Dawkins on Haiti and the Hypocrisy of Christian Theology

Richard Dawkins has a post on the On Faith blog of the Washington Post talking about Haiti and the Hypocrisy of Christian Theology:

Milder-mannered faith-heads are falling over themselves to disown Pat Robertson, just as they disowned those other pastors, evangelists, missionaries and mullahs at the time of the earlier disasters.

What hypocrisy.

Loathsome as Robertson’s views undoubtedly are, he is the Christian who stands squarely in the Christian tradition. The agonized theodiceans who see suffering as an intractable ‘mystery’, or who ‘see God’ in the help, money and goodwill that is now flooding into Haiti , or (most nauseating of all) who claim to see God ‘suffering on the cross’ in the ruins of Port-au-Prince, those faux-anguished hypocrites are denying the centrepiece of their own theology. It is the obnoxious Pat Robertson who is the true Christian here.

He uses Christian myths to back his point:

Where was God in Noah’s flood? He was systematically drowning the entire world, animal as well as human, as punishment for ‘sin’. Where was God when Sodom and Gomorrah were consumed with fire and brimstone? He was deliberately barbecuing the citizenry, lock stock and barrel, as punishment for ‘sin’. Dear modern, enlightened, theologically sophisticated Christian, your entire religion is founded on an obsession with ‘sin’, with punishment and with atonement. Where do you find the effrontery to condemn Pat Robertson, you who have signed up to the obnoxious doctrine that the central purpose of Jesus’ incarnation was to have himself tortured as a scapegoat for the ‘sins’ of all mankind, past, present and future, beginning with the ‘sin’ of Adam, who (as any modern theologian well knows) never even existed? To quote the President of one theological seminary, writing in these very pages:

“The earthquake in Haiti, like every other earthly disaster, reminds us that creation groans under the weight of sin and the judgment of God. This is true for every cell in our bodies, even as it is for the crust of the earth at every point on the globe.”

Dawkins hit a home run there. Read the whole thing.

  • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

    Yeah, that’s kinda the point I was trying to make in a previous thread. Dawkins does it so much better. What *he* said!

  • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

    What makes Robertson’s comments unrepresentative of the Christian faith is that he basically said that the Hatian’s were worse sinners than the rest of us. Jesus would take issue with that. So do I.

    We are all sinners, and we all deserve the disaster to happen to us. We have all made our own ‘deals with the devil’ in our own way and in our own context.

    God does have wrath. He does discipline and punish sin. He has a right to do that.

    • Ty

      What a sad and horrible world you live in.

      Your evil god can go stuff himself.

      • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

        I hope He does not say the same to you.

        • Ty

          I’m as scared of him as I am of the Lucky Charms leprechaun.

          They are equally as potent.

          • Sunny Day

            Their followers on the other hand….

            • Elemenope

              The leprechaun has followers??!!

              AHHHHHHH!

            • Sunny Day

              Sugar crazed kids.

        • Roger

          “He” won’t because “He” doesn’t exist. Save your self-righteous woomongering for the woo-addled readers of your blog.

          • Sunny Day

            all 2 of them.

          • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

            Very funny.

            • Erik

              Yes.

          • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

            What is woomongering?

            • Mike

              Peddling things, including ideas, that will make a gullible audience go “Wooo”; a phenomenon often observed on ‘Oprah’.

      • Sunny Day

        Imagine this poor depraved man looking into his daughters eyes with that disgusting thought flittering around in his mind.

        “We are all sinners, and we all deserve the disaster to happen to us.”

        (*shudder*)

        Poor kid.

    • Elemenope

      we all deserve the disaster to happen to us.

      What sins do one-year-olds commit?

      He has a right to do that.

      Parents do not have the right to kill their children.

      • Ty

        ^This.

      • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

        Just judges have the right to punish.

        • LRA

          If you think the god of your bible is just, then you are deluded. Read the entire old testament. Pay close attention when biblegod commands the Israelites to cut babies out of the wombs of their mothers.

          • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

            Just judges have the right to punish as they see fit.

            • Ty

              I’m sure that in your authoritarian worldview that makes sense.

              Fortunately, the rest of us don’t have to live there.

            • LRA

              You are sick.

            • Yoav

              Just judges punish the offender, only psycho dictators kill all their family and burn their village to make a point.

            • http://avertyoureye.blogspot.com/ Teleprompter

              Just judges have the right…

              No they don’t! Just judges have respect for the rule of law.

              I imagine if there is a moral law in this Universe, and that if there is an author of a moral law, then if this author and this judge are the same person, wouldn’t this figure have respect for his or her own laws?

            • D’n

              Your god is not just. So, no, he has no right to judge.

        • Elemenope

          Finish the sentence.

          “Just judges have the right to punish one-year-olds.”

          See, when you frame it how it has to be framed in order to encompass the totality of what you are asserting, it sounds exactly as revolting as it actually is.

          • Sunny Day

            JK is one of those deluded self hating god bots. He was here last year and disappeared suddenly when he realized he couldn’t support anything he said. We are just supposed to believe his arguments are “potent and cogent” because he says so.

            • Roger

              And yet, the godbot is back, acting as though his one line god mots are logically persuasive. Pathetic godbot is pathetic.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              I didn’t run so much as I ran out of time.

              I’m in class right now, so that may happen again.

              Most of your objections were addressed, and you all didn’t do a good job of tearing down my arguments back then.

              Many did succeed in calling me names, as many are doing now.

            • Sunny Day

              Classic fingers in ears response, bravo!

            • Erik

              Arguments? Where?

            • Sunny Day

              Here’s a few. I’m being overly generous to call them arguments.
              http://unreasonablefaith.com/2009/01/10/a-christian-atheist-on-judgement-day/

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Sunny Day,

              I’m glad to see the comments made the trip over to the new site. Someone told me they didn’t and never would.

            • Sunny Day

              “and never would.”
              Please stop lying.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Sunny Day,

              It was a commenter on my blog, not anyone official from this site.

              I don’t lie.

            • Sunny Day

              Theist rule # eleventy, Lying for Jesus: when caught in a lie, lie again.

              I left that comment.

              I informed you that most if not all of your comments didn’t make it in the transition to the new site. I never said they never would, nor did I imply it.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Sunny Day,

              Was that a anonymous comment you had left?

              Are you my persistent anonymous commenter?

            • Sunny Day

              Hmm, you don’t deny it, you don’t admit you were mistaken, you do try to change the subject. Is it that difficult for you to be honest?

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Technically, you are right to say that you did not say they never would.

              But I took your comment to mean that they never would. You did imply it.

            • Sunny Day

              Technically? Great weasel word!

              That was great classical theist attempt to deflect their own shortcomings onto other people. This is not surprising really, your whole belief system rests on the foundation of scapegoat ism. I see you are still trying to avoid taking responsibility.

              “Good news! All your mindnumbing drivel didn’t make it when unreasonablefaith moved.”

              I can only be responsible for my own words. I am not to be held responsible for your feeble self-hating imaginings.

              “There are times when I have a deep revulsion for Christianity. It requires of me something that I find hard to give.I must despair of my own ability to earn my way, my own self-sufficiency. That is burdensome for an American. It goes against everything my culture values.I must abandon my view of myself as virtuous. I must be honest about not just my sins and failures, but also about the deep soul-sickness that afflicts me.” – J.K. ‘children deserve torture’ Jones

          • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

            Especially when “punish” = “kill”.

            And what about unjust judges? Don’t they have rights too?

            • Elemenope

              That’s an excellent point. From what I understand, God’s supposed rights of pwning whoever He feels like stem from Him being God, not Him being just. If He were unjust, He’d still be God. This is why Cthulu makes apologists very uncomfortable; if they’re right about only half of it, reality is truly horrific.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Elemenope,

              Christian theology doesn’t work that way.

              God’s moral laws are an expression of His character. He is just, so His laws are just.

            • Sunny Day

              “He is just, so His laws are just.”

              Weeee, I’m spinning!

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Who, or what, is Cthulu?

            • random guy

              lol.

              “That is not dead which can eternal lie.
              And with strange aeons even death may die.”
              – The Necronomicon.

              Read some H. P. Lovecraft, or for that matter any fiction more coherent than the Bible.

            • Roger

              Google it, honey.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Elemenope,

              You didn’t answerr my question.

            • Sunny Day

              Theists don’t stoop to using Google. This explains their ignorance.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Sunny Day,

              The sky must never be sunny in your world.

            • Sunny Day

              Hey its better than living in a world thinking that their own children deserve to be tortured for all eternity as soon as they are born.

              (*shudder*)

              Poor Kid.

        • http://avertyoureye.blogspot.com/ Teleprompter

          “Just judges have the right to punish.”

          Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. don’t have the right to kill children, rape, or set someone on fire.

          Virtue does not condone injustice – love is not hatred, ignorance is not strength, and fear is not respect!

    • LRA

      I’m no sinner! And you sure as sh*t aren’t going to call me one, either. I refused to be so ridiculously labeled.

      Also, if there was a creator of me, it has no right to torture me for all of eternity. It has no right to be called a god of love if it knows in advance that I’m going to some kind of hell just because I refuse to stop using reason in favor of “faith”. I have many reasons to be a good and productive person that don’t involve an imaginary god.

      • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

        Faith is not opposed to reason. In fact, reason demands that one embrace the Christian faith.

        • Ty

          Hahahahaha…

          Oh, wait, that was serious?

          Irony, you haz it.

          • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

            Hahahahahahah to you too.

            • Ty

              Thanks!

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Your welcome.

            • Custador

              Ty’s welcome what?

        • LRA

          Faith is “hope in the things unseen”. It is therefore directly contradictory to reason, which requires sound logical conclusions built on evidence.

          • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

            Faith is “evidence.” You got that part right.

            I have sound reasons to hold the faith I hold.

            • Ty

              Severe brain injury? Total lack of education? A long history of drug use?

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Best you can do?

            • Ty

              The most effort I want to spend on a god-bot like you. I followed your link to your site, so I know you are a complete waste of time. I’ll make fun of you a little bit because it’s entertaining, but I won’t expend any real effort.

              kthxbai

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              God-bot?

              You really aren’t any good at this, are you?

            • Sunny Day

              A thorough education at a God-Bot university, “I do not hold degrees in theology or apologetics. I do have a graduate certificate from Biola University, and I have read a few books. – JK Jones”

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Sunny Day,

              Nice insult.

              What do you all mean by “God-bot,” anyway?

            • Sunny Day

              If you find your own words insult you, don’t say them.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              I still don’t know what a god-bot is.

            • LRA

              Umm, no. You have reading comprehension issues.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Sorry. The verse in modern translations uses the word “evidence.”

            • LRA

              Well, if “faith is ‘evidence’ of things unseen,” then the writer of that statement (I believe it was Paul) has no idea what evidence actually is.

              ps. Your own blog is called “Fear and Trembling”????

              Hmmmmm.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Yes, that is the name of my blog.

              No, I think Paul knew exactly what he was writing. Faith is not opposed to evidence. It rests upon evidence.

            • LRA

              No, it really doesn’t. You “just have to have faith” when there is no evidence to be had or when the bible is inconsistent. I know because I was a christian for about a decade. I left because the “apologetics” preached at me were so utterly ridiculous as to not even be logical. I was attending the church of the president of the Southern Baptist Convention at the time, so you’d think they’d be better at that stuff. I sought out a professor of religious studies, and even he had no answers above “you just have to have faith”. Being christian was a pointless waste of time in the end.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              I disagree.

              I have found solid answers to my questions.

            • Sunny Day

              Then trot them out. If not, why are you here?

              Most of us here have said we would happily believe if there was sufficeint evidence.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Sunny Day,

              Do you really want me to cut and paste arguments from my blog to this site?

              I don’t think that would be appreciated by most here.

              If there is a post around here that you would liek to point me to, we could discuss there.

            • Sunny Day

              You could do a cut and paste of your sites assertions, arguments from authority and then finally throw up your hands and tell people to read the works of some christian authors instead of enumerating the relevant information, but you’ve already tried it at your place. Why don’t you actually try using arguments instead of the regular circular logic, and assertions you’ve tried there.

              “If there is a post around here that you would like to point me to, we could discuss there.”

              Or you could go back to the threads and unanswered questions from last year when you ran away.

            • http://avertyoureye.blogspot.com/ Teleprompter

              If faith is evidence of things unseen and unknowable, then evidence is unseen and unknowable.

              You are using a different definition of evidence which conflicts with what we are advocating, and you are falsely manipulating these two vastly different and conflicting definitions so they will appear similar.

              What a crock. You’re deluding yourself, but you’re not deluding us.

            • wintermute

              When Paul said “faith is the evidence of things unseen”, he meant “people believe in God, therefore God exists”. Obviously, this is no more true than “people believe in Allah, therefore Allah exists”, is it?

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Teleprompter,

              How do you define “evidence?”

              Wintermute,

              Paul also pointed to arguments for God’s existence. Se Romans Chapters 1 and 2.

            • wintermute

              OK, I just read Romans 1&2, and I don’t see any evidence for god there… Care to tell me what I’m missing?

            • Sunny Day

              LOL, I called it first.

              “throw up your hands and tell people to read the works of some christian authors instead of enumerating the relevant information,”

              “Paul also pointed to arguments for God’s existence. Se Romans Chapters 1 and 2.” – J.K. “Children deserve torture” Jones.

        • Bender

          You obviously don’t understand the concept of “reason”.

          • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

            So, what is the concept of reason that you hold?

            • Bender

              The capacity for rational thought.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Rational thought itself is evidence for God’s existence.

            • Ty

              And in the very next comment you write you prove Bender’s point.

              Good work!

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Ty,

              Why is it that the universe is orderly enough to be predictable?

              Why is it that we can trust our reason? Why are the laws of logic consistent.

            • LRA

              If rational thought is evidence for god, then I say Zeus be praised!!! (Or Dionysus, in the case of Plato).

            • Bender

              Because there is not any magic deity capable of altering the laws of physics.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              So you admit there is a god?

              We can argue about the name latter.

            • LRA

              Logic is consistent as a function of language. A thing cannot be white and not white by definition. It has nothing to do with any god.

            • LRA

              I am agnostic. I also have a degree in philosophy, so there is no argument you can make that I haven’t heard already. I admit that the existence of a god or gods can neither be proven nor disproven. Yet, none of the arguments for the existence of god say which god that may be.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Most arguments are only meant to prove a part of Who God is.

              The thing to remmember is that they have to be taken together because they build on each other. You cannot just take them one at a time.

            • Elemenope

              If they build upon one another, then that means if one fails they all necessarily fail.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Elemenope,

              Yes and no.

              Some of them fail, but some succeed in proving a part of the picture.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              LRA,

              Logic is a function of concepts that are expressed as words.

              You can’t even think without logic.

            • Elemenope

              Logic is a function of concepts that are expressed as words.

              You can’t even think without logic.

              I promised myself I wouldn’t laugh at the Logical Positivist.

            • trj

              > “Logic is a function of concepts that are expressed as words.”

              That’s not very accurate. Logic follows certain rules, which concepts do not necessarily (cf. the classic “God’s ways are mysterious”, “God is beyond comprehension”, and “God exists outside of logic” excuses).

              Furthermore, the act of expressing a concept doesn’t make it become logic.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              trj,

              Very true.

              My point is that we cannot reason without employing the laws of logic. They govern the way we work with concepts, if we work with concepts reasonably.

            • Sunny Day

              This is the part where he’ll make a fantastical claim that logic comes from his version of god.

              If we’re lucky, followed shortly by the claim that starting with the result you want and working backwards from there proves god’s existence. It will also prove Cuthulu, Viranocha, and Brahman.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Sunny Day,

              How is it that I start with the result I want and then work backwards? You say you know my arguments well enough to make assertions about them. Then defend your assertions.

            • Sunny Day

              Theists still fail at Google.

              “I was often guided by my intuition, a kind of problem-solving method best describe by the phrase “AH-HA, now I see it.” I was often able to see the answer without consciously thinking through the problem. Of course, I had to go back to the beginning, reason through my answer and provide that line of reasoning to get credit for the problem on an exam.”

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Intuition is different from circular reasoning.

              I did reason clearly to reach my conclusions without assuming the conclusion in the premises.

            • Sunny Day

              You either fail at reading comprehension, or you are dissembling again trying to deceive us. Which one applies, both?

              Read the above comment again, I never mentioned circular logic, or assuming the conclusion in the premises.

            • Custador

              The problem with “intuition” and “instinct” is that they’re both quite often wrong. That’s why they’re not presentable as evidence outside of North Korea.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blgospot.com J. K. Jones

              Sunny Day,

              I used sound reasoning. That was my point.

              Custador,

              You are right. That’s why you go back and reason through to careful conclusions.

            • Sunny Day

              Dodge, Duck, and Weave, the movements of the typical deceptive theist. When caught in multiple lies, and changing the subject doesn’t work, lie again.

              “I used sound reasoning. That was my point.”

              NO. That wasn’t what you claimed.

              “How is it that I start with the result I want and then work backwards?”

              Remember? I said: “If we’re lucky, followed shortly by the claim that starting with the result you want and working backwards from there proves god’s existence.”

              Children deserve Torture said: “How is it that I start with the result I want and then work backwards? You say you know my arguments well enough to make assertions about them. Then defend your assertions.”

              Then I cut and pasted Children Deserve Torture’s own words from the site where it proudly spelled out how it was best to work backwards from its desired outcome: “I was often guided by my intuition, a kind of problem-solving method best describe by the phrase “AH-HA, now I see it.” I was often able to see the answer without consciously thinking through the problem. Of course, I had to go back to the beginning, reason through my answer and provide that line of reasoning to get credit for the problem on an exam.”

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Intuition is valid what you find you can bakc it up with cogent argument.

              The only way your line of resoning works is that I used ciruclar reasoning, which I did not.

              You tilt at the wind instead of at the arguments shared here.

            • Sunny Day

              When I quote your own words back at you, you try to claim something else. Is this another variant of the Theist finger-in-their-ears strategy?

              You have arguments, Where?

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              See below for arguments posted long before your comments above asking for them.

              Again, if I did not use circular reasoning in the arguments themselves, how does my reference to intuition help you? Quite making assertions and provide an argument.

          • The III

            Or you could go back to the threads and unanswered questions from last year when you ran away. – sunny day

            Are you mocking?

            Is that what you think you do? Run people off. Looks like J. K. Jones is holding his own. Maybe I need to hang around for another week so sunny day want feel so cocky.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              The III,

              Thanks, I think.

            • Sunny Day

              Child torturer meet the musketeer.

            • Sunny Day

              Musketeer meet the child torturer.

            • Sunny Day

              Ahem, I should have said, “Thinks children deserve torture”

            • Custador

              The III, are you insane?! You and JK have BOTH been getting your asses handed to you!

              Want a rule of thumb for judging an argument?

              W = How many questions have you completely ignored?
              X = How many questions have you failed completely to answer?
              Y = How many questions has your opponent completely ignored?
              Z = How many questions has you opponent completely failed to answer?

              If W+X > Y +Z, then you lose.

              Atheist who follow scientific reasoning don’t need to ignore your questions. If we don’t know an answer, we’re happy to tell you we don’t know – but at the same time, if your question is nonsense, we’re going to tell you that too!

              You, on the other hand, frequently ignore questions, make assertions about subjects that you have no knowledge of and resist new knowledge that might threaten your faith.

              Here’s a hint – Evidence is GOOD. Blind faith is BAD.

            • Sunny Day

              But the bible tells us differently, and the bible cant be wrong, that would just be bad so that means that YOU are wrong and I WIN!

            • Custador

              Gee, you’re right. I guess I really should trust that a bunch of Bedduin camel herders writing a book thousands of years ago had more knowledge than every reputable modern scientific body. Thanks, Sunny.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blgospot.com J. K. Jones

              Custador,

              It is simply impossible for one person to answer all of the questions and counter-arguments present on this site while holding down a full time job and raising a family.

            • Custador

              Here’s what you should have said:

              “It is simply impossible for any theist to answer any of the questions and counter-arguments posted on this site without resorting to semantic games, logical fallacy and lies.”

            • Sunny Day

              Whoops I didn’t see that “OBVIOUS” Error you had there earlier.

              “I guess I really should trust that a bunch of Bedduin camel herder SCHOLARS writing a book thousands of years ago had more knowledge than every reputable modern scientific body.”

              Fixed that for you.

            • Sunny Day

              HTML Fail :(

        • Sunny Day

          “Faith is not opposed to reason. In fact, reason demands that one embrace the Christian faith.”

          Care to back that up, or you just going to run away like you have in the past?

          • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

            Where would you like me to start?

            Let’s go with logic and reason, since someone brought that up already.

            • Jabster

              “Let’s go with logic and reason, since someone brought that up already.”

              … oh yes it’s so obvious now isn’t it. Logic and reason prove the existence of the Christian god. Do you seriously expect anyone to be swayed by such weak arguments?

            • Custador

              JK, please demonstrate to me you logic and reasoning process for believing in God.

        • Michael

          Atheism is not opposed to reason. In fact, reason demands that one reject the Christian faith.

          See how I just used as many warrants (read: evidence) as you did? Here, watch, I’ll use more.

          For one thing, the point about “faith” that was presented above is quite salient. Faith is necessarily a belief without sufficient evidence. Consider the phrase “take it on faith.” This phrase means literally, to accept something without evidence, usually because you trust the person who says it. Similarly your faith in Christianity probably relies on what authorities have told you, including your parents, your pastor/preacher/priest/reverend/whatever, speakers, etc. Your notion that “faith” is essentially a synonym for “justified belief” is simply not supported by its common usage OR its usage in the Bible. The verse quoted above, Heb. 11:1, is at least somewhat ambiguous here. In the Septuagint, the word used is more like “conviction” than “evidence,” but it does not translate exactly into English, leading to multiple translations. However, you have to consider what “things unseen” really means. It does not literally mean invisible objects; otherwise I would need faith that air exists, and the term becomes meaningless. It means things that are not knowable, things that we cannot discover through reason alone. Faith is an additional element to logic that is necessary to believe. That is, religious belief requires a “leap of faith.” And faith is essential to all religions. This is pretty obvious when you consider what “religions” and “belief systems” are often called–faiths!

          So if your belief requires faith that is not supported by logic, why hold it? The usual answer is that we ought to accept faith despite the lack of evidence simply because it is good to do so. Of course, it is circular to say that we should believe in something because according to that thing, we should believe. So to get external reasons to believe, many people resort to claiming belief in God is necessary for morality or compassion or life after death or any of a number of other things. However, none of these are really reasons to believe God does exist, just reasons why it might be nice if he did (although I might dispute this for other reasons). In the same vein, it would be nice if Santa existed, but that alone is not a reason to believe in him. And besides that, none of those are even true! There are many moral and compassionate atheists, and even some who believe in life after death (usually through reincarnation, as a Buddhist). That last point, the afterlife, is particularly ridiculous because it is something for which nothing you can present could possibly give us evidence. As they say, dead man tell no tales. So if none of those reasons hold, the faithful often resort to a sort of Pascal’s wager, saying “Well maybe it isn’t true, but if not, so what? But if it is true, you better believe!” Of course, this fails because without real evidence, it is just as likely that believing is harmful as it is that it is helpful.

          Besides the need for faith, what is another reason I don’t think Christianity is logical? How about its contradictory beliefs? How can the Bible be divinely inspired if it says so many horrible things? The Bible supports such evils as beating slaves and children, slaughtering cities to take the land, raping women, killing your own family, and much more. Just go to evilbible.com to get a taste of what the Bible really says. Further, Christians believe God is both omnipotent and omniscient, leading to a plethora of contradictions already. To attempt to resolve these, many people revise their definitions to mean “able to do and know all things logically possible,” which is the equivalent of saying “Able to do everything that you can’t prove he can’t do. It’s a ridiculously unsupportable notion. Even worse, most Christians believe God is also omnibenevolent, which is absurd considering the state of the world. There is no reason to simply accept that billions of good people die from natural causes originally created by a good and intelligent being. And don’t even get me started with hell. Because of course a loving God tortures people for eternity. Oh, here’s another contradiction: God is just but he can do what he wants. What does that even mean? A just God cannot “do what he wants,” he does what is just. Otherwise, justice doesn’t mean anything, and there is no real reason to listen to God’s commandments (he will punish or reward you arbitrarily anyways). This is the view taken by Ecclesiastes and Job, more or less.

          Here’s another reason: “The God hypothesis,” as Richard Dawkins has pointed out, is an incredibly unlikely one. It may seem, naively, that the universe is very unlikely to have arisen without the hand of an almighty god. But even a cursory consideration of this view reveals its flaw: It is, by that logic, even more unlikely that such an almighty god could have arisen. We might as well not postulate extra, inexplicable things into existence, especially not as an attempt at parsimony!

          Let’s try another one. Everything we experience in the world–everything–supports the notion that the world obeys real laws, and that these laws are discoverable by observation and induction. The existence of an all-powerful God would therefore contradict everything we have ever experienced. This alone seems like a pretty strong reason religion is in conflict with reason.

          How about the history of religion? Throughout recorded history, different peoples across the world have come up with vastly different religions, many of them believing in a large number of gods, some believing in just two, others one, and many none at all. Some religions took “god” to encompass all of existence, others just to have created it, others to be just an aspect of it. Some gods were all powerful, some less so. Some gods were even metaphorical. Some gods had no interest in humans, while others were involved in daily life, or sometimes in every natural process. Some gods were loving, some spiteful, some vengeful, some jealous, some just, some arbitrary, some all good, some good and evil, some all evil, and some transcending all those descriptions. And yet, throughout history, billions of people have been fanatically devoted to their particular belief, claiming that–and only that–is the absolute truth. You are no different. You are just another bit in a long line of religious zealots who believed so hard they arrogantly thought they had the supreme knowledge all others had missed. Look–you even criticize Pat Robertson, a fellow Christian, because he does not have all the specifics right. You sit there by your computer and honestly claim that you know better than 99.99% of people ever to live, that despite the failures of their collective experiences, your experiences hold so much weight that they constitute absolute Truth.

          THAT, to me, is why religion is opposed to reason.

          • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

            Wow, you sure typed alot.

            Let’s start with the first line of thinking you put forth. Could a person make the same points you did in your first four paragraphs against aethism? Of course they could. We just reverse the phrasing.

            Why should I behave in a particluar way? Why is something moral or immoral?

            Does God have to arrise? Can He just have always existed?

            Why does the universe behave in a way that is observable and predictable? Could you not also immagine a universe that was not predictable? Where things just poped into and out of being?

            Is it possible that one concept of God is true and all others are wrong? After all, I just believe in one more God than an athiest does.

            Are you saying in the last paragraph that you are right and I am wrong? Isn’t that holding knowledge that 99.99% of the world would disagree with?

            Above all, you have made several assumptions about what I believe that are not accurate. If you want to take the time to type so much, don’t you think you ought to read a little? I do the same thing. I am trying to do better.

            • Erik

              No, one can’t, cause atheism is not a belief.

            • Custador

              “Are you saying in the last paragraph that you are right and I am wrong? Isn’t that holding knowledge that 99.99% of the world would disagree with?”

              I hate to break this to you, but reality (and math) strongly disagrees with your argument. There are about two billion Christians in the world of all denominations out of about six point seven billion people total – so people who agree with you come to just under thirty percent of the population. To expand the failure of your argument further, the VAST majority (more than 2:1 against) think that YOU are wrong.

              Explain that one, Godbot.

            • Sunny Day

              not to mention the 30% isn’t really 30% when you drill down and discover the particular splinter sect of christianity he belongs to.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              I was using the same words Michael did. I wager that 99.99% of the world does not agree with the exact reasons and interpretation Michael uses to form his view of the world.

            • Custador

              Yep, exactly. In that instance he’ll be lucky to break 5%.

            • trj

              J K, your reply to Michael seems to consist mostly of appeals like “Isn’t is possible that…?” without giving any reason for why one should assume such things.

              Your main argument appears to be that the universe, because it follows natural laws and logic, must be created by God.

              This as a non sequitur. Why does a logical system involve a divine creator? You argue that the universe obeying predictable laws is evidence of God. Things don’t just pop out of nowhere, therefore the universe is created by God. I don’t see the relation. It might as well be argued that a universe where things do pop out of nowhere is evidence of God. In fact, believers happily claim that divine miracles which break the laws of the universe constantly occur.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              trj,

              It’s not so much an undeniable argument as it is an explaination.

              We do not observe the laws of logic occurring in nature. They are not open for scientific exploration and study. We assume that logic’s laws work in order to evaluate scientific evidence. Using science to prove that logic works would be viciously circular.

              They are not evolutionary in origin, either. Evolutionary processes governed by natural selection would not necessarily lead to the truth about our world. Natural selection would only encourage behavior that would lead to survival. We could not be certain our beliefs about the world were true, only that they help us continue to live in a given situation.

              Further, genetics change from person to person. Therefore, the laws of logic would change from one person to the next.

              A Christian can account for the laws of logic by stating that they come from God. God has originated the laws of logic because He thinks logically. The laws of logic are a reflection of God’s mind. They do not change because the God whose thinking they reflect does not change.

              The question is: what is the alternative explaination for laws of logic?

            • Sunny Day

              “A Christian can account for the laws of logic by stating that they come from God”

              Which is just another way of saying, “I don’t know.” Using god as an answer to a question, doesn’t answer anything.

            • trj

              @JK

              First off, I don’t see the purpose of involving evolution and genetics when discussing the origins of logic, except perhaps as an attempt to create a false dichotomy: logic did not evolve, therefore it was introduced by God. Your comparison makes no sense, and it’s not at all obvious to conclude the existence of God from it.

              Secondly, you appear to have a backwards perception of what logic is. Logic is not some external influence forcing itself on our universe, making it behave in a certain way. Logic is an articulated set of rules deduced from the immanent properties and behavior of a subjectively defined system, be it observed or inferred. (At least this is so outside the field of mathematics).

              As such, logic is implicit in any concept we can think up. It is not possible for us to conceptualize something without to a certain degree defining it – or defining its limits. Logic is simply the formalized rules which describe such an arbitrarily defined system.

              Logic is an epistemological tool we use to describe something. Logic is descriptive, it is not some actual inherent attribute of our universe. It is a human invention, not a divine one.

            • DarkMatter

              “Further, genetics change from person to person. Therefore, the laws of logic would change from one person to the next.”

              Except there is no written evidences that god was a person in the first place.

            • Custador

              “Therefore, the laws of logic would change from one person to the next.”

              That actually made me wince it’s so wrong.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Trj,

              The reference to evolution was intended to show that clear thinking does not necessarily arise from evolution. We can survive in the world without knowing the truth about the world.

              If logic is a human convention, then why do the different cultures of the world all seem to have the same idea of logic when it comes right down to it. Engineers think the same way everywhere.

              “Logic is not some external influence forcing itself on our universe, making it behave in a certain way.”

              True. It is the right way to think about the things we find in the universe.

              Those things are organized in a way that we can understand and think about them. Our reasoning process is organized in such a way as to give us tools to use to describe and organize the facts we have about the world. Why is that?

              God is one coherent explanation. There may be another coherent explanation. If so, please provide it.

              “ Logic is an articulated set of rules deduced from the immanent properties and behavior of a subjectively defined system, be it observed or inferred. (At least this is so outside the field of mathematics).”

              How does this point help you, even if I were to grant it? Why does mathematics work? Don’t we have the same questions and methods to find answers in math as we do in other logical analysis?

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Dark matter,

              Reference the cosmological argument I gave in a comment on this page.
              The first cause must have the ability to act or not to act. That is a key element of personhood.

              Custador, how is it so wrong?

            • trj

              JK,

              > “If logic is a human convention, then why do the different cultures of the world all seem to have the same idea of logic when it comes right down to it. Engineers think the same way everywhere.”

              That’s because engineering is a practical trade where you construct things inside the limits of nature, applying the forces of nature in the process. Since nature works in the same way for everybody, it’s hardly surprising that successfull engineers use the same logic, dictated by the natural world.

              As for different cultures sharing the same logic, that is a matter of debate. Certainly we all share a certain minimum of logic, but again, this is because nature lays identical general requirements on our existence.

              > “Our reasoning process is organized in such a way as to give us tools to use to describe and organize the facts we have about the world. Why is that?”

              Because those of our ancestors who were best able to analyze the natural world were the ones who prospered and were thus able to pass their abilities on to their offspring. In that way we gradually evolved into intelligent, analytical creatures, and in the process we gradually became better and better at formulating our thoughts – which is to say, our logical abilities steadily improved over time. There’s nothing mystical or transcendent about our ability to employ logic. It’s an adaptation to the world we live in.

              > “Why does mathematics work? Don’t we have the same questions and methods to find answers in math as we do in other logical analysis?”

              Yes, we do. The only reason I made an aside about mathematics, is because in mathematics we’re able to formulate in advance the logic which defines a system (inductive approach). This is the opposite of how it works in our everyday lives – here we derive the logic from the system (deductive approach). Since we live in a system called the natural world, we must necessarily derive our logic from it. In mathematics, however, we can work with both kinds of systems.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              What do either deductive or inductive logic laws work?

              They describe the world and our concepts accurately because the world was designed to be consistent and our minds were designed to be basically rational. God made the consistently because His knowledge is consistent. He made us rational because we are in His image.

            • Mike

              All your arguments are appealing to the ‘I can’t understand it, therefore God must have done it’ line of reasoning. Your puny comprehension (or mine for that matter) of the ways of the universe do not necessarily mean there is an intelligence behind creation – even less so the appalling entity described in the Bible.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              One argument begins with the premise that I exist.

              I exist. I must exist in order to deny my own existence. This may seem an obvious point, but some make much of the idea that everything we see is an illusion. Even if that is the case, I must exist in order to have the illusion.

              I was caused. There was a time when I came to be. My own self-awareness and the empirical evidence that I find support this.

              There must have been a cause of my existence. Something must have existed before me in order to bring about my existence.

              If I trace back from the cause of my existence to the cause of the cause of my existence, and so on, I must arrive at something that never came to be. The series of causes cannot go back without end. Some examples follow.

              It is not possible to count to the end of the series of positive real numbers when you start at zero (0, 1, 2, 3, 4…). You can always count one more. It is, in one sense, an infinite series of discrete things. You cannot count to the end of the string of positive numbers; it has no end. Starting from zero, you cannot count to the beginning of the string of negative numbers; it has no beginning (0, -1, -2, -3, …). We go endlessly in either direction. We cannot count either up or down through an endless series of numbers. If we count forward to zero, we must start counting from a particular negative number, or we will never count to zero.

              Going back to the series of causes leading up to me, this series cannot contain an endless number of causes in the past because I would then be the end of an endless series of causes, which is impossible. There must have been a first cause to begin the series of causes that lead to my existence. This first cause must have always existed in order to give a starting place to the series. If there was a time when it did not exist, there would be nothing now.

              This first cause must always exist because it has the power of being in itself. Again, it existed before everything else, so nothing else could cause it to be. It’s being is not caused by anything but itself.

              This first cause must have the power to bring about everything else. It was the only thing that existed at the time of creation, so everything must have been a result of its action.

              This first cause must be able to cause itself to act to produce everything else. The first cause existed before everything else, so there was nothing else to cause it to act. This ability to act or not to act implies something like the freedom of choice. Free choice is a key element of personhood.

              So the argument has arrived at a being that has always existed and cannot cease to exist (what Christian theology has called being ‘eternal’). This being has the power to bring the universe into existence (part of what Christian theology has meant by omnipotence), and has the power to cause itself to act (this is part of the foundation for personhood).

              What if the universe has some element in it that has always existed? Then that element must have always existed and cannot cease to exist, has the power to bring the universe into existence or destroy it, and has the power to cause itself to act. Now we are just arguing about the name of the first cause, not its essential nature.

              This eternal, self-existent, omnipotent, personal First Cause is remarkably similar to the God of Christianity. Of course this concept is not identical to the Christian God, but this argument is only intended to prove part of the concept. Other arguments put forth the rest.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Here’s a second argument that proves other aspects of God’s nature. These arguments complement each other. That is, one proves one aspect of God’s nature; another proves another aspect, and so on.

              My area of professional expertise is industrial engineering, also called “process engineering.” I have spent most of my life in the pursuit of process improvement. I have professionally applied myself to manufacturing processes in several industries. I have looked at ways to improve equipment, organization of jobs, the way human beings interact with machines, and the way humans interact with each other.

              The purpose of a manufacturing process is to produce quality products, when needed by customers, at minimal cost, in a safe manner. There is one thing I know: a process left to itself does not produce products like that. If we take our hands off the controls, neglect the equipment, or ignore the people doing the work, we get bad products, late shipments, high costs, and increased injuries. If we neglect the process completely, we get nothing whatsoever.

              The world around us is full of processes that move toward an organized purpose. We don’t have to look far at all to find them.

              John Gerstner, in his book Reasons for Faith (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1960, reprint 1995), uses this example on p. 34-35:

              “The dandelion sends up a little parachute to carry its seed along on the wind and find a place to germinate. That certainly spells intention … we search in vain to find anything in the dandelion that corresponds to our brain, the brain that enables us to think up useful plans.”

              We find the location of that purpose in “the ultimate cause which we have seen lies behind everything that is.” This is not an argument based on probabilities. Evidence for any purpose whatsoever at any point in any process demonstrates the existence of an intelligence to set that purpose.

              I am arguing teleologicaly, that is, arguing from evidence that the things in nature seem to have a purpose. It’s a little like saying things are designed, but not exactly.

              So now we have reasoned to a being that has always existed, has great power, and has the power to choose in the comment above. Now we add that this Being has intelligence and intention. Only persons show the power to chose, intelligence, and intention. This fits the general idea of the eternal, personal God of the Bible.

            • Francesc

              Hey! No one is going to explain him why the “first cause argument” is not a proof? Well JK, you always can use the wiki

            • trj

              JK, there are many possible objections to the Kalam cosmological argument you are using. I’ll just mention two:

              1) Causality is a function of time. Time didn’t exist until our universe existed. Therefore, the universe was not caused. Or to use a variant of this: events can only result from other events; however, the universe includes everything and so cannot have been caused by anything else. IOW there was no actual event leading to the Big Bang.

              You assume the “beginning” of the universe is a causal event comparable to any other, but it may well be that this is false. There are mathematical/cosmological models (which are logically valid) that can explain a universe that has a finite age but no actual beginning.

              2) Even if we accept some prior cause of the universe it does not follow that this cause is God. All we can say is that this First Cause is uncaused, but causality may only be a restriction of our own universe, not the pre-universe. One could easily imagine some pre-universal natural phenomenon at play, working under different, if any, rules of causality – or at least this is no more preposterous than appealing to the existence of an uncaused intelligent agent of infinite complexity.

              As for your second post, you’re wrongfully ascribing purpose and intent to natural phenomena. The dandelion doesn’t have a “purpose” of spreading its seeds. Natural processes don’t possess an agenda. You are simply forcing your ideas of purpose on them.

            • Siberia

              “The dandelion sends up a little parachute to carry its seed along on the wind and find a place to germinate. That certainly spells intention … we search in vain to find anything in the dandelion that corresponds to our brain, the brain that enables us to think up useful plans.”

              Wait… seriously?

              Like, seriously?

              The dandelion seed has intent?

              Really?

              Verily, it hasn’t. The dandelion seed is a result of evolution; evolution and natural forces. It happens that plants with seeds with little parachutes survive. Other seeds did not. It’s that simple.

              YOU (and I suppose this author) see purpose because that’s what human brains do. They find patterns. That’s why man looks up to the sky and see constellations – the stars themselves have no connection. That’s why man looks up to the sky and see faces. That’s why man looks a dandelion seed and thinks “hey, that’s kinda neat that the seed can do that”.

              You’re forcing the universe to conform to human perception – which is immensely silly, even if a deity DID exist: there’s no reason why a deity would care for humans, no reason why it’d be comprehensible at all. Your deity performs miracles, creates life, has a sense of justice – it’s absurd. This is the creature that created everything. There’s no reason, whatsoever, to believe such a deity would behave like us puny humans, or have such narrow, simplistic concepts as “good” and “evil” as humans understand it. It’s like expecting aliens to be like the Na’vi – humanoids that think and act in recognizable ways.

              Evidence for any purpose whatsoever at any point in any process demonstrates the existence of an intelligence to set that purpose.

              Except there is no such evidence – you THINK that the dandelion seed has intent. It doesn’t have to. It’s no more than the puddle who thinks the hole it’s in is surely designed purposefully for it – never realizing the puddle itself only exists because of the hole, not the other way around.

            • Custador

              JK’s brain is a non-event mass with a quantum probability of zero.

            • http://www.jkjonesthiks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              I do want to point out that if you all are correct, and there is no purpose whatsoever in the universe, then the suffering in Haiti (and anywhere else for that matter) is meaningless.

              Think about that for a minute. There is no reason at all whatsoever for anyone to suffer. Not for God’s glory. Not for their good. Not for the good of others. Not for any reason at all whatsoever.

              That is what a meaningless universe gives you.

              This is particularly distasteful.

            • wintermute

              Could you not also immagine a universe that was not predictable? Where things just poped into and out of being?

              You mean one where quantum mechanics happened? Yeah, I think I can imagine a universe like that…

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Tell me again how QM proves that things come into being from nothing, please.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Trj,

              What is “time?” Does “time” actually exist, or is it just an abstraction?

              So, the universe does not have a beginning, but it does have a finite age, is that what you are saying? How is that?

              You said: “…it does not follow that this first cause is God …natural phenomenon…”

              But it does follow that this first cause has always existed, has the power to bring the universe into existence, and has the power to cause itself to act. The rest is added by further arguments.

              Siberia,

              Are you saying that any purpose we see we just impose? That there is no purpose?

              Is this a purposeless universe? Are the Nihilists right?

              Can a detective find motive? Can an historian find people’s intentions?

            • wintermute

              Yeah, I explained it last time you were here, and you refused to understand.

              Try these, for a more in depth treatment than I could give personally:

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_particle
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_energy
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casimir_effect
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawking_radiation

              Suffice to say, the fact that particles pop in and out of existence with no antecedents is well accepted by physicists, and you’re going to need to do more to disprove it than just saying “nuh uh!”…

            • trj

              JK,

              > “But it does follow that this first cause has always existed…”

              No, it doesn’t. It merely follows that this first cause did not itself have a cause. That something did not have a cause is absolutely not the same as saying it has existed forever.

              Uncaused events happen constantly in the quantum world (particles decay in a truly random fashion, virtual particles appear without prior cause, etc). These are examples of uncaused events with a beginning, right in our own universe.

              This in itself is a blow to the first premise of the Kalam cosmologial argument: “Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence”. Not so.

              > “So, the universe does not have a beginning, but it does have a finite age, is that what you are saying? How is that?”

              The explanation is basically the same as above, although it complicates things immensely that we’re talking about a cause prior to our universe. We’re asking about an event that is not an event because it existed outside of (our) space and time.

              There appears to be a problem with the question itself. Wintermute below uses the example of asking “What is north of the North Pole?” This is a question that makes no sense, and when we study it we see why. We are incorrectly attempting to represent a 3-dimensional sphere via a 2-dimensional coordinate system (north-south, east-west). It is clear that we have formulated the question using a premise that simply does not apply.

              Similarly, the question of what was “before” our universe appears to be a nonsensical question. We are posing the question from an incomplete understanding of space and time. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for us to imagine how else to phrase the question. Fortunately, though, physics and mathematics help us in that regard, because they enable us to ask the question by using tools that are (or may be) consistent with the nature of the answer. One such tool is imaginary time, which is another way of representing time (analogous to the use of imaginary numbers which allows us to represent and solve real-world problems we wouldn’t otherwise be able to). Imaginary time, as well as various other models, is still only theoretical, and it remains to be seen if any of them can hold up. If so, it will leave God with that much less gap to exist in.

            • trj

              > “Are you saying that any purpose we see we just impose? That there is no purpose? Is this a purposeless universe? Are the Nihilists right?”

              Although directed at Siberia, I’ll give you a simple answer:

              Intelligence can have purpose, non-intelligence cannot.

              We humans can clearly have purpose – simply because our intelligence allows us to create it. Animals possessing intelligence can also have purpose to a certain degree – which they create on their own, not through some bestowal by God. That leaves the rest of the natural and physical processes which do not have a purpose.

              You claim that God has inscribed purpose in everything, but that is an unverifiable assertion on your part. I think it suggests you are imposing purpose where there’s none.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blgospot.com J. K. Jones

              Trj,
              “That something did not have a cause is absolutely not the same as saying it has existed forever.”

              So things come into being without cause. That is not possible.

              “Uncaused events happen constantly in the quantum world…”

              Why do you say that?

              “This in itself is a blow to the first premise of the Kalam cosmologial argument: “Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence”.”

              When did I say that, exactly?

              “We’re asking about an event that is not an event because it existed outside of (our) space and time.”

              What is time? Can you show it has any being in and of itself, or is it just an abstraction to describe orderly causation?

              “…what was “before” our universe appears to be a nonsensical question…”

              It is. I am not talking about time as I think that you are. I am talking about a sequence of causes.

              “…imaginary time, which is another way of representing time (analogous to the use of imaginary numbers which allows us to represent and solve real-world problems we wouldn’t otherwise be able to). Imaginary time, as well as various other models, is still only theoretical, and it remains to be seen if any of them can hold up. If so, it will leave God with that much less gap to exist in.”

              So, are you saying that imaginary time is an abstraction? If so, is time itself an abstraction?

              I am talking about a sequence of causes here; not about time.

              “We humans can clearly have purpose – simply because our intelligence allows us to create it.”

              So we make up our own purposes. How do you argue against the Nihilists? If purpose is just something we make up, isn’t that the same as saying there is no purpose to our lives?

              “You claim that God has inscribed purpose in everything, but that is an unverifiable assertion on your part.”

              I have provided a reasonable argument above. There are other arguments I have not touched on that surround the Person of Christ: God in human form telling us about the world He has made.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blgospot.com J. K. Jones

              Wintermute,

              What you are showing me is “science of the gaps.” We don’t know why or how or following what pattern these things happen, so there must not be a why or a how or a pattern.

              For now, it is more reasonable to think that nothing comes from nothing.

            • Siberia

              Are you saying that any purpose we see we just impose? That there is no purpose?

              Yup.

              Is this a purposeless universe? Are the Nihilists right?

              Yup.

              Can a detective find motive? Can an historian find people’s intentions?

              Yes. But the main difference here is: the detective and historian are looking for people’s intent. Intent is a byproduct of life – intelligent life, I’d say. Not necessarily human: when my dog wags its tail at me, she’s looking for attention. That’s her intent.

              But to say the universe or the laws of nature or evolution have a purpose is just trying to shoehorn them into what we perceive. It’s silly.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Siberia,

              Wow. There is no purpose for life. There is no why. Is that basically what you said?

              I feel for you. I have a calling in life, a purpose, given by God. I know why I am here.

              May things in nature accomplish a task. The task at hand is to support, continue, improve life. That’s purpose.

            • trj

              JK,

              > “So things come into being without cause. That is not possible.”

              You need to be more exact. If by “things” you mean matter and energy, you are correct (conservation of energy applies). If by “things” you mean events, these can happen without a cause. In our macroscopic world this never happens in practice due to probabilities, but in the quantum world it is common. This is due to the quantum world being probabilistic rather than deterministic in nature.

              > “When did I say that [Kalam cosmologial argument]?”

              You never stated the argument explicitly, but it is clearly what you’ve based your previous posts on. I’m simply showing that the premises (as well as the conclusion) of the argument are shaky.

              > “What is time? …”

              Our current understanding of time is limited. Nobody has been able to adequately define it or tell if it’s an immanent property of our universe or simply an epiphenomenon. Whatever perspective you use, though, there’s no natural law which forces an event to have a cause. We use a principle of causality, but that is merely our interpretation of more basic natural laws, and it appears that this principle is too simplistic and simply not correct in all cases. Which is why it may be incorrect to demand a preceeding cause for the existence of our universe.

              > “So we make up our own purposes. How do you argue against the Nihilists? If purpose is just something we make up, isn’t that the same as saying there is no purpose to our lives?”

              There’s no external apriori purpose to our existence, but we have the purpose which we personally create. Apparently this is an abhorrent thought to you. To each his own. As for how my view relates to that of nihilists, I really don’t care. I suppose it would be convenient for you to label me a nihilist, all the easier to dismiss my points out of hand because nihilism opposes your faith.

            • Siberia

              Wow. There is no purpose for life. There is no why. Is that basically what you said?

              Yup.

              I feel for you. I have a calling in life, a purpose, given by God. I know why I am here.

              I feel for you, too. You’re bound by your (imaginary) God’s purpose. I’m free to my make my own choices, choose my own path and be.

              May things in nature accomplish a task. The task at hand is to support, continue, improve life. That’s purpose.

              How arrogant of you, to think the universe gyrates around life. Life is merely an accident, my friend. It’s no more special, or important, than the diamonds or the atoms in the heart of stars.

              And frankly, I’m glad it is so.

            • Sunny Day

              “Wow, you sure typed alot.”

              That’s usually what happens when you have to refute mindless malarkey. A theist can string together a few words that “sound good” without paying attention to what those words mean. Short form: they lie a lot. In the refutation you not only have to say they were wrong you have to show the mistakes, also you have to educate them on the use of language.

              “Why should I behave in a particluar way? Why is something moral or immoral?”

              Because if you don’t society will remove you from the community.

              “Does God have to arrise? Can He just have always existed?”

              In place of the universe has always existed?

              “Why does the universe behave in a way that is observable and predictable?”

              If it didn’t life would be even more unlikely if not impossible to have arisen to observe it. – mudpuddle reasoning.

              “Is it possible that one concept of God is true and all others are wrong? After all, I just believe in one more God than an athiest does.”

              It’s far more likely that ALL concepts of god are equally wrong.

              “Are you saying in the last paragraph that you are right and I am wrong? Isn’t that holding knowledge that 99.99% of the world would disagree with?”

              Holding a belief is not holding knowledge. 99.99999% of the world used to believe that night and day were things directly controlled by various gods.

              “Above all, you have made several assumptions about what I believe that are not accurate. If you want to take the time to type so much, don’t you think you ought to read a little? I do the same thing. I am trying to do better.”

              Familiarizing oneself with the particulars of whatever personal god you worship is a useless endeavor when there’s so much incorrect big picture stuff.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              “Because if you don’t society will remove you from the community. “

              Sounds rather harsh. And you don’t like God because He says “Do it or else.” Seems inconsistent.

              “In place of the universe has always existed?”

              See argument above that shows that if a pat of the universe has always existed, that part must be similar to God. Christianity holds God immanence as well as His transcendence. He can be thought of, in a sense, as part of the universe.

              “If it didn’t life would be even more unlikely if not impossible to have arisen to observe it.”

              Then why did life arise?

              “It’s far more likely that ALL concepts of god are equally wrong.”

              Like I say, I just believe in one more God than you do.

              “Holding a belief is not holding knowledge.”

              True. The point was that an absolute truth claim was made by a person who was indirectly criticizing me for making an absolute truth claim. Seems inconsistent.

              “Familiarizing oneself with the particulars of whatever personal god you worship is a useless endeavor when there’s so much incorrect big picture stuff.”

              You don’t even try to understand my big picture.

            • Siberia

              Then why did life arise?

              Because the biochemical conditions were right. It doesn’t have to be a plan, a Great Scheme of Things(tm).

              In any case: why does life’s existence need a why?

            • Sunny Day

              “You don’t even try to understand my big picture.”

              I do not need to.
              You believe that its perfectly reasonable for something to torture children for eternity. I do not need to know anything more about your disgusting and perverted beliefs. No matter how many justifications you try to pile up you will never be able to surmount that depravity.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Siberia, why not?

            • Sunny Day

              “Why not?”

              Translation: Because his religious belief system requires it; he wouldn’t get to his predetermined conclusion without it.

            • http://www.jkjonesthiks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Sunny Day,

              You did not answer the question.

              You just made assertions, not an argument.

            • Michael

              Wow, you sure typed alot.

              Well, normally I refute the specific points made, but you made none. Your post had no justification. In fact, my first sentence was the entirety of my refutation. The rest consisted of new arguments, to point out just how wrong you are.

              And if religion is important to you, which you seem to indicate it is, shouldn’t you care enough to spend ten minutes reading a post attacking your beliefs?

              Let’s start with the first line of thinking you put forth. Could a person make the same points you did in your first four paragraphs against aethism? Of course they could. We just reverse the phrasing.

              No. See what I did? I once again refuted your point with just as much evidence as you used. This is going to be easy.

              Let me spell it out for you: You can’t just say, “I’m rubber, you’re glue” and expect it to stand. You have to explain specifically how my arguments apply (link in debate jargon) to my own position (in debate we call this a link turn). Now, since my position is merely that Christianity is an absurd belief system, I do not see how these args could possibly be turned. But as with my last post, when left with nothing to refute, I will come up with new arguments.

              My first contention (pars. 3-4) was that “faith is a belief without sufficient evidence,” and that you should not believe things without this evidence. Atheism is a rejection of this belief. So it complies exactly with what I said. It does not take faith to dismiss something. However, even if we suppose that I were presenting a positive belief in naturalism (which I might do), I would be doing so because of the evidence, not in spite of it. In fact, my second-to-last point (our experience) is evidence in favor of (offense for) this position.

              My second contention (par. 5) was that your belief system is contradictory. This obviously is a reason to reject it. Further, this could not be applied to naturalism, because it is not contradictory.

              My third contention (par. 6) was that the God hypothesis is very unlikely to be true. Obviously, naturalism does not rely on this, so no turn.

              Why should I behave in a particluar way? Why is something moral or immoral?

              This is not at all an easy question to answer, but claiming God as a reason is horribly flawed. For one thing, YHWH is not exactly the model of morality, as you can see pretty clearly in my other post. But using any god in general is problematic, because it assumes that whatever he says goes. Thus, if god decides it is moral to rape and kill innocent girls, so be it, it is moral! This, of course, does not jive with our personal concepts of morality. Finally, it assumes there is an easy way to know what god wants, which it obviously is not, considering everybody on Earth has differing views of what god says (you might think that at least all Christians agree, or perhaps all Christians of a given sect or denomination, but it is not so. The Bible has so many horrible passages, it takes creativity to find moral ways of viewing them, and not everybody agrees how to do so).

              What do I think about morality? I think it is clearly a human construction. No other animals have the sense of morality we do. Further, it is based off of a sense of compassion combined with intellect and much else besides. Many intelligent mammals show great compassion, but not the intelligence to apply it in the way we have.

              Is it so absurd to think that we humans define what is moral? Look at the way it is enforced–laws written by humans! Look who writes philosophy and theology and ethics–humans again. And look who moral codes ultimately benefit or harm–not surprisingly, humans.

              Does God have to arrise? Can He just have always existed?

              Perhaps, but the universe could just have easily always existed.

              But let’s not resort to medieval arguments. We know now that time is an aspect of the universe. God “always” existing merely means that he has existed throughout all time, thus, exactly as long as the universe has. It is not a useful argument.

              Further, it doesn’t really matter whether god was “created” or “born” or “always existed” or whatever. My argument is more subtle than that. We should not hypothesize extremely complex things with no evidence to explain the existence of less complex things, regardless of their origin.

              Why does the universe behave in a way that is observable and predictable? Could you not also immagine a universe that was not predictable? Where things just poped into and out of being?

              Well, this actually does happen, as was pointed out. We live in a quantum universe. Much to Einstein’s dismay, God does play dice with the universe.

              But I admit, even QFT displays surprising levels of symmetry, and this symmetry is essential to having an ordered universe (in fact, the conservation of energy, which is the law that prevents things from “popping into and out of being” for very long, is a consequence of the symmetry of the universe). However, there is no particular reason to suppose this is highly unlikely. You should read Leonard Susskind’s book The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design.

              But even if this were the case, my point (Dawkins’ point, really) about The God hypothesis answers this back.

              Is it possible that one concept of God is true and all others are wrong? After all, I just believe in one more God than an athiest does.

              It is possible. It is just really unlikely that your particular concept is right. Billions of people have declared “Aha! I have found the true God!” and been wrong. You are simply saying the same thing, and I have no more reason to believe you than any of the rest of them. What you are saying here is “well one of them might be right.” Fine, maybe. Should I play eeny, meeny, miny, moe to determine which one to believe? No, I should reserve judgment until I find substantial evidence for one.

              Are you saying in the last paragraph that you are right and I am wrong? Isn’t that holding knowledge that 99.99% of the world would disagree with?

              I am saying that you are probably wrong. The difference is that I do not claim to have absolute truth. I am an agnostic, meaning that I do not claim to have some special gnosis, some Truth that I can know for sure. Instead, I believe what the evidence leads me to believe. If you are the same way, then surely you to are an agnostic, and are open-minded to new evidence. In that case, what are you doing being a Christian?

              In addition, it is not the case that 99.99% of people believe in a god. There are an estimated 1.1 billion nonreligious atheists around the world and hundreds of millions more religious atheists (e.g. some Theravada Buddhists, most Confucianists and Taoists). Besides, of those people that believe in some concept of “god,” many believe in many gods, several gods, or universal gods that are nothing like the godhead you worship. They reject your beliefs just like I do.

              Above all, you have made several assumptions about what I believe that are not accurate. If you want to take the time to type so much, don’t you think you ought to read a little? I do the same thing. I am trying to do better.

              I have made some assumptions regarding what you believe, yes. Let me lay them out:

              – You believe in one true God who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent (although I have provided that you might not believe God to be omnibenevolent, and responded appropriately).
              – You believe in a particular conception of God, and that this particular conception is correct while others are false.
              – You believe that the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God. (Perhaps I went a bit far with this. Please confirm whether or not you believe the Bible is inspired).
              – You believe God created the universe.
              – You believe God sometimes has direct influence over our lives.

              If you believe any one of these things, I have refuted your belief, and you have provided no evidence. But I am pretty sure you believe all of them, which is even worse.

            • Michael

              Nooooo. Quote you have failed me! I used the HTML quote tags that this site says work, and they did nothing. I will use bold next time.

              Anyways, it shouldn’t be too hard figuring out which parts are quotes and which parts are new. Sorry for the confusion!

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Michael,

              What do you mean when you say “time is an aspect of the universe?”

              You said “I do not claim to have absolute truth.” Is that statement true?

              As for the first of your comment above:

              Christianity is not opposed to reason. In fact, reason demands that one reject naturalism.

              See how I just used as many warrants (read: evidence) as you did? Here, watch, I’ll use more.

              (Comments in this paragraph are simply not relevant to the discussion at hand. I have defined faith the way I use the term. Similarly, you have defined naturalism the way you use the term.) Similarly your naturalism probably relies on what authorities have told you, including your parents, your teacher / philosopher / scientist /whatever, etc…

              … this fails because without real evidence, it is just as likely that believing is harmful as it is that it is helpful…

              (The rational thing to do here is discuss the evidence and arguments, not go on and on about faith being opposed to reason.)

            • wintermute

              What do you mean when you say “time is an aspect of the universe?”

              It’s quite simple, really: Without the universe, there is no time. “Before” the creation of the universe, there was no time, so the concept of “before the big bang” is as meaningless as “north of the North Pole”. And because cause and effect are intimately tied to time (effects have to happen after their causes), the creation of the universe cannot rationally be said to have a “cause” which preceded it in time.

              Once again, if you want to prove the last hundred years of physics wrong, please try and do better than “well, that’s not what it looks like from here”.

            • Custador

              WINtermute. Filled with WIN!

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blgospot.com J. K. Jones

              Wintermute,

              “ Without the universe, there is no time.”

              There is no time now. Time is an abstraction to describe a position in the sequence of causality.

              “…the concept of “before the big bang” is as meaningless as “north of the North Pole”. “

              The concept of before anything is meaningless if you treat time as something other than an abstraction.

              “…effects have to happen after their causes…”

              That’s the whole point of the argument, really. The first cause must have preceded the first effect in the sequence. The sequence cannot have extended infinitely backwards. Otherwise the sequence would not have passed on to us.

              Blittering about with concepts of something which has no independent existence as anything other than an abstraction is a wasted argument.

            • Ty

              “(The rational thing to do here is discuss the evidence and arguments, not go on and on about faith being opposed to reason.)”

              Ironic troll is ironic.

            • Custador

              @ JK:

              “There is no time now. Time is an abstraction to describe a position in the sequence of causality.”

              1) There is no such thing as absolute time, therefore your statement is meaningless.
              2) Learn about spacetime as opposed to space and time.
              3) Learn about time relative to motion.

              That is all.

            • Michael

              Michael,

              What do you mean when you say “time is an aspect of the universe?”

              Time is an aspect of the universe. This universe is one with one temporal dimension, but we can describe universes with zero temporal dimensions or two or more temporal dimensions (in fact, one somewhat obscure idea in superstring theory proposed that this universe has two temporal dimensions, but it made false predictions and wasn’t terribly consistent). In fact, time is a dimension much like (though not exactly like) the other, spatial dimensions, of which there are three large ones. Time dilates just like space in special relativity and it warps just like space in general relativity. The primary difference between time and space is the way the scalar product of four-vectors is calculated. Essentially, the scalar product of two four-vectors * = x0 x1 + y0 y1 + z0 z1 – c^2 t0 t1. So you see that the last term is strangely negative, whereas in ordinary inner products it should be positive. This gives rise to the mathematical tool of “imaginary time,” where time is represented as imaginary so that ordinary inner products can be used instead of the strange rules of four-vectors. That is: * = x0 x1 + y0 y1 + z0 z1 – c^2 t0 t1, as you would expect.

              What does this all have to do with your question? Well, it shows that time is not exactly like other dimensions of the universe, but that it is still certainly a property of it, and by representing it as imaginary, it can enter the calculations in exactly the same way as all other dimensions, including the way it warps and dilates. Even more interesting is time in quantum mechanics, where on the small scale it is very volatile, rather than the nice smooth time most people imagine.

              You said “I do not claim to have absolute truth.” Is that statement true?

              Is it true that I claimed that? I would say yes. But if you could somehow give me convincing, video proof that I had not actually claimed that, but that somebody else sneaked into my room and did it, and that I am falsely remembering doing it, I guess I would change my mind. Certainly it would take some doing on your part to convince me, but my belief here is not absolute. The important point is that all my knowledge is subject to revision.

              As for the first of your comment above:

              Christianity is not opposed to reason. In fact, reason demands that one reject naturalism.

              See how I just used as many warrants (read: evidence) as you did? Here, watch, I’ll use more.

              (Comments in this paragraph are simply not relevant to the discussion at hand. I have defined faith the way I use the term. Similarly, you have defined naturalism the way you use the term.) Similarly your naturalism probably relies on what authorities have told you, including your parents, your teacher / philosopher / scientist /whatever, etc…

              My point was that you made a baseless assertion and then expected me to refute it. Since you now seem to be at least interested in presenting real arguments, I can engage you at that level, instead of knocking down positions I think you seem to support.

              … this fails because without real evidence, it is just as likely that believing is harmful as it is that it is helpful…

              (The rational thing to do here is discuss the evidence and arguments, not go on and on about faith being opposed to reason.)

              Um, wow. Haven’t you ever heard the term a priori? If faith is opposed to reason, there is no point even having this argument. Until you can establish a reason to believe in God that does not rely on traditional Christian concepts of “faith,” this discussion will go nowhere.

              Besides, you completely ignored several other crucial arguments that I made. First of all, you have ignored my argument that an omnipotent, omniscient God is self-contradictory, although I guess I didn’t really develop that. Consider this: If God is omnipotent, he can do anything. But if he is omniscient, he knows what he will do. Thus this perfect knowledge constrains him to doing one thing, denying his omnipotence. You also ignored my argument based on the problem of evil–billions of people die from natural causes, yet you claim a good God is the cause. You also ignored my more specific problem of hell–God himself infinitely tortures billions of people for eternity. And you ignored my argument that a just God cannot have free will, because he cannot do what is not just.

              *Whew*

              Of course, my final point was that the existence of a being even more complex than the universe is not a useful way to explain the existence of the universe. This isn’t even really Occam’s Razor, it’s more fundamental than that. The whole reason you suggest we believe in God is as an explanation for complexity. Yet the God you propose is himself more complex. It is better to say that we do not know why the universe exists, but that we are trying to find out, than to say that the reason it exists is that something even more complex and less comprehensible exists, for which we have no direct evidence.

              My rebuttals to your logical proofs for the existence of God will be in a different post.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Michael,

              You still have not established that time is interwoven with causality. Sequencing is, but time / imaginary time is not. My argument works. I call it my argument because I have not heard William Lane Craig or J. P. Morland formulate it this way. Of course, their versions may be more precisely stated. I am not a professional philosopher, nor am I a professional physicist.

              You can say that you do not claim to have absolute truth without making an absolute statement that claims to be true.

              I have given arguments / proofs. That places me in opposition to certain notions of faith. So be it. Can we get back to the arguments now?

              “…If God is omnipotent, he can do anything. But if he is omniscient, he knows what he will do. Thus this perfect knowledge constrains him to doing one thing, denying his omnipotence… a just God cannot have free will, because he cannot do what is not just.”

              No we have a philosophical discussion of free will on our hands. God has the same free-agency that we do: He always does what He wants to do.
              God cannot do everything. He cannot lie. He cannot make a rock so heave He can’t lift it, He can’t reverse the laws of logic, and he can’t deny Himself. He can’t because He does not want to, and He will never do what He does not want to do.

              You are building a straw man of Christian Theology and then knocking it down. Try reading a reasonably comprehensive Christian theology book like Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology” before you criticize something you do not understand.

              “the problem of evil”

              Is it possible that God has a good reason for the evil He allows?

              “God himself infinitely tortures billions of people for eternity.”

              God punishes sinners who deserve it to the degree they deserve.

              “…a being even more complex than the universe…”

              A couple of things.

              We can’t go on explaining forever. It’s an infinite regress of causality, and I have already shown why this cannot be.

              Only what comes into existence can be designed. God did not come into existence.

              The two arguments I shared together above complement each other. Since there is a terminus to the regress of causes, there must also be a terminus to the regress of design.

              Please keep in mind that only what has parts can be said to be complex. If God is Spirit as Jesus said He is, then God has no parts which yield complexity.

              “My rebuttals to your logical proofs for the existence of God will be in a different post.”

              I hope you will notify me. I have this site on my Goolge Reader feed, and I’d like to place the site on which you post into it as well.

            • Siberia

              No we have a philosophical discussion of free will on our hands. God has the same free-agency that we do: He always does what He wants to do.
              God cannot do everything. He cannot lie. He cannot make a rock so heave He can’t lift it, He can’t reverse the laws of logic, and he can’t deny Himself. He can’t because He does not want to, and He will never do what He does not want to do.

              How, pray tell, do you know this?

              Funny though. He will never do what he does not want to do; but not wanting to do does not mean he can’t. He can, but does not want to. Whereas if he can’t, it doesn’t matter whether he wants to or not; he can’t. But at the same time he can’t because he does not want to…

              Round and round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows…

              Is it possible that God has a good reason for the evil He allows?

              Is it possible that he doesn’t? Is it possible that he simply can’t not allow it? Is it possible, even, that he doesn’t care?

              Only what comes into existence can be designed.

              Why?

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Siberia,

              I know what I know because I have been told. The Bible expresses truths that can only be explained by this line of reasoning.

              The point is that no person ever does something they don’t want to do given the situation they face. Noe me. Not you. Not God.

              It is loically possible that God has a reason for the evil He permits. Therefore the classic argument from evil doesn’t necessarily prove anything. It rests on the premise that there is no good reason for evil.

              There is no one to desing something that does not come into existence. It exists independently of anything else because it existed before anything else. Coupled with the fact that it also has the ability to act or not to act, we have a key element of personhood in what exists.

              Time is a way of summing all of the changes in the things that we cannot keep track of. If you think about it, that is what space-time expresses. It’s imcluded in many statistical experiments as a way to check for unknown variables that might be influencing the experimental outcome. It’s always measured by the change we see in something pyhsical. It is hard to define. I see not reason to think of it as more than an abstraction, a very useful one, but an absraction nonetheless.

            • Francesc

              “I know what I know because I have been told. The Bible expresses truths that can only be explained by this line of reasoning.”
              That’s not a line of reasoning, that’s a line of belief. Following the same line, if somebody would have told you that Quram is the holy book, you would believe all that is in the Quram is truth. And the same with LOTR.

              “It is logically possible that God has a reason for the evil He permits. Therefore the classic argument from evil doesn’t necessarily prove anything.”
              It is also logically possible that Jack the Ripper had a reason for the evil he did. That doesn’t make him innocent nor moral. It is logically more plausible that the argument from evil has a simpler answer: gods do not exist.

            • http://agnosticism2010.blogspot.com/ nomad

              “I know what I know because I have been told.”

              Therein lies the problem with Christianity, and with religion in generally. That argument is based entirely upon authority. It is therefore incumbant upon you to examine that authority. I think you will find that the authority is not God but man. And at a particularly ignorant point in his evolution, I might add.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              I have examined the arguments for and against the Bible’s authority.

              I have found it reasonable to believe the Bible tells the truth.

            • Sunny Day

              Just like people convinced by, The Analects, Book of Mormon, Koran, Tao-te-ching, and the Veda.

              Funny how that works.

            • Francesc

              “I have examined the arguments for and against the Bible’s authority”
              Let’s simplify it for you. Can you tell us the arguments for Bible’s authority wich don’t work for Quram or The Book of Mormon? Be careful as both of them claim to be evolutions of the bible.

            • http://www.jkjonesthiks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Francesc,

              The argument for the Bible’s trustworthness is based on the authority of Jesus. Since each of the points requires a full treatment, I can’t flesh it out here. Try “Argument from Scripture” label on my blog.

              The basic outline is:

              · We can trust what the Bible says about Jesus because it is based on eyewitness testimony (Luke 1:1-4, 2 Peter 1:16). These eyewitnesses were willing to die for their faith.

              · Jesus claimed to be God. He said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Thomas said, “My Lord and my God,” and Jesus did not correct him (John 20:26-31).

              · Jesus worked miracles and proved Himself to be God (John 14: 9-11).

              · Jesus affirmed the truth of God’s Word. He said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). He said, in prayer to God, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17).

              · Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to help the apostles remember and truthfully relate the events in the Bible (John 16:13-15).

              · We have a Bible we can trust. It gives us God’s truth and equips us for faith and service (2 Tim. 3:15-17).

              Time after time an opponent of Christianity accuses us of circular reasoning. The statement we are accused of making goes like this: The Bible claims to be God’s Word so it is God’s Word. That is “begging the question.” However, the actual argument put forth by Christians is linear.

            • Sunny Day

              Hilarious!

              The bible is true because it says it’s true.

              “We can trust what the Bible says about Jesus because it is based on eyewitness testimony (Luke 1:1-4, 2 Peter 1:16). These eyewitnesses were willing to die for their faith.”

              I guess the 911 terrorists were correct because they too were willing to die for their faith?

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Sunny Day,

              I did not say, “The bible is true because it says it’s true.”

              My premises were different from my conclusions. It’s a different thing to say the Bible is a trustworthy historical document than it is to say it is the Word of God. I started with a trustworthy historical document.

              911 terrorists were not alive at the begining of their religion with inside knowledge of the events they were attesting. big difference.

            • Sunny Day

              “We can trust what the Bible says about Jesus because it is based on eyewitness testimony (Luke 1:1-4, 2 Peter 1:16). These eyewitnesses were willing to die for their faith.”

              The bible is true because it says it’s true. The 911 Terrorists were also willing to die for their faith.

              “Jesus claimed to be God. He said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Thomas said, “My Lord and my God,” and Jesus did not correct him (John 20:26-31).”

              Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda claims to be god. One of his acolytes also proclaims Jose’s divinity and Jose did not correct him.
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_who_have_claimed_to_be_Jesus

              “Time after time an opponent of Christianity accuses us of circular reasoning. The statement we are accused of making goes like this: The Bible claims to be God’s Word so it is God’s Word. That is “begging the question.” However, the actual argument put forth by Christians is linear.”

              Then you might want to stop using circular arguments. The wheels came off right at the start, “We can trust what the Bible says about Jesus because it is based on eyewitness testimony”. Testimony found where? In the bible.

            • Bill

              “It’s a different thing to say the Bible is a trustworthy historical document than it is to say it is the Word of God. I started with a trustworthy historical document.”

              Evidence please.

            • Sunny Day

              “I did not say, “The bible is true because it says it’s true.””

              After I strip away all of your Bullshit it does.

              “My premises were different from my conclusions. It’s a different thing to say the Bible is a trustworthy historical document than it is to say it is the Word of God. I started with a trustworthy historical document.”

              Yep, the bible is true because jesus says it’s true. Where is jesus found? In the bible. Where are the eye witness accounts found? In the Bible.

              So, the bible is true because the bible says its true. Calling something a trustworthy historical document doesn’t make it so. You need to back it up with examples that prove it. (queue Arg from Auth)

              “911 terrorists were not alive at the begining of their religion with inside knowledge of the events they were attesting. big difference.”

              Yes, your supposed “eye witnesses” faith was weaker. So out it goes as a measuring stick of who is more believable.

    • Michael

      “We are all sinners, and we all deserve the disaster to happen to us.”

      That first clause in no way implies the second. If I sin by, say, talking back to a parent, I do not deserve to be killed in an earthquake.

      And if we really do all deserve that equally, why did it only happen to one people? Doesn’t that make your god inherently unjust?

      Your whole comment is ridiculous.

      • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

        Not all sin is punished equally. But any sin deserves great punishment because it is commited against God.

        God is not inherently unjust because all sin is punished. Either Christ is punished for it, or the people who committed it are punished.

        • LRA

          Don’t be stupid. The punishment should always fit the crime. Every good society knows that is true. Therefore, eternal punishment for “original sin” aka being born is totally stupid. If I tell a white lie to spare someone’s feelings, then I have broken the ten commandments… really???? WTF???? That’s stupid.

          You must really hate yourself to believe that bs.

          • http://avertyoureye.blogspot.com/ Teleprompter

            I have heard the argument that even the tiniest offense against the Christian God justifies eternal torment, because since God’s justice is infinite, any offense committed is infinite, so therefore infinite punishment is justified for even what appears to us to be the most trivial offense.

            • Sunny Day

              Yah, it makes for a really pitiful god. Trapped by the circumstances of its own existence unable to take action except through circumstantial coincidences.

            • LRA

              The worst is when one brings up such logical points and christians say bullsh*t things like, “who are you to question god”. Arrrrrrrggggggghhh!

            • Jabster

              @LRA

              …but with any godbotter this is what happens. JK Jones will go through the normal wasted arguments, ignore any replies and then run away again. That’s just the way it is. I even presume that this time he will claim a “victory” as people refused to engage with him and answer his questions.

          • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

            The punishment does fit the crime because not all sins are punished equally. There are some parts of hell that are much worse than others.

            • Sunny Day

              So there’s a Double Hell?

            • Jabster

              “There are some parts of hell that are much worse than others.”

              … could be. Just imagine being holed up with you for ever and ever. Now that would be real hell.

            • Custador

              John Paul Sartre said that hell is spending eternity in a chatroom with some Godbots. Or something.

            • wintermute

              There are some parts of hell that are much worse than others.

              Do you have any empirical evidence for this? Or even a Biblical reference? Or did you just make this up all by yourself?

          • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

            Jesus taught that there were differing degrees of punishment in hell according to how bad the sins wre which were committed (Luke 7:47 and 12:48).

            • wintermute

              Luke 7:47 concerns someone whose sins are forgiven completely; so unless you’re claiming that heaven is the least objectionable layer of hell, I’m not sure how it supports your point.

              Luke 12:48 seems to point more towards a purgatory-style system, where people are punished for a certain amount of time, and then released into heaven. I could see how the parable could be used to justify certain zones of double-hell, though.

              Oh, and while you’re looking at your Bible, I asked earlier what specific points in Romans 1 and 2 you thought constituted evidence of god. Any chance that you could get back to me on that? Thanks.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Romans 1 says that the invisible things are God are made obvious by the visible world. That’s arguing cosmologically and teleologically.

              Romans 2 says that we know what morality is because we recognize it when someone offends us. That is the basis for the moral “argument” (it’s more of a clue, really; it does not demonstrate / prove).

            • Roger

              The Bible says lots of things. Very few here are likely to take that particular collection of texts as somehow being persuasive of anything–other than being yet another example of the astounding ability of humans to create irrational explanations for the world around them.

            • Sunny Day

              “Paul also pointed to arguments for God’s existence. Se Romans Chapters 1 and 2.”

              So when you said “arguments” you actually meant lots of hand waving and “don’t look behind the curtain”.

              Romans 1: The world works exactly as if there is no god and that’s proof of god?
              Romans 2: People get offended by other people and that’s morality and a reason to jump to the thought that god made it that way?

        • Mike

          Take your statements one by one. Look at them carefully, if at all possible with an open mind. You will see that they are not only stupid non-sequiters but that they are absolutely batshit crazy. Mad as a box of frogs. Make no sense whatsoever. How can any person with enough brains to remember to breath actually believe such tripe?

          • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

            Mike,

            You are better at insulting me than the rest of the people who have commented so far. Congratulations!

            • Mike

              I am not actually (at least intentionally) insulting you, although I deplore the opinions you hold and the awful damage done by your superstitious mumbo-jumbo. I am continually amazed by the powers of wishful thinking that allow otherwise intelligent people to cling to nonsensical delusions, but I admire your courage in coming on this blog and expressing opinions that are in direct opposition to most other posters’ beliefs.

            • Sunny Day

              Remember our beliefs are so frail as to be torn asunder by evidence.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Thanks, Mike.

              I learn allot form arguments.

          • Sunny Day

            It feeds his Martyr Complex

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              No one has ever threatened to kill me or torture me. I am not a artyr, and I am not likely to ever be one.

              Some of you all are just rude.

            • Ty

              No, rude would be coming to a Christian blog to tell everyone how wrong they are.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Would you like me to just leave?

              I thought you all wanted debate and discussion.

            • Sunny Day

              So then just stick to your Kalam argument and reply to trj, ‘nope, Michael, Fransec, and Wintermute instead of whining about how the “Meanies” are mean to you. I figure you are just replying to the “low hanging fruit” because you don’t really have an intelligible response to them.

            • Jabster

              @JK Jones

              “I thought you all wanted debate and discussion.”

              Since when does that equate to your strategy of spouting rubbish and then ignoring replies?

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              I’ve looked very hard at this post. I have not found a reply that I have ignored. Maybe I missed one. There is allot on the page.

            • trj

              We never heard why one-year olds deserve to die in a natural disaster.

              You said: “we all deserve the disaster to happen to us.”
              To which Elemenope replied: “What sins do one-year-olds commit?”

              Though I already know your answer: The Afterlife. Eternal bliss in the Afterlife will make up for everything bad and every injustice suffered in a mortal life.

              The Afterlife justifies any seeming injustice – from innocent people dying horrifically in disasters, to infanticide and rape in God’s mandated genocides.

            • Francesc

              let’s assume -for the sack of the argument- that a one-year-old dies and goes to heaven “eternally”. Is he going to remain a baby forever? Is he going to be a grown-up, without really experience life in the earth? Can a person be an adult without never been a teenager?

            • Sunny Day

              Ya, don’t go. You haven’t gotten to the parts about how guilt and morality prove god, and the historical accuracy and fulfillment of prophesy of the bible proves the god we don’t believe is a christian god.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Orignial sin is defined in many places in Christian theology. I have been invited to use Google, so can you.

              I do not know how a baby will be in the afterlife because the Bible does not tell me. How is that relevant?

              Sunny Day,

              http://www.4truth.net/site/c.hiKXLbPNLrF/b.786347/k.BD6D/Bible.htm

              Again, another has posted a links for me to follow, and I suggest you follow this one. They have several references that cover the New Testament’s historical accuracy.

              I don’t argue from fulfilled prophecy because I am simply not good at it.

              Here is the point where you criticize me for doing the same things others have done, with a reference to how much of a liar you think I am. So be it.

              Might I also suggest reading “The Freedom of the Will” by Jonathan Edwards on the free will arguments. It is a respected text at many universities.

            • trj

              So a one-year-old that dies in a natural disaster (or some other event which happens for reasons beyond human intervention) deserves the suffering and death that it gets, because of Original Sin. Do I understand you correctly, or were you refering to something else?

            • Francesc

              “How is that relevant?”
              Well, the tale about an after-life is a pretty and happy-ending one til you try to explain some details. I’m pointing at one of those inconsistencies. Another one could be: could you be happy forever in heaven knowing that someone you love (your mother, your father who was from a different sect, your son who picked the wrong version of the bible or who happened to be born homosexual) is going to be tortured forever in hell?

            • trj

              It seems JK isn’t going to answer why one-year-olds, according to himself, deserve punishment and death. No big surprise there.

            • http://www.jkjonesthiks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              TRJ,

              I already did that when I tould you guys to look up original sin. All of us, children included, sinned in Adam. We are all sinners by nature and by action. We all deserve much worse than we get.

              Francesc,

              I do not have to know the answer to every question about the afterlife to believe in it. I can rest on what Christ told me, not what he didn’t tell me. That is logically valid.

            • trj

              Ok, so Original Sin actually actually was your answer.

              I find it ironic that you feel pity for us poor atheists who don’t see a divine purpose in the world, and at the same time you live in a world where humans have no worth and infants deserve to suffer and die for the sole reason they are human.

            • Sunny Day

              Yeah, I asked him about that at one point and he didn’t have a response then either. Apparently without his god telling him that humans have worth, he wouldn’t care about people. I didn’t want to provoke him too deeply, I didn’t want to pry loose whatever was stopping him from becoming a sociopath.

            • http://agnosticism2010.blogspot.com/ nomad

              “We all deserve much worse than we get.”
              What a horrible sentiment. Ever watched someone you love die?

            • Sunny Day

              No need to go that far, he’s got a kid.

            • http://agnosticism2010.blogspot.com/ nomad

              ? Guess this must be irony.

        • Michael

          You said “we all deserve the disaster to happen to us.”

          If you meant it, then you said that we deserve to all be punished equally.

          Then when I pointed this out, you said “not all sins are punished equally.”

          Which ones is it? Did we all deserve to be killed in an earthquake or not?

          And if the answer is “not”, then why were the Haitians punished. Your comment makes no sense.

          • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

            Michael,

            Thanks for taking the time to make such insightful and challenging comments.

            We all deserve much more punishment than we will ever get in this world, and the place where we get the rest of what we deserve is in hell. Hell will be much worse for some than for others.

            • Roger

              That, frankly, is a load of bullshit. I don’t deserve punishment–and I certainly don’t deserve “punishment” based on the alleged actions of your deity. According to your religion, it’s your deity’s fault that we’re in the mess that we’re in; after all, if your deity had been responsible and not placed an apparently dangerous bit of fruit within the reach of two ignorant creations, the original infraction would not have occurred–in other word, your deity is guilty of willful negligence. Further, your alleged deity then cursed ALL of humanity because of the actions of ITS creation! An act that the idiot deity KNEW would happen! No, I reject such foolish fables as tales for weak-minded people who cannot cope with the world as it is.

            • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              Roger,

              Adam was a perfect representative of mankind who did exactly what he wanted to do in the situation he found himself in. That is fair.

              Why did God do it that way? I have no idea.

              Could He have done it differently? He didn’t want to do it differently. He has the right to do with His creation as he sees fit. Pots don’t tell potters how to form them.

            • Francesc

              Do you have kids? You know, you did them, but you don’t have the right to kill them.

            • Roger

              Again, that is a load of bullshit. Adam wasn’t a “perfect representative of mankind”–according to your book of fables, he and Eve were the ONLY humans. They aren’t “representative” of (at this point) 7 billion people and how they think–that’s like saying the first computer is a perfect representation of all computers that have been built afterwards. If someone tried to sell that, they’d be laughed out of the room.

              And if your “deity” has the right to do whatever the frak it wants, then I have the right to tell it to go stuff itself in a shoebox. Oh, but wait–your deity doesn’t freakin’ exist.

            • Sunny Day

              “Adam was a perfect representative of mankind who did exactly what he wanted to do in the situation he found himself in. That is fair.”

              So you leave your unattended child in a room with poison and sharp knives laying on the floor?

              (*poor kid*)

              “He didn’t want to do it differently. He has the right to do with His creation as he sees fit.”

              Yah, its perfectly reasonable to maim, cut, crush and eviscerate small animals too.

            • Ty

              I am often astonished at how vile this particular version of god is, and that some people seem to revel in it.

            • DarkMatter

              “He didn’t want to do it differently.”

              Who forced him and why?

            • Sunny Day

              Don’t forget why does a perfect and all powerful critter have wants?

            • Roger

              DarkMatter, he’s not saying that “God” was forced to do it this way…it’s just that his particularly stubborn “deity” saw other ways of doing it (that probably wouldn’t result in billions of people being arbitrarily sent to some netherworld because they didn’t get dunked underwater in the name of some first-century rabble-rouser), but simply didn’t want to. In other words, his deity is a petty, vindictive asshole…or, your local DMV bureaucrat.

            • http://www.jkjonesthiks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

              DarkMatter,

              No one forced him. I’m not sure I know what you mean.

              Sunny Day,

              God can have wants in a certian even though He does not need anything.
              He can be perfectly satisfied in Himself, and still relate to creatures.

              Roger,

              Your comments apply more to Roamn Catholicism than to me.

              The quesiton is why God owes it to us to do it all differently. What part of justice demands mercy toward teh sinner?

              Besides, God put man’s perfect representative (Adam) in an ideal location that provided for all of his needs. The only prohibition was easy to follow: don’t eat from that tree that you do not need to eat from because of all the other trees that are here that you can eat from.

            • Sunny Day

              It perfectly reasonable to leave your toddler unattended in a playpen full of food and a open bottle of poison?

              With no knowledge of right from wrong, how is Adam supposed to know that disobeying is bad?

              There’s plenty of opportunity for you to convince us otherwise.

              http://unreasonablefaith.com/2008/11/24/genesis-3-god-screws-up-the-world-blames-man/

            • Roger

              How was Adam a “perfect representative” of man? If Adam could think like I do, reason like I do and what not, why then didn’t he ask God to take the Tree out of the garden? I know if someone placed me in an “ideal location” and said, “Hey, you can eat from allllll these other beautiful trees EXCEPT THAT ONE,” you can bet you bottom dollar the first words out of my mouth would be, “So, why don’t you just take THAT ONE TREE out of here?”

        • DarkMatter

          Jesus was told to supressed the truth that he was god so that he could be punished to give god the reason to blame the past, present and future world the injustice done to jesus/ god.

          The punishers were deliberately withheld from the so-called truth, made guilty by god to condemn according to his purposeful lies.

          Robertson’s views is just one small dropping of this type of mindset.

        • DarkMatter

          “God is not inherently unjust because all sin is punished.”

          Who else is/are involved?

    • shonny

      No, we are NOT sinners any more than any other animal is. Most of us are just normal human beings (christo-fascists and godbots excepted, they are definitely a sub-species).
      These so-called sins are just constructs made by callous hypocrites in an attempt to control their fellow humans.
      The only sin is to waste one’s life following the idiocy that is religion. Get a life, there is no god, no jesus, no apostles, – nothing. It is all just figments of some kooks imagination.
      So go out, enjoy the sun, listen to the birds, and forget about sin, because it is a sin to instead sit in a church listening to a dopey fool ranting about something that never was, and expecting you to believe otherwise.

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

    If someone who you find nauseating also finds you nauseating, would that be a complement to you?

    • Elemenope

      It can either be really good or really bad, depending upon the olfactory power and strength of stomach of one’s adversary.

      • LRA

        I am reminded, for some reason, of the blueberry pie scene in “Stand By Me”.

        LOL!

        • Ty

          Bleh, I just drank too much water too quickly, and my stomach is very full. Just thinking about that scene is making me feel icky.

          • LRA

            Sorry!!! (heh heh heh)

    • Ty

      In this case, yes.

    • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

      You mean “mutually supplying each other’s lack”?
      Kinda hard to imagine.

  • JonJon

    Dawkins, for all his merits as a scientist, is opposed to religion. I’m not comfortable accepting his judgement of who is a “good” Christian. Nor would I be comfortable accepting, just to pick an example out of thin air, Dwade’/crossroads’s judgement of who is a “good” Christian. At least not on the merits merely of their “expertise.”

    Can Dawkins argue that Robertson holds more true to Christian doctrine than a modern “liberal” Christian like myself? Of course. Is he in a position that grants him a certain expertise on that subject? Not particularly; he thinks religion in nearly all of its forms is an affront to the well-being of the world population, and has a vested interest in demonstrating that religion is not “good”. I have a vested interest, as do many others who call Robertson’s statements a misrepresentation of Christian teaching, in demonstrating that religion is not “bad”. Neither of us are better positioned than the other. When Dawkins says that Robertson is a good Christian, and I say that he is a bad one, the strength of our argument is more important than who said it.

    Granted, Dawkins has an audience far larger than, say, me.

    Robertson’s statements are not only theologically unsound, they are incredibly presumptive: Robertson has implied that he *knows* not only that God has directly and arbitrarily judged Haiti, but the reason *why* he did so. This is also theologically unsound.

    Dawkins is welcome to call me and others like me a hypocrite. Unfortunately, even that is theologically inconsistent. The hypocrites we find in Biblical texts do not admit when their preferred interpretation is in error, they hold people to a higher standard than their religion actually teaches, and they are convinced of their own righteousness. That doesn’t describe modern liberal Christianity; it describes Pat Robertson.

    • Erik

      Of course, there can be no good Christians. You would have to be as self-contradicting as your bible and your god.

      • Francesc

        Humans tend to be self-contradicting enough. We may think that the bible and his god are as incoherent as a bronze-age tribe :-)

    • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

      I think JonJon gets this part right, completely.

      Dawkins is regarded as an expert in a specific field of science. He has earned his expertise and influence through research, study, peer-reviewed work, publishing, etc., etc. He is not, however, anything close to an expert in what constitutes Chrstian theology, nor is he an expert in Christian history. He is therefore unqualified to make this kind of a statement:

      Loathsome as Robertson’s views undoubtedly are, he is the Christian who stands squarely in the Christian tradition.

      Not only does Dawkins have a vested interest in making religion look bad, as JonJon rightly pointed out, he simply doesn’t know Christian history or theology — he’s ignorant on these two topics. He’s making an irrational claim by even his own definition of rationality, i.e., making epistemological claims without having the requisite knowledge to make them. In other words, in order to claim that Robertson is making a claim that is faithful to Christian orthodoxy rationally, one would need to have a pretty thorough grasp of what Christian orthodoxy was and currently is; Dawkins has neither.

      Kind of ironic to me, actually, because he’s basically pulling a reverse Ray Comfort. Ray isn’t a scientist, yet he insists on making one unfounded scientific claim after another. Dawkins is as ignorant of Christian theology as Comfort is of science, yet that doesn’t stop him from making one unfounded theological claim after another.

      Look, you can find bible verses to support Pat Robertson, and you can find Christians past and present who agree with him. But that admission is entirely different from what Dawkins is trying to do, and I don’t see how you can get from here to there and support it with, oh I don’t know, actual evidence.

      • http://www.olympicartichoke.blogspot.com thewarfreak

        I think I would take issue with this. It seems fairly obvious that the notion of sin and retribution are standard pieces of Judeo-Christian theology – at least in the Bible. And that seems to be what Dawkins is pointing out.

        • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

          the notion of sin and retribution are standard pieces of Judeo-Christian theology – at least in the Bible.

          But this is precisely the problem. Christian Theology and the Bible are not one and the same.

          In America, Fundamentalist Christians would have everyone believe that they are, and so to that extent — when the argument is directed back at that group of Christians — I get it.

          But Dawkins isn’t just taking on Fundamentalism here; he’s taking on liberal Christians, and that’s where his argument fails, and it fails because he either 1) doesn’t know that some Christians don’t equate the bible and Christian Theology or 2) simply won’t admit that fact. Judging by his own admissions about his knowledge of Christian theology, I strongly suspect the former.

          As one very simple example: Even Luther himself, the man who (unintentionally) founded Protestantism and with it sola scriptura did not understand the Bible in the way that American Fundamentalists (Pat Robertson) do.

          • Sunny Day

            When you separate, “christian theology” from the “bible” why are you calling the former theology “christian”?

            • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

              Christ.

            • Ty

              Who is knowable from all those documents other than the bible?

            • Bill

              Please explain to me what the basis of any belief in “Christianity” other than the Bible.

            • DarkMatter

              “I am a christian and god speaks to me?”

      • Bender

        Look, you can find bible verses to support Pat Robertson, and you can find Christians past and present who agree with him. But that admission is entirely different from what Dawkins is trying to do, and I don’t see how you can get from here to there and support it with, oh I don’t know, actual evidence.

        As usual, you’re not making any sense. In this paragraph you admit the bible supports Robertson, and in the same sentence you ask what evidence does Dawkins have to say that Robertson represents traditional christians. Bravo.
        By the way, theology is not a serious discipline, so your whole “you need a degree in theology to argue about religion” is like saying you need a degree in smurfology to deny the existence of smurfs.

        • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

          By the way, theology is not a serious discipline, so your whole “you need a degree in theology to argue about religion” is like saying you need a degree in smurfology to deny the existence of smurfs.

          Well, if that’s your position, then there’s literally nothing to talk about. It’s the same move Dawkins makes: trivialize the entire conversation so it can be dismissed rather than engaged.

          • DarkMatter

            I thought he talked both in the light and in darkness with lights on.

        • JonJon

          brg said the Bible *can be used* to support Pat Robertson. Dawkins says Pat Robertson is using the Bible *correctly* to support his statements. Those are not the same thing.

          “By the way, theology is not a serious discipline,”

          Can you explain to me why you think this is true? I’d just love to hear why an academic discipline that exists in secular universities all over the western world is fundamentally the same thing as “smurfology.”

          • Ty

            Come on Jonjon, you are too smart to pull at argumentum ad populum.

            I’m sure if you went back far enough, you’d find all sorts of things taught at universities we would no longer consider serious disciplines.

            Now, I do think that theology is a serious discipline, but probably not for the same reasons you do. I think of it as a very narrowly focused literature degree. To me, having a theology degree is about like having a degree in 17th century german literature. It takes thought and study to get the degree, but it doesn’t apply to anything outside of its narrow focus.

            • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

              Isn’t the point of most degrees to give you a focused expertise?

            • Ty

              A medical degree has value outside of studying medicine. As does an engineering degree. As, in fact, do most professional or scientific degrees.

              A theology degree has no value except to those who study theology. That was my point. Heck, even philosophy gives us a useful thought experiment from time to time.

            • JonJon

              So my literature degree goes out the window then?

              I mean, if we’re going to judge my study of literature on the effects it has *outside* of literature, then a humanitarian who occasionally reads magazines is a “better” student of literature than I am?

              Let’s say I’m a string theorist. In all likelihood, my theory cannot be proven true or false; let’s call it scientifically informed speculation. I am using my scientific degree to accomplish something which “has no value except to those who study” exactly what I study. Hell, it might not even have value to them. It certainly has no impact on biology, sociology, the day-to-day lives of regular people, or even many other branches of physics.

              So, sure, the string theorist’s work doesn’t affect my work, and my work doesn’t affect his. If I’m understanding what you’re saying, this means that literature, art, highly abstract physical or theoretical sciences, and experimental mathematics should be judged more harshly for their contribution to society, academic rigor, or “unreality,” than for example a nursing degree. I’m not exactly sure what your argument is here, this is only my best guess. Correct me if I’m wrong.

              All I mean to say is that if, in fact, we are judging the “usefulness” of an academic field based on how useful it is to those outside of that field, there are several disciplines that will fall well short of “useful.” I don’t think singling out theology *for this reason alone* is fair. Even “studying something that doesn’t exist” won’t get you all the way to where I assume you’re trying to go. Some combination of these might do it, but I think there are real problems with judging a discipline based on how useful it is to everyday life.

            • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

              Come on Jonjon, you are too smart to pull at argumentum ad populum.

              That’s not what he was doing. “Is” is a present tense verb. In the past, theology has been a serious academic discipline. Currently, theology is an academic discipline.

              To assert that it is not is denial of reality, isn’t it?

            • Ty

              It is an attempt to show validity through popularity.

              The fact that theology is taught at many universities is not proof of its value as a field of study.

            • JonJon

              I did not attempt to establish its “value.” I attempted to call it what it is, a rigorous academic discipline. I wouldn’t call something “valuable” because it is popular. You’re right, I know better. That would be a terrible argument.

              If “smurfology” held itself to rigorous academic standards and was recognized by credentialed universities as a field of study in which they would be willing to offer a degree, then it might compare itself to theology. As it is, spellcheck doesn’t recognize it as a word, universities don’t recognize it as a valid academic discipline, and I don’t regard it as an adequate comparison.

            • Bender

              @Jonjon
              The reason why theology will never be a serious discipline is not only that anything it may produce will never be verifiable. As you point out, there are other academic disciplines that would fit that description: literature, philosophy, etc. What separates theology from those is that theology has an obvious bias: Theology is to philosophy what intelligent design is to biology.

            • JonJon

              That would be true if theology didn’t encompass most aspects of religious studies. Theology is not the study of the Christian God, or even the study of Christianity. Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Pan- and Polytheism, etc. are all valid theological topics, and many concern themselves with far more than the existence of God. Even considering just Christianity, many theologians simply examine the differences between different historical thinkers, their personal theology, and the effects that that theology had on the world around them. Furthermore, most academics who make a serious study of ethics require, and have, a great deal of theological background, as well as philosophical knowledge.

              Your analogy is unfortunate; the liberal arts simply do not have scientific standards against bias. While these are integral to science, in liberal arts the difference between say classical liberal economics and the Austrian school of economics, or between a post-colonial literary theorist and a feminist literary theorist are made up of what are effectively the very kinds of filters and biases that science so firmly roots out. While approaching a scientific theory with a predetermined direction in mind is a big no-no, doing the same thing in a non-science discipline does not necessarily invalidate results. This is also true in philosophy.

            • Francesc

              Jonjon, with your last argument I got the impression that theology has some academic values, those who are in the fields of history, philosophy and antropology.I’m trying to think if there is any particular reason to distinguish theology from a branch of those disciplines.

              On another hand, you are defending theology in a broad sense as the discipline wich study the beliefs of societies in their dietys, while ty and the others are attacking theology as it was founded: the rationalization of the bible.

              You are not going to reach any conclusion if you are not speaking about the same topic.

            • Ty

              Jonjon, I’ve already said I think theology is a valid discipline. I just don’t think it matters to anything outside of theology.

              Science attempts to expand our understanding of the universe. The goal of every type of science, yes, even string theory, is to make falsifiable and testable claims. Theology largely works to avoid making testable claims, and in fact modern theology has been a progression toward moving god out of the realm of the testable. That is what sets even the most theoretical sciences apart, and makes them matter to the outside world.

          • Bender

            So there is a “correct” way to use the bible, and an “incorrect” one? Why don’t you print the bibles specifying which chapters are literally true, which ones are “allegoric”, and which ones are pure bullshit? Or just remove the “wrong” ones altogether?

            And yes, theology is the same thing as smurfology: the study of a thing nobody ever even proved existed. As opposed to, you know, serious disciplines: physics, biology, medicine, astronomy, etc… The ones that are actually verifiable, based in real, tangible evidence.

            • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

              So there is a “correct” way to use the bible, and an “incorrect” one? Why don’t you print the bibles specifying which chapters are literally true, which ones are “allegoric”, and which ones are pure bullshit? Or just remove the “wrong” ones altogether?

              You’re making my point for me unawares. That is part of what Christian theology (and biblical scholarship) is attempting to do.

              And yes, theology is the same thing as smurfology: the study of a thing nobody ever even proved existed. As opposed to, you know, serious disciplines: physics, biology, medicine, astronomy, etc… The ones that are actually verifiable, based in real, tangible evidence.

              If you think theology’s goal is to attempt to prove God, then you’ve fundamentally misunderstood what theology as an academic discipline is.

            • DarkMatter

              Wow, christian traditions and biblical scholarship, the evidences of elohim or mud?

            • Bender

              I think theology’s goal is to provide plausible-sounding excuses for people to believe in god, in a rational, scientific world.

            • Francesc

              The fact that god maybe imaginary -in fact, the probability of the existence of a particular god would be 0- doesn’t mean that the idea of god is irrelevant for our culture, history and even laws. And the beliefs in their deities explain something about the cultures where those deities were born. In that context I can accept theology as an academic discipline.

        • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

          As usual, you’re not making any sense. In this paragraph you admit the bible supports Robertson, and in the same sentence you ask what evidence does Dawkins have to say that Robertson represents traditional christians. Bravo.

          No. I said “you can find bible verses to support Pat Robertson…”

          I don’t speak of the bible as one book that speaks with one, unified voice. That’s not what the bible is.

          I’m also pointing out that the bible and christian theology are not one and the same. In short, the bible is a source for theological reflection, but it is not the only one. To conflate the two as Dawkins does is an error.

          • DarkMatter

            “I’m also pointing out that the bible and christian theology are not one and the same. In short, the bible is a source for theological reflection, but it is not the only one. ”

            A good start. A gospel to be preached to the whole christian world, but don’t forget the meat of the message.

          • Bender

            No. I said “you can find bible verses to support Pat Robertson…”

            Yeah. Basically, the whole old testament.

            I don’t speak of the bible as one book that speaks with one, unified voice. That’s not what the bible is.

            No argument here. The bible is incoherent. The point Dawkins makes, is that some christians like you think you can choose which parts to believe and which parts to ignore. And when another christian like Robertson endorses the most horrible parts of the bible, then “he doesn’t represent real christians”.

            • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

              And when another christian like Robertson endorses the most horrible parts of the bible, then “he doesn’t represent real christians”.

              You’re misreading me again. I didn’t say anything about being a “real christian.” I said that first that Dawkins doesn’t know theology and is therefore unqualified to say what is and what is not “firmly within the Christian tradition.”

            • Bender

              You don’t need to be a theologian to know what’s “christian tradition”. I was raised in catholicism. I remember being taught how god sent a flood to annihilate all people in the world. And how god commaded Abraham to kill his own son. And how god killed all firstborn sons of Egyptians. And Robertson’s comments fit perfectly in that image of god.
              Now, you may need to be a theologian to come up with an explanation that makes that compatible with a fair, loving, compasionate god.

            • Yoav

              The homicidal, racist, misogynistic god is all over the bible in plain sight. The modern cutesy touchy feely god on the other hand require a lot of creative reading.

            • Ty

              I am not a doctor, and yet I know that “First do no harm” is firmly inside the medical tradition.

              This attempt to make theology off-limits to anyone by licensed theologians is a dodge tactic. One that quite a number of increasingly attacked disciplines are attempting. I’m starting to see homeopathy sites now defending it by claiming that only someone who has studied homeopathy can intelligently speak about it.

              It is a failed debate tactic to attack your opponents credentials rather than their argument. I think that it is demonstrably true that this interpretation of the bible is well within the a portion of Christianity’s tradition. The fact that a non-theologian is pointing that out doesn’t make it less true.

          • Leo

            What are the other sources for theological reflection?

      • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

        Okay, let’s accept for now that Dawkins doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Theology and the history of Christianity is not what Dawkins thinks it is. You’ve told us what they aren’t; but I am more interested in what they are. In particular, if what Darwin claims is not “the centrepiece of their own theology” then what is? Clearly this cannot be discovered independent of theological orthodoxy.

        • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

          “Darwin”…I’m sure Dawkins would be flattered.

        • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

          Okay, let’s accept for now that Dawkins doesn’t know what he’s talking about

          nomad, he doesn’t. He’s been on record repeatedly saying that he doesn’t know much about Christian theology.

          Theology and the history of Christianity is not what Dawkins thinks it is.

          No, I’m saying something different: Dawkins does not know church history or Christian theology. I’m making an observation about epistemology. Dawkins is ignorant of theology; he is therefore unqualified to make claims about who does and does not fall in line with it.

          I would say the same of myself. I was trained in Psychology, Philosophy, Theology, and a little bit of history. You’d be a fool to take my word on cosmology, biology, geology, because I lack the knowledge to make authoritative statements about them.

          • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

            You still have not answered the question. If what Dawkins says is not the centerpiece, what is?

          • Ryedo

            “Dawkins is ignorant of theology; he is therefore unqualified to make claims about who does and does not fall in line with it.”

            Isn’t this like saying: non-murderers are unqualified to speak about the actions of murderers – because they aren’t experts at murdering.

            I know for a fact that the majority of Christians know very little about history, church history – and their religions theology. The history, theology – and biblical scholarship – they do know, has often been misrepresented, censored or glossed over with fundamentalist – and liberal – apologia. The latter, generally making Christianity look an even bigger convoluted – and hypocritical – mess.

            I guess – by your own reasoning – the majority of Christians should shut-up! They simply aren’t qualified to discuss matters of religion. Neither are they qualified to criticise those who criticise their religion.

            Peace at last! yey!

            • Custador

              Totally. I’m sure I read somewhere (probably here) that the biggest cause of deconversion from Christianity is people actually reading the bible.

            • Mike

              Penn I believe…

            • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

              You’d think that would be enough. Yet some have the power to reason away the atrocities. I dunno. This is probably a mixed up meatphor but I keep hearing this musical refrain from an old song by a singer a don’t have the power to remember right now:
              “What a fool believes, he sees
              A wise man has the power
              To reason away.”

        • JonJon

          From what I read, Dawkins appears to have the “centre piece” at least mostly correct, although he presents it unfavorably. Where his theology is bad is when he decides that because what Pat Robertson says sounds similar to Dawkins’ impressions of the Christian God, then Pat Robertson is accurately representing Christian teaching. Dawkins’ impressions of the Christian religion appear to be, from that article, deliberately simplistic; even that is no excuse for assuming that Robertson’s stance somehow falls into line with the very general things he mentions about the Christian God, since the assertion that Robertson agrees with the “heart” of Christianity should be based on some kind of actual support beyond Dawkins’ own opinion of what “kind of thing” God usually does.

          • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

            ” should be based on some kind of actual support beyond Dawkins’ own opinion of what “kind of thing” God usually does.”

            It’s a short article. Does he really need to do that? Noah’s flood, plagues of Egypt, various genocides, cruel punishment of the chosen people when they transgress, and so on. To the reader who is not using the filter of theology, these things kinda stand out. Is there really any doubt that this is the kind of thing the biblical God does? The hypocrisy Dawkins is talking about is that of claiming he doesn’t, which is the position of liberal Christians.

            • JonJon

              “It’s a short article. Does he really need to do that?”

              Yes. Right now he’s saying “God seems bad, Pat Robertson seems bad, therefore Pat Robertson is accurately representing God.” He could present a better argument, or admit that this argument is not adequate, but merely suggestive.

            • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

              Well, when you put it that way. Over simplifying his over simplification. It does sound pretty stupid. What about the hypocrisy accusation though. Any validity to that?

            • JonJon

              If you mean, “do liberal Christians display hypocrisy?”

              Well, yeah, that’s true. Lots of people do that, and I’d even go so far as to admit that liberal Christians often do what Dawkins is accusing them of. I don’t think this is a case of that happening, since Robertson’s comments only represent the beliefs of a faction of Christianity, and since they are based on pretty shaky theology.

              Now, if I believed that what Pat Robertson said was true and well-founded, I would in fact be open to the type of criticism that Dawkins is making. “God does these kinds of things because he is punishing certain groups of people” is not something that I believe, nor do I think it’s very well-supported, but if I did, to then talk about only the merciful and positive aspects of God would be hypocritical. So, Robertson, for example, is not being hypocritical; he actually thinks he’s right.

              If a liberal Christian believes that God actively punishes groups of people in the modern world by killing them with natural disasters in a haphazard fashion, and they then attempt to *only* emphasize a God of love and mercy… Yeah, I’d call that hypocrisy.

            • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

              ” in the modern world ”
              So when did the unchanging God stop doing these things?

            • Francesc

              More or less when humankind began to explain natural disasters :-p

            • JonJon

              I don’t think what I said a hypocritical liberal Christian might think. I don’t think the opposite, either. I can see how you could get it from what I wrote, but I was just trying to put up as many arbitrary conditions as I could.

            • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

              So do you, JonJon, believe God ever did these kinds of things?

            • JonJon

              Sure, it doesn’t seem impossible to me. I definitely don’t think the earthquake is a good example, though, because when God decides that people should die in the Bible, he kills all of them. God doesn’t do things half way. Are there people left alive in Haiti? Thankfully, yes there are. Therefore, God was not “punishing” Haiti for some sort of sinful behavior. If God starts destroying nations for not following Christianity, we’re left with very few nations.

              This is also a very easy argument to use against the people who actually think that AIDS is a divine plague sent to rid the world of gay people. (Besides the fact that, you know, AIDS isn’t restricted to the homosexual population.) If God wanted to kill all the homosexuals, they’d *all* be either dead or infected. This is not the case, therefore, God doesn’t want to kill all the homosexuals.

            • Ty

              No, there are a number of examples of god killing a portion of the population as an example to the rest.

            • trj

              Yeah, he’s merciful that way.

              Or maybe he just likes to brag (he sure is fond of praising himself at every opportunity in the Bible). He can’t very well brag about his awesome smiting powers if there are no survivors left.

      • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

        This parallel falls apart, because scientific expertise is rare and authority in science usually requires credentials (such as degrees), religious expertise is not rare, and no credentials are required in order to follow a religion. Anyone can believe in a religion and even explain it to others, if they’re so inclined.

        And as it turns out, they often do. Lay Christians are awfully fond of telling everyone else that they should believe in Christ too. Fundies especially are prone to saying that everyone should “accept Jesus Christ into their hearts as their Personal Lord And Savior.”

        As long as people believe themselves to be able to speak for a religion without possessing any credentials or the authority to do so, it stands to reason that Dawkins cannot logically be faulted for speaking about a religion without any credentials.

        The question, then, is: Do you want just any Christian believer to be enough of an authority on Christianity to promote it to others? Or do you think being a spokesman for Christianity should be restricted to “experts” (e.g. clergy, or people with divinity degrees or Bible-college certificates)? Time to choose which one you want. And if you choose the former, don’t complain that someone dares talk about Christianity is not an “expert” on it.

        • JonJon

          “As long as people believe themselves to be able to speak for a religion without possessing any credentials or the authority to do so, it stands to reason that Dawkins cannot logically be faulted for speaking about a religion without any credentials.”

          Ha!

          That’s ridiculous. People speaking about religion are often wrong. Dawkins can be faulted just as much as anyone else who speaks (incorrectly) from a lack of expertise.

          Furthermore, it turns out that non-scientists make claims about science just as often, if not more often, than non-theologians make theological claims. You do not need scientific expertise to believe scientific experts any more than you need religious expertise to believe what religious experts say. Everyone can explain a scientific theory to another person, although their capacity to do so correctly may depend on the degree of their expertise. Similarly, explaining a religious idea correctly to someone may depend on expertise.

          To answer your tangentially related question, I think that I (or anyone else, including Dawkins) can explain both scientific and religious ideas to whomever we choose. We should, however, be held accountable if we explain those ideas in a questionable way, or pretend to have knowledge and expertise we don’t have. Inaccurately representing either religious or scientific ideas is not acceptable, no matter someone’s level of expertise.

          • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

            Re: “People speaking about religion are often wrong.”

            That’s funny. No one seems to do anything about it, when they do. But when Dawkins speaks … well, that’s just not allowed!

            Sorry, I’m not buying it. Not one bit. If Jehovah’s Witnesses can show up at my door and tell me all kinds of insane stuff — with which most other Christians vehemently disagree — then Dawkins can say what he wants, which also happens to disagree with what most Christians say.

            Don’t like it? Then do something about it. Or not.

            Your choice.

            Just don’t be inconsistent about it. Either permit everyone to say whatever s/he wants about Christianity, or clamp down on the practice and limit it only to those who possess credentials. To be inconsistent, however, is also hypocrisy … and Jesus explicitly forbid Christians ever to be hypocritical … no exceptions, no caveats, no “escape clauses.”

            • JonJon

              I don’t think I’m being inconsistent at all. I’ve said that anyone should be allowed to speak about or advocate for whatever they’d like. I do not approve of either intentional or unintentional misinformation, however, and while that standard may be ultimately unrealistic, it is completely consistent. I’m sorry I’m not choosing between the options in your false dichotomy, and that therefore my answer is inconvenient for you, but it stands, and it is perfectly consistent.

              I very often correct people on this website who advocate for religion with false information or deliberate misinformation. I also try to correct those who advocate against religion with false information or deliberate misinformation. I have also *explicitly* said that Dawkins is allowed to say whatever he likes about religion. I believe my exact words were:

              “Can Dawkins argue that Robertson holds more true to Christian doctrine than a modern “liberal” Christian like myself? Of course.”

              “I think that I (or anyone else, including Dawkins) can explain both scientific and religious ideas to whomever we choose.”

              and even:

              “Dawkins is welcome to call me and others like me a hypocrite.”

              I wonder if you could be a little bit more consistent in your assertion that everyone must either restrict themselves to their areas of expertise (which would preclude Dawkins from talking about religion) or be allowed to say whatever they like (in which case, why are you upset about my vocal disagreement with Dawkins?) I’ve already established what I think is a fairly consistent standard. Could you perhaps demonstrate why your standard has anything at all to recommend itself? Or even why the standard I’ve already advocated for is inconsistent? It’s possible I’m just missing your entire point.

    • Michael

      JonJon is right.

      Dawkins is not a theologian. He is not an expert in the Christian tradition, so we shouldn’t accept what he says without looking into it. Now, in the case of theology, we shouldn’t accept statements without looking into them ever, so this isn’t really that relevant here.

      In this case, Dawkins is only correct to a degree. He says that Robertson’s views are “squarely within Christian tradition,” which is true. Historically, most Christians did believe this kind of stuff, and most preachers preached it. He further says that liberal Christians are “denying the centerpiece of their own theology.” Well, that isn’t really true. It is true of many liberal Christians, but certainly not all. As JonJon and bgrulker have pointed out, many Christians do not accept either Christian tradition or the Bible as absolute guides to their theology, and some of these have different beliefs regarding sin and punishment than Christian tradition and the Bible.

      You may wonder what makes these people “Christian,” and that would be the point that Dawkins is bringing up (quite sarcastically) in his sentence “It is the obnoxious Pat Robertson who is the true Christian here.” Of course, Dawkins doesn’t really think Robertson’s beliefs are particularly consistent with the Bible, but he finds it crazy that people can declare him not a Christian. Here, Dawkins is dead on. Regardless of whether Robertson is moral (he obviously is not), he is still certainly a Christian. I don’t think anybody on this page would deny that.

      Does that mean that liberals are not Christians? Not necessarily–you can hold a belief in Christ without believing the same things as other Christians. Traditionally, such groups were called “heresies,” but now they are just different Christian sects.

      But I think the most important point Dawkins brought up was what the OT really said. It clearly lays out the foundation for Robertson’s beliefs. To me, that is a pretty good reason not to accept any moral teachings coming from it.

  • Pingback: Dawkins On Haiti And The Truth About Christianity | Miscellanea Agnostica

  • DarkMatter

    “You nice, middle-of-the-road theologians and clergymen, be-frocked and bleating in your pulpits, you disclaim Pat Robertson’s suggestion that the Haitians are paying for a pact with the devil. But you worship a god-man who – as you tell your congregations even if you don’t believe it yourself – ‘cast out devils’. You even believe (or you don’t disabuse your flock when they believe) that Jesus cured a madman by causing the ‘devils’ in him to fly into a herd of pigs and stampede them over a cliff. Charming story, well calculated to uplift and inspire the Sunday School and the Infant Bible Class. Pat Robertson may spout evil nonsense, but he is a mere amateur at that game. Just read your own Bible. Pat Robertson is true to it. But you?”

    Jesus deliberately withheld evidences that he was god so that the jews could kill him under roman’s law, now to the extend christians today also believe all living things are sinners without god without the need to provide evidences just like their so called jesus. Jesus blamed the whole world, just like christians today do.

  • http://www.thereisnohell.com Rick Lannoye

    It’s important to make a clear distinction between what God is actually like and how he is portrayed. Unfortunately, we do not have the original autographs of the gospels to know, precisely, how they represented the original message of Jesus, and the copies of them we do have contain errors. That said, we can determine that about 95% of what the gospels say is consistent with a loving, caring and forgiving God. It’s only an odd 5% that contradicts all the rest by placing the Greek pagan term “HADES” on Jesus’ lips.

    In other words, the actual Jesus who walked the shores of Galilee did not believe in Hell, he couldn’t have, not if everything else he is quoted in the gospels as teaching is accurate!

    I’ve actually written an entire book on this topic–”Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There’s No Such Place As Hell,” (for anyone interested, you can get a free ecopy of my book at my website: http://www.thereisnohell.com), but if I may, let me share one of the many points I make in it to explain why.

    If one is willing to look, there’s substantial evidence contained in the gospels to show that Jesus opposed the idea of Hell. For example, in Luke 9:51-56, is a story about his great disappointment with his disciples when they actually suggested imploring God to rain FIRE on a village just because they had rejected him. His response: “You don’t know what spirit is inspiring this kind of talk!” Presumably, it was NOT the Holy Spirit. He went on, trying to explain how he had come to save, heal and relieve suffering, not be the CAUSE of it.

    So it only stands to reason that this same Jesus, who was appalled at the very idea of burning a few people, for a few horrific minutes until they were dead, could never, ever burn BILLIONS of people for an ETERNITY!

    True, there are a few statements that made their way into the copies of copies of copies of the gospel texts which place “Hell” on Jesus’ lips, but these adulterations came along many decades after his death, most likely due to the Church filling up with Greeks who imported their belief in Hades with them when they converted.

    Bear in mind that the historical Protestant doctrine of the inspiration of the Scriptures applies only to the original autographs, not the copies. But sadly, the interpolations that made their way into those copies have provided a convenient excuse for a lot of people to get around following Jesus’ real message.

    • DarkMatter

      What churches or denominations believe this teachings in global christianity?

      “Bear in mind that the historical Protestant doctrine of the inspiration of the Scriptures applies only to the original autographs, not the copies.”
      Oh yeh, the bear in my mind… I always thought it’s jesus… oops!!!

    • Custador

      You lost all credibility when you said this:

      “That said, we can determine that about 95% of what the gospels say is consistent with a loving, caring and forgiving God.”

      And then sank through medioctrity and into the realms of the downright idiotic with this:

      “the actual Jesus who walked the shores of Galilee” (the one who’s not mentioned in any contemporary text whatsoever, you mean?)

      It got realy laughable around here:

      “not if everything else he is quoted in the gospels as teaching is accurate”

      And I completely stopped reading after this bit:

      “there’s substantial evidence contained in the gospels”.

    • Francesc

      Matthew 10
      28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
      Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

      34 Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.
      I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

      You mean that, as those sentences doesn’t fit with your idea of Jesus, we should ignore them? On what basis?
      I don’t disagree at all with you. I’m ignoring all the sentences wich doesn’t fit with reality.

  • Question-I-Thority

    It’s important to make a clear distinction between what God is actually like and how he is portrayed.

    Anyone who claims to know “with clear distinction” or with any accuracy at all what God is actually like (if s/he even exists) is speaking from astounding hubris. And that’s the problem with theology.

  • Guy

    Rick, I love your quote from Luke
    “he had come to save, heal and relieve suffering”.
    This is at the bottom of a piece about mass deaths of the innocent in Haiti.
    Can’t you get into our rationalist/atheist mindset to understand why we find your belief in cherry picking the bible totally ludicrous?

  • Francesc

    Ok Jonjon, brgulker, let’s assume that Dawkins is wrong.
    In fact, I know that Pat Robertson has an idea about god different from that one of modern christian theologians. Dawkins also does. I can’t decide wich idea is more legitimate, and I don’t know even the metrics I should use to decide it. I have the impression that in the last centuries christian theologians have been working to adapt the moral from the bible to a modern society, twisting -for good- the sense of the bible, but that is not the point.
    My point is… why weren’t (probably I missed it) christian theologians the first to explain to Pat -and to the public- his error? Dawkins probably would be the first to say “hey, that dude who is doing apology of evolution doesn’t know anything about evolution and he is explaining it wrong”

    • JonJon

      I would wager it’s because the people who want to talk to Robertson probably agree with him. The people who don’t wanna talk to him know that he won’t be likely to overturn his personal beliefs in the face of a theological argument. (This is a legitimate weakness of theological argument, even in contexts where such argument is valid: sometimes a theological argument can simply be ignored.)

      • Mike

        I want to talk to that moron, but not because I agree with him.

      • Francesc

        It’s not about him, probably every pounce of his decency was lost long time ago. It is about his followers.

  • http://agnosticism2010.blogspot.com/ nomad

    ” those faux-anguished hypocrites are denying the centrepiece of their own theology.”

    It’s still not clear to me what the centerpiece of Christian theology is.
    Anybody have any ideas?

    • Michael

      A belief in the divinity of Christ, I guess.

      Although there are some “Christian” sects that don’t even hold that (think: Unitarians). Since there are also other self-described Christian groups that hold sacred texts other than the Bible (Mormons), do not hold the Bible sacred (some liberal Christians), worship different prophets than those of the Bible (Mormons again), have drastically different theological, ontological, epistemological, and moral beliefs than traditional Christianity (every modern Christian faith), and have different practices than traditional Christianity (every modern faith again), I quite honestly do not see what defines a group as “Christian” other than self-identification. It cannot simply be believing in Jesus as a prophet, because Muslims do that, and Muslims are definitely not Christian.

  • http://agnosticism2010.blogspot.com/ nomad

    Funny, In the not to distant past we used to call events like this “acts of God”.