You really don’t want to know how the sausage is made.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Although, I have to point out that the human sciences aren’t all that reliable either, in precisely the same way.

          Incorrect.

          http://chem.tufts.edu/answersinscience/relativityofwrong.htm

        • I’ve seen the relativity of wrong applied to the hard sciences; how do we apply it to the fact that the results of Converse 1964 have been denied or rationalized away for decades by political scientists? (Details at Electoral Democracy and Democracy for Realists.) How do we apply it to the fact that the Moynihan Report was largely ignored, to the highly probable detriment of blacks in America? How do we apply it to the fact that rational choice theory is increasingly pervading economics, sociology, and political science? All of that action I just described seems rather ‘religious’, in the sense of having an idea of human nature and how society should operate and using it to guide action, including scientific inquiry.

        • Paul B. Lot

          I’ve seen the relativity of wrong applied to the hard sciences

          Ah, I see. The confusion arose from your word choice – I will retroactively read “human sciences” as “humanities”.

          As for your “how do we….” questions: the short answer is “I don’t know”.

          The long answer is “I don’t know, but I have some reasons to believe we’ll figure it out eventually.”

        • Ah, I see. The confusion arose from your word choice – I will retroactively read “human sciences” as “humanities”.

          Wait, are you calling psychology, sociology, political science, and economics all ‘humanities’? I was setting those off from the other sciences. More specifically, I’m distinguishing the sciences which must work with remotely accurate models of human psychology and society from those which can ignore the terrific complexity, either completely, or via a radically simplifying formalism such as rational choice theory.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Wait, are you calling psychology, sociology, political science, and economics all ‘humanities’?

          No.

          I’m distinguishing the sciences which must work with remotely accurate models of human psychology and society from those which can ignore [them]

          That’s fine.

          It’s also irrelevant.

          Most non-believers/humanists I’ve come across don’t contrast the [imprecision, muddiness, and subjectivity] of [religious woowoo] with [the precision, clarity, and consensus] of…

          …[sociology].

          (nor psychology, political science, and economics)

          Unless @disqus_K3l83uMZuy:disqus is one such atheist, your reply was yet another meaningless non-sequitur.

        • O: Feel free to get back to me when Christians can agree on what the lessons are and how they can be reliably accessed. I gave up on Christianity because it is to this point wholly unreliable.

          LB: Fair enough. Although, I have to point out that the human sciences aren’t all that reliable either, in precisely the same way. So maybe the variability is in humans and not religion. This doesn’t get religion off the hook …

          PBL: Incorrect.

          [The Relativity of Wrong]

          LB: I’ve seen the relativity of wrong applied to the hard sciences; how do we apply it to the fact that the results of Converse 1964 have been denied or rationalized away for decades by political scientists? …

          PBL: Ah, I see. The confusion arose from your word choice – I will retroactively read “human sciences” as “humanities”.

          LB: Wait, are you calling psychology, sociology, political science, and economics all ‘humanities’?

          PBL: No.

          In that case, I have no idea why you decided to read “human sciences” as “humanities”. That seems like a much more egregious change than what I did:

          PBL: A “relationship” cannot “begin to exist” without there are two things.

          A “relationship” cannot “begin to exist” without there are being two things beings.

          LB′: I agree with the corrected modified version; I couldn’t make sense of the original.

          PBL: 1) You did well to correct your first, false, claim of correction. That [you cannot make sense of x] does not imply that [thing x be incorrect].
          2) I chose my words carefully: your modification from “thing” to “being” both adds a superfluous cognitive restraint and in-so-doing introduces error where none existed before.

          Most non-believers/humanists I’ve come across don’t contrast the [imprecision, muddiness, and subjectivity] of [religious woowoo] with [the precision, clarity, and consensus] of…

          …[sociology].

          (nor psychology, political science, and economics)

          LOL @ “precision, clarity, and consensus” given these active [Kuhnian] research paradigms in psychology. I’m meeting with an experienced sociologist on Friday; I can ask him whether he thinks that “precision, clarity, and consensus” well-describes sociology, and evidence in support of that statement. If your “precision, clarity, and consensus” is absolutely wrong, (i) the opinions of non-believers/​humanists is irrelevant; (ii) the comparison is apt. Especially when one notes that while the human sciences can restrict their domains to repeatable phenomena, religion cannot.

          Unless @disqus_K3l83uMZuy:disqus is one such atheist, your reply was yet another meaningless non-sequitur.

          Incorrect. Tracing the source of pluralism/​variability is quite relevant to such discussions. Furthermore, @disqus_K3l83uMZuy:disqus appears to think that my comment was acceptable in the stream of discussion:

          O: Feel free to get back to me when Christians can agree on what the lessons are and how they can be reliably accessed. I gave up on Christianity because it is to this point wholly unreliable.

          LB: Fair enough. Although, I have to point out that the human sciences aren’t all that reliable either, in precisely the same way. So maybe the variability is in humans and not religion. This doesn’t get religion off the hook …

          O: I don’t completely agree, though I can see the correlation. If the general public viewed religion the way they view the social sciences I think both the public and religion would be better off.

          I care much more about that than the dictates of the PBL Police. But thanks for the pokes and prods to make my thinking more precise, even if the only [immediate] beneficiary is me.

        • Paul B. Lot

          In that case, I have no idea why you decided to read “human sciences” as “humanities”.

          I’m not asking you to.

          That seems like a much more egregious change than what I did

          Of course it would seem that way to you, who is ever predisposed to notice or acknowledge their failings?

          LOL @ “precision, clarity, and consensus” given these active [Kuhnian] research paradigms in psychology. I’m meeting with an experienced sociologist on Friday; I can ask him whether he thinks that “precision, clarity, and consensus” well-describes sociology, and evidence in support of that statement. If your “precision, clarity, and consensus” is absolutely wrong, (i) the opinions of non-believers/​humanists is irrelevant; (ii) the comparison is apt.

          Would you believe me if I told you that I cannot wait for you to talk with him and report back?

          Especially when one notes that while the human sciences can restrict their domains to repeatable phenomena, religion cannot.

          I take leave to disagree with that assertion.

          Incorrect.

          Nope.

          I care much more about that…

          NB the differing terminology.

        • I’m not asking you to.

          Ahh, so it irritates you when someone† interprets your words in a way other than you intended, but you have no problem doing that to others†?

          † I’m fully aware that I might be getting picked out for special treatment and that you treat everyone else differently. So feel free to replace “someone” with “Luke Breuer” and “others” with “Luke Breuer” if you are prejudiced in this way. I would like to think you are impartial, though.

          … who is ever predisposed to notice or acknowledge their failings?

          If by “predisposed” you mean “at birth”, I have no idea. If by “predisposed” you mean “given their experiences to-date”, then I suspect many are thusly predisposed.

          Would you believe me if I told you that I cannot wait for you to talk with him and report back?

          My belief in your emotional disposition is irrelevant. I will report back. In the meantime, some history from a highly respected sociologist:

          Preface
          Sociology is a systematic attempt to see the social world as clearly as possible, to understand it without being swayed by one’s hopes and fears. This ideal of lucidity (one might even call it selfless lucidity) is intended by what Max Weber called the value-freeness of the social sciences. It is often a difficult and painful business. There are typically two ways of avoiding both the pain and the difficulty. One way is to segregate the process of sociological understanding from all questions of value to the point where the sociologist tries to fashion himself into an utterly detached observer, or, alternatively, adheres to his own values without any reference to his sociological insights. This is either dehumanizing (the individual as such, not just a particular intellectual activity of his, then becomes value-free), or it constitutes a surrender to irrationality (the individual holding on to his values in a realm of the mind that is inaccessible to reasonable argument). The other way, probably the simpler one, is to reject the ideal of value-free understanding, to declare it to be impossible, or undesirable, or both. Such rejection then permits the individual to interpret the social world in accordance with his own value preferences—in effect, to see the world as he would like to see it. It is this latter way of avoiding the tensions of sociological existence that is fashionable today. It transforms the discipline into an instrument of ideological propaganda, a transformation that constitutes the modest contribution of sociologists to the trahison des clercs of our time. (Facing Up to Modernity, vii)

          Peter Berger wrote that in 1977; it has 500 ‘citations’. BTW, I have notes from a previous meeting with said sociologist; I asked him for why sociology has a bad rep and his response was:

               1. sociology shows ugly problems and people don’t want to see
               2. lots of stupid ideology
               3. lots of people interested in abstractions

          I can ask for a clarification of the above (and any additional items) if you request.

          LB: Especially when one notes that while the human sciences can restrict their domains to repeatable phenomena, religion cannot.

          PBL: I take leave to disagree with that assertion.

          Do please explain. I’ve said exactly that to many atheists and you’re the first to object.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Ahh, so it irritates you when someone† interprets your words in a way other than you intended

          No, that’s not it at all. I mean: yes, it is irritating to be misunderstood, willfully or otherwise. (Obviously the former more so, though it probably shouldn’t be the case)

          It’s that I’m uninterested in wasting more of my life unpacking that.

          Had you said “social sciences” instead of “human science”, I would have probably understood your meaning from the get-go. I’m not sure why you chose the latter instead of the former, though I have some guesses, but I’m just not that curious.

          but you have no problem doing that to others†?

          Ah, but your loaded question is based, as so many of yours are, on a false premise.

          I will report back.

          Can’t wait! 🙂

        • Had you said “social sciences” instead of “human science”, I would have probably understood your meaning from the get-go. I’m not sure why you chose the latter instead of the former, though I have some guesses, but I’m just not that curious.

          I generally don’t understand psychology to be a “social science”. Also, I think I’ve seen the term “human sciences” be rather more restricted than WP: Human science indicates. But none of this explains why your interpretation was:

               (A) “human sciences”“humanities”

          instead of:

               (B) “human sciences”“social sciences”

          Even if “social sciences” excludes psychology, it seems a much closer match than “humanities”. Where “humanities” comes into play is with this:

          LB: Especially when one notes that while the human sciences can restrict their domains to repeatable phenomena, religion cannot.

          That is, I would claim the domain of the humanities includes more territory than the human sciences/​social sciences/​this:

          LB: More specifically, I’m distinguishing the sciences which must work with remotely accurate models of human psychology and society from those which can ignore the terrific complexity, either completely, or via a radically simplifying formalism such as rational choice theory.

          However, the humanities have a pretty terrible reputation these days, partly due to the Sokal hoax although I’d wager that’s more of an indicator than an influencer. I also wonder whether Harvard and the Making of the Unabomber may have something to do with it; in that very long 2000 Atlantic article, Alston Chase suggests that Ted Kaczynski drew much inspiration from his Harvard humanities curriculum. There is strong resonance with ideas that had flitted around in elite humanities departments for decades:

          “We have no illusions about the feasibility of creating a new, ideal form of society,” Kaczynski wrote. “Our goal is only to destroy the existing form of society.” But this movement does have a further goal. It is to protect “wild nature,” which is the opposite of technology. Admittedly, “eliminating industrial society” may have some “negative consequences,” but “well, you can’t eat your cake and have it too.” (Harvard and the Making of the Unabomber)

          I don’t want to condemn the problem statement—Marx got a lot of his diagnosis right IMO—but I do want to condemn much of the solution (e.g. radical revolution with major loss of life an acceptable cost and Vanguardism the way forward), as well as the hopelessness (because by that time, the excesses of Stalinism had become increasingly known and efforts in the West had floundered). I think there’s reason to believe that the humanities departments at our elite universities have recapitulated La Trahison des Clercs. (Berger mentions this in my excerpt.)

          If I’m right—if the amount of variation/​pluralism increases as one goes down this list:

               (1) mathematics
               (2) hard sciences
               (3) human sciences
               (4) social sciences
               (5) humanities
               (6) philosophy
               (7) religion

          —then the rot begins well before ‘religion’. I don’t think all variation/​pluralism is rot, but I think a lot of the current stuff is.

          Ah, but your loaded question is based, as so many of yours are, on a false premise.

          That just reminds me of:

          PBL: Accusing someone of xyz, and then placing the burden on them to disprove it is absurd, dishonest behavior.

          Here, “xyz” is in reference to the sheer number you point towards, with only one concrete example specified.

        • I’m going to provide extensive context for:

          PBL: Would you believe me if I told you that I cannot wait for you to talk with him and report back?

          Suffice it to say you may not like the answer.

          LB: But have humans made themselves open to God long enough, profoundly enough?

          O: I already answered this, until you can tell me what ‘enough’ is I have no reason to worry about it.

          LB: Roughly, have we learned enough of the lessons which we could have learned from the Bible and however else God has revealed himself to humanity, such that we need new wisdom? Or are we screwed up in ways so different from how targets of criticism in the OT and NT were screwed up so that we need new corrective prophecy? The Bible is already tremendously redundant, saying approximately the same thing from many different perspectives. At some point, Jesus’ “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” applies.

          O: Feel free to get back to me when Christians can agree on what the lessons are and how they can be reliably accessed. I gave up on Christianity because it is to this point wholly unreliable.

          LB: Fair enough. Although, I have to point out that the human sciences aren’t all that reliable either, in precisely the same way. So maybe the variability is in humans and not religion. This doesn’t get religion off the hook, because one can expect God to exert some sort of unifying force—as Jn 17:20–23 and 13:34–35 indicate.

          PBL: Incorrect.

          [Isaac Asimov: The Relativity of Wrong]

          LB: I’ve seen the relativity of wrong applied to the hard sciences; how do we apply it to the fact that the results of Converse 1964 have been denied or rationalized away for decades by political scientists? (Details at Electoral Democracy and Democracy for Realists.) How do we apply it to the fact that the Moynihan Report was largely ignored, to the highly probable detriment of blacks in America? How do we apply it to the fact that rational choice theory is increasingly pervading economics, sociology, and political science? All of that action I just described seems rather ‘religious’, in the sense of having an idea of human nature and how society should operate and using it to guide action, including scientific inquiry.

          PBL: Ah, I see. The confusion arose from your word choice – I will retroactively read “human sciences” as “humanities”.

          LB: [1] Wait, are you calling psychology, sociology, political science, and economics all ‘humanities’? I was setting those off from the other sciences. More specifically, [2] I’m distinguishing the sciences which must work with remotely accurate models of human psychology and society from those which can ignore the terrific complexity, either completely, or via a radically simplifying formalism such as rational choice theory.

          PBL: [1] No.

          [2] That’s fine.

          It’s also irrelevant.

          Most non-believers/humanists I’ve come across don’t contrast the [imprecision, muddiness, and subjectivity] of [religious woowoo] with [the precision, clarity, and consensus] of…

          …[sociology].

          (nor psychology, political science, and economics)

          So I spent four hours with my sociologist friend and I managed to sneak in a question about whether he would agree that:

               (A) religion is characterized by
                     “imprecision, muddiness, and subjectivity”
               (B) sociology is characterized by
                     “precision, clarity, and consensus”

          N.B. I didn’t include the term “woowoo” because you did not provide a definition for it. If you think that term is important, please give the kind of technical definition that you know a sociologist would appreciate.

          My friend, who has been a sociologist for decades, replied with … a derisive snort. But I got some details; there are at least four major schools of thought:

               (1) “it’s all structure”
                     • “diagram it out with network and no labels on nodes or edges”
               (2) “it’s only individuals”
                     • not so much in sociology because there wouldn’t
                       be a reason for them to be in sociology
               (3) “interpretive/​hermeneutic/​cultural”
               (4) “agency”
                     • free will of some sort
                     • accepted my small Δv model of free will, with caveats

          I asked whether the 30,000+ denominations in Protestantism might still provide “too much” of a jump—meaning from one level to the next:

          LB: If I’m right—if the amount of variation/​pluralism increases as one goes down this list:

               (1) mathematics
               (2) hard sciences
               (3) human sciences
               (4) social sciences
               (5) humanities
               (6) philosophy
               (7) religion

          —then the rot begins well before ‘religion’. I don’t think all variation/​pluralism is rot, but I think a lot of the current stuff is.

          The sociologist first scoffed at the idea that there isn’t incredible variation in mathematics and physics. But dismissing that for the time being, he didn’t see anything wrong with my hypothesis that variability would increase from (4) → (7) because of the increasingly disordered (because less sub-selected) subject matter of each domain, combined with the increasing … personal/​ideological/​political stake people have as one moves from (4) → (7).

          There’s another point on the 30,000+ denomination thing: different schools of thought in the social sciences generally don’t have to interact with each other, except when hiring new faculty. This provides a profound insulation which doesn’t exist in day-to-day life. I could pursue this matter further.

        • Otto

          >>>”I’m inviting you to partake in imagining how God could act, not demanding it or saying your argument requires you to do so.”

          Fair enough…recently I went round and round with an apologist who claimed I was not justified to reject God unless I could say what God would ‘look’ like. I wasn’t sure if that was what you meant.

          For me I don’t find the way that Christianity attempts to imagine God as coherent. I don’t claim I know there is no God, but much of my atheism is certainly based on not seeing evidence where I feel I would expect to see it, i.e. God specific attributes not connected to human speculation.

          >>>”What might get interesting is how imagining good things about another person (and then communicating them, for the other person to correct or accept) might be a way to deepen the relationship in a non-coercive, non-manipulative fashion.”

          Well until I am convinced there is another ‘person’ I really am not going to do that. Personally I find that as a path to deluding myself.

          >>>”There is also a problem with contemporary metaphysics denying the existence of any truly real agents … (All that exists are impersonal forces and every conceivable phenomenon can be reduced to them.)”

          I don’t think all are denying there could be such agents, only that to this point there is no reason to believe there are such agents. I find this to be a fine, but important, point.

          >>>”Heh, I proposed the Bible as Rorschach test three years ago.”

          Good on you, I really think this is the case and is why both positive and negative can be equally gleaned from it. If people know that when reading it, I can see the benefit, I don’t think most do though.

          >>>”I mean, I get that it seems self-fulfilling, but doesn’t it also seem like a pretty good design strategy if egalitarianism is important?

          I suppose it could be a good strategy, but until I can see the difference between there actually being a strategy and just the way things work out naturally, I have no reason to assume the former.

          >>>”Fair enough. Although, I have to point out that the human sciences aren’t all that reliable either, in precisely the same way.”

          I don’t completely agree, though I can see the correlation. If the general public viewed religion the way they view the social sciences I think both the public and religion would be better off.

          >>>”Do you think that’s more a matter of innocent desire to know the truth, or more a matter of the will to dominate and self-aggrandize? Just take a wild guess.”

          I think both are at play and one feeds off the other.

          >>>”Not if we elevate autonomy to the ultimate good. (And I think we have.) Infinite wisdom does not allow one to circumvent logical impossibility.”

          I don’t think we are going to agree here. You seem to be putting a constraint on God that we do not know exists. (I am not referring to the point of circumventing logic). Additionally, power had to be used quite a bit per the Christian narrative, so some power would seem to be OK given your reasoning.

          >>>”I’m not sure that’s quite the right answer; there’s no reason why different groups of people can be better at some things than others, such that their culture, their way of doing things, is not something which needs to be dissipated into the undulating mass.”

          I am not talking about erasing the things that make us different (I think that is one of our strengths), I am talking about hating each other over our differences.

        • I’m going to focus this comment on the following because I think it gets at the heart of the entire discussion (including my opening comment):

          O: The onus is on him to show that he wants to do anything. For some reason the only information about God comes from other people. That makes him lazy or non-existent, either way it is not a ‘me’ problem.

          LB: You are welcome to indicate what it would look like for him to do something which furthers his goals (at least as I’ve construed them—you’re welcome to counter-propose).

          O: No, you are putting words in my mouth. I can’t tell God what to do or what should be done. I can only say I have no reason or evidence to think I am in a relationship with him, my hypothetical is only a suggestion as to what could be done, but regardless I don’t see how it is my problem.

          LB: I don’t see how I’ve put words in your mouth; I’m inviting you to partake in imagining how God could act, not demanding it or saying your argument requires you to do so. What might get interesting is how imagining good things about another person (and then communicating them, for the other person to correct or accept) might be a way to deepen the relationship in a non-coercive, non-manipulative fashion.

          O: Fair enough…recently I went round and round with an apologist who claimed I was not justified to reject God unless I could say what God would ‘look’ like. I wasn’t sure if that was what you meant.

          My fundamental claim is that when I suggest that we have closed ourselves off to God, that we have made what is good/​beautiful/​right 100% subjective, we have done that to each other as well. We may not have done it quite as much to each other as to God, but I think it’s really close. Part of this is probably a psychological survival mechanism because Modernity excels at forming–​storming–​norming or what Foucault called Discipline and Punish. It is exemplified in a story I have told before:

          LB: You may or may not know that many autistic kids are predicted, by doctors, to certainly never pass a certain maturity level, to never want physical closeness with parents, etc. I had the distinct privilege of visiting a studio in Hollywood, CA, where a guy had a bunch of computers with software for creating animated videos and materials for creating dioramas. He had autistic kids come in and be creative however they saw fit. He did not decide what would be good for them, he discovered. He did not decide how to interact with them, he discovered. The results were mind-blowing: kids were learning to communicate more than their doctors said they ever would and one started hugging his mother when she was told that would never happen. I got to see a mother interviewed and it was a combination of extremely joyful and absolutely heartbreaking.

          In my experience, many humans go about their lives deciding, not discovering. They decide what is good for others, instead of discovering. (The Enlightenment agrees with me on this, and picked it out as a prime target.) I’m sure that the doctors of these autistic kids had the best of intentions and the best training available. They were, nevertheless, incompetent where it mattered the most. In the end, their intentions were 100% irrelevant when it came to the welfare of the autistic kids.

          One thing I love about this situation is that autistic kids constitutionally give the self-righteous the middle finger. The self-righteous can scream until they’re blue in the face that the autistic kid has to be formed/​normed/​stormed in order to be a proper cog in society. But ultimately, the self-righteous person has a pathetically small conception of what is ‘righteous’, what is glorious, what is excellent, what is beautiful, what is good. (The self-righteous person can get a lot of things right—the Pharisees did—and still have a small world [s]he tries to impose on others who were never designed to exist in that world.)

          If I’m right, then we—society—are being insanely cruel to at least some autistic children. To the extent that we don’t know it, I say we had all the requisite resources to find out and just didn’t want to because we were too attached to our small, pathetic, safe, comfortable existence. The last two adjectives only apply to a subset of humans—as has always been the case. And I think we do this terrible thing to people other than children; it’s just that the case right here—again, if things are as I’ve modeled—is nice and “pure”, in the sense that the phenomenon is salient.

          ———

          I wrote a boatload more on this topic, but I want to know if you find the above sufficiently interesting. I’m most fundamentally drawing a causal link: closing oneself to God leads to closing oneself to the Other, where the Other ultimately becomes any other human and once that happens, to oneself as well because we only really get to know ourselves through our interactions with others. In this claim, I can think of two different minimal ways to construe ‘God’:

          (I) God is some agent who is more than us and knows how to help/​lead us toward a bigger/​better existence.

          (II) God is some sort of more which we ourselves can grasp increasingly well.

          If (II), we’re like scientists examining that more with something like a microscope. Crucially, nothing that is unique to me—nothing that is not possessed or possessable by every other scientist in my subfield—is relevant to the examination. Only a narrow aspect of who I am enters into the investigation. On the other hand, if (I), we can both interrogate and be interrogated by. The Other can talk back and maybe require us to enhance our understanding of reality before we can make full sense of what is said. We might find that what we misunderstood, we misunderstood because of flaws within ourselves. Unlike (II), the whole person is involved in (I). On reflection, perhaps Martin Buber was trying to get at something like this dichotomy with his I and Thou.

          I’ll stop there. I know that (I)–(II) isn’t a complete partitioning; I only meant to get at the personal/​impersonal dichotomy. I also know that (I) isn’t necessarily the Jewish or Christian God; that would require the further specification of “infinitely more“, plus some other things.

        • Otto

          1) I can’t close myself off to something I don’t think exists. Soc 101; an option is not an option if the person is unaware of said option.

          2) I don’t buy the idea that if there is no external objective source of ‘good/​beautiful/​right 100%’, that therefore everything is just subjective and random. And hypothetically even if there was such a thing it would do us no benefit unless it could be demonstrated that such ‘objectivity’ could be accessed; short of that we are just mentally masturbating about the whole thing.

          >>>”If I’m right, then we—society—are being insanely cruel to at least some autistic children.”

          Yep, I agree. And I also agree that this is not just relegated to autistic children. We do this across the board, or allow it to be done. I don’t chalk it up to just ‘choice’ though. I think there is plenty of arrogance and ignorance that helps. With Stephan Hawking dying I think this quote I saw is apt….” The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

          I do find it interesting that the autistic child analogy you used could easily be an argument for there not being an objective ‘good/​beautiful/​right 100%’, each child was/is making their own decision as to what is good or right for them.

          >>>”I’m most fundamentally drawing a causal link: closing oneself to God leads to closing oneself to the Other”

          On the one hand I do find it interesting, I do think we close ourselves off to other people too often and bringing light to that is a positive idea. On the other hand ‘God’ is really just self-defined (subjective) and becomes problematic on that level. Additionally this hypothesis suffers from the same problem any God claim does, it is no more demonstrable than any other God hypothesis. Even if you are right, how do you convince the God believers that think God fits their definition? And not just for them but for everyone, and then use their definition to attempt to get compliance and gain power. The concept of God is a way to power for many, the problem and solution seem to be inexorably intertwined.

        • 1) I can’t close myself off to something I don’t think exists. Soc 101; an option is not an option if the person is unaware of said option.

          You cannot knowingly close yourself off to something or someone you do not think exists. Also, I don’t believe I called this “an option”, or anything like that?

          2) I don’t buy the idea that if there is no external objective source of ‘good/​beautiful/​right 100%’, that therefore everything is just subjective and random.

          I didn’t say “and random”; was that an important addition?

          And hypothetically even if there was such a thing it would do us no benefit unless it could be demonstrated that such ‘objectivity’ could be accessed; short of that we are just mentally masturbating about the whole thing.

          Can demonstration necessarily precede taking a risk that such objectivity (I’m nervous about it being 100% external to us so we might have to discuss this) exists in the first place and acting “as if” it did for a while? I’m thinking of an analogy to science, whereby the idea that the universe could be well-modeled as ruled by universal determinate law seemed to precede verifying that this was indeed the case.

          I don’t chalk it up to just ‘choice’ though. I think there is plenty of arrogance and ignorance that helps.

          Arrogance and ignorance are not by choice? I get that child are born ignorant, but the ignorance we’re talking about here is by people who are supposed to be experts, who claim to be experts, whom society celebrates as experts.

          With Stephan Hawking dying I think this quote I saw is apt….” The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

          I agree. The Bible hates arrogance more than anything else.

          I do find it interesting that the autistic child analogy you used could easily be an argument for there not being an objective ‘good/​beautiful/​right 100%’, each child was/is making their own decision as to what is good or right for them.

          My parenthetical above got at precisely this point. But for each person to define a narrow part of what is ‘good/​beautiful/​right’ does not mean there is no masterful plan where it all can fit together like a glorious symphony. Here, the dichotomy ‘objective’/​’subjective’ actively disrupts our ability to talk effectively.

          LB: I’m most fundamentally drawing a causal link: closing oneself to God leads to closing oneself to the Other, where the Other ultimately becomes any other human and once that happens, to oneself as well because we only really get to know ourselves through our interactions with others.

          O: On the one hand I do find it interesting, I do think we close ourselves off to other people too often and bringing light to that is a positive idea. On the other hand ‘God’ is really just self-defined (subjective) and becomes problematic on that level.

          The OT talks about false gods and man-made idols. The way it talks about man-made idols seems to slot into this conversation and your “‘God’ is really just self-defined” rather well. I’ve long been curious about how the ancient Israelites could have been so taken in by idols. I surmise that the idols must have seemed effective for quite some time. One possibility, to riff on Feuerbach, is that national symbols and national understanding (Nationalism?) can motivate for a time. But like any closed system eventually runs to maximum entropy, I think such idol-worship ultimately fails. Delusions ultimately fail us, even if they take many generations.

          So, how do we distinguish between ‘God’ being self-defined and him not? Creating God in your own image is perfect here, although it might be better to go straight to the article, Believers’ estimates of God’s beliefs are more egocentric than estimates of other people’s beliefs. The title refers to an average; I think paying attention to outliers is rather important. Outliers are, after all, the closest we have to a perceptible Other.

          Additionally this hypothesis suffers from the same problem any God claim does, it is no more demonstrable than any other God hypothesis.

          Are civil rights demonstrable? If not, why do you believe in a delusion? >:-]

          Even if you are right, how do you convince the God believers that think God fits their definition? And not just for them but for everyone, and then use their definition to attempt to get compliance and gain power. The concept of God is a way to power for many, the problem and solution seem to be inexorably intertwined.

          Jn 17:20–23 and 13:34–35 + Mt 20:20–28 and Jn 13:1–20

          Additionally, anyone who suggests that “power ⇒ goodness” is acting as an agent of Satan in so suggesting.

        • ildi

          I guess you’ve outed yourself as an agent of Satan, then.

          “It seems to me if there is a description of a phenomenon but that description provides no power over it, that is reason to believe the description is a ‘just so’ story, rather like the myths of old.”

        • Sorry, I’m not as clever as you and cannot read your mind (apparently you think you can read mine, though). So might you explain that instead of just assert it?

        • ildi

          I understand agents of Satan do have an obsession with mind-reading.

        • Otto

          >>>”You cannot knowingly close yourself off to something or someone you do not think exists. Also, I don’t believe I called this “an option”, or anything like that?”

          Using the phrase ‘close yourself off’ implies intention. Are you saying I have unintentionally closed myself off? How do you demonstrate that is actually the case?

          >>>”Can demonstration necessarily precede taking a risk that such objectivity (I’m nervous about it being 100% external to us so we might have to discuss this) exists in the first place and acting “as if” it did for a while?”

          No it doesn’t have to, after all I was a believer without demonstration for quite a long time.

          Also, if it is not 100% external, we have to be able to be reasonable sure it is not 100% internal. You seem to think that makes it subjective, I am not sure that it does.

          >>>”Arrogance and ignorance are not by choice?”

          It can be, I don’t think that means it always is. People work on the sub-conscious as well.

          >>>”But for each person to define a narrow part of what is ‘good/​beautiful/​right’ does not mean there is no masterful plan where it all can fit together like a glorious symphony.”

          It doesn’t mean there is a masterful plan either. I tend to believe what you are espousing here without the idea that there is a being behind it all.

          >>>”Here, the dichotomy ‘objective’/​’subjective’ actively disrupts our ability to talk effectively.”

          Yeah, I am not going to buy the objectivity thing without substantiation, so we are probably at an impasse here.

          >>>”The OT talks about false gods and man-made idols. The way it talks about man-made idols seems to slot into this conversation and your “‘God’ is really just self-defined” rather well.”

          We need to be able to differentiate a man-made God and a non man-made God. At this point I don’t think that is possible. Of course the OT talks about that, but talking about it does not mean the OT God is not also self-defined.

          >>>”Are civil rights demonstrable?”

          Sure they are, though I am not sure what one has to do with the other ( I am sure you will attempt to correlate these). But civil rights are man made and granted by the society they exist in, if you are saying God works the same way I would quite agree, but I doubt you are.

          >>>”Jn 17:20–23 and 13:34–35 + Mt 20:20–28 and Jn 13:1–20″

          And the people using God to get power use the Bible too, so I don’t see how that gets around the issue.

          >>>”Additionally, anyone who suggests that “power ⇒ goodness” is acting as an agent of Satan in so suggesting.”

          You think the people seeking power through the God concept overtly suggest that “power ⇒ goodness”? No, I don’t see that happen really ever. Of course they would deny that is what they are doing or that it is their goal.

        • Using the phrase ‘close yourself off’ implies intention. Are you saying I have unintentionally closed myself off? How do you demonstrate that is actually the case?

          This is frustrating; many times when I think intention is obviously there I’m told it’s not, and many times when I did not mean to indicate intention people say that I did. It is as if the rules are not stable. But I shall endeavor to see it as 100% my fault, per usual.

          Anyhow, I don’t mean to target you in particular, I mean to allow fuzz, and there is the following which I said earlier:

          LB: Finally, I don’t think God wants individuals to advance too much beyond society; I don’t think he wants us to be able to leave others in the dust any more than we already do. If I’m right, this puts some limits on what he will do for the individual who refuses to go back to society and try to bring the whole group closer to God. We are our brother’s and sister’s keepers.

          O: That is too conveniently self fulfilling for my taste.

          The fuzz is this:

          LB: … for those who are kind of on the edge about what God stands for, there could be some interaction “on the edges” which either turns the person away from God or toward God. In the former case, it’s not clear that the interaction would be seen for what it was and our fantastic ability to retcon our past could easily suppress it completely. In the latter case, you would get a deepening relationship.

          A crucial question I sense is how aware it is important to have been, for it to be fair for God to try no more in ways the individual can identify as such? Let me know if you agree or are being pushed in a different direction. Or maybe you think everything I said above is a pile of trash “half-decent”, using Paul B. Lot‘s [apparent] meaning of the term.

          No it doesn’t have to, after all I was a believer without demonstration for quite a long time.

          Ahh. I was a believer without demonstration for a while and have had but the weakest of plausible demonstrations. (Emphasis on the “plausible”—those with different plausibility structures could easily find it “implausible”.)

          Also, if it is not 100% external, we have to be able to be reasonable sure it is not 100% internal. You seem to think that makes it subjective, I am not sure that it does.

          The kind of [potential for] pre-established harmony indicated by “masterful plan where it all can fit together” should be sufficient, shouldn’t it? There’s no way in hell (read: vanishingly small probability) that evolution would “happen” to produce [potential for] pre-established harmony. What biological evolution does is happily (yay anthropomorphism) condemn the vast majority of species and individuals of species to [de facto] sterility and extinction. My apologies for the parentheticals and brackets, but there are others who would feast on everything possibly construable as an error …

          It doesn’t mean there is a masterful plan either. I tend to believe what you are espousing here without the idea that there is a being behind it all.

          But why would you believe it? Aren’t you in danger of: “The delusion happens when we convince ourselves that something exists that doesn’t.”?

          People work on the sub-conscious as well.

          Agreed. But the conscious can do a terrific amount of shaping of the unconscious. I take one of the de facto claims of Christianity, and maybe Judaism, to be that God gives people enough awareness of where they’re doing the bad thing, at least until they make it all the way to a “seared conscience”. Whether or not that matches up to reality is a matter for psychologists to study. I imagine it would be rather difficult to study, given problems with self-reporting. And yes, I realize there’s all sorts of political issue with saying “seared conscience” in this way; suffice it to say that the people who tend to become worst in this respect are the religious leaders who claim to know YHWH. The Bible is honest on that one.

          Yeah, I am not going to buy the objectivity thing without substantiation, so we are probably at an impasse here.

          Perhaps you can answer this: how can there be ‘subjectivity’, if physicalism is true? The very idea seems to require a radical causal break from reality, very much like Descartes’ mind and body, with pineal gland which can disconnect and reattach them. (This “causal break” also sounds rather like isolating a quantum system from the rest of reality for a time …)

          We need to be able to differentiate a man-made God and a non man-made God. At this point I don’t think that is possible.

          As long as we are really terrible at understanding ourselves, I think the fact that “we are the instruments with which we measure reality” ought to give us pause about what we do or do not seem to detect. In the meantime, I’m happy for people like you to play little to no active role on the God-side of things. I mean, I find it fun when you at least dip your toes in the water and we can imagine things together, but perhaps you find it onerous.

          LB: Are civil rights demonstrable?

          O: Sure they are, though I am not sure what one has to do with the other ( I am sure you will attempt to correlate these). But civil rights are man made and granted by the society they exist in, if you are saying God works the same way I would quite agree, but I doubt you are.

          So how do we “demonstrate” whether unborn humans have any civil rights? Outside of it being a 100% subjective affair (and thus, I would think, not “demonstrable”). I’m actually suggesting that if civil rights aren’t rooted in reality, we will increasingly question them in our behavior as a nation. I can give you a quote dump from Louis Pojman on his investigation of ten secular attempts to ground egalitarianism, if you’d like. You could also note that the Soviets had the most magnificent declaration of human rights ever made.

          O: Even if you are right, how do you convince the God believers that think God fits their definition? And not just for them but for everyone, and then use their definition to attempt to get compliance and gain power. The concept of God is a way to power for many, the problem and solution seem to be inexorably intertwined.

          LB: Jn 17:20–23 and 13:34–35 + Mt 20:20–28 and Jn 13:1–20

          O: And the people using God to get power use the Bible too, so I don’t see how that gets around the issue.

          Did you read the passages? I wasn’t talking about “use the Bible”, I was talking about “obey/​believe those passages”. There’s a very specific reason I chose them, having to do with non-coercion, non-manipulation, and this:

          Futurism is of course especially dangerous when the engineer is not personally required to share in present sacrifice. (Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent, 22n15)

          You think the people seeking power through the God concept overtly suggest that “power ⇒ goodness”? No, I don’t see that happen really ever. Of course they would deny that is what they are doing or that it is their goal.

          No, not overtly. Manipulation cannot be overt, by definition. (It’s “coercion” once it is overt, and it is much less powerful when overt. Much of power is based on projection of façades—or so I’m told.)

        • Otto

          >>>”This is frustrating; many times when I think intention is obviously there I’m told it’s not, and many times when I did not mean to indicate intention people say that I did. It is as if the rules are not stable. But I shall endeavor to see it as 100% my fault, per usual.”

          I did not say it was your fault. I just don’t understand how I can be said to have ‘closed myself off’ to something I don’t believe exists. I have come to a conditional conclusion based on the information I currently have. I can change my mind with different information. I don’t think it is correct to characterize that as ‘closing off’… intentional or otherwise.

          >>>”A crucial question I sense is how aware it is important to have been, for it to be fair for God to try no more in ways the individual can identify as such?”

          All I know is there are people who have put far more effort into it than I have that ended up rejecting the idea of God, and there are people who have put almost no effort in and have embraced it completely, and vice versa. I could as easily ask how much effort does a human (or humans as a whole) have to put in to be fair for us to try no more in ways God can identify as such?

          >>>”There’s no way in hell (read: vanishingly small probability) that evolution would “happen” to produce [potential for] pre-established harmony.”

          I don’t know about that, have you looked into Chaos theory? It postulates that harmony comes from chaos, and vice versa. You can’t have one without the other. Would that make Taoism true more so than Christianity?

          I guess then it comes down to how we define harmony and then whether it can actually be attained to the level you are supposing. Maybe we are just a stepping stone for some yet to emerge species that will organize far better than we are capable.

          >>>”But why would you believe it? Aren’t you in danger of: “The delusion happens when we convince ourselves that something exists that doesn’t.”?”

          Not necessarily…because my belief is conditional. Is yours?
          BTW, that does not mean I am saying I could not be delusional

          >>>”Perhaps you can answer this: how can there be ‘subjectivity’, if physicalism is true?”

          I don’t see the problem. Additionally I don’t buy into pure subjectivity any more than I buy into pure objectivity.

          >>>”As long as we are really terrible at understanding ourselves, I think the fact that “we are the instruments with which we measure reality” ought to give us pause about what we do or do not seem to detect.

          agreed

          >>>”I mean, I find it fun when you at least dip your toes in the water and we can imagine things together, but perhaps you find it onerous.”

          No, I enjoy it. I wish more Christians I know personally would be willing to imagine, too often they find it threatening.

          >>>”So how do we “demonstrate” whether unborn humans have any civil rights? ”

          Right now they don’t, at least not to the extent we grant them to born humans, as is demonstrable from our laws. But I am guessing your question has more to do with should unborn humans have civil rights?…I am guessing you know my answer and I am betting I know yours. So then the question gets much more interesting…how do we determine who is right? By what metric are we going to use to measure? Civil rights are rooted in reality, we are in reality and they are rooted in our society, and I don’t see that as being subjective. As a group we have to determine what is beneficial, and at this point civil rights seem to be very beneficial, and I would argue they are objectively beneficial, but not because they exist externally.

          >>>”I can give you a quote dump from Louis Pojman on his investigation of ten secular attempts to ground egalitarianism, if you’d like. You could also note that the Soviets had the most magnificent declaration of human rights ever made.”

          I think I have seen it from you. Regardless I don’t agree. But I also am not sure true egalitarianism is even achievable. I made this statement once before to you regarding this subject and you responded something along the lines that is egalitarianism was not achievable then we shouldn’t even try, which I do not agree with. (This is going by my memory, you are welcome to correct me). Is true Justice achievable? I mean think about it, if everyone has civil rights, those rights will come into conflict at some point, can true Justice ever be attained when that happens?

          >>>”You could also note that the Soviets had the most magnificent declaration of human rights ever made.”

          They were just words, their society did not put in enough checks and balances for them to become more than that. You can attempt to root civil rights in religion and get the same effect. Ours are not necessarily a huge step up from theirs, but I do think it is a step up. We are far, far from having great civil rights in this country.

          >>>”Did you read the passages? I wasn’t talking about “use the Bible”, I was talking about “obey/​believe those passages”.

          What it says does not matter for what I am arguing, you put the utmost importance on those verses. How are you going to convince others that 1) those are actually the most important and 2) that your interpretation of them are superior than other Christians that may not interpret them the same way?

          >>>”No, not overtly. Manipulation cannot be overt, by definition.”

          Right, I agree. So the people we are talking about will deny that manipulation is taking place. The people being manipulated will deny it is happening, even when it is obvious to the majority of us. And we know it is much easier to see it when one is outside the group than within.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Otto, goddamn dude. I appreciate you.

        • Otto

          Thanks Paul. I have been round and round with Luke before (and he with me). It has been highly contentious many times, but after all that I feel like I am getting some understanding of where he is coming from. I honestly think he is more in agreement with us than we realize, though obviously not entirely. As an example he has some of the same complaints of mainstream Christianity that we do, he is just coming at it from a different angle. I really like honest discussions and it can be hard to keep it on that level in a comment section. What I am finding interesting about this one in particular is we seem to be headed towards a topic of discussion I had in a high level undergraduate course I took, and I personally had an informal debate with another student in class. The topic was ‘what is Justice’. One thing that bothers me about the many Christian believers in my life is that they are not willing to address the issues of their belief, we certainly can’t level that accusation at Luke.

        • Paul B. Lot

          As an example he has some of the same complaints of mainstream Christianity that we do, he is just coming at it from a different angle.

          I agree with the first phrase, not the “just” in the second. Ie. I believe he…ah…brings many other things to the table. But despite that latter point, I agree that the former is interesting in and of itself!

          One thing that bothers me about the many Christian believers in my life is that they are not willing to address the issues of their belief, we certainly can’t level that accusation at Luke.

          No indeed.

          Thanks Paul.

          You’re welcome, the praise is well-deserved. The way you act reminds me of how @ignatiusreilly1 did for some time. The fact that [I find Luke untakable] doesn’t mean that I can’t admire [those who don’t].

        • Otto

          >>>”The fact that [I find Luke untakable] doesn’t mean that I can’t admire [those who don’t].”

          I have had to step away at times, it has not been all niceties that is for sure.

          Also my use of the word ‘just’ was probably not the best..I agree. 😉

        • You’re welcome, the praise is well-deserved. The way you act reminds me of how @ignatiusreilly1 did for some time. The fact that [I find Luke untakable] doesn’t mean that I can’t admire [those who don’t].

          “untakable”? Surely you don’t mean the opposite to:

          And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

          ? (You can elide the non-underlined; I kept it so that the “it” would not be too mysterious.)

        • Paul B. Lot

          No.

        • Good. So what did you mean?

        • I honestly think he is more in agreement with us than we realize, though obviously not entirely.

          Probably. I too have had to do this:

          O: I have had to step away at times, it has not been all niceties that is for sure.

          —but rarely with you.

          What I find interesting is that you seem to be able to have a conversation without throwing out egregious insults[1], while so many others on CE[2] seem profoundly incapable of it[3]. How do you manage?

          Notes for nitpickers:
          [1] not to mention slander and character assassination
          [2] with whom I’ve interacted
          [3] I hesitate to use the weaker ‘unwilling’

          The topic was ‘what is Justice’.

          Symmetry. The Scales. Humans can only make relative measurements, so any concept of Justice which requires absolute measurements is doomed to failure. Indeed, any such absolute concept is almost certainly an act of power. How so? Because absolutes cannot be obeyed perfectly, creating wiggle-room: they’re going to be defied some of the time. Well, it turns out a great deal of injustice can be hidden inside that wiggle-room, by showing leniency toward some and strictness toward others. This was actually encoded in the Code of Hammurabi in terms of class distinctions; now the distinctions are not encoded so much in the letter.

          I can say more if you want. The key point is that formalisms don’t match reality perfectly and if you investigate just how they mismatch, you can find that it isn’t all disorder and randomness.

        • Otto

          >>>”How do you manage?”

          I really try and address the argument specifically and not the person. I also generally treat people the way I am treated, so you can take credit as well. I think many of us on CE have been treated poorly in our personal lives by religious people and religious authorities, and unfortunately that anger gets thrown around. I am just guessing at this though from what I have been able to glean from the comments, it would be and interesting topic to explore. I know frustrations I have had in my personal life with religion, where I have had to hold my tongue, will get released here at times. It is a safe space to respond to those frustrations.

          Edit: I should also clarify that often I have had to step away Luke had nothing to do with anger or frustration, it was more a matter of time, dealing with your rebuttals is very time consuming.

          Re: Justice

          I tend to agree with what you have said here. I would add, it also depends on who is defining it. If an individual defines it, it will be much different than another individual. This is why it is important for groups to define Justice.

        • I really try and address the argument specifically and not the person. I also generally treat people the way I am treated, so you can take credit as well.

          Me too and thanks. Unfortunately, miscommunication can lead to slight overestimates in how harsh the other person was being, leading to an ugly positive feedback loop. I suspect that’s how a lot of things spiral out of control.

          I think many of us on CE have been treated poorly in our personal lives by religious people and religious authorities, and unfortunately that anger gets thrown around. I am just guessing at this though from what I have been able to glean from the comments, it would be and interesting topic to explore. I know frustrations I have had in my personal life with religion, where I have had to hold my tongue, will get released here at times. It is a safe space to respond to those frustrations.

          I agree completely. James C. Scott discusses something which might be connected:

              Once attuned more closely to how power relations affected discourse among Malays, it was not long before I noticed how I measured my own words before those who had power over me in some significant way. And I observed that when I had to choke back responses that would not have been prudent, I often found someone to whom I could voice my unspoken thoughts. There seemed to be a nearly physical pressure behind this repressed speech. On those rare occasions on which my anger or indignation had overcome my discretion, I experienced a sense of elation despite the danger of retaliation. Only then did I fully appreciate why I might not be able to take the public conduct of those over whom I had power at face value. (Domination and the Arts of Resistance, ix–x)

          The thing is, what is your total impact on the world if you unleash the anger on the wrong person, or unleash more anger than a person “deserves”? If one claims that it’s unfair and then is unfair oneself …

          Re: Justice

          I tend to agree with what you have said here. I would add, it also depends on who is defining it. If an individual defines it, it will be much different than another individual. This is why it is important for groups to define Justice.

          Having the group define “Justice” has some serious pitfalls. Nicholas Wolterstorff examines this in detail in Justice: Rights and Wrongs. I’d also like to throw in the following:

              In the Enlightenment tradition, rationality is typically seen as a concept that is well-defined and context-independent. We know what rationality is, and rationality is supposed to be constant over time and place. This study, however, demonstrates that rationality is context-dependent and that the context of rationality is power. Power blurs the dividing line between rationality and rationalization. Rationalization presented as rationality is shown to be a principle strategy in the exercise of power. Kant said that the possession of power unavoidably spoils the free use of reason. We will see that the possession of more power soils reason even more, that the greater the power, the less the rationality. The empirical study is summed up in a number of propositions about the relationship between rationality and power, concluding that power has a rationality that rationality does not know, whereas rationality does not have a power that power does not know. I will argue that this asymmetry between rationality and power forms a basic weakness of modernity and of modern democracy, a weakness that needs to be reassessed in light of the context-dependent nature of rationality, taking a point of departure in thinkers like Machiavelli, Nietzsche, and Foucault.[2] (Rationality and Power, 2)

          Proposition 1: Power defines reality    Power concerns itself with defining reality rather than with discovering what reality “really” is. This is the single most important characteristic of the rationality of power, that is, of the strategies and tactics employed by power in relation to rationality. Defining reality by defining rationality is a principle means by which power exerts itself. This is not to imply that power seeks out rationality and knowledge because rationality and knowledge are power. Rather, power defines what counts as rationality and knowledge and thereby what counts as reality. The evidence of the Aalborg case confirms a basic Nietzschean insight: interpretation is not only commentary, as is often the view in academic settings, “interpretation is itself a means of becoming master of something”—in the case master of the Aalborg Project—and “all subduing and becoming master involves a fresh interpretation.”[4] Power does not limit itself, however, to simply defining a given interpretation or view of reality, nor does power entail only the power to render a given reality authoritative. Rather, power defines, and creates, concrete physical, economic, ecological, and social realities. (Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice, 227)

          It is all too easy for the group to stomp on the individual. Kind of like it decided Jesus must be executed—in the most brutal way humans had imagined. (see Autopsy of a crucifixion)

        • Otto

          >>>”Having the group define “Justice” has some serious pitfalls.”

          It absolutely does, that is why the group itself has to be regulated, which is what the Constitution attempts to do, but as I said before we are far from great in this endeavor.

          I did respond to your other comments from yesterday.

        • It absolutely does, that is why the group itself has to be regulated, which is what the Constitution attempts to do, but as I said before we are far from great in this endeavor.

          The US Constitution doesn’t “attempt” to do anything, and I think the literary device of anthropomorphizing is very damaging in this situation. Outside of human minds and human institutions, the US Constitution has no causal powers. What/​who is there to prevent the interpretation of the US Constitution from slowly morphing over the years? Steven D. Smith discusses this in his 1989 paper Law Without Mind (120 ‘citations’). Here’s his opening paragraph:

              A large part of the work done by lawyers and judges involves the interpretation of enacted law — primarily, statutes and the Constitution. Not surprisingly, legal scholars offer a good deal of advice, usually unsolicited, about how the task of interpretation should be performed. At present, such scholarly advice commonly recommends variations on an approach that may be called “present-oriented interpretation.” This approach discourages judges from equating a law with its historical meaning or “original understanding.” Instead, it urges them to construe statutes and constitutional provisions in a way that will render the law “the best it can be”[2] in light of present needs and values. (Law Without Mind, 104)

          I can buy you a copy of the paper if you’d like. But I don’t see how the US Constitution can regulate us if this is done. How can its meaning not morph arbitrarily much? Some would argue that this has already happened with the Second Amendment. If the compelled speech of Crisis Pregnancy Centers in CA is a violation of the First Amendment, the situation is even more … intense. But we have to grapple with what “freedom” is; maybe we side with Hobbes:

              Nowhere is Hobbes’ mechanical conception more remarkable or more relevant for us than in his discussion of freedom. It is entirely too easy to read into Hobbes things which are a part of our contemporary ideology but which he does not actually say. Hobbes uses the language and imagery of the machine in a way which allows him to appear to be saying more than he actually is, and this is particularly true with his understanding of freedom. He defines what we might call a “negative freedom,” by which we mean a freedom from something, rather than a freedom to something. But his negative freedom means something quite different than our notion of the term (which developed from Locke’s later formulation.) It is defined in starkly mechanistic terms of motion and force, as in chapter 21 of the Leviathan, when he writes that “Liberty or freedom, signifies properly the absence of opposition; and by opposition I mean external impediments to motion.”[11] Indeed, this freedom is not human political freedom, but rather one which “my [sic] be applied no less to irrational and inanimate creatures than to rational,”[12] because it is a freedom of physical motion, not of opinion, expression or spirit. He argues that “when the words ‘free’ and ‘liberty’ are applied to anything but bodies, they are abused; for that which is not subject to motion is not subject to impediment.”[13] Freedom, then, is freedom of action. But it goes further even than this. This sort of freedom is not inconsistent with tyrannical coercion. When a man is forced to do something, he is still free; it is only when he is forced not to do something that his liberty is hampered. In an extraordinary passage that must give pause to any lover of liberty, Hobbes writes that water flowing down a mountain channel is entirely free, because it is unimpeded.[14] The absolute necessity of the force of gravity does not prevent the water from experiencing liberty. Unimpeded action—whatever its source or purpose—is free action in his eyes. (Tyranny of Reason, 101–102)

          [11] Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan, Chapter 21, Paragraph 1, P. 159.
          [12] Ibid.
          [13] Ibid., Chapter 21, Paragraph 2, P. 159.
          [14] Ibid.

          I did respond to your other comments from yesterday.

          Yeah, I’m just a bit swamped/​drained. Dealing with personal attacks is draining. This is draining:

              We have to try to understand the meaning of this inhuman insanity. To scorn is to condemn the other person to complete and final sterility, to expect nothing more from him and to put him in such circumstances that he will never again have anything to give. It is to negate him in his possibilities, in his gifts, in the development of his experience. To scorn him is to rip his fingernails out by the roots so that they will never grow back again. The person who is physically maimed, or overwhelmed by mourning or hunger, can regain his strength, can live again as a person as long as he retains his honor and dignity, but to destroy the honor and dignity of a person is to cancel his future, to condemn him to sterility forever. In other words, to scorn is to put an end to the other person’s hope and to one’s hope for the other person, to hope for nothing more from him and also to stop his having any hope for himself. (Hope in Time of Abandonment, 47)

          But perhaps I should just be more selective in what I respond to. But there are issues with that …

        • Otto

          >>>”The US Constitution doesn’t “attempt” to do anything, and I think the literary device of anthropomorphizing is very damaging in this situation.”

          Oh ffs Luke I wasn’t anthromorphizing the Constitution, I used a short cut, the writers of the Constitution built in protections for the individual, The Bill of Rights, I am sorry I did not specify them when I made my remark, if that makes you feel better.

          >>>”Outside of human minds and human institutions, the US Constitution has no causal powers.”

          Yep, same with the Bible.

          >>>”What/​who is there to prevent the interpretation of the US Constitution from slowly morphing over the years?”

          The Constitution was meant to be interpreted, by the Judicial branch. Now, how the Constitution should be interpreted is up for debate and what you referenced is but one idea, there are others.

          >>>”But I don’t see how the US Constitution can regulate us if this is done.”

          The Constitution is not meant to regulate ‘us’, it is meant to regulate the government (which regulates us).

          >>>”How can its meaning not morph arbitrarily much? Some would argue that this has already happened with the Second Amendment.”

          It has to morph, the decisions that are made with it as a foundation could not even be conceived of by the writers, it was purposefully written vaguely with that in mind. Now you seem to contend this makes it arbitrary, I don’t think that is completely the case. I don’t see how any of this is different than the vast interpretations of the Bible though, and you seem to think that is OK at least to some extent.

          >>>”If the compelled speech of Crisis Pregnancy Centers in CA is a violation of the First Amendment, the situation is even more … intense.”

          No, I don’t see the problem. I don’t know the exact issue you are referring to but I have a pretty good guess, and I think there is a violation, if my guess is correct.

          >>>”Yeah, I’m just a bit swamped/​drained.”

          It’s fine, I just didn’t want you to think I ignored your questions.

        • Oh ffs Luke I wasn’t anthromorphizing the Constitution, I used a short cut, the writers of the Constitution built in protections for the individual, The Bill of Rights, I am sorry I did not specify them when I made my remark, if that makes you feel better.

          I’m generally ok with language which gives causal power to abstract entities because approximations can be sufficient (and even helpful in blocking out irrelevant detail). But not here; here I think the difference makes all the difference. For example, let’s take part of the Fourteenth Amendment:

          Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

          Why can’t we just suddenly decide that “persons born” means there can be “persons unborn”, and thereby apply the bits of this which aren’t restricted to citizens, to unborn humans? See, it all depends on how you define “the individual“. When there’s enough flexibility in language, language ceases to be much of a restriction on behavior. It can wriggle all over the place.

          LB: Outside of human minds and human institutions, the US Constitution has no causal powers.

          O: Yep, same with the Bible.

          Does it surprise you that I agree? I’m pretty sure most Christians have believed that the Holy Spirit has to help one understand the Bible. It’s not like the Bible itself is a being with causal powers. That being is Jesus. He is the Word. The Bible, on the other hand, is “just” a library. Christians are supposed to worship Jesus, not the Bible. Now, if they want to rebel against Jesus, then bibliolatry might be an effective tactic. Same w/the US Constitution, I’ll bet.

          The Constitution was meant to be interpreted, by the Judicial branch. Now, how the Constitution should be interpreted is up for debate and what you referenced is but one idea, there are others.

          Yes, and some versions of “how” fail to “regulate”, at least in the long term. Although perhaps I’m wrong, perhaps there is a term “regulate” which is just a tautologous transformation of each and every “how”? I would assume that “regulate” means somehow holding the identity of the country unchanged, so e.g. we can have some guarantee that we won’t do what the Weimar Republic Germans did. We can of course argue over what that identity ought to be.

          The Constitution is not meant to regulate ‘us’, it is meant to regulate the government (which regulates us).

          Point taken.

          LB: How can its meaning not morph arbitrarily much? Some would argue that this has already happened with the Second Amendment.

          O: It has to morph, the issues and decisions (edit) that are made with it as a foundation could not even be conceived of by the writers, it was purposefully written vaguely with that in mind. Now you seem to contend this makes it arbitrary, I don’t think that is completely the case. I don’t see how any of this is different than the vast interpretations of the Bible though, and you seem to think that is OK at least to some extent.

          I don’t say that every way of interpreting the US Constitution is necessarily arbitrary; I ask how we can avoid complete arbitrariness [in the long term]. Or do we not actually give a shit about the long term and thus this question just isn’t answerable with extant short-term conceptual tools and ways of thinking?

          Your point about interpretations of the Bible is very well-taken, and it’s a great way to study trends on much longer time-scales than is possible with the US Constitution. I have a suspicion that there must be a balance between perfect preservation and cancerous growth, and that we can see instances all along the spectrum in Christian and Jewish history. There’s a phrase, “continuity amidst discontinuity”, which I think comes from Samuel Taylor Coleridge. We could tie “regulation” to the “continuity” part. The “discontinuity” part could be finding contradictions, finding ever-deeper foundations (questioning (B) at Fitch’s paradox of knowability § Proof: K(p & q) → (Kp & Kq))

          By the way, the same question applies to personal identity: how can you grow and change while staying, in some sense, the same person? This is important in law, for it determines culpability for past crimes. (For more, see Jonathan Pearce’s “discontinuous ‘I'”, which he later blogged about: The “I”, personhood and abstract objects.) I forget where, but I’ve seen actual law papers on this stuff.

          It’s fine, I just didn’t want you to think I ignored your questions.

          Roger that & thanks. Actually, I had started a response to one of them and I hit 77 lines in my text editor, which means a combination of blockquotes, paragraphs, and empty lines. Reducing that to something more manageable was too much at the time of drafting. But I have more energy now, so I’ll give it another shot.

        • Otto

          >>>”Why can’t we just suddenly decide that “persons born” means there can be “persons unborn”, and thereby apply the bits of this which aren’t restricted to citizens, to unborn humans?”

          I would say that the language is specific enough to not allow for that interpretation. The language could be amended though.

          >>>”Does it surprise you that I agree?I’m pretty sure most Christians have believed that the Holy Spirit has to help one understand the Bible.”

          No it doesn’t, what surprises me is you can hold that view and still think there is something supernatural to the text in some regard (if I understand you correctly). I am sure most Christians do believe the Holy Spirit is required, not that anyone can tell the difference.

          >>>”Christians are supposed to worship Jesus, not the Bible.”

          But the only things Christians know about Jesus comes from the Bible…so it really turns into a chicken/egg thing.

          >>>”I would assume that “regulate” means somehow holding the identity of the country unchanged, so e.g. we can have some guarantee that we won’t do what the Weimar Republic Germans did.”

          I don’t think there is any guarantee unfortunately, just look at the internment camps for Japanese Americans in WW II as but one example. We have some safeguards but they can certainly be circumvented in the right situation.

          >>>”Or do we not actually give a shit about the long term and thus this question just isn’t answerable with extant short-term conceptual tools and ways of thinking?”

          I think this would be a good point to take up with a Constitutional lawyer. I have as much education in the law as an undergrad can have but such a question is beyond me. Offhand I would say our reliance on the role of ‘precedence’ in law helps mitigate that problem, but it certainly is not a catch all.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I don’t say that every way of interpreting the US Constitution is necessarily arbitrary; I ask how we can avoid complete arbitrariness [in the long term]. Or do we not actually give a shit about the long term and thus this question just isn’t answerable with extant short-term conceptual tools and ways of thinking?

          By rewriting the Constitution every 20 years, as envisaged by Thomas Jefferson at the time.

          There have been many proposals for substantial change to the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson himself was wary of the power of the dead over the living in the form of an unchanging Constitution. To ensure that each generation have a say in the framework of the government, he proposed that the Constitution, and each one following it, expire after 19 or 20 years. James Madison, Jefferson’s contemporary, found comfort in knowing that the populace would not be thrust into political turmoil every 20 years, and noted that the way the Constitution is now structured, it implies an acceptance of the status quo unless explicitly changed.

          https://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_newc.html

        • He always liked the French. For some values of “like”:

              Later Jefferson wrote even more extravagantly to William Short, his private secretary, about the execution of Louis XVI (“the expunging of that officer”). The logic of his words has rightly been described as closer to Stalin, Mao Tse-tung and Pol Pot than to Washington, Hamilton and Burke.

          The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of the contest, and was ever such a prize won with so little innocent blood? My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause, but rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated. Were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than as it is now. (The Long Affair, 147)

          (A Free People’s Suicide, KL 766–72)

        • Ignorant Amos

          This must be your “go-to” saved snippet when ya see Jefferson’s name mentioned. It’s the second time in as many weeks that you’ve published it without any relevance to the conversation. My reply is not going to be much different from before.

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/25_reasons_we_dont_live_in_a_world_with_a_god_part_6/#comment-3801722440

          I can only assume you really don’t like Jefferson. History is replete with characters that were very unsavoury, yet publicly adored by the masses. I really don’t see the connection to my comment and your Jefferson citation here though.

        • … without any relevance to the conversation.

          You are apparently unaware of how many constitutions the French have gone through.

          I can only assume you really don’t like Jefferson.

          You would only be wrong. He may well be better than a number of the characters in Hebrews 11. I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t put into action the evil I quoted; perhaps only his private secretary read the words I excerpted.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You are apparently unaware of how many constitutions the French have gone through.

          I don’t know the exact number, but I’m aware that it is a number. As is the case with other countries.

          But how many constitutions had France gone through at Jefferson’s time? Six between 1791 and 1804? Given that the U.S. Constitution pre-dates the French by 3 years and Jefferson’s idea was to renew every 20 years, which resembles the French way not at all, I still don’t see the relevance.

          You would only be wrong. He may well be better than a number of the characters in Hebrews 11. I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t put into action the evil I quoted; perhaps only his private secretary read the words I excerpted.

          That’s the problem when one assumes. So then I’m even less clued in on why you cited that Jefferson article?

        • Greg G.

          Why can’t we just suddenly decide that “persons born” means there can be “persons unborn”,

          It isn’t about born and unborn, it is about “born in the United States” vs born elsewhere.

        • Susan

          One thing that bothers me about the many Christian believers in my life is that they are not willing to address the issues of their belief,

          But apologists do it as a routine thing. That is, they go through the motions of addressing the issues but they don’t actually address them. They are evasive and manipulative. Very much like Luke.

          we certainly can’t level that accusation at Luke

          Of course we can. He shifts the burden and drags us down thousands or rabbit holes when we ask him a direct question.

          He is no better than Duane Gish or your average creationist in his strategies. A few years of engaging him shows that he goes through the same carousel of nonsense as though no one ever responded to it.

          He takes a lot of people down when he does it, destroys a lot of threads in the process and I’ve seen him gut a site loaded with thoughtful and highly educated people.

          My god. Who keeps a cache of cherry-picked comments of their personal injuries? He’s been doing that for years. Also, he’s never provided a speck of evidence for his deity. Asking him to do so results in his using tactics that eventually lead you to say something negative about his behaviour in his copious commenting history. And he’ll cache a single sentence or single comment forever out of context.

          There is nothing honest about him. Nothing.

        • Otto

          I do agree with you but I have seen Luke be a bit more critical of his tribe than most apologists and even admit his argument lacks substantiation. It is fleeting, but it is there. Of course I have huge problems with his tactics too.

        • Susan

          I have seen Luke be a bit more critical of his tribe

          I haven’t. Tribe? A god claim is a claim that requires evidence. He is happy to wander down theological hallways with you but has no interest in providing evidence. for that claim. He’s happy as a pig in mud to discuss theological implications of imaginary beings.

          Take him down a hallway that asks for evidence and watch how he works.

          I’ve also seen him (more than once) play the victim, and glom onto the single person he can glom onto who he sees as separate from the “ingroup” (the model he uses for negative responses to his own poor behaviour).

          Right now, you’re that guy.

          Go ahead. Ask him what he’s claiming and how he supports it. Watch the games he plays with “possibility” and “certainty”.

          Of course I have huge problems with his tactics too.

          They get worse when you ask him what he’s claiming and how he supports it. Way worse.

        • Otto

          Look Susan, you and I both know Luke isn’t going to offer anything to substantiate his God belief. His argument is based on unfalsifiable assumptions, I have certainly talked with him long enough to know that. All I am doing is having a conversation with him.

        • His argument is based on unfalsifiable assumptions …

          Would you be willing to name at least two?

        • Otto

          I will give you 3 as I understand them.

          1) God exists
          2) It is the Christian God
          3) God raised Jesus from the dead.

        • Thanks, Otto. I’m curious though—how often do you think I actually require you to believe that “God exists”, in order to understand what I’m arguing? I can only recall a few recent cases on CE where the existence or non-existence of God actually mattered for the conversation. More often, it seems like the dynamic can be analogous to when scientists were discussing the Higgs boson, but hadn’t found it yet. The key here is that if we truly allow for God to possibly exist†, we have to insist on things like the law of non-contradiction holding; such things are often suspended when it comes to discussing fiction.

          I don’t recall ever requiring someone on CE to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead in order to understand anything I have argued. So I’m rather confused by that one.

          † Oftentimes I speak in terms of our epistemic horizons instead of what actually exists; the more pedantic form would be “understand reality such that if God were to causally interact with it, we would understand the resulting phenomena for what they are—God acting”.

        • Otto

          Hi Luke,
          I don’t think you require me to believe God exists other than as part of whatever thought experiment you are putting forth at the time. It is obviously a premise you are working from when you talk about such things though. I admittedly don’t know a whole lot of why the Higgs Boson was hypothesized so while I can see why you would relate the two I am also not convinced it is an apt analogy, though I can appreciate your point a little. To me there is a vast difference in allowing for a god to exist and allowing for the Christian God to exist, I personally put the probability of the former to be considerably higher than the latter.

          As to Jesus rising from the dead: again I don’t think you require it of us to believe but you have used it as a starting point to work from on occasion depending what subject is being discussed, you seem to argue along the lines of ‘if it were true than what we see with X would make sense’. Going back to the Higgs Boson, I would agree that is what the scientists were doing (from my limited understanding), but they were also trying to falsify their premise, and I have no idea how that can be done with Jesus rising from the dead.

        • I don’t think you require me to believe God exists other than as part of whatever thought experiment you are putting forth at the time. It is obviously a premise you are working from when you talk about such things though.

          I don’t understand how you can claim that it is obviously a premise I’m working from if you cannot show how it is required for what I’ve argued. Again:

          O: His argument is based on unfalsifiable assumptions …

          Now, “is based on” can mean multiple things, so perhaps you meant something more like “is motivated by”? Even then, I don’t see how “unfalsifiable” fits. I take my belief in God to push me in certain directions and not others, and I intend to keep track of whether those are superior to alternatives. The way in which this works is different from how scientific theories guide action, but surely we don’t understand scientific theory as the only way that human action can be … ordered. Consider, for example, the belief in reductionism. That isn’t really a scientific theory, but it does cause people to prefer some kinds of explanations over others. If it produces less … fitness than non-reductionistic attitudes, doesn’t that constitute a kind of falsification? Of course there is a confounding factor when it comes to religion: fitness as selected by society can be rather different than fitness in exploring reality.

          To me there is a vast difference in allowing for a god to exist and allowing for the Christian God to exist, I personally put the probability of the former to be considerably higher than the latter.

          I agree; there are vast differences between different understandings of God among Christians. Take, for example, the following few verses:

          “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
              call upon him while he is near;
          let the wicked forsake his way,
              and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
          let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
              and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
          For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
              neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
          For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
              so are my ways higher than your ways
              and my thoughts than your thoughts.
          (Isaiah 55:6–9)

          Can you see how omitting the first two verses could lead to a rather different understanding than including them? Taken to the extreme, omitting the first two can lead to a strict leader/​follower social stratification, whereby the leaders have secret knowledge not available to the followers except via opaque demonstration, rather like the Wizard of Oz. If instead the wicked and unrighteous are to forsake their ways and thoughts and adopt God’s, that points toward a lack of the kind of explanatory gap which seems required to maintain the “reason/​revelation” barrier.

          By the way, I’m happy to do a Feuerbachian/​Marxian analysis of different understandings of God. If a given understanding of God appears to function quite well as a mechanism of social control, maybe that’s exactly what it is. Any understanding of God which fails to undermine “might makes right” is a pretty good candidate for “mechanism of social control”.

          As to Jesus rising from the dead: again I don’t think you require it of us to believe but you have used it as a starting point to work from on occasion depending what subject is being discussed, you seem to argue along the lines of ‘if it were true than what we see with X would make sense’. Going back to the Higgs Boson, I would agree that is what the scientists were doing (from my limited understanding), but they were also trying to falsify their premise, and I have no idea how that can be done with Jesus rising from the dead.

          Jesus’ death and resurrection are supposed to have normative implications for humans today; in order for this to be falsifiable one would require ‘normative causation’, which isn’t how science currently deals with causation. Instead, we cling to the concept of ‘100% subjective’ to insulate ourselves from any and all norming influences. When the answer to Are there laws which govern minds? is schizophrenic (after all neuroscience knows something), discussions in this area are going to be rather difficult—not limited to just falsification. But I’m willing to give it a shot.

        • Otto

          >>>”I don’t understand how you can claim that it is obviously a premise I’m working from if you cannot show how it is required for what I’ve argued.”

          Are you saying when you show up to CE to argue some point or other about Christianity that you are not working off that Christianity is true, i.e. that there is a god and it is the Christian God? If you are not, what exactly is your point in making such arguments?

          Additionally, you are a Christian right? You do believe all 3 points I listed are true…correct?

          >>>”I take my belief in God to push me in certain directions and not others, and I intend to keep track of whether those are superior to alternatives.”

          But you believe in God from the outset, so by what metric are you using to determine which is superior?

        • Are you saying when you show up to CE to argue some point or other about Christianity that you are not working off that Christianity is true, i.e. that there is a god and it is the Christian God?

          Out of hundreds of conversations here, I think I can remember two where there was a relevant difference to the topic of conversation, based on whether 1)–3) are true or not. In the few cases where they were, it was in a context where your “unfalsifiable assumptions” were actually “falsifiable premises”.

          If you are not, what exactly is your point in making such arguments?

          To clean out muck and collectively build some tools. A good example of the former is the ‘infinite interpretations hypothesis’, which we discussed a few weeks ago. As long as that ‘principle’ is applied to any person—God or otherwise—I don’t see how one can have any hope of understanding that person. As far as I can tell, the ‘infinite interpretations hypothesis’ is used to shut someone up so we can stuff words in his/her mouth.

          Additionally, you are a Christian right? You do believe all 3 points I listed are true…correct?

          Yes to 1) and 3); I am not so sure all self-identified Christians worship sufficiently the same God (whom I would refer to with a personal pronoun, not “It”) to give a simple “yes” to 2). I probably tend toward open theism in the sense that I think God actively restrains his power and knowledge (kenosis) to give us true freedom—which we sometimes use and often abuse. Some Christians find this exceedingly offensive (including I think Norman Geisler in Creating God in the Image of Man?); I would challenge them to generate a true distinction between manipulative and non-manipulative social relations, such that “might makes right” is false.

          LB: I take my belief in God to push me in certain directions and not others, and I intend to keep track of whether those are superior to alternatives.

          O: But you believe in God from the outset, so by what metric are you using to determine which is superior?

          I expect to find reality more and more intelligible the more I diligently pursue God. At any point in the growth in intelligibility, one can ontologize Ockham’s razor and say that reality is only that complex. But as long as the next jump in complexity is not too great, no dastardly explanatory gap is opened and whoever made the jump will be celebrated.

        • Otto

          >>>Out of hundreds of conversations here, I think I can remember two where there was a relevant difference to the topic of conversation, based on whether 1)–3) are true or not.”

          I am not sure I buy that, often you argue on the side of Christianity, usually talking about the plausibility of some concept or the superiority of something Christian vs secular. You may not overtly be arguing for God or Jesus, but Christianity is based on those 2 things being real. Unless you are arguing Christian philosophy is superior regardless of whether there is a God or whether Jesus is God, is that your position?

          >>>”I expect to find reality more and more intelligible the more I diligently pursue God.”

          Does the pursuit of God require belief first? Does God have to actually exist in order to make your pursuit beneficial or meaningful? Along the same line would Jesus actually have to have existed close to what is written in the Gospels for it to be beneficial or meaningful for your position?

          (when I use the term God I am using a general definition of a space-less, timeless, immaterial being with a mind that transcends all. If your definition is different maybe that is where we are talking past each other.)

        • O: Are you saying when you show up to CE to argue some point or other about Christianity that you are not working off that Christianity is true, i.e. that there is a god and it is the Christian God?

          LB: Out of hundreds of conversations here, I think I can remember two where there was a relevant difference to the topic of conversation, based on whether 1)–3) are true or not.

          O: I am not sure I buy that, often you argue on the side of Christianity, usually talking about the plausibility of some concept or the superiority of something Christian vs secular.

          I do argue that there are lot of errors in thinking about ourselves, about reality, and about the Bible which undermine our ability to understand God as I understand him. But anything which fits in that class doesn’t presuppose that God exists as I understand him. In order to possibly detect the Higgs boson, you have to be able to detect it for what it is. One of the problems discussed in the discovery announcement was an analog to Avoiding the pitfalls of single particle cryo-electron microscopy: Einstein from noise: if one is not careful, one can imprint a pattern on noise rather than detect it through the noise.

          As to superiority, I do think elements of Christianity are superior to the dominant alternatives, such as its stance on relational sin. As it turns out, it’s even bad for scientific relationships and lab cultures to violate Mt 18:15–17 and gossip about each other. I happen to be aware of a past lab situation and current one where this lesson was learned the very hard way. But as atheists will never tire of pointing out, this success in no way implies that God exists.

          If you want to continue this line of discussion and especially support your “unfalsifiable assumptions”, I suggest we work from examples. If I do that commonly, one shouldn’t be hard to find. I’m pretty sure it is bad for my faith to say anything unfalsifiable, so I would benefit if I do what you say I do and you could point that out.

          You may not overtly be arguing for God or Jesus, but Christianity is based on those 2 things being real. Unless you are arguing Christian philosophy is superior regardless of whether there is a God or whether Jesus is God, is that your position?

          I would differentiate between “one must believe in God to maintain the status quo” and “one must believe in God to advance arbitrarily far [in this life]”. Many Christians in my experience argue the former; I argue that the latter may be true. And I try to figure out empirical tests. I don’t see how the latter could be true if God does not actually exist; we generally hold that delusion fails one in the long term.

          Does the pursuit of God require belief first?

          Does the pursuit of a scientific hypothesis require belief first? Of a kind, certainly. I tend to use the term ‘tentative belief’. I think something like that applies to belief in God. The belief is supposed to yield results in the immediate, middle, and long-term. Just look at Abraham’s narrative, which is the prototype for faith. He had lots of confirmations before he was asked to sacrifice Isaac. This idea that faith only really delivers in the afterlife ought to be deemed heretical outside of pathological situations (like the martyr of Stephen). You cannot know whether you’re on the right track without some sort of feedback! I realize that what I just said can explode into its own discussion but I’ll stop for now.

          Does God have to actually exist in order to make your pursuit beneficial or meaningful?

          For some understandings of Christianity yes and for some, no. For mine, yes—in the long term. In the short term, I’m repeatedly told that the Bible contains plenty of wisdom from humans throughout the ages and that I can mine it for quite some time and thus experience the kind of accretion of knowledge which is associated with science—all without God actually existing. That sets a very high bar for demonstrating God’s existence, but it’s probably lower than Jn 17:20–23 and 13:34–35. There are some details to explore as to why Enlightened humans with all their science cannot manage to profoundly understand basic wisdom such as is available at relational sin, but I’m sure there are explanations. Suffice it to say that as long as I can discover excellent wisdom which is largely neglected, it is 100% rational for me to continue if there is not a more efficient route. But when does that become “evidence of God’s existence”? I don’t know. To some atheists, never, because the fact/​value dichotomy.

          Along the same line would Jesus actually have to have existed close to what is written in the Gospels for it to be beneficial or meaningful for your position?

          Yes; without Jesus being who I think he was and doing what I think he did, stuff like Mt 20:20–28 and Jn 13:1–20 is nutty. I realize that there are many forms of Christianity which effectively pretend those passages don’t exist or apply only to the servile classes. But the pattern of Jesus was to critique the powers that be and then let them carve their sins in his flesh, with the fickle mob cheering, the State having its fun despite some trepidation at the top, and the alleged supporters nowhere to be found. Christians are called to follow in those footsteps (e.g. Col 1:24, Rom 8:16–17, 2 Cor 4:7–12, and 1 Pe 3:17). Humans need to get their “justice” and Christians are called to let that “justice” be carved in their flesh in a finite, non-salvific echo of what Jesus did. I see no other way to stop the cycle of retributive violence.

          But hey, maybe Jesus never existed and humans will just practice more and more sophisticated forms of harming each other (perhaps while saying we are “less violent”, perhaps requiring “violence” to be physical). Shedding blood is so gauche when there is a smorgasbord of psychological torture which can be applied—and then be blamed on “mental illness” should shit go sideways. Oh, for the cherry on top, the State is sanctioned to use physical violence on those who are so psychologically abused that they act out physically (or are caught planning such). What a beautiful, beautiful system.

        • Otto

          >>>”If you want to continue this line of discussion and especially support your “unfalsifiable assumptions”, I suggest we work from examples. If I do that commonly, one shouldn’t be hard to find.”

          It is not hard to find. Right in the beginning of this response you say “I do argue that there are lot of errors in thinking about ourselves, about reality, and about the Bible which undermine our ability to understand God as I understand him”,… which assumes God, and assumes Christianity by seemingly saying God can be understood (at least to some extent) through the Bible. From what I see this is a pretty common response so I think it is a good example.

          >>>”But hey, maybe Jesus never existed and humans will just practice more and more sophisticated forms of harming each other”

          Are you saying that without Jesus there is no other option but to continue to harm each other?

        • LB: If you want to continue this line of discussion and especially support your “unfalsifiable assumptions”, I suggest we work from examples. If I do that commonly, one shouldn’t be hard to find.

          O: It is not hard to find. Right in the beginning of this response you say

          LB: I do argue that there are lot of errors in thinking about ourselves, about reality, and about the Bible which undermine our ability to understand God as I understand him. But anything which fits in that class doesn’t presuppose that God exists as I understand him.

          which assumes God, and assumes Christianity by seemingly saying God can be understood (at least to some extent) through the Bible. From what I see this is a pretty common response so I think it is a good example.

          First, I said “as I understand him”; this could be said of an interpretation of Atticus Finch. Second, the strikethrough (which you didn’t quote) makes a big difference. I’ve given you two lines of response:

               (I) My understanding of God doesn’t match the Bible.
              (II) My understanding of God doesn’t match reality.

          So it’s not really an assumption and it’s certainly not unfalsifiable.

          LB: But hey, maybe Jesus never existed and humans will just practice more and more sophisticated forms of harming each other

          O: Are you saying that without Jesus there is no other option but to continue to harm each other?

          I am not certain that there is another option.

        • Otto

          >>>”First, I said “as I understand him”

          You are assuming there is something to understand, and maybe there is…but as of yet no one has produced anything that points in that direction. How can we even answer the question of whether there is a god to understand? How can we answer the question of whether the Bible, Christianity, Jesus, etc. have any connection to such God… which itself assumes we can even answer the first question?

          >>>”I am not certain that there is another option.”

          Why not? Isn’t there other non-violent belief systems in the world? And what exactly makes you think Jesus belief can even produce this outcome?

        • You are assuming there is something to understand …

          How am I assuming more than scientists who tried to understand the Higgs boson before they had evidence it actually exists?

          As an aside, I don’t think you realize how little “experience” I believe I’ve had of God. I can only really point to two examples and they’re weak sauce. One was getting the idea that learning is like “diagonalizing a matrix” and the second was having the thought “those who don’t speak in tongues shouldn’t be treated as second-class citizens” be unusually intensified. I mostly see myself as like those scientists, before the Higgs boson was discovered. I don’t gain any comfort from Christianity that I know of; it makes me life rather more difficult. I feel compelled to strive for the sake of others instead of have a nice, comfortable lifestyle. If there’s anything I’m going off of, it’s the intuition that we’ve imprisoned ourselves in a sliver of reality through a combination of laziness, arrogance, and fear. The way I see God as wanting to puncture our mediocrity is rather compatible with naturalism, at least if you discard the “causal closure” bit.

          but as of yet no one has produced anything that points in that direction.

          There are many, many humans throughout spacetime who would disagree with that statement. Some have had “religious experiences” and others think they’ve got there via pure reason. Maybe they’re deluded/​wrong, but it’s rather presumptuous of you to say what you have, here.

          How can we even answer the question of whether there is a god to understand?

          Via predict-test loops. That’s surely how Abram gained confidence in YHWH. When YHWH walked through the animals cut in half in Genesis 15, he was declaring “May this be done to me if I do not fulfill my promise.” Oh, and usually both parties of a suzerainty treaty would walk through the animal pieces. For only the more powerful party to do so would have been rather momentous.

          How can we answer the question of whether the Bible, Christianity, Jesus, etc. have any connection to such God… which itself assumes we can even answer the first question?

          Well, if we see enough divine action to guess at God’s character, we can compare that to the character we think best fits the Bible. Humans know how to do this. When I first met up with an atheist I had talked to online rather extensively, his first comment was, “You’re rather different in person.” Marcion had the same reaction to Jesus when compared with YHWH. On the other hand, if we accept that our best understanding of God will always be severely tainted by our own self-understanding, then perhaps we can see some similarities. Humans do the same kind of thinking when they try to detect “human universals” among exceedingly different cultures.

          LB: But hey, maybe Jesus never existed and humans will just practice more and more sophisticated forms of harming each other

          O: Are you saying that without Jesus there is no other option but to continue to harm each other?

          LB: I am not certain that there is another option.

          O: Why not? Isn’t there other non-violent belief systems in the world? And what exactly makes you think Jesus belief can even produce this outcome?

          There’s Jainism, with 4–5 million adherents. And yet there’s a lot of violence (physical and other) in the world. I suspect Jainism works for certain psychological types (and perhaps only certain cultures); I doubt it can be universalized. The same goes for all other peaceful religions and non-religions, combined. I just don’t see humans as becoming more peaceful; I just see them as competing more cleverly. I’m quite confident that one can wreak tremendously more psychological damage on a human over the course of his/her life than physical damage. (Therefore what I say is 100% consonant with the per capita reduction in physical violence Pinker documents.)

          I think humans have an inbred desire for more (hello Agent Smith) which will never be [completely] eliminable; that can either manifest as conquering evil and lack of understanding, or conquering other moral beings. I think the 7+1 “one who conquers” in Revelation is talking about the first two kinds of conquering. Where some religion says to diminish desire, I think Christianity says to intensify it. I even wonder whether this is the most threatening aspect of Christianity to the secular world, because I suspect that the goal of the elite has long been to domesticate human beings, to make them suckle at the teat of the State rather than Religion. Actions speak louder than words.

          So, I am not certain that there is an option other than belief trust in Jesus for bringing the amount of human–human harm to zero. That doesn’t mean I am certain that “trust in Jesus” will do the trick, either. Maybe we humans are just doomed to be terrible to one another. Evolution must continue, amirite?

        • Otto

          >>>”How am I assuming more than scientists who tried to understand the Higgs boson before they had evidence it actually exists?”

          Well not being a particle physicist myself I am not sure this is something I am probably able to answer properly, but off the top of my head there was a whole lot of steps that got scientists from point A to point B (Higgs Boson). Each step went through a falsification process along the way. I don’t see anything like that happening in God belief, while you may see these 2 things as analogous, I can’t say I do at all.

          >>>”There are many, many humans throughout spacetime who would disagree with that statement.”

          You don’t have to tell me, I talk to them all the time, the problem that I have found is that their evidence/reasoning does not hold water. All kinds of people make all kinds of claims, but that in and of itself is not evidence that what they are claiming has any connection to reality.

          >>>”Via predict-test loops. That’s surely how Abram gained confidence in YHWH. ”

          Umm…OK. I don’t see how that answers the question and I also don’t see any predict-test loops that have produced the result you are looking for. I have no reason to think the Abram story is any more than a story.

          >>>”Well, if we see enough divine action to guess at God’s character, we can compare that to the character we think best fits the Bible.”

          What divine action do we see to guess at God’s character? Also we could insert ‘Quran’ or some other holy text in that sentence and it would make just as much sense.

          >>>”Evolution must continue, amirite?”

          One way or the other it will.

        • … there was a whole lot of steps that got scientists from point A to point B (Higgs Boson). Each step went through a falsification process along the way.

          And yet, they did not have evidence of the Higgs boson—otherwise they could just conclude it exists and wouldn’t have had to waste all that time on the LHC when it could have been running other experiments. So, it’s ok to do a little conceptual work on what you’re looking for, before you go looking for it.

          If you want to shift to talking about the tradition of thought and inquiry which pointed suggestively in the direction of the Higgs boson—according to the expert judgment of physicists—then we would have to ask what the analogous thing would be for looking for God acting in reality. It can’t be strictly like physics, because physics explores impersonal phenomena, where there is no agency. The humans are the ones in control.

          All kinds of people make all kinds of claims, but that in and of itself is not evidence that what they are claiming has any connection to reality.

          That’s why I’ve started asking atheists whether it would be interesting if a group of Christians got together and started doing science in a way that out-competed atheist rivals. So far, I’ve gotten crickets. There’s an interesting paradox at play:

               (I) on the one hand, the atheist holds up scientific knowledge as the best kind
              (II) on the other hand, the atheist wants God to break the laws of nature as evidence

          In case it isn’t obvious, (II) is antithetical to the most highly valued thing. God is pretty much the naturalist’s Satan if he does (II). I suspect if God aids (I), humans will somehow manage to get all the credit. I hope I’m wrong with this analysis, but I’ve gotten no solid counter-indications so far.

          I have no reason to think the Abram story is any more than a story.

          How does that matter, when Abraham is set out as the archetype of faithfulness? If you are ever allowed to appeal to the ideal of science, then I get to occasionally appeal to the ideal of faith. 🙂

          O: How can we answer the question of whether the Bible, Christianity, Jesus, etc. have any connection to such God… which itself assumes we can even answer the first question?

          LB: Well, if we see enough divine action to guess at God’s character, we can compare that to the character we think best fits the Bible.

          O: What divine action do we see to guess at God’s character? Also we could insert ‘Quran’ or some other holy text in that sentence and it would make just as much sense.

          The answer to your question depends on the person; there is no monolithic “we”, here. Jesus said he only did what he saw his father doing; one could try and understand God’s character in that way, and then see how appears to only do what Jesus is recorded as doing.

          As to your second sentence, that’s the point. I’m not advancing something unfalsifiable. I’m not insisting that God exists and I’m not insisting that if he does, he is as I understand him. I could be completely wrong. And yet, this is exactly what you said is false about me:

          O: His argument is based on unfalsifiable assumptions …

          Again, I don’t see how that is true—either the ‘unfalsifiable’, or the ‘assumptions’.

        • Otto

          >>>”So, it’s ok to do a little conceptual work on what you’re looking for, before you go looking for it.”

          There is a difference between doing a little conceptual work based on a long line of facts that have gone through rigorous testing…and just literally basing conclusions on a long line of conjectures.

          >>>”That’s why I’ve started asking atheists whether it would be interesting if a group of Christians got together and started doing science in a way that out-competed atheist rivals.”

          I am fine with Christians out-competing in science, but what you would need to do is show it had anything to do with Christianity. I think your whole argument with this is completely flawed and is one big non-sequitur, which is why you hear crickets. I don’t think many of us make the connection you seem to think is being made.

          >>>”(II) on the other hand, the atheist wants God to break the laws of nature as evidence”

          But that is exactly what the Bible (and other holy scriptures) tries to do…it makes claim after claim that God breaks the laws of nature and uses them as evidence for that particular God… and now you are taking issue with atheists pointing out that is not anything that has ever been verified? Seems like you want it both ways. The Bible plays around with miracles as if they are the evidence for God and now you think that asking for that type of evidence is an atheist problem? Seriously, that does not make any sense.

          >>>”How does that matter, when Abraham is set out as the archetype of faithfulness? If you are ever allowed to appeal to the ideal of science, then I get to occasionally appeal to the ideal of faith. :-)”

          And when you do you are pretending that the basis of each is comparable.

          >>>”I’m not advancing something unfalsifiable. I’m not insisting that God exists and I’m not insisting that if he does, he is as I understand him. I could be completely wrong. And yet, this is exactly what you said is false about me:”

          Luke, I know you are and agnostic theist, I know you are not claiming certainty or claiming you are absolutely right about your belief, but you still believe, and I am fine with that, it is your right. I don’t take issue with your personal belief… but when you come on to public forums and put forth your beliefs and you get asked about the basis for them, your answers (if you answer) are of the unfaslifiable variety. It’s not that they are wrong, it’s that we have no way of knowing if they are right! What got this whole unfalsifiable discussion going is Susan took issue with my conversation with you, I merely pointed out that you were not going to go down that road, I don’t think that is your objective and I therefore did not expect that of you. Then you took issue with my statement about unfalsifiability, and yet in the several responses since you have offered nothing to contradict my point, which like I said, I never really expected that from you.

        • There is a difference between doing a little conceptual work based on a long line of facts that have gone through rigorous testing…and just literally basing conclusions on a long line of conjectures.

          There’s a difference between dealing with extremely simple reality (physics studies the simplest aspects of reality) and dealing with the full complexity not just of biological life, and not just biological life with consciousness, but self-conscious biological life which has essentially integrated itself into a giant world-covering organism. You’re making an apples-and-oranges comparison, here. The study of “what kind of future we want to bring into existence” is fantastically more complicated than theorizing about then detecting the Higgs boson was.

          I take offense at the idea that my empirical study and corroboration of stuff like relational sin gets reduced to “conjecture”. I am well-aware that alone, or surrounded by things too much like it, that matter does not qualify as “evidence of God’s existence”. But what you’re doing is approximating it to zero. The net effect of this way of treating an complex of ideas is to say that unless it is extremely robust, all the supporting bits and pieces will be dismantled, reassembled into some other ideological edifice, and then the original thing will be reduced to 100% conjecture. This is not an intellectually honest strategy! Please don’t engage in it.

          I am fine with Christians out-competing in science, but what you would need to do is show it had anything to do with Christianity.

          Yes, I would. This gets to the question of Are there laws which govern minds?. You may have noticed that I’ve dropped that link a decent amount lately. It links in with the question of whether there is normative causation, which could be used to increase confidence that Jesus did what the Gospels claim and could also be used to further explore that whole matter. But we Moderns have concocted this idea of “100% subjectivity”, which effectively answers “No!” to Are there laws which govern minds? By effectively declaring the realm of agency lawless, we reduce ourselves to worshiping power and we blind ourselves to anything other than “Might makes right.” Yes, yes, there are people fawning over “human universals” which will ostensibly bring world peace; I’ll believe it when I see it.

          I think your whole argument with this is completely flawed and is one big non-sequitur, which is why you hear crickets. I don’t think many of us make the connection you seem to think is being made.

          What’s flawed? As to it being a non-sequitur, that makes no sense: just about any atheist I talk to about these matters has claimed or implied that scientific knowledge is the most valuable thing in the universe. And so, it seems that if Christians could somehow be better at delivering it than non-Christians, that would be worth paying attention to. What could be better “evidence of God’s existence”, than giving atheists more of what they value than they can obtain themselves? I’m not saying there isn’t more work to be done to e.g. differentiate the source from the V aliens. That’s why I phrased it as “would be interesting” rather than “would be immediately and obviously evidence of God’s existence”.

          Furthermore, you have claimed that I hold to unfalsifiable beliefs. I’m presenting you with an eminently falsifiable scenario. And your response is to just take a dump on it? C’mon, Otto.

          But that is exactly what the Bible (and other holy scriptures) tries to do…it makes claim after claim that God breaks the laws of nature and uses them as evidence for that particular God…

          So much for Deut 12:32–13:5. So much for Mt 24:23–25 and Rev 13. And so much for YHWH not repeatedly demonstrating his Awesome Power™ to each generation. Your hypothesis makes virtually no sense of the Biblical narrative or prophets. When the Pharisees asked for a sign, the best explanation is that they wanted to apply the execution clause of Deut 12:32–13:5 (for more, see J.H.H. Weiler’s 2010 First Things article The Trial of Jesus). Here’s the actual pattern of many of the prophets:

               prophet: you’re unjust and unrighteous
               Israel: no we’re not
               prophet: bad things will happen if you don’t repent
               Israel: you’re wrong and fuck off
               prophet: when bad things happen you’ll believe the prediction
               Israel: off with his head!

          There are indeed two ways to interpret that:

               (A) the evidence is the power to make bad things happen
               (B) the evidence is the prediction come true

          Only (B) makes sense when you try to make a holistic case. Teaching the Israelites that there is long-term moral cause & effect was meant to empower them. The contrast here is to an elite which seems “magical” to the masses. You see Joshua channeling that attitude in Numbers 11:24–30, where prophesying was happening outside of the temple (tent of meeting). In big civilizations, I suspect science and technology was restricted to the temple so that the rulers could keep control of that stuff. For priestly activity to happen outside of the confines of the temple was absolutely unacceptable. Except that Moses wanted it to become commonplace.

          I could go on for a while, but if you really want to chase this tangent, I might want to do some more legwork. Let me know.

          and now you are taking issue with atheists pointing out that is not anything that has ever been verified?

          I’m taking issue with their [apparent] belief that such law-of-nature-breaking would be good. If God is good and law-breaking would be evidence of God’s existence, then law-breaking has to be good. That’s basic logic. At least, as far as I can see it—can you spot a logical error?

          Seems like you want it both ways.

          Nope, I’m pretty sure I agree with the sentiment in Christian Naturalism and Leibniz’s theistic case against Humean miracles, although I’m inclined to think that the laws of nature are infinite in complexity and I’m not sure whether Kenny Pearce thinks that’s important.

          The Bible plays around with miracles as if they are the evidence for God and now you think that asking for that type of evidence is an atheist problem? Seriously, that does not make any sense.

          There’s a difference between using apparent law-of-nature-breaking as a sign to “Pay attention!” and using them as indicators of good moral character. If the Bible teaches anything, it is that “Might does not make right.” This can be seen, in part, by how little YHWH actually wields might. Seriously, he does it a very small fraction of clock-time. The real lesson of the use of awesome power is that it has exceedingly little convincing value over the medium- and long-term.

          I know you are not claiming certainty or claiming you are absolutely right about your belief, but you still believe

          Yeah, and the above refutes the below:

          O: His argument is based on unfalsifiable assumptions …

          I don’t know why that isn’t getting through.

          … but when you come on to public forums and put forth your beliefs and you get asked about the basis for them …

          I’m putting forth arguments and virtually none of them logically depends on:

          O:
          1) God exists
          2) It is the Christian God
          3) God raised Jesus from the dead.

          It has been made blindingly clear to me that people are 100% allowed to shroud their presuppositions plausibility structure in mystery. Just observe Bob’s failure to respond to this attempt to examine his presuppositions, as well as the failure to engage that line of questioning the other ≥ 4 times I brought up the matter. Please stop it with the double fucking standards.

          your answers (if you answer) are of the unfaslifiable variety.

          Do you have a single example of this?

          It’s not that they are wrong, it’s that we have no way of knowing if they are right!

          Guess what: I have no idea—zero—of what would suffice as “right“, except for law-of-nature-breaking. This is a fucking game: nobody will indicate what would suffice as “evidence for God’s existence”—again, excepting the miracle angle, which I claim demonstrates power and nothing more (Might ⇏ Right!). I keep providing examples of plausible empirical which I suggest would point in an interesting direction; the persistent response is denial that it would, in any way, provide even the weakest indication that God exists. I produce falsifiable after falsifiable thing and they all get swatted away. The only rational conclusion is that nobody here has a fucking clue of what evidence would convince himself/​herself that God exists, and thus I am being given Kobayashi Maru. Ok, I just got an idea. God could show up in awesome power, get everyone’s attention, and then say: “Might does not make Right!” Then disappear. However, I know of zero empirical evidence that convinces me this would accomplish anything. As I said above, people quickly forget displays of power. It is as if human nature is designed to quickly ignore them. It is as if human nature was not designed to run on power.

          What got this whole unfalsifiable discussion going is Susan took issue with my conversation with you, I merely pointed out that you were not going to go down that road, I don’t think that is your objective and I therefore did not expect that of you. Then you took issue with my statement about unfalsifiability, and yet in the several responses since you have offered nothing to contradict my point, which like I said, I never really expected that from you.

          Your claim about unfalsifiability appears to me to be unfalsifiable. I say “I could be wrong”, give examples of how that could be demonstrated, and yet your claim remains utterly unchanged. You’ve given me a no-win scenario. The only thing I can possibly do is prove to you and others that God exists; anything else is complete and utter fail. It’s like those compilers of days past which, if there was a single syntax error, would abort with a simple “Fail.” This is a really, really shitty way to design systems and it’s a really, really shitty way to treat people.

        • Otto

          >>>”You’re making an apples-and-oranges comparison, here.”

          Ahem…YOU are the one that started that comparison, I only pointed out the obvious problem with your analogy. Now turning around and trying to saddle me with your failed analogy is rather disingenuous, don’t ya think?

          >>>”The study of “what kind of future we want to bring into existence” is fantastically more complicated than theorizing about then detecting the Higgs boson was.”

          Exactly when did the question of how do we detect God turn into “The study of “what kind of future we want to bring into existence””?

          >>>”I take offense at the idea that my empirical study and corroboration of stuff like relational sin gets reduced to “conjecture”.”

          Personally Luke I really don’t care if you take offense to it or not, I do think it is really rather an odd thing to ‘take offense’ to something like that though. You start the whole thing by saying neither person needs to be Christian, but then cite the Bible as if that validates your point. It doesn’t. I honestly have no idea what that link is supposed to prove.

          I don’t think the conjecture is that people do things to harm interpersonal relationships, the conjecture is that because the Bible talks about it, that somehow validates the Bible, that is absurd.

          >>>”But what you’re doing is approximating it to zero.”

          NO…what I am approximating to zero is falsifiable evidence for the claim, not the claim itself. If you have some bring it forth because to this point you haven’t addressed that and it does not look like you intend to…which is fine, but just say so.

          >>>”The net effect of this way of treating an complex of ideas is to say that unless it is extremely robust, all the supporting bits and pieces will be dismantled, reassembled into some other ideological edifice, and then the original thing will be reduced to 100% conjecture.”

          The net effect of providing a whole bunch of bad evidence (supporting bits and pieces) does not magically make for good evidence, it is just lots of bad evidence. I will now quote you…”This is not an intellectually honest strategy! Please don’t engage in it.”

          >>>”which could be used to increase confidence that Jesus did what the Gospels claim and could also be used to further explore that whole matter.”

          I have no idea how, and I am not going to go down that rabbit hole to pick it apart because these posts get too damn long already. If you can’t summarize the point and then post the link for me so I can explore it further than just don’t go there. I seriously don’t have all day and if this is the way you want this to progress I can be done with this discussion now. I just seriously don’t have the time. I like having discussions with you Luke but not when you do this.

          “Yes, yes, there are people fawning over “human universals” Christian values which will ostensibly bring world peace; I’ll believe it when I see it.”

          That knife cuts both ways.

          >>>”Furthermore, you have claimed that I hold to unfalsifiable beliefs. I’m presenting you with an eminently falsifiable scenario. And your response is to just take a dump on it? C’mon, Otto.”

          Then attempt to falsify it!

          I cannot for the life of me see how group A (scientific atheist) is going to be able to do science better or worse than group B (scientific Christian). If you can show that and show it has anything to do with Christian belief then by all means Luke, have at it. But right now you have only presented a plausible scenario, you have in no way addressed how to actually falsify it…which is the whole point.

          >>>” (B) the evidence is the prediction come true”

          Name me one country, tribe or civilization that has not had bad things happen to them. This is incredibly weak sauce Luke. Making such a prediction is no different than me claiming “The US will see many natural disasters this year if the population does not repent!”…and then when it happens I say ‘told ya so!’, as if that is evidence I was right. No you don’t need to chase that tangent, it is going nowhere.

          >>>”I’m taking issue with their [apparent] belief that such law-of-nature-breaking would be good. If God is good and law-breaking would be evidence of God’s existence, then law-breaking has to be good.”

          See, I am not concerned with it’s goodness, only with whether it can be verified to have happened…and apparently the answer is no.

          >>>”Seriously, he does it a very small fraction of clock-time. The real lesson of the use of awesome power is that it has exceedingly little convincing value over the medium- and long-term.”

          Well then the Bible seems to have little convincing power period, because Christians are not anywhere near being on the same page. At a minimum I would expect Christian understanding to converge over time, and yet that is not what we see at all. Additionally where it has converged has been done through the use of the Power and Might of the Christian’s pushing a particular view, something you say is not a path to truth.

          >>>”Please stop it with the double fucking standards.”

          Yeah…when you figure out how you are doing this let me know.

          >>>”Do you have a single example of this?”

          Do you believe God exists?
          Can you provide a way to falsify that belief?
          Do you believe Jesus rose from the dead after 3 days?
          Can you provide a way to falsify that belief?

          >>>”This is a fucking game: nobody will indicate what would suffice as “evidence for God’s existence””

          This is actually a good question, I certainly don’t know. But blaming non-believers for the problem does not seem to be the answer. Relationships are 2 way streets, right now the supposed God-Man relationship is all 1 way.

          >>>”I produce falsifiable after falsifiable thing and they all get swatted away.”

          No…you produce what you say are possible falsifiable scenarios, you haven’t shown that they have actually been through any testing or they actually do what you think they might do.

          >>>”and thus I am being given Kobayashi Maru.”

          Not a bad example actually, I think this is apt. I think it is a bit of a no win scenario at this point. You keep saying that if God provided evidence he would have to do so through power, and that is the antithesis to his message, so therefore it is on us to find him. I personally think evidence of relationships don’t have to be one of power. Do I show power to my wife by coming home at night and providing evidence of my commitment to her? If that is power, and God will not provide evidence by using power, than I think we are both in the Kobayashi Maru…this will never be a winnable situation, for either of us, because what you are providing here is just your reasoning for not seeing evidence of the God you hypothesize.

          >>>”This is a really, really shitty way to design systems and it’s a really, really shitty way to treat people.”

          And that knife cuts both ways as well, designing a God belief system, as has been done to this point, and then faulting people that reject the claims seems equally as shitty. It is not atheists fault there is no there there.

          You seem to have gotten a bit bent out of shape in this response Luke. If I get another long winded response that will take me an inordinate amount of time to go through, don’t expect I will respond. I just don’t have the time.

        • Then attempt to falsify it!

          Are you saying that if I have not actually attempted to falsify such that you are satisifed, then you are justified in claiming that what I believe is unfalsifiable? You said a lot of interesting things in your comment, but I do want to maintain some focus on this:

          O: His argument is based on unfalsifiable assumptions …

          +

          O:
          1) God exists
          2) It is the Christian God
          3) God raised Jesus from the dead.

          —before we get too far on to other issues. I also want to revisit this:

          LB: There’s an interesting paradox at play:

               (I) on the one hand, the atheist holds up scientific knowledge as the best kind
              (II) on the other hand, the atheist wants God to break the laws of nature as evidence

          In case it isn’t obvious, (II) is antithetical to the most highly valued thing. God is pretty much the naturalist’s Satan if he does (II). I suspect if God aids (I), humans will somehow manage to get all the credit. I hope I’m wrong with this analysis, but I’ve gotten no solid counter-indications so far.

          Let’s forget what you think the Bible is trying to do for a moment and just ask whether the atheist is being internally consistent to think that:

               (I′) the most valuable thing is knowledge of the laws of nature
              (II′) a good god would demonstrate his existence by rendering (I′) obsolete

          I think there’s a flagrant contradiction here. And if a contradiction is at the core of your (or @Ficino:disqus’s, or Susan‘s, or @BobSeidensticker:disqus’s) demand for “evidence of God’s existence”, I will politely respond that via classical logic, a contradiction leads to everything being true and everything being false, via the principle of explosion. I do not enjoy being toyed with in this way and I doubt that any of you do, either; I request that the principle of symmetry be enforced.

          You keep saying that if God provided evidence he would have to do so through power, and that is the antithesis to his message, so therefore it is on us to find him.

          That’s not quite right. If Galileo is instructing his buddy in England on observing the phases of Venus with a telescope his buddy made, he is 100% within his rights to verify that the lenses used are not e.g. finely frosted (smooth to the touch but utterly diffusing to light). Likewise, if we are trying to do agency detection and yet our understanding of agency is massively distorted, I’m 100% within my rights to say that this could prevent us from seeing much of anything. None of this entails that we have to go find God.

        • Otto

          >>>”Are you saying that if I have not actually attempted to falsify such that you are satisifed, then you are justified in claiming that what I believe is unfalsifiable? ”

          This seems to have devolved to the ‘you can’t prove there isn’t a God/You can’t prove there is a God’ argument. Only now it is.. ‘you can’t prove my belief is unfasifiable/ and you can’t prove it is’. This is going nowhere fast. I hate to go to Susan’s goto question, especially when what I was trying to get across was that you and I can have a reasonable discussion about God/religion without it, but she has turned out to be right. It all comes down to ‘what do you claim (believe) and how do you support it?’ I don’t honestly think that will go anywhere but that is apparently where we are.

          >>>”Let’s forget what you think the Bible is trying to do for a moment and just ask whether the atheist is being internally consistent to think that:

          (I′) the most valuable thing is knowledge of the laws of nature
          (II′) a good god would demonstrate his existence by rendering (I′) obsolete”

          That isn’t an argument I have made, nor is it an argument I have seen an atheist make. It has parts, but it is not the whole. It leaves out some pertinent points, like would a good God expect, reward, or punish belief or non-belief. Now I don’t think that is what you think God is about, but it is what many versions of US Christianity argue for, and when I have seen an atheist take issue, it is with those types of mainstream US Christianities and their claim that God expects/rewards/punishes belief or non-belief.

          >>>”Likewise, if we are trying to do agency detection and yet our understanding of agency is massively distorted, I’m 100% within my rights to say that this could prevent us from seeing much of anything. ”

          Fair enough. How do we tell if our understanding of agency detection is massively distorted? What do you think would improve it?

        • This seems to have devolved to the ‘you can’t prove there isn’t a God/You can’t prove there is a God’ argument. Only now it is.. ‘you can’t prove my belief is unfasifiable/ and you can’t prove it is’. This is going nowhere fast.

          Yes, it’s going that way but not in the way you imagine:

               O: His argument is based on unfalsifiable assumptions …
               LB: How so?
               O: Show how they aren’t unfalsifiable.
               LB: Umm, the burden of proof is on you.
               O: But give me more evidence so I can make or break my case.
               LB: Umm, either you have the evidence to support your claim already, or you oughtn’t have made it.

          (Feel free to tell your own version of that. Maybe I got it wrong somehow.) Perhaps it will help to note two very different statements:

               (1) I know that LB bases his arguments on unfalsifiable assumptions.
               (2) I don’t know how LB’s beliefs would be falsified, in his view.

          It appears that what’s actually true of you is (2), but you phrased it as (1). I think it’s really important to distinguish between knowledge claims and lack of knowledge claims. Which, curiously enough, is exactly what you get at here with the difference between gnostic atheism and agnostic atheism.

          I hate to go to Susan’s goto question, especially when what I was trying to get across was that you and I can have a reasonable discussion about God/religion without it, but she has turned out to be right. It all comes down to ‘what do you claim (believe) and how do you support it?’ I don’t honestly think that will go anywhere but that is apparently where we are.

          I will go there with my beliefs if my interlocutor goes there with his/her beliefs. But we need to make another distinction:

               (A) What is presupposed, claimed, or entailed by an argument.
               (B) What a person believes.

          Surely you know that (A) can be a tiny subset of (B). There are two perfectly valid ways to engage a person: on only the level of argument, where anything not related to the arguments can be declared “out of bounds”, or on the level of the whole person, where everything is fair game. There are of course mixtures of these and one can try to restrict the domain somewhat. I’m saying that I want symmetry if we’re going to do anything in the (B) domain. Isn’t that fair?

          LB: Let’s forget what you think the Bible is trying to do for a moment and just ask whether the atheist is being internally consistent to think that:

               (I′) the most valuable thing is knowledge of the laws of nature
              (II′) a good god would demonstrate his existence by rendering (I′) obsolete

          O: That isn’t an argument I have made, nor is it an argument I have seen an atheist make. It has parts, but it is not the whole. It leaves out some pertinent points, like would a good God expect, reward, or punish belief or non-belief. Now I don’t think that is what you think God is about, but it is what many versions of US Christianity argue for, and when I have seen an atheist take issue, it is with those types of mainstream US Christianities and their claim that God expects/rewards/punishes belief or non-belief.

          If there is incoherency with just (I′) and (II′), adding more won’t make the incoherency go away.

          LB: Likewise, if we are trying to do agency detection and yet our understanding of agency is massively distorted, I’m 100% within my rights to say that this could prevent us from seeing much of anything. None of this entails that we have to go find God.

          O′: Fair enough. How do we tell if our understanding of agency detection is massively distorted? What do you think would improve it?

          Assuming you will accept the modification so that what you said matches what I did, I can answer your question in multiple ways. One is to say that according to a 73-year-old sociologist who is mentoring me and told me about the warring schools of thought in sociology (he provided the (1)–(4) I provided to Paul B. Lot), sociologists do not understand agency well at all. Another is to say that one psychologist I talked to claimed that psychologists are much better at characterizing psych problems than resolving them. But while these might be expert testimony in a way, they’re just anecdotes in another.

          Another way I could answer is via dumping a bunch of excerpts. For now I’ll just dump one that I think you’ve seen before:

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

          If this was true in any interesting general way (we can talk about how I would have to demonstrate that to you), that seems quite relevant to the matter of agency. If it still is true, it’s even more relevant. I can take you down a rabbit trail of excerpts if you want, and anytime you can stop me and ask me to demonstrate that a large swath of some class of experts largely agrees with the point. (You can also decide whether it makes sense to you, but I tend to think that people who have to be good in a field because otherwise someone would out-compete them might know something I don’t, so I give them weight—but not complete authority.)

          Another way we could discuss this is via a simple thought-experiment: if we understood how agency works, would that allow us to more effectively control and dominate each other? I think the answer is “yes” and if so, it seems there will be two options: (i) we are being controlled and dominated; (ii) an arms race has set off such that old knowledge of agency which worked for its time is now vastly out-of-date. I think the answer is some of each and I sometimes like to say conspiracy theorist and wonder if there is a cabal of people who know a ton about human agency they don’t openly publish, so that they have a monopoly and it is harder to understand how they are manipulating people. Anyhow, surely you understand how potent understanding of agency would be? (I think Hitler, for example, had an excellent understanding of agency.)

          What would improve our understanding of agency? An ethos of building others up rather than controlling & dominating them. An ethos where we try really hard to think the way the other person does, instead of demand that the other things the way we do. I could go on but I think that gives enough of a taste; you know you can always ask for further articulation.

        • Kodie

          But do you understand god or just trying to understand what you think god is? My understanding of god is a fictional anthropomorphic placeholder parental type of being, that religious people think pokes at them occasionally to get them to act like better people, i.e, whatever being “spiritual” means, as opposed to our everyday selves. This is maybe an idealized understanding of god, where some idolize the bible as fact, denying important chunks of reality because they believe god breathed it. There’s so much room for wrongness in any given person’s personal ideation of a god that it’s just absurd to think there is one.

        • But do you understand god or just trying to understand what you think god is?

          Do you understand me, or do you merely understand what you think I am? If I were to guess I’d say that you understand almost nothing, given that you said “I don’t really care what you think about, Luke.” I don’t ever recall you taking any correction from me (about what I think or have said or have done); whenever I disagree, I’m the one at fault. If I were to treat God the way I say you’ve treated me, then I would go with “understand what you think god is”.

          My understanding of god is a fictional anthropomorphic placeholder parental type of being …

          So a mix of Freud and Feuerbach? That matches some of the results of Creating God in your own image (actual paper). But do you (i) diligently look for data which don’t fit your model; (ii) carefully qualify your conclusions to the data you have collected; (iii) wildly generalize in a way that would embarrass any scientist worth his/her salt? I’m hoping for (i) or (ii).

          There’s so much room for wrongness in any given person’s personal ideation of a god that it’s just absurd to think there is one.

          The same argument could have been made of people’s understanding of reality, a few centuries before the scientific revolution. Why think that humans could come to a pretty decent understanding of reality when they started out so wrong and discombobulated?

        • Kodie

          I wouldn’t take correction from you because you’re not correct.

          What is this emotional emptiness that makes anyone think there’s a god, and come to radically diverse strong emotions about what god is like?

          Edit (forgot the last paragraph).

          You’re the one who argues that it’s complex. Humans are animals, and they survive by approximation. Do you get that there are silly rules in the bible that made sense at the time, given the available technology? But here we are with advanced technology and some people still living according to the bible, and many people ignoring those parts of the bible.

        • I wouldn’t take correction from you because you’re not correct.

          And thus, you utterly shut yourself off from who I am and construct a model in your head which can deviate arbitrarily much from reality. Just like what people could do with God, even if he exists.

          What is this emotional emptiness that makes anyone think there’s a god, and come to radically diverse strong emotions about what god is like?

          Once in a while you say something really fascinating. It’s an interesting choice to pick “emotional emptiness”; maybe there’s a way I can make sense of that. You be the judge.

          Possibly it is that each is given a unique perspective on God and his creation and they were meant to all cooperate with each other and teach each other from each’s unique perspective. What better way to ensure that no person is disposable than give each person a unique perspective and talents such that if you kill or otherwise neutralize the person, all humanity is permanently worse off (until at least some sort of reckoning)?

          Anyhow, I’m pretty sure that a huge part of what makes a nation a nation is common emotions/​sentiment that are much more stable than what typically go by those names. When that common core erodes, the nation starts splintering. Nations can self-destruct in this way. If we then cluster emotional … dispositions, we might find an interesting correlation to gods. Feuerbach was on to something, like Xenophanes before him. The question, of course, is whether any of those emotional dispositions are attuned to a person who exists outside of them. If so, you would expect that person to be able to apply some sort of cohesive influence on the people. And then you’d get stuff like, “My sheep hear my voice.” This unifying-disparate-people thing could be so hard that it’s used as evidence of that person’s existence.

          Do you get that there are silly rules in the bible that made sense at the time, given the available technology? But here we are with advanced technology and some people still living according to the bible, and many people ignoring those parts of the bible.

          See what Jesus said about divorce. If you’re going to exert a positive influence on a people, you have to both meet them where they are (in all their yuckiness), but also exert a pull on them toward a better place. In my experience, a lot of Americans are pretty stupid about how this works on a self-reflective level. If we were to really take this seriously, then perhaps a lot of the stupid you see in interpretations of the Bible would go away. What I am sure about is this: we would not understand perfection as perfection, if it were to be presented to us. Distorted instruments produce distorted results.

        • Paul B. Lot

          I wouldn’t take correction from you because you’re not correct.

          And thus, you utterly shut yourself off from who I am and construct a model in your head which can deviate arbitrarily much from reality.

          The bolded would only be true, of course, if you were not incorrect.

          If you were incorrect, then far from having shut herself off from who you are, she would have been open to you…and have judged you appropriately.

        • In that case, the same applies for someone who thinks [s]he understands God while never having been told that [s]he is in error.
          😀

        • Paul B. Lot

          In that case, the same applies

          Yes, whether or not what you describe fits the mold, this:

          [Person A judging person B to be in error when B is, in fact, in error] != [A shutting themselves off from “who B is” and constructing a model which can deviate arbitrarily much from reality]

          is true….for any/all As and Bs.

        • Kodie

          I think I understand god pretty well. Sorry I accidentally hit ^ instead of reply at first.

        • How did you use empirical evidence to “understand god pretty well”?

        • Kodie

          I’m not looking directly to find god, but looking to cultures and superstitions across spacetime. I understand it better than your tunnel vision allows.

        • Your “understanding” doesn’t seem based on empirical evidence. True, or false?

        • Kodie

          You can’t even fathom.

        • You seem to like explaining what you believe, so maybe do it for the lurkers, if not for me?

        • Kodie

          Tell me how much you know about animals, and how you regard animals.

        • Kodie

          Possibly it is that each is given a unique perspective on God and his creation and

          I used to think this was a possibility, but it is just stupid.

          they were meant
          to all cooperate with each other and teach each other from each’s
          unique perspective. What better way to ensure that no person is
          disposable than give each person a unique perspective and talents such
          that if you kill or otherwise neutralize the person, all humanity is
          permanently worse off (until at least some sort of reckoning)?

          I don’t think we’re meant to do anything. Cooperating is nice, but god is an imaginary friend. Trying to get along with people who insist their imaginary friend is smarter or more threatening than yours … are delusional. I don’t care what kind of decency is transmitted by the bible as long as people think they have the right to boss others around. If we’re meant to listen to each other’s perspective and come away with a better understanding of someone’s deep delusion in order to get along more productively, then god is pretty shit at his job. Making poor Luke Breuer work so hard to figure it out, and use whomever he comes across to bounce his nutty hypotheses at length, what an ass that god sure is!

        • LB: Possibly it is that each is given a unique perspective on God and his creation and

          K: I used to think this was a possibility, but it is just stupid.

          Seriously? I’ve never come across another person I discovered to hold anything like the same view. Why did you use to think that was a possibility?

          I don’t think we’re meant to do anything.

          With enough disorder in ourselves (see e.g. The Elephant in the Brain and Perplexities of Consciousness), of course we’ll think reality is lawless along the morality/​agency/​purpose dimension. And yes, I blame Christians for introducing that disorder. It is primarily Christians who have made it look like the answer to Are there laws which govern minds? is “no”. Because they cared more about control than building up. Fortunately for Jews and Christians, the Bible provides powerful mechanisms for self-critique. Other than perhaps Chris Hedges, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen atheists really profoundly critique fellow atheists. (Maybe I need to get out more. Suggestions welcome.)

          Trying to get along with people who insist their imaginary friend is smarter or more threatening than yours … are delusional.

          With emphasis on “imaginary friend”, I agree. Threatening is a terrible strategy—at least, it is if you take the Bible seriously. 😀 Maybe there are other ways to reach the same conclusion. Then again, both political parties and the mainstream media seem to feed on fear—rather like the machine learning algorithms for suggesting the next video to watch act as polarizers. It’s like some radically different disposition is required …

          I don’t care what kind of decency is transmitted by the bible as long as people think they have the right to boss others around.

          lol Mt 20:20–28 and Jn 13:1–20 lol

          If we’re meant to listen to each other’s perspective and come away with a better understanding of someone’s deep delusion in order to get along more productively, then god is pretty shit at his job.

          Or your limitation is woefully inadequate. Maybe you—and I—aren’t as awesome as we think we are. But no, that’d be heresy, wouldn’t it? At least, it’d be heresy for Kodie not to be as awesome as she thinks she is. Luke can be as much of a pox on humanity as anyone wants to believe. “He wants us to hunt for one single post so he can deny his intent, but his intent is not needed. His effect on this blog should suffice.” But wait, I can’t suggest this without being painted with the “martyr” brush. Another unfalsifiable story. Whatever; my point here is that claims that God is shit at X necessarily imply that humans are sufficiently awesome at X. I am much more inclined to disbelieve the latter than the former, given how awesome science indicates humans are at deceiving themselves. (e.g. Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government and Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory)

          Making poor Luke Breuer work so hard to figure it out, and use whomever he comes across to bounce his nutty hypotheses at length, what an ass that god sure is!

          It’s not God who is forcing this on me. It’s humans and first and foremost, those who call themselves “Christian”. But those atheists who claim to be “intellectually honest” and “only believe based on the evidence” are not far behind.

        • Kodie

          Seriously? I’ve never come across another person I discovered to hold
          anything like the same view. Why did you use to think that was a
          possibility?

          Because I wasn’t raised in a theist home, but in a theist culture, and then I went to college and took a philosophy course to fulfill my core requirements about speculative shit, one of which is maybe I’m god and I made all this around me. It was pretty much the last examination I needed before I was as certain as I could be that there’s no god. It’s all this “maybe god is this, maybe god is that,” which people have done for all time, that made me realize god is just a human device.

          Fortunately for Jews and Christians, the Bible provides powerful mechanisms for self-critique.

          Unfortunately, I don’t think most people use it for that. They use it to feel righteous, guilt-free, and to over-power others.

          Other than perhaps Chris Hedges, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen atheists really profoundly critique fellow atheists. (Maybe I need to get out more. Suggestions welcome.)

          I’m certain you’re wrong, and not sure what you think we need to critique each other about that Christians never critique each other about, but I don’t have an answer for you, mostly because I think you’re shifting the burden here. All Christians have an imaginary friend puppet who says what they want it to say, and is also their big brother who is going to beat up anyone they disagree with about whatever part of the bible they like. That’s superstitious fucking nonsense, not even on the same level.

          Blah blah blah.

          It’s not God who is forcing this on me. It’s humans and first and foremost, those who call themselves “Christian”. But those atheists who claim to be “intellectually honest” and “only believe based on the evidence” are not far behind.

          You’re forcing this on yourself. You think there’s something to look for, and you’re exhausting. I was going to add more, like exhausting every possibility or something, but you’re just exhausting. To me, to yourself. If you would try to merely consider that there’s no god and the bible is written by humans to try to get through, just as a thought experiment, you might find the loose ends just tie right up. Would you be disappointed if you couldn’t chase this phantom anymore?

        • … I went to college and took a philosophy course to fulfill my core requirements about speculative shit, one of which is maybe I’m god and I made all this around me.

          Wait, seriously? I see that as somewhat close to a command I virtually never see Christians obey in a way I would call “comprehensive/​honest”:

          Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:17)

          At best, “the will of the Lord” is interpreted as a child would interpret a parent’s commands—as if Jesus never said:

          “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:12–15)

          So, would you mind telling me more about this philosophy course? It sounds pretty awesome, and a lot better than most Sunday School I’ve heard about. (My own Sunday School was pretty awesome, but I know it was several standard deviations from the norm.)

          It’s all this “maybe god is this, maybe god is that,” which people have done for all time, that made me realize god is just a human device.

          Sounds like how scientific hypotheses are explored. (Through a glass, dimly.)

          LB: Fortunately for Jews and Christians, the Bible provides powerful mechanisms for self-critique.

          K: Unfortunately, I don’t think most people use it for that. They use it to feel righteous, guilt-free, and to over-power others.

          Ummm, that follows naturally. Consider Twitter refusing to tell how they decide whom to ban (in contrast to Facebook who just opened up its playbook); if they tell people how they judge, then the bad actors can adhere to the letter of the law while violating the spirit of the law. So what’s one strategy for dealing with this? Don’t tell them the letter of the law—instead, hand out some vague rules. Articulate “law” is precisely what permits articulate hypocrisy.

          K: I don’t think we’re meant to do anything.

          LB: … Other than perhaps Chris Hedges, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen atheists really profoundly critique fellow atheists. (Maybe I need to get out more. Suggestions welcome.)

          K: I’m certain you’re wrong, and not sure what you think we need to critique each other about that Christians never critique each other about, but I don’t have an answer for you, mostly because I think you’re shifting the burden here.

          Erm, I don’t see how I could possibly be shifting the burden when I was just pontificating about what you wrote (which itself was very open-ended). Atheists are welcome to show that they’re awesome at self-critique, but they are not required to by any canon of rationality or intellectual honesty I know of. I just thought you might have some awesome to show me, from which there is the barest of possibility that I or [maybe more likely?] some lurker could learn.

          All Christians have an imaginary friend puppet …

          There you go, universalizing parochial experience again.

          You’re forcing this on yourself. You think there’s something to look for, and you’re exhausting.

          The search for truth is exhausting. But c’mon, be straightforward: do you think the answer to Are there laws which govern minds? is “no”?

          Would you be disappointed if you couldn’t chase this phantom anymore?

          Given that I seem to be hitting on science at the same time that I’m “chas[ing] this phantom”, it’s not clear what I’m losing out. That atheists like you aren’t picking up the science in the discussion is, well, suspicious. I thought you and your kind venerated scientific knowledge. I know that’s a bit of a generalization, but at least it’s one that paints you in a good light—or am I wrong?

        • Kodie

          I don’t remember this philosophy course talking about god that much, but then again, it kind of did. It helped me get a handle on atheism for sure. If I am god and everything going on is in my creation/imagination…. well, it’s not. I don’t know what the fuck is going on everywhere, and then it’s on the news. I don’t think I’m a brain in a vat. I don’t think the universe was created last Thursday. I don’t think god created the universe and walked off, never to be heard from again. I think the last is a great compromise that just doesn’t make any fucking sense. None of these ideas do. Mostly, the course was trippy dippy shit, the professor invited us (a large lecture hall) for beers at his house (I was just 18) the first weekend of classes my first semester of school, and i fell asleep a lot because it was at 8:30 in the morning. He was the first and last professor I ever had, including Writing 200, who explicitly instructed us not to write so that we could be understood, but write so that you can’t be misunderstood. Well, that’s why I think I only got a C.

          Moving on.

          The bible isn’t a rulebook for anything, so I don’t see how it is similar to the policies, arbitrary, hidden, or otherwise, of Twitter or Facebook. Those are companies owned by people and we are their guests. If someone is using the bible to own me, fuck ’em.

          The final point… is that you’re just spinning. You’re attempting to support your beliefs with science, but it’s just not working that way on the end of people who don’t believe in god. You still don’t get what I mean by magical book, or how I see the bible or god. The bible isn’t god, it’s not god’s work, it’s not god’s words, it’s not an avenue to find god. If there’s a god, the bible is a sad method of trying to communicate with humans. You might find things in the bible that you like, but your concept of god seems to hang on things that make you feel like you’re on the right path either emotionally or socially or whatever. What makes you think that has anything to do with an invisible force acting on your life and mine and everyone else’s, who wants us to conform to some set of behaviors that you personally feel are beneficial. We’re all in this together alone down here, that’s how I feel about the whole thing. Looking for god like you do seems obsessive and maybe overkill on getting to whatever goal you might have. Are you trying to find god, feel god, understand god, or just feel good, feel at peace, be a good person as best you can figure out to be?

        • I don’t remember this philosophy course talking about god that much, but then again, it kind of did. It helped me get a handle on atheism for sure. …

          Well, I’m glad it helped you clarify your thoughts. I still think more people should understand the Bible as teaching them how God did things such that they are expected to either continue the project (e.g. of making reality suck less—see Isaiah 58), or abandon their faith as worthless. This whole “emotional comfort” thing is antithetical to Jesus’ whole existence, as well as Paul’s and Peter’s. No prophet in the OT was big on “emotional comfort” either.

          LB: Fortunately for Jews and Christians, the Bible provides powerful mechanisms for self-critique.

          K: Unfortunately, I don’t think most people use it for that. They use it to feel righteous, guilt-free, and to over-power others.

          LB: Ummm, that follows naturally. Consider Twitter refusing to tell how they decide whom to ban (in contrast to Facebook who just opened up its playbook); if they tell people how they judge, then the bad actors can adhere to the letter of the law while violating the spirit of the law. So what’s one strategy for dealing with this? Don’t tell them the letter of the law—instead, hand out some vague rules. Articulate “law” is precisely what permits articulate hypocrisy.

          K: The bible isn’t a rulebook for anything, so I don’t see how it is similar to the policies, arbitrary, hidden, or otherwise, of Twitter or Facebook. Those are companies owned by people and we are their guests. If someone is using the bible to own me, fuck ’em.

          You said lots of people use the Bible “to feel righteous, guilt-free, and to over-power others”. My response is that anything which articulates the difference between righteousness and unrighteousness will end up making it easier to be a hypocrite. Making any sort of rules or understanding articulate means people can more easily game the system. Haven’t you encountered this phenomenon before?

          You’re attempting to support your beliefs with science …

          Which beliefs am I trying to support with which science? IIRC I mostly use science on CE to tear down what I see as shitty-ass understandings, not to support anything about God’s existence or Christianity being awesome or anything like that. The most I say is that when science shows us to be incredibly self-deluding creatures, the Bible was there 2000–2500 years before our smart scientists.

          You still don’t get what I mean by magical book,

          That’s because you haven’t explained, to my satisfaction, details of how the magic ostensibly works. I like fantasy books like Mistborn, The Way of Kings, and Chronicles of Elantra. I know how to derive the characteristics of magical system.

          or how I see the bible or god.

          As fictional. And an emotional crutch. And a means of control. What did I miss? Perhaps a shitty-ass just-so story about how reality works?

          There’s some more in your comment but I doubt you want me to fisk it and I’m tired. Goodnight.

        • Kodie

          I guess I’m just not getting through to you, or you seem intent on not being able to understand.

        • Well, you dumped a massive amount of claims on me in that one paragraph:

          K: The final point… is that you’re just spinning. You’re attempting to support your beliefs with science, but it’s just not working that way on the end of people who don’t believe in god. You still don’t get what I mean by magical book, or how I see the bible or god. The bible isn’t god, it’s not god’s work, it’s not god’s words, it’s not an avenue to find god. If there’s a god, the bible is a sad method of trying to communicate with humans. You might find things in the bible that you like, but your concept of god seems to hang on things that make you feel like you’re on the right path either emotionally or socially or whatever. What makes you think that has anything to do with an invisible force acting on your life and mine and everyone else’s, who wants us to conform to some set of behaviors that you personally feel are beneficial. We’re all in this together alone down here, that’s how I feel about the whole thing. Looking for god like you do seems obsessive and maybe overkill on getting to whatever goal you might have. Are you trying to find god, feel god, understand god, or just feel good, feel at peace, be a good person as best you can figure out to be?

          Maybe slow down and don’t claim so many things in one comment? You and I don’t seem to do so well when the complexity of any given comment rises past a certain level. So why not simplify? For example, we could zero in on:

          K: If there’s a god, the bible is a sad method of trying to communicate with humans.

          I would like to know why you believe this; surely it means you know of better methods of communicating with humans? And yet if you do, then surely you could use those “better methods” to break down some of the communication barriers which seem to be popping up all over the place these days.

        • Kodie

          I am not sure if I answered this post already, so let me know if I need to come back to this.

        • You did not (I just loaded all the comments with a script). I would appreciate a response to that particular point, if you’re so inclined.

        • Kodie

          Maybe slow down and don’t claim so many things in one comment? You and I don’t seem to do so well when the complexity of any given comment rises past a certain level. So why not simplify? For example, we could zero in on:

          Mostly, I just have one or two things to respond to 5 or 12 things you brought up. Try to fucking figure out why someone might go overboard to try to keep up with your apparent mania for Jesus.

          I would like to know why you believe this; surely it means you know of better methods of communicating with humans? And yet if you do, then surely you could use those “better methods” to break down some of the communication barriers which seem to be popping up all over the place these days.

          The communication barrier seems to be that you only want to hear what you want to hear, and have difficulty understanding what someone is saying when they say something you don’t want to hear. I don’t necessarily think a book is the worst way a god would have to communicate with people, but given the bible we have, and the many ways people can truly believe they are saved while misinterpreting it according to you, well, all your tests of the parts you prefer, to the exclusion of the rest of it, and the ignorance that it’s nothing special (what you prefer about the bible), it would have been more efficient to send direct simultaneous brain messages like you think he does on a singular basis just for you.

          The bible is evidence for no god, it’s just evidence for lots of successful marketing (including marketing via sword). The main reason you’re a Christian in the US is the conditions of conversion for your ancestors.

        • The communication barrier seems to be that you only want to hear what you want to hear, and have difficulty understanding what someone is saying when they say something you don’t want to hear.

          Point of clarification: is this “you” a “you, Luke Breuer” such that you’ve 100% personalized these sentences to me and not my argument, or is this the generic “you”? To the latter, I say this happens when people have hardened Hebrew-hearts, meaning a “seat of the understanding” which has ossified and is unable to change. It’d be like a small town which cannot tolerate new people coming in who dress differently or speak differently or listen to different music. Another term I use is “hardening the categories”. These are all major problems. As it turns out, the Bible deals with them in a number of different ways with a number of different strategies. It’s a really, really hard problem. But I think that sufficiently smart & wise people can make progress.

          … it would have been more efficient to send direct simultaneous brain messages like you think he does on a singular basis just for you.

          Correction: I got two very weak-sauce “brain messages” which most people would say just came from my brain. Let’s not overblow things, shall we? Given that, your model would have people not building other people up, but God merely interacting with each person as if [s]he lived in his/her own universe. I think that’d be a shitty reality; don’t you? Or have I misunderstood the full scope of what you intend? You didn’t give me that much to go on.

          The bible is evidence for no god, it’s just evidence for lots of successful marketing (including marketing via sword). The main reason you’re a Christian in the US is the conditions of conversion for your ancestors.

          I don’t really see the Bible as much evidence for God until one applies it in reality to better effect than alternative options. So please don’t erect a straw man you know not to erect with me. As to the last sentence, see Tomas Bogardus’ The Problem of Contingency for Religious Belief. tl;dr The only reason you believe what you do is the particularities of your history. Particularities matter. You might read up on Sean Carroll’s work that maybe different parts of the universe follow different laws. Then particularities would be the scientific laws currently in operation. “Universal” would go the way of the dodo bird.

        • Kodie

          It’s both you, Luke Breuer, or should I say stewer, and you, a bone-headed Christian who is in love with the sound of the other voice in your head which is yourself.

        • Says the spewer. 😀

        • Ok, time for bite-size pieces. I’ll preface with what I think the top-level item was for this piece:

          LB: My fundamental claim is that when I suggest that we have closed ourselves off to God, that we have made what is good/​beautiful/​right 100% subjective, we have done that to each other as well. We may not have done it quite as much to each other as to God, but I think it’s really close. …

          (See that comment for several back-and-forths in the history.)

          I just don’t understand how I can be said to have ‘closed myself off’ to something I don’t believe exists.

          Haven’t you seen all the studies of behavior which shows that there’s a great deal we do of which we are dimly conscious or not conscious at all? For example, we can make choices we didn’t realize led to bad results, and forget that we made those choices when the bad results appear. There is a danger here in not allowing there to be a “dimly conscious” phase, at least at some point in time (e.g. before repression/​suppression succeeds).

          There is also the fact that sometimes people stop looking for something after X amount of effort, when more than X amount of effort was required. The end result of that is that you don’t believe X exists. I’m reminded of the parable of the persistent widow, which incidentally relates to your “justice” discussion (my response—which I’ve included in full, below). Incidentally, some bleeding-edge Hebrew scholarship indicates that said parable may be a reference to Hannah weeping in 1 Samuel 1. I wrote it the details but it was kind of long, so I’ll only provide them on request.

          Now, a response in all this is that “God shouldn’t be that hard to find!” This would be theologically inaccurate to those who believe that it is God who actually finds us and calls to us; that’s kind of the message of Deut 30:11–22 for the Jews; Jesus is comparable for present purposes. Rewind a few centuries and God didn’t seem hard to find in Europe. So were we Enlightened or Endarkened? I think both, because I have reason to believe there was a lot of stupid in Christianity, starting well before the Reformation. The “nuclear option” for clearing out toxic understandings of God is to go through a period of atheism (pragmatic if not doxastic).

          I’m again going to stop prematurely, to ensure we’re on the same page. Where I intend to go from here is the idea that understanding God is a massively cooperative and multidisciplinary activity, such that one generation can make it easier or harder for the next to better understand God. Feel free to indicate whether or not you think it is “fair” for God to set things up that way.

          I have come to a conditional conclusion based on the information I currently have. I can change my mind with different information. I don’t think it is correct to characterize that as ‘closing off’… intentional or otherwise.

          If the vast majority of scientists believe a theory in such a way to occlude their view of falsifying phenomena, have they “closed themselves off” to reality being different (more nuanced) than they think it is? I’m going to make another reference to questioning (B) at Fitch’s paradox of knowability § Proof: K(p & q) → (Kp & Kq). It might be the case that “closing off” is very related to [epistemic] foundationalism (IEP, WP, SEP); I suspect foundationalism is exactly the same as the ancient Hebrew notion of a “hardened heart” (a “seat of the understanding” which is fixed). Foundationalism, by the way, is arrogance. But as Stephen Toulmin argues in Cosmopolis, it is also a move of fear. (I can expand on this.)

          In all this, I realize that there’s a bit of what Randal Rauser has called “the standard Rebellion Thesis” potentially lurking. But that thesis transgresses a rule I think holds: most rebellion is banal. I think it can be as simple as refusing to be “one who conquers”. After all, to “fall short of the glory of God”, all one needs to do is not press forward. Similarly, all one needs to do to make ever-diminishing scientific progress is to not try really fucking hard. I know this; I’m married to a scientist and I see how brutal it is on her. So, is it mean or unjust of God to require us to press forward?

          LB: A crucial question I sense is how aware it is important to have been, for it to be fair for God to try no more in ways the individual can identify as such?

          O: All I know is there are people who have put far more effort into it than I have that ended up rejecting the idea of God, and there are people who have put almost no effort in and have embraced it completely, and vice versa. I could as easily ask how much effort does a human (or humans as a whole) have to put in to be fair for us to try no more in ways God can identify as such?

          I think the true effort required is repentance: unveiling false beliefs and evil desires and unwillingness to press forward. If we are the instruments with which we measure reality and the instrument has serious issues, then detection problems are probably due to those issues. Take for example the field of sociology and all the bad rep it has. I asked a sociologist in his 70s why he thinks that is the case; here are four reasons he provided:

               1. sociology reveals ugly problems people don’t want to acknowledge
               2. there’s lots of stupid ideology
               3. many are obsessed with abstractions
               4. many insist on oversimplifying

          The problem, IMO, is not that we have insufficient information. We are overloaded! The problem is that we refuse to get our shit together. And mostly I mean “Christians”; they should be at the fricken forefront of sociology. Sociology is the way one studies the details of how groups of people oppress others instead of building them up (that is, agape). Sadly, too many Christians are of the Constantine-type: themselves oppressors. But, I should note, I did get into sociology via a Christian: Os Guinness’ The Gravedigger File (updated version: The Last Christian on Earth). From there I hit up Peter Berger and Jacques Ellul, who are both Christian sociologists. There is also Christian Smith. But dear lord sociology is mostly non-Christians; I think it might be the most secularized discipline.

          I did not say it was your fault.

          Thanks.

        • Paul B. Lot

          sociology is mostly non-Christians; I think it might be the most secularized discipline

          It is not.

        • What discipline is more secularized?

        • Kodie

          Another pompous asshole demonstration?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Interesting that he didn’t lead out with support for his assertion…like a wall of text from some paper with x citations and a lot of blue links that go nowhere.

        • Kodie

          He’s making an assertion on his impression, and then asking Paul to do his homework. I actually enjoy the shorter post for once.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I actually enjoy the shorter post for once.

          I wouldn’t get used to it though…that novelty wil soon where off.