Upcoming Debate on God’s Existence 11/15/14

Upcoming Debate on God’s Existence 11/15/14 November 8, 2014

debateI have a public debate on the question “Does God exist?” on November 15, 2014 at 6pm in the Shelton Civic Center (Shelton, WA).

I’ll be debating Rand Wagner, a local Christian with masters degrees in Exegetical Theology (Western Seminary) and Christian Apologetics (Biola University).

It’s a free event, and if you can make it, I’d love to see you there. If you’re a regular here at the Cross Examined blog, be sure to say hello.

Address, more details, and last-minute updates here.

Photo credit: Jay Trinidad


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  • MNb

    I’m afraid I’ll have to do with your report …..
    Good luck.

    • They don’t have direct flights from Paramaribo to Shelton? Dang.

      Ah, well. I’ll let you know.

  • Greg G.

    Dang it! Shelton WA is on my bucket list of places to visit but I won’t be able to make it.

    Best of luck brains to you!

  • Well, this should settle it once and for all.

    • MNb

      Is this the best sarcasm you can pull off?

    • Dys

      That’s not the point of debating.

  • Pofarmer

    Saw “interstellar” tonight. Wow. Loved it. They actually deal with some pretty heavy philosophy, like, “Does,the universe have a,purpose, can it be evil.”

    • Tackling big philosophical questions, you say? I saw “Fury” a few nights ago. It … didn’t.

      But thanks for the tip. Haven’t seen “Interstellar” but might.

    • RichardSRussell

      An amazing film. Kip Thorne is an executive producer and made sure that the science is 97% accurate (unlike Gravity, which I liked despite that, and way unlike Prometheus,which was just an eye-roller in many places).

      • Pofarmer

        Yeah, I just couldn’t like Gravity. Prometheus is more horror movie than Sci fi.

      • I liked when George Clooney was being pulled away by some mystery force (couldn’t have been inertia or gravity) and had to let go to save Sandra Bullock. Or not.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, I didn’t quite get that either. Centrifugal force maybe? But I don’t think the,station was,spinning. The plot just called for George to bite it.

        • I’m pretty sure there was no spinning. If I recall, the earth was stationary in view behind George. Yes, the plot must be followed.

  • Greg K.

    I wish I could be there, but I have to work that date.

  • Darrell Barker

    Hello, I live in Shelton, Wa. I’ll be attending and though you don’t need it, I’ll be cheering you on. I’ve already notified 4 of my freethinker friends too. Looking forward to this evening with glee.

    • Terrific! I hope it’s a good show. You’ll have you give me your appraisal afterwards.

      Have you attended other Shelton events put on by Rand Wagner?

      • Darrell Barker

        Bob, No, surprisingly, I’ve not heard of Rand Wagner until now, this debate, it just this last week being announced in our local papers, Mason County Journal and some other.

        I’ve been showing the paper to many, and some have gotten out their phones and calendared it in for Sat at 6. Too, I am associated with Occupy Shelton group and sent out a group email. Many of those will be in attendance. And for myself, I’m a self-OUT Atheist here in Shelton so it’ll be no surprise to many to see me there.

        I’ve been to many a debate, and before it starts, if Rand has attendees mark:

        * God
        *Uncertain
        * No God

        Then at the end remark them, if then those who previously marked *Uncertain change either direction, that’s how you will tell who won the debate. Mention that to him please.

        Anyhow, I look forward to this exchange of ideas right here in Shelton. Excitedly.

        • If you’re referring to Oxford voting (a poll is taken before and after the debate), yes, I suggested this. He rejected the idea.

          I don’t know why (maybe there’s a legitimate reason, like logistics in that venue), but I’ll get there early and will suggest it to him again.

  • RichardSRussell

    Please invite God to show up and settle the question right there on the spot.

    • Darrell Barker

      What a great idea! Then Rand could move from conceptual apologetics and claim his victory of being right and then rule the world.

  • MNb

    To get you in a good mood I offer you this culture clash (thanks, JA Coyne):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuDqEGlKOus

    Our good friend John might enjoy this little video too.

  • Compuholic

    I have a public debate on the question “Does God exist?”

    If I was living anywhere close I probably would come just to see Bob in action.

    The topic however could not be more dull. It is about as interesting as “Are unicorns just a figment of our imagination?” The answers to both questions are obvious (or at least should be) to anybody who is not completely braindead. And this is also the reason why those debates can be so depressing. They make me realize how far we have still to go as humans to rid ourselves of our primitive impulses and instincts.

    • It is indeed bizarre. It’s a marvel that these people who embrace a Bronze Age god can dress themselves each morning.

      But to some extent, that’s what draws me. Here are actual unicorn god believers–in the 21st century! How weird is that?! And they’re not in a zoo but running around like they own the place. I feel like an anthropologist.

  • Blizzard

    He has a couple videos up but I couldn’t take much of his “Kathryn Kuhlman” type fake acting voice. I can picture him imagining himself with a halo around his head. He is one holy dude lol.

    • Kathryn Kuhlman! That brings me back. My mom used to watch that crazy old bat on the TV back in the 70s. “I believe-uh in miracles!”

    • Thanks for the tip. I found a 3-part lecture on the Cosmological Argument here. I’ll take a look.

    • Darrell Barker

      I’m old enough to remember Kuhlman. She did have stage presence and charisma like none other I’ve seen in my impressionable days. Looking back, knowing what I now know, she was nothing more than a conwoman.

  • Darrell Barker
    • I doubt Lennon would be such a skeptic icon if people knew what an astrology-mad flake he was. John and Yoko induced labor months before Sean was due because of the let’s-call-it-Eastern belief that a son born on Dad’s birthday is blessed. Lennon even went through a born-again phase during his last years in the Dakota. Unlike Dylan, who recorded and released a few albums of his awful Jesus hymns, John was too lazy to record anything God-related and the born-again thing soon went the way of primal scream therapy and the rest of John’s short-lived manias.

      • TheNuszAbides

        definitely a sacred ox who still needs a good goring once in a while.

        • I’m a Lennon fan. The sight of a twelve-string Rickenbacker still gives me rock-and-roll shivers. But John was a strange guy.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’m a fan of the artist and aspects of the activist, not the private citizen. (it really is a relief that private citizen fan clubs aren’t a Thing.)

  • PiMan

    Does God exist? A great question. But don’t those debates quickly slide into arguments about religion? In this ongoing battle it is Atheist vs. Christian. It would be refreshing to have a mass-debate where neither side is allowed to mention religion at all.

    • Pofarmer

      Kalam cosmomlogical argument and others do this. Swinburne tries it, william lane craig tries it.

    • Dys

      The issue is that all the logic arguments for the existence of God have fatal flaws, and even if they didn’t, there’s nothing in them to make the leap from a generic god to one anyone actually believes in.

      • MNb

        I think the situation for believers is even worse. Two positive arguments for atheism can be made. I haven’t met anyone yet who could answer them. One believer needed a lot of verbosity and obfuscation to conclude that the arguments were irrelevant (and using them was inconsistent).

        • What are those arguments?

        • MNb

          1. An immaterial entity like god by definition doesn’t have any means available to interact with our material reality. All those means are material.
          2. There is no reliable and objective methodology to separate correct claims about the supernatural/immaterial/ transcendental from incorrect ones. A very simple example is the Cosmological Argument (no matter which version). How do you know there is only First Cause? Why not about 30, one for every single natural constant? More in general: if two scientists disagree they try to develop some experiment. If two theologians disagree, then what?

          @2: That’s why I think the comparison with unicorns not convincing. I rather compare with Papua or Australian aboriginal spirituality.

          From a strategical point of view I think it handy to save them for a relatively late moment. Debates often are about a false dichotomy: if one person is right the other is automatically wrong. That’s how audiences perceive it. Only few people realize that both might be wrong. So my strategy, even on your blog, is usually to debunk theist arguments first and then, as a kind of a death blow, present those two arguments. In a debate agnosticism (there is no way to prove god) is easier.
          But I suppose the format of the debate plays a role as well.

        • 1. An immaterial entity like god by definition doesn’t have any means available to interact with our material reality.

          I suppose that God can magically make himself material when he chooses. As a result, God claims are, in principle, scientifically testable.

          How do you know there is only First Cause? Why not about 30, one for every single natural constant?

          Nice!

          if two scientists disagree they try to develop some experiment. If two theologians disagree, then what?

          Yep!

          That’s why I think the comparison with unicorns not convincing.

          Expand on this. I’m not seeing the problem. Is it because unicorns aren’t necessarily supernatural?

        • MNb

          “I suppose that God can magically ….”
          Why don’t you ask Rand Wagner next Saturday? That way you avoid a strawman.

          “Is it because unicorns aren’t necessarily supernatural?”:
          Yes.

        • To me, unicorns and, say, leprechauns are interchangeable. But leprechauns can do magic, so God vs. leprechauns would work just as well for me: we reject leprechauns for lack of evidence; ditto God.

        • I question whether leprechauns are really the same sort of culturally-constructed symbols that God appears to be; people’s way of defining the God idea seems to have a lot of cultural, artistic, and political context. Anthropolgists are interested in the way god-concepts have evolved through history, and psychologists say they even develop throughout a believer’s life.

          Not so much with leprechaun concepts? Hmm.

        • You’re saying that lepechauns aren’t identical to God? Yes, I agree.

          I’m saying that they both have supernatural powers, and the simple, common sense argument that finds insufficient evidence in the leprechaun story and therefore concludes (tentatively) that they don’t exist works for the God hypothesis, too.

        • You’re the one debating, so it’s your call. If it already seems like kind of a stretch to members of your audience here, I just don’t know how much more persuasive the analogy is going to seem to the crowd in Shelton.

        • MNb

          Hm, Dutch leprechauns don’t do magic.
          Lack of evidence is not a positive argument for atheism, but a negative one. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad argument; imo it argues for agnosticism though. But yeah, it will be an interesting question: how do you determine that god exists, but leprechauns (doing magic) don’t exist? What do you say to somebody who says he/she has faith that leprechauns exist? When St. Bonifatius cut down a Frisian Holy Oak, do you accept this as conclusive proof that the Germanic gods don’t exist? You get the idea – there are many variations.

        • Well, let’s assume that leprechauns do magic. Or pick some other creature that does.

          I agree with you–it does argue for agnosticism, because we can’t know that leprechauns don’t exist. Nevertheless, that they don’t is our working hypothesis. The jury isn’t out; it’s rendered its verdict.

          Ditto God.

          The argument has its limitations. Yes, someone might respond with, “Yeah, but I know that leprechauns do exist!” I’m thinking of the typical Christian here.

        • MNb

          Yes. Now the interesting question becomes: what does magic mean? How do leprechauns do it? Which means do they use? Which procedures do they follow? From these questions you can derive a positive argument: there are no possible answers, so leprechauns are meaningless.

          “Nevertheless, that they don’t is our working hypothesis.”

          You seem to qutie like this, but Wagner may ask: why? Why would god not be our working hypothesis? I haven’t seen a satisfactory answer yet.

        • I wrote a post on a fascinating analysis by Sean Carroll (physicist, not biologist) arguing against the idea of a soul. He went to where you’re pointing: we know enough about physics to know that there are no particles that affect our world that would support the claim of the soul; therefore, the idea is false.

          I don’t have such an argument for leprechauns, and I don’t think I need to. We’re comfortable with working hypotheses that

          – many disciplines are bankrupt (astrology, alchemy),

          – many creatures don’t exist (unicorns, leprechauns), and

          – many supernatural creatures don’t exist (unicorns and leprechauns if you want to throw in the supernatural tales but if not, then Zeus, Thor, Shiva, and all the other guys’ god(s)).

          Why would god not be our working hypothesis?

          No special pleading, if you don’t mind, Mr. Wagner. You have no a priori reason besides personal bias to start with the Christian god over the thousands of other gods. Do we pick one out of a hat? Do we default by assuming that they all exist, mutual contradictions included?

        • MNb

          “we know enough about physics to know that there are no particles that affect our world that would support the claim of the soul; therefore, the idea is false.”
          The same applies to the magic done by leprechauns, god creating the Universe and god trying to communicate with believers.

          “you have no a priori reason besides personal bias to start with the Christian god over the thousands of other gods.”
          Be careful – this is close to a strawman. Wagner may answer “I’m not using this assumption to argue for christianity. You will agree that we first have to assume that there is a god before we sensibly can talk about which god and his characteristics. Moreover the closer we believers approach god the less important his specific characteristics become.” (I have actually met a theologian who pulled that one off). And then he rattles off several reasons why he picks christianity, but doesn’t mind when other people give god another name, because in the end god embraces all of them bla bla bla.
          It is a debate. It isn’t relevant whether it’s nonsense or not. What’s relevant is how convincing it sounds to the audience. And your answer doesn’t sound too convincing, I’m afraid. Remember: the question is “Is there a god?”, not “Is the christian god the right one?”

          If I were Wagner I would choose that strategy. “Yes, I’m a practising christian, but today I’m not defending christianity, I’m defending theism. Your questions can be addressed at another opportunity, after we have decided that there is a god indeed.” Then you are the loser if you focus on christianity as Wagner will return to “Why wouldn’t be god – christian or not – the working hypothesis?”

        • Wagner may answer “I’m not using this assumption to argue for christianity. You will agree that we first have to assume that there is a god before we sensibly can talk about which god and his characteristics.

          OK, then convince me that there’s a god(s). At which point, he’ll bring up the deist arguments—cosmological, ontological, TAG, design, moral, etc.

          I have responses to those.

          then he rattles off several reasons why he picks christianity, but doesn’t mind when other people give god another name, because in the end god embraces all of them bla bla bla.

          A very liberal Christian might have an all-roads-lead-to-God kind of approach. That might be how Mssr. Wagner rolls, but I doubt it.

          It is a debate. It isn’t relevant whether it’s nonsense or not. What’s relevant is how convincing it sounds to the audience. And your answer doesn’t sound too convincing, I’m afraid.

          OK, thanks.

        • MNb

          “OK, then convince me that there’s a god(s).”
          But that’s just a rephrasing of “the working hypothesis is that there is no god.” To which Wagner may answer again “my working hypothesis is that there is a god indeed.” You answer that that needs arguments; he will replay that your working hypothesis needs arguments as well. At that point we’re back at where I started – it’s handy to have positive arguments.

          “That might be how Mssr. Wagner rolls, but I doubt it.”
          Of course I don’t know him. But I do know he doesn’t have to be a very liberal christian to pull this off. It’s a common strategy of philosophers of religion and theologians.

        • “my working hypothesis is that there is a god indeed.”

          And up is down, and down is up.

          Start with any working hypothesis that you want—and be assured that the Muslim and Hindu and Buddhist will, with this attitude, start with a different working hypothesis—but this discards the idea of a null hypothesis. I had as a null hypothesis that my next breath was safe. Should I discard that as well? And that my next step on the floor is reliable and that clean water comes out of the tap? Can we start with whatever working hypothesis we want, or are we bound by past experience?

          I suggest that we start with what history has taught us—that the water is pure and that religious supernatural claims are false. Every now and then, the water isn’t pure, so let’s be attentive to clues that would warn us that things have changed. And let’s keep an open mind about religion. Maybe Shintoism is true—not likely, but possible.

        • MNb

          “what history has taught us …. that religious supernatural claims are false. ”
          That’s a positive argument.

          I enjoy your sarcasm, but you better not use it tomorrow evening.

        • How little common ground do you think we’ll have? This guy is another American. I’m pretty confident he rejects the supernatural claims of thousands of religions.

          Whaddya know–me, too. That’s a lot of common ground.

        • MNb

          “I’m pretty confident he rejects the supernatural claims of thousands of religions.”
          You can be sure of this. Here is where you should make the point that there is no reliable methodology to do so while maintaining his own claims (whatever his claims are – that is the trick). This is a much improved version of “You have no a priori reason besides personal bias to start with the Christian god over the thousands of other gods” – which essentially makes the same point.
          Moreover he will reject non-religious supernatural claims as well. Here the comparison with the tooth-fairy may come in handy. Why does he not believe in the tooth-fairy? Because there is a perfect natural explanation. Is there anything that conclusively can be demonstrated to not have a natural explanation? Wagner won’t have anything but the god of the gaps.

        • The metaphor for me is casting a net into the ocean of beliefs. The Christian could pull up nothing, just Christianity, or many other supernatural/religious beliefs as well as Christianity, depending on what rules the net is made of.

          As you said, he imagines that he pulls up just Christianity, but the question then is what rules he applies.

          Is there anything that conclusively can be demonstrated to not have a natural explanation? Wagner won’t have anything but the god of the gaps.

          True, though a god of the gaps explanation might play well to this crowd.

        • MNb

          One last minute remark. These arguments (magic of leprechauns etc.) not only apply to god, but also to other key elements of almost all religions and especially christianity. I’m thinking of soul, mind, consciousness, sentience, thought, information and even energy. Our John the Mormon is an exception, but most believers are dualists. As expected and as you know they use a lot of fancy words: the supernatural, the transcendental reality, the immaterial. Apparently they don’t mean exactly the same, but shoot me if I have to explain the differences. I bet that Wagner starts to talk about consciousness etc. as well, as if it’s an established fact that they are immaterial. Don’t fall in that trap. An immaterial soul (or whatever he calls it) is exactly as incapable of interacting with the material reality as his immaterial god, for exactly the same reasons – and for the same reasons Wagner will reject leprechaun magic. Be aware that he will try to take those dualist concepts for granted. That’s not dishonesty; that’s just part of his worldview. Christianity without materialism is impossible. And from methodological materialism (ie the scientific method, which I guess he will accept at least nominally) to philosophical materialism is just a small step. From methodological materialism to dualism is a huge one. That’s why science is on (y)our side.

        • Thanks for the tips. And for the encouragement.

    • In this ongoing battle it is Atheist vs. Christian.

      These debates impress a certain kind of culture-warrior who still thinks “arguments” are the be-all and end-all of social interaction. People have already long since made up their minds about this subject, so they’ll go and cheer for “their side” and pretend “the other side” should have listened more closely. Each debater will claim his arguments are persuasive and the other’s are flawed. Each will claim that teh Science supports his position. And each will claim that the people who agree with him are reasonable, while those who disagree are riddled with character flaws and delusion.

      And the problem is that no one takes responsibility for his or her beliefs; everyone has his or her own reasons to profess belief or nonbelief in God, no matter whether the stated reason involves miracles or revelation or evidence or reason. People believe whatever makes them feel better; the only difference between you and me and everybody else is our ability to rationalize beliefs we didn’t arrive at rationally.

      So if you want to go to an event where anything gets settled, I recommend a hockey game.

      • Pofarmer

        “And the problem is that no one takes responsibility for his or her beliefs; everyone has his or her own reasons to profess belief or nonbelief in God, no matter whether the stated reason involves miracles or revelation or evidence or reason. People believe whatever makes them feel better; the only difference between you and me and everybody else is our ability to rationalize beliefs we didn’t arrive at rationally.”

        Yeah, the problem is that many, if not most Christians who de converted will tell you that there was intense turmoil and doubt when they realized there wasn’t any there, there.

        • Yeah, the problem is that many, if not most Christians who de converted will tell you that there was intense turmoil and doubt when they realized there wasn’t any there, there.

          Oh, so the problem is that religious believers think wrong things, and you think right things. It’s not that people interpret things differently, or that we each rationalize beliefs we didn’t arrive at rationally. They just need to admit they’re wrong, and think like you do instead.

          Glad we cleared that up.

        • Pofarmer

          So, Shem, what beliefs hAve I,arrived at irrationLly? Are my irrational,beliefs equivalent to theists irrational beliefs? Is it o.k. for me to wish theist wouldn’t try to shame, shun, and control me?

        • So, Shem, what beliefs hAve I,arrived at irrationLly?

          I was just talking about the belief or nonbelief in God. I think this is something we come to on an unconscious level, not by rationally assessing “arguments” and evidence. It makes people feel better in some way to believe in God. It makes you and me feel better to not believe.

          Are my irrational,beliefs equivalent to theists irrational beliefs?

          As far as belief in God goes, sure. And are the irrational beliefs certain theists hold about creationism and the Sun standing still that much worse than irrational beliefs that have nothing to do with religion, like the 9/11 Inside Job or Holocaust denial?

          Is it o.k. for me to wish theist wouldn’t try to shame, shun, and control me?

          Um, yeah. Did anyone say it wasn’t? That wasn’t even remotely related to the point we were initially discussing, but thanks for taking us on a scenic little detour.

        • Pofarmer

          “It makes people feel better in some way to believe in God. It makes you and me feel better to not believe”

          Like I said. For many atheists, including myself, it would be infinitely easier to believe. It would make things so much easier and “better” but we don’t perceive it as true. I, and many others HAVE arrived where we are by rarionally assessing the evidence. Now, does that mean I don’t have blind spots and sometimes act irrationally? No, but it means I believe that I have taken a big chunk of irrationality out of ,y belief system, and replaced it with other, hopefully better information. Would I like more theists to take this approach? Yes.

        • I, and many others HAVE arrived where we are by rarionally assessing the evidence.

          Would I like more theists to take this approach? Yes.

          So you say you took a disinterested, objective, rational look at the “evidence” and found it wanting. How impressive. I don’t think evidence “leads” anyone to belief or nonbelief in God. Just like believers, nonbelievers merely interpret evidence in a way that makes sense to them, and dismiss disconfirming evidence as not being evidence at all: God doesn’t exist because species evolve; God doesn’t exist because people suffer, etc. This isn’t evidence, it’s just rationalization.

          The concept of God has never made sense to me, so it’s not something I like talking about. But I don’t make it seem like the “evidence” led me to nonbelief, and that it would lead everyone to the exact same conclusion. I think a lot of atheists prefer to think of themselves as totally objective and rational, but that’s a way to deny responsibility for how personal the matter of belief and nonbelief is.

        • Pofarmer

          The problem is, if belief is personal, then anything goes. And, guess what, that’s what we see an awful lot with religion. Now, if we base our beliefs on rational thought, then we,should see those beliefs coalesce across backgrounds. Thats what happens with thinking that is grounded in science and evidence.

        • Now, if we base our beliefs on rational thought, then we,should see those beliefs coalesce across backgrounds. Thats what happens with thinking that is grounded in science and evidence.

          Sure, and that’s different. We can bring scientific evidence to bear on questions about the age of the Earth, historical events, or climate change. When we ignore evidence in those kinds of matters, we get things like Holocaust denial and creationism.

          But the whole God matter isn’t scientific, so different people interpret evidence in different ways.

        • Pofarmer

          “But the whole God matter isn’t scientific,”

          No, it’s emotional. People don’t interpret different evidence in different ways, they miss interpret the evidence. Carl Sagan wrote at length about this. Neil Degrasse tyson talks about it. The problem isn’t the evidence, it’s the philosophy that’s been used to interpret it. It gets pushed off on believers without them generally realizing it.

        • No, it’s emotional. People don’t interpret different evidence in different ways, they miss interpret the evidence.

          You say that because of your certainty that you’re looking at the evidence the right way and believers are looking at it the wrong way. Sorry, I’m not as full of phony certainty as you are.

          I don’t make pronouncements about The Big G that derive from my personal slant on the suffering of the innocent or the evolution of species. The innocent suffer, and species evolve. But what people take away from these facts concerning the meaning of life or the worth of human existence is totally up to them.

          The notion of a debate about God’s existence isn’t even analogous to a chess match. It’s two people playing solitaire while their respective cheering sections celebrate their stunning victory. Yawn.

        • MNb

          “You say that because of your certainty that you’re looking at the evidence the right way.”
          Pofarmer and I can’t help it that science has been so successfull last 200 years. Science works and hence I try to look at evidence the scientific way. If some other method is developed, about equally reliable and successfull, please let me know. Until then I’ll stick to science and will accept the philophical consequences.
          If you don’t want to, shrug. By all means keep on yawning if it makes you feel better.

        • MNb

          Again you neglect the fact that science also has consequences for philosophy and hence for the whole God matter. What those consequences are is a priori not decided of course. It remains a fact that science contradics a whole lot of belief statements. Good old Ken Ham is an extreme example of course, but WL Craig, while far more subtile, in the end does the same as Ol’ Hambo. Then two questions arise.
          1. What do we do when science contradicts belief systems? For me the answer is simple – that belief system is crap.
          2. Is a belief system possible that doesn’t contradict science? How does that look like? Can some abrahamistic belief system be developed that avoids the conflict? If the answer on the latter question is yes I have yet to meet it. Christianity is in some big trouble here because of the Resurrection, which directly conflicts with the natural sciences. You may say “a miracle”, but as David Hume has pointed out that means rejecting science. If there is a solution for christians I wouldn’t know. I’m not terribly interested in helping them out.

        • So believers believe things for groundless, emotional reasons, but don’t get too smug, atheists, because you do it, too?

        • So believers believe things for groundless, emotional reasons, but don’t get too smug, atheists, because you do it, too?

          That’s pretty much my way of thinking. A believer looks at the material regularity of the universe and thinks it’s evidence that there’s a creator. We look at the same phenomenon and interpret it the exact opposite way.

          Is there only one way to interpret the meaning of things like that?

        • Yes, only one way. Using reason as your evaluation tool, only one of these options comes out looking good.

        • That’s a weird definition of “reason” you’re using. I might not agree with the believer, and I certainly don’t think his position establishes a particular god-belief or a basis for a Church’s dogma, but I don’t think his opinion is necessarily unreasonable.

        • Use reason to decide whether unicorns exist or not. Now use the same reason on the God question. What’s weird about that?

        • “There is no God, because no-unicorns.”

          I wouldn’t necessarily lead with it on Saturday if I were you.

        • adam

          Isn’t it unreasonable to claim ‘supernatural’ when such a thing has never been demonstrated to be anything but imaginary?.

        • MNb

          Not necessarily (that would be the conclusion of a deductional argument). But in the end it seems to be indeed, as far as I am familiar with apologetics. So an inductional approach strongly suggests that belief is unreasonable indeed. That’s why I’m curious if any believer can show me wrong. BobS shows the same attitude when he asks “what is your evidence and what are your arguments?”

        • adam

          Isn’t it unreasonable to claim ‘supernatural’ when such a thing has never been demonstrated to be anything but imaginary?

        • Did I ever use the term supernatural?

          I was only talking about the believer’s tendency to ascribe agency to complex phenomena.

        • adam

          To ascribe agency (as an eternal intelligence) to the creation of the universe, certainly appears to invoke the supernatural.

        • Is there only one way to interpret the meaning of things like that?

          Yes, only one way.

          Seems a little doctrinaire to me. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ascribe agency to complex phenomena. Neither does Dawkins, who wrote The Blind Watchmaker to distinguish between apparent design and actual design in biology. The very notion of “apparent” design only shows what an uphill battle this is.

          I assume you won’t score any points by citing Dawkins anyway.

        • Pofarmer

          It ma or may not be unreasonable, but it’s wrong.

        • It ma or may not be unreasonable, but it’s wrong.

          But it isn’t wrong. I’m literally surrounded by complex things that are the product of intelligent agency: computers, phones, clothes, corrective lenses, language, technological systems, etc.

          I have the same problem you do with misusing the analogy of the intelligent-designer to conclude that complexity is prima facie evidence of intelligent agency. But it’s wrong to say that complexity is never the product of intelligent design.

        • Pofarmer

          You are more annoying than hemoroids. You know damn good and well that’s not what this conversation has been about.

        • You are more annoying than hemoroids.

          I’ll take your word for that.

          You know damn good and well that’s not what this conversation has been about.

          We’re talking about the way the religious ascribe agency to phenomena, aren’t we? Bob’s opponent on Saturday will undoubtedly try to use the notion that the universe couldn’t have just gotten here without some sort of designer. As much as I’m not persuaded by this argument, I don’t consider it unreasonable. At least in biology, we can point to “designed” artifacts and describe the process by which they evolved. Unfortunately, we can’t do the same with the universe.

        • Pofarmer

          “Unfortunately, we can’t do the same with the universe.”

          Why not? Once you get gravity and hydrogen, everything else falls into place.

        • Why not? Once you get gravity and hydrogen, everything else falls into place.

          Yeeeaah.

          I only mentioned that the concept of complexity is enough of a hallmark of design that Dawkins had to spend an entire book establishing a distinction between apparent and actual design. That is to say, there’s nothing inherently unreasonable about vaguely equating the two.

          It sure would help if we had evidence evidence evidence of universes forming all over the place, like we do with species evolving. But since we don’t, well, let’s just say neither side is gonna get points for assuming the burden of proof.

        • Pofarmer

          I wasn’t talking about universes forming all over the place. I was talking solely of this one.

        • I wasn’t talking about universes forming all over the place. I was talking solely of this one.

          Uh huh. And your “evidence” that this universe wasn’t designed is that it’s all just gravity and hydrogen?

          If Bob gets sick on Saturday and can’t make it, you’d be an awesome stand-in.

        • Pofarmer

          All it was at firstmis gravity and electrons, then hydrogen, then stars, then heavier elements.

        • As usual with the ever-garbled Pofarmer Potshot Post, I have no idea what your point is. I could say the Mona Lisa is nothing but paint and canvas, but it doesn’t follow that there was no intelligent agency involved in the creation of the artwork.

          You sound like you’re ready to give Rand Wagner this debate on a silver platter.

        • Pofarmer

          What is garbled about it? According to physicists like Sean Carrol and Laurence Kraus, the only place left for God to hide is as the originator of the big bang. What I gave is the basic outline of how things progress.

        • “There is no God, because gravity and hydrogen.”

          Sounds airtight to me. And there’s science words!

        • Pofarmer

          This is basically what the Carroll/Craig debate was about.

        • People having debates.

          You still haven’t told me what’s unreasonable about ascribing agency to complex phenomena. Neither you, nor I, nor anyone else here, studied astrophysics to arrive at our conclusion about belief or nonbelief in God. It’s not a scientific matter, it’s whatever makes sense of things from our personal point of view.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s unreasonable because it’s unnecessary. So, I didn’t study astrophysics, but I DO have access to the people who DO study astrophysics, and present talks and papers and blogs about it.

          “it’s whatever makes sense of things from our personal point of view.”

          So, anything goes then.

        • So, anything goes then.

          Well, you’re the one who’s judging the very notion of reason by what you personally deem necessary, so I guess you’re the expert. Is it really necessary to have all those elements, Pofarmer? Couldn’t we get by with a few less? All we needed in the beginning was hydrogen, right?

          Believers wrap their beliefs about God in scriptural references, and nonbelievers wrap their nonbelief in sciencey-words. That doesn’t mean our notions actually derive from science, much as you’d like to think so.

        • Pofarmer

          What do you mean by what I personally judge necessary? I’m not strawmanning what is necessary, I’m just working with what is, or what can be worked out, as we currently understand it. Are you really saying that God belief and science based belief are equivalent? What notions have I espoused here, that are not based in science?

        • I’m only talking about, and have only ever been talking about, belief or nonbelief in God. I don’t think the matter of God is like unicorns: I think it’s a pretty complex, culturally constructed idea to which these debates really can’t do justice (for the record, according to the video Bob linked to, the Friendly Atheist guy agrees on that point).

          We’re all looking at the same phenomena, like the suffering of the innocent, the evolution of species, the Big Bang, and people’s subjective experiences, and affirming belief in whatever makes sense of it all for us. There’s no scientific evidence whatsoever that “leads” people to believe or disbelieve in God. We need to take responsibility for our own views on the matter instead of passing the buck to Bible verses, “proofs,” or scientific evidence.

        • Pofarmer

          how is appealing to science “passing the buck”? Most religious teachings regarding natural phoenomena were debunked by applying science.

        • The question in Bob’s debate on Saturday is “Does God Exist?” And like I said, I’m not talking about the Flood or the Sun standing still in the sky, or anything else that’s in the Bible. If the fact that empirical evidence makes us doubt the literal truth of these myths means you don’t affirm belief in God, that’s fine. But that’s not an evidential proof, that’s just your interpretation.

          Maybe taking responsibility isn’t your style, and you’re not exactly alone in that regard.

        • Pofarmer

          Taking responsibility how? Saying, this is what I believe because? I’m good with that. Then it comes down to, “I think you should think this way too, because…..” I’m good with that, too. What’s your point, here?

        • What’s your point, here?

          I explained what my point is already:

          “Believers wrap their beliefs about God in scriptural references, and nonbelievers wrap their nonbelief in sciencey-words. That doesn’t mean our notions actually derive from science, much as you’d like to think so.”

          What about that confuses you? You have emotional, non-rational reasons for not believing in God, but you claim your beliefs are based on scientific evidence: There is no God, because gravity and hydrogen. Are we supposed to pretend that’s any more convincing than some proof for God’s existence? If so, why?

        • Pofarmer

          “You have emotional, non-rational reasons for not believing in God”

          Which ones?

          “There is no God, because gravity and hydrogen. Are we supposed to pretend that’s any more convincing than some proof for God’s existence? If so, why?”

          Yes. Why? because it’s what the science tells us. Obviously it’s not quite that simple. Like I said, though, what scientists like Sean Carroll, Laurence Krause and others say, is that the only real place for God to hide is as what created the big bang. It’s not an idea that’s original to me. Go listen to them saying it.

        • Why? because it’s what the science tells us.

          Magical thinking is just so adorable.

        • Pofarmer

          Are you by chance, a counselor, or endured lots of it?

        • Pofarmer

          Are you familiar with Andrew Dickson White, by any chance?

        • Are you familiar with Andrew Dickson White, by any chance?

          Mostly from what Steve Gould wrote about him. Its no surprise to me that a guy like White who was building a secular college would want to keep religious influence out of his institution, write screeds that defined science and religion as being in conflict, and make up the myth of the “flat Earth” belief out of whole cloth.

          And I suppose it should also come as no surprise that people like you are impressed by his ahistorical rantings. This stuff tells you what you want to hear, and the universal scorn with which historians and philosophers of science regard White doesn’t faze you one bit.

        • Pofarmer

          “universal scorn with which historians and philosophers of science regard White doesn’t faze you one bit.” In every case the historians and philosphers who scorn White have other works with titles like, “Jesus was the most important scientist evar……” Well, not exactly that, but you get my drift. If you actually read white, you would know that his writing is pretty extensive, and he does inconvenient things like quote sermons and use works of folks like Augustine, and Aquinas. Where else are you going to find at least a start of a list of all the scientific positions that the church held, but then had to back away from or reverse? No one is generally 100% correct, I’d think you would appreciate that, but the apologists have to pick just a very few things out of the totality of Whites work and then declare it all bogus. It’s free on line, give it a try, you might learn something, or you might just go on thinking theology and science are equally valid at describing the world we live in, or something, I dunno.

        • I already said I know about White mostly because of the essay Stephen Jay Gould wrote about him, so I thought you might take the hint that respected, secular thinkers aren’t crazy about White’s work. (Are you under the impression Gould was an “apologist”? I can’t say it would surprise me if you are.) White sold a hoax about how big bad Religion kept people ignorant about the shape of the Earth until good old Science came and set them free. By the sound of it, people like you are still buying it.

        • Pofarmer

          Like I said, Gould picks one thing out of a work hundreds of pages long. What of believing that Comets were signs from an angry God? What about the theology of the Antipodes? Among myriad others.

        • Dude. Gould was no Christian apologist. He pointed out that White essentially created an entire world view that still abides today about science and religion, about how we know what we know about the shape of the Earth itself, that was as mythical as Moses parting the Red Sea.

          Like I said before, it doesn’t surprise me one bit that you’re in White’s thrall, since his ranting pushes every button on your console. You think religion has always been anti-science; you think religious people are ignorant assholes; and you think any crank who tells you what you want to hear is a genius.

          Congratulations on those big ol’ critical thinking skills.

        • Pofarmer

          Shem, I’m glad you’ve found a way to feel superior to everyone.

        • A wise man once said, “Believing in true things is its own reward.” It goes without saying that I agree.

        • Pofarmer

          Hemmoroids.

        • In the millennial culture war, the first victim is spelling.

        • Pofarmer

          I never said Gould was an apologist. I said he cherry picked one thing. Something that really isn’t even critical to Whites thesis. Look, I choose the worldview that gives us chemistry instead of Alchemy, medicine instead of exorcism, astronomy instead of astrology, physics instead of metaphysics, empericism instead of philosophy. You seem to think all world views are equal and have equal results. I disagree.

        • I choose the worldview that gives us chemistry instead of Alchemy, medicine instead of exorcism, astronomy instead of astrology, physics instead of metaphysics, empericism [sic] instead of philosophy.

          Really? I think you have only the foggiest notion of what these concepts entail, and are just impressed with sciencey-words.

          I at least admit that scientific inquiry generates data but gives us no basis on which to interpret it. There are cultural and philosophical dimensions to our scientific knowledge that people like you pretend aren’t there, to make it easier for you to revel in your phony certainty.

        • Pofarmer

          “I think you have only the foggiest notion of what these concepts entail, and are just impressed with sciencey-words.”

          And I think you’re a judgemental doofus who only engages with stereotypes.

        • Pofarmer

          Methodological naturalism goves us the basis to interpret the dara. The cool thing about science is that it can bridge those cultural divides you like to crow about.

        • Methodological naturalism goves us the basis to interpret the dara.

          If only it gave us the ability to interpret your ransom-note writing style.

          The cool thing about science is that it can bridge those cultural divides you like to crow about.

          Only in your most idealized sciencey-dreams. We project our cultural, political, psychological, and philosophical biases onto the process of scientific inquiry just like we do everything else. The “cool” thing about science is that it can allow people like you to live in a fantasy world where teh Science exists outside human endeavor. Yay science!

        • Pofarmer

          Yet more strawman arguments from you that no one is making. Science is absolutely a human endeavor, but guess what, physics doesn’t care if you’re a Hindu or a Sikh. Sure, scientific inquiry is a product if the societies that produce it. Does that somehow make it invalid? Biased? Unuseable? No, it is added tot he database if scientific knowledge, and we learn new things. Someone in another culture takes it and runs with it and we advance and make new discoveries.

        • I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but I’ve never taken issue with any mainstream scientific theory, or with the pursuit of empirical evidential inquiry. What I object to is the way you idealize it, turn it into a quasi-religious ideology, and characterize anyone who criticizes your oversimplified dogma —even Stephen Jay Gould— as some sort of whacko fundie science-hating apologist. I’m not asking anyone to abandon his belief in the value of science; you’re the one expecting people to abandon their religious beliefs because Science tells us to.

          You have to admit there’s a creepy religious vibe to the way you say science knows and reveals and “tells us” things. Organizations and individuals involved in scientific inquiry produce data through testing hypotheses, that’s all. It’s a way to investigate natural phenomena, not an oracle that “tells us” everything. Get a grip.

        • Pofarmer

          Look, you can’t even be honest about what I said about Gould. This is getting tiring. I don’t idealize science, bit maybe I should. And, yes, in te past, a lot of people did abandon, or change at least, religious beliefs because science said that theor religious beliefs didn’t hold up. That is a lot of what White’s book os about, and you just cherry pick one part about a flat Earth and condemn the whole notion that religion doggedly holds on to ideas that are outdated, wrong, and unhelpful. Science goves us repeatable, testable, information about the world around us. At no point in any equation is “because God” inserted. Does that mean that I think people ahould abandon theor religious beliefs? Not necesarily, the spiritual is part of the human condition, but I think they need to temper them and be realistic about what these spiritual impulses are and what they actually tell us. I think we need to abandon the harmful teachings of the Catholics and Evangelicals and at least get on a page that lifts us up as a species, and not divides us along religious lines. I am tired of creationists who are afraid of modern cosmology because science is “trying to dissprove God”, I am tired of otherwise intelligent people who think the Earth is 6000 years old. I am tired of people spouting off about homosexuality because of some translated passage in some 2500 year old book. I am sick to death of people being scared, actually, physically scared, that my kids and me are going to hell because we don’t believe that a piece of cracker becomes the flesh of a 2000 year old dead Jewish guy. Science has something to say about all of these things, and much more, bit as long as asshats like you pat the religious on the head and tell them that their beliefs are on an equally sound footing as beliefs derived from the application of the scientific method, then we can’t make progress, and indeed, like Islamic culture 1400 odd years ago, we stand a very real chance of backsliding.

        • Wow. What a slew of half-baked rhetoric and self-serving moralism.

          You’re pretty quick to point out other people’s wacky ideas, but you don’t seem to realize you’ve got a few yourself. Anyone who thinks science and religion are in “conflict” because of some hundred-year-old pseudoscholarship, and because celebrity atheists have gotten rich off perpetuating the myth, probably shouldn’t be dogging others for their delusions. And this weird evangelical thing you affirm about Science making the world smarter and freer and more progressy for the children and the gays is phony culture-war grandstanding.

        • You get an “A” for rage. Not so good on the rest of it.

          So science and religion aren’t in conflict? Tell me more.

        • You get an “A” for rage. Not so good on the rest of it.

          I’m nothing but a piker compared to your red-eyed Pofarmer, Bob.

          So science and religion aren’t in conflict? Tell me more.

          Hey, plenty of evangelicals and New Atheist nabobs have made a mint playing the science vs. religion game, but once you get past the culture-war sloganeering, there’s not much left. Biblical literalists have made a lucrative business out of making people think the Bible is supposed to be read like a history book or a science textbook; not only do plenty of their disciples show up in your com-boxes here to get slapped around, but legislators and school boards like pandering to the deep-pockets evangelical organizations.

          That’s a troublesome turn of events, but it doesn’t add up to religion being in conflict with science. Plenty of religious people watch Cosmos and have no problem seeing ancient Scripture as a let’s-call-it-inspired-not-literal text that doesn’t affect the way they understand things like the Big Bang or evolution. Are you saying these folks aren’t True Religious People? Are people like cell biologist Kenneth Miller (author of Finding Darwin’s God) not really religious, or just not good scientists?

          It might surprise you to know that many people don’t subject their beliefs about the construction of meaning in this world to scientific testing, and it wouldn’t do any good even if they did. We all strive to understand the information that scientific inquiry has generated about our world, and we all have ideas about what our lives, our history, our cultures, and our unconscious minds truly mean.

        • Biblical literalists have made a lucrative business out of making people think the Bible is supposed to be read like a history book or a science textbook

          And causing harm, I imagine you agree. What should atheists do in response? You mention “culture-war sloganeering,” but is that it to both the harm (Christian side) and error correction (atheist/science side)?

          That’s a troublesome turn of events, but it doesn’t add up to religion being in conflict with science.

          Some Christians reject evolution. And AGW. And any other aspect of science they find inconvenient. Not a conflict? Doesn’t cause harm?

          Plenty of religious people watch Cosmos and have no problem seeing ancient Scripture as a let’s-call-it-inspired-not-literal text that doesn’t affect the way they understand things like the Big Bang or evolution.

          Heck, Miller and Collins are practically saints for being Christians who make plain to their peeps that evolution is A-OK. Sure, some Christians are on the right side of reality.

        • Sure, some Christians are on the right side of reality.

          Oh, I’d argue there are a lot of ’em who are. Not a conflict? Doesn’t seem to be.

        • That’s an odd argument: because only some Christians have a disfunctional relationship with science and reality, there is no conflict. OK.

        • Well, like I asked before, are the Christians who don’t have a problem with science not really True Christians? Or do they not understand science right?

          If we’re going to judge the entire phenomenon of religion according to Biblical literalists, we’re excluding a vast amount of varieties of religious experience just to give ourselves the privilege of declaring that all believers are scientifically ignorant.

          Is that a false dilemma, poisoning the well, or just plain old Affirming the Consequent?

        • Let’s put the Christians who are not a problem into the Not a Problem bin and then focus on something else, OK?

          If there were no Christians left, then you’d be right in wondering why all the bluster about “religion being in conflict with science.” But last time I checked, there were plenty of Christians left. So the problem remains.

          declaring that all believers are scientifically ignorant.

          You list a lot of possible fallacies, but I’d go with Strawman Fallacy.

          You were the one who asked about “religion being in conflict with science”–hence the quotation marks.

          Yes, there remains a problem with religion being in conflict with science (but, yeah, not with the Christians who are not in conflict with science).

        • Pofarmer

          Dude, something like 40% of Americans believe the earth was created 6000 years ago, and Adam and Eve were tricked by a talking snake. that’s a whole lot more than a,few.

        • Pofarmer

          Think about this for a minute. In the 1850’s it took roughly 150 years for human knowledge to double. Today it’s about two years. What enables that?

        • MNb

          Then you have a lame interpretation of the word “evidence”. See, the “believer” who “looks at the material regularity of the universe and thinks it’s evidence that there’s a creator” invariably tries to back this up with science or what he/she thinks is science. And in science the word evidence has a very specific meaning.

        • MNb

          “So you say you took a disinterested, objective, rational look at the “evidence” and found it wanting.”
          No. Three times I was confronted with new information – not evidence – and three times I drew a conclusion. Only one time this information had an emotional impact one me. This was a version of the Problem of Evil opposite to the christian atonement doctrine, which I then as strongly detested as I do now. As a result I was lost for christianity for my entire life as a young teenager.

        • MNb

          “it would be infinitely easier to believe”
          I thank my parents once again that they never even baptized me. No, it would be infinitely harder for me to believe.

        • MNb

          “I was just talking about the belief or nonbelief in God. I think this is something we come to on an unconscious level.”
          You’re wrong here afaIc. I clearly remember when and how I decided to become a non-believer (an agnost). I also clearly remember when and how I decided to become an atheist. Finally I clearly remember when and how I decided to grant myself a 7 on the scale of Dawkins. It was all totally conscious.

          “It makes you and me feel better to not believe.”
          It didn’t make me feel better at all. In fact nothing in my life really changed at those three moments. No coming out, no people who were shocked, no huge reevaluation of my values. No new friendships, no ruined relationships, no new perspectives for my life. Nobody going hard on me. Hardly any impact. Nothing to fill a blog with, like Ryan Bell does.

        • I’m surprised it took so long, but it’s great to hear we’re finally on the same page.

          To give another example, alchemy was quite popular in its day, but every believer in alchemy was wrong. Every single one.

          Today, many believe in astrology. Ditto.

        • I’m surprised it took so long, but it’s great to hear we’re finally on the same page.

          I saw what you did there!

          To give another example, alchemy was quite popular in its day, but every believer in alchemy was wrong. Every single one.

          Today, many believe in astrology. Ditto.

          I wasn’t talking about evolution or planetary motion or any other scientific notion in which we affirm belief. I’m just fine saying that the scientific method has done wonders in expanding our knowledge about natural phenomena.

          I’m just saying that “Does God Exist?” isn’t a scientific matter. We believe not because of rational assessment of arguments and evidence, we just affirm whatever position makes the most emotional sense to us. If it makes sense to a believer that there’s a will and an intention behind phenomena, that’s what he’ll affirm belief in. If we don’t think it makes sense to assume that the suffering of the innocent is part of some cosmic plan, that’s what we go with.

          It’s about emotion, not evidence, either way.

        • I’m just saying that “Does God Exist?” isn’t a scientific matter.

          You’re saying that it actually isn’t or that it is but people don’t treat it that way?

          We say “unicorns don’t exist” because there is insufficient evidence to support the remarkable claim that they do. Ditto the God question.

          We believe not because of rational assessment of arguments and evidence, we just affirm whatever position makes the most emotional sense to us.

          I agree that our minds are imperfect, and we can be drawn to emotionally satisfying answers. Are you saying that we can’t be rational?

        • We say “unicorns don’t exist” because there is insufficient evidence to support the remarkable claim that they do. Ditto the God question.

          Your opinion is that the God matter is just like unicorns. Swell.

          I was never particularly religious, and God always seemed like just an axiomatic expression people used. Believers basically knew what other believers meant by it, and it always sounded like a symbol for some vague sense of agency and purpose in the universe, the ineffable mystery of existence, or whatever.

          I remember George Carlin’s bit where (playing a believer) he says, “God is beyond human comprehension. So let me tell you a few things about God.” I’d have more respect for a believer who said that we can’t know for sure what God is. But I realize that the evangelicals and their business partners have a vested interest in telling people what God is and how He wants people to behave. If you’re debating someone on Saturday who thinks of God as a Big Magic Guy, well, that should be funny.

        • MNb

          “I’m just saying that “Does God Exist?” isn’t a scientific matter.”
          Accepting the scientific method has philosophical consequences. That includes the question BobS is going to debate. Which consequences is another matter, but I think indeed that the logical consequence indeed is that there is no god.

          “It’s about emotion, not evidence, either way.”
          False dichotomy. I won’t deny the role of emotion; rather the contrary. But there is also something like logic.

      • Hemant Mehta had a good video more or less echoing your point.

        I recommended Oxford voting, where a vote is taken before and after the debate to see if there was any change within the audience. My host refused.

      • PiMan

        Religion and the question of whether God exists are two different debates. There is little doubt, judging from Rand Wagner’s credentials, that he’ll have a Christian spin on his answers. But whether God exists or not is a far bigger question than any debate about the man-made concept of religion.

        God leads to religion. Religion leads to carnage. Atheists (rightly so in my opinion), rail against religion. Maybe a better term for most atheists would be antiorganizedreligionists. That’s what gets mixed up in these so called debates. The argument devolves into the virtues and flaws of a dusty book of which the religious adherent holds so dear.

        • God leads to religion. Religion leads to carnage.

          And what does melodramatic sloganeering lead to?

        • PiMan

          You are right! Thanks for pointing out my error. Carnage was far too melodramatic. See, I was going to type that nobody has even been beheaded, drowned, stabbed, shot, burned alive, impaled etc, etc, etc in the name of religion. But I thought that was a little wordy.

        • You forgot to mention that it poisons everything!!

        • The debate question is “Does God exist?” The only religious element that will enter into it, I’m guessing, is the Christian interpretation of “God.”

      • TheNuszAbides

        “People have already long since made up their minds about this subject”

        since when, exactly, per person?

        • since when, exactly, per person?

          Since Friday. I’m serious.

      • lapona

        “…ability to rationalize beliefs we didn’t arrive at rationally.”
        ===
        You confuse “belief” with “faith”. They may have a similar meaning but they don’t have the same meaning.

        Unlike belief, faith is a conclusion you don’t arrive at rationally. Christians scramble to look like they have beliefs, but they have only faith.

  • TheNuszAbides

    what a way to celebrate my birthday! however, i’m already locked into Gilbert & Sullivan with me Mum. and i can safely say that this is not an event i could likely talk her into attending.

    have you heard the rumor that Shelton is the “mobile meth lab capital” of the nation?

    • have you heard the rumor that Shelton is the “mobile meth lab capital” of the nation?

      Ouch. I’ll look for that on the welcome sign coming into town.

      • groovy joker

        What a nice way to discuss the town hosting the debate. Glad I had other obligations last night.

        • I was politely received last night. I think the other atheists would say the same.

        • groovy joker

          I heard you did a fantastic job, Bob. My comment should have been directed at the person making the meth insinuation. Forgive me for not being that familiar with Disquis

        • No problem. Thanks for the feedback.

        • Pofarmer

          Butt hurt much?

        • groovy joker

          Hello stranger. Unsure what you mean by the comment. Do you live around here?

        • Pofarmer

          Nope, it’s just that I actually DO live in the meth capital of the midwest, and, meh, who cares?

    • Darrell Barker

      Have you always stepped over a dollar to pick up a dime? What’s with this slandering of my home town. Why did you do that!? Shelton is filled with sober and energetic and accomplished and inventive and hard working engaged humans making life meaningful.

      • TheNuszAbides

        consider me awestruck by the possibility that a flippant comment by one of the least-regarded regulars in a low-population thread of a mostly-local-interest announcement on an atheist blog could credibly stick unquestioned in the mind of anyone destined to influence either Shelton as a collective or any individual dependent on its reputation.

        i certainly apologize for giving the decade-old scuttlebutt the vaunted credibility-inducing label of ‘rumor’. the only son of Shelton I’ve ever met (to my knowledge) was indeed a hardworking, non[meth]smoking union man named Sam.

        and incidentally, hypothetical concentrations of mobile drug lab traffic (practically by definition) says nothing about the permanent residents of the regions they happen to traverse. maybe something about low-key open spaces, if anything…

  • Darrell Barker

    Good morning. Had a cerebral evening last night. Near 99 were in attendance at the “God™ v. No God™ debate.

    You’ll highly suspect me for a bias when I declare that the No God™ side won for having presented a more compelling argument.

    Shruggingly, the God™ side proposed merely that we should beLIEve because this particular God™ was written about in a book by herdsmen in a historical time when a wheelbarrow was thought to be high tech.

    All Rand Wagner offered for proof last night was agruements wrapped up inside a bland roll of concepts.

    God™ was a no show , by the way.

    • Maybe we should’ve had an empty chair for God.

      It was nice meeting you and some of the other local atheists!

      • Darrell Barker

        Hmmmm, like Clint Eastwood speaking to an empty chair.

        • Wm. Lane Craig did the Eastwood stunt to Richard Dawkins a couple of years ago. An interesting project would be to find that lecture and analyze Craig’s argument. It’s never been great in the past, and I suspect it was ridiculous here yet again.

  • Darrell Barker

    And another thing! Isn’t it odd that the mere fact we even had a debate in Shelton, my wonderful town, odd in that if there were a real God™ we wouldn’t BE debating at all. It would be abundantly evident, hence, these beLIEvers, those who attended to hear you Bob speak of natural selection, aren’t they curious why there imagined God™ didn’t just show up and put this to rest?

    After the Q&A, I said to Rand: Tonight all you offered us was a concept for which you can’t prove excepting for proof that you argue for such an entity. I moved on from there to slander his savior for condoning slavery and mentioned that the bible says that this God™ created evil as read in Isaiah 45:7.

    After those brief expressed objections said in hopefully an atmosphere of honest inquiry, Rand said: “I smell beer on your breath” and a following comment I can’t quite recall but it was implicated that I must not be of sound mind.

    Sigh. I walked away.

    • Pofarmer

      Like you, I always thought the mere fact we could have a debate pretty much clinched the deal.

  • Philmonomer

    Any chance there will be audio (or video) available for this?

    • I’ve been promised that it’ll be available in about a week. I’ll make it available ASAP.

      • Philmonomer

        Great! Thanks.

  • n0n0

    We humans can see so much of the universe, yet under all our egocentricity, we have yet to visit a neighboring planet.
    Its time to focus on understanding existence and the universe more before being able to claim there is no deity.
    Mankind.. so full of arrogance and hubris.. so certain. Yes, certain of nothing.

    • I’m not sure who you’re aiming this at. I’d be happy to find another hobby, once the Christians leave society alone.