They Must Not Teach Probability in Seminary School…

Fr. Alfonse Nazzaro of the St. Monica Catholic Church in Dallas, Texas is a Catholic priest with a blog, and he has a post up about how atheists don’t believe in God because we had bad childhoods or really want to sin…

He’s wrong, but I don’t even care about any of that.

It’s this part that infuriates me (italics his):

… Even [atheists] still buy a lottery ticket, while at the same time denying any chance in heaven that God exists.

What chance is there of winning the Powerball or Mega millions lottery? One in a billion. What chance is there of God existing? Fifty-fifty. After all, either God exists or He doesn’t. But if he does and I believe, then I just won the jackpot!

Yes, Pascal’s Wager. Rebuttable.

But what the hell is up with that fictional probability?!

There is absolutely not a 50/50 chance of God existing. Just because there are only two options doesn’t mean each has an equal chance of getting selected. Using the priest’s own “logic,” he could have said, “You either win the lottery or you don’t, so there must be a 50/50 chance of winning! I’m gonna be rich!”

Thankfully, one of our own frequent commenters Brian Westley was there to correct Fr. Alfonse:

… Using your “logic”, there’s a 50% chance of unicorns existing. And Batman. And that Elvis is still alive. And any other proposition with only two possible outcomes.

Either I will be dealt a royal flush, or I won’t — so my chances are 50%.

So there’s a 50% chance Vishnu exists? And Brahma too? And Shiva? That would mean there’s an 87.5% chance that at least one of them exists, and when you add all the other 33 million gods of Hinduism, about 16.5 million or so should exist.

Brian is right about all of that and this would be the point where the priest laughs at his mistake and admits he screwed up.

That’s not what happened. Instead, Fr. Alfonse doubled-down on his innumeracy. (This may be the greatest thing I’ve read in a long time.)

Not so fast Brian. I mentioned God. You mentioned multiple Gods. Therefore, the liklihood that God exists just increaed, not decreased. It seems like you only took logic in middle school. Try it in College. It helps…A LOT.

And by the way, just for your basic knowledge: a priest has to take Philosophy, which means he has to study logic, and not just one class of it either. Now, given the fact that I was an engineer and have a Master’s degree of science, I would say that I probably took more logic and more science classes than you. I don’t know, I might be wrong, but given your answer…I don’t think so.

He said that. He really just said that.

Apparently, if people believe in more than one imaginary thing, there’s a greater likelihood it exists. (So when I dream of having a million dollars, I guess I should really be dreaming about a billion dollars, because then I’d have a better chance of getting rich?)

Fr. Alfonse is bad at probability. He’s bad at logic. He was apparently an engineer despite not being able to crunch numbers. And he somehow got his Masters degree, too. Let’s hope that degree comes with a warning label.

More importantly, he has the gall to ridicule the person pointing out his mistakes for not being as smart as him.

I emailed the pastor and invited him to redeem himself and issue an apology. I’ll update this post if I hear back…

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Helanna

    Wow.

    Just WOW. I don’t even have words.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.hitchcock1 Mike Hitchcock

    “I’ll update this post if I hear back…” Holding your breath, Hemant? Is that why you’re that funny shade of blue?

    • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

      Ssssh… Don’t blow his cover, he’s the modern incarnation of Krishna.

    • http://twitter.com/PirateFroglet Cathy McGrath

      Hemant’s a smurf?? I would love to see that!

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    There’s a 50% chance that this priest is clueless and a 50% chance that he is just pretending to be clueless.

    • viaten

      There’s also the 50% chance he’s right, and the 50% chance he’s wrong.

      • Patterrssonn

        I’m afraid on this one you’ve a 100% chance of being wrong.

        • http://www.facebook.com/brian.westley Brian Westley

          No, no, it’s logic squire! Two outcomes, I dunno the answer, so it’s 50%… Duh!

          • LifeinTraffic

            Actually, that’s incorrect. In cases without bias, such as flipping a coin, the chances are 50/50. In cases where there is bias and there are only two answers, but the chances aren’t 50/50. A good example: if you purchase a lottery ticket, you’ll either win or you won’t. There are only two answers. That does not make it a 50/50 shot you’ll win. If you are stabbed in the heart, either you’ll die or you won’t–again, not a 50/50 simply because there are two answers. Probability is a complicated thing.

            • http://www.facebook.com/brian.westley Brian Westley

              There is a large chance your sarcasm meter is broken.

              • LifeinTraffic

                Whoops, you’re right, I missed it! I’m going to blame it on living for too long in a place where this kind of thing isn’t sarcasm, and the detector needle is apparently stuck at “WTF, this person is actually serious?” because it hasn’t moved in so long. Sorry about that.

        • viaten

          There’s a 50% chance your 100% figure is wrong.

    • Brian Pansky

      but there’s more! 50/50 he is lying or not, 50/50 he is trolling or not, 50/50 he is evil or not, 50/50 he is just clueless or not, etc etc

  • ortcutt

    We’ve got a walking, talking case of the Dunning-Kruger Effect right here.

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/the-anosognosics-dilemma-1/

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Arthur-Bryne/100002441143047 Arthur Bryne

      With a possible side of Salem Hypothesis.

      • Reginald Selkirk

        Yes, this might fit under Salem, since he has a degree in engineering, but the topic isn’t creationism. It’s unclear whether it qualifies, so let’s just call it 50% probability of Salem, OK? ;>

      • http://www.facebook.com/scott.gustafson.96 Scott Gustafson

        I wasn’t aware of this one – I learned something today! Thanks!

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Had to look up Salem Hypothesis. Fascinating.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Arthur-Bryne/100002441143047 Arthur Bryne

          Though really, “Salem Conjecture” is more accurate. There’s very little solid empirical data on it.

  • jose

    Evidence: passing tests in college doesn’t mean you’re not a total moron.

    • Liberated Liberal

      My dad’s favorite description for his brother-in-law is “educated idiot.” I think that sums it up nicely.

    • coyotenose

      Yep. People like this dimwit are examples of how some of a class becomes educated in school, but many just become trained. Actually, anyone who uses Apologetics is an example of this.

  • blzbob

    When I took a statistics class in college, I recall that the more things we added, the less likely one of them would come up. That doesn’t even take a degree in math or philosophy to figure out. I took logic too and physics (the 2nd quarter dealt a lot with engineering but I’m not sure how that matters).

    Basic logic, if we’re going to assume the 50/50 chance of god existing means that if we add a second god to the list, then we have a 33/33/33 chance of a specific god existing (and he’s talking about his god, not any god). So using his probability, the odds of any particular god existing would increase but the odds of any specific god existing would decrease. The more gods we add, the bigger the spread. This is something that a child can understand. I know that the odds don’t start at 50/50 but since that’s where he wanted to start, I figured it was the easiest way to prove him wrong.

    • ortcutt

      It seems that he is applying the Principle of Indifference.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_Indifference

      Of course, he gives no reason why we should believe the Principle of Indifference to be true, or why a different prior isn’t appropriate.

      This sort of thinking was popular in the period of the Equipossibility Theories of Probability.

      http://ebookbrowse.com/hacking-71-equipossibility-theories-of-probability-pdf-d178962087

      • Reginald Selkirk

        It seems that he is applying the Principle of Incompetence, possibly mingled with the Mantle of Dishonesty.

    • Stev84

      Exactly. If there are multiple gods, then the probability of a or some god existing may go up depending on how you look at it. But the probability of his particular god existing just went down.

      • viaten

        I can’t blame him really. It does make some sense. When you’ve got one infinitely powerful God, additional gods just doesn’t make very much sense.

        • Reginald Selkirk

          Except that the criteria he used to rule out all those other gods applies equally well to his own.

          • viaten

            My point is that he’s arguing for one god rather than many gods. Which god it actually is is another argument.

  • viaten

    I can see taking the 50/50 position, but it is a little bit telling. It’s the position a person might take when they know two statements cover all the possibilities, but have no information about what the statements mean, or if they do, have no information to make them lean one way or another.

    • coyotenose

      So it’s the position of a willful ignoramus. That certainly fits the evidence.

      • viaten

        Actually it’s the “principle of indifference”, something I just learned here in another comment after posting mine above.

  • C Peterson

    What the hell is a “masters degree in science”? I guess that explains why he knows more than we do.

    Just more proof that years in college don’t necessarily equate to a quality education. After all, this dim bulb spent years there, and became a priest! If I were him, I’d be worrying about the 50% chance of going to go to Hell… those are scary odds when you’re facing an eternity of pain.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Arthur-Bryne/100002441143047 Arthur Bryne

      Probably refers to his “Master of Science” degree… in “Imaging Science” from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Or at least, that appears likely from the thesis that Google turned up.

      • C Peterson

        That makes his comments even more pathetic, then. As somebody heavily involved in imaging science myself, I can state that a solid understanding of Gaussian and Poisson statistics is mandatory, and acquiring such an understanding without a solid grounding in probability theory is impossible.

        It’s one thing for an ignorant person to say something stupid, and another thing altogether in a case like this, where he should have no excuse. It doesn’t reflect well on RIT, does it?

        • Gus Snarp

          Yeah, having just dabbled in imaging, that surprised me. I expected a straight up engineering degree that he was calling science.

          Then again, I had a professor with a PhD who studied satellite imaging and was a creationist and a moon hoaxer. I simply could not figure that out. But when that Japanese satellite started returning images from the moon and some loons were saying that was a hoax, he uncritically sent out all the stupid arguments about why it was fake to the grad student list serve. It was pretty fun to watch one of his recent PhD advisees shred him on it. But it was just stunning, his expertise should have readily told him, as it did the rest of us, that what he was sending out was rubbish, but he had blinders on.

          And there you have it, all the classes and degrees in the world can’t remove your blinders, you have to do that yourself.

    • JoeBuddha

      “Remember: He’s not a real doctor!”
      “I have a Master’s Degree…In SCIENCE!”

      • JoeBuddha

        Come to think of it, giving the above reasoning, he may eve BE Dr. Science..

      • Andrew B.

        YES!

      • http://www.facebook.com/scott.gustafson.96 Scott Gustafson

        I thought the EXACT same thing! Love that guy.

    • Andrew B.

      Isn’t that what “Dr. Science” on NPR says? “I have a Masters Degree…in SCIENCE!” “He knows more than you do!”

    • Michael Koch

      And, don’t forget…. as George Carlin used to say…. Ghod sends his children to burn, forever, in hell, for eternity…. because he ”LOVES” us…..

    • RobMcCune

      Fr. Nazzaro and statistics, when they last met he was but the learner, now he is the master… of science.

    • http://www.facebook.com/raoul.duke.73345 Raoul Duke

      So I had a free couple of minutes and decided to try to find his “degree in science.” In the real world with my real name, finding my resume/bio is your top google hit. Most everyone I know this is true. Generally even more so when you are “online famous.”

      After about 10 minutes I gave up. It is unclear where he even got his undergrad, much less that “Masters in Science.”

      I am left with the impression which most who hadn’t bothered looking already probably had; his degree came from a similar accredited school like the infamous “Dr” Kent Hovind.

  • ggsillars

    Oh… my… god(s).

  • jeff

    At least you know that you have a 50/50 chance of him responding to you.

  • ggsillars

    There’s a 100% chance that this priest never understood Bayesian inference.

    • coyotenose

      Eeeheehee!

    • Robin

      But there’s only a 50% chance of that.

  • unnaturalatheism

    Not to mention the 50% probability that the Shy God exists. (The Shy God punishes believers and rewards atheists.) Atheists thus have a 50% chance of winning the jackpot.

    Now, there’s something here with respect to multiple gods: If we were considering these probabilities as independent (the probability of one doesn’t affect the probability of the other), then you could make a probabilistic case that some kind of god exists. If there are a thousand possible gods, and each only has a 1% chance of existing, and the probabilities are independent, then the chance that at fewest one exists is well over 99%.

    Unfortunately for the friar, the probabilities here are not independent. Most believers think that if one god exists (or a set of a few), this greatly reduces the probability that other gods would exist. And you could probably make that case from an atheistic perspective too.

  • Compuholic

    I can only hope that with his seriously lacking understanding of math he never had to develop any safety-critical systems as an engineer. I also hope that his logic classes were of substantially better quality than his math classes. But somehow I doubt it: He would not be a priest if they were…

  • viaten

    I wonder how the priest would handle the Monty Hall problem.

    • Aljaž Kozina

      He’d stick with his choice, if what he says here is any indication.

      • viaten

        He’d stick with his choice and pray it’s right.

  • el ferdo

    On a small side note, he was also re-assigned from his previous church, for not doing background checks on the people he would hire at his church.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/666877/posts

    • ortcutt

      Unless Fr. Stephen Bierschenk is the same person as Fr. Alphonse Nazzaro, I have no idea what you are talking about.

      • http://benny-cemoli.myopenid.com/ Benny Cemoli

        According to this page both Bierschenk and Nazzaro are both priests serving the same church.

        • ortcutt

          The article about Bierschenk being moved was from 2002. They are both priests at the same church now. Without some further evidence, I see no reason to conclude that Fr. Nazzaro was re-assigned. The original comment on this thread was just dumb or a mistake.

          • http://benny-cemoli.myopenid.com/ Benny Cemoli

            Without some further evidence, I see no reason to conclude that Fr. Nazzaro was re-assigned.

            You asked why el ferdo linked to the article regarding Bierschenk and I simply stated that Nazzaro and Bierschenk serve in the same church as indicated by the page I linked.

            Neither did I state or imply that Nazzaro was reassigned to the church he is currently serving and frankly I don’t care why he is serving at that church.

            I also have no idea why el ferdo thought that his comment was in any way relevant to the discussion at hand. I was simply attempting to explain where his comment may have originated from.

            Understand now????

  • Octoberfurst

    Such arrogance and stupidity all in one person! The sad fact is that he doesn’t even know he is clueless. And when he is shown that his 50-50 comment is wrong he goes on the attack saying that HE took LOGIC in college and HE was an ENGINEER so how dare anyone question his brilliance. Well whoopy friggin’ do! You can be educated and still be a biased and blind to reality.

    • Keith Collyer

      let’s just be grateful he just studied engineering and is not actually a practising engineer.

  • Atheistdiva

    To me, the point is that faith has nothing to do with facts, so when you try to apply statistics to fairy tales, you end up with nonsense. His first fallacy was in making the effort.

    • ortcutt

      There’s a 50% chance that Dumbledore would beat Jesus in a wizard duel though.

      • nakedanthropologist

        My money’s on Dumbledore.

        • coyotenose

          50% of my money is on each one. By priestly logic, I now win everything in the universe.

      • coyotenose

        There’s a 50% chance that he already has.

  • Glasofruix

    a priest has to take Philosophy, which means he has to study logic, and not just one class of it either.

    What kind of fucked up classes are those when you end up being a priest?

    • Cecelia Baines

      Answer this in essay form to pass the course:

      “If an altar boy being buggered in the woods by a priest screams in horror at the attack, does he make any noise heard by anyone other than God, Jesus, the priest and the Vatican cover-up machine”.

  • Levon Mkrtchyan

    I would like to point out a slightly different flaw in Nazzaro’s argument:
    Atheists who buy lottery tickets are probably not doing it for the sake of profit. (Disclaimer: I don’t buy lottery tickets, I’m just conjecturing)

    At least, if they understand probability they don’t. They’re doing it because they enjoy the process of picking numbers, or scratching off the ticket, or reading the paper for the winning numbers, or whatever it is that goes into the lottery process.

    Basically, atheists who buy lottery tickets don’t do it expecting to win (though they certainly hope to win), they do it because they enjoy the process.

    Now let’s transfer the logic over to belief in god:
    Every atheist that I know *does not* enjoy the process of believing in god and everything that goes along with it. Most of us simply loathe it.

    So Nazzaro’s argument is like telling someone who hates the casino atmosphere to go play blackjack rather than poker because the odds are better. It completely ignores the point that this person simply does not enjoy gambling.

    • allein

      Hey, that reminds me, I have a lottery ticket to cash in. My mom always puts some in our Christmas stockings and I won a whole 2 bucks! I’m rich!

      • PoodleSheep

        Don’t go and spend it all in one place. That’s the problem when people become dollarinaires, they lose focus and do silly things and waste it all quickly.

        • allein

          Well, let’s see… it’ll buy me two pints of milk in my work cafeteria…or two pieces of cake…or pie…hmmm…what to do with all that dough..?
          My dad won ten bucks…I hope there’s something left for my inheritance someday…

        • Thackerie

          On the couple of occasions when I won a $2 prize, I immediately lost it buying more lottery tickets.

          • allein

            That’s why I just take the cash and go get myself a hot chocolate or something. The most I ever won on scratchoffs was $14 (between 3 different tickets) and I wasn’t even old enough to cash them in at the time; I think I was 16 or 17, so my mother had to take them in. I went with her and we did it at a liquor store. My mother’s a bad influence, I think ;)

    • RowanVT

      I actually recently won $200.00 on a scratcher ticket. :D

      • allein

        I used to work with a woman who won $10,000.

        • Thackerie

          I used to work with someone who won a million dollar lottery. He kept working … for a while.

    • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

      I buy lottery tickets because my coworkers get a pool going whenever the jackpot is 100+ million, and $5 to join the pool is a small price to pay to avoid having nightmares where everybody in the office but me gets rich and quits. I’m not playing to win so much as I’m paying a fee to reduce my anxiety.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Where have we seen this before? Oh ya, maybe he got his degree from the same place as Walter Wagner http://lockerz.com/u/20576639/decalz/6465114/large_hadron_collider_on_the_daily_show

  • Cecelia Baines

    And the collective IQ of Texas goes down another 2 points and the collective IQ of America suffers yet another blow because of Texas and the fucking religious idiots.

    I have no tolerance for stupidity. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. Nyet. Non. Little goose eggs.

    It is this type of bullshit that is reducing our abilities to function in the world and causing America to be the international laughing stock.

    America is becoming that really big special needs kid that bullies everyone, not recognizing their ills and errors, but firmly believing ignorant “might makes right”.

    Hey Father Gropey – go fuck yourself.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I’m going to go buy some lottery tickets just to spite him.

  • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

    Put on the roman collar, lose half your brain cells? And whatever happened to the whole humility thing?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    “You either win the lottery or you don’t, so there must be a 50/50 chance of winning

    Noez! Either you win the big jackpot, or you win one of the lesser prizes, or you win nothing. So chances are two out of three that you will come out ahead.

    • coyotenose

      But you could also not win AND get run over and killed by, I don’t know, a Lottery Truck or something. So we’re back to 50/50.

      • trj

        You could hedge your bets and play three lotteries. That way you’d have a 150% chance of winning.

  • MichaelBrice

    I isn’t a mathematologist but them statistications don’t sound quite right.

  • Lee Miller

    Why the fuck does anyone care what any Catholic priest thinks or says about anything? Talk about a discredited group in a discredited organization. I don’t know why anyone would admit in public these days to being a Catholic.

    • Aljaž Kozina

      Me neither, but I do you see any logic in what that guy’s written?

  • MichaelBrice

    I isn’t a mathematologist but them statistications don’t seem quite right to me.

  • Matto the Hun

    I think it’s reasonable for me, just in this instance, despite my non belief, to thank God that this colossal fucktard is a priest and NOT an engineer.

    • coyotenose

      Well, if we look at it optimistically, there’s a 50% chance that any bridge he’d have built wouldn’t have collapsed.

      • Rosemary Lyndall Wemm

        With his revealed statistical incompetency and his lack of education in civil engineering I would wager that the chances of any large bridge that he designed collapsing is fairly close to 100 percent, with the uncertainty slack accounted for by the possibility that someone with actual knowledge would supervise him.
        Ah, the arrogance of ignorance and forgotten knowledge.

    • RobMcCune

      It was 50% chance he’d be one or the other.

      • Rosemary Lyndall Wemm

        Nope. There is a 100 percent that he would be one OR the other. Shame on you, RobMcCune. ;-)

  • Good and Godless

    At best (or worst) 50/50 chance god could have existed.

    This time god doesn’t exist.

    Thanks for playing, try again next reality.

  • jarm

    “[Fr. Nazzaro], what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    • Artor

      I recognize the line, but I can’t place it. Where does that come from?

    • Rosemary Lyndall Wemm

      Brilliant – except for the last phrase that assumes that his version of god exists for more than fifty percent of the time.

  • anniewhoo

    Even if the priest were in the right, as he very well may think he is, his behavior is appalling. A priest, first and foremost, is a teacher and guide. What kind of teacher would ridicule the learner, and mock them for being wrong? Fr. Alfonse has larger problems than his complete lack of comprehending probability; he’s a bully.

    • Carmelita Spats

      Amen and Ramen! We need to view priests in the same light as witch doctors, shamans, faith healers, cranks and psychics…They are NOT subject to any code of professional accountability or to an ethics board nor are they ever evaluated on their professional communication skills like most of us who work with the public for a living. They can get away with appalling behavior.

      Dealers in the supernatural become bullies as their sphere of influence shrinks, their privilege dissolves in a pluralistic society, and they lose ground on the predation of the gullible, the dispossessed and the vulnerable. Their poll numbers are falling faster than an altar boy’s pants in a Catholic rectory. Mr. Alfonse reeks of a creepy desperation that smells like rotting asparagus.

  • Michael Koch

    Shut up Pops, and go fuck a 6 year old in the ass………..

    • coyotenose

      Oh god, please don’t call him “Pops” along with that imagery. I LIKE watching Regular Show.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1353603101 Joe Montoto

    YES, THIS IS JUST FOR FUN: I’m not 100% up on my statistics, but I think that if you add the requirement that things occur simultaneously, such as the requirement that multiple gods (lower case “g” intentional) exist, the odds of the event occurring actually get worse.

    • Stev84

      If two events are statistically independent, the probability of both occurring is the product of their individual probabilities. So, yes, the result would be smaller (for P <1).

  • Michael Koch

    After the way that the Katholickass church has behaved for the last 2,000 years…. No Katholick priest should be given the ‘luxury’ to be able to judge anyone else… Most Atheists don’t believe in any ghods, Pops, because we realized a long time ago…. that all the fairy tales about ghods, just aren’t true……..

  • James ST

    I replied to the comment by “Anonymous” (January 4, 2013 6:08 PM) which starts with:

    “I find it very interesting “atheist here” is reading your blog. You ARE actually
    sticking to religion by writing this blog….what is his excuse for being on
    this blog and reading and replying? …”

    My response (which has yet to be approved):

    “Perhaps this atheist’s “excuse” is that he’s interested in pointing out the obvious innumeracy of Father Alhonse’s reasoning (and innumeracy it is – just because a proposition has two [and only two] possible outcomes does not make the probability of each 50% – imagine this were true – then it would be a 50/50 chance that everyone you meet either has, or does not have, one-million dollars under their mattress. This is clearly absurd; importantly, I understand quite well that there are other factors that influence the likelihood that someone has one-million dollars under their mattress other than the fact that there are only two possible truth values for that statement [such as base rate, etc.]).

    Perhaps, as you say, there is “doubt in his heart” – but you’ll find among atheists that this isn’t a particularly compelling statement. For many atheists (most that I know), doubt is a virtue. I had a strong religious upbringing, and being labelled “doubtful” was always a pejorative. You’ll find this sentiment doesn’t exist for most atheists – and that doubt is instead a skill to be cultivated and honed. Without doubt, finding truth is difficult, if not impossible. I subscribe to the idea that to find truth, one must be willing to entertain the most preposterous ideas, while examining them with the utmost scrutiny.

    I am sorry that your atheist friend is a bitter and angry person, but I would caution you to use her to generalize about other atheists. I believe it is unwise to do so, and unfair to the many atheists who are not bitter, angry people (and there are many who are not).

    I have found that many atheists enjoy seeking out chances to wrangle with ideas and challenge accepted norms. This generates a vitality in the marketplace of ideas (of which the god hypothesis is one). Instead of assuming that an atheist has visited this site because they harbour a secret desire to be converted, perhaps try instead to engage with his or her ideas. There may be more to an atheist’s position than Father Alfonse has implied.”

    • J-Rex

      Doubt is only bad because it’s frightening. It’s scary to think that you’re not with the right person or you’ve chosen the wrong profession. Especially when you believe that the wrong beliefs could land you in hell for all eternity, doubt is scary. But when you see doubt as a normal part of logical thought process and you’ve already ruled hell out as uncharacteristic of a loving god, you can welcome it and you can seek out conversations which challenge what you believe.

  • kenneth

    Why is it that the guy with an intellect of a pit bull is always the one driven to assert himself as the smartest one in the room? If Nazarro had not opened his mouth, he’d still be passing for high-functioning.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mcmoyer Marlon Moyer

    It all makes sense now having all those statues in the church, since the pastor has conceded that unicorns exist because you can buy a stuffed toy one. They’re obviously putting them in the churches to they can point to them and say, “see, they exist!” and not really feel like they’re lying.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mcmoyer Marlon Moyer

    I bet 50% of altar boys are really worried right about now.

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    Wow, I thought a Catholic priest would have been a little better educated than that. He sounds exactly like a fundie.

  • J-Rex

    And despite the fact that you’re very unlikely to win the lottery, it is still very likely that *someone* will win the lottery. People win the lottery all the time, and that can be proven without a doubt. Where is the indisputable evidence for God again?

  • James St

    Father Alfonse is encoutering a substantial deluge of atheist responses, I think:

    “Fr. Alfonse January 5, 2013 1:51 PM

    ‘Well, I have to admit, this sleepy blog has received more comments than ever before. Since I respond to all of them (most of them), it will take some time. Sat and Sun are busy days for me. But I promise, I will publish them. This is not a team effort. It is a one man blog. Thank you for understanding. Be patient. But each response deserves a reply.’”

    http://fralfonse.blogspot.com/2013/01/john-135-42-they-followed-jesus.html?showComment=1357415518908#c336351265118123272

    Though I think trying to answer every response may be a bit ambitious, at least he doesn’t seem keen on not allowing them. He should welcome the traffic, however…

  • James St

    It seems that Father Alfonse has an irregular deluge of contrary responses:

    “Fr. Alfonse January 5, 2013 1:51 PM

    ‘Well, I have to admit, this sleepy blog has received more comments than ever before. Since I respond to all of them (most of them), it will take some time. Sat and Sun are busy days for me. But I promise, I will publish them. This is not a team effort. It is a one man blog. Thank you for understanding. Be patient. But each response deserves a reply.’”

    http://fralfonse.blogspot.ca/2013/01/john-135-42-they-followed-jesus.html?showComment=1357415518908
    He doesn’t seem keen on sensoring (yet), though I think trying to respond to every comment may be a little ambitious. He should, at least, appreciate the traffic…

    • http://www.facebook.com/brian.westley Brian Westley

      At the moment, there are no comments . . . it may be that he just shut off the flow until he can answer them all, or maybe they’re gone for good.

      Hmm… I wonder what the odds are that they will ever come back?

  • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

    His degrees aren’t totally baffling when you think about it. “C” students still get a degree.

    • allein

      Old joke: What do you call the person who graduated at the bottom their medical school class?
      “Doctor”

      • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

        Exactly. :)

  • DoctorDJ

    125% of priests don’t understand probability.

    Let’s just be thankful that this fellow isn’t a practicing engineer. Imagine driving over a bridge he designed with “faith” that it won’t fall down.

  • MyScienceCanBeatUpYourGod

    He went to engineering school and now he’s a priest. I guess bridges need to be held up by actual crunched numbers and structural integrity rather than prayers….

  • SeekerLancer

    Wow, priests can be condescending and stupid but it’s supposedt to be part of the job description to at least be personable. This guy seems like a top-shelf douchebag.

    Anyway I don’t give a crap what religiously jaded philosophy classes you took at the seminary, Father. I’ve also met a lot of stupid people with engineering degrees in my life.

  • James St

    Is it just my computer, or did he remove all comments from his blog?

    • Deepsix

      I was wondering the same thing.

    • Lance Finney

      I’m seeing the same thing.

    • RobMcCune

      His training to be a priest may not have educated him in logic, or mathematics, but it did teach him when to cover something up.

      • Barbara

        Ain’t that the truth!

  • Ryan McCarthy

    K that is some pretty screwed up probability. Obviously he confuses the distinction between there being two truth values in our event space and our probabilities of them being true. Like the lottery goes, we can say for any given person there are two possible types of events; 1. Either the person wins, or 2. The person does not win. But Even though there are only two possible types of events, through out the probability space there might be only 1 event where I win the lottery, and 1 million within the set of me not winning. So even though there are only two types of subsets in our sample space, the probability of 1 type of event greater outweighs the probability of the other.

    It’s actually very odd that he would even make that mistake after mentioning the lottery.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bailey.bednar Bailey Bednar

      fuck logic and probability and statistics… praise jeeeesus!

  • Deepsix

    Fr. Alfonse’s response would have been perfect if he would have ended with, “Checkmate, Atheists!”.

  • Chakolate

    If you hear back, please do a separate post. I’m not sure the RSS feed will pick it up if it’s just an update to this one.

    This guy didn’t say what school gave him these degrees, did he? I wonder if it’s the same one Kent Hovind got his from, Patriot Bible University. You know, the one whose street address is a trailer?

    • Deepsix

      I thought it was a split-level home. Which makes the degree at least 50% more legit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dawnmpuryear Dawn Puryear

    I have either been blocked, or Fr. Alfonse has shut off comments. :(

  • LesterBallard

    I’d like to go back in time and slap the shit out of Pascal.

    • Stev84

      Blaise Pascal is the perfect example of a highly intelligent person being able to compartmentalize his brain and believe in the most absurd nonsense

      • LesterBallard

        And the Pensees just ripped of Montaigne.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1351473675 Matthew Baker

      While your at it stop by William Paley and kick him in the shin.

  • Godlesspanther

    Don’t ask him to prove that he really has a Masters Degree. Don’t ask him to prove that he really has any level of education in any subject.

    Just start by asking him to prove the he does not have severe brain damage. Then go from there.

  • Cecelia Baines

    Thought you all would like to see this. I was so pissed off at Father Fuckwad here I emailed him this:

    Mr. Nazzaro,

    I am not calling you “father” because I do not recognize medicine man or shamanistic titles. Regardless, you have published something on your blog that has shown the extreme ignorance and lack of cognitive skills so prevalent in Catholic doctrine, Catholics themselves and religious buffs.

    You claim that a lottery ticket purchase is akin to belief in god? Wow. I mean, just wow. I realize you are in Texas and are subject to the poor educational “standards” the state pumps out, but just, well, wow.

    Shame on you for continuing to pollute the world with ignorance, stupidity, and vile.

    Please, keep your ignorance to yourself and stop pushing it on others. Doing so brings the collective IQ of the world down instead of up.

    C. Baines

    Atheist, American and Activist

    This message is confidential. It may also be privileged or otherwise protected by work product immunity or other legal rules. You may not copy this message or disclose its contents to anyone. The integrity and security of this message cannot be guaranteed on the Internet.

    Here is Father Gropey’s response:

    Dear Mrs. Baines in Christ,

    I appreciate your humanistic good will and am not surprised by it. But I’d like to say that I was not educated in Texas, but in New York. Just like most atheists, they assume a little too much and sometimes are wrong.

    Fr. Alfonse

    WOW! Does this guy NOT understand the turn-the-other cheek thing, nor the “pride comes before the fall”…..

    Ass……WIPE.

  • Chris

    I’m pretty sure I know why he is working as a priest and not as an engineer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Callan/1028713371 Peter Callan

    He is coming from the same place that all these guys come from, the acceptance without evidence that god exists. All the statistics, numeracy, counting on all 11 fingers and 12 toes makes no difference in the light of reason. He believes in god and thinks his Masters in Laser Printer Repair (read the thesis https://ritdml.rit.edu/bitstream/handle/1850/11241/ANazzaroThesis02-1991.pdf ), gives him the ability to prove his point. He doesn’t realise that he is still basing his opinion on the belief that there is a god, and so no statistical analysis is can have validity.

  • Barbara

    I read the post this priest wrote and it is very clear to me that he has serious doubts of God’s existence. This is why he is being so rude to atheists. He’s like those politician and pastors who make staunch anti-gay remarks and then are later busted for being gay.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I’m really glad this guy left engineering and went into the priesthood. Engineers are responsible for making sure bridges don’t collapse, boilers don’t explode, airplanes’ wings don’t fall off, and skyscrapers don’t tip over like trees. Priests only have to convince their flock that they’re so smart that the sheep should never question the shepherds.

  • Tobais27

    I’d like to know what university he got his master’s of science from.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bailey.bednar Bailey Bednar

      The school of creationism where facts and figures don’t actually matter.

  • Tracy Reed

    Probably a masters from some sort of divinity school which is pretty much meaningless.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joebbowers Joe Bowers

    I could use the priest’s logic to say there is a 7 out of 8 chance that I’ll win the lottery this week. Either I’ll win it on Monday, Tuesday, Wedneday… and so on, or I won’t. 7 days in the week I could win, or 1 chance that I won’t win, right? That’s 7 possible wins and only 1 possible loss! I love this priest’s math! Of course, if they were smart, they wouldn’t believe in God in the first place.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joebbowers Joe Bowers

    He probably got his master’s degree at Brigham Young or some other religious school that tosses out degrees like candy just because you show up, pray to their specific god, and pay your tuition. Clearly his degree isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

  • geru

    Even if he was correct, does he even realize he just admitted the the one thing he has built his entire life around only has a 50/50 chance of actually being true? Talk about playing the odds…

  • JC Ferrell

    what are to actual odds of winning the lottery? was recently told they are better than being struck by lightening (not the reverse as often said)

    while I suppose the odds of some god existing go up the more are mentioned, the likelihood of it being your particular god decreases

    • b33bl3br0x

      According to the NOAA, there is roughly a one in a million chance of being hit by lightning in a given year in the US.

      To arrive at this estimation one takes the number of people hit in a year in the US and divide that by the total number of people in the US.

  • Steve Greene

    “Fr. Alfonse is bad at probability. He’s bad at logic. He was apparently an engineer despite not being able to crunch numbers.”

    I do realize you’re using hyperbole. But in fact it’s a good example of how people who actually are good with math, science, engineering, logic, computer programming, or other technical things compartmentalize things and sabotage their rational/analytical thinking to justify their irrational beliefs in their own minds. Cognitive dissonance is a powerful motivator.

  • http://profiles.google.com/aspen.bh Aspen BH

    According to this idiotic priest there is a 50% chance that my next-door
    neighbor owns a pink Ferrari, because either he owns a pink Ferrari
    or he doesn’t. Very clerer.

  • Keith

    Looks like de disabled and deleted comments on his blog.

    • Tom in Raleigh

      Notices that myself. I suppose he just couldn’t keep up with all the comments questioning his logic. He pulled a Ken Hamm.

  • Donalbain

    When I do the lottery, either I win or I don’t. Thus there is a 50% chance of winning. If I buy two tickets, I double my chances of winning. Woohoo!

  • Bdole

    Maybe it’s just the collar but he sure does look molesty.

  • CultOfReason

    There’s a reason why he’s a priest, and not a practicing scientist. He probably couldn’t get past the first interview. Probably filtered out by the astute HR recruiters.

  • Anon

    I buy a lottery ticket (and am an atheist) because I can see measurable evidence that people actually WIN the lottery through sheer coincidence. Independent accounts, verifiable figures etc.

    In contrast, Christianity is rather like buying a ticket to a lottery where you’re told that everybody who bought the right kind of lottery ticket will win, but the only evidence from that comes off of the manufacturer’s website which has been run through Google Translate and none of your emails or phonecalls are getting returned.

  • anon

    no wonder this guy is a priest, with math and reasoning skills like that. I’m surprised he even finished college!

    • http://slrman.wordpress.com/ James Smith

      He did not finish college, he went to a catholic divinity school. There, anything that does not automatically agree with what they want you to accept is either discarded or never mentioned at all.

  • sliqw

    The preist’s chain of comments is literally the stupidest thing I have ever heard. This is not hyperbole. It is LITERALLY the stupidest thing.

    • Ann Onymous

      O’REILLY: I’ll tell you why [religion's] not a scam, in my opinion: tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that.

      SILVERMAN: Tide goes in, tide goes out?

      O’REILLY: See, the water, the tide comes in and it goes out, Mr. Silverman. It always comes in, and always goes out. You can’t explain that.

  • C.C. Rider

    Actually, the possibilities are endless.

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com/ James Smith

    What this priest conveniently neglected to mention is they also have to suspend rational thinking and be willing to discard facts, particularly if the disprove their assigned conclusions.

    Did anyone really expect anything better from someone like that?

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com/ James Smith

    All that his comments prove is that to be a priest, you do not have to be educated or even intelligent. That should come as no surprise to anyone.

  • Rosemary Lyndall Wemm

    This guy’s knowledge of statistical analysis is dismal.

    What kind of engineering did this priest study? At what level? At what university? Did the program include the study of probability and binomial distributions? If so, how did he manage to pass and get a degree? Did he or his family bribe the teachers or the administration?

    Has the study of theology and theo-philosophy shrunk his brain?

  • N. Netter

    this shit pisses me off, im not too religious, but some of yall r bein assholes and acusing fr. of many outrageous things. ur misinterprriting his opinion and your makin it sound like hes a complete jackasss!! kinda sounds like the story in the bible when jesus taught people love, etc. and was excused of different things and was persecuted. a
    nd for all u ignorent dumbasses reading this, i font mean hes jesus, alk i mean is i see a little irony between the two.

    • Ann Onymous

      Spelling and grammar (not logic) translation of N. Netter’s comment:
      This sh*t pisses me off. I’m not too religious, but some of you are being a**holes and accusing Fr. Nazarro of many outrageous things. You’re misinterpreting his opinion, and you’re making it sound like he’s a complete jacka**! It kinda sounds like the story in the Bible where Jesus taught people love, etc., and then was accused of different things and persecuted.
      And for all you ignorant dumba**es reading this [EDITOR: couldn't resist breaking in to say: why, thank you for that Christian love you were just talking about, insulting people preemptively, how kind], I don’t mean Fr. Nazarro is Jesus. All I mean is that I see a little irony [EDITOR: it's not irony, it's similarity, but misunderstanding of irony is so pervasive I'll forgive you] between the two.

  • N. Netter

    what if atheists r right, well th
    en im nothing but dust when i die, but wat if fathers. right and heaven and hell do exist.? what r atheidts gonna do ?

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      We’ll ask Pascal if there might be another options besides atheism and Christianity.

    • Ann Onymous

      What if Hinduism is right? Wicca? Shintoism? Buddhism? Islam? Judaism? Taoism? Confucianism? Sikhism? Jainism? The Baha’i faith? Native American religions? Every other denomination of Christianity? This isn’t binary, Christianity or irreligion. This is complicated.
      Also, we’ve all heard Pascal’s Wager before, and we’ve all refuted it nine ways to Sunday. When you start to post an argument, Google its name followed by “Greta Christina”, read the article, and see if you still want to present it.
      PS: what if spellcheck is right, well th
      en im nothing but a bad speller when i post, but wat if schools. right and capital letters and grammar do exist.? what am i gonna do ?

  • kmuzu

    I design slot machines .. When people play slot machines you can see the beginnings of religion. For instance, a person places their hand on the side of the machine and they coincidentally hit a jackpot. From there after the person will place their hand on the side of the machine .. so it will turn into rubbing the side .. maybe saying a prayer will rubbing the side of the machine. Now I am an agnostic, but if you ask me .. God not only rolls dice .. He plays slots ..

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Oh, gods, people-watching in casinos is interesting.


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