Expelled‘s Weekend Box Office

How badly did Expelled do on opening weekend?

The weekend isn’t over yet, but it is possible to extrapolate based on Friday’s receipts.

Things don’t look too good.

[Insert your own "Expelled from the box office" joke here.]

… Playing in 1,052 theaters, the pic distributed by Rocky Mountain Pictures earned $1.2M Friday for what should be a $3.4M weekend. But the per screen average for Friday was a feeble $1,130… showing there wasn’t any pent-up demand for the film despite an aggressive publicity campaign. So much for the conservative argument that people would flock to films not representing the “agenda of liberal Hollywood”

Nikki Finke, the writer of that piece, compares the movie to Michael Moore‘s documentary, Sicko — it made relatively more money from fewer theaters on its opening weekend. That seems like an unfair comparison, as Moore already had a reputation as a film-maker. Though he was a speechwriter for President Nixon, I doubt most people know anything about Ben Stein‘s political/scientific views.

These may not be fair comparisons either, but they’re first-time documentaries headlined by a well-known or semi-well-known person.

Morgan Spurlock‘s Super Size Me had a $12,601 per-theater opening weekend average from 41 theaters. It made $516,641 that weekend.

Al Gore‘s An Inconvenient Truth had a $70,332 per-theater opening weekend average from 4 theaters. It made $281,330 that weekend.

Michael Moore‘s Roger and Me had a $20,063 per-theater opening weekend average from 4 theaters. It made $80,253 that weekend.

I can just imagine producer Mark Mathis and friends coming up with ways to spin this: “The movie theaters of America are just trying to suppress anti-Evolution voices,” they’ll say.

You can see how Expelled fared in the box office this weekend here.


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • Eliza

    Anyone have any idea how much the theaters pay, on average, per screen, to show a documentary? And is it a percentage of the take, or a flat rate? (I’m assuming they don’t get it for free then get to pocket 100% of the ticket revenue…)

    Also, I have an explanation as to why this movie opened with such low turnout on the initial weekend. This weekend was the start of Passover, right? So naturally alot of people who might otherwise have come to the opening of Expelled were busy preparing for, or celebrating, Passover seder (either in their own homes, or at Christian-Jewish Interfaith gatherings).

    Right.

  • BZ

    I was the only one in the theatre where I was.

  • http://lippard.blogspot.com/ Jim Lippard

    It’s actually doing pretty well for a documentary. The odds are good that it will be among the top ten documentaries for box office take.

    It’s not doing that well as a controversial film or as a Christian film, or in comparison to a Hollywood blockbuster.

    It’s looking like it will have about a $3 million opening weekend.

    Eliza: Most of the funds in the opening week go to the distributors and filmmakers; the percentage of the take that goes to the theater owners goes up the longer the film shows.

    I’ve heard that this film cost about $2.5 million to make and they’ve spent millions more on marketing; probably less than $10 million total. So it looks like they will probably reach break-even from theatrical release and any DVD sales will be pure gravy. In other words, this isn’t going to be a deterrent to another similar deceptive filmmaking act of similar budget–they’ll likely make some profit and do it again.

    The positive part of it is that I think they are also inadvertently promoting atheism. Google Trends shows that searches on “Expelled” have gone way up, and people are reading sites like ExpelledExposed.com. I’m seeing well above average hits on my blog, which has covered “Expelled”‘s deception in detail. So the more people who see this movie, the more people will see the critical websites and realize that the producers of this film have been deceptive.

    Learning that I was being lied to was a major factor in my abandoning evangelical Christianity and ultimately becoming an atheist. “Expelled” will no doubt have the same effect for other people.

  • Joseph

    I went and saw the movie today. Ben Stein did an amazing job. I was surprised to see so many people in the theater. After the movie, I was curious and peeked in on the theater that was running “Prom Night” (since that was number one on the charts) …well, “Expelled” had more people in the theater than “Prom Night.” So at least in a big metropolitan city like here in Houston, there’s a lot of people watching it.

  • Siamang

    I’ll chime in as someone with a little bit of professional familiarity with the biz.

    First off, I wouldn’t count chickens until we have Saturday’s numbers. Group sales probably would be on the weekend with this.

    Nikki Finke estimates 3.4m this weekend. I’ll drop like a stone after that, unlike Michael Moore and Spurlock’s docs, which had legs.

    Rule of thumb with box-office take is to estimate that the releasing company (NOT the filmmakers… this is an important point), gets half of the box office, and the theater gets the other half. This is just a rule of thumb.

    You’ve got to look at the lay of the land here… two weeks from now, the wide, WIDE releases start… we’re talking Iron Man. Theater owners are going to be expelling Expelled from their auditoriums to make room… this thing’s got a PSA headed south fast.

    I don’t see this film making more than 6 million in its run. And looking at the numbers, this was a very expensive run for a docu, to make and market. They released in 1000 theaters… motion picture prints for 1000 theaters are EXPENSIVE. It’s possible that the film was only running in theaters with digital projection systems, though, and that would cut costs for them.

    They sprung for extensive advertising on this film, for a docu. I saw ads on the Daily Show and Colbert. This was a risky investment. After they pay Ben Stein’s money, I don’t think the filmmakers will make much, if anything of note even on home video.

    Long story short, I think Premise will lose about a million or two on the theatrical release, but make that up on the home video… and squeak out without taking a financial penalty. As investors, they’d be better off investing in savings bonds, oil futures or gold.

    The filmmakers might… MIGHT make their costs back. MIGHT. It depends what their turkey cost.

    Jim Lippard said:

    It’s actually doing pretty well for a documentary. The odds are good that it will be among the top ten documentaries for box office take.

    Often people outside the industry look only at box office results and say “ahh, it did well!”.

    Look at both sides of the ledger. Sure, other docus might not make as much… but they might make a profit, and this might lose people a few million dollars.

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  • Frank

    I enjoyed the documentary and it is clear that there really are two distinct world views and that Stein is correct – the “scientific” point of view has totally bought into the atheist, evolutionist position. The result is a culture of death that has lost the integrity of scientific inquiry and embraced the kool-aid of abortion and eugenics. Cheers to Stein for having the courage to call them on it!

  • Ken McKnight

    When I saw a preview of the movie in Tempe, Arizona, the PR guy who was hosting said, in answer to a question, that they would consider the movie a “success” if it made $12 to 15 million on the opening weekend. By that standard it is clearly a failure.

  • Claire

    I am eager to see the box office stats.
    I saw the movie with my 16 year old brother. We both found it informative, thought provoking and entertaining.

    If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it!

  • SarahH

    I think the numbers generated by the film are far less important than the reactions of the people who go to see it.

    I would guess the film’s audience is made up of three main groups: Christians who already believe ID theory (lowercase t, baby), people who go to see it already having dismissed it as garbage but can’t stay away (like a bad car accident) and those who are curious from seeing previews and/or were dragged along by friends or family who belong to group A or B.

    The last group is the only one that really stands to be influenced by the film – the first two will likely just come out of theaters with their previous beliefs strengthened – so I’d be interested to hear from people in that group. I’d guess that it probably left many with negative impressions, given the reviews I’ve read. If that’s the case, I hope lots of people go see it, if only to increase exposure to recognizably stupid arguments and attacks.

  • goose

    Am I missing something?

    The weekend box-office numbers in the initial comment show that that this movie will make more in its initial weekend, than any of the other pieces (Super Size, Incov Truth, or Rodger and me)

    The comment compares per-screen averages (PSA)…But wouldn’t we expect the PSA to be higher for a movie that shows on fewer screens, and (with the exception of a blockbuster) lower for a movie with a higher number screens?

    I don’t support the movie…or its message.

    But it’s a little to early to make any grand predictions isn’t it? Good/Bad word of mouth will really begin when the weekend movie watchers return home and start talking with their friends.

    Let’s let it simmer for a week or two and evaluate it then.

  • QrazyQat

    It’s going to be difficult to gauge how well this documentary is actually doing because we know that the producers and their PR firm are stuffing the box office figures with various kickbacks and bribes for people to see it (they’ve had several schemes they’ve announced so far, which I’m sure you’ve seen mentioned in various blogs). (In addition, there’s the likelihood that church groups and schools will get their marching orders to go see the movie from the pulpits and front offices, much like Mel Gibson’s Passion.)

    In addition, since the movie is not so much a real documentary but rather a piece of propaganda (it’s a bad doc but good propaganda) the filmmakers might actually do better if they don’t do all that well at the box office. The more that the general public sees it the more likelihood that people will see through it. But if instead it sinks at the box office, they can cry conspiracy! and then switch to showing “the story they didn’t want you to see” in church meeting rooms and the like. As for making money, that’s not something they need to do to be a successful for this project. As we’ve seen numerous times, the rightwing religious factions have money flowing to them in large amounts. A few tens of millions to make a museum or do a movie are easy for them to come by.

  • http://www.SecularDignity.net Secular Dignity

    Leaving aside the merits of evolution or ID, how on earth can anybody listen to Ben Stein talk for two hours? His monotone gets to be too much for me after 20 seconds.

    And kudos to Frank for leaving the same comment almost verbatim at the Atheist Revolution blog. Great way to look grassroots!! (And yes, that was sarcasm.)

  • QrazyQat

    Not to mention BeliefNet’s MovieMom and Splendid Elles, and that’s just what shows up on Google so far.

  • Ken McKnight

    The box office take dropped off almost 18% from Friday to Saturday. Not one other film in the top 13 went DOWN in receipts for the same period. That’s extremely telling. Expelled is a monumental BOMB!

  • http://www.rekounas.org rekounas

    #

    Frank said,

    April 20, 2008 at 6:31 am

    I enjoyed the documentary and it is clear that there really are two distinct world views and that Stein is correct – the “scientific” point of view has totally bought into the atheist, evolutionist position. The result is a culture of death that has lost the integrity of scientific inquiry and embraced the kool-aid of abortion and eugenics. Cheers to Stein for having the courage to call them on it!

    Culture death? Kool-aid abortions? What have you been smoking? Stein is a crackpot and the people behind this film are crackpots too. Oh, the poor creationists getting laughed out of the classroom cause of their crazy ideas. Have you ever thought they are getting laughed at because they might be crazy? If creationism is allowed in the classroom, then as part of all multiple choice answers, I would want all gods as possible answers:
    Yahweh
    Allah
    Buddha
    Zeus
    Odin
    Flying Spaghetti Monster
    Invisible Bearded Man in the Sky that wants to punish me, but he loves me.

  • John Wohl

    Hey, I appreciate the more modest tone of voice on this blog than many of the others I have been looking at.

    I am a Christian and I am looking around to see what has been said about this movie. First of all, I think the goal of all this is to have a civilized/informed discussion, from whichever side of things you come. So I will discuss, debate, and respectfully agree/disagree when necessary.

    Regarding Expelled, many people have made a snap judgment or are criticizing it without having seen it. Personally I do not feel qualified to discuss Darwin’s Origin because I have not read it, nor can I thus criticize it. Now, I do not agree with evolutionary principles (wherever they come from) because they are counter to my belief in God’s literal creation.

    This is not to say that I am defending this movie because I think it should stand on its own. I have no idea about any of the things brought up against it legally, and if anyone has done anything illegal that is wrong. If the producers are Christians then that should not be happening, but if it did I am sorry.

    My upbringing has taught me to listen carefully to everything that is revealed, seriously look into the issues, then come to my own conclusions. Do I agree with everything that my parents/teachers/pastors/etc. have taught? No, but I would study until I came to find out the truth. Am I fully versed in everything I need to be? No, but I am trying.

    I only ask for you to do the same. What comes to me as totally antithetical to my worldview often raises a fire within me and I want to rise up against it in defensiveness. That’s a natural reaction. But something that challenges the status quo in my life has often been necessary for my growth and maturity.

  • Siamang

    Have we heard from any sources how much marketing has cost on this film? If the budget was two million, and the marketing was ten IIRC, they’ve sunk twelve million into this film. I estimate that this thing will top out making 6 or 7 in theaters. Rule of thumb says the theaters keep half of that. So Premise stands to lose 7 or 8 million dollars on the theatrical release. I don’t know what deal they cut with the producers, but it’s possible that they might not make back their costs.

    Goose, it may have made more on its opening weekend than those other docus. But that’s because Premise spent millions of dollars running advertisements. This is a money-losing film. Roger and Me wasn’t.

    That is, unless the completely unexpected happens and next week this thing shows some leg. The “stinker” quality of the reviews gives me the impression that this won’t occur.

  • Siamang

    The box office take dropped off almost 18% from Friday to Saturday

    Holy shit, Ken. That’s very bad. That’s the sign of a sure bomb. I expect that the 3.1 million dollar estimate will be revised downward when we get the sunday actuals on Monday evening.

  • http://www.rekounas.org rekounas

    because they are counter to my belief in God’s literal creation.

    So, you believe that Noah and his boat of happy animals traveled the world and dropped off the marsupials in Australia and the polar bears at the North Pole? How long would it have taken to do that I wonder? That must have been a massive boat. What did they eat? Couldn’t have eaten the animals? Oh right, they grew all their own vegetables. Have they ever found that massive arc? Or how about the dry dock? Did Noah use the reindeer that Santa uses to pull his arc.

    Come on! If you believe in God, that’s great. But don’t be fooled by everything you read in the bible. The fact that it was written 70-100 years after Christ’s death should make you skeptical about it’s content. The new testament and religion has an agenda… it exists to control you. You better be good or you will burn in hell. Which hell? The pope hasn’t decided how many hells exist.

  • John Wohl

    Well, actually the only hell, but I don’t always agree with the pope either.

    I have found that religion is not a controlling mechanism for me, it is actually freedom. And the book of Genesis (which includes the story of Noah) was written much earlier than 0 BC, like 1500-2000 years earlier. And all of the New Testament was finished by 100 AD, before the original 12 apostles had passed away (besides Judas), so I’m certain it says what it is supposed to say.

    Can I explain the story of Noah completely? No. But because we differ in the basis of our view of the Bible then we cannot see it the same way. I have no problem with small changes over time in animals, though.

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  • Eliza

    John Wohl, welcome. Have you looked at the site expelledexposed.com at all? It has done a good job organizing the beefs people have with the movie Expelled, & I’ve found it to be a very interesting read.

    You said

    My upbringing has taught me to listen carefully to everything that is revealed, seriously look into the issues, then come to my own conclusions.

    Does this mean that revelation in the Bible takes precedence over “natural revelation” (revelation in/through the natural world, as uncovered by the investigations of curious humans)? Some scientists do see God’s work in the natural world, and see their work as discovering, uncovering, revealing if you will, the marvels of His intricate and subtle work.

    My understanding is that a literal interpretation of events in the Bible is a relatively new approach to it, historically. The biologist who wrote that “Nothing in biology makes sense without evolution” also said this:

    Does the evolutionary doctrine clash with religious faith? It does not. It is a blunder to mistake the Holy Scriptures for elementary textbooks of astronomy, geology, biology, and anthropology. Only if symbols are construed to mean what they are not intended to mean can there arise imaginary, insoluble conflicts. As pointed out above, the blunder leads to blasphemy: the Creator is accused of systematic deceitfulness.

    I read the Bible, though I’m an atheist. I’ve asked questions about how people understand and interpret it, and that has helped increase my understanding, though it hasn’t changed my basic beliefs.

    Can I suggest that you read some of the information at the links in this post, think about it, & feel free to ask here should questions or comments about anything in them?

  • cautious

    Er…John?

    My upbringing has taught me to listen carefully to everything that is revealed, seriously look into the issues, then come to my own conclusions.

    my belief in God’s literal creation.

    …how did you listen carefully to the world, and look seriously into the issue of its origin, and then come to the conclusion that the Bible got it right?

    But, nonetheless, I would say something here about how it’s possible to be a Christian but not believe in a creation as literal as that in Genesis 1. But since I am not one of those people, I fear my words wouldn’t come off very well.

    EDIT: …also, what Eliza said.

  • http://www.rekounas.org rekounas

    And the book of Genesis (which includes the story of Noah) was written much earlier than 0 BC, like 1500-2000 years earlier. And all of the New Testament was finished by 100 AD, before the original 12 apostles had passed away (besides Judas), so I’m certain it says what it is supposed to say.

    Answers in Genesis? There is a Christian website and organization and museum on the subject. In those 2000 years, God goes from being a jealous, incestuous, megalomaniac to this loving peaceful God. Which one is it?

    So, the new testament was finished 100 AD, and you don’t think there will be a few in accuracies there? The authors were people that thought the Sun revolved around the Earth and that the Earth was flat. Plus they thought a star followed the little baby Jesus to a manger. I mean, come on!

    What date does the bible say Jesus died? Which date do you think it is accurate? Ask the Orthodox Christians and then ask Protestants and Catholics.

    Would you agree with everything in the bible? How about the following?

    44: Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.

    45: Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.

    46: And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.

    As mentioned earlier, if you believe in God because you believe in God, well great. No one can say anything to you. But when you say you believe in God because of the words in the bible, well my friend, you have been taken for a ride.

  • Eliza

    Oh, but that’s an easy one to get around: Christ offers a route to salvation which supercedes, nay demolished, the Old Laws. “We” don’t have to follow the old laws, except of course the ones that still seem to make sense today & then “we” will argue that they are God’s Law (Ten Commandments, maybe Leviticus against homosexuality, love thy neighbor). Other than these bits, the entire Old Testament simply paves the way for Christ, lays the groundwork if you will, but does not tell us how to achieve salvation or live our lives.

    (I’ve learned some stuff from C’s along the way…I had no clue about all this 2 yrs ago.)

    Of course, back when slavery was legal and practiced in the United States, Christians probably did rely (did have to rely) on pro-slavery rules in the Old Testament such as rekounas gives above.

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  • cipher

    God goes from being a jealous, incestuous, megalomaniac to this loving peaceful God.

    I would add only that I don’t find the god of the NT all that loving and peaceful. In the OT, if God got angry at you (which he did, apparently, on a regular basis), he’d take away your toys. Maybe he’d kill you. Or, if you really pissed him off, he’d let you live, but he’d kill your kids. Sometimes he’d do it on a dare; just ask poor Job.

    In the NT, he doesn’t do any of that., No, he’s hit upon a much better plan. He just bides his time, letting you think you’re getting away with it all – then, after you die, he tortures you for all of eternity. Oh, but that’s right – he didn’t intend for you to end up there. He simply has no choice, because you’re so bad, and you didn’t avail yourself of the Jesus clause. It’s really all your fault: “I don’t want to hurt you; you’re making me do it.” Christian theology is the Cliff Notes version of every domestic abuse scenario that’s ever occurred.

    I often think that Christianity, which professes to be the cure for what ails us, is actually the ultimate expression of our fucked-up-ness.

  • ln

    This film did great. What are you talking about? Are you so biased that you are willing to overlook facts? This film recouped it production costs opening weekend. Now, take that Mega-bomb Lions For Lambs with Cruise, Streep, and Redford…now THAT film stunk up the joint.

    Also, there are a lot of people these days who simply wait for it to come out on video or they purchase it. But your child-like excitement over the mere possibility of it doing poorly is very entertaining in itself.

  • Barney Frank

    If that’s the case, I hope lots of people go see it, if only to increase exposure to recognizably stupid arguments and attacks.

    If you haven’t seen it how do you recognize that it contains stupid arguments or attacks? Isn’t that what creationists do when they refuse to even look at science?

    It’s going to be difficult to gauge how well this documentary is actually doing because we know that the producers and their PR firm are stuffing the box office figures with various kickbacks and bribes ……..

    But if instead it sinks at the box office, they can cry conspiracy

    Who’s crying consiracy?

    If creationism is allowed in the classroom, then as part of all multiple choice answers, I would want all gods as possible answers:
    Yahweh
    Allah
    Buddha
    Zeus
    Odin
    Flying Spaghetti Monster
    Invisible Bearded Man in the Sky that wants to punish me, but he loves me.

    Buddha did not claim to be god nor is he worshipped as one. Buddhism is essentially atheistic. I am not familar with the FSM but suspect his following is relatively small, perhaps centered in the Chef Boyardee region of Italy.

    Does this mean that revelation in the Bible takes precedence over “natural revelation” (revelation in/through the natural world, as uncovered by the investigations of curious humans)? Some scientists do see God’s work in the natural world, and see their work as discovering, uncovering, revealing if you will, the marvels of His intricate and subtle work.

    Well put. The discoveries of science are not at odds with the bible. Genesis, read as an extremely brief outline of natural history and with a proper understanding of the Hebrew used, is remarkably compatible with the big bang and natural history. Properly understood even an atheist might have to admit how closely they track. The odd bit of reasoning I find among atheists is the idea that discovering how things work implies God doesn’t exist. I suspect the atheism usually informs the implication not vice versa.

    Of course, back when slavery was legal and practiced in the United States, Christians probably did rely (did have to rely) on pro-slavery rules in the Old Testament such as rekounas gives above.

    Both Christians and atheists owned slaves. The abolition of slavery was primarily a Christian movement. Not sure what the example of slavery has to do with anything other than the vileness of man in general.

    Would you agree with everything in the bible? How about the following?

    44: Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.

    45: Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.

    46: And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.

    I don’t agree with everything in the bible and neither does God. Rules were set down in the OT which recognized the realities of man’s behavior. Recognition does not necessarily denote approbation. The gentiles were given the right to join the Jewish nation if they forsook other gods. God’s overriding intent as the OT makes clear was to see that the tiny nation of the Jews survived, which would have been impossible if they did not remain relatively pure and isolated from the much larger populations surrounding them.

    The authors were people that thought the Sun revolved around the Earth and that the Earth was flat. Plus they thought a star followed the little baby Jesus to a manger. I mean, come on!

    What evidence is there of the first two statements? The OT itself states more than once that the earth is round and nowhere does it say that the sun revolves around the earth. The church eventually foolishly bought into the incorrect scientific belief apparently descending from Aristotle that the sun revolves around the earth, just as many scientists did.
    As to the wise men’s ‘star’ moving; the bible merely says that it ‘went before them’. That can just as easily mean it maintained its position as they traveled toward it, just as any of the planets or a comet does when we’re driving toward one today.

    Atheists would make more compelling arguments if they took the time to understand what they are arguing with. Reducing the vitriol and condescencion would help also.

  • Siamang

    I don’t agree with everything in the bible and neither does God.

    And you know this…. how exactly?

    Is God telling you stuff He isn’t telling other people? Burning bush this time, or does He use the telephone… or speak to you through the fillings in your teeth?

  • cautious

    I don’t agree with everything in the bible and neither does God.

    And you know this…. how exactly?

    Because it says so in the Bible. /snark

  • Barney Frank

    Is God telling you stuff He isn’t telling other people? Burning bush this time, or does He use the telephone… or speak to you through the fillings in your teeth?

    No, common sense and reason are sufficient as is actually reading it. Most people who possess the first two and have done the third, whether believers or not, understand that a record of events does not mean that the author agrees with everything that occurs in it.
    Your snark speaks considerably louder about you that me.

  • Keith

    Siamang,

    Thanks for the industry insider info on Ben Stein’s movie. If the movie ends up being a financial loss, how might execs view this? Would they attribute the failure to content issues, or would they focus on other things? Thanks again for the info.

  • Siamang

    No, common sense and reason are sufficient as is actually reading it.

    And how do you know that they are sufficient? How do you know that you are accurate in understanding God’s view of the Bible?

    If you were mistaken, how would you know?

    Your snark speaks considerably louder about you than me.

    You’re the guy who claims to speak for what God does and doesn’t like. The snark was included to help you properly imagine my incredulity at that claim.

  • Siamang

    If the movie ends up being a financial loss, how might execs view this? Would they attribute the failure to content issues, or would they focus on other things?

    You know, I really don’t know how Premise operates. They may have some big money backers who operate it at a loss, instead concentrating on cultural goals.

    According to this post, the CEO is a billionaire, or damn close. So this might be chump-change to them. Play money.

    The question then turns out to be, did these culture warriors get value for their money? I’m not sure. I think I could turn ten million or so into a better, more entertaining, more baffling and more slickly-produced attack on science. If the film is indeed as dull as Dawkins and others have claimed, their worst enemy is Ben Stein’s monotone, not PZ Myers. I think Ken Ham has taken his millions and made his museum, which has done more for his cause than Expelled has.

  • Barney Frank

    Well, let’s try a little of that common sense and reason. If we start with the assumption there isn’t a God then obviously no one can know what His viewpoint is.
    If however we start with the assumption that there is a God and that he directed the writing of the bible then the plain words and context of it would reveal his view of these matters, just as most other books reveal the view of their auhors.
    After reading a book by Christopher Hitchens it is not preumptuous of anyone to believe they have a good handle on his view of God. Likewise it is not presumptuous of someone who has read the bible to understand the view of God. If he is the author then He states His view quite plainly time and again.
    I suspect your dispute is not with my mysteriously knowing God’s view, but is rather that you don’t think that view exists. If so, why not just argue that point honestly rather than trying to keep afloat a point that doesn’t appear to have much to hold it up.

    You’re the guy who claims to speak for what God does and doesn’t like. The snark was included to help you properly imagine my incredulity at that claim.

    I did not claim to speak for what God ‘likes’, but aside from that, do you honestly expect anyone to believe that your comment about me receiving messages from God through my fillings was an attempt to help me ‘imagine’ your incredulity and not a gratuitous insult? That would require a larger leap of faith than believing in God I’m afraid.

  • Karen

    If we start with the assumption there isn’t a God then obviously no one can know what His viewpoint is.

    How about starting from the assumption that we don’t know if there’s a god or not, and then go looking for evidence pro and con? None/very few of us here make pre-emptive assumptions about things as complex as god’s existence – that would be counterproductive.

    If however we start with the assumption that there is a God and that he directed the writing of the bible

    That’s a lot of very big assumptions, but okay …

    then the plain words and context of it would reveal his view of these matters, just as most other books reveal the view of their auhors.

    The problem is, where are these “plain words” and what’s the appropriate “context”? There are hundreds (thousands?) of religious sects that claim to follow the “plain words” and “context” of the bible and many/most of them have huge conflicts over both of those. Every group has its own esoteric interpretation and a lot of them consider that the other groups are incorrect or maybe even going to hell!

    If the bible was really divinely inspired, couldn’t god have made the writing a little more clear and saved a lot of lives, time and money in inter-Christian warfare?

  • Barney Frank

    I was challenged that knowing what God meant in the bible is apparently unknowable and requires me to receive messages directly from him to know.
    I was not making an argument for or against his existence in my assumptions, but was pointing out that if He does exist then His view is as knowable as any other authors and does not require anything more than the text and the context.
    Does that mean everyone will interpret every portion of it precisely the same; obviously no. But most of the religious wars were fought over political considerations or over remarkably tiny differences in doctrine. The wars following Luther’s theses were foremost a release of political tensions but doctrinally boiled down to whether we are justified by faith alone. That has little bearing on whether I can know if God approved of Cain’s murder of Abel, or David and Bathsheba. The sad and germane point is that even most christians at war with each other believed and agreed on 99% of what the bible means and God’s views of things.
    The argument that man’s choices are God’s responsibility is indicative of a misunderstanding of his and our nature. If God is responsible for the free choices man makes in his name wouldn’t it follow that atheists are responsible for the wars waged by atheists and in the name of atheism?
    In any event thanks for at least being relatively ‘friendly’, and snark free, unlike the first couple of chaps.

  • cipher

    If God is responsible for the free choices man makes in his name wouldn’t it follow that atheists are responsible for the wars waged by atheists and in the name of atheism?

    Wars aren’t waged in the name of atheism. The most that can be said is that we’ve seen some atheists wage war. On the other hand, war has been waged often by theists in the name of their gods or doctrines.

    The sad and germane point is that even most christians at war with each other believed and agreed on 99% of what the bible means and God’s views of things.

    Barney, I’ll throw this out for your consideration. Christians claim that Jesus satisfied something like 300 prophecies in the Old Testament. Jews wrote the texts (with or without divine inspiration), and are adamant in their insistence that he did not.

    The texts “belong” to both traditions. There is little agreement between the two camps concerning the foundational premises of Christianity. How does one decide whom to believe – in other words, what God “meant”?

  • Siamang

    Barney,

    Likewise it is not presumptuous of someone who has read the bible to understand the view of God.

    But it is presumptious for him to presume that God exists and to presume He wrote the Bible, and to presume He wrote the Bible with stuff in it that He didn’t like, but you, Barney Frank, have got that part figured out, and you know what parts God likes and what parts God doesn’t.

    That’s more presumptions than evidence… hence the term “presumptuous”.

    I suspect your dispute is not with my mysteriously knowing God’s view, but is rather that you don’t think that view exists.

    My dispute is that you think you’ve got some kind of lock on God, and it’s by virtue of you merely presuming you’ve got that kind of insight.

    For example, you wrote:

    If however we start with the assumption that there is a God and that he directed the writing of the bible

    I think your problem is that you’ve rushed ahead and started with all the impliciations of your presumptions, but you haven’t layed a foundation for them. Can we dispense with these presumptions and you merely explain how it is that you know that God even likes any of the Bible in the first place? What if He hates the Bible? How would you know?

    I did not claim to speak for what God ‘likes’

    Please explain what you meant then when you wrote:

    “I don’t agree with everything in the bible and neither does God.”

    That would require a larger leap of faith than believing in God I’m afraid.

    There is no larger leap of faith than believing in God, unless you believe in an entity larger than God. That WOULD be a larger leap of faith.

    I was not making an argument for or against his existence in my assumptions, but was pointing out that if He does exist then His view is as knowable as any other authors and does not require anything more than the text and the context.

    But when presented with the text of the bible, you stated that God did not agree with everything in the Bible. So even assuming that he wrote the bible, your statement about God not liking parts is at odds with your statement that a plain reading reveals God’s views on what is contained therein.

    For example, your response to the laws regarding slavery in the OT, you replied in this way:

    God’s overriding intent as the OT makes clear was to see that the tiny nation of the Jews survived, which would have been impossible if they did not remain relatively pure and isolated from the much larger populations surrounding them.

    These are passages which said that God allowed hebrews to take non hebrews as slaves. You say that really God just wanted the nation of Israel to survive, and so a lifetime in bondage as a slave of hebrews was a small price to pay. This God seems very “ends justify the means” …allowing people to be held as slaves so that Israel might survive. That’s a pretty weak God, if you ask me… afraid that his favored nation might perish, a nation that can only be kept aloft by the blood and sweat of human bondage. Behold the miracle of slavery… sustainer of the nation of Israel.

    And how can you say that God didn’t like that? Didn’t God command it?

    And what about my question above…. if you were wrong about what God does and doesn’t agree with in the Bible, how would you know it?

  • Claire

    Barney Frank said;

    But most of the religious wars were fought over political considerations or over remarkably tiny differences in doctrine.

    As for the second option you mention, the tiny doctrinal differences, this makes it better how?

  • Barney Frank

    Wars aren’t waged in the name of atheism.

    One of the primary tenets of communism/marxism is that religion is a method by which the proletariat is oppressed by the bourgeoisie and that it therefore had to be destroyed and replaced with an atheistic revolutionary state. It has attempted to do so via war and has killed many millions of people in doing so. Now obviously only a tiny fraction of atheists are revolutionary communists but neither have I nor the vast, vast majority of Christians ever started a religious war, so I’m afraid either it’s sauce for the goose and sauce for the gander or its not sauce for either.

    Christians claim that Jesus satisfied something like 300 prophecies in the Old Testament. Jews wrote the texts (with or without divine inspiration), and are adamant in their insistence that he did not.

    Well, both camps believe the prophecies are there, only disagree on who is to fulfill them. But again I am not arguing that people do not disagree about the scriptures only that it is quite possible to know god’s view of the vast majority of them. For instance those prophecies you mention take up a tiny fraction of the OT. Christians and Jews alike both very strongly agree on what occurrences God approves or disapproves of in the large, large majority of the OT. That is the point I was challenged on and the point I am answering. If others want to have me answer points I didn’t make then they’re probably wasting their time.

    How does one decide whom to believe – in other words, what God “meant”?

    The question you raise about whether the Jews or Christians are correct regarding Jesus is one area in which a simple reading of the text and context is not sufficient. If we take the hypothetical assumption for the sake of argument that the bible was divinely inspired we can know God’s view on many things in it. However the bible itself tells us that knowledge and acceptance of who Christ is requires something beyond the realm of the text and enters the realm of faith. I was capable of learning about Christ as a skeptical agnostic but it was not textual knowledge which led me to believe He is who He says He is. Nor was the process something that could have been explained to me prior to its occurrence.

    But it is presumptious for him to presume that God exists and to presume He wrote the Bible, and to presume He wrote the Bible with stuff in it that He didn’t like, but you, Barney Frank, have got that part figured out, and you know what parts God likes and what parts God doesn’t.

    I don’t know if you are being purposely obtuse or just arguing for the sake of argument. The assumption I refer to is a hypothetical one which is necessary to address your criticism of my statement. You apparently would prefer that I accept your hypothetical assumption instead, so that I will make your argument for you. If you can’t address a hypothetical argument coherently then don’t address it at all. If OTOH you are using the point I made about the internal coherence of the bible as a stalking horse for an argument about whether god exists then just say so plainly.

    I did not claim to speak for what God ‘likes’

    Please explain what you meant then when you wrote:

    “I don’t agree with everything in the bible and neither does God.”

    OK. I am not speaking for what God likes; I am declaring that what god likes is knowable by reading the bible. As I pretty clearly stated (I thought) the bible’s inherent, internal text and context reveal very clearly what god likes or agrees with. Now, as everyone here seems inclined to argue, there are parts of it which people do dispute, but the vast majority of what god ‘likes’ and dislikes’ is pretty clear even to atheists, is it not? If the majority of what god stands for is not clear then I am at a loss as to how atheists could write so prolificlly decrying whatever it is he does stand for. n’est-ce pas?

    There is no larger leap of faith than believing in God, unless you believe in an entity larger than God.

    That is a personal belief perhaps, but also an unsupported assertion which on its face does not appear to be true. It is not supported by any logical argument that I am aware of, nor is one advanced.

    But when presented with the text of the bible, you stated that God did not agree with everything in the Bible. So even assuming that he wrote the bible, your statement about God not liking parts is at odds with your statement that a plain reading reveals God’s views on what is contained therein.

    The bible is partly a historical document. No historian can be held to agree with every event he records can he?
    As to the issue of instructions or commands God gives; He has, for better or worse, given man free will. With that as a given even He is forced to deal with man as he is, not as he should be. It is impossible to have perfect or harmless rules when dealing with profoundly imperfect humans. Any parent learns that pretty quickly.

    As for the second option you mention, the tiny doctrinal differences, this makes it better how?

    I didn’t claim it made anything better. I was challenged about the concept of knowing what god may or may not like or approve of. The point was raised that if this were so how could there be so many conflicts and wars over what it says. I pointed out that the vast majority of the bible is not disputed by even people at war with each other over it. Whether that makes ‘it’, whatever it might be, better or worse I don’t know.

  • Claire

    Barney Frank said;

    One of the primary tenets of communism/marxism is that religion is a method by which the proletariat is oppressed by the bourgeoisie and that it therefore had to be destroyed and replaced with an atheistic revolutionary state. It has attempted to do so via war and has killed many millions of people in doing so. Now obviously only a tiny fraction of atheists are revolutionary communists but neither have I nor the vast, vast majority of Christians ever started a religious war, so I’m afraid either it’s sauce for the goose and sauce for the gander or its not sauce for either.

    Your reasoning is flawed. You are implying a cause and effect that are wrongly attributed. The atheism didn’t cause the war. The communism was the primary reason for both the communism and the atheism. They were caused by the same thing, but the one didn’t cause the other. Saying it did is like blaming a kid’s blue eyes on his having blond hair, when in truth he got them both from his dad. Your argument doesn’t hold up.

  • Siamang

    OK. I am not speaking for what God likes; I am declaring that what god likes is knowable by reading the bible.

    Let’s try and really simply answer that question, then. How do you know that you can tell what God likes by reading the bible?

    I don’t know if you are being purposely obtuse or just arguing for the sake of argument. The assumption I refer to is a hypothetical one which is necessary to address your criticism of my statement. You apparently would prefer that I accept your hypothetical assumption instead, so that I will make your argument for you.

    That’s not what I’m doing. What I’m doing is refusing to let you presume the answer to my question as a foundational assumption. I would like to know how it is that you know you can tell what God likes by reading the Bible. You cannot satisfactorily answer that question by first presuming that God wrote the Bible, and wrote it with your understanding in mind. Muslims will counter that Allah wrote the Koran with the exact same purpose.

    So please let us not foundationally assume 99% of my question, so that you can merely answer the 1% of how you get from “God wrote a book so that I can understand what he wants” to “I read it, and understand what He wants”. The answer you want to arrive at is front-loaded in your assumptions. This reminds me of Steve Martin’s old joke of “How to Retire a Millionaire.” “Step one: Make a million dollars. Step two…”

    I’m actually interested in how it is that you are able to declare that “what God likes is knowable by reading the Bible”. What you said was, “I don’t agree with everything in the bible and neither does God.” I asked, “what if God hated the bible, how would you know?”

    To ask my unanswered question a third time, if you were wrong about what God does and doesn’t agree with in the Bible, how would you know it?

    Now, as everyone here seems inclined to argue, there are parts of it which people do dispute, but the vast majority of what god ‘likes’ and dislikes’ is pretty clear even to atheists, is it not?

    No. I’m pretty clear on what religious people like and dislike. It seems different depending on which flavor of religion it is. One thing I really don’t have the foggiest idea is what God likes and dislikes. Although He does seem inordinantly fond of beetles. And bacteria. And empty space. Other than that, I don’t really know what God likes.

    If the majority of what god stands for is not clear then I am at a loss as to how atheists could write so prolifically decrying whatever it is he does stand for.

    They’re writing about what religious people say God wants. God is always necessarily absent from the conversation. Of course His spokespeople always seem to show up to inform us about what He really would say if He was here. I always wonder… how are they so all-fired sure they know what God really wants?

  • Barney Frank

    Your reasoning is flawed.

    Well, for the sake of argument lets assume that you are correct. If atheism is only a byproduct of communism and atheism therefore is not responsible for any wars, then why is Christianity which teaches that we should live in peace with all men except to possibly defend others from unprovoked attacks responsible for the twisting and misuse of its doctrines?
    Is it somehow the case that atheism can never be blamed for evil things done in its name but Christianity can?

    How do you know that you can tell what God likes by reading the bible?

    Let’s simplify the argument even further by removing what I took to be your assertion that no one can know what god is in favor of because God didn’t write the bible. We can know what the bible purports god is in favor of by the text and context of the bible alone just as we can know the viewpoint of the authors of other books. The bible lays out what it purports to be god’s values and rules and moral framework. It explains in several places how he gave rules to man that were not god’s preference but were tailored in a way to deal with man on his terms as an imperfect creature. So the answer to your question which has been answered three times is the internalities of the bible itself tell us time and again what God believes because it explicitly explains what He likes and dislikes. Man has his limits and therefore cannot know every single aspect of God’s viewpoint on every single item to a certainty (just as I can’t know to a certainty every single belief of Christopher Hitchens by reading one of his books) but that does not negate the vast majority of areas where it is quite plain what it is saying he believes.

    Although He does seem inordinantly fond of beetles. And bacteria. And empty space. Other than that, I don’t really know what God likes.

    Well, take some of your beetle spotting time and read the bible instead and you will know. :) My point was that the bible itself purports to say what God likes but apparently you, while not a Christian are far from being an atheist, and believe that what you perceive was created by a God of some sort. Are you a creationist?

    I always wonder… how are they so all-fired sure they know what God really wants?

    Cause he wrote it down for us. Your assmption is he didn’t, our assumption is he did. One day we’ll all find out for sure. If I’m wrong at least I know I won’t have to listen to you razzing me. If I’m right I’ll try and return the favor ( and slip you a cool glass of water) :) .

    Anyway, thanks all for the conversation and, after a slightly rough beginning, for the relative lack of hostility. I’ll give it three stars on the ‘friendly’ scale.
    Getting late, so good night.

  • Siamang

    Let’s simplify the argument even further by removing what I took to be your assertion that no one can know what god is in favor of because God didn’t write the bible.

    I have not asserted that. I did not say “no one can know” … anything. All I did was ask how it is that you know that “what God likes is knowable by reading the Bible.” I am not asserting that you don’t know, at least not until you’ve shared with me how you know this.

    So the answer to your question which has been answered three times is the internalities of the bible itself tell us time and again what God believes because it explicitly explains what He likes and dislikes.

    You say you’ve answered the question, but you actually didn’t answer it. I don’t know how to ask the question in a different way. Let’s try again. This is your quote:

    I am declaring that what god likes is knowable by reading the bible.

    So how is it that you know that to be true? If it were false, how would you know?

    My point was that the bible itself purports to say what God likes

    I understand that. What I want to know is how you know that God ACTUALLY likes what the Bible says about him? What makes you so all-fired sure of yourself and your idea of God and the Bible? If God hated the Bible, how would you know?

    but apparently you, while not a Christian are far from being an atheist, and believe that what you perceive was created by a God of some sort. Are you a creationist?

    No, I’m an atheist. But that doesn’t mean I’m convinced utterly and finally about anything, including the idea that there might have been a creator behind the universe. But I don’t allow any idea a free-pass without critical evaluation — especially the huge (and frankly hubristic) supernatural claims of the various religions. Neither do I stipulate either “the bible is written by God” or “the bible was written by men” and then rush to the implications of each. Rather I seek to know which one is true. You won’t give me why you think the first one is true, nor how you would know if you were mistaken and it was actually false.

    Now that’s just not going to pass any sort of critical evaluation. “Read it” gets us nowhere, as I have read large portions of it, and I wasn’t moved to believe that it was divinely inspired, let alone moved to believe that it was a reliable way to know what God wants. Yet a good portion of the people I converse with online are convinced they know exactly what God has in mind. Presumptuousness? Hubris? Arrogance?

    If they’re not dead-on right, some people have got a lot more to answer for in the afterlife than I do! I don’t put words in God’s mouth.

    Look what you wrote here:

    Cause he wrote it down for us. Your assmption is he didn’t, our assumption is he did.

    So you just were handed a book one day, and you merely assumed God wrote it? That’s what I’m trying to get answered. How did you come to the conclusion that you know what God wants by reading one particular book? And not only that, but you know what parts of it God likes and what parts He doesn’t. By what reasoning do you come to that conclusion? Are you serious that you just assumed it? What if a Muslim handed you the Koran on that day, would you have assumed God wrote that?

    One day we’ll all find out for sure.

    Not actually. If I’m right, you’ll never know… you and I will just be dead when we die. Unless there is some way to not be dead when we’re dead… in which case, I should be quite surprised.

    If I’m wrong at least I know I won’t have to listen to you razzing me. If I’m right I’ll try and return the favor ( and slip you a cool glass of water) :) .

    Which leads me to another question, of course. Why can’t I choose to follow Christ once I have the evidence I seek. See, I don’t want to follow any false Gods, so I don’t just “assume” whatever holy book someone hands me is the real, right and only one. I try to use my critical faculties to determine what is likely to be true. I refuse to serve any idols or fictions of man’s making.

    But for the sake of discussion, let’s say you’re right, and I finally find out for sure that the God you’re talking about is really the God of the Universe. Why can’t I choose to serve Him at that moment? What’s the deal with this whole “better guess the right God of all the Gods of man’s making before you die… chose wrong, even in complete earnest, or even decide not to choose and you suffer torture for eternity.”

    Is that what you believe? If so or not, how do you know it’s true? How would you know if you were wrong?

    I’ll give it three stars on the ‘friendly’ scale.
    Getting late, so good night.

    Have patience. I’m usually pretty well-behaved. Take care.

  • Barney Frank

    Hi Siamang (If you’re still reading),
    We seem to be talking in circles. Probably my fault.
    The word ‘assume’ has been used in more than one way here. I have used it as a hypothetical in order to make one or another argument. I have also used it as a term for certain beliefs that parties bring to the discussion.
    So disregarding for now the hypothetical use of the term, I can know what God likes or approves of because I, having examined the bible and the historical evidence and the universe, at a point about 18 years ago came to the realization that I believed Christ to be who He claims to be. I believe Him to be God and I believe other religions, based on the same criteria, to be false. I was 31 at the time and a commited agnostic and had not been raised in a religious family whatsoever, nor was I at rock bottom or going through any type of crisis. I’m not sure how to describe the experience other than to say I was struck by the truth of Him. I don’t consider that irrational or unreasonable; it was based on what I consider extremely strong evidence. Atheists and agnostics might consider it unreasonable of course as some of them have considered the same evidence and concluded otherwise. I must confess however that as I have gotten older I have come to the realization that many atheists have no idea what it is they disbelieve as they have never taken the time to look at the evidence. Not all by any means; but some of the silly caricatures of the bible that I see some atheists use makes it fairly plain they have never read it and they make arguments that would have embarrassed me even when I was a committed agnostic. Of course many Christians defend their faith with equally asinine arguments.
    But in any event when I became a Christian along with that belief came the belief that God inspired the writing of the bible. So with that assumption, based on the evidence as I see it, I can conclude that God does generally make it clear what he approves and disapproves of in the bible. That is how I know. If I am not allowed that ‘assumption’ and must instead assume that God didn’t write the bible then of course I am only telling you what I think God meant. But if I am compelled to argue only from that assumption what is the point of the conversation? That amounts to you asking me “if there is no god and he therefore did not write the bible then we can’t know what he approves of” right? If that is the question then I will grant your point, as long as you grant that the inverse is also true.

    Not actually. If I’m right, you’ll never know… you and I will just be dead when we die. Unless there is some way to not be dead when we’re dead… in which case, I should be quite surprised.

    Well, that was my underlying implication when I said that you would most certainly not be razzing me if you were right. But I am still not convinced, if you are right, that there will not be a moment as we lose consciousness, whatever consciousness is, that we recognize that we are about to wink out of existence.

    Which leads me to another question, of course. Why can’t I choose to follow Christ once I have the evidence I seek.

    If Christ is God, the creator of all things, including you then it is a bit presumptuous to tell Him to cool His jets to satisfy your curiosity. From His perspective He created a universe, created you and then sacrificed Himself to pay your debt and therefore has done what is necessary already. All He asks in return is you take a look at the evidence and believe. We must either choose Him or the world. It was His death on the cross that allows imperfect beings like us to stand in His presence. If we can reject Him while we live but then accept Him after we have died His sacrifice was for nothing and those who put their faith in Him and took up their own cross would receive the same reward as those who rejected Him throughout their life and only accepted Him when they had no other choice. I believe that is the entire point of free will; that we can freely choose or reject Him when we still have a choice. Now that didn’t seem too fair to me when I was an agnostic, because I was unable to see His perspective. If you posit there is no God then of course that is the height of arrogance and cruelty. If you posit that there is an omipotent creator beside which we are less than an ant then not only is it not arrogant but is the height of generosity that he even gives us a choice at all.
    Now as to what happens to those who have never heard of Christ or are too young or otherwise unable to make the choice, I don’t know. Perhaps they are given the chance you speak of; there is some reference to this in the books of Peter. But the bible is pretty clear that for those who know of Him and choose to reject him in this life, they are chained to that decision because they have died unrepentant.
    Now I understand that most atheists find that repugnant; if they didn’t they probably wouldn’t be atheists. It is however what Christ is recorded to have said so from my perspective it is better that an atheist live and die knowing that if they are wrong there is no second chance than that a Christ of their own constuction exists or at least should exist to give them that second chance. If you’re going to reject him at least reject the one in the bible not one you might personally prefer.
    I’ve got lots of patience; I have to, I have a teenaged daughter. :)
    Take care as well.

  • cipher

    All He asks in return is you take a look at the evidence and believe. We must either choose Him or the world. It was His death on the cross that allows imperfect beings like us to stand in His presence. If we can reject Him while we live but then accept Him after we have died His sacrifice was for nothing and those who put their faith in Him and took up their own cross would receive the same reward as those who rejected Him throughout their life and only accepted Him when they had no other choice. I believe that is the entire point of free will; that we can freely choose or reject Him when we still have a choice.

    You Christians present us with this crap reasoning all the time. When we say there’s no evidence, you claim that there is. When we ask why it isn’t clearer, you say it’s because that would interfere with our “free will”. In other words, he gives us just enough rope so that He can be justified in hanging us. Yeah, that’s compassionate. Oh, but that’s right – he isn’t obligated to offer us a way out of hell at all – so whatever we get is gravy.

    And where in the world do you get this utter nonsense that our ability to choose or reject God ends when we are face to face with him – that this somehow invalidates our “free will”? This is the most cockeyed piece of bullshit I’ve ever encountered. Your entire argument, from start to finish, has been nothing more than a compilation of your preferences and prejudices, together with the fundie propaganda you’ve picked up over the years.

    Now that didn’t seem too fair to me when I was an agnostic, because I was unable to see His perspective. If you posit there is no God then of course that is the height of arrogance and cruelty. If you posit that there is an omipotent creator beside which we are less than an ant then not only is it not arrogant but is the height of generosity that he even gives us a choice at all… Now I understand that most atheists find that repugnant; if they didn’t they probably wouldn’t be atheists. It is however what Christ is recorded to have said so from my perspective it is better that an atheist live and die knowing that if they are wrong there is no second chance than that a Christ of their own constuction exists or at least should exist to give them that second chance. If you’re going to reject him at least reject the one in the bible not one you might personally prefer.

    It ALWAYS comes back to this with you people – eternal damnation. And the fact that we find it appalling PROVES it, to your satisfaction, to be true.

    This has nothing to do with reason. You choose to believe these things because it makes you feel good to do so, because it reassures you and/or feeds into your self-loathing. I generally keep myself in check on this blog because Hemant is the Friendly Atheist, but you’ve pushed my buttons. Your belief system is an absolute, thoroughgoing abomination, and you are a piece of garbage for indulging in it. You’re perfectly willing to abandon billions of your fellow human beings for all of eternity so that you can have the ontological security blanket for a few brief decades while you’re here. You’re an addict, and you don’t care who has to be sacrificed, as long as you get what you want.

    You’re right, we do find your beliefs repugnant – and that makes us better than you. You suffer from a kind of moral imbecility. I find you despicable. It is precisely because of people like you that I am not a Christian.

    One more thing – you stated,

    I can know what God likes or approves of because I, having examined the bible and the historical evidence and the universe, at a point about 18 years ago came to the realization that I believed Christ to be who He claims to be. I believe Him to be God and I believe other religions, based on the same criteria, to be false. … I’m not sure how to describe the experience other than to say I was struck by the truth of Him. I don’t consider that irrational or unreasonable; it was based on what I consider extremely strong evidence.

    You don’t “know” anything of the kind. You made a decision based upon a feeling, and are now comfortable with the prospect of everyone who disagrees with you being tortured for all of eternity. And, as far as the evidence is concerned, I’ll bring up something I mentioned earlier. You claim that Jews and Christians both agree that there are prophecies. That wasn’t part of my original assertion. Christians claim that all of their imagined references to Jesus are “prophecies” – a claim to which we Jews do not accede. The references that we do recognize as prophecies have nothing to do with Jesus. Christianity has spent the past two thousand years indulging in rationalization, poor scholarship and historical revisionism. The people here have heard me say this before – it represents the height of hubris for you people to have spent these past two millennia telling us, over and over like a broken record, that we’ve misinterpreted and misunderstood texts that we wrote in the first place – with or without divine inspiration.

  • Barney Frank

    and that makes us better than you

    ‘Nuff said.

    Perhaps you should start a blog of your own called the “Really Creepily Bilious Atheist”.

  • Siamang

    But in any event when I became a Christian along with that belief came the belief that God inspired the writing of the bible. So with that assumption, based on the evidence as I see it, I can conclude that God does generally make it clear what he approves and disapproves of in the bible. That is how I know.

    Barney, thanks for writing.

    You just don’t seem to be answering the question. How is it that you know this? All you seem to be doing is saying that you know it because you believe it, and you believe it because you know it… but you don’t express why or how any of this should be trusted by me.

    Atheists and agnostics might consider it unreasonable of course as some of them have considered the same evidence and concluded otherwise.

    What evidence are you talking about? You haven’t given any evidence at all. All you’ve said, as response to my repeated question of “how do you know that reading the Bible is the way to know what God likes?” is basically ‘I believe it, therefore I believe it’.

    Please give me evidence. And sorry, “Barney Frank believes this” isn’t evidence.

    If the best evidence out there for Christianity is “Barney Frank believes in it”, I’m sorry, but Christianity doesn’t pass critical evaluation.

    If you posit there is no God then of course that is the height of arrogance and cruelty.

    So Hitler, who believed in God, has got nothing on me? Interesting but strange beliefs you have. How do you know this is correct again? If you were wrong, how would you know it?

    Now I understand that most atheists find that repugnant; if they didn’t they probably wouldn’t be atheists.

    I am not an atheist because I find your beliefs repugnant. I am an atheist because I see no evidence that lends credence to your claims. I apologize for the side-track… I probably shouldn’t have brought it up.

    We don’t need to get in to the finer details of your beliefs, because you haven’t passed stage one: evidence supporting your supernatural claims. If you were selling health club memberships, this would be the point where I’d ask to see the excercise equpment. And right now you’d be telling me that the gym is invisible and magical but you can see it plain as day, all I have to do is believe like you believe. Christianity is looking like at least a bad bargain, and more than likely a scam. Goods to be delivered in full after death, when the customer can’t complain or warn others about the nonexistent nature of the gym.

    I’m more careful with my religion than I am with my money, because every minute praying in church to an invisible being is a minute less of playing catch with my daughter before I die. So to sell me on a religion, you have to convince me that your invisible king is as real and more important than my daughter.

    So far you’ve give me nothing but the idea that I should stop believing what I believe and start believing what you believe, merely because you believe it is so. Why should I trade my beliefs for yours? Because you believe it.

    Do you see why you aren’t convincing? Am I not asking the question right, or do you have no answer for why you believe what you believe, and how you would find out if you were indeed mistaken.

    Have you never considered how strange it seems to me to have you asking me to believe something without being able to say at all why you yourself even believe it?

    If I am not allowed that ‘assumption’ and must instead assume that God didn’t write the bible then of course I am only telling you what I think God meant.

    Why do you insist on starting with these loaded assumptions? It just seems like you’re trying to clear the table of troublesome possibilities, and give yourself a head start to Christianity.

    Why not start with the assumption that “we don’t know if the Bible is written by God OR man.”? Why don’t we just start with the assumption that the Bible is a book, and THEN try to determine its origin? Then we’d need to look for evidence to support or reject each possibility.

    But you don’t do that. You start with your answer (“it IS!”) and then allow me to be wrong on the other side. All you’re doing is restating the differences between our positions… that’s not a conversation, it’s just contradiction.

    What I’m trying to do is engage you in a conversation that has the (risky, dangerous, don’t be scared) possibility that you or I might have our mind changed. To do that, we need to discuss WHY we believe what we believe… and not just say ‘I believe this because I believe it”.

    Now maybe I’m just dense, and you’ve done that and I just can’t understand you. In that case, I ask your patience. Can you try to see this from my point of view…

    Put yourself in my shoes. Imagine I’m a person that was just dropped on the earth yesterday, you hand me a book and say “This tells me what the creator of the universe wants, and I know this is right because……” and then explain to me how I can leave my computer screen and go lock solid confirm your assertion that yes, this book absolutely, without a doubt, is the work of the Creator of the Universe.

  • http://www.SecularDignity.net Secular Dignity

    If you posit there is no God then of course that is the height of arrogance and cruelty.

    Says who? (The “of course” is particularly ironic.)

    If you posit that there is an omipotent creator beside which we are less than an ant then not only is it not arrogant but is the height of generosity that he even gives us a choice at all.

    Why would an omnipotent creator want or need to do this?

  • Siamang

    Says who? (The “of course” is particularly ironic.)

    Yes, the person who claims to know and speak for God’s likes and dislikes says that I am arrogant. “Of course.” Duh, isn’t it, like, completely obvious?

    If there is a God, It’s irony meter just got pegged. And of course, pegging God’s irony meter is the height of arrogance and cruelty.

    Barney Frank wrote:

    If you posit there is no God then of course that is the height of arrogance and cruelty.

    To respond to this particular charge, Barney (and yes, we do find it ironic), I don’t posit that there is or isn’t a God or gods. I only posit that I am a human being trying to determine where the evidence lies. Again and again in this thread you assume that I posit a philosophical starting point of God’s nonexistence. That is false. It may be convenient to argue against, but since it is not my philosophical position, I find it specious.

    Let’s posit only that we are human beings trying to determine the truth, and see where the evidence takes us, shall we?

  • Eliza

    Siamang is right to focus on the basics: what assumptions are being made, what evidence does one have. I can’t help, though, jumping ahead & delving into the details. Barney Frank (likely no relation to my former U.S. Representative) wrote:

    If Christ is God, the creator of all things…

    From His perspective He created a universe, created you and then sacrificed Himself to pay your debt and therefore has done what is necessary already. All He asks in return is you take a look at the evidence and believe.

    It was His death on the cross that allows imperfect beings like us to stand in His presence. If we can reject Him while we live but then accept Him after we have died His sacrifice was for nothing and those who put their faith in Him and took up their own cross would receive the same reward as those who rejected Him throughout their life and only accepted Him when they had no other choice.

    I know that some people believe that “ours is not to question why,”, but – really, now – WHY would an omniscient, omnipotent, “benevolent” God:
    (1) create a subordinate, powerless class of beings which can, and do, so readily go astray,
    (2) apparently without foreseeing that these creatures would stray so readily & at the first opportunity & repeatedly,
    (3) then require a debt be paid to Him, for Him to forgive these creatures,
    (4) then provide Himself as the sacrifice to Himself to achieve that forgiveness,
    (5) then require that they believe that this happened (esp 3 & 4), or He will allow them…nay, cause them…to suffer for eternity

    The whole premise belies the claim that this entity could be omniscient OR benevolent.

    The whole premise smacks of a passive-aggressive God seeking acclaim and gratitude using the universe’s biggest guilt trip.

    Part 3 and 4 are especially bizarre: God sends God to earth as a sacrifice to God so that God will forgive God’s flawed creation & keep God from torturing God’s flawed creation for eternity.

    I believe that is the entire point of free will; that we can freely choose or reject Him when we still have a choice. Now that didn’t seem too fair to me when I was an agnostic, because I was unable to see His perspective.

    I’m sure God is pleased that you can see His perspective….He has not granted me that insight, and I have the suspicion that He never will.

  • Claire

    Barney Frank said;

    why is Christianity which teaches that we should live in peace with all men except to possibly defend others from unprovoked attacks responsible for the twisting and misuse of its doctrines?

    Because that’s only a tiny part of the doctrines, and it’s the other 99% that are fully realized in wars, intolerance, hatred, and injustice of all kinds. If christianity really taught peace, effectively, rather than giving it lip service, there never would have been any religious wars. There have been, many, so clearly that’s not the central message.

    Is it somehow the case that atheism can never be blamed for evil things done in its name but Christianity can?

    Not at all, it’s just the case that atheism gets blamed incorrectly for communism’s evils and christianity get blamed correctly for its own evils. If atheism had any real evils done in its name, I’m sure you and others like you would be pointing them out constantly. Unfortunately for you, they don’t exist, so you have to make do with trying to blame communist evils on atheists. Nice try, doesn’t fly.

  • Keith

    Which leads me to another question, of course. Why can’t I choose to follow Christ once I have the evidence I seek. See, I don’t want to follow any false Gods, so I don’t just “assume” whatever holy book someone hands me is the real, right and only one. I try to use my critical faculties to determine what is likely to be true. I refuse to serve any idols or fictions of man’s making.

    Siamang,

    I respect you for your desire to not follow any false gods, and to not assume a holy book is true just because someone says so.

  • Siamang

    Thanks Keith.

    I think you’re understanding what I’m trying to say, even though you have different beliefs than I do. What I’m saying is that skepticism has a value, I think just as you might say that faith has a value.

    It is not me merely crossing my arms and saying “no no no” to all possibilities and the faithful swinging wide their arms and saying “yes yes yes” to every possible religion or belief out there.

    I think we all use our skepticism and our faith in different ways and in different measures. I’m trying to lay out my thinking and my process by which I evaluate claims that people want me to join on with.

  • Keith

    Thanks Keith.

    I think you’re understanding what I’m trying to say, even though you have different beliefs than I do. What I’m saying is that skepticism has a value, I think just as you might say that faith has a value.

    It is not me merely crossing my arms and saying “no no no” to all possibilities and the faithful swinging wide their arms and saying “yes yes yes” to every possible religion or belief out there.

    I think we all use our skepticism and our faith in different ways and in different measures. I’m trying to lay out my thinking and my process by which I evaluate claims that people want me to join on with.

    Well said. Couldn’t agree more.

  • http://www.randyrobison.com randy robison

    Perhaps the box office receipts would have been higher if atheists supported the film as cordially as Christians supported “I Sold My Soul On eBay.”

  • Eliza

    Perhaps the box office receipts would have been higher if atheists supported the film as cordially as Christians supported “I Sold My Soul On eBay.”

    Ummmmm, which edition of “ISMSOeB” did you read? I don’t remember Hemant using clips of Nazi death camps whenever he referred to something he didn’t believe in, or misleading anyone he interviewed, or plagiarizing video representations of the inner life of a cell, or making false claims.

  • Eliza

    (I tried to add, I recall Hemant stating his observations in a manner which was cordial and which did not claim he was presenting anything other than his own observations & interpretations.)

  • Siamang

    Hmm…. abandoned thread? Barney Frank, you still here?

  • Siamang

    Hey, I just got back from seeing Expelled.

    About 12 people in the theater at noon on Friday (actually a better turn out than I expected).

    Lots of derisive snorts from the audience when an atheist or mainstream scientist would say something that’s only ironic from the creationist point of view.

    In answer to one of my own questions, it was exhibited on film, which means a 1000-theater release was very expensive. Anyone ask Randy Olsen how much 1000 feature-length prints cost. WHOO. Wide release means Premise has some deep pockets, and isn’t super concerned with getting its investment back.

    The film was well-shot, but a bit overly long and shoots itself in the foot with so many jokey uses of stock footage.

    One thing that’s funny is that any atheists who are scientists, their atheism is front and center, Ben Stein makes SURE we know they’re atheists. But talk to Dembski, Steven Meyers, or any of the ID proponents, their religion isn’t mentioned. Except if they’re Jewish. Then, that’s on their sleeve. Some stab at making it look not specifically Christian I suppose.

    One part that got me to laugh out loud was a low-rent South Park style animated piece about the odds against the first single-cell organism forming. They likened the odds against it as winning 500 jackpots on a slot machine or something… committing Hoyle’s Fallacy in the process. The animation had the narrator saying something like “How’s that going, Richard?” and the camera panned to a cartoon Richard Dawkins loosing at a slot machine and kicking it and cursing it. If only the rest of the film was at least as witty as that.

    I think it says something interesting. I mean, here was a stupid cartoon, not 30 seconds in length, claiming to illustrate a fundamental problem with evolutionary biology. In order for this cartoon to actually disprove a scientific claim, the scientists in the world must be PHENOMENALLY stupid. I mean, really, if you could punch a fatal hole in evolutionary theory with a cartoon, and yet no actual scientist at Harvard or Yale or MIT, or Princeton or Oxford or Cambridge has figured it out… but OH YEAH, these bozos with their cheap cartoon figured it out.

    I mean, god damn. The atheists in this film come off as sputtering, twitchy ego-centric nihilists, played against spooky music. They must be really stupid and evil to not only deny the proof that the slot-machine cartoon delivered with stunning simplicity, but also to (seemingly, based on the edits) proclaim their evil atheistic purposes so openly and unabashedly to the cameras.

    If this is truely a conspiracy, it’s not a secret one, since these heavies gleefully explain on-camera how they plan to build a race of super-humans by wiping out religion, or making it a nice little hobby like knitting.

  • donny

    Maybe he did create us, then becamse some combination of bored/disghusted with us and moved on to greener pastures. Probably went way out there somewhere that he forgot to tell his scribes about eh?

    Religion is silly, the movie was boring and chock full of half truths and inconsistencies. At least my imaginary friend has his own beer-bong, and knows to leave when I’m trying to study.

    Yours just seems to hang around…and be all annoying. I win!

  • Thomas Browning

    For what it’s worth…

    “EXPELLED” cost just over $3MM to produce. More than that to market and distribute. For example, outside of digital media, a film print can cost upwards of $2,200. Multiply the print cost by 1,000 screens. This is the “print” portion of your P&A. Essentially, with Lauer’s help they used P&A financing to rent the screens. For every ticket purchased to date, they have spent close to double the P&A.

    Typically, less than half of the box office flows back to the producer, which means for Premise to recoup their production, distribution and marketing costs, they need to do more than $12-15 MM of business. By the way, this does not account for overages, multiple release delays (more than 18 month late!), carrying costs of monies invested, etc.

    Foreign will not bite (ID is an American “issue”). DVD rental/sell-through is not going to generate enough $$. So, at the end of the day, Walt and Logan will not be able to repay their investors

    How do I know all this? I live on Bowen Island. I was solicited by Premise. I have seen the business plan. I know the producers. For reasons listed above (and for many, many other reasons) we “passed”.

  • Siamang

    WOW.

    Thanks for the info. What’s your take on Premise? Is their business just a hobby for their CEO, or do they really look for a monetary return?


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