Was Dave Silverman on Fox News Again?!

Yep.

The American Atheists billboard got even more attention on Fox:

I thought he did a great job here. Highlight for me is at the 6:15 mark for about a minute… when told that the AA billboard is offensive, Dave asks whether the panel would be offended by billboards that say, ” Atheists will burn in hell.” There’s basically silence on that point.

And the billboard got the Colbert bump the other night, too!


The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election March to Keep Fear Alive

Bluntness gets more attention. A lesson for future billboards…

(Thanks to Joe for the link!)

  • Sean

    I’m surprised Dave let the whole “historical record of Jesus” spiel go unchallenged. He should have asked him what non-biblical historical figures corroborated the existence of Jesus. It would be difficult, as they don’t exist.

  • Greg

    I have to say I found the claim that mythologies such as the Roman or Greek gods were somehow not religions hilarious. Yes, I can just see these followers of the ancient gods saying – oh we know they are mythical, but we want to believe they exist anyway.

    Come on – surely that shouldn’t be in dispute, whether we are theist or atheist, Christian or Buddhist? Obviously followers of the old gods believed they had real reasons to believe they existed.

    I found the claim that Christianity has a mountain of historical evidence, eyewitnesses, etc. backing up their claims funny too, but I digress.

    I too enjoyed that point around the 6 minute mark, Hemant.

    I don’t actually doubt them when they said they don’t know these things exist, because they are so common place, I’m sure their eyes just drift over them without seeing them. Maybe – hopefully – they’ll keep an eye out for those billboards after this meeting now it’s been brought to their attention and see Silverman was right.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    I thought he did a good job. I particularly like his response to “What would it take for you to believe in God?” as “What would it take for you to believe in Zeus?”

    Although, I do agree with the objection that the ancients probably did not consider that they were having a “personal relationship with Zeus”. But the main point still stands.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 muggle

    I have to wonder if everyone started saying Merry Christ Christmas Christ if it would point out the obnoxiousness of the made-up war on Christmas. Colbert was on the mark as always. Loved the line referencing turn the other cheek. (And, Robert, if you haven’t already, here’s your chance to take me up on my invitation to watch this.)

    I don’t think they got Silverman’s point. I don’t like the sign either but it does appear that blunt is working. Just wish he was better prepared to defend himself. He stammers as much as I would if put on the hot seat like that. (Which is why I don’t aspire to any kind of position that would. I barely hold my own on the internet.)

    The suggestion that he put up signs saying there is no tooth fairy was so ridiculous. How’d she even say that with a straight face when they’ve been hollaring all along think about the children?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    OMG, that Colbert segment was hilarious!

  • Greg

    Anyone know how to see the Colbert video out of America, btw?

    (Incidentally, isn’t making it unavailable to non US citizens kinda missing the point? Surely the only people they might be losing money from by showing it on the net would be Americans? Non US citizens can’t watch it anyway. ???)

  • Reginald Selkirk

    “Won’t somebody think of the children?” How lame can you get? That’s pretty much an admission that you don’t have a real argument.

    Why isn’t she concerned about children seeing billboards like this?:
    Anti-atheist billboards
    “Attention: Lunatic atheists & their lawyers
    Anti-God is Anti-American
    Anti-American is Treason
    Traitors lead to Civil War
    rev. E.F. Briggs, PO Box 9066, Monongah, WV 26554″

  • Raghu Mani

    No one other than Christians talks about having a “personal relationship” with their God. However, from what I understand, neither that phrase or anything like it appears in the Bible or in the next 1800 years or so of theological writing. As best as I can tell it is a relatively recent coinage of the American Evangelical Movement. Growing up in India, I knew a lot of Christians but I never heard this phrase until the 1980s which is about the time American evangelicals started targeting India in a big way.

    Overall I thought Dave Silverman was very good. I do feel, though, that he missed a couple of good opportunities.

    1. He could have pointed out how many people have taken offense to innocuous ads like the latest one going on Fort Worth buses.
    2. He could have driven home the point that none of the others on the panel would even condemn (even in theory) ads that said that atheists would go to hell.

    One other thing that Silverman could pick up on is a point that Sam Harris raises regularly. When confronted with the so called “historical evidence” for the resurrection, he points out the case of the Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba. This man (who is still alive today) has been claimed to perform miracles, heal the sick, raise the dead etc. And the people claiming this are still alive – not dead for 2000 years. Would any of the Christians on this panel accept this as evidence for the divinity of Sai Baba? If not, why should anyone else accept their far weaker “evidence” for the divinity of Jesus.

    Raghu

  • the Captain

    There’s a billboard in St. Louis that shows a black and white image of a person holding a gun towards the viewer, and the caption reads something like “He doesn’t believe in God. Why should he believe in you?”

    OFFENSIVE.

    I prefer the “good without god” billboards, but even the Christmas one is far less in-your-face than religious billboards I have seen.

  • http://none Sergio

    This is a priceless interview. The entire panel decides to gang up on him, and by the 5-6 minute mark they have moved away from the topic of the billboard entirely and decide to bombard Silverman with questions about God’s existence, using the same tired, discredited arguments theists have been using for centuries.

    I particularly like the “You cant prove God DOESNT exist” argument. Its hard to believe they take themselves seriously with that kind of statement.

    He did a pretty fantastic job. Silverman must be thrilled at all this publicity.

  • Rick

    Silverman did a nice job. There was an awful lot of noise during that discussion. Numerous random points were being scatter fired at him continuously. I think that he was able to present a well reasoned position despite defending multiple fronts.

    It was apparent by the points brought up by the panel, that none of them had ever really heard any atheist’s positions before – let alone understood them. There seemed to be a reaction of incredulity every time Silverman made a point. This demonstrates to me, just how badly we need campaigns like these billboards in order to raise mainstream awareness.

    I’m looking forward to more from Silverman and others presenting our point of view in the public eye.

  • billybee

    By hearing the claim that “Jesus is a Myth” is a terrific hook that will make a lot of people stop and apply some actual thought towards their beliefs.

    One thing is for sure; Christians become very, very uncomfortable when the phrase (Jesus is a myth) hits their brain. I suppose they subconsciously know that the Jesus story is, in fact, just another myth.

    It’s a great tool.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    I wish that Silverman hadn’t said that Osiris was a dying and rising god. According to the Egyptian myths, after Osiris’ death, he went to the underworld, where he became lord of the dead.

  • Dmitri

    @ J.J. Ramsey:

    And after his death, Osiris was resurrected by Isis through performance of the Ritual of Life which was later given to the Egyptians so that they could give eternal life to all their dead.

    It’s amazing how mythology gets recycled. :P

  • Erin

    I was getting so mad when she said that mythology was not religion! Did no one pay attention to world history class in high school? I’m so glad I will be teaching my son about current religions and past ones in the context of mythologies.

  • Robert W.

    As a I don’t think Silverman made his claim very well at all. Same old arguments and not answering questions, instead asking other questions.

    And he made it very clear that the true motivation was to make the very claim on the billboard-that Christian beliefs are a myth. The notion that this was just an attempt to reach out to closet atheists ruins his credibility.

    Saying the story of Zues is the same as the story of Jesus’ birth is intellectually dishonest and he should know it. There are no similarities in those stories. Same thing with Osiris. But he throws it out anyway as some sort of evidence.

    And worrying about the children is important. Santa Claus which is connected at this time of year with the Christmas story is specifically for children. Directing a claim that Christmas is a myth will have a direct effect on children. Nothing similar to a billboard about atheists and their lawyers.

  • MH

    The panel in general was logic proof as expected. But the argument of the blonde woman on the far left was painful. I don’t know how Dave Silverman does it as I would just find the endless repetition of the same arguments annoying.

    To the “What would it take question?” I would say a time machine and a camcorder.

    Colbert was a riot as usual.

  • Robert W.

    Shoot. My brain was faster then my fingers. I meant to say “As a Christian….”

  • John

    What, are these pastors going to just stay home if they can’t catch the right bus? Walk? Bicycle? Hitchhike?

    This isn’t a boycott. Coming from someone who doesn’t use transit in the first place, you get what you’ve got here.

    On the other hand, if something is bad enough to get people off the bus who can’t drive at all, there are far more serious problems than the loss of fare – This wouldn’t be a boycott, this would be removing oneself from access to community, employment, basic staples, medical care, etc. This is an unconscionable thing to ask others to do over some advertisement.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Dmitri:

    And after his death, Osiris was resurrected by Isis through performance of the Ritual of Life which was later given to the Egyptians so that they could give eternal life to all their dead.

    Dmitri, that Ritual of Life is what put Osiris’ body in such a state that he (or at least his spirit) could go the underworld. It’s not as if he permanently returned to the world of the living.

    It’s amazing how mythology gets recycled.

    Mythology does get recycled, but describing what happened to Osiris according to Egyptian legend as if it were a parallel and a likely source for what happened to Jesus according to Christian legend is misleading. It basically amounts to distorting the Egyptian myths to fit into a Christian mold instead of taking the myths on their own terms.

    If you want to see precursors to Christian ideas of resurrection, you’d be better off looking at Jewish sources like 2 Maccabees 7, where the idea of a resurrection as part of a final judgment is present.

  • http://chandays.blogspot.com Larry Meredith

    I really don’t like it when Dave states that there’s more atheists out there than studies show, when he says that he knows there’s so many people sitting in pews at churches who know they are praying to air. I don’t like it because he doesn’t present any evidence for this knowledge. To me, this kind of statement is equivalent to a Christian believing that atheists know deep down that Jesus really is the son of God.

  • Dan W

    Wow, that billboard’s getting lots of publicity, which is good, I guess. I saw the Colbert segment on it a couple nights ago, and thought it was hilarious. And for a “news” station that’s so against this billboard, Fox “News” sure is giving atheists more publicity.

    I like this billboard. I think it’s good to point out that Christianity is a myth, just like the myths of the ancient Greek and Roman religion.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Good answers from Silverman. I like how he threw back the questions as equivalent questions but for other gods. Their god doesn’t get special treatment just because it is their god.

  • MH

    Larry Meredith, that’s a good point. While it is likely true due to social confirmation bias, it does come off poorly.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone else notice how it’s the “panel” asking Dave a question and then talking over him as soon as he finishes a sentence?

  • http://aboutkitty.blogspot.com/ Cat’s Staff

    The panelist to Daves left (Marsha?) says something to the effect of “I’m not going to be able to convince you there is a god, and you’re not going to convince me there isn’t”. I have heard this line before and my response is that ‘you wouldn’t need to convince me there is a god for me to not be an atheist…you would only have to convince me there was ANYTHING supernatural.’

  • Troglodyke

    I really don’t like it when Dave states that there’s more atheists out there than studies show, when he says that he knows there’s so many people sitting in pews at churches who know they are praying to air. I don’t like it because he doesn’t present any evidence for this knowledge. To me, this kind of statement is equivalent to a Christian believing that atheists know deep down that Jesus really is the son of God.

    Gotta say I agree.

    I feel very strongly–as strongly as I do that god does not exist–that many people who go to church regularly don’t believe the nonsense and do it out of obligation, social norms, or peer pressure. This is especially true in progressive or liberal churches, where the average attendee is educated.

    But, I have no evidence (other than anecdotal) to back up this claim.

  • S-Y

    How many other Fox news programs are there left for him to appear on? Props to Silverman for all the interviews so far.

  • http://chandays.blogspot.com Larry Meredith

    I know there’s atheists that have come out and stated that they did go to church and they did prey even though they knew it was fake, but did it because it was the social norm or peer pressure. We know there are people like this, but we have no idea how many people still in churches today are like this. So unless there’s some kind of study I don’t know about that shows a significant amount of church-goers admit that their biblical stories are myths, Dave should lay off making this argument. He should stick to making as many evidence-based arguments as possible and citing the evidence. When you go off making claims and arguments based on suspicion or belief, you look crazy. Dave should leave those kinds of claims to theists. Let people like Bill Donohue (President of Catholic League) make statements like this on national television:

    So they believe that we came from nothing, a Big Bang Theory, or is it the King Kong Theory? we’re all a bunch of apes, we fell down kaplunk one day. I don’t know, if he wants to believe in that fairytale, he has every right to do so.

    let the general public see highly distinguished theists making ridiculous offensive statements like they often do, and see atheist public figures being calm and rational and backing up their claims with evidence. This is the kind of thing that can change minds. If atheist public figures say crazy things too, people are bound to see both sides as equal.

  • Steve

    I just drove by the billboard this morning and guess what….I didn’t even notice it. I was looking for it right by the Lincoln tunnel, not 3/4 of a mile before the entrance. I was totally looking forward to seeing it, but I guess I was more occupied by the stop and go traffic :-( C’est la vie

  • http://chandays.blogspot.com Larry Meredith

    another thing I didn’t like… you see Alex McFarland stating that there’s all this historical evidence for Biblical events, and Dave is just sitting there nodding along, and doesn’t even disagree with it. When Alex was done talking, all Dave comes back with was that there were a lot of mythical figures that had a story much like Jesus’. Nodding politely to a Christian making empty claims like that and not pointing out the fallacy of it only makes viewers think that it’s true, that this historical evidence is real and the atheist is just ignoring it.

  • Brice Gilbert

    The point is even without evidence atheists are making a reasonable gamble by doing this. Many of us have experienced anecdotes about people who still do this stuff but don’t really believe it, so why not try and see if this works?

  • GentleGiant

    Larry Meredith wrote:

    I really don’t like it when Dave states that there’s more atheists out there than studies show, when he says that he knows there’s so many people sitting in pews at churches who know they are praying to air. I don’t like it because he doesn’t present any evidence for this knowledge. To me, this kind of statement is equivalent to a Christian believing that atheists know deep down that Jesus really is the son of God.

    Partly true. There are many personal stories of people finally getting the courage to admit just that and leave the church (mosque, synagogue etc.). Thus there is evidence that this is an actual phenomenon. There are, however, no numbers on how big or small this occurence is.
    So, are there people like this (closet atheists)? Oh yes.
    Are there a lot of them? We don’t know.

    EDIT: Damn, ninja’ed by yourself. ;-)

  • Rhys

    I think the best way we all should be viewing this billboard argument is to replace ‘religion’ with, say, homosexual bigotry, or perhaps slave labour?

    If there were a billboard stating ‘There is nothing wrong with your sexual preference’, or similar, is this offensive to outdated bigots? Yes, BUT with my point being, slaves and gay hating is a severly dated point-of-view (quite similar to my thoughts on religion).

    Yes, calling somebody’s faith a myth is offensive… ONLY to the people who still follow a belief regardless of all the open-minded arguments against it, and when, as David stated, it is such a vital issue that involves the whole world, it is a very important matter.

  • Carlie

    I don’t mind that he didn’t challenge the historicity of Jesus – that would have derailed and eaten up an awful lot of time in a short interview, and the zinger of “what would it take for you to believe in Zeus” is more pithy, memorable, and to the point than a drawn-out discussion of whether Josephus was a reliable writer. Besides, the point stands that even if Jesus were a real person who had a cult following, he still wouldn’t be a god.

  • HandyGeek

    Awesome. I hope I can meet him one day even it it only means to shake his hand. :D

  • Jeff

    @Robert W: Same old arguments and not answering questions, instead asking other questions… Saying the story of Zues is the same as the story of Jesus’ birth is intellectually dishonest and he should know it.

    Robert, it must be very comforting to go through life so totally fucking oblivious.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakh sc0tt

    Silverman gets better with every interview… he’s still a little off in how he handles some of these questions, but his integrity comes through and he will get stronger with a little more experience. This is going to be a fun ride.

  • Peter Mahoney

    Dave Silverman was AWESOME!

    To those of us who want to nit-pick at whether he nodded when we would have preferred he shake his head, or you complain about whether he properly captured the nuances of how some other myths compare to the christian myth: have you EVER been interviewed on live TV? Do you have ANY idea how tough it is going up against news people (who are on TV for a living, every day, and have the home court advantage of knowing how to cut people off before they answer, etc., as Fox is famous for)? But to be up against FOUR believers at once, with their barrage of questions? At Fox (bible-thumping) News!?! Dave went into the ‘belly of beast’ and came out triumphant.

    Dave Silverman was AWESOME!

    He kept making his points. He did so wonderfully. He was clear. Rationale. Unapologetic (and rightly so). He wasn’t shy about calling christianity a myth. When they tried to unfairly box him in on ‘disproving’ God he perfectly turned the tables and asked them how they would disprove Zeus.

    American Atheists: WELL DONE!

  • http://chandays.blogspot.com Larry Meredith

    I agree, Peter. It would be phenomenally tough going into a national TV interview surrounded by 4 bible thumping critics picking apart everything you stand for. As far as that goes, he did pretty damn good, and I can forgive him for letting the “historical evidence” part slip by.

    But this is not the first time he’s been in an interview where he’s stated his suspicions of how many people are worshiping in churches when they know it’s a myth. I’ve seen him make that argument on multiple occasions and I find it not only ineffective, but detrimental to the cause. Citing a suspicion that believers everywhere know deep down that they are praying to air does not look good. As I said, it is equivalent to a Christian saying that atheists know deep down that Jesus really is the son of God. While there is anecdotal evidence for this (such as atheists who admit they used to pray out of peer pressure) there is, as far as I know, no study that shows a significant amount of regular church-goers admitting that their biblical stories are myths or that they are praying to nothing but air. While it is likely that these things happen, it sounds awfully paranoid to come out and declare suspicion of this being significantly widespread without having evidence for it.

  • Peter Mahoney

    Larry, yes, I see your point.
    But I agree with Dave Silverman on this.

    I, like Dave, “believe” there are LOTS of people who go to church every Sunday, looking like christians, going through the motions, but in their minds really KNOWING that their religion (whichever one) makes no sense and can’t REALLY be true.

    There are MANY atheists who admit that they went to church for years, even decades, after they solidly KNEW it was all a myth. I was one of them. I have a family member who says the bible is all made up to make money, but still he goes to church EVERY Sunday for the past 80 years! (Keeps his wife happy.)

    While this is not a scientific study, there is enough evidence that indeed many nonbelievers DID attend church, etc., even after knowing it was all made-up. The logical extension is that others are probably doing the same right now (and I know of one in my family, as I mentioned). How many more? Who knows? But Dave is not asserting that exactly 22.3% of pews are definitely proven to be filled with atheists. He’s saying that in general he ‘believes’ there are lots of them out there. I think he’s right.

    More importantly, in terms of who this ad (and media blitz) is calling to: it prompts those in the pews ask themselves whether they really, honestly believe in their religion. It has them ask themselves, am I just going through the motions here? Do I REALLY believe this crazy stuff? Some will probably say to themselves “No, I really don’t” (and there’s a reasonable-sounding guy on TV telling me that that’s OK, and I should think about being honest with my family, my community, and myself and admitting my non-belief).

  • Carlie

    Maybe, but the reflexive answer to that is “of course I believe!” It doesn’t gain any traction with the true believers. The Jesus=Zeus gambit, though, does make them stop and think for a minute.

  • Robert W.

    Jeff,

    Robert, it must be very comforting to go through life so totally fucking oblivious.

    Do you know the story of Zues’ birth? If you do please tell me how it resembles the story of Jesus’s birth.

    If you don’t, then we will see who is going through life oblivious.

    I know them both well and there is no similarities at all. But if you want, keep on thinking there is.

  • Nick Andrew

    I think Silverman did an awesome job on this interview, Bravo! I have seen him on a couple of prior interviews where he did not do well in my opinion, but this time he was stellar.

    I think it would have been good for him to throw out that there is little evidence for the historicity of Jesus, just so that guy’s bald-faced lie is noted.

    The talk about “what would it take for you to believe in Zeus” was excellent. I was amused that the moderator started to argue along the lines of “who are you to judge that christianity is like all those old religions” when clearly it’s the job of christians to somehow distinguish it. Can anybody show one incontrovertible difference between Christianity and all other religions? It’s not evidence, as they have none.

    On the question of offence to christians, “why the need to try to tear down someone’s faith?” The reason is that no claims or ideology should ever be exempt from criticism, and the idea that these billboards should be banned so little children will grow up without knowing that some people don’t believe the jesus stories is to me, quite offensive and despicable. Little children don’t need Jesus to have a happy childhood – indeed, thousands of Catholic children have had a most unhappy childhood due to Jesus and his minions’ ministrations. Jesus is not like Santa Claus in that people grow out of believing in Santa.

    I also liked at one point the moderator said something about not believing something without empirical evidence. “If you don’t have a doubt, you’re a liar”. She almost understood something there. And then lost the plot with “how can you prove there is no god?”

    Turning talk of fighting the Tooth Fairy into a discussion of the separation of church and state was, in my opinion, a master stroke. It turned an inane question around with a very serious counterpoint. I don’t think Silverman should have gone on to say that the separation of church and state was threatened by church-going atheists, though! What threatens the separation is the immense power of christian meddling in politics, religious persecution of non-believers, the attitude that any criticism of any religion is off limits, and the entrenched belief that only the religious are moral.

  • Secular Stu

    Jeff,

    Robert, it must be very comforting to go through life so totally fucking oblivious.

    Do you know the story of Zues’ birth? If you do please tell me how it resembles the story of Jesus’s birth.

    He wasn’t comparing the births, moron.

    I know them both well and there is no similarities at all.

    And yet you don’t know them well enough to spell Zeus’s name correctly in any of your comments.

  • Robert W

    Stu,

    My spelling aside when I type too fast, my question to Jeff was about the births.

    I understand Silverman was dodging the question about what it would take for him to believe in God with the old, what would it take for you to believe in Zeus comment. Not an answer at all and an obvious attempt to compare the two.

    I guess other then a rude comment and attempt at an insult you don’t have an answer. But I won’t resort to calling you a moron.

    Routinely atheists bring up Zeus and other god’s in an attempt to say the the Jews and Christians borrowed the stories and adapted them as some sort of evidence that they are made up. When you look at them, such as Zeus (spelled right Stu?) or Osiris they aren’t even close.

  • Nick Andrew

    Robert W, of course he was comparing the two.

    In this case the question was not whether Zeus is similar to Jesus, but what would it take to convince the christian that Zeus is real.

    And it’s a trick question, because if the christian answers “I want evidence for Zeus” then Silverman can come back with “I want evidence for Jesus” and the christian has to admit that he has none, or lie about the historicity of Jesus.

    Any other answer justifying christian belief fails the test of evidence. “My parents told me” … how do they know? “The bible says so” … lots of books contain untruths, and the bible is a collection of works written over thousands of years, and is the result of a human editing process over many years (see Development of the Old Testament canon). In short, I doubt any christian can give an answer to the “why do you believe?” question which stands up to critical enquiry.

  • Nick Andrew

    Is there a second part to this panel discussion? I’ve looked on youtube and can’t find any.

  • Robert W

    Nick,

    If it is a trick question then it isn’t a very good one. I would be happy to get into a discussion on the historicity of Jesus with anyone.

    If you want to actually study rational and reasonable reasons for faith then I would direct you to William Lane Craig, C.S. Lewis and Timothy Keller among others.

    Actually, if I was asked this trick question I would first say- answer my question first. Then I would say, if there was the same evidence for Zeus as there is for God and by extension Jesus, then I would believe it, but since I know there isn’t then I don’t believe in Zeus.

  • Secular Stu

    My spelling aside when I type too fast, my question to Jeff was about the births.

    Saying the story of Zues is the same as the story of Jesus’ birth is intellectually dishonest and he should know it. There are no similarities in those stories. Same thing with Osiris. But he throws it out anyway as some sort of evidence.

    We can scroll up, you know, and see that you are lying through your teeth.

    I guess other then a rude comment and attempt at an insult you don’t have an answer. But I won’t resort to calling you a moron.

    You have got some fucking gall to falsely accuse someone of dishonesty, lie to try and cover it up, and then attempt to take some moral high ground. If you had ethics, you would simply apologize and/or leave.

  • Robert W

    Secular.

    I am very confident in my honesty and ethics. I know what I said and I know what I asked.

    So instead of throwing around curse words in an effort to make you sound authoritative, why don’t you try to answer the question.

    Which if you missed it was- how are the two accounts of Zeus’ birth and Jesus’ birth the same? Which is very relevant question to this issue because Silverman,in an attempt to compare the evidence implied through his question that they were the same. Particularly when the whole discussion was centering on the “myth” of the birth account of Jesus.

    If you don’t take his statement that way so be it but it is the logical end to the inquiry. Maybe you missed that.

  • Robert W.

    Secular,,

    I rewatched the interview. My question is more relevant than i just described. Look at about 3:20 into the video and go about a minute or so later. Silverman says the Zeus story is very similar to the story of Christ.

    So maybe you should apologize

  • sven

    @Robert W
    For clarification. As an Atheist I usually bring up Zues to show christians that they too are atheists when it comes to other gods but their own.
    The interesting part is seeing the realization in their eyes when they imagine, just for a second, what it feels like to be on the outside. Then the brainwash reflex kicks in and they are back to circular reasoning.

  • Secular Stu

    Secular,,

    I rewatched the interview. My question is more relevant than i just described. Look at about 3:20 into the video and go about a minute or so later. Silverman says the Zeus story is very similar to the story of Christ.

    So maybe you should apologize

    Transcript starting at 3:05:

    Other Guy: And in fact, the other supposed dying and rising savior gods came after. there’s not one documented example of a messiah figure that died and rose again for the sins of people prior to Jesus. They come two to three hundred years after that.

    Silverman: (unintelligible), Osiris, Zeus… yeah, there are a lot of them.

    Other guy: Similar but not the same.

    Silverman: REALLY similar.

    The first guy was talking about the “documented” examples of gods dying and rising again all coming after Jesus. Silverman gave counterexamples. At no time did Silverman say anything about births.

    Saying the story of Zues is the same as the story of Jesus’ birth is intellectually dishonest and he should know it. There are no similarities in those stories. Same thing with Osiris. But he throws it out anyway as some sort of evidence.

    You lied. At just about any time you could have owned up to it, and said, “You’re right, I made a mistake. He wasn’t talking about the birth of Zeus.” But, no, you falsely accuse Silverman of being intellectually honest and insist others answer your strawman question.

    That’s all I have to say on the matter.

  • Sven

    @Robert W
    This is a tricky slip you are using here;

    Then I would say, if there was the same evidence for Zeus as there is for God and by extension Jesus, then I would believe it, but since I know there isn’t then I don’t believe in Zeus.

    There is just as much evidence for Zues as for your god; None. This you know, that is why you added “by extension Jesus”. This extension is only usable if you can proof that your god exists and the ‘inspired’ scripture is true. Until you can proof that, it stays a myth. Just like Zues.

  • Robert W.

    Secular,

    Fair enough, Silverman didn’t use the term birth. That was my question to Jeff. But my objections to Silverman’s position stands and is even stronger that he is intellectually dishonest.

    He is actually saying that the complete stories of Zeus and Jesus are very similar. From birth to death is implied but regardless, even by his exact point he is saying that Zeus was a god that died and rose again to save people from their sins. And that is not even close to the story of Zeus.

    It is a shame that you are leaving the subject without even attempting to answer the question or defend Silverman’s statements about the stories being similar. But I can understand why.

    Sven,

    That is where you and I will disagree. I of course think that there is plenty of evidence of God and you can’t not include Jesus who in fact stated as reported in the Gospels and explained later in the new Testament that he was God. If what Jesus said and did, including rising from the dead is true, then in my views that is the best evidence of God.

  • Sven

    @Robert W
    You are careful enough to say that you ‘think that there is plenty of evidence’, this is because you know it isn’t really evidence. Or else you would share it with us.
    You can tell yourself all you want. It’s not evidence, and you know it.

    If what Jesus said and did, including rising from the dead is true, then in my views that is the best evidence of God.

    Come on, you must know better that to fall back on circular reasoning?

  • Jeff

    It is a shame that you are leaving the subject without even attempting to answer the question or defend Silverman’s statements about the stories being similar. But I can understand why.

    Oh, yes, right – the atheist walks away in disgust because the Christian is stubborn and obtuse, and the Christian is convinced it’s because he has no comeback. How trite is this?

    Osiris is an excellent example of a deity dying and rising again. The Mediterranean mystery cults, as well, were full of them. So they got tweaked a little bit, when incorporated by the early Christians, to align with Jewish messianic fervor. Big deal. Just because your predecessors made a few alterations to accommodate their pathologically low self esteem (if they even understood these stories in the way you do, which is highly debatable) – that doesn’t make them true.

    As far as the historicity of Jesus is concerned – I am sick to death of you people saying that there is more historical evidence for Jesus than there is for any other figure of antiquity. No. Period. Fail. You’re just fucking WRONG. You can cite the arguments of all of the theological hacks you want to (and hacks is precisely what Craig and Lewis are/were); it doesn’t change a thing. And it doesn’t even matter, really – because NO amount of evidence would ever change your mind. You believe because you want to believe – PERIOD. All other considerations are irrelevant. You don’t believe because of “evidence”; you believe because you want the security blanket. Have the integrity to admit it.

  • Robert W.

    Sven,

    You are careful enough to say that you ‘think that there is plenty of evidence’, this is because you know it isn’t really evidence. Or else you would share it with us.
    You can tell yourself all you want. It’s not evidence, and you know it.

    I didn’t state it that way for the reason you claim. I have been here long enough to know that what I cite as evidence, including philosophical arguments, is ignored by most of those on the other side of the argument with the sweeping allegation that it isn’t evidence at all. I have expressed my arguments and evidence many times and would be happy to do it again.

    Come on, you must know better that to fall back on circular reasoning?

    That isn’t circular reasoning because Jesus said he was God. He also said he would die and rise again. So if there is evidence that the resurrection occurred then that is evidence that God exists.

    The other arguments for God include cosmology arguments, Biblical archeology, the argument for moral objectivity, the evidence for the reality of Jesus and the resurrection as described in the Gospels, etc… All clues to God’s existence. But I will agree that in the end, we must look at these clues and say we believe based upon faith. A faith that I say is rational and reasonable. You on the other hand look at the same arguments and evidence and reach the conclusion that you will not believe.

    By the same token I look at what atheists normally argue is evidence or clues that there is no God and reach the conclusion that this isn’t evidence that defeats his existence, whereas you would look at it and believe that it does.

    My point is in the end we are both taking a position of belief based upon faith of something we contend we have evidence for yet we don’t know for certain. I will say I believe that there is a God and I assume you will say you believe that there isn’t. i would even go so far as saying that my belief is to the point of being a certainty, but I cannot say it doesn’t also include a degree of faith. And with that I am very comfortable. I would assume that the reverse for you would be the same.

    Jeff,

    Oh, yes, right – the atheist walks away in disgust because the Christian is stubborn and obtuse, and the Christian is convinced it’s because he has no comeback. How trite is this?

    Really, that’s why he walked away? I must have missed it when he walked away after answering the question or supporting Silverman’s argument that the story of Jesus and Zeus or even Osiris are very similar. Oh yea, he didn’t answer those questions.

    Osiris is an excellent example of a deity dying and rising again. The Mediterranean mystery cults, as well, were full of them. So they got tweaked a little bit, when incorporated by the early Christians, to align with Jewish messianic fervor. Big deal.

    Without giving any description of the similarities you simply say they exist. Then you assume that the Jewish people, who as a culture have always attempted to segregate themselves from other ancient cultures knew enough of the Orisis mythology to not only know it but to want to copy it while at the same time they ignored every other aspect of the mythology such as mummification etc…

    The assumptions you make in this statement are huge. Assuming you can list some similar parallels in the story you assume the Christ story was a copy of the other. It would be like saying all murder mysteries are a copy of all others because you can find similar themes in them. What evidence do you have to support that assumption?

    As far as the historicity of Jesus is concerned – I am sick to death of you people saying that there is more historical evidence for Jesus than there is for any other figure of antiquity. No. Period. Fail. You’re just fucking WRONG. You can cite the arguments of all of the theological hacks you want to (and hacks is precisely what Craig and Lewis are/were); it doesn’t change a thing.

    I don’t believe I have ever made this comment but I do know that there is a vast amount of information and evidence for the historicity of Jesus. And this evidence is closer in time to his life and more abundant then some other historical figures that atheists just acce;t as being real.

    What I am sick of is you people consistently ignoring this evidence. But if you call Craig and Lewis a hack you have already showed how closed minded you are on the issue and how much you ignore the evidence provided to you. There is nothing I can say that will change your mind so there is no need to discuss it with you.

  • sven

    @Robert W
    Your standard of evidence is truely disapponting.

    That isn’t circular reasoning because Jesus said he was God. He also said he would die and rise again. So if there is evidence that the resurrection occurred then that is evidence that God exists.

    This statement not only shows how utterly blind you are to your own blindness, it also reveals your inability to face the simple fact that there IS no evidence.
    You name a whole list of terms and ´arguments´, and talk about clues for a god. But again you show no evidence. You need a lot of words to say nothing at all. The faith you mention seems reasonable to you because you are deluded. Clues are not the same as evidence. Again, you know this, but you reason in circles to make it fit your delusion.
    There is nothing in all your claims that proof your faith is not the result of Hades to lure you into denying Zeus.

    About your second statement.
    Please don’t assume that I make an exception to not-believe in you deity, I believe in no gods, no fairies, no unicorns indiscriminately. All for the same reason.
    We probably share most of our non-beliefs. In the end I am honest enough to face reality. The world makes a lot more sense without the need for a deity. It is facinating to realize this is a position many theist fear.

    You calling other people close minded is extremely hypocritical.

    There is nothing I can say that will change your mind so there is no need to discuss it with you.

    Show us irrefutable scientific evidence of the existence of your god and we will listen to what you have to say. Evidence, show it.

  • Robert W.

    Sven,

    We see things differently. I don’t limit the evidence I have for God’s existence to science, nor do I think science has disproved the existence of God.

    Why limit the evidence for God to scientific evidence? Why exclude all of the other evidence that is out there? Why use natural laws in an attempt to prove or disprove the supernatural?

    I would ask you, what scientific evidence do you think proves irrefutably that god doesn’t exist?

    I explained why I didn’t get into the details of the arguments that I mentioned and your response shows why.

    If you want a detailed explanation of these arguments I would refer you to William Lane Craig’s website, reasonablefaith.org. Or Timothy Keller’s book, Reason for God.

    As for the world being a making more sense without a deity, I couldn’t disagree with you more. But that is where we will differ in our worldview.

  • sven

    @Robert W
    Oh please, you keep on disappointing.
    Of course you don’t limit the evidence to only scientific. Than you would have nothing.

    I would ask you, what scientific evidence do you think proves irrefutably that god doesn’t exist?

    Are you really this desperate? You can’t proof a negative. Following this ‘logic’ would lead to unicorn being real. You can not proof your belief is actually Hades luring you into rejecting Zeus.
    My respons showed you that atheists are open minded people. Your failure to present any coherent evidence and your grapling around for any kind of straw, show me you are more deluded than I thought you were.

    You have nothing but your own conviction, on that shallow base you construct your deluded world view, and yet you call other people close minded.
    Again, come forth with your evidence, I am open to it.

    And for reasonablefaith.org, you have got to be kidding me. THIS is reasonable to you? Now I see where you get your circular reasoning skills.

  • Robert W.

    Sven,

    Did you actually go to the website? Dr. Craig has two Phds- one in philosophy and one in theology. I’m confident in his abilities to reason and construct an argument.

    Let’s discuss one of those arguments. Not only from Craig but from Norman Geisler.

    Would you agree that the universe had a beginning? I will assume that you do because science had confirmed that it does.

    If that is so, then the universe had to have a cause, because it is possible for it not to have been in existence.

    Because it is possible that the universe could not exist then it is not necessary and thus had to have been caused from a cause that was necessary. In other words what caused the universe to come into being had to be necessary cause that had no possibility of not existing; ie a cause that is eternal and always in existence. A first uncaused cause so to speak.

    Therefore a first uncaused cause, necessary cause to the beginning of the universe exists.

    How would you describe this first uncaused cause? It would have to be eternal, unchanging, all powerful, outside of space and time, all knowing and all perfect. Why? In shorthand, because it caused all things to come into existence including space and time.

    A being that is eternal, beyond space and time, all knowing, all powerful and unchanging is just how the God of the Bible is described.

    Thus the God of the Bible can be said to exist.

    Understand this is a shorthand version of this argument and only one piece of the puzzle, but I thought I would start here if you are serious about a discussion.

    I find it interesting that you agree that science can’t disprove the existence of God. That is refreshing. I would guess you would agree then that to say that God definitely doesn’t exist is not based upon science. Then your believe that he doesn’t must be based upon something else. What would that be?

  • Jeff

    Without giving any description of the similarities you simply say they exist.

    I’m not here to do your homework for you.

    Then you assume that the Jewish people, who as a culture have always attempted to segregate themselves from other ancient cultures knew enough of the Orisis mythology to not only know it but to want to copy it while at the same time they ignored every other aspect of the mythology such as mummification etc…

    I am a Jew, and, let me tell you – your knowledge of Jewish history is weak. Jewish society in Roman-era Palestine was far from monolithic;; there were numerous political and religious factions, including accomodationists and separatists. Moreover, Palestine was a crossroads and a center of trade, having seaports and being centrally located within the Roman Empire. It was exposed to pretty much every belief system circulating around the Mediterranean at the time. No culture exists in a vacuum, and each builds upon what it adopts or inherits from others.

    But if you call Craig and Lewis a hack you have already showed how closed minded you are on the issue and how much you ignore the evidence provided to you. There is nothing I can say that will change your mind so there is no need to discuss it with you.

    You’re wrong. You are simply wrong, and there’s an end to it. You people are absolutely obsessed with Lewis, Craig and Strobel. I honestly don’t think a week goes by that I don’t encounter a Christian online telling me that if I would only read Lewis, Craig, Strobel, or some combination of them, all of my objections would be satisfactorily dealt with. It would be funny, if it weren’t so tragic. Lewis was a fairly competent English Lit scholar (or so I’m told; I haven’t read his academic work) who got religion late in life and took to giving theological lectures to working class Brits. His arguments were always weak at best. Craig is a hack; he’s a laughingstock among serious (i.e., non-fundie) Biblical scholars and anyone who cares or is serious about debate. Strobel – there are simply no words. The man is a cretin who shouldn’t be allowed to put pen to paper.

    You’re an addict. You’re so desperate to believe that you allow yourself only to see the “evidence” that you can convince yourself supports your a priori conclusions. I won’t waste my time with you any longer. Sven, my advice to you would be to adopt the same attitude. This one is literally unreachable.

  • Robert W.

    Jeff,

    I ask you for your arguments and once again you state nothing. I’ve done my homework and I know there are no similarities in the accounts. But since you brought up that there were I figured you would state them.

    The best you can do throw insults and snide remarks. Not much of an argument but it certainly shows the shallowness of your position.

    Tell me which scholars laugh at Craig? Do you actually know of any or did you just make that up? And your opinion aside I have yet to see you even attempt to refute his arguments.

    Your comments about the Jewish culture of Roman times answers nothing. It doesn’t address the assumptions you are making nor the questions raised. If you actually have any evidence that the Jewish people copied mythology from the Romans or the Egyptians, or even more direct, that the writers of the Gospels borrowed from this mythology I would be happy to look at it. Or is this another unfounded assumption?

    One thing you are correct about- this discussion is over.

  • sven

    Jeff
    Thanks, I know he is deluded. It is very entertaining to me.
    @Robert W

    Did you actually go to the website? Dr. Craig has two Phds- one in philosophy and one in theology. I’m confident in his abilities to reason and construct an argument.

    Yes I did. Phd’s in philosophy and theology do not make him a scientist.

    It shows, because the ´argument´ leaves out all other possibilities of uncaused causes. It simply turns to only one pre-selcted ´inspired scripture´. A real scientist will simply not stop at one of these sciptures. He/she will keep seaching to see if another scripture might have a similar discription of it´s deity(s). Inviting other scientists to do this as well. Thereby proofing him/herself wrong is part of testing his/her own theory. That´s how science works.
    So is this ´argument´ irrifutable scientific proof, no it is not.

    I find it interesting that you agree that science can’t disprove the existence of God. That is refreshing. Then your believe that he doesn’t must be based upon something else. What would that be?

    If you find this refreshing, you have not seriously tried to understand atheists. Science can also not proof that unicorns, fairies, Zues do not exist. If have told you this before. The lack of believe in all these (and many more), including your god is….. lack of evidence. I have told you this before.

    I am still open to any irrefutable scientific evidence that your deity exists.
    And you still have not proven to me that your denial of Zeus is not caused by Hades.

  • Robert W.

    Sven,

    Whoever said Craig was a scientist?

    You may worship at the alter of science but there are other forms of evidence. I have told you that before.

    So is this ´argument´ irrifutable scientific proof, no it is not.

    Correct. It is an argument based upon philosophy.

    As far as possible uncaused causes, you could list an endless number of other possible causes but what does that mean? If the God of the Bible is a probable cause that fits then it would then be your burden to prove other probable causes are equally valid.

    If have told you this before. The lack of believe in all these (and many more), including your god is….. lack of evidence.

    So in your mind then what you perceive to be absence of evidence is evidence of absence? Not very scientific of you.

    Hope you were entertained

  • Sven

    @Rober W

    You may worship at the alter of science but there are other forms of evidence. I have told you that before.

    No, you said you choose not to limit the evidence that you require to science. What you choose to keep your delusion alive means nothing to me.

    Correct. It is an argument based upon philosophy.

    As far as possible uncaused causes, you could list an endless number of other possible causes but what does that mean? If the God of the Bible is a probable cause that fits then it would then be your burden to prove other probable causes are equally valid.

    Not if I require irrefutable scientific evidence to believe in unicorns, Zues, Yabberwokkie and your god. You are correct that these are all equally valid, and thereby equally invalid.

    So in your mind then what you perceive to be absence of evidence is evidence of absence? Not very scientific of you.

    No, it means there is no reason for me to believe in fairies, alien abduction, Harry Potter, and your god. If any of these turn out to be scientifically proven, I will believe. Just like I believe that the world is round. That is how open minded I am. I am willing to broaden my beliefs.

    So, Hades has a real pull on you huh? And you don’t even realize it.

    You are very entertaining, thank you :)

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Sorry but I can’t let this go.

    Robert W.

    Would you agree that the universe had a beginning? I will assume that you do because science had confirmed that it does.

    No. The universe has an origin inferred as a ‘Big Bang’ event from the observed Doppler effect that shows that the universe is expanding. Confirmed? Proven? Not quite. What we can tell is that the universe was a lot more dense than it is now.

    If that is so, then the universe had to have a cause, because it is possible for it not to have been in existence.

    Why? When an isotope emits a radioactive particle what causes it to decay? Can you demonstrate or scientifically infer that the universe did not exist at some point?

    In other words what caused the universe to come into being had to be necessary cause that had no possibility of not existing; ie a cause that is eternal and always in existence.

    Hang on. You are simply assuming that a cause was external if there was even a cause. Very clever scientists have come up with some hypotheses regarding this that don’t use the lazy logic of calling upon gods as explanations. They are hypotheses because no-one actually knows.

    I had the privilege of listening to a lecture by Professor Brian Cox and having a chat to him afterwards. I asked him what caused the Big Bang (or rapid expansion) and he said “I don’t know”. He’s a clever fellow. You’d think he’d know wouldn’t you? No, he’s honest enough to admit that science hasn’t found a cause. What makes you think that you have? A mythology written at the end of the Iron Age? Pah!

    It would have to be eternal, unchanging, all powerful, outside of space and time

    Space-time please. Do you know what we call something that doesn’t exist in space-time? Non-existent.

    it caused all things to come into existence including space and time.

    Evidence?

    A being that is eternal, beyond space and time, all knowing, all powerful and unchanging is just how the God of the Bible is described.

    Really? I’m pretty sure it isn’t. I distinctly recall a passage where Abraham sat and had a conversation with this God fellow and another where he got into a street fight. He seems very human in appearance and attitude.

    Thus the God of the Bible can be said to exist.

    Woah! Big leap. You could have been describing Zeus, Odin or Ra there or even one of Lovecraft’s Many Angled Ones. How did you leap to your god from such a vague and illogical definition?

    I find it interesting that you agree that science can’t disprove the existence of God.

    I suggest you look up Russell’s Cosmic Teapot argument. It explains wonderfully the error that you have just made.

    I would guess you would agree then that to say that God definitely doesn’t exist is not based upon science.

    God doesn’t exist. Probably.

    Then your believe that he doesn’t must be based upon something else. What would that be?

    A lack of evidence for gods of any kind. The logical inconsistency of arguments for gods. They are really weak as your cosmological argument demonstrates. Better explanations for god belief in sociology and psychology. The lack of a reason for there to be gods. The Problem of Evil. That utter lack of meaning in the term “god”. Most of all though what convinces me is that god is not apparent.

  • gsw

    Jeff P Says:
    Although, I do agree with the objection that the ancients probably did not consider that they were having a “personal relationship with Zeus”

    Actually, lots of Greeks had a very personal relationship with Zeus – as proved by the existence of Hercules – of course they were not male, so maybe you think they don’t count?

    Christians today don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus either, any more than the teenies who sigh over posters and like to pretend that they have a relationship with a pop-star. If it persists into adulthood it is usually considered a disorder.

  • Robert W.

    Sven,

    Actually these statements show how closed minded you really are. You limit the only evidence you would consider for any of these things to science despite its limitations. What you are really saying is that you are willing to broaden your beliefs of science and nothing more.

    By your vague comments about Hades, I assume you are implying that I believe out of a fear of Hell. Quite a wrong and uninformed assumption of your part.

    Hoverfrog,

    For some reason my computer is not allowing me to block your comments so bear with this response. I will try to comment in order.

    Universe have a beginning that also was when space and time began:

    From Stephen Hawings:

    “In this lecture, I would like to discuss whether time itself has a beginning, and whether it will have an end. All the evidence seems to indicate, that the universe has not existed forever, but that it had a beginning, about 15 billion years ago.”

    “The conclusion of this lecture is that the universe has not existed forever. Rather, the universe, and time itself, had a beginning in the Big Bang, about 15 billion years ago.”

    http://www.hawking.org.uk/index.php/lectures/62

    Hawings of course disagrees with the idea that God created the universe, but he does agree that the universe had a beginning and that time began with the Big Bang. As far as lazy logic, he assumes that matter was always there and without any outside force it just exploded one day. Without any attempt to explain how it got there,how long it had been there or how it would explode on its own without the effect of an outside force. And he does this by apparently saying that before the Big Bang it doesn’t matter because nothing was observable.

    I won’t pretend to know all that he has said or the science about all of this, but I did think I would show you that we at lease should agree on this

    As far as the description of God in the Bible, we could go verse by verse, but I feel very confident that my description of God is correct. He also became man in the form of Jesus for those of use that believe in the Trinity. Some believe that this was who wrestled with Jacob.

    China Teapot- false analogy by Russell and by extension the flying spaghetti monster, Santa Claus etc… The reason people would not believe that there is a teapot flying around Mars is not because we can’t see it and therefore have an absence of evidence, but because we have contrary evidence to conclude that it doesn’t exist such as we never launched a teapot into space.

    Let me give you an example of Russell’s failed logic- If you and I are standing on Top of Big Ben (to use a UK landmark) and I ask is there a fly on that cafe table across the river? And after a quick glance you say no because you can’t see one. does that sound logical to you?

    As far as your “lack of evidence” for any gods, that is along list of items to respond to that we have discussed before and will I am sure discuss again.

  • Sven

    @Robert W

    Actually these statements show how closed minded you really are. You limit the only evidence you would consider for any of these things to science despite its limitations. What you are really saying is that you are willing to broaden your beliefs of science and nothing more.

    I’m sorry, other types are just not evidence. It is just being rational. An unknown concept to you, I know. Any type of other ‘evidence’ boils down to circular reasoning. Than we are back to believing in unicorns, flat earth, creationism etc. All equally unprovable.

    Your close mindedness let’s you bypass types of evidence that are testable, so you can not be proven wrong. I am actually open enough to let myself be proven wrong. To bad you don’t have any scientific evidence huh? You could have actually converted me.

    By your vague comments about Hades, I assume you are implying that I believe out of a fear of Hell. Quite a wrong and uninformed assumption of your part.

    You assume wrong. -Hades lures people into believing things that are not real, like your believe in your god. Hades has ways of making you so convinced that you close your eyes to the real god that is Zeus. – Can you prove to me that this statement is incorrect?

    The teapot analogy is actually a good one. You can not actually prove it can you? Maybe NASA actually dropped one in orbit, just as a joke, or a homage to Russel, and they have decided not to tell you. Mars exists, teapots exist, and NASA exists. NASA has send machines to Mars, so this would actually be possible.

    Keep entertaining us!

  • bernerbits

    You limit the only evidence you would consider for any of these things to science despite its limitations.

    Robert,

    For me (and indeed, many of us atheists) to accept any standard of evidence outside science, we need to be shown that it is both consistent (it produces the same results no matter how it is applied) and reliable (it can be applied in many different situations and still yield results). This may seem like stubborn pedantry to you, but the reason many skeptics accept the scientific standard of evidence is because, like a certain brand of designer electronics, it just works, and we would be open to any alternate standard of evidence if we could be shown that it worked even 1% as well as scientific inquiry.

    I asked you in an earlier thread to provide an alternate standard by which we might obtain knowledge, and you gave me four or five common apologetic arguments. However, what you did not give me was an alternate standard of evidence to scientific inquiry.

    To say that the universe and intelligent life require a benevolent creator is an argument, not evidence.

    To say that moral behavior requires a universal standard of morality is an argument, not evidence.

    People’s individual religious experiences can certainly be taken as evidence, but if you want to submit them as evidence, you must also show why the personal experiences of religions you consider false cannot also be evidence. The only reason this evidence is not scientific is because it fails to stand up to scrutiny, not because it adheres to an alternate standard of evidence.

    Historical evidence is also evidence, but historical evidence falls squarely within the standards of scientific evidence and doesn’t support your claim that we are closed-minded to alternate standards of evidence.

    I already feel that we are not meeting on an even keel here. I cannot speak for other atheists here, but I myself argue out of a desire to come to a greater understanding of truth, but you seem to argue out of a desire to convince others that what you believe is right. I aim at a minimum to show you that I am earnest in my approach, a truth which you repeatedly deny.

    So with that in mind, I ask you again, not out of sarcasm, but out of an earnest desire to penetrate to the heart your argument. What is the alternate standard of evidence, which is both consistent and reliable, by my above definitions, to which we have so willfully and stubbornly chosen to shut our hearts?

    To be clear, then, my one request to you is to identify what standards of evidence exist, outside of scientific inquiry, that can be used to obtain knowledge reliably and consistently. I am not asking for a mere redux of apologetic arguments.

  • Robert W.

    Sven,

    For someone who claims to be rational and base your worldview on the proofs supplied by science, you certainly base alot of your arguments on unfounded possibilities.

    If someone can only “convert” you based upon scientific evidence then you will neither be a Christian nor an atheist because science cannot either prove or disprove God’s existence.

    And if you are truly that strict of a rationalist I wonder how it affects the other parts of your life. I doubt that you are, but are simply using that as the basis to ignore the other evidence so that you can be comfortable in your agnosticism.

    Unless of course you claim to be a strong atheist and know that God doesn’t exist.

    If that is what you meant by your comment about Hades there is no need to respond because you obviously don’t believe it so what is the point.

    You seem to misunderstand the point of the tea pot analogy. And once again you are building your question on a list of assumptions to get to a possibility.

    Your discussion of it actually proves my point. Based upon what you describe, Russell would actually say that it would be reasonable to believe in the teapot because there would be evidence that it could be true. It would not be believing in something absent evidence, it would be believing in something when there is evidence to support it. So if you want to believe that there is a teapot floating in space based upon the circumstances you describe, then by all means do so.

  • sven

    @Robert W

    If someone can only “convert” you based upon scientific evidence then you will neither be a Christian nor an atheist because science cannot either prove or disprove God’s existence.

    Nor can it disprove allah’s existance, nor Zues’s existance etc. We’ve been over this. It is a affirmation that I do not simply believe anything just because other people believe it is real. What is so hard to understand about that? If you claim your god exist and you can not back it up, why should I believe your story over anybody else’s?

    And if you are truly that strict of a rationalist I wonder how it affects the other parts of your life. I doubt that you are, but are simply using that as the basis to ignore the other evidence so that you can be comfortable in your agnosticism.

    Please, your ´other evidence´ is no more that circular reasoning. It is nonsense.

    If that is what you meant by your comment about Hades there is no need to respond because you obviously don’t believe it so what is the point.

    The point is that you said you were open to ´other evidence´, why won´t you accept this as evidence? Please do respond, if you are so open minded as you claim to be.
    The teapot; it is an analogy that the burden of proof is on the one that makes the claim. What is there not to understand?

    Keep it up!

  • Robert W.

    Sven,

    We are getting nowhere with this discussion. If all you will do in attempting to respond to my questions is ask questions of your own, then you are doing the equivalent of a school yard discussion- “I know you are but what am I”. It is not advancing your cause in anyway.

    If you still insist upon a total reliance upon scientific evidence, even if it is for the reason you now state my comments still stand. If you are an agnostic then you are being consistent with this standard. Are you agnostic or is it your position that God doesn’t exist?

    Please refer to other posts I have made in this thread to see some of the arguments and evidence I present for the existence of God. I have also directed you to other websites and apologists for that same information. If you don’t want to go there, then so be it.

    Explain to me how your unsupported comment about Hades is evidence of anything that I should consider? You might as well have said we are all just floating on the fingernail of an alien and our existence is a delusion go prove it wrong.

    And I am sorry but your understanding of the tea pot analogy is flawed. It is not about the burden of proof. It is an attempt at a logical argument for the proposition that it would be illogical to believe something in the absence of evidence and thus the absence of evidence is evidence of absence. In that regard it is flawed as I have explained.

  • sven

    @Robert W
    Of course we are getting nowhere. You are stuck in your delusion, claiming evidence that is not there. I have looked at the website you named and gave you my honest reaction.
    What questions have I not answered? I have told you many times I do not believe in any unproven myth, like your god. I do not make claims about it´s existence, I simply do not believe. I am as much of an atheist as I am an athoothfairyist, I do not believe in either. Why is this still so hard for you to understand?

    Explain to me how your unsupported comment about Hades is evidence of anything that I should consider? You might as well have said we are all just floating on the fingernail of an alien and our existence is a delusion go prove it wrong.

    Same as yours, read a book, believe it is real without any evidence, keep going in circles. I can write it down and claim i was inspired by Zues in a dream if that would make you feel better. Do you now suddenly have a standard to what constitutes as evidence?

    To me the teapot analogy shows that if you make a claim that you can not back up with evidence, there is no claim.

  • Robert W.

    Sven,

    This will be my last comment to you on this post. I am sure we will continue our discussion again.

    I disagree with the position that simply not believing is not making a statement about existence. It is my position that when you say, after being exposed to the evidence and arguments, that you don’t believe it, you are taking a position that something doesn’t exist. Just like you do about the tooth fairy. Otherwise you would say, I don’t know if God exists or not and you would be an agnostic.

    It is apparent that any evidence that is not what you would consider scientific evidence is to you, no evidence at all and not worthy of merit. That will exclude of course all philosophical arguments and historical evidence.

    So it is is apparent that you are taking the position that God doesn’t exist based upon the standard of science when you also admit that science can’t prove or disprove the existence of God. You set up an impossible standard for your belief in God then say the standard is not met to justify your non belief. That sounds pretty circular to me.

    That is too bad because simply dismissing solid logical and philosophical arguments as “circular reasoning” without explanation or ignoring the historical evidence which must be explained to not believe in Jesus and by extension God is not much of a discussion.

    Have a wonderful day.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Robert W. you made the claim that the Big Bang was proven. Despite Hawking’s clear intellect and the weight of evidence I’d still have to say that “proven” is too strong a term to use.

    As far as the description of God in the Bible, we could go verse by verse, but I feel very confident that my description of God is correct.

    Verse by verse would be fine. I am not so confident as you are but then you probably know your bible much better than I do. It shouldn’t be too great a chore for you to demonstrate in clear an unequivocal terms that your claim is correct.

    He also became man in the form of Jesus for those of use that believe in the Trinity.

    Yeah I’m pretty sure that Jesus wasn’t clear on the claim to be God. I’m pretty sure that he left the question not answered fully.

    Some believe that this was who wrestled with Jacob.

    I’ve never heard that claim before. However I’m pretty sure that these events do not fit the timeline. i.e. Jesus was supposedly born long after Jacob was dead.

    The reason people would not believe that there is a teapot flying around Mars is not because we can’t see it and therefore have an absence of evidence, but because we have contrary evidence to conclude that it doesn’t exist such as we never launched a teapot into space.

    No. Sorry but no. A teapot shaped asteroid may exist. We certainly cannot disprove it. Go ahead and look it up.

    Let me give you an example of Russell’s failed logic- If you and I are standing on Top of Big Ben (to use a UK landmark) and I ask is there a fly on that cafe table across the river? And after a quick glance you say no because you can’t see one. does that sound logical to you?

    Big Ben is the bell, not the tower. You wouldn’t be able to see across the river from Big Ben. You mean Clock Tower of St Stephens. Pedantry aside the example should read that you are claiming that there is a fly. Given that we can’t see one how can your claim be refuted?

  • sven

    @Robert W
    We will continue this dicussion somewhere, please have some scientific evidence prepared if you want to have some credibility.
    The definition of scientific evidence is not for me to consider, it is the same everywhere. I believe bernerbits stated this very clearly in an earlier post.
    Again, if I were to consider your ´evidence´ for the existence of your god, I would also have to consider all ´evidence´ for all other myths. You have shown no historical evidence that proofs the existance of your deity. Simply claiming what jesus said does not proof anything. THAT is the kind of circular reasoning I am talking about.
    And you solid logical evidence was not so solid. It was .. circular. That is why you are so entertaining.

  • Robert W.

    Hoverfrog,

    Verse by verse would be fine. I am not so confident as you are but then you probably know your bible much better than I do. It shouldn’t be too great a chore for you to demonstrate in clear an unequivocal terms that your claim is correct.

    The eternal God- Gen.21:33; Ps 90:2

    Infinite- 1K8:27

    Immortal- 1 Timothy 1:17

    Invisible- John 1:18

    All Knowing- Ps 147:5

    All powerful- Isa 40:6-7

    Unchanging- Mal 3:6

    Righteous- Ps 145:17

    Perfect- Matt. 5:48

    Gracious Ex 34:6

    All Loving- Ex 34:6; 1 John 4:8-10, 16

    To give you a sample

    Yeah I’m pretty sure that Jesus wasn’t clear on the claim to be God. I’m pretty sure that he left the question not answered fully.

    That would be a whole post on the doctrine of the Trinity, but a good verse for that is John 1:1- In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made.

    To see what Jesus said, there are several verses. One is matt. 28:20 where he says he will be with His disciples for all time.

    I will agree that He wasn’t as clear as he could be, but it is well established among the vast majority of mainstream Christians that Jesus was God in the form of the Trinity.

    I’ve never heard that claim before. However I’m pretty sure that these events do not fit the timeline. i.e. Jesus was supposedly born long after Jacob was dead.

    I apologize. I should have said the pre-incarnate Christ.

    No. Sorry but no. A teapot shaped asteroid may exist. We certainly cannot disprove it. Go ahead and look it up.

    I’m sorry but I don’t understand your response. I think that the fact that a tea pot shaped asteroid may exist is not the point of Russel’s analogy. I tried to show the logical fallacy in his argument.

    Big Ben is the bell, not the tower. You wouldn’t be able to see across the river from Big Ben. You mean Clock Tower of St Stephens. Pedantry aside the example should read that you are claiming that there is a fly. Given that we can’t see one how can your claim be refuted?

    I have only been to London once so probably shouldn’t have used that landmark.

    Regardless my example is as I meant it to be. If we are there and I ask is there a fly and you look and say I can’t see one so no there isn’t. Then you would be making a claim of non-existence based upon lack of evidence of what you can see. That is an example of absence of evidence = evidence of absence. When a more logical response would be I’ don’t know. I was trying to show the equivalent position of an atheist who claims God doesn’t exist because there is an absence of evidence and an agnostic positio

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Robert, just for fun I’ll interpret these passages too.

    Gen.21:33, Psalms 90:2, 145:17, 147:5, 1 Kings 8:27, 1 Timothy 1:17 – Obsequious praise to a tyrant deity.
    John 1:18 I don’t know where you got invisible from. Clearly someone who is supposed to “bear witness” to light will be able to see it.
    Isaiah 40:6-7 demonstrates God’s disregard for people and murderous attitude but not infinite power.
    Malachi 3:6 counter his unchanging nature with frequent references in Jeremiah that god repents in order to demonstrate how God changes his mind.
    Matthew 5:48 is actually interesting as it refers to the perfect nature of man’s potential compared with God’s. Shakespeare does the same in Hamlet when he delivers the “What a piece of work is man” speech (Act II, scene ii).
    Exodus 34:6 “The Lord God, merciful and gracious…” – If you like I could point you to passages where God is far from merciful. He’s downright cruel and lacks even the good grace to ensure that his victims are actually guilty.
    1 John 4:8-10, 16 now I know you’re winding me up. This “all loving” god gleefully slaughters the entire world in Genesis, burns cities, sends plagues and torment on people, smites anyone who looks at him the wrong way, demands sacrifices and ritual mutilation, hates with a relish eaters of shellfish and gay folk (according to you) and is thoroughly unpleasant and hateful. You have the nerve to say that he’s “all loving”. Too funny.

    That would be a whole post on the doctrine of the Trinity

    I’m pretty sure that the Trinity isn’t in the bible but knock yourself out and explain it if you like.

    I will agree that He wasn’t as clear as he could be, but it is well established among the vast majority of mainstream Christians that Jesus was God in the form of the Trinity.

    Thank you. Given that he never actually made a clear claim that he was God and that those texts that concentrated on the human aspects of Jesus over the divine were edited out of the Bible how can you maintain that he said that he was God? What the majority of people claim isn’t relevant, only the truth is relevant and the evidence doesn’t back up the claim.

    I should have said the pre-incarnate Christ.

    What on earth is that? Assuming the Jesus existed then he was born, lived and dies like every other man does. He’s not a Time Lord with a blue box. Honestly are you just making this stuff up?

    As for Russell’s teapot the
    analogy is that the claim that cannot be verified is in itself a spurious claim. In your example the one making the assertion that they can see the fly is making the unverifiable claim. That is true whether or not it is for or against something. Your claim is that God exists (plus a load of other stuff about God). Mine is that the claim is unfalsifiable and therefore easily disregarded. I am not making a counter claim. I am saying that your claim is without any value.

  • Sven

    @Hoverfrog

    Honestly are you just making this stuff up?

    No, he has ‘special evidence’..

  • bernerbits

    Hoverfrog:

    What on earth is that? Assuming the Jesus existed then he was born, lived and dies like every other man does. He’s not a Time Lord with a blue box. Honestly are you just making this stuff up?

    In the first chapter of John, it’s established that Jesus is eternal in both directions, and it’s also established that he “became flesh” when he lived as a human.

    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

    14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

    As a corollary to this, many Christians believe that Jesus made cameo appearances throughout the old testament. The guy who wrestles with Jacob, the random visitors to Lot in Sodom, the random visitors to Abraham that tell him his wife is going to be pregnant, and the fourth person in the fiery furnace are popular examples.

    I’m not sure if there’s biblical support for the idea of Jesus visiting folks in the Old Testament, but according to the New Testament, Jesus is indeed a Time Lord with a blue box.

  • Robert W.

    Hoverfrog,

    Bernerbit’s description is a fairly accurate understanding of our theology.

    Christians believe that Jesus is a part of the Trinity- God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit all in one. Jesus became all man as well when he came to Earth, he was God incarnate.

    Truly I think that trying to get into a discussion of the Trinity with you would be laborious and unfruitful based upon your comments about the verses I already showed you. But I hope you would accept that the doctrine of the Trinity is not an arbitrary belief. It has extremely well supported in the Scriptures.

    A shorthand version would be this- There is only one God, but it is clear there are three eternal and coequal persons in the Godhead. The New Testament says that the Father is God- John 6:27; Eph. 4:6; Jesus is God- Heb 1:8, John 1:1, the Holy Spirit is God- Acts 5:4-3; and all three are one- Matt. 28:19 ; 2 Cor. 13:14

    And despite your interpretation of certain events in the Old Testament, yes God in the Bible is described as all loving. You don’t have to believe that of course, but if we are to talk about his nature as described in the Bible to see if he fits the definition of a necessary being as part of the argument I made above, then I was showing you biblical support for that nature as you requested.

    My objections to Russell’s claims are still valid. Here is what he wrote:

    Russell wrote the following:

    “If I were to suggest that . . . there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.”

    The key to this is that Christians are not saying that since you can’t disprove God’s existence he must exist, just like a tea pot that can’t be proven must also exist.

    Christians would say that they don’t believe in the tea pot because there is good plausible reasons not to. Likewise, they would say that they believe in God because there are valid and rational reasons to do so. His analogy and by extension, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Boot, and other similar attempts are flawed.

  • Sven

    Likewise, they would say that they believe in God because there are valid and rational reasons to do so.

    These reasons are only valid and rational if you are allready deluded.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Robert W.

    Bernerbit’s description is a fairly accurate understanding of our theology

    It is a clear description and very informative. Unfortunately the premise seems like utter nonsense to me. Are Christians literally claiming that Jesus pops up through the past just so he can get a mention. Presumable he also pops up in the present and future too?

    Comedy gold.

    The key to this is that Christians are not saying that since you can’t disprove God’s existence he must exist, just like a tea pot that can’t be proven must also exist.

    Yet that is precisely what some Christians are saying. They are saying “God exists. You can’t prove he doesn’t. I win.” You said this:

    I find it interesting that you agree that science can’t disprove the existence of God. That is refreshing. I would guess you would agree then that to say that God definitely doesn’t exist is not based upon science. Then your believe that he doesn’t must be based upon something else. What would that be?

    Which is really close to saying “God exists. You can’t prove he doesn’t. I win.” And by a circuitous route we end up here.

    Christians would say that they don’t believe in the tea pot because there is good plausible reasons not to. Likewise, they would say that they believe in God because there are valid and rational reasons to do so. His analogy and by extension, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Boot, and other similar attempts are flawed.

    I’ll try again. Christians (or anyone really) would say that they don’t belief in the teapot because there are good, plausible reasons not to such as lack of evidence. These same good, plausible reasons apply to gods who are similarly not evident or apparent. It isn’t any more complicated than that.

  • Robert W.

    Hoverfrog,

    Which is really close to saying “God exists. You can’t prove he doesn’t. I win.” And by a circuitous route we end up here.

    My quote that you reference isn’t saying this at all. I was asking what the reasons were for the non belief, i wasn’t making an assertion for belief based upon science’s inability to disprove it. I was seeking the basis not making the assertion.

    I think we are reaching an impasse on the tea pot analogy. I will try one more time and hope I make myself clear.

    If a Christian says you can’t disprove God’s existence therefore he must exist I agree that is not a proper argument. I believe that there are good, solid, rational basis to believe in God from the evidence we have, not upon the lack of evidence of his non existence.

    By the same token, I think we have good, solid, rational reasons not to believe that there is a tea pot circling Mars which are based upon things we know, not upon what we don’t know or simply because of lack of evidence.

  • Sven

    @Rober W

    I believe that there are good, solid, rational basis to believe in God from the evidence we have, not upon the lack of evidence of his non existence.

    Please be honest and say you have only ‘other evidence’, based on standards you have yet to share.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Robert the argument for the cosmic tea pot and for gods are equivalent. They aren’t oppositional as you are using them. I get what you’re saying but you’re using the analogy incorrectly and then saying that it is wrong.

    Jack believes in a particular god. There isn’t independently verifiable evidence to support that belief.

    Jill believes in a cosmic tea pot. There isn’t independently verifiable evidence to support that belief.

    Why should anyone accept Jack’s or Jill’s assertions regarding their individual beliefs?

    I believe that there are good, solid, rational basis to believe in God from the evidence we have, not upon the lack of evidence of his non existence

    We don’t even have a definition for what is meant by “god”. How can we have evidence for it? How have you defined the god hypothesis and what evidence do you have to support it? What are your competing hypotheses and what about them has led you to reject them?


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