Santa vs God

The other day I was thinking about the similarities between belief in Santa and belief in God. So I thought I’d make it into a graphic. Enjoy!

Santa vs God — is there really any difference? Keeps a list of who’s naughty or nice / All-knowing and omnipresent / Long white beard / Taught to children by parents / Generally believed in by children / Not believed in by intelligent adults / Sing songs about / Demands sacrifices, tithes or cookies / Has servants or helpers / Never returns calls / Said to reward virtue and punish evil / Makes sense in any way / Has evidence for existence

Feel free to post this on your blog — just please link the image back to this site. Thanks!

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  • James

    One difference: Santa’s punishment is more scaled to the magnitude of the offence. You talk back to mom & dad, you get coal; with God, you’re supposed to be put to death.

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  • http://thinkingforfree.blogspot.com/ Eamon Knight

    Gotta disagree with #6. While it’s true that theistic belief tends to decline with educational level, there are plenty of intelligent adults (for non-question-begging definitions thereof) who believe in God. I don’t think the generalization holds as stated.

    • AS

      I agree…they should have used the word “wise”. Lots of intelligent people believe in god, but there is a big difference between Wisdom and Intelligence.

      • Sunny Day

        Intelligence along with charisma is just a dump stat.

        • MahouSniper

          Not if you’re a mage. Int is everything for them.

        • Elemenope

          In 3rd ed, there was no such thing as a consistent dump stat.

          • Kristina

            Do you consider Mahatma Ghandi, or Martin Luther (the German monk), Martin Luther King Jr., Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo, Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, or Barack Obama or wise? They are or were some of the most successful people of their times. Some other people who believe in God are Mother Theresa, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and they left huge legacies with their lives’ work. I hardly think you can call you unintelligent or unwise. I consider them wise and very successful and many other people do too.

            The question is partially in how people define God. I think you can define God not in an anthropomorphic way, for instance as a man with a white beard who lives in sky. If you are more of a thinker, you can define God as intelligence that is in control of the laws of the universe, or if for those who are more people-oriented, you can define God as love, a unifying supportive force between all living things. I think both are true and different aspects of our reality, it is just that one pertains more to the physical sciences and the other pertains more to the social sciences.

            I think that is da Vinci believed in a more scientific view of God, based on measurable empirical evidence, and as far as I know Stephen Hawking also said if God can be defined as the sum of the laws and principles governing our universe(s) then he does believe in God. I also think that is what Einstein meant when he said he wanted to know God’s thoughts, since these were all mathematicians and scientists.

            A quote from da Vinci:
            If the Lord— who is the light of all things— vouchsafe to enlighten me, I will treat of Light; wherefore I will divide the present work into 3 Parts… Linear Perspective, The Perspective of Colour, The Perspective of Disappearance.

            To me, the indicates that da Vinci defined God as unified scientific truth (or light), and impartial truth that encompasses all possible human viewpoints and feelings too. I think if you can move away from the view of God as a bearded man and think of God as a concept embodying all knowledge including scientific and human-oriented then you’re getting closer to what it really is.

            • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

              Yes, well, the problem with using an appeal to authority as an argument is that A) the person you appeal to has to be an authority, B) they have to be an authority in a relevant field, and C) you have to know what the fuck you’re talking about.

              For a start, “Mahatma” is a title, not a name, and you spelled the rest of his name wrong, so I’m going to go ahead and assume that you actually know nothing about Mohandas Gandhi and ignore that one on the basis that you clearly pulled it out of your ass.

              Martin Luther King Jr was a misogynistic wife-beater who plagiarised the bulk of his doctoral thesis, so even his authority on matters of faith was bogus.

              Martin Luther, Isaac Newton, Galileo, Michaelangelo and Da Vinci all lived in times when the state of knowledge and philosophy meant that there really was no alternative to “God Did It”, besides which, Galileo was tried by the Inquisition and spent his remaining days locked up for daring to point out that the Bible was wrong about the universe orbiting the Earth. Seriously, how stupid are you to use Galileo as support for religion?

              Mother Theresa? She was the leader of a cult of death and suffering which caused unimaginable misery by denying even the most simple medical interventions to untold thousands of people, instead allowing them to die painful, drawn out, often needless deaths. At the same time, she herself lived in obscene luxury and when she died it was under the best care available in the world.

              CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien in the same sentence… That’s just funny. Tolkien was a devout Catholic was rumoured to have found Lewis’ evangelism extremely irritating. Beyond that, Lewis produced second-rate childrens’ fiction and third-rate (at best) science fiction – Hardly a literary giant. Tolkien was a great writer, but producing great literature hardly qualifies him as an authority on religion.

              As far as Hawking and Einstein go: Stop bloody quote mining. Hawking is an atheist, Einstein was an atheist, they are both very clearly on record as saying so, and the only way you can make it appear like they aren’t/weren’t is to quote-mine and deliver their words totally without context. You’re not fooling anybody here with that happy horse-shit.

            • Claire

              Einstein was not an atheist, he made this VERY clear, he was a deist. You are the one who can’t seem to get anything right. “I’m not an atheist and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangements of the books, but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.”

              He was furious when people considered him an atheist as you have done.

              And the Kristina makes it clear that Hawking was an atheist, you seem to have not read her post. Another quote from Hawking “A bottom-up approach to cosmology either requires one to postulate an initial state of the Universe that is carefully fine-tuned — as if prescribed by an outside agency — or it requires one to invoke the notion of eternal inflation, a mighty speculative notion to the generation of many different Universes, which prevents one from predicting what a typical observer would see.”

              And make sure what you are saying is accurate before you go about shouting “Quote-mining!!!” *rolls eyes*

            • Yoav

              Claire, context is a rather important thing.
              Here’s the context in which the Hawking quote you use actually appear (link to pdf, the quote is at the bottom of page 1).

              In fact if one does adopt a bottom-up approach to cosmology, one is immediately led to an essentially classical framework, in which one loses all ability to explain cosmology’s central question – why our universe is the way it is. In particular a bottom-up approach to cosmology either requires one to postulate an initial state of the universe that is carefully fine-tuned [10] – as if prescribed by an outside agency
              or it requires one to invoke the notion of eternal inflation [11], which prevents one from predicting what a typical observer would see.

              Here we put forward a different approach to cosmology in the string landscape, based not on the classical idea of a single history for the universe but on the quantum sum over histories [12]. We argue that the quantum origin of the universe naturally leads to a framework for cosmology where amplitudes for alternative histories of the universe are computed with boundary conditions at late times only. We thus envision a set of alternative universes in the landscape, with amplitudes given by the no boundary path integral [13].

              When will theists finally learn that these days it takes 20 second on google to find the source for the “quote” they just used?

            • Jabster

              “I think if you can move away from the view of God as a bearded man and think of God as a concept embodying all knowledge including scientific and human-oriented then you’re getting closer to what it really is.”

              Oh please … if you can redefine what god is then god exists – what sort of argument is that. I can make anything “exist” with that sort of argument can I not?

            • Sunny Day

              you can define God as intelligence that is in control of the laws of the universe

              OK but first you have to show there’s a need for an intelligence to be in control of the laws of the universe.

              Go ahead, I’m waiting.

            • Jabster

              Well it’s obvious isn’t it … how would the airplanes stay in the air otherwise. Someone needs to hold them up.

            • Pvblivs

              Many people in attacking Kristina here are overlooking something. Hers is not an argument that some god exists. Hers is an argument that a category was mismarked because there are inttelligent (wise) people who nonetheless believe in a god. The responses of Custador, Jabster, and SunnyDay are thus red herrings.

            • Elemenope

              @Pvblivs

              Given that, Custador’s response was spot-on. He painstakingly pointed out that for many of those “wise” people, there was no real alternative, and that for the modern counterparts, counting them among the ranks of believers requires a distortion of what they themselves said on the subject, or in the remaining cases their status as “wise” should be called into question.

              Custador’s argument was pointedly not about God’s existence, but was quite appropriately about exactly the thing you are complaining he and others didn’t address.

            • Pvblivs

              @Elemenope:

              Custador specificly calls it an appeal to authority. In this context, it is only meaningful to claim the examples as “authorities” if one is arguing the existence or non-existence of some god. Furthermore, he did not address their status as counter-examples. He claimed they were invalid as authorities (“so even his authority on matters of faith was bogus,” “Seriously, how stupid are you to use Galileo as support for religion?”) He did not take time to dispute the contention that any of the examples were intelligent and wise. He also did not argue that any of them did not believe in some god. His argument was that it was not reason for us to believe.

              “or in the remaining cases their status as ‘wise’ should be called into question.”

              This makes your (his) definition of the word “wise” to be question-begging. I am reminded that a common example that people on both sides of the issue try to use is Albert Einstein. He is generally recognized as wise. What his actual beliefs were, I cannot say for certain. He probably didn’t believe in the god described in the bible. But I remember reading that, when asked how he would have reacted if experiment failed to confirm general relativity, his response was that he would have had to forgive “our dear creator” as he would still regard the theory as correct anyway. This suggests that he believed in some sort of god, and so does not belong to anyone’s camp.

              “Custador’s argument was pointedly not about God’s existence, but was quite appropriately about exactly the thing you are complaining he and others didn’t address.”

              Perhaps you should read it. It is quite clear that he was arguing against what he saw as Kritina’s attempt to support her religion. He was in no way addressing whether any of her examples qualified as counter-examples to the claim that “intelligent (wise) men do not believe in a god.” Indeed, the presence of the snippets I quoted directly contradicts your claim.

            • Custador

              Can I chip in while you’re quoting me there, me bucko? This is some necro threading going on right here, but I do believe that the person missing the point here is you. Kristina’s basic gist was this: Some intelligent people believe in God, therefore we all should. And that’s bullshit. Which is why I pointed out individual reasons for all of the people Kristina cited that mitigate against such a stupid claim. At no point have I argued that intelligence and faith are mutually exclusive (though, just as an FYI, there is a negative correlation between intelligence and religion).

            • Elemenope

              The main problem with your interpretation, Pvblivs, is that in the original comment Kristina was making an implicit argument that you are ignoring, which places Custaor’s re-framing of her points as authority-driven rhetoric as apropos.

              At the beginning of the thread, Eamon pointed out that plenty of intelligent people believe in God. AS agreed. Then Sunny Day made a D&D joke that, in the context of the actual argument, amounts to saying “so what?” to the claim that there are intelligent theists. My joke was a metajoke about D&D that had nothing to do with the argument.

              Then, Kristina’s comment follows. The problem is, nobody theretofore had disagreed with the proposition “there are intelligent theists”. The only outstanding question, in the form of Sunny Day’s joke, was in explicating why that should matter.

              Kristina is *clearly* arguing that it should matter, if for no other reason than that it moves the conceptions of God into a more abstract, more intellectually-mature direction.

              In that context, Custador’s point, that relying on any of these intelligent theists for authority or direction on how to judge theism, is quite on point. He was not attempting to do what you claim he was doing, which is deny that some intelligent people are theists. What he did do was call into question whether some of the proffered examples were either:

              1. theists
              2. wise
              3. in a situation where other belief options would be seen by them as viable

              And argued that all of the proffered examples failed to meet at least one of these three criteria.

            • Pvblivs

              @Custador:

              Re: “necrothreading” Today was the first I saw of this post as it was linked from a different blog. Gee, when you add in the popular line of “silence implies consent,” you really have something going there.

              “Kristina’s basic gist was this: Some intelligent people believe in God, therefore we all should.”

              That would be a plausible interpretation if there weren’t a standing claim that intelligent people don’t believe in god(s). But there is such a claim. It’s made by the orignator of the thread, challenged by Eamon Knight, and slightly adjusted by AS. Given the existing claim, there is no reason to assume an implicit “therefore gods exist” and she does not make the claim explicitly here.

              @Elemenope:

              There is inadequate justification to the existence of the implicit argument that you claim. IF no one had made a claim that intelligent people do not believe in god(s), then it would be a reasonable interpretation. As she is listing counter-examples that show an explicit claim made here is false, there is no reason to assume that they are being used for a separate implicit argument.

              “AS agreed.”

              Sort of. He claimed that the word “wise” should have been used instead. Kristina pointed out that that wouldn’t help.

              Now, for extra clarity, her comment should have been attatched to AS’s comment. But it is quite clear to anyone without an agenda (given that she repeatedly used AS’s adjusted word “wise”) that she was arguing against that change making any difference. In fact, it is so clear that she was not arguing for the existence of a god, that you yourself tried claiming that Custador was not treating it as such. (“Custador’s argument was pointedly not about God’s existence,”) But then Custador explicitly said it was and tried to defend THAT as appropriate. And now you change tack and say that Kristina was making an implicit argument for the existence of a god, instead of the explicit addressing of a statement that intelligent (changed to “wise”) people don’t believe.

            • Elemenope

              Kristina was making an *explicit* assertion for the existence of God (wouldn’t call it an argument):

              To me, the indicates that da Vinci defined God as unified scientific truth (or light), and impartial truth that encompasses all possible human viewpoints and feelings too. I think if you can move away from the view of God as a bearded man and think of God as a concept embodying all knowledge including scientific and human-oriented then you’re getting closer to what it really is.

              Implicit in the examples she used, and how she tied them to the quoted section above, is that these wise people should guide our conception of God away from an anthropomorphic image to a more abstract image. That’s an authority claim. That’s what Custador was rejecting.

            • Yoav

              @Pvblivs

              But I remember reading that, when asked how he would have reacted if experiment failed to confirm general relativity, his response was that he would have had to forgive “our dear creator” as he would still regard the theory as correct anyway.

              So your argument against being called on using unrelated authority is to misuse authority in support of your argument. Einstein is a favorite for that due to his use of colorful metaphors in his correspondence and conversation that can easily be misquoted. If you look at the context in which the quote you talk about was said it is clear it was not a support of any sort of personal god or a claim that a theory shouldn’t be revised if the evidence don’t support it.

            • Pvblivs

              @Yoav:

              No, Yoav, I was pointing out that, while everyone likes to claim that Einstein was part of “their” group, he didn’t really seem to fit into anybody’s. I am not arguing for or against any god, here. It is certainly possible that there is some god out there who doesn’t know or care about us. I wouldn’t know and, quite frankly, I don’t care. I am more concerned about the specious attempts to claim that those they think will impress were members of their group. Einstein’s beliefs were likely unique to Einstein.

              @Elemenope:

              I took that quote as meaning closer to the actual belief of the people in question, hence the use of the pronoun “it.”

              “…that these wise people should guide our conception of God…”

              Personally, I don’t see that as being implicit in her comment, though if I am wrong she can weigh in to correct me. She certainly didn’t say anything of the sort explicitly. My own take is that you find it easier to assume that she is arguing for a god than to recognize that she is arguing against a false premise that found its way into someone’s argument against gods.

            • Jaye

              Well, I believe in J.R.R. Tolkien.

  • http://digitaldame.wordpress.com Digital Dame

    I think the evidence is weighted in Santa’s favor. Consider:

    Children DO receive “letters from Santa” postmarked from the North Pole where we all know he lives;

    You can SEE Santa at numerous malls around the country;

    You can write to Santa, and actually (albeit occasionally) actually receive what you asked for (so he grants wishes, maybe he’s a genie);

    There are phone numbers you can call to hear a “message from Santa”;

    The U.S. Government via NORAD, tracks his annual flight.

    My money’s on Santa.

  • Sean

    “Gotta disagree with #6. While it’s true that theistic belief tends to decline with educational level, there are plenty of intelligent adults (for non-question-begging definitions thereof) who believe in God. I don’t think the generalization holds as stated.”

    There is no generalization it simply says, ” Not Believed in by intelligent adults”. There are intelligent adults who don’t believe in it , therefore it’s true.

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  • Michael

    Never returns calls? But when I asked for an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle, Santa delivered. Doesn’t that count as returning a call? He does at least once a year.

    By the way, I did NOT shoot my eye out. As for my dog…well…he had lived a good, long life.

  • Michael

    By the way, this is a funny post. But I think it needs some refining based on the comments. As Digital Dame wrote, my money is on Santa.

    When my daughter asks me if I believe in Jesus, I can easily say no. But when she asks about Santa, I state that I can believe in all that he represents (the good stuff).

  • Johnny Fargo

    Michael: Why the distinction? Couldn’t you just as easily say the same about Jesus (i.e. you can believe in all the good stuff he represents)?

    (Note: Just because I am playing devil’s — er Jesus’ — advocate, please don’t make assumptions about my beliefs or lack thereof…)

  • John Stracke

    Every year, millions of people sacrifice trees to Santa.

  • http://messagesfromearth.wordpress.com Michael

    Santa is real. I saw Momma kissing him.

    • victoria

      yeh u saw ur mum kissing ur dad

      • Michael

        Naw he saw me.

        I didn’t have the heart to tell him.

  • Don Johns

    Santa is a historical person with prove that he was real at one time, like Jesus and Muhammad.

    Yahweh having a white is a hoax that modern day people place onto him. He defined to be indescribable, in fact all mentions to him rage from burning bush, pillar of light, a whisper, to even being formless.

    Lastly, if you are doing general statement like others you need to make all of them checks because there are people that believe in each statement that you made.

    Now if this was a joke or your belief that cool. Just poking some holes in your boat, instead of rocking it.

    • Gillian

      There’s actually very little (if any) proof that Jesus ever existed as a real, historical figure.

      Books written hundreds of years after his death, based on hearsay (as you’ll find in the gospels, for example) to not count as evidence of a person’s existence. Mohammed, on the other hand, has evidence of his existence.

      Defined as indescribable, eh? Well, since a definition is a description, and you can’t describe him, how can he be defined as non-definable..?! This is like dividing by zero…

  • William Volterman

    The arrogance in your post is astounding.

    • claidheamh mor

      Ahhhhhhhhhhaaaaaahhhhhhahahahahahahahahahaha!

      Came to look for huffy, indignantly spluttering cluster-fundies. Was not disappointed.

    • Dave

      His arrogance is not astounding! This is really true! God looks exactly like santa! check!

  • Vorjack

    Johnny Fargo -

    Regardless of your motivation, it’s a good question. There are quite a number of atheists who still maintain some connection to Christianity because of the “good stuff.” Probably the most extreme example is Robert M. Price, who is agnostic about the very existence of the historical Jesus, but nevertheless goes to church (Episcopal) on Sunday.

    So it is possible to take the “good stuff” and leave the rest. Liberal Christianity is predicated on doing just that: taking the good stuff (morality or the experience of piety) as the bedrock of religion and discarding or reinterpreting the rest.

    Problem is, traditional Christianity says that the “good stuff” is John 3:16, and the rest is just an afterthought. What you or I would consider the good stuff is good because Jesus said it, not because it has some value in and of itself. As the saying goes, traditional Christianity is the religion *about* Jesus, not the religion *of* Jesus.

    This conflict makes it hard to be a liberal Christian at times. It’s what compels people like Rev. John Shelby Spong and Don Cupitt to drift away from the church. Eventually, people like myself just give up of Liberal Christianity entirely and walk away.

  • Vorjack

    Don Johns – “Santa is a historical person [which] prove[s] that he was real at one time, like Jesus and Muhammad.”

    There we run into a philosophical problem of identity. In what way was St. Nicholas, the Russian saint, really Santa Clause? It’s certain that he is the germ that grew into the eventual myth, but he bears almost no resemblance to the modern St. Nick. If the two figures are so completely dissimilar, is it accurate to say that Santa Clause is a historic figure?

    “Yahweh having a white [beard?] is a hoax that modern day people place onto him.”

    It’s hardly a modern problem. Read through the bible and find all those places where YHWH was anthropomorphized. From taking a walk in the cool of the evening, to having a sword, shield, throne, bow, etc., YHWH is frequently depicted as having human aspects. He may have taken other manifestations, but judging from the Hebrew Testament he had a true human form, which Moses saw the backside of.

  • rob

    hilarious. #6 is great.

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  • david

    You sound like someone who has been seriously burned by the church or something, either that or you were never really a ‘former christian’. Nice try though.

    • claidheamh mor

      WahhhhhhhhahahahaHAHAHAHAhahahaHA!

      I’ll bet none of us are True Scotsmen, either.
      Heeheheee snicker mmmphhh *snerk*
      Tiresomely predictable rant by a true cluster fundie.

  • Jaap

    Santa Claus = Sinterklaas = Wodan

    Changed in time by “new religions”

    So you know.

  • Kevin

    It’s a great chart, all of it has good humor except #6 and the last two. If your just going to straight up insult other people for their beliefs, you’re no better as an atheist than the christians who do the same.

    Regarding number 6: Georges Lemaitre could be consider an intellectual who also believes in God. Enjoy:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Lema%C3%AEtre

    Now if you’ll excuse me, i must go bake some cookies so as not to upset Him.

  • Aor

    You know David, when people disagree with a point raised in a discussion (or the entire basis of an article) the honest ones tend to make their disagreement clear and raise precise issues. Those who choose to attack the messenger rather than the message are, perhaps unconsciously, attempting to deceive.

    If you have a reason to think the Daniel is not a former christian then you should present that reason. Mindless attacks do your position no credit. See this website, particular #3.

    http://www.scolister.co.cc/2008/11/how-to-tell-if-your-position-on.html

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    Are you questioning the truth of Santa? You better watch out–because if you don’t believe in Santa, then when you die, do you know what’ll happen?

    Um … Well, let’s talk about that other god some more.

    But it mght make more sense when you consider that Santa reveals himself differently to different people.

  • Ryantheist

    If #6 is true, what does that say about almost every President the US has ever had, including the upcoming Obama?

    Oh how I dream of a nation without religion…

  • Vorjack

    Kevin “It’s a great chart, all of it has good humor except #6 and the last two. ”

    Focusing on the last two:

    ‘Makes sense in any way’ is obviously an exaggeration for effect. However, most definitions of God are either self-contradictory or contradict observed reality. Hence the usual refrain that from the faithful that “God is beyond human understanding, his ways are not our ways,” etc. In other words, God is nonsensical to humans. If both sides acknowledge this, how can it be an insult?

    “Has evidence for existence” If you have evidence that passes scientific muster, then by all means bring it forth. This, again, is admitted by the faithful – otherwise they wouldn’t be the faith-ful, would they? They’d be the know-ful, or something like that. Again, if both sides acknowledge the fact, how can it be an insult?

  • http://silveiraneto.net Silveira Neto

    And if someone belive in Santa but doesn’t belive in god? lol

  • http://www.TheSmallBusinessCoach.com www.theSmallBusinessCoach.com

    Having been a believer in both I can say there is a difference. I still got presents after I stopped believing in Santa Clause. But I rarely got prayers answered whether I believed in God or not.

  • http://www.chl-tx.com TX CHL Instructor

    “Santa is a historical person with prove [sic] that he was real at one time, like Jesus and Muhammad.” (Don Johns).

    Er, not quite.

    1) There may be one or more historical figures that form a loose basis for Santa, and
    2) The perverted pedophile Mohammed definitely existed, and founded what is now the most vile and dangerous superstition on the planet.
    But,
    3) Jesus of Nazareth was invented whole cloth by a thug named Saul of Tarsus, and the legend was embellished substantially several times after that. There is no actual historical evidence that Jesus of Nazareth existed.

    As for Santa, I saw him with my very own eyes at the last meeting of the North Texas Church of Freethought, where I am the musical director. :)

    churchoffreethought.org — a church for unbelievers.

  • Jill…NOT Jillian

    lol michael,
    are you sure they were kissing?

  • Quigley McCammon

    You forgot one, actually. In 28 Xmas’s, I’ve never once gone downstairs to find a present marked “From God”. Yet, Santa hooks me up every single year.

    I think I may be a Santaist.

  • Keith

    Just like Dan has to borrow Christian presuppositions to prop up his irrational worldview, Dan has to borrow from Baptist pastors to develop his jokes—pastors who have long been railing against Santa as an all-too-convenient distraction by Satan to distract children from Christ.

    Once again, Dan thinks he’s really novel.

  • http://greenle.net/ Bill

    Lol.

    #6 is a bit rude for non-believers… but the list is excellent !

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  • Brownian

    Vorjack, St. Nicholas was not Russian. He was from Myra in Lycia, which is now part of Turkey.

    “Just like Dan has to borrow Christian presuppositions to prop up his irrational worldview, Dan has to borrow from Baptist pastors to develop his jokes—pastors who have long been railing against Santa as an all-too-convenient distraction by Satan to distract children from Christ.”

    Ten bucks says the arguments Keith has against the “irrational worldview” of atheists are vague hand-waving versions of anthropism with a few weak back-of-the-envelope calculations for support that demonstrate some intelligent deity is behind it all, from which he leaps into full-blown virgin-birth Christianity.

    Funny that the unnamed deity concluded by such poor, half-assed mathematical skullduggery is never Brahma.

    You know what would be sufficient proof of your God for me, Keith?

    An honest Christian.

    So close, pal, so close. Keep reading that Bible. You’ll get it eventually.

    • ashley

      I’m a Christian… and I’m honest.
      It really sucks that this post, and a lot of these comments are just digs at Christians.
      I can’t stand that God has turned into this laughable fairytale for atheists. I also can’t stand how the church has turned God into that mean bully with a big stick that pokes people cuz He’s bored. I know I’m not perfect, or even close to good enough to get into Heaven…. but the beautiful thing about God (in my opinion) is that you don’t HAVE to be. Maybe I was taught about God in a different way than most…. but the God I learned about was loving, forgiving, and kind. He doesn’t hate gays, despite popular belief… He doesn’t smite people for lying, stealing, or even murdering either… if they ask for forgiveness.
      I just wanted you to see that there ARE Christians that are honest and can give their opinions without spreading so much hate and animosity. =/

      • Yoav

        …. but the God I learned about was loving, forgiving, and kind. He doesn’t hate gays, despite popular belief… He doesn’t smite people for lying, stealing, or even murdering either… if they ask for forgiveness.

        May I suggest a book that present a version of god who is a hateful, murderous and vengeful, you may have heard of it, it’s called the bible you should read it sometime.

        • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

          Beat me to it.

        • Rachel Lynn

          May I suggest a book that present a version of god who is a hateful, murderous and vengeful, you may have heard of it, it’s called the bible you should read it sometime.

          God is loving forgiving and kind, but he is also just. He doesn’t hate people. He hates sin. Ashley’s right in saying that he doesn’t smite… if they ask for forgiveness. That’s all it takes.

          • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

            So, what exactly did Lot’s daughters do wrong to get raped by their own father (for which God blamed them) and then offered up to a crowd for gang rape (which God endorsed)? Were they not penitent enough? Penitent for what, exactly?

            • Rachel Lynn

              Actually, If you read Genesis 19:30-38 is clearly says that it was the daughters who had planned to get their father drunk and sleep with him in order to carry on the family line. The blame was theirs.

              As for Lot offering his daughters to the men of the city, it doesn’t say that God endorsed this, it merely gives an account. Later, Peter calls Lot a righteous man, but that does not mean that Lot made no mistakes or did nothing God disapproved of. It simply means that, in his heart, Lot was a good man.

            • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

              YEAH RIGHT! Drunk old guy bangs his two young daughters and it’s their fault!? Can we all say “blame the victims”?!

            • Rachel Lynn

              They were hardly the victims. Essentially, they were the rapists. It says in Genesis 19:31-33:
              31 One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. 32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.” 33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

              I’d say he was the victim.

            • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

              Oh come on Rachel, how gullible are you? Even assuming for a second that it even happened, do you honestly think that the Bible (a book chock-full of Godly ordered rape) is reporting it right? Please!

            • Rachel Lynn

              Where are these so-called “Godly ordered rapes”? Obviously, considering your fact mix-ups that I’ve already pointed out, you should go back and check that out.

              And, if you assume that it’s is either inaccurate or didn’t happen at all, how can you logically use it as a point to support your argument? You can’t not believe something and at the same time, use it as a reason to not believe something else.

            • Elemenope

              Given the obvious sociopolitical motivations of the passage (to cast the origins of the tribes eponymous with Lot’s offspring into disrepute), it is even more unlikely than usual that the event being described has a real antecedent. Given the intent, though, if it were a real event, the more politically advantageous interpretation is the one which considers the passage as accurately reported, since there would be no desire on the part of the authors to soften the passage so that Lot was the aggressor (which would have, in that culture, been less shameful of an origin).

            • http://fugodeus.com/ Nox

              Numbers 31:17-18
              17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
              18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

            • Rachel Lynn

              First, I’ll point out that no where in those two verses does it say, “keep them for yourselves, and rape them at will.”

              Second, going back to Deuteronomy 21:10-14 instructions are very clearly given for captive women. Including giving her a month to properly mourn her family before even approaching the subject of marriage (the only place the Bible and God ever condone sex). And even after that, you are to let her go, if she wishes and not sell her or treat her as a slave.

            • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

              You want Godly ordered/accepted rape in the Bible? Fine: Judges 21:10-24, Judges 5:30, Numbers 31:7-18, Deuteronomy 20:10-14, Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Deuteronomy 22:23-24, Deuteronomy 21:10-14 2 Samuel 12:11-14, , Exodus 21:7-1 and Zechariah 14:1-2.

            • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

              Stiiiiiiiiiiill waiting.

            • Yoav

              First, I’ll point out that no where in those two verses does it say, “keep them for yourselves, and rape them at will.”

              What are you thinking they keep them for?

              Second, going back to Deuteronomy 21:10-14 instructions are very clearly given for captive women. Including giving her a month to properly mourn her family before even approaching the subject of marriage (the only place the Bible and God ever condone sex).

              So after you burn down her town and kill her entire family she can get a whole month before being forced to marry her captor, notice that her consent is not required here.

              And even after that, you are to let her go, if she wishes and not sell her or treat her as a slave.

              That’s not what it says, it’s not if she wishes to leave, she is property and her wishes don’t count, it’s if the man no longer want her then he can just trow her out. True, in this specific circumstance he’s not to sell her on, indicating that in other he could. So far we got slavery and rape (forced marriage is rape), and we only covered 3 verses.

            • Elemenope

              …the only place the Bible and God ever condone sex…

              Not counting the thousands of unmarried concubines of Israeli kings. How many sex partners did Solomon have again? Did God complain?

            • Rachel Lynn

              Some of these, I addresses with my previous comment. (Deuteronomy 21:10-14)

              About Deuteronomy 22:28-29:
              This passage does not condone rape, it does, however, tell you what a man must do if he rapes a woman.

              Deuteronomy 22:23-24:
              You’ve given the perfect example here of the Bible clearly saying that rape (or sex out of marriage) is wrong. And the punishment at the time was death.
              “23 If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, 24 you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.”

              2 Samuel 12:11-14:
              This passage doesn’t say if it actually happened or if it was just a warning. Also, remember that sex is not always rape. You forget that women out of their own desires have sex with other men.

              Exodus 21:7-11:
              This passages talks about slavery, not rape.

              Zechariah 14:1-2:
              Ah, one that actually mentions rape. Reading a verse further and with a little context, you see that God is saying what will happen, not that it is good. He also says that (vs. 3)Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle.

            • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

              Judges 21:10-24 (NLT)

              So they sent twelve thousand warriors to Jabesh-gilead with orders to kill everyone there, including women and children. “This is what you are to do,” they said. “Completely destroy all the males and every woman who is not a virgin.” Among the residents of Jabesh-gilead they found four hundred young virgins who had never slept with a man, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan.

              The Israelite assembly sent a peace delegation to the little remnant of Benjamin who were living at the rock of Rimmon. Then the men of Benjamin returned to their homes, and the four hundred women of Jabesh-gilead who were spared were given to them as wives. But there were not enough women for all of them. The people felt sorry for Benjamin because the LORD had left this gap in the tribes of Israel. So the Israelite leaders asked, “How can we find wives for the few who remain, since all the women of the tribe of Benjamin are dead? There must be heirs for the survivors so that an entire tribe of Israel will not be lost forever. But we cannot give them our own daughters in marriage because we have sworn with a solemn oath that anyone who does this will fall under God’s curse.”

              Then they thought of the annual festival of the LORD held in Shiloh, between Lebonah and Bethel, along the east side of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem. They told the men of Benjamin who still needed wives, “Go and hide in the vineyards. When the women of Shiloh come out for their dances, rush out from the vineyards, and each of you can take one of them home to be your wife! And when their fathers and brothers come to us in protest, we will tell them, ‘Please be understanding. Let them have your daughters, for we didn’t find enough wives for them when we destroyed Jabesh-gilead. And you are not guilty of breaking the vow since you did not give your daughters in marriage to them.’” So the men of Benjamin did as they were told. They kidnapped the women who took part in the celebration and carried them off to the land of their own inheritance. Then they rebuilt their towns and lived in them. So the assembly of Israel departed by tribes and families, and they returned to their own homes.

              Please. Attempt to explain to me how that wasn’t mass kidnap and mass rape, ordered by God. In your own time.

            • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

              Yeah. Little bit harder to be apologetic about one that unambiguous, isn’t it?

            • Yoav

              About Deuteronomy 22:28-29:
              This passage does not condone rape, it does, however, tell you what a man must do if he rapes a woman.

              28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; 29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.
              You notice that the text doesn’t have a problem with the act of rape itself but with the monitary loss of the girl father since she is no longer in mint condition.

              euteronomy 22:23-24:
              You’ve given the perfect example here of the Bible clearly saying that rape (or sex out of marriage) is wrong. And the punishment at the time was death.
              “23 If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, 24 you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.”

              So if a rape victim doesn’t scream (or scream but no one hear her) she’s just as guilt as the rapist?

            • Rachel Lynn

              Custador, you seem to have left out the last verse in that chapter.

              Judges 21:25 “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”

              You see, the things that people were doing weren’t what God was telling them to do. They were doing whatever they wanted, whether good or bad. Not everything that happened in the Bible was what God wanted and certainly not all was good. It is an account of what happened. In the book of Judges we see man rejecting God. They’ve turned away from God and the things that they did were not of God.

            • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

              Oh for goodness sake! The mental gymnastics you’re performing would be astounding if they weren’t so pathetic.

            • Bill

              “You see, the things that people were doing weren’t what God was telling them to do. They were doing whatever they wanted, whether good or bad. Not everything that happened in the Bible was what God wanted and certainly not all was good. It is an account of what happened. In the book of Judges we see man rejecting God. They’ve turned away from God and the things that they did were not of God.”

              Wait – someone remind me – according to the bible who created man? Who gave man the option of making choices? Who’s that all powerful/all knowing entity that can do change everything with the snap of a finger?

          • trj

            God is loving forgiving and kind, but he is also just.

            Tell that to Lot’s family who God killed to win a bet with Satan.

            • Elemenope

              Job, I’m sure you mean, not Lot.

            • Rachel Lynn

              I’ll assume you meant Job as Lot’s family was saved, by God, and spared the wrath that fell on Sodom and Gomorrah.

              Job, on the other hand, did loose his family. In fact, he lost everything after Satan was allowed power over the things in his life. And even as he was going through it, he didn’t blame God.

            • trj

              Yes, I meant Job, of course, sorry about that.

              But you never adressed the point, Rachel. Job never blamed God (at least not out loud, he wasn’t that foolish), but that says nothing about whether God was “just” in killing his family for the sake of a bet.

            • Rachel Lynn

              But I did, when I said that Satan was allowed power over the things in Job’s life. God did not kill Job’s family, Satan killed them in order to turn Job away from God. It didn’t work.

              To go further, God allowed it to happen, although it doesn’t seem fair. But, God doesn’t owe you anything. He made you, and eventually you die. Everyone dies. Is this unjust?

            • Elemenope

              God did not kill Job’s family, Satan killed them in order to turn Job away from God.

              But for God’s (presumably necessary) permission, Satan wouldn’t have been able to touch Job’s family. The responsibility, and the blame, in the passage still resides with God. God did not have to make the bet, and even if he did he did not have to give Satan permission to destroy innocent third parties. None of the acts of God are forced (and, indeed, how could any act of God be forced?), so I’m not sure under what theory it is appropriate to absolve him of the results of what transpired.

              It didn’t work.

              If God had not directly appeared at the end (and, perforce, invalidated the bet by canceling it) it seems from the text as though Job was about to. In fact, given the context of the bet, it is odd that God interfered at all unless he had no confidence that Job’s righteousness would endure to the bitter end.

              To go further, God allowed it to happen, although it doesn’t seem fair. But, God doesn’t owe you anything. He made you, and eventually you die. Everyone dies. Is this unjust?

              God owes nothing the sentient creatures he creates? How does that follow? Do parents owe something to the children they create? Doesn’t the capacity to suffer, love, yearn, and despair place some objective moral value upon what happens to any of us?

            • Jabster

              “Everyone dies. Is this unjust?”

              Well I suppose it’s no more unjust than your being born a bit of a thicko … what do you think – why did god let you fall out of the thick tree, hit every branch on the way down and then top it off with a good beating from the thick stick?

            • Rachel Lynn

              to Jabster: Yes, I guess we’ve come to the point where someone pulls the insult card.

            • Jabster

              I wasn’t trying to be insulting, just pointing out that you being a bit of a thicko is no more unjust than the fact that everyone dies. Why do you think that they are different?

            • trj

              Firstly, whether God allowed Satan to murder Job’s family (and his servants, let’s not forget those additional victims) or he did it himself makes no difference; he is just as culpable for their deaths. Not only did he allow their deaths, he intended them. Effectively, he caused them, directly or indirectly. They were killed by his approval, and in fact he may even have performed some of the killings personally (Job 1:16 mentions the servants being killed by “the fire of God”).

              Secondly, if you’re going to claim that God can never be held to any standards of justice, then it makes no sense for you to at the same time claim God is just.

              And thirdly, claiming that God can never be held accountable reveals a twisted view of morality where might makes right. If I were to hypothetically create a number of conscious, intelligent, sentient beings comparable to humans (let’s say by modeling them in a computer) should I not be held accountable if I were to torture or murder those beings, even though I created them and have unlimited power over them? Can I inflict unnecessary harm on my beings and be excused because “I don’t owe them anything” since I created them?

            • Sunny Day

              Madam, I do not just “pull” the insult card.

              I fling it into your vacuous face.

            • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

              NIIIICE!

            • Rachel Lynn

              Well, Sunny Day, I sincerely hope that that makes you feel good.

            • Sunny Day

              Making fun of idiots is cheap, but gratifying.

              Screwing up the nesting of comments however, I’ll feel the burn of that for days. :(

            • Sunny Day

              Making fun of idiots is cheap, but gratifying.

            • Jabster

              @Rachel L

              Still no apology for saying that I insulted you then – typical of Christian really, they never display any morals.

          • Yoav

            So what about all the times that god order the israelites to commit genocides, the treatment of women as livestock instead of people or imposing the death penalty (presumably followed by eternity in hell) for serious crimes like picking wood on Saturday or eating bacon?
            What about the incredibly amoral concept that we are all should be punished because our great, great, umpteenth, great grandparents got tricked by a talking snake?
            What about the flood? I know you’re going to claim they were bad people, all of them, not a single person beside Noah and his family was decent enough not to deserve being drowned to death, not even infants, what sins can a 2 year old commit that deserve the death penalty?
            And what did all the animals do to deserve death, were puppies also sinful, why kill all of them over the sins of humanity?

      • http://a-million-gods.blogspot.com/ AVlCENNA

        We are atheists and honest too. To a given point. I find that all people lie particularly in my line of work. Christians, Atheists, Men, Women… It does not matter.

        You are so worried about getting to heaven that you have forgotten that the world exists here and indeed your method of getting into heaven excludes good people who don’t believe in your particular brand of mythology.

        Your god may be as benevolent as a bunny but it doesn’t change the fact that he is superstition and a pacifier. He is no more than a santa clause for adults with all that ensues.

        You can live your life hoping to get into a magical club in the sky and live forever, or you can live your life like its the only life you will get.

        Forgiveness? For what? I haven’t done anything against any god. All my sins are against humans and I have apologised to those who I have wronged and made things “right”. Human morality pre dates written religion and half the things the bible classes as sinful are “plain stupid”.

        Why don’t you beg for forgiveness from Shiva or Vishnu? They too ask for forgiveness…

        You don’t because you don’t believe in them. We don’t either. It’s just that we don’t believe in your god either.

        A

  • Vorjack

    “Vorjack, St. Nicholas was not Russian.”

    Nice catch, Brownian, thank you. Wish I could remember where I got the idea that he was Russian. All the red, maybe.

  • dwroelands

    Ah, the old canard: “If it doesn’t make sense to me, it can’t possibly be true”. Congratulations, you’ve just asserted that you are the most intelligent being in the universe. Enjoy your hubris. :)

    • Nate Phelps

      Which one are you referring to…Santa?

  • Sam

    If the Easter Bunny was in the list, he’d win!

  • Matt

    The reason is simple. Santa Claus (or saint Nicolaus) is a saint of Holy Roman Church and this explains similarities…

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    The perverted pedophile Mohammed

    I don’t think this claim is justified. A paedophile is someone who is sexually attracted to under age children, and says nothing of behaviour; it’s possible for a non-paedophile to sexually abuse children, just as it’s possible for a paedophile to never so much as touch a child.

    Of Mohammed’s thirteen wives, twelve were over 16 at the time of marriage, and more than half were over 40. Most were widows.

    The specific claim related to the fact that Aisha, his second wife, was six at the time of marriage. However this was a political marriage and they spent little time together, and there’s no evidence that their marriage was consummated until she was 15. It wasn’t uncommon in Arabic culture at the time (just as it wasn’t uncommon in medieval Europe) for high status families to marry young but to defer sexual activity until both partners were of age.

    Of course, it’s impossible to be sure that Mohammed didn’t repeatedly rape her as a child, but accusing him of child abuse (and from that diagnosing paedophilia) on the grounds that one of his wives was young, and there’s no evidence that he didn’t sexually abuse her seems somewhat weak.

    • Gabrielle Guichard

      Aischa was younger than 15. Between 9 and 12. A child. And anyway, being married to a man who had power against her, she might have given consent out of fear and/or subjection. When the rapist has authority upon his victim it is considered aggravating circumstances.

      • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

        Goodness me, it must be necro-thread day!

        • Francesc

          Yep, dead threads are coming to live again. I’m not sure if this means that the second coming is close or that the zombie apocalipse has just begin.

  • Buckwheat469

    By stating that Santa exists because he leaves presents, answers wishes, can be found in malls once a year, it’s just proving the fact that God doesn’t exist! You are more interested in proving the existence of Santa than making any objections to the God check marks! Feel free to admit that God is an imaginary icon rather than a being of unmentionable power.

  • http://www.mumbojumbodaily.com Bob C

    Something to consider:

    Atheist Antony Flew has said that the “onus of proof must lie upon the theist.”1 Unless compelling reasons for God’s existence can be given, there is the “presumption of atheism.” Another atheist, Michael Scriven, considers the lack of evidence for God’s existence and the lack of evidence for Santa Claus on the same level.2 However, the presumption of atheism actually turns out to be presumptuousness.

    The Christian must remember that the atheist also shares the burden of proof, which I will attempt to demonstrate below.

    First, even if the theist could not muster good arguments for God’s existence, atheism still would not be shown to be true.3 The outspoken atheist Kai Nielsen recognizes this: “To show that an argument is invalid or unsound is not to show that the conclusion of the argument is false….All the proofs of God’s existence may fail, but it still may be the case that God exists.”4

    Second, the “presumption of atheism” demonstrates a rigging of the rules of philosophical debate in order to play into the hands of the atheist, who himself makes a truth claim. Alvin Plantinga correctly argues that the atheist does not treat the statements “God exists” and “God does not exist” in the same manner.5 The atheist assumes that if one has no evidence for God’s existence, then one is obligated to believe that God does not exist — whether or not one has evidence against God’s existence. What the atheist fails to see is that atheism is just as much a claim to know something (“God does not exist”) as theism (“God exists”). Therefore, the atheist’s denial of God’s existence needs just as much substantiation as does the theist’s claim; the atheist must give plausible reasons for rejecting God’s existence.

    Third, in the absence of evidence for God’s existence, agnosticism, not atheism, is the logical presumption. Even if arguments for God’s existence do not persuade, atheism should not be presumed because atheism is not neutral; pure agnosticism is. Atheism is justified only if there is sufficient evidence against God’s existence.

    Fourth, to place belief in Santa Claus or mermaids and belief in God on the same level is mistaken. The issue is not that we have no good evidence for these mythical entities; rather, we have strong evidence that they do not exist. Absence of evidence is not at all the same as evidence of absence, which some atheists fail to see.

    Moreover, the theist can muster credible reasons for belief in God. For example, one can argue that the contingency of the universe — in light of Big Bang cosmology, the expanding universe, and the second law of thermodynamics (which implies that the universe has been “wound up” and will eventually die a heat death) — demonstrates that the cosmos has not always been here. It could not have popped into existence uncaused, out of absolutely nothing, because we know that whatever begins to exist has a cause. A powerful First Cause like the God of theism plausibly answers the question of the universe’s origin. Also, the fine-tunedness of the universe — with complexly balanced conditions that seem tailored for life — points to the existence of an intelligent Designer.

    The existence of objective morality provides further evidence for belief in God. If widow-burning or genocide is really wrong and not just cultural, then it is difficult to account for this universally binding morality, with its sense of “oughtness,” on strictly naturalistic terms. (Most people can be convinced that the difference between Adolf Hitler and Mother Teresa is not simply cultural.) These and other reasons demonstrate that the believer is being quite rational — not presumptuous — in embracing belief in God.

    http://www.rzim.org/GlobalElements/GFV/tabid/449/ArticleID/88/CBModuleId/1045/Default.aspx

    • Nate Phelps

      This feels a lot like a semantical argument. Technically, for an atheist to be fair, the position must be that there is insufficient evidence to lead me to the conclusion of a god. However, in the real world we look at the big picture and when probability recedes far enough, we can be sure enough to say I’m not going to accept that proposition. True, the pure scientific approach says that nothing is ever settled. Gravity is a theory, aerodynamics is a theory. But enough experience tells us not to argue against them in our practical behavior.

      Agnosticism is not a middle ground position. It asserts that the truth of a god CAN’T be known.

      Following the logic of your First Cause argument, it fails the same reason the Big Bang does. To assert a creator with sufficient attributes to create the universe you must explain the cause of him/her/it.

      Objective morality can be explained outside the notion of a remote source. God as the source of it presents it’s own problems. If he just created a system of morals without sound reason, why should we follow them. If he has reason for the morality he imposes, why not appeal to the reason. This points to a man made proposition for morality.

    • Darwin

      It wasn’t Anthony Flew who said that, it was Bernard Russell. He illustrated his point in his Russell’s Teapot analogy.

    • Gillian

      “First, even if the theist could not muster good arguments for God’s existence, atheism still would not be shown to be true.”

      It would, by definition. If there is no evidence something exists, why believe in it?

      Absence of evidence, if you have looked in all the places there SHOULD be evidence, is pretty conclusive evidence of absence. What other evidence of absence can you think of, other than finding no evidence of presence?

      Sorry, but the “you have to prove non-existence” argument is weak and deceitful.

      “atheism is just as much a claim to know something (“God does not exist”) as theism (“God exists”)”

      No, it’s not. You’re confusing theism/atheism with gnosticism/agnosticism.

      It is perfectly possible to lack belief in god without claiming to KNOW that such a thing does not exist. A deist god may exist, I’m perfectly happy to concede that.

      Atheists, unlike theists, are usually quite happy to admit they may, theoretically, be proven wrong. Theists make totally indefeasible claims, and they make them with certainty.

      (of mermaids, etc)”we have strong evidence that they do not exist”.

      Please, list your evidence. Place it here. What is the evidence they don’t exist?

      Other than, of course, we’ve looked and not seen them. To which I will reply – well, shouldn’t we look a little longer? A little deeper in the seas, maybe? You cannot KNOW that mermaids don’t exist… after all, we know very little about life in the deep oceans…

      “A powerful First Cause like the God of theism plausibly answers the question of the universe’s origin.”

      No, it merely begs the question. If god can simply have always existed, why can the super-condensed singularity that preceded the big bang not have always existed? If everything must be caused, then what caused god, etc, etc. If infinite regress is your idea of a plausible explanation then you can’t have thought it through properly.

      “Also, the fine-tunedness of the universe — with complexly balanced conditions that seem tailored for life”

      I refer you to Douglas Adams’s puddle. You have made a fallacy here in insisting that the universe fits life, rather than accepting that life adapts to fit the universe. This means one of two things – either you haven’t considered this properly and are uninformed, or you are lying. Only you know which of those is true.

      “The existence of objective morality”

      Which is completely undemonstrable. Other than in human perception. Which points not to a supreme moral arbiter, but to human evolution of compassion and empathy for fellow humans, and fellow animals (all based on scales of either relatedness, familiarity or reciprocity).

      After all, we can logically demonstrate that our morality is part of our nature, without any recourse to a moral arbiter, through the Euthyphro dilemma. I would hope that anyone attempting to use morality as an argument for god would be familiar with this dilemma, which essentially demonstrates the redundancy of god as a law-giver.

  • not so lost

    Well it is nice to think that no belief in God would actually help you think that you maybe smarter then you are. but we may have to take in to account that such a view would never be published by Christians one way or the other due to the insultive stance of exclusion it makes.
    This may be a very good tasteless comparision list, but Dave you were right on with your comment even if you go to the aforementioned website to check to see how someone else can foremat your reesponse??, but the list is ment to be insultive.
    Dear,
    TX CHL JESUS WAS NOT INTRODUCED BY PAUL. If you really knew your history John Mark was the actually one credited for gathering most of the New testament. So now we all know why number six was so attacked it kind of cripled the list with all these wonderful responses.
    Some of the worlds most intellegent thinks beleived in God on way or the other.

    • Gillian

      It’s hilarious that you’re trying to present the case for theist intelligence, yet you haven’t bothered to check your comment for spelling and grammatical errors.

  • Steve

    No evidence for Santa? How about those gifts under the tree he leaves every year, and the fact that the cookies and soy milk (mom said Santa is lactose intolerant) are consumed EVERY year!

    Next you’ll be telling me that my parents have been involved in a conspiracy to control my behavior for the last 27 years. I am not a Manchurian Candidate!

  • Mark Lattimore

    TX CHL Instructor

    “3) Jesus of Nazareth was invented whole cloth by a thug named Saul of Tarsus, and the legend was embellished substantially several times after that. There is no actual historical evidence that Jesus of Nazareth existed.”

    Er, not quite. The evidence of the time would contradict you. There are sources predating Saul which note the existence of Jesus. There are also many non-Christian attestations, both Jewish and Roman, of Jesus. This is a fashionable (in some circles), yet naked, mildly shocking statement meant to invoke some counter-cultural philsophy, but it simply fails basic historical scrutiny.

    Bob C — Thanks for going there. It saved me the trouble. Try Ronald Nash’s take on the subject. I think you’ll like it. Also, interestingly, Flew is now a theist (though only in the Aristotelian sense)

    As for the list and at the risk of being repetitive…

    #1 Not quite. Strictly speaking God’s naughty or nice list is irrelevant. The God of the Christian faith is ultimately unconcerned with moral behavior (Ephesians 2.8-9. To the atheists, I’m sorry for the scripture reference, but it’s the only documentary source for the Christian view of God).

    #2 Obviously, you’ve never watched The Santa Clause. SC is not omnipresent…he manipulates the Space-Time continuum in order to deliver all the toys. I’m sure Tim Allen and Albert Einstein were on the same page.

    #3 As to God…only if you’re Michaelangelo

    #6 Pretty arrogant statement. Be careful of such evidentialism-influenced statements. They tend to backfire rather embarrassingly.

    #8 Strictly speaking, God never was interested in demanding sacrifices, only obedience — a subtle but important distinction, especially after the birth of Jesus.

    #11 While God does punish evil, any thought that he somehow rewards virtue stems from a profound misunderstanding of the Christian God (I can’t speak about others).

    #13 OK. An overt evidentialist statement. What evidence do you have that other minds exist? It may be time to rethink the standard.

    Merry Christmas, everyone!

    • Gillian

      #8 Strictly speaking, God never was interested in demanding sacrifices, only obedience — a subtle but important distinction, especially after the birth of Jesus.

      You must have not bothered reading all the Old Testament bits, where god gives strict instruction on how he wants his sacrifices to be given, and how much he loves the smell of them as they burn. The god of the bible most definitely does demand sacrifice.

      #11 While God does punish evil, any thought that he somehow rewards virtue stems from a profound misunderstanding of the Christian God (I can’t speak about others).

      And you have the One True Understanding (TM), do you?

      What is heaven, if not a reward? Also, aren’t you contradicting yourself in your first sentence, since earlier on in your post, you claimed that god isn’t interested in moral behaviour?

      So isn’t your statement “God punishes evil” to be read as “God punishes non-belief”?

  • Dr. Kate

    “A powerful First Cause like the God of theism plausibly answers the question of the universe’s origin. Also, the fine-tunedness of the universe — with complexly balanced conditions that seem tailored for life — points to the existence of an intelligent Designer.”

    God is no more plausible an explanation for the origin of the universe than is spontaneous existence, or the existence of a previous universe that collapsed and then became ours, or any other of a million ideas for how the universe started that have zero evidence to support them.

    The “fine-tunedness” of the universe points to exactly one thing: we exist in this universe because we CAN exist in this universe. If conditions in the universe were such that we couldn’t exist, we wouldn’t be here having this discussion. Just because we exist where we can doesn’t mean there’s a designer behind it. It’s just probability. The “odds” of these conditions existing might be ten trillion to one, but there might have been a hundred trillion universes that existed before this one. We don’t have any evidence either way. So the fact that we exist does not provide evidence that god exists–any more than the fact that we have no evidence that Elvis was an alien means that aliens exist or do not exist.

  • cello

    Mark Lattimore,

    *Many* attestations of Jesus, Roman and Jewish?

    Please cite them. The only one I’m aware of (and I’ve looked) is the “Josephus” account, which is itself somewhat controversial. Everything else is from Christian textual sources. Now, I do happen to think Jesus existed but you’re statement is not true – or highly exagerated beyond the one non-Christian acccount.

    • Nate Phelps

      “The only one I’m aware of (and I’ve looked) is the “Josephus” account, which is itself somewhat controversial.”

      Everything I’ve read clearly puts this argument to rest. Josephus never wrote about Jesus. Early church officials made no bones about the morality of inventing proof to bolster their theology.

  • not so lost

    I think therfore I am.

  • not so lost

    The Trial of Jesus: An Account
    … account, drawing on both Christian and non-Christian sources, of the arrest, trial, and execution of Jesus … but Peter’s account–to the Roman prefect of …
    http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/jesus/jesusaccount.html

  • Kevin

    I’m tired of people saying that atheists who speak their minds are just as bad as the Christians. You know what, any adult not on medication or institutionalized with an imaginary friend is an idiot.

  • not so lost
  • VorJack

    Mark Lattimore – “Also, interestingly, Flew is now a theist (though only in the Aristotelian sense)”

    This is a touchy subject. See Richard Carrier’s run down of the controversy.

    http://richardcarrier.blogspot.com/search/label/Antony%20Flew

    On one hand, you might be right. If you’re not, however, it really looks like a handful of people are exploiting an aging man’s fading mind.

  • Mark Lattimore

    Cello, great question!

    Obviously, Josephus is the major Jewish writer of the time. As for any controversy, as a Jew (though not a particularly a devout Jew), Josephus had more incentive to deny the narrative of Jesus than to support it. Also see Philip Schaff on textual issues regarding Josephus.

    Non-Christian sources

    Pliny — Letters to Trajan
    Mara (a pagan philosopher c. AD74)– letter to his son
    Tacitus — Annals

    Lucian
    Celsus
    Porphry
    Julian the Apostate

    The first three are some of the earliest non-Christian accounts. Pliny was a Roman governor dealing with the problem of Christianity on the ground in what is modern-day Turkey. He understood it to be a movement that predated his office. Tacitus wrote extensively on the Neronian persecution. Mara was simply a pagan philosopher writing toward the end of the 1st century about some man named Jesus of Nazareth whom the Jews were punished for killing. Given the time it would have taken for Paul’s writings to saturate the Mediterranean landscape and psyche, the notion that he sold a Jesus myth to such an extent as to evoke these (somewhat diverse–Mara wrote in Syriac) accounts nears the impossible. All three were written within a century of the crucifixion and were much less removed from the writings and influence of Saul of Tarsus (Mara’s letter, though probably written after Paul’s epistles, predates any widespread knowledge of Paul’s teachings, which some scholars say were not known widely until the AD 90′s or early 100′s).

    The last four, admittedly are further removed (a couple of hundred years) from the events giving rise to Christianity, but they were writing against a faith that they understood through their own traditions to be a thorn in Rome’s side for a couple of centuries.

    My point is (if you’ll recall, my first comment was written in response to the comment that Jesus was concocted by Saul) any idea that the events that unfolded in the Roman empire during the first four centuries AD were largely motivated by a myth created by a disgruntled member of the Sanhedrin simply fails the sniff test given the accounts of early Christianity that we have.

    Of course, the Christian accounts are virtually myriad.

  • music4videos

    Both belong to the same ideosincracy, no difference though …

  • Mark Lattimore

    OK, the phrase “for whom the Jews were punished for killing” is a grammatical nightmare, but you get the point.”

    VorJack, you are right, that is a touchy subject and let me clarify so as not to overstate Flew’s impact. First, Flew has responded to the claims that he was unduly influenced. I’ll try to find the reference for you. In any event, it seems that Flew, if he were to espouse a belief in God, would limit his confession to the impersonal first mover of Aristotle. Flew’s change of conviction does nothing for the case of the Christian God, who is very different from the one in whom Flew apparently believes.

  • dr. luba

    Contemporary accounts of the existence of Jesus (who, considering the miracles he supposedly took part in should have been written about at least locally, and at least the Lazarus part) are none except the Josephus (and many feel that the reference to Jesus was a later, Christian addition/insertion) and the Gospels.

    The rest is all talk about the xstian religion after the fact.

    This does not prove he didn’t exist, but does nothing to bolster the case, either.

  • Mark Lattimore

    Oh, sorry. Last one. Other less well-known Roman authors (cited by Philip Schaff):

    Suetonius
    Plinius
    Lampridus

  • Mark Lattimore

    dr. luba,

    I’m not entirely sure what standard of historical evidence you are shooting for. We have no contemporary accounts of Hammurabi or Xerxes I (granted, Herodotus may have been a contemporary, but his Histories is extremely suspect) or Draco or Sun Tzu, yet no one questions their historicity. Is the standard somehow different for the historicity of Jesus?

  • GODsky

    Hi there. MY name is Godsky, but MY friends call me God. How nice of them.

    Firstly, let me tell ya, I personally know Santa, and he’s nothing like me. He’s a cheap drunk, living on The Tormented Alley, behind Devil’s Bistro, therefor he is null and void.

    I, on the other hand, am the exact opposite. There is no room for comparison between the two of us, as you will soon see, proof that I am as real as Pamela Anderson’s boobs.

    How shall I start ? With the beginning, of course.

    Well, here I am one day, in the middle of NOWHERE, bored to death. No wife to bitch at me, no cars to drive anywhere, no HDTV to watch some UFC, zilch, nada. So I came up with this great idea ! To create a species who looks like me, so I won’t be so lonely.

    My next stop was at The Big Bang University. There, I invented chemistry, all by MYSELF. I mixed in some hydrogen, oxygen, added some helium to the mix, slapped them all in a bowl, set them into MY second invention ( the acceleration tunnel ), and BOOM ! An explosion so vast was created, I shit MY pants ! I almost called the firefighters but I remembered that I would not invent them for another few million years.

    After the explosion I went to one of MY favorite planets, which you called Terra. Nice name, by the way. Thanks for not screwing that one up !

    There, I played some more. I created something absurd ( you called them dinosaurs ), I called them nothing, because I forgot the rule – they have to look like me. I called in for The Ice Age and killed them all bastards. You found them, didn’t you ? Of course, you had to dig into the past, just like a nagging woman crying that you are no good for nothin’.

    After the dinosaurs, I finally came up with something better, but not quite. You called them Neanderthals and I left it at that. They were OK, but not good enough to acknowledge ME as their FATHER. They were plain dumb. Oh yea ? Seen that commercial lately ? “It’s so easy, a caveman can do it !” Well, it’s not true, trust me on this one.

    After I killed the Neanderthals, I finally came to the realization that I am making one big mistake: I am not giving enough brain power to MY subjects, not big enough to make ME proud. Stupid ME, blame it on the Intelligent design.

    As my final stage, I created YOU, the Homo Sapiens. I called my first prototype Adam, broke his rib and created his whore, Eve. Why whore ? The tramp could not listen too well, she absolutely had to bite from the Apple of Knowledge.

    I had them multiply by the thousands ( if you can believe that ). That is one reason why most of you, sapiens, are imbeciles, cretins, morons. It’s called genes, and inbreeding is not so good, huh ?

    I don’t know who came up with the idea that I had a son with some chick in Jerusalem called Jesus. The story is that I had him sacrificed for YOU. Are you mad ? Which INTELLIGENT parent sacrifices his child ?

    Anyway, I had fun for a while. I had these creatures fight in MY name, kill in MY name, torture in MY name. I was not bored anymore. On Sundays, when I was off work, I had them pray to me. Life was good.

    One day, in the mid 1850′s, this dude, Charles Darwin had to spoil it for me. He invented The Evolution Theory. Down the drain all my work went, as an increasing number of sapiens invented a new church – The No Church of Atheists. I promise YOU, I took good care of Mr. Darwin – I send him straight to MY brothers’, a place called Lucifer’s Hot Steam and Spa.

    So you see how things are now, YOU puny insects ? Do you believe ME now ?

    :D

  • JohnnieCanuck

    Bob C,

    You are arguing against a straw man. I don’t know of any atheist that asserts having evidence or proof that no god or gods exist. I’ve read Dawkins and Myers and the commenters on their blogs and others and I’ve never had to argue anyone out of such a claim.

    When I say I don’t believe in God, I might just be thinking of all the claims made in the Bible and the pulpits that contradict our understanding of the way the natural world works. I am quite confident that kind of God does not exist, given that He isn’t described as a trickster like Loki or Coyote. Still, it is only proof beyond reasonable doubt, not absolute proof.

    Then there’s your wind up the clock and hide version of god. I’m comfortable with just saying we don’t know how the Universe started. Why does ‘someone mustadidit, so let’s not bother looking’ have more appeal? Is this not just ignorance that is determined to remain ignorant?

    I see no difference between my doubt that there are drooling monsters under beds, teapots in orbit, mermaids or gods that leave no evidence of their existence. I don’t try to propitiate them or participate in rituals for them. You are atheistic about thousands of gods you know were just the invention of other people in other times. Me too, plus one more.

    As to your absence of evidence… argument, I refer you to its Wikipedia entry to discover its fallacy. Try Russel’s Teapot and Occam’s Razor while you are there.

    Logically, however, If ever a god showed up and started demonstrating its existence (with something more than just sufficiently advanced technology), then no more atheism. We would be the ones denying reality.

    Until then, …

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  • http://ContextualCriticism Jacob

    Great post. I have put it up at Contextual Criticism, http://mythandhope.blogspot.com.

    Thanks for assisting in our fight to keep Xmas secular!

    Jacob

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  • http://www.naturetemple.net naturechaplain

    Good bag of gifts here, Daniel. We may have some parallels in the faithstory. See my Life After Faith book: http://afterfaith.wordpress.com and my Christmas Baby blog: http://christmasbaby.wordpress.com. All the best!

  • Dorian

    TX CHL Instructor

    3) Jesus of Nazareth was invented whole cloth by a thug named Saul of Tarsus, and the legend was embellished substantially several times after that. There is no actual historical evidence that Jesus of Nazareth existed.

    Dude – You really dont know what you are talking about. Jesus was a real person. The idea of Jesus as a “diety” was fabricated, yes, but Jesus was real.

    He was actually quite possibly the ancestor of one of the Kings of Persia. After Cleopatra was killed, her daughter was lost in time. About the time when her daughter would have been in her 20′s, the Greek ruler gave a gift of goodwill to the Persian King. Traditional history calls this gift a hooker, however this hooker, became chief wife to a man with many wives. She then killed her husband and married her son(remind you of anyone, the Egyptians maybe) but the 2 were exiled, as that sort of thing is not accepted by the Persians, to somewhere in or around Bethlehem. A couple of generations later and you’ve got Persian Magi going to Bethlehem to see a child, at a time when Persia was without King.

    If true, this would explain a lot, and also make this child(Jesus) the direct descendant of the King of Persia as well as descendant of Cleopatra. The King of the Jews part would come from the fact that the Jews are quite possibly the descendants of the Hiacsus(im not sure the spelling on this one) pharaohs, a second line of pharaohs who were exiled from Egypt at around the time it is said that the Jews were exiled from Egypt.

    Now, many of you might remember the movie 300, what was the Persian King known as? God King, King of Kings. Remind you of anyone? This would also explain why Jesus was such a threat to so many. Now when Saul, created the Christian religion, it just wouldn’t work if the so called deity was actually alive, had sons, and a wife. Ergo, the Church’s cover up of the existence of Mary Magdalene, etc etc…..

    Some of my details may be wrong, my source is a lecture by a man named Ralph Elliot, author of a few books on this subject, he is historian who has come up with amazing findings when comparing Egyptian history with the stories in the Bible.

    Anyway, my point is that there is ample evidence that Jesus was a real person, but maybe not a deity. He may have actually been the rightful ruler of much of the civilized world at the time, which would explain why many wanted him dead

    • Gillian

      Wow, that post was an exercise in stringing together some coincidences, then loudly shouting “TAH-DAH”.

      “ample evidence that Jesus was a real person”

      Um, nope…

      “but maybe not a deity”

      Maybe not, eh? Well, that’s grand. He MIGHT NOT have been a god in human form. I think a little more certainty is called for on this point. More in the style of: the chance of him being a god was actually so close to nil as to not be worth mentioning.

  • Dorian

    Sorry, that was Ralph Ellis not Ralph Elliot

  • http://www.davewyman.com Dave

    Mark wrote:

    >Josephus had more incentive to deny the narrative of Jesus than to support it<

    As an historian, Josephus had no incentive to either deny or support the narrative of Jesus. And as you know nothing else about Josephus, you aren’t capable of stating facts about his thought process.

    But historians have known for centuries that the comments attributed to Josephus were added to his history long after he wrote it – the comments about Jesus are forgeries. And now, like the historians, you know it too, Mark.

    There is no contemporary record validating the existence of a historical Jesus. Neither a historical Jesus nor a deity named Jesus have ever existed, except in the human mind.

  • http://www.davewyman.com Dave

    >Vorjack, St. Nicholas was not Russian. He was from Myra in Lycia, which is now part of Turkey.<

    Yes, but was St. Nicholas the true Santa? Certainly some stories about him can only be apocryphal. And stories about St. Basil parallel those of St. Nick.

    Will the real Santa Claus stand up? In truth, the Santa Claus we know is a concretion of a variety of mythical and/or legendary figures – just like any god.

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  • VorJack

    “He was actually quite possibly the ancestor of one of the Kings of Persia. After Cleopatra was killed, her daughter was lost in time.”

    ***Eyes wide with horror***

    Dorian – remember poe’s law – PLEASE tell me you’re joking. That whole theory sounds like the lovechild of Erich Von Däniken and Dan Brown.

    • Gillian

      Dan Brown! I KNEW that post reminded me of something!

  • VorJack

    Mark Lattimore -

    Josephus is shot through with interpolations, Mara makes a vague statement about how Jews treated their king, Pliny only mentions what the Christians he interrogated believed, and Tacitus couldn’t be arsed to get the name right.

    None of these is makes for a particularly strong argument. They’ve been hashed over (and over, and over, and …) and most of us don’t find them very convincing.

  • Joe

    One big difference, Santa is fake and God is real. A wise man once said – The fool has said in his heart that there is no God.

    • claidheamh mor

      Prove it.

      And stop quoting the book of your particular chosen mythology to prove itself. That circular reasoning only makes you look genuinely stupid and fools no one.

    • Gillian

      Is it just me, or has that “the fool hath said in his heart there is no god” just a re-hashing of the emperor’s new clothes story?

      It basically says “go on, fine, say you don’t believe in god. But you’re a fool”. It’s a trick to make insecure people believe because they don’t want to be seen to be fools.

      Secure, intelligent people, on the other hand, don’t feel a need to believe in order to convince idiots that they aren’t themselves an idiot…

  • Dorian

    @VorJack – No Im not kidding. Like I said my source is a man named Ralph Ellis, who has written a number of books on the subject. Look it up.

    BTW – Why are you so horrified by the idea of Jesus being the descendant of a line of Kings from Persia?

  • VorJack

    No, Dorian, I’m not horrified by any perceived connection between Jesus and any ruler you care to name. After all, Dan Brown is pushing the notion that the Merovingian Dynasty is descended from Jesus – which would include Clovis I, one of histories great bastards. If Brown can argue that Clovis, the man who felt lonely because he had no immediate family (because he killed them all) so he invited all his extended family to visit (so he could kill them too), was related to Jesus … well, I’m pretty much shock proof.

    No, it’s the whole bloody affair. It reminds me of nothing so much as Von Däniken’s “it must be true cause I just pulled it out of my ass” style of reasoning, cut with Brown’s “evidence? what’s that?” methods of persuasion. Seriously, the man doesn’t know the difference between the Nag Hammadi manuscripts and the Dead Sea Scrolls? And he’s attempting to lecture us about church history?

    Considering we know exactly jack, with a side of squat, about the actual family of Jesus, how on earth do you go about deciphering his genealogy?

  • VorJack

    Mark Lattimore -

    Actually, skip it. It seems like every conversation I enter into these days winds up as a discussion of the historicity of Jesus. My wife is getting sick of hearing me talk about it, and so am I.

    While each individual piece has it’s problems [Christus? seriously, Tacitus, how hard would it be to find out the man's name?], the existence of a historical Jesus is still the most parsimonious explanation for the evidence we have.

    • Gillian

      Or the existence of many different Jesuses.

      In cultures that are being oppressed by more powerful empires (like, say the Sioux indians being rounded up and put in reserves, or say the Jews being oppressed by the Romans), there is a tendency for millenarian religions to spring up.

      These are religions which predict and end of time (as Christianity does) and predict an afterlife (which it does). They also predict that in this afterlife, those currently being oppressed will be compensated, and their oppressors punished (as with the Christian religion’s description of heaven for believers and hell for the non-believing oppressors).

      One thing we know about this phenomenon is that MANY religious sects spring up within similar time-frames, but as with much of history, only those that survive get a mention. So Jesus’s time was probably littered with messiahs. They would all have been giving the same message – reward for those now suffering, suffering for those now oppressing…

      Jesus is, most probably, a composite character made up from many different “messiahs” of the time. This would neatly and logically explain the references (including confusion over name) to a messiah of the Jews…

  • http://37stories.wordpress.com Archie

    The next thing you know, you’ll will be throwing shoes at the president.

    Merry Christmas from Texas!

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  • Dorian

    VorJack
    Not me, Ralph Ellis, a historian. Also the genealogy is coming from the stories from the bible, as well as some Egyptian history. The idea is this, why is Jesus known to have been visited by Persian Magi? What in the heck are Persian religious figures(the men responsible for naming a new Persian King) doing visiting some child in Bethlehem, at a time when Persia was without King?

    Then he makes some assumptions(notice the non-definite stance I have taken in my original comment) based on findings regarding what happened to Cleopatra’s daughter. She can be traced as possibly being the so-called hooker, that was given as a gift to the Persian King, by the Greek ruler of the time. It wouldn’t make sense if you think about it for the Greek ruler to give a hooker as a peace offering when Greece was on shaky ground with Persia. The Persian King would have had many wives and many hookers he could call upon. To be given a simple hooker as a peace offering would be a slap in the face, unless this was not merely some hooker. Ralph then looks at the history of this so called hooker and the Persian King. She becomes chief wife, as I said, then marries her son, gets exiled by the Persians, and ends up somewhere in the area of Bethlehem.

    The link between this so called hooker and Cleopatra’s daughter come from the fact that she married her son, incest being very common among Egyptian royalty, but not greece and not Persia(obviously since they exiled her for it)
    Also it would make more sense for this woman to become chief wife, of a man with many wives, if she were to have royal blood, thus the possibility that she may actually be Cleopatra’s lost daughter.

    Then 30 or 40 years later, presumably, is the birth of Jesus, who is interestingly visited by Persian Magi.

    The whole theory is based on the idea that Jesus was a real man, and that there is some truth in the stories from the bible. It is also based on Egyptian history, being compared to stories and figures in the bible. When looked at in this light, there are some striking similarities between the stories of the bible, which for the most part cant be found in documented history, and the well documented Egyptian history.

    The parts about the woman being given to the Persian King, her being chief wife, and her being exiled, are documented and verifiable. The part about her being Cleopatra’s daughter is a theory of Ralph Ellis, I believe, as is the link between her and Jesus, which is simply that the timeline fits, and it would explain why Jesus was visited by Persian Magi. This theory also explains a lot of things if you consider it, why Jesus was a threat to so many, the link between Jesus and the Jews, and number of other things.

    But dont take my work for it at all, and do not quote me as speaking on behalf of Ralph Ellis, go to the source if you like, here’s a link to the actual talk from Ralph Ellis, take some time and listen to what he says, then decide how foolish the idea is – http://www.consciousmedianetwork.com/members/rellis2.htm

    • Gillian

      “The idea is this, why is Jesus known to have been visited by Persian Magi?”

      Wait, you’re using this visitation as proof of Jesus’s lineage, but this “proof” depends on the presumption that he exists in the first place…

      This argument looks like it couldn’t securely stand alone on a hill….

  • some_dude

    ok i get it haha very funny but the part where it says that there is no evidence that God exists is very wrong, look it up on google
    sincerely:
    some_dude

  • http://www.raybear.wordpress.com Rachel

    Fantastic.
    :] Good call on making the graphic.
    Plus I love that every time someone posts something religious a debate almost always happens in the comment section.

    People: You will not change someone who believes as strongly as Daniel that God does not exist. Give it up.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @some_dude: I think that’s pretty much how every argument for God could end: look it up Google.

    And maybe, just maybe, you’ll end up back here.

    @Rachel: You are right that it is unlikely I would change my mind — unless there was evidence. If there was evidence, I would believe.

    • Darwin

      Hey, if there was evidence, we wouldn’t need to believe. We’d know.

  • JimB

    Hey GODsky–since no one else has said it, I will. Brilliant! Put like that Christianity and its antecedents seem even dumber than usual. “The stupid…it hurts” and especially in this particular string of comments with all the writhing from the godbots.

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  • lostcompass

    santa is strictly for kids
    god is strictly for adults.

  • lostcompass

    Also,
    santa works once a year
    god works full time ( which leads us to believe that adults are more childish than kids and want their wishes granted all the time)

  • http://www.wallsytales.com babyjunglenursery

    Your comparisons are of rather basic categories considering you attend Bible college. You truly believe there is no more proof for God than Santa??? You can’t be serious.

    • Gillian

      Please do give us the evidence.

      And I mean real, unambiguous evidence. Not wishy-washy musings, or attributing natural phenomena to a deity, or filling in the gaps with god.

      Seriously, provide the evidence for god that can’t also be claimed for Santa.

  • florence

    can’t agree because there are obvious flaws in some assumptions about God. there are loads of intellectuals out there who believe in Him. which is why i guess this post would be offensive to many instead of funny.

  • Dave

    >can’t agree because there are obvious flaws in some assumptions about God<

    Of course not, Florence – you’d be intelligent if you could see just how obviously flawed the assumptions about your god are.

  • http://phenomenaonbreak.net M.C. Delibeans

    babyjunglenursery, there really is no more proof for either one. Please point to one thing that makes God more likely to exist than Santa and then we can talk.

    If you try to argue about something in the bible just remember all that is is a giant compilation of a bunch of people’s ideas that manage to have a consistency. If the bible was wrote by God, glowed in the dark and spoke to me when I opened it you would have your argument.

    Research the God gene and get back to me.

  • Adrian

    I disagree with #6 on a basis that I could not find in the first bunch of comments I skimmed.

    The point made is irrelevant. “Not believed in by intelligent adults.” In the case of Santa, it is an INSIGNIFICANT point because it is NOT BELIEVED IN BY ANY ADULTS. So making a comparison with god is kind of moot there.

    It would be like pointing out the differences between feces and peanuts and saying, “Could be harmful to consume for people allergic to peanuts!”

  • http://worldofweirdthings.com gfish

    The perverted pedophile Mohammed definitely existed, and founded what is now the most vile and dangerous superstition on the planet.

    In 600s AD it was common for a wealthy warlord to be given a very young bride with the idea that sexual activity would be deferred until she was considered an adult (between 13 and 15 at the time since lifespans were between 40 and 45 years). Aysha was one of those gift wives to secure Mohammad’s good monetary graces to a clan in Mecca. There is no evidence that he consummated the relationship until she was a legal adult.

    If you’re gonna call Mohammad a pedophile, you pretty much just indicted the vast majority of wealthy nobles of the time across the world by the same logic.

    As for Islam being vile and dangerous, the same thing was said in the Mulsim world about Christians who invaded their empire because they thought “infidels” were “on their Holy Land” during the Crusades. The modern jihadists are no different than Christian Identity and racist groups in the United States today. Somehow, Christians don’t get tarred with the same brush as the KKK, but Muslims are scapegoated for their radical offshoots. Why is that?

    Oh yeah, country with an 80% Christian majority so the Muslims are heretics and double standards are a-ok.

    One should not mix history with personal opinion. The result is usually accusatory nonsense.

  • thegaber

    Great satirical look at the two main figure heads of Christmas. But some of the points, mainly the one everyone is talking about crosses the line.

  • kim

    I’ve known many extremely intelligent adults who believed in the possibility of a God. I am personally agnostic, so not upset by number six. I couldn’t care less what anyone believes. But of the many atheists I’ve met, almost all of them believe they are more intelligent than people of faith. OK– so prove it. For every WELL KNOWN intellectual atheist you can name, I bet I can name a WELL KNOWN religious intellectual. It makes me wonder why some atheists have a need to belittle those who have religious beliefs. Insecurity? Does it boost your egos to poke holes in other peoples religious beliefs?

    • Gillian

      A naming contest doesn’t really prove much, except that you know lots of names.

      There is a generalisationbeing made, true. But the generalisation DOES HOLD to some extent. For example – there is a negative correlation (not a causation, obviously) between level of education and belief in god.

      Atheists in the general population make up a minority compared with theists. In academic positions, atheists make up a far greater proportion. Thus, there is a link established between a high education and less inclination to believe in god.

  • http://www.simplestopsmoking.com hypnosis smoking

    the different is God has son. And Santa don’t have family..

  • http://2009yerelsecimleri.wordpress.com 2009 Yerel Seçimleri

    The rest is all talk about the xstian religion after the fact.

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  • Lisa

    Wait…..
    …Santa isn’t real???

  • John K

    haha..is an intresting blog……

  • nelsonleith

    Atheism vs. Fundamentalism

    Doesn’t understand spiritual metaphor and takes all religious stories literally [check] [check]

    Assumes that the validity of religion hinges on the infallibility of a book [check] [check]

    Illogically seeks *special* evidence for a *universal* Cause [check] [check]

    Learns a little bit about one religion and pretends to understand the entire subject [check] [check]

    Promotes absolutist dogma that assumes those who disagree are delusional [check] [check]

    Most argumentation based on cherry-picked evidence, unsupported warrants, and generalization [check] [check]

    Obsessive desire to convert others and prove themselves right [check] [check]

    Finds ways to bring up their beliefs regardless of what the original conversation was about [check] [check]

    Feelings of persecution, even when totally unjustified [check] [check]

    Reduction of all the world’s problems largely to a single cause (secularism or religion) which is seen as poisoning everything [check] [check]

    Lumps the mainstream in with the opposite extreme (i.e. fundamentalists treat mainstream believers like they deny God, and atheists treat them like wacko fundies) [check] [check]

    Inability to see how similar they are to each other [check] [check]

    • Gillian

      Would you and your strawman atheist like to get a room?

  • http://stewartcowan.wordpress.com/ Stewart Cowan

    Vorjack mentioned the beard. The Bible says that no one has seen G-d at any time, so how do YOU know he has a beard?

    I could do a correct version of that graphic. I might, if I get the time, as it is completely wrong.

    And G-d does return calls – when was the last time YOU asked?

  • http://positiveeconomicnews.com tzugidan

    What is your point? Both relate to faith. I’m not a christian, but have no problem with their belief in god, jesus, bible, whatever gets them through.

    One of the big problems our culture has is the “everbody’s got to be like me, or they’re stupid” mentality. Trying to homogenize our society takes all the synergy out of it…

    Let the christians be christians. And if you don’t like it if they try to jam it down your throat, go read a book, write a book…

    But provoking people really isn’t the way to go…there are thousands of blogs that seek nothing else…dare to be different… be positive.

    Peace.

    • Gillian

      “everbody’s got to be like me, or they’re stupid”

      I don’t think that’s what you see here.

      I think it’s more “everybody’s got to use evidence and reason if they want to try and make claims about reality, or they’re stupid”. Which is kind of acceptable.

      It’s not about being “like me”. It’s about having some intellectual honesty.

  • http://www.islamweb.net/ver2/archive/article.php?lang=E&id=145504 arah

    ‘Santa Claus does not exist’ school tells stunned kids

    Santa Claus is exposed as a fraud as he pretends to deliver presents
    on Christmas Eve

    A primary school has been accused of spoiling Christmas for pupils
    after a lesson telling them that Santa Claus does not exist.

    Children as young as nine were told that only ‘small children believe
    in Father Christmas’.

    And yesterday their parents criticised teachers for taking the
    ‘magic’
    out of the festive period.

    The blunder came after the Year 5 pupils were given seasonal
    worksheets containing various festive classroom exercises.

    One began by informing the children that ‘many small children believe
    in Father Christmas’.

    It then went on to explain that thousands of letters sent by these
    children to Santa every year are actually answered by the Post
    Office.

    The youngsters were then asked to write a pretend letter from the
    Post
    Office to a child explaining why their requests for presents had been
    refused.

    Now Ladysmith Junior School in Exeter, Devon, is accused of taking a
    decision that should have been made by the parents themselves.

    One father-of-two, who asked not to be named, said: “My wife and I
    make a special effort to keep the belief in Santa in our daughter’s
    mind as we believe it adds to the magic of Christmas for her and her
    four-year-old brother.

    “We even recall her shaking with excitement some years ago when sat
    at
    the bottom of our bed rummaging through her stocking.

    “What gives the school the right to decide when children should know
    the truth about such a harmless matter when knowing the truth does
    take away that little bit of magic?”

    “She’ll probably figure it out soon enough anyway, but we might have
    had one last Christmas without her knowing if it hadn’t been for the
    school.”

    Yesterday the headmistress of the 460-pupil school said she had
    written to families to apologise and assured them the lesson will not
    be taught again.

    Jackie Jackson said: “Having three children myself, I understand how
    parents feel.

    “The last thing we wanted to do was take away the positive and
    magical
    side of Christmas and I have wished all the families a happy time.”

    She continued: “We can’t go back and undo this but I have written to
    all the families to apologise. It was very unfortunate and a bad
    mistake. We are not in the business of shattering children’s dreams.”

    Yesterday a spokesman for the Royal Mail confirmed it receives around
    750,000 letters for Father Christmas from children around the UK
    every
    year.

    He said: “They are all forwarded to Santa and we also send a special
    reply.”

    The worksheet was taken from the Internet and created by educational
    charity, the Hamilton Trust.

    Yesterday the trust’s director Ruth Merttens, defended the content.

    She said: “I feel sorry for the teacher concerned.

    “But we produce the worksheets and it is up to teachers how they use
    them in class.”

    She added: “I don’t want to upset anybody but I would say by the age
    of ten it seems unlikely that a child wouldn’t be aware of Santa’s
    imaginary nature.”

    Last week a primary school teacher was sacked for telling her young
    class that Santa does not exist.

    The supply teacher apparently decided the pupils – some as young as
    nine – were too old to believe in Father Christmas.

    The teacher, who has not been named, is believed to have told the
    class at Boldmere Junior School, in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands:
    “All of you are old enough to know there is no Father Christmas or
    fairies.

    If you ask your parents to tell you they will say there is no such
    thing.

    Amanda Piovesana, whose daughter is in Year 5, said: “I am upset
    because it has taken away a magical part of Christmas for my daughter
    and a teacher should not have the right to do that. My little girl
    was
    very upset.”

    At yet another school, pupils went home in tears after being told
    Father Christmas does not exist by a teacher who was telling a class
    of nine-year-olds how Christmas is celebrated across the world.

    Angry parents at Calcot Junior School in Berkshire said the teacher
    had ‘ruined’ Christmas for their children.

    Mel Barefield, whose son was in the lesson, said: ‘The teacher had
    said to them that Father Christmas wasn’t real, Rudolph was a cartoon
    character and that Christmas trees come from Germany.’

    A governor said: ‘It’s not just Father Christmas that’s the problem.
    We also have issues with things like the Tooth Fairy.

    ‘From now on when a child asks if Father Christmas exists the teacher
    should say, “I’m not sure. Go home and ask your parents”‘.

    Rachel McGauley, 29, whose eight-year-old daughter Shannon is in Year
    4 at the school, said: “It is very bad.

    “As parents it is for us to decide when we tell our children and some
    of the parents in that class could have got away with it for another
    year and now they can’t.

    “I just hope my little girl does not twig because she is in the year
    below.”

    Sam Horne, whose children Keiron, eight, and six-year-old Charlotte
    attend the school,said: “Mine still believe in Father Christmas, and
    when I was a kid I did not find out until I was about eleven.

    “It is like a loss of innocence. Children should have the right to
    stay innocent for as long as possible.”

    In a statement issued through the local Education Authority, Devon
    County Council, head Mrs Jackie Jackson added: “The choice of this
    worksheet was a genuine mistake by a teacher which we are all very
    sad
    about.

    “As a school we delight in the magic of childhood and believe that
    Christmas is a very special time.

    “In the last week the children have been enjoying carol singing and a
    Christmas fair and, in the true spirit of the season, raising money
    for children at the Ugandan school which we support.

    I have apologised to the parents and this worksheet will never be
    used
    in the school again.”

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  • http://www.ittw.wordpress.com C

    Is not true that there is no inteligent people who believe in god.

    Some of god-believers are not stupid, just too coward to admit the truth and thats a whole different point

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Mark Lattimore:

    In The Annals, Tacitus claims that someone called Chrestus was in Rome in the early second Century, leading a mob who called themselves “Chrestians” in riots and looting.

    Given that:
    1) “Chrestus” was an uncommon but not unknown Roman name,
    2) Tacitus was well aware of the Greek word “Christos” (“teacher”) and would have been unlikely to mistranslate it,
    3) The idea of Jesus being in Rome half a century after his death contradicts biblical teaching, and
    4) The actions attributed to Chrestus seem very different from what Jesus is supposed to have taught

    Do you really think that Tacitus was talking about Jesus? Or just some rioter called Chrestus?

  • siovhinn

    We belong to the tiny minority of people who still truly believe in Santa and the Spirit of Christmas. He really does exist, and we know he does because he always delivers everything we or our children ask for, no matter where we happen to be in the world and no matter what we ask for (we are not greedy). He also ALWAYS eats the cookies and drinks the milk we leave out for him. When we were living in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, we got to meet the REAL Santa (no fake beard) EVERY CHRISTMAS from the time we were little children to the time we had little children of our own. Truly! He even had a big red nose and rosy cheeks! You never saw him at any other time of the year, only Christmas – and he always looked the same, never aging, for DECADES! (I have photographic evidence, which I shall find, scan and put on my blog for all to see). We even SAW him in FLIGHT once – from a distance – flying over our house… and we’ve heard the sleigh-bells on more than one Christmas Eve. Every present under the tree ALWAYS says ‘love, Santa’.
    This is the Gospel according to Siovhinn.
    PS. We disagree with the last two points on the list – Santa DOES make sense AND… I HAVE EVIDENCE!!!

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @babyjunglenursery:

    I know believers think there is more proof for God than Santa and I know all the philosophical word games, but I don’t believe they add up to anything more than claiming Santa exists.

    But of course the arguments for this are oversimplified — it’s a graphic created to create buzz, not an academic article with nuance and qualification.

    Here are some articles that are a little more substantial:

    http://unreasonablefaith.com/2008/11/16/an-evil-god-table-of-contents/
    http://unreasonablefaith.com/2008/09/16/the-futility-of-invoking-a-designer/
    http://unreasonablefaith.com/2008/06/20/why-i-deny-the-virgin-birth-of-jesus/

    More will be coming.

    @hypnosis smoking spammer:

    How do you know Santa doesn’t have a son? He is said to gave a wife — why not children?

    @Stewart Cowan

    If you think I really believe God has a beard, you really don’t understand atheism. I was referring to the popular idea that people have of God.

    And G-d does return calls – when was the last time YOU asked?

    I asked for years and years and years. The Bible says with the SMALLEST amount of faith, you can move mountains and heal the sick and NOTHING will be impossible. So why don’t you ask God to call me at my home number — I’m sure he knows it — and then I’ll believe. I’m sure I’ll know it’s him.

    Ah, but that’ll never happen, right? Only things that would happen anyway, or that is done by people, can be ascribed to God. None of this ACTUALLY doing something crap. But I’m happy to be proven wrong.

    Oh, and ask him what my real address and phone number is. I’m sure he knows that. If you can give me my address and phone number in 24 hours, simply as a result of praying to God and him answering you, I’ll believe. You said God returns calls. Prove it. Give me some information that only he would know the answer to.

    But of course you won’t be successful. Because God doesn’t exist.

    @siovhinn:

    I’m really hoping you’re joking. But if you’re not, I’m very sorry for you.

    @everyone:

    Glad you all are thinking about this critically. I don’t think I’d agree with #6 either if pressed to the point. This is, of course, a oversimplification of all the issues for entertainment purposes.

    So I’m happy to agree there are intelligent people who believe in God if I think of things from one perspective. Then again, if an adult believed in Santa yet was considered intelligent, I’d have a nagging feeling that this person really can’t be all that intelligent. And to me, there’s little difference in belief in Santa or God — both are unfounded and mythical.

    But I can see both sides, and am happy to agree with both sides. :)

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Pliny said that, by 110AD, there were people calling themselves “Christians”, but he said nothing about Christ.

    The Mara letter, is a throwaway line reading “What did it avail the Jews to kill their wise king, since their kingdom was taken away from them from that time on?” This is grouped with other examples of killing wise people, such as Socrates and Pythagoras, both of whom died five hundred years before. The most obvious interpretation is that the “wise king” he mentions but does not name was a similarly historical figure. Especially as, if he’s talking about Jesus in 74AD, he must have been prescient to have known about the destruction of Israel in 77AD.

    Of your three early references, one deals with people who claim to follow Jesus without making any claims about whether he really existed, and the other two are probably talking about completely different people…

  • cello

    wintermute – Thanks for those explanations.

  • bethhanyy

    I didnt know that godd kept a list of naughty and nice people … HAHA :P

    Part from that i dont think their is much difference :D

  • Nathan

    Jesus

  • Julie

    Santa gives presents to everyone who tries to be openminded towards others and show that they can be kind. while god favorises and only gives presents to one person (jesus) is that fair?

  • George R.

    The fundamental difference lies in that Santa meets the commercial needs of man as God meets the needs of the existential man.

  • VorJack

    Dorian – I’m probably going to regret this, but…

    “The idea is this, why is Jesus known to have been visited by Persian Magi?”

    Well, for starters, we DON’T know that Jesus was visited by Persian Magi.

    1.) We have only Matthew’s account, which conflicts with Luke’s. Why choose Matthew over Luke? Luke gives us a whole different chronology, so it’s not like we’ve got minor variations on the theme.

    2.) Again, this is Matthew, who also tells us that that the saints rose from the dead and cavorted around Jerusalem after Jesus’ crucifixion. He’s giving us “Night of the Living Dead,” and you’re using him as a historic source?

    3.) Do you even have any evidence that Matthew is intending to give us history? Take the example of the “slaughter of the innocent,” for example. This is a transparent case of Jewish reinterpretation through retelling, a type of midrash sometimes called haggadah. Matthew is retelling the slaughter of Jewish infants from Exodus in order to make the point that Jesus is the new Moses. This is reinforced throughout the text. So how do you know that the “wise men” (unnamed, unnumbered), were more than a literary creation intended to underscore the importance of the infant Jesus?

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Daniel

    You just called Newton, Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, Bacon, Descartes and CHARLES DARWIN stupid. Don’t you think you’re over-stepping your bounds with this one Dan?

    • Gillian

      Not that it changes anything, but Charles Darwin actually lost his belief in god.

      Saying that historical figures believed in god, when they had little understanding of their universe and so more reason to appeal to fantastical explanations, doesn’t really say much. At their time, with their accumulated knowledge, it may have been more logical to believe in god. It isn’t now.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @Eric: It seems you’re misreading me again. I never called any of them stupid. All I said is that there are intelligent adults who don’t believe in God. I didn’t say that there are no intelligent adults who believe in God.

    If I said that anyone who believes in God is stupid, I certainly would be overstepping my bounds. But I never said any such thing.

  • http://www.kdmask.wordpress.com kdmask

    SANTA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
    OMG, I totally love him.

    Just sayin’. He’s WAY more jolly than God, especially the Old Testament God, and he gives me presents.
    What more could you want?

  • Kim

    Daniel, you’re marvellous. Comment leavers: you need to lighten up! As to #6, I read an article at skeptic.com in which the writer related an incident where someone had said to her [I'm paraphrasing; I don't have it in front of me] “you really shouldn’t ridicule people’s deeply held religious beliefs.” Her response: “Why not?”

    That’s my question too. As Dawkins says, enough “respect” for outrageous religious beliefs.

  • creeping

    here’s a more appropriate video: Osama bin Laden killed by Santa

  • ligress

    i just re-posted this at my blog, brilliant. i like your blog, keep up the work and know you have supporters in getting the word out!

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  • Mark Lattimore

    wintermute,

    Strictly speaking, you are incorrect about Pliny’s letters. He twice mentions “Christ” when he tells Trajan that the “Christians” sing to Christ in the mornings and that he believed that, according to the Christian faith, it would be impossible for a true Christian to curse Christ. The point is not that Pliny believed that Jesus existed. In fact, he probably did not (or, at the very least, he disbelieved the things Jesus’ followers said about him). He called the faith of the two women he executed a fanatical superstition. What is evident is that there was a widespread (large enough to create a problem in Bythinia) movement of people who acknowledged a man called the “Christ” (which, incidentally does not translate as teacher as someone has said before).

    As to earlier comments on Tacitus, I’m simply baffled. Tacitus writes:

    “Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most
    exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called
    Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin,
    suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands
    of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous
    superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only
    in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all
    things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their
    centre and become popular.”

    So, given that Tacitus places Christ at the same time as related in the Gospels (NOT in the second century), yes, I think Tacitus was talking about Jesus.

    What I find interesting is that participants in the discussion spawned by my original comments have completely lost sight of what it is about. I originally responded to someone’s notion that Saul concocted the idea of Jesus. What we are talking about here is not the deity of Jesus. That’s a completely different issue. We also aren’t talking about whether any of these writers believed Jesus’ followers’ claims that he was the Messiah or even that Jesus existed at all. What they did believe and write about for posterity is that a lot of other people did believe that this man existed. In ancient history, there are no smoking guns. All we can do is deduce from what we have and we have deduced the existence of other historical figures with as much evidence. The study of history is fraught with peril for the evidentialist. If the study of history is to have any meaning or use, we must consider that in many cases, the standard cannot be “certainty” or even “beyond a reasonable doubt” or else we can have no more confidence in the idea that the outside world exists when it is out of our view than in what we (rationally) believe to be historical.

    (Finally, and as an aside, to Dave, who implied that as an historian, Josephus had no ax to grind, never ever buy into the notion that historians are either objective or neutral. It is simply not possible. Admittedly, we do not know what his specific ax was, so we can only guess based on what we do know about his life. Good historians do try to be as objective as possible, but the idea that complete objectivity can be obtained, free from presuppositions about life and history, is a myth)

    It’s been fun, y’all.

    Peace to all.

  • Dan L.

    You just called Newton, Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, Bacon, Descartes and CHARLES DARWIN stupid. Don’t you think you’re over-stepping your bounds with this one Dan?

    Depends. If we argue with you, are you just going to run away again?

    @nelsonleith

    Better trolls please.

    @Bob C.

    The reason that atheists (and logicians) treat “God exists” differently from “God does not exist” is that the former is a positive statement and the latter is a negative. The distinction is that a positive statement can be positively proved, but a negative can only be DISPROVED and never proved.

    Thus, it’s unreasonable to ask an atheist to prove “God does not exist.” It’s impossible to do.

    Because of this basic principle of logic, I would argue that the default state of belief should be to believe the negative until it is disproved. In other words, I will believe the statement “unicorns do not exist” until someone shows me a unicorn. Same for God.

  • Mark Lattimore

    Make that “Bithynia” and the women were tortured (we only believe they may have been executed based on Pliny’s procedures).

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    What is evident is that there was a widespread (large enough to create a problem in Bythinia) movement of people who acknowledged a man called the “Christ” (which, incidentally does not translate as teacher as someone has said before).

    Pliny states that Christians believe that Christ was a historical person. Agreed.

    Christus, from whom the name had its origin,
    suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus

    It may seem like nitpicking to point out that Tacitus was wrong about Pontius Pilot being a Procurator – he was a Prefect. But it’s important, because it demonstrates that he didn’t have any personal, first-hand understanding of the topic. This is because he’s not citing something he personally has researched and knows to be fact, but is simply restating the beliefs of Christians.

    So that’s two of your non-Christian sources for the historicity of Christ who are basically saying “Christians claim that Christ was a historical person”.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Ah, my mistake. “Christos” most literally means “anointed one”, not “teacher”. It was applied to people who had been initiated into the higher levels of mystery religions (such as the cult of Dionysus) and were able to teach others onm the path. Apologies for the error.

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  • Earl Flemm

    Cute but …you’re trying to tell us that any adult that doesn’t believe in God IS intelligent. Better rethink your theory Einstein. Let’s see Hitler, Stalin….

    • Gillian

      You’re saying that hitler (who probably DID believe in god, though that’s beside the point) and Stalin, were unintelligent?

      Based on what?

      They were evil people, and did terrible things. That’s pretty much beyond question.

      But does that make them unintelligent?

      They both managed to rise to power, both managed to exploit human nature and circumstance to benefit themselves. They may have been bastards, but to say they were stupid is simply to name-call people you (with good reason) don’t like.

  • VorJack

    Mark -
    “What I find interesting is that participants in the discussion spawned by my original comments have completely lost sight of what it is about.”

    Heh. Yeah, it’s kind of a pavlovian response. Mention Tacitus and we respond like so …

    Like I said, this is a long running argument. It’s hard not to fall into a certain groove.

    Anyway, for what it’s worth, I don’t think that any of the most prominent mythicists believe that Paul/Saul created Jesus, or at least not whole cloth. Hell, some of ‘em don’t even believe that Paul existed.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @Earl: I’m not trying to say that at all. Of course there are stupid people who don’t believe in God. All I said was there are intelligent adults who don’t believe in Santa or God. Not that there were NO intelligent adults who believe in God, or that everyone who doesn’t believe in God is smart.

    Logic 101. Maybe they don’t teach that anymore.

  • http://thespiritdog.wordpress.com thespiritdog

    What ? You mean there is no Santa Clause.
    Please don’t tell me that the Easter Bunny was an marketing campaign by Hershey, to move more of their product.

  • VorJack

    Mark -
    “If the study of history is to have any meaning or use, we must consider that in many cases, the standard cannot be “certainty” or even “beyond a reasonable doubt””

    I understand, but it’s frustrating to deal with a field of history where so many people make definitive pronouncements when the actual evidence is tentative. Even Bultmann said that you’d have to be insane not to believe in the historical Jesus, but when you look at the evidence it’s all full of holes, interpolations and shades of meaning. We can’t hold ancient history to the same standard as we hold modern history, but it’s frustrating to deal with people who forget that “probably” or even “possibly” isn’t “certainly.” And this happens all the time in the field of biblical history.

    If you have the patience for some more Richard Carrier, check out his post “Ignation Vexation.”: http://richardcarrier.blogspot.com/2008/09/ignatian-vexation.html

    Carrier IS an ancient historian, looking at the historical Jesus controversy. He’s trying to pin down one fairly uncontroversial detail – the last possible date in which Matthew could have been written. Most scholars simply give a date and base it on the letters of Ignatius. Carrier quickly finds out that it’s far more complicated than that. The problem is not the complications; instead it’s that the academic sources gloss over them without mention. Carrier finally concludes: “The field of New Testament studies needs to get its house in order. Until it does, I’ll have to do without what I can normally rely upon in other fields: well-supported conclusions (or a ready consensus on the range of conclusions possible) on the most fundamental issues of evidence.”

  • http://blueollie.wordpress.com/ blueollie

    One difference: Santa is obese. I don’t know about this particular god.

    Santa doesn’t condemn anyone for eternity; he might put coal in your stocking but given how blasted cold it is in Illinois right now, that isn’t so bad.

    Santa cares about “naughty or nice”; the other god worries about “belief”.

  • http://www.lovemaegan.com …love Maegan

    controversial. yet totally true. I have a Santa/God theory as well …but more along the lines of people being afraid to stop believing in God as children are afraid to stop believing in Santa ..no more presents.

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  • xxbloodblogzxx

    your an idiot……..God is real………….

  • xxbloodblogzxx

    why u think theres a bible u retard

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @xxbloodblogzxx: I was going to delete your somewhat illiterate comments for not contributing to the conversation and for namecalling — however, I think it’s such a perfect example of fundamentalist logic that I must leave it up for everyone to get a good laugh at.

    I’ll put them in syllogisms (you might have to look that word up) so we may bask in their glory:

    1. “Your” an idiot.
    2. Therefore, God exists.

    and

    1. The Bible exists.
    2. Therefore, God exists.
    3. Therefore, “u retard.”

    Almost convincing…

    • claidheamh mor

      This.
      Unintelligible-and-cowardly-bunch-of-letters-for-a-user-name may wish to witness the glories of the god of his chosen mythology with this:

      “Hundreds of proofs of God’s Existence Argument #359″:

      ARGUMENT FROM EXCESSIVE STUPIDITY
      (1) Some people are smart enough to be able to live without belief in God.
      (2) I am not intelligent enough to live without belief in God.
      (3) Therefore, God exists.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    xxbloodblogzxx:

    If it’s written down, it must be true; is that it?

  • Dave

    >Finally, and as an aside, to Dave, who implied that as an historian, Josephus had no ax to grind, never ever buy into the notion that historians are either objective or neutral.<

    I’ll stick to my original assertion – an historian comes with no incentive to discredit or prove something. That’s the point of being an historian.

    However, that’s not to say an historian doesn’t have personal biases. Historians do have biases, and the sense of what happens in history can change.

    But it’s impossible to impute those biases to Josephus, which Mark Lattimore tried to do.

    What Mark didn’t bother to do was answer my assertion that Josephus’ comments about Christ were forgeries. It doesn’t matter what biases Josephus had or didn’t have – he didn’t write about Jesus.

  • northpointcc

    I guess I don’t believe in the God described here or alluded to in most of the comments – either from those who don’t believe in Him or those who do. Although I am certain I will receive some label as being unintelligent or crazy, I know there is existence outside the material world that our scientific worldview cannot accomodate. The God who is Spirit is very real and not at all as many have described Him. I truly am sorry (and that is not intended to be demeaning or patronizing) for those who have stepped away from their faith.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @northpointcc: If God’s existence is “outside the material world” and thus “our scientific worldview cannot accommodate” it, how do you KNOW it exists? How exactly can you know something outside the material world exists, since you are material? What are the tools you use to obtain this knowledge, if not through science?

    Feelings?

  • HeyBishop

    Hey! Funny stuff. It echoes my feelings exactly, as illustrated in my youtube video I’d like to share:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3PtTpi9BmU

  • Dave

    >All we can do is deduce from what we have and we have deduced the existence of other historical figures with as much evidence.<

    Mark – when you write “other historical figures” you are already making an assumption that Jesus is historical. You make such a claim, though, based only on hearsay evidence.

    You want there to be evidence that there was a real Jesus, because without it, there’s no particular reason to believe the miraculous events that attach to the story of Jesus, the Resurrection, etc.

    You would twist logic on it’s head to keep your faith intact. I’m going to make a leap of faith and say you probably don’t believe in evolution. If you do, you can’t believe in an Adam and Eve. If you don’t believe in Adam and Eve, then you don’t believe in Original Sin, for without it, there is no reason to believe in the need for Jesus to wash away sins that never existed.

    There is overwhelming evidence for the existence of evolution. Yet you discount that scientific evidence. But you’re quite comfortable asserting we must accept the most flimsy of historical evidence when it comes to your imaginary creations, such as Adam and Eve and Jesus.

    So, on the one hand, minimal evidence – in fact, zero evidence – is enough to convince you of the reality of Jesus and help you maintain that faith. A mountain of evidence won’t move you, though, when it contradicts your faith.

  • http://seventimesseven.wordpress.com/ Steve

    Hi Daniel,

    I too was a passionate believer for years, until that is, I fell into compromise. Failed relationships take their toll on finances and emotions and that situation lasted for over a decade.

    What allowed me to move forward in my faith, was a life changing encounter with the Adonai, the Ancient of Days.

    The terrible din that sometimes passes off as Christianity, is a reality. It can never have any bearing on Truth or on the power of the cross of Jesus.

    And yet…

    Adonai Eloheinu Echad!

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Daniel

    “All I said is that there are intelligent adults who don’t believe in God. I didn’t say that there are no intelligent adults who believe in God.”

    Oh come now. The exactly words are, “Not believed in by intelligent adults”. This is exactly like saying, “Those that believe in both are not intelligent”, it’s only in the opposite direction. Please don’t try to insult my intelligence again by telling me that you weren’t attempting to call theists stupid. Am I really supposed to buy that?

    Perhaps you realized your error when everyone pointed out to you the hypocrisy of acting like the fundies you mock. Perhaps you realized it when I pointed at that Darwin believe in God. Either way, either admit that the sentence in question was uncalled for, or be proud that you meant every word. Please don’t insult me by telling me I don’t understand sentence structure, meaning and connotation.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Daniel: When you say that Darwin believed in God, you’re talking about him in his youth, right?

    I mean, if you’re talking about the elder Darwin who described Christianity as “that damnable doctrine”, “not supported by the evidence”, and who famously made such various statements of faith as “I deserve to be called a Theist”, “I never gave up Christianity until I was forty years of age” and “an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind”, he may have arguably (on even-numbered days) believed in a god, but he certainly didn’t believe in God-with-a-capital-G-as-described-in-the-bible.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @wintermute: I’m assuming you meant that question for Eric. From my understanding, Darwin was an agnostic for most of his later life.

    @Eric: I stick by my statement. As I’ve said, this is for entertainment purposes only. It was an oversimplification meant to be humorous. If you took offense, I am sorry.

    I do not think that everyone who believes in God is stupid, nor do I think that everyone who is an atheist is smart. I’m quite happy to agree with you that both of those beliefs would be unwarranted and stupid. And I do not hold them.

  • Dave

    Eric, you claim Darwin believed in a god? How does that claim square with Darwin’s own words:

    “I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so, the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother, and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished.

    “And this is a damnable doctrine.”

    He did believe in a god when he was young – just as you probably believed in Santa Claus when you were young. Darwin, though, grew to become a thinking, intelligent adult and gave up his child-like belief in a supernatural deity.

  • Stan

    Obviously the author thought that this would be clever or witty. They have obviously not done their homework.

    No evidence that God exists? I am afraid there is plenty. In fact there is more evidence that God exists than there is evidence that many historical figures existed, and I have no doubt that the author believes that people like Abraham Lincoln existed! Is the evidence overwhelming? No, but that is part of the whole idea. You can always choose to disbelieve despite the evidence.

    Intelligent people do not believe in the existence of God? Again, not true. There are many intelligent people that believe. In fact, many of these people have even devoted their lives to their God!

    Oh, and Santa Claus? St. Nicholas also existed. At least there is a lot of evidence that points that way. I guess when it comes down to it, we can only take the existence of any past figure at face value. Any of them could be fictional. All we have to go on are documents that may well be forgeries to make us believe that the past did indeed exist.

    Nice try, but this one is a load written by someone who doesn’t believe in God. Unfortunate, since his non-belief seems to be born of mostly ignorance.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @Stan:

    In fact there is more evidence that God exists than there is evidence that many historical figures existed

    That sounds great, Stan. How about you give us all this evidence that exists for God? And more evidence than Abraham Lincoln exists! Please do share this knowledge. Us lowly ignoramuses must not have been able to find all this evidence by ourselves.

  • http://korranberg.wordpress.com/ kelemvor

    So “Santa IS God”!!

  • http://seventimesseven.wordpress.com/ Steve

    Christianity or cultural Christianity has so watered down the true spiritual meaning of faith, that it is hard not be deluded in the modern world.

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro61

    @Eric Kemp:

    Please don’t insult me by telling me I don’t understand sentence structure, meaning and connotation.

    Why not? You’ve previously demonstrated you don’t understand logic, evidence, English, or combinations thereof.

    How’s the search for truthiness coming? Got his fingerprints yet?

    @Stan:
    Here’s a photo of Lincoln.

    Produce, please, your hoto of either God or Sonny-Boy now. Since “there is more evidence that God exists than there is evidence that many historical figures existed”.

    No photo? Quel surprise!

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro61

    Fumble-fingers. Metro 61, c’est moi, Metro.

  • Dan L.

    No evidence that God exists? I am afraid there is plenty. In fact there is more evidence that God exists than there is evidence that many historical figures existed, and I have no doubt that the author believes that people like Abraham Lincoln existed! Is the evidence overwhelming? No, but that is part of the whole idea. You can always choose to disbelieve despite the evidence.

    We have photographs of Lincoln. Commonplace photographic analyses would reveal that these were taken with Civil War technology and were not retouched. There are many independent sources who recorded the existence, deeds, and physical appearance of Lincoln, and these are consistent with each other and the photographs. There is no doubt that Lincoln existed using any reasonable definition of what is to constitute evidence.

    As for independent accounts of the existence of the Christian God, there is only one to my knowledge. One independent account does not constitute any evidence at all.

    If you have anything better, please share.

    Oh come now. The exactly words are, “Not believed in by intelligent adults”. This is exactly like saying, “Those that believe in both are not intelligent”, it’s only in the opposite direction. Please don’t try to insult my intelligence again by telling me that you weren’t attempting to call theists stupid. Am I really supposed to buy that?

    Perhaps you realized your error when everyone pointed out to you the hypocrisy of acting like the fundies you mock. Perhaps you realized it when I pointed at that Darwin believe in God. Either way, either admit that the sentence in question was uncalled for, or be proud that you meant every word. Please don’t insult me by telling me I don’t understand sentence structure, meaning and connotation.

    Well, to employ your tactic from the thread from which you ran away:

    “That’s just SEMANTICS!”

  • jasmincormier

    How can someone that believes without proof in an all powerful invisible old man living in the sky claim to be “an intelligent adult”?

    No. 6 is very accurate.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Jasmin

    I could ask the same thing of an adult that believes the universe came from non-universe for no reason and no cause, that life came from non-life for no reason and no cause, that reason came from non-reason and that intelligence came from non-intelligence. All without the ability for science to test any of these phenomena yet holding that science is the only way to knowledge. That is the position the atheist finds himself in.

    Daniel

    Fair enough, I won’t begrudge you sarcasm meant to be humorous. I enjoy employing sarcasm as well.

  • thefourflames

    I do not believe in Santa, but I do believe in God. I do think that some Christians can be too extreme and judgemental, but there is also a side of Christianity that is not covered by the media. I feel very sorry for you, and I wish you could understand how much God loves you. Please don’t allow the devil to blind you and make you think that you are more intelligent than people like me. You have a chance at true life, not just an empty existence. I am not forcing Christianity on you, but I beg you to turn back. I don’t know what made you turn from Christianity, but God is waiting with open arms. Jesus is coming back, and I want to see you rejoicing, not trembling in fear from the glory of God, when that day comes. I know that, deep down inside, you feel something missing. I probably sound like an idiot, but I could not look at this without saying something.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @thefourflames: If you could show me some irrefutable evidence that Jesus existed, was born of a virgin, did miracles, and was resurrected, then I will happily turn to Jesus again. But if there is no evidence, I’m afraid there’s no hope for me to believe in myths.

    • mike

      @Daniel Florien: If you’re serious about this search (enough to find and read a book, that is), I’d recommend “I don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Athiest” by Giesler and Turek. It’s intelligently written and probably addresses most of your concerns.

  • http://twitter.com/katie_a katecp

    Funny! They *are* eerily similar, although some points are a bit off (for me).

  • http://thespiritdog.wordpress.com thespiritdog

    I’ll be serious this time and I apologize for trying to bring some levity to such a delicate subject matter.

    I lost my faith many moons ago. About ten years ago I wanted to try and renew my faith and belief in God.
    What better way to rekindle one’s faith (in my opinion anyway), then by re-reading the bible.

    Well, unfortunately that didn’t work for me. I had a real hard time just getting by Genesis. Then to get through Exodus, with the parting of the red sea and David and Goliath.

    Sadly that’s a leap of faith I just can’t take, I wish I could.

    • mike

      @thespiritdog, I think the real leap of faith is to believe in an intelligent designer or First Cause or whatever label you want to put on. If the universe is orderly, it must have intelligence behind it. If absolute morals exist, there must be a supreme morality behind it. If the universe contains energy, there must be a cause powerful enough to spawn that energy. From there, if you take from the relational nature of mankind a relational cause, you’re left with an intelligent, moral, powerful, relational being as the first cause. If you find that makes good logical sense, it’s not that big a leap to presume that this being would seek to be known by its creatures, and interact throughout history in some supernatural ways. The big leap of faith is “there is a creator with enough power to make the universe.” If that’s true, then parting the red sea or making a stone off a really tall guy is no big deal, and the recording of it makes a lot more sense.

  • http://tubbotwins.wordpress.com Tubbo & Dubba Tubba

    Twisted.

  • Mark Lattimore

    VorJack:
    “We can’t hold ancient history to the same standard as we hold modern history, but it’s frustrating to deal with people who forget that “probably” or even “possibly” isn’t “certainly.” And this happens all the time in the field of biblical history.”

    Well said. Believe it or not, we actually agree on this point (although it’s not limited to biblical history). The only difference is the standard to which we hold the historical evidence. Obviously, I am of the opinion that in the field of Christian history many unfairly demand a higher standard of proof than is demanded of other fields. At the same time, I’m frequently frustrated by Christian attempts to repackage all things Christian, from history to the Bible, to fit molds. Even within the Christian community, we battle this trend (e.g. explaning the “eye of the needle” passage by asserting that ancient Jerusalem contained a gate called “the eye of the needle” — that just ain’t so, or, my personal favorite, the Christian attempt to coopt Darwin by insisting he converted to Christianity on his deathbed — never happened).

    And Dave, let me bring you in on this one, too. It’s all hearsay, from Homer to Jesus to Louis XIV to George Washington, and the legal chain of evidential custody is irreparably broken. We can argue from now to eternity about the reliability of the sources we have but I’m sure the servers that host WordPress would run out of room before we even approached a mutually agreeable resolution. The fact is our basic disagreement is not historical, it’s philosophical. We have fundamentally divergent worldviews which affect what we look for and expect in the things that inform our beliefs. Some of the bases for my worldview are evidential, some are experiential, some are both and to separate these two artificially would be like expecting two hydrogen atoms to make water in the absence of oxygen. I assume (and I apologize if I do so incorrectly), that you would place evidential influences over experiential influences (which is completely logical in a worldview that denies anything beyond the natural). Because of that, we will never agree. And that’s OK.

    My only hope is that atheists and theists can continue reasoned and, yes, cordial dialogue about these ultimate issues of life. (In that vein, check out “Belief or Non Belief, A Confrontation,” by Umberto Eco, a self-avowed agnostic, and Carlo Maria Martini, a Roman Catholic Cardinal. One of my favorite books of all time).

    It’s been fun.

  • http://liability.wordpress.com/ Rhonin

    Very cheeky, but I like it!

  • http://yes zack

    I consider myself to be Agnostic, personally, but I think that mocking people of faith is petulant and childish. Atheists who do things like this are just the opposite side of the coin from religious zealots. If you’re so worried about what you believe that you need other people to believe it with you, maybe its not that strong a belief after all. Leave everyone else to decide for themselves.

    thanks

    • natan dov

      Hi, Zack Are you Z Yitro? if so, what a coincidence! Nosson Dov

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @zack:

    If you’re so worried about what you believe that you need other people to believe it with you, maybe its not that strong a belief after all. Leave everyone else to decide for themselves.

    If that is the case, then why are you trying to make us agree with you? Maybe your beliefs aren’t so strong after all. You should let us decide for ourselves.

    :)

  • Joe

    Daniel Florien, if you want to go to hell, then go right ahead. But don’t be a stumbling block for people who want to believe. At one time you knew a little about the truth, but now you are overcome with bitterness. As a dog returns to his vomit, a fool returns to his folly. Daniel Florien, you are a fool.

  • chetyaw

    In many things as human beings we couldn’t understand the great wisdom of God with our limited understanding.
    Christians live by faith not by sight. It’s enough for me.
    Talking about your graphic, I don’t think that santa said to reward virtue and punish evil. The only one Judge is Jesus.

  • http://themasterstable.wordpress.com Clark Bunch

    I’m feeling Eric on this one; your list reads “not believed in by intelligent adults” and has checks in each category. You are saying, Dan, that no “intelligent” adult believes in God or Santa. Add C.S. Lewis to Eric’s list of intelligent adults, and I wish I knew the editor’s name who wrote “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

    I don’t go around saying this to everybody, but it helps make my point here. My I.Q. tests at 155, and I believe in God. I’m clinically proven to be intelligent, but that hasn’t interferred with my ministry.

    Historically, the atheistic percentage of the world’s population has never been over 6%. Your statement indicates that 94% or more of the population are unintelligent. I find that hard to believe; we’d still be living in Medieval Europe right now, but not know it.

    BTW, your comparison of tithes to cookies is hilarious. I do have a sense of humor. I just went off on the inteliigence thing because you claimed not to have said something you said.

  • http://showcaseofthebizarre.com SHOWCASE OF THE BIZARRE

    Santa & God have much in common… they are both fairy tales. If I had to put my faith on one though it would be Santa because unlike today’s religions, Santa is neither racist, sexist, nor barbaric.

    GOD BLESS SANTA!

    ps. I don’t think Jesus could rock the pimpin red suit and hat quite like Santa either!

    =)

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Daniel

    If you could give me irrefutable evidence that the universe started itself, that life created itself, that the spiritual world doesn’t exist, that reason can come from non-reason and that intelligence can come from non-intelligence, I’ll seriously consider wether or not I’m deluding myself. Are you catching on that it’s ridiculous to lay evidential criteria on Christians that you, yourself can’t meet?

    • claidheamh mor

      @kemper If you could give me irrefutable evidence that the universe started itself, that life created itself, that the spiritual world doesn’t exist, that reason can come from non-reason and that intelligence can come from non-intelligence, I’ll seriously consider wether or not I’m deluding myself. Are you catching on that it’s ridiculous to lay evidential criteria on Christians that you, yourself can’t meet?

      Daniel has already said, if you read more and ran off at the mouth (or keyboard) less, that if you could give evidence that some sky being created the universe, and the God of your chosen mythology has any evidence of existing, that he (and others have said the same) would be willing to believe what is now unsupported and unbelievable? Are you catching on that it’s ridiculous for you to pretend to meet any evidential criteria whatever to support your particular mythology, instead of admitting that you yourself utterly fail to meet it?

  • http://terrystuff.wordpress.com O’Maolchathaigh

    Nice chart.

  • http://lazacode.we.bs gabreel

    to adding up the list, santa is not a jew :)

  • parahlemen

    Despite how “hilarious” #6 is, it still can’t be backed up. I doubt there are any intelligent adults who believe in santa, and this does not translate over to God.

    It’s misleading.

  • murrowcronkite

    @ Vorjack

    I would love to hear what you think is so “bad” about John 3;16.-
    “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.
    Alot of people have gained comfort from that verse,- is that bad?

    I understand that the verse is making alot of unproveable statments, but comfort is comfort nonetheless.

  • murrowcronkite

    @ Dan L

    There’s always the shroud of Turin. (sheepishly)

    It’s kind of a photo of Jesus ?

    Let the slings and arrows begin.

  • http://showcaseofthebizarre.com SHOWCASE OF THE BIZARRE

    My criteria is science not non-sense. Any reasonably intelligent human being that has done research on both science and religion can see that all religions are primitive explanations on where we came from and how things work. If you want to believe in incest, talking snakes, & arks holding 2 of every species known to mankind then be my guest. I’ll side with evolution, reason, logic, & that which is real.

  • afbeaver

    Great great list!

  • thefourflames

    The essence of faith is believing in what you can’t see. No, I cannot give you undeniable proof, but I have seen God work through my life and many others, and that is proof enough for me.

  • http://showcaseofthebizarre.com SHOWCASE OF THE BIZARRE

    Wishful thinking that’s all. Religion exists today because people give credit to God for these “works.” When it comes down to it though, these events are completely natural. If you make God responsible for these acts then also hold him accountable for murder, rape, war, hate, oppression, greed, and all others acts that you might consider unfavorable for that matter.

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  • oh yeah

    I can totally believe that protein formed even though the probability of it happening is 1 in 10^950, when in science/maths anything above 1 in 10^50 is 0. And then there was this fully formed evolutionary mechanism that somehow randomly formed. And then the creatures that were eventually became fully formed in the sea were forced by this “instinct” to go up on land, and then they formed wings and flew away, because of this randomly made evolutionary mechanism.

    Yeah. Makes sense.

    • claidheamh mor

      To match oh yeah’s sarcasm: Oh yeah. I can totally believe that an imaginary sky being created one person, then another person out of the first one’s spare parts, and their only surviving son found someone else with whom to mate (inbreeding!), and this vengeful, egotistical, hate-filled being, after producing it all out of nothing, committed egregious slaughter in all the contradictory ways that his self-claimed contradiction-riddled book says he did. And some dude born the same way everyone else was – the only question is who the sperm was from – was sacrificed by this being to by this being to make up for his own botching up his own creation.

      I much prefer Santa.

      • Custador

        Wow, that was a necro reply!

        • claidheamh mor

          Haha! Thank you, I think! Actually, for my taste, sex and death don’t mix.

    • trj

      I, on the other hand, can totally believe someone would just unquestioningly repeat some stupid claim made by one of the stupidest creationists of all time, Harun Yahya.

      Proteins that just pop into existence fully formed and by a random combination – yeah that certainly does sound impossible and stupid. But only creationists have the lack of intelligence to claim that is how it happened.

  • http://goodnews2all.blogspot.com Senthil

    Hello
    I am very sad about your comparison with human being to God Almighty Yaweh. I deeply cry for these ignorance people. Pls read Bible that is truth. Dont follow the endless stories or myths as St. Paul warned his people in 2 Timothy 4 .2 “they will reject the truth and follow strangr myths.” God may save people like you inthe days to come from going to hell.

  • http://www.unindoctrinated.com/ betterthangod

    Good work.

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  • Jude

    @2twentythree3

    Not only god does not have a beard but does not have existence, which is the main point of the whole thing.

    Talk about bloody idiots.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @Joe: How about instead of calling me a “fool,” you provide some evidence of Jesus’ miracles? If it’s true, like you say it is, then there has to be some evidence to believe. Let me know when you find some. Otherwise, you just look like a silly name-calling fundie.

    @Clark Bunch:

    You are saying, Dan, that no “intelligent” adult believes in God or Santa.

    You’re wrong, I’m not saying that — and I didn’t say that. I think CS Lewis was very intelligent and believed in God. Logically, all my statement means is that there are intelligent adults who don’t believe in God. It’s oversimplified for entertainment purposes which is why you took offense, but as I’ve said here already a couple times, I don’t think people who believe in God are stupid nor do I think that people do don’t believe in God are smart. So I agree with you on that point.

    @thefourflames:

    No, I cannot give you undeniable proof, but I have seen God work through my life and many others, and that is proof enough for me.

    Well, at least you admit it. You only have emotions and anecdote. But then, I don’t know why you’d reject all the other religions — they have all those experiences too, with different Gods and Saviors. You can explain it away with demons, but how do you know you’re in the RIGHT religion? For all you know you’ve been fooled by demons.

    Instead, I’d encourage you to read up on the history of your religion and holy book. You’ll find it’s rather unimpressive unless you’re a believer and only see the good parts (or read it from a believer that only gives the good parts).

  • VorJack

    murrowcronkite -
    I didn’t say that there was anything wrong with Jhn 3:16. It’s merits and demerits are a separate issue. I was just saying that this one verse is not the whole of the New Testament.

    One of the dividing lines between modernist/liberal Christianity and traditional/orthodox Christianity is where the believer finds the emphasis in the bible. Liberal Christians tend to find it in the moral teachings of Jesus. Traditional Christians tend to find it in the revelation of Jesus’ divinity. Liberals focus on what Jesus SAID, traditionalists focus on what Jesus WAS.

    So traditionalists can sum up the bible by pointing to Jhn 3:16, while modernists point to the Golden Rule. (Of course this is all ideal type and broad generalization, but the core of it is considered accurate.)

  • http://www.stuartcrawford.com itsuccess

    I wish to help you, sounds like you have been burned and you are reaching out for someone to help you in your journey. If there is anything that I can do. Please don’t hesitate to ask.

    Stuart Crawford
    Calgary, AB
    http://blog.itsuccessmentor.com

    • claidheamh mor

      That is your severely distorted attempt to make someone else’s experience fit crammed, cut, and twisted to fit into the limited Procrustean box of your rigid beliefs. You believe a certain mythology; therefore (you “reason”), someone who found by experience that the mythology did not support itself or match life or reality, must have been “burned” and must be “reaching out for someone to help”.

      That is so far from reality, that you are incapable of conceiving that the people live outside of your head are different form the imaginary ones who live inside of your head, and don’t believe your particular chosen mythology.

  • VorJack

    “I wish to help you, sounds like you have been burned and you are reaching out for someone to help you in your journey.”

    Is there some evangelical phrasebook that this comes from? Seriously, why exactly do people automatically assume that a deconvert was “burned,” rather than simply had an epiphany?

    In my case, it’s not flatly not true. I was a liberal Christian who simply had problems with the intellectual foundations of the religion. I never burned out, I never had a breakdown (though if I had to sit through one more ‘folk Sunday,’ there would have been blood on the pews. Just sayin’.) Is it so hard to imagine that some people actually have the intellectual integrity to examine their own beliefs and follow the conclusions that they reach?

  • Swair

    TX CHL Instructor: you sound kinda stupid.. the “santa” at your church that you saw “with your own eyes” (gasp, shock) could be (for all you know) a beer-guzzling pedophile in a costume… Get your facts right, please.

    Gfish: Thank you! I especially agree with your last line: “One should not mix history with personal opinion. The result is usually accusatory nonsense.”

  • http://www.perplexicon.net/ David Michael

    One difference: as far as I know, it’s impossible to blaspheme against Santa. Although if I say “I hate Christmas” most people look at me as though I have blasphemed…

  • http://www.nlpg.com Robert Parrish

    Gotta disagree with number 10, too. God does answer calls, as in answers to prayer. Ever know someone “mysteriously healed” from a disease after prayer? Ever get a job after praying “God, just help me find work?”

  • VorJack

    Parrish -

    Seriously, ever hear of coincidence? I’ll accept your anecdotes about people being healed after prayer as soon as you accept mine about people not being healed after prayer. I mean, evidence should work both ways, shouldn’t it?

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  • Rhyon

    16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

    17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

    18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,

    19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

    20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

    22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools

    23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

    24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

    25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

    Beyond historical and contemporary “evidence” for His being. I am fully aware of Him because of His personal touch and influence on my life. Just simple personal experience.

  • Aor

    @Robert Parrish

    That chain of reasoning is exactly the same as the one that supports astrology and the belief that a black cat crossing your path is bad luck. Black cat crosses the sidewalk, 2 hours later you stub your toe on a coffee table, therefore the supernatural exists. It is spurious, not to mention ridiculous.

    Here is a test you can do at home: write down your prayers. Every one. Every single one. Put them in a nice book. Every once in a while, go back over them and put a ‘+’ next to the ones that came true and a ‘-’ next to the ones that didn’t. Add a notation describing how long after the prayer it came true. Add them up. Judge for yourself, based on data (what you did there, making a prayer and evaluating whether it came true and writing down the results, is called gathering data.)

    Now, being a believer, you will just claim that the ones that didn’t come true were not god’s will. The ones that did you will claim as evidence of god’s existence. Can you see the flaw in that yet? Throwing out any and all data that disagrees with your initial premise, and knowing absolutely that you are doing so, would make it quite clear that you are purposely attempting to deceive. In this example, you would be only deceiving yourself, but my point remains. Once you know that kind of reasoning is completely flawed you must never use it again, or you will be admitting to yourself and others that you purposely deceive in order to back up your beliefs.

    I am very serious about this. When you find yourself thinking in that way, stop a moment and analyze what you are doing. If you cannot see how fundamentally wrong that kind of reasoning is then you have my pity.

  • http://larianlequella.com Larian LeQuella

    Grats Dan. One heck of a blog post for you! :)

    And bravo Aor, excellent (albeit probably wasted) post.

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  • Joe

    You atheists have it all wrong. God is the judge. He doesn’t have to explain Himself to you. No more than a judge has to explain himself to a criminal being tried for murder. No more than I have to explain to my dogs why I had them neutered. You have to explain yourself to Him, not the other way around.

  • http://worldofweirdthings.com gfish

    God is the judge. He doesn’t have to explain Himself to you. No more than a judge has to explain himself to a criminal being tried for murder.

    Somebody’s not very familiar with the law…

    Judges actually do have to explain themselves when they sentence a criminal. There are laws, precedents and rules by which they have to abide. A judge can’t make the law, that’s the job of Congress and voters. If a judge does make up a new law while trying a criminal for murder, he can be disbarred.

    We’re sorry. Please insert a new quarter and try again.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    morrowcronkite:

    There’s always the shroud of Turin. (sheepishly)
    It’s kind of a photo of Jesus

    Completely unknown before the 14th Century, carbon dating suggests that the cloth was woven in the 14th Century, it’s embedded with pollen grains that date to 14th Century Europe rather than 1st Century Palestine, the “blood stains” are red ochre (a paint commonly used in the 14th Century…

    I don’t think it’s any more genuine than the Shrouds of Besançon, Cadouin, Champiègne, Xabregas, or the 40 other shrouds that various churches have claimed had held Jesus’ body.

    oh yeah:

    I can totally believe that protein formed even though the probability of it happening is 1 in 10^950, when in science/maths anything above 1 in 10^50 is 0. And then there was this fully formed evolutionary mechanism that somehow randomly formed. And then the creatures that were eventually became fully formed in the sea were forced by this “instinct” to go up on land, and then they formed wings and flew away, because of this randomly made evolutionary mechanism.
    Yeah. Makes sense.

    You’re right that is unbelievable. However, it doesn’t in any way resemble evolutionary theory, so that’s OK.

    First of all, your figure of 1 in 10^950 is based on everything self-assembling instantly in a single step, rather than evolving over millions of years. And even then, it’s false to say it’s completely impossible – just incredibly improbable. Otherwise, we wouldn’t say that it had a probability of 1 in 10^950; we’d say it had a probability of 0.

    The “evolutionary mechanism” is pretty much guaranteed, once you get chemicals which are capable of autocatalysing. They create copies of themselves, but they sometimes make errors. Some of those errors are incapable of copying themselves, and die out, but other have more success and come to dominate the environment. This is evolution.

    There is no “instinct” that drives evolution. Fish moved onto land because some of them developed features that let them exploit a new environment. Ditto for insects, dinosaurs and bats evolving flight. It’s simply that having wings made them more likely to survive and breed than their non-having-wings relatives, so they left more copies of themselves in the world.

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    @Robert Parrish:
    Um … I think I may have some bad news for you.

    The idea that X helps you to achieve something is known as “magical thinking.” Like a guy wearing the same shirt to a bar time after time because he once got laid while wearing it.

    He may strike out a thousand times, but if he once gets lucky again then that’ll be his “lucky shirt.”

    More here.

    Sorry to have shattered your faith like that and all. But look at how much free time you’ll have now that you’re skipping church.

    @Joe:
    What you say is true. God need not explain himself to me. He need only prove he exists.

    Waiting …

    Still waiting …

  • http://ilovecolors.com.ar Elliot

    Daniel, one difference is that some adults believe in God and no adult believes in Santa.

  • Vorjack

    “one difference is that some adults believe in God and no adult believes in Santa”

    Apparently you didn’t read Siovhinn’s comment.

  • solo

    im more inclined to believe in santa.
    after all i can go see him at the mall.
    when was the last time you saw god hanging out at the mall?
    nevar!

  • Starchild

    God and Santa Claus are the same Entity. Santa Claus is a metaphor for God.

  • Dan L.

    I could ask the same thing of an adult that believes the universe came from non-universe for no reason and no cause, that life came from non-life for no reason and no cause, that reason came from non-reason and that intelligence came from non-intelligence. All without the ability for science to test any of these phenomena yet holding that science is the only way to knowledge. That is the position the atheist finds himself in.

    Eric, I am sick of this argument.

    1. Since the universe is everything, it didn’t come from “non-universe.” The universe INCLUDES the time dimension, so saying it “came from” ANYTHING is dubious, and implying that it needs a cause (causality is time dependent) is silly.

    2. Life came from non-life WITH reason/cause. There is no evidence otherwise and all current theories of abiogenesis presume as much. You’re beating on a straw man.

    3. Intelligence came from non-intelligence — this one should be obvious to anyone who has taken ninth grade biology. Frogs aren’t, at least by any reasonable definition, intelligent. They are automatic fly-catching machines. If you throw tiny lead pellets by a frog for long enough, it will keep eating them until it explodes.

    Take a few steps up the food chain, you have various reptiles that are capable of blending in with whatever material they’re sitting on. This is automatic as well, but it’s much more complex behavior than that of a frog.

    A few steps higher and you can look at birds. Ravens have better memories than human beings do and show great problem-solving abilities. However, their (relative) intelligence is only incrementally better than, say, crows, and incrementally worse than the larger parrot varieties. These behaviors don’t seem so automatic; ravens can solve problems they have never seen before without trial and error (usually older ravens are more successful, suggesting long-term memory formation is a part of their capabilities).

    Anyone who is actually curious about the REAL world and tries to learn things about it could see that intelligence increases incrementally through the animal kingdom, along with a few outliers that make the whole picture even more interesting. Look at the intelligence displayed by cephalopods, or the fact that chimpanzees have on average better short-term memory than human beings. Your straw man is just stupid, and makes it clear that rather than asking “why?” you just look for reasons “why not.”

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    @Dan L.

    As far as I can tell, Kemp’s a dishonest, disingenuous troll and you risk madness by attempting to engage. Capsule version:

    Kemp the Magnificent Magician: Look, children–nothing up my sleeves … PRESTO! A colourful handkerchief blossoms from his sleeve

    Child: You pulled that out of your pocket.

    Kemp the Magnificent: Nonsense! Hey–Look!
    Waves same handkerchief from other hand.

    Child: That’s the same one. The one you pulled out of your pocket.

    Kemp the Magnificent: Oh really? Well how about … THIS! Eh? Huh? Try telling me I pulled THIS one from my pocket, eh?
    Waves exact same handkerchief triumphantly

    Children wander away in search of more intelligent entertainment.

  • Dave

    >It’s all hearsay, from Homer to Jesus to Louis XIV to George Washington, and the legal chain of evidential custody is irreparably broken.We have fundamentally divergent worldviews which affect what we look for and expect in the things that inform our beliefs.I assume (and I apologize if I do so incorrectly), that you would place evidential influences over experiential influences (which is completely logical in a worldview that denies anything beyond the natural).<

    Indeed I do. And so do you, Mark, most of the time. You only place experiential influences over evidential influences when it suits your purpose. In other words, you’re inconsistent, if not hypocritical.

    For example, you ONLY apply the above concept to areas where you THINK evidential influences don’t apply.

    Note, Mark, that you don’t have any problem excepting evidence that’s easy to digest. You don’t have any weird experiential beliefs about toilets, or internal combustion engines, or rainfall, or what happens if you don’t put sunblock on your skin when you’re at the beach.

    However, you do rely on what you think you experience when dealing with things you don’t understand. Examples: Trying glean why you exist, and trying to understand what purpose you serve.

    And then there are things you don’t understand, things that are difficult to understand: what reality was like before the Big Bang, how something seems to come from nothing, etc. You take the easy way out with faith in an imaginary deity who magically, in your mind, is responsible for everything.

    But you won’t grant to others the same right to believe in “experiential influences” you give to yourself. Your own belief system, that includes the supremacy of “experiential influences,” is only for yourself.

    Andrea Yates drowned her five children in the bathtub in 2002. Her “experiential influences” told her she needed to keep those kids from going to hell. There is no evidence she or her kids were going to hell. There was evidence she was insane – that she suffered from postpartum depression. There was no evidence that her actions were divinely inspired.

    Yet at the time she committed infanticide, Andrea Yates was as sure of her “experiential influences” as you are of your own “experiential influences.” You think she was insane (she does now, too). Or do you?

    If your answer is she was insane – which I hope you think – then there no point in giving credence to your assertion that we can throw out evidence. Because your assertion is completely self-centered, applicable only when you say it is.

    On the other hand, I don’t deny there are things I don’t understand, but I would not ascribe the properties of the things I don’t understand to the supernatural, as you would.

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  • http://unreligiousright.blogspot.com UNRR

    This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 12/20/2008, at The Unreligious Right

  • Mark Lattimore

    Dave,

    Wow! You have a lot of disdain for ideas that aren’t even mine. It’s as though I’ve attacked your very being.

    “You only place experiential influences over evidential influences when it suits your purpose.”

    I never said that I place experiential influences over evidential influences. If you’ll recall, I said I have some that are one, some that are another, some that are both and which cannot be separated.

    “Your own belief system, that includes the supremacy of “experiential influences,” is only for yourself…If your answer is she was insane – which I hope you think – then there no point in giving credence to your assertion that we can throw out evidence. Because your assertion is completely self-centered, applicable only when you say it is.”

    When did I ever say it was OK to throw out evidence or (again) that experiential influences reign supreme? You are trying to make an historical debate into an anti-religious crusade, the reasonable motivation of which escapes me. Possibly apart from vague references to “experiential influences” I have completely avoided steering the discussion into the direction of the supernatural because I understand the problems inherent in that debate and further understand that reasonable and reasoning people cannot carry on any meaningful discussion in a forum such as this (although, even the intent for raising the issue of experience was more philosophically motivated than religious). I have said nothing regarding the deity or lack thereof to be found in the person of Jesus. There is simply too much distance and separation in time to make that practical. If we want to debate history, great. But what is the obsession with turning what was an historical discussion into an anti-religious polemic? I get it. You think I’m either nuts or unintelligent because I believe that a fully human being named Jesus existed some 2000 years ago, but you sure had to go a long way out of your way to say so. I am fascinated by that.

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  • murrowcronkite

    @ Vorjack

    I know you don’t agree but I have drawn much inspiration from both of the instances you mentioned above as well as many other things in our universe and minds.

  • murrowcronkite

    It is wrong to assume you don’t agree. Actually I can see that you are quite educated about these things and have a very good understanding. I’m not being sarcastic. We all need more people of your thinking.

  • murrowcronkite

    Is it my imagination or do I see a future where wars will be fought between those who view themselves as intellectual, reasoning, smart folk and those they view as dumb superstitious,worthless, idiots.

    Digital technology and the drive to understand,master and design it, is making us think less human every day.

    Let the wars begin.

    There is more to learning and human culture than thinking in 1′s and 0′s.

    Unfotunately the thinking machines have already started to change us and soon might rule us.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @murrowcronkite: I doubt that will be the case, unless the “non-intellectual, superstitious, worthless idiots” try and kill us. I’m sure most of us around here are peaceful, tolerant, and believe in liberty.

    For instance, though I often disagree with you, I believe strongly that you should be allowed to express your opinion publicly, just like I want freedom to express mine.

  • mimi

    You can feel Christ in your heart. Santa is a replica of that kind of love.

    Santa satan just moving a letter makes such a difference.

    • claidheamh mor

      @mimi Santa satan just moving a letter makes such a difference.

      christian = is rich tan = chair snit = ar, sin itch

      Moving letters around makes the difference.
      With mimi, now I know christianity is followed by the illiterate and genuinely, truly, honestly stupid.

      God = Dog moving a letter around makes such a difference.

  • http://worldofweirdthings.com gfish

    Santa, satan just moving a letter makes such a difference.

    Dyslexic Devil worshipers praise Santa.

  • murrowcronkite

    Dan

    Thanks for the opportunity and the forum you’ve created.
    It is the first blog I browse to.
    I became “saved” during my freshman year in college and did not grow up in the church. I high school I partied alot and experienced a fair amount of the world. I was lucky to meet and Join with some very down to earth Christians who to me exemplified integrity and honesty not, fanaticism or dogmatism. They really emphasized Bible reading and knowledge. As a result of this I have read the old and new testaments through many times and have found it educational and rewarding.

    Since college, I’ve had problems with alchohol and women and dabbled in drugs.
    To me the idea of having someone in your corner seen or unseen has given my life direction at times when I have needed it.- A friend and philosopher, teacher to guide me.

    I envy people who have been able to steer clear of troubles in life for whatever reason,but I know my life would be infinitely worse and directionless without faith that I have a friend no matter what even if it is a figment of my transferred desire and need for such a thing.

    I know this seems primitive but I believe there is still a place for such things as faith in a God- friend in our lives, along with a total embrace of science and what it tells us.

    To people of pure science these things are exclusive but not to me. I try to embrace all things that are true. Love , kindness, understanding and knowledge will always be true to me.
    The biggest secret to me in the scriptures is the teaching of dying to desires- for power, beauty , pleasure and all of the things cause humans to make themselves and others suffer.
    It is the true meaning of the crucifixition and that we can become like Christ in that sense.
    Christianity is more about the inner universe than the outer one. Bhuddism is as well.

    Have a great holiday season all-

  • murrowcronkite

    I would like to amend one thing.
    I still drink-a little too much, smoke cigaerettes- way too much, and, if I had the opportunity, would probably be as greedy and lustful as anyone.

    But with the teaching and my understanding of the Bible I have been able to diminish the influence of these things in my life and, though It’s been a very long road, I am begining to improve Day by Day- as the song says.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Dan L

    “Eric, I am sick of this argument.”

    I’m not the one making it. Daniel is. So you should talk to your friend and get him to stop making it. I realize how ridiculous it is to hold others beliefs to a higher standard of evidence than you hold to your own. I made my argument as a sarcastic version of Daniel’s, to show him the ridiculousness of his own argument. I said as much in my original comment.

    “1. Since the universe is everything, it didn’t come from “non-universe.” The universe INCLUDES the time dimension, so saying it “came from” ANYTHING is dubious, and implying that it needs a cause (causality is time dependent) is silly.”

    You’re right, causality is time dependent. So then when and how did time begin? Or are you saying that it has always been? The bottom line is this, either the universe has always been, or it hasn’t. If it has always been, then the sun would have died out long ago and you’re going to have to explain to me then how the universe is STILL expanding at the speed of light. If it hasn’t always been, then it had a beginning. It’s really that easy.

    “2. Life came from non-life WITH reason/cause. There is no evidence otherwise and all current theories of abiogenesis presume as much. You’re beating on a straw man.”

    Really? I’m honestly looking forward to you explaining to me how the random forces that contributed to abiogenesis had causation and purpose. Go ahead.

    “3. Intelligence came from non-intelligence — this one should be obvious to anyone who has taken ninth grade biology. Frogs aren’t, at least by any reasonable definition, intelligent. They are automatic fly-catching machines.”

    Calling a frog “intelligent” and an “automatic fly-catching machine” is a contradiction in terms. And please, don’t be so disingenuous, you know exactly what I mean. Our closest ancestors, the ape, that which we share 99% of our DNA with, fling poop at eachother. We, on the other hand, compose symphonies, sonnets and build machines that go faster than the speed of sound. That’s the kind of gap in intelligence I’m talking about. The gap is so large, that apes are unintelligent in comparison. Can you show me an observed, tested example of this intelligence evolving from non-intelligence?

    “Take a few steps up the food chain, you have various reptiles that are capable of blending in with whatever material they’re sitting on. This is automatic as well, but it’s much more complex behavior than that of a frog.”

    That’s not intelligence, that’s DNA.

    A question. Why didn’t you challenge my “reason from non-reason” position? Oh, that’s right, because you know exactly what I mean. No matter how “advanced”, no animal except humans reason through their existence…THAT’S what I mean.

    Oh, and saying that the animal kingdom becomes progressively more intelligent as it evolves assumes evolution to prove evolution. It’s circular. You have never observed an animal becoming another, “more smarter” animal.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @murrowcronkite: I think your argument is fine — in fact, I think that’s the only real argument a believer can make. There’s no evidence for belief, so it boils down to emotion/comfort/happiness.

    If I could live life better by imagining a great pink unicorn who loves me, then maybe I’d do it. Well, probably not, because I prefer to believe what is true. But I can see why someone might do that.

    When I was a believer, it was impossible for me to think non-believers could really be happy or truly moral. But now that I’m on the other side, I find my thinking was very blinded by faith. Nonbelievers are just as happy (or unhappy) and just as moral (or immoral).

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    @Eric Kemp:

    I realize how ridiculous it is to hold others beliefs to a higher standard of evidence than you hold to your own.

    No. You. Don’t.

    You’ve never once produced a shred of evidence beyond your own circular arguments for your pet superstition. Fine, but we hold our beliefs to a higher standard. We’ll believe something given evidence of its existence, or even a reasonable chance of its existence.

    However, I will credit you with changing my beliefs in one way. I still don’t believe in any gods, but I sure do believe in trolls.

    How do you finish the following chain of thought:

    1) Fact: The universe exists.
    2) Question: So it does. Interesting … how’d that happen?

    Answer 1 (E. Kemp model) A great big dimensionless sky spirit wove something from nothing at all. Goddidit!

    Answer 2 (Science) Well we’re not quite sure. We have some evidence about what conditions obtained up to and possibly before the first event, but we’re still working on what cause there could possibly be, and whether a cause was even necessary under the rules of physics that might have applied then.

    But we sure as heck haven’t seen any giant fingerprints on the universe to indicate a creator, so we’ve pretty much decided that his existence is unlikely to the nth degree.

    Which of the two is the logical conclusion? You say “It’s maaagic!” And claim to be able to prove it. But until now you’ve not been able to do a very good job of proving your case.

    Moreover, nor has anyone else with your viewpoint. The explanations that satisfied bronze-age shepherds won’t do anymore. And religion’s arguments simply haven’t kept up.

  • Martin

    Generally a weak case is made if you need to bend facts.
    And..

    *God does not have a long white beard, at least not in bible.

    *The earth is round is also taught by parents… (by the way Bible talk about earth being round and hangs in void and it was written at the time when Egyptians believed that earth floats in Nilus and Mesopotamians that it is located on the shoulders of elephants)

    *There are intelligent adults who do believe and there are do not. Like my university physics teacher said (he is quite famous and author of many books), a quote:”it is hard to be a serious physicist and not to believe in God”.

    And now let’s take Darwin:

    +Has white beard.
    +Taught to children.
    +Never returns calls.
    +Not believed by INTELLIGENT adults:
    As the result of last 50 years of discoveries pure Darwin is generally not taught anymore in universities(at least to my knowledge). While Darwin states that there was no driving force but natural selection, findings state otherwise. Fossils show very rapid evolution in some periods and that cannot be explained by natural selection, it’s just not fast enough. So now “improved Darwin” (out of respect to Darwin they do not they that he was wrong but just that he was inconclusive) they say that there was a driving force and they have multiple theories of what it was. One theory is the combination of genetics, cosmic radiation and some more stuff. Unfortunately it is considered too complex for high school students and Darwin is still taught there. And Darwin stating that there was no driving force and science stating that there was – I would say that he was just plain wrong. And intelligent adults know that – who are really intelligent (unfortunately not the majority).

  • VorJack

    “(by the way Bible talk about earth being round and hangs in void and it was written at the time when Egyptians believed that earth floats in Nilus and Mesopotamians that it is located on the shoulders of elephants)”

    Real quick: the ancient Israelites believed in the three tiered universe/flat earth model that their neighbors believed in. This is visible from the very beginning, when God creates the firmament, which is the great dome of the sky which separates the waters around/above the earth from the waters below the earth. This didn’t change until about the time they became hellenized, when they began to accept the Ptolemaic system of a spherical earth within crystal spheres.

    Also: why do people keep attacking Darwin? You do realize that as atheists we don’t have avatars or god-sent heroes, don’t you? Making fun of Darwin is like me making fun of St. Augustine: yes, he’s historically important, but no one really gives a flip if you say he’s a jerk.

    Also: cosmic radiation? the hell?

  • Dan L.

    I’m not the one making it. Daniel is. So you should talk to your friend and get him to stop making it. I realize how ridiculous it is to hold others beliefs to a higher standard of evidence than you hold to your own. I made my argument as a sarcastic version of Daniel’s, to show him the ridiculousness of his own argument. I said as much in my original comment.

    This has been explained to you several times. There is no way to present evidence of absence — one cannot falsify a negative claim. THAT is why evidence FOR God is treated differently from evidence AGAINST God. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence — the same goes for unicorns and leprechauns. If you want me to believe in unicorns, show me the goddam unicorn.

    You’re right, causality is time dependent. So then when and how did time begin? Or are you saying that it has always been? The bottom line is this, either the universe has always been, or it hasn’t. If it has always been, then the sun would have died out long ago and you’re going to have to explain to me then how the universe is STILL expanding at the speed of light. If it hasn’t always been, then it had a beginning. It’s really that easy.

    Again, it doesn’t make sense to say that “time begins.” To begin, there would have to be some meta-time by which we could measure the beginning of time. Your problem is that you’re approaching a very difficult problem with a very parochial view of how the world “should” work.

    The universe doesn’t care whether you understand it and it doesn’t conform itself to meet the requirements of the English language. If the universe began as a singularity (which it may or may not have done), then the “beginning” of time would make no sense, because as you moved towards the singularity, time would slow down. Basically, moving back in time toward the singularity, you would go slower and slower but never stop, and never reach the beginning. “Time” and “begin” and “come from” are all phrases and concepts that fail in such a situation. If you want to understand this sort of thing, you’re going to have to open your mind and use a little imagination. Reading a little about physics couldn’t hurt either.

    Really? I’m honestly looking forward to you explaining to me how the random forces that contributed to abiogenesis had causation and purpose. Go ahead.

    Nice strawman, Eric. “causation” is not the same as “purpose.” Everything that happens has antecedents (i.e. “causes”). “Purpose” only makes sense in the intentional stance (i.e. talking about the behavior of self-aware agents). And forces aren’t random; there are laws that describe their behavior pretty precisely, at least with aggregate numbers of molecules.

    “3. Intelligence came from non-intelligence — this one should be obvious to anyone who has taken ninth grade biology. Frogs aren’t, at least by any reasonable definition, intelligent. They are automatic fly-catching machines.”

    Calling a frog “intelligent” and an “automatic fly-catching machine” is a contradiction in terms. And please, don’t be so disingenuous, you know exactly what I mean. Our closest ancestors, the ape, that which we share 99% of our DNA with, fling poop at eachother. We, on the other hand, compose symphonies, sonnets and build machines that go faster than the speed of sound. That’s the kind of gap in intelligence I’m talking about. The gap is so large, that apes are unintelligent in comparison. Can you show me an observed, tested example of this intelligence evolving from non-intelligence?

    I never called a frog “intelligent.” The frog was my “stupid” example — yet it is still obviously smarter than a nematode. And we can go up from so stupid it’s practically a plant (sponges) and gradually arrive at chimpanzees. There’s a bit of a jump to human beings — but only in terms of behavior and not genetics, or even really capability.

    This is a rather disingenuous argument on your part. Yes, chimpanzees throw their excrement — they also raise families, engage in disputes, mediate the disputes of others, engage in warfare, regulate behavior of social inferiors, use tools, play, and a lot of other complex behaviors.

    When you compare human behavior to chimpanzee behavior, the thing that most stands out is (*gasp*) language. Language has allowed human beings to hold on to survival strategies and other sorts of information from generation to generation — a capability our nearest genetic relatives lack. When you say that we compose sonnets and symphonies and build jets, you’re saying that we’ve LEARNED to do these things over THOUSANDS of years of being able to pass tool-making and -using techniques, folk and popular music, poetry, history, etc. We can look far enough back in history, though, to see human beings that could NOT do these things. All examples you mention are the result of language allowing homo sapiens to enrich their culture and technology exponentially, each generation building on what came before. The “large leap” you talk about from chimpanzee to human being is only there when you compare modern humans to chimpanzees. Compare (biologically identical) prehistoric cave dwellers to chimpanzees and the leap is not nearly so large.

    Asking for examples of evolution in action is stupid, seeing as it takes at least a few generations for ANYTHING like evolution to happen. If you don’t realize this, then you really are a troll.

    That’s not intelligence, that’s DNA.

    A question. Why didn’t you challenge my “reason from non-reason” position? Oh, that’s right, because you know exactly what I mean. No matter how “advanced”, no animal except humans reason through their existence…THAT’S what I mean.

    DNA has nothing to do with intelligence? DNA determines the formation of neurons in embryonic development. It has a whole lot to do with intelligence. You fail.

    I ignored your “reason from non-reason” argument because it’s an “argument from non-argument.” It really is not even an argument. When I talk, “words come from non-words” and “sound comes from non-sound.” When I play guitar, “music comes from non-music.” When I draw, “lines come from non-lines.” You see how vacuous this argument is? I can do this for pretty much anything. When I take a shower, “clean comes from non-clean.” I could do this all day and prove that EVERYTHING is impossible.

    Oh, and saying that the animal kingdom becomes progressively more intelligent as it evolves assumes evolution to prove evolution. It’s circular. You have never observed an animal becoming another, “more smarter” animal.

    Another strawman, Eric, I was not making an argument for evolution (there’s far more effective ones). I was making an argument that there’s every reason to believe that assuming evolution is true (and there’s every reason to believe it is) then intelligence evolved.

    I have never observed an animal become a smarter animal because I am not 20,000 years old. Neither are you. That doesn’t affect the validity of evolution. Get over it. Again, if you think this is a valid argument against evolution, then you really are just a closed-minded and stupid troll with no desire to learn new things or improve yourself. Is this a fair characterization?

  • http://whyareyousofat.wordpress.com McBloggenstein

    DAMN me for being on vacation and missing out on this one.

    I loved the graphic!
    I loved the discussion!
    …and I loved that Eric Kemp is still trying to argue that just because science hasn’t definitively answered some of the big questions that the most reasonable explanation is godditit.

    Damn you Daniel for starting such good discussions! I’m neglecting my own blog!

    I don’t think you needed to defend #6 so much. You gave a perfectly good explanation with:

    So I’m happy to agree there are intelligent people who believe in God if I think of things from one perspective. Then again, if an adult believed in Santa yet was considered intelligent, I’d have a nagging feeling that this person really can’t be all that intelligent.

    Sam Harris brings this up occasionally. On paper, under any other circumstances, someone that lives an otherwise normal life, yet believes in the unbelievable, and talks to someone that they can’t prove exists, would be labeled as crazy. And of course there are plenty of highly intelligent people that are also crazy by most people’s standards.

    Intelligence really is subjective. I think, Daniel, that if you say that by your standards you question someones intelligence that is a firm believer in God, that you are saying something perfectly reasonable because that statement does not necessarily affect the more widely accepted view of what it means to be intelligent.

  • http://whyareyousofat.wordpress.com McBloggenstein

    Oops, I meant “Goddidit”… not godditit.

    @Dan L.
    Great response! My favorite point you made is about the “large leap” fallacy. I see this a lot in arguments of believers.

    Whether it’s putting down evolution by saying that we don’t see monkeys evolving into humans anymore, or that the human eye is so complex that it must have had a creator, it really shows that not only do they not have even a basic understanding of evolution, but they also are forgetting that they are using an unreasonable explanation to fill in the gaps for what they don’t understand or cannot answer.

    They just don’t understand that these things happen over time spans larger than they are even capable of understanding since our own existence is minuscule relative to these processes.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Dan L.

    “This has been explained to you several times. There is no way to present evidence of absence — one cannot falsify a negative claim. THAT is why evidence FOR God is treated differently from evidence AGAINST God.”

    Semantics. I’m not asking you to prove an absolute negative, in fact, I’m pointing out how absurd such a request would be. In fact, it’s JUST AS absurd as asking to prove an absolute positive. But I’m confused, isn’t this what you’re doing? Trying to provide evidence of God’s absence?

    But you actually missed the heart of the difference. It isn’t between “positive vs. negative” claims, it’s between “metaphysical vs. empirical” claims. God exists is a metaphysical claim that is outside the bounds of science. God doesn’t exist is a metaphysical claim of the same mold. That isn’t to say that there can’t be empirical evidence in support of either claim, but the claim ITSELF is metaphysical and therefore, unprovable or falsifiable by science.

    In Daniel’s original rebuttal to someone (I forget who), he demanded empirical evidence for the metaphysical claims of God while ignoring that his own metaphysical claims can have no empirical evidence to back them up. These metaphysical claims are the presuppositions of naturalism, materialism, empiricism and uniformitarianism (to put it broadly).

    “To begin, there would have to be some meta-time by which we could measure the beginning of time. Your problem is that you’re approaching a very difficult problem with a very parochial view of how the world “should” work.”

    I’m not trying to measure the beginning of time, I’m just saying it happened. So are you saying that time never began?

    ” If the universe began as a singularity (which it may or may not have done), then the “beginning” of time would make no sense, because as you moved towards the singularity, time would slow down. Basically, moving back in time toward the singularity, you would go slower and slower but never stop, and never reach the beginning.”

    Unfounded, unsupported conjecture. Are you saying then that time is speeding up? What evidence do you have to support this?

    “Nice strawman, Eric. “causation” is not the same as “purpose.” Everything that happens has antecedents (i.e. “causes”)”

    You claimed that abiogenesis had “cause” and “reason” (I used purpose as a synonym for reason). I was just asking about this claim. Could you please describe for me the causes that led to abiogenesis? And, since everything that happens has antecedents, and the universe “happened”, could you please be specifically tell me what antecedents led to the “happening” of the universe? Btw, “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer and I have purpose for asking these questions, so bear with me.

    Human beings: Exactly, we learned and have language. Many other species had hundreds of thousands of years to “learn”. Why didn’t they? Why the big gap? Why are we so different intellectually when we’re barely different biologically? Could you provide me with an evolutionary example, observed and tested, of this evolution taking place?

    “Asking for examples of evolution in action is stupid, seeing as it takes at least a few generations for ANYTHING like evolution to happen. If you don’t realize this, then you really are a troll.”

    EXACTLY. And yet you call it science. You have no way of observing and testing these phenomena, so why do you then believe that it happened? If science can’t tell you about it, then how do you know it happened?

    “DNA has nothing to do with intelligence? DNA determines the formation of neurons in embryonic development. It has a whole lot to do with intelligence. You fail.”

    Now you’re just being inconsistent. You just described how light-years ahead of apes we are even though they’ve had “longer” to learn, and yet you say that intelligence is determined by DNA? Apparently not! If that was true, there would be a miniscule difference in intelligence between us and the apes.

    “When I talk, “words come from non-words” and “sound comes from non-sound.” When I play guitar, “music comes from non-music.” When I draw, “lines come from non-lines.” You see how vacuous this argument is? I can do this for pretty much anything. When I take a shower, “clean comes from non-clean.” I could do this all day and prove that EVERYTHING is impossible.”

    False dichotomy. Language, music and art use your reason, so you’re laying your argument on top of mine to try to attempt to prove mine wrong. It doesn’t work. I made the distinction with the word “reason” because our intellectual capacity goes so far beyond just being smarter and being able to make cool stuff. Language, music, art, philosophy and literature are so much more than just from intelligence, they’re from REASON. With think about our existence and how to make it better. If we’re so close biologically to apes, why do we do this, and they don’t? How do you reconcile this immaterial difference with your belief that only the material exists?

    “I have never observed an animal become a smarter animal because I am not 20,000 years old. Neither are you. That doesn’t affect the validity of evolution.”

    It’s so funny, you guys can’t see past your metaphysical nose. You have no problem with not being able to observe evolution in action, yet the second God is proposed to to you, you say, “I can’t observe Him therefore He doesn’t exist!” I love it.

    And now what you’re going to do is try and bait and switch me with “Well we can see bacteria evolving in the lab, so we know it happens”. Save it. What you know is that bacteria evolve into different BACTERIA. It doesn’t evolved into a eukaryote right in front of you does it? All you can see is kinds evolving but staying in their kinds. And yet you’ll try to tell me this is evidence of cross-phylogenic evolution. Save it.

    “Get over it. Again, if you think this is a valid argument against evolution, then you really are just a closed-minded and stupid troll with no desire to learn new things or improve yourself. Is this a fair characterization?”

    What I’ve learned is that a valid argument against evolution doesn’t exist according evolutionists. What I’ve learned is that you don’t even have to observe evolution happening in order to believe it did yet you deny God cause you think you can’t observe Him because evolution is true. It’s the perfect argument that can’t be argued against. Apparently, I’ve learned quite alot.

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    McBloggenstein

    “They just don’t understand that these things happen over time spans larger than they are even capable of understanding since our own existence is minuscule relative to these processes.”

    Actually, what I don’t understand is how, even within your own theory, you claim that you can’t observe it, therefore you can’t test it, yet you still call it science. THAT is what I don’t understand.

  • http://whyareyousofat.wordpress.com McBloggenstein

    I don’t want to speak for others, but I don’t think it’s been said that God does not exist simply because he is not observed.

    Probably more likely, it has been said that while a proof of a theory may not be able to be observed, the use of God as an explanation just seems to be one of the more unreasonable ones.

    I’ve, by the way, never said that I have any theories on the big questions. Again, God is just one of the more unlikely explanations to me.

    It’s always hilarious to me how the topic of each post that stirs a lot of discussion always falls into this rut of whether God exists or not.

    Why can’t we stick to the post?

  • Dan L.

    Semantics. I’m not asking you to prove an absolute negative, in fact, I’m pointing out how absurd such a request would be. In fact, it’s JUST AS absurd as asking to prove an absolute positive. But I’m confused, isn’t this what you’re doing? Trying to provide evidence of God’s absence?

    Definition of semantics:
    1. Linguistics.
    a. the study of meaning.
    b. the study of linguistic development by classifying and examining changes in meaning and form.
    2. Also called significs. the branch of semiotics dealing with the relations between signs and what they denote.
    3. the meaning, or an interpretation of the meaning, of a word, sign, sentence, etc.: Let’s not argue about semantics.

    You don’t think that the meaning of words is significant in this discussion? All you’re demonstrating is that I’m taking your arguments too seriously. You can’t (credibly) wave away philosophical or physical arguments by dismissing them as “semantics.” Semantics is the MOST fundamental facet of both fields of inquiry.

    And please…positive proof is absurd? I can give you positive proof of the existence of Daniel’s blog — in fact, you’ve had that all along. You can prove all KINDS of absolute positives trivially. It’s not absurd at all.

    Proving that Daniel DOESN’T have a blog is more difficult. I could google all day long and still not be able to provide evidence for the absence of Daniel’s blog, but all I could ever provide is either a) proof positive of its existence or b) absence of evidence of its existence (which again is not evidence of absence). It is trivial to prove Daniel’s blog exists (assuming it does). It is IMPOSSIBLE to prove Daniel’s blog does not exist (assuming it doesn’t). “God exists” and “God does not exist” are not semantically symmetrical. What is so hard about this?

    But you actually missed the heart of the difference. It isn’t between “positive vs. negative” claims, it’s between “metaphysical vs. empirical” claims. God exists is a metaphysical claim that is outside the bounds of science. God doesn’t exist is a metaphysical claim of the same mold. That isn’t to say that there can’t be empirical evidence in support of either claim, but the claim ITSELF is metaphysical and therefore, unprovable or falsifiable by science.

    “God exists” can only avoid empirical verification given the assumption that a) God does not interact with the material world or b) God carefully hides all his interactions from we mere mortals. In other words, “God exists” is purely metaphysical only if you ASSUME that it is purely metaphysical. You are begging the question. The fact is that if God interacts with the material world, then in principle His existence is empirically verifiable.

    In Daniel’s original rebuttal to someone (I forget who), he demanded empirical evidence for the metaphysical claims of God while ignoring that his own metaphysical claims can have no empirical evidence to back them up. These metaphysical claims are the presuppositions of naturalism, materialism, empiricism and uniformitarianism (to put it broadly).

    Hate to break it to you, but dualism (strong and weak varieties) has no explanatory power in the real world. How does one demonstrate the truth of a metaphysical claim, then? Or is it all just arbitrary?

    I’m not trying to measure the beginning of time, I’m just saying it happened. So are you saying that time never began?

    I’m saying it doesn’t even make sense to say that “time begins” or “time never began.” It’s self-contradictory. From what I can tell, you’re either being obtuse to be difficult or you were just obtuse to begin with. “Time began” falls under the “not even wrong” category.

    Unfounded, unsupported conjecture. Are you saying then that time is speeding up? What evidence do you have to support this?

    It’s not unfounded conjecture. It’s relativity. Time is different depending on the inertial reference frame (roughly, the velocity) where the measurements are being taken. If your intertial reference frame is moving towards a black hole, then time slows down for you.

    And no, if the universe is expanding (it is) then time is speeding up, in a sense. This is because the best way to measure time is to measure a distance, divide it by the speed of light, and then use the time it takes light to travel that distance as your unit time. Since point a and point b are flying away from each other very quickly, it takes longer and longer for light to travel from a to b — your time units become larger and your measured intervals become smaller. When you travel BACKwards in time, it seems to slow down, because light takes less time to travel from b to a in the past then it does to travel a to b in the future. The units get smaller, and time slows down. This is not obvious to us, because cosmic expansion is driven by a force that is too small to have any impact at the scale of a solar system.

    It’s really not as simple as you seem to think it is. Take a few college-level physics classes before you start shooting your mouth about it.

    You claimed that abiogenesis had “cause” and “reason” (I used purpose as a synonym for reason). I was just asking about this claim. Could you please describe for me the causes that led to abiogenesis? And, since everything that happens has antecedents, and the universe “happened”, could you please be specifically tell me what antecedents led to the “happening” of the universe? Btw, “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer and I have purpose for asking these questions, so bear with me.

    “Reason” could be interpreted as a synonym for “cause” with as much validity. I don’t really like getting into arguments about causality because most people have pretty parochial assumptions about the nature of time and consequence. Epistemologically, “causality” as it is usually understood is on pretty shaky ground, IMHO. For instance, what “causes” a seed to grow into a plant? In reality, there are innumerable antecedents to this event; really, causality involves the whole “past light cone” of an event and is not quantifiable in any pragmatic way. This is a disclaimer; when forced to talk about causality, I have to “translate” what I actually think into terms most people are more comfortable with, like “reason” and “cause.” I don’t think the usual meanings of these words are really applicable, though.

    That said, I wasn’t here for the beginning of the universe or for abiogenesis, so I obviously cannot specify exactly the causes. Similarly, I cannot specify for you the exact causes of the melting of my ice cream (which air molecules imparted energy to which water molecules) — but I can give you a good sketch of the physical principles involved. Similarly, I can talk about the sorts of conditions that one would expect to lead to abiogenesis. The early stages of the universe are a little more mysterious, but they’re also very hard to reason on because time and space get very funky when matter is all squeezed together like it (probably) was back then.

    So no, I don’t know for sure what exactly happened; all I can do is speculate and then check whether my speculations are reasonable. That is science in a nutshell.

    Human beings: Exactly, we learned and have language. Many other species had hundreds of thousands of years to “learn”. Why didn’t they? Why the big gap? Why are we so different intellectually when we’re barely different biologically? Could you provide me with an evolutionary example, observed and tested, of this evolution taking place?

    Eric — stop being a prat. Evolution is not investigated by breeding rabbits for thousands of years until we get a super rabbit.

    The big gap should be obvious. Other species never evolved the ability to use language, and only a few have gained the ability to learn. Our cortices are larger and more complex than those of other animals. Chimps don’t speak not just because they haven’t learned but because they CAN’T learn to speak. We got there first — which is why we’re the ones asking “why did we get here first?”

    Now you’re just being inconsistent. You just described how light-years ahead of apes we are even though they’ve had “longer” to learn, and yet you say that intelligence is determined by DNA? Apparently not! If that was true, there would be a miniscule difference in intelligence between us and the apes.

    I’m not being inconsistent. They have had exactly as long as we’ve had to learn, since we would have branched from a common ancestor AT THE SAME TIME.

    And you’re completely wrong about concluding that a minimal difference in DNA would cause a minimal difference in intelligence. German shepherds and chihuahuas are almost identical genetically, but the difference in phenotype is pretty obvious. However, intelligence must ultimately be constrained by an organism’s ability to generate neural tissue, and that ability is constrained by the organism’s cells’ ability to synthesize proteins in the correct amounts and times, and that ability is constrained by the DNA itself. A small change in DNA can result in a big change in the resulting phenotype, but ultimately the “cause” (if you will) of the big change rests in the genetic mutation causing different proteins to be synthesized at different times.

    False dichotomy. Language, music and art use your reason, so you’re laying your argument on top of mine to try to attempt to prove mine wrong. It doesn’t work. I made the distinction with the word “reason” because our intellectual capacity goes so far beyond just being smarter and being able to make cool stuff. Language, music, art, philosophy and literature are so much more than just from intelligence, they’re from REASON. With think about our existence and how to make it better. If we’re so close biologically to apes, why do we do this, and they don’t? How do you reconcile this immaterial difference with your belief that only the material exists?

    I’ll ignore your misuse of “false dichotomy” and continue tearing apart this form of argument. When iron molecules form in a dying red giant star, “iron comes from non-iron.” When ice melts, “liquid comes from non-liquid.” When water freezes, “solid comes from non-solid.” When a seed grows into a tree, “tree comes from non-tree.” See? I don’t have to rely on abstractions. Your argument is just as lame no matter the universe of discourse. This “reason/non-reason” crap has no legs, Eric. Give it up.

    Besides that, language, music, and art are all material at least at some level. Music is time-dependent pressure gradients in the air or another medium that are arranged in a particular way. Similar with language. Art in general consists of all sorts of material arranged in interesting ways. How human beings decide to arrange those things is a complex affair and not very clearly understood, but assuming that the difference is immaterial is begging the question again. You’ve provided no reason to believe that there is a strictly immaterial component to this, and there’s a great deal of evidence for the material antecedents to human decision making (fMRI studies, etc.).

    EXACTLY. And yet you call it science. You have no way of observing and testing these phenomena, so why do you then believe that it happened? If science can’t tell you about it, then how do you know it happened?

    Science is not JUST observing and testing phenomena. Notice that there’s this whole “theory” part of science. Basically, we make observations, and to make sense of these observations, we theorize about relationships. Relationships that are consistent with many observations and help make correct predictions are “good theories”; theories that are inconsistent with observable facts and/or don’t make correct predictions are “bad theories.” Evolution is a good theory. It is consistent with all known and observed facts about life on earth. It makes successful predictions about the coloration of moths, about antibiotic resistance, and about the varieties of fossils we expect to find (among many other things). The success of evolution as a theory is not the extent to which it has been observed in action, but the extent to which it is consistent with facts both already observed and yet-to-be observed.

    Case in point: when relativity was formulated, there was no way to test it…i.e. its effects were not observable. This did not discredit it as a theory because it was consistent with all known facts, including a few that Newtonian gravity could not explain. It was a better theory not because its effects could be directly observed, but because it was more consistent with facts already known.

    It’s so funny, you guys can’t see past your metaphysical nose. You have no problem with not being able to observe evolution in action, yet the second God is proposed to to you, you say, “I can’t observe Him therefore He doesn’t exist!” I love it.

    And now what you’re going to do is try and bait and switch me with “Well we can see bacteria evolving in the lab, so we know it happens”. Save it. What you know is that bacteria evolve into different BACTERIA. It doesn’t evolved into a eukaryote right in front of you does it? All you can see is kinds evolving but staying in their kinds. And yet you’ll try to tell me this is evidence of cross-phylogenic evolution. Save it.

    I’ve already explained above why evolution is a valid theory — i.e. it reconciles known facts with each other in a coherent and consistent way AND it makes useful (i.e. correct) predictions about future observations. God’s existence is not a successful theory in the same sense as evolution because while it can be invoked to coherently and consistently explain all known facts, it can likewise be used to consistently and coherently ANY set of facts whether or not they’re true in our universe. Furthermore, it makes absolutely no useful predictions about future observations.

    In other words, I believe evolution is true because it has a lot of power in explaining what I’m seeing now and what I should see next. I don’t believe God exists because God’s existence has no explanatory power for either of these things. God’s existence is consistent with ANY set of facts, not just the ones that we know are true. Given that His existence has no explanatory power, I choose not to believe in Him the same way I choose not to believe that little green beings called gremlins are what cause my car to have engine troubles.

    You’ve made it pretty clear that you don’t understand science very well at all. I’m beginning to see that you don’t WANT to understand, you just want to argue in circles until people give up on you so that you can pretend you “won.” I’m pretty close to the end of giving you the benefit of the doubt, here; I’m pretty sure now that you’re a lying little troll who has heard these arguments a hundred times before and chosen not to internalize them.

    I’m not trying to convince you not to believe in God. All I’m hoping is that you will acknowledge that belief in God is a matter of faith; not of reason, not of evidence, but purely of faith.

  • Pingback: the santa dilemma « Bubble & Squeak

  • http://quatrepattes.wordpress.com Lune

    ……He is just one of many spirits around the place. I told my girls the nativity story the other day, after we made a stable out of wood, set it up with figures and sang a few hymns. Jesus was a man who lived near Egypt a long time ago and was born in a stable after an angel came an told his mother she was pregnant.

    The Santa figure originated in Northern European lands and was said to be based on shamans who ate mushrooms and then flew around the sky on reindeer. The bells, the flying and the reindeer (symbolizing otherworldly travel) all point to shamanic origins, just as the festival of Christmas is itself based on the birth of the pagan sun god at Midwinter, keeping the symbols of the burning yule log, the druid’s mistletoe and the fight between the Holly and Ivy spirits alive.

    ‘Pretend’ Santas on the street are not ‘real’, they are facsimiles – just like statues of Jesus on the cross and nativity plays at school.

    the comparisons continue……

    great post!!!!
    x

  • Phil E. Drifter

    Re: #6 that everyone’s complaining about: if those intelligent people believed stopped believing in this supersticious bullshit, they’d be smarter.

    There is no god; get over it.

  • Phil E. Drifter

    Look at all you retards, defending your willed ignorance; that is, your stupidity.

    Christmas was a pagan holiday that the roman catholic church stole; they renamed it ‘christmas’ but they didn’t change the practice. I guarantee you there wasn’t an evergreen tree within 10,000 miles of jebus when he lived. So why do you decorate one? Well because you’re celebrating Yule, not christmas. Yule was the pagan holiday celebrated every winter because the days were not getting shorter/colder any more, but they started getting warmer/longer.

    You religitards disgust me.

  • http://excite.com Sheldon Gillespie

    Try reading some b-0-0-k-S. You kids that (think) they know everything ( like Jesus never existed ) because you choose not to read There are other non-religious authors that document factual evidence from the time of Jesus. Don’t be ignorant all your life.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    @Sheldon: How about you enlighten us “kids” about these “non-religious authors that document factual evidence from the time of Jesus.”

    In fact, I challenge you to name one source that mentions Jesus when Jesus was alive (that is, somewhere between ~3 BCE and 33 CE). Just one. Let me know when you read some “b-0-0-k-S” that can tell you that information.

    Can’t wait for you to set us ignorant kids straight with some “factual evidence” from “non-religious authors.”

  • nick

    i wish i had never stumble this.damn it.this pissed me off

  • Brad

    this thread only proves one thing…. “sometimes you comfort the afflicted and other times you afflict the comfortable”…

    Merry Christmas, remember the real REASON for the season..

    Remember the CELEBRATION and dont get caught up in the DECORATION

  • http://www.biz-development.com Biz

    Well, comparison seems correct for those criteria. But, who realy cares about difference, as long as people are happy with believing in both characters.

  • http://whitepaintedwoman.wordpress.com M

    Merry Christmas! St Basil will bring me my gift on New Year’s Day. Until then, I’ll enjoy Christmas services and meals, family time, and not give a rat’s posterior about Santa humbug.

  • dave

    To all you believers,a question for you.Does your god enjoy giving children cancer? If he doesn’t why does he do it? My own view is that there is no god and they get cancer because they get cancer.If he does exist and he is all powerful he must be a real swine nd hs a lot to answer for. Dafydd

  • Dan L.

    Aww, Kemp, you running away again? Please say it ain’t so. Considering the time of year, don’t you think you should say something about how Christmas comes from non-Christmas? Or about how no one has ever seen a creationist evolve a brain? I have to admit, it DOES seem like a sort of miracle how you disappear from a thread whenever it seems like you’re losing the argument. Of course, there could be a perfectly rational explanation for that.

    Happy Saturnalia, buddy.

  • ambre

    I thought of the exact same thing a few days earlier… I baffled myself with their similarities… must be the season… =p

  • http://intelligentscience.org Eric Kemp

    Dan L.

    It’s not that I’m running away again, it’s that I the Christmas season got ridiculously busy, much more so than I would have liked, and because there just wasn’t anything for me to answer in your response. More accurately, I didn’t care to take the time to hash out the plethora of inconsistencies in your argument. I mean, there are several times where you just went a completely different way than what I was asking or just basically said “evolution accounts for it because evolution explains it”, or called me a name and moved on.

    But honestly, Dan, it has less to do with your response and more to do with my level of apathy towards argument right now. Usually, argument excites me and I truly enjoy hashing out differences, finding a common ground and exposing inconsistencies while exploring the validity of my own arguments. However, I’ve been arguing with atheists for almost a year now, the majority of that time has been spent on the blogosphere, and I’ve come full circle with you guys. Although your worldview is the most challenging for me, I’ve come to a place where I’m just going to be repeating myself in every conversation I have with an atheist.

    You can’t see past your metaphysical and epistemological nose. You believe that only empiricism is valid, yet ignore that using empiricism to prove that only empiricism is valid is circular. You demand empirical evidence for God yet need none for naturalism, materialism, empiricism and uniformitarianism (because there can’t be any). The only atheists I see worthy discussing with are the ones that are self-reflective of this fact.

    This isn’t to say that I won’t return to challenging the atheistic worldview, or responding to it’s assertions, I’m sure I will, as it still interests me. However, for now, and I don’t know how long it will last, but for now I need to go in a different direction, sorry to disappoint.

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  • Jabster

    @Eric

    Congratulations you’ve won the prize for the longest I’m not going to answer your question reply in the history of the blog. Well I hope your happy running off to you mumbo-jumbo friends who are quiet happy to believe the rubbish that you spout. I mean evidence how boring is that when you can just make stuff up to support your own closed minded point of view?

  • interested individual

    must disagree w/ 2, 6, 11, 13, & 14.

    Santa isn’t all-knowing. He just knows when you’ve been a net bad or good in his book. Not everything that has ever happened.

    I know plenty of intelligent adults who believe in a divine being. 1) This set of statements only applies to the Judeo-Christian god. Therefore, Hinduism, tribal theologies, etc are exempted from this list. 2) Plenty of intelligent individuals have been religious. Some say the complexity of the universe, others say the utter simplicity of the universe are reasons alone for a divine being. The arguement on intelligence isn’t a valid argument because it can go both ways. I do not doubt other people’s intelligence for not believing or believing in a divine entity.

    Regarding the never returning calls bit. God returns calls. It may just be in a form you don’t like or see. Communication is both the sending of the message and the receiving. And sometimes the answer is no…we just don’t want to hear it.

    Last two are obviously false if you are a believer. If you’re not a believer, they’re obviously true. My argument as to why they make sense and evidence is the actual universe itself. As of now man knows energy and matter are the same thing. (E=MC^2). However, we have never been able to spontaneously create them….thus we question how did the universe come into existence. Well, the matter and energy had to come from somewhere…Thus enters the divine. I’m not saying you need to believe this…but for a logician, with the current scientific body of knowledge we have, this logic seems to follow.

  • http://www.msnek.com msn

    I thought of the exact same thing a few days earlier… I baffled myself with their similarities…

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  • JT

    I think the discussion gets muddied up when people confuse the existence of God (aka The Supreme Being) and the validity of Christianity. These are two totally independent questions. You can believe in some kind of deity and completely reject Christianity.

    The Bible is a patriarchal book, written by ignorant slave owners, using the fear of eternal damnation in an attempt to control people. When some tells tell me they “believe in the Bible”, I will always ask them if they believe in it in a metaphorical or literal sense.

    If it’s metaphorical, then I say they must reject all of the shorthand bullet-point religion that has been handed down to them to be observed as the WORD OF GOD, such as fear of homosexuality, abstinence prior to marriage, the existence of Jesus, Noah and all the other hocus pocus mumbo-jumbo.

    If it’s literal, then I say they must not have read it because they should have been put to death long ago after they ate a shrimp cocktail or a ham sandwich; or have ever cut their grass on Sunday. Not to mention the dozens or hundreds of inconsistencies that can’t be explained away.

    Neither of these positions is tenable. Pick your poison. You can’t have to both ways.

    The Bible is an outdated collection of stories with about as much wisdom as Aesop’s Fables. Maybe less. One day, it will be regarded as taboo to believe in such nonsense, not unlike voodoo or human sacrifice.

    In light of what I wrote above, I also think is it is very arrogant for anyone to state that they KNOW a Supreme Being either exists or does not exist. NO ONE has definitive proof, one way or the other.

    While science has taken us extraordinarily far in explaining the material world, I think there has got to be more to the true meaning of existence… for lack of a better word, something spiritual. However, as much as we hold our own species in high regards, I feel that we are far too primitive to even hope to understand the true meaning existence.

    We are not God’s greatest accomplishment. If we are, then God is the mentally-challenged kid sitting in the corner with the dunce cap on his head. The proof is in the pudding. Humans – God’s greatest creation – show surprising little humanity. I find it is ironic that our greatest horrors have often been committed in the name of a God.

    Instead of looking for the reason for our existence by searching for some phantom in the sky that simply does not exist, we should look inward and understand that all we have is the here and now. And we should be good to each other simply for the sake of being good. What is “right” is inherit in all of us. We don’t need a manual written 2000 years ago to scare us and instruct us on right and wrong.

    The joy of life, interaction with nature and with the ones you love should be enough to sustain you and give you a meaningful existence. If it does not and you STILL feel the need for a mythical imaginary friend, I feel for you. You have just surrendered control of your happiness to an entity that does not even exist.

  • http://themasterstable.wordpress.com Clark Bunch

    Sometime in the past month this thread quit being about Santa.

    JT – you give the appearance of having read the Bible, but still don’t know what you’re talking about. Sunday is not the Sabbath, so what difference does cutting one’s grass on that day make? I know, there are plenty of preachers that get lost in Leviticus and start repeating the old laws just like we’ve never heard them before. All the Law and Prophets were fulfilled in Jesus Christ (according to the Bible), and we now live by two commandments: Love God with all your heart, mind and strength, and second is to love neighbor as self. Do Chrsitians always follow these commands perfectly? No; but those are the ones that apply, not the 800 others about scales, hooves, and days of the week.

    We are the accomplishment of God that was made in his image. No other being of creation is described that way. We are the only intelligent beings that have been offered redemption. Humans are the only beings in creation that God appeared as, in the form of the man Jesus Christ. We may not be the greatest triumph of his creation, but I don’t think anyone (reasonably) claimed to be. We are the created ones that God loves.

    I’m sure you’ll disagree, but it makes me feel better having sharded with you (and the readers of this blog) the truth. Don’t stand before God on judgement day and say you never heard it.

  • JT

    Clark – You are delusional. But whatever gets you through the night is okay by me.

    Thanks for clearing up just what we should believe in the Bible and what we should ignore. But I can walk a half a block and find a so-called Christian that would refute your claims. Who to believe???

    By the way, I do know what I am talking about when I say the Bible (New and Old Testaments) is hogwash. A book written by patriarchal men that thought the Earth was flat and being left handed was a sign of the Devil. They have nothing to offer me. And when you get to your “judgement day”, you will be greeted by… NOTHING. You are wasting your life praying to a God that can’t hear you because he does not exist, and waiting for an afterlife that will not come. But, by all means, carry on!

    I would like to say we have evolved since those dark times when this fantasy was written, but then I read your post and see your picture. You are proof of de-evolution.

    Does anyone else hear the theme from “Deliverence” in the background???

  • Max

    Hi everyone! Looks like I’ve stumbled upon a pretty pointless, albeit interesting thread. Such a meeting of the minds; the greatest questions defining our existence are debated with intensity and genuine seriousness, not surprisingly.

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and beliefs, so let me first say that I know my God, and no it isn’t any form of arrogance or denial, it is simply a ‘recognition’ statement, as with saying ‘I am Max’. I’m sure everyone recognizes love, but love is never within the boundaries of logic, so since God is love, how can one confine God to a logical explanation? Christianity is not a religion; its a relationship. Its being able to connect with your Creator. The connection is inexplicable, as with love, but it brings the very completeness that all of us long for.

    My point is this: So you believe. So you don’t. Then what are you doing here? Why are you still here struggling to put bits and pieces into this puzzle that can never be finished? There’s a world out there that needs you and your brilliant minds. Enough with this senseless tug-of-war; if you don’t believe in anything, then at least believe in our kind – humans! Make this world a better place for our people. I know that’s my purpose from God, and that’s why I don’t have to struggle for answers nor do I have to prove anything. Hence, I’m not coming back to this thread, and I hope you don’t too. Things happen which are not for you to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you. Cheers!

  • Karleigh

    Great post! I’ll definitely be putting that up on my Facebook.
    I don’t think anyone with a reasonable amount of intelligence, who actually wanted to question the existence of God and was allowed to by whatever censor-happy religion they follow, could be arrogant enough to believe in a personal God. Right on with #6!

  • http://www.intranet.com Ryan

    Anyone with half a brain (and yes, even atheists have half a brain) would be able to see through your shitty flawed comparison of santa and god. I’m not even going to spend time talking about that though. Let’s just address the existence of god. The fact is that I have no problem admitting that there is no real way (at least right now) to prove that a god actually exists. It is a completely subjective belief based on the individuals faith. I also don’t believe in trying to prove the existence of a god using logical methodology (ontological or anything else). The problem with your belief is that it is based on the idea that the existence of god cannot be proven. While this is true, let’s also examine another similar question. How can you prove that god doesn’t exist? You simply can’t prove it just like the Christians can’t prove that he does exist. You’re simply trying to start up an argument that can’t be settled or proven in one way or the other. There is no proof that god exists right now and there is also no proof that he does not exist. For the most part, it is a matter of faith. Neither you nor the Christians are right. This is an argument that no one can win. However, contrary to what most atheists think, I do believe that one could use science to explain why a god might exist. But it just can’t be proven.

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  • Aylian Kulture

    THE ANSWER IS RIGHT HERE
    http://www.aylian.com/index2.html

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/therussianatheist TRA

    i going to use this list in on of my videos

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  • Joey

    Wait just a minute! There is a HUGE difference between Santa and God. You can prove that Santa exists because otherwise who puts the presents underneath the Christmas Tree?

  • http://www.altinkilic.com peynir

    I’m really very useful to follow a long-time see this as a blog here Thank you for your valuable information.

  • hotsaucencake

    All of you (Christians, Atheists, and Agnostics) who have taken to throwing insults at people who believe differently than you should be ashamed of yourselves. Calling people stupid or other names is childish (I’m not referring to Daniel, here, who has stated that he doesn’t think everyone who believes in God is unintelligent, and it should be left at that) and damning people to hell is not your job. If you believe in God, then you know that that is something that is God’s job and only God’s job, you are no judge. And if you want to save people from that, condemning them is not the way to go. As for “shattering” someones faith. Faith is something that someone believes in even though it can’t be proven or they can’t see it, so please don’t think that it will always be crushed by a simple statement opposing it. There is a reason that people have the faith they do – and there is a reason for people who choose not to believe and neither views are swayed easily.

  • http://brazilbrat.blogspot.com/ James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil

    Is it any wonder so many people grow up to be liars? They are taught by their parents. They are lied to about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and God.

    Yep, “Give me a child until he is seven and his mine forever afterward.” Which is to say a congenital liar.

  • http://larianlequella.com Larian LeQuella

    It’s that time of year again! Let’s have some fun again!

  • Michael W.

    You have to start with the facts first: The original god, the Allfather, is/was the Canaanite god El who is the same as the earlier Sumerian god Anu and from the descriptions of him we get the old man with a long white beard, compassionate but removed from the silliness of man’s daily concerns. Yahweh was a god of war and replaced El by lies and murder. It is Yahweh we have no description of nor are we suppose to as hid idolatry was punishable by death, such as he loved to do. Santa is El, alive and well and concerned about our well being as he was long ago. It is El that lives in a cold place, i.e. mountain top, north pole, etc. Do some research. And yes there is a Mrs. Santa. Her Canaanite name was Athirat or Asherah, the goddess of water, especially springs that flowed magically from the ground. She became the Etruscan witch Befana from whom we get the tradition of hanging up our stockings and encouraged the celebration of children as symbols of life everlasting. The Finns are familiar with El and reference to him can be deciphered from the Bock Saga where the true fir tree (fir=man or man tree) was the real Christmas tree because of the upright cones (fertility), evergreen properties as is holly the female symbol as evergreen with the red berries (menstrual=fertility).
    Christmas is the season of promise, renewal, and meant for the children and is older than any formal religion on earth today. Midsummer was the celebration of marriage and the concieviing of children, but that is a different story for latter.

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  • Baron

    Actually Santa’s origins are in Finland and is based of a real guy the fat guy in the red and white coat on the other hand is the creation of Coca Cola. God on the other hand, well the only one who can vouch for that was a 30 year old nut job probably suffering from heat stroke.

  • brandy

    i think its dumb how you would compare God to santa.
    santa is for little children to believe in.
    God on the other hand is for us all.
    God is 12984293753247532975443 different than santa.

    • Roger

      Santa: imaginary
      God: imaginary

      Not very different, brandy.

    • Kodie

      God is 12984293753247532975443 different than santa.

      Did god tell you how many or did your cat step on your keyboard? Is god your cat? Brandy, so many questions I don’t care what your answers for are.

      • Len

        Ceiling cat. Proved.

    • Paul

      nice number you got there. Without units on it we are kinda at a loss, but from how you wrote it, it makes most sense that these are degrees. Oddly enough, it comes out to reduce to zero degrees, after running several exalaps around a circle (exa is scientific notation for ten to the nineteenth). So really, we are all in agreement, Santa and the sky-daddy are the same, except we call one of them by the other’s name when he gets really dizzy.

  • A real-ist

    To comment on how the universe was formed, we may have not figured that out yet, but for one to claim a God must have created it…….then who created God? Either way, we don’t know the beginning of matter or the beginning of the so called God, so to use that God created the universe is silly if you really think about it. We can call the beginning God, but that God is nothing more than just that. Just because we don’t understand the beginning, doesn’t mean there is a being looking over us now and that we get an afterlife. There is no proof and therefore there shouldn’t be a need to believe unless there is real proof. The bible isn’t proof since man created it. Evolution uses proofs and logic, where as religion uses faith, which just means believing something without proof. If there is proof, we can believe it. That is what science uses, proof. If there is no proof something exists, then chances are in the favor it doesn’t exist. I can go on and on about this kind of stuff. For example, humans want to believe in a God and afterlife because they are afraid of dying, so that eases their fears. That is all it is. Gods have been created throughout history to be used as an explanation for what they don’t understand. God of Thunder and the Sun God are examples, yet we now know how thunder is created and what the sun is, so those Gods don’t exist anymore. Jesus may have been a human that exsited, but nothing more than just a normal human who used tricks to make people think he was God. That’s all.

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  • Githe

    Don’t diss my God like that. He loves you.

    • Michael

      Which one is your god? :)

    • CoffeeJedi

      So does Santa, so diss him like that either.

      Santa gave me a train-set when I was a kid though, so I like him better.

      • CoffeeJedi

        grrr, this site needs an “Edit” function
        should have read: “…so DON’T diss him like that either.”

  • victoria

    u see my mum told me that santa isn`t reall

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  • Vanessa

    my mom told me, if you don’t believe , you get no toys. if ther’e a iPod under my grandma’s tree, who am i to refuse?

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  • Steve

    I love the graphic!!

  • claidheamh mor

    “Never Returns Calls”

    Perfect.

    Truer word was never spoken.

    One difference:

    This mythology’s God is a punitive, hateful SOB that punishes people – forever! bwahhahahahahaha! And some of his hate-filled believers take a lot of glee in that with their eager promises of how people who don’t share their mythology will be in for an awful shock when they die, bwaahhhaahahahahaha!

    Santa just doesn’t bring you presents.

  • claidheamh mor

    @rhyon
    Well, it’s all settled, then. Cannot even such a simpleton as yourself comprehend the notion that quoting from whatever book your mythology uses to prove the validity of your mythology is useless?

    It’s a simple concept. Therefore, you should be able to get it. Using the book of any particular mythology because the book itself claims itself to be true proves exactly nothing.

    (Except about the gullibility – and dishonesty – of the person attempting that trick.)

  • claidheamh mor

    Gotta disagree with Parish’s self-fulfilling prophesy, delusion and confirmation bias. You will twist anything you observe, complete with the distortions you place in your own subjective “observations”, to prove what you believe or want desperately to believe. Ever know people who didn’t get a job or healed though they prayed? Ever know of chance? Ever know of people who didn’t pray getting a job or their health back? I already know you have a hateful, distorted, “yes-but” explanation in your attempt (and failure) to explain that.

  • Dylan

    There is a very logical way of separating God from Santa Clause. You may not have Physical Evidence for God or Santa. But you have Evidence AGAINST santa. When you catch your parents placing the gifts under the tree (the same ones you saw in their closet) and the name tags say “From Santa” you have yourself a case that santa does not exist.

    God on the other hand, has not been disproven, And finding physical evidence of God would contradict his very properties. He never claimed you could find pieces of him in the physical world. You can only find him while seeking with your whole heart (entire being)

    • Elemenope

      Er, actually all you ever have in that situation is a case in which your parents are disqualified as reliable reporters for the existence of Santa. Just because your parents try to fake being Santa does not mean Santa does not exist.

      God on the other hand, has not been disproven…

      Neither has Russell’s Teapot. There are many things that can’t be disproven that are still manifestly silly to organize your life around a belief that they do.

      And finding physical evidence of God would contradict his very properties.

      It has been claimed on several occasions by religious texts that God has done some very physical things (worldwide floods, pillars of salt, raising the dead, physical Incarnation of himself) that would, if true, leave copious physical evidence and neutral witness reports. That evidence is conspicuously absent.

      • John C

        ‘That evidence is conspicuously absent’.

        Unless of course you consider the (very conspicuous) world/universe/your own being itself as ‘physical’ evidence for the (very) likely existence of a Creator ‘God’. Why do you find that so ‘unreasonable’? That all we see was intentionally made manifest by some…One?

        All the best Elemeno.

        • Sunny Day

          “Unless of course you consider the …”

          Last I heard he hadn’t gone batshit crazy. Why would Elemenope consider that?

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  • jorian78

    i love it!!

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  • http://three-two-one.org Glen

    Is God just Santa for grown-ups? Many gods are. But not the God of Jesus:

    http://321.revivalmedia.org/is-god-just-santa-for-grown-ups/

    • Yoav

      Way to (deliberately?) miss the point. Sure you can find some differences between santa and biblegod, such as one being a jolly old man who bring presents while the other one is homicidal maniac with the level of maturity and sense of what consist a rational response usually associated with a spoiled 2 year old who was just been told he have a cookie until he finish his vegetables.

  • http://itisalsowrittenthat.blogspot.com/ Christian

    Good post! This is exactly why we must stop celebrating these pagan holidays. A lie is a lie. We cannot take honor God with lies.

  • Vahur

    “I’m sure everyone recognizes love, but love is never within the boundaries of logic, so since God is love, how can one confine God to a logical explanation?”

    You are drawing conclusions on nothing. For all we know love and other emotions are pure biochemistry. 100% logic. The fact that we do not yet know how it works, doesn’t mean that it was magic or etc.

    Secondly atheists are not claiming “there is no god”. We claim nothing, but when an theist comes and says: “there is a god”, we say “prove it or it doesn’t exist”. That’s not claiming that there is no god. That’s saying your argument is not true. There’s a difference and therefore atheism is the default answer for question if there is a god or not.


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