Mark Shea loved the last Pope. Big shock, he loves this one too.

As one might expect, Mark Shea is practically touching himself over the new Pope (no worries, I’m sure he did ten hail Marys and now his soul is safe again).  He thinks the new Pope represents progress.  His example?

This will cause the normal exploding heads at the Reporter and MSNBC.  No “Progress” for you!

In the Aparecida Document, a joint statement of the bishops of Latin America, Cardinal Bergoglio commented on the worthiness of individuals to receive the Eucharist. The text states in paragraph 436 that, “We should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”[52][53][54]

Progress, in Shea’s eyes, is denying a tasteless cracker and grape juice to the people on the side of social progress.  Or, if you’re Catholic, you’re allowing them to skip out on eating 2,000 year-old flesh and blood.  I guess they’ll just have to stick to Subway.  Boy, that’ll show ‘em.

Shea is also pumped that the new Pope likes to evangelize a lot.  This seems to be what Shea cares most about, because he’s not uttered a word about charity or about Bergoglio hiding political prisoners from human rights monitors during his time in Argentina.  There was not a word of Bergoglio criticizing the aiding and abetting of child rapists.  But boy, he sure does like to go tell people Catholicism is true.

And he’ll spend money on it!  I’m sure that has Shea beside himself as well.  For me though, the moment the Catholic Church spends so much as a penny to send a bible to Africa rather than an orange, they have completely twisted the idea of compassion.  To Shea, that Bergoglio will make shipping ministers off to Africa to hand out oodles of bibles is a cause for celebration – presumably because this is what amounts to progress in a mind tainted by faith.

  • Xovvo

    I like this pope too.

    For the same reasons I like watching trainwrecks.

    • Stogoe

      Recently there have been commercials for Celebrity Apprentice with the contestants intercut with old footage of actual trainwrecks and blurbs to the effect of “I can’t look away!”. They’re really going after both demographics here – the people who still enjoy the show as the show, and those who are transfixed by the sheer awfulness.

  • Gordon

    He asks why people expect reform from a Pope and calls it superstition, but actually it is hope. He should be greatful that people hold out any hope for catholicism at all!

  • baal

    “We should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive… wafer-like in mentality

  • Rain

    Oh I hate that when we don’t have eucharistic coherence. That one gets me every time.

    • Loqi

      Finally! They’re going to make the whole transubstantiation thing coherent!

      • http://smingleigh.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

        I suspect it will involve lasers.

      • invivoMark

        Surely that’s good news for anthropologists and geneticists – we can finally sequence the DNA of Jesus taken from a transubstantiated cracker!

  • tubi

    the moment the Catholic Church spends so much as a penny to send a bible to Africa rather than an orange…

    Seems as good a place as any to make this observation. Many of us have made disparaging comments about how wealthy the RCC is and wouldn’t it be nice if they spent just a fraction of that money to help the poor. A common response goes something like, “What, they should just sell all their Titians and Botticellis to private collectors so no one can ever see them any more? What’s the good of that?”

    But that misses the point, where JT’s comment does not. Yes, the Vatican maintains vast collections of important art and other materials. St Peter’s Basilica itself is an artifact worth preserving. What people are bothered by is the vast amount spent on the trappings of the Vatican. How about jeans and a T-shirt instead of velvet and silk vestments? Doesn’t the blood of Christ have the same power when consumed from a Dixie cup instead of a giant gold chalice?

    Ol’ Pope Blue Eyes has been commended for forgoing those things in BA. But he sure seemed happy at the prospect of living in a palace going forward. I would be impressed if he said, “No, I’ll just take a small flat over here with a nice view of the Tiber,” instead of the palatial apartments he’s been offered.

    • Nate Frein

      Bill and Melinda gates enjoy a very rich lifestyle.

      But they’ve managed to do more in ten years in Africa than the Catholic church has done in 100.

      • Artor

        Hardly. The Gates are nowhere NEAR the body count the RCC has in Africa.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

          Pretty sure Nate was praising the Gateses for doing good in Africa. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has done a lot of good work on both domestic and international issues, including AIDS prevention and access to retrovirals for HIV+ people. The Church claims it’s “helping” but it isn’t, whereas the Gateses actually are.

          • Nate Frein

            I think he was joking. It certainly got a chuckle from me.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

            My sarcasm sensors for Internet use could use some tweaking, apparently :/. I reread it and then I giggled. Sorry for flaming at you, Artor.

          • Glodson

            M, that was a flame?

            You got to work on those. Not once did you call anyone a motherfucker, or a dumbass, or a revolting piece of human shit, or a braindead idiot hellbent on worshiping a fictional zombie asshole, or fuckbrained asshat, or shitty parasite of a human being.

            Instead, you gave a very good and concise rebuttal if the comment was meant in all seriousness.

            Still, I always like it when I see a person admit a mistake. Good on ya.

          • http://smingleigh.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

            Sarcasm tags are the future.

    • Rory

      Let’s also acknowledge that the Church could no doubt raise quite a bit of money by loaning some of their great artwork to respectable institutions for public exhibition (what do you think, say, the Louvre would be willing to pay to be known as the only place outside of Rome to see some of those works?), which would raise money for good works without risking the cultural heritage.

      • Andrew Kohler

        My thoughts exactly (in fact, I’d just submitted a comment to that effect but the server timed out, but yours is better articulated). One could even argue that loaning these works to other institutions would allow for more people to see them.

        Nate’s comparison to Bill and Melinda Gates is quite cogent: there are plenty of wealthy people and institutions who do wonderful work while still enjoying a very nice lifestyle (for which I certainly don’t begrudge them). And I’m willing to bet that in the majority of cases, philanthropic individuals don’t campaign against condoms and other contraception in areas that are impoverished and/or have terribly high rates of HIV/AIDS.

    • Theodore Seeber

      Given that Bill and Melinda Gates promote destroying AIDS by depopulating Africa, I’m kind of surprised at this comment.

      But given that atheists refuse to live up to their own level of skepticism when it comes to their own beliefs, no, I’m not that surprised:
      http://books.google.com/books?id=ikol2p2MnZcC&pg=PA138&lpg=PA138&dq=%22Amnesty+International%22+Bergoglio&source=bl&ots=ICWDjekstZ&sig=RAWa9VA2sChAkfnUhLq-AC3TMcA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=J0xCUbjDItHbqwHYmYD4Bw&ved=0CHIQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=%22Amnesty%20International%22%20Bergoglio&f=false

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

        Your link talks about Bergoglio. If you want to smear the Gateses, I’m afraid you’re going to have to actually present evidence relevant to the accusation at hand instead of a random non-germane link.

        • Glodson

          But it is a book! Someone wrote it down! It isn’t like the actual evidence cited in the book would be of any interest or relevance!

        • Andrew Kohler

          A quick Google search reveals that some people and organizations, including Human Life International, are very cross with the Gates Foundation for saying that overpopulation is a problem and that contraception is a good thing (one of the sites also derided Bill for believing that human activity contributes to climate change). Also something about how he’s trying to sterilize people through vaccines, which this person still seems to think cause autism (in this place called reality, the Andrew Wakefield study has been quite discredited and its author does not deserve to have such an excellent first name). And so, I am unconvinced.

          As noted by M, the link given is completely unrelated, leading to what look to be hagiographic writings about Pope John Paul II. The original post only references the previous pope (Benedict XVI) and the present pope (Francis)

  • Loqi

    How vile does one have to be in order for the Catholic blogs to not love a new pope? I’m convinced they would “love” Pope Genghis Khan. Are any of history’s greatest monsters so evil that Catholics would reject them?

  • http://www.thelosersleague.com The_Schwa

    I’m convinced they would “love” Pope Genghis Khan.
    Unless Pope Khan was pro-choice.

    • Yoav

      Exactly, we talk about the same criminal enterprise who recently excommunicated a 9 year old rape victim and the doctor who terminated the pregnancy that was going to kill her, but not the rapist. This is the organization that never excommunicated Hitler (sorry for Godwining the tread) and was more then cozy with both Mussolini and Franco. Based on their history the only thing that would make someone unacceptable is being a decent human being. As for the whole progress thing I guess you can count a pope that want to take the world back to the middle ages a progress compared to one that would take it back to the stone age if they could.

      • Glodson

        Just to clarify, it wasn’t the nine year old girl, but her family that was excommunicated, along with the doctors. This doesn’t make the story any better, it just as monstrous as it still adds the guilt the little girl must feel for being the victim of a rape.

        But I agree with your assessment. They would destroy all progress for their faith.

        • Theodore Seeber

          Yeah, because after all, abortion is progress and all the children conceived in rape are evil! hahahahahaha

          • Glodson

            What is that even supposed to be?

            A nine year old girl gets raped, will likely die from the pregnancy, and her family gets excommunicated by the church along with the doctors who saved the little girl’s life, and this is your response?

            Asshole.

            Let’s see. We have a false equivocation here. In the context of the above discussion, the term progress was used to describe the technological and social advancements. When we have an advancement that flies in the face of their faith, they would remove it for the sake of their faith, if they could. No other reason needed. History is full of examples of how many religions will attack something that benefits humanity for the sake of their religion.

            Next fallacy, strawman. Nowhere did anyone call the children produced by rape evil. The qualities of such children are not germane to the discussion. The contention is that woman who is raped and made pregnant by the rape had her agency removed in a brutal fashion. It is disgusting that anyone would try to pressure a woman who was pregnant by rape to carry the pregnancy to term. The fact that the church would punish people who aborted a pregnancy due to rape puts this church as a willing participant of rape culture. I don’t care about the fetus, I care about the woman raped.

            Or child, in this case.

            This was not for your benefit. You are clearly too stupid and vile to actually have a conversation with. This was for the benefit of others reading theses posts, you dishonest asshole.

      • Andrew Kohler

        I say there’s no need to apologize for Godwining when you make a sound point, as you have (otherwise, the subject of Hitler becomes completely off-limits, which is also problematic). I remember Christopher Hitchens saying that while Hitler was never excommunicated, Joseph Goebbels was excommunicated …because he married a Protestant!

        This reminds me of something that occurred to me reading the recent thread on excommunication and defection, and the Church trying to keep its numbers up by not recognizing people leaving. As Richard Dawkins pointed out, if they wish to do this, they have no choice but to include Hitler as one of theirs.

  • Joseph Svarty

    Why do you people care?

    • Nate Frein

      A person has the power to influence people and governments, and uses that power to advance the cause of hatred and bigotry. The question is, why don’t more people care?

    • Glodson

      We had the secret hope that the Cardinals would all reach the Age of Reason and decide that there shouldn’t be a next pope, and then spend the vast fortunate of the Vatican making amends for the abuse people suffered at their hands, including funding pro-choice groups, giving out contraception in poor countries they encouraged not to use it, spending money helping support gay rights, and seeing to it that the pedophile priests get locked up.

      But no, they really needed to set up a possible war criminal with a sweet gig.

    • http://smingleigh.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

      Why do you care that we care?

      • Glodson

        Why do you care that he cares that we care?

        • Emmet

          Why do you care that he … forget it.

  • Pingback: I care because the accuracy of beliefs matters.

  • Emmet

    Go back and have another read of Shea’s blog, Eberhard. Find out how you and your confreres’ breathless repeating of the claim that Francis hid political prisoners makes you all look like arses.

    Seriously. I’m not surprised any more by the torpidity of thought displayed atheist blogs, after having read them for a year or two – but I still get a good giggle out of them. Keep it up!

    • AmyC

      So that charge might be false. You’re still standing up for an organization that protected child rapists. Even if Catholicism is true, I’m sure a just and moral god would understand your denouncing the leadership for such heinous crimes…unless of course the Catholic god is an asshole too.

  • Emmet
    • Mark Shea

      I can’t help but notice the commentary stopped after this link was posted. Yet this post has not come down, nor has it been updated or corrected to reflect a little thing called Reality. Yeah. Atheism. All about pursuit of the Truth, no matter where the facts lead.

      • Bubba Maximus

        Herr Eberhard is far too intellectually nuanced to, y’know, admit error. He’s not wrong. Our small brains can’t grasp the colossal power of his thundering intellect.

        Pfft.

        • AmyC

          Or maybe he’s on the road giving speeches and hasn’t had time to read every single article from every single atheist blogger or all the comments here. I’ve seen him retract statements in the past. I’ve also noticed how you still make excuses or ignore the whole “hiding child rapists” thing that your church does. Funny that.

  • Pingback: Atheism!

  • Theodore Seeber
  • Bob Hunt

    Atheism is irrational, so the main strategy used by atheists is ridicule and lies. Pope Francis is a war criminal. Pope Francis never condemned child abuse by priests. The Church has never done anything for the poor in Africa. The Church was in line with Hitler, Mussilini, Franco, etc… Never do any of these accusations require substantiation with evidence, because they’re all known to be true … just like they know that Bergoglio hid victims of the “Dirty War” from human rights activists. It’s pathetic. Sad, too, in that so much of atheism’s energy is spent hating on a religion of which they are largely ignorant and on people whom they know not.

    • Glodson

      Atheism is the rejection of god. If atheism is irrational, then you must have a rational reason to accept the existence of god. So, present your evidence.

      • Emmet

        I’m sure you’ve heard of the First Cause argument.

        • Glodson

          That’s not evidence. That’s an argument. One that makes assumptions. One that gets violated hard by simple quantum mechanics. One that is uninteresting and long discredited.

          The problems: There are events without causes. Nothing causes virtual particles. Nothing causes radioactive decay. Events with no causes. So not all events have a cause. Further, how does this “first cause” become god? And how does this hypothesized god become YWHW? Why not the the unformed chaos from which Erebus emerged? Why not Purusha who was sacrificed for the sake of creation? How do we get from the assumption that everything has a cause to that cause being god? Why does this proposed first cause have to be god? That sounds like an argument from incredulity as one cannot imagine it not being god. Or an argument from ignorance as since one doesn’t know what the first cause could be, so it must be god.

          Let’s keep going. This is not an internally consistent argument. If everything had a cause, then what caused god? This will lead to an infinite regress of the same question. So then we must have something that didn’t have a cause. Also the assumption is made that god doesn’t need a cause. Why? What that assumption? Further, if we clearly have a first cause, why are we adding in an element to the system for which we have no evidence? Why can’t the universe itself cause itself? Why can’t we just truncate the flow? We have events in this universe which lack causes. So, why not let it stand that the Big Bang was the first cause? We actually have evidence for that event occurring, and it marks the beginning of spacetime, making any talk of before the Big Bang nonsensical as that was when time started.

          Moving on. So, we have events that are happening without causes, well understood and verified through science. We have an internal contradiction, we have begging the question, we have arguments from both incredulity and ignorance. And we’re not done.

          The first law of thermodynamics. The total energy of a closed system is constant. The universe is the ultimate closed system. For any god to influence this reality, that god would have to violate this. In order for a god argument to work, you have to invalidate this law. Prove it.

          Finally, the first cause is an argument, which is not evidence. Unless you can prove the premises to be true, then it is nice but pointless. And as noted, the premises are false. Not everything has a cause, so there need not be a first cause. Further, there’s no reason to believe that even if a first cause is needed, that first cause is god. Finally, even if grant that there is a first cause and it has to be a god, how does it follow that this god is the god of a particular religion?

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

            Damn, Glodson, I’ve not seen a more elegant takedown of the First Cause argument. Well done, sir.

          • Glodson

            Thanks.

            Even when I was a believer, I really hated the First Cause Argument. I didn’t have the words to express my dislike of it. I never really liked the whole “Goddidit” flavor of responses, which is what I often got out of the First Cause argument. That, and I never got how we get from the First Cause to a general deity, let alone a specific deity.

          • Bob Hunt

            Mr/Ms. Glodson,

            Atheism is irrational because the classic arguments against the existence of God are arguments from faith, not reason.
            You have many good questions re: the First Cause Argument. I’m afraid, however, that your response betrays a basic understanding of Aquinas’ argument. I work nights, so I’m only getting home recently and finding your post. I’ll get back to you on that.
            I do enjoy respectful, meaningful conversations with those who think differently than I. I hope you do, too.

          • Glodson

            Bob, see here for a reply, if you haven’t seen this already.

            Bring evidence.

          • AJ

            I’ve lost track — where did you say you had been drinking wine coolers before writing this?

            Because bourbon is friggin awesome and it never made me able to type up something that beautiful and coherent. (It’s usually one or the other). I really hope you don’t mind if I copy/paste this into a TextEdit document so I can reference it later if I need to.

            AJ

          • Glodson

            I did write this under the influence of hard cider.

            Copy away. I try to be helpful when I write, which is sad considering how often I’m more unhelpful.

    • Joe

      Pope Francis is a war criminal. Pope Francis never condemned child abuse by priests. The Church has never done anything for the poor in Africa. The Church was in line with Hitler, Mussilini, Franco, etc…

      You are misrepresenting our position somewhat. There was evidence suggesting that Pope Francis was a war criminal. That evidence now appears to be false, so we amend our position. We are also not saying that Francis has never condemned child abuse, but rather that he, and by extension the entire church, has not done enough to prevent it. Likewise with Africa. None of us claim that the Catholic church has done nothing good in Africa, but rather that the harm they cause (by preaching against contraception, for example) vastly outways the good. I can’t really say much about the relationship between Hitler and the church, as my knowledge of history is shaky, at best (that is my sister’s forte), though as far as I was aware this relationship normally comes up when people claim that Hitler was an atheist.

      Sad, too, in that so much of atheism’s energy is spent hating on a religion of which they are largely ignorant and on people whom they know not.

      You realise that many atheists were religious at some point in their lives, right? I was a Catholic once, though admittedly I left before I grasped the subtleties of the religion. I should also point out that knowing these subtleties isn’t terribly important to my opinion on the church. That it has at times acted to cover up child abuse, as well as arguing against both contraception and abortion is enough for me to dislike it.

      • Glodson

        You realise that many atheists were religious at some point in their lives, right?

        The funny thing is that we tend to know more about their religion and theology than they do.

        I know I was formerly religious. And I’ve read the Bible, and know some really interesting bits. I have read up on my apologetics as I looked for a reason to stay in the faith. I looked for evidence for god. I looked for a way to justify my faith.

        When that continued to be unsatisfying for a long time, I tried a different approach. I tried to take apart atheism. I ran headlong into the brick wall that is the null hypothesis, something I knew well. Something I had not thought to apply to my own religion.

        My own religion got jettisoned.

        • Joe

          I’ll happily admit that my knowledge of theology is pretty shaky. I left the church at a pretty young age (I got bored and stopped going :P), so I never put any effort into justifying my belief. That said, the exact beliefs themselves aren’t that important to me, just the outcomes of these beliefs.

    • Rain

      Atheism is irrational, so the main strategy used by atheists is ridicule and lies.

      Yeah.. In the meantime how about addressing some of the points brought up. (Preferably without getting bogged down in pedantic details that avoid the gist of what people are saying.) Unless maybe you don’t actually endorse Aquinas’s arguments. I for one am not entirely clear on whether or not you actually endorse the silly Aquinas stuff.

  • Bob Hunt

    In response to Glodson’s objections to St. Thomas Aquinas’ First Cause argument:

    Glodson,

    I appreciate your patience with me in consideration of my work schedule. I won’t have a great deal to say today, as I worked last night and had only a brief nap this morning. But, I would like to get started. I’m not working tonight, and tomorrow is mostly free, so I should be able to write more then. As I alluded, I don’t much like the restraints of comboxes. If my comments become too long, I’ll split them up.

    It seems reasonable to take a look at Aquinas’ First Cause argument as we get started. This is from Dr. Peter Kreeft’s book “Summa of the Summa.” Kreeft is a professor of philosophy at Boston College, and a well-respected Thomist. This is the translation of Aquinas’ “Question 2: The Existence of God; Article 3: Does God Exist?” that Kreeft provides:
    “The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or one only. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.”

    Likewise, I provide what I think is a fine summary of Aquinas’ argument, written by Dr. Theodore Gracyk, department chair and professor of philosophy at Minnesota State University Moorhead. The four-point summary you gave (over on the other thread), respectfully, was wholly inadequate, especially in your first point, “Everything that exists has a cause.” Aquinas, in fact, never argues this. Here is Gracyk’s summary:
    1. We perceive a series of efficient causes of things in the world.
    2. Nothing exists prior to itself.
    3. Therefore nothing is the efficient cause of itself.
    4. If a previous efficient cause does not exist, neither does the thing that results.
    5. Therefore if the first thing in a series does not exist, nothing in the series exists.
    6. The series of efficient causes cannot extend ad infinitum into the past, for then there would be no things existing now.
    7. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name God.

    I see five objections in your post. If you intended more and I missed one, please correct me.
    1. Not all events have a cause; there are events without causes.
    2. Why does the this proposed first cause have to be God?
    3. If everything had a cause, then what caused God?
    4. The First Cause argument only works if you invalidate the first law of thermodynamics.
    5. Granting the first cause, and the first cause being God, how does it follow that this God is the God of a particular religion?

    For today, I would like to consider the objection of yours that is most easily addressed, and on which we probably agree, which is #5 above. You write, “Finally, even if [we] grant that there is a first cause and it has to be god, how does it follow that this god is the god of a particular religion?”

    It doesn’t follow, necessarily. Of course, if the God of the Christian religion is God, then it does follow. But, for the sake of the argument, it doesn’t necessarily follow. Furthermore, Aquinas never argued that it does. Aquinas well knew the limits of what reason could tell us about God: that God exists; that God is that which no greater thing can be conceived … But, that God is Trinity? That God is active and benevolent in the affairs of humans? That God sent His only Son into the world to reconcile the world to Himself? These cannot be known by reason. For these, revelation is necessary. Aquinas knew that. I’m not personally aware of any Thomistic philosopher who argues otherwise. So, objection #5 is a red herring, since Aquinas does not argue that the God whose existence can be demonstrated by the First Cause argument is necessarily the Christian God, or the God of any other particular religion.

    I’m tired. More tomorrow.

    Pax et bonum,
    Bob

    • Nate Frein

      First, I want to point out that it’s kind of sad that you’re relying on a 23 year old argument (going by Summa of the Summa’s publishing date) that is itself simply a “plainspeak” explanation of the centuries old Summa Theologica. That’s kinda like bringing an arquebus to a shootout with Seal Team 6. But I’ll get back to that in a bit.

      First, Dr. Kreeft’s understanding of science is wrong. Uncaused events happen all the time. So the very basis of his “logical argument “is built on a faulty premise. This is understandable in Aquinas’ case, since we simply did not have the understanding of physics then that we do now. Further, all that his argument can reasonably show is that there must be some cause for the big bang. This cause does not even have to be supernatural…in fact it would not be reasonable to assert a supernatural cause, simply because we have no evidence for any supernatural cause of any other event. Just because we do not “know” what caused the big bang, doesn’t logically mean that such event has to be supernatural. Before germ theory, we didn’t understand how diseases were spread. That didn’t make diseases magical.

      Revelation itself is it’s own little bit of silliness. What empirical evidence supports revelation as a fact? Have we ever had a prophet under an MRI while he or she “received God’s word”? An outside agency acting on the mind of a human would certainly be recognizably different from any other observed brain activity. Such an event would be measurable. It would generate data that could be studied. But just as no “psychic” has ever claimed Randi’s prize, no prophet has ever demonstrated they were any more than a mountebank or disturbed individual.

      Why is it that as our scientific knowledge has increased, the number of recorded incidents of “miracles” have decreased? Why does a Catholic parish have to defend its “bleeding statue” with death threats to the man who proved that it was just a leaky sewage pipe? And why haven’t apologists come up with a better argument than a centuries old logical fallacy predicated on outdated scientific knowledge?

      • Bob Hunt

        Mr. Frein,

        As I said, the quote is Dr. Kreeft’s translation of Aquinas’ argument. The argument is Aquinas’, not Dr. Kreeft’s.

        If you could cite the reference for the Catholic parish that threatened death on the man who blew the whistle on the crying statue, I would appreciate it. Thanks!

        • Nate Frein

          If you could cite the reference for the Catholic parish that threatened death on the man who blew the whistle on the crying statue, I would appreciate it. Thanks!

          Sanal Edamaruku received death threats that forced him to flee to Finland. He is wanted on charges of “insulting religion”. The archdiocese has decided to be “merciful” by saying that if he apologizes they will drop charges.

          As I said, the quote is Dr. Kreeft’s translation of Aquinas’ argument. The argument is Aquinas’, not Dr. Kreeft’s.

          And as I said, Aquinas has an excuse for not being familiar with modern physics. Dr. Kreeft does not. Once again, arquebus versus seal team six.

          • Nate Frein
          • Bob Hunt

            Thanks for the link. It’s very helpful.

            Regarding Kreeft, you’re saying that he shouldn’t have translated Aquinas at all because Aquinas’ understanding of science is outdated?

          • Nate Frein

            Regarding Kreeft, you’re saying that he shouldn’t have translated Aquinas at all because Aquinas’ understanding of science is outdated?

            If all Kreeft were doing was translating Aquinas, then it wouldn’t be an issue. Kreeft is, as far as I understand him asserting that the argument is still a valid proof of a supernatural cause for the universe. As are you. Despite the fact that science has since shown the very premise is fundamentally flawed.

            Would the analogy make more sense if I said you were bringing a centuries old proto-firearm into a gunfight with a person using a state of the art assault rifle?

    • Rain

      objection #5 is a red herring

      A red herring is a diversionary tactic. It implies an intent to deceive. Presumably Glodson’s intent was divinely revealed to us since we don’t know it through reason alone.

      • Glodson

        One doesn’t have to intend to divert the argument, but if one makes a statement that does such a thing, it is still a red herring.

        But in an argument for god, it must be pointed out when an argument doesn’t support a specific deity. People do use these kind of arguments to do an Equivocation Fallacy. They’ll say god in one sense( a creator figure that has no definable traits) and then later use the term as talking about their own specific god with no indication the usage of the word has changed.

        • Rain

          One doesn’t have to intend to divert the argument, but if one makes a statement that does such a thing, it is still a red herring.

          Well okay fine by me. I was going by a web definition. I get confused by all these fallacies in regard to intent. For example a common meme around the blogs is “Hey I can call you a buncha names and stuff but technically it isn’t an ad hominem, so nya nya nya you idiot”.

          • Glodson

            Excessive pedantry warning, and possibly a bit of condescension. I’ll do my best to avoid this.

            Intent isn’t really a part of evaluating the fallacy. Anyone can do it, and even think they are being logical. It is about how the premises work. A red herring is any diverting argument. If I had taken the First Cause Argument and started to talk about the Crusades, that would be a red herring, it is not germane the to discussion at hand, not connected in anyway.

            In this example, I never made the claim that the First Cause argument directly concluded that it was the Christian god. I was trying to point out that even if we allowed for it, it doesn’t connect to any god. It is important as it creates a problem for the apologist. How do they get from this “god” to their “god?” Noticing the leap with the revelation is a good clue as to why this argument is ineffective. It still leaves a matter of blind faith. Again, that is even if we ignore the internal inconsistency and the incorrect premises. Further, if I had made the claim that Aquinas claimed it was about a specific deity, that would be better described as a strawman.

            And now for ad hominem: people misuse this often. It does mean attack the person, but that doesn’t mean it is always an insult. If a theist dismissed our argument by saying “you are wrong because you are an atheist,” that would be an ad hominem. They are not addressing the argument, but rather the person making the argument. Calling someone an idiot can just be an insult. It is a question of are they using the insult(or personal quality) in place of dealing with the argument or are they just adding the insult along with the refutation or dismissal of the argument.

            Sorry if this seems pompous. Popular usage of many of these ideas have led to misunderstandings about what they mean.

          • Nate Frein

            “Hey I can call you a buncha names and stuff but technically it isn’t an ad hominem, so nya nya nya you idiot”.

            Calling a person a name isn’t de facto an ad hominem, as long as the argument itself is addressed.

            Saying “you’re wrong because you are a douchebag” is an ad hominem. Saying “Here’s why you’re wrong, and I think you’re a douchebag for using that argument” is not ad hominem

        • Rain

          Why does wikipedia say this:

          Abusive fallacy – a subtype of “ad hominem” when it turns into name-calling rather than arguing about the originally proposed argument.

          Why does nizkor.org say this:

          A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to “win” an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic.

          I’m going by what they say because I don’t know who you people are. Sorry about that.

          • Glodson

            Abusive fallacy – a subtype of “ad hominem” when it turns into name-calling rather than arguing about the originally proposed argument.

            You are entirely missing the point. The point is that just insults aren’t any type of a fallacy. They are just insults. When one is dealing with the argument and being insulting, they aren’t committing any ad hominem fallacy. You aren’t backing up your point. If one just insults, you could make the argument. But if they actually address your point and are insulting, it is a mischaracterization to call it an ad hominem.

            A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to “win” an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic.

            Intent still has nothing to do with it. It might not be one’s intent to divert the argument to win, but if they make an argument that does so, they are still introducing a red herring. One can do this out of error or intent. Hell, most people don’t mean to use any fallacies. Some do, but most times it is just an error.

            I’m going by what they say because I don’t know who you people are. Sorry about that.

            Sigh, argument from authority.

          • Nate Frein

            You’re starting to sound remarkably similar to a tone troll. Just gonna put that out there. I would very much like see examples of the behavior you’re referencing. Your use of hyperbolic description does not help in narrowing down what is happening and whether or not it actually is an ad hom fallacy or abusive fallacy.

            Firstly, if I engage a man who has constructed a dishonest strawman, and I know full well that his strawman has been pointed out and rebutted multiple times and he continues to use that strawman, then calling him a dishonest fuckwit while at the same time again rebutting his strawman, then while my language may be “abusive” I am not committing a fallacy. I have engaged his argument. I have simply also used language to express my frustration at his dishonest argumentation (which to me is much more disrespectful).

            Or say that a person responds to a post by JT by vomiting forth a bunch of tired and debunked tropes. The people who respond with not very nice words are not committing a fallacy because they aren’t engaging in a debate in the first place; they’re simply telling the idiot off.

            None of this, and none of what we’ve posted before contradicts anything that you’ve posted. If you disagree, feel free to explain how rather than appealing to another authority (which doesn’t really rebut any thing we’ve said here).

        • Bob Hunt

          Glodson,

          I was hoping to reply to your 2:13pm post, but for some reason it doesn’t offer a “Reply” button, so I’ll reply here.
          No, you did not say that the First Cause argument directly concluded that it was the Christian God. You did, however, ask: “how does it follow that this god is the god of a particular religion?” Given that Aquinas was a Christian, it seems reasonable that the “particular religion” to which you were referring was the Christian religion. I mean, c’mon!
          The point is, as I said clearly, Aquinas didn’t claim that the God that can be demonstrated by the First Cause argument is necessarily the Christian God, or the God of any particular religion. Your objection, then, is a red herring because it claims that Aquinas argued what he did not argue.

          For clarification, a red herring is “an English-language idiom that commonly refers to a logical fallacy that misleads or detracts from the actual issue. It is also a literary device employed by writers that leads readers or characters toward a false conclusion…” It need not imply an intent to deceive. It only implies that the one employing the red herring is leading others to a false conclusion, in this case the claim that Aquinas argued that the First Cause argument demonstrates the existence of the God of any particular religion. It doesn’t, and Aquinas never argued that it did.

          • Nate Frein

            I was hoping to reply to your 2:13pm post, but for some reason it doesn’t offer a “Reply” button, so I’ll reply here.

            The simplest way to handle that is to scroll up that comment thread to the most recent reply button and use that. Further, use blockquotes and put spaces in between your paragraphs to compensate for the lack of a tab stop. A simple grasp of a few minor HTML tags goes a long way towards creating readable posts and shows respect for the people you are addressing.

          • Nate Frein

            And if you do feel that continuing to reply to a comment thread would obfuscate your message, don’t reply in an unrelated comment thread. Start a new comment thread with a link to the comment and blockquotes to cite the relevant passages to which you are responding.

            If you wonder why we lose patience with posters like you, ask yourself why you cannot be bothered to learn how to employ a few simple HTML tags and extra spacing to create clear and easy to read posts.

          • Glodson

            Here’s exactly what I said about this:

            Finally, the first cause is an argument, which is not evidence. Unless you can prove the premises to be true, then it is nice but pointless. And as noted, the premises are false. Not everything has a cause, so there need not be a first cause. Further, there’s no reason to believe that even if a first cause is needed, that first cause is god. Finally, even if grant that there is a first cause and it has to be a god, how does it follow that this god is the god of a particular religion?

            Note how I never made the claim that the first cause directly argues for a specific deity. Note that I did not attribute this to Aquinas. Here’s what you just said.

            No, you did not say that the First Cause argument directly concluded that it was the Christian God. You did, however, ask: “how does it follow that this god is the god of a particular religion?” Given that Aquinas was a Christian, it seems reasonable that the “particular religion” to which you were referring was the Christian religion. I mean, c’mon!
            The point is, as I said clearly, Aquinas didn’t claim that the God that can be demonstrated by the First Cause argument is necessarily the Christian God, or the God of any particular religion. Your objection, then, is a red herring because it claims that Aquinas argued what he did not argue.

            This is a strawman, and a leap. Look at what you wrote again. First there was this:

            No, you did not say that the First Cause argument directly concluded that it was the Christian God.

            That’s right. I didn’t. I am trying to figure out how one gets from this argument to a specific god. Any god. Tell me how it does it. The only answer you have for this is “revelation.” Which means there’s no logical reason to go form the First Cause to Jesus. There’s no connection, so even granting this argument still makes a particular religion irrational. And then you wrote this:

            Your objection, then, is a red herring because it claims that Aquinas argued what he did not argue.

            So, my objection that the First Cause cannot lead to any particular god, which you agreed to, is a red herring because I claimed that the argument is meant to justify the Christian God? Did you not notice that you agreed with my statement, and then misconstrued my statement in order to dissent by misrepresenting my position? That’s a strawman. And you contradicted yourself in order to make that, in one paragraph.

            Here’s why this is relevant: if you are going to use the First Cause Argument to argue for the existence of a general god, you still need to link that god to your God. Failure to do even that leaves your religion with no rational basis. This is waste of time as you still have not shown why we should even accept the First Cause argument.

            The burden of proof is on you. Show your work. Why should we accept the First Cause Argument? How does it follow that this argument is one that supports the existence of a personal god? How can I rely on the revelations of others?

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

      I’ve never read Aquinas, but that seems to be a good summary of what others have said his arguments are. It’s cogent and polite, so thanks for that.

      The thing is, the vast majority of Christians talking about Aquinas use the simplified logic Glodson made fun of. Everything has a cause, therefore Jesus. I’m glad you recognize that the logic doesn’t actually lead there, but the First Cause argument itself is still flawed. Reading your expanded list of logical steps, it still boils down to “everything must have a cause, so there must be a First Cause, therefore a superpowerful magical being who exists outside of space-time even if not my God”. To which I respond, say what now?

      We don’t know that everything *must* have a cause. At our level of existence (much bigger than sub-atomic, much smaller than galactic), everything we can easily see and interact with has a line of cause-and-effect going on. Things get wonky at the really big scale and especially at the really small scale, though. Glodson brought up some things that don’t have linear cause-and-effect causes- virtual particles and radioactive decay. If they don’t have causes, why does everything have to have a cause? One could argue that the big bang moment of the beginning of the existence of our universe took place at both a subatomic and galactic level, where the rules would be … extremely weird. Your argument rests on our fundamental ignorance of how the universe works, and we’re slowly carving away at that ignorance.

      And even if our universe has a First Cause, even if Aquinas’s logic was correct as far as it goes, why a supermagical powerful being that lives outside space-time? Why is that the first explanation you have? That doesn’t make any sense at all. The proper place to end the logic chain would be “therefore a First Cause must exist”. That’s it. No anthropomorphic magic powers, no breaking the laws of the universe as we know them, nothing like that. Anything more is just unwarranted assumptions.

    • Glodson

      First, let’s address your stating of the argument, which is pretty much the same as the one I presented.

      1. We perceive a series of efficient causes of things in the world.
      2. Nothing exists prior to itself.
      3. Therefore nothing is the efficient cause of itself.
      4. If a previous efficient cause does not exist, neither does the thing that results.
      5. Therefore if the first thing in a series does not exist, nothing in the series exists.
      6. The series of efficient causes cannot extend ad infinitum into the past, for then there would be no things existing now.
      7. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name God.

      Now for the problems.

      Premise 1 is false as explained before, with specific events that are uncaused. Premise 2 is unfounded but I am not overly concerned with this premise in and of itself. You’ll see why in a minute. Premise is also unfounded. Really 2 and 3 are begging the question as to why we should even accept them to be true. Evidence has not been presented to back up these claims. As we move into the argument, we get a special pleading. If everything requires a cause, and there must be a first cause, why is that first cause god? Why didn’t something else cause god? Why does god get a special classification?

      This is the same point I brought up before. Why god? Why not just leave off god and go with the Big Bang? There’s nothing I need from the outside to explain the Big Bang. Worse, this is based on a normal understanding of time. Spacetime has an origin. That origin is the Big Bang. Here’s the important bit: Time didn’t exist until the Big Bang. There is literally no time for which there to be a normal causality chain as we know it. Asking what happened before the Big Bang with our understanding of time is like asking what the color blue eats. It is a nonsensical question.

      Basically, this restatement of the argument is substantively the same as my stating of it. It is more ornate in the language, but the logic is the same. Everything has a cause, infinite regress is impossible, so there must be a first cause and that cause is god.

      Let’s look again at the last two:

      6. The series of efficient causes cannot extend ad infinitum into the past, for then there would be no things existing now.
      7. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name God.

      No. Non sequitur. Leaving aside the Big Bang as the origin of spacetime which makes for a sufficient first cause without the need for the supernatural, it doesn’t follow that the first cause has to be god. Once we posit something outside of spacetime, what’s stopping us from asking “What caused god?” Further, everyone doesn’t give it the name god. Many of us specifically deny that, and an argumentum ad populum does not make for a good argument. Nor is this an effective method to argue for the existence of god as the premises are invalid, and they add a hypothesis (god) where it is unwarranted and unneeded.

      Moving on to this:

      For today, I would like to consider the objection of yours that is most easily addressed, and on which we probably agree, which is #5 above. You write, “Finally, even if [we] grant that there is a first cause and it has to be god, how does it follow that this god is the god of a particular religion?”

      It doesn’t follow, necessarily. Of course, if the God of the Christian religion is God, then it does follow. But, for the sake of the argument, it doesn’t necessarily follow. Furthermore, Aquinas never argued that it does. Aquinas well knew the limits of what reason could tell us about God: that God exists; that God is that which no greater thing can be conceived … But, that God is Trinity? That God is active and benevolent in the affairs of humans? That God sent His only Son into the world to reconcile the world to Himself? These cannot be known by reason. For these, revelation is necessary. Aquinas knew that. I’m not personally aware of any Thomistic philosopher who argues otherwise. So, objection #5 is a red herring, since Aquinas does not argue that the God whose existence can be demonstrated by the First Cause argument is necessarily the Christian God, or the God of any other particular religion.

      How is it a red herring? This is an argument for god. At best, this argument can be made for a non-personal god. A deistic/pandeistic style god that has a nebulous quality. The most general god type.

      Which means is it at best a weak agnostic style argument for god. Without providing any evidence for accepting even this weakly stated god, this argument can be dismissed out of hand.

      Further:

      These cannot be known by reason. For these, revelation is necessary. Aquinas knew that. I’m not personally aware of any Thomistic philosopher who argues otherwise.

      Doesn’t matter. Irrelevant. Unless you are an agnostic trying to argue for the most general version of god, this is pointless. In the end, at best you have a godish figure that maybe exists. Great, even if the broken argument worked, faith in any specific deity is irrational.

      In fact, you just stated as much. If I grant you the argument, you still have no rational reason to accept your religion. If it comes form a revelations, what does that say about the revelations of other religions?

      We’ve established that there’s no connection form this argument to a specific god. Which means that this argument is useless for religious apologetics. If there’s a logically sound argument for the Christian god, the First Cause Argument is redundant and unneeded. That argument should include the existence of a “god” and the criteria that narrows it down to a specific god. Given that this argument cannot do that, it still means that the acceptance of a Christian god is irrational.

      Again, that is if I even grant the argument, which I don’t for the stated reasons before hand. I have tangible evidence for my rejection of the claims in this argument, as I stated before. I need not even provide that. The burden of proof is not on me. I can easily reject all the claims of this argument, reject every premise unless it is backed by evidence. To refute my position, you must do two things: provide evidence that I am wrong, and provide evidence that backs your claims. Failing to do that, the point must be conceded.

      • Glodson

        Hmm, what did I do to get the random bolding? Must have borked a tag in there. Oh well. Ignore the excessive bolding, that must have been a tag error on my part.

        • Rain

          Yelling at people in bold is a fallacy! It doesn’t matter the if the bold was intentianol bold or not!

          • Glodson

            Well, it is more a strange coding error that I am still trying to figure out how I did it.

      • Jasper

        6. The series of efficient causes cannot extend ad infinitum into the past, for then there would be no things existing now.

        I don’t buy this one for another reason. It’s assuming that there’s some kind of temporal playhead that “moves” along the timeline. It’s begging the question.

        It could be that, like the x y and z dimensions, the entire dimension exists “concurrently” (for lack of a better term), and our perception of time gives the illusion that it’s progressing. It could be that I’m “currently” experiencing “now” at every point along the timeline “simultaneously.”

        From what we understand about the 4th dimension (time), the idea that “it would never get to now” is gibberish. It’d be like saying that the x-axis cannot be infinite, because how could the object at x=4750.5 get there if it was?

        • Jasper

          I think that’s what bugs me the most about arguments like the Kalam Cosmological argument. It’s like playing a game of “1001 assumptions”

          • Randomfactor

            The series of efficient causes cannot extend ad infinitum into the past,

            It doesn’t have to. Before the Big Bang, there is no “past.”

    • Compuholic

      Can you please differentiate between an efficient cause and a non-efficient cause?

      There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible.

      Although I’m not a physicist I know that this is not true. Although it is counterintuitive an event in quantum mechanics can be both cause and effect of another event at the same time. (check out http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v3/n10/full/ncomms2076.html ). And btw. this is why I don’t think very highly of philosophy. Philosophers think they can deduce the nature of the universe. The problem is: The universe doesn’t care if something makes sense to us. The only authority is reality. If something goes against common sense. Then the problem is with your common sense.

      Aquinas well knew the limits of what reason could tell us about God: that God exists; that God is that which no greater thing can be conceived

      I can conceive of something greater that God. A Supergod that created God. I can also conceive of a super-supergod. I can continue this thought in all eternity. So there is no greatest thing that can be conceived.

      That God is active and benevolent in the affairs of humans?

      This could be easily known by reason. You just need to specify benevolence appropiately and then apply statistics. We could easily perform an experiment under controlled conditions. As an example: Let religious people pray for X. Compare the probability of X occuring with the non-religious control group and voila you have evidence that there is something interesting going on. For better results X should of course be something that can be well measured. And btw. when I look at the world: If this is what god means by benevolence, I have to conclude that he is a giant asshole.

      It doesn’t follow, necessarily. Of course, if the God of the Christian religion is God, then it does follow.

      This is a great example of christian reasoning. They start with the conclusion and work backwards from there. You could as well say: If I am right then my argument proves that I’m right which is circular nonsense.

      So, objection #5 is a red herring, since Aquinas does not argue that the God whose existence can be demonstrated by the First Cause argument is necessarily the Christian God, or the God of any other particular religion.

      No it is not a red herring. Even if all the premises were correct, since the argument does not go there, nobody is rationally justified in believing in a god. And if revelation is the key to this as you claim: Why do you need reason then? In this case you didn’t become a believer based on reason but because of revelation. This means that the only reason that I am not a believer is that god did not bother to reveal himself to me.

      • Glodson

        I can conceive of something greater that God. A Supergod that created God. I can also conceive of a super-supergod. I can continue this thought in all eternity. So there is no greatest thing that can be conceived.

        Of course, a super-super-supergod would just be silly.

        Although it is counterintuitive an event in quantum mechanics can be both cause and effect of another event at the same time.

        This is something that is tricky to explain. I didn’t go into details, but maybe it would be helpful for people if I do so now. I’ll do a brief overview of two events that I know that are uncaused, and strange.

        Virtual Particles. One a short enough time frame, a pair of particles can pop into existence, matter and antimatter, only to annihilate each other in an instant. This is fundamental to the universe, and we know this from our work with the Uncertainty Principle. Normally, the UP is understood to be velocity and position(it is really momentum and position), but we can reformulate it to time and energy. In accordance, virtual particles can just randomly come into being. Because of the nature of the UP, it has to be uncaused and random.

        In fact, this process gives rise to the Hawking Effect, which is the “evaporation,” for lack of a better word, of black holes, and an idea behind the Inflation model of the Big Bang(ask if you have questions, I’ll do my best to answer)> That’s leaving aside the exchange of virtual particles when elementary particles interact.

        And they explain what is going in in the Casimir Effect. We have real evidence for the Virtual particles, the strange and uncaused things.

        How about something of more substance? Like radioactive decay. Uncaused. In fact, this is the crux of the idea behind Schrodinger’s Cat. While the Cat was meant to highlight the absurdity of the Copenhagen Interpretation, the idea does show how random the world of Quantum Physics can be. If we took a single atom of a radioactive material and put it into the box with the cat, we will have no idea when it would decay. If we put two in there, we would know when one would decay, at the time of the half life of that isotope. The decay of a specific atom? No idea. Can’t know. There’s no way to know when it will decay. It just does it. No cause.

        That’s two. Form my limited knowledge, like you point out. I just hope I helped explain this further.

        • Randomfactor

          Of course, a super-super-supergod would just be silly..

          No need to go that far, anyway. “All that AND a bag of chips” suffices to exceed “god,” unless the chips are specified. In which case two bags.

          • Loqi

            Doritos > apologetics

      • Rain

        And btw. when I look at the world: If this is what god means by benevolence, I have to conclude that he is a giant asshole.

        Yeah I agree with that. If this world is what benevolence is supposed to mean, than someone please invent a word for benevolence that means what benevolence is really supposed to mean, and then theists can keep the theistic benevolence for themselves and we’ll use the real benevolence as soon as someone thinks up a word for the non-theistic kind of benevolence.

      • Bob Hunt

        Quick clarification: the objection is a red herring because it objects to Aquinas’ argument that the God whose existence can be demonstrated by the First Cause argument is the God of a particular religion; but Aquinas never argued that.

        You cannot conceive of a being that is greater than God. If you think you have the conception of a being of which no other being is greater, then conceive of another being that is greater still, all you’ve done is realized that the first being of which you conceived is not and never was God.

        Thanks for the link related to the question of things being the cause of their own existence. I’ll take a look at it.

        • Daniel Schealler

          Sidebar: You cannot conceive the incoherent.

          Has ‘God’ in this context been defined well enough to get around the standard point of ignositicsm [not a typo]?

          If not, then the notion that we ‘cannot conceive of a being greater than God’ isn’t a point in favour of the ontological argument.

          As I said: Sidebar. Your main discussion with Glodson is more interesting – focus on that at the expense of ignoring me if your time is limited, no fuss. I don’t want to derail.

        • Rain

          Okay @Bob Hunt @Glodson @Nate Frein with regard to the fallacy stuff! I give up again! I don’t know if I even agree with myself any more! Thanks!

        • Compuholic

          If you think you have the conception of a being of which no other being is greater, then conceive of another being that is greater still, all you’ve done is realized that the first being of which you conceived is not and never was God.

          And as usual in mathematics you have to ask yourself if this being actually exists. It is like the question “What is the largest number?” What you said is: “If I can conceive of a larger number than the largest number then the largest number was not in fact the largest number”. And the solution to this problem is simple: “There is no largest number”. Same argument here.

          • Rain

            “If I can conceive of a larger number than the largest number then the largest number was not in fact the largest number”. And the solution to this problem is simple: “There is no largest number”. Same argument here.

            Presumably God is “infinite”, but for some reason is powerless to extend the “chain of causation” back into infinity. Presumably the reason God cannot extend the chain of causation back into infinity is because Thomas Aquinas says so. Therefore Thomas Aquinas is God since he knows so much. (Ergo, Jesus.)

          • hotshoe

            Presumably God is “infinite”, but for some reason is powerless to extend the “chain of causation” back into infinity. Presumably the reason God cannot extend the chain of causation back into infinity is because Thomas Aquinas says so. Therefore Thomas Aquinas is God [!!!]

            Heehee. Rain, I think this bit of yours should be quoted and used at every opportunity that the religionists throw Aquinas at us.
            After all, why should we accept the authority of Aquinas, who we were led to believe was just some intelligent but ordinary mortal human? But no, we were deceived! Aquinas is God. Perforce we must accept every word Aquinas says as literally gospel truth.
            And if reality appears to contradict good old Aquinas, then reality is wrong.

        • hotshoe

          No, it’s not a red herring. Christians in general claim that they have “reasons” to believe in God with a capital “G”, a god whose name, identifying characteristics, and personal views are supposedly explicated in the bible. Christians in general claim that they are rational. You yourself specifically state atheists are irrational while you imply that we are irrational because we refuse to acknowledge “rational argument” for the existence of God (Aquinas’s arguments)
          You claim that you (or rather your old friend Aquinas) have an argument which is sufficient reason to believe in “God”. But wait, not an argument for that named God, not JHWH or Allah or whatever name the christian god answers to when he’s not just being called by his title Lord God. Just some misty moisty first-causey start-the-big-bang-then-go-back-to-sleep kind of god. Fat lot of good it does you to get that far! Not nearly far enough.
          I’m a lifelong atheist and even I can admit that irrelevant kind of god might exist. So what if it does? I’m still a firm atheist for your day-of-torture-and-two-nights-in-hell God and every other named god that humans have imagined. That misty moisty possible first-cause god’s existence is not actually the point you have to prove – what you have to prove is that you christians are rational to believe in your personal named God and that we are irrational because we don’t. You’ve still got all your work ahead of you even if/when we agree that there might possibly be a first-cause kind of god.
          If all your best arguments can only get you as far as some kind of impersonal irrelevant first-causer, then why on Earth are you a Catholic or any flavor of Christian?
          I state that you, like every other Christian, are irrational to be a believer in your religion. Your rational arguments cannot get you there. You have to take an irrational leap of faith to get there. And you even admit that.
          And then you hypocritically scoff at atheists for being the irrational ones. Blegh.
          That’s shy it’s NOT a red herring to skip ahead from Aquinas’ argument and to point out that it’s not going to be sufficient to prove your case.

          • hotshoe

            Doh. Failure to indicate to whom I was replying and where. That is in reply to Bob Hunt, in particular to his follow-up claim about red herrings vis-a-vas Glodson’s: “5. Granting the first cause, and the first cause being God, how does it follow that this God is the God of a particular religion?”
            Bob Hunt, Glodson’s question is not a red herring.
            But, ironically, this entire line of responses “red herring” “no it’s not” “yes, it is” “no, still not” is itself a red herring for the on-point discussion about Catholic/Christian arguments for God. So perhaps we can agree to drop this red-herring thread and move back to the actual arguments and their implications for faith. I’ll stop now.

          • Bob Hunt

            Actually, I don’t have to prove the Christian God by reason. I don’t have to do anything at all. I have a lunch appointment in a few minutes, so I don’t even have to be here. You seem to think that your lack of faith is somehow a burden to me. Huh?

            Catholicism has long held that the existence of God can be known with surety by reason. But the Christian God can be known only be revelation. That’s why the Creed doesn’t begin, “I believe in God…” but “I believe in God, the Father…” If you insist that Christians must prove the Christian God by reason, or else you’ll take your ball and not play … oh, well. We have other balls. Christians aren’t particularly concerned about proving the existence of the God of Christian revelation by means of reason. That bothers you, I understand. Doesn’t much bother us. You think it ought to bother us. OK. OK. OK. … Hmmm … Nope, just not bothered.

            Perhaps Glodson’s objection wasn’t a red herring. Perhaps I misspoke, though I think it is a distraction. Perhaps it was a straw man. Don’t care at this point. My point is: one of his objections to the First Cause argument is that there is no reason it follows that the God whose existence can be demonstrated by the First Cause argument is the God of any particular religion; but Aquinas never argued that it was the God of any particular religion. So, this particular objection against Aquinas’ argument doesn’t stand. Golly, I thought this would be the easy one.

          • Glodson

            My point is: one of his objections to the First Cause argument is that there is no reason it follows that the God whose existence can be demonstrated by the First Cause argument is the God of any particular religion; but Aquinas never argued that it was the God of any particular religion. So, this particular objection against Aquinas’ argument doesn’t stand. Golly, I thought this would be the easy one.

            You still aren’t paying attention. I have gone out of my way to say that if I even go as far to accept the argument, it doesn’t follow that this god is a Christian god. I’m saying that this argument has no use in justifying a religion. Which means, if you are arguing for a theistic style god, this argument is useless.

            Catholicism has long held that the existence of God can be known with surety by reason. But the Christian God can be known only be revelation. That’s why the Creed doesn’t begin, “I believe in God…” but “I believe in God, the Father…” If you insist that Christians must prove the Christian God by reason, or else you’ll take your ball and not play … oh, well. We have other balls.

            And you’ve just admitted that your religion is irrational. Your claim that there’s a god is not supported by evidence, which is more than a mere argument. And your leap from this nebulous god is based on nothing more than faith.

            Until you show there is any god, the rational thing is to hold that there is no god. This is even before I consider a personal god of a religion.

          • hotshoe

            Actually, I don’t have to prove the Christian God by reason. I don’t have to do anything at all. I have a lunch appointment in a few minutes, so I don’t even have to be here.

            True dat.
            You don’t HAVE to do anything at all (that is, except obey the laws of gravity etc and whatever government you live under) You certainly don’t have to prove anything to me/us.
            Nonetheless, you are the one who came here and began some kind of effort to “prove” that atheists are irrational and that a kind of god exists which we should acknowledge. Your initiative, not mine; follow through or don’t as you see fit.
            I’m not going to accept you if you decide to crow that you’ve already accomplished your initiative when you haven’t even begun to convince any rational person.

            You seem to think that your lack of faith is somehow a burden to me.

            Huh?Even granting your use of the weasel word “seem” this is still a dishonest reading of my comment, You don’t know what I think, and nowhere do I imply that I think lack of faith is anyone’s problem, much less that you should be burdened with my lack of faith. Faith is not rational. Lack of faith is rational. And since you yourself use “irrational” as an insult against us, we can clearly deduce that you think the opposite of irrational – that is, “rational” – is the opposite of that insult and is therefore a good thing. So you, logically, should agree with us that lack of faith is a good thing.

            Catholicism has long held that the existence of God can be known with surety by reason.

            But the Catholic theolgians are wrong about that, of course. The existence of god, any god, has never been shown by reason. All the high-falutin’ arguments and so-called proofs are flawed. Fatally flawed in their premises and in the circularity with which they assume to begin with what they need to prove.
            It just doesn’t work like that. I’ll bet you can’t find an example of a human who claims they personally have come to know the existence of god by reason. Naturally, we have millions of atheists who have come to know through reason that there almost certainly is no God. But, funny how religious propaganda works, none of those millions of reasonable people count against your so-called “surety”.

            But the Christian God can be known only be revelation. That’s why the Creed doesn’t begin, “I believe in God…” but “I believe in God, the Father…”

            How wonderful for you. I’m so glad you are one of the ones chosen by “the Father” to receive those revelations.
            Too bad for the rest of god’s supposedly-beloved creations, who aren’t so lucky to be given those revelations. Yep, too bad, but you know, shit happens. Can’t blame god for that, of course.

            If you insist that Christians must prove the Christian God by reason, or else you’ll take your ball and not play … oh, well.

            Huh? What on Earth did you read that equates to “insist christians prove the christian god by reason”? What I said, twice, is that when your statement is atheists are irrational [for not believing in any god], your implied statement is that you are not one of the irrational people, that you are one of the rational ones, and that what makes you one of the rational ones is that you believe in (some) god.
            If you want to be rational, feel free to begin behaving rationally at any moment now. If you don’t, well, fine. I have no desire to try to make you behave rationally.

            We have other balls. Christians aren’t particularly concerned about proving the existence of the God of Christian revelation by means of reason. That bothers you, I understand.

            Stop that, you creep. You have no justification for pretending that you understand my thoughts/feelings, eg what “bothers” me. Sez the corrupt priest, “I understand, my child” No, you don’t!

            Doesn’t much bother us. You think it ought to bother us.

            Again with the creepy pretense that you could know what I think. You’re behaving horribly. Stop it.

            OK. OK. OK. … Hmmm … Nope, just not bothered.

            Oh, goody, then you can take your “just not bothered”, declare victory, and fly back home to your coop.

    • Rain

      So, objection #5 is a red herring, since Aquinas does not argue that the God whose existence can be demonstrated by the First Cause argument is necessarily the Christian God, or the God of any other particular religion.

      Then why can’t the god of Aquinas be the God of a universe that has an infinite chain of causes? It wouldn’t be because of the “In the beginning” thing there in the Bible would it? It wouldn’t be because he wouldn’t be able to “prove” that kind of a god would it? Naw, couln’t be either one of thiose. Aquinas was a gosh-golly honest dude.

      • Randomfactor

        An infinite chain of causes is no more a problem than an infinite number of half-distances in Zeno’s Paradox. As there is no “time” before the Big Bang, each of those infinite causes exists for a zero-length amount of time, adding up to: zero.

  • Rain

    @Glodson: It is a question of are they using the insult(or personal quality) in place of dealing with the argument or are they just adding the insult along with the refutation or dismissal of the argument.

    Okay fine!

    @Nate Frein: Saying “you’re wrong because you are a douchebag” is an ad hominem. Saying “Here’s why you’re wrong, and I think you’re a douchebag for using that argument” is not ad hominem

    Okay!

    • Nate Frein

      Just a thought…but since you’ve shown facility with the html italics tags…why not replace them with blockquote tags when actually quoting?

      • Rain

        Okay will do. It probably has something to do with laziness on my part, lol.

  • Bob Hunt

    Hey, Glodson,

    I’m going to have to beg out of today. As you know, when you have a life, it sometimes intervenes.

    Besides, I’m kinda fascinated by this whole virtual particles thing and the idea that something can be the cause of it’s own existence, which is related to your objection #1, and want to learn more. If you have any links, send them on. Otherwise, I might get to your other objections first, then swing back on this one. In any case, it’ll be a day or two, so don’t go anywhere.

    Pax,
    Bob

    • Nate Frein

      As you know, when you have a life, it sometimes intervenes.

      So much for you being respectful. I guess subtle jabs don’t count?

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

        I didn’t read it as disrespectful at all. Just a, “life got in the way, you know how that goes” sort of remark. It could be read in a snarky way, but I really don’t think that was the intent.

        • Nate Frein

          It sounds too much like “I’d debate you, but I actually have a life”, the implication of course being that Glodson doesn’t. He’s already made it clear that he won’t always be able to respond quickly.

      • BobRN

        Mr. Frein,

        You’re too angry and cynical, I think. Had I meant that Glodson didn’t have a life, I would have said, “Doubtless you’re unaware, but when you have a life, it sometimes intervenes.”

        You’re starting to prove the stereotype of the angry atheist. Chill.

        • Nate Frein

          And you’ve already proven the stereotype of the uneducated apologist.

          Cynical? Perhaps. Angry? No. You really aren’t worth anger.

    • Glodson

      Besides, I’m kinda fascinated by this whole virtual particles thing and the idea that something can be the cause of it’s own existence, which is related to your objection #1, and want to learn more.

      This is a good start. It discusses how the Uncertainty Principle is at hand, and the real effect of these particles. Namely, the Casmir Effect, which is unexplainable without them, making the virtual particles not an artifact of the math, but something that has a real existence.

      It even mentions the Inflation Model of the Big Bang, which is driven by this virtual particle interaction. And the role these particles play in the interaction of elementary particles.

      The summary is what I’ve eluded to before. Due to the reformulation of the UP, we can express it in terms of time and energy. On a short enough timespan, particles can emerge in the quantum field and destroy each other. It is, in part, this strange undulation that makes a Unified Theory tricky. This effect has to be accounted for, and it has some implications. The link goes into far more detail.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

        eluded = alluded

        /end pedantry

        • Glodson

          Oh, dammit.

          Now that it has been pointed out, that’s all I’ll see.

      • BobRN

        Thanks for the link. But, why do you claim that virtual particles are uncaused? From what I’ve been able to find, there’s a debate on whether or not virtual particles are real. If they’re not real, of course, they have no relevance to the question. But, if they are real, they certainly are caused. The electromagnetic field, the electrons, protons, … all of these would constitute efficient causes for virtual particles. I contacted one physicist, Dr. Bob Kurkland, who wrote back saying that virtual particles certainly are caused. I’ll see if I can find a physicist who knows a lot about quantum mechanics at the local university.

        Also, just found your earlier statement where you said, “… if you are going to use the First Cause Argument to argue for the existence of a general god, you still need to link that god to your God. Failure to do even that leaves your religion without a rational basis.”

        I thought it a matter of basic understanding that people of faith are people of faith. Now, there’s nothing in reason that contradicts the God of Christian revelation. But, reason can only take us so far in our understanding of God. Atheists reject revelation. Christians don’t. Aquinas’ objective in the First Cause Argument was not to prove the existence of the God of Christian revelation, or at least he didn’t argue that it does. It demonstrates the existence of God. It is revelation that reveals God as Trinity, God as benevolent Father, God as Savior, etc… Consider it this way: the debate over the value of the First Cause Argument is not one between an atheist and a Christian, necessarily, but between an atheist and a theist.

        We certainly aren’t going to agree on the value of revelation. Or, at least, I never anticipated that we would. If I understand you correctly, you expect that Christians will be able to demonstrate the existence of the God of Christian revelation by reason and argument. That’s not going to happen. Christians aren’t bothered by this because of our confidence in revelation. However, the existence of God can be demonstrated by reason and argument. The argument isn’t the evidence. Creation, if you will, is the evidence. The argument attempts to make sense of the evidence. You claim there’s no evidence for God. Obviously, I disagree.

        I’m not sure what else we can say about this point. As I said, you objected to the First Cause Argument, claiming that it does not follow that, even if you grant the First Cause and that the first cause is God, it does not then follow that the God demonstrated by the First Cause is the God of any particular religion. I agreed, but pointed out that Aquinas never argued that it did, so your objection doesn’t stand. Is it that you think Aquinas should have argued that it did necessarily follow that the God demonstrated by the First Cause Argument is the God of a particular religion, and that that particular religion is Christianity? Well, he didn’t. Apparently, that wasn’t his objective. What more can I say?

        Pax,
        Bob

        • Rain

          I thought it a matter of basic understanding that people of faith are people of faith.

          ZZzzzzzzzz…. empty slogans… arguably argumentum ad populum. Fallacy for me but not for thee! Great…

          Now, there’s nothing in reason that contradicts the God of Christian revelation.

          Any idiot can invent a fantasy that doesn’t “contradict reason”. Big whoopy-doo. How about about Bible verses contradicting themselves? Does that contradict reason? Yeah, didn’t think so. Oh let me guess, they ain’t any that contradict themselves. Yeah that’s what I thought. See ya later alligator…

          • Rain

            How about Bible verses that contradict “reason”? Yeah, didn’t think there were any of those either…

  • Rain

    @Bob Hunt “Actually, I don’t have to prove the Christian God by reason. “

    Yeah Paul already did that anyway in Romans 1. Basically it’s like this: Look at the world, ergo Jesus. And the people who don’t see it are idiots. I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it. To which I say: well screw you too Paul with your idiotic proof.

    • Rain

      I just read Romans 1 again. Did Paul wake up in a cranky mood that day or what? Maybe he didn’t have his coffee yet? Lol. Yeah I can really feel the love in Romans 1.

      • Rain

        Since we’re on the subject of Paul, he actually has a very funny comedy routine. Funniest thing in the dang Bible. Deeply misogynistic, yes, being the deeply utter misogynist that Paul was, but I can easily see Abbott and Costello doing this one:

        I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them on to you. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife, and God is the head of Christ. Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head—it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil. For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection of God; but woman is the reflection of man. Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone is disposed to be contentious— we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.

      • Randomfactor

        Romans 1 makes a whole lot more sense when you add the 33rd chapter, which some dishonest editor subsequently renumbered as the first verse of Romans 2.

  • Rain

    Okay, everybody stop insisting Christians must prove the Christian God by reason. It’s not polite, and it’s very embarrassing too. Plus if you do that then you are an irrational atheist ridiculing everyone and lying because you know Christians don’t do the proving their god by reason thingy. It is a strawman argument and a red herring. Everybody stop doing that.

    • Loqi

      Mmm…delicious sarcasm.

      • Glodson

        Sadly, some people really think like that. Some people don’t get that when they say that X is real, the burden of proof is on them to show that X is real. And some get confused when you say you don’t believe because of insufficient evidence, in that we are failing to reject the Null Hypothesis.

        Of course, some of us(like me) tend towards gnostic atheism when talking about specific gods.

        • BobRN

          Glodson,

          Being here isn’t helping me. I’m getting frustrated with the tone of some of the responses, and that’s not good for me. My most recent response to Rain was over the top, and I don’t want to form bad habits and angry thoughts. I would very much like to continue our conversation if you want on my email: rcchuntrn at gmail dot com. Otherwise, take care.

          I trust you won’t mind if I use your objections and summary of Aquinas First Cause Argument as an example of how it is often misunderstood. Thanks.

          Bob

          • BobRN

            Glodson,

            I’m going to move on. There’s a great deal of anger and ridicule here, and I don’t want to get angry. I’ve had many conversations with atheists in the past, or tried to. Only one was genuinely instructive. Almost with fail, my opponants would turn to insult and ridicule as a strategy, regardless of what I had to say. I could say that milk comes from cows, and even that would merit arrows. Why is that? I enjoy respectful conversation, but admit I’m too quickly caught up in the barbs, and that’s not good for my soul. Perhaps I should stop trying to converse with atheists.

            If you would like, I would be happy to continue the conversation via email: rcchuntrn at gmail dot com. I won’t be back here, so just let me know.

          • BobRN

            Oh, I thought this post hadn’t gone through. Anyway, before I go, let me recommend “Aquinas” by Edward Feser. Frederick Copleston and Etienne Gilson do a good job with the Angelic Doctor, also. Those should help you with a better understanding of Aquinas.

            Pax et bonum,
            Bob

          • Glodson

            I trust you won’t mind if I use your objections and summary of Aquinas First Cause Argument as an example of how it is often misunderstood. Thanks.

            First up, time permitting, I may email you. However, it has to be interest to me.

            This is the relevant part of your post for me. I need to know how we are misunderstanding the argument. The nutshell is that everything has to have a cause, there can’t be an infinite chain of causes, so there must be a first cause and that first cause is what we call god.

            My objections have been over the validity of the premises, and the fact that this argument contains an contradiction which is only resolved by making a special pleading.

            My ancillary point is that this argument is poor for Christian Apologetics as nothing in it allows for us to name a specific god.

    • IslandBrewer

      red strawherring?

      • Rain

        red strawherring?

        If that means Jesus put magic Jesus thought rays into ancient people’s brains, ergo Jesus–then yes that works! It’s a new comedy show where everyone says a bunch of incoherent stuff, and then everyone yells “Ergo Jesus!” and then the audience laughs! Hilarious!

        • BobRN

          Again, atheism is irrational because the arguments against the existence of God are based on faith, not reason. That’s why you guys rely so much on ridicule to discount the arguments in favor of God’s existence. You have nothing else.

          I think I’ve been very straightforward and respectful in my posts. Yes, I think atheism is irrational. I’m a Catholic. What a surprise! But, I’ve not called anyone names. I’ve not tried to ridicule anyone. I’ve not claimed that anyone is an idiot. Least of all have I attempted to disrespect those things which you regard as important and dear to you.

          Is it just that you’re so used to ridiculing others who think and believe differently than you that you turn so quickly to it? Surely it can’t be because you actually think those who think and believe differently than you will be persuaded otherwise.

          I really do have other things to do with my time. If you’re not interested, I can move on. Just let me know.

          • Nate Frein

            Again, atheism is irrational because the arguments against the existence of God are based on faith, not reason.

            You’re a broken record. Just because you continue to repeat this statement doesn’t make it true. You have yet to show any concrete evidence as to why we should accept this argument.

            Since you’re making it very clear that you’re only going to parrot a centuries old argument that has been refuted here, multiple times, what else do you expect anyone to say to you? You’ve responded to rebuttals with restatements of the original flawed premise. How is that showing any respect to the people you’re talking to?

            If someone were to assert in a debate about vaccines that vaccines caused Downs Syndrome, despite all empirical evidence to the contrary, and continued to insist that vaccines caused Downs Syndrome after being shown multiple resources that contradict that statement, without showing conclusive evidence to the contrary…where exactly is the discussion supposed to go? Is the anti-vaxxer being “respectful”? No, because the anti-vaxxer is ultimately ignoring the substance of all responses, no matter how polite their language in. If people start, then, making fun of the anti-vaxxer are they showing the desperation of their situation? Are they showing they have “nothing but ridicule” to support their responses? No…they’ve simply recognized that perhaps shame might work where reason didn’t.

            You’re being ridiculed because you have yet to say something that hasn’t been said for centuries and you certainly haven’t said anything that hasn’t been responded to here and in numerous other places.

          • IslandBrewer

            Bob, I think it’s great that you’re actually trying to listen to our arguments instead of ignoring what we say and being dismissive, which is what we get about 99% of the time. That puts you miles ahead of people like Mark Shea or Dwight Longenecker.

            My personal apologies for any offense that you’ve taken, but you need to understand something about us atheists (at least those of us commenting here):

            We have heard your First Cause argument before. Many, many, many, many times before. We’ve heard the “Atheism is based on faith” canard before (and you have yet to actually show how not believing in a “first cause” is based on faith, by the way). This is nothing more than a bald unsupported assertion. We have addressed them again and again and again and again and again.

            When faced with the same argument again and again, it’s pretty hard NOT to resort to jokes. To us, many of the arguments for a god, from the simple minded “but where did the Universe come from?” to what gets labelled as “sophisticated theology” lacks certain crucial steps for us, and it begins to all look like an argument from incredulity.

            If you find specific commenters here offensive, simply ignore them. Most people ignore me, anyway. Just address Glodson or others trying to have a sincere discourse. Your comments here won’t be deleted (unlike some blogs *coughSheacough*).

          • Glodson

            Again, atheism is irrational because the arguments against the existence of God are based on faith, not reason. That’s why you guys rely so much on ridicule to discount the arguments in favor of God’s existence. You have nothing else.

            What tangible evidence do you have for your god? For any god? Not an argument, not a logic puzzle, but real evidence. When I talk about physics, which is part of the reason I’m no longer christian, I can point to real experiments, real results. I can use my knowledge of the science to make a prediction, and then see if that prediction is accurate. I’m not taking this on faith, I am taking it based on reason.

            I hold any claim up to that same level of rigor. If data doesn’t exist to back up the claim, I reject the claim until that data is produced.

            What rational reason do you have for being a Catholic?

        • BobRN

          Rain,

          I apologize for that rant. There’s a great deal of anger, cynicism and ill will on this blog directed toward those who think and believe differently, and I’m letting that get to me. Some commenters seem to assume the worst about my intentions.

          In any case, I’m going to be moving on. I don’t want to get angry myself.

          Pax et bonum,
          Bob

          • Nate Frein

            Anger? Cite one case in this discussion where you got anything more than a bit of light snark.

            Honestly, get over yourself.

          • Rain

            That’s okay Bob. You seem okay to me! Have a good day! Have a nice fantasy too! You and the other billions of people. You’re in good company. And some bad company too. You can all be rest assure that it is safe from reason I guess! Bye.

  • Nate Frein

    When reason turned it’s ugly head sir Bob, he bravely turned and fled

    Oh brave brave brave brave sir Bob!

    • BobRN

      Mr. Frein,

      Sir Robin. That means you’re old enough to have seen the movie. Which means you’re old enough to have metriculated middle school. Yet, you still employ these barbs. Honestly, sir, think about that. Most of what you’ve written here is simple vitriol. You’ve offered little to the conversation. What’s behind that? Fear? Confusion? Why do you get so quickly heated toward those who think and believe differently than you? You throw mud and blood at others, then accuse them of shunning reason when they don’t want to engage in your anger? You think too little of reason. Why do you think so little of others, and of yourself?

      In any case, I do have a life, and the time I give to it is too precious to me to lose much sleep over the constipation of anonymous angry people.

      • Nate Frein

        Thank you. If nothing else, you’re good for a nice belly laugh. This post is such a wonderful example both of your propensity to humblebrag and your propensity to martyrbate.

        You’ve offered little to the conversation.

        Perhaps if you fully addressed my initial responses I might have had a reason to contribute more. Why should I serve you any pudding if you haven’t eaten your meat?

        Why do you get so quickly heated toward those who think and believe differently than you?

        Why do you vomit out centuries old debunked drivel and proceed to simply restate yourself when challenged? Has it not occurred to you that despite your flowery language you’re simply insulting the intelligence of everyone here? I have responded to you truthfully at every point. You have failed to afford the common courtesy of dealing with us honestly.

        You think too little of reason. Why do you think so little of others, and of yourself?

        This clumsy bit of psychoanalysis really isn’t worth much more than a quick laugh.

        And give up the hyperbole. You’re no good at it.

        • BobRN

          I’m sure you don’t care, but the thought of you laughing gives me hope. I’m glad for that, at least. Take care, Mr. Frein. Sincerely, take care.

          • Nate Frein

            You’ve shown no sign of sincerity so far. So I’ll take your professed sincerity with a rather large grain of salt.

            Maybe one day you’ll remember that you’re supposed to consider pride a sin.

      • IslandBrewer

        *raises hand*

        I’m not angry, and I’m actually quite happy and regular. I try to eat a lot of greens at dinner, and my breakfast is inevitably yogurt with ground flaxseed. The biggest problem with my diet is that, while healthy and resulting in pretty frequent poops, is the flatulence. Fortunately, fart jokes are big in our house.

        As far as anonymity goes, I would likely lose my current position if it were disclosed to my superiors that I was an atheist. Yes, yes, I know – all very illegal, of course, but I’m cowardly and don’t want to sacrifice what is rather a really nice position that I really like, despite the religiosity of my colleagues. Unlike christians who moan and wail that they’re persecuted in this country, many atheists actually are.

        Things would be SOOO much easier if I were Catholic.

        • BobRN

          And so much more hopeful regarding eternal life! Sorry, couldn’t resist. :)

          I’ll wager that your household has NOTHING on my wife and her brothers. OMG (G here stands for “Golly”), I’ve never met a woman so enamored of flatulence.

          Read my post below, and email me. I think we could actually have a good conversation.

          Bob

  • BobRN

    Islandbrewer,

    Thanks for the supportive post.

    The real reason I hung around was because I couldn’t resist replying to Glodson’s original post on the First Cause Argument, and the basic misunderstanding of the Argument that it reveals. Perhaps I should have resisted. I was hoping to reply one by one to his objections, demonstrating that most of them are based on a misunderstanding of Aquinas, and not on Aquinas’ genuine argument. I understand that you’ve heard Aquinas’ arguments again and again and again. Respectfully, I think most atheists (golly, most people!) misunderstand Aquinas’ argument. For instance, the question, “If everything has a cause, what caused God?” If someone had a proper understanding of Aquinas, that question would never be asked. Just asking that question reveals a basic misunderstanding of his argument. I had hoped to get there, but just explaining that Aquinas never argued that the First Cause argument necessarily demonstrates the existence of the God of Christian revelation opened up such a can of worms! I mean, who has time for this?

    I understand that I never provided support for my assertion that the classic arguments for atheism are based on faith, not on reason. But, surely you know that. There are basically two arguments against the existence of God: evil exists, so God doesn’t; everything we know about creation can be explained without God, so there’s no need to hold for the existence of God. The first isn’t even an argument against the existence of God. It’s an argument against the existence of a good God. But, who says God is good? The claim that God is good is a faith claim. Granted, Aquinas might disagree with that, but I think it has merit. The second argument assumes that everything we know can be explained without God. But, that’s not a rational statement. We’re no where close to coming to that conclusion. That’s, as you say, just a bald assertion. What else is a bald assertion that’s asserted with great confidence and held dearly but a faith claim? Every argument against the existence of God is a derivative of one of these two. If you know of any that aren’t, please pass it on. I’ve come across lots of arguments against the existence of God, and haven’t found one yet, but I would be happy to entertain it.

    Anyway, I accept your apology in the name of your combox associates, but I just don’t have the stomach for it. If you’re interested, though, I would welcome your email. I do very much enjoy respectful, meaningful conversation with those who think and believe differently.

    Pax et bonum,
    Bob

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

      In the hopes Bob does see this:

      We don’t make arguments against the existence of God. We make arguments showing that there is not evidence for God. We simply cannot prove that there isn’t one, but absent convincing logic or evidence that there is, I’m going to have to stand on the side of “nope, isn’t there”. There isn’t a teapot floating around the Earth. There isn’t an invisible pink unicorn in anyone’s garage. There isn’t YHVH, Zeus, Amaterasu, or Rah. There isn’t anything other than cold, purposeless physics, which led to chemistry, which led to biology, which led to us! It didn’t have to, of course, but here we are nonetheless. When we have natural explanations for a great many things, are learning more natural explanations every year, and have never ever had any mystery get solved by Goddidit, the God hypothesis looks pretty weak.

      • IslandBrewer

        The teapot is actually orbiting the sun just outside the asteroid belt, not the earth, sheesh!

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

          Oh boo! I always fuck that one up if I don’t remember to look it up before I type.

          There’s still no teapot.

        • Glodson

          That is also incorrect.

          It is between the Earth and Mars! Since you are wrong, God exists. /snark

    • Loqi

      Well, there’s the incompatibility between free will and omnipotence, to name one. I’m surprised you haven’t heard anyone make that argument.
      Furthermore, it’s not our burden to prove there isn’t a god. The null hypothesis is that there isn’t a god, and it’s up to believers to prove that there is.

    • Rain

      Naw basically it’s the null hypothesis thingy. All that other stuff is just fluff and answering bald assertions that are impenetrable anyway since people can make up whatever they want out of thin air to make everything seem okay, especially when they have an all powerful pretend-diety that can do whatever it wants, including contradict itself.

      • Rain

        It can even commit genocide, punish people for the sins of their ancestors, tell women and gays they are inferior, tell everyone they are worthy of death, and torment people forever, and more! And everything is still happy flowers and sunshine! It’s a great gig.

      • Glodson

        Maybe explaining this idea would be helpful. It is something I’ve helped others with before, as it causes confusion at time.

        So, let’s explain the Null Hypothesis. This is a tool we use in science and statistics. It is the bench mark. When we develop a hypothesis, we have to competing hypothesis. First is the one we developed, the alternative hypothesis. It is whatever we think could be a correct statement. The one we compare it to is the Null Hypothesis, which says the our alternative hypothesis is wrong. When we test these, we never prove either one. Really, what we do is to reject or fail to reject the null hypothesis.

        If we reject the null hypothesis, it doesn’t mean our alternative hypothesis is true. It just means there’s evidence supporting it, significant evidence that isn’t just noise. If we fail to reject the null hypothesis, this doesn’t mean that our alternative hypothesis is wrong. It just means there’s insufficient evidence to accept it.

        To tie this back into god stuff, if there’s not enough evidence to reject our Null Hypothesis(No God), then we must fail to reject the Null Hypothesis. As such, it follows that a belief in god without evidence sufficient enough to reject the Null Hypothesis is irrational.

        This is a “weak” position, an agnostic atheist style argument. We aren’t making an active claim when we state this. We are saying that we don’t see the evidence. We don’t have a burden of proof when making this argument. We are saying that the case for god has not been made.

        Now, we can make an gnostic atheist style argument, a “strong” position. In that, we actively say there’s no god. I will take this stance on specific gods at times. When I make this argument, I will cite reasons, cite evidence.

        In the end, it is about evidence. We have reason to doubt the existence of a general god. Many of us have specific problem with specific gods for which we actively disbelieve.

        • Rain

          Many of us have specific problem with specific gods for which we actively disbelieve.

          Well like I said, if a specific god can do anything it wants, including contradict themselves, or pull any rabbit out of its hat it wants, which any or all of the above invariably happens, then I bet you haven’t had much luck with any of those actively specific gods. :D

          • Glodson

            Those specific gods should have qualities. They should have things that can do that I cannot explain by any other reason. They have a religion that makes claims about them. I can test those claims. If those claims fail, then either the religion is wrong about their own god, or there’s no god.

            Either way, that’s bad for their religion.

            Further, what if there’s a god that has hidden every aspect away from us? What does that say about this god? If he’s good, then he doesn’t want to be worshiped. If he’s evil, then we’re all pretty well fucked.

          • Rain

            Those specific gods should have qualities. They should have things that can do that I cannot explain by any other reason. They have a religion that makes claims about them. I can test those claims. If those claims fail, then either the religion is wrong about their own god, or there’s no god.

            Works for you, but for the person you’re arguing with, an online concordance is a click away. Gods can weasel out of anything. I’m just saying I bet people don’t have much luck, although there’s nothin wrong with trying and it’s probably fun too. But I bet it seems futile a lot of the time.

          • Glodson

            If one has a god that they are arguing for which weasels out of every test. I have an alternative: that god doesn’t exist. One of the competing ideas follows the law of parsimony, and is sufficient reason to reject that god. A needless complication for which we have no valid proof for, and cannot be falsifiable, can easily be ignored.

    • Glodson

      There are basically two arguments against the existence of God: evil exists, so God doesn’t; everything we know about creation can be explained without God, so there’s no need to hold for the existence of God.

      No. The problem of evil is an argument against any benevolent god. It is also a theological concern, which gave rise the theodicy, an attempt to reconcile a benevolent god and the existence of evil. But not an argument against a general god. It is problematic for any “good” personal god.

      The second one is a bit of a strawman. It isn’t that everything about creation can be explained, it is just that there’s nothing we need god for. The God of the Gaps argument tries to address this. The main reason for rejecting the notion of god has been explained in my Null Hypothesis reply. If you fail to provide evidence for your deity, I would not consider your deity to be real. I need evidence. Failing that, there’s no reason to hold that god is real. This has nothing to do with evil, or science, directly.

      That’s the argument against any god. No evidence, no god. I don’t need to appeal to a deity to explain our existence. In fact, there’s no time for god to exist in, so there can’t be a creator god that experiences time as we do. Which makes any personal god a hard sell.

      Further, I can examine the claims of the religion and debunk those. We can look at how prayer is supposed to work. It fails. We can look at the history written in the Bible. The Bible is not a reliable field guide for archaeology. We can look at the story of creation, and see that it is problematic. We can look at the contradictions in the book itself. We have strong reasons to doubt the veracity of the Bible. As such, this puts the foundation of the religion on shaky ground.

      So, I have no evidence for a god. I have no need for a god. I have a faulty holy book rife with problems, and I only have arguments that are long dead. Sorry, the First Cause argument is dead in the water. As is the Ontological Argument. And many others. These are not logically sound, and their premises are invalid, and none of them are evidence. They are what we would build using evidence. It is backwards to take an argument and then search for evidence to back it up. One should start with the evidence and build the argument.

    • IslandBrewer

      Bob, I wasn’t apologizing on behalf of anyone but myself. I (and the rest here) get tons of vitriol from christians, particularly Catholics like Mark “Shitbag” Shea, who doesn’t allow people to post disagreement on his blog. I understand that our skins are thicker in this pool, and if you’re not used to it, it can be off putting.

      Glodson made the point better than I, in that you’re totally misunderstanding our reason for not believing in a god. The burden of proof is on theist to show a god exists. Our reason for not believing in a god is identical to YOUR reason for not believing in leprechauns. Just consider that for a moment – come up with a good articulate reason for not believing in leprechauns, replace the word leprechaun with god, and you’ve got an atheist’s argument right there.

      Also, a valid argument can stand by itself with name dropping. You can present Aquinas’ argument without referring to Aquinas. Otherwise, it sounds far too much like a courtier’s reply. Just try making Aquinas’ argument and explaining what you think our misunderstanding is, rather than airily waving your hand and telling us “you don’t understand”.

      Take care.

      • IslandBrewer

        *without*

        “without name dropping”

      • Glodson

        Yes, I’ve still not gotten a good response as to what in particular I’m supposedly getting wrong.

        I never attributed the First Cause Argument to be one specifically for the God of the Bible. I did say that one needs to connect this Argument to that God if one wants to maintain there’s a rational reason for their religion while using the First Cause argument. The existence of a fluffy god is not enough to justify any religion. One must show that fluffy god is really their god.

        If the argument fails to do that, why use it? If one can make the argument for the specific god, why not just state that argument and be done with it?

        And where is the evidence to back up the argument? What about my actual objections to the actual argument? Ignoring the reasons for discarding the first premise of the argument and the question begged by the second premise, how does one resolve the internal contradiction of the argument without a special pleading?

        My stance to this argument directly has been that there premises are invalid and the logical flow of the argument is unsound. It fails on both fronts, as such the conclusion is not rational. My further point is that even if one manages to get past all that, it still doesn’t follow that their religion is justified.

        No good answers on any of it. The best I’ve gotten is that my point about the failure of this argument to posit the existence of a Christian god is a red herring because Aquinas didn’t say it. Despite the fact that I never said he did, and it is pertinent if one wants to hold that their religion is reasonable.

  • Rain

    Group hug! As we skip through the poppy fields to the tune of “Optimistic Voices”, and knock on the door of the Emerald City. And then Frank Morgan yells at everybody and tells them the bell doesn’t work when it obviously does. And then later we don’t pay attention to him behind the curtain after Toto rather obviously has a rope tied to him that pulls the curtain open.

  • Rain

    Atheism is irrational because the classic arguments against the existence of God are arguments from faith, not reason.

    QFVAO (Quoted for vagueness and obfuscation.) You do have to admit that quote is a thing of beauty. Catholics would obfuscate a peanut butter sandwich if they had to.

    • http://smingleigh.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

      Poor atheists, don’t you know rationality is irrational?

  • http://anthrozine.com Cubist

    The problem with “argument from faith”: Given a proposition that’s supported only by argument-from-faith, there’s no fucking way to tell whether that particular proposition is any more true than any other proposition that’s supported only by argument-from-faith. Xtians’ arguments-from-faith support the proposition that Jesus is the Messiah; Jews’ arguments-from-faith support the proposition that whatever Jesus may have been, he absolutely was not the Messiah, seeing as how the Messiah hasn’t shown up yet. Clearly, these two propositions cannot both be true—but argument-from-faith supports them both just fine!


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X