The Man Who Could Be Virginia’s Next Lt. Governor Thinks Evolution is a Lie and Sin Leads to Birth Defects

You would think that the Republican ticket in the race to become Virginia’s next governor was made crazy by the presence of Ken Cuccinelli. But Bishop E.W. Jackson, who’s running for Lt. Governor, may be even wackier.

We already know Jackson thinks the Democratic Party is a “Coalition of the Godless.” As we dig more into his past, we’re finding out Jackson is full of Christianity-based crazy.

Andrew Kaczynski at BuzzFeed has been reading Jackson’s 2008 book Ten Commandments to an Extraordinary Life and posting his findings.

Among them: He doesn’t accept evolution because monkeys can’t talk:

Scientist have made much of the fact that chimpanzees have been trained to use sign language. They take this as proof that primates are our ancestors because they, like us, have “language capacity.” It is amazing the length to which people will go to prove what is so palpably false. The ability to make sounds which serve to communicate the simplest to most complex ideas is an astounding thing, almost supernatural in itself. Equally remarkable is the ability to reduce those sounds to written symbols universally understood and capable of conveying the ideas that those sounds represent. To suggest that all this is an accident of evolution belies the intellectual power language represents. Those are gifts given to mankind by God who created us. He gave those gifts to no other creature. There is an unfathomable gulf between humans and all other creatures because creation was designed that way. No amount of time or theorizing will ever bridge that gulf. Only mankind was made to represent the divinity and genius of God himself.

Jackson also believes birth defects were caused by sin:

It is the principle of sin, rebellion against God and His truth which has brought about birth defects and other destructive natural occurrences. Leaving aside that for a moment, recent discoveries about the genetic code of each human being are a fulfillment of scripture. Your genetic code is the handwriting of God, written before you or the world existed. Our genetic blueprint is proof of the existence of the Living God and His infinite intelligence, purpose and design. Sadly, many will ignore the deeper spiritual truth which underlies the advance of this scientific knowledge.

Betsy Woodruff of the National Review also points out Jackson’s Mark-Driscoll-like connection between yoga and Satan:

When one hears the word meditation, it conjures an image of Maharishi Yoga talking about finding a mantra and striving for nirvana … The purpose of such meditation is to empty oneself… [Satan] is happy to invade the empty vacuum of your soul and possess it.

This man is the gift that keeps on giving. If Democrat Terry McAuliffe wants to become Governor, he should just run ads of Jackson talking and preaching. Or maybe someone from his campaign can just read passages from Jackson’s book to the camera.

Public Policy Polling (PDF) has the Democrats leading by single digits in both the Governor’s and Lt. Governor’s races. With this much ignorance coming from the GOP, it’s actually pretty amazing that the gap isn’t wider than it is, but McAuliffe isn’t exactly an inspiration candidate, either.

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.

  • flyb

    I can’t wait to move out of Virginia.

  • closetatheist

    so god wrote genetically caused birth defects into the human genome before the creation of the world? before we “sinned”? Your god is either a terrifyingly cruel d!ck, can’t write his own code properly, or perhaps can’t control how his program replicates. I dare you to pick one of those options and explain it to me in a way that somehow flatters your god, you scumbag.

    Also, if god so clearly wanted these birth defects as an appropriate punishment on unborn children who haven’t had the opportunity to p!ss him off yet, then we have no right to try and correct these abnormalities? I mean, they’re mandated by your just god, right?…..THIS is why science suffers when it comes into contact with religion.

  • Miss_Beara

    recent discoveries about the genetic code of each human being are a
    fulfillment of scripture. Your genetic code is the handwriting of God.

    Citation needed.

  • JohnnieCanuck

    What a lousy photochop that picture is. I was trying to figure out what kind of Republican poses with dangling crystal earrings like that, for a moment there.

  • MargueriteF

    I’ve lived in southeastern Virginia almost all my life, and I love it here. It’s a pity so many crazies run for office, but most of the people I encounter are reasonable, religiously and otherwise. (And yes, Regent University is here. I know. Still, most people I know loathe Pat Robertson, are embarrassed by him, and wish he’d go away.)

  • EuropeanCommunist

    He just has a very crappy handwriting.

  • Free

    You share some very real and honest frustrations. What are your answers? What hope can you provide a child with a birth defect? Is it greater than hope held out in faith? Does suffering serve us instead of hinder us? Can there be purpose in our suffering and imperfections? Real questions. Not sure however that unbelief and a future that is unredeemable is the best answer for someone who wants to hope. If there is no God and yet faith provides a way through this life. It should not matter. Don’t fight to take away this hope and force them to unbelief. For the candidate, he is not totally wrong in espousing evolution is a lie. Macroevolution is actually quite unscientific and takes greater leaps than faith in God. It is not a lie to state this anymore than it would be a lie for you to say there could be a God.

  • Houndentenor

    I had an older half brother and sister born with birth defects. No doubt both of their parents at some point did something that these nutjobs would consider sin, but if he thinks his god is a monster who would inflict that suffering on babies, then I am more proud than ever to be a nonbeliever. Even if I believed such a god existed, I certainly wouldn’t bow down and worship him/her/it/them.

  • Houndentenor

    My only friends who lived in Northern Virginia were a gay couple who left after that very hateful anti-gay constitutional amendment passed that not only banned marriage but all partner benefits of any kind. They had neighbors who had been to their parties and been nice to their face who openly supported the amendment. They listed their house and moved. Who wants to be surrounded by people who don’t respect you?

  • Houndentenor

    Evolution is a scientific fact. the genetic evidence alone is enough to prove common ancestry. It’s ridiculous to believe otherwise at this point. Even most Christians accept this as a reality. As for hope, that is a good thing. But hope in something false? What does that do for anyone? Is believing in a lie a virtue? Also, I can’t take anything away from anyone. If your beliefs are so fragile that a few questions will unravel them, there wasn’t much there to begin with anyway.

  • flyb

    I live in NoVa too and that amendment was one of the last straws for me as well. I just don’t have the resources to relocate yet. Virginia is for lovers…. my ass.

  • Penguin

    Even some of the STUDENTS at Regent aren’t fans of Robertson. My sister attended (well, online) for one semester when she moved to Virginia. The other schools in the area didn’t have the major she wanted (so we though at the time) and Regent did. In her “religion” class, she sat at the computer for hours just staring, trying to think of what to write before I told her to go away, I’d bs my way through it for her.

    Fun story: When we were at the school for a tour, someone asked the guide what “regent” meant. He had no clue and bs’ed an answer. I wish I’d called him out on it.

  • Miss_Beara

    Only if you are white, christian and straight.

  • Neil Rickert

    Jackson hasn’t a clue — hmm, I could stop there.

    He hasn’t a clue on why researchers tried to teach language to chimps and bonobos. It had nothing to do with proving evolution. It was done by people in linguistics and psychology, not by evolutionary biologists. It was part of a study of our language abilities, and how much of that is uniquely human.

  • Miss_Beara

    That is really sad but I hope they are happy wherever they are living now.

  • MargueriteF

    I was going to say the same thing– what good is “hope” that isn’t real? What point is there in holding out “hope” in something that isn’t real? I’d rather accept the truth, personally.

    “Macroevolution is actually quite unscientific and takes greater leaps than faith in God.”

    Balderdash. Evolutionary theory has been supported by pretty much every branch of science over a long stretch of years. No one has ever managed to prove God’s existence, or even find anything that HINTS at his existence.

  • rhodent

    Abstract, navel-gazing questions about “what hope can you provide a child with a birth defect” are irrelevant when the alternative is telling the person with the birth defect that his condition is punishment from a “loving” god — punishment which I might add can only be the result of something done by someone else, since birth defects are by definition defects that are present at birth and thus are present before the person could have done anything.

    That being said, the hope science can be provide to a child with birth defects is that scientific advancements will correct the problem. Just ask anyone who was born with a cleft palate that surgery has corrected. Are there still birth defects that science has not yet found a way to correct? Sure, but science has found ways to correct far more birth defects than the squishy “hope” you suggest has has. I will gladly fight to take replace your squishy “hope” with scientific advances which might actually do something about the problem.

    Finally, as for your claims regarding “macroevolution”, the very fact that you use that term shows you probably have no idea what you are talking about. People who understand biology rarely use the term for the very simple reason that “macroevolution” is fundamentally identical to “microevolution”, with the only real difference being the number of specific events involved. Gather together a sufficiently large group of examples of “microevolution” and voila: you have an example of “macroevolution”.

  • Free

    The comment about evolution was not evolution in general. I think anyone can agree to microevolution. The hurdle where faith must be employed is in macroevolution. Both are needed however to create an honest account of things. Well hope for a child with down syndrome that leads to coping with life is worse than a determinist (No afterlife) view of life? Is this really loving? How can you judge for that child what is false? If there is no God, why would it matter if they placed a little hope just get to find something redeeming in their suffering? (In the end its all dust right?) I would not get so consumed with what is right or wrong either if there is no absolute standard anyway. Would you take delight in them struggling to find reason and purpose? Or would you simply say, stop hoping, you are going to die after you live this life of suffering. You are just another stat and will probably die early due to your disability. Don’t worry, be happy? See, if you can bridge the gap of faith, then all these questions can be answered. Truth is relative right? Then let is be relative to anyone who would dare have faith.

  • ggsillars

    The Virginia GOP had to turn over a lot of rocks to find its candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. I stare in horror from the other side of the Potomac.

  • rhodent

    As someone who lives in the state just to your south I can certainly understand how you feel, but I would urge you not to move on account of the crazies in the state. Slowly but surely, Virginia is getting better, and it’s because of people like you. The answer is not to leave, but rather to get more like-minded people to come in until the reactionaries are the ones who are outnumbered and they’re the ones leaving in frustration.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    So what did God loving Sarah Palin do because her son Trig was born with down syndrome.

  • allein

    So, the only options are “God gave you this disability because he loves you soooooo much” and “you have no hope in this life, none at all, nope, may as well kill yourself”?

    Macroevolution is just microevolution over longer timescales.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Don’t keep fighting to dishonestly claim that hope only exists when one believes in an afterlife, especially given the refutations of that fragile notion that lie just beyond a single Google search and that are described several times a week just on this one blog.

    Children don’t have to be “forced” into not believing in magic. They only believe in once it’s presented to them as if real by people they don’t know not to trust on the matter. Those birth defects used to regularly lead to the affected children being killed, assuming they didn’t die from the defect or merely starve to death. In a world with science stemming from secular Enlightenment concepts that overcame (or more accurately, are STILL working to overcome) religious superstition pretending to be medicine, those children stand a chance several orders of magnitude greater of being helped to overcome chance, and their odds get better every day. THERE’S your fucking hope.

    Claiming that “macroevolution” cannot come from “microevolution” is exactly as foolish as claiming that “eating an entire Snickers bar” cannot come from “taking every bite of a Snickers bar”.

    It’s worth noting that we have more tested data supporting Evolutionary Theory than we do that someone can eat a Snickers bar.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Please Google “argument from incredulity”. That you don’t understand Evolutionary Theory does not cause it to become a faith-based system.

    Edit: and “argument from ignorance”. I was sure I typed them both the first time…

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Shaky hands? Makes sense, given his track record when attempting to smite the “right” people.

  • Houndentenor

    1. Macro and micro-evolution are not scientific terms. There’s just evolution. You are using creationist terms. What you call microevolution is how evolution works. It takes a long time but we can see it easily in species that have short reproductive cycles (like micro-organisms and some insects).

    2. You say there is no harm in lying to someone to make them feel better. I have to ask, what is the benefit?

    3. No, truth is not relative. I can’t answer all questions by “bridging the gap of faith”. That’s not truth and those aren’t answers. It’s just stuff you made up because you like how it sounds. I’m interested in actual truth (sorry, that’s redundant but I am making a point), not fantasy.

  • flyb

    That’s true. The way things are going with me, maybe VA will be better by the time I can finally move!

  • Nate Frein

    Claiming that “macroevolution” cannot come from “microevolution” is exactly as foolish as claiming that “eating an entire Snickers bar” cannot come from “taking every bite of a Snickers bar”.

    I love this. I can’t wait to get a chance to use it.

  • Feminerd

    I’m with Nate. That analogy is brilliant and I, too, can’t wait to trot it out in an argument with someone.

  • Free

    Truth? Truth is relative right? What could you possibly hang your truth on? You can not longer disprove God beyond a reasonable doubt any more than I could prove God. Reality then is relative and if one wants to hope in something not conclusively real, join the club. Evolutionary theory has been supported for years and faith since the beginning of mankind. Hope keeps us living even if we can not agree on the source.

  • TCC

    Oh, fuck off with that “truth is relative” crap.

  • Feminerd

    So you’re an existentialist, then? Nothing is real, we can’t trust our senses, and we are all in fact mere figments in the imagination of ourselves and/or others. Personally, I reject that philosophy as pseudo-intellectual circle jerking. If I’m the only being that exists, the world in my imagination still functions on the basis of certain universal rules that I may take as given; whether it’s all in my head or concrete reality makes no difference to my experiences.

    Reality has certain truths. I exist. You exist. This computer I am typing on exists. Given typical Earth conditions, a ball dropped from the top of a building will accelerate towards the ground at a rate of 9.8 m/s^2. Those are not relative truths, but absolute ones. From our observations of universal truths (some of those observations are pretty hard to get; space telescopes and electron microscopes and supercolliders are all pretty recent), we can build a pretty decent picture of how our universe operates. Evolution is not a relative truth; it’s an absolute observable fact, right there along with gravity and the strong and weak atomic forces.

  • Free

    Picture an seemingly endless sea. You are seeking the confines of a harbor, a place to rest, a place to place your feet. Unfortunately, the water is endless or seemingly endless. Without a reference point you have no hope of reaching shore. Truth is a reference point. If it is relative, then you are relatively lost. Since you do not have an absolute point of direction, you float in hope of rest. Lying presupposes truth. You put your hope in the absolute truth of science though the nature of materialistic believe is to avoid the absolute. We know what we know and that is all we know. We will continue to know more but it will be only to the capacity of our observation. We are limited by our capacity to understand and observe. If I don’t see it, it is not real. If I can not touch it then it is not valid. This is the definition of humanism. We can not fathom anything outside of our experience. There is no room for transcendence because we can not control or understand it. This simply does not mean it does not exist. So, to be overly concerned with truth that is decidedly relative to you would not necessarily be a lie to another. This is what your philosophy has to come to terms with. You can not use absolute terms or you put yourself in a corner needing to accept the absolute.

  • closetatheist

    wow, how does attributing defects to an all-loving god help anyone? faith serves to pacify people and keeps scientists from making advances…what serves humanity best is to 100% shake off the bonds that belief in god places on us, allow ourselves to asses our situation so that our views fall in line with reality, and then work together towards advances in health. THAT IS REAL HOPE because it gets results. Selling someone the lie that “oh, one day, you know, god will make you perfect if you don’t make him angry, so being sad about how much your life sucks now is just short-sighted” is cruel and ADDS to the problem. However, if giving people false hope makes you sleep better at night because then you don’t have to actually DO anything to help them, then more power to ya.

  • Free

    Theory is faith-based or you better no be wrong!

  • Feminerd

    Theory is evidence-based. Unless you argue that our senses are completely lying to us, that our observations are just plainly inaccurate measures of anything, theories are substantiated by giant piles of facts.

    And yes, theories can be wrong. We learn new facts that contradict the current theories, and either tweak or utterly toss out the old theories. See, for instance, the four humors theory of health and illness, the ether theory of space, and the four primal elements theory of matter.

  • fsm

    I laughed when I read his views but cried when I read that he is not losing by a wide margin.

  • TCC

    You really need to get out more.

  • Free

    I don’t know. My answer would sound outlandish to you because it would include sovereignty and purpose and things made right later. It would not satisfy the why that we all have. I do know however, that people cope better and live longer when they have hope that there is purpose for their lives even in their suffering. If it is dust to dust, then why not hope for something more?

    I am aware that micro and macro evolution are creationist labels but they do dissect evolutionary thought. One is more observable and the other has giant leaps that do not completely fit the scientific method and known observation. I think it is fair however to lay it out like that so that folks can see what they are dealing with in order to make informed decisions about their world view.

  • Miss_Beara

    Balderdash. Now there is a word I need to use more often. :)

  • Free

    The accent is not a sinning, bad child that deserves punishment but a child who lives in a hostile world where the effects of sin wreak havoc on this world. We all suffer but can not fathom a loving God who could allow it. He makes an escape route and we blame him and critique the escape route instead of running for our lives. The escape route was the purpose. Science is good and a means of providing relief in this world. Kudos to those who labor to employ their minds and gifts and compassion to help their fellow man. I think God is pleased by this.

    Unfortunately, we can observe microevolution which stands up to the scientific method and I understand your claim of large examples of such providing an example of macroevolution. The problem is that we can not observe the linking of the two to bring it to life.

  • Rain

    Probably the Discovery Institute. My guess is he got confused by the “Discovery” part in their name, so he thought somebody “discovered” something.

  • Free

    Lets assume that the disabled person is a child grown up and choosing to hope in an afterlife.

    Yes evolutionary theory is a good theory but a theory non the less. There is good evidence for microevolution but there are real gaps in observation to support lack of links and intermediates. The Snickers bar would have melted and you would be licking it. It would no longer resemble a Snickers bar and you could not be sure it was a Snickers bar.

  • C Peterson

    There is truth, and there is truth. Some truths are not relative. There are facts, well established by evidence and observation: the Universe and life are best explained without recourse to deities, there is no reason to believe in deities, and the probability that any exist approaches zero, gravity powers the Universe, evolution explains the diversity of life on Earth, and so forth. These are absolute truths, not subject to rational dispute.

    There are relative truths, but they center on matters of philosophy, not fact.

  • allein

    Yes evolutionary theory is a good theory but a theory non the less

    “A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of knowledge that has been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment.[1][2]”

    “Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge.[3] This is significantly different from the word “theory” in common usage, which implies that something is unsubstantiated or speculative.[5]”

    You are either deliberately conflating definitions or you need to learn what words mean.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Is it ok that I have a man crush on you? You write some of the most brilliant things on this forum. You truly make society a better place.

    And if none of the above makes a lot of sense. I do have a head cold so forming a rational reply is not easy at the moment.

  • allein

    People are perfectly capable of finding hope and meaning in their lives without religion.

    How can one make an “informed decision” when people like you insist on spreading falsehoods?

  • C Peterson

    Ha! I wonder what would happen if we took you, and one of the other reasonable forum members who think I’m perhaps a bit… blunt… at times, and put you together in a room with a couple of swords? (We’ll give your cold a chance to resolve first.)

  • C Peterson

    Picture an seemingly endless sea. You are seeking the confines of a harbor, a place to rest, a place to place your feet.

    Like, wow man, that’s some heavy stuff. I haven’t heard such profundity since my chemically enhanced, middle of the night college bull sessions. Please, share with us the variety of weed you’re using… sounds like good stuff!

  • David S.

    Do you know why people make escape routes in their buildings? It’s because they’re not good enough to prevent all fires and other events. They’re in case of failure, not the normal everyday route.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    As someone who was once a student of Taekwondo stick fighting I think I would fair rather well with a couple of swords.

  • David S.

    The universe is not six thousand years old. That’s the theory of macro time passing, which nobody has observed. Sure, we’ve observed micro time passing, but no one has ever in their entire life observed more then 123 years pass. Sure, you can point at things that are supposedly old, but how do you know they weren’t created a century ago? Your macro time passing takes giant unobservable leaps and is unacceptable as science.

  • Houndentenor

    I know you think that was beautiful and profound and many people would find it so. I do not. There is plenty we don’t know. Our senses our limited. Our perspective is narrow. We reach, we grow, we innovate. We are explorers. Truth comes form asking why and looking for the answer, not from deciding what it might be and feeling self-satisfied that it must be true because it sounds good. Your subjective truth is no truth at all. I recognize that what I know is incomplete. I accept that some of it may turn out to be wrong. You seem to think that people who demand truth have no sense of wonder at the world around them. You must never have met a scientist. I can find beauty in metaphor and simile. I have spent my adult life playing historical and mythological characters (while singing very loudly over large orchestras). I have plenty of awe and wonder. But I have outgrown the ability to be placated by feel-good nonsense. I’m a grown-up. Just tell me the truth. And that truth is TRUTH, not just something I made up to be less afraid. I was afraid a lot when I believed in the kind of superstition you advocate. Once I gave that up most of my fear went away. Embracing reality was liberating in a way I’m afraid you’ll never know.

  • Houndentenor

    You seem to think that superstition is the only thing that can give life meaning. You are the one with a limited view of the world and what is possible.

  • randomfactor

    Crazy sells.

  • Houndentenor

    First of all, you really need to read a book about evolution because you obviously have no idea how it works. it’s actually rather amazing and beautiful and well worth your time. The truth of biology and chemistry and physics is actually more beautiful and profound than anything in mythology (not that I don’t love a good yarn about Thor or Hercules!).

    But worst of all, you actually believe that a loving god stands by and allows little girls to be raped and tortured in Darfur and does nothing? We obviously have a different definition of loving. I know people who are self-centered and a little mean and even they would do something to stop such an atrocity but your deity obviously couldn’t give a crap. Seriously, how much mental gymnastics does it take to twist your way out of that? Oh wait, I remember because I used to do it myself.

  • randomfactor

    There’s a reason it was Loving vs. Virginia.

  • Free

    The problem is you set your theory, that you confess can be contradictory, as fact. If a fact is not relative but true then what do we do when the theory proves false? The foundation has crumbled. Then the fact is indeed not true. I do believe in observable and scientific facts. Gravity makes me a firm believer for one. I can not however see in all intellectual honesty and responsibility to believe that science alone can account for all the complexities of human experience. I simply find an amazing converse that the supposed belief in God demands absolute truth (not facts-that is a scientific bent) but supposed absolute science is based on contradictory theories. Quite ironic. Again, we know what we know and thats all we know. But we can not know all things. You must know all things to know there is no God and if so it is you I owe my allegiance.

  • Free

    I am not an advocate for religion. As one who thinks God hates religion more than you I present another option. I do believe it is possible to have a relationship with God. This puts an ax to the heart of religion. I can not prove that he is real by scientific method but I know him. Am I special? Hardly.

  • Free

    I believe that is the point. We have to make “macro” assumptions to connect the evolutionary theory. We have to make “macro” decisions to accept faith.

  • JasonTorpy

    Very important to realize the Lt Governor is the tie-breaking vote in a VA senate split 50-50.

  • Feminerd

    Nononono. You have it backwards. Facts come before theory. When new facts arise, the previous facts don’t crumble. Just the theory crumbles. When we recently found a space structure bigger than anything we thought could exist, the theory that said it couldn’t fell apart. All the previous observations about space didn’t change.

    So, for example, people knew that metals could be purified and also mixed, but that certain other things didn’t melt like metals. They formed theories as to why that was- maybe metals had more fire in them so they had an affinity for fire. When we learned about atoms and how electron shells and covalence work, that didn’t change anything about how metals behave. It just changed our explanation for those facts.

    Or how about the ill-humours theory of disease? We knew that some diseases could spread from person to person and arose under certain conditions, so people theorized that things like cholera arose from ‘ill humours’ in the air. When we learned about germs and the possibility of fecal contamination of local water sources, the facts of cholera didn’t change one iota. It was our understanding of what causes cholera that advanced. Same with atoms- what they are and how they behave hasn’t changed. It’s simply that as our instruments got more sophisticated, we were able to learn new facts about them that negated previous theories and had to be built into new theories. The basic theory of elemental atoms, however, hasn’t changed since it was first proposed because everything we’ve discovered since suggests it was right.

    So right now, evolution is about as set as the germ theory of disease. We’ve found a ton of evidence to support it, and absolutely none to contradict it. That’s right, zero. We don’t know all the exact mechanisms by which evolution occurs, and there are debates on some of the nitpicky details, but evolution as the origin of species is about as solid as atoms as the smallest units of elemental substances. Do you argue against atomic theory and germ theory, too?

  • free

    You can not reconcile suffering and love much like light and darkness and good and evil and hot and cold. Each one is the absence of the other. Hodgkins patients beg for the ability to feel pain to protect them from harm. We can not see the purpose in such things as we are consumed with fairness. Would it be loving for God to give them pain? Could there be a bigger purpose? Would you know what relief was if you never were bound, love without hate, truth without a lie?

  • Carmelita Spats

    No, you are not special. You are delusional. Schizophrenics also have relationships with imaginary friends. Critical thinking puts an ax to the heart of superstition. Humor/blasphemy/mockery make superstition tolerable when it cannot be eradicated. Superstition makes this world an ugly, violent, savage, barbaric, place each and every time it claims any jurisdiction over any sentient being’s experience.

  • Houndentenor

    That’s sick.

  • allein

    Why do you think disagreement always equals “hate”? I have no problem with people who find meaning in religion, as long as they keep it personal and don’t try to foist it on everyone else. Today I went to a church service, because my best friend’s daughter was being baptized. She and her husband are not even particularly religious but it was important to her mother so they did it. There were several things in the service that bothered me on a personal level, but if it works for them, have at it. I did not take part in the service (and no one tried to make me or even commented); I sat quietly and observed, and then celebrated at the party afterward (where the most religiousy thing in evidence, aside from the Noah’s Ark mural on the wall of the classroom we were in, was the stained glass window design on the cake).

    You use a very narrow definition of the word “religion” here. Most of us here would say “religion” is more than simply the various organized/named Religions-with-a-capital-R. You believe in a God who has a direct influence on the world, who wants you to think/act in certain ways to make him happy. Whether you call yourself a [insert Religion here] or not, that is still a religious belief.

  • C Peterson

    “Fact” can describe a couple of things in science. Most commonly, it applies to observations. In that sense, it is a fact that the Sun rises once a day, evolution is a fact, and so forth. The word can also apply to theories that are so well supported that nobody seriously considers alternatives. Examples include heliocentrism and natural selection as a mechanism of evolution. Some theories rise to the level of “facts”, although most scientists will still admit the remote possibility that they could be demonstrated wrong. Many more theories aren’t considered “facts” at all, but remain at least somewhat uncertain or incomplete.

    Truth about the natural world begins with observations. Ideally, the observations are sufficiently unambiguous and repeatable that they can be treated as facts, but that isn’t always the case, and science doesn’t require it. Next, a hypothesis or theory is proposed to explain the observations. That theory may be completely rejected by the right kind of observation, but more often than not it is simply weighted toward the more or less likely by subsequent observations- sometimes passive observations of nature, sometimes active observations in the form of experiments.

    This approach to knowledge demonstrably works. It works well. It has never been observed to fail. Always, it pushes our knowledge closer to an accurate understanding of nature. So many of us view this as the rational way to approach understanding.

    Belief in a god is subject to the same process. Why don’t atheists believe there are any? Because there’s no reason to. There is no initial observation that is best explained by one. There is no observational evidence of one. Identify one thing that can best be explained by some sort of supernatural deity, and you can bet plenty of atheists will look closely.

  • Ubi Dubium

    As long as you are still living here, please vote! We need every vote against these bozos.

  • closetatheist

    oh, I get it. my 2 year old wouldn’t know what love and provisions were unless I routinely withheld food from him, locked him outside and beat him with hangers. That way, when I’m nice to him he’s extra appreciative and grovels at my feet. You’re right, that’s the best way for me to love him.

  • labman57

    This is what happens when you select scientifically-illiterate buffoons to run for public office.

    Jackson is everything that we have come to expect from a Tea Party brown-nosing, socially regressive, Christian conservative Republican politician.

  • Kmm1482

    Seriously, fuck THIS stupid motherfucker!

  • Pepe

    You’re asking citation from a fundie. I like your outlook on life.

  • mutie

    “Don’t fight to take away this hope and force them to unbelief.”

    No one is trying to take anything from this person. You find your own way. You use faith? Fine. Good luck. But if you’re going to be making public policy and laws, remember you have to leave these superstitions at the door to your public office. A person who attacks science without understanding it, or would refuse funds for research into birth defects because the god he believes in has decreed these genetic problems to be a just punishment, this person is the one imposing his views on the rest of us. It is absolutely correct to demand this person act responsibly with whatever power awarded him by a diverse society composed of believers and nonbelievers.

  • mutie

    Why do you suppose all terrestrial mammals have hair and four limbs?

  • mutie

    “people cope better and live longer when they have hope”

    And belief in supernatural forces is not the only source of hope available to people.

  • thedude

    Language is a social construct. How in the world could “god” have given us what we clearly created?

  • midnight rambler

    Obviously, that was her punishment for having a job.

  • Feminerd

    Bah. I’d look at them and swing them around to check balance, then ask Kevin to show me how to swing them for reals. We’re all reasonable folks here, right? No bloodshed for us!

    Addendum: I’m even really freaking irritated with C Peterson at the moment, too!

  • Willy Occam


    All anybody has to do is watch one of the many interviews with Carl Sagan (or those terrific excerpts from Cosmos) to experience his sincere, infectious sense of wonder. That is far more inspiring to me than any magical stories I have ever heard from any religious leader… and it’s based in REALITY.


    Same here. I was raised Catholic, and when I was around 12, I used to lay awake at night, anxious about the concept of an afterlife… even the thought of heaven frightened me, in that it would go on FOREVER. I still can’t fathom how that could be the least bit comforting to anybody. Far more satisfying to me is the thought that I have a limited time in this one life to contribute something to the world that we know, and that eventually it will be over and I will return to the same state of nothingness as before I was born.

  • Kevyn

    In all fairness (I’m agnostic), I believe the bible says that people suffer not because god is punishing them but because sin has corrupted the world. I think the author of the book means that birth defects are the result of sin in the world and not a direct punishment from god. God did not create sin, it is inherent in our nature (according to the bible) since humanity was corrupted long ago. The gist of the bible seems to be a divine plan for the redemption of mankind. I was born with muscular dystrophy, a birth defect, that has led to a less than desirable life but it is a life nonetheless. I don’t believe god pointed me out for something I did or would do before I was born. I don’t even know if he is real, but the point of all this is to say that you should at least understand where the other point of view is coming from before trying to mock everything they say. Articles like this make atheists look bad because they ridicule someone else in an attempt to incite political outrage. I am offended more by the underhanded representation of this mans words than if he had actually said god was punishing me for my sins.

  • Malcolm McLean

    Not everything an atheist says unwarranted. Humans evolved. Jesus Himself spoke against attributing natural disasters to divine punishment for sin (the tower at Siloah).
    Not everything a fundie says is unwarranted. Chimp language studies are riddled with wishful thinking. What isn’t reported in the popular press is just how many repetition are needed to get the chimps to make a few simple signs, human infants, on the other hand, pick up a word on one presentation, then take it through its grammar (you can tell they’re doing this when they regularise an irregular form).

    We don’t know how a process of evolution led to language, we don’t know what language is, we don’t know to set about writing a computer program which can use language, we don’t know if it’s inherently possible to write such a program on a Turing machine.

  • FJN

    IDK, pretty sure Darwins book on natural selection and DNA testing among other things have been much more instrumental then some chimp language study to prove why scientists think we evolved from apes. This guy is hilarious, good luck in the election.

  • Feminerd

    Parrots can learn limited vocabularies and appropriate times to use them (which doesn’t appear to be rote learning). Some can learn colors and shapes and the words that go with them.

    Dolphins definitely have language; we’ve taught at least a few ours, and they can use it to communicate. We have a hard time understanding it, because it’s high-pitched and very fast, but when we use a computer to sound-capture it and slow it down (after teaching the dolphins), human words are mixed in with the squeals and clicks much like English and Spanish are mixed together in Spanglish. The only downside appears to be that now the “trainers” can’t pretend they don’t know when the dolphins are asking for fish!

  • Feminerd

    That’s one interpretation. Even if it were the ‘correct’ one, though, you’re still being punished for something your great, great, many greats grandparents did when they were, effectively, stupid teenagers. This doesn’t potentially piss you off? If God is all-powerful, why didn’t he just fix this whole sin thing by now?

    I know this seems unnecessarily prickly, but damn. I don’t think this article is a misrepresentation of views, but rather an irreverent and annoyed look at some really stupid bullshit people say.

  • Anat

    There may be some biologists (you know, those evolution-believing folks) working to gain understanding and possibly a treatment for said condition. What can religion offer that compares?

  • Jim Jones

    You can’t even define ‘god’. Without that, everything else is pointless.

  • Kevyn

    It isn’t stupid bullshit. It’s a point of view that is being miscontoured. According to the bible which this man obviously believes sin is the cause of decay in the world. The article suggests that this man is proclaiming that god is punishing us. I don’t believe in the bible but it is sad to see people who do ridiculed by others who don’t understand the message they are trying to communicate. I know there are some outrageously over zealous Christians in the world, but nothing in the excerpts above show that this guy is a looney/bad person. He hasn’t degraded anyone with the comments above and yet people are tearing into him because they dislike his beliefs. It’s just wrong. The purpose of the bible is to lead mankind to redemption, not to punish and torment people. (Not protheslytizing) it is aggravating to see so much backlash against someone for comments that have been taken out of context. I haven’t read his book, but the excerpts above aren’t so condemning to someone who has read scripture.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    If you have about 100 hours to spare I can show you how to swing them for reals. Here is a funny but true story.

    I was pulled over in Albuquerque, NM for speeding. I had a loaded Glock 17 next to me. The officer gave me back my Glock after he wrote me a ticket but he took my fighting sticks that I cherished. I had them right next to me on the floor board.

    He told me he could take me to jail for having a dangerous weapon, the weapon being my fighting sticks. I still miss them to this day.

  • Jim Jones

    > What hope can you provide a child with a birth defect?

    Talk about “Ask a stupid question!”

    “In a groundbreaking feat of science and surgery, a toddler born without a windpipe received an artificial trachea made from her own stem cells.”

    So, billions of ‘prayers’: Nothing.

    ‘God’: Source of problem.

    Science: Cure.

  • Feminerd

    *Blink* Oh my poor country, that fighting sticks should be considered a deadlier, more dangerous weapon than a loaded gun.

    I do actually have a lot of free time right now, but I’m going to guess (given of_Bangor) that you live in Maine or thereabouts, which is not at all close to Texas.

  • cphayes8

    this comment section reminds me of that meme “hey internet, religion” then everybody goes fucking crazy

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Yes, I’m in Maine and the Bernalillo County Sheriffs officer was 100% serious when he made the comment. He gave me back my gun, but would not give me back my sticks.

    He told me I didn’t have to reload my Glock as he stood there. As soon as I closed my door I inserted a magazine and racked the slide but my sticks, they where gone.

    And if you are wondering why my door was even open? I had my hands out the window and informed him that I was armed as he approached. It was around 11 PM and being he was alone, I didn’t want him to freak out.

    Once he knew I was armed he told me to open the door, step out and place my hands on the hood and not move. That is how he found my fighting sticks.

    And having traffic go bye as you have your hands on the hood of your vehicle, that is a wonderful thing as the officer comes out of your vehicle holding a gun. Even though I knew my right to have the gun was 100% legal you can see everyone staring at you as if you are some sort of criminal, even when it is 11 PM. You can see the whites of their eyes starting at you as they pass.

  • Anat

    Theory of gravity. Germ theory of infectious disease. Kinetic theory of gases. Theories non-the-less.

    As for so called ‘macroevolution’: Speciation has been observed. See Evolution: Dreampond revisited

  • AxeGrrl

    As long as Cuccinelli is in office, things look very dubious :(
    Btw, have the Dan Savage listeners voted for/created a definition for ‘Cuccinelli’ yet? (like they did with ‘Santorum’ ;)

  • Whirlwitch

    I note that the name contains the syllables “cooch” and “nelly”. The possibilities abound…

  • Jesse Walter Vanegas

    That was wonderfully said, I could have not said it better myself. I love science and it teaches us that it’s okay to be wrong because we can only learn from it. Religion on the other hand, teaches us that it is okay to be afraid and not to think, that everything will be okay in the end…

  • Ryan Arland

    By saying birth defects are brought on by sinning, he’s saying that parents with children born with conditions (i.e. autism) sinned so greatly that they are being ‘punished’ while most other couples are given normally functional children as a ‘blessing’. This is insulting to both the parents who are more often than not are very caring for their children and also to the children themselves for suggesting that they are ‘punishment’. So where exactly did this man get his voters, anyway?

  • JohnnieCanuck

    From the pews of Virginia, where it is the logical consequence of what they have been taught since they were in Sunday school. Some liberal churches, not so much perhaps.

  • Malcolm McLean

    You can’t hold a conversation with an animal. Parrots, dolphins and chimpanzees do have remarkable abilities, and they are one step away, as if it were, from language. But they don’t have it, or if they do, we can’t interpret it as such.
    Dolphins have extremely good PR, largely because they appear as though they are smiling. But they are still wild animals, probably about as intelligent as wolves.

  • the truth about this idiot

    It is amazing the length to which people will go to prove what is so palpably false.

  • Wtf??

    It’s 2013. How is this line of thought and belief still in existence? I cannot comprehend how absurd this man is. Good luck Virginia! You’ll need it if he wins, that only means the rest of the state is as crazy as he is.

  • TallestGargoyle

    To continue on what David S. said (which I’m hoping was a sarcastic rewrite of your post to explain why that way of thinking is in itself a little misguided, rather than a serious continuation of the concept), observation goes far beyond personal experience. As this is obviously a limited technique to gather observational data, other methods were developed to provide a greater sense of understanding of these very drawn out natural processes, that in some cases may take millions of years to occur and propogate. Keep in mind I’m not a scientist and have a very passive, outside view of many scientific theories (mostly from what I learned in science classes at school and from what I’ve read online), so take my explanations with a pinch of salt.

    Carbon dating is one, which from what I understand uses aspects of radioactive materials, their half-life, to determine how old a material is. We know certain isotopes of atoms break down over time, and they break down fairly predictably. Using this we can determine how long a material with radioactive properties has existed for in that state, and plenty of these have shown to be in existence for far longer than the 6000 years some creationists claim the planet has existed for.

    Other methods include observing the direction and positions of what we can see in the sky at night. As stars move, we can calculate their trajectory, and I think this is how theories regarding a big bang came about. Of course the big bang itself is difficult to prove, but there is evidence that all the objects in the universe came from a central point.

    But anyway, onto my main point. Yes, splitting up the theory in that way may in some senses be useful in understanding it. Micro and macroevolution aren’t scientific terms, but I can understand people, even those who accept evolution as true, who use those terms to understand them. Microevolution is the smaller changes occuring over an easily observable period of time, while macroevolution is the extension of this process occuring a large number of times, eventually producing a much different creature.

    Methods were developed to further our understanding of the concept of evolution. Findings of transitional species are a great way to show this, and plenty of evidence exists to show a natural progression of shape and functional differences.

    There’s a fantastic video on Youtube that explains various reasons why people might not believe in evolution, then explains why these reasons are wrong. It’s focus is on debunking Intelligent Design as a concept, which is essentially the more recent lable for Creationism because it sounds a little more official and sciency. :)

    This video is rather long, though the last half an hour is a Q&A session with the audience, further explaining any issues they may have had with the lecture. It also does a much better job than I can of explaining the process of evolution, and describing how this process can create these complex systems through a series of constant changes and mutations.

  • TallestGargoyle

    Probably best to add that the term ‘theory’ used in science is vastly different to the ‘theory’ creationists complain about.

    Theory as used by creationists is actually the term ‘hypothesis’ in science. And even then, a hypothesis is generally based on factual evidence we already know, which provides a question to be answered by discovering more observable facts.

    Theory in science is a collection of these related facts and observations, that adequately describe a natural system. When facts contradict the theory, the theory must change to suit, and further studies are conducted to:

    a. Confirm the contradictory fact is in fact true and not an anomaly.
    b. Work out and explain WHY this observation occurred in the way it did.

    Much like someone hasn’t suddenly done a test and found the theory of gravity to be completely false, the same can be said of evolution.

  • Micasa

    Does anyone over there campaign based on policies? The bulk appear to want votes based on their religious beliefs.

  • Mikey D

    I’m an Aussie and feel really sorry for you Yanks who have to put up with bullshit candidates who spout ‘God Crap’ in your face. GOD! who is he/she when you want him/her? Gone ‘walkabout’ is what! Oh, forgot to mention, when are people of the world gonna understand the “FACT” that Man invented GOD/GODS/ALLAH/JEHOVAH/SCIENTOLOGY etc, and not the other way round. That’s ‘Fair Dinkum’, so you can forget all the other ‘bullshit’ theories. To sign off, I would like to see the lie removed from the greenback, “In God We Trust”, better to say “In Money We Trust” and just be honest!!!, cos that’s all the world seems to care about when it’s not killing each other over religion.

  • stop2wonder

    I’ve never understood why so many creationists who use the “the idea that we came from monkeys is insulting” straw man argument willingly think that coming from dirt is somehow is more appealing.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    This isn’t the right blog for you. The forum for misogynistic trolls who masturbate to rape fantasies is that way ——————————–>

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    I’ve wondered that myself! As well, in their creation myth, Eve wasn’t originally created from one of Adam’s ribs. That part was a “just-so” story to explain why humans didn’t have a baculum, a penis bone.

    I can’t even count how many people I’ve talked to who seriously think that humans are all missing a rib on one side. They don’t know their own basic anatomy specifically because religion made them dumber.

  • wesvvv

    It’s all about fear. By believing bad things happen to people because they DESERVE it and the all loving God is punishing them, the speaker of this belief doesn’t have to live in terror because HE is a righteous man whom God loves and blesses. Won’t ever happen to him.

  • Houndentenor

    Exactly. Side note: I hear they are rebooting Cosmos with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I hate comparing Sagan to NDT because they are very different but I think this is going to be a great thing for science education.

  • Discordia

    If gravity is JUST a theory and not to be believed, then climb to the top of the Empire State Building, jump off and land safely while wearing nothing but a pair of jeans, sneakers and a tshirt. No safety harness, no parachute, no anything that can stop you from falling.

    Go to your local sewage treatment plant and drink a gallon of that brown water. Since the germ theory of disease is JUST a theory, you should be fine.

    Since God gave to humans all plants to eat, then I would like to see you eat five leaves from Nerium oleander. Be sure to get back to us in a week to let us know how that works for you, OK? I will have my Ouija board out just waiting for your message!!!

  • DavidMHart

    Do you understand the difference between these two positions:

    A) With our glitchy brains, and in a world of imperfect evidence, we can never have absolutely watertight, 100% certainty about anything, but we can investigate reality as conscientiously as we can, making our best efforts to correct for our own cognitive shortcomings, and come to conclusions that are overwhelmingly likely to be true based on present evidence

    and B) With our glitchy brains, and in a world of imperfect evidence, we can
    never have absolutely watertight, 100% certainty about anything, therefore one person’s random guess is as good as another person’s conscientiously amassed body of evidence and reasoning, and we can never have any basis for considering one hypothesis more likely than any other hypothesis


    Do you get why these positions are different, and do you get why B is wrong?

    Truth is not relative (so far as we can tell). What it is is that our methods for determining the truth are not 100% reliable. But they are a damn site better than chance, and they’re getting better. If I say I have an invisible, intangible dragon in my garage,and yet cannot come up with any evidence for it, you would have to be utterly deranged to think that the hypothesis that I actually have a dragon in my garage is as likely as the hypothesis that I’m just making stuff up.

    Now evolution by natural selection is one of the most well-supported conclusions in all of science – fossil evidence, molecular genetical evidence, species distribution evidence, actual real-time examples of small-scale evolution happening in the lab, or in accidental experiments caused by human-imposed selection pressure, all point to evolution by natural selection as the prime driver of the current complexity and diversity of life, as well as the fact that it’s the only workable explanation ever devised that doesn’t presuppose the existence of entities that are even more sorely in need of an explanation.

    Next to this, the hypothesis that a magic being did it, by magic, is very much in the same category of probability as the dragon in my garage.

    And no, faith has not been supported since the beginning of humankind in anything like the same sense that evolution by natural selection has. Faith is, almost by definition, continued belief in something in the absence of support – i.e. when there are no good reasons to. The fact that people can continue to believe in gods in the absence of good reasons is no more supportive of the hypothesis that gods actually exist than the fact that people can go on believing in witchcraft or astrology in the absence of evidence for them.

  • DavidMHart

    I hitherto assumed you were Welsh – but it’s almost impossible to think of a town in the UK that there isn’t a town named after in the US.

  • Space Cadet

    The article suggests that this man is proclaiming that god is punishing us.

    It’s Jackson’s own words, not the article, that suggest he is proclaiming god is punishing us. He’s quoted as saying:

    Keep in mind that the whole cosmos has been made imperfect — wounded —
    by sin. It is the principle of sin, rebellion against God and His truth which has brought about birth defects and other destructive natural occurrences.

    I don’t see any other way to interpret his words except at face value.

    That aside, we have other reasons for mocking Jackson, such as-

    -his extreme homophobia

    -his equating Planned Parenthoood with the KKK

    -his insistence that Obama is a Muslim

    -and other things since he’s said since becoming active in politics

    He deserves all of the backlash and ridicule he gets.

  • Discordia

    As another student of Taekwondo, I suggest you be happy that he didn’t take your arms or legs either, as they are just as deadly as a pair of sticks. And why didn’t he take your car? Or any pens laying about? If that isn’t some nit-picking BS I don’t know what is.

    I had to go to a probate judge once, and was not allowed into the courthouse because my keyring had a P-38 can opener on it. However the 4″ straight bone hair stick holding my bun together was OK. I took off the car key and put the rest of the keys under the floor mat in the car and was allowed in with no further questions. Because apparently I could have taken the whole building hostage with a one-inch long can-opener. *facepalm*

  • DavidMHart

    What, no link to the Slymepit? ;-)

  • DavidMHart

    Belief in a god or gods is religion, by any normal definition (albeit at the shallow end of the definition). You can draw the boundaries artificially tightly if you like, but then we can simply respond that we are opposed to all superstitious worldviews, including those that, like yours, you aren’t labeling religions but that are nevertheless premised on the existence of supernatural entities.

  • jeff walker


  • Hat Stealer

    This is what we need more of in America. Good, responsible, not-crazy gun owners.

  • Willy Occam


    Or oil.

  • Willy Occam


    And that’s it in a nutshell.

  • Hat Stealer

    There is a response that I have for posts that are this inane, cliche-driven, predictably boring and meaningless. It has allowed me to express my frustration at how stupid a person can be many times, and in just a few short words too. I save it for times where there is nothing else to say. This is one of those times.

    Oh for fuck’s sake.

  • CultOfReason

    Hodgkins patients beg for the ability to feel pain to protect them from harm.

    What the hell are you babbling about? Hodgkins patients beg for the ability to feel pain to protect them from harm? Having first hand experience with Hodgkins patients, I can emphatically say – you are full of existential shxt.

  • ChuNetMC

    Stupid needs no citation.

  • Art_Vandelay

    aside from the Noah’s Ark mural on the wall of the classroom we were in

    Because nothing makes for a great children’s story like global genocide!

  • allein

    Just a suggestion, while I think your explanation is correct enough, I would use the term “radiometric dating” rather than “carbon dating”; carbon itself is only good for a relatively recent time frame but there are many other isotopes that can give us much older ages. Creationists love using “carbon dating” as some sort of gotcha; not naming a specific isotope helps cut them off at the pass (it’s small but it’s something).
    I will have to check out that video when I get home.

  • John-William Hepper

    I’m an evolutionary biologist and a christian. For me, I believe than natural world does not lie (it is predictable and follows rules). I also believe that the bible is the word of God and is equally true. Therefore, if science shows something that is seemingly contradicted by a passage in the bible then perhaps we, as fallible human beings, have interpreted the bible wrong and need to change our understanding. So, science and religion do not overlap (as S J Gould puts it) and are not mutually exclusive – science explains how the world works and religion why the world works. Just my thoughts!

  • rhodent

    “The accent is not a sinning, bad child that deserves punishment but a child who lives in a hostile world where the effects of sin wreak havoc on this world.”

    You know, what you wrote is really nothing more than a prettier way of saying the exact same thing I said: the child is being punished for something other people did.

    As for the rest of your post, it only makes sense to someone who already accepts the notion of God. It is meaningless and irrelevant to anyone who does not, which is to say practically everyone who read it.

  • dem0n0cracy

    God only has a 4 letter alphabet? What an idiot.

  • Spuddie

    “You can’t hold a conversation with an animal”.

    Cue the jokes about conversations with a fundie.

  • Snoozepossum

    One more case of an Aggrovangelical extremist spraining a religion and making his own god his political bitch.

    Dear Yahweh,

    Bummed that you have to put up with this sort of thing. Drop by for a beer if you wanna vent.


    The Pagans next Door

  • AxeGrrl

    Accepting the reality of evolution doesn’t = ‘no God’

    You need to meet some other believers who have no problem acknowledging and accepting the truth of evolution….and there are plenty of them :)

  • RobertoTheChi

    Scientific theory doesn’t mean what you think it means…

  • Artor

    Unfortunately, playing back Jackson’s words can get a lot of mileage in Virginia. Sure, sane, rational people will be turned off by it, but they aren’t the majority voting block there. I hope I’m proved wrong.

  • Spuddie

    If your faith is shaken by evolution it means it was on pretty shaky ground to begin with. That you can’t find God’s meaning outside of the most ignorant and simplistic reading of your Bible. It shows more of an inability to think, than any flaws with evolution.

    A candidate espousing creationism is being deeply dishonest. It is willfully choosing to attack a universally accepted scientific idea to push superstitious ignorant and inherently illogical notions.

  • Matt D

    The phrase “truth is relative” is merely something you’re using to dismiss evidence, therefore it’s not an honest observation.

  • Captain Cassidy

    Are you moving the goalposts here? First you seem to be asserting that non-humans can’t use proper language. When presented with evidence that contradicts that claim, now you’re claiming that one cannot hold a “conversation” with an animal.

    Who says you can’t, anyway? Are you expecting animals to discourse with us about Proust and the Hierarchy of Needs or something? A conversation is simply an exchange of ideas; there’s no requirement that it be high-flown. So I must ask: What are you defining as a “conversation?” Because I still remember the pride I felt at my first conversation in Japan, when I pointed at a display of rather realistic-looking guns and used my very halting command of Japanese to ask the young man behind a Sapporo toy store’s counter, “Are those toys?” and he replied in Japanese, “Yes, those are toys.” I walked on air for days at having made myself understood at last. Does it matter if I wasn’t born knowing Japanese? Does it matter how poorly I spoke it? Does it matter if the entire conversation comprised perhaps a dozen words? No. I asked a question, and was understood and given a response. In the same manner, if a chimp is taught human words and a language by which those words may be communicated, it hardly matters how the chimp came by those words or method of communication: the chimp can still make itself understood and understand the responses it gets in return.

  • Bryan Chandler

    Because “coming from monkeys” isn’t a low enough starting point. Gives humanity too much initial value, so it must be discredited (even though Evolution doesn’t say that.) We must come from DIRT. The lowest of the low. The entire point is to stip us of worth so Religion can then come in and say, “Ah, but there’s a way you can NOT be a filthy mud-creature…”

  • Tyler_C
  • Captain Cassidy

    The second you start talking about macroevolution like that, you signal that you don’t actually understand the idea of descent with modification. I just wanted you to know that there is information available all over the place you can use to educate yourself. The idea of evolution is not a lie, but I can certainly understand how an ignorant person might be unaware of the blatant mistruths, misrepresentations, and frauds committed by creationists in order to keep the “debate” in their followers’ minds viable. I recommend you begin by reviewing the judge’s decision in the Dover v. Kitzmiller case, which very neatly encapsulates both the creationists’ outright and constant lies and perjuries and creationism’s general shortcomings.

    There doesn’t need to be a purpose for our suffering and imperfections, and I’m thankful that there isn’t. A god who’d allow children to be born with birth defects or to die in horrible agony and terror in a natural disaster is a monster. You may not remember the story of Job, either–his “purpose” in suffering all that he did was so his god could win a cheap bet with Satan (sort of like in “Trading Places”). If believing in your god despite all the evidence contradicting the existence of such a being gives you hope, that’s fine. It gave me nothing but despair, heartache, frustration, and oppression; even so, you’re allowed to believe whatever nonsense you like best. But know this: evolution isn’t actually that important to your religion. Disproving it won’t prove that your god exists, much less that he’s worthy of worship. And by demanding a belief in such a disgustingly deceptive idea as creationism, you are doing nothing more than forcing your fellow Christians to make a choice between embracing reality no matter where it leads, or looking away from reality to keep their “faith” alive. That’s a cruel and completely unnecessary dilemma you’re forcing on yourself and others. Your religion’s lack of evidence for its historical claims is hardly its most damning shortcoming, but your focus on those claims and your side’s tactics in “proving” those claims speaks volumes.

  • Feminerd

    Incorrect. Dolphins use human words to communicate and have even mastered simple grammar to speak to people, and just because we can’t understand their language doesn’t mean they don’t have one. The patterns of their vocalizations, combined with the fact that different pods use slightly different ones, suggests a culturally reproduced language. I’ll agree that parrots and great apes don’t appear to have language as such, but dolphins almost certainly do. When the team teaching dolphins words learned that it had worked, they all started cheering and hugging each other. The dolphin swam around looking sad until someone looked over at it; it looked back and said “hug?”. That wasn’t a word the dolphin had specifically been taught but it saw that the people were hugging and it wanted a hug and to be part of the celebration too. It had learned the word through context somehow.

    How do you define language, if it doesn’t mean using words to communicate ideas?

  • Randay

    Just after the big bang, gravity-which can be a repulsive force in certain conditions-maybe did power the universe. But mostly it is an attractive force. Now we know that dark matter and dark energy, which is by far the major part of the universe, it is likely that dark energy is what powers the universe.

  • Randay

    “If there is no God and yet faith provides a way through this life. It
    should not matter. Don’t fight to take away this hope and force them to
    unbelief.” That is entirely irrelevent. In fact it seems to me you have given up on the God delusion.

    By “a future which is unredeemable”(which makes no sense), you probably mean a future that is unachievable. As to “hope”, for the ancient Greeks when Pandora opened her box and let the evils out, she closed one in: hope. Because for the Greeks, hope had two aspects, one being positive and the other negative.

  • pagansister

    Seriously, this man is yet another looney tune. The above picture of Jackson makes him look totally crazed! (but then, he is!)

  • wmdkitty

    Hi. I’m disabled. Your position is, to put this politely, fucking offensive.

  • Jinx

    This guy’s parents must have sinned grievously to have spawned someone as mentally defective as him…

  • Michael W Busch

    What hope can you provide a child with a birth defect?

    Depends on the congenital malformation concerned. Cleft palates are repairable. Mitral valve repair also has a very good success rate. A congenital dislocated hip can be reset. Etc.

    For the candidate, he is not totally wrong in espousing evolution is a lie

    No. He is totally wrong, and you are wrong to say that he isn’t. Please go learn some of the science. You can start here:

  • Michael W Busch

    You cannot disprove God beyond a reasonable doubt any more than I could prove God.

    Wrong. We can disprove the existence of any god that intervenes with the universe in any detectable way – which is to say, the existence of any god that is functionally different from there being no god at all.

    Reality then is relative

    No, it isn’t.

  • Michael W Busch

    There is no “microevolution” and no “macroevolution” – they are the same thing. The only difference you are seeing is one of time.

    Truth is relative right?

    No. It is not.

  • Michael W Busch

    I am aware that micro and macro evolution are creationist labels but they do dissect evolutionary thought. One is more observable and the other has giant leaps that do not completely fit the scientific method and known observation

    No, they don’t. They are meaningless terms. There is simply evolution. Please go learn about it.

  • Michael W Busch

    We have to make “macro” assumptions to connect the evolutionary theory.

    No, we don’t. We simply have to follow the evidence.

    Edit: Oops. Not sure how this got out here, instead of being addressed directly to Free’s nonsense.

  • Michael W Busch

    I am not an advocate for religion. As one who thinks God hates religion more than you I present another option. I do believe it is possible to have a relationship with God.

    You believe in a god. That can be called a religious belief, no matter if you like it or not.

    Perhaps you call yourself non-religious, but that is not what most of the commenters here are disagreeing with. They are disagreeing with you asserting belief in claims that are false and/or have no evidence to support them, specifically your asserting the existence of any supernatural entity.

  • Michael W Busch

    Theory is faith-based

    You do not appear to understand what the word “theory” means.

    [opens dictionary]
    theory, noun:
    2. In science: a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment.

  • baal

    You know ‘free’ that the macro vs micro evolution thing is a lie told by the anti-science religionists? Actual scientists don’t make the distinction because evolution happens.

  • Michael W Busch

    real gaps in observation to support lack of links and intermediates.

    Your analogy is bad. Here’s a better one:

    Would you require that you see me chew and swallow every bite of the Snickers bar in order to believe that I had eaten it?

    Or would you be satisfied that I had indeed eaten a Snickers if you had seen me chew and swallow a bite halfway through the bar, then looked back later and seen me 3/4 of the way through the bar, then looked back later still and seen me 7/8, 15/16, and entirely done eating?

    Making the analog explicit: We don’t need to have sampled every single organism on every single lineage to know that evolution is happening, and to have very high confidence in the details of the process.

  • baal

    Reality is melting and I’m licking it off my fingers?

  • Michael W Busch

    Hodgkins patients beg for the ability to feel pain to protect them from harm.

    You are not talking about Hodgkin’s patients. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is not associated with lack of ability to feel pain, and causes quite a lot of pain itself. Perhaps you refer to Hansen’s disease (leprosy), which does cause peripheral nerve damage and lack of sensitivity. But the lesson there is nothing theological. It is that prevention and multi-drug antibiotic treatments are wonderful things.

    Would you know what relief was if you never were bound, love without hate, truth without a lie?


  • baal

    Or whales make milk, have hairs and have the pelvis of a land animal (it’s not all that useful to them).

  • Michael W Busch

    I am jealous of Aussie currency.

  • baal

    They like the idea that god fingered the dirt and breathed heavily on it. It’s a special narrow kink.

  • Michael W Busch

    Some of people involved in the great ape language projects are into evolutionary biology – trying to understand what genetic differences between human and chimp and bonobo and gorilla are relevant to language skills and when and how they appeared.

    But, yes, Jackson doesn’t understand what he’s talking about.

  • baal

    You mean the harlem shake vids? No this doesn’t seem anything like that.

  • Michael W Busch

    I don’t think that’s it.

    After all, we did come from dirt. Also something we could call pond scum, various multi-cellular organisms that had bilateral symmetry, something with a spinal cord, something with four limbs, something that managed to breath air, and so on.

    It’s more of the “Supernatural beings made us special and different from all of the other life in the world.” line.

  • Michael W Busch

    I’m glad you appreciate the importance of science as a way of understanding the universe (this is sadly not universal among professional scientists). But both you and Gould are wrong with this line:

    science and religion do not overlap

    That is impossible to reconcile with the existence of any sort of god that intervenes in the world in any detectable way. Such a god’s interference then becomes subject to scientific inquiry.

    For example: consider the claim “there exists a god that gave humans some special property (“souls”) qualitatively different than all other life on Earth”. That is subject to biological and physical investigation. And all the available evidence says that it is wrong. So such a god cannot exist.

  • Bryan Chandler

    That’s valid. It’s probably a little of both. Whatever it takes.

  • Michael W Busch

    You can’t hold a conversation with an animal.

    Wrong. I talk to apes all the time. Granted, they are all h. sapiens sapiens.

    And chimps and dolphins and parrots can have meaningful conversations with humans. They’re just more restricted in the vocabulary they can express (e.g. Kanzi the bonobo can ask for matches, sticks, and marshmallows; and express appreciation of a rugby match; but isn’t up on symbolic logic).

  • wmdkitty

    Oh. So that’s where my acid went.

  • DavidMHart

    Thing is, religion has been dragged kicking and screaming from its original claims to answering the ‘how’ questions – time was, not so long ago, when scientists who discovered facts about reality that contradicted the Bible could expect some seriously nasty inquisitorial action, and it is only the result of centuries of relentless being-proved-wrong that some religions have given up that ground for fear of looking silly (note that I said ‘some’ – Bishop Jackson clearly has no fear of looking silly).

    If science shows something that is seemingly contradicted by a passage in the bible then perhaps the people who wrote the bible, as fallible human beings, simply didn’t have the expertise, or the equipment, or even the motivation, to accurately figure out what the facts were. This is a much more likely hypothesis, given the amount of daft stuff in the bible, than the hypothesis that the bible was inspired by an omniscient supernatural being.

    And yes, religion tries to answer the ‘why’ questions, but are there any good reasons to think that it does a better job of getting accurate answers than any secular philosophy? Are there any good reasons to think that ‘why’ questions are even meaningful – that there is anything teleological about the universe at all?

    It looks to us like religion just makes up answers to the ‘why’ questions, and avoids scrutiny of whether its answers are right by hiding behind claims of the mysteriousness of gods.

    And as Michael W Busch points out, science and religion do tread on each other’s toes, inevitably, whenever a religion makes factual claims about the nature of reality, which most religions do all the time. If Christianity claims that a Jewish carpenter came back from the dead, and science tells us that being dead is by definition a state that you don’t come back from, then one of them has to be wrong. And, while you cannot do an experiment now to determine what happened to one guy in 30-odd AD, you can at least use all that we know about biology, anatomy, history and people’s ability to believe myths to derive the conclusion that it is overwhelmingly unlikely that there was a resurrection. Of course, once you get onto claims that can be tested in our own time, like whether prayer heals disease, or whether the wine and wafers literally become the blood and flesh of a 1st Century Jew (yes, you’re probably not a Catholic, but run with me here), then the conflict between religion and science is utterly obvious and unavoidable.

  • mutie

    It is a time-honored tactic among theists to try and equate the decision making process used for religion to that used for scientific inquiry. The comparison is false. One is based on evidence. The other is a reaction to cultural forces, and its adherents have a very difficult time evaluating this factor with an objective attitude. Societal influences are easily studied, but the results are regularly dismissed by theists as an attack on their superstitions.

  • mutie

    “If I don’t see it, it is not real. If I can not touch it then it is not valid. This is the definition of humanism.” That’s a very old strawman. All humanism purports is “an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.” It speaks not a whit about defining reality through direct physical observation. There are tremendous questions we strive to answer through systematic study and inference. Instead of falling prey to a cultural practice that dictates a superstitious answer, a human-based approach frees you to explore, study and draw conclusions based on currently-available evidence. Rather than confront large questions, you could just sit back and say “a god did it.” Instead, you could press on, seeking evidence that supports a possible answer. This drive to “fetch me the horizon” is one of the most important contributions of the scientific method. If we could keep fundamental theists from interfering with progress, we’d be a bit further along.

  • Michael W Busch

    I think you meant “A candidate denying evolution is being deeply dishonest”.

  • John-William Hepper

    I utterly understand your statement, more a Dawkins way of thinking about it all than a Gould way. I guess I have always thought about them not overlapping in questions about the world but not in the case of miracles. I agree, it is totally unlikely, from a scientific view, that most of the miracles could occur and most are simply impossible. The way I’ve always thought about it is, if you believe in a God that, in some way, formed the universe as we know it, then it is quite obvious that he could intercede and cause miracles as and when desired. It does not change the fact that nature as we know it is true but occasionally God intercedes. In my opinion, as a scientist and Christian, if I could understand the subject of miracles totally and understand God then God would only ever be as large as my imagination.

    I agree, parts of the bible, for example genesis, appear to be a mixture of several different old religious beliefs, and nobody knows who first wrote them. But, firstly, I don’t think this *necessarily* makes them un-true and secondly, I think the most revelatory passages in the bible are the accounts of Jesus’ life (Mathew, Mark, Luke and John). These are the passages that quite literally tell how to live a godly life, by both Jesus’ words and actions. So yes, some of the older passages may appear odd or ‘daft’ but nine times out of ten this is due to context and not fallible human scribes, though it is always hard to tell one way or another!

    I don’t suppose there is any logical reason for there being any ‘why’ behind life at all. I agree, the world makes sense from a purely scientific and mathematic point of view. But I really, genuinely, believe in a God who loves us, because of the changes I’ve seen in other peoples lives and the changes I’ve seen in my own life since coming to know him. That is not a rational argument but there is no other way for me to explain it I’m afraid. I cannot quantify God and cannot rationally prove him to anyone – I don’t claim to be able to. Jesus of Nazareth, whatever one believes about his divinity, was surely an incredible teacher of men and, perhaps only from an atheist point of view, I would encourage anyone to learn his teachings, just as thousands upon thousands flocked to hear him in 50ish AD. The teachings of love, respect, hope and mercy among men are powerful indeed, whatever your beliefs.

    What are your thoughts?

  • Mikey D

    Don’t be jealous Michael, it’s falling rapidly as I write this to you. No matter, I am sure we will survive. :-)

  • Spuddie

    Fixed that. My bad. =)

  • Michael W Busch

    I just like bills that don’t get destroyed in the wash and are different in size & color for the different denominations – easier to tell apart and not give somebody a 50 instead of a 5.

  • Michael W Busch

    Jesus of Nazareth, whatever one believes about his divinity, was surely an incredible teacher of men

    No, whatever historical Jesus there may have been was not “surely an incredible teacher”. If there was a single person we could justifiably call a historical Jesus, he was one of a large number of schismatic Jewish preachers active in early-first-century Judea, and there is no particular reason to think he was any more incredible than the others.

    For example: he didn’t draw “thousands upon thousands” to hear him. The stories in the Gospels were all later inventions.

    The teachings of love, respect, hope and mercy among men are powerful indeed, whatever your beliefs.

    Make that “among humans” and you have something that is not too bad. But none of that is original or unique to Christianity.

  • John-William Hepper

    I’m afraid there almost certainly was a historical Jesus (or Joshua) but his divinity is disputed; most scholars agree on his existence at least. If you do not cause the explosive growth of the early Church to Jesus’ teachings, what do you think occurred? Even up to modern day, the relative growth of the Church in Ephesus, in the Roman province of Galatia, in Corinth, Thessalonica, Colossae and Philippi is unprecedented.

    And you know as well as I do that by ‘among men’ I mean ‘among humans’ – no need to be petty. And no they are not unique to Christianity, and I never claimed them to be. What is your point?

  • Michael W Busch

    I’m afraid there almost certainly was a historical Jesus (or Joshua)

    There is a debate on the existence of and character of any historical Jesus at this time, but it is quite clear that whatever person there may have been was not like the character portrayed in the Bible (especially since even the texts in the Bible don’t portray a consistent character). There is also a debate on the actual extent of the early Christian church – the communities involved were far smaller than many of the later Christian texts assert.

    Even up to modern day, the relative growth of the Church … is unprecedented.

    No it isn’t. In the first 250-300 years, Christianity only grew to have a population of perhaps 6 million people (10% of the population of the Roman empire) – a growth rate of perhaps 40%/decade after whatever initial group there was formed. That’s not an exceptional growth rate for a religious movement (the Mormons had such a growth rate for a while, for example). Here’s a piece going through the demographics in some detail:

    And you know as well as I do that by ‘among men’ I mean ‘among humans’

    No, I didn’t – there is a lot of sexism, particularly in some forms of Christianity. And it isn’t “being petty” to object to sexist language.

    My point is that whatever historical Jesus there may have been was not “an incredible teacher”. He would have been a person with some good ideas and many bad ones, and the good ones would not have been original.

  • John-William Hepper

    Okay point taken, I was assuming that most Christians aren’t sexist but perhaps that was too great an assumption.

    I’m afraid you misread me. ‘Even up to modern day, the relative growth of the Church … is unprecedented.’ I was talking about the relative growth of the Church, as I stated, not other religions as you appear to have understood.

    Furthermore, I’m not sure whether it is ‘quite clear that whatever person there may have been was not like the character portrayed in the Bible’. I respect your opinion but believe the evidence appears otherwise. As the esteemed Oxford scholar C S Lewis once said about the gospels – “I have been reading poems, romances, vision literature, legends and myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know none of them are like this.” I guess the strongest evidence for Jesus living the way he did are the gospels themselves.

    It has been an interesting discussion, thank you. It is nice to debate with someone respectful and thought-provoking.

  • Michael W Busch

    I was talking about the relative growth of the Church, as I stated, not other religions as you appear to have understood.

    When we compare the relative growth of early Christianity to the growth of other religions, we find that Christianity did not spread exceptionally rapidly. There is nothing inherently special about Christianity as compared to other religions – it (and specific forms of it) just happened to be the one that became popular as opposed the other religions it was competing with.

    I respect your opinion but believe the evidence appears otherwise. … I guess the strongest evidence for Jesus living the way he did are the gospels themselves.

    You are wrong, and Lewis was wrong too (he told okay children’s stories, but his mythography was impressively lousy when it came to the Biblical texts – “I know this is different” is not an argument). The gospels are not strong evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus. No, they were not written by the authors later tradition ascribes them to, and no they are not primarily biographical accounts.

    The texts of Luke and Matthew were largely lifted from the text of Mark, which was in turn adding its own inventions to earlier Christian, Greek, and Jewish mythology and teachings. The text of John was written largely independently and contradicts the other three traditionally-canonical gospels in many respects, and is heavy on explicit metaphor and allegory. All of them post-date a number of the epistles, which show that a lot of their content is later invention. There are also a large number of non-canonical gospels and other Christian texts, written from slightly before the canonical ones until several centuries later, which present wildly different versions of Jesus.

    None of this is controversial history. The historicist-mythicist arguments now center on if there was any real historical figure who could justifiably be called a historical Jesus and, if so, on very basic properties of his life (e.g. “when did he live” or “where did he preach”) rather than any of the details presented in the gospel texts, because those are known to be later inventions.

  • DavidMHart

    What are my thoughts? Well, first of all, I’m not persuaded that, if you are going to revere one person as a uniquely wise moral teacher, that Jesus is the best example you can pick. He preaches non-resistance to evil, throws a childish tantrum at a fig tree, literally tells his followers to mutilate themselves in order to avoid an (almost-certainly-imaginary) worse punishment in Hell, encourages people to abandon their own families in preference to their religion, repeatedly fails to notice anything ethically problematical about the practice of slavery (despite it coming up in conversation several times), forbids divorce (thus condemning people who made a mistake in their choice of partner to suffer the consequences indefinitely, rather than make a clean break and start again with people better suited to them) and, since the Jesus of the Gospels clearly thought the world was coming to an end in a generation or so, encourages his followers to fail to plan for the future. At the risk of this becoming a big links fest, here is a little article dissecting the Sermon on the Mount and showing why it’s moral message could easily be improved upon. Sure, Jesus is also credited with teaching some sensible stuff, but he was very far from being the first person to come up with the Golden Rule, or indeed from being the person who came up with the best formulation of it.

    If we want to live an ethical life, we would do well to consider Jesus as but one, and not a particularly important one, of many philosophers who have advanced our collective understanding of how to live a good life.

    Also, since the jury is still out among professional historians as to whether a historical Jesuseven existed at all, I’d be skeptical of the wisdom of staking one’s identity on that claim.

    As regarding a god which sticks a finger in the pie of creation and swirls things around … the thing is, we have no good, reliable evidence of supernatural beings actually influencing things. All we have are stories, and we have stories of similar levels of implausibilty from all sorts of traditions around the world, most of which you, if you are any sort of mainstream Christian, you would reject out of hand, despite the fact that there is no less evidence in favour of them than there is in favour of Christian miracles.

    If you can find an example of a miracle that can be repeatedly demonstrated, that is, a phenomenon that isn’t merely unexplained by our present level of knowledge, but that is known to be impossible according to our present level of knowledge, and that you can demonstrate good reasons to believe actually is impossible according to the laws of nature (as opposed to just being an instance where our understanding of the laws of nature is flawed) then you would have a case that we should be paying attention to. This is a high bar, but we ought to have a high bar for any claims of the type “a magical being did something impossible”.

    The only sensible approach to miracles to take is that of David Hume, which is that we should only believe a miracle account if the hypothesis that the person reporting the miracle is either mistaken or lying would be more miraculous than the claim that they are making. This is a position that most Christians already take with miracles reports from other religious traditions; it would be a deep failure of intellectual honesty not to apply the same level of skepticism to your own.

    As regards the ‘changes in your own lives’ and those of others … I’m afraid I can’t take that as compelling evidence either, because all religions that I’m aware of make those kinds of claim about themselves. Heck, even some atheists make those kinds of claim about ceasing to follow a religion. And other atheists will tell you that they used to make those claims when they were a Christian, but nonetheless came to realise that they were based on imaginary phenomena.

    No; what you must do is not merely assert that wonderful things happened to you when you became a Christian, but find solid, statistically significant data showing that those sorts of wonderful things systematically happen to people who become Christians, and systematically fail to happen to people who join other religions, or who leave religion entirely, and come up with some good reasons to believe that those wonderful things are actually the product of a supernatural power and not merely the result of natural phenomena like the power of group solidarity and community to improve your psychological wellbeing. If there is actually a supernatural power behind Christianity, it should not be difficult to come up with this sort of data.

    Finally, you say “I cannot quantify God and cannot rationally prove him to anyone – I don’t claim to be able to.”

    This is one of the things that makes religious people frustrating to argue with – if you say that you accept that you wouldn’t expect other people to be persuaded by what you are using as evidence for your supernatural beliefs, you are essentially saying that you are going to hold yourself to a lower standard of intellectual honesty than you’d expect of anyone else. If you cannot be confident of being able to persuade other fair-minded people of what you believe, then you shouldn’t be willing to believe it yourself.

    This has been quite a screed, for which I apologise, but I hope to have given you some understanding of why we non-religious people are unable to accept the claims of miracles, and the claims of non-conflict with science, that religions make.

  • John-William Hepper

    No it’s not a logical argument, but when there is so much doubt anyway, who can really argue logically about the gospels? At least Lewis was not self-important enough to suggest that he could.

    You, again, misunderstand me. I was talking about the growth of the Church, relative to population, at that time compared to this, or any other.

    This is, very much, controversial history. If it was not, and there was definite proof one way or the other that the bible was false/true, do you really think that there would be such a divide between Christians and non-Christians. And if you are thinking of suggesting that Christians are somehow un-educated and would change their minds if they only knew your version of history, then you would be astoundingly arrogant.

    ‘All of them post-date a number of the epistles, which show that a lot of their content is later invention.’ What you mean is the earliest know copies post-date a number of the epistles. The fact that the autographs post-date the epistles does not necessarily mean that they were not copied from earlier papyrus scripts which degrade quickly, as I’m sure you know.

    I’m now unsubscribing from this link as otherwise we will be here forever. I find your views very interesting and they open more doors of investigation for me. Thank you.

    Good luck and God bless,

  • Michael W Busch

    I was talking about the growth of the Church, relative to population, at that time compared to this, or any other.

    I understood that. And my point is still the same: the growth of early Christianity was not exceptional. Other religions have grown faster and spread further. And just because something is popular does not mean it is right.

    No it’s not a logical argument, but when there is so much doubt anyway, who can really argue logically about the gospels?

    It is quite easy to logically argue that they are all later compositions. That’s based on analysis of their language usage, content, and when other texts begin to reference them.

    What you mean is the earliest know copies post-date a number of the epistles.

    No. What I mean is that they were composed after a number of the epistles were, and also during or after the First Jewish-Roman war (late 60s CE or later). This is again not controversial history. e.g. The historical debate about the gospels now focuses on trying to identify which parts of them were incorporated from earlier sources as opposed to being invented by their writers.

    If it was not, and there was definite proof one way or the other that the bible was false/true, do you really think that there would be such a divide between Christians and non-Christians.

    There is definitive proof that much of the Bible is false. And yes, there is “such a divide” between Christians and non-Christians. And also between different Christian groups – you yourself understand and accept evolution and a large amount of other science, which means that you also understand and accept how Genesis is a mythical text, while a large fraction of Christians falsely assert that the myth is true and reality is wrong.

    And if you are thinking of suggesting that Christians are somehow un-educated and would change their minds if they only knew your version of history, then you would be astoundingly arrogant.

    There is no “my version of history” – there is a historical consensus based on available evidence, which has significant uncertainties in it that are the motivation for debate and further research.

    And it happens that many Christians, just like many people who are not Christian, do not know much of the parts of the historical consensus relevant to early Christianity or the uncertainties in them. My learning a little about that material was one of the many things that made me realize how wrong and unsupported many of the claims of Christianity are.

  • Houndentenor

    Thank you. Yes, science can be wrong. Mostly it’s that science often works from incomplete or faulty data (or sometimes people apply faulty methodology) but there is a mechanism in place to correct that. What is the mechanism for discovering if theology is right or wrong? It should also be pointed out that science has been (and sometimes continues to be) the obstacle for correcting those misunderstandings). See also: Galileo, persecution of.

  • Houndentenor

    So you believe the earth existed before the sun and the moon? Because that’s what the Bible said. That’s not an “interpretation” problem. It’s just that whoever wrote genesis had no idea how the universe, sun, solar system, earth, life etc came into existence. Or what order the various plants and animals evolved into their present forms. Sorry, that’s a real problem if you are a literalist.

  • Houndentenor

    I was told in church as a child that men had one fewer set of ribs than women because of the Adam/Eve story. It was embarrassing to repeat that in front of a high school biology teacher (who was a deacon in his Lutheran church, but certainly wasn’t a literalist).

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Can’t… stop… sputtering… with laughter…

  • AxeGrrl

    *giggling* exactly!