25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 2)

25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 2) October 1, 2014

stupid Christian arguments apologeticsLet’s continue with our list of stupid Christian arguments (Part 1 here). Do you not see your favorites? More are coming—or add them to the comments.

Stupid Argument #5: you can’t prove Christianity false. You can’t know that God doesn’t exist unless you’re omniscient.

First off, don’t ask for proof. Proofs are for math and logic, not science or history. You can’t prove that God exists, and I won’t ask that of you; I simply want compelling evidence of your claim. And vice versa: ask for arguments and evidence from the atheist, not proof. If there is insufficient evidence to support the God hypothesis, you have no grounds for holding it. Belief in God is like belief in unicorns—don’t believe without sufficient evidence.

More important, the burden of proof is on the person making the claim. I’ve made many positive arguments for atheism in posts at this blog, but the fundamental claim is made by the Christian that God exists. There would be nothing to talk about without this claim by the Christian. It’s your burden, so don’t shirk it by demanding that the atheist prove Christianity false.

So many Christians want to dance away from this burden of proof that it’s almost like giving an answer to those who ask for the reason for the hope within them … is a burden.

Stupid Argument #6: Creationism. Evolution is flawed. It isn’t repeatable, observable laboratory science; it’s only forensic science. And it makes no sense.

Evolution is the scientific consensus—deal with it. You say your common sense is offended by the idea of evolution? Unless you have a doctorate in biology, you of all people should appreciate how meaningless this is. If common sense were the guide to science, no one would need to spend years getting a doctorate.

Science isn’t always right, but it’s the best means of finding out the truth about reality that we’ve got.

Ask yourself if you object to science in proportion to how much it steps on your ideological toes. Do you get in a lather about evolution, Big Bang, or climate change but ignore the conclusions of superconductivity, string theory, or the Millennium math problems? If you accept science according to how you’d like the world to be rather than follow the evidence, your biases are showing.

Another ridiculous tangent is to point to something controversial written by Charles Darwin. In the first place, most Creationist quotes of Darwin are misinterpreted. Before you make this argument, read Darwin’s words in context. Second, no one cares what Darwin said. Darwin’s work was hugely influential, but Darwin now resides solely in the History of Science. No one validates new ideas in biology by testing them against the great man’s writings.

And to those who say that evolution is “just a theory,” do some reading and then get back to me. (Slapping down Creationism isn’t the goal here, but I do touch on that here.)

Stupid Argument #7: If you throw out the account of Jesus, you must discard the record of every other figure of history. The quality of documentation of the gospel story is unprecedented.

The account of Jesus is primarily in the gospels, written decades after the events they claim to document. (More on the long and turbulent journey of the Bible here.) We have 25,000 copies (or fragments) of New Testament manuscripts, which is impressive, but doesn’t turn out to be that big a deal for the apologetic argument.

The Christian wants to compare our evidence of Jesus with that of figures like Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great. But this confident comparison withers when we consider the coins and busts with the likeness of Julius Caesar. Or the more than a dozen cities across the Ancient Near East named after Alexander. We have nothing comparable for Jesus.

No, the evidence for the very existence of Jesus is paltry, let alone evidence for the incredible supernatural claims in the gospel story. More important, historians reject supernatural claims, including the many supernatural claims made about the great statesmen from 2000 years ago. Christians would do themselves no favors by submitting the gospel story for a critique by an unbiased historian.

Stupid Argument #8: “One of the most important legal criteria … is that the accused and witnesses are innocent until proven guilty.” This is an argument advanced by lawyer John Warwick Montgomery. He says that the gospels are the equivalent of witnesses and must initially be presumed accurate.

Let’s ignore that the presumption of innocence doesn’t apply to witnesses. Montgomery assumes the historicity of the story and that it was written by eyewitnesses (both of which must be demonstrated) and ignores how unreliable the New Testament books are. A document written 2000 years ago in Ancient Greek, for which our oldest fragment dates to two centuries after the original authorship (which is true for Mark), for example, is not equivalent to a living eyewitness who we can cross-examine.

Even ignoring all this, eyewitness testimony is unreliable (I’ve written about unreliable memory and thinking). Can Montgomery actually expect us to credulously accept claims from 2000 years ago for what might be the most remarkable supernatural claim imaginable? We’re comfortable with myth and legend, and that’s what the Bible looks like.

Continued with Part 3.

God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent—
it says so right here on the label.
If you have a mind capable of believing
all three of these divine attributes simultaneously,

I have a wonderful bargain for you.
No checks, please. Cash and in small bills.
— Robert A. Heinlein

Photo credit: Tarik Browne

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  • Mitch

    I have two comments for two consecutive sentences:

    “If common sense were the guide to science, no one would need to spend years getting a doctorate.”

    I once heard it said (I do not remember where, lack the time to Google, and it does not matter): “Always be wary of common sense, after all that is the same sense that tells you the Earth is flat.”

    -and-

    “Science isn’t always right, but it’s the best means of finding out the truth about reality that we’ve got.”

    Not only that, but the only thing that has ever corrected science is MORE SCIENCE. Observation, experimentation and evidence are the only accurate ways to understand the cosmos. Everything else relies on trusting total strangers—strangers who you do not know as individuals, strangers whose agendas and beliefs you did not know, and strangers who spoke radically different languages centuries or millennia ago.

    • I suppose that particular phrasing is all yours. I did find this from Vic Stenger: “Someone has defined common sense as the human faculty that provides us with basic knowledge about the world, such as that the earth is flat.”

      On the pitfalls of common sense, I found this article, which looks good.

      • Mitch

        That may be where it originated, and I’ve streamlined it over time. Thank you for the response and the excellent article!

      • Machintelligence

        I particularly like the argument against common sense made by J.K.Galbraith in “The Affluent Society” (he calls it conventional wisdom.)

        The fatal blow to the conventional wisdom comes when the conventional ideas fail signally to deal with some contingency to which obsolescence has made them palpably inapplicable.

  • MNb

    “Science isn’t always right, but it’s the best means of finding”
    You’re too modest. I’m with Greta Christina here. Before she entered ftb she wrote an excellent piece on it, but I can’t refind it now.

    “One of the most important legal criteria … is that the accused and witnesses are innocent until proven guilty.”

    Ew, this is stupid beyond measure indeed. Is JWM indeed not capable of me witnessing in court that I saw a monstrous ghost with his face in my bedroom last night? If he is would he assume as well that I’m “innocent until proven guilty”?

  • MNb

    Wow, I sincerely hope Pofarmer doesn’t have to deal with batshit crazy stuff like this:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2014/09/8-things-i-think-i-know-about-the-oklahoma-beheading/

    “6. Oklahoma City was subjected to a black mass on September 21. Those who know about these things warned about the effect this might have on the community. Does this have anything to do with this beheading and the subsequent threat of beheading by Muslims in our community? I don’t know.”
    That’s revival of the Middle Ages.

    • Dys

      Wow…the amount of cognitive dissonance there. She berates the national media for not accurately reporting things, and then jumps to pointless fear-mongering over what affect a black mass had on their magical juju spirits (and linking to an article on exorcism).

      Definitely batshit craziness.

    • Kodie

      This bad argument is “Christianity is true because I’m afraid of Muslims and Satan”. How many times have you seen some Christian tell us (American) atheists, that if we don’t like what the Christians are doing in the US, we should just move to an Islamic theocracy and see how we like it then. They think if they’re not in charge, then something bad will happen, someone bad will seize control and take away their rights and all our rights and force us to live under their religious doctrine. They think they’re keeping us safe from that.

      • Yes, I would prefer to live in the U.S. rather than an Islamic theocracy, but things aren’t safe here thanks to Christianity (Yahweh makes his tribal thinking clear in the OT) but because of the very secular U.S. Constitution.

        • Kodie

          The point is that if the Christians don’t keep the control, the Muslims will seize the opening and turn us into an Islamic state.

      • SparklingMoon,

        How many times have you seen some Christian tell us (American) atheists, that if we don’t like what the Christians are doing in the US, we should just move to an Islamic theocracy and see how we like it then.
        ——————————————————-
        God has sent, according to His plan, the Promised Messiah among Muslims to fulfill the prophecy of the second coming of Jesus. The arriving time of this Promised Messiah,as a Reformer of this end time, was middle of eighteenth century.

        About More than hundred years has passed away the expected time of Messiah but no body has come back from sky as mostly followers of Trinity used to wait for a Messiah. And mostly Religious leaders of Christianity are well aware of this second coming of Messiah among Muslims.

        • Kodie

          That’s not relevant. Try being relevant!!!!

        • SparklingMoon,

          How is it not relevant? Please explain

        • Kodie

          Your theological assertions are never relevant to the discussion, they are always oblivious to the conversation, and fail to make any argument. You are like a crazy on a street-corner carrying a sign that says “Repent! The end is nigh!” That’s irrelevant. That’s what irrelevant means.

        • SparklingMoon,

          My Theological assertions are always relevant to the discussion if you examin them in the context of foundational information of that related topic.

          Secondly,You have written in your previous post:
          ”They (Christian)think if they’re not in charge, then something bad will happen, someone bad will seize control and take away their rights and all our rights and force us to live under their (Muslims) religious doctrine. They think they’re keeping us safe from that.”

          There exist a lot of other religions in the world but these religious leaders never consider that a person will turn to Hunduism or any other existed religion of the world.

          Why do these Christians religious preachers are specially scared that people will turn to Islam after leaving Christianity?

        • Kodie

          You make zero arguments. We have no reason to take you seriously because you are just some nut making assertions.

          Secondly, I do not think the Christian preachers think people will leave Christianity and go for Islam. I think they think if they’re not holding together the values of American societies, then the Muslims will seize control and make us follow sharia law (they are not looking for nuances of your religion, so it’s irrelevant to TELL ME what those nuances are. Nobody cares).

          When an atheist makes a complaint about how Christian superstition has no place in government, they respond with the thinking that without their god’s help in positions of power through believers in power, and effecting our policies, there will be a void and Muslim terrorists will seize that void and take away all our rights, so their rationale is that we should be happy they are in control and not try to diminish their power, or else we’ll be sorry with the results and ought to just move to some Islamic theocracy and see what the future holds without Christians in power.

          Do you have anything relevant to say about that? Because none of that has anything to do with your theology, I think you don’t.

        • SparklingMoon,

          Please write about one nonsense you have found in Islam. I would like to improve you information

          Secondly, you have written ”I think they think if they’re not holding together the values of American societies, then the Muslims will seize control and make us follow sharia law”

          My Question is Why do Muslims will seize the control? Why do not the followers of other religions will control the societies? The followers of these both religions are not like two confronted armies and week army will overcome the other one.

          Religion is a different thing that deals with heart and mind and the first and foremost duty of a religion to bring a person to the certainty of God. Promised Messiah has said: ”The religion that claims to be from God must show signs of being from God and should bear God’s seal, which should attest the fact that it is from Him. Islam is such a religion. That God Who is hidden is known through this religion and manifests Himself to the true followers of this religion. A true religion is supported by the hand of God and through such religion God manifests Himself that He exists. The religions that depend entirely upon stories are only a form of idol worship. Such religions do not possess the spirit of truth. If God is alive as He was, and speaks and hears as He did, there is no reason why He should continue to be silent as if He does not exist. If He does not speak in this age, then equally and certainly He does not hear either. In other words, He is now nothing. That religion alone is true which demonstrates that God hears and speaks in this age also. In a true religion, God attests His existence through His speaking.

        • adam

          The Quran in Sura 2:228 says:

          . . . Wives have the same rights as the husbands have on them in accordance with the generally known principles. Of course, men are a degree above them in status . . . (Sayyid Abul A’La Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur’an, vol. 1, p. 165)

          8. A male gets a double share of the inheritance over that of a female.

          The Quran in Sura 4:11 says:

          The share of the male shall be twice that of a female . . . . (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 311)

          7. A woman’s testimony counts half of a man’s testimony.

          The Quran in Sura 2:282 says:

          And let two men from among you bear witness to all such documents [contracts of loans withoutinterest]. But if two men be not available, there should be one man and two women to bear witness so that if one of the women forgets (anything), the other may remind her. (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 205).

        • SparklingMoon,

          The verse [2:228] you have referenced is :

          ”And the divorced women shall wait concerning themselves for three courses; and it is not lawful for them that they conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the Last Day;and their husbands have the greater right to take them back during that period, provided they desire reconciliation. And they (the women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in equity; but men have a rank above them. And Allah is Mighty, Wise.[2:228]

          In this verse God Almighty advises those women who have left the home of their husband after having divorce that they must have to wait about three month ( for next their marriage) to confirm either they have a pregnancy from their divorced husband or not. if they come to know that they have a pregnancy then must inform to their husbands and should not hide it.

          As according to the Quran a husband is responsible to provide all necessities of life to his wife and even his divorced wife till the birth of the child and if she also milk this child ( (two years or for a less time) then according to the time of milk .

          The meanings of this description ”; but men have a rank above them.” must be understood in its previous context This rank related to the right of the nourishment of this child. A divorced wife has also an equal right to this child and she also can nourish this child (after three month she can marry further) but his previous husband has a superiority to reserve the right of nourishing this child.

          The God is a creator of all men and women therefore He makes no discrimination between both. He informs in the Quran : ”Surely, men who submit themselves to God and women who submit themselves to Him, and believing men and believing women, and obedient men and obedient women and truthful men and truthful women, and men steadfast in their faith and steadfast women, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their chastity and women who guard their chastity, and men who remember Allah much and women who remember Him — Allah has prepared for all of them forgiveness and a great reward.[ Quran 33:36]

        • Kodie

          There is no reason to believe anything in the Quran just because you believe it. Absolutely no reason to take you seriously, and it’s irrelevant. You are like a Christian quoting the gospels to convince us – it is meaningless as an argument, weak, and irrelevant.

        • adam

          “Please write about one nonsense you have found in Islam.”

          Wives have the same rights as the husbands have on them in accordance with the generally known principles. Of course, men are a degree above them in status . . . (Sayyid Abul A’La Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur’an, vol. 1, p. 165)

          NONSENSE….

          8. A male gets a double share of the inheritance over that of a female.

          The Quran in Sura 4:11 says:

          The share of the male shall be twice that of a female . . . . (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 311)

          NONSENSE….

          7. A woman’s testimony counts half of a man’s testimony.

          The Quran in Sura 2:282 says:

          And let two men from among you bear witness to all such documents [contracts of loans withoutinterest]. But if two men be not available, there should be one man and two women to bear witness so that if one of the women forgets (anything), the other may remind her. (Maududi, vol.
          1, p. 205).

          NONSENSE….

        • SparklingMoon,

          God Almighty advised in the Quran 2:282 : “Procure two witnesses from among your men; and if two men be not available, then one man and two women, of such as you like as witnesses, so that if either of the two women should be in danger of forgetting, the other may refresh her memory.” ( Quran 2:282).

          There is made no discrimination in this verse. The normal rule is that women should be safeguarded against the contingency of having to appear as witnesses in judicial proceedings. Therefore, normally a woman should not be called upon to attest a document recording a transaction. This rule may be relaxed in an emergency. But then another difficulty would arise. In the case of male witnesses their memory of a transaction that they attest as witnesses would be refreshed when they met socially and the transaction was recalled for one reason or another.

          In the case of a document recording a transaction, which is attested by one male and one female witness, the female witness, under the Islamic social system, would not normally have frequent occasion to meet the male witness and talk to him, so that there would be little chance of her memory of the transaction being refreshed. To overcome this lack of opportunity of refreshing the memory, it is wisely provided that where only one male witness is available two female witnesses may be called upon so that, in the very words of the text, one may refresh the memory of the other.

          This provision is concerned only with the preservation of evidence, and does not deal with the weight to be attached to the testimony of a male or female witness. An illustration may help to clear up any doubt on the matter. Assume that a transaction recorded in a document attested by one male and two female witnesses becomes the subject of a dispute which comes up for judicial determination. It is then discovered that one of the two female witnesses has in the mean time died. The male witness and the surviving female witness are examined in court and the judge finds that their respective accounts of the terms of the transaction are not entirely in harmony; but he feels very strongly that taking every relevant factor into consideration the testimony of the female witness is more reliable than that of the male witness. In such a case it would be his plain duty to rely on the testimony of the female witness in preference to that of the male witness. (Women in Islam)

        • adam

          If you have to LIE and DECEIVE to demonstrate YOUR ‘god’, then your god MUST be a deception.

          Of course there is discrimination in this verse.

          “so that if either of the two women should be in danger of forgetting, the other may refresh her memory.” ”

          And as such NONSENSE.

        • SparklingMoon,

          The object of the Islamic economic system is that there should be equitable distribution and constant circulation of wealth, and that there should be no holding back:

          …that it may not circulate only among those of you who are rich. (Ch.59: V8)

          The verse for distribution is: [4:12] Allah commands you concerning your children: a male shall have as much as the share of two females; but if there be females only, numbering more than two, then they shall have two-thirds of what the deceased leaves; and if there be one, she shall have the half. And his parents shall have each of them a sixth of the inheritance, if he have a child; but if he have no child and his parents be his heirs, then his mother shall have a third; and if he have brothers and sisters, then his mother shall have a sixth, after the payment of any bequests he may have bequeathed or of debt. Your fathers and your children, you know not which of them is nearest to you in benefit. This fixing of portions is from Allah. Surely, Allah is All- Knowing, Wise.

          This verse advised different kind of portion for different people as according to the need as parents in old age are given less than young children to fulfill their needs .The share of a male heir is twice that of a female heir and it is not a matter of discrimination . According to Islamic system, the obligation of maintaining the family rests upon the husband and not upon the wife. A man used its property or money further to all members of family to fulfill the responsibility as a son, as a husband, as a father but a women has no obligation to spend her money or property for his husband or parents or children except having her own wish.

        • adam

          Yep MORE NONSENSE.

        • MNb

          “The share of a male heir is twice that of a female heir and it is not a matter of discrimination .”
          Nonsense. Discrimination means ao different treatment because of gender.

          “According to Islamic system, the obligation of maintaining the family rests upon the husband and not upon the wife.”
          That obligation is nonsense.

        • SparklingMoon,

          The divine scheme furnishes evidence of divine wisdom in all its aspects. Men and women are spiritually akin one to another and are equally the recipients of God’s favours and bounties, but their functions are not identical. In view of this diversity there is a corresponding diversity between their respective faculties and capacities. This is indicated in the Holy Quran as is said: “Our Lord is He Who has endowed everything with its appropriate faculties and then guided it to their proper use.” (20:51)

          A contemplation of the diversity of the faculties of males and females reveals the diversity of their functions as designed by nature. For instance, woman is well equipped for child bearing, while man is incapable of it.The proper discharge of the function of child-bearing imposes certain handicaps upon women, from which man is free;The upbringing of children during their early years is primarily the responsibility of the mother; the father’s role at that stage is supplementary to that of the mother. At that stage the child turns instinctively to the mother rather than to the father for nurture, comfort or security.

          As wife and mother the primary and normal sphere of woman’s activities is the home; as breadwinner the normal sphere of man’s activities and operations is the outdoors. A social system, which is based on wisdom and beneficence, brings about and helps to maintain an accord and balance between the two. Islam claims to do that.(Women in Islam)

        • Kodie

          Without a deluded belief in special design, we’re free to question this bullshit and reject it as needed.

        • MNb

          Ah, an irresistable challenge!

          “Please write about one nonsense you have found in Islam.”
          Surah 7:124 ” Then I shall crucify you every one.”
          Egyptians did not crucify people. They threw them for the crocodiles.

          S 24:45 “Allah hath created every animal of water. Of them is (a kind) that goeth upon its belly and (a kind) that goeth upon two legs and (a kind) that goeth upon four. Allah createth what He will. Lo! Allah is Able to do all things.”
          Except creating insects and spiders, who have 6 respectively 8 legs.

          S 27:61 “Who made the earth a fixed abode”
          Apparently the Earth doesn’t move.

          S 86:6 “He is created from a gushing fluid.”

          Humans come from fertilized eggs.

        • SparklingMoon,

          It states in the Quran:[7:124] Pharaoh said, ‘You have believed in him before I gave you leave. Surely, this is a plot that you have plotted in the city, that you may turn out therefrom its inhabitants, but you shall soon know the consequences. [7:125] ‘Most surely will I cut off your hands and your feet on alternate sides. Then will I surely crucify you all together.

          Crucification meant the painful death, the punishment of cutting off the hands and feet was added to make the infliction all the more exemplary and death all the more painful.

        • adam

          Yep MORE NONSENSE.

        • MNb

          Crucifixion means nailing at a cross. The Egyptians didn’t do it. Your explanation simply comes out of your big fat thumb.

        • SparklingMoon,

          The Arbic word ‘Salabu’ in the Quran does not mean hanging on cross but a hanging on a tree. The Cross was used to bring live people to death but in old ages dead body of a rebel or a criminal was hanged in a tree by the order of thee king. The purpose of this hanging of a dead person was to make other people fearful and to stop them to repeat the same crime or a rebel against their king.

          The pharaoh also saying the same thing in this verse that after cutting the hands and feet their dead bodies would be hanged. This hanging was always considered a cursed thing therefore pharaoh had tried to stop the magician to believe in Moses.The first addresser of Jesus also had tried to bring him to cross to prove that he was not a prophet of God Almighty but a cursed one but this wicked plan was destroyed by God and He saved him from an accursed death on cross.

        • adam

          Ok, STILL nonsense….

        • SparklingMoon,

          It states in the Quran (24:45): ”Or, Who created the heavens and the earth, and Who sent down water for you from the sky wherewith We cause to grow beautiful orchards? You could not cause their trees to grow. Is there a God besides Allah? Or, Who made the earth a place of rest, and placed rivers in its midst, and placed upon it firm mountains, and put a barrier between the two waters? Is there a God besides Allah? Nay, most of them know not.

          The meanings are: Earth is a place of rest for rivers and mountains and for all other that is created by Him on earth.

          The translation of the verse [24:45] is:
          [24:45] And Allah has created every animal from water.
          Of them are some that go upon their bellies, and of them are some that go upon two feet, and among them are some that go upon four. Allah creates what He pleases. Surely, Allah has the power to do all that He pleases.

          It does not mean that what is not described in the Quran is not His creation.

        • MNb

          Still it’s a glaring omission. There are quite a few insects and spiders or Earth.
          Thanks for not addressing the nonsense from 27:61 and 86:6.

        • Kodie

          See, irrelevant. I was writing about an argument Christians use – fear of Islam. They’re irrational. You’re, by the way, also irrational, but you’re also irrelevant. Nobody cares about the nuances of your chosen delusion. I am not criticizing it, and you aren’t defending it.

        • MNb

          Your theological assertions are never relevant. You’re not even wrong.

        • RichardSRussell

          You are being didactic instead of interactive.

          It’s as if I came here and started spouting lines like “What America needs more than anything else is tax relief.” or “We need to return to the only true system of weights and measures, the talent and cubit.” or “Clearly the invention of the self-cancelling faucet was the worst step backwards for technology of the previous century.”

          None of those have squat to do with the subject of the essay, and in each case I’m simply making statements of my own opinion, completely unsubstantiated by evidence or supported by reasoning. Just flat-out expository statements, asserted as if they were irrefutable, even tho they are clearly opinions and not facts at all.

        • SparklingMoon,

          I am a little bit busy today for the reason got late.
          you have written ‘ You are being didactic instead of interactive.’

          I will write honestly that I am not much interested in philosophy or logic to prove a thinking write or wrong. I am more interested to deliver a fact (if I know) about any topic related to religion to step in right direction.

          As I had written in a previous post that to step in right direction the fundamental laws of any subject are very important otherwise it would be like a wandering in a dark jungle. For example,there are mostly a discussion about the existence of God with a demand to prove His existence like a physical object. God has appointed different sources for different objects. As a person can not here from nose or a person can not take breath from ear as a person can not perceive God through physical sources. God has appointed Heart for this purpose to perceive him The followers of different prophets had no worldly knowledge but they had brought a change in their heart by following the teachings of prophets and had revelation. This door is open for all in every age but the condition is to use the right source appointed by God.

        • MNb

          “I will write honestly that I am not much interested in philosophy or logic to prove a thinking write or wrong.”
          It’s laudible that you admit it.

          “I am more interested to deliver a fact”
          In this respect you are a total failure. The few times you tried you got the facts wrong.

        • Kodie

          We’re not interested in what’s interesting to you. All of it is irrelevant.

        • RichardSRussell

          I am more interested to deliver a fact

          You say that, and then you get right back to spouting opinions again. Why should anyone believe a single word you say? Simply because you’re the one saying it? You have no credibility.

        • MNb

          It tells exactly nothing about bigot catholicism.

        • Without Malice

          Isn’t it time to polish your tin-foil hat?

    • Pofarmer

      Thats, exactly the kind of crazy shit the Catholic Church is now promoting.

      • MNb

        Then I promise never to criticize you again for your anti-catholicism. Because of Dutch catholics I simply could not imagine that this was possible in the technologically most advanced country in the world. Being a kind of cultural pessimist (the Dutch tend to take over bad examples from the USA much faster and with much more enthusiasm than the good examples) I must begin to worry if this kind of superstition will rear its head in The Netherlands as well. We are not the calm, rationalist folks we want the rest of the world to believe we are.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, the Catholics have been training and promoting “true believers” the last several years. The. Priests coming up are not like the priests were 15 years ago. They are promoting the superstitions and prejudices and brain dead thinking from 75 years ago. The “true faithful” are earing it up, of coirse, because it gives them more and more stuff to beloeve that sets them apart from the herd. They are calling this “Evangelical Catholicism” and it is nuts.

        • TheNuszAbides

          ‘The “true faithful” are ea[t]ing it up, of co[u]rse, because it gives them more and more stuff to bel[i]eve that sets them apart from the herd.’

          the flock apart from the herd… quaint!

        • Pofarmer

          Herds inside of flocks.

        • TheNuszAbides

          it’s livestock all the way down!

  • RichardSRussell

    Let’s face reality. If Christians give up all their stupid arguments, they won’t have any left.

    • Touche. Distinguishing good vs. bad arguments is subjective.

      My goal in compiling this list was finding the ones that are on their face stupid, that no Christian would tolerate in an argument from another religion, and that no objective person seeking the facts would ever use.

      • RichardSRussell

        Got it. I was wondering how you were gonna hold it down to only a couple dozen.

        • Pofarmer

          Too bad there are not comments. That nonsense makes my teeth itch any more.

      • wtfwjtd

        Bob, I don’t know if it’s relevant or not, but here’s an article that has several dumb Christian arguments in one place:

        http://www.saintsandsceptics.org/six-poor-reasons-for-rejecting-miracles/

        You’ve probably already covered most of this, but it’s still a good reminder that they are still out there, being used by the faithful all the time. And unfortunately, there’s plenty more where that stuff came from…

        • Pofarmer

          WEll, nuts, Too bad there are not comments. That nonsense makes my teeth itch any more.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, most of those type of sites don’t have comments sections, and/or they are heavily moderated/edited. Since I have relatives that are big on this stuff, I get to “preview” it all the time, as I am sure you do as well. Sometimes that nonsense just makes my head ache as I roll my eyes up so fast and hard, along with a face palm.

        • Kodie

          Wow, what utter horseshit. And it’s not the arguments themselves that get people, it’s the illusion of a reasonable opposition: “Look, I know you probably notice this X error in my reasoning, but here’s my Y counter to that. Tidy, isn’t it! Let’s keep moving…” A lot of people would tend to agree that the author makes a good case, because, look how thorough!.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Wow, what utter horseshit…”

          Exactly. At first glance it looks like it’s a reasonable take, until you start looking a little closer at what the author is actually saying. For example, under point #3 his basic assumption is that Christianity’s miracles are way more believable than other religion’s miracles because–drum roll please–Christianity’s holy book is historical fact, unlike the other guy’s holy books, which are all made-up bunk(according to the author). And how do we know this? Because the author says so, that’s how. The skeptic spots the special pleading right away, of course, but to the faithful it all sounds very reasonable, because they have been taught to make the very same assumptions.
          At least that article is a little more clever than some of the Christians who visit Bob’s blog here, but it’s still the same old nonsense, just with a few extra layers. SSDD is the way I see it now.

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno, when I read it it sounds just like Al, or Asmondious, or Ryan, or John. The arguments are barely superficial, and display the same poor level of knowledge. Once again, these are arguments to keep the faithful, not convince anybody. At least I hope.

        • wtfwjtd

          Well, yeah, like all the Christian stuff it’s long on wordiness and short on evidence. I was also reminded of something else you said about Catholic dogma–how it’s carefully constructed of specific word definitions, in an attempt to avoid contradiction. As it gets more convoluted, the nuttier these definitions become.

        • Pofarmer

          I wish that Bob could take that article on, and invite the author here to debate it (wink wink). I would like to know what they are really made of.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, that would be cool. Unfortunately, Bob (and others) have tried this in the past, but can’t seem to find any takers. My wife was telling me a few days ago about a biologist, I think it was Kenneth Miller, was invited to Brigham Young University to debate one of their profs on the subject of evolution. The debate became a monologue, however, because none of the school’s profs would take him on in a public forum! So the more intellectual types among them know that their Christian arguments won’t stand up to any kind of serious scrutiny, but continue shoveling them to the faithful anyways. Sad.

        • Pofarmer

          Ah, throwing pearls before swine.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yep.

        • They make it hard to discuss things when they have no commenting option. Their tagline is, “For saints with doubts and skeptics with questions,” but it doesn’t look like you questioning skeptics have an option besides simply accepting the force-feeding.

          But what the heck–on the Contact page, I left them this:

          I’m a skeptic with questions. I read your “Six Poor Reasons for Rejecting the Miraculous” and didn’t think much of it.

          If you’d like to discuss issues like this further, come to my blog and find a post you’d like to reply to. Or contact me directly.

          Pofarmer, thanks for the prodding.

        • wtfwjtd

          I like your thinking Bob! And who knows, maybe one day some thoughtful, honest Christian will drop by for a friendly chat.

        • Pofarmer

          What can I say, I’m an internet shit disturber.

        • Thanks, I’ll take a look.

        • Greg G.

          Dumb Christian arguments? But they are inspired by omniscience.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, I realize that to the faithful, “dumb Christian arguments” is an oxymoron, but when I see those same dumb arguments over and over the word “moronic” is the one that most often comes to mind. Of course, YMMV.

        • TheNuszAbides

          the fruit falls far indeed from the hypothetical tree.

        • Greg G.

          #4 says eccentric Russian oligarchs sometimes leave their wealth to random people chosen from the phone book. I think I’ll get my land line hooked backup. I got rid of it because all I ever got was phone calls from rich American oligarchs who wanted me to vote against my own self-interest.

        • wtfwjtd

          LOL! I’ve still got a landline here, I guess I better keep it, ’cause you just never know! And who knows, maybe Jesus will give me a call one day and tell me that a Russian oligarch has willed me a fortune! And maybe the resurrection occurred just like the gospels claim…

      • chrijeff

        Out of curiosity: How about (if you can think of any) some arguments that are *not* “on their face stupid,” that a Christian might well “tolerate in an argument from another religion”? I’d be interested to see what you’d come up with! The fact that you specify your criteria suggests that there must be other arguments that fell outside of them.

        • I’d be curious to see that list as well. You’re asking for a list that would satisfy a Christian, right?

        • chrijeff

          Yes, exactly.

        • Yes, that would be an interesting list. As a not-a-Christian, I’m not the one to provide it.

  • RichardSRussell

    Re the epigram from Heinlein, here’s a related one:

    “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. God is all-powerful. Draw your own conclusions.”

  • joe bloe

    Any decent arguments on any side on these issues? thought not.

    • Greg G.

      One side is that there are no decent arguments to warrant a belief in the supernatural while the other side argues that there are decent arguments but cannot present any.

      Isn’t that a decent argument of that belief in the supernatural is unwarranted?

  • Psycho Gecko

    I’m glad you’re not one of those thinking the historicity of Jesus is a slam dunk. It’s a little creepy how lockstep even other atheists can be about insisting he exists merely because a lot of historians who decided to focus on the New Testament decided that the bible stories written generations afterward talking about Jesus giving sermons to huge groups and bringing people back to life are proof for some wandering, barely-known preacher named Yeshua (or whoever since they can’t even agree on who the real life Jesus was).

    • I find the Jesus Myth arguments intriguing and useful to education myself about that time period, but it doesn’t serve my primary goal of making good arguments for atheism (or against Christianity).

      But yeah, that the whole thing is built on nothing–that there’s no there there–is certainly a possibility.

      • Pofarmer

        I dunno, I found myself becoming an Atheist at the same time that Richard Carrier was starting to advance many of his arguments on mythicism. I was also reading Robert M. Price, Robert G. Price. Randal Helms, well, you get the picture. So, as I was sort of throwing off the yoke of “Christian thinking” it wasn’t really all that hard to embrace the idea that Jesus was a wholly made up character. I haven’t found anything to strongly dissuade me from that position, although I don’t push it. John certainly hasn’t presented anything that makes it seem less likely.

    • Tom Hanson

      Oh c’mon. Your last bit is tantamount to saying they can’t even agree that Alexander the great was Alexander or Alexandros the great, or Julius Caesar may actually have been Iulius Caesar. Orthography or difference in language have nothing to do with historical existence. BTW I do believe that your “lockstep atheists” believe that Jesus existed, but not that he exists now, and you have misrepresented them in your hurry to insult them. I hope accidently, but then again how can I be sure that you yourself actually exist today, Mr/Ms Psycho Gecko. NOTHING in history is a slam dunk by history’s very nature. But it seems a better bet that Jesus existed than that he didn’t. Outside of a sort of stupid shock value, what advantage I wonder, do you think it gives any atheist to disagree with atheist historians who agree with the general consensus. It is always possible that he did exist, is it not? History deals with probabilities. Why, in your mind, does it seem more probable that he did not?

      • The quick answer would be to encourage you to read books by Robert Price or Richard Carrier on this subject.

        It does seem that the burden of proof is on the denier of the straightforward assumption that there was a guy behind the Jesus movement, like the gospels say, but their arguments are intriguing.

        If your point is that the Jesus Myth theory gets in the way of responding to Christian arguments I agree. Richard Carrier had a post on that subject within the past year.

        • MNb

          “books by Robert Price”
          I thought you had no use for theology?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_M._Price

          Or is he an exception because what he writes pleases you, as the word “intriguing” indicates?

        • I have plenty of use for critique of theology, which is what Robert Price provides. Anyway, the topic was the Christ Myth theory, and Price is one of the leading proponents.

        • MNb

          A theologian doing theology on a subject that belongs to history. As such he is as qualified on the subject as Casey Luskin on biology, to name another leading proponent of something.
          You’re inconsistent and apparently my speculation is right – it’s because what he writes pleases you.

        • This is just an outsider’s view, but I would think that, for the history of the ANE around the time of Jesus, very few scholars are better qualified.

          The Christ Myth theory doesn’t “please me.” As I’ve made clear in other comments, it doesn’t affect me much whether Christianity came from an actual guy or not.

        • MNb

          “for the history of the ANE around the time of Jesus, very few scholars are better qualified”
          Because Price studied and teaches theology and philosophy of religion?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_M._Price

          Then I have a long list of qualified scholars – they studied the same subjects as Price – who maintain that Jesus was historical. The only reason you don’t recommend them can be found in your words “intriguing” and “interesting”. Those are pleasing emotions, hence my conclusion that your recommendation is based on what “pleases you”. You haven’t brought up anything to contradict that.
          Commitment to skepticism works two ways and here it works against you.

        • I recommend Price and Carrier simply because the topic was the Christ Myth theory, and if one is interested in that topic, they seem to be the leading authorities. I am no proponent of that theory and, as I’ve made clear, don’t much care whether it’s correct or not.

        • MNb

          You can repeat it as often as you like – you recommend the theologian and philosopher of religion Price (professions you otherwise don’t have any use for) on a subject (history) he isn’t qualified for (something you otherwise disapprove of).
          I’m not talking about Carrier. Naming him is strawmanning me.

        • Nope, I’m missing your point completely.

          Tom Hanson asked about the Christ Myth theory, and I recommended Price and Carrier since they’ve written on the subject.

          Your point is that Price is not qualified to write about the Christ Myth theory? Tell me why.

          As for Price not being a historian, Bart Ehrman has called himself a historian, and Price has at least the credentials that Ehrman has. Some scholars with degrees in New Testament and Theology, as is the case for Price, who have specialized in the history of the ANE could be called historians in that narrow field. Or am I mistaken?

        • MNb

          So according to you you don’t have to study history to write meaningful about history? Then why should anyone have to study biology to write meaningful about biology?
          Btw I have never recommended Bart Ehrmann to anyone. You are the one who repeatedly has written that scientific consensus is important and that it’s determined by the people who have studied the field. You are the one making an exception for Price and lower your usual standards regarding his credentials.
          And now I’m done with it. I won’t read your reply.

        • So according to you you don’t have to study history to write meaningful about history?

          Nope. It’s because Price has indeed studied the relevant history of this period that I hold him in high esteem. I’m not sure what else you’d want in a historian.

          If your point is that Price is actually a poor historian of that period and that another group is actually the ones who have worthwhile things to say, I’d invite that information.

          You are the one making an exception for Price and lower your usual standards regarding his credentials.

          Nope. Same standards. I have no idea what your concern is, but perhaps we can leave on a tiny positive note that we both agree that standards should be applied equally, both to people who say things we like as well as those who say things we detest.

        • MNb

          OK, sometimes I have to swallow my words – or postpone them.

          “It’s because Price has indeed studied the relevant history of this period.”

          It’s not on his CV, so this is as meaningful as saying that Casey Luskin has studied the relevant biology.

        • OK, sometimes I have to swallow my words – or postpone them.

          A shame. I was hoping this pointless discussion was put to rest.

          this is as meaningful as saying that Casey Luskin has studied the relevant biology.

          Is it? You may be right, but this would be news to me.

          To become an expert in evolution, you get a doctorate in biology. To become an expert in the history of the ANE, you’re saying that getting a NT Studies doctorate is not one of the ways of getting there? I would’ve thought that it would be.

          The other issue you raise is the question of special pleading–having one bar of evidence for people who say things you like and another for those who don’t. You’ve asserted this but given no evidence for it. Indeed, I see none. If I’m simply mistaken on what it takes to become an expert in the history of the ANE (question 1 above), correct me.

          And you do see that I don’t have much of a favorite in the Christ Myth theory debate, right?

        • wtfwjtd

          MNb, haven’t you ever been intrigued by those with claims that fall outside the mainstream? I certainly have–I remember when those dudes in the ’90’s claimed they had mastered cold fusion, for example. Of course, in that case, it was later demonstrated to be a joke, but still, what a grand idea! Because I was intrigued by the idea doesn’t mean for a moment that I actually thought those guys had actually accomplished it–but they had their say, and of course because they were unable to deliver what they had promised, they quickly faded to ridiculed obscurity. But the idea of cold fusion lives on, and…who knows? Maybe someday…
          My point is, allowing those whose ideas fall outside the mainstream have their say, is often how we as a species learn things and expand our knowledge of the world. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with everything they say, or even their conclusions. If nothing else, it gives us practice in trying to sort dumb ideas from good ones, and I certainly feel like I could use the practice, and hopefully learn a new and useful thing or two along the way.

        • MNb

          “haven’t you ever been intrigued”
          Sure. Amongst others by Jesus Mythology. That’s not the point. Trying to change the subject won’t help. Skepticism means wondering if your motivation (which is by definition biased) skews your judgment. That’s something that is seriously lacking with JMs.

          “allowing those whose ideas fall outside the mainstream have their say, is often how we as a species learn things and expand our knowledge of the world.”
          That’s what Casey Luskin claims as well. An atheist saying this doesn’t make it any better or more relevant. The difference that we atheists should make – and I can’t stress it enough – is skepticism. And that’s only worth its salt when applied on ourselves as well.
          When recommending a theologian on a historical subject BobS is lacking such skepticism. Me having a nasty character with an unhealthy lack of respect am always willing to point that out.

        • Tom Hanson

          Thanks for the reply.. I certainly agree that the burden of proof is on the denier of the straightforward assumption that there was a guy named Jesus behind the Jesus movement around the turn of the Era. I think assumption is the wrong thing to call it, though, since the fight over it by historians was pretty much settled by the time David Feuerbach (spelling?) published his atheistic Life of Jesus in the 19th century. The idea of no historical Jesus at all was current in the 1700s and historians fought it out then by arguments and won and the major result has been a thing called “the quest for the historical Jesus.” To the dismay of Christians, I might add. It is a methodological assumption and historians fought it out against, among others, a serious bunch of scholars of myth, by justifying themselves against the charge of a leap into the Euhemerist Fallacy of assuming that gods got to be gods by first being superlative men. Pretty certainly some gods did get to be gods because they were first superlative men, as in Alexander the Great.
          I find the whole current issue (if it can be called that) to be a bizarre reversal of a once-extinct conflict, with atheists, of all people, arguing against the idea that Jesus was ever a man, but is still a current myth. It’s a sideshow. What possible good can it do for atheism?

        • I don’t know that “settled” is the right word. The historicity of Abraham and Moses was settled until it wasn’t. That Jesus is similarly considered mythology by a decent fraction of NT scholars within decades seems possible.

          Why is it odd that atheists are arguing that Jesus never existed?

          As for the good it does, for me personally, the exploration is good training. As a counter-apologetic, however, it’s a useless argument for me until it becomes mainstream.

        • Pofarmer

          Lot’s of things that may have gotten hashed out a couple hundred years ago get rehashed in light of new discoveries and new methods. I’m not sure that the Jesus mythology is any different. There has been a whole lot of NT scholarship and archaeological scholarship done. What does it hurt to revisit the debate? Like I’ve said before, there are several things that make me really, really question, though. No writings from Jesus, nor hints that there ever were writings. No evidence of tomb veneration or cross veneration. I find it hard to believe that the core believers wouldn’t have done both, considering how common it was in antiquity. No contemporary record, at all, especially from someone like Philo, who was IN Jerusalem at the right time, and working on a very similar theology to what Jesus was supposedly espousing. And he misses it and writes nothing? Paul, seems to know nothing about an earthly Jesus, and only quotes him in relation to the Last Supper, which is almost certainly a late addition to the text. There are just too many things missing where there should be “things”. Just a bad coincidnece?

        • wtfwjtd

          The thing is, Christianity depends on both historicity and divinity for its validation. Atheists and plenty of others quickly dismiss the divinity claim, and I see no harm in discussing the historicity aspect. Christians like to equate historicity with divinity; I guess they have to , as one without the other would be meaningless for them. To us, it doesn’t matter a whit, as far as our worldview or our daily lives are concerned, if the NT was modeled after an actual guy, a consolidated account of several guys, or if the Jesus character was entirely made up.

        • Tom Hanson

          I am assuming that among the numerous Philos we know of in the ancient world you mean the philosopher known as Philo Judaeus. He is also known as Philo of Alexandria, because that is where he lived and worked, not Jerusalem, nor even the Middle East but in Africa across Sinai. The only known date we have for him is that in 39/40 CE he journeyed to Rome as leader of a Jewish embassy to the emperor Gaius (better known today as Caligula) of which he wrote an account describing himself as a very old man when he made the journey. Somewhere he mentions that he made one pilgrimage to Jerusalem; when that was he doesn’t say. The likelyhood that he would ever have heard about Jesus seems nearly nonexistent given that he probably would have been dead before Christianity ever got beyond Judea. Source: the Oxford Classical Dictionary, third edition.
          And why would Jews, which is what the earliest Christians were, venerate a tomb or a cross, particularly?
          Jews in the ancient world were universally regarded as very odd ducks not like other people in antiquity. Bear in mind the earliest Christians considered themselves to still be Jews and were trying to figuring out what Jesus was now that he had risen and what that fact (fact to them at any rate) meant they were. Venerating a cross would have been repulsive to anyone in the ancient world. Tombs where it was possible to touch what a dead body had touched would have rendered them unclean. It took a long time for Christians to become like the rest of the ancient world by spreading into it. it took a still longer time for them to appear as something different from Jews to the rest of the world.

        • Pofarmer

          Philo of Alexandria was working on melding Jewish and Greek theology. He also wrote an account of Judaism that covered the time Jesus was supposed to be alive. He really shouldn’t have missed it.

          “Justus of Tiberius was a native of Christ’s own country, Galilee. He wrote a history covering the time of Christ’s reputed existence. This work has perished, but Photius, a Christian scholar and critic of the ninth century, who was acquainted with it, says: “He [Jesus] makes not the least mention of the appearance of Christ, of what things happened to him, or of the wonderful works that he did” (Photius’ Bibliotheca, code 33).”

          From Remsberg “the christ”

        • Tom Hanson

          Do I really need to point out the obvious here? I guess I do. Since when does Justus of Tiberius (more properly “of Tiberias”) also become Philo of Alexandria in your understanding? I expect that your bracketed [Jesus] was a mistake and that you were trying to say a bracketed [Justus]. So, leaving Philo out of the argument, as a method of historical methodology we are to accept a late 9th century writer’s judgement of what is not extant, and to deny that words about Christ written (perhaps) by Josephus (whose books are extant) in his work on the Wars of the Jews, because the words could not have been anything but a fraudulent Christian interpolation. It apparently hasn’t occurred to you that, in your attempt to argue that lack of mentioning Jesus means Jesus never existed, by bringing in Photius in reference to Justus, you are actually aiding the other side. Photius is honest and notes no mention of Christ’s existence in Justus’s book. What I wonder, did Photius say about Josephus and his book on the same war, if Photius wrote about it in his Bibliotheca. If he mentions that the Josephus quote was in the the book he read, then that renders the Josephus mention more probably Josephus’ own words by narrowing the time involved for interpolation and to that extent renders the interpolation idea less likely. Personally I think you would be better served by admitting that you should not expect really early references to him by nonchristians and stick to the interpolation idea. The really tough nut for you to crack in Josephus is the longer and so-far-undisputed discussion of the man Christians call John the Baptist and his disciples, of whom, if he existed, Jesus was one, at least for a while.

        • Pofarmer

          Justus of Tiberius and Philo of Alexandria are two different people who were living and writing at the time, around the place, and about the subject of interest. Philo of Alexandria should have been very interested in this Jesus fellow, since he was claiming(supposedly) some of the things that Philo would also claim. There is no mention of Jesus being mentioned in Josephus until after the time of Eusebius, and Church Fathers knew of Josephus works and quoted them, but no mention of the Jesus passages Until the late third or forth century. This discussion isn’t about John the Baptists, so that is really an aside.

        • Pofarmer
        • wtfwjtd

          It’s this one aspect of Christianity alone that’s enough to convince me it’s just another man-made religion. Think about it: their god-man founder lives, teaches, and is killed, then buried, then resurrected, all supposedly in a known place. And then his followers, who are supposedly willing to die for him, completely forget when and where it all happened? This is risible on its face, and even more ludicrous is the demand that I’m supposed to believe that the people who supposedly saw what was maybe the single greatest event in human history just can’t recall when it occurred, or where it occurred. And of course, I’m supposed to believe this without a shred of supporting evidence. How predictable.
          That the followers of Jesus somehow forgot the “where” and “when”, is exactly what we would expect if the whole resurrection tale was made up.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, and Paul, who apparently wasn’t from Jerusalem, Goes to Jerusalem to see the head apostles, but never bothers to write about going to see the tomb, or the spot of the resurrection, or the amazing Virgin who gave birth to him, and Apologists say that it “Wouldn’t warrant a mention, as he had limited space to write about it.” O.K.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Wouldn’t warrant a mention?” ROTFL! Nah, Paul’s hero god-man, to whom he has dedicated his life, died and resurrected in that spot, but, no, Paul isn’t interested in seeing it or writing about it. Or, like you said, that amazing god-woman Mary is of no use or interest to him or his life’s pursuits.Yea, right. Once, again, exactly what you would expect if it’s just a made-up tale.

        • Exodus has an entire chapter (28) devoted to the priestly costume. But, now that I think of it, I guess that’s more important than the supernatural details of the life of the Creator of the Universe.

        • Greg G.

          One genealogy would have been better than two that conflict. That could have freed up some space.

        • Tom Hanson

          Actually I think that “settled” is the right word. When talking about about history there is a clear distinction about “modern” history, or “scientific” or “critical” history. The rules were set in the 19th century primarily by the great German historians. Before that revolution, history, as it is understood today, happened by accident and piecemeal. It depended on the common sense of the individual historian. Roughly speaking, agreed rules of handling and judging historical evidence and other issues have taken root in universities and you now actually can get a PhD in it as a discipline. The great works that were written before the sea-change were critically examined: thus Herodotus remained the father of historical writing but is “not to be trusted” while Thucidides (sp?) became the proto-modern Ur-father of modern history. David Hume has become the philosopher David Hume, and is barely remembered as a historian while Edward Gibbon is a figure whose judgements must still always be considered or at least confronted and argued against. That there are rules is conceded even by rebels like Crossan who in his Mediterranean Peasant biography of Jesus feels it necessary to make a special plea for ditching a rule of thumb that says the later a piece of evidence, the less reliable it is as evidence, because he wants to treat the Nag Hammadi Gnostic texts as equal in historical value to the New Testament even though they were written several centuries later.
          Add to that the fact that no matter what nonhistorian atheists might wish to believe, thriving branches of Biblical history would have to be dumped and a whole lot of historians could no longer call themselves historians and would not have jobs. Mythicist atheists have a long, long row to hoe to make that happen. How will scholarly mythicists protect themselves from association with fringe wackos who think that the veneration of Mary stems from the Godess Semiramis when in ancient times Semiramis was a human being worshipped as a goddess by precisely no one. This historical judgement holds true of course only until, and if, any actual evidence for her worship ever shows up.

        • hector_jones

          I certainly agree that the burden of proof is on the denier of the straightforward assumption that there was a guy named Jesus behind the Jesus movement around the turn of the Era.

          All this time I’ve been told that the evidence for Jesus is solid and that I am a conspiracy nut to doubt it. Now I hear that it’s all just an ‘assumption’. I’m afraid the burden of proof is entirely on you then.

        • Greg G.

          Tom Hanson said:

          Thanks for the reply.. I certainly agree that the burden of proof is on the denier of the straightforward assumption that there was a guy named Jesus behind the Jesus movement around the turn of the Era.

          The other three of gospels are based on or influenced by Mark. The epistles do not support the gospel ideas that:

          Jesus was an itinerant teacher in Galilee.
          Jesus preached in the synagogues of Galilee.
          Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God.
          Jesus cured some sick people.
          Jesus drove out what were thought to be demons.
          Jesus enjoyed a certain amount of popularity in Galilee and surrounding regions.
          Jesus practiced prayer in seclusion.

          These are commonly held beliefs that were accepted by the Jesus Seminar that ruled out over 80% of the deeds and 80% of the sayings attributed to Jesus. They were far too lenient.

          First I will let Dr. Robert M. Price make the case that Mark is based on other writings by his collection of other scholars works. These scholars worked independently and most accept a historical Jesus. When these works are compiled together, they pretty much eliminate that Mark was writing history.

          See New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price. It’s basically the heart of his book The Christ Myth Theory and Its Problems. The book corrects some typos and adds the Bible verses so you can see exactly what he is referring to.

          Next, check out Mark’s Use of the Gospel of Thomas by Stevan Davies which argues that the Gospel of Thomas is older than Mark and Mark used it. It dovetails nicely by providing a source for Mark 3 & 4 that Price’s essay is weak on.

          Paul insists that he did not learn from other people, he learned from reading scripture and finding long hidden messages about Jesus:

          Galatians 1:11-12
          11 For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; 12 for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

          Romans 16:25-27
          25 Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

          Paul never met Jesus. If he thought the other apostles had met Jesus, he would have been laughed at for making the following statements:

          2 Corinthians 11:4-6 (NRSV)
          4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough. 5 I think that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 I may be untrained in speech, but not in knowledge; certainly in every way and in all things we have made this evident to you.

          2 Corinthians 12:11 (NRSV)
          11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it. Indeed you should have been the ones commending me, for I am not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing.

          In Galatians, Paul is very sarcastic about the other apostles. He recounts an argument he had with Peter. He says he wishes the “circumcision faction”, which he has identified as James’ group, would go the whole way and emasculate themselves. His opening verse emphasizes that he is sent by Jesus and not by humans. In chapter 2, he says that James sent two men to Antioch, right after he called James “the Lord’s brother” and said how much he didn’t care much about those esteemed “pillars”, identified as Peter, James and John.

          In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, the Greek word “optanomai” is translated as “appeared to” for each of the cases. Paul uses the same word for himself that he uses for Cephas and the twelve in verse 5, for the five hundred in verse 6, for James and the other apostles in verse 7, and finally for himself in verse 8. He doesn’t think the “appeared to” is any different than his own revelation from scripture.

          He immediately follows that up with an argument for resurrection in verses 12-34, arguing that if Christ is not raised, then they are still in their sins, faith is futile, and the dead have perished when he could have simply emphasized that he just gave a list of people who actually saw a resurrected Jesus, if that is what he meant by “appeared to” (optanomai).

          Paul mentions the combinations of “Jesus” and “Christ” over three hundred times in the seven letters considered by most to be authentic. That’s more than once for every five verses. Mostly, it’s just religious patter but here are the few “facts” he tells us about Jesus, plus a possible source from the Old Testament.

          Past
          Descended from David > Romans 1:3, Romans 15:12 > 2 Samuel 7:12, Isaiah 11:10

          Declared Son of God > Romans 1:4 > Psalm 2:7

          Made of woman, > Galatians 4:4 > Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 49:1, Isaiah 49:5

          Made under the law > Galatians 4:4, Galatians 3:10-12* > Deuteronomy 27:26, Habakkuk 2:4, Leviticus 18:5

          Did not please himself > Romans 15:3* > Psalm 69:9

          Became a servant of the circumcised > Romans 15:8 > Isaiah 53:11

          For the Gentiles > Romans 15:9-12* > Psalm 18:49, 2 Samuel 22:50, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 117:1, Isaiah 11:10

          Was betrayed > 1 Corinthians 11:23 > Psalm 41:9

          Took loaf of bread and wine > 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 > Psalm 41:9, Exodus 24:8, Leviticus 17:11, Isaiah 53:12 (“wine” = “blood of grapes” allusions in Genesis 49:11, Deuteronomy 32:14, Isaiah 49:26, Zechariah 9:15)

          Was crucified for sins > 1 Corinthians 2:2, 1 Corinthians 15:3, Galatians 2:20, Galatians 3:13* > Isaiah 53:12, Deuteronomy 21:23

          Was buried > 1 Corinthians 15:4 > Isaiah 53:9

          Was raised > Romans 1:4, Romans 8:34, 1 Corinthians 15:4 > Hosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 41:10

          Present
          Sits next to God > Romans 8:34 > Psalm 110:1, Psalm 110:5

          Intercedes > Romans 8:34 > Isaiah 53:12

          Future
          Will come > 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54*, Philippians 3:20-21 > Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:13; Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 25:8

          (* indicates that passage contains a direct quote from the Old Testament)

          Paul’s sources for the Philippians Hymn:

          5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
          1 Corinthians 11:1
          Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

          6 who, though he was in the form of God,
          Isaiah 52:14
          Just as there were many who were astonished at him
              —so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
              and his form beyond that of mortals—

                did not regard equality with God
          Isaiah 9:6
          For a child has been born for us,
              a son given to us;
          authority rests upon his shoulders;
              and he is named
          Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
              Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

                as something to be exploited,
          Isaiah 53:7
          He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
              yet he did not open his mouth;
          like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
              and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
              so he did not open his mouth.

          7 but emptied himself,
          Isaiah 53:12b
          because he poured out himself to death,

                taking the form of a slave,
          Isaiah 52:13a
          “See, my servant shall prosper”

                being born in human likeness.
          Isaiah 49:5
          and now the Lord says,
              who formed me in the womb to be his servant,

            And being found in human form,
          Isaiah 53:2
          For he grew up before him like a young plant,
              and like a root out of dry ground;
          he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
              nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

          he humbled himself
          Isaiah 53:3
          He was despised and rejected by others;
              a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
          and as one from whom others hide their faces
              he was despised, and we held him of no account.

                and became obedient to the point of death—
          Isaiah 53:10
          Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
          When you make his life an offering for sin,
              he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
          through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.

                even death on a cross.
          Deuteronomy 21:23 (per Galatians 3:13)
          23 his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree;
          you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a
          tree is under God’s curse. You must not defile the land
          that the Lord your God is giving you for possession.

          9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
          Isaiah 53:12a
          Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
              and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;

                and gave him the name
          Isaiah 54:5a
          For your Maker is your husband,
              the Lord of hosts is his name;

                that is above every name,
          Isaiah 54:5b
          the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
              the God of the whole earth he is called.

          10 so that at the name of Jesus
          Isaiah 49:22
          Thus says the Lord God:
          I will soon lift up my hand to the nations,
              and raise my signal to the peoples;
          and they shall bring your sons in their bosom,
              and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.

                every knee should bend,
          Isaiah 45:23a
          By myself I have sworn,
              from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness
              a word that shall not return:
          “To me every knee shall bow,

                in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
          Isaiah 45:22
          Turn to me and be saved,
              all the ends of the earth!
              For I am God, and there is no other.

          11 and every tongue should confess
          Isaiah 45:23b
              every tongue shall swear.

                that Jesus Christ is Lord,
          Isaiah 45:24
          Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me,
              are righteousness and strength;
          all who were incensed against him
              shall come to him and be ashamed.

                  to the glory of God the Father.
          Isaiah 45:25
          In the Lord all the offspring of Israel
              shall triumph and glory.

          The other early epistles do no better. Most of the possible information in 1 Peter comes in chapter 2 where four verses from Isaiah 53 are quoted from.

          Here is what R. J. Hoffman, a staunch defender of the historical Jesus, says in The Historically Inconvenient Jesus

          I don’t know too many New Testament scholars who would argue that the gospels are good history, and some (me among them) who would say that for the most part the gospels are totally useless as history. The gospels were written as propaganda by a religious cult. That impugns them as history, even at a time—the last decades of the first great Roman imperial century—when history wasn’t especially committed to recording what really happened in a dispassionate and disinterested way.

          Given that there is (a) no reason to trust the gospels; (b) no external testimony to the existence of Jesus (I’ve never thought that the so-called “pagan” reports were worth considering in detail; at most they can be considered evidence of the cult, not a founder); (c) no independent Christian source that is not tainted by the missionary objectives of the cult and (d) no Jewish account that has not been invented or tainted by Christian interpolators, what is the purpose of holding out for an historical Jesus?

          But in my view there is no convincing argument that establishes that priority, and the disconnect between the two literary strands, gospel and epistle, is so sharp that it is impossible to conclude that a figment invented by Paul could have served as the literary model for the Jesus of a gospel like Mark’s.

          I agree with him on these points. His argument, on that page, for the historical Jesus is “conditions, context, and coordinates”. His argument is summed up by:

          It is precisely because we can pinpoint the essential dates, figures, movements, factions and effects that Jesus does make sense: he parses. He does not come off as atypical, until such time as Paul makes him a transcendent, supra-historical figure sent to redeem the sins of the world.

          We see in Daniel 9 that two centuries earlier the Jews were looking for the coming of the Messiah in turbulent times. I think Paul is thinking about the Messiah, too, but he and the other early Christians were also reading into the scriptures about a suffering servant that had come long before. So I agree mostly with Hoffman but he seems to be saying that it makes sense that Jesus could have existed in the first half of the first century.

          J. D. Crossan wrote The Power of Parable: How Fiction By Jesus Became Fiction About Jesus. His argument is that the gospels are parables. He thinks the love and peace Jesus is right one but the argumentative Jesus is the added on part, just the opposite of Hoffman says:

          A Jesus outside this specific matrix would make no sense—a sui generis apocalyptic preacher in an age of prosperity and contentment?

          In other fields, we can examine the methodology of scholars to see how they reach their conclusions. In this field, they have no methodology. The Jesus they come up with is more like a Rorschach test than an objective case study. How many of them entered the field without the assumption of the historical Jesus from childhood indoctrination and then come to believe it?

          Hoffman doesn’t know too many New Testament scholars who think the gospels are good history. The epistles don’t tell us anything about a historical Jesus. The external evidence is weak and tainted. What is the scholarly consensus based on besides the scholarly consensus?

        • Tom Hanson

          Thanks for the polite, reasonable and informative post which has saved me time and trouble. My own answer to to your query: ” What is the scholarly consensus based on besides the scholarly consensus?” is a simple one: “in a relativistic world not a damn thing.”
          I think that in “modern history,” or “critical history” or “scientific history,” (the choice of verbiage is up to you), revolutions occur pretty much on the same lines as scientific revolutions as analyzed by Thomas Kuhn in THE STRUCTURES OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS. In an “ordinary language” venue like a blog I would explain that by saying that the old guard die or retire still clinging to the old understanding and the new understanding takes over as younger scientists who have seen the sense of the new theory and have the imagination to perceive that the new understanding explains not only what the old truth explained, but explains it better, and that beyond doing that it explains problems that the old explanation theory couldn’t deal with at all.
          Ditto, basically, with History. Like science it deals with inductive logic which means in its case that the historian deals with interpreting often sparse (especially sparse in matters of ancient history) and often contradictory evidence. And in most universities graduate schools require at least a couple of courses on evidentiary issues and complexities. You’ve mentioned Crossan. Somewhere in the notes or backmatter of his MEDITERRANIAN PEASANT book he makes a special plea for an exception to the normal rule of thumb that says the farther away in time a piece of evidence is from the historical events at issue is, the less trustworthy that piece of evidence is. The issue being for him the Nag Hammadi Library which is demonstrably several hundred years younger than the early canonical New Testament. He wants to use some of those documents as sources for his “biography” of Jesus.
          Mythicist revolutionaries will have a very long row to hoe. The historical powers-that-be believe in the rules, Even the experienced historical revolutionaries acknowledge that that they exist and that in general they are sensible methodological rules. Crossan doesn’t think the rule in question is wrong, he argues that there are sound reasons for the exception and doesn’t break the rule. He leaves that task up to someone who wants to take the risk to his career.
          For my take on what that means for mythicist historians I will be happy to continue if you would like me to. I am retired in Thailand and have made two stabs already at this post and lost one original by stupidity and a second when a brown-out hit while I was backing it up to wordpad to prevent loss. I have gotten this far and as Thais put it, it seems to be a day of bad Karma for posting.

        • Greg G.

          We were practically neighbors! I returned to the States within the last week from three weeks in Vietnam. My post was the product of jet-lag-induced insomnia.

          I agree that it often takes time for scholarship to catch up to the leading edge. The authors at http://www.vridar.org write on Bible topics and review scholarly books on the topic from the skeptical perspective. Neil doesn’t take a position on whether Jesus was historical or a myth but is open to the question. He catches a lot of flak from historicists (Hurtado, McGrath, the late Casey) for presenting mythicist arguments. There was a recent article reviewing the book Larry Hurtado claims refuted all the old Jesus Myth arguments but Vridar quotes the book saying that it did not even address those arguments.

          Tommy Thompson proposed that Abraham and Moses were myths. His thesis on the subject was rejected by his advisor, future pope Joseph Ratzinger. He had to complete his degree in the US. For some strange reason, he could not be employed in academia in the States and went back to Europe. The archaeology by Israel Finkelstein and others have vindicated him and more and more scholars accept those findings. But it was an uphill battle to get to that point.

          In the 1990’s, some questioned whether David and Solomon were what they were made out to be. There was a brouhaha over that but the archaeology supports that Jerusalem was not as big at the time as the Bible makes it out to have been.

          Now we see history repeating itself (maybe) with the Jesus Myth theory.

          I doubt there is a single NT scholar who entered the field not believing in a historical Jesus and was convinced by the evidence that Jesus was historical. The vast majority entered as enthusiastic Christian believers, though some lost that faith when they began to learn the Bible, they never question Jesus’ existence.

        • Tom Hanson

          “I agree that it often takes time for scholarship to catch up to the leading edge. ”

          Which I as an historicist of sorts, am glad to acknowledge. In fact I am glad that it it is a truth. There are fads in history just as there are fads in diets. And the fads pick up fuel by pop-media attention and their leading lights become suddenly-famous talking heads on TV as the leaders of “history’s cutting edge” and their books suddenly go on non-fiction best-seller lists. This is not sour grapes. I am not a historian. I do not have a PhD. I did graduate work in Classical Studies and my major field of interest still is ancient philosophy which means, in my case, I also developed an abiding interest in the philosophy of history.

          In the case, for example, of Crossan his academic work has suffered and slowed down due perhaps to pressure from his publishers for books that historical “laymen” will want to read and he has a real talent for popular breezy prose. . Meanwhile it means that a really good critical scholar like James Robinson can continue with his pioneering work with the Nag Hammadi texts without facing a whole lot of bother.

          Meanwhile also due to media misinterpretation, or inattention to qualifications and caveats in the editing processes the public goes much farther in their thinking than professionals ever could without being reined in by their peers with squawks of “but on the other hands.” And it is precisely in open arguments about “on the other hands” that “scientific history” makes its advances. So far on this thread all I have seen is moderate skeptics who are willing to say well maybe so, maybe not, which demonstrates that they are actually thinking along the lines of, “well, some at least of these may actually be relevant to the issue but is that enough to tip me over to the mythicist position? There is something here that is just a little too easy.”

          For one thing the true believers are not thinking like historians. They evidently perceive the question as a simple matter of Biblical texts and written sources. No one has yet asked pertinent questions like “if it is true that there was no actual Jesus who died on a cross, then how do we explain the sudden rise of Christianity and the ways it fragmented in dogma. How do we explain that the stories of the myth were so quickly spread across geographical areas? Accrual of stolen myth? How long did that take in the ancient world.? The myth has it that this supposed human being came to be understood very as a God by his disciples. If Paul (the earliest Christian author didn’t think of him as a man who was or became a god how did the Gospels come up with such agreement about the various basics of the story, including the stories of the disagreements between Paul and the Jerusalem Church so quickly. What parallels do we have in ancient times that might work faster than most myth. Gods, maybe. Hmm Alexander the great. Hmm, Julius Caesar. Ooops, nope. Both of them were demonstrably actual human beings. That works for the other side of the issue. So I wonder, which is probably more UNLIKELY from this perspective? the historicity of Jesus, or that he was made up by persons unknown who somehow decided to create a belief system. These issues cannot be dismissed from the question, which is about historical probabilities It is not a question in a vacuum and it is not a matter just for the convenience of historians. But the issue has ramifications and those ramifications rightly impinge on the probabilities involved in the answer.

          Many people here are not even very good skeptics, meaning they do not question their own biases. Why else would Pofarmer poo-poo my attempt to explain how John the Baptist issues might operate for the historicity of Jesus by being in some ways embarassing to the Christians of the time.. His answer was to baldly assert that “this discussion isn’t about John the Baptist.” PERIOD. Good skeptics explain, as good historians always do. They try to keep their biases in check to the best of their abilities. Including good-selling authors like Peter Brown and Robin Lane Fox.
          By the way a lot of people here are pretty much akin to fundamentalists in their belief hat they know what evidence should be there if Jesus existed. Really. Have they at least thought about thinking about what assumptions they have made. What questions have to be answered historically to make that assertion even preliminarily sensible? Pofarmer again:

          ” No contemporary record, at all, especially from someone like Philo, who was IN Jerusalem at the right time, and working on a very similar theology to what Jesus was supposedlyespousing. And he misses it and writes nothing? ”
          To which I responded:
          I am assuming that among the numerous Philos we know of in the ancient world you mean the philosopher known as Philo Judaeus. He is also known as Philo of Alexandria, because that is where he lived and worked, not Jerusalem, nor even the Middle East but in Africa across Sinai. The only known date we have for him is that in 39/40 CE he journeyed to Rome as leader of a Jewish embassy to the emperor Gaius (better known today as Caligula) of which he wrote an account describing himself as a very old man when he made the journey. Somewhere he mentions that he made one pilgrimage to Jerusalem; when that was he doesn’t say. The likelihood that he would ever have heard about Jesus seems nearly nonexistent given that he probably would have been dead before Christianity ever got beyond Judea. Source: the Oxford Classical Dictionary, third edition.

          Once Pofarmer found out the basic dates and circumstances, to decide that it would be a sensible objection to pursue, he would need to deal with the probabilities involved in Philo’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem, which means research about land-routes vs sea voyages, assuming it to be a Passover pilgrimage, would the sea or land routes have been safer, how difficult sea travel might have been at that time of year and how dangerous it might be compared to land travel (pirates versus robbers). Then decide whether Philo would have been likelier to have made a pilgrimage early(=no possibility of getting knowledge of Jesus during the time of his ministry), or late(= possibility, but how high the probability that Philo would have remembered him particularly?) (probably good if he was there at the passover prior to which Jesus was executed but if not much lower in an old man?). AND then he would need to decide first whether Philo wrote any extant treatise in which a reasonable need for such information might exist in reality. As for lost treatises–pure speculation. Finding such a probable part for such a mention, he would still have to argue that a philosopher would have found it proper to insert such information, which in turn would mean a survey of other philosophers writings for such asides. My own feeling is that due to the high cost of what passed for paper that would be difficult. There are other issues involved but this should be enough of a sample to let people know that 21st century sensibilities are seen as dangerous in the discussion of ancient history.

        • Pofarmer

          “No one has yet asked pertinent questions like “if it is true that
          there was no actual Jesus who died on a cross, then how do we explain
          the sudden rise of Christianity and the ways it fragmented in dogma.
          How do we explain that the stories of the myth were so quickly spread
          across geographical areas? Accrual of stolen myth? How long did that
          take in the ancient world.? The myth has it that this supposed human
          being came to be understood very as a God by his disciples. If Paul
          (the earliest Christian author didn’t think of him as a man who was or
          became a god how did the Gospels come up with such agreement about the
          various basics of the story, including the stories of the disagreements
          between Paul and the Jerusalem Church so quickly.:”

          Richard Carrier deals with all these in “Not the impossible Faith.”

        • Tom Hanson

          Thanks for the reply and the go-to information. Time will tell.

        • Pofarmer

          O.k. one other thing. Paul says that he had been persecuting Christians. We know that, there were already ascetic Jewish cults, who believed in self sacrifice and the end times. There is nothing in Paul that, suggest that the sect he, was, supposedly persecuting was a recent sect. It could have been around for 100 years or more, there isn’t really much way to tell from Paul. All we really know from Paul is that there were already leaders in Jerusalem and that he met with them at some point after converting.

        • Tom Hanson

          But Josephus names the specific Jewish groups he thought important in his LIFE–a sort of partial autobiography appended to the end of his huge tome ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS. The LIFE is primarily a self-justification for his conduct in Galilee during the revolt, pointed mainly at your Justus of Tiberias, another revolutionary who got out with his skin while the getting out was still good. Neither of them mentions Christians as a group. One would have to think, by your own logic about Justus and Philo, that if the sect or cult of THE Jesus had been spreading say for about a hundred or more years, that at least both Philo Judaeus (whose lifespan would now mean he was alive enough to make him at least a feasibly relevant writer) and especially Josephus who wrote at length about Jewish beliefs and practices should have written about them. From the point of view of your principle you now have 3 writers to deal with, two of whom do not mention either Jesus or his well-enough-spread sect, and one writer who did. You cannot use Josephus without giving up the idea that his “Testimonium” is a later Christian interpolation. and his Testimonium then becomes pretty certainly positive evidence from a man whose lifespan began just after the supposed time of the crucifixion and lived through the early days of Christianity there, who did live beyond the Fall of Jerusalem, and who had no doubt that THE Jesus was a historic figure and did exist. Face it, the older Christianity is, the stronger the historistic argument for Jesus existence becomes when dealing with lack of evidence as a principle.. The farther back you go, the more writers who “should” have noticed them will not have noticed them. Extant texts about them only begin in the 1st century CE. You cannot have it both ways with that argument. The issues are inextricably tied together. Even the divine Alexandros could not cut this particular Gordian knot. As a student of Aristotle he would not have tried.

        • Pofarmer

          I am torn on this whole thing. Read Revelation. Now read it as Ancient Astrology. Suddenly it makes sense. All the “visions” in it are celestial formations. Bruce Molina (sp) advances this theory, and it makes sense, and makes Revelation make sense. I think this is the basis for Pauls theology, and I think it is probably much older than Paul, and he didn’t come up with it by himself. I think it was a very small messiah cult, originally based in Jerusalem, based on combining astrology with combing out OT prophesies to come up with a messiah figure. I don’t think it was a large cult, probably a very small one until Paul popularized it. Very slowly.

        • Tom Hanson

          As for Revelation. To think historically, chronology is the very first thing to verify when it comes to dealing with who was influenced by whom. Paul died circa 67CE , ACTS usually is dated as 80-90CE and is our best source for his life, since he himself tells us so little. REVELATION date most used is 81-96CE, earliest possibility per Wikipedia 69-79CE, So it is pretty much impossible for REVELATION, the book, to have influenced Paul’s theology.

          If you go on to argue the cult theory you can’t do it without assuming the conclusion you are trying to argue for, that Jesus did not exist, which makes this part of your argument logically fallacious. Even if it were logically OK in this argument, it is still pure speculation not evidence and in principle violates your own demand for evidence of such a cult.

          Going back through the argument, if it was a very small cult, why the demand for more contemporary evidence about it and Jesus? Wouldn’t that lack be expected.? It seems to have taken a fair amount of time for Christianity itself to to decide that it no longer wanted to be a part of Judaism.

          There is a fairly large group of scholars who think that the disastrous destruction of both the city of Jerusalem and the Temple tipped the scales. That the Pauline Christians probably ducked out of Judea and Galilee while Vespasian was doing the easy stuff pacifying the rest of the region before taking a crack at Jerusalem. And they think that the Christians who stayed were probably mostly the people who wanted to keep considering themselves as a branch within Judaism. Which means that when Vespasian’s son Titus finished the job on Jerusalem, the Jewish branch of Christianity for the most part was dead or enslaved.

          Robert Eisenman is a leader among that group. A scholar of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the 1st Jewish rebellion against Rome, he is a man of considerable repute no fan of Christianity. If his extreme analysis is correct, (which I doubt when he equates Josephus’s Zealot with the New Testament James), then Josephus did mention Christianity in a hitherto unquestioned part of The Wars of the Jews and provides a historical link to James the brother of Jesus as a leader of one of the groups Josephus calls Zealots. As of today. his 1997 book James the Brother of Jesus is still available new at Amazon, after I don’t know how many reprintings: Kindle price $9.99, best used paperback $2.99+ shipping. There is now also a new, revised and updated edition. Same title, except listed as Volume 1. Volume 2 is also available. The book I read has over a thousand pages including index and other such backmatter. The first volume of the new version is less than 500 pages and sells for 17.99 and I have no idea whether there will be volumes beyond 2. Same Kindle price. Check it out, you might enjoy it. Lots of nonscholars have, certainly, or Amazon wouldn’t be pushing the idea of buying both the original and Volume one of the new version at the same time. He does not write as well as , say, Crossan, but he is a better scholar IMHO. And he does write clearly and with passion for his ideas. At the very least you will learn first hand what scholarly historians actually do.

        • Pofarmer

          I am arguing that the astrology in Revelation is older, not the book itself.

        • Tom Hanson

          There is nothing I can reply to about astrology and it’s relationship to Paul’s theology. It would mean asking in what aspects do you see the relationship in theology; it is not a historical topic, but a matter of interpretation about questions I am very glad to know nothing about.

        • Pofarmer

          If you do to vridar.org, and do a search for either bruce molina, or astrology, you should find a series of posts.

        • Searching for “Bruce Malina” will yield better results.

          Here’s one article about Revelation.

        • Pofarmer

          Thx.

        • Greg G.

          Hi Tom,

          I think that early Christianity began in the early first century. The only thing I can find in the early epistles that can be dated, without reading the gospels and Acts back into them, is 2 Corinthians 11:32 where King Aretas is mentioned but he ruled for 40 years beginning in the late first century BC, so we can’t get a precise date from it.

          Romans 16:25-27
          25 Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

          The “now being disclosed” phrase is a tell that the idea is recent. A similar statement come from pseudo-Paul in Ephesians 3:2-9 around verse 5.

          Verses such as 2 Samuel 7:1-17, 1 Chronicles 28:6, Psalm 89:3-4, Psalm 89:34-37, Psalm 110:1, Psalm 132:11, and Isaiah 11:1-10 suggest that David’s seed would remain on the throne forever, but that didn’t happen. Verses like Isaiah 9:6-7, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Jeremiah 33:14-17, Ezekiel 21:26-27, Daniel 7:13-14, and Micah 5:2-5 suggest that David’s line would be restored, so the coming Messiah idea probably came from that at least as early as the second century BC. I think the early Christians believed that but added the idea that the Christ had already come and the Messiah of these verses would be the resurrected form.

          It seems that Paul, and the other apostles, thought they were reading hidden history in the metaphors of the scriptures, like meta-metaphors. The fact that it was being revealed to that particular generation meant that the return of the Messiah was eminent:

          1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
          For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.

          He didn’t think there would be another generation.

          Reading Isaiah 53 may have been a seminal moment for him with the suffering for others, dying, and interceding. Perhaps Zechariah 3 was, too, if he read the vision as a hidden mystery of a resurrected person, the firstfruits he speaks of in 1 Corinthians 15:20, and that passage would give him the name “Jesus”.

          Suetonius, Tacitus, and Pliny the Elder speak of Christians while Josephus doesn’t mention them but we do find Jesus and John the Baptist in his writings. One explanation for that is that the Romans got their information from interactions with Christians while Josephus got his information from a written source. That written source might have been Mark. Steve Mason makes an excellent case that the author of Luke-Acts used Josephus as a source and a muse and I think Matthew may have done so as well. (It has been noted that a reduced version of the Testimonium matches up with the Road to Emmaus story in Luke 24:13-35. Maybe Josephus got the story from Mark and Luke embellished Josephus. Luke gives the same distance from Jerusalem to Emmaus that Josephus does, but it’s wrong, another indication of copying.)

          A small piece of evidence of Josephus using Mark would be the baptism of John the Baptist.

          Mark 1:4
          John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

          Perhaps Josephus knew something of John the Baptist as he appears to refute that statement in Antiquites of the Jews 18.5.2 where he says John’s baptism was “not in order to the remission of some sins, but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness”. Josephus does say he had an Essene background. The early Christians had other ideas about baptism as Paul speaks of people being baptized for the dead in 1 Corinthians 15:29. Paul says little about baptism and nothing to suggest it was related to the remission of sins. Josephus seems to be correcting a misunderstanding of baptism. It doesn’t appear to be the Pauline Christians but maybe it’s from what he read of John the Baptist in Mark.

          This argument also favors that the John the Baptist mention in Josephus is authentic as a Christian interpolator would probably not contradict the gospel truth on baptism.

        • Tom Hanson

          In regard to Josephus’s opinion on John the Baptist, I suspect you are reading William Whiston’s 18th century translation of Josephus’s works, which for a couple of centuries was the only translation in English available. And to my knowledge still the only one out of copyright and so publishers can put it out without paying his estate. More modern ones are pretty expensive. Unfortunately I can’t just grab mine because it wasn’t something I shipped to Thailand. So some of this is my memory.

          You say:
          ” Mark 1:4
          John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
          Perhaps Josephus knew something of John the Baptist as he appears to refute that statement in Antiquites of the Jews 18.5.2 where he says John’s baptism was “not in order to the remission of some sins, but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness” It is possible chronologically that Josephus could have known about Christianity but that he would have known the the earliest Gospel? That seems a long, long stretch.”

          And it certainly is a long, long.looong stretch, since to make the objection he purportedly does in the Antiquities he would have had to steep himself in the fine points of arguements among the Christians. And in doing so he chose to become an evangelical Protestant in regard to things baptismal.
          I have just lately been doing volunteer proofreading of Latin texts for Project Gutenberg.it, the dot.it meaning dot Italy. They apparently are the only Project G group still dealing with Latin texts. I am told it is because all the major writers have either been done, or are available in pdf for free at archive.org. Which is true. But there is still some legitimate demand for more sophisticated formats due to footnotes, indexing issues and so forth. Dot Italy stepped up to the plate as descendants of the Romans and that brought me to Historia Calamitatum. By Peter Abelard. As in Abelard and Heloise. So from my point of vew what could be better, except a lost work by Cicero’s brother Quintus. Sex, scandal, and nominalist philosophy.

          Anyway, I got a good feel for manuscript problems for sure, just from dealing with a Nineteenth century printed book. From the editors footnotes. All dealing with the appearance of the texts and textual differences between different manuscripts. Many different people would be working on copying the same manuscript. No spacing between words. Confusions would arise. Remarks about them in different hands are between the lines. When difficult sections arose speculative suggestions would at times get made, along with interpretations , or simple stabs at synonyms for the purpose of helping a user whose Latin was weak to understand what was going on. I don’t remember whether or not Whiston lets his readers know which manuscripts he used and where they were located. And, some of that sort of “guideance for the reader” can be seen in lots of translations prior to the 19th century and its progreassively more rigorous attitudes about science, history AND translation.

          So I think most scholars would say that it is likely you are looking at a translational equivalent of an interpolation going on here, no matter whether it came from the manuscript or from Whiston. At any rate, if Whiston is translating directly from Josephus and doing it accurately then Josephus himself was being careful not to shock Christians into thinking he might think that Jesus might have been in some sense sinful and felt the need for his own Baptism. SHEEEEEESE !!!

          In the considered opinion of a man who only took enough Greek to pass the GRE, Josephus is notoriously difficult , and the answer is probably simple and was taken care of in printed modern critical editions of the Greek by putting Josephus as in Mark in the main text or perhaps just as proclaiming “a baptism of repentance” followed by a footnote something like: “thus in MSs W,X,Z ” followed by the rest of the Greek noted as “thus in MS Y”. Without having an idea of what the MSs look like, to say anything more is useless.

          BTW Thanks for reminding me of this passage, which just proves that Christians could be uncomfortable about the issue of the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus with its implication that Jesus himself might have felt himself a sinner. In another post on this thread I used the baptism as a possible criterion (embarassment for Christians) in favor of the historicity of that passage in the Gospels. Lo and behold I now have a reference for it, thanks to you. From a source who either did say it and put it in Antiquities, in which case Josephus knew about Jesus, or if he did not, the Christians responsible for putting the passage into Josephus were STILL uncomfortable about the implication. Thanks much.

        • Greg G.

          Thank you. It is not often that an idea pops into my head while I am in conversation with a knowledgeable expert on the subject so I can bounce the idea in its early stages off another opinion. We should all be so fortunate.

          You are correct that I am using the Whiston translation.

          I have thought Josephus may have had the Gospel of Mark as a source, direct or indirect, for his information about Jesus. I thought the contradiction of the purpose for baptism might be a tell that Josephus had read it directly from the text and felt obliged to correct it. I thought his knowledge my have come from two wcenarios:

          1. Josephus had knowledge about John the Baptist and his ritual.

          2. Josephus had knowledge of the Essene baptism ritual and substituted that for John’s baptism ritual.

          You suggested a third possibility:

          3. “Josephus himself was being careful not to shock Christians into thinking he might think that Jesus might have been in some sense sinful”

          It is Mark who implies that Jesus was baptized for the remission of sins. Matthew 3:14-15 has John wanting to be baptized by Jesus but Jesus insists on the baptism. Luke 3:21-22 has Jesus being baptized and the Holy Spirit descending on him but Luke bypassed the story by having John arrested in the previous two verses. John 1:29-34 only says that John witnessed the Spirit descending as a dove but nothing about the baptizing. This is where New Testament historians invoke the Criterion of Embarrassment, as the developing theology couldn’t handle Jesus being baptized for sin. That suggests a fourth scenario:

          4. An interpolater wrote in the specification that baptism was not for sin for the same reason the later gospel authors backed off that idea.

          Now I am torn between the idea that Josephus gave Mark a quick read plus Scenario 2 or it’s Scenario 4. I’m open to more scenarios.

          Mark 1:2-4 describes John the Baptist by quoting from Malachi 3:1, Exodus 23:20, and Isaiah 40:3. The description of John the Baptist in Mark 1:6 is based on 2 Kings 1:8 description of Elijah the Tishbite and on Zechariah 13:4 that says hairiness is the sign of a prophet. The Mark 1:6-8 sequence seems to come from Isaiah 61:1. Mark 1:10-11 has elements from Ezekiel 1:1, Psalm 2:7, Psalm 91:4 and, possibly Isaiah 42:1. The whole passage looks like fiction created by mimesis. That describes the whole Gospel of Mark, too. The Criterion of Embarrassment can only be applied by anachronism as Mark was not embarrassed by it. Christianity changed in many ways and many different directions after the destruction of Jerusalem and even before. Wasn’t Origen declared a heretic a couple of centuries later? LINK to verses Later sects are often embarrassed by their roots.

        • Tom Hanson

          A) I am no expert. I have a good head for hermeneutic analysis of issues that need to be resolved before a problem can be answered. No talent to speak of for synthesis. I am well educated formally in Classics but as far as Philosophy, Philosophy of History and these more modern issues like Atheism and Historicity of Jesus I have no formal relevant education outside of courses in Logic and ancient philosophy. About the Historicity issue I got interested in turn of the era history late, when I saw MASADA, a mini-series about the siege there by Flavius Silva and the 10th legion and got hooked into reading Josephus, and then reading about him and going on like that piecemeal, whatever captured my interest. I suppose you could reasonably call me a gifted amateur at best and like any autodidact I have huge gaps in my knowledge of my own hobby.

          I do feel passionate about the historical process as a safeguard against wackos and wingnuts overwhelming the impossible quest for the truth of what happened in the past. I think the quest itself is worth the effort.

          I have mentioned a couple of really good atheist scholars in exchanges with others on this set of threads, Peter Brown and Robin Lane Fox. I can recommend John P Meier as very good on the quest for the historical Jesus. He is a Christian and a priest–RC. It should not be difficult for believers as well as atheists to be good historians. All it should take is conscious attention to your own biases, which takes discipline and the will to be disciplined about it, and equal discipline in the will to NOT go beyond what your evidence actually implies in logic. Meier fills that bill, I think. Even Bradley Bowen seems to have a measure of respect for him. Meier’s chapter six of the first volume of A Marginal Jew has a very clear section about criteria for historicity ref the New Testament and I recommend it highly. I can send you an e-copy of that chapter if we can work out a way that is secure for both of us.
          I would also recommend Robert Eisenman’ s readable, but poorly organized 1997 book James the Brother of Jesus. It will give you a good sense for how complex things were in Palestine between 40 and 70CE when Christianity was first beginning to develop. It has been in print since 1997, has gone through I don’t know how many editions and can be had at Amazon for $9.99 Kindle, $17.99 new, in paperback, and as of yesterday $2.99 + shipping used. It won’t be printed again, I think, because Amazon already carries the first two volumes of the revised and expanded edition. The old complete book in 1 volume runs to 950 pages plus backmatter (index, bibliography etc). Volume one of the new runs to just under 500 pages. The fact of a completely new printing should be good evidence that a lot of interested non-scholars did not find it wretchedly painful to read.

          B) I have to apologize about your number 3. I intended what I said to be sarcastic, not to be taken at face value. What you thought I meant tells me I was not sarcastic enough. What I was trying to say but did not make plain was more like: ” why would anybody think that Josephus, a Jew who was writing the Antiquities to raise Judaism and the remaining Jews in the esteem of Romans so that they would not be seen as wacko barbarians as opposed to ordinary barbarians with a respectable history–why would a man writing a book like that possibly care about Christian toes? It does still make good evidence for Christians being uncomfortable about the baptism and embarassment is among Meier’s criteria.

        • Greg G.

          Hi Tom,

          Last night, I came across The Jesus Challenge, by Ben Goren, on Dr. Jerry Coyne’s web site. The comments are especially interesting, drawing several comments from Dr. James F. McGrath, a historicity defender, and one from Dr. Richard Carrier.

          One problem with the Jesus historicity is defining who Jesus was. Gospel Jesus was an itinerant teacher in Galilee, preached in the synagogues of Galilee, and proclaimed the kingdom of God and who got crucified for specified reasons at a fairly specified time and resurrected. Epistle Jesus was somebody who got crucified for unspecified reasons at an unspecified time and resurrected. The resurrected part is suspect. Jesus was a common name at the time, so it can be expected that Pilate crucified many by that name. But is the Bible about any of them?

          There is a list of writers contemporary with the supposed time of Jesus. One can find reasons that each would have been unlikely to write about Jesus. But there were many literate people in Jerusalem at the time who are not known to us simply because they did not write about Jesus. If they had written about Jesus, the early Christian community likely would have distributed the writing and discussed it in their own writings. Those writers would be more famous than Mara bar Sarapion for the same reason but with the advantage of being contemporary. Jerusalem had the Temple and literate priests so there were many literate people there, year round. The number of literate people in Jerusalem would swell during Passover. So even if the chance that each individual would write about Jesus is low, the chance that every literate person who came into contact with Jesus not writing about him is low, too. It’s like the lottery where each ticket has a low chance of winning but the chance of zero tickets winning is low. It is not too much to expect a contemporary mention. Gospel Jesus is supposed to have been well-known so he should have been written about by somebody from his time but wasn’t, so we should rule out Gospel Jesus. We should expect something from a follower, like and epistle that actually reads like a gospel but describes a Jesus who would not be mentioned by others. So Epistle Jesus isn’t supported there either.

          The religion of Christianity is based on the New Testament writings, not from the teachings of an itinerant preacher. It would be what it is whether the writings were true or not. They were assumed to be true. Lots of religions started on the assumption that their foundational documents or beliefs (or, rather, their interpretations) are true.

          It shouldn’t take a decade of rigorous study of the little evidence for Jesus for scholars to be able to support a conclusion they entered the field with.

          It doesn’t matter to me whether Jesus existed. It is just an interesting pastime that is far more interesting than whether Shakespeare was actually a genius playwright.

        • Tom Hanson

          Hi, Greg. My oh my from the few posts of yours I’ve read on this thread, I would never have taken you for such an optimist: Or does this make you a pessimist? :

          “It shouldn’t take a decade of rigorous study of the little evidence for Jesus for scholars to be able to support a conclusion they entered the field with.”

          Whichever, it is one of the tersest and most interesting summations I have seen in a long time and I think you are right, if you are implying, with deft (and perhaps bitter?) irony, that the the odds are that the historicists will most likely win the test of time. As a pretty cynical type I would say that if mythicism wins out it will take several generations to claim a Pyrrhic victory which would knock too many historians, including atheist historians, out of their jobs working on the life of THE Jesus, because you can’t write a biography of a person who never existed.

          No matter what happens, the non-scholar true-believers will never relent because of emotional attachment to the issue and will die still convinced that there was a scholarly conspiracy against their ideas. Just as the Shakespeare- wasn’t -Shakespeare,-FRANCIS-BACON-WAS! true believers do. They think that throwing sometimes mutually contradictory arguments against the wall will work. Among the more cogent arguments AGAINST Josephus’s mention of THE Jesus in The Jewish War is that it has no business being there. Why would he mention Jesus there in the first place? If you think Justus of Tiberias SHOULD have mentioned Jesus then you are damaging one of the arguments against the argument that an ancient historian DID in fact mention Jesus, leaving your allies, (if I may paraphrase a favorite line from THE WILD BUNCH,) standing there with a thumb up their ass and a big grin on their faces, with mostly subjective linguistic ammunition, which means, saying, “GEE doesn’t sound like Josephus to me.” Which is hardly evidence at all even if its prettied up with computer analyses of verb forms. It is a strange thing to say but it is the very fact that there is so little evidence works against mythicism, because it will be very simple for historians to simply call what they think “speculation at best,” not evidence. Creates more questions than it answers. Ockham’s razor. Harrumph Harrumph.

        • primenumbers

          Given the paucity of evidence, and what evidence we do have is unreliable and strongly biased, surely assigning a burden of proof to mythicism is not the best place to start. I think we should be starting at a position of agnosticism and have both mythicism and historicism assume a burden of proof for their position.

        • I see the burden of proof being on the mythicists since they’re the upstarts. If they were to sway the majority, it might take decades. I’ll go with the historical consensus until then. (Easy for me to do since I don’t much care.)

        • primenumbers

          They indeed do have a burden of proof, but I don’t think we can or should accept that a historical Jesus is a given, and that no burden of proof is necessary on the part of the historicist. However, if we go with the majority historical view of the historicity of Jesus, and the Christian is relying on this view in discussion with us, we can similarly insist the take the majority historical view that Jesus isn’t a deity. Either way, it’s a loss to the Christian.

        • Yes, I often point to historians rejecting the supernatural.

        • primenumbers

          What’s interesting with doing history though, is that it doesn’t work if you allow an assumption of the supernatural. For us to look into the past and figure out which events occurred to produce whatever evidence we have, we’re into the land of possibilities and probabilities. One key tool the historian has to use is to first eliminate any impossible hypothetical events that could have lead to the evidence we have. If their theory of what happened leads to a historical character being in two places at once, or doesn’t leaven them enough time to make a necessary journey via transport of the day, they know to reject that theory. And they can’t just make a minimal (often self serving) supernatural intervention either because we have no knowledge of how the supernatural works (not least because we at least agree it doesn’t occur), which supernatural things can or cannot occur, and the rules for supernatural events.

          With physical events, we can use our knowledge of physics and our psychological knowledge of how people act to help us figure the probabilities of which events likely occurred. We have to therefore assume physics works as physics does and humans act as humans do. If we allow an assumption of supernatural, we are saying physics works as it does except when it doesn’t, and humans act as they do apart from when they don’t. This is no basis to do historical analysis and indeed means we cannot be doing historical analysis.

          So yes historians reject the supernatural, but they don’t do so just because they have a secular bias against the supernatural (as the apologist will often accuse), but because historical analysis does not and cannot work if the supernatural is assumed.

        • The typical apologist would be as tough as any historian when separating history from mythology in another religion. I just wish they’d bring that same desire for the truth to the study of their own.

        • primenumbers

          🙂 Exactly. They engage in very special pleading for their own deity, and when allowing for supernatural events to occur, they only allow for supernatural events that support their religion. It’s very self-serving and very dishonest.

        • Pofarmer

          By that same logic, then isn’t the burden of proof on Atheists, since Atheism is essentially the upstart? (I can’t believe I just typed that.)

        • Fair question, but IMO, no.

          There is a consensus of experts that Jesus was a real person. There is no consensus about anything within religion (consider the post on the Map of World Religions) besides “there is a supernatural.”

          Christians are welcome to propose any hypothesis they want, but they have the burden of proof since they can rely on no consensus.

          If we want to entertain hypotheticals, what about a future world where Christianity is dominant, and there actually is a scholarly consensus? I have some thoughts, but perhaps others want to weigh in on how atheists would respond.

      • Greg G.

        I think Gecko means that whenever someone tries to describe Jesus, it turns out to be a Rorschach test. Crossan’s Jesus is a pacifist who would never have gone around arguing with Pharisees. Hoffman’s Jesus is a belligerent person who looks to have arguments with Pharisees. Neither of them think the gospels are reliable accounts.* Of course, Crossan is rather laid back while Hoffman can be aggressive in his argumentation.

        * I’m sure this is true Hoffman and I think it is for Crossan but I can’t bring to mind what he has said on the reliability of the gospels.

      • Pofarmer

        I dunno. The Jesus seminar concluded that less than 20% of the things attributed to Jesus were actually possible. Much of the stuff that is possible, is stuff that was written to “fullfill scripture” so that is questionable as well. What other “figure” in history do we ONLY know through religious hagiography and assume as historical?

        • Greg G.

          The Jesus Seminar even counted Mark 2:23-28 as plausible. The Pharisees were not very plentiful in Galilee in the early first century, but they had nothing better to do on the Sabbath than pop up in grain fields? It’s not clear that there was a violation of the Sabbath. Landowners were supposed to allow people to eat from the field but they were not to collect it in baskets, which the disciples weren’t doing or the Pharisees would have called them on that. Eating on the sabbath was legal. But worst of all, Jesus expected the Pharisees to have read 1 Samuel 21 but he didn’t quite comprehend the story himself. He said David shared the bread with his companions but David was lying about having companions, which would be clear if you read the backstory. The story doesn’t actually say it happened on a sabbath, only that the bread had been removed and replaced on the sabbath, which is according to Levitical law. There is no reason to think that David’s conversation even occurred at the tabernacle, in fact, it is unlikely, given the clues.

    • Nemo

      I honestly have no problem conceding that a guy named Yeshua (there were lots of Yeshuas) who was a radical preacher (first century Palestine had quite a few of those) was crucified by Roman authority (Romans liked to crucify lots of people) and became the basis for the stories we now call the New Testament. Of course, I am not going to assert that such a person absolutely DID exist, and the lack of documentation suggests he wasn’t terribly important in his own lifetime. I’m just not going to challenge the idea of Jesus existing, and instead I’ll go after the weaker parts of the apologetic argument (that if Jesus existed, he was the Jesus of the Bible).

      • primenumbers

        “that if Jesus existed, he was the Jesus of the Bible” – but if he wasn’t the Jesus of the Bible, in what sense can we say we have a historical Jesus? If the actual person is so different from the later mythical stories, why call this person a historical Jesus?

        And looking at things from the other direction, if we have this Yeshua who got crucified, how does that even begin to form a basis for a 3in1 creator deity, the resurrection etc? At that point we have a core of myths with a real person added, not a real person forming a core and myths added.

        • evodevo

          Well the trinitarian thingy got added A LOT later than the Gospels. It wasn’t part and parcel of Christian theology until almost 300 years after the execution of Jesus, as the result of a couple hundred years of theological internecine warfare (for realz) over his “nature” (divine, human, some combo, what?).

        • primenumbers

          When you start with contradictory nonsense, it’s not surprising that the religious strife over the nature of christ occurred, or that the “solution” is as daft as the nonsense it came from.

        • chrijeff

          You’re right. A lot of Christianity as we have it is glosses on the original. People keep “improving” on it, arguing over it, reinterpreting it, and occasionally mistranslating it. Which, of course, has caused end;less fissioning and other trouble, including religious wars both with other Christians and with non-Christians.

      • Greg G.

        I thought that for a long time. But I looked at the gospels and found that many of the sources the authors used can be identified. It seems the deeds and sayings attributed to Jesus had been attributed to people not named Jesus in the Greek, Hebrew, and Christian literature. So the gospels were not really about anybody named Jesus.

        The epistles don’t talk about a preacher or a teacher named Jesus, either. They don’t tell about any anecdotes or conversations. In fact, every fact that Paul gives about Jesus comes from the Old Testament, especiailly Isaiah. That holds for all the early epistles. When you stop trying to read the gospels back into the epistles, it looks like the hidden mysteries were just a new way to read the Old Testament. They seem to think that Jesus had suffered and died at or before Isaiah’s time.

        Late first century Christians only had some writings and maybe the Gospel of Mark, written as an allegory, that they took seriously.

        A census of the literature and the ossuaries shows that “Jesus” was the sixth most popular name in that region at that time. There were many people named Jesus. But the Bible isn’t about any of them.

        • chrijeff

          “They seem to think that Jesus had suffered and died at or before Isaiah’s time.” Interesting. When? (I mean, 1st C. BC? 2nd? 12th?) And who *caused* him to suffer? (Not, presumably, the Romans, since they didn’t conquer “Judea” till 63 BC.)

        • Greg G.

          Paul says in Galatians that Jesus was a descendant of David, so it had to be after David. He quotes Isaiah in the past tense so it would have to be before Isaiah wrote Isaiah 53. Isaiah 53 is an allegory but Paul and the other early Christians seem to be reading the “hidden mysteries” in it.

        • chrijeff

          So that would put it anywhere between about 1015 BC [when David supposedly became king and started marrying] and 681 BC [the latest date scholars believe the Book of Isaiah to have been written]. Now the question remains, who would have caused a Jesus of this period to suffer? It *definitely* wasn’t the Romans! (Rome was founded c. 753 BC, became a Republic in 509, and began its conquests (locally, of course) c. 350.) Might it have been the Assyrians, who “destroyed” Israel c. 725 BC? If so, why?

        • Greg G.

          I think the death part was more important to the early Christians than the suffering. James gives a pep talk in James 5:10-11 about enduring suffering but uses Job instead of Jesus. 1 Peter 2:18-25 talks about the suffering of followers and refers to Jesus but in terms of Isaiah 53.

          The Hebrew literature had the nation as being slaves in Egypt so that might be the suffering the Suffering Servant songs were about. The archaeology indicates that the Exodus and the conquering of the Canaanites, Midianites, et al, never actually happened. But the early Christians weren’t reading the story as history or allegory, but were reading what they thought was the subtext of a real person, a story that had been hidden in the allegory of the prophetic writings.

          There is nothing in the writings that indicate to me that the first century Christians were concerned about that Jesus They were looking forward to the coming Messiah. The fact that their generation was the first to read the scriptures as being about that Jesus was thought to be a meaningful revelation and that proved to them that the Messiah was coming during that generation.

          1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
          15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.

          Paul expected it to happen before he died. Practically every generation has found reasons to think it would be during their own lifetime. I expect that held for the Jews going back to the early Maccabean era.

      • chrijeff

        Judith Tarr, who writes some really excellent historical fantasy novels, has a character say in one of them (“Kingdom of the Grail”) that Jesus was “but the incarnation of a minor deity in a very small province of the Roman Empire.” In other words, that god was (at that time) worshipped only by the Jews.

  • $28895381

    Regarding the eyewitness testimony argument, I like to compare it to the JFK assassination:

    The JFK assassination only occurred 50 years ago. We still have witnesses alive that were there that we can interview. We have video. We have audio. We have official records. We have many important pieces of evidence still available for us to examine. And despite all this, we still can’t come to an agreement on exactly what happened.

    Christianity has a book, written 2000 years ago, after the fact, who’s four authors weren’t even there. And they expect us to accept this as reliable?

    • The Roswell UFO thing is similar. Some weather balloon debris is found in the desert, and that morphs into first a UFO found and then that a spacecraft with alien bodies was being kept in a secret location and the technology harvested. That took a similar amount of time.

  • Frank6549

    More stupid argument about stupid arguments.

    • Dys

      And Frank has another troll account to post stupid comments. I thought Christians were supposed to be setting a positive example for their religion, not acting like condescending, ignorant assholes. Maybe Frank didn’t get the memo?

      • hector_jones

        He’s angry that his god won’t provide any evidence that he exists. It must be very frustrating believing in a god like that.

        • adam

          I can’t ‘imagine’.

    • adam

      Your ad hominem is the VERY BEST demonstration of YOUR ‘god’ that YOUR ‘faith’ has provided for you.

    • Frank! I missed you, buddy! And I see you’re back with your rapier wit as sharp as ever. Golly–I don’t know how I’ll manage after the savaging my worldview has taken.

      Bye.

    • Mudhammutt (DaveUcannotta)

      The best comeback (and the truest) for that would best be given by Forrest Gump.

  • Mudhammutt (DaveUcannotta)

    But Bob, if they didn’t make all these stupid arguments, then they wouldn’t have any arguments, and then we wouldn’t be able to have our fun with them. Anyway, thanks for listing your snappy comebacks.

    • Thanks, though the way you portray it is as a cat playing with its food. Which may not be all that distasteful in this situation, now that I think about it.

  • espressionant

    for #8: even if the eye witnesses and the synoptics and Paul can be proven false they still can plead the statute of limitations => now refute that

    😉

  • apollo99

    5. God’s existence can’t be absolutely proven, but the evidence is sure is on his side. I suggest folks do some serious study and reading and they will soon see that there is compelling evidence to support God’s existence. Many people have vested interests for not believing in God and nothing will convince them.

    6. The origin of life, though not under the rubric of evolution, requires a supernatural beginning. The Cambrian explosion is not explainable by Darwinian gradulism. Neither are the at least 5 major earth-wide disasters since the Cambrian explosion.

    7. The evidence for Jesus is “paltry”. Yes, this is a stupid argument!

    8. Only the NT gets this treatment. We actually have a fragment of John from Egypt dated c.120. Very early, and evidence that these writings were already making the rounds.

    Whoever wrote this is seriously biased. He has his conclusions and simply tries to force the “evidence” to fit his biased conclusions.

    • Greg G.

      #5 I have given the God question serious consideration for the last 22 years as an atheist and a couple of years as a Christian long before that. Nobody has provided compelling evidence for God. The existence of a god who is omnipotent and benevolent is inconsistent with the existence of unnecessary suffering.

      #6. I suggest you do some serious study and reading in real science. The Cambrian Explosion lasted a few million years. It is the period when creatures developed hard body parts. Their ancestors didn’t fossilize well so it looks more dramatic than it is.

      #7, The extrabiblical evidence is too late to be useful. The epistles don’t speak of a teach or a preacher or any teachings from Jesus. Where do the early epistles refer to Jesus in terms of recent knowledge instead of Old Testament knowledge. The gospels are second hand information drawn from other sources that were not even about Jesus. See the sources in New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price.

      #8 The earliest date for the fragment is 125 AD but that is not the most likely date. But John was probably written by then anyway. Even if it was a piece of the original copy, it would not mean it was a true story. Mark wrote a fictional allegory, not history. The other gospel authors took it as history, but they would be repeating hearsay.

      Whoever wrote this is seriously biased. He has his conclusions and simply tries to force the “evidence” to fit his biased conclusions.

      Thank you for critiquing your own post. We agree on that one.

      • apollo99

        5. I suggest you do more serious study. To believe everything is simply an accident isn’t much of an answer for the universe we have.

        6. “Reading in real science?” More patronizing nonsense from another atheist.

        No point going forward but I want to thank the two posters above for being true atheists and avoiding the evidence in favour of acting arrogantly, condescendingly, and patronizingly. It gets old dealing with atheists but at least you can count on their behavoural consistency.

        • Kodie

          Goodbye, ignorant child!

        • apollo99

          Wow! Here I am just another human being and all this abuse! Thanks for proving my point.

          The fool says in his heart,
          “There is no God.”
          They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;
          there is no one who does good.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know how you justify your childish nonsense to yourself, but making excuses why you can’t/”choose not to” justify it to us, doesn’t strengthen your assertions. Neither does quoting the bible. I know it makes you feel better to believe we’re just mean and wrong, but waaaaah. You’re not making this belief look any better or smarter by being evasive and shifting the blame for your beliefs’ weaknesses on everyone else.

        • Kodie

          By the way, I don’t know who was avoiding the evidence, who was acting arrogant, condescending, or patronizing here but you should look at how you introduce yourself. I saw you got a shitload of things you don’t want to think about and can’t intellectually respond to, and somehow that’s everyone else’s fault, and all you have is a persuasive marketing device to make you think if it says it in the bible, you’re not really the fool.

          You are though. Bye!

        • Greg G.

          “There is no God.”

          The Bible has eighteen verses that have been translated to have that four word phrase. There is an extra seven if you include the Catholic version. You going to one of those verses in such a version might be your subconscious trying to get through to you to tell you something.

          They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;
          there is no one who does good.

          What are you accusing me of? What do you imagine that I do that you don’t that is so evil? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

        • Otto

          “For god so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever would believe in him would believe in anything.”

        • Ron

          The deluded think, “quoting scripture is a powerful argument.”
          They are mistaken, and their ways are ineffective; there is not one who convinces. ~Ron

        • adam

          Speaking of other human beings, here is what YOUR ‘god’ has to say…..

        • Greg G.

          5. If God exists, then it was an accident. There is no reason for the god to be good, it could just as easily be bad and deceitful.

          Unnecessary suffering exists. That means that either there is no being potent enough to prevent unnecessary suffering or there is no being benevolent enough to prevent unnecessary suffering.

          What can suffering do that a sufficiently powerful god could not do without the suffering. That means all suffering is unnecessary. A sufficiently powerful being could do a million miracles per nanosecond for every sentient creature in the universe to prevent suffering as easily as not doing it.

          We can rule out a being that is both omnipotent and benevolent. There could be one that is omnipotent and malevolent, or benevolent and impotent. There could be an indifferent being who could be omnipotent. Why call any of those god?

          6. Alan Guth has shown that energy and space are opposite in magnitude and sign so the creation of energy and space together is a zero-sum game. So making universes could be rare but inevitable and there is no limit to how many can be made.

          If you change one of the fundamental constants in the universe, complex chemistry would be impossible, except for the weak nuclear force which could be as low as zero with no significant effect. But if you change more than one constant, complex chemistry is still possible. About one in four combinations would allow chemistry that is complex enough for life in a universe.

          Cdesign proponentsists don’t know how many different ways life could form. Just pretending there is one and only one way life could exist and calculating from there is absurd. It like being amazed at the arrangement of the cards after a thorough shuffle because the odds against that order is astronomical.

          When you remember that there is no limit to universes, even the longest odds cdesign proponentsists can dream up would be inevitable.

          It gets old dealing with theists who say we are wrong but cannot even agree on their theology and have to misrepresent science to maintain whichever theology they are peddling.

        • Fabio

          About the unnecessary suffering; so, if our universe was a nice, safe and comfortable place, would you consider the existence of a benevolent God? If the temperature was all year round a comfortable 73 F, no more rain than enough to grow veggies, no mosquitoes to spread malaria, no wild, carnivorous beasts or, at the least, beasts who find the taste of human flesh disgusting, no gravity to avoid mortal falls, no need for oxygen to avoid drowning and, finally, no malice, envy, rage, hate to avoid human beings killing each other; would this kind of universe be enough for you to believe?

        • adam

          You mean like “Heaven”?

          Well if a ‘god’ can create that, whats with all the suffering and evil then?

        • Fabio

          I don’t believe in heaven.

          So, you wish to live in a world were you can fly like superman, swim like aquamen, nothing can hurt you and everybody lives in peace and harmony…good luck with that.

        • adam

          Well if a ‘god’ can create that, whats with all the suffering and evil?

        • Greg G.

          That would not be inconsistent with an omnipotent, benevolent being.

          However, we do not live in that universe. Ours has unnecessary suffering so it is incompatible with the concept of an existent omnipotent, benevolent being.

        • Kodie

          Mosquitoes are really bad evidence that there’s any god looking out.

        • Fabio

          I have a crisis of faith every time my hemorrhoids flare up 🙁

        • Kodie

          I’m an atheist and I don’t have hemorrhoids. You figure it out.

        • MNb

          It would raise the probability of a benevolent god, yes. But my demand is still a bit lower.
          God is supernatural, right?
          Still this god is capable of interacting with our natural reality right? After all he created it, which demands interaction.
          So if this god would send collective nightmares to potential victims of natural disasters on a statistical significant basis it would be such a huge problem for deniers of the supernatural like me that I strongly would have to consider a benevolent god indeed, though not necessarily the christian one. For that I need some stronger evidence; if you’re curious I can tell you.
          The argument is not about evil things existing, it’s about minimizing the amount of evil and minimizing its effects.

        • Fabio

          What’s wrong with you guys? Mine was a rhetorical question; I was painting an absurd scenario to point out how childish is your bitching about God’s benevolence; a little bit like my 5 years old who tells me that I’m a bad father every time I refuse to buy her a new toy (or candies, or chips) every time we set foot in a store. And yet, some of you guys took it seriously and responded “Yeah, I would like to live in that universe!” Your version, with “collective nightmares” on a “significant statistical basis” sounds more reasonable but it’s not; let me explain why.

          First, nightmares would not work well with people who, in the real world, refuses to leave their home even when the fire or the rising water is in their backyard. Others would flock the churches and places of worship to intercede for their community; after all, if God is supernatural and He interacts with His creation enough to send collective nightmares, why wouldn’t He steer the tornado or the lava on a path where the destruction would be minimal? Some would kill themselves, believing to have gone crazy, others would dismiss the whole thing as collective psychosis. Panic, unrest, looting, fighting.

          But let’s say that, in time, after years of collective nightmares on a significant statistical basis people come to accept them as warnings from a benevolent God; of course the nightmares have to be very specific to avoid ineffective response. For example, here in California, when the “Big One” comes, nightmares should be very scary for the ones living in the epicenter, so-so for the ones living in the surrounding, affected areas and mild ones for the ones living in the safe areas. Otherwise all Californians would panic and abandon their homes to flee to the Mexico border, where the Mexican authorities would say: “we assume that some of you are good people, but what if you are all rapists and murderers?” (Payback is a biiitch!)
          Also the nightmares should give enough time for people to prepare; enough time to collect their belongings and flee. Of course not everything can be saved. People are going to lose their homes, properties, business. Giving them enough reasons to start bitching again about God’s benevolence.

          Do you want keep on going? We can discuss why God did not stop Hitler or why the HIV virus exist in the first place.

          Of course I’m curious, if I wasn’t I wouldn’t be here discussing with you. Tell me.

        • adam

          “Of course not everything can be saved. ”

          Of course it COULD, IF there was an all powerful, all loving ‘god’

          “We can discuss why God did not stop Hitler or why the HIV virus exist in the first place.”

          Ok why does this ‘god’ allow Hitler and HIV?

        • Fabio

          Are you kidding me? Still with the bitching about a not-so-loving God? Let me understand: in you opinion, an all-powerful, benevolent God should have created a universe where nobody had the opportunity to make a choice, to take a risk, to challenge himself to avoid hurting themselves or others. Living cells and organisms are not allowed to mutate to avoid cancer and new strains of pathogens. No high mountains or deep oceans, no deserts or jungles, no extreme temperatures or extreme sports, no dangers whatsoever. Conformity is the most appreciated virtue to avoid clash of characters or civilizations; excellency and original thoughts are frowned upon because of envy and jealousy; private property forbidden to avoid greed and competition.
          Your idea of a benevolent God involves a world of flat lands and shallow oceans, homogeneous plant and animal life, a uniform human race; a world of mediocrity, unchanging, stagnant; no conflicts, no discussions, no originality; a world where people do not suffer and do not really live.

          I will take a world with Hitler and the HIV virus all day long.

        • Susan

          I will take a world with Hitler and the HIV virus all day long.

          Life is more interesting, less ‘flat’ when you are dying of AIDS?

          Or when your five-year-old child is taken away from you and sent to the gas chambers while you are kept alive because you have a few months useful labour in you?

          I try very hard not to cuss in these discussions because people who say the most stupid and appalling things will claim victory when they push enough buttons and manage to make me do it.

          I will say though that I’ve heard this glib, callous and oblivious rationalization so many times that I think it’s reasonable to take the position that anyone who think it’s an appropriate response is not worth responding to on this particular subject.

          My idea of good does not involve fawns barely escaping forest fires with third degree burns to most of their body and dying alone in agony over the course of days.

          Life would be no flatter if that didn’t happen. Maybe for those with no imagination and who are more concerned with their own psychological comfort (there is a good god who has a purpose for me) than they are about reality.

          Not for me. I ain’t perfect but that’s pretty basic.

          EDIT: Grammar

        • MNb

          “where nobody had the opportunity to make a choice”
          Still when I offer an option that does leave a choice (collective nightmares as a warning for upcoming natural disasters) you reject it too. So much for consistency.

          “I will take a world with Hitler and the HIV virus all day long.”
          So we have another christian who needs Hitler and HIV (and of course other people suffering, not himself) to really live. This is the biggest inconsistency of christianity: as soon as it tries to be reasonable it says “screw the weak and vulnerable – it’s all only about me and I don’t care for the rest”.

          Adam: “Why does this ‘god’ allow Hitler and HIV?”
          Fabio: “Else I can’t enjoy life.”

        • Fabio

          You’re right! (I’m still being sarcastic). God should have get rid completely of suffering. Not only for the weak but for everybody!
          Now that I’m thinking about it, the instructions booklet at birth is not enough. After all when we are born we don’t know how to read. And even birth in itself is not a pleasant experience; so, your benevolent God should work out a device, maybe like a cocoon, where mommy and daddy may introduce their genetic code, maybe with a drop of blood or hair. They may choose how many kids, the time in between births, the gender…no surprises, no disappointments, no suffering! The cocoon will produce a human being, about the age of 17-18 (don’t we want get rid also of those awkward teen years?), able to walk, read and talk; after all a benevolent, all-powerful God should be able to do that. But, wait a second; why mommy and daddy? After all gender relations may involve a great deal of suffering. Maybe god should get rid of genders altogether. But relationships in general are not easy. Maybe God should get rid of different temperaments and characters. But then life would be pretty boring…you know what? A benevolent and all-powerful god, to avoid all unnecessary suffering should not have created anything at all.
          Because suffering is intrinsic to existence; life and death, creation and destruction are two side of the same coin. If you are complaining about suffering you’re complaining about being alive.
          “Oh God, I curse the day I was born.”

        • Kodie

          Why imagine there is a god at all if you’re going to be silly? This world with the kind of god people usually believe in is a contradiction. Reform the world in a way that suggests a good god exists, and it obviously becomes absurd quickly. Then there’s probably no god. You want a god to exist in this world the way things actually are and maybe you don’t get what you want.

        • Greg G.

          God should get rid of all suffering. There is no good reason for it if there is an omnipotent being. We could be like Superman in a universe without Kryptonite. We could have far more free will with the ability to fly to the moon or sit on the sun. Why do you insist that it should be boring?

          Suffering does not have to be intrinsic to life and death if there is an omnipotent being. Suffering is necessary if there is no omnipotence. An omnipotence could do a billion miracles every nanosecond for every sentient being as easily as not doing them. If he can’t, then he is not omnipotent. If he won’t, he is not benevolent.

        • Susan

          You have demonsrated yourself to be a calloused bastard who is completely uninterested in participating in the discussion.

        • Ignorant Amos

          WAOO!

        • MNb

          Thanks for not addressing what I wrote and demonstrating that you’re just another christian hypocrite. Your attitude is not substantially different from Apollo’s, which you criticized. Just like almost every apologist your repeat the same silly things over and over again without even trying to understand what your opponents mean.

        • Fabio

          Please, man: you had the silly idea of “collective nightmares” and then reproach me because I reply with sarcasm?

        • MNb

          You haven’t even tried to show that the idea is silly – instead you prefer to kick around like a drunken berserker. Plus very predictable you produce a lie. I don’t reproach you for your sarcasm. I thank you for not addressing what I wrote and demonstrating that you’re just another christian hypocrite.
          That’s not the same, Mr. Fabio Subject Changer.

          “Please, man”
          Thanks for reconfirming your hypocrisy. This is exactly the attitude you reproached Apollo for. Good job undermining your own credibility, chappie.

        • Kodie

          Why the double standard?

        • adam

          “Still with the bitching about a not-so-loving God? ”

          Whose ‘bitching’ besides YOU?
          Just an observation.
          My question again is why call it God, when it is the creator of EVIL, with the promise of Heaven pretty much as you describe it.

          “I will take a world with Hitler and the HIV virus all day long.”

          Yes, we understand the consequences of worshiping the Creator of EVIL:

        • Fabio

          What do you mean? I did not introduce the “benevolent God” argument in the discussion; I’m merely answering it.

        • Greg G.

          I will take a world with Hitler and the HIV virus all day long.

          Why? You are presenting a false dichotomy. If you are going to believe in an omnipotent, benevolent being, you could have everything you want without Hitler, HIV, or any suffering. A benevolent being would do what is necessary to prevent unnecessary suffering. An omnipotent being could do a billion miracles per nanosecond for every sentient being in the universe to prevent suffering as easily as not doing them. An omnipotent being could achieve any wish, with or without suffering. Therefore, all suffering would be unnecessary.

          Our free will is already compromised. We can’t fly, turn invisible, or travel faster than light. Why couldn’t we do everything else except for limiting others’ free will, which would include causing suffering?

        • MNb

          “Mine was a rhetorical question”
          And my reaction was an explanation why it was an inappropriate question. Hence I amended it.

          “What’s wrong with you guys?”
          So much for your rule of respecting your opponent ….

          “nightmares would not work well with people who, in the real world, refuses to leave their home even when the fire or the rising water is in their backyard.”
          Since when is that a problem for apologetics? My proposal was precisely developed for those people – a perfectly benevolent god would not want to violate their free will. That’s a christian defence. This point by no means shows that a perfectly benevolent god sending collective nightmares is an unreasonable idea.

          “Some would kill themselves, believing to have gone crazy, others would dismiss the whole thing as collective psychosis. Panic, unrest, looting, fighting.”
          That all results from people having free will, so doesn’t affect the reasonability of my proposal either.

          “Of course not everything can be saved. People are going to lose their homes, properties, business.”
          Without a warning by means of collective nightmares they will as well. Such a warning would give those people a chance to save what can be saved, ie more would be saved than can be saved now. That’s exactly the point. Thanks for confirming.

          “Also the nightmares should give enough time for people to prepare.”
          Of course. I’d say two weeks in advance would be enough. Your god should be capable to pull that off, so that doesn’t affect the reasonability of my proposal either.

          “the Mexican authorities would say”
          Perhaps, perhaps not. Still that would be a better chance then not getting any warning at all, as seems to be the case.

          “Giving them enough reasons to start bitching again about God’s benevolence.”
          Not any more than is the case with totally unexpected natural disasters. This kind of bitching seriously began after the Lissabon earthquake in the 18th Century. Of course you could say that the amount of victims actually decreased the bitching, because dead people don’t bitch anymore, but that’s kind of missing the point, isn’t it?

          “We can discuss why God did not stop Hitler or why the HIV virus exist in the first place.”
          If you feel like. The Problem of Evil is yours, not mine.

          “why wouldn’t He steer the tornado or the lava on a path where the destruction would be minimal?”
          Again this is your problem, not mine. I don’t believe, so to me why did god this and not that doesn’t make any sense anyway. You are the one who has to make sense of it. Feel free to make an attempt. Your first one failed.

        • Fabio

          I did make sense of it. The universe works following certain laws and it’s a dangerous place. Life is a cycle of life and death, where the strongest survives and the weakest is dinner. Man has free will and can choose between good and evil. And when he chooses good is closer to the divine.
          The one talking about a benevolent God has been you. Or somebody else, I don’t remember, not me. Yours (or somebody else’s) is the proposition “if a benevolent God exists he would have created a better place, therefore God does not exist”. This is a little disingenuous, don’t you think?
          When I was responding to your great idea of collective nightmares I was being sarcastic; as a matter of fact, wouldn’t be even better if your benevolent God would send letters to the potential victims by priority mail, with a detailed description of which properties would be destroyed and which evacuation path to follow to be absolutely safe? Maybe with a check included, to repay of any damage and, of course, a apology note for the hassle He’s causing with these natural disasters. All signed: “sincerely, God”. Or Yahweh, Allah, Vishnu, depending on the zip code. But why stop there? A benevolent God should take in consideration all situations in life, not only emergencies! When we are born, we should be provided with a neat, detailed, comprehensive instructions booklet, where your benevolent God would illustrate all the challenges and choices and crisis that we will encounter with a clearly illustrated chart with paths to take, decisions to make and attitudes to maintain for each situations. Wouldn’t that be the work of a super-benevolent God?

          (Sorry about the sarcasm; and sorry if you get offended with my “what’s wrong with you guys”)

        • Greg G.

          The one talking about a benevolent God has been you. Or somebody else, I don’t remember, not me.

          That would be me. An omnipotent god would have no need for suffering. If God plus suffering can do something that God without suffering can do, then God is not omnipotent. If there is suffering, it is not required for anything, so God must be doing it for shits and giggles. Causing suffering for no reason would be sadistic. Allowing unnecessary suffering indifferently is not benevolent. It seems disingenuous to me to not recognize that. It seems like the cognitive dissonance kicks in on theists about this.

          If God cannot prevent suffering, he is not omnipotent. If God is omnipotent but doesn’t prevent suffering, then he is not benevolent. If God cannot or will not prevent suffering, why call him God?

        • Pofarmer

          “Man has free will and can choose between good and evil.”

          You had it up until there. Free will as nothing to do with it. The problem of evil has to do with the tri omni God. Omni benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent. The three simply cannot coexist in our reality. Those three attributes and our reality are contradictory. Free Will is no answer for that.

        • MNb

          I doubt that. My point is that even if we concede Free Will the PoE does not disappear.

        • Pofarmer

          I agree.

        • Fabio

          But if there is a God, he’s going to be beyond time and space, eternal and infinite, thus transcending our reality, finite and temporal.

        • MNb

          and thus has abandoned all means to interact with our material reality, to which time and space belong.
          See, all such means are bound to our finite and temporal reality as well. A god using such means ceases to be beyond time, space, eternal and infinite, ceases to transcend our reality.
          According to your very own definition your god isn’t able to make any difference with our reality as we observe it. You just made “god is working through me when I show compassion with my neighbours” totally meaningless. And that’s a very good reason not to believe.
          Thanks for confirming my atheism.

        • Kodie

          You forgot “ineffectual.”

        • We don’t fiddle with God’s properties to justify why there’s no good evidence for him. Rather, we look at the evidence we have and follow it.

          Does it lead the objective observer to the Christian God? Or only Christians?

        • So because Pofarmer’s argument hits home, you’d prefer to ignore it? Or is this a “God’s ways are mysterious”?

        • Kodie

          Fabio says he’s not arguing for a benevolent god but also says whenever a human does a slight good deed they didn’t have to do (because humans are only selfish!), that’s god working through humans. So he’s ok with a good god, as long as it is justified by evil on earth that humans have to struggle to, you know, act in some heart-warming way that might make its way onto a buzzfeed list. He’s already decided then that humans can’t be good on their own, which sounds like, and he already alluded to, atheists not being as good as religious people because we decided not to be involved in god’s purpose to use us as little as possible to make the world a slightly better place some of the time, like trying to text while wearing oven mitts. God the omnipotent chooses Fabio and other humans to serve a little purpose that makes Fabio feel better, while actively making the world a worse place so people like Fabio can have some shit to do instead of nothing all day because everything is already perfect.

          Because I used a curse word, he will never address the fine points I’ve made, because “no reason” is one answer to the question “why?” and Fabio has already decided based on his preferences that god both exists, and it’s his obligation to guess that his purpose is to heal sick people as a nurse. He wouldn’t have done such a selfless thing if he didn’t believe god needs Fabio so god can get a little work done. So he has both asked and answered the question “why?” with “mah purpose!” He’s not open to other purposes existing, such as social experiments, or whatever.

          And with all the suffering patients that he may be able to help, they are not even good enough to be a purpose. That is the biggest anti-social sick-fuckery of all – god has to make them suffer so that he may act upon them through Fabio, but Fabio cannot see those people and wish they’d get well from some miracle god could perform. They exist in this condition for Fabio’s comfort of purpose, but they are not in themselves purpose enough for him to act selflessly. It’s the emotional motivation that god needs Fabio so god can get some work done on earth, the only reason he can manage to care about them at all.

          How is his attitude not the most offensive deserving of being called a “sick fuck”? How can he defend his position morally in the first place, but he won’t because he has standards of civil discussion. Once you tell me you prefer Hitler to no Hitler, civility is off the table. Once you tell me you prefer HIV and all the pain and deaths, than no HIV, civility is off the fucking table. That’s his god, not mine; his purpose, not mine. Delighting in having a purpose in a world of immense suffering, not for the sufferers but for god, civility, bitch please.

        • Thank God for his creating Fabio to do good the right way (serving God), not the crap way that atheists do it (What God? I just want to do it because it feels like the right thing.).

        • Kodie

          Well who else is going to do it? Even Fabio agrees it’s not god. We’re all in this together, alone, and if we don’t do something, nobody will. Fabio doesn’t seem to be the kind to sit on his thumbs and wait for god to make a miracle happen, so what. It’s warped to think there’s a god nonetheless, who can’t and doesn’t act on the suffering, and delight that this world has suffering in it at all, for some comforting “purpose” to help god – and there’s a lot of effort for one human to do so little in the scheme of things. It may be depressing to put all your effort into a thing and change things a little, then look around and see so much more to do that you can’t. I feel that way, how can we feed everyone, how can we teach everyone, how can we save all the animals, and stop polluting the earth, and cure diseases? I feel least responsible for the diseases, even though the convenient answer for all of these problems is money, money only to pay for humans to do something about it. Money can’t do anything about it.

          The right and only answer is that all of us are here for a while to help the others who are here at the same time and try to preserve what we can for the future. We don’t last forever, and we cannot, even if we could for the time, solve all the human problems forever. We can only solve the problems we have for now. 100% of Fabio’s patients will die. It must be draining to think about no matter how much good you can do, even if he helped 100% of patients in his care feel better at the time, eventually all of them will feel worse again and die anyway. But why does it make someone feel better to think there is some grander purpose behind all this suffering to give Fabio some temporary pride in his work?

        • Pofarmer

          Why? And how would such a being interact with our reality?

        • Fabio

          Hi Pofarmer, sorry if I’m answering you so late, but it was crazy the amount of posts I received; either I’m very popular or totally despised 😉

          Anyway, I’ve already addressed your point in another post, but I’m going to reiterate my point.

          God must be beyond our reality because if it’s limited to our reality then we just push the questions one level higher. If God began with our universe, what was there before it. Did he existed (I use he and him but I don’t necessarily intend God as a “he”) before the Big Bang but he still had a beginning some point back in time? If so, what was there before him? Was there a super-God who created God? And the same questions apply if we take in consideration space; if God is finite what’s beyond his borders and so on. To make sense, God must be a absolute, THE absolute. Nothing and no one above or beyond him. Consequently he must transcend our reality, finite and temporal.
          Also, he must be present in our reality; otherwise he would be limited by it and, as said before, any limits to God are an absurdity. Therefore he’s both transcendent (beyond our reality) and immanent (intrinsic to our reality).

        • Greg G.

          Was there a super-God who created God?

          Have you considered that a sufficiently powerful being could give a cat the illusion of being omnipotent and omniscient, yet reading the cat’s mind and doing the creating so that the cat thought it did the job, yet remain hidden from the cat for ineffable reasons?

          It could be gods all the way up.

        • MNb

          “he must be present in our reality”
          It’s meaningless to say that an immaterial being like your god is present in our material reality. “To be present in our material reality” implies being material by definition.
          So what you possibly mean – but typically you keep this point vague – is “being present in our immaterial reality”. That doesn’t make sense either, because we material humans aren’t there.
          On a more general level – it doesn’t make any sense to claim that an immaterial reality can be connected with our material reality.

        • Greg G.

          If God is beyond time and space, eternal and infinite, thus transcending our reality, finite and temporal, he could create a universe for each person as solipsism. Each person could have free will in their own solipsistic universe without causing actual suffering to people who are but avatars but the person would never experience suffering either.

          You didn’t say that God was benevolent, though. If not, why call it God?

        • Susan

          . The universe works following certain laws and it’s a dangerous place. Life is a cycle of life and death, where the strongest survives and the weakest is dinner

          And you’re claiming that a reasonable explanation for those laws is a conscious agent who invented it from metaphysical nothingness. Would that be a benevolent agent?

          You’ve done this without defining your terms in any way, without showing how a conscious agent is necessary to explain reality, without providing a model of how it could exist or do anything at all.

          You’re also fixated on why there is ‘something’ (We all agree there is something), rather than ‘nothing’ (without explaining why there should be nothing) and claim without showing your math or any work at all that there are 50/50 odds that an agent exists ‘out there somewhere’
          (whatever that means… you don’t seem to care).

          Also, you don’t seem the slightest bit concerned with ‘Why my agent rather than just something?’ An agent requires a model to be taken seriously.

          You don’t seem interested in understanding what science has discovered about reality and the very strange and non-intuitive problems that come with those discoveries. This includes consciousness, life and the universe we live in.

          You are certain that science can never know everything and assume that means you can stick “God” (a meaningless and constantly shifting claim) in there.

          You’re dismissing the Problem of Evil without showing any understanding of it. It’s a problem. It always has been. So, you haven’t bothered to learn about the philosophical problems you’ve taken on.

          So far, if I were to summarize your contributions here, they seem to go like this:

          -Atheists are summarily dismissing ‘God’.

          Wrong.

          -If there is something, the best explanation must be an agent ‘out there somewhere’.

          We know there is something. Why shouldn’t there be something? Why should there be nothing?

          If you are going to point to agency to justify it, you will have to demonstrate it and then why should there be an agent rather than just the ‘something’ we all agree exists?

          Also, at least make an effort to understand our best provisional models of reality before you use terms like ‘out there somewhere’ or ‘before the Big Bang’.

          -Science can never know everything. There is stuff that will always be a mystery. I call that mystery ‘God’.

          You’re missing some key steps there.

          Please:

          1) Define ‘God’. That is, clarify your terms. What is your hypothesis? Be specific.

          2) Show that you’re interested in the knowledge of the fields you are attempting to force an agent into.

          3)Show how an agent is necessary.

          4) Demonstrate that your agent has explanatory value.

          I’m fairly certain we all saw you were being sarcastic. You have no business doing so, given your contributions so far.

          I’m afraid you don’t see the irony.

        • Fabio

          Ok, I admit that I was wrong. I assumed that the “problem of suffering” was an intellectual problem unique to theist, but it looks that it is a real stumbling block also for you guys. Sorry for the sarcastic tone but I thought that you guys were being disingenuous (not you Susan, I understood that you were really concerned with it and I tried to explain my position; but then you read my sarcastic response to Mnb and you took issue with it, sorry about that, although…collective nightmares? Really?).
          I’m going to write a collective answers to your objections.

          Let’s start with the proposition that Greg introduced in the discussion: “if there is a benevolent God, what’s up with the suffering?”. This is what we are talking about, right guys?
          So we are hypothesizing that there is a “God” and that is benevolent. If this hypothesis is not compatible with the fact that there is, indeed, suffering in the world, than the hypothesis is false. Does anybody disagrees with me, so far?

          So what do we mean by God? Most of you guys, being more familiar with Christianity, identify the word “God” with the Abrahamic God (thanks Lew), the God of the Bible, the Torah and the Koran. That God is a personal God; jealous, wrathful, loving, merciful and so on. It’s a God that would stop the sun in the sky for 24 hrs to help his chosen people to slaughter the enemy. A God that does not mind to mess with the natural laws in order to help a starving widow or give the guests of a wedding party a jolly good time.
          That God does not exist; it’s a myth pointing to a deeper truth, namely the numinous, the experience common to all religious experiences. The Abrahamic God is one interpretation of it, different from the approach of Buddhists, who completely deny the existence of a God and refer to the numinous as Nirvana, “a place of perfect peace and happiness, the highest state that someone can attain”. In Hinduism is identified with Brahman, “the Ultimate Reality in the universe”, in Taoism as Dao, “the primordial essence or fundamental nature of the universe”.
          I use the word God because my upbringing is christian and Christianity is my “language” to read and explain my personal religious experience.

          Is this “God” benevolent? Depends from what me mean by benevolent. Do we mean kind and generous? Do we mean inclined to do good? If we are talking about the Abrahamic God, most probably this is what we mean, but that God does not exist; If we talk about the numinous, we can’t use the word “benevolent” because it describes a human characteristic, a personality tract, it implies feelings and does not apply to the “essence of the universe”. As a matter of fact even in Christianity there have been theologians who argued that the proposition “God exists” does not make sense, because what we, human beings, mean by existence, cannot apply to God. So, how can we define this “God”? The best I can do is to say that it’s a positive, creative force.

          If this God is a positive, creative force, what’s up with the suffering?
          God must be an absolute; it must be one, unchangeable, eternal, infinite. It must be, because the opposite would be an absurdity that would only generate more questions: if God is finite in time, with a origin and a end, what was there before it? Where does it go when it ends? Was there something else that originated God? If it’s finite in space, what is beyond its borders? If it is more than one, what else is out there? If it changes, changes from what to what? There are two different gods that change into each other? Why do they change? Does it change in better? Is there a super God that originated (from) our God?

          Try to imagine this “being”; he’s one, he’s absolute, infinite and eternal. In religious language, this being is all-knowing but, if you think about it, what does he know? What is there to know, besides himself? And how could he know himself, if there’s nothing as reference? Babies start to differentiate themselves from mommy weeks after birth; until that point they see themselves as one with their mother. They recognize themselves in a mirror when they are around two years old. They start acquiring their own identity in relation with the environment and other human beings, they start figuring out who they are, taking the world as point of reference.
          God has no such point of reference; he has no knowledge, no memories, no past, no future, no curiosities, no creativity, no feelings, no fears, no good, no bad; or better said: he has all of this…potentially. To express his potential, to express himself, to experience himself, God needed to create something different from him.

          Now, if God, that is an absolute, one, unchangeable, eternal and infinite, creates something, this something cannot be equal to him because it would be another absolute, an absurdity, like we said before.
          Thus, whatever God creates is going to be non-God, thus multiple, mutable, finite and temporal.

          Fiat lux!” Let there be light! Or let there be a quantum vacuum and quantum fluctuations. They are not incompatible with the existence of the numinous (Susan, I did not watch the lecture yet, sorry. But the truth is that, whatever that guy is going to say, I will most likely agree with most of it. Who am I to dispute a physicist on his field of expertise? The only thing I can take issue with is if he argues that the event that originated our universe is self-caused: in my opinion there is a external cause).
          Our universe came to be. But remember that the numinous is infinite. To think that our universe, life and us, are separated from God is an absurdity: it would imply that God has limits, that he does not exists in the physical space occupied by our universe. Thus we say the God is both transcendent (beyond our universe) and immanent (existing and operating within). We can also introduce the term Godhead to differentiate between God beyond our universe from the God within (by the way, throw in the mix also the material universe as God incarnate and you got the concept of trinity).

          God created our universe to express himself. But he didn’t stop there; to fully express himself, God needed a more complex vessel than “just” an inanimate universe: he needed life and consciousness.
          I’ve already written about life: life cannot just spread indefinitely because our universe, our planet and its resources are finite. Life forms will die and they will fight to survive, the strong ones depleting the resources, the weak ones replenishing them. Life will survive, and evolve.
          Has anybody among you guys asked himself: “why life evolved?” If the only purpose of life is to live, to reproduce itself, wouldn’t organic compounds, reproducing themselves “ad libitum”, have sufficed? Why evolve in more and more complex organisms?
          The answer is that God needs a more complex vessel than “just” a universe and life. He needs consciousness.

          We’re getting to the heart of the matter; many of you guys argue that consciousness arises from the complexity of the brain. I argue that consciousness exists outside the brain and that express itself through a enough complex brain. Our consciousness is God’s consciousness finally able to express himself and all his potentiality through us. The problem is that the brain comes with baggage: namely the lizard brain, that part of the brain concerned only with survival; selfish, fearful, brutal, merciless. Combine it with a brain capable of higher reasoning and you have a deadly combination: a living being, man, able and willing to destroy his brothers, all life forms and the whole planet without a second thought.

          But what about God? What about the positive force? Shouldn’t God be able and willing to avoid natural disasters, congenital diseases, mass murderers?
          Again, we are projecting human characteristics on God; surely a personal God, the God of the bible, that gets mad if his people do not follow his directive and then regrets to have drowned the whole world in a fit of rage, may feel sorry for a kid dying of leukemia and may decide to do something about it. But this requires feelings and we already saw that human feelings do not apply to the numinous; we may add “impassible” to his characteristics.
          Wait one second, you may say, but you said that the numinous is a positive force, what is positive in all this? Here is where we discuss the role of man.

          There is a duality in man; have you ever seen those cartoons where the character, conflicted between good and bad, has those two little images of himself, one dressed as a devil, the other as an angel, trying to convince him on which choice to make? Just a cartoon, but there’s some truth in it. Human beings are continuously conflicted about choosing good or evil. We are actually hard wired for good (remember how God and his consciousness expressing himself through us is a positive, creative force?); babies, as young as 8 months, after watching a little play with plush toys as actors, have been found to prefer toys they have witnessed expressing compassion, rather than the toy who would portray the role of the villain. And who of us does not enjoy those “feel good” stories, where the hero sacrifice himself for the sake of perfect strangers? The problem is that when we are involved, when we are the ones supposed to sacrifice, a little voice from the lizard brain make itself heard: “what is in this for me?” It’s the one saying: “Yes, I suppose I could gather the canned food sitting in my pantry for the past few months and bring it to the food bank, but what an hassle, and my tv show is on…I guess I will just wait until expires and then I’ll throw it in the trash.”

          We are so concerned with “me, myself and I” that we don’t realize that we all are connected. We all share the consciousness of God; we are connected to each other, and to all living creatures, and to our planet and the whole universe. We are one with God.
          Every time we reject the lizard brain, the flesh, with its selfish demands, and we practice compassion, we are expressing the positive, creative force of God. The benevolence if God, if you wish.

          So, the conclusion is that the positive force intrinsic in God and in human consciousness, his “benevolence”, and the negative force intrinsic in human nature, the cause for “suffering”, are two sides of the same coin. Not only they are compatible, they are complementary. Without the suffering of existence, there’s no reason for the benevolence of God to be.

          I realize that in some places I need to elaborate a little more, but at the moment I think it’s enough. Do you have any questions?

        • Kodie

          You assume only negative, selfish, self-absorbed qualities in humans, leaving that “benevolence” to your mysterious other thing that doesn’t exist. It’s all us. We’re not all bad. You ignore goodness in humans and attribute it to something that’s not even human. That’s what we’re talking about. I asked you if this god you believe in is conscious and intentional. Like, imagine you are cleaning out your refrigerator. That’s you being conscious and intentional. You see a jar of something close to the expiration date and smell it to see if it’s still good. You’re being conscious and intentional. The stuff in your refrigerator is inanimate, of course (mostly!) So this jar of something you bought but didn’t consume is close to expiring, so says the date stamp on it, and who knows how accurate that is. So you save this jar and give yourself a chance, now that you can see the viable options in your refrigerator, to finally get down to consuming it before it really goes bad.

          So are you imagining anything like this for your god? A conscious and intentional decider to give something almost bad a little more time to fulfill its role as a food to be enjoyed? This is all we’re talking about. You assume the worst in humans without really saying why – you call it intrinsic. You build a god out of your assumption that the goodness you see in people is not really who they are, but who this other conscious and intentional thing is, unable to perform miracles, and inefficient enough to use those asshole selfish humans to do what little they can do to make Fabio feel like he has a purpose for living. It’s kind of a wonder you can manage to do anything good for people, thinking so poorly of them.

        • Fabio

          I’m going to address your questions because I find them interesting (just do not be aggressive with me and enjoy the discussion).
          Is “God” conscious and intentional? If you mean the godhead, God beyond our universe, I would say no. First, to define the godhead “conscious and intentional” is projecting human characteristics on him. Second, conscious of what? Intentional of doing what? There’s only him around. No fridge to empty. Nothing but himself.
          Now your objection could be: “so, how he decided to create our universe?”. He didn’t decide anything. He did not sit there for eternity just twiddling his thumbs and then one day he said: “let’s make a universe”. First, no eternity. Time is a characteristic of our universe and does not apply to the godhead. He “is” and he express himself through our universe. That is what he does.
          Finally, the godhead is the essence of the universe, he’s the sum of God (working and operating in our universe) and our universe itself.
          Think of us: there’s me, my “self”, my consciousness; then there is my mind, the sum of all my memories, my experiences, my will, my feelings, the operating system; finally, there is my body, the hardware. My body changes, grows, ages, deteriorate and dies. My mind (not the brain, part of the body therefore hardware) acquire informations, process them, resolves problems, creates, imagine, loves, hates and will disappear when the body dies. But my essence, my “self”, the individual I think about when I say “I” is something different from both; it’s defined by them but it’s beyond them; it does not change: I have been “I” since I was born and I will till I die, and then I’ll go back where I came from.
          Try to imagine this scenario: you are closed in a air proof room with somebody you love. In 10 minutes the door will open, but there is only enough oxygen for 5 minutes for both of you or ten minutes for one. Now, if you are a baby, you have no idea what’s going on. Your “self”, what you call “I”, is unaware of what going on and happily breathes the oxygen away. It’s absurd to blame the baby for his selfishness; because it means you are projecting on the baby adult’s characteristics. Instead, if you are an adult, with your operating system fully working, you can decide to stop breathing for the sake of your loved one. The problem is that if you try, your body will fight it. You can try holding your breath but after a certain time you will give up; it’s a involuntary mechanism.
          My explanation is that “I”, that fragment of divine, that spark of life, that consciousness that just “is”, that gives us life, is actually the godhead, the essence of the universe and the essence of life. Remember how I said that potentially he has everything in him? When he express himself through us, he expresses both the positive (existing) and the negative (existing regardless). “I”, like the godhead, is amoral, is not good, not evil, or better said, it’s both…potentially. When you decide to hold your breath you’re expressing the positive aspects of the “I” concerned with continuing the existence (of your loved one); when your body’s involuntary nervous system takes over and take that breath, you are expressing the negative aspect of the “I” concerned with continuing your existence (regardless of the damage to your loved one).
          Apply this to man. We are connected to God and the godhead, we are one with them. When we act accordingly to our lizard brain, we are expressing the negative aspect of living and protect our life, regardless of any damage. When we decide to die to ourselves, and we sacrifice ourselves for our neighbors, we are expressing the positive aspect of living and protect any life, regardless of the sacrifice.

          Did I get too convoluted? I hope you understood what I meant.

        • Kodie

          Yes, all of that is much too convoluted.

        • MNb

          “Time is a characteristic of our universe”
          Questionable.

          http://infidels.org/library/modern/vic_stenger/otherside.html

          “Fundamentally, the universe as a whole is time-symmetric, running all the way from minus eternity to plus eternity with no preferred direction, no “arrow” of time. Indeed, the whole notion of beginning is meaningless in a time-symmetric universe.”

          http://blog.talkingphilosophy.com/?p=4754

          “This question has an easy answer: the multiverse is eternal. So, since it always was, it didn’t have to come from anything.”

          http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Godless/ImpGodChapter.htm

          “philosopher Keith Parsons has pointed out, “To say the universe is infinitely old is to say that it had no beginning—not a beginning that was infinitely long ago.”

        • Greg G.

          Is “God” conscious and intentional?

          I would say no.

          He didn’t decide anything.

          First, no eternity. Time is a characteristic of our universe and does not apply to the godhead.

          “I”, like the godhead, is amoral, is not good, not evil,

          Except for the terminology, that is essentially what I have been saying about the multiverse.

          He “is” and he express himself through our universe. That is what he does.
          Finally, the godhead is the essence of the universe, he’s the sum of God (working and operating in our universe) and our universe itself.

          What is your evidence? How do you distinguish that part from an indifferent multiverse? Why reject Occam?

          My mind (not the brain, part of the body therefore hardware) acquire informations, process them, resolves problems, creates, imagine, loves, hates and will disappear when the body dies.

          There are chemical substances that impair the chemical pathways that allow structures between neurons to be made. One can be conscious but no long-term memories are formed. If the mind is separate from the brain, the memory should be maintained. But chemical substances can affect the brain’s ability to “acquire informations, process them, resolves problems, creates, imagine, loves, hates”, just like those are chemical processes in the brain and not separate from the brain.

          You can try holding your breath but after a certain time you will give up; it’s a involuntary mechanism.
          My explanation is that “I”, that fragment of divine, that spark of life, that consciousness that just “is”, that gives us life, is actually the godhead, the essence of the universe and the essence of life.

          Carbon dioxide is poisonous in high amounts. It mixes with water to produce carbonic acid. When you drink a carbonated beverage and burp, your nose will sometimes burn. That is from just a little more CO2 in the air from your stomach that is more than the mucous membranes can neutralize. Evolution can provide a better explanation for why animals react to a build-up of CO2 in their tissues than you have.

          Put a gun in the air proof room and some parents would kill themselves to keep their baby alive. Also, one can inhale oxygen to keep from breathing for longer times. Consciousness would allow a person to stop breathing while autonomic processes keep a person from consciously stopping the respiratory system for more than a few minutes. The “fragment of the divine” explanation fails.

          Is it more likely that I have a million dollars in First National Bank or a million dollars in First National Bank AND a million in Second National Bank? Both are unlikely but the first is more likely than the second. How about a million dollars in FNB or a million in FNB and a dollar in SNB? Still the first is more likely since less than a million in FNB falsifies both but less than a dollar in SNB falsifies only one.

          We have evidence that the universe exists but you make an additional claim with no evidence so your position is less likely just on Occam’s Razor.

        • Fabio

          Greg, can you just write one post at the time? Longer, covering all the points? I had to go back and forth, looking for your posts. Thanks.

          First, benevolence is a human characteristic and does not apply to the godhead. Try to ask a Buddhist if Nirvana is benevolent; you’re just going to get a weird look. The problem is that your argument is connected and dependent on christian faith. You’re arguing against the personal God of the bible, but that is just an interpretation of the numinous. The numinous is not benevolent, is amoral, indifferent if you wish; it is just…”existence”; vital force; divine energy; call it as you want if you have a problem calling it God.

          Life in itself is amoral. Breathing (controlled by chemoreceptors monitoring, not only amount of CO2, but also of O2 and the pH of blood) is amoral, it’s a just a mechanism to keep alive a breathing organism. Hunger is amoral. The release of chemicals triggering the reaction “fight or flight” is amoral. They are only complex mechanisms, developed over millions of years, to ensure survival in a hostile environment. As universe itself, I believe that life has its origin in the numinous. The numinous is amoral (or indifferent). Therefore life is amoral; and the mechanisms developed by life to survive are amoral. And yet, from those amoral mechanisms may arise all sort of things: in the animal kingdom is pretty common for mothers to eat their babies to avoid starving; or to flee leaving their young to predators; but also to fight to their death to save their progeny. Of course we do not apply our moral concept of good and evil to animals. They just follow their amoral instincts. Different matter are human beings. You mentioned empathy in animals. Very intelligent animals I may add. I doubt you could find a shred of empathy in a lizard. We have to observe mammals for that, and mammals with a very developed brain. It looks to me that the numinous express itself through life; beginning with basic, almost automatic mechanisms of reproduction in RNA; then going through more and more elaborate life forms to arrive to mammals with their interactions with the environment, curiously exploring to collect data, cleverly using tools to resolve problems, and showing empathy when they connect with another life outside of themselves; finally the numinous express itself (fully?) through man and his empathic, compassionate, creative and inquisitive nature. The amoral instincts are still there, we need them to survive, but we can choose to either destroy for our survival or sacrifice for the survival of others.

          To (fully?) express itself the numinous needs the human brain, the human mind.
          Mind and brain are connected and the former depends on the latter, but they are not the same. The brain is hardware and stores data, in the form of neural pathways, that originate the operating system, the mind. If the hardware has a malfunction the operating system cannot work properly. What is different is the “I”, the consciousness, the spark of life in us. That does not depend on the brain and/or the mind. It’s there when we are born, and it still there when our mind/brain is compromised by old age and diseases.
          Long time ago, in my job, I had to take care of somebody. He had a massive heart attack, but he did not die. Unfortunately his brain was compromised. His mind was completely gone and yet, he was alive. He was breathing with no support from a ventilator. Food and water were provided through a gastric tube and he was digesting it, and excreting waste with no problems whatsoever. If he got a bedsore he would heal.
          Was it just an automatic response? Was just blind mechanisms working to keep the tissues and organs alive? If so, would it have been morally indifferent, to put a pillow on his face and smother him (like in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”)? I’m pretty sure that even the most hardened atheist would abhor the idea of something like that. Because the mind, the person may be gone, but life is still there. And life is sacred; life is the expression of the sacred, of the divine.

          I don’t reject Occam, “au contraire”: it’s a very simplistic example but, if I walk in a room, and there is something in it, wouldn’t be easier to assume somebody put it in there?

        • Greg G.

          Greg, can you just write one post at the time? Longer, covering all the points? I had to go back and forth, looking for your posts. Thanks.

          I didn’t have time to respond to the whole post because I had 15 minutes before I had to leave. I couldn’t respond to everything but one point that leapt out at me. I wanted to get it off my chest. Convenience in blog posting is second to convenience in real life.

          First, benevolence is a human characteristic…

          OK.

          Life in itself is amoral.

          OK.

          As universe itself, I believe that life has its origin in the numinous.

          Numinous?

          You mentioned empathy in animals. Very intelligent animals I may add. I doubt you could find a shred of empathy in a lizard.

          I provided two videos of tortoises working to turn over a fellow tortoise stuck on its back.

          http://www.itv.com/news/2014-12-15/video-shows-tortoise-turning-over-another-after-it-got-stuck-upside-down/

          Longer version

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oQeUdIKyEM

          I know that male tortoises have a concave undershell to help with mating. I thought this might be a case of a male trying to mate with a female and incidently flipped her, but the flipped one looks to have a concave undershell. I am not a tortoise expert so I could be wrong about that and it is just mating behavior.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HETr3Y9s3to

          This second one look like the flipped on has a flat undershell so I would guess it is a female. But the one is working from the head end rather than the tail end.

          We have to observe mammals for that, and mammals with a very developed brain.

          But we see it mainly in social mammals. Mammals care for their young. The social interactions are extensions of family behaviors.

          We also see rituals where animals try to intimidate rivals without resorting to violence. We see that in alligators, too.

          These behaviors can be explained by natural selection. You don’t need numinous to explain them.

          To (fully?) express itself the numinous needs the human brain, the human mind.

          Why? That seems arrogant for a human to say the universe needs a human brain to think for it. Maybe the universe needs something far more complex than a human brain. A human brain can conceive of the setup but can’t run it. Maybe a brain that would conceive of that kind of universe is incapable of running what is really going on.

          Mind and brain are connected and the former depends on the latter, but they are not the same. The brain is hardware and stores data, in the form of neural pathways, that originate the operating system, the mind.

          The mind is to the brain what vision is to the eye (and parts of the brain). It is a process run by the brain hardware. It is not a separate thing.

          Was it just an automatic response? Was just blind mechanisms working to keep the tissues and organs alive?

          There is a difference between biological life and psychological life. You seem to be equivocating. When enough brain cells die from lack of oxygen, the brain does not function. When it happens in a region of the brain, that region does not function and the function of that region is lost to the mind.

          I would not want to be kept biologically alive in that state if my organs could be harvested for the benefit of others.

          I don’t reject Occam, “au contraire”: it’s a very simplistic example but, if I walk in a room, and there is something in it, wouldn’t be easier to assume somebody put it in there?

          Yes, you can probably guess the species of that someone, too. With a little work, you might be able to determine who put it there and who has recently handled it.

          But to look at the universe and say that someone put it there is just your Hyperactive Agent Detection Device talking.

        • Fabio

          Of corse you don’t have time, I don’t myself; I use my iPhone, so I can write on the go (my best arguments were written sitting on the throne 😉 I write a note, 10-20 minutes at the time, when I’m done, copy and paste “et voilà”, done.

          Yes, the “numinous”, the “mysterium tremendum” as explained by Rudolf Otto, one of the most influential thinkers about religion in the first half of the twentieth century. He is best known for his analysis of the experience that, in his view, underlies all religion. He calls this experience the “numinous”.

          Tortoises may show empathy? Wow! I stand corrected. Of course it doesn’t change my argument; I will just modify that sentence to “I doubt you could find a shred of empathy in a fish”. The point is that empathy is not a behavior selected by evolutionary mechanism. The alligators trying to intimidate their adversaries are just trying to avoid a potential harmful fight; no empathy required. Yes, social interactions between animals belongings to the same social group may be explained as a behavior act to ensure survival of the group itself; but how does evolution explain social interactions between animals of different races or behavior that do not involve any advantage to survive? Why natural selection would have favorite a tendency in animals to adopt babies of a different species (plenty of examples on the internet)? Why a dolphin would help a human or a dog? What kind of evolutionary advantage it would acquire?
          How I see it is that God express himself through creation in various degrees, depending on the complexity of the vessel: first he express himself through matter, through those quantum fluctuations, those quantum virtual particles, popping in and out of existence, originating and sustaining our universe; then he express himself through life and consciousness, through those complex, almost automatic, little factories that are organic cells, up to complex organisms able to interact with and manipulate the environment, able of curiosity, problem-solving and empathy, reaching the peak of expression with humans, able of creativity, logic and love.
          And maybe it does not stop here: maybe man will evolve in this superman depicted in countless science fiction novels, able of telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation, closer and closer to the image of God depicted as omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. By the way, have you ever read the short story, “The Last Question” by Isaac Asimov?

          Finally, about the difference between biological and psychological life. A tree is alive, biologically. This man was alive, biologically, in fact he was in what is called a vegetative state. Now, humans would cut a tree without thinking about it twice, if needed (I like my Christmas tree to be a Douglas fir, 6-7 feet). But we wouldn’t end the life of that man. Why?
          I can understand the family, there is a sentimental factor involved; after all my wife is keeping an old, worn sweater, hand-knitted by her mom for the same reasons. But what about the healthcare system? Why were we wasting time and resources to care for that shell of a man? That bed could have been used by someone else. We could have spent our time caring for someone else, somebody with a chance of getting better. Why cleaning him, feeding him, treating his sores, why? Why we did not just killed him, with the same indifference we cut a tree? At the least a tree has a function in nature, that man was just a piece of meat.
          Or wasn’t it? Maybe you would call superstition, but the notion that life and consciousness are something more than just chemistry and physics, is deeply ingrained in human beings. You can rationalize it, say that there are no evidences for the existences of the soul, it just brain chemistry and when our brain dies it disappears into nothing.
          I don’t think anybody, deeply inside, really believes it.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, the “numinous”, the “mysterium tremendum” as explained by Rudolf Otto, one of the most influential thinkers about religion in the first half of the twentieth century. He is best known for his analysis of the experience that, in his view, underlies all religion. He calls this experience the “numinous”.

          It sounds like the sensus divinitatis. Even Plantinga doesn’t argue that it proves God. It would just be a circular argument.

          I took a boat ride in the Everglades a few years ago. The guide wanted to show us a mound of buried alligator eggs but they had hatched since the night before. We spotted a baby in some mangrove roots. The guide pulled it out to check. Mama alligator came to see what was going on. The guide released the baby because that gator had tried to climb in a boat before. We drifted away as he talked. We were about 25 yards away when another tourist mimicked the baby’s chirp. Mama spun around and came charging. The guide started the boat and got out of there. Gators love their babies as much as you love yours.

          There are fish that hold their young in their mouth to protect them from predators, both male and female. Parental instincts would likely evolve into behaviors that promote social interactions. If they are beneficial, they will prosper. A gene that promotes empathetic behavior will benefit itself by helping others because it is more likely to be helping a cousin with the same gene. Read Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene which came out about 40 years ago.

          A tumor is biologically alive and it can be human, yet it will be removed without thinking, even taking the surrounding healthy tissue to be sure they got it all. If part of a leg has gangrene but some of it is still biologically alive, the leg will be amputated. Sometimes both feet or both arms are amputated. Most any non-vital part of the body will be amputated and vital parts will be transplanted to keep the part with the psychological life going. Do people in vegetative states get liver transplants? Why not?

          I don’t think anybody, deeply inside, really believes it.

          You would be wrong to think that. But even if everybody thought that, it wouldn’t make it true.

          We have an aversion to pain and a strong desire to live, both from evolution. It is pathetic when a religion must play to such fears to get followers.

        • Fabio

          Yes, animals do “love” their babies, and that is because they must ensure the transmission of their genes and the survival of the species; unless of course the baby is deformed or sick or weak: in that case evolution demands that the genes that produced the “defective” baby must be stopped from reproducing to avoid a weaker, sicker progeny. Thus, in most of the animal kingdom, mommy eats her weak, sick, deformed young or simply let it die.
          So, what was exactly the evolutionary advantage that compelled humans to develop a higher degree of compassion in order to care for a baby with cerebral palsy or Down syndrome?
          Not only that, what is the evolutionary advantage of caring for the elderly, Alzheimer’s patients or the person in a vegetative state of my example?
          And, besides love, what is the evolutionary advantage of creativity, of expressing himself through art, music, literature, poetry, dance, cinema? How can this “selfish gene” be accountable for that?
          You can reduce the whole of human experience to complex brain chemistry and intricate social relationships; it doesn’t fly with me: I’m convinced that there is something else in the equation, what we call consciousness, spirit, soul.

          Your argument of tumors and gangrene plays right into my point: we don’t hesitate to cut down biological life as trees and we don’t hesitate to cut away biological, “human” life as tumors and a gangrenous leg as long as they are not vital. But when it comes to the “vital” organs, the life of a human being, even the shell of a human being in my example, we don’t take it away so easily (well, at the least we shouldn’t), even if there are practical advantages of doing so.

          I don’t want to give the impression that I consider human life the only life worthy of respect; too many christians used the excuse of man being in the image of God and having dominion over the creation to justify the continued violation of our planet.
          The compassion that we feel for our fellow man, for the deformed baby, for the old Alzheimer’s patient, for the man in a vegetative state, should be extended to all kind of life. Of course I’m not arguing that we have to convert to Hinduism and wear masks on our face in order to avoid to breath in and kill minuscule bugs (I will always slap a bothersome mosquito with gusto); but we should avoid senseless, indiscriminate killing. To raise cattle, in a human way, for the purpose of providing food is fine. To grow plants for food and decorations is fine. Hunting for sport, cruelty toward animals, indiscriminate deforestation and pollution, is not.
          And by the way, do you think that the blind mechanism of evolution is at the root of the love toward animals and the protection of the environment? Or is it something deeper in the human nature, deeper that just the fear of death, that compel us to love life, every kind of life?

        • MNb

          “Yes, animals do “love” their babies, and that is because they must ensure the transmission of their genes”
          Yes, humans are animals and do love their babies and that is because that increases the chance to transmit their genes.

          “unless of course the baby is deformed or sick or weak: in that case evolution demands that the genes that produced the “defective” baby must be stopped from reproducing to avoid a weaker, sicker progeny.”
          Are you a creationist? Evolution doesn’t demand anything, just like gravity doesn’t demand that you will fall downwards iso upwards. Your making an is ought fallacy here.
          “Defective” individuals just have smaller chance to procreate, that’s all.

          “what was exactly the evolutionary advantage”
          You at least are as ignorant as the average creationist.

          http://www.nature.com/scitable/blog/watching-the-detectives/peter_kropotkin_and_the_evolution

          http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/human_evolution/2012/10/evolution_of_cooperation_russian_anarchist_prince_peter_kropotkin_and_the.html

          You’re only 150 years behind.
          Plus “Evolution Theory can’t explain it hence god” of course is just another god of the gaps. I think it’s wonderful that apologists only can argue for their god in terms of “science can’t explain”. It shows that they don’t have a method and that their god doesn’t explain anything – doesn’t contribute anything to our knowledge and understanding. It only tells us something about those apologists themselves.

          “I’m convinced that there is something else in the equation, what we call consciousness, spirit, soul.”
          Yes and you already told us why: it makes you feel good.

        • Greg G.

          Thus, in most of the animal kingdom, mommy eats her weak, sick, deformed young or simply let it die.

          “Let it die” as opposed to take it to the veterinarian? I have seen mother elephants trying to lift their dead babies to their feet and not leave the area for a long while. I recently saw a picture of a bobcat carrying its dead baby with it. I saw a video of chimpanzees killing a baby leopard then carrying it like a baby.

          So, what was exactly the evolutionary advantage that compelled humans to develop a higher degree of compassion in order to care for a baby with cerebral palsy or Down syndrome?
          Not only that, what is the evolutionary advantage of caring for the elderly, Alzheimer’s patients or the person in a vegetative state of my example?

          The advantage is for the babies and fellow tribe members who are not that ill. An evolutionary advantage that has a large benefit with some over-extensions can be better than one that doesn’t go far enough.

          But some tribes of humans have been known to allow their deformed offspring to die. Some would exile their elderly. As recently as Medieval times, a child would be sacrificed to be the spirit of a building.

          Some mothers do not bond properly with their new-borns. Sometimes this is due to hormonal imbalances.

          You seem to have some confirmation bias going on. Every good thing you see in humans counts as soul-related or some divine essence while the same trait in animals is just for the survival of the species.

          And, besides love, what is the evolutionary advantage of creativity, of expressing himself through art, music, literature, poetry, dance, cinema? How can this “selfish gene” be accountable for that?

          Brain capacity in the human line grew 200cc over a million years until a quarter of a million years ago. Then brain capacities grew 250cc in 200,000 years in two species of human simultaneously. Apparently there was a new selective pressure for bigger, more powerful brains until about 80,000 years ago when H. neanderthals began to go extinct and H. sapiens nearly did. But humans developed over capacity of brain power. They didn’t have writing so they had to remember everything they learned. Music may have helped them remember the way children learn the alphabet.

          When writing was developed, more information could be recorded and accessed. Fallacies that were usually useful for quick decisions were eliminated and logic was developed which really made even greater use of the excess brain capacity.

          You can reduce the whole of human experience to complex brain chemistry and intricate social relationships; it doesn’t fly with me: I’m convinced that there is something else in the equation, what we call consciousness, spirit, soul.

          But they don’t explain anything and they require explanation.

          Even when a brain-dead person is cared for, they aren’t treated the same as a functioning human. They aren’t high on the list to get kidney transplants.

          Of course I’m not arguing that we have to convert to Hinduism and wear masks on our face in order to avoid to breath in and kill minuscule bugs (I will always slap a bothersome mosquito with gusto); but we should avoid senseless, indiscriminate killing.

          That is Jainism.

          To raise cattle, in a human way, for the purpose of providing food is fine. To grow plants for food and decorations is fine. Hunting for sport, cruelty toward animals, indiscriminate deforestation and pollution, is not.

          Is there a humane way to kill beef on the hoof? Do you think you are more like the divine because you don’t hunt Bambi? The Jainist is at least consistent.

          And by the way, do you think that the blind mechanism of evolution is at the root of the love toward animals and the protection of the environment? Or is it something deeper in the human nature, deeper that just the fear of death, that compel us to love life, every kind of life?

          Yes, evolution can explain all that. Evolution is not omnipotent. It plays to probability. The desire to live can come from more than just a fear of death and fear of pain. It can come from the bonds for others, too. The desire to stay with the other parent of your offspring just because your ancestors survived because their parents had the alleles that favored that reaction in “human nature”. Those reactions are so deeply imbedded in your subconsious that you don’t even realize that you have them, similar to every other placental mammal.

        • MR

          Sonny, true love is the greatest thing in the world – except for a nice MLT – mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomatoes are ripe.
          [smacks his lips]
          They’re so perky, I love that.

          —The Princess Bride

          Oh, man, I love a good steak like that, when it’s done just right you don’t need anything more than salt and pepper, maybe a little butter…—throw that on a grill and get that nice char… Oh, man…. Lecker, lecker, lecker!

          But for all the joy a nice steak brings, when you really think about it, the vegetarians are right, you know. A steak is nothing more than a hunk of flesh hacked from the carcass of a dead cow with some minerals and plant matter thrown on top, maybe coated in some mammary secretions, and then burnt over a fire. That’s all a steak is. Done right it feels magical, but honestly that’s all it is.

          Just like love. Love may just be chemical reactions, but man it feels good. No need to go inventing something more to explain it just because it makes you feel good.

        • Greg G.

          My wife and I were walking down a street in Vietnam where there were four restaurants that served dog meat. We walked on the other side. One guy was barbequing some. The whole idea had a knot in my stomach. But when we walked through the smoke, the thought popped into my head that it smelled really good before it hit me what I was smelling. I felt even worse.

        • Ignorant Amos

          For lunch I have just had a wild boar and apple burger, covered in melted mature cheddar cheese, topped with sliced tomato, in a bun spread with mayonnaise c/w a drizzle of chilli sauce. Beautiful.

          Already knowing the detail as you have described it, takes nothing away from the enjoyment of the event of eating it, nor will knowing the detail of what is happening to it subsequent to that event. I just don’t think about it in too much detail at every eating event. That is where Fabio’s hypothesis on love fails. Like knowing the science behind the rainbow, or the science behind enjoying looking at a masterpiece, there is no need to think about that knowledge at every occasion, just knowing it is enough. Like the night sky…we all see it all the time and it is beautiful…but it becomes awesome when one stops to ponder it for a while. My limited knowledge of the cosmos and its vastness does that for me. If someone gets the same from believing it is pinholes in the firmament that the sun is shining through, well that’s fine, but don’t try and sell me on that nonsense..and if someone is going to force that bollocks on me, they best be prepared for the argument to get intense.

          I put Fabio’s “the science behind love will have you in the divorce courts” assertion, to my partner and she just exclaimed…”Whaaaa?”…”Is he crazy?” Because nobody does that, even those that are aware of it. There is just no need. I guess Fabio is either in denial about the truth or wants to remain in the dark. Either way, knowing the “hierarchical reductionism” of a thing or even abstract concept is more enlightening and awe inspiring in my opinion.

        • MNb

          “I have seen mother elephants”
          Fabio wrote “most of the animal kingdom” and hence will label this as the exception proving the rule.

        • Fabio

          As I have already explained in a precedent post, how I see it is there are two different forces at work. Both are positive because they are concerned with maintaining life, but one is of a “higher” nature, concerned with life as principle, as an absolute good, regardless of any distinctions, while the other one is of a “lower nature” and is concerned with “my” life and the survival of my genes. The latter is the basis for evolution, the standard on which any genetic mutation is judged (is it useful for survival?) in order to be selected for extinction of to be transmitted to future generations. The former is if a higher nature because it goes beyond the survival of the individual; it is concerned more with the bigger picture: the survival of my offspring, of my family, of my tribe, of every human beings, of every life. You can look at them as two different, opposite forces, one based on the physical world with its unforgiving law if the survival of the fittest, and the other one based on the spiritual world, the essence of life, the divine.
          Or you can see it as the same force, the difference just a matter of degrees, expressing itself throughout the whole animal kingdom, including the human race, going from selfishness to selflessness, from natural life to the divine. Now you can argue, why give to it a divine explanation? It’s just a force to survive, evolving, like life itself, becoming more and more complex, taking in consideration more and more factors to improve the chance of survival; after all, family, society, the environment are all important factors for the survival of our species.
          The problem I have with this interpretation is that is based on deceiving: it’s that “selfish gene” doing whatever it takes to ensure its survival. The conservation of the environment, the protection of the endangered species, the animal protection, the compassion for all human beings, the love of country, love for your family, love for your wife and kids, all boils down to the survival of the selfish gene.
          Do you find this explanation satisfying? I don’t.
          I prefer see it as the selfish gene striving to express unconditionally love, the love of God.

          And what had to do the brain volume with creativity and the pleasure we prove when we create something? Language as a way to communicate does not explain literature and poetry. Music as a way to remember the alphabet does not explain the ecstatic states it may evoke. A soul does. A connection to the immense beauty of the divine does. And if you believe in the divine, that’s is the explanation.

          I see evolution as having a meaning, a reason to be. If you remember, I asked you why life evolves; if the only purpose of life is to reproduce itself, a single strand of RNA duplicating itself, over and over again, should have sufficed. Why evolve in more and more complex life forms? You answered something like “life has only one way to go”. Why life had to go anywhere? Is it something like the self-caused quantum event that originated our universe?
          Is it something that just…happens?

          I see ourselves to a standstill: you believe that everything, our universe, life and consciousness came to be just because this is the way the cookie crumbles.
          I believe that there is an external cause to our reality, beyond it and sustaining it, and I call it God.

        • Greg G.

          Do you find this explanation satisfying? I don’t.

          I accept the explanation. It satisfies my curiosity about how things work. I’m also satisfied with the “no Santa Claus” explanation because it is more reasonable even though my druthers are for a real Santa. Reality is not here to satisfy me. My genes are here to do what they do so I do what I can do.

          That ecstacy is from dopamine and serotonin, the only things that make you happy. What you think makes you happy is what makes your brain produce those.

        • Ignorant Amos

          As anyone who has taken MDMA can confirm. The condition can be artificially induced.

          Euphoria – a sense of general well-being and happiness.

          Increased sociability and feelings of communication being easy or simple.

          Entactogenic effects – increased empathy or feelings of closeness with others.

          A sense of inner peace.

          Mild hallucination (e.g., colors and sounds are enhanced and mild closed-eye visuals).

          Enhanced sensation, perception, or sexuality.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So, what was exactly the evolutionary advantage that compelled humans to develop a higher degree of compassion in order to care for a baby with cerebral palsy or Down syndrome?

          Ah “compassion”…what a highly subjective loaded word that is.

          Compassion isn’t all that when eccentric millionaires can leave their fortune to pets while millions of children are suffering. It’s disgusting.

          Equally disgusting is the compassion we can show a suffering pet and relieve it of its misery by euthanasia, while no such compassion is afforded a suffering human.

          But let’s look at your examples.

          Well the thing is Fabio, the higher degree of compassion has grown out of human progress and civilisation. Developments in science being a major factor. But don’t kid yourself that it is universal or there is no vestigial remnant of a time before that compassion and civilisation developed. You only have to look around the world. Mothers that can’t cope, for whatever reason, shun and abandon babies quite regularly…even here in the “civilised” world.

          Not a lot of disabled children make it in the developing world, even mildly disabled.

          In developing countries, 60% of children die within a year of going blind.

          How many children born disabled in third world countries are terminated i.e. infanticide?

          Leaving the child to the elements was the preferred method to ‘dispose’ of the child, because it meant the child died of natural causes, which was a more ‘moral’ death than directly killing the child.

          The practice generally died out, and was outlawed in the last years of the Roman Empire. However there are references to infanticide in many cultures in every historical era, and is believed to still take place in certain parts of India, Africa, and China.

          Compassion, eh? Those poor mothers might well believe that they are being compassionate, in that the death of the one is alleviating the suffering of the many. Suffering includes starving.

          Not only that, what is the evolutionary advantage of caring for the elderly, Alzheimer’s patients or the person in a vegetative state of my example?

          None. It is that compassion and civilisation coupled with advances in science thing again. Before that mortality rates meant very few folk reached the age of dementia. Those that were lucky enough to do so, would not have survived dementia. Again, look around you.

          In the U.K, Life expectancy at birth increased by almost a decade in the first 50 years of the NHS (established in 1948). In 1948, 40% of people died before reaching pensionable age, but by 1996 this was reduced to just 7%.

          During the Roman Empire, Romans had a approximate life expectancy of 22 to 25 years. In 1900, the world life expectancy was approximately 30 years and in 1985 it was about 62 years, just five years short of today’s life expectancy.

          It is easy to get wrapped up in your version of compassion while looking through those rose tinted glasses of modern western living. But even that ain’t so clear cut. Compassion works both ways in an evolutionary sense. Modern western ethics has just messed about with it.

        • Fabio

          Amos, “how” is THE question for the scientific mind, concerned with realities and measurements; for my mind (a romantic mind if you wish), concerned with the intangible and incommensurable, “why” is THE question (why I am here? Why life? Is there a meaning to existence?).
          Once I answer the question “why” with the hypothesis of a creator, then theology may try to explain how, what method and so on; but the truth is that, as Lew put it, theology is just a parlour game: we cannot ever know how the creator operates.

          Of course I believe that there is a before-life; wasn’t clear from my precedent posts? I’m sorry.
          I believe that our consciousness is a fragment of God’s consciousness, originating from and going back to him, connected to our creator and the rest of creation; my dear Amos, we are more than brothers, you and me: we are one, and we are one with the universe, and we are one with the creator of the universe. Isn’t it great?

          I’m trying to learn more about other religions and their language and, I assure you, there is lots of nonsense there too. You think that if I was using Buddhist or Hindu terminology there would be less confusion and you guys would be more willing to agree with my interpretation of reality?

          About the false dichotomy and the bible literalists: as I said before theology is just a parlour game; we cannot possibly know how to define God and how he operates. Therefore, any interpretation of the transcendence, the numinous, the “mysterium tremendum”, the one I call God, and the Buddhist calls Nirvana, and the Hindu calls Brahman, is based on our limited human knowledge and is inherently wrong.
          The same applies to the atheistic position: you look around and you say that there’s nothing beyond our reality, but, by definition, beyond our reality means beyond our understanding and knowledge, thus the statement is inherently wrong.
          You can argue: “if everyone is wrong, why are you arguing to prove your point?”; because “you will recognize it by its fruit” or, as Karen Armstrong put it: (paraphrasing) “any interpretation that promotes love, tolerance and respect is legitimate”. You can believe that there’s nothing besides our reality, you can believe that there is God, you can believe in Nirvana, you can believe in the Hindu pantheon, I don’t really care as long you are a force for good.
          On the other hand, if your bible literalism (by the way, the one who wants to reign in the bible literalists is Bob; I prefer using the term “speak against”) compels you to discriminate against homosexuals, I will speak against it. If your interpretation of religion does not promote love, tolerance and respect I will speak against it. And if you atheism justify sneering at religious people, regardless how nice, honest and tolerant they are, guess what: I will speak against it.

          About compassion; well, I agree with you that it’s not all nice and perfect. I’m aware that, with all my talking about love and tolerance, fundamentally I’m a selfish bastard like everyone else. But I’m trying to be a better person, every day. I look around me and I see the bad and I see the good and, guess what: I see that the world is slowly but surely becoming a better place. Of course I can’t say it with certainty, but you struck me as a cynic. I tell you about how disabled children are taking care of (in most cases), and you answer: “yes, but…”. For sure there’s more work to do in the world, evil to eradicate and goodness to spread, but “we are confident on the victory of good over evil”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The same applies to the atheistic position: you look around and you say that there’s nothing beyond our reality, but, by definition, beyond our reality means beyond our understanding and knowledge, thus the statement is inherently wrong.

          FFS, how hard is it to understand? The atheist “position” is that there is no credible evidence for the god hypothesis, ergo I live my life as though such a concept is nonsense. That’s it, THAT IS IT. What you are describing above, although most atheists might hold to it, is NOT an atheist “position”.

          But, you are still wrong. Atheists, for the most part, do not state that there is nothing “beyond our understanding and knowledge”, the atheist, like science, is agnostic on this issue. By virtue of the statement, “beyond our understanding and knowledge”, all anyone can say is “I don’t know”. Once you assert something beyond that, you are making a “beyond our understanding and knowledge” claim. It is special pleading to assert creator God. It is stupid, asinine and moronic and it is up to the person making such assertions to show why they should be heeded. Keep in mind,extraordinary assertions require extraordinary evidence. Just saying it is so because there can be no such evidence is being an ignorant twat. You would not accept said off me, so why insult my intelligence with your wishful thinking bullshit?

          Here is an analogy I like to use…

          1. I have a compact car in my garage.

          2. I have a cruise missile in my garage.

          3. I have an intergalactic time machine in my garage.

          The level of acceptable evidence for you to believe each claim is not the same at all.

          Evidence claims of universe creating omni everything super beings needs to be way far and beyond the evidence acceptable for statement 3, and you wouldn’t believe me if I made statement 3 would ya? Not without extremely extraordinary incredible evidence no doubt, and I wouldn’t blame ya. This is what is meant by “the evidence for the claim being in correlation to said claim”. God claims don’t even have superficial supporting evidence, so for that reason I don’t buy it, in the same way you wouldn’t buy statement 3, and probably statement 2….statement 1 is not an extraordinary claim for belief.

          Surely you must be aware of, “The Dragon in My Garage” by Carl Sagan?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJRy3Kl_z5E

        • Ignorant Amos

          You can argue: “if everyone is wrong, why are you arguing to prove your point?”; because “you will recognize it by its fruit” or, as Karen Armstrong put it: (paraphrasing) “any interpretation that promotes love, tolerance and respect is legitimate”. You can believe that there’s nothing besides our reality, you can believe that there is God, you can believe in Nirvana, you can believe in the Hindu pantheon, I don’t really care as long you are a force for good. On the other hand, if your bible literalism (by the way, the one who wants to reign in the bible literalists is Bob; I prefer using the term “speak against”) compels you to discriminate against homosexuals, I will speak against it. If your interpretation of religion does not promote love, tolerance and respect I will speak against it. And if you atheism justify sneering at religious people, regardless how nice, honest and tolerant they are, guess what: I will speak against it.

          So what? It has nothing to do with the veracity of supernatural truth claims. Good people and bad people on both sides is not being contended.

        • Ignorant Amos

          About compassion; well, I agree with you that it’s not all nice and perfect.

          I’m glad we agree. it’s very far from nice and perfect. I could fill a book on the subject.

          I’m aware that, with all my talking about love and tolerance, fundamentally I’m a selfish bastard like everyone else.

          Well, selfish bastard seems a bit strong, you don’t come across as such, but then I don’t really know you, so I bow to your superior knowledge on this detail.

          But I’m trying to be a better person, every day.

          Very commendable, but again, it has no bearing on the veracity of creator god assertions.

          I look around me and I see the bad and I see the good and, guess what: I see that the world is slowly but surely becoming a better place.

          Indeed it is…apparently. But when you look around an see good and bad, where do you see things getting better and where are they getting worse? Can you see any correlation with belief in the supernatural and the rise in education levels?

          Of course I can’t say it with certainty, but you struck me as a cynic.

          Oh I’m a cynic all right, but that has nothing to do with my pragmatism. If you read my comment properly, I was not saying things are not getting better, but to ask for an evolutionary excuse why is just silly pants to anyone with a modicum of understanding of the subject. And just because things are generally better is nothing to cock and crow about when they are still not very good. I guess it is easy for folk privileged enough to have the capability and resources to be spending time on a computer in an internet forum discourse to sit on their laurels. Your god has been good to you at least billions can’t say the same..

          I tell you about how disabled children are taking care of (in most cases), and you answer: “yes, but…”.

          Now you really are being a disingenuous tit. You weren’t telling me anything. You were using disabled children as a tool to question evolution, or did you forget about that? Here. I’ll remind you again…

          So, what was exactly the evolutionary advantage that compelled humans to develop a higher degree of compassion in order to care for a baby with cerebral palsy or Down syndrome?

          I was attempting to point out the erroneous nature of the question. You clearly need more time studying evolution or best leave it alone lest your questions hoist you by your own petard. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for asking questions, my moniker ain’t what it is for no reason, but the trick is, when one gets an answer one doesn’t feel comfortable with, ask for clarification, evidence, or go do some further research in order to verify.

          For sure there’s more work to do in the world, evil to eradicate and goodness to spread, but “we are confident on the victory of good over evil”.

          I’m curious as to what good and evil have to do with compassion? You are not suggesting that disabled children are evil…or that their disability is evil, because that too would be very silly pants indeed.

          BTW, I have a nephew that has cerebral palsy and a grand nephew who is autistic…so be careful what ya say.

        • MNb

          “Isn’t it great?”
          No.

          “you guys would be more willing to agree with my interpretation of reality?”
          No, not as long as you assume that reality is dual.

          “we cannot possibly know how to define God and how he operates”
          What sense does it make to speak about any god and how operates then? None? Then with Wittgenstein I say we should remain silent about him. Go figure – that’s exactly what my female counterpart does, a professing muslima. With less education she is smarter than you and me. She knows what I’m doing here (“aha, it’s all about having answers ready”) and only shakes her head. I don’t contradict her.

          “beyond our reality means beyond our understanding and knowledge, thus the statement is inherently wrong.”
          Nice non-sequitur. Of course if there is nothing beyond our material reality there is nothing to understand and know about it either.

          “I’m trying to be a better person”
          So do I. God and specifically Jesus as described in the Bible are just obstacles. Kudos to you if Jesus helps you; I know several christians in my community to whom this applies as well. Not to me though and I have realized this since I was 13 or 14.

        • adam

          ” “why” is THE question (why I am here? Why life? Is there a meaning to existence?).”

          You are here because your parents had sex.

          Life because THAT is what we call what has evolved here

          Of course there is meaning to existence – survival and procreation to continue existence.

          Whys are just as easy as hows.

          And no imaginary magic needed.

        • Greg G.

          Why evolve in more and more complex organisms?

          If life started very simple, there is only one direction life can go. A random walk from there will lead to more complex life but cannot lead to simpler life forms.

          Complex life forms often become simpler. Many parasites cannot live freely. They rely on other life forms because they have become so simplified that they cannot live without a host.

          I couldn’t wait to finish reading without address that point.

        • Greg G.

          Let’s start with the proposition that Greg introduced in the discussion: “if there is a benevolent God, what’s up with the suffering?”. This is what we are talking about, right guys?

          So we are hypothesizing that there is a “God” and that is benevolent. If this hypothesis is not compatible with the fact that there is, indeed, suffering in the world, than the hypothesis is false. Does anybody disagrees with me, so far?

          It is about a benevolent AND omnipotent god. There are benevolent beings in the universe that would prevent all suffering if they could but they are only human.

          So what do we mean by God?

          There are people more powerful than most and there may be beings more powerful than humans. But are they powerful enough to be called a god? The powers attributed to Satan exceed the powers attributed to the Greek gods, yet Satan is not called a god. I set a minimum standard. If a being is incapable of preventing suffering, why call it a god? You define “God” in the vaguest way possible way.

          Is this “God” benevolent? Depends from what me mean by benevolent.

          How about “not sadistic” and “not indifferent to suffering”? Why redefine postive adjective to apply to an indifferent universe? It will only make the words meaningless if you redefine them. If words don’t apply to your concept of God, use other words that actually do apply.

          So, how can we define this “God”? The best I can do is to say that it’s a positive, creative force.

          But all you can do is to try to define it into existence because your definition is so vague that there cannot possibly be evidence for it.

          If this God is a positive, creative force, what’s up with the suffering?

          God must be an absolute; it must be one, unchangeable, eternal, infinite.

          An eternal, infinite god would be able to create and manage a billion suffering-free universes.

          Try to imagine this “being”; he’s one, he’s absolute, infinite and eternal. In religious language, this being is all-knowing but, if you think about it, what does he know? What is there to know, besides himself?

          If he know himself, he would know all possibilities. He would know universes filled with suffering and universes void of suffering and how to manage any of them.

          Thus, whatever God creates is going to be non-God, thus multiple, mutable, finite and temporal.

          Why is God incapable of creating a place where he is not? It would be non-God. It would not need to be finite or temporal. He could make many of them. They would each be in separate realities. He could then put his clones in some of them. There are the same number of numbers that are powers of ten as there are integers (that is, there is a one to one correspondence) but not all integers are powers of ten. So the eternal and limitless properties would allow this definition of God to make “numbers” that are not him.

          The answer is that God needs a more complex vessel than “just” a universe and life. He needs consciousness.

          Wouldn’t one be sufficient? If one isn’t enough for a limitless being, a finite universe full of them won’t be enough either.

          Combine it with a brain capable of higher reasoning and you have a deadly combination: a living being, man, able and willing to destroy his brothers, all life forms and the whole planet without a second thought.

          Where do you get this stuff? That is theological brain rot. Humans have sympathy for others. Chimpanzees, gorillas, whales, and dogs have sympathy for their own species as well as other species.

          Lizard brains in action:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJ87DJl_jbc (55 seconds long)

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK9Xj7eY0UU (action starts at 28 seconds)

          Without the suffering of existence, there’s no reason for the benevolence of God to be.

          You are still missing the point that unnecessary suffering exists. Natural disasters happen. Wolves and lions eat animals that are still conscious. That has nothing to do with humans. That was going on before there were primates. You cannot blame that on humans.

          But a limitless god would be able to examine every point in time for any universe project and choose those with no suffering in them. Starting a project that would lead to unnecessary suffering is not the sign of a benevolent being.

          If he did have a universe that had suffering, then the limitlessness could step in to prevent all suffering. A self-imposed hands-off policy regarding suffering for two-thirds of a trinity that is within the universe already is sadistic. “I’m infinitely powerful but I’m going to let you suffer rather than admit my initial idea about not interfering is wrong.”

          An eternal, infinite god would be able to create universe with suffering or a universe without suffering just as easily. The universe without suffering makes the suffering in the other universe unnecessary. Consciously opting for the former would be sadistic. Therefore, the universe was not a conscious, creative act or ithe universe was created by a sadist.

          All you have done is make excuses for why the universe looks like it is indifferent to the existence of life on this planet. Your definition of God is too vague to even talk about. If God doesn’t interfere, then there is no way that that this theology could be based on known fact. It is completely consistent with imagination. Humans are more capable of imagining gods than they are at detecting gods.

          But even if your theology were correct, it does not prevent the evil of unnecessary suffering, so why call it God?

        • Your argument goes, “Well, if we imagine a finite god, that would be crazy; therefore, the god must be infinite.” But you give no thought to the consequences of your conclusion. Analyze that honestly and you’ll find that that as well is crazy.

        • MNb

          “If this hypothesis is not compatible with the fact that there is, indeed, suffering in the world, than the hypothesis is false. Does anybody disagrees with me, so far?”
          Yes, I do. The claim is too strong. It should be about probability. The question should be “what’s the probability that there is a benevolent god allowing the suffering we notice?” My answer: low enough to assume there is no such god.

          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evil/

          But the PoE doesn’t justify my strong atheism, no.

        • MNb

          “The one talking about a benevolent God has been you. Or somebody else, I don’t remember, not me.”
          Your god is not benevolent? That’s a honest question – there are several belief systems that don’t have benevolent or omnipotent gods. If yes you shouldn’t have reacted to the PoE at all – it doesn’t apply to you. If your god is benevolent indeed you’re dishonest. Given the rest of the comment I think the latter.

          “the proposition “if a benevolent God exists he would have created a better place, therefore God does not exist”. This is a little disingenuous, don’t you think?”
          That’s very disingenuous – from you, because I never wrote that and already made that clear.

          “if your benevolent God”
          Again very disingenuous. You don’t take your own rules for debating atheists seriously; this is the second time you violate them. That god is not mine. The question is if your god is benevolent, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent etc. If yes you have a problem – a problem pointed out by christian theologians after the earthquake that struck Lissabon in the 18th Century. I begin to think that believers back then were more honest than now; my first impression of you was that you refuted this suspicion, but alas.

          “wouldn’t be even better ……”
          You tell me. It’s your problem, not mine. Very disingenuous to repeat your silly trick after I already pointed this out.

          “A benevolent God should take in consideration all situations in life, not only emergencies!”
          Why not? You tell me. It’s your problem etc.

          “Wouldn’t that be the work of a super-benevolent God?”
          Why not? You tell me. It’s your problem etc.

          “Sorry about …..”
          Thanks for confirming that you’re disingenous indeed. If you had been sorry you would have edited your comment, given a serious answer and not just repeated your cheap rhetoric trick and your lame attempt to be sarcastic.

          “sorry if you get offended”
          You’re by far not important enough to me to be capable of offending me. Your apologies only make you look like a piece of shit in my eyes, which is only to my advantage. You have just made it impossible to me to take you seriously anymore and confirm my hypothesis that believing in god can cause severe damage to cognitive skills – though I’ve met far worse than you. Also you confirm my suspicion that narcissism and christian belief are correlated. You are not capable of imagining what poor impression your fake sorry makes, but just use it as a lame excuse to continue your lame attempts to sarcasm and immunize yourself for criticism.
          A honest person would have admitted that his own rules are hard to live by and try to do better or would have admitted that those rules are not workable. Not you. Very disingenuous.

        • adam

          ” “if a benevolent God exists he would have created a better place, therefore God does not exist”. This is a little disingenuous, don’t you think?”

          Says the man who WORSHIPS a malevolent ‘god’!!!

        • Kodie

          The universe has dangerous rules and you hope there is some purpose for all of it or it upsets you. Does it matter to you if the purpose is good or bad? I mean, would it upset you that your god’s purpose for all of this is for his own sick amusement, or are you suggesting there is so much bad that there has to be a good purpose? So far, you haven’t elaborated on this comfort of purpose you feel, that you’d rather it is at least all for your god’s sick amusement than for absolutely no purpose at all. If you think there is a good purpose, then you do believe in a benevolent god despite the evidence, or you are subject to hoping the unknowable god has a better purpose than sick amusement. Since he is god and you can’t question or learn what the purpose really is, you either don’t care as long as it’s purposeful, or you suppose him good because you’re not as intelligent as a god to figure it out, and it just has to be, IT JUST HAS TO!

          So are you simply selfish, or simply foolish?

        • Kodie

          It’s never been satisfactorily explained by any theist why, with a god, this world is full of danger and misery. Even though most Christians are progressive and do not believe in a literal Adam and Eve and Garden of Eden, and understand it to be an origin myth, they will still say “the fall” as though that’s not also an origin myth. The world used to be perfect but someone screwed it up and god had to punish everyone with a normal planet with living things on it and geological events, weather, catastrophe, fire, and everything else, and Jesus Christ was his way of putting out his hand and bringing everyone to a kinder safer place the earth was originally meant to be.

          Really now.

          There is no satisfactory explanation that involves a god. The features of our planet and the fact that we live here, we are surviving as long as we can adapt. No god necessary to explain why things are the way they are. Once you start creating some fall (no pun intended) guy to blame for it, we have a lot of questions and hear nothing but excuses back. Is this how you wanted to engage in a classic debate like Greeks?

          Being unable to respond with a coherent argument supported by evidence, and just fall back on, “come on guys, you’re not being fair, you’re asking too much and you can’t have it your way, god says.” That silly argument was addressed in another recent article. You compare us to children for expecting a better world with such a god, and speak words into your deity’s mouth to deny us that world on the premise that he’s just in charge and no.

          Sorry, that’s the sort of unintelligent argument I was expecting and told you so. You don’t like to engage with someone who calls you on your bullshit, then don’t shovel so much of it. Should be easy for you, right?

        • Fabio

          I started reading your post and I thought: “nice argument, well expressed” and I’ve felt tempted to engage with you…then I got to the end, with all the anger and the rudeness…and I changed my mind, sorry; try again.
          You are smart but you have quite an unpleasant attitude.

        • MNb

          So do you with your refusal to address the PoE, wrongly assuming that cheap sarcasm is enough.

        • Fabio

          I’m not being sarcastic; well, maybe a little. Anyway I refuse to engage with belligerent people; I’m here to enjoy a discussion, learn something, sharpen my wit and my arguments. I don’t have any needs to fight.

        • Kodie

          Sorry you are not as smart as you think you are. Do you think you’re punishing me?

        • Susan

          how childish is your bitching about God’s benevolence; a little bit like my 5 years old who tells me that I’m a bad father every time I refuse to buy her a new toy

          If you let your 5 year old painfully starve to death even though you could prevent it and I bitched about that, would it be reasonable to describe my bitching as childish, akin to throwing a tantrum because I didn’t get the toy I wanted?

          Now, extend that to hundreds of millions of years of unfathomable suffering by nervous systems on this planet.

          Ignoring that reality won’t make it go away. Your ‘benevolent agent’ hypothesis has to answer to reality.

          Dismissing it in such an illogical and cold-blooded manner means you don’t understand the problem or worse, don’t care.

          If that’s your best response, why should I think ‘benevolent’ means anything when you type it?

        • Fabio

          Susan, I’m a nurse and I deal with suffering all day long. Sometimes is overwhelming, but I’m grateful that I’m able to make a difference in the life of somebody less fortunate.
          I do not dismiss suffering; if I seem to be cold-blooded it’s because I’m assuming that if you (you or anybody else on this thread) have the privilege of wasting your time engaging some guy on the internet on a pointless discussion, most probably you don’t have a lot of suffering going on in your life. If you do, please forgive my callousness.
          The point is that suffering is part of the human condition. 90% of suffering (this percentage is absolutely with no basis whatsoever) is caused by man. If I starve my child, it’s me to blame not God. War, famine, poverty, oppression, all have man to blame. You can object: “what about diseases and natural catastrophes”?
          Well, some illness, like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, also are caused by man. Genetic mutations are the foundation for evolution, but sometimes they go awry and we get congenital diseases and cancer. Infection are caused by the fight for survival of bacteria and viruses ( maybe they also curse God when we kill them by the millions with our antibiotics). You can blame earthquakes on geology, tornadoes on meteorology, fires on chemistry.
          Do you want to know what’s my understanding of God’s benevolence? The compassion that WE show to each other. The sacrifices WE make for somebody else’s sake. The love WE have for all living creatures and our world. Is it not enough for you?

        • Susan

          The point is that suffering is part of the human condition.

          Of course it is. It’s the condition of every nervous system that’s ever existed on this planet. It’s not just humans. Most of suffering is by non-human nervous systems.

          Now, juxtapose this against your claim that an agent created this from metaphysical nothing. It could have made any rules it wanted.

          Instead, we have natural selection.

          This is a problem if you’re claiming a good agent. Especially if it’s omnipotent and omniscient.

          Rather than address that cold reality, you thought it would be cute to get sarcastic.

          And to say that life wouldn’t be interesting without HItler and HIV.

          When you think it’s OK to assume that anyone who spends time on the internet must not be suffering, you make at least two egregious errors.

          1) You have no idea what the person with whom you’re interacting is suffering. Not a clue. They might be motivated by suffering to rail against human ignorance and the tendency humans have to make mindless ontological asumptions based on what makes them ‘comfortable’. That’s led to a lot of suffering.

          2) Much more importantly, they are not complaining about your callousness toward them specifically, but towards the unfathomable suffering that is built into the nature of this planet, a piece of dust in the larger scheme of things.

          If you think you’re only being callous if I’m suffering, you are missing the point entirely.

        • Susan

          Do you want to know what’s my understanding of God’s benevolence?

          You still haven’t defined ‘God’.

          The compassion that WE show to each other.

          That is our compassion. Define your ‘God’ and show the connection. You are making an agent claim without showing necessity or model. .Support it or drop your claim.

          The sacrifices WE make for somebody else’s sake.

          See above.

          The love WE have for all living creatures and our world.

          You’ve got to be kidding me. Ask the living creatures and our world.

          Is it not enough for you?

          To do what? Verify a vague agent claim that you will neither define nor support?

          What comforts you:

          1) Does not convince me.

          2) Appalls me.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You just don’t get it do you? If, at the very least, a tri-omni God, then no suffering. Cut it any way ya want but it ain’t flying around here. The fact that you are a nurse and witness the worst of it, makes it worse. And your excuse making, aka apologetics, are pathetic.

        • Kodie

          No, did you see the part where he’s a nurse, so he’s able to make a difference easing the suffering, but you jerkhead atheist most likely do not have any purpose as such, you spend all your time on the internet discussing things pointlessly instead of doing saintly work like he does, and forgive his callousness in making assumptions on other people’s character, because he’s into serious debating like the Greeks. This is serious reasons he believes in god, it has nothing to do with believing what makes him feel better. It makes him feel better to think he is doing god’s work that god uses humans to do with human limitations instead of god’s limitless abilities, instead of shoveling human goodness with a spork against “god’s” tsunami of nastiness, grief and pain in this world.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Probably a homoeopathic nurse.

        • MNb

          Oh, he does get it. He just doesn’t want to address the PoE. I’ve seen apologists using his trick before. Edward Feser does the same. What they hope for is pissing someone off, so that they can say that the angry atheist doesn’t have sense of humour.

        • Ignorant Amos

          He is all over the place if you ask me.

    • 5. God’s existence can’t be absolutely proven, but the evidence is sure is on his side.

      I’m listening. Give us some good reasons to believe the God hypothesis.

      Many people have vested interests for not believing in God and nothing will convince them.

      Oh, so it’s the atheists who have the vested interests, not the church leaders, politicians, and Christians who wouldn’t want to admit that they backed the wrong horse all their lives. OK, got it.

      6. The origin of life, though not under the rubric of evolution, requires a supernatural beginning.

      This is called abiogenesis. Science doesn’t have a consensus answer, though that doesn’t much matter. There are lots of unanswered questions within science, but that doesn’t mean that God exists. The God hypothesis must be proven on its own merits, not on the failure of an alternative explanation.

      The Cambrian explosion is not explainable by Darwinian gradulism. Neither are the at least 5 major earth-wide disasters since the Cambrian explosion.

      Is that the scientific consensus? If not, I have no interest in it.

      7. The evidence for Jesus is “paltry”. Yes, this is a stupid argument!

      I invite you to expand on this claim.

      We actually have a fragment of John from Egypt dated c.120. Very early, and evidence that these writings were already making the rounds.

      … and?

      Whoever wrote this is seriously biased. He has his conclusions and simply tries to force the “evidence” to fit his biased conclusions.

      That’s a bold claim. I invite you to expand on your charges.

      • apollo99

        5. When someone asks for evidence for God’s existence on a post they are really saying: “I won’t believe anything you present no matter how much sense it makes”. I can recommend many good books on the subject and many good sites to visit. IF you are serious, which I doubt.

        Who cares about politicians? And to believe that you have backed the wrong horse you have to be willing to reject all the evidence for God.

        6. I’m aware of the word. An atheist being patronizing–shocking! lol.

        You are obviously unaware of the probability arguments that show life could not have arisen naturally.

        You don’t like to think for yourself. Okay.

        No point in going forward. You can’t open a closed mind.

        • 5. When someone asks for evidence for God’s existence on a post they are really saying: “I won’t believe anything you present no matter how much sense it makes”.

          Sure, that … or maybe they’re actually willing to consider the evidence, just like they say.

          I can recommend many good books on the subject and many good sites to visit. IF you are serious, which I doubt.

          What I want is your summary, right here in the comments.

          IF you have some compelling arguments, which I doubt.

          Who cares about politicians?

          Fair enough, let’s push them out of the conversation. I fear, however, that they’re pulling many of the strings of conservative Christian America, however.

          And to believe that you have backed the wrong horse you have to be willing to reject all the evidence for God.

          What evidence?

          Was I not clear? I have considered mountains of “evidence,” and it amounts to very little. But if you have good evidence or arguments, give it to us.

          You are obviously unaware of the probability arguments that show life could not have arisen naturally.

          Wrong again. I am quite unaware that this is the scientific consensus. I eagerly await your showing this to us.

          No point in going forward. You can’t open a closed mind.

          Ah, the sour grapes defense. Very innovative. I congratulate you.

        • Fabio

          Apollo, I’m a christian but I have to say that you method is wrong. You came on a atheist channel willing to debate and this is fine, I do the same, but you must be willing to engage; you cannot say “I have a very solid argument to prove my point, if you want to know it, I can tell where to find it, so you can read it by yourself.” You have to propose your own argument, respond to each point against it, maintain an impeccable logic, never attack the person and never respond if attacked personally (well, maybe you can use a little bit of sarcasm, but that’s all!). If the attacks are vicious, do not engage and, graciously leave the conversation. Your objective is not to convince anyone but to bring them to respect you. If they respect you, they will listen to what you have to say; they will disagree but they will not dismiss it, they will think about it…and that is a seed planted in fertile ground.

        • Kodie

          AKA, “How to market your bullshit so it doesn’t stink initially”.

          Thank you for educating apollo to engage intellectually, but that is really difficult, considering your product for sale is not an intellectual one, and it is hard to train salespersons in the tactics. I will freely dismiss every point you make unless it it may be something completely fresh and new that I’ve never argued against or disagreed with or dismissed before, which has never before been seen by any Christian. Go for it.

        • Fabio

          Kodie, I’m not sure I want to engage in a discussion with you, I don’t really like your attitude. You insulted Apollo and you have been rude to me; I tried to lighten you up with a joke with no result.
          I’m not trying to sell anything, I’m trying to engage in a debate. You are familiar with the concept of debate, aren’t you? It has been around since Ancient Greece. And it has rules. What I told Apollo applies to you too. Do not attack the person, do not be offensive, do not substitute sound arguments with loud and crass statements, keep cool and don’t take yourself too seriously.
          Are you willing to behave as a grown up?

        • Kodie

          I”m not the one with the imaginary friend.

        • MNb

          Personally I’m OK with apologists providing a link, if they think the link formulates the argument better than they ever can do. I do it sometimes myself, but indeed I explain why the link is relevant.
          But like Kodie underneath I suspect that there is any new angle that could be brought up.

        • Fabio

          Yes, of course, I do the same, but there must be at the least an explanation of what the material proposed is about.

      • Ignorant Amos

        We actually have a fragment of John from Egypt dated c.120. Very early, and evidence that these writings were already making the rounds.

        Ah ha..he refers to the Rylands P52…but fails to keep up with current scholarship.

        Orsine and Clarysse chastise biblical scholars for embracing unsupportably early dates for their manuscripts:

        There are no first century New Testament papyri and only very few can be attributed to the second century (P52, P90, P104, probably all the second half of the century) or somewhere between the late second and early third centuries (P30, P64+67+4, 0171, 0212).

        Biblical scholars should realise that some of the dates proposed by some of their colleagues are not acceptable to Greek palaeographers and papyrologists.

        http://vridar.org/2013/03/08/new-date-for-that-st-johns-fragment-rylands-library-papyrus-p52/

        From wiki…

        Orsini and Clarysse propose 125 to 175 CE as the range of dates for p52; which corresponds with the “mid second century” date proposed Stanley Porter, is much narrower than the ranges envisaged by Barker or Nongbri, and implies within their dating schema that p52 and p104 stand as the earliest New Testament papyri so far identified (although, strangely, at the conclusion of their article, Orsini and Clarysse state that p52, p90, and p104 “probably all [date to] the second half of the second century.”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rylands_Library_Papyrus_P52#Pasquale_Orsini_and_Willy_Clarysse

        This maybe explains the silence among the second century apologists on their lack of knowledge of a Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus of Nazareth is nowhere to be found in any of the early Christian apologists writing after the first century. The synoptic gospel’s can even be dated later, their just needing to be older than John.

        This is not even that new a thinking btw

        Most people who are new to NT studies will be surprised that, a century ago, it was actually quite common to date all of our NT gospels to the 2nd century. Yes, dear friends, since WWII, there has clearly been a lot more conservatism in NT studies. So it’s almost a universal view in the field nowadays that the canonical gospels are all first century products — a view that really has no basis in reality whatsoever, outside of P52, that is.

        Supposedly, the discovery of P52 had been a big triumph for the early daters of the gospels, since GJohn is generally seen as the latest gospel of the four. So if even the latest gospel had already been in circulation in Egypt by 125 CE, this means that all the gospels are very early, right?

        http://www.globalserve.net/~yuku/bbl/rylands.htm.

        • Then there’s all that gum flapping about the to-be-released first-century Mark fragment.

          The conservatives were quick to poo-poo the “Gospel of the Wife of Jesus” before the facts were in, but they’re eager to claim this early Mark when it suits them.

        • Greg G.

          I hope it dates to the first decade. That will blow their minds. I wonder if it will be something from chapter 7? Luke and John follow Mark 6 closely but both then jump to Mark 8.

    • Otto

      6. The origin of life, though not under the rubric of evolution, requires a supernatural beginning.

      That’s a nice argument from ignorance you have there!

      • Fabio

        Hey Otto, why single strands of RNA started duplicating themselves, originating life? Did they decided to do it by themselves? Did “something” compelled them to do so? Do you have a nice argument from knowledge about that?

        • Greg G.

          The problem is that the necessary evidence would be organic and our dog’s (and our) ancestors ate it all.

          Abiogenesis > Current models

        • MNb

          “Did “something” compelled them to do so?”
          Yes – the right circumstances, ie not something supernatural.

        • Otto

          “I don’t know” is a perfectly reasonable answer to things we don’t know.

          It is not reasonable to jump to the conclusion that “God did it” because you don’t know how or why something happened.

          RNA started replicating at some point.
          We don’t know why or how this happened
          Therefore God made RNA replicate

          That is a fallacious argument from ignorance.

          Trying to put the onus on me to answer the question is shifting the burden of proof. I am not the one making the claim I do know how this happened. Just because I can’t answer the question doesn’t make the answer “God did it” correct by default.

          Two fallacies…well done Fabio.

        • Fabio

          The point that I’m trying to make is that if you say something like: “we don’t know why or how something happened, but we can exclude the hypothesis of a God” you are making a fallacious argument too. Either you know or you don’t know; if you don’t know than you are speculating, you’re making guesses and your guesses are as good as mines.
          I’m not shifting the burden of proof; there’s no way for neither of us to be able to ever produce a definitive proof or even a compelling evidence for either the existence or the non-existence of God. We are talking from a position of utterly ignorance, both of us, therefore a little bit of humility is a must.

        • Otto

          I haven’t excluded anything. I am fine accepting “God” as an answer when there is sufficient evidence and reason to come to that conclusion. Until then “God” as an answer is a non-sequitur.

          A hypothesis is an educated guess. God as an answer does not even rise to the level of a hypothesis. It is just a guess.

          I’m not shifting the burden of proof; there’s no way for neither of us
          to be able to ever produce a definitive proof or even a compelling
          evidence for either the existence or the non-existence of God.

          If that is the case then neither of us are justified in either accepting of excluding God as an answer to anything (a deistic God). I am fine with that. A deistic god and a nonexistent god are identical in appearance. In that respect my position is humble. I am not sure your is though.

          If we are talking about the God of the Bible I will absolutely argue that that specific God does not exist and is not responsible for for the reality we share, when I do that I do have a burden of proof but I am fine with that. The God of the Bible is not consistent with itself and can be rejected on that basis.

        • Fabio

          Otto, if the question is: “is there a God?”, the possible answers are only two: “yes” and “no”. If you reject “yes” as a possible answer, then you are automatically answering “no”, without “sufficient evidence and reason to come to that conclusion.”

          Although I kind of disagree with the notion of a deistic God, I agree with you that the a God, as described in the bible, does not exist.
          I believe that there is “something” out there, a transcendence that we may call “God, Brahman, Nirvana or Dao”. Can I prove it? Of course not. Can you disprove it? Sorry, no. But billions of people believe in it; in different ways, yes, but, as mahatma Gandhi said: “The essence of all religions is one. Only their approaches are different.”
          To dismiss the beliefs of billions of people without “sufficient evidence and reason to come to that conclusion” is not what I would call a humble position.

        • adam

          “I believe that there is “something” out there, a transcendence that we may call “God, Brahman, Nirvana or Dao”. Can I prove it? Of course not.
          Can you disprove it? Sorry, no.”

          Sorry, but nobody has demonstrated transcendence outside a brain, science can create the transcendent experience in virtually any human brain. I have had many of the transcendental experiences, this removes the NEED for any ‘something’ outside the human brain like a ‘god’.

          “To dismiss the beliefs of billions of people without “sufficient evidence and reason to come to that conclusion” is not what I would call a humble position.”

          Without sufficient evidence the default position is disbelief.

          Fairies, gnomes, goblins, gods, etc..

        • Fabio

          I agree with you: without sufficient evidence (on the non-existence of a God) my default positions is disbelief.

          Being that you’re so eager to engage me on a debate, let me ask you something: are you familiar with the concept of myth?

        • adam

          “are you familiar with the concept of myth?”

          Of course.

          Now let me ask you something:

          Is your position on Faires, gnomes, goblin, and other gods the same?

          1. Is the lack of sufficient evidence of their non-existence YOUR default position of disbelief?

        • Fabio

          Adam, how many times have you mentioned fairies and goblins and gods in your posts? At the least three times; you believe it’s such a good argument to undermine my position…it’s not. Let me explain why: first, let’s review what is a myth; a myth is fundamentally a symbol, an allegory, a parable, a story that represents a truth, explains an event, convey a teaching.
          Fairies are myths: they originated in different cultures and have different meanings: one is that fairies are “personified aspects of nature” such as the sky and stars and flowers. Another meaning is that fairies are the personality (I don’t want to use the word soul because I’m pretty sure you don’t believe in it) of a deceased person. Goblins, like their close relatives Brownies, are household fairies and represent chores and caring, mischievousness and pranks. Gnomes are also a kind of fairies called “elementals”. With undines, sylphs and salamanders they represent the four classical elements of antiquity: earth, water, air and fire.
          Gods also symbolize different things: Mars represents war, Venus, erotic love and so on. The God of the bible (and the Torah, and the Koran) also is a myth; it symbolizes the numinous, the “mysterium tremendum”, the wondrous mystery that is the essence of all religions, the “transcendence that we call God, Brahman, Nirvana or Dao”.
          So, I don’t believe myths to be literally true, I don’t believe in fairies, goblin, gnomes, gods and the God depicted in the bible; but I believe in what they represent, I believe in nature, home, war, sex and the divine.

        • adam

          “”personified aspects of nature””

          As are ALL gods.

          “Gods also symbolize different things:”

          Yes, personified aspects of HUMAN emotions.

          “but I believe in what they represent”

          I understand – MAGIC…..

        • MNb

          “if the question is: “is there a God?”, the possible answers are only two: “yes” and “no”.”
          Nope.

          “There is no way we can’t answer that question.”
          “Likely.”
          “Probably not.”

          are all possible answers, for instance because there isn’t sufficient information available.

          “Can you disprove it? Sorry, no.”
          Define (dis)prove or this is an empty statement. See, I can perfectly prove Pythagoras’ Theorem. I also as easily can disprove it.

        • Fabio

          Yes, there is the agnostic standpoint, that probably is more rational than either believe or not believe. But you’re a atheist, aren’t you?

          Can you bring to the table compelling evidences to prove that a “God” does not exist In the same way that, I don’t know, Santa doesn’t?

        • adam

          “Can you bring to the table compelling evidences to prove that a God” does not exist In the same way that, I don’t know, Santa doesn’t?”

          No, because they BOTH exist in the IMAGINATIONS of human beings, they are the SAME

          Santa Claus is as real as one wishes him to be. If you believe in Santa then he is real. If you don’t believe in him, then he isn’t real. He is real as long as you believe.

          JUST LIKE ‘god’………

          But here these folks have covered Santa

          Santa apologists

          http://susiej.com/scientific-proof-that-santa-does-exist/

        • Kodie

          Billions of people are indoctrinated and assimilated to their culture via a regional or local origin story and superstition by the simple power of suggestion, at the very worst, threatened, and no they are not in agreement. Why would everyone be so defensive over their beliefs and at war with simply a different approach?

          There is not a conscious separate being, and if there were, do you think it would let Greg or apollo speak for it? The very best of theism brings the worst fallacies and least sharp pencils in the box. Human intelligence isn’t a thing we all have, just because some humans are capable of being smart and guiding us places. We all can’t take credit for discoveries and stuff. Agency detection seems to be one way that people say evolved that turned into religion, I would also say being social and going along to get along, and political organization into tribes or other larger communities means probably not being critical or argumentative, i.e., dumb enough to think whatever everyone else is doing must be a good idea. It obviously hasn’t harmed humanity, evolution-wise to be alleged big-brained intelligence to be quite suggestible and slow on the uptake. That means most people are followers who like to share some credit with the leader of the pack for being so smart, as in claiming across humanity this superior intelligent quality. Only some people have superior intelligent quality. Most are using their brains only for day-to-day stuff put in front of them. The creative process is a little faulty – as a species, we innovate by making up shit that seems real, and then trying to make that thing work. We don’t think in a straight line from A to B, and collaboration with others works a lot more effectively than working solo and trying to think of everything yourself. If you start with A, you might think of B, C, M, P, Q, and some of those avenues can be scrapped pretty quickly, while you concentrate on more fruitful outcomes. What about D-L, N, O, and R-Z? Maybe something there, but when you find something that works, you focus your development on that rather than search through what we’ll call “the entire list”.

          Religions are one of those imaginary things on the list of ideas, that doesn’t go anywhere but a story that sometimes threatens people politically as though your government were backed by a god, so you really better not revolt against that dude. It doesn’t come up with answers that are actually satisfactory, only the illusion feels satisfactory to some, but the details of the story are not answers, they are just sort of placeholders. Tell us one thing god answers for you, and you shall hear why that’s not an answer.

        • Fabio

          This is better, at the least you refrained from the use of gratuitous, distasteful terms. The problem is that this time I did not understand what you’re talking about. Can you rephrase?

        • Kodie

          I’m not going to engage with someone who thinks they’re going to train me.

        • Susan

          if the question is: “is there a God?”, the possible answers are only two: “yes” and “no”.

          My only response is “What do you mean?”

          What are we talking about?

          Be specific.

          What is your hypothesis?

          We’re not even close to “yes” or “no” until you do that.

        • Fabio

          Hi Susan,
          glad you asked; let me elaborate: man is curious animal and able to abstract thoughts. He has been formulating questions since…I don’t know, when he started walking upright? His questions more fascinating were concerned with the mystery of life and death and the meaning of it all. Myths were conceived to explain the mystery, the “numinous”, the reality underlying our reality, completely out of our grasp; in the words of Rudolf Otto, what is a “mysterium tremendum et fascinans”, a mystery, awesome and fascinating.
          The gods were part of these myths; but they were a symbol of the mystery, as representative as the stork is for reproduction.
          The pivotal moment of this process was the “axial age” (the middle of first millennium B.C.); the major religions started to develop, Greek rationalism made its appearance, “logos” was used, side by side with “mythos”, to explain our reality. Philosophers and theologians used both mythos and logos and did not consider them mutually exclusive. That was the case for a long time.

          Some theologians came to the conclusion that the numinous, the transcendence called “God”, is so beyond our understanding that even to say that God exists is inaccurate.
          What do we mean by exist? Is he a being like any other being? Or he exist beyond what we intend as existence?
          We say that he’s eternal and infinite; what do we mean by that? He stretches forever in time and space? Or that he’s beyond time and space as we intend it?
          We say that he’s good; what do we mean by that? Does “good” even apply to God?
          As professor Marcus Borg said (I’m paraphrasing): “God is beyond any definition, including this one”.

          Unfortunately, this “collaboration” between mythos and logos could not last forever. The enlightenment came, and then the age of discoveries, and logos, reason, was seen more and more as the only way to acquire knowledge. Even religious people started interpreting the old myths as logos. They started to consider scripture literally true, trying to find “scientific” explanation to the most unbelievable passages. (I heard some christians, smart people, trying to explain the fact that in the Old Testament people would live hundreds of years thanks to some kind of cosmic radiation that disappeared following the flood and the consequential different atmosphere.)
          The more science would disprove the old myths, the more religious people would cling to them; the more religion interpreted them as literally events, the more scientists would dismiss them as a fairy tales; both sides convinced to be depositary of the absolute truth.

          Here we are: religious people worshipping the God of the old myths, killing each other over who got it right, and scientists claiming that there is no God whatsoever.
          “A fool is whoever, when you point to the moon, looks at your hand.”
          That is what I mean by “God”: the “mysterium tremendum”, the numinous, the transcendence that we call “God, Brahman, Nirvana and Dao”, the essence behind all religions.

        • Kodie

          Is this thing conscious and intentional? There is a mystery, and a transcendence sort of thing in everything, but the answers aren’t being kept from us or revealed to us, consciously or intentionally, nor is it acting upon us consciously and intentionally. If you believe in a conscious and intentional version of this thing, that’s a huge leap and you have then to explain how it works. Or you just believe, and there’s nothing to debate about.

        • Greg G.

          He has been formulating questions since…I don’t know, when he started walking upright?

          Off topic but I think it is interesting. Human ancestors were fully upright when the brain was about twice the size of the chimpanzee brain about 4 million years ago. About 1.25 million years ago, it was about twice the size of a gorilla’s brain. Over the next million years, the human brain increased a little over 20%, about 200 cc. Our species split off from the Neandertals about a half million years ago. About a quarter of a million years ago until about 50,000 years ago, just 200,000 years, the brain increased by 250 cc in both species. The populations of both species were approaching extinction less than 100,000 years ago. Our species recovered but the Neandertals didn’t.

        • Susan

          He has been formulating questions since…I don’t know, when he started walking upright?

          We can add biology to the fields in which you show no interest. The less interested you are in what we do know, the more comfortably you can stick an agent in there without taking any responsibility for your claim.

          The gods were part of these myths; but they were a symbol of the mystery, as representative as the stork is for reproduction.

          The gods were agents people took very seriously They made sacrifices to them and built social structures around their literal existence.

          That is what I mean by “God”: the “mysterium tremendum”,

          No. You mean an agent. You’ve made that clear. It’s a ‘he’ and it makes ‘universes’ and has opinions.

          That is not the ‘mysterium tremendum’.

          It’s an agent.

          Don’t think you’re being deep. You’re just makiing allusive agent claims, and taking no responsibility for them. You’ve failed to answer every question that is pertinent to your allusive claim.

          Then, you’re claiming that we should respect your position because we can’t disprove it and it makes you comfortable.

          You have a single, incoherent claim for which you’ve shown no necessity and which you’ve failed to support in any way.

          And you think if it can’t be disproven, it should be respected as one of only three viable positions.

          I don’t even know what to say.

        • Otto

          Otto, if the question is: “is there a God?”, the possible answers are only two: “yes” and “no”. If you reject “yes” as a possible answer, then you are automatically answering “no”, without “sufficient evidence and reason to come to that conclusion.”

          This is wrong. I can believe there is not sufficient evidence to think there is god(s) but not claim to know. A good example of this is the Jury System for Law. If I sit on a jury evidence is presented for the guilt or innocence of the defendant. A jury does not vote for innocence though, they vote not guilty. That does not mean necessarily that the Jury thinks the defendant is actually innocent, it can mean the Jury thinks the prosecution has not met its burden for conviction. I find God “not guilty” of existence. That is not a diffinitive position. You created a false dichotomy with this argument.

          To dismiss the beliefs of billions of people without “sufficient evidence and reason to come to that conclusion” is not what I would call a humble position.

          First this is an argument from popularity. How many people believe something is in no way connected to whether a proposition is true.

          Second, I have not summarily dismissed the belief in God. I will change my mind with better information, but you admit there is none coming. I have looked into it more than most people I know. You admit there is no evidence for or against God’s existence, my question would be why should I think a proposition has any merit in lieu of evidence? Why is it not being humble to reject a proposition that lacks any basis or support? This has absolutely nothing to do with being humble and I think it is ridiculous for you to attempt to make that connection.

        • Fabio

          Yes, there is the agnostic position as third way; I held that myself for many years. Anyway, I’m glad that you haven’t dismiss completely the belief in God. Of course I will change my mind if somebody can show compelling evidences that a God does not exist, but it’s very unlikely. We will, therefore, remain on our position respectfully of each other ideas, knowing that we could be holding a false belief. How does it sound?

        • Otto

          Question…do you believe in Bigfoot until a compelling reason to disbelieve arises? How about alien abduction or faith healing? Is it just God that you believe in until disproven, or do you treat all other non-proven claims the same?

          I am agnostic when it comes to a deistic god. I am atheistic when it comes to personal Gods.

        • MNb

          “if somebody can show compelling evidences”
          Given you have shown to be a hypocrite my question first is: what do you mean with compelling evidence?
          1. Empirical evidence? That’s dishonest – you defined your god in such a way that that’s impossible.
          2. Rational standards like coherence and inconsistency? If you’re curious – which I doubt, given your comment history on this very page – I can show you.
          3. Something else? Then please specify.

          As I asked you this before I take into account that you won’t answer at all, which confirms you rather don’t want to be confronted indeed.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Of course I will change my mind if somebody can show compelling evidences that a God does not exist, but it’s very unlikely.

          So you believe in any old nonsense proposition I can posit? Space Ponies, invisible pink unicorns,gremlins, fairies, leprechauns, Zeus, Thor, trolls, yadda, yadda, yadda, ad infinitum.

          How does it sound?

          Silly pants?

        • Kodie

          Why do you think we should respect your position? Your position entails belief because it’s comforting to you that you should serve some purpose, that you prefer a gory chaotic and dangerous world that god created just for your purpose.

          I mean, it’s all in your head, but once you start telling people why you believe, expect rational people to find your position disgusting and disturbing. Especially when you use it to leverage a martyr complex and backhanded mention that atheists don’t even serve any earthly purpose. How can you say there’s a god when he doesn’t do anything and you can hardly do anything more than he does, but just enough to feel like “that’s god working through me, yay!”

        • Greg G.

          I believe that there is “something” out there, a transcendence that we may call “God, Brahman, Nirvana or Dao”. Can I prove it? Of course not. Can you disprove it? Sorry, no.

          The human mind is capable of imagining things that are impossible to disprove. Imaginary concepts that are not impossible to disprove tend to get disproved. Some people will continue to believe things that are disproved because of religion. But some cling to religious concepts that are contrived to have no need for evidence to keep them from being disproved. But by immunizing the concept from evidence means there was no valid reason to arrive at the concept in the first place. That is an indication that it was imagined and contrived to be undisprovable (is “undisprovable” a word or did I just contrive it?).

          An fictional story can evoke an emotional response. Hence, if an idea gives a billion people a warm, fuzzy feeling in their gut, it is not evidence that it is true.

          Humans tend to like explanations with narrative. An inquisitive mind will not settle for the fairy tales from childhood.

          When a person has a belief system, casual observation will tend to confirm it. Rare random events that appear to confirm the belief system make a stronger impression than the common events that do not confirm it. But when systematic observations that are designed to eliminate any belief system bias are made, the apparent support disappears.

          I have found that following the evidence as objectively as I can leads to more consistent results than believing things I would prefer to believe. If the evidence leads to a religion, I would be obliged to follow it. If it leads to something nobody has ever considered before, I would have to go with it. I can listen to my cognitive dissonance to see what it is telling me instead of trying to maintain it. That seems like the more realistic approach. Some might call it “intellectual integrity”.

          You have an inquisitive mind. You have critical thinking skills. You don’t follow the herd with your beliefs. You want to search for the truth. Do you really want to trust your emotional response to an idea that is contrived to evoke that emotion and to be evidence-free?

        • MNb

          “if you don’t know than you are speculating, you’re making guesses and your guesses are as good as mines.”
          It seems like you don’t understand how probability works.

        • Fabio

          I think I understand how probability works: if I have to be objective I would say that there is a fifty-fifty chance that exist “something” out there, beyond our reality. If you have a different percentage tell me, together with the process you used calculating it.

        • adam

          0.000000000000000001%

          I use the same process you do.

          I pulled it out of my objective ass.

        • Greg G.

          That high? Did you get saved or something?

        • adam

          Glory, glory, glory……..

          Just used MNb’s big fat thumb theory

        • Greg G.

          I would say that there is a fifty-fifty chance that exist “something” out there, beyond our reality.

          Starting from there, we’ll say there is something out there at 50-50. If we say that it is a conscious being then, you are at 75-25. If we say the being is omnipotent, then its 87.5-12.5. The more specific your claim the smaller the probability. But a conscious being would be complex so it would have a much smaller chance of existing. An omnipotent being would be far less likely. It would be far less likely that the odds against life and consciousness combined in your argument to have them without a corporeal body.

        • adam

          “we don’t know why or how something happened, but we can exclude the hypothesis of a God”

          Where had this ‘god’ of yours been demonstrated to be anything but IMAGINARY….

          So…

          “we don’t know why or how something happened, but we can exclude the hypothesis of a God”

        • Fabio

          Adam, put your stuff together. Make one post, longer but comprehensive of all your points (and coherent please) and I’m going to answer it. I cannot answer 10 different posts from the same person.

        • Kodie

          You’re so delicate.

        • adam

          “we don’t know why or how something happened, but we can exclude the hypothesis of a God”

          Where had this ‘god’ of yours been demonstrated to be anything but IMAGINARY….

          So…

          “we don’t know why or how something happened, but we can exclude the hypothesis of a God”

        • MNb

          There is no definite proof of the Theorem of Pythagoras either, so regarding that one you’re talking from a position of utterly ignorance as well.
          That or you’re just wrong.

        • adam

          “Hey Otto, why single strands of RNA started duplicating themselves, originating life?”

          Chemistry and physics

          http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2009/07/06/spontaneous-assembly/

        • MNb

          “Why did those proteins spontaneously assemble and organize themselves into complex patterns?”
          “Why can complex periodic patterns spontaneously emerge from simple mechanisms?”

          You can’t beat this, Adam.

  • chrijeff

    “Proofs are for math and logic, not science or history.”

    They’re not? Yet we can prove that Napoleon (to take one example) existed, or that the system of feudalism was followed for a goodly number of centuries, or that the Battle of Gettysburg was fought. And the supporters of evolution claim that it isn’t a “theory” in the sense that laymen use that word–that it has in fact been proved, at least to the satisfaction of the majority of the scientific community.

    Proof is for anything you can prove.

    • Dys

      Science doesn’t prove things because it can’t, by design. It has to remain open to new data that could overturn a previous conclusion. Evolution isn’t a theory in the layman sense of the term, it’s a theory in the scientific sense. Science deals with providing the best explanation given the presently available evidence.

      History likewise runs into a similar issue. The confusion is that people often use the word “proof” in the colloquial sense, which roughly means having a reasonable certainty in something. But we can’t actually prove history in the formal sense, because that would imply having an absolute certainty.

      • chrijeff

        Are you not absolutely certain that Napoleon lived? I am. Whom else did T. Jefferson buy Louisiana from?

        • Dys

          You’re not understanding my point. You’re using “proof” in the colloquial sense. We can’t have absolute certainty because we are necessarily limited by our senses. Any claim of absolute certainty on that front runs in the problem of hard solipsism.

          I’m reasonably certain Napoleon lived, just as I’m reasonably certain that Thomas Jefferson lived, to the point where it would be ludicrous to believe otherwise. But I’m also aware of human limitations, and understand that absolute certainty is largely unattainable.

        • chrijeff

          Yet presumably, if we knew where to go, we could view the contract that covered the Louisiana Purchase. Or we can read descriptions of Gettysburg by people who were there. That would be using our senses, wouldn’t it?

        • Dys

          That would be using our senses, wouldn’t it?

          Yes, and therein lies the limitation that precludes absolute certainty.

        • MNb

          The contract might be a fabrication. Those descriptions might be fiction. Who knows with absolute certainty?. Not you, neither Dys or me.

        • chrijeff

          But if that’s the case–if the only things we can KNOW are those which we ourselves witness–what is the difference between history, science, and religion? We have to take them all “on faith.”

        • MNb

          No, we don’t need to witness things ourself. Two witnesses (who are not me) who say the same are more reliable than one. Three are even more reliable. Etc.
          But no amount of witness will guarantee absolute certainty. Increasing the number of witnesses only increases the probability, which can come very close to 1 (like Napoleon selling Louisiana to Jefferson), but never reach it. But hey – if the probability is 0,9999 I know what my bet is going to be.

          “We have to take them all “on faith.””
          No. Faith means “accepting something without any empirical evidence possible”. The contract is written down. There are witnesses for the contract. That’s very good empirical evidence. At the other hand there is exactly zero empirical evidence for the suggestions I made. However we never can totally rule out the possibility of such evidence showing up in the future. This is how science works (btw historical research is a branch of science).
          Religion can’t work that way, because by definition empirical evidence for a supernatural entitiy is impossible. Science works by comparing the results of deduction (eg a hypothesis like Napoleon sold Louisiana to Jefferson) with the results of induction (like the contract). It’s a very good method, that yielded excellent results last 200 years, very unlike faith based religion last couple of millennia. Science just doesn’t provide absolute certainty.

        • chrijeff

          “The contract is written down. There are witnesses for the contract. That’s very good empirical evidence.” Exactly my point! If you have *material evidence* (documents, photographs, fossils, or whatever you will), it seems to me that you increase the probability that so-and-so is in fact true. That’s how courts work, after all; they present *evidence,* as well as testimony, to a jury.

        • MNb

          “it seems to me that you increase the probability that so-and-so is in fact true.”
          I’m happy you got the point after writing that I only had confused you more.
          See, my only point is that the usage of the words proof and truth is inappropriate when they imply 100% certainty. As long as you realize that it’s totally OK with me if you continue to use them. Semantics do not change content. My personal objections to these words do not change the content of Coyne’s Why Evolution is True – he explicitely rejects 100% certainty.
          Be aware though that apologists and especially fundies tend to be dishonest. You write “evolution is proven/true” and they will answer: “Oh no! Not at all! Look at this, this and this! That hasn’t been proven! You’re wrong! Evolution is build on faith/ doesn’t happen/ is fiction! Hence god did it!” Twisting meaning is part of their schtick and they excel at it.

        • chrijeff

          About that last paragraph I definitely agree with you! One should never argue with a fundie: his motto is, “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts.” (You’re not going to change his mind, anyway.)

          I wouldn’t have been so confused had you explained about “empirical evidence” at the outset. Apparently “proof” is one of those words that has various meanings. To me, it has always meant “This is SO,” “There is a 99% (or more) chance that this is so,” or “This is so beyond a reasonable doubt,” depending on what the proof is supposed to be *of*. Naturally, in an infinite Universe all things are *possible*, but many are not *probable*.

        • Ignorant Amos

          … it seems to me that you increase the probability that so-and-so is in fact true.

          Exactly. Increase the probability and 100% “fact true” are not synonymous. For some situations greater than 50% probability is sufficient. For other situations we require that probability to be higher, in others as near 100% as is possible. But 100% cannot be achievable. We use this sort of thinking all the time in our everyday activities it is called Bayes Theorem.

          That’s how courts work, after all; they present *evidence,* as well as testimony, to a jury

          Yes…and juries convict and admonish based on the veracity of the evidence being the probable or not either way. But the guilty often walk, while the innocent go to the mixer, that’s because nothing, no matter how positive we may think, is 100% fact true. That’s why the death penalty is barbaric…because death of the innocent is final, at least as far as we know, or can “prove”.

        • Greg G.

          How do you rule out that we were created last Tuesday (or five minutes ago) with false memories that seem to go back decades and false evidence of an old universe?

        • Fabio

          What if we are asleep in cocoons connected to a super powerful computer that feed us memories and experiences?
          “The Matrix”, anyone?

        • Greg G.

          The brain in a vat, the Dream of Vishnu, the Deceitful Demon between our senses and our brains. Solipsism for everyone!

        • MNb

          Exactly. And that’s why some smart people have developed criteria that make clear that one view is more probable than some other. But absolute certainty – no, sorry.

        • Otto

          We could be a brain in a vat. At this point I have no reason to think we are and can only work with the information we have. Much like a deistic god I can’t completely discount it but there is absolutely no reason to accept it.

        • Fabio

          It’s matter of character and sensibilities. I feel more comfortable living in a universe with a cause and purpose rather than one produced by blind mechanics.

        • adam

          “It’s matter of character and sensibilities. I feel more comfortable living in a universe with a cause and purpose rather than one produced by blind mechanics.”

          Personally, I am more comfortable creating my own purpose.

          Rather than under a cruel despot

        • Greg G.

          It’s matter of character and sensibilities.

          What about intellectual integrity?

          I feel more comfortable living in a universe with a cause and purpose rather than one produced by blind mechanics.

          You feel more comfortable believing you live in such a universe whether you do or don’t.

          I feel more comfortable believing I live in a universe where Kate Upton waits on my every command. I am still waiting for that foot massage, though.

        • Fabio

          Why do you question my intellectual integrity? Do I question yours when, without a shred of evidence, you reject the possibility of a creator in favor of a multitude of bubbles, each bubble a universe, someplace out there?

          Rule #1 of debate: do not attack the person to devalue the argument, but respond to the argument with your own.

        • adam

          “without a shred of evidence, you reject the possibility of a creator in favor of a multitude of bubbles, each bubble a universe, someplace out there?”

          Then provide a shred of evidence that demonstrates YOUR ‘creator’.

          And of course the ‘creator’ of that ‘creator’, etc

          Where does YOUR ‘gods’ KNOWLEDGE come from?
          .

          .

          .
          “Why do you question my intellectual integrity?”

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sorry, at what point was your person attacked by Greg G….yet?

        • Greg G.

          Yesterday, you said at https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/25_stupid_arguments_christians_should_avoid_part_2/#comment-2151827202

          It’s matter of character and sensibilities. I feel more comfortable living in a universe with a cause and purpose rather than one produced by blind mechanics.

          That sounds like evidence that you put your feelings ahead of your intellect. I am not attacking you but what you said.

        • Fabio

          Fair enough, I should have elaborate better. Let me rephrase (I’m going to copy and paste from another post): “Based on my character, my sensibilities, my cultural background, my reasoning, my experience I got to the conclusion that, IN MY OPINION, the existence of a “God” make more sense that the contrary.”

          I feel more comfortable with this conclusion, it makes sense to me that existence has a reason and a cause rather than be the product of blind mechanisms.

          Did I explain myself better?

        • Kodie

          Yes, you confirm that you absolutely do put your feelings ahead of your intellect. There’s no reason to carry on a debate if you are using your feelings to decide what is and what is not.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “Based on my character, my sensibilities, my cultural background, my reasoning, my experience I got to the conclusion that, IN MY OPINION, the existence of a “God” make more sense that the contrary.”

          You are talking in riddles. How does this idea correspond with…

          So, I don’t believe myths to be literally true, I don’t believe in fairies, goblin, gnomes, gods and the God depicted in the bible; but I believe in what they represent, I believe in nature, home, war, sex and the divine.

          What are you here arguing for? You seem to me to be a tree hugging spiritualist in some comments and a Christian apologist in others. I’m not sure you know what you believe or don’t as the case maybe.

          As for your defining fairies etc., in order to knock them down in some pathetic attempt to justify your position, you know fine well what Adam et al are referring to in this instance. Some very smart folk believed that fairies were real beings, Arthur Conan Doyle among them. According to your way of thinking, until those fairies can be categorically shown to not exist, they exist.

        • MNb

          So your belief is mainly about making your underbelly feel warm and cozy? Not exactly a reliable methodology.

        • Kodie

          So you prefer to design the world you’d rather live in than live in the one that actually exists. Interesting that you compare us to 5-year-olds who want the world, if god exists, to seem more like god exists. You’re more comfortable if painful childhood diseases and deformities have some other purpose, like god just has to fuck with little babies to serve that purpose to make you comfortable.

        • Fabio

          From bad to worse: not only you used gratuitous, unpleasant words, I also have no idea what you’re talking about.
          Calm down, man. Take a deep breath and try to be more coherent.

        • Kodie

          You’re more comfortable if painful childhood diseases and deformities have some other purpose, like god just has to fuck with little babies to serve that purpose to make you comfortable.

          I’m not the one who is made more comfortable by a sick purpose, you sick fuck.

        • Otto

          I am more comfortable living in a house with a million dollars in gold buried in the back yard…that doesn’t make it true.

        • Is that relevant? Surely what you’d prefer to be the case has no bearing on what actually is the case.

        • Fabio

          Do you realize that you have no evidence that there is no God? Therefore, your position of “there’s no God, period” depends not on what “actually is the case”, because you don’t really know what is the case. It depends on what scenario makes you feel more comfortable.

        • Greg G.

          The existence of suffering is evidence that an omnipotent, benevolent being does not exist. I have no reason to imagine that lesser supernatural beings exist either. They all appear to have come from the imagination. They are more consistent with imaginary things than things that can be observed. They are supposed to be undetectable which is evidence that they were not detected but only imagined. Humans are much, much better at imagining supernatural beings than detecting supernatural beings.

        • Kodie

          It has nothing to do with comfort. That is when Christians declare that atheists are just mad at god and want (for our comfort) to be gods ourselves. Lame.

          There is no evidence that whatever design you choose to make the universe for your comfort is real. Don’t paint us with the same problems you have. Living in the real world sometimes means you don’t get to be comfortable.

        • I have plenty of evidence that there is no God. I’ve given a talk about 25 positive arguments for atheism. These are arguments where you’d expect things to be a different way if there really were a god with the properties that Christians claim. However, I’ll grant you that I have no proof for God.

          your position of “there’s no God, period”

          Not my position.

        • adam

          “We have to take them all “on faith.””
          It is not biblical ‘faith’ https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3298cec031aed87ecad68eda344651ff1991966d8bad9d120ff60083677e2bd4.jpg

          Science doesnt HOPE
          And science collects EVIDENCE that IS to be SEEN and TESTED.

        • Kodie

          Maybe someone “has” these documents in “their attic” right now, and they “will surface” someday. How will they be authenticated if everyone who was there is dead now? There certainly are methods to be reasonably sure they are the original documents, as well as methods to convincingly forge them. We can get very close to certainty with a lot of evidence, but exact certainty is still unattainable.

        • MNb

          No, I’m not. Napoleon might be the product of a hoax or a conspiracy. You can’t entirely rule out that option.
          Perhaps – even if it’s highly unlikely – Jefferson bought Louisiana from an impostor.
          Perhaps – even if it’s even more unlikely – Jefferson did not exist either.
          Perhaps it was not Louisiana what Jefferson bought from Napoleon of they meant something else with the name.
          It’s all very silly and highly impropable – but not impossible.

        • chrijeff

          Well, it’s also been said that in an infinite Universe nothing is impossible. But many things are *improbable*–such as that Nappy and TJ didn’t exist.

    • MNb

      “Yet we can prove that Napoleon (to take one example) existed.”
      No, we can’t. We have excellent evidence that Napoleon existed and that makes it highly probable that he actually existed indeed. But we can’t totally rule out the possibility that it’s all a hoax or a conspiracy, no matter how improbable it is. There are precedences; pope Joan is one example.
      Science can only disprove by providing empirical evidence that contradicts what we think. I never say that evolution has been proven. Jerry Coyne in the introduction of Why Evolution is True explains that he doesn’t mean with absolute certainty. Within the given framework of Euclides’ axioms at the other hand we can be absolutely sure that Pythagoras’ Theorem is correct. That’s the proper meaning of “to prove”. Evolution can’t be proven in the same way.

      • chrijeff

        All you’ve succeeded in doing is confusing me more. (And, BTW, I’m not a Christian, and I believe in evolution.) Either something IS, or it IS NOT. Either it is TRUE, or it is FALSE. (Now, notice, I don’t say that things are either “good” or “evil.”)

        • MNb

          “Either it is TRUE, or it is FALSE.”
          Wrong. I can easily show you that Pythagoras’ Theorem is TRUE. I can as easily show you that it’s FALSE. I only need to change one of Euclides’ axioms. And an axiom is by definition a mathematical statement that can’t be proven.
          Science doesn’t care about truth in the absolute meaning you attach to it. It’s a useless word.

          “All you’ve succeeded in doing is confusing me more.”
          If you don’t understand the difference between a conclusion derived by deduction (like Pythagoras’ Theorem) and a conclusion derived by induction (like evolution) I’m afraid I can’t help you. You might try to read something about Rene Descartes (especially what he said about deduction) and David Hume (what he said about induction).

          Btw, I never wrote or even assumed you’re a christian. It seems to me though that you don’t understand how science works.

        • chrijeff

          As I understand it, science works by way of experiment and observation. A scientist comes up with a theory, then tries to prove it–insofar as he can without, for example, having seen a living dinosaur.

        • Greg G.

          Scientists try to falsify hypotheses. A hypothesis must be potentially falsifiable. If it cannot be falsified, it is provisionally held to be true. If it leads to more discoveries, it is held with more confidence. But a better explanation might come along and explain the evidence just as well and explain other things, too.

        • chrijeff

          In other words, a scientist must be open to the possibility that his hypothesis might turn out to be the wrong one. But couldn’t that also be said of the premise of this entire thread?

        • MNb

          Yes. It’s this uncertainty that very often bothers believers.

        • Greg G.

          I’ve accepted that I don’t know if there is a greater reality to the one I am presented with and my imperfect senses cannot comprehend completely the presented reality. But there are some arguments are worse than others. So yes it could be said of the thread and it could be that we are all on The Truman Show or maybe just me.

        • MNb

          In addition to Greg G: scientists try to falsify theories and hypotheses, but also try to confirm them. But even a gazillion confirmations do not result in proof, if proof means 100% absolute eternal never changing certainty.
          Of course in common language it’s OK to say that Evolution Theory has been proven (even if I don’t do it myself – it’s just my oddity) as long as you keep in mind that there is no absolute certainty. In courtroom the expression is “proven beyond reasonable doubt”. The doubts I casted on Napoleon were totally unreasonable, exactly because there is no shred of evidence that he was a hoax etc.

        • chrijeff

          OK, the “reasonable doubt” thing seems… reasonable. I just couldn’t figure out what criteria were being applied. Now I see what they might be.

        • chrijeff

          If science doesn’t care about truth, what is it that scientists are seeking?

        • Greg G.

          To approach truth by eliminating error. Science goes up alleys to see which of them are blind. They continue on the alleys that are not blind. An explanation that is good for one alley may need modification in the terrain of the next alley.

          Newton’s Laws were excellent for many applications but as science went on, it failed for extreme velocities and gravities. Einstein added some adjustments to the math that are nearly zero where Newton’s equations work well but are significant for other explanations. Newtonian mechanincs works well for launching a rocket into space and catching gravitational boots from planets but Einstein’s equations are necessary for GPS satellites.

        • MNb

          Knowledge is what I call it.
          A scientist like Jerry Coyne though doesn’t have any problems with the word truth. That’s why I mentioned him: he made very clear he did not mean absolute certainty with it. You might want to read the first few chapters of Why Evolution is True.

    • The p-word is reserved for math and logic.

      • Greg G.

        And the distillation of alcohol.

        • Kodie

          Photography.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And making bread….or vests that stop bullets…or what British servicemen have to show at any moment when on a pub crawl…or…okay, okay…I’ll get my coat.

        • Kodie

          Prove that’s even your coat. I don’t recall you walking in wearing a coat.

        • Ignorant Amos

          My mammy has my name stitched into all my apparel. Check it if ya don’t believe me.

      • chrijeff

        And yet people say, “Oh, Einstein *proved* that we can’t go faster than light, so we’re stuck in the solar system forever.” Or, “Darwin’s theory of evolution has been *proved*.” Which is it? It can’t be both.

        • Yes, people say, “Einstein proved relativity” or “Darwin proved that all living things have a common ancestor,” but that’s incorrect usage.

          I think we’re concerned enough about proper usage at this blog that we can avoid colloquial usage and muster up the courage to use proof/prove just in the domain of math and logic.

        • chrijeff

          “…that’s incorrect usage.”

          THANK YOU, Bob! I agree. To me, proof is proof. It means “This is SO”–or at least, “This is 99% certain” or “This is true beyond a reasonable doubt.” There ought to be another word for what happens in everything *but* math and logic; we certainly seem to need one. (Suggestions?)

        • Greg G.

          It comes down to the scale one is considering. Are we in a sandbox with a made-up reality that does not hold in the outside reality? We can do geometric proofs in a Euclidean geometry that might be irrelevant in our universe if space is curved. Euclidean geometry might work to within our error of measurement on a galactic scale but not on an intergalactic scale, just as it works for mapping land on a small scale but not for a whole continent.

        • MNb

          My suggestion: confirmed beyond reasonable doubt. That fits perfectly to for instance Napoleon selling Louisiana to Jefferson.

        • “This is 99% certain” or “This is true beyond a reasonable doubt.”

          I’m suggesting that we never use “proof” for these things. Indeed, never use “proof” within the domain of science.

        • MNb

          When people say that “proof” has not the same meaning as in math and logic. You should understand that by now.

  • Fabio

    “Stupid argument #5: you cannot prove Christianity false.”

    I agree with the author, we cannot ask for proof, and even to ask for compelling evidence to disprove, not Christianity, but the existence of a “being”, beyond time and space, the ultimate cause and reason of all existence, is too much.
    But this does not stop us from arguing: can anybody explain to me HOW, the idea that the whole of the universe, life, and the consciousness of human beings, came to be by accident, randomly, from nothing whatsoever, may have any more value and credibility of the idea that there is something out there that ignited the whole process?
    Anybody?

    • Greg G.

      Alan Guth has shown mathematically that energy and space can be opposite in sign. The space between the forces for the energy is the potential energy of the energy of particles but they have opposite signs, so the add up to zero.

      Some quantum events, such as virtual particles, can happen within a universe but not be caused by the universe. They are self-caused. For example, a positron is mathematically equivalent to an electron traveling backwards in time and the electromagnetic wave involved in their production could be involved in their annihilation as time doesn’t change when traveling at light speed.

      Lawrence Krausse wrote A Universe from Nothing that explains that a universe could come from an nothingness that is unstable at the quantum level. If there was something to maintain the stability, there would be something, not nothing.

      The Platonic ideal of nothing is philosophical, like the idea of a perfect equilateral triangle, it is a concept that cannot exist in reality.

      So, given that unstable nothingness, no matter how unlikely the simultaneous quantum fluctuations to create enough energy and space to create a universe, it would be inevitable. There is nothing about the existence of one universe preventing other universes from popping up the same way.

      Krausse explains that astronomers have determined that the universe is not only expanding but the expansion is accelerating. Objects cannot exceed light speed in space but that restriction does not apply to space itself, so the space containing each of the superclusters of galaxies will eventually be traveling away from each other at greater than light speed so they won’t be visible.

      There is nothing that would prevent a pocket universe from popping up between those superclusters and never being able to detect them.

      So there is no reason to believe a universe cannot be self-caused. It would have to be that way. A cause cannot act on nothing to produce and effect. That rules out a god being the cause of a universe from nothing.

      • Fabio

        Of course, being NOT a physicist, I have no idea what you are talking about but, as a common guy, let me see what I can make of your statements.

        About the quantum events that are self-caused: first thing, I thought that quantum is “the minimum amount of any physical entity” therefore matter; furthermore you continue your post mentioning positrons and electrons traveling backwards in time…that also is matter.
        Where does this matter come from? Has it been swirling around for eternity? And, if so, what caused, at a certain moment, these events? And if they were self-caused, why that happened?
        Second thing, “a nothingness that is unstable”?!
        What does that even mean? I checked it out (Wikipedia, sorry, I’m lazy) and it looks that I’m not the only one having problems with “his use of the term nothing to refer to a quantum vacuum instead of a “philosopher’s or theologian’s idealized ‘nothing'” (i.e. instead of having the meaning “not anything”).”
        Finally, about the “pocket universe”, well I think is off-topic and an easy way to confound things: I have already enough trouble understanding this universe, let’s keep it simple and focus on the universe we live in.

        So, it looks to me that your answer about how OUR universe came to be from nothing (not a quantum vacuum) is unsatisfactory. And we did not touch life and consciousness yet.

        • Greg G.

          Where is an idealized nothingness in reality? How do you prevent quantum fluctuations?We do not have an example of anything with no quantum fluctuations. We have an example of a quantum vacuum full of quantum fluctuations. So the necessary condition for a spontaneous universe is met.

          Since splitting energy and potential energy up is a spontaneous reaction and requires no input of energy, there is no limit on how many times this can be done. There is no limit on the number of universes in a multiverse. When you mix soap, water, air, and agitation, you get bubbles. The mix can create lots of bubbles. It is easier to create lots of bubbles than to make one and only one bubble.

          Some claim that changing one constant of the universe by a small amount would make complex chemistry and life impossible. The weak nuclear force could be tuned down to zero with little effect. But if two of those constants are tweaked, chemistry that is complex enough for life can be made possible. Victor Stenger ran computer simulations on this and found that if the constants are varied randomly, about one in four combinations could allow life. So the Fine-Tuning Argument is weak.

          The positron-electron creation-annihilation is mathematically the same as the electron being deflected back in time by the photon and the positron is like the positron being deflected by the same photon forward in time.

          I am not a physicist either but I tutored a little physics in college and took a quantum mechanics course (not for credit) but that was a few decades ago. A lot of interesting stuff has been found since then.

          If my explanation doesn’t satisfy you, please explain how God magicked the universe into existence in the detail you require of me. I am particularly interested in a cause acting on nothing and getting an effect.

          There is nothing to keep universes from popping into existence, there is nothing to keep possibility of life from developing in them.

          A self-caused universe is still a necessity for a material universe. A theist would be forced to go with the Dream of Vishnu as their only option.

          But the existence of unnecessary suffering would mean that the creator is a monster or just impotent. Why worship a creator that can’t prevent suffering for 15 billion years? Just think how bad the suffering will be in heaven after a googolplex number of years.

        • Fabio

          Greg, let me stop you to your first sentence: “Where is an idealized nothingness in reality?”

          Nowhere to be found I believe and, as I responded to Susan, this is exactly the question: “why there is something rather than nothing?”
          Why there is a quantum vacuum and quantum fluctuations? You wrote about energy, why there is energy? Where does all of it originated from?
          You wrote about multi universe to debunk the fine tuning argument. If you’re right, why there are a infinite number of universes? Is there a purpose or its all blind mechanics?

          Finally, you ask me to explain how God magicked the universe into existence. Well, how should I know? I’m not God.
          An intriguing theory is presented in “The God theory” by Bernard Haisch. In the same book he mentions also the fine tuning universe and the multi universe arguments. With your background you’re going to understand it better than I will ever be able to.

          I don’t believe in heaven.
          The only thing that suffering proves is that we are alive.

        • adam

          “Finally, you ask me to explain how God magicked the universe into existence. Well, how should I know? I’m not God. ”

          Then tell us everything you know about this MAGIC then.

          Better still tell us where YOUR ‘god’ got it’s KNOWLEDGE?

        • Greg G.

          Why there is a quantum vacuum and quantum fluctuations?

          Because there is nothing to prevent them from happening. They happen spontaneously and, AIUI, are self-caused. ISTM, a ring of them (two or more pairs of virtual particles) could be self caused, too. If enough of them did it, it might be like a Big Bang.

          You wrote about energy, why there is energy? Where does all of it originated from?

          I gave Alan Guth’s explanation. Space is like negative energy. If space and energy come into being simultaneously, all the forces between the virtual pair of particles create potential energy as the spatial distance increases. This happens to be equal to the energy of the produced pair of particles. When you ask where the energy comes from, it is the space between the energy which is equal but opposite to it. It is as if you look only at the debits while ignoring the credits When you see both, you see zero energy.

          You wrote about multi universe to debunk the fine tuning argument.

          No, I didn’t. It simply follows that if one universe can come into existence, then two could, and so forth. Since energy and space are created together with no external cause or energy input and time may run both ways for different particles, they are self-sufficient. (Outside of a universe, time may have no meaning.) There is no limit to the number. It does put the final nail in the coffin of the Fine-Tuning Argument but that is an unexpected side-effect.

          If you’re right, why there are a infinite number of universes? Is there a purpose or its all blind mechanics?

          I don’t know how many universes there might be in the multiverse. There is no limit on the number but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily infinite. Blind mechanics are all that would be necessary.

          Finally, you ask me to explain how God magicked the universe into existence. Well, how should I know? I’m not God.

          I only asked because you seemed to reject my argument for lack of details. If you want more details, read Alan Guth’s physics papers.

          The only thing that suffering proves is that we are alive.

          It also proves that there is no being that is both benevolent enough to prevent suffering and powerful enough to do it. There are probably many beings benevolent enough to prevent all suffering but are only human. A hypothetical supernatural being that is no more capable of preventing suffering than humans hardly qualifies as a god. There could be a being powerful enough to prevent suffering but is secretly sadistic enough to allow it.

          If there was a creator of the universe, it is either too impotent to prevent suffering and not worthy of being described as a god. Or it could be capable of preventing suffering but chooses not to, either out of indifference or because it chooses that helpless creatures suffer unnecessarily. Either case would not be worthy of being called a god.

          The only type of being worthy of being called a god clearly does not exist in this universe because of the evidence of unnecessary suffering.

          But, not ot worry, the universe can be explained without resorting to a super-duper creator being, anyway.

        • Fabio

          Greg, I apologize if I gave you the impression that I reject your argument; I do not. You clearly know a lot more on the subject than me and I can only learn from you. If I kept asking for details is because I want get to the point where you will have to say: “we don’t know.”

          See, I’m utterly convinced that science cannot possibly have all the answers. The more it digs, the deeper the truth appears. I believe that at the roots of our reality there is a wondrous mystery, a “mysterium tremendum”; science can explain our reality but the mystery is beyond its reach.
          I identify the mystery as “God” but it’s like to explain reproduction with the stork.

          Couple of questions: you say “if space and energy come into being simultaneously”. Are you talking about the Big Bang? And what was before that? Where this space/energy duality came from? From the unstable “nothingness” you mention before? If I understood well the “nothingness” is a quantum vacuum. I cannot says I completely understand the concept but, it sounds to me that it was still, well….”something”, I don’t know how else to call it. Why, why there was something rather than nothing in the first place? Where does this “something” come from? I cannot wrap my head about it!

          Second question: the multi universe sound to me like something so abstract and impossible to verify (unless we find a way to go beyond our universe and observe these hypothetical universes) that to believe in it requires…well, faith. Wouldn’t you agree?

          Finally, about suffering. I cannot believe I have to elaborate on this.
          Life without death is impossible. Our universe is finite; our planet and its resources are finite. If a life form starts growing indefinitely, without ever giving back, without shedding living tissue to die and rot and sustain more life, eventually it will grow to the point that all the resources are depleted…starving to death. Life and death are the two faces of the same coin.
          Apply this principle on a larger scale: life will grow, will evolve, will differentiate, will compete for the limited resources available. The stronger life will survive, the weaker will die and replenish the resources. Aggressive mono-cellular organisms will phagocytize weaker ones, aggressive plants will suffocate weaker ones and aggressive animals…you get the point.
          Somebody said that man is the most aggressive animal and I think it’s true. We combine what is called “lizard brain”, concerned with the famous four “F”: feed, fight, flee and…reproduction, with a brain capable of higher functions. We still compete for the limited resources, but we are able to do it in a more accurate, systematic, efficient, merciless, selfish, cruel and destructive way.
          If there is a creator, he gave us life, and suffering is a part of life. It’s up to us to reject the animal impulses of the lizard brain and pursue the goodness present in every human being, reflection, in my beliefs, of the benevolence of the creator.
          Questions?

        • adam

          “The more it digs, the deeper the truth appears. ”

          How is this possible?
          The more we know the more we can manipulate reality to fit our needs and desires.

          Before the truth was so deep we had to invent gods to explain the GAPS that we didnt know.

          “I identify the mystery as “God”

          Yes, we all know the “God of the Gaps” and how ‘god’ has gotten smaller and smaller to fill the Gaps we have in science.

          “If there is a creator, he gave us life, and suffering is a part of life.”

          If there is a creator, what created YOUR creator.
          Where did YOUR creator get the KNOWLEDGE to create universes?

        • Greg G.

          I don’t think we should expect science to have all the answers, especially to questions that are imaginary “why” questions that imply that there was a reason. But that should not be considered an opening to insert your wishful thinking.

          Couple of questions: you say “if space and energy come into being simultaneously”. Are you talking about the Big Bang?

          AIUI, it is about elementary particles. The Big Bang would just be a gajillion of them at the same time.

          And what was before that?

          I don’t know that time would have been directional so “before” probably would be meaningless.

          Where this space/energy duality came from? From the unstable “nothingness” you mention before?

          Think of a pendulum. You pull it to one side which lifts it in the gravitational field. That creates the potential energy. You let go and it swings. It reaches its greatest speed, its maximum kinetic energy, at the bottom, then slows as it rises to the other side of the swing. The potential energy becomes kinetic energy which becomes potential energy. The magnitude of the potential energy is equal to the kinetic energy but opposite in sign. The potential energy is the difference in the distance in the gravitational field.

          PE = gmh
          KE = .5mv^2

          where m is the mass, g is the gravitational acceleration, h is the height, v is the velocity

          When two particles come into being, their energy must come from somewhere. The distance between them is the potential energy which would be equal to their energy, according to E = mc^2. For the potential energy, instead of the “g”, you would have to sum all the forces between the two particles. The “m” would be the mass of both particles The “h” would be the distance that makes the PE = .5mc^2. The distance is the space created when the pair of particles are created.

          If I understood well the “nothingness” is a quantum vacuum. I cannot says I completely understand the concept but, it sounds to me that it was still, well….”something”, I don’t know how else to call it.

          A vacuum is nothing. A quantum vacuum exists in a vacuum. The quantum particles pop into being and annihilate each other in an immeasurably short time. Nothing causes them to exist unless it is the annihilation that causes the creation. How would something that causes itself be prevented?

          Why, why there was something rather than nothing in the first place? Where does this “something” come from? I cannot wrap my head about it!

          Yes, it is amazing to think about. But that nothingness is really nothingness. A nothingness with stability would be more complex and would not be nothing.

          Second question: the multi universe sound to me like something so abstract and impossible to verify (unless we find a way to go beyond our universe and observe these hypothetical universes) that to believe in it requires…well, faith. Wouldn’t you agree?

          No, the fact that one universe exists implies that universes can come into being. It is hard to imagine how the existence of a universe would prevent other universes from coming into being. A universe that could prevent other universes would be more complex than one that could not prevent other universes. Occam’s Razor would favor the simpler universe which would allow other universes. So the multiverse makes more sense than the single universe.

          Questions?

          Yes. Why does your life and death with an omnipotent benevolence scenario look just like the scenario if life developed with no creator whatsoever?

          Why can’t sentient creature pass from life to death without suffering?

          Pain makes sense in a godless universe. Life forms need to learn to avoid harmful activities. We have instincts to make us wary of heights as a fall is often lethal. A benevolent god could have encoded instincts to make pain unnecessary. There doesn’t have to be carnivores. Life could moderate its reproduction to maintain optimum levels.

          If we are supposed to reject the “lizard brain” because of suffering, why does it still exist?

          If there is a creator, he gave us life, and suffering is a part of life.

          A competent, benevolent creator could not make suffering a part of life. That would be sadistic and not benevolent.

          You have to give up benevolence or omnipotence. An omnipotent being has no excuse for allowing any suffering. At best, the creator is indifferent. But why favor that over an indifferent universe?

        • adam

          “Life without death is impossible.”

          So ‘god’ is not alive?

        • MNb

          “how God magicked the universe into existence. Well, how should I know? I’m not God. ”
          Thanks for confirming that an immaterial god doesn’t answer any question, but only complicates matters.

        • Susan

          Hi Fabio,

          The discussion of something rather than nothing began a very long time ago when we assumed that an empty jar had nothing in it.

          We were wrong.

          It took physics to examine nothing and to find that there is no nothing there. So, what nothing are we talking about now?

          It looks like I’m not the only one having problems with…

          Specifically, what problems are you having with it? The nothing of philosophers turned out to be not nothing. We learned something. Why is that a problem?

          I don’t mean that dismissively. I’m just asking you to be very specific about what the problem is.

          So, it looks to me that your answer about how OUR universe came to be from nothing (not a quantum vacuum) is unsatisfactory.

          Who said it came from a philosopher’s nothing? What question are you asking?

          we did not touch life and consciousness yet.

          All life and consciousness seems to have a material basis. Can you show me an example where it doesn’t?

          You would like someone to justify material consciousness (which you haven’t defined yet) and think immaterial consciousness explains it? How do you justify that?

          Here’s a Lawrence Krauss lecture that might help. It’s OK to be a layperson on these disciplines. I’m one as well.

          Cosmologists have studied the philosopher’s nothing and found there’s no nothing there.

          MNb might have a better lecture for the layperson that he can recommend but I found this one very helpful to get started.

        • Rudy R

          Put simply, there is no logical reason to argue for “nothing” rather “something” as the default position. We do not know what existed or did not exist before the Big Bang. To claim otherwise is just a wild ass guess.

        • Fabio

          The question is “why exist something rather than nothing” at all. Physic demonstrated that the philosophic “nothing” does not exist, very well, but why? Where does this “something”, that makes “nothing” nothing, come from? Has been around for eternity? By the way, what is eternity? Time (as we understand it) began with the Big Bang, so what do we mean by eternity? And where was this something before the formation of this universe? Space (as we understand it) also originated with the Big Bang. So, was there any space to contain this something before our universe? If there was no space to contain it, was there something? If not, there was “nothing”, the philosophical one. So, how did everything come out from nothing?

          You understand what I mean? Scientists may explain HOW everything originated but they cannot, ever, explain WHY it originated in the first place. This is a question that only philosophy (and religion) may attempt to answer. (And of course any answer is going to be debatable)

          Let’s keep focusing on the material universe. Consciousness and soul can be discussed later.

        • adam

          “You understand what I mean? Scientists may explain HOW everything originated but they cannot, ever, explain WHY it originated in the first place.”

          WHY- because that is the properties of existence.

          WHY evolution – because of the PROPERTIES of chemistry within an environment

          WHY does chemistry work – the properties of matter.

          ” This is a question that only philosophy (and religion) may attempt to answer. (And of course any answer is going to be debatable)”

          And obviously after millions years of history no philosopher or religion has answered WHY?

          Science answers WHY questions all the time.
          https://duckduckgo.com/?q=why+does+matter+have+mass

        • Greg G.

          Scientists may explain HOW everything originated but they cannot, ever, explain WHY it originated in the first place.

          If it can happen, it will happen. There doesn’t have to be a teleological reason for it. That is just for circular reasoners.

        • Fabio

          If it can happen, it will happen, but WHY it can happen?

        • Susan

          WHY it can happen?

          Please distinguish “WHY?” from “HOW?” and explain why
          it’s a better question.

          Then, answer it.

        • Fabio

          No better, different: “how” deals with the mechanism involved in our existence, “why” deals with the reason of existence.

        • Kodie

          Reasons presuppose conscious and intentional mechanics. One of the possible answers to “why?” is “no reason.” If there is some other reason, then you have simply anthropomorphized agents in the universe to be running your life for their purpose, which you say comforts you, but I don’t know why that would be comforting. We’re lab rats? That’s a purpose. If you asked “why?” and the answer was “we’re running an experiment, and you’re in it,” would that satisfy your urge to know why?

        • Fabio

          Please, stop to write posts addressed to me; I’m not going to answer somebody who called me “sick f@%k”…unless you want to apologize…

        • Ignorant Amos

          You don’t get to dictate who writes what to whom. You are not obliged to reply to anyone, that is your prerogative, but plenty of commenter’s that are interested in what others have to say about your inanity. Then there is all the lurkers to consider.

          As to an apology, I’m guessing Hell will be freezing over first, if I’m any judge of Kodie’s character.

        • MNb

          Everybody who reads this: please call Fabio a sick fuck.
          I’m the second after Kodie.
          And as long as you comment here I’ll react whenever I see fit, Dictator Sick Fuck.

        • Kodie

          When you apologize for being a sick fuck, I’ll apologize. In the meantime, I will respond to whomever and whatever I wish to respond to. We’ve already established that you’re sensitive to being called what you are, so don’t think I’m waiting for you to say something intelligent back to me.

        • Greg G.

          Because there is nothing to prevent it from happening.

        • Fabio

          How come?

        • Greg G.

          Because if there was something, there would not be nothing.

        • MNb

          Something preventing it from happening would have made it a non-probabilistic event – but according to Modern Physics it was. This is a slight deviation of Greg G’s good point underneath: if we accept that quantum fields already existed in some meaningful way before the origin of our Universe we have to accept indeed that there was nothing to prevent it from happening – because that’s what quantum fields are like.
          Now you may ask: “how come that there are quantum fields” and lacking any sensible answer you may invoke some god. You may even refer to Genesis.

          “And God said, Let there be light”
          Light consists of photons. You can find the photon here:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Model

          So light can be understood as a metaphor for the 17 elementary particles. Such theology perfectly agrees with Modern Physics. However as Einstein already realized that means a god playing dice. Will you become a pastafarian?

        • Pofarmer

          There doesn’t have to be a why, other than as a place to stick your deity in. and, anyway, if you’ve got nothing – and God, you still don’t have nothing.

        • MNb

          “Physic demonstrated that the philosophic “nothing” does not exist, very well,”
          Nope. Physics had not demonstrated that yet. There are not enough empirical data available for such a firm statement.

          “they cannot, ever, explain WHY it originated in the first place.”
          Agreed. My conclusion is that WHY is a bad question. Note that it’s typical for toddlers.
          “Daddy, mummy, why is the sky blue?”
          M/D: … explanation … something about refraction …
          “But why is the sunlight being refracted in the atmosphere ?”
          M/D: … explanation … something about molecule theory …”
          “But why does the atmosphere consist of molecules and why do they make sunlight being refracted?”
          M/D: … explanation … something about fotons interacting with molecules, matter being divisible ….
          “But why, daddy, why, mummy, why! why! why! why! why!”
          M/D (getting desperate): “because god.”
          “But why is there a god, why! why! why! why!”
          M/D running away yelling and pulling their hair.

          Perhaps that toddler’s name was Fabio? If yes it’s just coincidence of course.
          Again – god isn’t an explanation in any way. In fact god only complicates matters.
          Some people, when studying science, learn that the correct question is not WHY but HOW COME. And I already explained you above that there are some suggested answers to “how come there is our Universe”. None of them needs the god hypothesis.

        • Scientists
          may explain HOW everything originated but they cannot, ever, explain WHY it
          originated in the first place.

          What’s the difference between an answer for a Why question and an answer for a How question?

          If a Why question involves the motives of an intelligent agent, then it doesn’t have much use in questions about nature (except as it applies to animals’ motivations).

        • Susan

          If a Why question involves the motives of an intelligent agent, then it doesn’t have much use in questions about nature (except as it applies to animals’ motivations).

          And seems to be pure question begging.

          Teleology ’cause HOW isn’t deep like WHY.

          ‘Cause…

          What was the question again?

        • Fabio

          I’m getting similar question from different people, so I will copy and paste:

          The difference: “how” deals with the mechanism involved in our existence, “why” deals with the reason of existence.

        • Greg G.

          Why ask why? When you ask “why am I here?” it is kind of meaningless because if you were not here, you could not ask “Why am I not here?” Why did it originate in the first place? It did originate in the first place so now the question can be asked but there may not be an answer. You will have to find the answer in order to answer whether there is an answer.

        • “Why are sugar crystals shaped like cubes, grandpa?”

          “Well, little fella, that gets into some big existential questions that I’m not sure you’re ready for.”

        • MNb

          Why are you called Fabio? ‘Cuz god. Oh, you might formulate another answer. Then I’ll ask why again, showing that yours is the method of a toddler.
          At the other hand the mechanism involved in you being called Fabio is clear enough, even if some details are still obscure (how brains exactly work for instance).
          Thanks for confirming that your why questions don’t make sense.

        • Rudy R

          I agree with Bob. If there is no intelligent agent that was the cause of the Big Bang, then there is no difference between “why” and “how.” You also fall into the trap of assuming the default is “nothing” versus “something.” There are two valid options for what was before the Big Bang: something or nothing. If there was “something” before the Big Bang, then would you agree that there is a possibility for a natural cause for the Big Bang?

        • MNb

          You’re missing an important point. Since Einstein’s E = mc^2 we know that matter and energy are two sides of the same coin.

          “Where does this matter come from?”
          It looks like the total amount of matter/energy in our Universe is exactly zero. If our Universe began with a quantum event your question is irrelevant.

          “what caused, at a certain moment, these events”
          Quantum fields are a probabilistic concept and not a causal one. You’re asking the wrong question. That’s what Greg G meant with self-caused (which I think an unfortunate expression, but soit).

        • Fabio

          Wow, you lost me when you said: “the total amount of matter/energy in our Universe is exactly zero.” What does that mean?

          About the quantum events: if I have understood it well, a quantum event is a change that occurs in a indeterministic way; correct me if I’m wrong (like I need to tell you that 🙂
          Now for a change to occur there must be something that undergo the change, right? What is this something? Is it matter? (Maybe if you answer my first question it would be clearer.)
          Where does it come from? Why does it undergo any changes at all?

          I tell you, in 30 years we are going to be here, you explaining to me, using the latest scientific discoveries, HOW everything came to be from a “nothingness” and me asking you WHY there is something rather than nothing in the first place.
          The point that I’m trying to make is that science cannot possibly have all the answers. There always be a “mystery” in existence that cannot be explained.
          It’s in this “mystery” that I find space for the idea of God, the divine, the transcendence.

          By the way, I love this discussion, I’m learning a lot. Thanks guys.

        • Susan

          you lost me when you said: “the total amount of matter/energy in our Universe is exactly zero.” What does that mean?

          Did you watch the lecture?

        • Fabio

          Sorry, no. I’m busy responding to all the posts I’m getting. What did I get myself in to? 🙁

        • Dys

          He’s talking about the zero-energy universe theory. The basic notion is that the positive energy in the universe (expressed as matter) is offset by gravity, thus leaving no net energy.

          http://www.livescience.com/33129-total-energy-universe-zero.html

        • Fabio

          Interesting stuff, thanks. I have to read Hawkin’s book; I read “From the bing bang to the black holes” and I find it fascinating.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hawking’s book, it is Hawking’s…..sheeesh!

        • Greg G.

          Theists get confused when they read books by Stephen Hawkins and Richard Dawkings.

        • Ignorant Amos

          From what I’ve witnessed, read is overstepping the remit a tad.

        • MNb

          “”the total amount of matter/energy in our Universe is exactly zero.” What does that mean?”
          Matter can be measured in terms of mass: unit kg.
          Energy can be quantified: unit J.
          The two are equivalent due to E = mc^2 (and you don’t need any difficult science book for that one). Now add all the mass and energy in our Universe and the sum might very well be 0.

          “Now for a change to occur there must be something that undergo the change, right?”
          Depends on what you mean with something. If a quantum field is something, yes. In a quantum field it’s possible that on a specific moment the total amount of mass and energy is zero (on average, because fluctuations) and the next one it isn’t. Spontaneous electron/positron creation has been observed and it’s a probabilistic event, ie without cause.

          “Where does it come from?”
          This assumes causality and hence is a wrong question. Modern Physics is probabilistic.

          “Why does it undergo any changes at all?”
          This is teleology and hence is a wrong question. Physics assumes there is no why.

          “The point that I’m trying to make is that science cannot possibly have all the answers.”
          So what? God is not an answer either, as I already explained a couple of times. Plus WHY is a wrong question. Plus I never claimed that science disproves god.

          “I’m learning a lot”
          Apparently not, because like most believers on this site you repeat the same errors over and over again.

      • chrijeff

        “If there was something to maintain the stability, there would be something, not nothing.” And since there *is* something (we’re all living in it), there must, logically, be something maintaining the stability. Right?

        “There is nothing about the existence of one universe preventing other universes from popping up the same way.” See science fiction and fantasy, which is full of them!

        “A cause cannot act on nothing to produce and effect. That rules out a god being the cause of a universe from nothing.” But what if there *wasn’t* “nothing”? What if there was something chaotic, and the act of creation (i.e. the Big Bang) simply imposed order on it?

        • Greg G.

          “If there was something to maintain the stability, there would be something, not nothing.” And since there *is* something (we’re all living in it), there must, logically, be something maintaining the stability. Right?

          No. The instability is the quantum vacuum. It is nearly undetectable but I think it has been taken advantage of in some technology.

          “A cause cannot act on nothing to produce and effect. That rules out a god being the cause of a universe from nothing.” But what if there *wasn’t* “nothing”? What if there was something chaotic, and the act of creation (i.e. the Big Bang) simply imposed order on it?

          Yes. But time may not exist outside the Big Bang so there is no before and after nor is there a distinction between cause and effect. Essentially, the “cause” causes the “effect” or the “effect” causes the “cause”, depending on which way you look at it, though one is no more right than the other.

          It’s all relative, and by that, I mean Einstein’s Relativity. Time slows as velocity approaches light speed and stops at light speed. To a photon that travels from a star in a distant galaxy to your retina takes a billion years from our perspective, but to the photon, it is the same instant.

          I don’t know what it would be like outside our universe but the difference from inside it compared to our common experience is probably less than the difference from inside and the outside.

        • MNb

          “advantage of in some technology.”

          http://www.technologyreview.com/view/416614/a-blueprint-for-a-quantum-propulsion-machine/

          But of course Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle has nothing to say about ontology ….. /sarcasm.

    • MNb

      In the first place “this question can’t be answered hence god” is a logical fallacy. In the second place “nothing whatsoever” is questionable – quantum fields very well always might have existed, for instance, though it’s also questionable if “quantum fields exist” is a meaningful statement. But in the last place your questions are investigated by science.

      “may have any more value and credibility of the idea that there is something out there that ignited the whole process?”
      The first yields testable hypotheses, the second not.

      • Fabio

        As I have already written in another post, my stance is not “this question can’t be answered hence god” but “this question can’t be answered hence god as the answer can’t be ruled out”.

        The reason I get involved in these discussions is that it bothers me how atheists, as well as religious conservatives of any faith, dismiss any other beliefs, without a shred of evidence, with a certainty that borders on fanaticism. I’m reasonably sure that there is a God (if I have to give a percentage, I would say 98%, average between 100% in my guts and 96% in my head), but I still consider the possibility of being completely wrong. Like you said in another post: “absolute certainty? No, sorry.”

        About the quantum fields that may have always existed, yes they may have; and God may exist, although there have been theologians who questioned if “God exists” is a meaningful statement. The point is that since the enlightenment Man has been chasing the ultimate answer to explain our reality without the option of a God. “God is dead”, “God is obsolete”, “We will know the mind of God”…well, guess what; the idea of God is alive and kicking and science is still chasing the ultimate answer. Each new discovery just unveils new questions, new horizons, new wonders…are you surprised that looking at this wondrous universe people like me think “it must be divine…”

        • adam

          “this question can’t be answered hence god as the answer can’t be ruled out”

          As neither can faires, gnomes, leprechans, Zeus, Shiva, etc…

        • MNb

          “this question can’t be answered hence god as the answer can’t be ruled out”.
          is as valid as

          “this question has been answered and god as (part of) the answer can’t be ruled out”.
          That’s what I mean with my claim that “something out there that ignited the whole process” doesn’t yield testable hypotheses.
          God explains everything and anything. Hence it explains nothing.

          “dismiss any other beliefs, without a shred of evidence, with a certainty that borders on fanaticism.”
          I may hope I have made clear this is a strawman afaIc. Sure BobS sometimes asks “what is your evidence for god?”, but I think it a meaningless question. Evidence by definition belongs to our natural reality, to which your god (unlike for instance the Mormon one) per definition is not part of.
          Experiment and observation won’t work. So we are stuck with logic, rational thinking and deduction. Using these I’m 100% sure there is no god, but before we get to that you must accept that evidence has very little to do with it.

          “the idea of God is alive and kicking and science is still chasing the ultimate answer.”
          God may be alive and kicking or not, my point is just that god is not an answer in any reasonable way. And with reason I mean using deduction and induction. The imperfection and incompleteness of science is irrelevant for this. Plus my argument is not “science has disproven god” exactly because science demands empirical evidence, which I already explained does not apply to god. So afaIc you’re still fighting a strawman.

          “are you surprised that looking at this wondrous universe people like me think “it must be divine…””
          No. As a child I looked at the wondrous gifts in my shoe the three weeks before December 5th and though “it must be Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, riding his grey over the roofs and throwing those presents through the chimneys. And unlike your god I actually have seen Saint Nicholas with my own eyes.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinterklaas

        • Kodie

          but “this question can’t be answered hence god as the answer can’t be ruled out”.

          Some Christians like Greg think they’re done if god is the answer. They don’t want answers, they want comfort and they insist that poking around too much to find the real answer is drawing ire from your deity. Then there is the thing where god can’t be ruled in, and god is regularly ruled out eventually. Don’t say god can’t be ruled out, unless you want to study questions in which god is currently your best answer, and find a way to discover that god is actually the answer. All you really can do is wait for science to cover that gap with “not god.” In the meantime, you are holding a dead hypothesis for which there are no reasonable means of arriving at a positive conclusion for god as the answer to anything.

          You’re still hoping, as long as science doesn’t rule god out that god is the answer, but you can’t rule god in as the answer.

        • “Some Christians like Greg think they’re done if god is the answer. They don’t want answers, they want comfort and they insist that poking around too much to find the real answer is drawing ire from your deity.”

          Kodie, you may laugh, but in my earlier days, I was an amateur astronomist. I love the idea that the Hubbel Telescope coould provide us information about the creation of the universe. And, no, I do not believe that would make the God I know, angry. The problem with blogging is noone knows who is on the other side of a comment, so we defensively go to steroptypes. Either people are black or white, never gray and then we villify. I feel very comfortable around atheists. I like the way they are sceptical and the way I have to argue my beliefs to make it through – Susan is right, I dislike hanging around with Christians, I’d rather argue with the atheists, who knows maybe one of you will convince me, or who knows maybe the Hubbel Telescope with solve a mystery about the creation that will be mind blowing. But, here comes the but, I do believe that the discoveries will only reveal more of the handiwork of God and at the end we will find out that God did create the universe. And, by the way, Igonorant Amos is convinced I am a “real esate conveyancer” – My practice is a general family practice – I have at least 8 clients who would take issue with IA pointing out that I saved them from foreclosure, just within this last year, and trust me, this took a bit of arguing and some fancy foot work in court. Hope this clairfies somethings.

        • Kodie

          Greg, we have seen your “fancy footwork.” I already told you that your distinct airheaded banter is probably going to work on people better in person than online, but your arguments and analogies have been consistently for shit. You have admitted you are afraid to ask questions. Too late to try and make a new impression on us. I used you for an example because you are exceptionally dumb.

        • Susan

          your distinct airhead banter is probably going to work on people better in person than online

          Air-headed banter works great online in many places.

          It’s certainly possible that Greg has had some success with it in meat space. There are countless examples of that sort of thing happening across the globe and throughout human history and that fact doesn’t speak well of human thinking and should only reinforce our skepticism about ‘common sense’.

          It’s also true that I can claim anything on-line. I can claim I am a lawyer and that I save families and that I loved astronomy as a child and that I eagerly await the data provided by the Hubbel telescope.

          But in all those decades, I never learned how to spell Hubbel’s name right.

          (It drove Edwin crazy when we dated. He was smitten with me but he finally broke up with me because of it.)

        • Kodie

          Given that he only likes to bother atheists, he seems to think shooting the shit a little instead of getting down to addressing what was talked about is the way to soften people up. Like that time he though Bruce Gorton was Batman. I wouldn’t doubt he has a lot of success distracting people in real life, where conversations can drift without any record, and polite people tend to let it go there instead of struggle to get Greg to focus on the topic. A person can get out of a lot of tough situations in real life with this “look over there! now what were we talking about? Oh, that vest my grandmother knitted me for my birthday, can you believe I shrunk it in the wash? If I had just turned 10, it would fit perfectly!” If he does practice law, it’s not the law he knows, it’s how to tap dance around until people are entertained and charmed. I have a hard time thinking a real lawyer reasons so poorly as Greg does. And to get into the social aspect, banter among serious subjects needs timing. He’s been trying to get on people’s soft side by hanging around making pop culture references instead of answering questions, and the schmoozing just fails fails fails.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s Hubble Greg..the Hubble Telescope. It is minor errors like this that make folk think you are just angling for a rise aka trolling. Hawkins, Roddenbury, Hubbel, even when pointed out your errors, you continue to do it, hence the accusation of wilful ignorance. If the cap fits and all that jazz.

        • 90Lew90

          “Kodie, you may laugh, but in my earlier days, I was an amateur astronomist.”

          I’m laughing, because all this “clairfies” is that someone may once have bought you a telescope and your interest in astronomy got no farther than that, otherwise you might even have become an amateur astronomer and you’d know how to spell ‘Hubble’. You dick.

        • He said as he hit the spell-check button on the last word in his comment. Lew, you bawdy rascal, don’t you know I’m always rushing, on the run, let’s put it this way, the sound track to “Mission Impossible” can be heard playing behind me throughout my work day. Also, I haven’t figured out how to do spell check on these comments – where’s my son, when I need him?

        • Greg G.

          You have consistently spelled it “Hubbel”. It was not a typo. It shows that you have not read much at all on the subject.

        • Ignorant Amos

          He has also been pointed out his mistakes at celebrity name spelling, but fails to adjust…par for the course really.

        • 90Lew90

          If you type “clairfies” into the message box, it’ll auto-correct. Hubbel gets underlined in red as a misspelling, whereas Hubble does not. And here again we have the spectacle of a purported lawyer misspelling names (a cardinal sin for a lawyer) and not only making a waffley point but bungling it. Keep a better eye on your son. He’s probably being diddled by that nice new priest.

        • Then I’m doomed, I’m color blind, I don’t see red (that well).

          “Keep a better eye on your son”

          We can’t protect them form everything, but I was always one who had an instinct that if I was to progress in my spirituality, it would come from a personal relationship with God and not one that had a human intermediary, no matter how holy they appeared – I have passed this scepticsm down to my children, I believe.

        • 90Lew90

          God help them.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Then I’m doomed, I’m color blind, I don’t see red (that well).

          You are such a prick. Colour blindness is a disability that doesn’t need joked about. As it happens I also suffer colour blindness. I presume you are still capable of noticing a line under a word regardless of colour?

          Of course spelling the name in the first, second, third, etc., etc., place would be a better option.

          As for being able to use a spell checker in Disqus, what a liar you’ve become.

        • chrijeff

          “I feel very comfortable around atheists. I like the way they are sceptical…”

          Technically, though, an atheist is someone who is absolutely convinced that there is *no* god/s whatsoever. (Root a-, meaning none, as in asexual.) A skeptic (i.e., a doubter, someone who says “There may be, or there may not”) is an agnostic.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Why can theist’s just not get this correct? It isn’t rocket feckin’ science, nor anything near it.

        • Greg G.

          Technically, though, an atheist is someone who is absolutely convinced that there is *no* god/s whatsoever.

          Technically, yes. AIUI, that is philosopher-speak. In common usage, that is the definition of a “strong atheist”. An atheist is someone who is not convinced there is a god. The prefix “a-” means “not”, as in “not theist”. An agnostic can be an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist. Most people would fall into one of those categories, including you.

          We are all atheists. We all disbelieve in most proposed gods. Theists and Deists are just incomplete atheists.

        • MNb

          There are degrees. The scale of Dawkins is quite handy: an agnost is 4, an atheist as defined by you is a 7.
          I’m absolutely convinced (ie a 7), which means for me beyond reasonable doubt.

        • chrijeff

          Exactly my point. An agnostic is not the same thing as an atheist. That’s what I *said,* isn’t it?

        • adam

          ..

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope…

        • Ignorant Amos

          No, what you said is….

          Technically, though, an atheist is someone who is absolutely convinced that there is *no* god/s whatsoever.

          Which is WRONG.

        • MNb

          “There are degrees” is not what you said. You didn’t contradict it either though, so my comment was only an addition. See, it looked like as if you set up a false dichotomy.
          Funny to see I actually disagree with IA underneath, albeit on a very minor point.
          That said I don’t care much about lables. Over at Ryan Bell’s blog there is someone who gives himself a 4 on the scale of Dawkins and still calls himself an atheist.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m a 7 myself and said so on RDFRS site many years ago. Mostly because the concept makes as much sense as a 10 sided triangle, I’m theological noncognitivist.

        • Kodie

          The prefix “a-” means “not.” If you are a theist and you have evidence, propose it. How am I supposed to believe something if I don’t believe it? Until such evidence comes in, am I supposed to believe something I don’t believe just because everyone else doesn’t care about evidence or is easily persuaded by poor evidence?

          You don’t really understand the position of atheism. I’m not absolutely convinced there is no god whatsoever. I am absolutely not convinced there is a god, however. Do you understand the difference?

        • chrijeff

          No, I don’t. You’re open to either possibility. This makes you not-an-atheist, because if you were an atheist, you would be absolutely convinced that there isn’t one, as are several people on this thread.

        • adam

          ” This makes you not-an-atheist, because if you were an atheist, you would be absolutely convinced that there isn’t one, as are several people on this thread.”

          Definition of ATHEISM Merriam Webster

          2a : a disbelief in the existence of deity

          disbelief
          : a feeling that you do not or cannot believe or accept that something is true or real

          So she is an atheist if she has that disbelief.

        • Greg G.

          An atheist is anyone who is not a theist. There are implicit atheists who don’t believe in any deity because they were never exposed to the notion. There are explicit atheists who have been exposed to theism but are unconvinced by it. There are strong atheists who accept the burden of proof. Most atheists do not.

          I am a strong atheist but what I would accept as a deity would require it to be worthy of worship. The minimum properties of a god would be to have the power to prevent all suffering and the benevolence to do so. Since suffering exists, that god does not exist. An omnipotent being, by definition could end all suffering and could still achieve any wish so all suffering is unnecessary. The existence of suffering implies that an omnipotent being is sadistic.

          Theists see the problem with suffering but think they need to make excuses for their deity.

        • Kodie

          Where did you absorb this misinformation? You’re talking to atheists and telling them what they are, and we’re all telling you you don’t know what you’re talking about. Why do you persist in thinking you know what you’re talking about? Who told you these wrong things?

        • 90Lew90

          This is curious: “The reason I get involved in these discussions is that it bothers me how atheists, as well as religious conservatives of any faith, dismiss any other beliefs, without a shred of evidence, with a certainty that borders on fanaticism.”

          That’s fair enough. A peculiarity of atheism in the US is that it’s gathering “converts” rather than the rather more casual atheism people arrive at in Europe, simply by spending five minutes thinking about the stories in a much less religiously charged culture. We all know about the zeal of converts. The American atheist convert is the sort to be found at the Friendly Atheist blog here at Patheos, and I don’t mind saying I find that blog and the commenters it attracts fairly odious and wrong-headed.

          But after accusing atheists broad-brush of borderline fanatical certainty that there is no god without a shred of evidence, you then announce that you’re 98% sure there is one (averaging between the 100% in your gut and the 96% in your head), without a shred of evidence. All things taken into account, you have no more evidence than us to suppose either way. My own attitude to the existence-of-god question is that if there is a god it is unknowable, which makes the question imponderable and therefore not worth even thinking about, and that “revelation” is self-evidently a pile of shite. The reason I get involved in these conversations is because of the effect of organised religion on politics and public morality. Organised religion is real, is a political force, and remains urgently in need of close scrutiny.

          You’ll notice that the death-of-god statements you quote emerged towards the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th. That was the period when Darwin’s idea had penetrated fully into the arts and the general consciousness of educated people. It brought about a grim despair best expressed (I think — I’ve mentioned this poem before here and it’s available online) in Thomas Hardy’s ‘God’s Funeral’. Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Marx and later Einstein and Hardy all recognised that the Biblical god had been rendered bunk. Thinking believers were forced to retreat into deism.

          But as you rightly point out, reports of god’s death were greatly exaggerated. In retrospect, I’m not really surprised, because the faith most people hold isn’t particularly deeply examined. A given religion (I’m referring to the Abrahamic religions here) is taken as a framework, usually from childhood, on which to hang answers to the Big Questions that preoccupy us all from time to time. We have something approaching a consensus from the cognitive sciences and neuroscience about why “god” has such enduring appeal. Religions join dots for us, relieving us of the need to think and the bother of facing the Big Questions squarely, and religious practice, as Kody has pointed out repeatedly, is pure self-indulgence.

          God’s not dead because religion continues to loom large and deeply held faith makes all manner of horror tolerable, and horror is a part of life. Institutional religion also has an interest in preserving itself, not least because it is worth a lot of money, but also because it is run by people whose very sanity would be called into question if its foundations were shaken. Again, this comes down to self-interest. I’m convinced that’s why these self-interested creeps hang on to it and bang on about it so loudly.

          We have answers to a lot of the Big Questions but religion persists in leading people to believe we don’t by presenting an attractive blind alley with hanging baskets and picnic tables. (Just don’t have sex, or at least if you must fuck, do it in the fetid public toilet, last on the right at the end of the cul-de-sac.)

          Your last statement about each new discovery “just” unveiling more questions, horizons and wonders pretty much sums up what I find most repugnant about religion, and I think I’ve said as much already. You look at these vistas being opened up to us and think ‘gosh! because-god’.

          The discoveries we’re making are not baptisms and they’re not “just” discoveries (an air of ruefulness escapes from you with that phrasing). They are discoveries writ large. They are the highest intellectual peaks we’ve been able to scale. They are the pinnacle of human achievement. I for one find it almost intolerable that the fusty old maniac god of (relatively) ancient religion still finds a place in answers to the new questions which abound in science just because of the self-indulgence of the ignorant masses which organised religions exploit. God’s not dead but he fucking well should be.

        • chrijeff

          “My own attitude to the existence-of-god question is that if there is a god it is unknowable.” I’d go along with that, but that doesn’t mean you can’t believe in it.

          “Thinking believers were forced to retreat into deism.” Which makes rather good sense (deism does, I mean): it holds that God created the Universe and set it going (or perhaps simply “wrote” the laws of physics/nature/etc. which allowed it to become what we see), but doesn’t intervene in it.

          “Religions join dots for us, relieving us of the need to think and the bother of facing the Big Questions squarely…” Or of giving ourselves headaches trying to wrap our minds around issues they’re not designed to encompass. (Which is one of the reasons we’ve always tended to imagine our gods in human shape. We can relate to that, but not to something that has no physical form or existence.)

          “Institutional religion also has an interest in preserving itself, not
          least because it is worth a lot of money, but also because it is run by
          people whose very sanity would be called into question if its
          foundations were shaken. Again, this comes down to self-interest.” Right On!!! That’s why they discourage us from (a) thinking and (b) worshipping in whatever private way appeals to us. (I personally think that appreciating the wonders and beauties of reality, and trying to live in a just relationship with my fellow-creatures, is the best kind of worship there is. After all, if God isn’t material, why would he *need* worship? Why would he have human emotions like the “jealousy” mentioned in the O.T.? Unless you believe that your worship somehow passes some of your energy on *to* God, there doesn’t seem to be much point in it.)

          “God’s not dead but he fucking well should be.” Only the New Testament one. (Jews were the first monotheists, but they didn’t proselytize or fight “religious wars.” Nor did pagans. *That* came in with the N.T.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          “My own attitude to the existence-of-god question is that if there is a god it is unknowable.” I’d go along with that, but that doesn’t mean you can’t believe in it.

          One can believe in any unknowable one can posit. Space Ponies is as good as I’ve heard, I just don’t see any point.

          “Thinking believers were forced to retreat into deism.” Which makes rather good sense (deism does, I mean): it holds that God created the Universe and set it going (or perhaps simply “wrote” the laws of physics/nature/etc. which allowed it to become what we see), but doesn’t intervene in it.

          Which to me is exactly the same as no god at all as far as it’s impact. The religious are very unhappy with that state of affairs too.

        • Greg G.

          “My own attitude to the existence-of-god question is that if there is a god it is unknowable.” I’d go along with that, but that doesn’t mean you can’t believe in it.

          But should you? If your plane is about to crash, if you believe God will protect you if you jump out, it probably won’t change much but the same belief will probably get you killed if the plane is fine.

          I don’t think that belief should be stronger than the evidence.

          Thinking believers were forced to retreat into deism.” Which makes rather good sense (deism does, I mean)

          But that was done for the Argument from Ignorance. Science has explained a lot of things that was formerly thought to require a creator. There are now hypotheses that make the creator unnecessary.

          That’s why they discourage us from (a) thinking and (b) worshipping in whatever private way appeals to us.

          A person’s freedom to swing a fist ends at the next person’s nose. A person’s freedom to exercise a religion ends when practiced against someone else.

          Jews were the first monotheists, but they didn’t proselytize or fight “religious wars.”

          That is probably true but the Jews recorded that they did fight religious wars. The OT says they wiped out several cities with religious justifications. However, the archaeology shows that the Exodus never happened and they simply developed their religion along side those they claimed to have conquered. Many ancient settlements have been studied. The only cultural difference between them is that some have pig bones and some don’t.

        • Ignorant Amos

          (Jews were the first monotheists, but they didn’t proselytize or fight “religious wars.” Nor did pagans. *That* came in with the N.T.)

          Psssst! I’m not sure if you are aware of it, but the authors of the New Testament were proselytising Jews.

          Of course the Jews proselytised.

          Abraham converted the men and Sarah the women. Jacob too made converts: Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, ‘Put away the strange gods that are among you.…And they gave unto Jacob all the foreign gods.

          Proselytising to Jews was just prohibited…

          “If your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him. But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.”

          — Deuteronomy 13:6-9

          As for not engaging in religious wars…that’s just silly pants.

        • adam

          “, you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him. But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.”

          — Deuteronomy 13:6-9

          Whewwwww…………

          Good thing us atheists dont have a god

        • chrijeff

          The Jews have fought many wars, true. In the Old Testament they fought to conquer Canaan=Israel. But they weren’t fighting the Canaanites because the Canaanites weren’t Jews, and they weren’t trying to impose Judaism on them. (Which would be my definition of a “religious war.” The current ISIS troubles are a religious war because ISIS wants to impose its version of Islam on everybody else. The trouble Russia has with the Chechens, to take one example, is *not* a religious war, even though the Chechens are Muslims and the Russians are Orthodox; it’s about the Chechens wanting independent nationhood–they’re quite willing to let Russia go on being Orthodox.) They were fighting them because the Canaanites were there first, and the Jews believed that the Land of Canaan had been promised to *them* by God. Likewise in modern times, the Jews/Israelis have fought the Palestinians, Egyptians, and everyone else in the vicinity, not because they were Muslims, but because they were *there* (in the case of the Palestinians, who settled in Palestine/Israel after the Diaspora) and/or because they were trying (as in the 1946 troubles) to destroy the Israeli state. It wasn’t about religion. It was about arable land and nationhood.

        • adam

          “Which would be my definition of a “religious war.” ”

          When YOUR ‘god’ commands you go mass murder, THAT is a RELIGIOUS WAR…

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Greg G.

          The stories about the conquering of Canaan and such are probably lies. The archaeology shows that there was no overturning of culture in the area. It shows that there were some sites that had pig bones and some didn’t but the cultures were pretty much the same otherwise.

          There is also no evidence that the Jews were in Egypt or that the lived in the desert for 40 years. Egypt was a world power in that era. The Bible says a third of their work force left. It is absurd to think a nation could survive losing a substantial part of the work force and still support an army that could be a dominant force in the world.

        • MNb

          “The stories about the conquering of Canaan and such are probably lies.”
          It doesn’t contribute to our understanding when you evaluate stories from Antiquity from a 21st Century viewpoint. Calling the stories a lie makes as little sense as calling Harry Potter a lie.

        • Greg G.

          Nobody claims that Harry Potter is a true story.

          Saying they lied is not as bad as saying they committed genocide. That they have been passed down and taken as true stories for a couple of thousand years is worse than calling them lies.

          We would call them lies twenty years ago in the 20th century. If we go back to 1 Samuel 9, the priest asks David why he is alone. David tells him he is on a secret mission from the king. Is it fair to call that a lie in the 21st century? The back story says that King Saul wanted to kill David out of paranoia and David was running for his life.

          If the stories were some strategic deception to intimidate
          invaders, or something along those lines, they are strategic lies, but it doesn’t make them bad. But continuing to think they are history is wrong. Calling a lie a lie is the most direct way to dispel the acceptance of an untruth.

        • MNb

          “Nobody claims that Harry Potter is a true story.”
          Notice your usage of the present time. You let literalists decide for you how to read books from Antiquity. Congratulations for taking over their silliness without any critical thinking. You have made yourself an ally of Ken Ham.

          “That they have been passed down and taken as true stories for a couple of thousand years is worse than calling them lies.”
          Then you should immediately stop reading anything from Antiquity, because this applies to every single book written then.
          Just like IA you assume that the authors and readers back then were as anal about seperating fact from fiction as you and me. That’s a grave error, which seriously hinders your understanding of that time – and probably also of the Middle Ages.
          I’m far from sure yet, but you make me suspect that JM’s lack the same cognitive skills as fundies do. But you have done a fine job disqualifying yourself to do any research regarding Antiquity. Exactly like Ken Ham you’re a science denier – you deny the fact that during Antiquity (and long afterwards) people mixed up fact and fiction all the time. Only your purpose is the opposite. But atheist teleology isn’t any better than the fundamendalist version. It remains antiscientific.

        • Greg G.

          Doing history requires separating facts from the false parts of stories. There may be a kernel of truth here or there. Some stories are so far from the truth that the term “lie” is appropriate. The Gospel of John says Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Ananus. That is plausible but we have no other record of that. John has some descriptions of Jerusalem that were not known for centuries but have been confirmed by archaeololgy. Do you assume there is a kernel in every ancient writing?

          Do you assume that historical methods are perfect, that historians have everything right? I don’t. I think they got the Jesus question wrong.

        • MNb

          “Doing history requires separating facts from fiction.”
          Yes. That’s why those authors weren’t historians the way we understand that profession. Thanks for confirming my point.

          “Do you assume that historical methods are perfect, that historians have everything right?”
          If you had understood what science is about you wouldn’t have asked this question. But it’s certainly wrong to assume that the authors from Antiquity wrote for our modern readers – and that’s exactly your method. That deliberate mistake (because your method is all about teleology) is confirmed here (I missed it somehow yesterday):

          “We would call them lies twenty years ago in the 20th century.”

          Like the typical pseudoscientist you are you try to bring a point home that’s totally irrelevant for my argument. Twenty years ago I wrote “in the 20th Century” indeed, not “in the 21st Century”. As you’re not exactly stupid I can only assume that you’re as dishonest as the average creationist. Well, that’s what JM is pseudoscience for too.
          Thanks for confirming by prejudices.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Is the Book of Daniel a lie?

          What about Exodus and Joshua?

          Some folk have no problem with the 10 plagues of Moses being a lie, or the burning bush being a lie, or the 40 years wandering being a lie, or…blah, blah, blah,…being a lie, but the conquest of the Canaanite’s being a lie, that gets folk bent all out of shape.

          The hypothesis that the Canaanite conquest was about a class war has some support in the scholarship. Known as “The Peasant Revolt Model”.

          The third major settlement theory regarding the emergence of Israel in Canaan is called thepeasant revolt model. Unlike the first two theories discussed, this theory proposes that the earliest Israelites were not outsiders who entered Canaan to settle the land; rather, they were actually Canaanite peasants who revolted against an oppressive aristocratic regime. With economic wealth and socio-political power concentrated in Canaanite city-states, those removed from the cities, such as lower-class peasant farmers, became marginalized members of Canaanite society. Facing heavy taxation and little to no access to either property or power, the Canaanite peasants grew increasingly dissatisfied with what they saw as oppressive conditions. Eventually, these individuals came together and violently revolted against the city-state system. These dissidents were later joined by a small group of Transjordan slaves who recently had escaped from their own slavery in Egypt. As these various oppressed people converged in their interests and combined in their efforts, a wide-scale revolt began that sought to establish an egalitarian socio-political order in direct opposition to the power structure of the city-states and their rulers. Therefore, urban centers were the primary target of the dissidents. Though beginning primarily as a socio-political uprising, this movement was subsequently galvanized by a growing devotion to Yahweh, a God worshipped by the small group of ex-slaves who had earlier joined the cause of the Canaanite peasants.

          Other scholars favour…

          Scholars agree that the Israelite community arose peacefully and internally in the highlands of Canaan—in the words of archaeologist William Dever, “most of those who came to call themselves Israelites … were or had been indigenous Canaanites”—and that Israelite religion accordingly emerged gradually from a Canaanite milieu.

          Whatever the case, Exodus and Joshua appear to be lies.

        • MNb

          “Some folk have no problem with …..”
          I do, for the same reason.
          Is the Harry Potter series a lie?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Is the Harry Potter series a lie?

          That all depends on how it is being projected, doesn’t it?

          If someone is putting it forward as a work of historical significance for example, then it’s a lie. Could that happen to be the case millennia into the future, then they would be a definitely be a lie.The scriptures are put forward as real events in history even though they are not, and may not have intended to be at the time they were written. Similar things happen with Robin Hood and King Arthur for example.

          Interestingly though, I watched the made-for-TV film, “Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story” based on the book “J.K. Rowling A Biography” where it shows she got a lot of inspiration for the Harry Potter books from real life characters and events she witnessed in everyday life.

        • MNb

          “That all depends on how it is being projected, doesn’t it?”
          It does. And assuming the authors projected it the way you prefer to read it, as you make clear here

          “The scriptures are put forward as real events in history”
          is a grave error. To specify: you assume that people 2000+ years ago were as anal about seperating fact from fiction as you and me are. And exactly here you’re dead wrong – or perhaps even lying. In any case you deny a fact.
          According to your illogic every single book written during Antiquity is a lie. That tells more, much more about you than about Antiquity.

        • Ignorant Amos

          No, I know people today and for centuries read these books as history and fact. That’s the reason we have the mess that is Christianity today. That is the point of the mythicist argument, people 2000 years ago were NOT as anal about separating fact and fiction as you and I are. So knowing that I am not dead wrong. I take umbrage at the accusation of lying. I don’t deny any fact because you nor anyone else has provided one.

          According to your illogic every single book written during Antiquity is a lie. That tells more, much more about you than about Antiquity.

          Wtf that is supposed to mean is anyone’s guess. Are there books in antiquity that are lies? Some? A lot? Just in part? How much of the gospels are you proposing are true? How do you know? Are the stories complete bullshit, built around a real life person that lent his name to the central character? Give us s chance and lay out your position?

          I know you are anti mythicist to the point of contempt, I expect better of someone as astute. Like the best of the historicists, you don’t provide much by way of counter argument prefering yo attack individuals proposals as lies or illogic. I’m wondering just what you’ve read of the minimal mythicist position and also what you base your conviction on that the gospels are based on an historical person in first century Palestine. Tradition? Authority? Consensus? Just because that’s the way it has always been? The argument for an historical Jesus has not been made convincingly, if it was, this conversation would be moot.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s all very interesting, but nothing to do with your assertion and my rebuttal unfortunately.

          Most wars are about territory, power and/or wealth. Regardless of any religious underpinnings. The current ISIS troubles are a religious war because ISIS wants to impose a worldwide caliphate. So, I’ll have to decline your defining of “holy war” in light of the expert scholarly source I cited.

          I will raise a question about one point you made…

          They were fighting them because the Canaanites were there first, and the Jews believed that the Land of Canaan had been promised to *them* by God.

          Are you sure about this?

          Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion in the University of Exeter’s Department of Theology and Religion whose main focus of her research is Israelite and Judahite history and religion would certainly disagree.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Jews were the first monotheists, but they didn’t proselytize or fight “religious wars

          This guy would disagree…Dr. Reuven Firestone, Rabbi, PH.D. http://huc.edu/directory/reuven-firestone

          Author of “Holy War in Judaism: The Fall and Rise of a Controversial Idea”

          http://www.amazon.com/Holy-War-Judaism-Fall-Controversial/dp/0199860300/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358541678&sr=1-3&keywords=reuven%2Bfirestone

          Rabbi Reuven Firestone is professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles and author of numerous books, most recently Holy War in Judaism: The Fall and Rise of a Controversial Idea (Oxford University Press, 2012), which explores how the concept of ‘’holy war’’ disappeared from Jewish thought for almost 2000 years, only to reemerge with renewed vigor in modern times.

          – See more at: http://www.reformjudaism.org/jewish-life/arts-culture/literature/holy-war-judaism-fall-and-rise-controversial-idea#sthash.YLLMUjao.dpuf

        • MNb

          “it holds that God created the Universe”
          What does that even mean?
          How did he do it?
          Which means did he use?
          Which procedures did he follow?

          The very statement “God created the Universe” implies an intervention. There is no difference with “God gave Homo Sapiens consciousness”, “God rose Jesus’ body from death”. It remains a miracle claim.

        • chrijeff

          “What does that even mean?How did he do it?
          Which means did he use?
          Which procedures did he follow?”

          Well, now, if I could answer all those questions, I could do it too, probably.

          However, as for what it means: I hold that it means God brought Order out of Chaos. (The Big Bang was the imposition of Order upon whatever was here before it. It started all the processes which led to the formation of suns, and then planets, and then the beginning of life, which in turn led to evolution. All these things are orderly; they follow laws of physics and nature, which we can come to understand by study.)

        • MNb

          “I hold that it means God brought Order out of Chaos.”
          That’s not an answer, that’s reformulating the original statement without addressing its problems.

          “if I could answer all those questions.”
          That’s the point. You can’t. Nobody can. Hence the statement is meaningless.
          See, for statements like “chrijeff builds a house” or even “MNb loves his female counterpart” such questions can be answered indeed.
          So the conclusion goes even a bit further – an immaterial god doesn’t have such means available and can’t follow such procedures by definition, because all such means and procedures are material. As soon god uses them he/she/it ceases to be immaterial.
          The concept of an immaterial god creating the whole material shenanigan is incoherent.

        • 90Lew90

          Thanks for your comment, but I’m not sure where you’re coming from. If you accept that the hypothetical god is unknowable, it doesn’t bear thinking about. Your time would be better spent writing a story.
          Deism doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s the last refuge for the wilful believer confronted by knowledge. It’s foxhole faith.

          I don’t happen to think our minds are ill-equipped to grapple with Big Questions. The proliferation of religions would suggest to me that our curiosity about those things is perennial. If anything, we probably think about such questions too much, and left to our own devices, often put two and two together and get seven. Or religion. The discoveries borne from tackling such questions with freedom, discipline and rigour of thought are astonishing. What has religion got in response? Nothing. What is left for the individual? Whatever story he might like to make up.

          I’m roughly with you on what I take to mean your appreciation of beauty as being the best form of “worship” I prefer the Eastern term ‘mindfulness’. I don’t however see why you distinguish the NT god from the OT one. As far as I’m concerned the rot set in with the Old Testament and was compounded by Christianity, and both of them are profoundly anti-human, as is their younger sister Islam. I don’t want to intercede with the god of those tales. In fact I’d be more comfortable with the certainty that I’d be dead for good after a burning at a stake than the possibility of being confronted with that monster afterwards. And I’d definitely prefer to be hosted by Satan if I was kicked out of that god’s party. Which party would you prefer?

        • chrijeff

          “I don’t happen to think our minds are ill-equipped to grapple with Big Questions. The proliferation of religions would suggest to me that our curiosity about those things is perennial.”

          It’s not that we’re ill-equipped to grapple with them. The fact that we *do* (or at least we try to), shows that we *are*. But our minds are mortal and limited. We can’t even imagine what “eternity” or “infinity” are like; we can conceive of them, but we can’t really wrap our minds around them.

        • 90Lew90

          And…?

        • Fabio

          Lew!! How are you my Irish friend? I just came back from vacation and I thought: “let’s me see what that bunch of atheists is talking about”, but I think I bit more than I can chew 😉 anyway, happy to talk to you.

          About the American atheist: well considering the existence of the American religious right, it’s to be expected that, as a reaction, atheists here are going to be zealots and unreasonable, and a little bit arrogant I may add. On this thread, Susan gave me a link for a lecture about physics. I open it and started watching the video: in the first few seconds of it, the host, introducing the guest speaker, said, with a smirk on the face, something like: “I receive many questions; some are from religious people and those are easy to answer”, eliciting chuckles from the audience. You know what I mean? I know that not all atheists are such a-holes (you’re not, for example), but they should admit that not all religious people are cuckoos. Does that guy think that a question from Karen Armstrong, Marcus Borg, John D. Crossan, Bernard Haisch, Francis S. Collins would be easy to handle? Does he think that a question from Pope Francis or Desmond Tutu is matter for a joke? (The Pope, a South African bishop and a physicist walk in a bar….)
          Even the post that started this whole thread, “25 stupid argument…” is based on that attitude of certainty (by the way, 98% is not absolute certainty); yes, I admit that many of those arguments are, indeed, stupid, based on the only fact that “the bible says so”. But the one I took issue with regards the fact that you cannot disprove (or prove) the existence of a “God”. I hold that position; YOU hold that position when you say: “My own attitude to the existence-of-god question is that if there is a god it is unknowable.” The argument is not stupid and, you and me, we may have lots of defects (I assume you do, my friend), but stupidity is not one of them.
          Now you may find the question not even worth of thinking about, but I do. I’m extremely fascinated by it and I gave it a lot of thought. Based on my character, my sensibilities, my cultural background, my reasoning, my experience I got to the conclusion that, IN MY OPINION, the existence of a “God” make more sense that the contrary. You disagree with me? Fine, I will not call you or your argument stupid; please, do the same.

          About your tirade on organized religion and its effects: I hear you man, I agree with everything you said (almost everything). I met many conservative Christians and I realized that many of them are driven by fear: fear of believing, thinking and acting in the wrong way; fear of being outnumbered, outmoded and dismissed. Try to understand them: they are between a rock (a loving God who will burn your ass for eternity if you misbehave) and a hard place (a world that tell you that everything you hold dear is BS). And fear is a powerful emotion, very easy to exploit for your own self-interest. I agree with you that when people try to dictate policy with the battle cry “God wants it!”, discussion and opposition is needed.

          About new discoveries: maybe I misused the word “just”, let me rephrase: science can explore and explain the natural world, the mechanics of existence, but it has no place in investigating the numinous, the “mysterium tremendum” that, in my opinion (not only mine), is the root of our reality. Now, I love science, I f@%king love science; I don’t know as much as some on this thread (by the way, you know a lot about philosophy, what about physics?), but I know enough to look at our physical universe, life and human reason in astonishment and awe. Every new discoveries add to those feelings and makes me more convinced that it must be of divine origin.

          Finally, yes, I kind of agree with the deism thing, where it states that God “permits his creation to administer itself through natural laws”, but in my opinion God still operates in our world: every time a human being decide to forget his own self interest to show compassion to his neighbors, that is God’s love expressing itself through us.

        • MNb

          Last time I checked neither Armstrong nor Borg were superhuman or physicist, so it’s not hard to imagine that their questions on physics could be easy to answer – and even stupid. That works the other way round as well of course. If you want to enjoy a fine case of atheist stupidity (even Richard Carrier thinks folks like him are an embarrassment):

          http://www.jesusneverexisted.com

          “every time a human being decide to forget his own self interest to show compassion to his neighbors, that is God’s love expressing itself through us.”

          A nice variation on the popular christian theme

          Something good happens: praise god.
          Something bad happens: don’t blame god, but humans or the laws of nature.

          A nasty religion, christianity.

          Plus of course it’s a matter of self interest to show compassion to your neighbours. Next time you might need it yourself.

        • I’ll intrude into your conversation with Lew with my comments.

          Does that guy think that a question from Karen Armstrong, Marcus Borg, John D. Crossan, Bernard Haisch, Francis S. Collins would be easy to handle?

          My short answer: yes. Longer answer: I can imagine that there might be material to study up on to understand the vocabulary of an argument by one of these, but the arguments have to date all been pretty elementary at root. Just because these people are smart doesn’t mean that they can make a good argument out of a losing position.

          But if you have any good arguments, I’d like to hear them.

          Even the post that started this whole thread, “25 stupid argument…” is based on that attitude of certainty

          You’ve lost me. You and I agree that there are lots of stupid arguments that Christians should avoid. You might want to change up some of the things I have on my list (and for that, I invite your specific comments arguing against the inclusion of any) but otherwise, we should be on the same page.

          I took issue with regards the fact that you cannot disprove (or prove) the existence of a “God”.

          Works for me.

          I got to the conclusion that, IN MY OPINION, the existence of a “God” make more sense that the contrary. You disagree with me? Fine, I will not call you or your argument stupid; please, do the same.

          If your argument is any of the ones on this list, I will indeed call it stupid. But perhaps I’ve erred—in that case, show me why that argument is actually sensible and should be removed from the Stupid list.

          science can explore and explain the natural world, the mechanics of existence, but it has no place in investigating the numinous, the “mysterium tremendum” that, in my opinion (not only mine), is the root of our reality.

          What numinous world? Science has quite a bit to say about leprechauns—not enough evidence to believe them. Ditto supernatural claims.

          If you’re going to say that the supernatural world you have in mind doesn’t interact with ours and is therefore beyond science’s reach, that’s fine, but we arrive at the same conclusion: there isn’t enough evidence to believe this (and wishful thinking doesn’t count).

          I know enough to look at our physical universe, life and human reason in astonishment and awe. Every new discoveries add to those feelings and makes me more convinced that it must be of divine origin.

          That’s weird. Science (which always points to natural explanations) shows you awe that you couldn’t even dream of within the narrow straightjacket of religion. How that supports your supernatural beliefs suggests to me wishful thinking.

        • Fabio

          Hi Bob, sorry it took me so long to answer you post but there were so many people arguing with me (many with a boatload of posts, each addressing one point) that I had to skip some. If you say that Porfamer has a good point, I’m going to look for his post and address it.

          We definitely agree on the fact that many arguments from fundamentalist (christians and not) are just plain stupid; and, although we can’t really disprove it with hard evidences, at the least we can point to the fact that they do not make any sense. In Christianity for example, I would point out that the idea of a loving, merciful God who is going to burn your ass in hell for eternity if you misbehave, is a oxymoron.
          But if I remember my original post, although I agreed with you on this point, I continued stating that is not possible to prove or disprove the existence of “something” out there, an external cause to our universe, and I asked if someone was able to present a compelling evidence to prove that the universe came to be from nothing (and boy, there was people willing to take the challenge). The point I was trying to make is that, if there is something beyond our universe, the ultimate cause and reason for our existence, it’s going to be beyond the reach of science.
          I believe you agreed with me on this, but then you ask something like “why to believe in it if there are no evidences?” Well, you’re right, there are no evidences; whatever is there, it’s beyond our universe and our intellect. All the talking about the godhead and the numinous and the meaning of life is, as Lew put it, “flight of the fancy”, just a way to explain, if there is something out there, why there’s something rather than nothing.

          But here comes in play the character and sensibilities of the individual.
          I’m a artist, I love art. If I have to think that the pleasure I feel looking at a work of Klimt, is just an chemical reaction triggered by the activation of a particular neural pathway in my brain due to a sensorial stimulation, I don’t see the beauty anymore. It’s just a mechanical response, with no meaning whatsoever.
          In the same way I cannot accept the idea that the love I feel for my daughters is just a clever device, developed over millions of years of evolution, to ensure the survival of the species.
          And I cannot accept the idea that when I die, I will just disappear, completely annihilated, forever. You can say that it’s wishful thinking, but let me ask you something.
          Let’s say that we will meet, in our old age, roommates in a hospice, both of us waiting for our death. If I tell you that I hope, I’m confident, I’m positive that there is something after death, what are you going to say to me? Are you going to say: “you’re crazy! That is only wishful thinking, just a way for you to feel cozy in you belly! There’s nothing after death, just man up and look reality in the face!”; or you’re going to say: “I hope so”? (Of course, if I start passing judgment on you, urging you to repent from your wicked ways before it’s too late, you have all the reasons to slap me on the mouth and shut me up.)

          The truth is that science and religion are not mutually exclusive: science cannot disprove religion and viceversa. Going back to those “hostile questions” from religious people, very easy to handle, maybe they should be answered in way to take the hostility away; maybe with a compassionate attitude, an attitude of “whatever I’m going to answer to your question, my answer cannot possibly undermine the notion of God; science is not out to destroy god, just to explain our physical world” instead of “what a silly question”. I admit that a lot of aggressive posture comes from us, the religious people, but you, the rational ones, the sane ones, shouldn’t be a little bit less confrontational?

          I don’t want to make excuses, but try to put yourself in the shoes of your opponent.
          In the western world christians believed for a long time that man was “God’s child”, the “jewel of creation”. Then Copernicus came and suddenly we weren’t in the center of the universe anymore. Then Darwin came and we learned that we were just sophisticated animals. Then Freud came and we realized that most of our actions were dictated by the subconscious, completely out of our control. All this with the corollary that there’s no need for God, whatsoever, to understand our reality. Some adjustment is required; some denial is to be expected; and some compassion and tolerance, from both side (mostly from us, I agree) is a obligation.
          What do you think?

        • If you say that Porfamer has a good point, I’m going to look for his post and address it.

          Pofarmer usually has excellent points, but I’m a bit swamped right now and haven’t been following who’s saying what.

          is not possible to prove or disprove the existence of “something” out there, an external cause to our universe

          Right. Yet another advantage for science over not-science.

          I asked if someone was able to present a compelling evidence to prove that the universe came to be from nothing

          Show this and claim your Nobel prize.

          I’ve not heard that this is the scientific consensus—are you saying that it is?

          if there is something beyond our universe, the ultimate cause and reason for our existence, it’s going to be beyond the reach of science.

          Seems like a bold and unsupported claim to make. Also seems off topic.

          then you ask something like “why to believe in it if there are no evidences?” Well, you’re right, there are no evidences

          And when you ask the cosmologists who propose that there was nothing before our universe, how do they justify it? Do they say, “I dunno—it’d just be cool if that were the case”? Of course not they have, y’know, evidence.

          All the talking about the godhead and the numinous

          And who would muse about the supernatural when there’s zero good evidence for it? I’m sure you agree that “It’d be cool if it were the case” doesn’t cut it.

          if there is something out there, why there’s something rather than nothing.

          Why do you ask? Do you think nothing is likelier than something? If so, I eagerly await evidence of this remarkable hypothesis.

          If I have to think that the pleasure I feel looking at a work of Klimt, is just an chemical reaction triggered by the activation of a particular neural pathway in my brain due to a sensorial stimulation, I don’t see the beauty anymore.

          Huh? There is an explanation for why we feel pleasure at art. Having it explained to you changes your enjoyment somehow?

          I can’t imagine that it would, but if it does, the solution seems pretty obvious.

          I cannot accept the idea that the love I feel for my daughters is just a clever device, developed over millions of years of evolution, to ensure the survival of the species.

          Why? That love is natural is the best explanation I’ve ever heard.

          And I cannot accept the idea that when I die, I will just disappear, completely annihilated, forever.

          Just a tip: I felt the same way about not being a billionaire. I kicked and screamed, but nothing good happened. I now must accept the hideous truth that I’m not and will never be.

          That’s life, my friend.

          Let’s say that we will meet, in our old age, roommates in a hospice, both of us waiting for our death.

          If someone’s delusion isn’t causing any problem, I’m usually polite enough to let it go. Are you just concerned about decorum and manners?

          or you’re going to say: “I hope so”?

          Why wait till then? Right now I’d like there to be a nice god (unlike the asshole in the Old Testament) who created a Disneyworld for me to live in forever.

          OK, are we done kicking around realities for which there is no evidence now? Let me know when you’re ready to talk about reality, and we can do so.

          “whatever I’m going to answer to your question, my answer cannot possibly undermine the notion of God; science is not out to destroy god, just to explain our physical world” instead of “what a silly question”

          Science already has destroyed God. God lives on only in wishful thinking and “Well, you haven’t proven that God couldn’t have caused this!

          If religion were simply a harmless custom, I’d find another hobby. But it’s not.

          you, the rational ones, the sane ones, shouldn’t be a little bit less confrontational?

          If you’re point is that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, I agree. If it’s “Aren’t there other things to worry about in the world than someone’s nutty beliefs?” I also agree.

          Some people are confrontational and some more accommodationist. I’m in the middle, I guess. I don’t see any problems with my tone (arguments could be made for just about anywhere on the spectrum). If you have specific suggestions for improvement, I’d like to hear them.

          I don’t want to make excuses, but try to put yourself in the shoes of your opponent. In the western world christians believed for a long time that man was “God’s child”, the “jewel of creation”. Then Copernicus came and …

          Meh—I don’t find any sympathy for Christians’ predicament. First off, they’ve had centuries to realize that the literal Bible is bunk. How slowly do they have to be eased into this view? Second, that they’re less able to be bullies makes me lose zero sleep.

        • Fabio

          Well Bob, I don’t get what’s the point you’re making with the Nobel prize and the scientific consensus and then evidences…are you trying to be (gasp!) sarcastic?

          Anyway, let me reiterate the point I’m making: if there was nothing we would not even exist, and we wouldn’t be discussing anything, would we? But we are, because there is something: a universe apt to sustain life and life able to produce consciousness that, in turn, is able to formulate questions, and the question is: why are we here? Why do we exist? Why there is something rather than nothing?
          I get it; the universe did not come from nothing but from something: an unstable nothingness, a quantum vacuum where quantum fluctuations produce quantum virtual particles popping in and out of existence. The question remains the same: where do this particles come from? Where do they disappear into? Why do they pop into existence? Why, why, why, for God sake, there is something rather than nothing?
          Can you give me an answer?

          To know the mechanism does not, but to believe that the mechanism is the only cause for them, of course change the meaning of the emotions I’m feeling; it’s a little bit like magic: you see the trick and it looks like the guy can read your mind, then, if you know the trick, the magic disappears…no mind reading here, sorry.
          To prove my point, try to tell your wife that your love for her is just sexual attraction combined with a emotional rewarding behavior in a clever device developed in millions of years of evolution to strengthen family ties in order to ensure reproduction and the survival of the young; then let me know if she finds it the best explanation for love she ever heard.

          Your tip is no worth much; I checked my checking account just this morning and…yep: no billions there, I’m definitely not a billionaire. But if you can check in the afterlife and definitely declare that there’s nothing…well, you must have some kind of insight very uncommon, a third eye or something like that.

          Science has already destroyed God? Well, THIS is wishful thinking! Do I have to remind you that atheists, if you put them together in the same group with agnostics, non-religious and secular people, amount to a mere 1.1 billions of people on earth? With the remaining 6 billions of people considering themselves belonging to some kind of religion? And that in this 6 billions, there are plenty of scientists who believe in the numinous?
          The notion of God is alive and kicking, my friend, and I have 6 billions evidences for this remarkable statement.

          About the literal bible being bunk, this notion that has been around for centuries: St. Augustine warned Christians against reading the bible literally to avoid losing credibility among non-believers and he taught that, if a new scientific discovery would contradict the bible, the passage in question had to be interpreted to adapt to agree with science. Unfortunately not everyone listened and the more the bible was proven wrong, the more a fringe (very vocal) of christians clung to their beliefs rejecting any objections…isn’t it disgraceful how some people stubbornly hold beliefs without any evidences to corroborate them, impregnable to any kind of argument against it?

        • Kodie

          You are proving the bible is wrong every time you alter and adjust your interpretation of it to fit the facts of reality. You just won’t admit it, especially if the motive is “to avoid losing credibility.” This is exactly the kind of flim-flam that makes religions lose credibility to non-believers.

          Do these religious people ever ask themselves why the literal bible is bunk and needs human editors to adjust the original to salvage any credibility for themselves? Good, they enjoy fooling themselves by pretending they are smarter than literal bible believers.

        • Fabio

          What is your point? I should refuse the whole of the bible, including the passages about love and tolerance, because of the passages about hatred and persecution?
          Well, I wouldn’t reject the whole of the human race just because of the blockheads, shouldn’t you do the same?

        • Greg G.

          The Bible presents good and bad advice as all good. If one doesn’t know the difference the Bible is harmful. If you do know the difference, you don’t need the Bible to give you advice. The problem is that many true believers do not know the difference. I think you give them cover if you recommend reading it to them, even implicitly.

        • MNb

          The point is twofold, assuming that your god is a loving god.
          1. Apparently not the entire Bible is divinely inspired. Then what does “The Word of God” still mean?
          2. How do you decide which parts of the Bible are divinely inspired and which ones not? The only answer you gave – if we can call it an answer – is “what makes me feel good”. Well, it made Hitler feel good as well. And the witch hunter Jean Calvin. And the antisemite Martin Luther. And Pope Alexander VI. Why should I accept your interpretation and reject theirs?

          I don’t assume the whole of the human race is omnipotent, omniscient etc. Most christians believe their god is. An omni-everything god providing a (partly) fallible Holy Book is rather weird, I think. It’s so much simpler to assume that no god had anything to do with that Holy Book at all.

        • Kodie

          Apples and oranges. My point is anyone can find something in the bible that sounds good to them and maybe some good advice. If the rest of it is crap, violent, ugly, inaccurate, putrid, nasty, etc., don’t make excuses for it by dressing it up and redesigning it to mean something good. It’s not a sacred work of a divine authority. That means the good parts aren’t sacred either, they’re all written by humans thinking within the full range of human thoughts, and a lot of it is misguided, arrogant, outdated, and purely for marketing a cult they want you to join. We had this discussion before but you didn’t want to address it. You like to think of humans as needing some kind of push from out there somewhere to behave well and get along and do good things for one another. You’re the one dismissing entire facets of humanity because there’s where you prefer to call it “god expressing himself through humans,” while all the shit and ugliness is just the way you prefer to see humans.

          You’re still wrong.

        • Fabio

          Do you realize that in your post you say that the bible is not divine but written by humans, thus with good part of it being “crap, violent, ugly, inaccurate, putrid, nasty, etc” and than you go ahead accusing me of seeing humans though all the “shit and ugliness” dismissing the good as originating from God? What is your point? If the bible wad divine, would have been all good? In that case you agree with my perceived point (perceived because it’s not my point but your interpretation of my argument) that all good comes from God and all bad from humans?

          Let me try again; in man there is a duality: the good, the higher nature of man, in my opinion connected to the divine, and the bad, the reptilian nature, concerned only with survival, in my opinion connected to the physical world, with its unforgiving law of survival of the fittest. Man can choose between those two natures, between good and bad.

          Going back to the bible, it must be interpreted because some passages are going to be inspired by the divine nature of man and some from the reptilian nature, most probably still very active in ancient Israel, a tribal, semi-nomadic society.
          If you refuse any interpretation and just dismiss the whole thing, well, I’m sorry to say that you’re guilty of the same malicious mistake of the biblical literalists, relying on a literal interpretation of the bible to avoid any argument that may undermine your disdainful, exclusive, uncompromising interpretation of reality.

        • Kodie

          Religions do not appeal to any “higher” nature, they appeal to sociability, greed and arrogance. There is no duality, there is just a broad spectrum, and none of it is divine, it is just the kind of animal we are. If you disagree with any part of the bible such that you have to alter it to mean what you want it to mean, because believing it literally would mean you’re stupid and wrong, then it’s not divine. If humans have to change it for it to concur with reality, it was never divine in the first place. Millions of people have read it taking it literally because they didn’t know what we know now. That’s how it was written, for people to read, and if they didn’t learn anything from it, because it was wrong and did not concur with reality, then they died wrong. Are you too stubborn to accept this?

          I think you also might find this interesting, because that’s how religions all work – by insulating people and using them to further their own cause by filling their minds with superiority over other people, preying on people they can judge to be inferior or headed to a negative place, and getting joiners who are insecure and need to belong to something. When you get to the part about KKK being love, you will hopefully see the similarities.

          http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/body/hatred/

        • Fabio

          So, all religious people, without exceptions, are driven by social convention, greed and arrogance; and then you go on saying that religion insulate and fills their their mind with superiority over other people.
          Do you realize that your first statement express a feeling of superiority toward those arrogant, greedy, conformed, religious people without any desire to even try to understand their real motivations?
          Is your mind insulated? I think so. Do you feel superior? It looks like. Are you religious? Hell, no.
          It looks that you don’t really need religion to be wrong.

          About the bible written to be read literally. That’s no true. Read some texts about the exegesis of the bible and history of religion; you’ll see that the literal reading of the bible is a relatively new phenomena, mostly between evangelicals (a broad definition encompassing many denominations); it became an issue roughly around the 18th century and it is hypothesized that it was a byproduct of the scientific revolution.

        • Ignorant Amos

          About the bible written to be read literally. That’s no true.

          Really? Well that rather depends on who you are, but no Christians I’m aware of think that there isn’t any of the bible was written, or to be read literally.

          It is all really a bit of a fudge.

          Since the Church is the official custodian and interpreter of the Bible, her teaching concerning the Sacred Scriptures and their genuine sense must be the supreme guide of the commentator. The inferences which flow from this principle are partly negative, partly positive.

          http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05692b.htm

          Read some texts about the exegesis of the bible and history of religion; you’ll see that the literal reading of the bible is a relatively new phenomena, mostly between evangelicals (a broad definition encompassing many denominations);…

          Bollocks!

          Biblical exegesis is a fancy name for apologetics.

          Biblical literalists believe that, unless a passage is clearly intended as allegory, poetry, or some other genre, the Bible should be interpreted as literal statements by the author.

          Seems about right to me.

          Critics argue that allegorical intent can be ambiguous.

          Well of course they do, especially when it is about something detrimental to current religious thinking.

          Fundamentalists typically treat as simple history, according to its plain sense, such passages as the Genesis account of creation, the deluge and Noah’s ark, and the unnaturally long life-spans of the patriarchs given in genealogies of Genesis, as well as the strict historicity of the narrative accounts of Ancient Israel, the supernatural interventions of God in history, and Jesus’ miracles.

          Fundamentalists? I’ve engaged with many non fundamentalist Christians, including Catholics, that treat such passages the same.

          Literalism does not deny that parables, metaphors and allegory exist in the Bible, but rather relies on contextual interpretations based on the author’s apparent intention.

          Again, seems about right to me.

          …it became an issue roughly around the 18th century and it is hypothesized that it was a byproduct of the scientific revolution.

          Can you cite any references for this hypothesis?

          That seems to me to be a daft hypothesis. Unless you mean it became an issue because of the scientific revolution and the literalists became a lot more vociferous as a result. Which makes much more sense, as science was chasing God out of lots of gaps. I would hypothesis that the scientific revolution would have driven the believer away from literalism, not into it, the more and more literalism was being shown to be daft, but there ya go, there is no accounting for how the irrational mind will work.

          Edit: Just a thought, you are not conflating Biblical literalism with Biblical inerrantism, are you? Biblical inerrancy should not be confused with Biblical literalism.

          During the 18th and 19th centuries, various episodes of the Bible (for example the Noahide worldwide flood, the creation in six days, and the creation of women from a man’s rib) began increasingly to be seen as legendary. This led to further questioning of the veracity of Biblical texts. According to an article in Theology Today published in 1975, “There have been long periods in the history of the church when biblical inerrancy has not been a critical question. It has in fact been noted that only in the last two centuries can we legitimately speak of a formal doctrine of inerrancy. The arguments pro and con have filled many books, and almost anyone can join in the debate”.

        • Fabio

          Amos, I’m not my intention to insult your intelligence, I’m just defending my position. If I started this whole discussion was exactly because I felt my intelligence was being insulted by the patronizing tone of the original post.

          If you say that you’re agnostic, is fine with me. Using you analogy, if your garage is located, I don’t know, in the outer space, at the borders of the universe, there’s no way for me to obtain any evidences that you have (or don’t) an intergalactic time machine there (or Sagan’s dragon for that matter). Most probably you don’t, but I have to admit that, maybe, you do. Now, taking in consideration the claims of something like 6 billions people (without counting countless people who made the same claims in the past) that there is a garage with some kind of extraordinary machine in it, you may refuse the idea that it’s an intergalactic time machine, but wouldn’t you have the doubt that, maybe, there is a garage some place with a very peculiar machine in it?
          If you definitely reject this hypothesis, then you are not an agnostic but an atheist. Does it make sense?
          I’ll let you know a secret: I’m not 100% sure that I’m right about God. I have doubts that you guys are right and there’s nothing out there. But faith without doubts is not faith, it’s knowledge. I don’t KNOW that there’s a God, I TRUST that there is a God. Do you get the difference? I trust that there is a God because, to me, it makes more sense that our reality had a external cause rather than just happened. To me, it makes more sense that we come from something and we are directed toward something, rather than we come from nothing and blindly go into nothing. Maybe I’m wrong, who knows?

          I’m sorry about your nephew and grand nephew; it must have been quite an ordeal for your family. Don’t worry, I’m not going to say anything bad; I’m a selfish bastard but not so bad… a mild one.
          Ok, you are right that I was using the disabled child as an example, but you went on saying something about how disabled children do not have much of a chance to live in the third world and I answered that you must be a cynic, right?
          I wasn’t being disingenuous, maybe I went off topic.
          Anyway let’s go back to evolution: around two thousand years ago, in the Roman Empire, one of the most advanced society at the time, a baby considered useless was left to die without any problem. And I’m talking not about a disabled baby but a perfectly healthy baby girl. Maybe I don’t know much about evolution, but for sure evolution does not work over such a short period of time. You can say that the change is mostly due to social changes, but way? That’s not pragmatism; the care for a disabled child is, fundamentally, a burden, for the family and for the society. The only thing that justify to take the burden on, is love, not evolutionary advantages. I can argue that the “selfish gene” is the propeller for evolution, in order to make our race stronger and fitter for survival. But the compassion for the weaker members of our society does not strengthen the human race (well, it does, but in a moral way) it actually works against the selfishness of our genes.
          And this take us to the notion of good versus evil: the disability is not evil, it’s just part of life; shit happens, right? What is good or evil is how we react to it: leave the disabled baby outside to die is evil; taking care of him/her for the rest of his/her life, regardless of the sacrifice is good; to build a society were the weakest members are taking care of, regardless of the cost, is good; to refuse to help, to protect, to assist, the weakest, not only in your society but in the world, because of the cost, because my precious tax dollars must be spent for my privilege, because me, me and me….that’s evil.
          Am I off topic again?

          Karen Armstrong, the most popular living historian of religion writes, ‘Before the modern period, Jews, Christians and Muslims all relished highly allegorical interpretations of scripture. The word of God was infinite and could not be tied down to a single interpretation. Preoccupation with literal truth is a product of the scientific revolution, when reason achieved such spectacular results that mythology was no longer regarded as a valid path to knowledge.”

          You say that all christians you have interacted with are literalists. Well, before entering in contact with the evangelicals, all the christians I knew (being from Italy, pretty much everybody I knew) were not literalists. As matter of fact, when first I heard people treating Genesis as a scientific text, I was flabbergasted. Anyway Europe is different from the USA (by the way, are you from the States?) and people do not argue so much about religion.

        • Kodie

          I’m not insulated. Why do you think so? I’m opening up to listen to you and giving responses to your obvious imaginary bullshit. Sorry that hurts you, but you insist on pushing it without regard to new information or things to think about. I’ve already given what you think a lot of thought seriously, and it’s garbage. If “god” intended people to puzzle the shit out of the bible in order to get to the true stuff, then he sucks and you shouldn’t regard any part of the bible as holy. If you’re meant to freely interpret it with your imperfect human mind to mean whatever you wish, then it’s not holy. How hard is that to understand?

        • Greg G.

          The question remains the same: where do this particles come from? Where do they disappear into? Why do they pop into existence? Why, why, why, for God sake, there is something rather than nothing?
          Can you give me an answer?

          Here are some sources Google found for me. They seem to be dumbed down from the physics required to understand them completely. It should help you get started.

          One guy even did the “look at your hand” line here:
          where do “virtual” particles go when they pop out of existance?

          From a Scientific American article:
          Are virtual particles really constantly popping in and out of existence? Or are they merely a mathematical bookkeeping device for quantum mechanics?

          Do virtual particles actually physically exist?

          Not all events necessarily have causes

          Feynman Diagrams

          To prove my point, try to tell your wife that your love for her is just sexual attraction combined with a emotional rewarding behavior in a clever device developed in millions of years of evolution to strengthen family ties in order to ensure reproduction and the survival of the young; then let me know if she finds it the best explanation for love she ever heard.

          How does that prove your point? It just proves once again that it is more subconscious than conscious.

          Science has already destroyed God?

          Many times. That is why theists have had to redefine God to be less and less like the original theists imagined. We now have about 6 billion people clinging to 6 billion different concepts of gods and none with valid, unambiguous evidence.

          St. Augustine warned Christians against reading the bible literally to avoid losing credibility among non-believers and he taught that, if a new scientific discovery would contradict the bible, the passage in question had to be interpreted to adapt to agree with science.

          Augustine’s argument was that God didn’t create the world in 6 days because God wa much more powerful than that. He thought God could have done it instantaneously. Following Augustine’s logic leads to Last Thursdayism.

          isn’t it disgraceful how some people stubbornly hold beliefs without any evidences to corroborate them, impregnable to any kind of argument against it?

          Did you notice how the sun dimmed? That was my solar-powered irony meter drawing too much current.

        • I don’t get what’s the point you’re making with the Nobel prize and the scientific consensus and then evidences…are you trying to be (gasp!) sarcastic?

          Uh huh. You asked about what came before the Big Bang. We don’t know. Perhaps you think that that reflects badly on science. It doesn’t.

          the universe did not come from nothing but from something

          Here again, I think you’re premature. Let’s just say that science doesn’t know what preceded the Big Bang and leave it at that.

          The question remains the same: where do this particles come from? Where do they disappear into? Why do they pop into existence?

          Science doesn’t know, obviously. So what?

          Why, why, why, for God sake, there is something rather than nothing?

          Can you give me an answer?

          I won’t even bother until you respond to the question you ignored before: Why would you expect something rather than nothing?! Only with that question answered would we think that your question reveals anything.

          To prove my point, try to tell your wife that your love for her is just sexual attraction combined with a emotional rewarding behavior in a clever device developed in millions of years of evolution to strengthen family ties in order to ensure reproduction and the survival of the young; then let me know if she finds it the best explanation for love she ever heard.

          And yet that’s the scientific explanation.

          I see nothing profound in your point. This is the scientific explanation, just like the physics of light and pigments would “explain” the Mona Lisa. There are other explanations that are more satisfying and more relevant to our daily experience.

          But if you can check in the afterlife and definitely declare that there’s nothing

          So it’s now my task to prove that there isn’t an afterlife? You’ve got a hilariously misguided idea of the burden of proof.

          Science has already destroyed God? Well, THIS is wishful thinking!

          Every tangible claim in favor of God—famines, plagues, earthquakes, heaven up in the sky, and so on—has been disproved. Your God must reside in the gaps. The result is that there is simply no longer good reason to believe. Newton had an excuse; modern thoughtful Christians don’t.

          Do I have to remind you that atheists, if you put them together in the same group with agnostics, non-religious and secular people, amount to a mere 1.1 billions of people on earth? With the remaining 6 billions of people considering themselves belonging to some kind of religion?

          Do I have to remind you that whatever flavor of Christian you are—or even if you simply point to “mere Christianity,” you’re in a minority? Welcome to the club.

          And that in this 6 billions, there are plenty of scientists who believe in the numinous?

          Seriously? You think this direction is a winner for you? The more educated, the less religious.

          The notion of God is alive and kicking, my friend, and I have 6 billions evidences for this remarkable statement.

          And yet the intersection of all these beliefs is the null set.

          Hell—you 6 billion can’t even agree on the number of gods, let alone their names or what turns them on!

          About the literal bible being bunk, this notion that has been around for centuries

          So then agree with me, give me a hearty slap on the back for being so smart, and work with me to reign in the biblical literalists.

        • Fabio

          Bob, let me address the “something rather than nothing” thing. I’m not saying that nothing is likelier than something: I’m saying that there is something (otherwise we wouldn’t be here discussing) and this something, our universe, came from something, a quantum vacuum, quantum fluctuations, quantum virtual particles popping in and out of existence. Now this virtual particles, do they originated from nothing and they disappear into nothing? If so, why? Is there a cause for it? It it just happens? When you say you don’t know why, it doesn’t reflect badly on science, it just shows that even science has limits. So, the conclusion is that you don’t know exactly why, thus you BELIEVE it just happens. I BELIEVE there is a external cause, a creator. And I argue that my belief, without evidences for or against it, are as good as yours.
          The same argument is valid for the afterlife; I’m not shifting the burden of proof. If you BELIEVE that there is no afterlife, with no evidence for or against it, is your business; but you must admit that my belies on the matter are as good as yours.

          About love, the point I’m making is that to know the mechanism DOES change the meaning: thus, if you tell your wife “I love you” often enough, she will fell loved and tell everyone how loving her husband is; on the other hand, try to tell her the “scientific explanation” often enough and she will fill for divorce. Why? Because she will not find satisfying the scientific explanation, because love is something deeper than procreation and social ties, because we cannot accept the idea that love (or creativity, passion, even rationality) may be reduced to physics and chemistry. You can reply: “that’s the way it is”, but again, any evidences for that?

          I have already explained that I use christian terminology because it’s my “language”, but what I’m arguing for is the experience common to all religions. If I was Buddhist I would use that language to express the same concept. As reverend Ed Bacon puts it: “the future of faith is interfaith”. More and more people accept the idea that all religions are similar, that they are just different interpretations of the same truth, and that any interpretation is legitimate as long as promotes love, tolerance and respect.
          Even your interpretation of our reality, based not on sacred texts but on scientific text, is legitimate, if lives up to the standard I cited before.
          And that’s is the problem; I do work to reign in the biblical literalists, and not only biblical. I’m actually doing it right now.
          I don’t care if you are a atheist, agnostic, christian, Muslim, hindu, Buddhist or whatever; what I take issue with is your attitude of disdain against 6 billions of religious people, regardless of how good, smart, influential they are. And I judge and condemn it exactly in the same way I judge and condemn religious literalists who promote disdain, hate and intolerance with their exclusive, infallible and uncompromising interpretation of our reality.

        • I’m not saying that nothing is likelier than something

          The tone of your question certainly implied that the obligation was mine to answer “But why is there something rather than nothing?!” rather than yours to answer the inverted question. But if that isn’t where you were going, we can drop it.

          this something, our universe, came from …

          Just speculation. Let’s let the people who understand the data do the speculating.

          When you say you don’t know why, it doesn’t reflect badly on science, it just shows that even science has limits.

          And what are those limits? Are these merely temporarily unanswerable questions, or will we be saddled with them forever? If the former, that’s not much of a limit IMO.

          So, the conclusion is that you don’t know exactly why, thus you BELIEVE it just happens. I BELIEVE there is a external cause, a creator. And I argue that my belief, without evidences for or against it, are as good as yours.

          No, this imagined symmetry doesn’t exist.

          The facts we start with are these: science delivers and religion doesn’t. There is no symmetry. Furthermore, I believe things only because of evidence. My evidence-deducing ability is quite imperfect, of course, but in my mind every belief has a preponderance of evidence to back it up.

          If you BELIEVE that there is no afterlife, with no evidence for or against it, is your business; but you must admit that my belies on the matter are as good as yours.

          Can we replace “afterlife” in your claim above with anything? Bigfoot, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, leprechauns, fairies?

          I believe Obama is an alien and you don’t and my belief is as good as yours?

          we cannot accept the idea that love (or creativity, passion, even rationality) may be reduced to physics and chemistry.

          ?? I’m happy to accept that there will eventually be a complete mechanistic explanation for human emotions, consciousness, etc. Your point is simply that this explanation isn’t always the best one, depending on the circumstances. Correct, of course, but so what?

          “the future of faith is interfaith”. More and more people accept the idea that all religions are similar, that they are just different interpretations of the same truth, and that any interpretation is legitimate as long as promotes love, tolerance and respect.

          If religion is liberalizing, that’s a good thing. Seems to me that it’s dishonest to the religion, however. “All roads lead to God” is certainly not the message that an honest reading of the New Testament gives.

          Even your interpretation of our reality, based not on sacred texts but on scientific text, is legitimate, if lives up to the standard I cited before.

          “Even mine”?? Science delivers.

          what I take issue with is your attitude of disdain against 6 billions of religious people, regardless of how good, smart, influential they are.

          Why do you think “disdain” is the right word? I don’t see that in my writing.

          the same way I judge and condemn religious literalists who promote disdain, hate and intolerance with their exclusive, infallible and uncompromising interpretation of our reality

          For starters, they think that they’re being honest to the dictates of their deity. Second, they often are! All that hateful crap that Fred Phelps had on his signs? Straight from the Bible.

        • Fabio

          Ok Bob, let’s drop the question why there’s something rather than nothing.

          And let’s also let the people who understand the data do the speculating; when they reach a consensus on how our universe originated, come back to me with the results, so I can ask you: “yes, but (whatever happened) is due to a external cause or it’s self caused?” (It looks we will be saddled with this question forever).

          Also, Bigfoot, fairies and Obama are in this reality, so it’s easy enough to disprove with evidences any claims about them. The afterlife is..after this life, beyond our reality and therefore not so easy to disprove (or prove for that matter).

          Ok, I admit that the symmetry is a bit of a stretch. You keep saying science delivers, yes, but what? Rational explanations and hard evidences; for some people that’s not enough. You says that religion may be liberating, and that’s is a good thing, and I cannot agree more. Of course science is based on facts, so there is not much space for personal interpretation, while religion is based mostly on personal interpretation, and it could be the opposite of liberating. For this reason I say that the way of judging the interpretation of religion is to judge the fruit it bears.
          By “honest reading” of the New Testament you mean a literal reading. Your argument against Christianity has the same foundation of Fred Phelps homophobic stance: a literal interpretation of the bible.
          But when you read the bible in other ways (symbolically, ethically, historically, mystically) then you may obtain different interpretations. For example, historically: the gospels were written I don’t remember how many years after the death of Jesus, well after the letters of St. Paul. Therefore how much accurate they could have been depicting Jesus and his message? Considering other historical documents of the time the only certainty we have is that Jesus existed, was a follower of John the Baptist, was a wandering teacher and healer (not unusual for that time and that place), he had disciples and he was crucified in Jerusalem. That’s it, more or less.
          The first written exposition of christian doctrine are the Pauline letters (although only few of them are definitely attributable to Paul) and Paul never met Jesus, unless you want to take into consideration the vision on the way to Damascus.
          The point is that even the New Testament is a interpretation of the message of Jesus. Did he ever say that he was one with God, thus implying his divine nature? Did he ever say that he was the way, the life and the truth, thus implying that the only way to be saved was to be a Christian? We don’t know, so we interpret the gospels.
          The literal interpretation (Jesus was God and the only way to be saved was to be a Christian), promotes exclusiveness, intolerance, discrimination and hate; therefore we dismiss it as useless and damaging.
          The symbolic interpretation (Jesus was one with God, in the same way that every human being is one with the universe and its creator, and that following his teaching of love for your neighbor as for yourself, is the way to realize the oneness with each other and with God), promotes inclusiveness, tolerance, respect and love; therefore we make it ours as useful and liberating.

          Maybe for you, science does the trick; I heard this thing about the atoms in our body coming from the explosion of a star millions of years ago, at the beginning of the universe, making us the same with the universe…that’s is beautiful, it’s poetry…and it’s also a fact. But the capacity of the human mind to even conceive such a though…for me, that’s divine.

        • MNb

          “(It looks we will be saddled with this question forever).”
          Only because you prefer to repeat your error forever and ever.
          “Whatever happened” was not caused – not externally, not self caused.

          “for some people that’s not enough.”
          I get that; it took me some effort to adopt the attitude that it should be enough myself. See, I started out as a dualist and agnost more than 35 years ago.
          Problem is twofold though.

          1. What does that extra – the bonus to what’s enough for people like me – add to our (scientific) knowledge and understanding?
          2. Which method do you use (obviously not the scientific method) to separate correct claims about that extra from incorrect ones? After all for ancestor worshippers and Papua’s it’s not enough either. Still I doubt you will accept their claims. Or are you a believer who thinks anything goes? That would suggest you don’t have a method as well.

          When you can answer those questions I’ll be one of the first to pay attention. Here

          “religion is based mostly on personal interpretation”
          you admit that you can’t answer question 2. That means religion does not deliver.

          “promotes inclusiveness, tolerance, respect and love”
          I don’t need a divine Jesus to promote this – my secular worldview, which fits nicely in my materialism, can do that as well. So this is nothing extra.

          “But the capacity of the human mind to even conceive such a though…for me, that’s divine.”

          Which makes the word divine totally meaningless, because that capacity is totally material.

        • when they reach a consensus on how our universe originated, come back to me with the results, so I can ask you: “yes, but (whatever happened) is due to a external cause or it’s self caused?” (It looks we will be saddled with this question forever).

          You’re saddled with it; it’s an easy answer for me: in the last ten bazillion times that we’ve had a riddle and thought that there might be a supernatural cause, and that riddle has been answered with evidence, there has been no supernatural cause. Let’s read the writing on the wall.

          The afterlife is..after this life, beyond our reality and therefore not so easy to disprove (or prove for that matter).

          There is no good reason to believe in the afterlife. Conclusion: don’t believe it. Your argument devolves into, “Yeah, but you can’t disprove my contention!” True, but irrelevant.

          Rational explanations and hard evidences; for some people that’s not enough.

          “not enough”? No, they want an opportunity to reject rational explanations and hard evidence because they don’t like where it points. And, of course, this is what you would object to in the case of most everything besides your supernatural beliefs.

          I say that the way of judging the interpretation of religion is to judge the fruit it bears.

          It pleases me to believe that the Americans won the war in Vietnam. That sounds like nice fruit—so that’s all good?

          Or should I base my beliefs on evidence?

          By “honest reading” of the New Testament you mean a literal reading.

          Yes and no. I appreciate the difference in genre and won’t mistake a parable for history.

          Your argument against Christianity has the same foundation of Fred Phelps homophobic stance: a literal interpretation of the bible.

          Show me that Brother Phelps is taking things out of context. Otherwise, his interpretation is the correct one from the standpoint of the Bible.

          But when you read the bible in other ways (symbolically, ethically, historically, mystically) then you may obtain different interpretations.

          The Bible should be interpreted as the original authors intended. I have no patience for tweaking the Bible in other ways to give a more pleasing interpretation. I like Christians who hammer their religion to fit modern sensibilities; I just question their justification for doing so.

          the gospels were written I don’t remember how many years after the death of Jesus

          40+ years.

          how much accurate they could have been depicting Jesus and his message?

          Right—not very.

          Considering other historical documents of the time the only certainty we have is that Jesus existed, was a follower of John the Baptist, was a wandering teacher and healer (not unusual for that time and that place), he had disciples and he was crucified in Jerusalem.

          It’s not 100% certain that he existed, but we can ignore that for now. I agree with where you’re going.

          The first written exposition of christian doctrine are the Pauline letters (although only few of them are definitely attributable to Paul) and Paul never met Jesus

          Yes, agreed.

          The point is that even the New Testament is a interpretation of the message of Jesus.

          No, the point is that the New Testament gives the feeblest support for extraordinary supernatural claims. We have no choice but to reject those claims for lack of evidence. Drop Christianity.

          A biblical literalist like Fred Phelps was a dick, but he interpreted the Bible more honestly (though selectively).

          The literal interpretation (Jesus was God and the only way to be saved was to be a Christian), promotes exclusiveness, intolerance, discrimination and hate; therefore we dismiss it as useless and damaging.

          Huh?? You throw the Bible in the toilet when you do this! I’ve got no complaint—that’s where a literal interpretation belongs—but you’re just inventing a religion that’s pleasing to you. This is just Fabio’s Religion.

          The symbolic interpretation (Jesus was one with God, in the same way that every human being is one with the universe and its creator, and that following his teaching of love for your neighbor as for yourself, is the way to realize the oneness with each other and with God)

          There is no God! You’ve admitted that you’re just taking bits of the Bible like pieces of a puzzle and cobbling together what pleases you. How did God get in there?

        • Fabio

          Somebody else, in another thread, told me that my interpretation is something else entirely and I shouldn’t even call myself a Christian. Well, I agree to a certain point: as I answered him before, I could start my own religion (I would call it Fabism), write my own sacred text, create my own sacraments and go proselytizing.
          Waaay too much work.
          I preferred working into the framework of the religion I grew up with.
          Did I tell you that when I was 13 I was agnostic, appalled by christianity and absolutely certain that Jesus was not divine, although I loved his message of love? Then around 28-29 I kind of started believing that there was some kind of God, still appalled by christianity but also aware that there were nice, strong, great people among it and still convinced that Jesus was not divine, and still finding his message appealing. Now, at 46, I believe that there is something out there, that every religion is an interpretation of it and that every religion is as good as the man professing it; appalled by the evil people calling themselves christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists and admiring the good people calling themselves christian, Muslims, etc. And still convinced that Jesus was not divine but in love with the message, common of all religions, of compassion toward your fellow human being.

          I’m aware that there is lot of nonsense, not only in christianity, but in all religions, and I just interpret it to adapt it to the world in which we live and to my personal convictions. I believe was Gandhi who said something like “there are as many religions as human beings”.
          And by the way, if the scriptures must be interpreted how the original authors intended, how do you know what was their intention? For what I’ve been reading, a literal interpretation of the bible has never been the norm until the 18th century. And the original authors, in ancient Israel, never thought of a literal reading of their work, otherwise they would have worked a little harder to eliminate contradictions in the text.

          My religion does not reject science, just the claim that science can make religion useless.
          I will always look at the stars and see the spark of divine light beyond the brightness of chemical reactions.

        • I could start my own religion (I would call it Fabism), write my own sacred text, create my own sacraments and go proselytizing.

          Waaay too much work.

          No it’s not—you’re already created your own religion, and your justification is as solid as if you did write your own “sacred” text.

          I preferred working into the framework of the religion I grew up with.

          Millions of Christians cobble together their own religion. You’re unusual in that you’re aware of what you’re doing. What baffles me is why you continue to hold onto supernatural beliefs when you’ve discarded every reason the typical Christian uses. You’ve had good reasons to do so—the same reasons that I use, I imagine—but the supernatural has been discarded as well.

          I loved his message of love

          That’s also a manmade message.

          Now, at 46, I believe that there is something out there

          But you have no good reasons for doing so. If you say that a groundless belief in the supernatural makes you feel good then we’d be on the same page and we would no longer have any disagreement. It’s when you claim that the supernatural actually does exist that I take issue.

          And the original authors, in ancient Israel, never thought of a literal reading of their work, otherwise they would have worked a little harder to eliminate contradictions in the text.

          And how do you eliminate the contradictions? You just going to change holy scripture? That takes big cojones.

          My religion does not reject science, just the claim that science can make religion useless.

          But since science explains many things and religion none …

        • MNb

          “What baffles me is why you continue to hold onto supernatural beliefs when you’ve discarded every reason the typical Christian uses.”
          He explained it though.

          “If I have to think that the pleasure I feel looking at a work of Klimt, is just an chemical reaction triggered by the activation of a particular neural pathway in my brain due to a sensorial stimulation, I don’t see the beauty anymore.”
          It’s all about that warm and cozy feeling in his underbelly.

        • I’m waiting to hear him say, “I hold unevidenced beliefs purely because they make me feel good.” That’s what he means, of course, but he hasn’t made it explicit.

        • Kodie

          It’s pretty clear he is just infatuated with his own thoughts and slightly burdened that no matter how much he posts, we aren’t also.

        • Fabio

          Bob, I cannot say that a groundless beliefs makes me feel better; that it would be like saying I find comfort believing in a lie, knowing that it’s a lie. I find comfort believing in the supernatural because I believe in the supernatural. Does it make sense?
          And I believe in the supernatural because the reductionist explanation of all natural phenomena it seems…reductive to me.
          I’ll make an example: let’s say that I slap you right in the face (I would never do it, it’s just an example ;). Now I can describe it as the firing of some neurons in my brain, originating an electrical impulse traveling through nerve fibers to the peripheral nervous system down to muscle fibers, stimulating the contraction of different groups of muscles, originating a movement of the upper right extremity, forcing its distal part in a arcuate trajectory, bringing it in contact with the zygomatic region, causing the excitement of sensory receptors in the epithelial tissue of such region, originating electrical impulses, traveling through nerve fibers to the central nervous system where are interpreted, by your brain, as pain. Considering also that the consciousness that originated the whole process and the consciousness that interpreted the pain are just an illusion created by the cumulative effect of millions of neural connections, I can try to defuse your righteous anger at the episode pointing out that it was just chemistry and physics, with no moral value of any sort.

          Do you know what I mean? For me, to reduce all human experience to brain chemistry, evolutionary mechanism and social interactions, takes away from it. Morality, emotions, beauty, become illusions, become “groundless beliefs”, become a lie that I cannot believe.

        • Kodie

          Over and over again, you make yourself the ultimate arbiter of “what seems true.” Guess what, you’re not that smart. And you’re in denial.

        • I cannot say that a groundless beliefs makes me feel better; that it would be like saying I find comfort believing in a lie, knowing that it’s a lie. I find comfort believing in the supernatural because I believe in the supernatural. Does it make sense?

          It would except that it seems that you’re about as skeptical as I am about every weak point in the Christian argument.

          And I believe in the supernatural because the reductionist explanation of all natural phenomena it seems…reductive to me.

          Tell me more. Natural explanations have no problem with 1 + 1 = 3 ideas; they call them emergent phenomena. Thinking is one, for example.

          Considering also that the consciousness that originated the whole process and the consciousness that interpreted the pain are just an illusion created by the cumulative effect of millions of neural connections, I can try to defuse your righteous anger at the episode pointing out that it was just chemistry and physics, with no moral value of any sort.

          There is indeed no objective, inherent moral value attached to the act. The other kind still exists, however.

          As we’ve discussed, describing love or pain or any other higher-level concept with low-level chemistry and biology simply isn’t the best approach for most applications. Conclusion: use the right approach. There’s nothing more to it than that.

          Do you know what I mean? For me, to reduce all human experience to brain chemistry, evolutionary mechanism and social interactions, takes away from it.

          Then don’t do it. I’m sure everyone would agree.

          Morality, emotions, beauty, become illusions, become “groundless beliefs”, become a lie that I cannot believe.

          They’re groundless in an objective, absolute sense, but so what?

        • Fabio

          Yes, Bob; I’m as skeptical as you on many christians points: the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus, the resurrection, I consider them all myths (did you read “the hero with a thousand faces”?). When I say I believe in the “supernatural”, I don’t mean I believe in miracles, angels and demons, heaven and hell. What I believe in is the transcendence that inspired all those myths.
          That transcendence is the missing factor in your equation; 1+1 +(1)=3. Thinking (love, morality, creativity) is not just an emergent phenomena, but the expression of a consciousness that existed before and will exist after our mind and body existence.
          In this way I reject the reductionism of human experience (and, as you can see from this thread, not everyone agrees with it); love, morality, creativity become more than just chemical, evolutionary and social processes, more than just illusions and groundless beliefs.
          Let me ask you: when you said “There is indeed no objective, inherent moral value attached to the act. The other kind still exists, however”, what do you mean? What other kind?
          Are you talking about a subjective moral value? If so, considering that consciousness is an “emergent phenomena”, objectively a groundless belief, than subjective morality is a groundless belief too, an illusion depending on the illusion of consciousness, depending on chemical, evolutionary and social processes. According to that, I can argue that the custom to leave baby girls outside to die, in the ancient world, is justifiable because the subjective morality of the human beings living in the society in that time justified it.

        • I consider them all myths (have you ever read “the hero with a thousand faces”?)

          I’ve read The Writer’s Journey, a distillation of Campbell’s hero’s journey for fiction authors.

          When I say I believe in the “supernatural”, I don’t mean I believe in miracles, angels and demons, heaven and hell. What I believe in is the transcendence that inspired all those myths.

          And yet “those myths” are all just pretend. There’s no there there. You believe in something while discarding everything that Christians use to claim support for that position. You believe in something remarkable without a good reason for doing so. Is it just “it makes me feel good”? I think you’ve rejected that already.

          Thinking (love, morality, creativity) is not just an emergent phenomena, but the expression of a consciousness that existed before and will exist after our mind and body existence.

          Is this just some silly thing that you amuse yourself with, or are you claiming that the evidence to adopt your belief is there for everyone to understand and accept? So far, it looks like the former.

          love, morality, creativity become more than just chemical, evolutionary and social processes, more than just illusions and groundless beliefs.

          From a chemical standpoint, it is just chemicals. But if I want to apply my own meaning to love, morality, or whatever, I do so.

          Easy.

          when you said “There is indeed no objective, inherent moral value attached to the act. The other kind still exists, however”, what do you mean? What other kind?

          ?? The other kind of morality, of course. Discard objective morality, and you have not-objective morality, the kind that we all actually use.

          Are you talking about a subjective moral value?

          Not a bad term, except that that has been ineptly redefined by conservative Christians. I avoid it to avoid that confusion.

          subjective morality is a groundless belief too

          From the standpoint of the universe (and objective or absolute or transcendent standpoint), sure. And yet it still has value.

          According to that, I can argue that the custom to leave baby girls outside to die, in the ancient world, is justifiable because the subjective morality of the human beings living in the society in that time justified it.

          If “morality” is the consensus view, sure. I don’t define it that way.

        • Fabio

          I don’t believe because it makes me “feel good”, although I must say that there is a component of relief of anxiety, I believe because it makes sense to me. The hypothesis that the whole universe come to be without any cause, reason of purpose is just unbelievable to me. And the fact that most of human beings, in a way or another, thinks like I do, just confirms that it’s not such an indisputable hypothesis.

          When you apply your own meaning to love, creativity or whatever, that thought process is also only chemistry, therefore as meaningless as the emotions you are trying to give a meaning to.

          So, tell me your definition of morality. If morality is the consensus view, the most horrible crimes ever perpetrated are morally justifiable. You say that you don’t define it that way, please, explain yourself.

        • adam

          “meaningless as the emotions you are trying to give a meaning to.”

          So emotions have no meaning for you?

          Let me tell you from here, that YOUR emotions have no MEANING for me, but MINE sure do, and those of the people who surround whose emotions touch me.

          “So, tell me your definition of morality.”

          morality Merriam Webster
          noun mo·ral·i·ty mə-ˈra-lə-tē, mȯ-
          : beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior

          ” If morality is the consensus view, the most horrible crimes ever perpetrated are morally justifiable.”

          But isnt THAT the purpose of having a god?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zt5gLf455Q8

        • The hypothesis that the whole universe come to be without any cause, reason of purpose is just unbelievable to me.

          Who says that it comes together without cause? It might (quantum events often don’t have causes), but it might not.

          You say that a beginning of the universe without reason or purpose is unbelievable. Why? To imagine an intelligent cause of the universe without evidence is certainly unbelievable to me.

          And the fact that most of human beings, in a way or another, thinks like I do, just confirms that it’s not such an indisputable hypothesis.

          No, it’s not indisputable. The supernatural is indeed very disputable.

          If you want to argue for the supernatural, however, I’d be interested to hear the evidence.

          When you apply your own meaning to love, creativity or whatever, that thought process is also only chemistry, therefore as meaningless as the emotions you are trying to give a meaning to.

          Nope. Look up “meaning.”

          I think what you’re trying to say is that love is objectively (or transcendentally or absolutely) meaningless. Yes, it is. But so what? The other definition is the one we actually use.

          So, tell me your definition of morality.

          Morality is the category of things having to do with how we treat others. But that may not have been what you wanted.

          If morality is the consensus view, the most horrible crimes ever perpetrated are morally justifiable.

          No, I don’t say this.

          I think abortion is morally acceptable; other people don’t. What grounds my position? Just me. That’s all that grounds any individual’s position. It’d be nice to imagine some celestial backing for my position, but there’s that pesky evidence problem again.

        • Fabio

          I cannot believe that our universe has not a purpose and a reason because the alternative is a universe that came to be by accident, by sheer luck; galaxies and stars, oceans and mountains, orchids and sequoias, caterpillars and whales, consciousness and creativity, science, art, the Sistine chapel and “The Lord of the Rings”, all of this came to be from a single, unexplained, random quantum event. It sounds to me like throwing one trillion dices and have the same number coming up for all of them.

          This is my “evidence”, the argument I use to support the supernatural, the existence of “something” beyond the natural world; intelligence, consciousness, transcendence, God, call it as you wish. Just luck does not work for me.
          By the way, when I said “it’s not such an indisputable hypothesis” I was referring not to the supernatural (beyond the natural world, our reality) but to the alternative, the sheer luck.

          I did look up meaning; all definitions on the Merrian-Webster start with the word “idea”. Idea is a thought, an opinion, a picture in your mind. Your mind is the cumulative effect of brain chemistry. Therefore all our ideas and the meaning we give to them are just complex chemical reaction and nothing else. No meaning there, just the illusion of it.

          About abortion being morally acceptable; there is people who find it morally unacceptable because they take in consideration only the imperative of “do not kill” (although, most often, the same people complains when their precious tax dollars are spent on food stamps to help people survive). But there are other aspects to take in consideration: what about quality of life? If to have a baby means to loose the job and being unable to care for that baby, then what is more harmful? What if the baby is not wanted and to have it is going to be a miserable life for both mom and the kid? What if not to have the baby leads to a life of regrets? Which one is more harmful? If you have two options, both of which are in same way harmful, you have to decide which one is the least harmful, for you and everyone involved. And your evaluation is based on the application of the one principle, absolute, valid for anyone: do not harm (or harm the least possible).
          Think about it and you’ll see that this is how we make moral decisions, sometimes wrong ones based on wrong evaluations, but always striving for the least harmful ones, always grounded on the one principle of “do not harm”.

        • Pofarmer

          Fabio, you are making argument after argument from ignorance. I would suggest you try reading some Victor Stenger or Herman Phillipse. Do you have any idea the vastness if the Universe? The number of Galaxies, numbers of stars, numbers of possibly habitable planets? The scale is truly mindboggling. I’m sorry your only answer seems to be Goddidit, and you inquisition goes no further. Shame, really.

        • Fabio

          What does the scale of it has to do with anything? You mean it’s too big to have been created and the only explanation is a self caused quantum event? I don’t see why.

        • a universe that came to be by accident, by sheer luck; galaxies and stars, oceans and mountains, orchids and sequoias, caterpillars and whales, consciousness and creativity…

          Evolution doesn’t work by chance since part of it is natural selection.

          It sounds to me like throwing one trillion dices and have the same number coming up for all of them.

          You look around and are amazed. And this convinces you? (1) If you don’t understand the scientific explanations for something, take a course and find out. You’re in no position to overturn the consensus view on the Big Bang, say, or evolution. (2) You find it beautiful because you evolved to find it beautiful. This is the lesson of Douglas Adams’ puddle.

          This is my “evidence”, the argument I use to support the supernatural, the existence of “something” beyond the natural world; intelligence, consciousness, transcendence, God, call it as you wish.

          This is you weaving an elaborate just-so story out of wishful thinking and no evidence. We don’t need God to explain reality.

          Therefore all our ideas and the meaning we give to them are just complex chemical reaction and nothing else. No meaning there, just the illusion of it.

          No “meaning”? I think you need to go back to the dictionary.

          What you may mean is that there’s no objective (or transcendental or absolute) meaning. True, perhaps, but uninteresting.

          what about quality of life? … What if the baby is not wanted and to have it is going to be a miserable life for both mom and the kid?

          Yes, good questions.

          Think about it and you’ll see that this is how we make moral decisions, sometimes wrong ones based on wrong evaluations, but always striving for the least harmful ones, always grounded on the one principle of “do not harm”.

          Why would you think that this surprises me?

        • Fabio

          You see, what I’m gathering from your posts and Greg’s and others, is that you believe that our universe and ourselves are only very complex machines. You say that I’ve evolved to find it beautiful. Greg said that man build cathedrals out of greed and wrote symphonies because of excess of brain power (so, the 9th of Beethoven is just a brain fart, right?). Our universe, life and consciousness came to be by accident (you can argue as much as you want but, if there is no planning, cause, design involved, any event is an accident; check the dictionary). We are just robots, with the illusion of free will. Love, respect, creativity, all illusions.
          No morality, no beauty, no meaning, no free will, no hope, no future; what’s the point then? Let’s go out then, eat and drink, because tomorrow we’ll die.

          If this nihilistic worldview is the best atheism can offer, I don’t think it will ever gain much traction.

        • MR

          Personally I find life just as beautiful and wonderful as I did before I realized there is no God, moreso! You prefer the illusion, but illusion is inferior to truth.

        • Fabio

          Ok, good for you; but how can you be certain that it’s the truth?

        • MR

          I can’t be certain that fairies don’t exist. For centuries if not millennia people believed that they did. As recently as a hundred years ago people were seriously debating the existence of fairies. Yet, I have no qualms in not believing in fairies, just as I have no qualms in not believing in God.

          I believed in God once upon a time. I understand my belief was based on error. Understanding that, I no longer have a reason to believe. I’ve listened to you and others’ claims and they still make no sense. You yourself have proclaimed your own argument as terrible. So, I still have no reason to believe. It is absurd to believe in something for which there is no evidence and just for the sake of believing. Or, do you believe in fairies, too?

          Again, get back to me when you have some compelling evidence.

        • Kodie

          What you describe is your illusion. You just can’t believe blah blah blah, there is no purpose. Ultimate purpose is an illusion, and I’m not really even sure why it makes you feel better than not. You keep going on about your perceptions and why it’s important to you to perceive things that way. And without your illusions, you paint a world that you just can’t believe, and nobody should believe. Why is this important to you to convey? You’re not making a case for your personal beliefs, and your perceptions of what life is like without them seem strange to us as well. There is a lot of propaganda selling your beliefs or some version of them that also malign atheism as you describe it. Obviously, it’s meant to keep you from looking into it or being drawn to your reason and discarding faith. Without this propaganda, you might question things you’ve taken for granted and realize it’s a bit of horseshit. It’s like, how do you cope with Christmas now that you know there’s no Santa Claus? You cope ok, I presume. You’re not disappointed about the parties and the presents and the decorations. For most people, growing out of Santa Claus and into adult Christmas where you have to think of others and pick out gifts and really it’s the visiting and sending thoughtful notes that counts, is not really traumatic. Think of your beliefs as that way and atheism as finding out there are ways to enjoy life and not be disappointed by the lack of a fat man delivering presents under your tree.

        • MR

          It really is about coping. Fabio and Curtis seem to think that without God belief it will all just fall apart and they and the whole world won’t be able to cope with reality. They see God as the only thing holding this all together. Without the God glue, it is all destined to fall apart. But your Dumbo analogy is perfect. We are all managing just fine without God, without the feather. And when Curtis steps off the rug, he’s going to find that it’s not lava after all, just plain ol’ wood. No feather, no glue, no God, no lava. Just us and it’ll be fine. At least no better or worse than it’s always been.

        • Fabio

          The analogy you make with Christmas may works in another way: when you realize that Santa Claus do not exist you still celebrate Christmas, right? That’s what I did: when I realized that the God I grew up with was a myth I kept believing in the sacredness of life and that death is just a interlude.
          The one that realized that Santa Claus does not exists and is disappointed with Christmas is the one that realized that God of the bible is just a myth and reduced life to just an emerging phenomenon from mere chemical reactions that will disappear in the void when it’s time.

        • Kodie

          May I ask you (again), so what? So you believe something you want to be true. Why do you think you’re saying anything new? Why do you think we care? It’s obviously very important to you to think this way, but why do you think it’s important that we know how you feel and how you would feel if it weren’t true? What purpose does your failed argument serve any more here? If you don’t have something better than your feelings and your weak “prove it isn’t true then!” It’s obvious no matter what anyone says, you wish to stay where you are. You have already exposed your lack of a wish to be educated, a lack of a wish to be curious. You keep asking the same questions, you get the same answers, you don’t like them. That’s all, Fabio. There isn’t anything else.

        • adam

          “Ok, good for you; but how can you be certain that it’s the truth?”

          Because that where the evidence leads.

        • so, the 9th of Beethoven is just a brain fart, right?

          From an absolute or transcendental viewpoint, obviously. You think otherwise? I patiently await your explanation.

          From a normal viewpoint, obviously not.

          Our universe, life and consciousness came to be by accident (you can argue as much as you want but, if there is no planning, cause, design involved, any event is an accident; check the dictionary).

          Natural selection isn’t random; check a biology textbook.

          Love, respect, creativity, all illusions.

          Obviously not. Ever seen a dictionary? Look them up.

          From an absolute/transcendental viewpoint, obviously so. But who cares? The ordinary definitions are still in force.

          No morality, no beauty, no meaning, no free will, no hope, no future; what’s the point then?

          What?? God won’t look in his little black book a billion years from now, see my name, and think fondly of the good times we had together?! Then life has no purpose! Children and family, goals and aspirations, puppies and sunsets—they’ve all in an instant become worthless!

          If this nihilistic worldview is the best atheism can offer, I don’t think it will ever gain much traction.

          Tip: think before you write.

        • Fabio

          I do think before I write and I stand behind my statement.
          And you confirm it: you admit that (in your opinion, as an atheist) from an absolute point of view the 9th of Beethoven is just a brain fart. If this is not the definition of nihilism (the belief that traditional morals, ideas and beliefs have no worth or value) I don’t know what it is.
          Then you go ahead saying “from a normal point of view..”; what is a “normal point of view”? Our point of view? A human being point of view?
          I’m pretty sure that, if one of the greatest symphony ever written is to be considered a “brain fart”, then the opinion originated from a “normal point of view” qualify as brain fart too.
          And so do also love, respect, creativity and, guess what, also the “ordinary definitions” from a dictionary. All illusions, chemical reactions, brain farts.
          Finally, just to put the final nail in the coffin, you stated that life has no purpose; “children and family, goals and aspirations, puppies and sunset”, all become worthless.

          That is a great message: “God does not exist and your life is worthless”. The new generations will just eat it up.

        • That is a great message: “God does not exist and your life is worthless”. The new generations will just eat it up.

          Hmm. I’m starting to see your point.

          This whole “focus on the truth” thing is more a pain than I thought. Let’s just make up shit that sounds nicer.

          Yes, from an absolute standpoint, Beethoven and his work are meaningless. (The universe doesn’t have a brain.)

          I’m pretty sure that, if one of the greatest symphony ever written is to be considered a “brain fart”, then the opinion originated from a “normal point of view” qualify as brain fart too.

          Jeez–what a moron. Beethoven is meaningless from an absolute standpoint. If you want to find meaning in it, that’s fine. “Meaning” doesn’t need to be absolute–look it up.

        • MR

          They really have a hard time understanding the difference between subjective and objective meaning (and morality), don’t they?

        • Makes you wonder if this is a deliberate game or if they really don’t get it. Neither option seems possible.

        • MR

          An eternal do-si-do.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think Fabio has got his “Reset” button stuck in the pressed position.

        • MR

          I can’t believe that…

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s the thing about these types though isn’t it, they are un-fucking-believable.

        • MR

          I wonder what kind of garbled mess you would get if you asked them to state the atheist stance of subjective vs. objective meaning.

        • Fabio

          Be polite Bob, I shouldn’t be reminding manners to you.

          So, “meaning” does not to have to be an absolute, right? If you want to find a meaning in Beethoven (or art, morality, life and death) is fine, right? And if you don’t, it’s fine too, isn’t it?

          So let’s say that someone does not find any meaning in his life and decides to put a gun in his mouth.
          Or someone finds meaning in hedonism and devotes his life to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll until his heart gives up.
          Or someone finds meaning in absolute freedom from rules and decides to destroy the status quo placing bombs in public places.
          Do you have anything to say about these situations, besides there’s not an absolute meaning, an absolute right or wrong, an absolute good?

          You don’t have to believe in God to admit the existence of an absolute meaning. Heck, you don’t have to be a human being to function according to an absolute good. Many times you said that natural selection is not random, and I agree with you: natural selection works according to a purpose (meaning?), namely to select the genetic mutation most able to survive and reproduce itself. Even an atheist has to admit that the ultimate purpose (absolute meaning) of life is to live. And to enjoy life. To avoid suffering and seek happiness. And this principle is valid for all living creatures but it finds the highest expression in the most complex living creature, man. Therefore art, creativity, curiosity, love, empathy, morality, philosophy, religion, science, are all aspects and activities of the human being, with the ultimate purpose of living and enjoy life and avoid suffering (do not harm, remember?) and seek happiness.
          Now, being a theist, I believe that life is eternal and that this reality is only an interlude.
          You believe that life is finite and limited to this reality.
          But you must admit that there’s is an absolute meaning in life, a meaning besides the subjective, a purpose, an absolute good; if you don’t, you justify any evil as long as it’s meaningful for the perpetrators.

        • Be polite Bob, I shouldn’t be reminding manners to you.

          That was tough love. When you omit the key point (the rather important qualifier “from an absolute standpoint”) it seems that a gentle reminder isn’t enough. The only two options I could think of was idiocy or deliberate obfuscation.

          So, “meaning” does not to have to be an absolute, right?

          Look it up in the dictionary and then come back and tell us.

          Do you have anything to say about these situations, besides there’s not an absolute meaning, an absolute right or wrong, an absolute good?

          I’m delighted to share with other people how I disagree with them. Indeed, on every single moral issue where you and I differ, I think you’re wrong. (And I’m certain that the reverse applies, too. That’s kinda how it works.)

          You don’t have to believe in God to admit the existence of an absolute meaning.

          Is “1 + 1 = 2” absolutely true? I suppose so. But I have never seen good evidence for any absolute/objective moral truth.

          natural selection works according to a purpose

          I wouldn’t say “purpose.” Where gravity applies, there’s no purpose behind it. As a shorthand, we often imagine that the evolutionary purpose of X was as a stepping stone to breathing on land or flight, but there is no purpose or goal with evolution or any scientific law.

          Even an atheist has to admit that the ultimate purpose (absolute meaning) of life is to live. And to enjoy life. To avoid suffering and seek happiness.

          “Ultimate purpose” as a shorthand? Or as applied by God?

          But you must admit that there’s is an absolute meaning in life, a meaning besides the subjective, a purpose, an absolute good; if you don’t, you justify any evil as long as it’s meaningful for the perpetrators.

          I see no absolute meaning in life, just the meaning that we life holders apply to our lives. If I don’t like an evil, I will (with pleasure) express my disapproval and (depending on what the evil is and the resources to combat it) may take steps to prevent it.

        • Fabio

          “When I see an evil”? What do you mean by that? There’s not absolute right or wrong, there no good or evil. You mean “when I see what I consider evil”. And from a subjective point of view your “steps to prevent it” may be considered evil by whoever is committing what you consider evil.
          You wrote that christianity is the bull in the china shop; from a subjective point of view the bull here may be you.
          If there is not right or wrong, if there is no meaning, why are you wasting your time exposing the “flaws” of Christianity? There are no flaws, only aspects that you consider flaws. You’re wasting your time, your work is inconsequential, you’re not making the world a better place, because there’s not “better or worse”

          It looks to me that you painted yourself in a corner: either you admit that there is “right or wrong” or you admit that all your work, your words and your opinions are a supreme waste of time. So, what is it?

        • There’s not absolute right or wrong, there no good or evil.

          You’re determined to stay at square 1, aren’t you? We’ve been over this. Look up the words “good” and “evil.” An atheist has no problem defining them. No supernatural anything is needed. Indeed, I’m pretty sure you and I have the same definitions.

          You wrote that christianity is the bull in the china shop; from a subjective point of view the bull here is you.

          Bam! Who’s looking stupid now?! I think it’s me! Or something! And when you make sense out of that claim, I’ll take a look!

          If there is not right or wrong…

          Not my claim. It’s fascinating how you miss the central point and then come back and miss it again.

          It looks to me that you painted yourself in a corner: either you admit that there is “right or wrong” or you admit that all your work, your words and your opinions are a supreme waste of time. So, what is it?

          I admit there is a right and wrong. I’ve never said otherwise.

        • MR

          Perhaps Fabio doesn’t consider himself human and therefore doesn’t share our sense of right and wrong? We can all disagree about the rightness and wrongness of some things, but the big ones like murder and genocide, etc., those seem to be shared by all of us…, except perhaps by psychopaths and SteveK.

        • Fabio

          You never said otherwise about right or wrong? Let me spell it out for you: you said something like:
          “But I have never seen good evidence for any absolute/objective moral truth.”
          So, you maintain that there’s not absolute/objective moral truth; therefore there’s no absolute/objective right or wrong/good or evil/better or worse; so, when you talk about evil and the steps to preventing it, about exposing christians flaws, and so on, you are expressing your opinion, your subjective opinion, right for you, wrong for others, from an absolute stand point, completely irrelevant, inconsequential and not worth the time you spend on it.

          So, are you just dead wrong or inconsequential?

        • MR

          right for you, wrong for others,

          Why is it so hard for any of you to comprehend that as humans we have a shared (subjective to humans) morality? How many times has this been pointed out, but you (collective you) always rush to the strawman individual interpretation.

          You once said our conversations made you think. Do me a favor in this one instance and think about that for a moment, will you?

        • Fabio

          A shared, subjective to humans morality? How many times it has been pointed out? I can tell you: zero. This is the first time I heard about it. (I may have miss it, or maybe I misunderstood; can you tell me who said something like that?)

          Anyway, we do not have a shared morality: the slave owner and the slave had two different morality. I find immoral the deforestation but the same cannot be said of the guy who feed his family with his job cutting trees. There was a big uproar from people finding the killing of Cecil the lion by an American dentist immoral, but the people in Africa living in areas threatened by lions were delighted by it.
          When you guys were talking about subjective morality, you were meaning subjective to the individual; the one talking about subjective to humans was me: a absolute morality, applying to every human being, in every time and society. Of course I go further asking “where does this absolute principle come from?” But this is another matter.

          So, think about it; is morality subjective to the individual or to humankind? In the former there no absolute right or wrong, in the latter there is.

        • MR

          Right back to your false dichotomy. Wallow in it.

        • Anyway, we do not have a shared morality: the slave owner and the slave had two different morality.

          What does that do to your claim of a single objective morality?

          the one talking about subjective to humans was me: a absolute morality, applying to every human being, in every time and society. Of course I go further asking “where does this absolute principle come from?” But this is another matter.

          I’ve never seen evidence of objective morality. More at my latest post.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “Absolute” is not the opposite of “subjective”.

          If the Christian god existed, from his point of view morality would be both absolute, and subjective.

          As I mentioned elsewhere:

          “Absolute” – unchanging with respect to frame of reference
          contra
          “Relative” – changing with respect to frame of reference

          “Objective” – independent of individual perception
          contra
          “Subjective” – dependent on individual perception

          So. A morality which was relative to humans specifically (or conscious beings generally) would be neither absolute nor subjective.

          It would not be dependent on any single subject’s point of view but would be based on the objective facts about all humans. If, at any point in time, there were no longer humans (conscious beings) this morality would cease to exist: it is not absolute.

          Objective AND relative.

          Neither absolute NOR subjective.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Fabio, do you have reading comprehension issues?

          Since when did….

          “But I have never seen good evidence for any absolute/objective moral truth.”

          Mean the same as,

          So, you maintain that there’s not absolute/objective moral truth; therefore there’s no absolute/objective right or wrong/good or evil/better or worse.

          Regardless of the rest of your comment.

        • Fabio

          Since that sentence was written in the context of a discussion about the existence of absolute morality and absolute right and wrong from the guy who argues against it.
          Stop playing with words and stick to the meaning!

        • Kodie

          Ooh, got caught!

        • So, you maintain that there’s not absolute/objective moral truth …

          To be precise, I say I’ve seen zero evidence of such a thing.

          therefore there’s no absolute/objective right or wrong/good or evil/better or worse; so, when you talk about evil and the steps to preventing it, about exposing christians flaws, and so on, you are expressing your opinion, your subjective opinion, right for you, wrong for others, from an absolute stand point, completely irrelevant, inconsequential and not worth the time you spend on it.

          I’ve no idea what you’re talking about and little interest in burrowing in that to find out.

          There’s absolute right/wrong, and then there’s plain right/wrong. The latter is what you read in the dictionary. That’s what I’m talking about. That’s what both of us use.

        • Fabio

          So, “plain” right and wrong is what we use and it’s what we read in the dictionary; let’s see: from what I read “right” means “morally or socially acceptable” and “agreeing with the facts or truth”
          So, let’s go back to slavery, antisemitism, misogyny and xenophobia. Are they morally or socially acceptable? No, but they were and they are in different times and societies. So, what is “plain” wrong for us, in the western world, in the 21st century, is and was “plain” right for whoever adopting those ideologies.
          Maybe the second definition works better, because it introduces the notion of truth.
          In this case “plain” right means agreeing with the facts or truth. But what is truth? Is it an absolute? It should be. If not, “plain” right does not make any sense; what is right for me depends on what I believe to be true.
          To be “plain” right, it must agree with the “plain” truth. And plain truth is an absolute; it’s true, regardless of what I believe.
          So, again: is there an absolute truth and absolute right and wrong and absolute morality? Or everything is subjective and therefore of no value besides the subjective value we place on it?

          You do not understand what I’m talking about?
          C’mon man, you are a smart cookie, you should be able to.

        • Yes, I understand what you’re talking about. You’re puzzling over the various aspects of the question of morality.

          When you arrive at something interesting, let me know. I’ve already made my position clear.

        • Susan

          It looks to me that you painted yourself in a corner

          You can’t be serious.

        • MR

          He’s taking lessons from SK. 😀

        • Kodie

          The only thing your examples are meaningful to are people. Not even every person. If someone commits suicide, or gets into heavy drug use or now you are sermonizing about sex?, or decides they are going to destroy things or people – how do you figure this matters anywhere else in the universe? We don’t care about individuals, unless we know them or their actions affect someone we know. What the fuck is absolute about this? Seriously, you are elevating something that matters only to humans, and in most cases, only some humans. The universe is vast and doesn’t change because someone blew their brains out. That only affects a relatively small group of people. Is suicide wrong? I mean, is that what you’re trying to say, we should elevate suicide to an “absolute” wrong? Psychologists generally do think there is something motivating a person to suicide, that if they can be interrupted in their attempt, they can be rehabilitated and should be prevented from harming themselves. But if one person commits suicide, are they harming me? I find it pretty easy to get along in life, knowing there are statistical percentages of death by suicide, without thinking there’s something evil about it ultimately. Some people think nobody cares about them, and some think life ahead is too difficult, and personally, I think it’s selfish and superstitious to prevent all suicides as a depression thing. I think some people are honestly not convinced that “it gets better” because that’s also a lie. They don’t hand you “better” at the mental ward when you failed your suicide attempt. “Worse” and “same” are also potentialities, and “I don’t care if there’s a chance of it getting better, that will take a lot of effort I can’t be bothered with the chore of living” is, to me, not the worst answer in the world. Take away someone’s personal assessment of their future because you think death is bad? That’s part of superstition.

          You’re not making a case for any absolute or deity. You are judging situations emotionally and forgetting that humans make up a small percentage of the universe or even living organisms populating the earth. When someone dies, people are sad. When someone commits suicide, people get very judgmental toward them as a way to cope. When someone gets addicted to drugs, people think living is easy for everyone and again get judgmental, like you. You seem to blame the addict. In my opinion, that’s bad.

          And who would blow up buildings and people? What are they motivated by? That’s a difficult situation that potentially affects a lot more people. When something like that happens in another country, it’s really hard to be sad about the victims. If something like that happened in America, the first thing is “could something like that happen around here, to me, or anyone I know?” When that fear passes, then it’s ok to have the expected grief and demonstrate sadness over the event. If it’s some serial shit, the fear stays on and emotion for the victims is lower in priority. You seem to think this is “absolute” wrongness. What do you think our armies are doing in the Middle East? It’s fucking relative.

        • Fabio

          What can I say Kodie? Even when I didn’t believe in God, I’ve always believed in something greater than me; in compassion and friendship and goodness; and I had my moments of disillusionment and hopelessness but in the end of the day I always believed that good was stronger than evil.
          You don’t need to believe in God to feel the connection with other human being, either your loved ones or perfect strangers; and the connection with nature and with the whole universe.
          The greatest delusion of man, and origin of all evil, is not the idea of God, but the notion that we are alone.

        • Kodie

          I still say “so what?” We are social creatures. We live inside the universe. That doesn’t mean there’s a god.

        • MNb

          “So let’s say that someone does not find any meaning in his life and decides to put a gun in his mouth.”
          No problem. There are better ways to commit suicide though, especially carbon monoxide. The problem here is social pressure. But no, I don’t condemn Kurt Cobain.

          “Or someone finds meaning in hedonism and devotes his life to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll until his heart gives up.”
          No problem either, except for eventual inconveniences for other people. So no, I don’t condemn Jimi Hendrix.

          “Or someone finds meaning in absolute freedom from rules and decides to destroy the status quo placing bombs in public places.”
          Weird example – people trying to destroy the status quo by placing bombs in public places typically justify this with very, very strict rules. And typically it’s impossible to convince them they did a wrong thing.

          “Even an atheist has to admit that the ultimate purpose (absolute meaning) of life is to live.”
          Yes, commander. At your orders (clicks with heels).

          “But you must admit that there’s is an absolute meaning in life, a meaning besides the subjective, a purpose, an absolute good;”
          Yes, commander. At your orders (clicks with heels again).

          “if you don’t, you justify any evil as long as it’s meaningful for the perpetrators.”
          Is-ought fallacy. I postulate that ethics are subjective. That says nothing about whether I think stuff good or evil.

        • MNb

          “natural selection works according to a purpose (meaning?), namely to select the genetic mutation most able to survive and reproduce itself.”
          Nope.

          http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolphil/teleology.html

          Even hardcore creationists get what you don’t get:

          http://www.icr.org/article/darwinism-survival-without-purpose/

        • MR

          This excerpt from your link, MNb, for me really goes to the heart of the matter:

          In evolution, the question ‘why do organisms exhibit adaptation?’ is not answered teleologically with ‘in order to survive’, but historically – ‘because those that were less adaptive didn’t survive’.

          This is my own little metaphor about the topic, so feel free to tear it apart. It’s not perfect, but it helps me to grasp the concept: Evolution is like erosion on a living, growing thing.

          If you imagine life as a continuum from some ancestral single cell to whatever life form you want to choose today, it’s like a living, growing thing being buffeted by the winds of evolution. It starts out as a single cell, and one day it has a flagellum and, aha! success. A new creature feature. Then some other new creature feature pops into existence and the winds blow it right off. It’s useless, lost. But, as long as the winds of evolution, i.e., erosion, don’t blow the new feature off, it remains a part of the creature. Maybe even some feature would have really benefited some species somewhere along the life spectrum, but if the winds of evolution happened to be blowing particularly hard that day (extended droughts, ice ages, meteorites, disease), some benefit is lost that at a different time might have survived the winds of evolution and changed its evolutionary potential.

          Probably I’m not explaining myself very well, but as all these new features pop into existence, it doesn’t matter what this life form continuum could become, it’s all about what survives the outside influence of evolution. The erosional effect is what defines how the creature develops over time. Features get removed from it all the time, like a tree getting pruned, only you don’t have a pruner. There’s no purpose, no goal, just growth and erosion.

        • MNb

          “so feel free ….”
          As I’m certainly not an expert any more than you are (my last biology course was at high school) I don’t feel free. But I like your metaphor. The main difference seems to be that erosion takes away, while evolution adds. Though on second thought that might be a bit more complicated as well. Plus it doesn’t seem conclusive for the point you try to make, which you have summarized in your last sentence.
          That said I don’t really mind “guided evolution”, like “god used evolution to bring up Homo Sapiens” or something like that. Fabio (or any other believer) just shouldn’t pretend it’s science and that science backs up his position. It doesn’t. At best it doesn’t contradict him.

        • MR

          The main difference seems to be that erosion takes away, while evolution adds.

          I think the adding part is the part we focus on, but not necessarily the most important part. It’s like one of those figure-ground drawings. There are really two aspects to evolution: growth and erosion.

          From your quote:

          is not… ‘in order to survive’, but… ‘because those that were less adaptive didn’t survive’.

          That’s the key, I believe. We think of evolution as adding some benefit, but it’s really more about “not dying.” Sometimes removing a feature is also a benefit. Sometimes just being in the right place is a benefit.

          Evolution does shape life from the inside (the growth/adding aspect) and is important, I agree, but I think the more important part happens from the outside (the erosion/death aspect). After all, all the benefits in the world won’t help you if you’re ecological niche is destroyed by a meteorite.

          That said I don’t really mind “guided evolution”, like “god used evolution to bring up Homo Sapiens” or something like that.

          Yeah, but, if evolution were indeed guided, I’d think we’d probably see only the adding aspects. Instead we see fits and starts, gains and setbacks, and long intervals where nothing happens. Seems a little to haphazard to me.

          Anyway, of course my little idea is not a perfect metaphor, but for me it helps to remind me that the main aspect of evolution revolves around “death.” Life is in constant battle with outside erosional forces, it’s not just about sprouting legs and wings and things.

        • Susan

          in your opinion, as an atheist) from an absolute point of view the 9th of Beethoven is just a brain fart. If this is not the definition of nihilism (the belief that traditional morals, ideas and beliefs have no worth or value) I don’t know what it is.

          It’s not the definition of nihilism. The position that Beethoven’s 9th is not transcendentally and ultimately sanctioned by an incoherent, unevidenced agent is not the definition of nihilism.

          That is a great message.

          Reality doesn’t ask our opinion.

          “God does not exist and your life is worthless.”

          1) That is the definition of a logical non sequitir.

          2) Tell us… how does the existence of an incoherent, unevidenced agent make the lives of material agents worthwhile? How does it not existing make the lives of material agents worthless?

          Just stating that both are the case isn’t the same as making a case.

        • Kodie

          If you’re not pleasing to the master, then who all around could you possibly be pleasing to? Yourself? That’s nihilism!

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m pretty sure that, if one of the greatest symphony ever written…

          A tad subjective. No?

          Classic FM’s top ten greatest symphonies comes with the caveat…“Oh calm down, as if we couldn’t put this one on the list.”

          The first comment on the OP bares me out…

          Impossible to make a list like this. And for me symphonies by Rachmaninov or Gorecki could never be among the top ten. My own shortlist (with many favourites missing) could perhaps be: Haydn 102; Mozart 41; Beethoven 3; Schubert 9; Bruckner 8; Brahms 4; Tchaikovsky 6; Mahler 3; Sibelius 4; Nielsen 5. Other people will have other preferences.

          But even if it was THEE greatest symphony ever composed, what difference will that make when humans are no more to hear it? Or the work gets lost forever in time?

          BTW, you should work a bit harder on your terms and definitions, i.e. “brain fart”. Brain fart was your description which you then turned on BobS whom I suspect took the terms usage in the context that things like symphonies, great art, literary classics, etc., etc., are all academic in the grand scheme of things. The Universe doesn’t give a shit. Every other species on this planet doesn’t give a shit. Many of the one particular species that gives a shit, don’t give a shit.

          Your use of the term “brain fart” vis a vis common parlance of the term is specious and that’s being generous.

        • Kodie

          An exceptional piece of music one of us has made, was it for the higher purpose? I mean, define why that piece of music and the purpose for which Fabio thinks it was made and is considered good by a lot of people. To please the universe? In the grand scheme of everything, what purpose could it have filled, other than to be enjoyed by other humans? I really don’t understand this avenue Fabio’s been taking. It’s just a “brain fart” like the things Fabio says. Does he think he’s talking for some greater purpose than to try to communicate with a small group of people? Some brain farts reach out to a larger group of people. Take the greatest creation of humankind, if you can, for argument’s sake, think of such a thing, rank all the doings of mankind against each other if you like, and try to come up with a scheme that transcends other humans, or other earth beings (as some of our works benefit other species, whether they appreciate it or not, I think they don’t know where it came from).

          How large are our doings to suffice for a grand purpose? It’s just … if you’re going to suggest there is a grand purpose above humankind or earthkind, your subjective judgments of what is a great work of art or technology are still grounded in human appreciation. If you really look around at what humans do, it’s a lot of garbage, literally trash, vandalism, destruction, to build our own places. What amazing creatures and terrain were destroyed and displaced to make every bit of comfort humans make for themselves, every palace, every painting, every symphony hall, every musical instrument, every cozy fireplace in the home? Every delectable epicurean feast makes nothing but a turd, same as McDonald’s. Every musical opus goes in one ear and out the other. It might touch some people in the middle, they may be able to hum a few bars while they’re showering or driving to work, all the animal behaviors of us, scurrying here and there, late, beating traffic, throwing our cups in the garbage and buying a new cup, a new bottle, a new wrapper with something we want to stuff in our faces to keep the machine humming.

          I really don’t get this “grand purpose,” it’s like looking away from reality. Fabio likes to rank human behaviors to lower and higher, I would say the higher feeds the lower. We want want want. We seek comfort, we want pleasure. Everything we do feeds survival or the “higher”, an aesthetically pleasing survival.

        • Fabio

          Yes, of course it’s subjective, I like Beethoven (and the Police and Bob Marley and many more); but that it’s not the point; the point is that art is not meaningless: Beethoven or the teenager writing songs in the privacy of his bedroom, the creativity process brings a sense of elation, mastery, a sense of meaning, a purpose. The experience of art brings a sense of connection, shared emotions, empathy, unity, ecstasy. To reduce it to “excess of brain power” is just as outrageous as me calling it “brain fart”.

          I read few posts from you guys arguing against the “your life is worthless” message I find in the atheistic worldview.
          But, let’s be honest; if you guys maintain the position that love, morality, creativity and all aspects of the human experience are only chemical reactions, that there’s not meaning in life besides the one you decide to give to it and that, fundamentally, the universe, all life forms and most of your fellow human being do not give a shit anyway…what is the message you can infer from it?

        • Kodie

          Chrissake, Fabio. Those brain chemical reactions ideally are suited for better functioning of our species among others of our species for survival. We have excess brain function and a social urge to communicate with others and relate to them. What more are you asking for? Are you asking for that “sense” of purpose, i.e. feelings that you are part of some larger plan over the universe, to be real just because you think it’s more important than human interaction and behavior? Why is this important for you to spend time trying to get our validation on your horseshit?

        • MR

          what is the message you can infer from it?

          That those things are meaningful to humans.

        • MNb

          “The point is that art is not meaningless”
          Art has a subjective meaning.

          “your life is worthless”
          My life is not worthless to me, to my loved ones, to my colleagues and to my pupils.
          They are all subjects though.

        • MR

          It’s useful for them to vacillate between subjective in an individual sense and subjective in a human sense. What they think of as objective is really subjective from the human perspective. What objective purpose does art have, after all. Without man to admire it, it’s the proverbial tree falling in a forest. My life means a lot to me and those around me, but will Alpha Centauri mourn my death? [Edit: to add] And if they did, what would be the objective meaning or purpose?

        • Kodie

          Well, he’s like, why should so many emo teenagers suffer away in their bedrooms at their shitty poetry if that has no meaning? They have “the sense” that it is meaningful! Yeah, post that shit to the internet, before it stuck in spiral notebooks and embarrassed you when you were going through your shit when your parents downsized. Mortifying bullshit. What is the meaning of this? When you put it on the internet, you can reach a couple hundred other emo teenagers who think it’s awesome. That’s his argument, “the sense” that this is powerful and needs to be shared.

          Yes, we all are social fucking creatures living on a planet where it’s sometimes hard to find someone to think about the same things we do with the same amount of passion. The meaning of this doesn’t go any farther than that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          My partner’s nephew blew his chest out of his body last Friday.

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-34172589

          So you will forgive me for being an absolute cunt.

          I’m sure he had his issue’s….I visited the family this afternoon…that fucking muh muh god wasn’t there. His babies were there tough…sure we all are…pish.

          Shove yer god up yer arsehole….maybe…well I dare the first god bothering bastard that comes within striking distance…I hope their god loves them….cause I will punch their fuckin’ fizog in…drunk is as drunk..might do!

        • Greg G.

          My sympathies to you and yours.

        • I can’t imagine. Best wishes for yourself and the family.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Apologies to ya and all here…alcohol induced stupor and family crisis…the wee lad was in his twenties…what a waste, but he obviously thought it was the right thing for him to do. He was his own god at that moment. I’m wishing for the Mormon’s of JW’s to call, I have anger issues to vent.

        • Kodie

          So sorry to hear this happened.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Very sad…his partner, son and step daughter are beside themselves with grief.

        • Fabio

          I’m sorry man, and I’m sorry also for anything I said that wasn’t more than respectful.
          Be strong.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nah man…no need for you to be sorry. It is me that owes the board the sorry’s…bad news, too much imbibing, and talking about god concept’s, don’t mix very well in me.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Look in the mirror….you are a dope.

        • Susan

          I like Beethoven (and the Police and Bob Marley and many more); but that it’s not the point; the point is that art is not meaningless:

          Not to us.

          I read few posts from you guys arguing against the “your life is worthless” message I find in the atheistic worldview

          You’d like to imagine we were arguing against it. We were just pointing out that your hand-wringing didn’t make a case. See… first, you’d have to make a reasonable case that “life is worthless”. Please don’t repeat it. A hundred-and-whatever-times-plus-one won’t make it any more convincing than a hundred-and-whatever times.

          that there’s not meaning in life

          Bullshit.

          if you guys maintain the position that love, morality, creativity and all aspects of the human experience are only chemical reactions,

          Who has maintained that? Your incuriosity is your problem.

          what is the message that you can infer from it?

          Not yours.

        • Susan

          To reduce it to “excess of brain power” is just as outrageous as me calling it “brain fart”.

          Sorry, Fabio. It’s disqus. Did IA use the phrase “excess of brain power” at any point? I scrolled through his commenting history but he’s busy at a few sites and I was unable to find it.

          I would appreciate a link. If it’s just you putting words in IA’s mouth to support your postion,and continue your hand-wringing it’s one thing.

          If IA actually typed the phrase “excess of brain power”, I would like to see it in context.

          .

        • Ignorant Amos

          I like Beethoven (and the Police and Bob Marley and many more);…

          At least we have something in common. I like all three of those too…I seen The Police in 1980 in Dublin…U2 were a support band.

          ..but that it’s not the point; the point is that art is not meaningless:…

          The point of subjectiveness being that art is only art to the beholder. One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure. I got into an argument with my university tutor over the Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne’s .Les Grandes Baigneuses. Is it worth million’s while my 6 year old grand daughter’s painting of my partner and I with her that is stuck on my fridge isn’t worth the paper it is painted on. It is priceless to me. But what do I know?

          Beethoven or the teenager writing songs in the privacy of his bedroom, the creativity process brings a sense of elation, mastery, a sense of meaning, a purpose. The experience of art brings a sense of connection, shared emotions, empathy, unity, ecstasy.

          So what? Offer a starving family in Africa a bag of rice or a £50 million Cezanne and I bet I know which they would choose. That is why I got so pissed off at the holy rollers that thought handing out Bibles to the Haitian’s was helping. Well fed folk who can read don’t read it, wtf use would an uneducated starving victim of an earthquake have for it, even if atheist Richard Dawkins claims it’s artistic value is immeasurable?

          http://api.ning.com/files/BkU-sbn6*JTPp8id2hYThzgfVKgv3THBauUWid6fQcdv*sXoFYKsdUc0HqDS9ui7mIC5aWKngmS4i-41fX-EqPviXptILMjZ/biblesforHaiti.jpg?width=500&height=443

          Art, by whatever medium, is only art to those that appreciate it…so to use your term, it is a brain fart in the history of one species that is more than likely going to go extinct. By the way things are going, sooner rather than later. Get over it.

          To reduce it to “excess of brain power” is just as outrageous as me calling it “brain fart”.

          Well, “brain fart” is your term is it not? Somewhat erroneous in context. To put “excess of brain power” in quotes infers it is my term, that is disingenuous..

          I read few posts from you guys arguing against the “your life is worthless” message I find in the atheistic worldview.

          It’s your problem, not ours. The big picture, if the species doesn’t go extinct, heat death. But parochially, we are living life to the best we can. We are fortunate to be able to do so, most of the worlds population are not so fortunate.

          http://ste.india.com/sites/default/files/hbk.jpg

          But, let’s be honest; if you guys maintain the position that love, morality, creativity and all aspects of the human experience are only chemical reactions, that there’s not meaning in life besides the one you decide to give to it and that, fundamentally, the universe, all life forms and most of your fellow human being do not give a shit anyway…what is the message you can infer from it?

          This isn’t rocket science. It is a fact that everything you and I are is a result of chemical reactions, but what is it with the “only” crap? That is more awesome to me than your bollocks. You do know that what Beethoven, The Police and Bob Marley is doing is just noise, right? It is our marvellous evolved brains that makes it what we any of us calls art. Do you know who your great-great-grandparents were? Do you know of anything they did worth recalling…except give birth to your great-grandparents? Do you care? Fabio, you are a bit fucked up here.

          Read “Unweaving the Rainbow”…my favourite Dawkins book.

          Edit: minor amendments.

        • The big picture, if the species doesn’t go extinct, heat death.

          I’ve heard this argument from Wm. Lane Craig–the atheist worldview is so sad because the universe will be cold in a trillion years. It’s incredible that he imagines that this is compelling. Frankly, Dr. Craig, I don’t much care what will happen to the universe a trillion years after humanity is no longer.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well, we all know Lame Craig is a tit, a lying tit at that.

        • Fabio

          I don’t use the “only” crap as derogatory term. I use it with the same meaning of your “just” noise. Music is “just” noise, “just” sound waves, vibrations of a medium; and those vibrations are translated in “just” electrical impulses, “just” chemical reactions. They need a consciousness to be translated into music, art, beauty, poetry.
          My point is that music, art, creativity is meaningful because of consciousness; but if consciousness is also “just” chemical reactions, then there’s no meaning anymore, only the illusion of it.
          By the way, the “excess of brain power” thing, is not yours, is Greg’s. I introduced the “brain fart” thing because it made me laugh: “I have so much brain power…ooh, I have to relieve myself…I’ll write a symphony!” (Fart noise)

          Seriously; of course art, the single artwork, is subjective: I don’t like Picasso for example. I value more “Marylyn” by Andy Warhol then the “Mona Lisa”. But art as an aspect of the human experience, the creativity, the emotions, the ecstasy involved, cannot be reduced only to chemical reactions (chemical reactions are involved of course, but it’s not only that).
          Take the painting of your granddaughter; is it only excess of brain power or it’s the expression of her love for you?
          You would give your life for her, I’m sure; is it because you love her or because the “selfish gene” compels you to ensure the survival of its replica? If our consciousness is just a “emerging phenomenon”, our love just “chemical reactions”, then it’s the latter: you don’t sacrifice your life, willing, for the sake of your loved one; you do it because forced by evolutionary mechanism, for the selfish reason of continuing replicating your genetic code; you think that you love your granddaughter but it’s only a lie, an illusion.

          Quick question; is atheism very diffused in Ireland? If yes, is it because of all the trouble between Catholics and Protestants?

        • Kodie

          Hey Fabio!!! How many times have I asked you and never seen you address this – what might be the evolutionary advantage to creatures developing brain impulses and chemical reactions that signal how to feel about something or another person? Holy shit, like dozens. You seem to think creating art for art’s sake is “meaningless” if it is only brain chemical reactions. It’s the other way around. Our brain activity stirs up something to have meaning because that must be beneficial.

          I keep telling you, but you have ignored those posts.

        • Susan

          you have ignored those posts.

          Fabio doesn’t answer questions. I’ve asked him dozens, many repeatedly. So have many others here. He isn’t interested. MNb would have been happy to walk him through the reasons for a probablistic universe but Fabio ignored him. I’ve addressed the problems with his points. So have many others here.

          His response is always:

          1) There is no evidence for or against my completely vague, tin-foil-hat Fabio Superfairy.

          2) Without my completely incoherent, unevidenced, tin-foil-hat Fabio Superfairy, how can there be meaning?!!!

          3) Anything that doesn’t fit my incoherent, unevidenced tin-foil-hat Fabio Superfairy non-model can be arbitrarily and endlessly modified without justification with dismissive adjectives.

          e.g. “just matter”, “mere chemicals”

          4) If you don’t take me seriously, I am insulted and you are dogmatic.

          (I predict that if Fabio reads this, he’ll try another argumentum ad populum and/or act offended and/or go through the cycle I listed above and/or… no… that’s pretty much all he does.)

        • Fabio

          Sorry Kodie, I’m kind of overwhelmed by the amount of objections that I’m getting, and answer to all is impossible.

          So, what was the question again?

          About art, if our brain stir up something to have meaning because it’s beneficial, what was the benefit of cave painting, the Venus of Willendorf, jewelry, pottery, music, sculptures, paintings, dancing, architecture, poetry, literature, theatre, movies and, my favorite, comics?
          For sure not reproduction; women do not like nerds 😉

        • Kodie

          You are responding directly to the fucking question, you dolt. Don’t feed me lame excuses and stalling. We have gone over this, and you conveniently ignored them. Why should we spend time on you anymore?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Fabio…Been away at Croydon…returned when things have moved on a bit….reset button pressed…resume with the same drivel slightly reworded, like it hasn’t been addressed, how many times already?

        • Fabio

          What’s up with all the anger? Listen, if you want to have a discussion with me, you have to keep it down. If you don’t, just stop spending time with me. I’ll survive.

        • Kodie

          You’re too persistently stupid to have a conversation with. Don’t you know that?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I don’t use the “only” crap as derogatory term. I use it with the same meaning of your “just” noise.

          Except I used “just” as sarcastic facetious rhetoric in rebuttal of your “only” crap. There is a difference. So with that in mind….

          Music is “just” noise, “just” sound waves, vibrations of a medium; and those vibrations are translated in “just” electrical impulses, “just” chemical reactions.

          Music is noise, sound waves, vibrations of a medium; and those vibrations are translated in electrical impulses, chemical reactions.

          FTFY

          Yes it is indeed, near enough for jazz.

          They need a consciousness to be translated into music, art, beauty, poetry.

          Which is why I said “It is our marvellous evolved brains that makes it what we any of us calls art.”….consciousness being a product of what our brains do.

          My point is that music, art, creativity is meaningful because of consciousness; but if consciousness is also “just” chemical reactions, then there’s no meaning anymore, only the illusion of it.

          Whaaaa? I think you are getting into the realm of The problem of other minds.

          Seriously; of course art, the single artwork, is subjective: I don’t like Picasso for example. I value more “Marylyn” by Andy Warhol then the “Mona Lisa”. But art as an aspect of the human experience, the creativity, the emotions, the ecstasy involved, cannot be reduced only to chemical reactions (chemical reactions are involved of course, but it’s not only that).

          Why?

          Seriously though, what is it more than that thing the brain does?

          Take the eye and the perception of color. The light-sensing conecells of the retina that respond to the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum designated as red are tuned similarly in every person tested, so we might expect all people to experience red in the same way. However, we also know that some people are missing certain (or all of) types of cone cells in the eye; thus giving rise to color blindness and other such ocular variances. Similarly, differences in the distribution of brain cells and dendritic connections (among many other potential variances) could give rise to different mental states for the same stimulus. Cross-culturally, when people have a word for red, they agree with other cultures on which wavelengths of light best fit the term “red” (the same wavelengths that primarily excite the cone cells which detect red, and the red/green channel to the brain). Yet even if human eyes and brains may be built in such a way that the same wavelengths stand out for everybody, still it is conceivable that for different individuals these wavelengths could evoke experiences that differ. In particular, one external stimulus may give different experiences to the same individual according to which eye is used.

          Take the painting of your granddaughter; is it only excess of brain power or it’s the expression of her love for you?

          What does “excess of brain power” mean in that sentence?

          You would give your life for her, I’m sure; is it because you love her or because the “selfish gene” compels you to ensure the survival of its replica?

          I don’t think you know what you are talking about. Have you read “The Selfish Gene” or is it just a sound bite that sounds clever? At the gene level or replicator, they couldn’t give a fig about things at the organism level, or vehicle unless beneficial to the gene.

          There are other times when the implicit interests of the vehicle and replicator are in conflict, such as the genes behind certain male spiders’ instinctive mating behaviour, which increase the organism’s inclusive fitness by allowing it to reproduce, but shorten its life by exposing it to the risk of being eaten by the cannibalistic female. Another good example is the existence of segregation distorter genes that are detrimental to their host but nonetheless propagate themselves at its expense. Likewise, the persistence of junk DNA that provides no benefit to its host can be explained on the basis that it is not subject to selection. These unselected for but transmitted DNA variations connect the individual genetically to its parents, but confer no survival benefit.

          If our consciousness is just a “emerging phenomenon”, our love just “chemical reactions”, then it’s the latter: you don’t sacrifice your life, willing, for the sake of your loved one; you do it because forced by evolutionary mechanism, for the selfish reason of continuing replicating your genetic code; you think that you love your granddaughter but it’s only a lie, an illusion.

          More ignorant bollocks that show’s that you haven’t a Scooby what your on about. Not “my” genetic code, just genetic code.

          That “evolutionary mechanism” IS the love thing. You seem to think the two are distinct, apart. It is not an either-or choice.

          So, as an ex-soldier prepared to give all in the service of my country, or for the love of my comrades, my brothers in arms, as many did and will do…how does that fit your hypothesis of furthering “my” genes?

          Quick question; is atheism very diffused in Ireland?

          I couldn’t say. I know Lew lives about 12 miles away. I know from attending the Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss “Origins Dialogue Project: Life and the Universe” presentation heere last February that they filled the University of Ulster’s assembly hall. I know that the visit to Belfast by the same pair to promote their film “The Unbelievers” was a total sell out within minutes of the tickets going on sale and extra dates had to be added which also sold out sharpish. So there is a few of us about, I just couldn’t give any demographics.

          If yes, is it because of all the trouble between Catholics and Protestants?

          Most Protestant’s and Catholic’s here are atheists that don’t know it yet.

        • Fabio

          You took out the “just”, so what? You admit that music, art and creativity possess something, some kind of property that goes beyond the material world? Just kidding, I know that you do not admit that; anyway, this is my position: the creativity of the human brain transcends the mere physical structure and functions of the brain because the consciousness (and its creativity) is not “just” an emerging phenomenon but an element that transcends the material world and utilize it to express itself. Try to prove me wrong.

          What does the “excess of brain power” mean? I don’t know, ask Greg: he was the one saying that creativity originated from such excess.

          Not my genetic code, just genetic code; still playing with words?
          Anyway, you do confound me: the whole hypothesis of furthering “my” genetic code is you guys position, not mine. The soldier and the brothers in arms would be MY objection. And you guys, following the “selfish gene” thing (no, I didn’t read the book), would object that in order of propagate “our” or just “the” genetic code, evolution favored individuals who would procreate and then protect their offsprings; with the development of human society the individual’s inclination to protect had to include the other human beings we perceive similar to us and therefore sharing our genetic code: our family, our tribe, our nation, our race; and this “love”, compels us to protect our fellow man even at the cost of our own demise.
          Similarly the love that the offspring feels toward the parents is fueled by the need of protection, and any kind of love or affection has some kind of evolutionary, social explanation.

          But this is your position, not mine. This is the atheistic and materialistic position, reducing everything to genetic, chemistry, evolution, social interactions and so on.
          I maintain that love, like creativity, like consciousness, transcends the material world.

        • Greg G.

          What does the “excess of brain power” mean? I don’t know, ask Greg: he was the one saying that creativity originated from such excess.

          We have far more brain power than a gorilla for a smaller body. Gorillas can survive without the extra brain power. It could evolve when an ancestor with a genetically based aptitude mates with a different genetically based aptitude. Their offspring with both would reproduce more than their offspring with only one or none of the aptitudes. Our excess brain power allows us to do more than survive. Why is that so hard to understand?

        • Kodie

          To be more specific, the human animal may generate more thoughts that go nowhere, because the dependent quality of our species thriving is that sometimes those thoughts can go somewhere useful. Most people are using those excess brain power to follow Kardashians or lie awake at night worrying their kids won’t get into college, etc. Some people use it to make things they see in their heads, and then again, only some of these things are essential to humanity. On one hand, is art essential? Some might say yes, but nobody is going to miss the art that doesn’t get created or stays hidden because the artist does that for him/herself. Let’s also admit to ourselves that most art is not worth appreciating. It’s just bad poetry or crap painting because someone feels that being creative makes them also a genius. It’s not all worthwhile, some of it should be flushed down the toilet. What do you think about American Idol auditions? Haven’t I already brought this up to Fabio? They show off these failures who waited in line because they are the best singers anyone who knows them knows. Out of everyone they know, nobody sings better than this failure, and people lie to be nice, or more likely because they can’t carry a tune themselves, think this person sounds just like the radio. Wouldn’t it be nice if people could honestly prevent someone from embarrassing themselves on tv? It’s a little subjective, but most people’s attempts to create art would result in embarrassment and failure. It’s not even worth mentioning as a special quality just because some of it is amazing and remarkable.

          I saw this thing called Hyperloop this morning. So far, humanity does not miss Hyperloop technology, but invention is when you think of something that doesn’t exist naturally for humans that humans want or need, like flight or remote communication or surgery, and develop the technology to make it possible. These things take a lot of wrong turns on the way, but most of humanity benefits from a few humans churning away, while the rest of us merely have that propensity and use it to stay alive, keep our families alive, and stay entertained. This is from babies at the crawling stage given plastic keys to shake, to adults who can’t shit without something to read, even if it’s the back of a can of lysol. Many people claim to think better in the shower, because there’s like your hands occupied washing yourself like tens of thousands of other times, and only now we’re getting available technology to keep up with facebook in the shower so you can’t solve complex math problems or get any other great ideas there because that’s too boring. Excess brain power is a sort of hunger and doesn’t care what feeds it.

        • Greg G.

          Exactly. In order to have good ideas, you must have many ideas because you don’t know whether an idea is good before you have it. That means you have a lot of bad ideas. Sometimes it is hard to drop a bad idea though. Thus we get stuck with religions and superstitions in order to end up with medicine and computers. But maybe computers are a bad thing we haven’t let go of.

          I have had some great ideas in the shower that didn’t pan out but I have figured out how to fix things, too.

        • Kodie

          Again, we are social creatures. We live inside the universe. Why do you think it’s so complicated?

        • MNb

          A bit weird question. Atheism is quite diffused in The Netherlands (at least 14% atheists, at least 14% agnosts and since last year more than 50% unbelievers), but not because of any trouble between Catholics and Protestants. We Dutch had that since the Dutch Revolution in 1568 (in fact Valenciennes 1566, but we don’t want to give the French that credit) and it slowly toned down since the French Period (ie 1815), but unbelief only began its rise in the mid 1960’s.
          And yes this is relevant. There can’t be any doubt that both Lew and IA are familiar with Stadtholder William III, a pretty straight relative of

          http://www.nrc.nl/inbeeld/files/2013/04/ANP-23181554-980×652.jpg

          He is required to be protestant by law.
          She is catholic, which shows that a few things have changed since

          http://www.anp-archief.nl/attachment/2266978

          That marriage caused a scandal.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed….I come from the Protestant tradition…. Lew is from the Catholic…the future is a meting of our minds. Everywhere.

        • adam

          “(chemical reactions are involved of course, but it’s not only that). ”

          Of course it is ONLY that.

          take away chemical reactions=no consciousness=DEAD

        • Greg G.

          Analog push-button phones would send out a different tone when each button was pressed. Songs could be played on it. If a certain combination of notes was played, you could call me at my house. But that combination of notes was not intrinsically attached to me, it was arbitrarily assigned when I moved to this city.

          Likewise, the meaning of music is not intrinsic to itself. That comes from the context and the brains of the composer and the listeners. The sounds can have an effect on the brain states by exciting them or soothing them. The tones are attuned to the human brain which happens to be similar to other species’ brains we are biologically related to. Some music promotes delta brain waves which reduces the critical thinking ability of the brain which is associated with alpha waves. No wonder they play this type of music when people are gathering for a church service.

          So, a piece of music may well resonate with the way our mind operates but there is no reason a spiritual mind would be affected by it in any way.

        • MNb

          It’s not a message. Plus atheists don’t say “your life is worthless”. Atheists totally can say (I suppose, if you look hard enough, that you can find yourself an atheist who say that “your life is worthless” indeed) “life has value in the eyes of human and human life doesn’t need any god to be worthy.”

          “the final nail in the coffin”
          Your nails are rusty through and through, so rusty that the coffin falls apart. Neither BobS, nor Susan, nor me has said anything that hasn’t been said many times before. So no, you obviously don’t think before you write or you wouldn’t have pulled off this worn out strawman.
          It’s also noteworthy that with this strawman you place yourself firmly in the camp of fundagelicals. They make exactly the same non-argument.
          Progressive Christianity my ass.

          Once again the only thing you have done is displaying your own incapacity – this time to maintain any selfrespect without your imaginary sky daddy. Exactly like fundagelicals.

        • Greg G.

          Greg said that man build cathedrals out of greed and wrote symphonies because of excess of brain power (so, the 9th of Beethoven is just a brain fart, right?).

          That is a mischaracterization of what I explained to you. I explained to you the growth of the human brain shown by fossils for over a million years and how humans would have needed more brain power in a developing society without the ability to record information. “[T]he 9th of Beethoven is just a brain fart” is all you got from it.

          You are blown away by the awesomeness of a cathedral. I am appalled by the pretentious display compared to the homes the people who support it must live in.

        • Fabio

          It doesn’t matter how we got to the point of excess of brain power, the fact remains that for you art, music, philosophy are just byproducts (I used the term brain farts just to make the idea more outrageous).
          And by the way, are you saying that when we were in a developing world, when the vast majority of human being was illiterate, most of the jobs were artisanal and most people would not travel more than few kilometers from the places were they were born, we needed more brain power than in our modern time, where almost everybody knows how to read, use a computer, drive a car and is overloaded by informations from all over the world?

          About the cathedrals: I assume that you’re talking about the “gothic cathedrals” like Notre Dame de Paris, the “Duomo” in Milan, the Burgos cathedral; those buildings, like many others across Europe, reflect the flourishing of the economy and the rise of the merchant class, the new technological and scientific discoveries, the civic pride and patronage of the arts that characterized the period from the 1200 to the 1500. To build those huge structures required enormous amount of time and money, workforce and materials, involving all social classes, from the labor force to the merchants, to the clergy, to the royalties, promoting the development of infrastructure and services, the economic growth and political relevance of the towns in which they were built and finally generating steady revenue, for the whole town, from pilgrimage and, in modern times, tourism.
          And all this without mentioning the impact on arts, architecture, social and religious life.
          Of course there were negative aspects and downfalls, but to focus only on those and call those majestic edifices “pretentious display” is a little bit shortsighted, don’t you think?

        • Grand churches are cool. I go into them whenever I have the chance.

          I wonder, though, what other projects all that effort, innovation, and money could’ve gone to. Maybe if modern science had been ushered in 500 years before it actually happened, we’d have even more to point to when marveling at the Church’s good works.

          But unfortunately, it’s just churches.

        • Kodie

          Those are just for us, and not for all of us, but only some of us. Do you think there’s a being out there in the universe who appreciates human architecture? Do you know how many living organisms on this earth don’t appreciate human architecture? Who do you think this is for?

        • Fabio

          Kodie, I think I’ve already argued that our consciousness is connected to the consciousness of God. And when we create, we are closer to him.

        • Kodie

          You said that but you didn’t argue that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope. You have made unsubstantiated statements without empirical support. That is not an argument. Your premises do not support your conclusion and singing the same mantra won’t make it so.

        • Susan

          It doesn’t matter how we got to the point of excess of brain power

          Of course it does. Your claims must address the evidence. If you prefer to remain incurious, help yourself, but you have no right to call people who don’t take your position seriously “dogmatic”.

          (I used the term brain farts just to make the idea more outrageous).

          The idea is not outrageous. So far, all the evidence says that consciousness is something material brains do. You used the term ‘brain fart’ to ignore and diminish the evidence. I don’t think you care about the evidence. You prefer hand-wringing.

          Brains don’t fart.

        • MNb

          “only very complex machines”
          Not the worst metaphor ever invented. But accepting it would make you feel bad, of course.

          “We are just robots, with the illusion of free will.”
          Let’s leave it to neuroscientists to figure that out, OK? But if you mean this little guy

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homunculus_argument

          yeah, you can forget it.

          “Let’s go out then, eat and drink, because tomorrow we’ll die.”
          Not a bad plan either. Let’s make sure though that we can go out, eat and drink all days before we die. It makes the experience so much more enjoyable.

          “this nihilistic worldview”
          Since when are going out (to look at your works of art, for instance), eating and drinking nihilistic? This tells more about you than about atheists. Once again you confirm that you believe because you are afraid to feel bad.

        • Pofarmer

          This is just so blazingly stupid………..and so glaringly missunderstanding everything that has been written to you…………that I’m just gonna get to work rather than spend hard earned time unpacking this utter bollocks, only to have you missunderstand yet more.

        • MR

          Is it misunderstanding or purposeful misdirection? I have to wonder sometimes.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t know but it’s f****** frustrating.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • adam

          “We are just robots, with the illusion of free will. ”

          Not even free will

          My free will choices are to be able to levitate and fly.
          There is no free will.

        • adam

          “with the illusion of free will. “

        • Kodie

          I cannot believe that our universe has not a purpose and a reason because the alternative is a universe that came to be by accident, by sheer luck; galaxies and stars, oceans and mountains, orchids and
          sequoias, caterpillars and whales, consciousness and creativity, science, art, the Sistine chapel and “The Lord of the Rings”, all of this came to be from a single, unexplained, random quantum event. It sounds to me like throwing one trillion dices and have the same number coming up for all of them.This is my “evidence”, the argument I use to support the supernatural, the existence of “something” beyond the natural world; intelligence, consciousness, transcendence, God, call it as you wish. Just luck does not work for me.

          How smart do you think you are to determine these things?

          Your logical fallacy is.. personal incredulity. You are battling reality with your opinion, and reality doesn’t care about your opinion. You have to make a case, or don’t make a case, just keep wallowing in your ignorance and acting like you are saying something important we all should give you credit for. How about some clapping? I got two claps left today, you want ’em?

        • Fabio

          Oh my gosh, Kodie, but what’s up with all the anger? I didn’t like your attitude since the first moment. Calm down, keep it civilized and enjoy the discussion.
          Are you able to do something so simple?

        • MR

          I don’t see any anger in Kodie’s comment. I see a valid point that you ignored and deflected.

          “I cannot believe that…” is a terrible argument:

          I cannot believe that Allah doesn’t exist….
          I cannot believe that Shiva doesn’t exist….
          I cannot believe that we aren’t reincarnated….
          I cannot believe that Bigfoot doesn’t exist….
          I cannot believe that leprechauns don’t exist….
          I cannot believe that aliens didn’t build the pyramid….

          None of those say anything about the truth of the matter any more than your statement did, and I cannot believe that you think such a statement is somehow convincing.

          If the universe has a purpose and a reason, what is it, and how do you determine what it is?

          (edited: for typos, clarity…)

        • Fabio

          I don’t remember her point; remind me and I’ll try not to deflect.
          Yes, maybe that comment wasn’t so angry, but it’s the cumulative effect of her general attitude. But it’s not only her; I don’t know what happens to people on the Internet: they think that the anonymity frees them from the obligation of politeness. Or maybe they just rude either on the internet or in person.

          About the purpose, if God exists, we are how God experience himself; this is our reason to be (at the least it’s what I believe, do you want me to elaborate?).

          “I cannot believe that..” is s terrible argument, I agree, but sometimes it’s the only argument left.
          First let’s make a distinction between different degrees of “I cannot believe that..”
          If someone says “I cannot believe that it’s not butter!” and then goes on spending time and money and effort trying to prove definitely if the substance in question is, indeed, butter, then I would place them in the category of the weirdos (with the Bigfoot, fairies, aliens hunters).
          On the other hand, if someone says “I cannot believe that my wife cheated on me” and then goes on spending time, money and effort to find some definitive evidences to prove his wife’s fidelity, I would say that his quest is perfectly reasonable because from it depends his identity, his serenity, his life, don’t you agree?
          Furthermore, let’s say that there’s no way to prove anything either way; maybe his wife passed and he found a letter from a man, kind of suspect but not definitely a proof, from years ago, and his wife kept it but never mentioned.
          Absolutely no way to know the truth; what is he going to do?
          Well, it depends on him, his character, his sensibility, his view of the world: he can focus on all the time he was disappointed by his wife behavior, her nagging, the poor sex life, the arguing and find the letter a substantial evidence that his wife did, in fact, cheated on him.
          Or he can focus on the good times, the companionship, the unity in front of the problems, and admit that the disappointments were as much his fault as hers, and find the letter a circumstantial evidence that does not prove anything. At that point he is going to say “I cannot believe that my wife cheated on me” and that is going to be the only argument he will ever need to believe.

        • MR

          I don’t remember her point; remind me and I’ll try not to deflect.

          Her point was: Your logical fallacy is… personal incredulity.

          I don’t know what happens to people on the Internet: they think that the anonymity frees them from the obligation of politeness.

          It’s a debate forum. Shrug.

          if God exists, we are how God experience himself; this is our reason to be….

          Baseless assertions. You don’t know that. You can’t know that. You haven’t shown that God exists, let alone that if he did we are how he experiences himself or anything else. Stating something doesn’t make it true.

          (at the least it’s what I believe, do you want me to elaborate?).

          Sweet Jesus, no. You can’t even defend your principal assertion, I don’t need to hear more mad ravings based on nothing.

          “I cannot believe that..” is terrible argument, I agree…

          Then don’t use it.

          I cannot believe that my wife….

          Do we know whether the wife exists? If the wife is imaginary, then everything else is moot. Just like you can’t say that we are how God experiences himself and all that other bullshit because you have no fricking evidence that God even exists, let alone how he would experience himself if he did. All you have is baseless wishful thinking based on the crappy premise—which you admit!—of “I can’t believe that….”

          I can’t believe, I can’t believe, I can’t believe….” All that means is you don’t want to believe, and has nothing to do with reality. You’re happy with your lie, and you desperately want everyone else to believe your lie, but you have nothing to show for it so you just keep repeating the same baseless assertions over and over hoping that someone will buy your lie because they’ve heard it so many times. This isn’t that kind of crowd. We can see through your illusion.

          Let the guy with the imaginary wife contemplate those things all he likes. The rest of us recognize him as delusional. I was a believer once. I recognize now that my belief was just as imaginary and that I was just as delusional as you. I’ve chosen to leave those childish beliefs behind; at some point you need to recognize that you should, too.

          Your argument is baseless. There is no wife, no argument, no God.

        • Fabio

          My personal incredulity is the same logical fallacy of you guys; let me hammer on the same point: you-don’t-have-any-evidences-against-the-existence-of-God.
          Your argument is the same of mine: “I cannot believe there’s a God” and that’s it. There’s no scientific evidence, proof or even consensus among the scientific community for the non-existence of a God or some kind of higher power. Your belief has nothing to do with reality either, just wishful thinking.
          As you said to me a couple of times, come back to me when you have something to back up your claim.

          Last though: my incredulity in the accidental, random event that originated our universe, life and consciousness, leads me to accept our existence as evidence of a creator.
          Your incredulity in a creator leads you to accept our existence as evidence of how damn lucky we have been.
          Which one makes more sense?

        • Kodie

          Tu quoque won’t win you here. Your stories are about how you feel guiding what you think is true. What’s actually true shows no fit with your stories. Do you believe there are monsters under your bed? That’s what your stories sound like to rational people.

        • MR

          Not yours.

        • Kodie

          That’s a terrible analogy. If you can’t believe there’s no god behind the works, you are going way out of your way to demonstrate something to us poorly. Nobody seems to care anymore what your personal feelings about “god” are anymore. You feel them, you can’t shake them, there is nothing more you can explain. Nothing. You have tried, and wasted a lot of words saying the same thing over and over again. You are merely incredulous, and there doesn’t seem to be anything anyone can say to you. There’s definitely nothing you can say to us. You haven’t said anything new in weeks, and it’s always the same – you’re incredulous, which is the fancy word for you just can’t believe something. You choose to believe something else, a fantasy, for your own comfort. There is really nothing else you have said.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You choose to believe something else, a fantasy, for your own comfort.

          But not Fairies or Space Ponies…that’s just a lot of silly pants…that’s proper incredulity that is by jiminy.

        • Fabio

          Why, did you guys provide any new argument? No repetition from your part? All original and unique ideas?

        • Kodie

          You don’t like the answers? Move to another planet. Obviously this one isn’t good enough for lord Fabio.

        • MR

          That I see, everyone has presented myriads of arguments, and backed them up with evidence, except Fabio, who has presented one argument, no evidence, and one that he himself admits is a terrible argument. And does he still really think ‘you can’t prove not-God’ is going to fly with anyone? Incroyable.

        • Ron

          What’s left to say? We’ve asked for empirical evidence and you’ve given us your feelings. Unfortunately, feelings aren’t evidence, and neither are fanciful arguments.

          In the words of Cuba Gooding Junior:

          Show me the money!

        • Fabio

          What are your evidences Ron? Even Bob admit that he does not have any evidences against God. Can you show us your money?

        • Ignorant Amos

          We don’t take seriously stuff we have no evidence for, or against, Fabio.

          By your logic it is reasonable to believe in fairies because the is no evidence for or against them.

          By your logic it is reasonable to believe in Space Ponies because the is no evidence for or against them.

          By your logic it is reasonable to believe in Susan’s snowflake manufacturers because the is no evidence for or against them.

          By your logic it is reasonable to believe in the Greek god’s because the is no evidence for or against them.

          And the list goes on and on and on and on and on.

          Would you just listen to yourself Fabio?

          Do you believe me when I tell you that I have an intergalactic time travelling machine in my loft? If not, why not?

          From my point of view, the existence of a perfectly organized, fine tuned universe, the existence of life and the existence of consciousness, are evidences that point to the existence of a creator, God.

          Why? Why God? Why not something else like Space Ponies, or fairies, or tiny beings that also commit a lot of effort to constructing snowflakes a la Susan’s hypothesis? Why God? Show us the money, c’mon. ante up or shut up.

        • Fabio

          Again the same argument? Ok, I’m going answer it again, but then do not complain that I keep repeating the same mantra.

          First: you do not take seriously stuff you don’t have evidences for or against it? Fine; it means that you do not take seriously the hypothesis of a self caused universe because there are no evidences for or against it.

          Second: as Bob said “the question is: where the evidences point?”. We don’t have evidences, meaning concrete proofs, for or against God, a self caused universe, fairies, space ponies, Greek gods and whatever, so we don’t take it seriously, right? But our universe is an evidence, isn’t it? It exists, so, either it has been created or it came to be by itself. We have to take seriously those two hypothesis. What’s the right hypothesis? I don’t know but, to me, it makes more sense the created one.

          Finally: why God and not ponies, fairies or whatever? Do you mean why not ascribe to those beings the creation of the universe? Well, space ponies belong to the space; fairies to forests, lakes, households; Greek gods to mount Olympus; I’m not sure about the snowflakes things but I assume they belong to the clouds where they incessantly make snowflakes.
          All this beings, if they existed, would belong to and depend on our reality, so it would be an absurdity to claim that they created it.

          Now, do not dismiss again my argument as bollocks, wishful thinking, always the same mantra, ignorance or whatever; use that brain that God gave you and make a counter argument. Here, I’ll help you: are there concrete evidences pointing to the existence of fairies, snowflakes things and whatnot? Does the hypothesis of a self caused universe make more sense of a created one? If yes, why? Can we completely reject one of the two hypothesis without any concrete proof?

        • Kodie

          I don’t know but, to me, it makes more sense the created one.

          I’m not trying to be mean here, but do you ever consider that you might be too stupid? Let me continue. Please. When I see humans, I don’t see primarily “the intelligence.” I see people who can’t do simple arithmetic in their heads, can’t remember why they walked in a room, can’t find their keys because they’re in the lock, think they’re immune to car accidents while texting, are prone to buying too many vegetables than they will eat in a given time because they promised they’re going to start cooking more at home and being healthy, fall for stupid gimmicks left and right, can’t get enough of those cooking shows, wish they could be chosen to live in a house full of cameras for 12 weeks with 10 other freakin’ people who have the same wish, drive diagonally across parking lots at road speed, think poor people just have to find a better job, don’t know where their groceries come from, are hyper-concerned where their groceries might have come from, are paranoid about giving vaccines to their children, believe George Carlin said half the things attributed to him, believe Abraham Lincoln said many of the things attributed to him, believe they can get rich if they just work harder, don’t believe they’re being exploited for as much work as they can do for as little pay as they will take, still use their checkbook at the grocery store, would rather die of a heart attack than eat a vegetable, can’t figure out that the couch they bought won’t fit through the door, deny climate change because those people on the tv told them, believe they are due to win, think it’s a good idea to dry clothes on an electric heater, stand on the edge of the bathtub to change a lightbulb, think having the right-of-way in traffic will magically protect them from an accident, think yesterday’s weather is all they need to know to predict today’s weather, think having a baby will fix their marriage, deny that teenagers get horny without anyone telling them about sex, and think if there’s no god, then living is totally meaningless.

          How many amazing scientific whizzes or amazing artists do you know? It’s possible to have some qualities of extraordinary intelligence while still being guilty of some things on the list. But your argument has still been then what evolutionary advantage would being this stupid, irrational, inefficient, bring us? Hello, evolution doesn’t design us into a perfectly rational, efficient being. Many of us are capable of rationality or efficiency a little at a time. We value rationality per se – most people value the effort to put together some terrible argument that will yet have them totally convinced. People like to be convinced, and it’s not that hard.

          When you say “to me, it makes more sense the created one,” do you recognize what kind of animal you are?

        • Susan

          When you say “to me, it makes more sense the created one,” do you recognize what kind of animal you are?

          That’s why I love you, Kodie. Not just for that line, but for the entire comment.

          🙂

          ________

          Edit: To account for the dog’s breakfast that is disqus and the bigger dog’s breakfast that is my brain.

          ________

          All edits done. I swear this time.

        • Fabio

          Wow, that is quite a list…you must be American. No, sorry, I’m joking; people like that are all over the world, they are called human beings.

          When I was a teenager I used to refer to man in two ways: with lower case “m”, as individuals, with their flaws and their merits, with their pettiness, selfishness and mediocrity, and with their generosity, resilience and exceptionality; and with upper case “M”, as an idea, as the being able to explore and understand and manipulate its reality; the being able to reach for the star, able to conceive the idea of infinity and eternity; able to love, imagine, create, build, able to make questions and search for answers.
          Each individual is a representation of that idea, sometimes a good one, very often s poor one.
          I believe that each one of us is a journey to realize that idea, to the best of our possibilities.

          And you are right, evolution does not design us in perfect, efficient and rational beings. There’s still a good part of human nature that does not depends on evolution or social interactions (I’ve been saying that for s while).

          You know why I keep saying “to me”, “in my opinion”, “I think/believe”?
          Because I’m not so arrogant to think that I have the ultimate truth; I realize that my beliefs are just my opinions and do not apply to everyone.
          I’m not keeping answering you guys because I want to convince you that I am right and you are wrong.
          What I’m doing here is arguing against a fundamentalist position, an uncompromising one, a position that does not admit any other beliefs besides the ones that fit with your own.
          You don’t believe in a transcendent “being” as ultimate cause and reason for our existence? It’s fine with me.
          The problem is that, instead of promoting a open minded, inclusive discussion in order to defeat a intolerant, fundamentalist ideology that brought only misery and pain, you just narrowly criticize religion, generally assuming that if you’re a religious person you must be ignorant, delusional, stupid, dishonest and anti-intellectual, with the only result of eliminating any common ground.

        • Kodie

          generally assuming that if you’re a religious person you must be
          ignorant, delusional, stupid, dishonest and anti-intellectual, with the
          only result of eliminating any common ground.

          We, at least as far as every post I’ve read on the subject, are responding directly to things you say. I’m not making any assumptions or generalizations of what’s on the mind of someone who claims to be religious, and I don’t think anyone else has either. It’s you, and the things you think, that are ignorant, delusional, stupid, dishonest, and anti-intellectual. We’ve tried to bring you halfway with information to answer the questions you have about the universe and you won’t take them. So fuck you.

        • Susan

          We, at least as far as every post I’ve read on the subject, are responding directly to things you say. I’m not making any assumptions or generalizations of what’s on the mind of someone who claims to be religious, and I don’t think anyone else has either. It’s you, and the things you think, that are ignorant, delusional, stupid, dishonest, and anti-intellectual

          I doubt he’ll even acknowledge that but spot on.

          _____

          Edit:

          Fuck you.

          More specifically (and less personally, for the sake of argument) , fuck ignorance, fuck delusion, fuck stupidity, fuck dishonesty and fuck anti-intellectualism.

        • Kodie

          After every word written in response to Fabio from everyone and anyone, he finally comes to the conclusion that we must be generalizing. No, I mean fuck him.

          You might mean something else!

        • Susan

          No, I mean fuck him.

          I understand exactly what you mean.

          You might mean something else!

          I do. Fabio likes to take things personally and has constructed a fuzzy Fabio-centred reality. Criticize his methods and he takes it personally. He thinks he’s saying something fabulously deep and intellectually groundbreaking, even though he’s just repeating terrible arguments that can be found all over the internet.

          He’s a meaningless drone in an army of bad idea proponents.

          So, I won’t make it personal.

          I stand in principle against all the things that Fabio perpetuates. I’m attacking his method.

          Put it your way and he calls you rude and angry.

          Put it my way and he calls me passive-aggressive and he doesn’t like that.

          You say: “Fuck you.”

          I say: “Fuck that.”

          I don’t have a big problem with either statement (edit: ) at this point.

        • Paul B. Lot

          The problem is that, instead of promoting a open minded, inclusive discussion in order to defeat a intolerant, fundamentalist ideology that brought only misery and pain, you just narrowly criticize religion, generally assuming that if you’re a religious person you must be ignorant, delusional, stupid, dishonest and anti-intellectual, with the only result of eliminating any common ground.

          Herein lies your mistake; there is no fundamentalism here.

          I don’t want to speak for anyone else here conclusively, although I don’t doubt it’s true for them too, but I don’t make that assumption about religious persons.

          Plenty of people whom I love and respect are religious.

          I was religious too, at one time, and I have no hatred for the old-me who came to, what I now consider, erroneous conclusions based on invalid premises.

          I am very aware of the ease with which bad premises can lead to off-the-wall conclusions.

          So no, I don’t think anyone is stupid or dishonest because they are religious.

          On the other hand.

          The fact that I can respect individuals who are religious does not mean that I cannot criticize bad ideas.

          I don’t think it is “respectful” of people to utter bad ideas publicly — nor is it “disrespectful” of me to point out what I perceive to be the problems with those ideas.

          It may be confusing here, because so many who choose to argue with internet-atheists are believers who feel threatened, or people like you who have a bone-to-pick with percieved-arrogance, but the truth is this:

          I do not go into a discussion with religious people assuming they are idiots/bad faith interlocutors (in general). But I will swiftly come to that conclusion if they continually fail to grasp basic logic/burden of proof/basic netiquette.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Plenty of people whom I love and respect are religious.

          My mammy for starters.

          So no, I don’t think anyone is stupid or dishonest because they are religious.

          Unfortunately I do. For some folk, religion is a means to be stupid or dishonest without contempt. …Ken Ham for example. Of course it is hard to prove. Would Ken Ham be as stupid or dishonest without religion? Non religious folk are generally less stupid or dishonest… There seems to be a correlation.

        • MNb

          You understand wrongly what PBL tries to say.

          “I don’t think anyone is stupid or dishonest because they are religious”
          is not the same as

          “a means to be stupid or dishonest without contempt.”

          As for Ken Ham I don’t think he’s stupid at all. As for his dishonesty – I think has gone well beyond the point where it still matters. He has invested so much that he has no choice but swallowing his own shit, whether he thinks it tastes good or bad.

          “There seems to be a correlation.”
          Yes, but that correlation is about groups of people and says nothing about individuals. And PBL was talking about individuals (“anyone”). Confusing the two is a common mistake.

        • MNb

          “Plenty of people whom I love and respect are religious.”
          My female counerpart is a muslima.

        • Fabio

          Hold one second Paul; I didn’t start the whole conversation because I have a bone to pick.
          I don’t have any problem with science and I believe that science and religion are not mutually exclusive, but are actually complementary; how is that quote? “Religion without science is lame, science without religion is heartless” or something like that.
          I’m in awe of science, and when people like Greg or MNb, that know a lot more than me on psychic and science in general, tell me something belonging to their field, I listen; the problem comes when they keep on going saying something like “therefore God does not exists”.
          Wait one second, I say; that’s not right. I agree with you if you use science to debunk old myths like the personal God of the bible, the old grandfather with the white beard holding the sun in the sky to give some extra time to Israel to defeat their enemies. I agree if you speak against the notion of a loving God that hates homosexual. I agree if you fight against religious people who try to influence what is taught in the classroom.
          But when you say something like “we cannot see, touch or measure anything beyond our material world; therefore there’s nothing there”, then I take issue and I challenge that notion.
          I respect the opinion of anybody as long as it is respectful, tolerant and coming from a place of compassion. But once I get to be called “ignorant”, ” moron”, “sick f@ck”, just to name a few of the names I’ve been called on this thread, then my attitude changes from “friendly challenge” to “ok, smart assess; try to put me with the back to the wall with your arguments spouting from your incommensurable superior knowledge”.
          I can be an arrogant a-hole too, you know?

          Now, you sound like s nice, open minded guy; do you see any problems with my ideas?
          Let’s talk.

        • Kodie

          You are still imagining people to be dirty filthy animals without some spirit lifting them out of the filth. We told you why that is fallacious and reeks of ignorance. You disagree with a god that hates homosexuality? Then why do a lot of people think god hates homosexuality? Why is this a sincere issue they perceive to be relevant? Are they the filthy animals and only liberal equal rights supporters are leveraging this “spirit”? Why do you imagine it isn’t the other way around? Their point is as valid as yours! You have nowhere to go to take any higher ground than your average gay-hating theist. You all have feelings, they all come from the same place. Not god.

          You don’t spend enough time thinking what people have said to you. You don’t spend enough time learning about people and animals and other organisms, and yes, you are in denial of science. You have not shown your imaginary figure to be complementary of science, only that you feel like something is true, then you are going to keep saying it even though nobody finds it charming at all anymore, mostly because of your habit of ignoring everything everyone has ever said, and pretending you have something interesting to say.

        • Susan

          I didn’t start the whole conversation because I have a bone to pick.

          You started the whole conversation by accusing atheists of being dogmatic.

          I don’t have any problem with science

          You’ve shown no interest in science. That is, you didn’t watch the lecture about our best understanding of the problems in cosmology, you want to claim cosmic consciousness without defining consciousness and examining the findings of neuroscience, you completely ignore real data about our fellow earthlings on the subject of morality and cognition, preferring to call them “animals”, you dismiss material models of experience to “mere chemicals” and you think your positions based on ignorance and incuriosity should be taken seriously on all of these subjects.

          when people like Greg or MNb, that know a lot more than me on psychic and science in general, tell me something belonging to their field, I listen;

          Give me an example.

          “we cannot see, touch or measure anything beyond our material world; therefore there’s nothing there”,

          First of all, you’ve shown no clue about our ‘material world’. Secondly, you’ve done nothing to explain what ‘beyond our material world’ means. It’s just a feely phrase that gives you the impression that you can invent things outside of the astonishing painstakingly accumulated knowledge in which you show no interest. Thirdly, no one ever said anything like “we cannot see, touch or measure beyond our material world, therefore there’s nothing there”. Nobody.

          Let’s talk.

          That involves listening. You haven’t noticed over all these months that many people have listened and genuinely responded.

          You should try that some time. You’ve made it clear that you aren’t going to do that.

          It won’t stop me saying you should.

        • MNb

          “I don’t have any problem with science and I believe that science and religion are not mutually exclusive.”

          Liar liar they never let you win
          Liar liar everything you do is sin
          Liar nobody believes you
          Liar they bring you down before you begin
          Now let me tell you this
          Now you know you could be dead before they let you…

          Farrokh Bulsara

          According to you science claiming that the origin of our Universe being a probabilistic event doesn’t make sense. So you do have a problem with science and you do believe that on this point science and your religion are mutually exclusive – plus you reject science.

        • Paul B. Lot

          But when you say something like “we cannot see, touch or measure anything beyond our material world; therefore there’s nothing there”, then I take issue and I challenge that notion.

          Who says this, though? I don’t say it. I haven’t heard anyone else here say it.

          What I DO say is that “we cannot see, touch or measure anything ‘beyond’ our material world; therefore I have no reason to believe YOU when YOU CLAIM that things ‘beyond’ exist….particularly since so many people who have made those claims before you have been proven-liars.”

          “I respect the opinion of anybody as long as it is respectful, tolerant and coming from a place of compassion.”

          I think that’s a good place to start!

          “do you see any problems with my ideas”

          Only this: it seems to me that you’ve articulated a vague position on ‘god’ – that includes ‘god’ as being [the Universe]. If we want to think about ‘god’ as just being existence itself or some such, that’s fine I suppose, but it’s a different sort of question.

          It’s almost as if you’re pretending that the-most-likely-referent-for-“GOD” is NOT some sort of personal, immaterial being who exists timelessly and eternally outside the Universe, but also intervenes inside the Universe with poorly understood motives and methods.

          THAT is the “God” of most major religions, and that is the concept which most of us, I believe, reject as a) unevidenced and b) silly.

          If you come in here playing word-games, defending a ‘god’ that is very different from the “GOD/YAHWEH/ALLAH” that we are discussing….you are bound to have a bad time.

        • Fabio

          Hi Paul,

          I don’t know for how long you’ve been following the discussion, but I’ve made very clear from the beginning that I do not believe in the Abrahamic God of the bible; for me it’s a myth, a human interpretation of the mystery at the base of our universe, the “mysterium tremendum”, the numinous, the transcendence that we call God, Brahman, Nirvana and Dao. I also made very clear, from the beginning, that I use christian language and christian symbols because of my upbringing, but I do not believe in a personal God, I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, I do not believe in miracles and divine intervention.
          I believe that our universe, life and consciousness is rooted in a “being”, a “entity”, “something out there” that, for lack of a better term, I call “God”. And whatever I say trying to describe it, is my personal interpretation, inherently wrong because I can’t possibly understand what is “God”.

          This is my belief, and I believe it because I cannot accept the idea that our universe is just matter, life just chemical reaction and our consciousness just an emerging phenomenon headed toward complete annihilation.

          Are you going to give me a bad time?

        • MNb

          “a fundamentalist position, an uncompromising one, a position that does not admit any other beliefs besides the ones that fit with your own.”
          I’m pretty sure you take a position that doesn’t admit the position of these guys:

          http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/cms/

          I’m also pretty sure you don’t “promote an open minded, inclusive discussion in order to defeat” that pseudoscientific and anti-intellectual ideology. But in case I’m wrong you can put your words in practice here.

          http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/forum/

          Enjoy.

        • Ignorant Amos

          First: you do not take seriously stuff you don’t have evidences for or against it? Fine; it means that you do not take seriously the hypothesis of a self caused universe because there are no evidences for or against it.

          Just because you think that, doesn’t make it so.

          Second: as Bob said “the question is: where the evidences point?”. We don’t have evidences, meaning concrete proofs,…

          Well evidence and concrete proofs are not the same thing. That you think they are is a central problem to your situation. What we are talking about here is empirical evidence.

          In science, empirical evidence is required for a hypothesis to gain acceptance in the scientific community. Normally, this validation is achieved by the scientific method of hypothesis commitment, experimental design, peer review, adversarial review, reproduction of results, conference presentation and journal publication. This requires rigorous communication of hypothesis (usually expressed in mathematics), experimental constraints and controls (expressed necessarily in terms of standard experimental apparatus), and a common understanding of measurement.

          It is not necessary for evidence to be 100% like a “concrete proof”…it just has to have substance and support the hypothesis better than the alternatives.

          “Proof” is something that the opponents of science are always clamouring for, yet is not actually something that science suggests it will give – specifically in the common sense definition of “proof” that suggests that a claim has been proven 100%.

          Surprisingly to some, science does not deal in proof, in spite of the word being associated with science a whole lot more than perhaps it should be…Science as a method, however, deals not in proof but in evidence, and perhaps disproof when the evidence contradicts a hypothesis.

          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Proof

          We don’t have evidences, meaning concrete proofs, for or against God, a self caused universe, fairies, space ponies, Greek gods and whatever, so we don’t take it seriously, right? But our universe is an evidence, isn’t it? It exists, so, either it has been created or it came to be by itself.

          Round and round the mulberry bush we go. Created by what? Once you move to God, then all the supernatural things that you would assert as ridiculous are back on the table. Supernatural gods and supernatural Space Ponies have equal footing, as do any other thought up supernatural hypotheses, because as you say, there is no possible concrete proof to question the veracity of such hypotheses, you abandon the scientific method, but refuse to provide another method other than Fabio’s wishful thinking.

          We have to take seriously those two hypothesis. What’s the right hypothesis? I don’t know but, to me, it makes more sense the created one.

          We already know what “makes sense” to you, but why? You have failed to support your position with anything of substance.

          The “right hypothesis” is the wrong term to use. The “better hypothesis” is the term to use. There is no right or wrong hypotheses, there are only those that the data fits better. We stick with them until different data fits the hypothesis better. God-did-it isn’t the better hypothesis, given what we know of the universe, human beings, supernatural entities, nature, brains, consciousness, etc., etc., etc…

          Finally: why God and not ponies, fairies or whatever? Do you mean why not ascribe to those beings the creation of the universe? Well, space ponies belong to the space; fairies to forests, lakes, households; Greek gods to mount Olympus; I’m not sure about the snowflakes things but I assume they belong to the clouds where they incessantly make snowflakes.

          Only because your ignorance of such things is flabbergasting. Yes, Space Ponies can be found in space, but that’s just when being zoomorphic. As universe creating entities, they are immaterial, timeless and outside space…one might say, they become Outside Space Ponies in that form.

          Fairies, Greek gods and the like, the same. While doing inside universe shit, they are anthopromorphic, as universe creating entities, they are immaterial, timeless and outside space. Makes sense to me anyway.

          With regards to the snowflake thingies, you’ll need to ask Susan about those, personally I think its bug nutty bat shit crazy myself…makes no sense whatsoever…Doh!!!!!

          All this beings, if they existed, would belong to and depend on our reality, so it would be an absurdity to claim that they created it.

          Yeah, I see what ya mean…not like God at all, is it? Because no one makes absurd claims that God interferes with the internal goings on of the universe or the beings in it, do they?

          Now, do not dismiss again my argument as bollocks, wishful thinking, always the same mantra, ignorance or whatever; use that brain that God gave you and make a counter argument.

          That would be what God exactly? Not the one, if it existed, would belong to and depend on our reality, would it? Nah, because that’s just absurd. So which one?

          Here, I’ll help you: are there concrete evidences pointing to the existence of fairies, snowflakes things and whatnot?

          No, of course not, but according to you that is not necessary. You can’t have your cake and eat it. We are just trying to show you if one in, all in. Wishful thinking isn’t enough. Are you getting a bit confused Fabio?

          Does the hypothesis of a self caused universe make more sense of a created one? If yes, why?

          If by created one you are asserting by supernatural influences then YES. If only for the reason being that for everything we know, and for everything a supernatural entity has been previously posited as a reason for, has turned out to be false. But that is not the only reason, though it should be enough to tip the scales.

          Can we completely reject one of the two hypothesis without any concrete proof?

          You have. Most here are not. “Completely reject” and “concrete proof” are loaded terms, they infer 100% certainty. You seem to think that without 100|% certainty anything is allowed. I’m trying to show you that that is not how it is done. This isn’t rocket science Fabio.

        • Fabio

          Just because…doesn’t make it so?
          What does that mean? That you take seriously the hypothesis of a self-caused universe despite the fact that you don’t have evidences (sorry, empirical evidences) for or against it, or that you do have evidences (sorry, empirical evidences) for it?

          About the empirical evidences: I agree with everything you said about the scientific method; the problem is that scientific method does not apply to God! Science CANNOT disprove the existence of God!!
          Tell me: what is the scientific theory to disprove God? Who formulated? Which empirical evidences are to support it?
          There are lots of scientists who believe in God and even the ones who do not believe, such as Stephen Hawking, make no claim about being able to disprove God.

          “Right hypothesis” is not the right term? Fine. The right belief? The right opinion? Stop playing with words and stick with the meaning.

          Now you’re making a case for space ponies? But what are this space ponies? The only fantastic ponies I heard of are my little ponies from my five yrs old.
          Let me try in another way: not only we don’t have any evidences (sorry, empirical evidences) for or against ponies, we don’t have any reason to believe in them. There’s not a whole universe whose existence must be explained with ponies.

          Scientists say that quantum mechanics explain the universe, that the event at the origin of it is probabilistic and do not need a cause, that it just happened.
          This hypothesis, belief, opinion, doesn’t make sense to me. Why? Because it does not make sense that a probabilistic, random, self-caused, accidental event originated a beautifully organized, finely tuned universe, life and consciousness. Randomness does not originate order. And this is my opinion.

          About 100% certainty: well, philosophically we can’t haven 100% certainty about anything, can we? We can have reasonable certainty or doubts based on the evidences (sorry, empirical evidences). When we don’t have any evidences, we don’t have knowledge, we have opinions. If we say: “I don’t have any evidences but I do/don’t believe it”, that’s an opinion. Do you agree?

        • adam

          “Remember how, in our precedent discussion, ”

          Where I asked you where YOUR ‘god’ got his KNOWLEDGE to create universes from?

          Remember how you did NOT address this?

        • And this is my opinion.

          Exactly. And why should that impress anyone, you in particular? You know that you’re not a scientist. You know that you’re unable to evaluate the evidence. So you’re going to set yourself as Judge of All Science?

          Someone took his arrogance pills today. Let me prescribe some humility.

        • MNb

          “the problem is that scientific method does not apply to God”
          You like your strawman so much that you repeat it over and over again, don’t you? IA doesn’t claim that.
          This is IA’s key point:

          “but refuse to provide another method other than Fabio’s wishful thinking.”
          You consistently refuse to provide one, no matter how often you are asked. That’s what IA’s space ponies are about. Why god, why not space ponies?

          “This hypothesis, belief, opinion, doesn’t make sense to me.”
          Well, at least you don’t deny anymore that you reject science. I guess that’s a bit of progress.
          It’s not a belief or opinion though. So you went from denial to another strawman. I stand corrected: a tiny bit of progress.

          “When we don’t have any evidences, we don’t have knowledge, we have opinions.”
          We do have tons of evidences for quantum mechanics, which is a theory of everything and hence includes the origin of our Universe. That has been told before many times, so now you fall back on a straight lie.
          In the end there is no substantial difference between you and a lying Young Earth Creationist like Ray Comfort the Banana Man.

        • Kodie

          Why god, why not space ponies?

          The difference between horseshits is trivial.

        • adam

          “Remember how, in our precedent discussion, ”

          Where I asked you where YOUR ‘god’ got his KNOWLEDGE to create universes from?

          Remember how you did NOT address this?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Just because…doesn’t make it so?

          What does that mean? That you take seriously the hypothesis of a self-caused universe despite the fact that you don’t have evidences (sorry, empirical evidences) for or against it, or that you do have evidences (sorry, empirical evidences) for it?

          Fabio, are you au fait with the Argument from Ignorance logical fallacy?

          http://www.argumentsforatheism.com/arguments_god_ignorance.html

          About the empirical evidences: I agree with everything you said about the scientific method; the problem is that scientific method does not apply to God! Science CANNOT disprove the existence of God!!
          Tell me: what is the scientific theory to disprove God? Who formulated? Which empirical evidences are to support it?

          No one is suggesting there are scientific evidences to prove against the existence of God, god’s, Space Ponies, souls, ghosts, Snowflake Fairies, etc., etc., etc., but so what? You want special pleading for one particular article of the supernatural nonsense.

          But logically, we can disregard the god hypotheses because for no other reason they nothing to add. Ockham’s Razor. But there are other issues in logic.

          There are lots of scientists who believe in God and even the ones who do not believe, such as Stephen Hawking, make no claim about being able to disprove God.

          So what? Argument from Authority.

          “Right hypothesis” is not the right term? Fine. The right belief? The right opinion? Stop playing with words and stick with the meaning.

          FFS, Fabio, reading comprehension skills are not your strong point. It is the first part of the two word phrase. Read it again. “right hypothesis” vis a vis “better hypothesis”…try to work out why that is NOT playing with words and why it matters.

          Now you’re making a case for space ponies? But what are this space ponies? The only fantastic ponies I heard of are my little ponies from my five yrs old.

          Those mythical toys may well be modelled on the universe creating Space Ponies I speak of, not terribly sure. That you have no knowledge of the ground off all being Space Ponies is your problem not mine. I have as much right to posit Space Ponies-did-it, as you have to posit God-did-it…the same level of evidence is available for both assertions. Haven’t you grasped that point yet?

          Let me try in another way: not only we don’t have any evidences (sorry, empirical evidences) for or against ponies, we don’t have any reason to believe in them. There’s not a whole universe whose existence must be explained with ponies.

          Spoiiiing!

          Let me try in another way: not only we don’t have any evidences (sorry, empirical evidences) for or against God, we don’t have any reason to believe in them. There’s not a whole universe whose existence must be explained with God.

          Do you still not get it? Insert what ever supernatural mumbo jumbo into that paragraph and you are none the wiser. Capiche?

          Scientists say that quantum mechanics explain the universe, that the event at the origin of it is probabilistic and do not need a cause, that it just happened.
          This hypothesis, belief, opinion, doesn’t make sense to me. Why? Because it does not make sense that a probabilistic, random, self-caused, accidental event originated a beautifully organized, finely tuned universe, life and consciousness. Randomness does not originate order. And this is my opinion.

          Argument from Personal Incredulity fallacy…that’s three for three Fabio…you appear to be NIR.

          About 100% certainty: well, philosophically we can’t haven 100% certainty about anything, can we?

          Hence the better hypothesis conversation. Everything that has been attributed to god’s, that science has investigated and discovered the answer to, has turned out to be? Yes, that’s right…NOT GOD’S.

          We can have reasonable certainty or doubts based on the evidences (sorry, empirical evidences). When we don’t have any evidences, we don’t have knowledge, we have opinions.

          And you think that the opinion God-did-it is rational even though we have discovered a plethora of things that people once thought God-did-it, actually turned out be God-had-fuck-all-to-do-with-it…but you will cling to your God of the Gaps fallacy?

          If we say: “I don’t have any evidences but I do/don’t believe it”, that’s an opinion. Do you agree?

          I agree. Opinions are subjective. I also agree that all opinions are not equal. You, for instance, are having difficulty with the opinion that Space Ponies created the universe is equal to God-did-it.

          Opinion’s are of no use here. Now one here is making a certainty claim about the universe except you. We are in the nobody knows camp.

          An opinion is a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.

          Do you understand the Null Hypothesis”?

          The person claiming something is possible or has happened needs to produce evidence to refute the null hypothesis.

          Some theists maintain that unless atheists can disprove the existence of a god, or gods, their position is untenable. It does, however, depend on which of the many thousands of mankind’s gods one has in mind; strangely, such theists cheerfully accept the arguments against every god except their own preferred one(s).

          On like lines, some anti-theists maintain that because theists cannot prove the existence of their chosen god or gods, their position is untenable. A similar fallacy, from the opposite direction.

          The burden of proof lies with whoever is making the assertion. If there’s no evidence either way, it’s a matter of faith. Expressing a personal belief / disbelief in the existence of a certain god / goddess is sound enough, but claiming their opinion is factual or denouncing the opponent’s claim as false without any proof supporting one idea or disproving the other is fallacious. While an Unfalsifiable claim / hypothesis can be proven neither right nor wrong, it is reasonable to dismiss it as non-factual if it lacks logical supporting evidence.

          Ergo…Space Ponies…or Snowflake Fairies…or better still, Physics.

        • Kodie

          Remember all those questions you had that we all gave you answers for, that you wondered why and we told you why, so you didn’t have to stay so ignorant, but here you insist on remaining as ignorant as you can in order to enjoy making claims without supporting them? Remember how I told you, not trying to insult you, that you were stupid, and you pretty much ignored that? You seem to think you are smart enough to decide “what makes sense” or “doesn’t make any sense” to stupid Fabio? Remember all those times I told you why we make art and you ignored everything so you can pretend you are telling us something we have no answer for?

          Fabio, you’re not buying reality. Give up. There is nothing else to talk about. You said it already. It’s garbage. Nobody gives a flying fuck anymore what makes sense to you or doesn’t make sense to you. It’s obvious you’re willfully ignorant, and just trying to beat your dead horse. (Don’t worry IA, it’s not a dead space pony).

          Why are you still so confused except intentionally ignoring actual responses to your so many questions you think will “sharpen” your fucking stupid argument that you agree is fucking stupid? What the everloving fuck is wrong with you!!!!

        • adam

          “Does the hypothesis of a self caused universe make more sense of a created one? If yes, why?”

          KNOWLEDGE

          Where does a ‘creator’ get KNOWLEDGE and ABILITY to create universes?

          Where does KNOWLEDGE come from?

        • No, Bob does not admit to having no evidence against God. Indeed, Bob has said that he has over two dozen specific arguments in favor of the atheist position (rather than simply attacking pro-Christian arguments), and they’re all in this blog. Indeed, that’s the subject of his forthcoming book, if he can ever get to working on it.

        • Fabio

          So, again, you’re contradicting yourself: you stated:
          “I’ve never declared that I know that there’s no God, I’ve never stated that I was sure there was no God, etc.”
          And then you say:
          “No, Bob does not admit to having no evidence against God.”
          So, what is it? If you have evidences, you’re sure. If you don’t, you’re not sure.
          Or maybe you’re going down the path: “where the evidences point”.
          In that case you have evidences pointing that MAYBE there’s not a God, but you’re not sure.
          C’mon, decide what’s your position and stop contradicting yourself.

        • If you have evidences, you’re sure.

          I have evidence that you’re a doofus. That doesn’t prove you are, since my evidence is a subset of all relevant evidence.

          Nope, no contradiction here, despite your best efforts. Sad.

          Let me know when you’re done playing word games and want to discuss something interesting.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Fuckwittery at it’s highest level?

        • Fabio

          “Word games”? Bob, I’m not the one trying to give different meanings to words depending on how well it plays in my argument; like your last attempt with “plain” and “absolute”. What does that mean?
          But maybe it’s me; after all English is not my first language and I may be missing all the subtlety and nuances.
          Anyway, you want to discuss something more interesting? I’m open to suggestions.

        • You seriously don’t understand the distinction I’m pointing out? There’s absolute/objective morality–morality that’s true regardless of whether we’re here to appreciate it or not–and the other kind, the kind that we all use daily, the kind that’s defined in the dictionary.

          Don’t claim the former without providing evidence of it. To date, I’ve seen none.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I see you are subject to Fabio’s latest attempt at defending his nonsense, the “word games” obfuscation?

          He has issues with the comprehension of statements in their context of use, but it is everyone else’s fault. We are using semantics to befuddle poor Fabio…better stop it.

        • I often don’t remember all the nuance in a prior discussion, but I’ll try to keep that in mind, thanks.

        • Susan

          ‘m not the one trying to give different meanings to words depending on how well it plays in my argument; like your last attempt with “plain” and “absolute”. What does that mean?

          But maybe it’s me, after all English is not my first language and I may be missing all the subtlety and nuances

          What’s your first language? I assumed it was Italian. I don’t see a translation of ‘plain’ that means the same as ‘absolute’ in Italian.

          Tell me what language you’re thinking in and how you define ‘plain’ to mean ‘absolute’ or vice versa.

          They’re two different words, as far as I can tell.

        • A man in that situation has poor evidence, so he’s in a tough spot. How does that analogize with the issue at hand?

          God truly wants a relationship with us … so where is the evidence? I’m simply asking for evidence of his existence, the absolute bare minimum we need to start talking about a relationship. And it ain’t there.

        • Fabio

          That was an example to explain how, when you don’t have any evidences, the argument “I cannot believe it” is the only argument we need to reject a proposition.
          In our case, being that I reject the idea that our universe, life and consciousness came to be by accident, from a self caused event, the mere fact that we exists is evidence of a creator.
          Now, if you have any evidences that our existence is due to sheer luck, I’m willing to reconsider my position.

        • Ignorant Amos

          In our case, being that I reject the idea that our universe, life and consciousness came to be by accident, from a self caused event, the mere fact that we exists is evidence of a creator.

          What created the creator?

          The creator is called physics…or Space Ponies…no, it’s physics.

        • Kodie

          When you ignore reality, you can make whatever you want.

        • Greg G.

          In our case, being that I reject the idea that our universe, life and consciousness came to be by accident, from a self caused event, the mere fact that we exists is evidence of a creator.

          What evidence do you have to reject the idea? Physicists think it is possible for a universe to come into existence. If one universe can come into existence, then it follows that nothing prevents universes from coming into existence and there should be many universes. That some would develop life and consciousness would be inevitable.

        • Fabio

          Physicists thinks that the universe may come into existence without any cause? Well, not all of them. It’s an opinion, not even a scientific theory and there’s no consensus about it. Even less about the multi universe theory.
          So, I will gladly hold to my position, knowing that the universe as “accident” or “statistical probability” makes no more sense than the universe as “created”.

          I read several comments from Curtis but I couldn’t find any explaining exactly what are his beliefs. I gather that he’s a progressive christian and that he does not believe in the inerrancy of the bible and he does not have problems with Buddhist. Maybe I should engage him in a discussion, it looks that we have exhausted all arguments here.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Bought any magic bean’s or flying carpet’s recently?

        • MNb

          “Physicists thinks that the universe may come into existence without any cause? Well, not all of them. It’s an opinion, not even a scientific theory and there’s no consensus about it.”
          Oh oh, are you displaying your ignorance.
          Quantum Mechanics (and also Quantum Electro Dynamics) are consensus among physicists. Both totally are scientific theories – well tested etc. Both are probabilistic, with the exception of some fringe interpretations like the De Broglie-Bohm one. I also can explain you why that one is rejected.

          http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2013/01/17/the-most-embarrassing-graph-in-modern-physics/

          Now we know one thing very sure about The Big Bang: that interactions took place on such a small case that Quantum effects play a decisive role. While there is no consensus about the Big Bang indeed there is strong consensus on one point: a correct Big Bang Theory must be consistent with Quantum Mechanics and hence be probabilistic.
          So no, it’s not an opinion. It’s a simple logical deduction.
          Yes, you might find yourself a physicist who still claims that our Universe coming into existence needed a cause. You might also find yourself a biologist who rejects Evolution Theory. Have fun joining the IDiot tribe.

          “Even less about the multi universe theory.”
          That’s correct. Hence hardly an atheist uses this as an argument against theism. Atheists only uses it to demonstrate that fine-tuning and first cause arguments are far from conclusive.
          And yup – you go wrong immediately.

          “the universe as “accident” or “statistical probability” makes no more sense than the universe as “created”.
          Of course it does. Statistic probability (accident is a strawman you share with creationists like Ken Ham) is testable. An act of creating isn’t. Hence the first is science – you know, that what allows you to communicate on this blog. Creation isn’t. It’s a theological claim. And you don’t have a method to test it.

          Hey, one little question. Fast forward a few years; physicists have collected relevant empirical data, solved some mathematical problems and reached consensus on the Big Bang. See, eventually they will do. And that consensus implies that our Universe came into existence without cause – it was a probabilistic event.
          Will you abandon your belief system?
          Of course not. That makes clear you’re arguing for a predetermined conclusion. And that means every single atheist can shrug off what you bring up.
          Sure that works the other way as well. I can make you clear exactly what will make me leave my atheism and even what will make me convert to christianity. Isn’t it telling that no single believer is willing to make the similar commitment?

        • when you don’t have any evidences, the argument “I cannot believe it” is the only argument we need to reject a proposition.

          The God hypothesis has pretty much zero evidence. There’s simply no good reason to believe it.

          You were talking about cosmology and biology. You’re saying that you can dismiss that with “there isn’t evidence, and I can’t believe it”? If you want the evidence and grounds for belief, read a textbook. It’s all there.

        • Susan

          Yes, maybe that comment wasn’t so angry, but it’s the cumulative effect of her general attitude. But it’s not only her; I don’t know what happens to people on the Internet: they think that the anonymity frees them from the obligation of politeness. Or maybe they just rude either on the internet or in person.

          Or maybe you were just wrong and have bought into the stereotype that anyone who doesn’t take your terrible argument seriously must be rude, angry or dogmatic.

          Remember when you decided to read Lawrence Krauss’s mind (rather than listen to his lecture) and unilaterally rule that any critical aside to religious thinking was a blatant accusation that all religious people were stupid?

          I don’t have a lot of confidence in your ability to critically evaluate the comments from people who ask you to support your claims.

          Your general position is that anyone who doesn’t accept special pleading in your pet case is rude and dogmatic.

          Just another unevidenced claim on your part.

        • MNb

          “that is going to be the only argument he will ever need to believe”
          The remarkable thing is that I have been in such a situation once, a long time ago. The proper reaction of course is not believing, but admitting that you can’t know. Plus you contradict yourself – circumstantial evidence is also evidence. You’re not presenting an example of “I believe is the only thing left”. The question is how to weigh all the circumstantial evidence.
          But even that doesn’t apply to you.

          “”I cannot believe that..” is s terrible argument, I agree, but sometimes it’s the only argument left.”
          In the case of the origin of our Universe “I cannot believe that..” is not the only argument left. The other one, “science suggests..” is not a terrible argument. Plus there are three sound philosophical arguments against the conclusion “Goddiddid”.

          Thanks for undermining your own belief system.

        • Kodie

          I was a little snarky with the two claps remark. Seriously, how many thousands of words does someone have to use to continually declare that he cannot believe there is no ultimate purpose to life, and that’s why he believes there is?

        • MR

          Oh, come on. That two claps remark was nothing. That’s practically a compliment coming from you. Fabio just had thin skin for lack of an argument.

        • Kodie

          Oh for sure, Fabio is thin-skinned. He wants to avoid conflict of any kind while he continues to bore us with his opinions that don’t matter. Holy shit, that sounds mean, because it is.

        • MR

          Mean is:

          Wife: Do these pants make me look fat?
          Husband: No. Your fat makes you look fat.

          This is a debate forum. If I have a stupid fucking argument, tell me I have a stupid fucking argument. It will make me a better person to learn not to make stupid fucking arguments.

          …Except in Fabio’s case.

          …Ooh, was that mean?

          …Or Greg’s case.

        • Kodie

          To be technical – some pants make you look wide, but if you’re self-conscious about looking fat, and you are actually fat, no pants will make that much of a difference. I also believe in “skinny mirrors” as well as “young mirrors”. I totally look younger and thinner at home than I do at work.

          But that’s being honest – if you’re fat, your fat makes you look fat. I think I was just as mean, if being honest is mean. Fabio is getting boring, like there’s just something he’s trying to explain and he thinks we’re not getting it yet. I like to write some longer comments sometimes, but I often feel like I’ve packed in everything I needed to say if it’s that long. His long comments are full of the same wishful thinking and not convincing at all. Yes, that’s the truth, and it’s hard to hear if you’re Fabio, who promised not to respond to me because early on, he could not take a push or a shove against his amazing precious ideas. People like him really think their idea is somehow different than conventional superstitions called Christianity that Bob writes articles about. People like Fabio cannot seem to accept that their differences are all the same. They think they have some new special argument, but “I can’t believe that…” is a terrible argument, he admits, but keeps trying to formulate it in some way as to approach some appreciation for that silly idea.

        • MR

          Fabio is getting boring, like there’s just something he’s trying to explain and he thinks we’re not getting it yet.

          Yet he’s the one who doesn’t get it. We’re all part of this culture and we’re steeped in the god magic and the love magic and everything happens for a reason magic, and most of us have bought into it at some point in our lives and we know perfectly well what he means. But some of us have gone a step beyond to consider that maybe all that magical bullshit, the stuff we can’t see, can’t touch, can’t prove, isn’t real after all, and when you do, you see that it’s so obviously fucking true that it’s embarrassing.

          However, I think that most of us who have reached that conclusion have replaced the magic with either a stronger scientific understanding…, or at least practical, or some other kind of realistic understanding of the world and we have something to place our footing on. But so many people can’t let go of their magic woo because that would leave them lost in a dark and lonely sea.

        • Kodie

          I have to say, one, there doesn’t seem to be any evolutionary impediment to being that ignorant. I was just thinking about all the animals of the world that people like Fabio think are less intelligent than humans, and they do ok (unless we drive them to extinction). On another side note here, it’s sort of ridiculous we can drive some of the most beautiful and amazing and intelligent animals that don’t harm us to extinction, while we continue to battle those least intelligent pests that harm us and our homes. I just heard a radio interview this week about super-lice, and that’s not even all. Then again, lice get to go to school, so they might be smarter than, say, bed bugs.

          And the other thing was about childhood and adulthood, something I have always thought. Adults seem to want to wrap children in protection of childhood innocence, and there’s this thing where, when you’re a child, they let you think anything is possible and everything is great. At least for me, there was a very quick transition, where all of a sudden, I had to know better and be more responsible, without any preparation for this, like around 7th grade. It sucked, and in my advancing adulthood years, continues to suck. I really think there is something to this fantasy of heaven that is the child persisting to desire to be cared for and protected and make god character the parent figure. When you’re a child, you have all this attention, and everything you do is given praise, and then you lose that attention, and everything you do isn’t praised. I don’t think this is a new phenomenon, although I think earlier times did more work to train younger children to be civilized adults gradually starting earlier, and now that most kids seem to go on to college, there’s like this bubble when you’re over 18 and people still give legal adults a pass for youthful mistakes. I have this impression that, in some past time, most children were ready for the responsibilities of adulthood (a very strict and narrow definition) by their late teens, had jobs, contributed to the household and agreed with that expectation instead of saving up their money to buy whatever bullshit they want to spend money on and also have a lot of their stuff bought for them. The economy is way different now too. The kinds of jobs a teen can get won’t get them very far, and a lot of people seem to be in favor of keeping the wages low as those jobs are for teenage spending money, and not to earn some kind of living so they can afford to buy their own independence with it, much less should fully grown adults have those jobs and try to raise a family on the income.

          I guess what I’m trying to say is, and religion becomes attractive here, is the want for someone to be in charge again, the desire to be someone’s center of attention, the childish ego to be loved and praised for everything you do, even if it’s boring and unfulfilling in our own opinion or especially in the opinion of others, that it serves some purpose down the road or overall, and isn’t just some shit you have to wake up and do until you die just to stay alive. When you’re a child, adults ask you what you want to be when you grow up, and if you’re a normal kid, you want your hobby to become your career. They say “that’s great!” and never say well if you really want to be a ballerina (for example), you have a lot of work to do starting today. They let you keep that fantasy one hour a week until you outgrow it and it’s too late, if it in fact did mean something to you, and you can never be that, you have to drudge away at something practical and disappointing. They don’t give you the facts so you can see what that’s really like to work towards a dream, and find out it’s not all that dreamy anyway, or perhaps love it as much as you thought and actually succeed. People with some fantasy like Fabio’s, to serve some greater magical purpose in this universe, seem to need that encouragement because adulthood becomes too real and you think about things and how, at least in his stated job as a nurse, every single one of his patients will die eventually if not in his care. He will die too, and there will always be sick people who need nurses who aren’t him. It’s a social aspect entirely, to be needed and to be appreciated just for showing up, so I don’t know what greater need and appreciation from beyond he has to have to be motivated to live his life and do his job taking care of patients today and for the rest of his working life. I guess it can be hard to accept. I was in the hospital for a few days a couple years ago, and I was not pleasant*, so maybe he deals with that too.

          *Mostly, I felt the hospital was confusing, there was no way to tell whose job was what, and not everyone spoke English for a 1st language, so I would ask for something and it would be “not my job to get you that,” or instead of a popsicle, I would get a lollipop or a soda or something like that. Plus, they were collecting my roommate’s urine in a basin in our shared toilet, and someone didn’t come and take that, and I would ask the wrong person to tend to it, so I shouldn’t pee in it and had to use the public bathroom in the hall. What do you want from a Catholic hospital.

        • Kodie

          Oh my gosh! So simple! So fucking simple!

        • MNb

          “I cannot believe that our universe has not a purpose and a reason because the alternative is a universe that came to be by accident, by sheer luck; galaxies and stars, oceans and mountains, orchids and sequoias, caterpillars and whales, consciousness and creativity, science, art, the Sistine chapel and “The Lord of the Rings”, all of this came to be from a single, unexplained, random quantum event.”
          Spoken like a true creationist. You only have to replace “a single, unexplained (it is explained btw; physicists just have serious doubts if any of their explanations is correct due to lack of empirical data), random quantum event” by “some simple, unexplained, random mutations”.
          No matter how fucking much you love science – you reject it ‘cuz god.

          “It sounds to me like throwing one trillion dices and have the same number coming up for all of them.”
          Which only shows you don’t understand probability.

          “Just luck does not work for me.”
          That’s your problem. It’s not evidence.

          “No meaning there, just the illusion of it.”
          Wrong. No external meaning, ie provided by some god or other supernatural entity. Our material brains are perfectly capable of giving meaning.
          The meaning of me responding to your comments? I enjoy it. You are the one lacking humility by asking for more.
          Plus with these words you have confirmed that you believe because it makes you feel good – or rather that not believing would make you feel bad, so you fear.

        • Kodie

          “No meaning there, just the illusion of it.”
          Wrong. No external meaning, ie provided by some god or other supernatural entity. Our material brains are perfectly capable of giving meaning.

          Our material brains are perfectly capable of creating the illusion of external meaning, and why? We’re not good enough just being? In another post Fabio made to Susan, he says he cringes at arrogance and disdain and lack of respect. Human meaning is just so pointless, right? What makes humans get up in the morning isn’t just about us? Fabio is just very confused because he keeps talking in circles. Earlier, he asked me…let me get it right. I had said something about what’s so difficult about humans giving help to needy people just because they’re people, and he responded, how do you know they’re not? He’s being very shifty and wants what he wants, not what he gets. Either they are doing it for some external validation, i.e. meaning and purpose, or they are doing it because people matter to people. In different posts, he seems to change tracks.

          I really don’t get what meaning there is “out there” either. I am here and if something in front of me needs my help, I don’t have to ask “out there” if this is what I should be doing with my life. There is a person in front of me that needs assistance, and so my purpose isn’t for them? It’s for god’s approval? It’s to fulfill a quota I need to meet, some standard outside of the situation that validates me as a “good, moral, helpful person”? Who gives a shit? Who really, goddamned gives a shit about this overseer keeping tabs on whether you measure up in the long run. Who seriously is thinking about that all the damn time when there are problems that need to be worked on here and now. Just because we’re all going to be dead and gone and there will be a new set of people with their own problems doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do what I need to do for myself or someone else. What kind of “morally superior” attitude is that shit?

        • Greg G.

          It sounds to me like throwing one trillion dices and have the same number coming up for all of them.

          How do you know it is not a trillion to the trillionth power to the trillionth power and you are seeing just one instance of a trillion die rolls? Something is bound to happen. Why be astounded when something does happen? Calculate the odds of the order of a well-shuffled deck of cards. That order is extremely unlikely but it is as unlikely as every other order yet one of those extremely unlikely orders will happen every damn time.

        • Fabio

          No, something is not bound to happen: if the probability of the origin of this universe, with its physical constants that make its existence possible and favorable to life, is one in a trillion to the trillionth power to the trillionth power, to keep rolling the dices does not make that event more probable; each new universe has the same one in a trillion to the trillionth power to the trillionth power probability to be a “fine tuned” universe.
          And even one in a trillion etcetera probability is a high probability: after all in this universes, bubbling up like foam, the fundamental physical constants can have any numeric value, from almost zero to potential infinity, isn’t it right? So, all the possible combinations will add up to infinite, don’t they?
          Of course you can object that if the dices are rolled an infinite number of time you will have a infinite number of universes (actually, it makes more sense: if the universes are bubbling up, they must have done so for eternity) and, among this infinite number of universes, there will be an infinite numbers of universe fine tuned for life, all kind of parallel universes, from the one where reptiles evolved to be the dominant species to the ones where the only difference with our universe is that you are a priest in the Catholic Church (I love science fiction).
          And maybe it is so; we can’t possibly ever have any evidences for or against this hypothesis. If it works for you, fine; but, how can you be sure that there’s not a God causing the bubbling up of all those universes, rolling the dices, so to speak?

        • MNb

          “to keep rolling the dices does not make that event more probable”
          So you don’t understand the Law of Large Numbers either. You don’t get probability. The point is simply that if universes spring into existence all the time sooner or later we’ll get the Universe we inhabit. Nothing more, nothing less.

          “we can’t possibly ever have any evidences for or against this hypothesis.”
          How do you know?

          “a God causing the bubbling up of all those universes, rolling the dices, so to speak?”
          I already acknowledged this option. It’s not the god you believe in though. Plus nobody on this site ever claimed that science can disprove god. Greg G only argued that your argument in your previous comment is flawed. It is.
          The problem simply is consistency. Every single religion I am aware of, except pastafarianism, makes claims that contradict science. But yeah, due to the nature of induction it remains possible to formulate a belief system that doesn’t.

        • Greg G.

          You seem to have worked your way through it. An eternity in time and/or space (if either term can be applied to the multiverse) means there could be infinite universes. If it were possible for there to be a god, the extra complexity would make it rare but there would be an infinite number of universes with gods. However, it would be unlikely to be in one of those. The only way to know is if the god presents itself though. It is probably more likely that chemical-based life forms would come to be in a universe than a god, but a universe with a god might be more likely to have life than a non-god universe due to possible creative abilities. But life forms created by a god would not necessarily have to be chemical-based either. So, being chemical-based life forms most likely means we do not live in a universe with a god.

        • Fabio

          No, Greg. You didn’t get the concept of God. God is beyond the universe or universes, it encompasses it/them but does not depends on them. It the universe that depends on God: no God, no universe.

        • adam

          “No, Greg. You didn’t get the concept of God. God is beyond the universe or universes, it encompasses it/them but does not depends on them.”

          You are describing the HUMAN IMAGINATION.

          “It the universe that depends on God: no God, no universe.”

          Well since you’ve FAILED to demonstrate that your ‘god’ is anything but IMAGINARY and the universe IS here, then you’ve FAILED.

        • Kodie

          I think we got the concept of your god. You haven’t made much of an effort here, only to dispute reality with your preferences and petulant protests. If we were speaking face to face, I’d have been especially spitty. You wish for there to be a god so your life can mean something more than it does, you’d mean more to people than you do, etc. You just can’t believe that the whole universe exists and doesn’t care if you spend the rest of your life in a bathtub soaking your cares away out of fury that there’s nothing more meaningful you can do. We’ve all written quite a bit to you, but you persist here with your imaginary ideas, that that’s just how life is for you. I can’t do anything else about that. Why do you care to communicate this idea with us? When will you stop? Are you not satisfied that people disagree with you? You’re just going to have to do better than make up analogies, that’s really not in your favor. We get what you’re saying, we just don’t find any credibility in it. Will you at least acknowledge that we understand what you claim? You seem to think, after so many words and analogies, that we still don’t understand what you see that isn’t there.

        • Fabio

          Yes, some of you guys understand my claims and disagree with it, that’s fine (while some are a little bit disingenuous, but that is fine too).
          Why do I care to communicate with you? Well, there’s no reason to discuss with who agrees with you, don’t you agree?
          For me it’s an intellectual exercise: I learn a different point of view, I sharpen my arguments, I’m forced to think about my beliefs, take in consideration objections against it and develop counter arguments…as I told Lew once, this discussions and you guys make me grow…you make me a better person (at the least when you don’t use too much your potty mouth 😉

        • Susan

          Yes, some of you guys understand my claims and disagree with it,

          Disagree? We’ve pointed out repeatedly that you have no coherent model and no evidence. We’ve patiently explained that “Fabio can’t believe it’s an accident.” is NOT a model.

          There are many, MANY models we can construct that account for the evidence that do NOT require an agent. An incurious guy on the internet named Fabio not being able to get his head around those models does not discredit those models.

          If that’s what you mean by disagree, then yes. We disagree.

          while some are a little bit disingenuous, but that is fine too).

          Possibly. I haven’t seen evidence of that. When you make a statement like that, you’re supposed to support it. It’s the decent thing to do.

          That’s not your style.

          It’s all Fabio likes. Fabio no like.

          I hope it’s an intellectual exercise for you. I truly do, but I see no evidence that it is.

          So far, it seems to be the air guitar version.

          I’m not saying that to be mean. A lot of people here have genuinely and respectfully tried to engage you on an intellectual level and you have turned down every invitation (as far as I can see on disqus).

          You are fixated on the irrational idea that you can just make stuff up that fits your feelings and that anyone who doesn’t take you seriously is dogmatic.

          It doesn’t work that way.

          That’s why you haven’t even acknowledged my Immaterial Snowflake Fairies. I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t either.

          What’s different about your immaterial agent?

        • Kodie

          So far, it seems to be the air guitar version.

          Perfect.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know if you’re growing or sharpening anything. Is there anything of substance to grow and/or sharpen? You plan to keep arguing this for the rest of your life? You don’t plan on getting used to the facts that what you wish is not what is real? Your arguments are terrible and, aside from rebuttals, I think people have instructed you as to how your arguments themselves are terrible ways to argue whatever you think is worth arguing for. Who do you expect to convince and why?

        • MNb

          “and disagree with it”
          Disagreeing is OK.
          But sometimes you are just plain wrong (“the purpose of natural selection is ….”. That’s also OK.
          Is it also OK that you’re incapable of admitting it?

        • MR

          I’m forced to think about my beliefs

          But you don’t.

        • Greg G.

          I do get that concept but there is no way to derive such a god logically. You want to believe in a god so much, you conceive of one that cannot possibly be proved or unproved. But there can be no possible evidence for that god. It can only be imagined and pretended.

          The human imagination is capable of conceiving things that cannot be proved or disproved. Your god is indistinguishable from one of those. Why bother pretending it is not like that?

        • how
          can you be sure that there’s not a God

          I can’t. But, of course, that’s not the question we should be asking.

        • Fabio

          What do you mean? I thought I’ve