Top 10 Most Common Atheist Arguments—Do They Fail?

Top 10 Most Common Atheist Arguments—Do They Fail? June 24, 2015

I have a blog post series on 25 stupid arguments Christians shouldn’t use (we’re at argument #31 and counting). Look for additions in the future. But today let’s look at the mirror image, a list from a Christian of atheist arguments that fail: “Top 10 Most Common Atheist Arguments, and Why They Fail” by Eric Hyde.

I do my best to take seriously charges against my favorite arguments. The result is better arguments. Let’s take a look at these charges that popular atheist arguments fail.

atheist Christian arguments“1. There is no evidence for God’s existence.”

Hyde begins by asking what “evidence” means. My answer: evidence or argument of sufficient quality that would convince you the other guy’s argument is strong. Too often, defenders of Christianity will bring out weak arguments—“There are fulfilled prophecies in the Bible!” or “Just look around to see the hand of God!”—that they’d laugh at if said in support of a rival religion. Or look at how conventional Christians will lampoon Mormonism or any other religion. They’re just as skeptical as I am, and they argue just as forcefully. It’d be nice if they’d consistently apply the same thinking to their own position.

Hyde critiques this argument:

Asking a Christian to prove God’s existence is like asking someone to prove the existence of civilization. What is one to do but point and say, “look, there’s a chair, and there’s a building,” etc. How can one prove civilization by merely selecting a piece here and a piece there as sufficient proofs rather than having an experience of civilization as a whole?

Nearly everything the Christian lays eyes on is proof of God’s existence because he sees the “handiwork” of God all around him in creation.

“Look, there’s a building.” Right—a building that had designers and builders. I know where buildings come from because I’ve seen them being built. Is this supposed to be an analogy with God and reality? A building had a designer so therefore reality must also? I see the analogy, but without any evidence for God, the analogy fails.

… but this is hardly sufficient evidence in the court of atheist opinion, a court which presupposes that only what can be apprehended by the senses rightly qualifies as evidence. For the Christian who believes in a transcendent God, he can offer no such evidence; to produce material evidence for God is, ironically, to disprove a transcendent God and cast out faith.

Ah, the old “Science can say nothing about God because God is immaterial” argument. If your point is that God hides in his supernatural realm, which science can’t access, then I agree. But your God then becomes not only immaterial but irrelevant. God is only relevant to our reality if he changes our reality—tweaks evolution, causes miracles, answers prayers. And those interactions in our reality are things that science can (in principle) test for.

As for atheists demanding evidence, well yeah. How else do we reliably understand something? If you sense a truth in a vague way that no one else can experience or verify, that may be important to you, but it is useless in convincing others. You wouldn’t be convinced by that argument from some other religion, so why should I accept it from you?

Hyde moves on to ask what one means by evidence for God’s existence.

If one means, “that which has come into existence,” then surely God does not exist because God never came into existence. He always was; He is eternal.

Checkmate, atheists! … except that this is merely an assertion. Without evidence for this remarkable claim, it fails.

The atheist argument remains. I wouldn’t say that there is no evidence for God—the very existence of Christianity is evidence—just insufficient evidence to support what may be the grandest possible argument, that a supernatural being created the universe.

“2. If God created the universe, who created God?”

Those who use this charge as some sort of intellectual checkmate have simply failed to grasp what Christians understand as “eternal.”

No, I think we’re all on the same page here. The issue is simply that your claim that everything had a cause must apply to God as well. By your logic, he must’ve had a creator.

The next move in the chess game is to apply some sort of “except God” caveat to the everything-has-a-cause rule. For example, the first premise in William Lane Craig’s Kalam Cosmological argument is, “Everything that begins to exist has a cause.” That clumsy phrase is supposed to be his Get Out of Jail Free card because God always was. God had no beginning.

And what justifies this? Incredibly, Dr. Craig defends the claim this way, “[This] step is so intuitively obvious that I think scarcely anyone could sincerely believe it to be false.” Apparently, world-class Christian philosophers want their arguments accepted just because they feel right without having do go through all that difficult justification stuff.

If Eric Hyde has a better justification, he doesn’t share it with us. Apparently, we’re to accept that God doesn’t have a creator because God doesn’t have a creator. Sorry—I need more.

Continue with Part 2.

If god is real, evidence points to
an incompetent megalomaniac just trying to make it to Friday.
He delegates responsibility to the weakest members of his team,
his ideas are shit, his execution is poorly planned,

and his purpose is to have something to turn in so he doesn’t get fired.
He is the George Costanza of deities.
— commenter Kodie

Image credit: AndreasS, flickr, CC

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  • Sven2547

    The fundamental dishonesty of Dr. Craig and his “Kalam Cosmological argument” slays me. It’s word games and nothing more.

  • raylampert

    I think also that a lot of apologists (and some nonbelievers) confuse “evidence” and “arguments”. Evidence is a fact which, if true, makes another proposition more or less likely than if we did not know that fact. Some people forget this very important point. Arguments are not evidence because they are not facts. One can argue that a particular fact is true or not, and one can argue that a particular fact is relevant to a particular proposition or not.

    But I’ve seen plenty of apologists who claim to have evidence when really all they have is arguments and not facts. And not very good arguments to somebody who knows how to spot BS.

    And truth be told, it’s amazing how, when you strip away the window dressing, many apologists’ arguments are nothing more than the fallacy of argument from ignorance.

    • Partial Mitch

      IMHO, the effect that you’ve noticed is due to religion’s ingrained submission to authority and scripture.

      Religious folks tend to think that because someone smart/famous/holy said something, then the words have meaning. This is why, “Newton was a Christian” and “deathbed confessions” carry weight for believers, when they don’t mean anything to we atheists.

      They also tend to think that if an argument is internally consistent, then it must be true—without bothering to see how it relates to the real world. Hence primitive belief in the Four Humors, current belief in the Ontological Argument, or thinking that scripture can be considered evidence … never mind that the Bible is far from internally consistent. They don’t know/choose to ignore that fact.

      Humans, as a whole, seem to be infected by this sort of illogical logic. It’s common in all civilizations, as far as I can tell. From an evolutionary POV, it makes sense that we would listen to those we respect, and naturally look for logical consistency around us, so it’s probably just a holdover from our cavepeople days.

      Religious folk do not understand that people like us don’t accept evolution because of Darwin or Dawkins. We don’t accept physics because of Einstein or Hawking. We believe in evidence.

      And as you so rightly pointed out, they don’t even understand the definition of the word.

      • wtfwjtd

        “Religious folk do not understand that people like us don’t accept evolution because of Darwin or Dawkins. We don’t accept physics because of Einstein or Hawking. We believe in evidence.”

        This is the crux of the matter, isn’t it? The Cult of Personality is irrelevant insofar as what that person is proposing; the critical element to their claims is evidence, plain and simple. Christian apologists can and do play all sorts of word games, but at the end of the discussion, that’s all they’ve got, and it’s all they’ve ever had. Period.

        • I’m so sick of hearing evolution referred to as Darwinism as if he were a prophet and biologists were following his writings as dogma rather than as science.

        • katiehippie

          They don’t seem to know there’s another way to learn things. So many of us had teachers in school that said ‘this is how it is’ and made no attempt to get us to think about it. Religion is the same. ‘this is how it is and I’m right because the bible said so’ I see so many religious commenters that come to atheist blogs and try to do the same thing to us. Then they are baffled that we aren’t suddenly converted. They ‘taught’ us just like they were taught, we must be evil in some way to not accept these ‘true’ things.

        • I was educated before standardized testing became the be-all and end-all of education. I was taught science by us reproducing the experiments that showed us what we know and how/why we know it. (As things get more advanced that is harder to do but with basic stuff we can easily reproduce the methodology of scientists.) I guess they don’t do that any more? Ugh.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Heck, today kids can hardly have chemistry sets, what with the worries about terrorists.

        • SunnyDay

          When they should be worried about sulfur bombs. My older brother knew how to clear a room. 😉

        • Or having Darwin quoted by Creationists. You can be certain that they’re either going to take him out of context or have him present a conundrum that he couldn’t solve but that we have taken much further. I love telling them that I don’t give a damn what Darwin said or thought–that’s History of Science. It’s important if that’s the domain we’re talking about, but we never are.

        • Or they’ll have a fit because Darwin had some views we now don’t like (racist usually) or that he was wrong about some things. Who from that era wasn’t wrong about a lot of things. It’s amazing what he figured out without knowing anything about how DNA works. That’s pretty amazing. So later studies showed he was wrong or more often the case incomplete or inadequate. That doesn’t discount his work. But it’s not religion where someone has to be assumed to have universal timeless truth. No one in science is given that assumption. This is a hard thing for fundamentlists in religions (not just the Christians) to wrap their heads around.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t mind Creationists quotemining Darwin. That was one of the things that led to me losing my faith. I was amused by the Creationist literature that would present some scientist saying something like he knew he was wrong. I started looking for them in evolutionist literature. I found a Darwin quote in context and saw that the quote taken by the creationist was dishonest. A preacher then preached something similar which made me think about why the preacher was so confidently saying false things about evolution when he could look it up. In the next breath, he was talking about heaven with the same inflection of certainty. I knew then that I couldn’t really trust preachers to relay correct information.

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s a great point Greg, it was the dishonesty of the enterprise of apologetics that bothered me as a Christian, even more so than the shabby arguments. It conflicted with my sense of fairness and straightforwardness, and I began to realize that defending the truth claims of Christianity required dishonesty that my personal ethics could not endorse.

        • Otto

          Funny that you say this. I remember as a young teen listening to Priests and other religious leaders and I could tell something was wrong, they just weren’t answering things honestly like teachers in others subjects. I couldn;t put my finger on it and of course they worded things so that I couldn’t PROVE they were lying or being deceitful but it sure smelled like BS. Huge red flag.

        • MR

          I joined a Bible study once headed by our pastor comparing the four gospels. Before long he was dancing around all these discrepancies that I had never been aware of and making tenuous excuses and offering lame explanations. It made me question my faith in the bible like I never had before. Not what he intended, I’m sure.

        • Otto

          That is why I get a kick out of Christians who attack atheism. I rejected Christianity on it’s own merits. Atheism didn’t win…Christianity lost.

        • MR

          Exactly. I didn’t lose my belief in Christianity because atheism, I lost my belief in Christianity because Christianity.

        • wtfwjtd

          Atheism is just the default position. I never compared Christianity with, well, anything; I simply rejected it based on its lack of evidence for its incredible claims. And it does make some rather incredible claims, although many Christians honestly don’t seem to realize it.

        • MNb

          Yeah, this is funny. For me agnosticism was the default position. I took it right after christians making it impossible for me to accept christianity.
          But I’ve noticed that many ex-christians take atheism as the default position.

        • MR

          Well, I think that’s where you get into agnostic atheism and the like. I don’t claim to absolutely know (although the Christian god basically defined himself out of existence), but with what I do know, I see no reason to believe. I am an atheist (don’t believe in a god), yet agnostic (don’t claim to know for certain no god(s) exist(s) ). I leave open the idea of a deistic god, for example, but with a deistic god, the point is moot anyway. A god that doesn’t interact with the world and doesn’t care if I believe in him or not, well, what difference does it make?

        • If only everyone thought about it that way. I suspect that millions of Christians would’ve instead stomped down any rising doubt.

        • MR

          Quotemining and misrepresentation of science was a big one for me, too. I remember being at a religious seminar and them going on about the second law of thermodynamics and why it was obviously wrong because it predicts a slow death from entropy… yet the earth is brimming with life, isn’t God great, yadda, yadda, followed by a nature montage just to sink the message in.

          I wanted to raise my hand and say, “Um, but you forgot the part about that applying to a closed system and we all learned in high school that the earth is not a closed system since we get energy from the sun…. We all learned that, right? Didn’t we all learn that?”

          Apparently no one was paying attention in high school but me.

          Anyway, that was such a basic thing that the whole presentation screamed massive deception. The people who put that presentation together had to know what the distinction was, but they relied on the ignorance of the audience to misrepresent the science. It just left me fuming.

        • MNb

          This reflects their own poor thinking. “We have the Bible as the ultimate authority, you atheists have Darwin.”
          Amazing how much can be wrong with only four words.

        • MNb

          As soon I meet this word I can’t take the user seriously anymore.

      • Appeal to authority. Many of Newtons ideas hold up. The calculations for gravity, for example. He also believed in Alchemy. No one is always right. The arguments must stand up on their own merits, regardless of the source. Einstein’s ideas aren’t valid because Einstein wrote them. That’s the part that deeply religious people can’t seem to grasp. It’s the idea itself, not the source that matters.

        • A tangent: Newton lived to be quite old. I read a biography that said that he was a drag on the Royal Society, of which he was head for decades. He had an ego, and other scientists weren’t allowed to do their best because of his tight hold on the reins.

        • wtfwjtd

          I’ve also heard plenty of Christians make the claim that because he was a Christian, therefore the dogmas and doctrines of Christianity get credit for his scientific ideas and discoveries. Of course, a lot of Newton’s ideas and personal obsessions turned out to be shit-for-brains stupid, like all his “prophecies” from the Bible, for example. Funny, Christians don’t want to own any of that crap, and they suddenly start cherry picking again. Just like they do from their own Bible–a habit that they are quite proficient at.

        • Newton spent a lot of time working on Daniel’s “prophecies.” Reminds me of Tesla’s nutty numerology in his later years (something about 3 …).

          Maybe it’s that whole “thin line between genius and madness” thing.

        • Why would that surprise anyone?

          People who accomplish great things are usually assholes (at least a little bit). The exceptions are few. It takes a great deal of arrogance to tell the world, or at least your own profession, that what they think about something is wrong or that they need to stop and look at your painting or listen to your symphony. Occasionally I run into people who actually believe that people like Newton or Beethoven or Shakespeare must have been morally superior people. That’s rarely the case, nor should they be expected to be.

    • And they don’t really have an argument either. Sound reasoning would be one thing but their “arguments” always seem to involve circular reasoning, special pleading or presuppositions. (Did I miss any? Hat tip to the hosts of The Atheist Experience for introducing me to the logical fallacies.)

  • Partial Mitch

    Regarding #1 … there’s plenty of evidence that the Bible is false, so there’s no reason to believe in it or its God. Also, any serious discussion cannot violate falsifiability. If someone says, “There’s no way to prove this.” Then I’m not going to believe it. Period. Faith (in any ideology, whether religious, political, economic, or whatever) is not a virtue. It is a weakness and a pox on our species.

    Regarding #2 … I usually flip it around along these lines: “You say it is impossible for something to come from nothing. I say that ‘nothing’ does not exist. You believe that God is eternal. I believe that the cosmos is eternal. The difference is, I begin with the simplicity of quantum fluctuations in a vacuum, while you begin with the unimaginable complexity of an omnipotent Creator.” (There’s more to it, obviously. But Zod knows, I tend to blabber.)

    But, frankly, most Christians aren’t interested in honestly examining the issues, the evidence or their faith. Those with such interests tend to end up leaving the faith on their own (even if they remain in church for the sake of their family & peers).

    • The Christian will toss in the God hypothesis and claim it’s a simplifying idea, ignoring the incredible unlikeliness and unprecedented nature of it, plus its unfalsifiability.

  • wtfwjtd

    Regarding argument #1: The Christian apologist has a tall enough mountain to climb in providing evidence for deism, and really has none. But then, they pivot and want to make the claim to theism, which is even a taller hurdle to overcome. They can’t even demonstrate the former, much less the latter. And then, to stretch the odds even further, they want to claim that the Christian God is the only true theistic claim. Christianity goes from the extremely unlikely(deism) to the ridiculous (theism), and finally to the absurd (the personal Christian God).
    I’m definitely unimpressed by Christianity’s evidence-less and, at the end of the day, rather absurd claims.

  • Jesse Douglas

    The theist response to #2 is always entertaining:
    1. Create an arbitrary rule (that everything must have a beginning).
    2. Use that arbitrary rule to challenge nonbelievers.
    3. Invent a magic being that can violate the arbitrary rule.
    4. Get upset when rational people do not accept this absurd logic.

    • Kevin Osborne

      Since the only direct evidence of a God’s existence is personal experience all “rules” accounting for that existence are arbitrary.

      “The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.” R.D. Laing

      Belief is of oneself. Until one is willing to change, which means willing to change perception to the point of changing perspective, all rules remain in the same perceptive box. Calling one or another rule an absolute is the God that stops understanding.

      • Otto

        While it is true that an option isn’t an option unless we know it exists…working to change a perception until you are able to convince yourself of that option is a recipe for self-delusion. Since, as you say, all evidence for God’s existence is personal and the rules for it arbitrary how can you account and/or differentiate between a real experience and a delusion?

        • Kevin Osborne

          That there is no delusion. All experience is “real”, it is just not all experienced by everyone else.
          If we look at this place as a compendium of perception then it does not matter whether one or another perception is seen by one or a trillion, at least insofar as one’s personal reality is concerned. If one is interested in growing perspective the more one is willing to accept as real the more one sees. It is a letting go process with regard to judgment and an adding on process with regard to acceptance. At some point, the line crosses over into acceptance, if one chooses that route.

        • Otto

          So you would say that there is no shared reality?

          If someone believes they are Napoleon they really are Napoleon?

          Also related to this how would one go about attempting to determine if someone else was lying or being deceptive? Seems to me with your perspective you would have no choice but to take everyone at their word.

        • Kevin Osborne

          We each see from a different viewpoint and a slightly different speed. While our perceptions are different, we are willing to say that we see the same thing and don’t challenge that willingness unless pressed. If you have been married you know that two people can see what appears to be the same thing amazingly differently.
          However this operational idea will not work without a means to synchronize the whole business, a man behind the curtain so to speak. When the HMS Hood blew up everyone saw it go in about the same time frame.That would be impossible if we each created our own reality without an overview So while a God of Christian intereference won’t “work”, an awareness of all things who co-creates with every individual inside a personal reality structure does work. He/She/It just does not care what happens to us individually at a human level. It runs the machine.
          So a Napleon is a Napoleon, if only to that person, just as a child who creates an army to fight with has only himself creating it. However people become Napoleons and build armies that everyone is aware of, out of seemingly nothing.
          You have the option to accept another’s reality while still accepting the idea you gave him a twenty and he gave you change for a ten. You can look for the twenty in the drawer if you mark your money for that purpose, and it will be there.
          If enough folks believe it isn’t there, it won’t be for anyone but you and maybe even you won’t see it. At the moment we have a pretty hard-bitten group of believers so it will be there.

        • inkhorn

          What about a simpler example – the meth addict who perceives “spiders” (aka crank bugs)? I think there’s a distinction to be made between one’s subjective perception of reality, and what’s demonstrably and repeatedly shown to exist.

        • Kevin Osborne

          There is that distinction, but that does not mean that the spiders don’t exist. My point is when individual reality opens to all creation, one’s perception of reality changes. There is no absolute reality to perceive in my opinion.
          A case in point: I worked for a major pest control company a few years ago. A woman called in with a complaint about bugs in her house. I was told on the way that she was an issue but we actually were trained on situations ilke that so off I went. She lived in a fairly new, sparsely furnished apartment and she “showed” me the insect swarm in a corner of the room, which I did not see.
          Then, after talking with her a bit more, I saw it. I was creating the swarm with her, not enough to make it “real” but enough to see what she was seeing.
          That was a point where I realized how much my reality was changing, I even told her I could see it if I wanted but I also could stop seeing it. That conversation didn’t go very much farther.
          Maybe this place is set up as an absolute but that leaves many unsolved questions, among them then why does perception of time change according to one’s relative speed? Why are quantum particles considered to exist for milliseconds, winking in and out of existence? And, of course, why are humans so different in their personal beliefs? One can experiment with this stuff easily but most choose not to. I had no choice so it was easier.

        • adam

          “There is that distinction, but that does not mean that the spiders don’t exist.”

          Sure it doesnt mean that the spiders dont exist, but it does mean that they are IMAGINARY.

        • Kevin Osborne

          Or there is no imagination, there is only creation and that creation is of substance. The difference between one substance and another is up to the personal reality of the viewer. To the addict the spiders are quite real. There are ways to test this stuff but usually the door is found by mistake in the course of doing something else, usually pain release, or by a protracted and systematic methodology. Mine was pain release. So to try it someone would have to be awfully curious.

        • adam

          “To the addict the spiders are quite real. ”

          And yet everyone not damaged by the drugs understands that the spiders are IMAGINARY. As does the addict once relieved of the problem with the drug.

          “The difference between one substance and another is up to the personal reality of the viewer.”

          No, there is an reality in which we all share.
          One may wish to have the ability to fly, and leap off a skyscraper, the reality is THAT person is going to DIE if the height is sufficient.

          It makes NO DIFFERENCE what the ‘personal reality’ of the viewer is.

        • Kevin Osborne

          “…everyone…” “…we all…”
          Those are large suppositions that don’t hold up under scrutiny. Nearly every East Indian household I’ve visited has an altar in a prominent place attesting tribute to one god or another. Is that your reality?
          Insofar as flying is concerned, we do fly, we just have accepted that there are mechanical means supporting that venture. Yet if you see the Bruce Lee movie with Kareem, there is a part where Kareem floats above the floor. While he did not in “real life”, this comes from real actions of yogis. There is a Deepak Chopra book where an Indian person, not a believer, falls to his knees in the presense of a woman by force of her overawing nature. I have been treated to a overwhelming rush that I can only relate to what I read of heroin addicts, by someone I had never met face to face who was a thousand miles away at the time.
          Are these your reality? Of course not, they are mine but they are real to me because I’ve experienced them. What I’m saying is that it is possible to see well outside the “normal” idea of what is real, and one can begin that journey, if one chooses, by accepting all as real in the sense it exists as a part of this space time universe. Whether or not someone wishes that journey is individual choice.

        • adam

          “Nearly every East Indian household I’ve visited has an altar in a prominent place attesting tribute to one god or another. Is that your reality? ”

          Sure, so what?

          “Insofar as flying is concerned, we do fly, we just have accepted that there are mechanical means supporting that venture. ”

          You know that is not what I said?

          “Yet if you see the Bruce Lee movie with Kareem, there is a part where Kareem floats above the floor. While he did not in “real life”, this comes from real actions of yogis.”

          No, I have studied yogis, and even they cannot break the laws of physics. It is, like turning water into wine a cheap parlor trick

          “There is a Deepak Chopra book where an Indian person, not a believer, falls to his knees in the presense of a woman by force of her overawing nature. ”

          It just demonstrates how people IMAGINATION allows them to be fools

          See here how that doesnt really work without IMAGINATION..

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/01/christian-magic-power-doesnt-work-if-you-dont-believe-it/

          “I have been treated to a overwhelming rush that I can only relate to what I read of heroin addicts, by someone I had never met face to face who was a thousand miles away at the time. Are these your reality?”

          I have had the Shamanic Experience MANY times, I recognize what it is and understand how brain chemistry makes it happen.

          While it is a real experience, it is not and does not represent the Reality in which we all share.

        • Kevin Osborne

          Ah well, there it is.

        • adam

          Yes, pretty much.

        • “It just demonstrates how people IMAGINATION allows them to be fools”

          Should I stop imagining the Higgs Boson?

        • adam

          No, just do what science has done and demonstrate that ‘god’ is not IMAGINARY..

          Show us the math that demonstrates god like they have with the Higgs Boson.

          Then you might want to understand the difference between theoretical and IMAGINARY..

        • Kevin Osborne

          Show us how “science” demonstrates the entirety of existence. You pick and choose what you want to see, like everybody else. What you don’t wish to see you call delusion. It makes for a nice story but not a very full explanation for a model of this place.

        • adam

          Science demonstrates that which is not imaginary.

          Science demonstrates DELUSIONS.

          IMAGINARY ‘god’s are a WORSE explanation for a model of this place.

        • Kodie

          If something is real, it can be studied. If you want to fill in the blanks before science gets to your hobby horse, expect to be disappointed or called a fool. What don’t we wish to see that’s actually there?

        • crackerMF

          go ahead and stop “imagining the higgs boson”.

          ok. now you’ve stopped “imagining the higgs boson”.

          the higgs field still exists everywhere in the universe including the inside of your physical head. actual reality hasn’t changed one iota because of your imagination.

          kevin osborne is a little too smitten with eastern mysticism for my tastes.

        • Kevin Osborne

          None of my suppositions come from mysticism, but from personal experience. I suggest that all reality exists whether we are immediately aware of it or not, but that is because we exist in an interconnected universe. One’s personal reality is what one is willing to see out of the entirety.What does “taste” have to do with discussions about how this place works?

        • Kodie

          We exist in a universe in which you are suggestible to what another’s “reality” is too. One might not be aware of something until someone with a little too much imagination points it out to us, and then we think we see it too, which was never there before, and is not really there.

        • Kevin Osborne

          In you want to believe in a universe with absolute reality, be my guest.

        • Kodie

          What are you even talking about? You want to fictionalize reality to conform to your preferences? How does that make you a better person?

        • MNb

          Well, Papua’s from New Guinea think likewise, but arrive at totally different conclusions than you. That seems a matter of taste indeed.
          In other words: personal experience might be not that reliable.

        • Kevin Osborne

          You can’t see any existence outside of your willingness to admit that existence. Neither can anyone else. Yet that does not “prove” whether it exists or not, it is personal choice. The best model of this place will include all realities. That is what I’m saying.

        • crackerMF

          what i am hearing:

          you seem to be claiming that the “fairies singing in the trees” that you see are actually, physically there, in the trees not in your imagination, but the reason i don’t see them is because i don’t want to.

          please correct my misunderstanding so we can continue with this discussion.

        • Susan

          Should I stop imagining the Higgs Boson?

          I very much doubt that you ever even started to imagine the Higgs Boson.

          Care to describe it?

        • Greg G.

          Should I stop imagining the Higgs Boson?

          If you do, the evidence remains. If you stop imagining your singularity, it goes away as you have no good evidence.

        • MNb

          If you can imagine the higgs boson you’re a better person than me. I can’t. I can’t imagine the distance from Earth to the Sun either. Can you?

        • Kodie

          You can try: If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel: A Tediously Accurate Map of the Solar System

          http://www.joshworth.com/a-tediously-accurate-map-of-the-solar-system/

          I was talking about the planets with my 5-year-old daughter the other day. I was trying to explain how taking a summer vacation to Mars in the future will be a much bigger undertaking than a trip to Palm Springs (though equally as hot). I kept trying to describe the distance using metaphors like “if the earth was the size of a golf ball, then Mars would be across the soccer field” etc., but I realized I didn’t really know much about these distances, besides the fact that they were really large and hard to understand. Pictures in books, planetarium models, even telescopes are pretty misleading when it comes to judging just how big the universe can be. Are we doing ourselves a disservice by ignoring all the emptiness?

        • MNb

          Yeah, of course I know the trick of bringing back huge numbers to proportions we can manage, for instance by comparing. That enables us to handle it, but still I can’t imagine the distance itself.

        • inkhorn

          If I may change one word: “I was perceiving the swarm with her, not enough to make it “real” but enough to see what she was seeing.”

          I can relate to that. With a little imagine and great empathy, I can imagine a creator God who loves and protects his flock from the horrors of the universe and other humans, and see how that brings great comfort. But my perceiving or wanting to perceive makes it no more real.

          Another example: Suppose on another planet, an intelligent lifeform were genetically missing the ability to perceive red. Would red exist? As a term, no, although they might invent one after discovering it. That doesn’t mean that EM waves from 620-750 nm don’t exist. Similarly, we can’t see UV light. But it still exists, as anyone with a sunburn will tell you. Perception doesn’t define reality – the weight of evidence does.

          I agree with you that there are many baffling questions left to answer about the universe. Having a common shared experience is really the only way to understanding the answer them.

        • Kevin Osborne

          I would agree having viewpoints to communicate with is an enormous aid in seeing this place and part of that is shared experience because otherwise communication is difficult.
          I think your argument on the “red” supports my viewpoint more than yours. However the operation of existence will solve all questions eventually, one way or another no matter how you look at it.
          Good luck!

        • MNb

          How do you distinguish between a Fata Morgana and a god experience? Why would one only real in our minds and the other not?

        • Kevin Osborne

          Thank you for Fata Morgana, I had never heard that.
          The idea is one does not distinguish. Everything that can be seen to exist is real in some fashion. One can decide what is more real for the peanut gallery by the number of accedents, but there is nothing not real.
          We tend to see in numerals, in one two three four. If one lets that go then one may see in visions. There is no order, there is simply existence. If you never decide that something you observe does not exist then all existence begins to open. My experience.

      • Paul B. Lot

        Pure. Unfiltered. Unadulterated. Grade-A. Prime. Choice. FDA Approved.

        Gooble

        De

        Goook

        • Kevin Osborne

          To you. You haven’t taken the stepping stones to begin to see and elect to say a part of existence does not exist. Your choice.

        • Paul B. Lot

          You haven’t taken the stepping stones to begin to see and elect to say a part of existence does not exist.

          I don’t get this. @disqus_io58BxDc4O:disqus and @brmckay:disqus : both of you have repeatedly made claims like this.

          How could you possibly know? You haven’t the slightest idea how much time I’ve spent exposing myself to your point of view.

          It’s such a ridiculous stance on your part that I have to believe you are putting us on.

        • Kevin Osborne

          Exposing yourself doesn’t work, any more than opening your jacket to the wind explains the wind. It takes active search and an openness to see new viewpoints.
          Do you believe the universe is a hologram? That is a “new” viewpoint that fits in nicely with my model, in fact it supports it. The field of tranparent darkness from which we create our reality has no depth until we make it so. That makes sense to me. Yet until one chooses to see it, the door is closed.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “Exposing yourself doesn’t work, any more than opening your jacket to the wind explains the wind.”

          Ugh.

          Stop being dense.

          I have no need to explain or prove myself to you; I don’t owe you a C.V. with my pantheist/open-mindedness bone fides. Do you not understand that point by now?

          (note I’m speaking about logic and reason here, not posting replies/getting moderated — I’m sure Bob will let you make an ass of yourself as long as you like)

          You may not open discussion with another by telling them (with no information at your disposal) that 1)they have never considered your point of view…2) listen to them tell you that they have…and then 3) dismiss that self-described fact by telling them that they are not a True Scotsman until they explain whether or not they’ve jumped ____xyz____ hurdle…

          and then expect them to give you any respect. You’re not being rational or even polite.

          It does not matter whether or not I’ve considered the possibility that the Universe is a Hologram seriously, although it turns out I have.

          You are doing reason and dialogue incorrectly.

          P.S.

          Do you believe the universe is a hologram? That is a “new” viewpoint that fits in nicely with my model, in fact it supports it. The field of tranparent darkness from which we create our reality has no depth until we make it so.

          I just wanted to say that this made me chuckle: watching you try to sneak in a real, rational question of whether or not higher-dimensional information is encoded into a lower-dimensional structures as-if-it-implied that individual humans “create” reality with our wills and participation. Bravo.

          You take the blue ribbon in the Talking-about-highly-theoretical-maths-and-physics-concepts-that-I-don’t-understand-but-sound-promising event.

        • Kevin Osborne

          “I don’t get this.”

          I’m trying to explain why you don’t get it. Your response is rejection, accusation, and ridicule.
          If you have an explanation/model that takes perception from two existing dimensions to three, (or four), and coordinates that perception among the billions, please present it.
          Of course since you established that you don’t have to explain yourself, or prove anything, asking will probably just result in the three “r”s above, again. However in hopes that there is something new or interesting to be seen, I will ask.

        • Kodie

          Stringing a bunch of words together is not the same as explaining to us. I think we all understand what words mean in English, but not whatever planet you are writing from.

        • Kevin Osborne

          I don’t have the luxury to carry a “we” around with me, so I’ll ask you the same question as above. Do you have a model that works to explain how this thing works?

        • Kodie

          I’m not even sure what perplexes you so that you have to construct something so idiotic.

        • Kodie

          This is the same shitty argument Christians use about their faith and how superior it is to rationality. If you believe the universe is a hologram and you want to communicate with us that this is the case, the first thing you shouldn’t do is shit on us and tell us we’re just not ready for the truth. That just makes you sound too gullible.

        • Kevin Osborne

          You mean I’m Jack Nicholson?

        • Kodie

          I don’t understand whatever context you mean, but (and I don’t usually comment on avatars) by the looks of you, you wish.

        • Kodie

          The stepping stones are typically emotional. If you have any reason to assert “a part of existence” does exist, let’s see how it’s not merely some emotional argument.

    • Warren

      “Everything that exists must swiftly be devoured by dragons. Since we do not observe dragons devouring things, we can therefore assume the existence of a secret order of dragon-slayers who are themselves exempt from–Wait, where are you going?”

    • Rudy R

      Religions invent a non-existant problem that only they have a solution. Theists believe they have the problem, atheists don’t.

  • katiehippie

    Did Hyde but the word, handiwork, in quotes? Does that mean they really aren’t handiworks?

    • Yup, that’s how it was in the original. I’m not sure what he means by that.

  • TheMarsCydonia .

    I simply have one argument for atheism:
    “No convincing case for the existence of any god has been made”.

    If a theist wishes to convince me of the existence of a god (and usually, you can expect it for the existence of their god), s/he simply has to make a convincing case, meaning that they have to provide sound evidence or arguments.

    I have met none that have risen to that challenge.

  • Kodie

    Issue with #1: Hyde is trying to demonstrate that you can’t prove civilization exists by pointing to just a chair or only a building.

    Thanks for quoting me!

    • MR

      Woo-hoo! Kodie got a plug!

    • Thanks
      for quoting me!

      I steal from the best.

    • TheNuszAbides

      i thought we sent off a trophy for the Costanza quip. didn’t arrive yet?

  • Otto

    There may be evidence….it is just not good evidence.

    • wtfwjtd

      The thing is, the Christian’s “evidence for god” is just as easily applied to Vishnu, or Zeus, or the FSM…or whatever.

      • Otto

        Which for any of those gods they would say it is not evidence.

  • Greg G.

    Hyde misses #1 because the argument is that there is no unambiguous evidence for God.

    • Just about every “atheist argument” of his is stated clumsily in a straw man fashion. You’ll see that as we move forward with the rest. Frustrating.

  • Pofarmer

    So, in response to a question for evidence, Hyde doesn’t even attempt to provide any. Why can’t he come up with something that can’t be explained as fallacious thinking or cognitive bias? But then, he argues there can be no evidence? Then how do you tell God from any other imaginary creation?

    • wtfwjtd

      Exactly–like our old pal WaterOnMars–in response to a request for evidence, just goes on and on about the enormous amount of evidence, and then can’t name a single substantial thing. Pretty obvious what’s going on, I’d say.

      • Otto

        Oh come on he lists his personal experience over and over…are you saying you can’t take him at his word? He’s like an eyewitness!

        • wtfwjtd

          lol!

      • Pofarmer

        When everything is evidence, then nothing is.

  • Monaka der Hund

    “Everything that begins to exist has a cause.”

    As far as I know, particles can just pop into existence without any cause. It seems to me WLC hasn’t thought his statement through.

    • Yes, modern quantum physics makes clear that things (perhaps like universes that are like quantum particles?) may not have causes. Even if the Copenhagen interpretation isn’t guaranteed, WLC is reduced to saying, “Everything may have a cause”–not much of an argument.

  • Scott_In_OH

    the first premise in William Lane Craig’s Kalam Cosmological argument is, “Everything that begins to exist has a cause.” That clumsy phrase is supposed to be his Get Out of Jail Free card because God always was.

    I believe that was Aquinas’s Get Out of Jail Free card; I don’t think Craig came up with it on his own.

    It’s still bunk.

    • MNb

      I haven’t checked, but WLC claims it was some Arab philosopher. Hence the “Kalam”.

      • Scott_In_OH

        A quick internet search suggests you may be right that it wasn’t Aquinas.

        • MNb

          Not too fast. Aquinas had access to Aristoteles due to translations from Arab. So Aquinas might have used it as well.
          Apologetics is thoroughly unoriginal.

    • I believe the Kalam innovation (not much of one, but whatever) was the “whatever begins to exist” caveat that avoids the Cosmological argument falling on its own “everything must have a cause” sword.

  • spektrowski

    In an old Soviet atheistic book, there was a similar argument, but with more bite: “If God is indeed eternal and created the earth, why did he start just 7,000 years ago? What was he doing before that except flying around on his own in the darkness and not saying a word for gazillions of years?”

    • Sophia Sadek

      I did not realize that the Soviets had a word for a gazillion.

      • spektrowski

        They didn’t. Emelyan Yaroslavsky (the author) actually used “quadrillion”, but I translated it into something more humorous.

      • spektrowski

        They didn’t, I just took some liberties with translation.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Ka-ZING!!!! 😉

  • Zeta

    Nearly everything the Christian lays eyes on is proof of God’s existence because he sees the “handiwork” of God all around him in creation.

    But my non-Christian eyes also see the evil things he created: harmful bacteria, viruses (Ebola, SARS, MERS), parasites like the eye worm loa loa, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, … I presume all these are also the handiwork of his all-loving god.

    • Yes, that’s the multifaceted handiwork of our loving God. Or something.

      • TheNuszAbides

        the ‘loving’ part is allowing His Especially Chosen, Image-Tastic Creations to survive all the other, curiously largely lethal, “”handiworks”” thus far.
        (because, don’tcha know, it’s insulting to call God “luck”.)

  • Zeta

    For the Christian who believes in a transcendent God …

    It is amazing that what many Christians claim as their god is NOT the god as found in their own bible. This claim has also been made by many prominent (but confused) scholars, otherwise highly intelligent and proficient in their own special fields.

    Their god fought alongside the ancient Israelites to kill their enemies, forgetting that these “enemies” were also his own creation. Their god condones (or even orders) the killing of innocents (children, babies, etc.) and rape (such as Numbers 31:15-18: “… But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”)

    I don’t see any trace of transcendence in such a god.

    • Pofarmer

      Good points. It is interesting to see how God evolves in the Bible as thoughts changed.

      • wtfwjtd

        “Evolves” is a good word, since the Christian God is “evolved” by his followers to adapt and fit into whatever current social environment he happens to be found in. Presto chango, now “god” happens to like whatever we like, and hate whatever we hate. How original (and convenient).

  • MNb

    Oh man, this is bad, even according to for instance WLC’s standards. You ask:

    “Is this supposed to be an analogy with God and reality?”
    Rhetorical question, I assume. And it’s a bad analogy. One question: how did EH’s god do it?
    I’m waiting.

    “a court which presupposes that only what can be apprehended by the senses rightly qualifies as evidence.”
    So EH doesn’t understand the difference between a presupposition and a definition!

    “to produce material evidence for God is, ironically, to disprove a transcendent God and cast out faith.”
    Yes. That’s why EH has to develop his own method to do research iso of twisting crystal clear definitions like the one for evidence. The guy is complaining that we don’t buy his ambiguity.

    “Those who use this charge as some sort of intellectual checkmate have simply failed to grasp what Christians understand as “eternal.”
    Yawn. If EH’s god can be eternal, then why not our material reality?

    • wtfwjtd

      “Yawn. If EH’s god can be eternal, then why not our material reality?”

      Yes! With this one simple question, nearly the entire edifice of Christian apologetics collapses. And if one really has determined that God is “transcendent”, as EH claims, then one’s work is finished, since such a “god” could mean anything, or nothing at all. Either way, by definition this “god” will have no impact whatsoever on our lives, so the very question of existence is irrelevant.

  • Cognissive Disco Dance

    Those who use this charge as some sort of intellectual checkmate have simply failed to grasp what Christians understand as “eternal.”

    He’s right. I don’t get it. I tried looking it up in the dictionary but I tripped on “doorknob” and had to feed “duck”. I will try the e’s later.

  • Maoh

    Where IS the evidence for civilization? Well, there are a lot of people who live near me, this is clearly some kind of settlement. The roads are straight and paved, suggesting civic infrastructure. These people clearly have a system of writing, and other cultural practices. There is an economic system, involving money, and foreign trade (octopus from Morroco at the local supermarket!) The people in other settlements in the region seem to have very similar culture, speak the same language, and accept the same money. There seams to be some form of representative government that rules the area too! Guys, i think I found one!

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      and, in a Dave Barry vein, ‘Octopus from Morocco’ would be a great name for a band 😉

      • wrtr

        It would!

  • SunnyDay

    Their entire argument boils down to “Because I said so! That’s why!”

    • Clover and Boxer

      “I know because I know.”

    • wrtr

      That’s true. Religions encourage “followers” never to question those who claim to speak for the “higher authority,” (or anything else.) The message is, “don’t think–just shut up and obey.” If people want to comply, it’s certainly their choice. It’s easier, I guess, in the short run. I can understand why they find those who do not want to comply threatening, but we do not need to argue with them. All we have to do is live and think.

  • James

    I had a discussion once with a catholic apologist who used something like the civilization argument, only he used the example of me loving my wife and vice versa. His argument came down to “no one can see/test/observe” love. I pointed out that the existence of both my wife and I can be demonstrated, and that we both use language etc; our actions – sharing a meal, going on trips together, sharing a hug, etc etc etc are all observable evidences of love – and exactly zero of that is obsevable in a supposed “relationship” between a believer and an immaterial deity. It’s a crap analogy that fails at every point, yet the apologist refused to see it. It’s not unlike how they equivocate between blind faith and evidence-based trust and then declare “you too rely on faith!” For the duration of the discussion, at least, they pretend there is no difference. In every other aspect of life, however, they do demand evidence and they do recognize the difference between blind faith and evidence-based trust.

    • MNb

      The only way to know that somebody loves you is by that person’s language, behaviour, body language and facial expressions.
      The argument that an immaterial deity can’t do that is also correct on a more general level. Other examples are soul-mind interaction and a deity creating the Universe. All means for such interactions are material themselves and hence by definition not accessible to any immaterial entity.

  • wrtr

    Most atheists don’t attempt to dissuade believers. Why bother? There are more interesting subjects to consider than things that do not exist. It’s Christians who try to push their beliefs off on others. It feels intrusive and controlling. In my opinion, they don’t really believe either and the continued existence/success/”moral virtue” of those who do not share their beliefs reinforces their own doubts.

    • Clover and Boxer

      As a former Christian, I certainly believed 100% that God existed and that I had a personal relationship with him. I had no doubts about it. All the claims of conservative Christianity were fed to me week after week since I could walk and talk for about two decades–it didn’t even occur to me to question such things. After I realized that there really were people who didn’t believe in a deity, I started looking into it on the internet. It was through watching atheists engage Christians (a lot of youtube Atheist Experience for example) that I gradually rejected my previous beliefs. “Why bother?” Well, it can make a big difference.

      • Otto

        This /

  • Sophia Sadek

    We know that “civilization” exists because we can talk to the victims of prison rape. We can speak with the family members of youngsters who have been shot in the back by police officers. We can view the information distributed to the public by Edward Snowden proving that the NSA does not respect the fourth amendment to the Constitution. These show that the institutions of what is called civilization can hardly be termed civil with any degree of honesty.

    As for God, anyone who fails to see that it was created in the image of a human being is like a child who has yet to discover the truth about Santa Claus.

  • avalon

    “a court which presupposes that only what can be apprehended by the senses rightly qualifies as evidence. ”

    Apparently, theists accept evidence that can’t be apprehended by the senses.
    Just think of all the business opportunities: the Transcendent Restaurant where the food, drinks, plates, and utensils can’t be apprehended by the senses… the Transcendent Auto Company…Transcendent Real Estate…Transcendent Tailors…Oh, wait, that’s already been done:

    The Emperor’s New Clothes

    http://www.andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/hersholt/TheEmperorsNewClothes_e.html

    “But he hasn’t got anything on!” the whole town cried
    out at last.

    The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But
    he thought, “This procession has got to go on.” So he walked more
    proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that
    wasn’t there at all.

  • KarlUdy

    No, I think we’re all on the same page here. The issue is simply that your claim that everything had a cause must apply to God as well. By your logic, he must’ve had a creator.

    So you’re admitting that Hyde is correct that to consider ‘God’ as having a beginning and not existing eternally is to ignore what the word means?

    As I see it there are three options:
    1) There is a God (who is eternal) who created everything
    2) The universe is eternal
    3) There is an infinite chain of ‘creators’

    The preponderance of evidence for physics and cosmology is that 2) is false.

    The problems of an infinite past make 3) untenable.

    Which leaves us with 1).

    • Otto

      It really doesn’t leave us with 1). Creation presupposes a creator when that is not justified. The universe or universes could have started existing sans a creator. It is an unknown and that line of logic is essentially an argument from ignorance.

      The preponderance of evidence for physics and cosmology is that 2) is false.

      I don’t think physicists and cosmologists generally agree with your conclusion here. What they say from what I have seen is that the universe began to exist in its present form at some time, they have not ruled out the universe existing in some other form indefinitely. At best it is an unknown.

      • KarlUdy

        Creation presupposes a creator when that is not justified. The universe or universes could have started existing sans a creator.

        So are you suggesting that the universe spontaneously began to exist? What are basing that conclusion on?

        • Otto

          I am suggesting it is equally, if not more, plausible. I am saying your statement is not justified for a conclusion.

          What are you basing your assertion on that the universe coming into existence requires a creator?

        • KarlUdy

          The spontaneous existence of quantum particles according to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle requires a very small mass.

          The universe has a very large mass.

          That is why I don’t believe the universe spontaneously began to exist.

        • MNb

          “The spontaneous existence of quantum particles according to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle requires a very small mass.”
          This is bogus. HUP by no means says that.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle

          Nowhere is stated that there is a maximum mass.
          Plus the total mass/energy (you know, Einstein’s E = mc^2) of the Universe seems to be exactly zero.

          Your “I don’t believe” is based on a false representation of physics. How unsurprising.

        • KarlUdy

          It may not be according to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, but more generally in the quantum laws that Heisenberg helped develop.

        • MNb

          That’s still bogus. You can’t give us those laws because there aren’t any. You’re sucking this out of your big fat thumb.
          Plus you conveniently neglect that the total mass/energy of the Universe seems to be exactly zero. And that makes your statement

          “The universe has a very large mass.”
          totally meaningless. As a result your “I don’t believe the universe spontaneously began to exist” is not justified at all.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Then why did you invoke Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle in the first place? That smacks of dishonesty.

        • adam

          “That smacks of dishonesty.”

          Dishonest god dishonest Karl

        • thatguy88

          Not only is your understand of HUP bogus, but your understand of quantum mechanics in relation to the Big Bang is severely lacking. What part of “explosion = gradual expansion” did you not get upon researching?

        • Otto

          That doesn’t justify the conclusion of some being creating the universe. At best as I said it would be an unknown.

        • KarlUdy

          At best?

          You need to justify that. How do you rule out the possibility that the universe was created by some being?

        • Otto

          I didn’t rule it out, but at this point there is no reason to conclude such a thing and sticking a “god” into the issue just creates more issues…it doesn’t solve anything. There is literally no difference between that and using Zues as an explanation for lightning. It is the same argument from ignorance.

        • KarlUdy

          It is not an argument from ignorance. At no point in the argument is the point that we don’t know how something happened or works used as a premise leading to the conclusion.

        • adam

          ….

        • Otto

          You sure did. You laid out 3 options, ruled 2 of them out and then concluded #1 was therefore correct. You have no idea if those are the only 3 options or not, you are ignorant of how it happened you think therefore #1 is compelling. It’s not.

        • KarlUdy

          Educate me, which other options are there.

          At any rate, as I said before, I do not reach my conclusion by saying “we don’t know x, therefore y” which would be an argument from ignorance.

        • Otto

          Educate me, which other options are there.

          That’s the ignorance part, you don’t know if there are other options or not, neither do I but I am not the one arguing for an unjustified conclusion.

          We don’t know X (whether there are other options) therefore Y (concluding that these are the only options).

          Argument from ignorance.

        • KarlUdy

          That’s the ignorance part, you don’t know if there are other options or not, neither do I but I am not the one arguing for an unjustified conclusion.

          Actually I was thinking that you actually had something to offer to the discussion by perhaps providing another option. But you just think there might be other options, but don’t have a clue what any might be.

          In fact, you could structure our dialogue in such a way as follows:
          O – the argument you put forward is not valid
          K – Why not?
          O – There might be other options
          K – Such as?
          O – I don’t know

          And you’re saying I’m using an argument form ignorance?!

        • Otto

          Yes I am. If you are going to propose that there are no other options you need to be able to justify that conclusion. Not being able to think of other options is not a justification for your conclusion.

          You made the claim, the burden is on you to justify it, not me.

          “I don’t know” is a perfectly good answer to things we don’t know the answer to. You should be honest and try it.

        • KarlUdy

          If you think it doesn’t work you need to provide a reason. I think those 3 options cover everything. If you think they don’t then show me.

        • Otto

          I don’t care what you think it covers, I only care what you can demonstrate.

          If you can’t understand that 1) is an unsubstantiated assertion that you are putting forward without justification as an ‘answer’ to a question you can’t answer and it in fact doesn’t answer anything there really isn’t anything I can do…and you are attempting to shift the burden of proof.

          If you were a follower of Greek Gods thousands of years ago your argument would be akin to this….

          “The reason for lightning is Zues is hurling lightening bolts.
          If you think it doesn’t work you need to provide a reason.”

          The fact that you couldn’t provide an alternate option for lightning bolts doesn’t make the answer correct by default… the fact that I couldn’t have provided one in that time and place doesn’t either.

        • Kodie

          Yes you do. You conclude that god exists and is eternal because you already believe that god exists and is eternal. You don’t give any reason why that proposal should make the list. You dismiss other things off your list because they don’t make sense to you, but give god a pass.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I want evidence FOR it before I waste time pondering it.

        • Kodie

          There are a lot of problems with god being there before deciding one day to create the universe. Just as many problems you might have for a universe created without a god. God, being immaterial, is basically a “nothing”. An abstract concept such as nouns we have in human language that don’t refer to a material thing would not exist without the reference to relationships and other immaterial nouns that we use to communicate with one another. Without communication, how is this being there being referred to? Nothing “else” existed yet, so where does even an eternal god who is also conveniently immaterial when you please, find the first material to begin creating a universe? If there isn’t a place called “the universe”, there is no “where” for this being to be, no communication to refer to.

          Seriously, how do you picture an eternal being? What does it actually mean to a Christian to be eternal, and why, just because he’s god, he gets to break your one and only rule? Eternity is still a length of time, and without a universe, what time is it? What time does he stop boring himself just hanging out nowhere, and get to work on materials that don’t exist? Don’t you see how absurd it is that you can make up a character who can defy all logical questions?

        • KarlUdy

          Good questions. You’re going to need some theology if you want answers.

        • Otto

          Translation: You are going to have to start making up answers if you want answers.

        • Zeta

          Answers from theology?

          “Theology is never any help; it is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn’t there. Theologians can persuade themselves of anything.” ― Robert A. Heinlein

          “For centuries, theologians have been explaining the unknowable in terms of the-not-worth-knowing.” – H. L. Mencken

        • Greg G.

          I saw a claim recently that compares masturbation with religion. Masturbation eases the urge to reproduce without reproducing. Religion eases the urge to find knowledge without finding knowledge.

          I don’t approve of the comparison because it makes masturbation sound dirty.

        • Reminds me of prayer. Masturbation satisfies the urge without doing anything substantial. Same thing for prayer–you can pretend you’re doing something while not.

        • Greg G.

          Masturbation satisfies the urge without doing anything substantial.

          Then there is procrasturbation where you masturbate to put off doing anything substantial til later.

        • MNb

          Theology doesn’t have a reliable method, as Zeta makes clear. So it won’t provide any answer – or rather all answers thinkable, which is even worse.

        • Kodie

          True answers or just whatever conveniently comes to mind?

        • Ri-i-i-i-ight. We need theology. Not cosmology.

        • Is it small mass or small size? The universe began with a small size.

          Have you put forward your concern to cosmologists? Perhaps they’ve never thought of your objection.

        • MNb

          Quantum mechanics totally allows that.
          As I have told you before several times you confirm once again that you deny science when it’s results don’t suit your theology.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          quantum physics. Check out Lawrence Krauss’ “A Universe from Nothing”

        • KarlUdy

          You mean the book where he defines nothing as something other than nothing?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          The one where he shows *mathematically* that, on the quantum micro scale, there’s no such thing as nothing? I was referring to the lecture…lots of fun.

        • adam

          Come on Karl, YOU understand all about ‘nothing’

    • thatguy88

      Nice attempt at deduction, but no. First off, Bob was simply adding clarity to Eric’s argument. In this case, Eric doesn’t even answer the question thoroughly, if not at all. He alludes to the idea that only God is eternal, which still begs the question of what created God. Second, your “three options” are just that, options with no further evidence or explanation backing them up. Third, you’re assuming that there even IS a god that is not only existing but eternal.

      • KarlUdy

        He alludes to the idea that only God is eternal, which still begs the question of what created God.

        This is where Hyde’s quote is needed – if you think that something ‘eternal’ could be created, then you don’t understand what is meant by ‘eternal’.

        Thanks for proving the point of #2 as a dumb atheist argument.

        • thatguy88

          If you or even could Hyde explain what eternal means, then, considering the defnition of “eternal”, because otherwise, this is not only vaguely defined, it is special pleading at its finest. If you’re utilizing the Thomistic cosmological argument for the existence of God, then EVERYTHING requires a cause. However, you’e created a special case where God doesn’t need a cause but you still can’t say why in any particularly rigorous fashion.

          Also, you have to ask yourself if God doesn’t require a cause, then why does the Universe? The argument does also not develop why “A Creator is the best explanation for the existence of the universe” or even why “The cause of the universe must be something or someone existing outside the universe”, claims that these are “the best” are also heavily subjective to say the least. It merely claims that a cause is required, and implies any time we don’t know the cause it must be God.

          Also, as aforementioned, quantum mechanics explains this pretty well. So as it stands, #2 is still a pretty damn good argument.

        • KarlUdy

          Where was my ad hominem?

        • thatguy88

          “Thanks for proving the point of #2 as a dumb atheist argument.”

          You’re welcome.

        • KarlUdy

          How was that an ad hominem?

        • adam

          ….

        • Otto

          If a being (God) can get around the infinite regress issue why couldn’t a natural universe(s) do the same? That is the issue theists like yourself never seem to answer. Your workaround of placing “god” in the equation does nothing to actually deal with the issue.

        • KarlUdy

          Either could get around the infinite regress by being eternal. God is eternal by definition.

        • adam

          “God is eternal by definition.”

          and yet people will claim that he died…..

          And what about all the ‘other’ gods that are now dead?

        • KarlUdy

          Who ever claimed that Thor or Odin created the universe? They are contingent beings themselves.

        • adam

          And the rest of the ‘creators’ from all the stories throughout history?

        • KarlUdy

          Which ones?

        • adam

          All of them

        • Otto

          That doesn’t help your argument one bit. Defining something to get around a problem does nothing to get to the truth of the matter.

        • Kodie

          By your definition, or other people’s. It’s like, hey how do we get around that pesky question of “then who created god”. I got it! Let’s make him eternal.

          See? He’s a fictional character and you get to make him any way you want and solve all the logistics by just thinking of a way around it.

        • KarlUdy

          What came first – the concept of an eternal God, or the question of who made God?

        • Kodie

          The latter. You don’t make god eternal unless it comes up.

        • KarlUdy

          The concept of an eternal God has been around for at least 3000 years. I’m finding it hard to find attributions of the “Who made God?” question before Bertrand Russell, but I think there must be some, but I sincerely doubt they are older than 3000 years, and my guess is that the earliest is less than 500 years old.

        • Kodie

          The concept of gods has been around a looooot longer than that, Karl! They had a lot of time to come to some understanding what kinds of questions would be asked and what issues they’d have to address.

        • Kodie

          In human history, there are no gods older than that?

        • KarlUdy

          I said “at least” because we have clear evidence of worship of “God” as opposed to “gods” going back at least that far.

          Whereas asking “Who made God?” seems to be a purely modern question.

        • Kodie

          Well the Jews made that god. They tell stories about a time before people were around to pass those stories along. I mean, did Adam tell his story, his version of the story to someone who kept track of it until the next chapter and so on? Did Noah or one of his sons tell the story of their time on a boat with animals? Where do those stories come from? Imagination. It eventually becomes their local legend. People like to say they were inspired by god, because “god” was there, and then told people the things that had happened since he created the earth and the people on it. I know you particularly are impressed by human imagination and that ability has come from god just for his beloved humans, so anyone who thought something to write about god, you seem to think, was being used as a tool by god to get that story to the masses.

          But anyway, you think any of these people were not familiar with god stories? You think any one of them would not figure a troubling question like, when was god born? Who were his parents? He’s not like that, he’s eternal. A lot of other myths that precede Judaism or Christianity have intricate family trees. Those gods seem to have come about the same time as humans did and not much before. Even your god had humans by the 6th day. It’s at the end, but still, he was just setting things up so they’d be comfortable. Your god, for all you know, popped himself into existence moments before deciding to create a universe, or had parents, and even in those stories, he was walking around. You have no idea what’s been edited out or added in before the story made it to print. You have no idea what kinds of issues these people had telling their stories, or issues they were aware of from other god stories before it, that would have reduced god to a regular person like he seemed to be from the beginning that they had to make him invisible and confront the obvious questions literally anyone would have asked. He made the universe out of what, and what did he do before he did that, eternally before the creation of the universe? Eternity is a long time doing nothing, and he’s still doing nothing, and I guess, forever will continue doing nothing.

          I don’t think you would understand about eternity, really, because if you take an infinite amount of time, there was an infinite amount of time before the universe, seems to me the universe has yet to be created. You can’t just interrupt immaterial eternity with stuff made of things and time, and call that a reason.

        • TheNuszAbides

          right… because religions of antiquity (for particular example), or anyone else with a monopoly on recordkeeping at the time (tax officials?) were so meticulous about keeping detailed records of the musings of those who might have called their theological/cosmological/financial premises into question?

        • MNb

          Yeah, or god is a square circle by definition.
          So what?

    • MNb

      “The preponderance of evidence for physics and cosmology is that 2) is false.”
      Depends on how you define “universe”. See, even if there was “nothing” before the beginning of our universe there very well might be eternal quantum fields.
      But of course as almost all apologists you reject science when it doesn’t suit your theology.

      Plus 1) only makes sense when you tell us how he did it, which means he used and which procedures he followed. These means and procedures can’t be material, because
      a) if they were it means there was already something we could call universe;
      b) you defined for reason a) as an immaterial entity.

      • KarlUdy

        So you are proposing an eternal ‘something’ as the possible creator of our universe?

        • MNb

          I’m not proposing a creator at all for the simple reason that “to create” is a causal act and the preponderance of evidence for physics and cosmology is that our universe is thoroughly probabilistic. That’s what quantum fields express.
          What I’m saying is that your option 1) is seriously flawed because you’re not able to tell us how your creator did it, which means he used and which procedures he followed (assuming that our universe is causal, which doesn’t seem the case at all). So even if your argument is set up in a correct way your conclusion is not justified. Your best possible conclusion is “we don’t know because all possible answers have their problems.”
          It’s typical for the intellectual dishonesty of apologists that you prefer to neglect this.

        • KarlUdy

          Just as a hypothetical, if God did exist and created the universe, do you expect that we would necessarily be able to comprehend the means and procedures for how God would create a universe?

        • MNb

          Just as a hypothetical, if undetectable fairies tended the flowers in my garden to blossom more beautifully, would you expect that you would necessarily be able to comprehend the means and procedures for how those fairies tend those flowers?

        • KarlUdy

          An answer would be nice. Y’know, intellectual honesty and all?

        • MNb

          Same kind of question, same kind of answer.
          You know, intellectual honesty and all would urge you to recognize this. Typically you don’t.

        • KarlUdy

          It looked like you avoided answering the question.

          Or are you saying that you treat the idea of God at the same level as the idea of fairies at the bottom of the garden?

          In which case, my question would be, are you saying that you are treating the idea of God as not serious (in which case it is pointless having this conversation) or are you saying that you treat the idea of fairies at the bottom of the garden seriously (in which case you may have a ally in Tolkien, but not many of the other atheists around here.)

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope. Just replied with an equally nonsense question…as a comment that you were asking a nonsense question.

        • KarlUdy

          HairyEyedWordBombThrower, are you MNb?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          *me….checks blood type*….Nope, I’m my very own body, mind, and annoyance to you…and I GLORY in it [mean grin]

          Besides, you’re such a fun chew-toy that I’m sure MNb would *share* 😉

        • KarlUdy

          Just wondering why you’re replying to my questions to him as though you know his mind.

        • MNb

          He/she doesn’t have to know my mind, only to understand what I’m saying.
          What’s it going to be, Karl? Was your question serious? Then you can find the answer by answering my counterquestion. Was my counterquestion nonsensical and won’t you answer it? Then so was yours and I don’t have to provide an answer either.
          Given the fact that 16 hours have passed I’m going to assume the latter. Thanks for this.

        • KarlUdy

          If you are treating the idea of God as not serious then it would be a waste of my time answering.

          I don’t think your question was nonsensical, but your analogizing God to fairies at the bottom of the garden matches common atheist tropes that usually indicate that someone is not willing to treat the idea of God seriously. Feel free to prove that you’re different.

        • adam

          Delusional thinking is a serious subject.

          Just remember Karl, YOU and people LIKE you demonstrate YOUR lack of seriousness by your dishonesty and hypocrisy.

        • Susan

          If you are treating the idea of God as not serious then it would be a waste of my time answering.

          It doesn’t work that way. If you expect a proposal to be taken seriously, then you have to provide a reason to take it seriously. You can’t expect someone to begin by taking it seriously.

          You have yet to show a distinction between MNb’s fairies and your eternal agent.

          Can you?

        • adam

          Of course he can’t show a distinction

          THAT is why he HAS to dance around in such an evasive philosophical victimizational mode.

          Otherwise he could just spit it out and be done with it.

        • MNb

          I like the view of dancing apologists.

        • adam

          It is very interesting how dishonest people HAVE to be to TRY and present their ‘god’ as something besides IMAGINARY.

          And then for them to claim that their ‘god’ is Truth….

        • KarlUdy

          MNb appears to be trying to equate questions about God to the same level as questions about fairies. If he asked his question in a different context where he knew that “fairies at the bottom of the garden” would be taken seriously, then it would be different.

          Funny how all these atheists are urging the theist into taking the bait for a trap.

        • Greg G.

          If fairies aren’t taken seriously, why should gods be taken seriously? There is just as much unambiguous evidence for either.

          An atheist doesn’t have to be someone who thinks he has a proof that there can’t be a god. He only has to be someone who believes that the evidence on the god question is at a similar level to the evidence on the werewolf question. –John McCarthy

        • KarlUdy

          Are you intentionally conflating gods and God, or do you not realize you’re doing it?

        • Greg G.

          If there are no gods, then there is no God. There is the same amount of unambiguous evidence for a monotheistic god, polytheistic gods, fairies, werewolves, spaghetti monsters, or THE Flying Spaghetti Monster. Except for gods like the tree frogs of some primitive tribe. Those exist but there is no unambiguous evidence that their gods are anything but tree frogs.

        • Susan

          MNb appears to be trying to equate questions about God to the same level as questions about fairies.

          They are equal unless you can show a distinction. It’s not a trap. It’s a fair and honest response.

          If he asked his question in a different context where he knew that “fairies at the bottom of the garden” would be taken seriously, then it would be different.

          I don’t see how it would change a thing. I asked you to show a distinction and you haven’t. Show a distinction.

          Funny how all these atheists are urging the theist into taking the bait for a trap.

          No. He held up a mirror. It’s not a trap. Nothing up his sleeves. He asked a question exactly like yours.

        • Kodie

          No, Karl, it’s an honest question, but maybe you’re just not mature enough to face the honest answer.

        • Rudy R

          I tend to agree with Karl. Nobody worth debating believes that faeries exist. Atheists have plenty of logic, reason, and empirical evidence (or lack of) to make a convincing argument that a god doesn’t exist, without having to resort to nonsensical examples.

        • Kodie

          I said in another post to Karl, because he seems to think because Christianity is taken seriously that it is categorically different, that it is because Christianity is taken that seriously even though it is categorically the same that we care at all to discuss it. Are we actually arguing against belief in fairies? We never have to, we never worry that people who take their fantastical beliefs in fairies to any extreme of policy or violence or moral superiority.

        • Otto

          I think the point is for you to explain why they should be viewed differently.

        • MNb

          Not really. I keep the option open that Karl Udy will answer both questions (his version and mine) in the same way. There is a follow up question of course.

        • KarlUdy

          Is belief in fairies an important issue in society today? Is belief in God?

        • Otto

          That does nothing to explain why belief in one is considered rational but the other isn’t.

        • KarlUdy

          Get out some more.

          Go talk to people and find out why one belief is generally considered rational and one isn’t.

        • Otto

          I am talking to you…you start.

          I find it interesting that you have been asked this question quite a few times and have yet to give any kind of coherent answer. Since you seem very sure of your position I would think it wouldn’t be that difficult.

        • Kodie

          You’re a person, you were asked. What is your answer?

        • Susan

          Go talk to people and find out why one belief is generally considered rational and one isn’t.

          We’re asking you. You have no answer.

          If you can find someone who has one and post their answer here, that would be helpful.

          You are proposing an immaterial agent that has no explanation and no explanatory value.

          You are doing this without providing evidence or showing why an agent is necessary.

          So far, it’s a claim equal to MNb’s fairies.

          You can roll your eyes all you like that people aren’t taking your claim seriously, but as long as you dismiss MNb’s fairies and show no distinction between his agents and your agent, it is nothing but false bluster.

          All you have to do is show a difference that makes a difference.

          Can you?

        • KarlUdy

          God makes sense of life and the universe in all its complexity in a way that no other conception of reality does.

          I think you will find that:
          a) many people around the world will agree with that statement
          b) replace God with fairies and you would struggle to find any people who would agree.

        • “God did it” can indeed explain anything. But in so doing, it explains nothing. It’s unfalsifiable and therefore useless.

        • KarlUdy

          I think you’re making a category error. I’m not proposing a scientific hypothesis when I say that God makes sense of life and the universe.

        • So God makes sense of the universe … but you’re not saying “God did it” has any evidence behind it? Or what?

        • KarlUdy

          Not everything of value or truth is a scientific hypothesis. To act as if it were would be akin to approaching life with blinkers on.

        • So “God did it” isn’t a claim in the domain of science? What domain is it in, and what good is it?

          If there’s another way to back up claims besides science that is relevant for this issue, show us.

        • Kodie

          So you have arranged your life to live as though this fiction is true because you can’t cope in a meaningless universe.

        • Kodie

          c) replace your god with their god, and you would struggle to find any Christians who would find that it makes any sense out of life or the universe at all. It’s not because it’s not your god, but because it just doesn’t make sense, and is unbelievable.

        • KarlUdy

          Kodie, I don’t know what you’re trying to say

        • Kodie

          You have a number of gods equally taken seriously by “many people around the world” as your god, and you find bullshit reasons to find them lacking in truth value.

          We don’t have to use fairies, just tell us why you’re not a Muslim or a Hindu.

        • Otto

          Argument from popularity.

        • KarlUdy

          Popularity is not irrelevant when you are deciding whether to be serious or flippant.

          After all, the point of this mini-discussion is whether the idea of God should be taken seriously.

        • Otto

          I take it seriously in that a lot of people hold unfounded beliefs and those beliefs can and do have an effect on the reality we share. However the number of people holding a belief does not validate the belief in any way, i.e. you didn’t address the issue being raised.

        • KarlUdy

          This not-so-little sub-thread goes back to whether MNb should take questions about the idea of God seriously.

          My point is that an idea that is shared by many people deserves to be taken seriously, not that the popularity of it has any bearing on whether it is true or not.

        • Otto

          Point taken and I agree. It is exactly for that reason I do take the issue seriously.

          As I read it I think MNb was referring to taking the issue seriously as a ‘truth’ claim but he would have to respond to that, just my impression.

        • Kodie

          How seriously do you expect atheists to take a fictional character? It’s really the people, and as you prop up your defense, it’s a lot of people, that we do take seriously, because they are very serious about this fictional character, and very sensitive about having it pointed out to them that there is no more credible evidence for it than MNb’s garden fairies. A lot of people can take something as fictional and non-serious as that so seriously, that we’re forced to take them seriously, but never their god.

        • KarlUdy

          How seriously do you expect atheists to take a fictional character?

          Begging the question. Again?

        • Kodie

          You begged MNb’s question. I mean, you didn’t have anything to say, you just presupposed the unseriousness of fairies tending the garden. You do not take fictional characters seriously. We’re atheists, Karl, how seriously do you think we are to take a fictional character? You make fictional claims about a fictional character, and expect to be taken dead seriously, with what reason? You make a claim, MNb makes a claim. You can’t make a relevant answer, you’re just insulted that we atheists do not revere a fictional character as seriously as you do. Where are your reasons we must?

        • KarlUdy

          You begged MNb’s question. I mean, you didn’t have anything to say, you just presupposed the unseriousness of fairies tending the garden.

          Kodie, go back and read my first response to MNb’s fairy post. I’ll quote it here for you:

          In which case, my question would be, are you saying that you are treating the idea of God as not serious (in which case it is pointless having this conversation) or are you saying that you treat the idea of fairies at the bottom of the garden seriously (in which case you may have a ally in Tolkien, but not many of the other atheists around here.)

          So I was quite prepared to consider he was taking it seriously.

          You make fictional claims about a fictional character, and expect to be taken dead seriously, with what reason?

          Saying “fictional” again and again doesn’t make it so. You are still begging the question.

        • Kodie

          Where have you given reason to believe otherwise? You pulled “eternal” out of the air. Well, I know you pulled it out of a book written by a person who knows god personally, and god told him he was eternal and he wouldn’t lie about something like that.

          So I was quite prepared to consider he was taking it seriously.

          No you never were.

        • KarlUdy

          You pulled “eternal” out of the air. Well, I know you pulled it out of a book written by a person who knows god personally, and god told him he was eternal and he wouldn’t lie about something like that.

          Plato believed in an eternal God. Aristotle believed in an eternal God. It seems that the ancient Chinese most likely believed in an eternal God. And the ancient Hebrews believed in an eternal God too. And you think I pulled “eternal” from out of the air?

        • Kodie

          I never meant you to understand that I thought you personally made up this attribution. But “what other people believe” are attributions. There is no substance, it is just something they thought would make a neat quality, especially when posing the origin of the universe, and you are going to say ancient people decided this a long time ago, so of course it is accurate.

        • KarlUdy

          The concept of an eternal God existed from ancient times, was widespread (in Greek, Ancient Near Eastern and Far Eastern thought). The question of “Who made God?” I can’t find any source for before Bertrand Russell.

          And you say that the question of “Who made God?” must have preceded the concept of an eternal God because … I don’t know, you haven’t given any reason!

        • Kodie

          I have given reasons. I can’t imagine “eternity” would occur to anyone who wasn’t asked for details like that. You can’t imagine it the other way around. Those are our respective reasons.

        • KarlUdy

          Read Plato and Aristotle. Show me where they ask those questions.

          That would be a whole lot more convincing that “you can’t imagine otherwise”

        • Kodie

          They repeated an established notion? Just like you do? That’s what I see you saying. One time it was established, and ever so it “just is”.

          Where is your evidence? Your evidence is just that everyone thinks so and keeps repeating it. Your evidence is that you have summarily dismissed all other options for the beginning of the universe, stick a god at the beginning with a convenient eternal quality, and “you can’t imagine otherwise.”

        • KarlUdy

          Where do Plato or Aristotle or any thinker before the 20th century deal with the “Who made God?” question?

          I can’t find any despite your assurances that people must have been.

          I can find plenty of references to the idea of an eternal God from these and other sources from more than 2000 years ago.

          And yet you insist that the only reason someone would describe God as eternal is to get around the “Who made God?” question.

          Remember, the question being discussed is which idea came first. Show me that the “Who made God?” question came first.

        • Greg G.

          http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/The_Myths/The_Creation/the_creation.html

          Perhaps the creation of the gods wasn’t relevant them.

          Epicurus doubted the existence of gods.

          For much of Christian history, asking who created God was a fatal mistake.

        • KarlUdy

          This is one point where the difference between “gods” and “God” is important.

          Zeus was born to Cronus. His origin, and thus non-eternality is clear, just like other “gods”

          Whereas “God”, the supreme being who is the source of all beings is considered eternal.

        • Greg G.

          Why would a Greek philosopher discuss that?

          When the concept of the eternal source of all being was attributed to God, did they consider time with regard to Relativity? They may have screwed up royally if they didn’t.

        • Kodie

          Karl, I remind you once again, we’re atheists. All gods are invented, so it doesn’t matter the significant difference between your god and other gods that came before. The point is by the time people started talking about your god, they had been aware of the issues of other gods. I am not even talking about YOUR GOD. I am talking about ALL GODS. They are competing in the marketplace of ideas, and the concept of slapping on a label like “eternal” compared to some other guys’ “really really old” god, I mean, do you go to the supermarket, and sometimes see a sign or label on a product that says “HOME-MADE TASTE” or “NOW WITH REAL BUTTER!” or something like that? That’s an attraction, a feature of those products that is (1) appealing, and (2) makes the other products without the label sound shittier, just by comparison.

          “ETERNAL!” is just like that. When you start telling stories about your god to others, I mean, not you, people a long long time ago, but who did believe in your god’s prototype, I would even say “eternal” was probably one of the properties that just sounded cool, convincing, better than that other guy’s god, and didn’t have to be discussed or researched. Let me know when any of you Christians have done any such thing as research this claim, because all you are doing is stating it as a fact, since every Christian has this claim hammered into their skull, that it’s just true. That doesn’t make it true.

        • Kodie

          I don’t understand this question, as if “GOD” is the only god in human history, that Plato and Aristotle knew everything there was to know about that god anyway. I mean, by the time that god was invented, he was very likely “eternal” right from the beginning of the story. Who does really know? All I know is they had lead time to get their story as straight as it could be a couple thousand years ago. There were competing religious beliefs and origin myths and stories all over, and someone had a god, and some other guy had a god, and they disagreed about it, and of course, who had the bigger, better, longer, stronger god? Whoever said “eternal” instead of “I don’t know,” or “a very very long time ago.”

          Karl seems to think this discussion is unlikely as it had eternally been established since monkeys came down from the trees and stood upright and covered their junk, they just knew god was eternal, and nobody ever had to ask.

        • Kodie

          Do you have any idea how long humans have been inventing gods?

        • KarlUdy

          Have you paid any attention to anything I have written re gods vs God?

        • Kodie

          Yes, and it’s irrelevant. It’s like you’re not even capable of understanding what I wrote.

        • adam

          Ever since the hyperactive agency detector kicked in?

        • Kodie

          Animals have that, don’t they?

        • TheNuszAbides

          yes we do!

        • MR

          It’s totally a fair and serious question because people not so long ago truly believed in fairies. Even in the modern era (Cottingley fairies), and even today there are people that believe in similar things (certain duendes that live in granaries in Spain, for example).

          This is what we’re talking about, mankind is in the process of determining what is true and what is not, and how we distinguish what is true and what is not. It’s an important question, and totally valid as far as I’m concerned.

        • Kodie

          People believe in ghosts and spirits and Bigfoot and angels, and that things always happen for a reason, and that people can cast spells or tell their fortune, and in reincarnation. There are a lot of fantastical claims that most people figure are too obscure to take seriously. Their Christian beliefs are important to them, and turn around and mock someone because they went to a psychic. There are some Christians who take all that seriously as a gateway to hell, but I think most Christians agree that’s just bullshit and money down the drain.

        • MR

          And the whole thing is, where do you draw the line and how do you draw the line, and that’s why Karl won’t answer the question and poo-poos the question because it cuts right down to the heart of the matter.

        • Kodie

          I could say that the difference between fairy beliefs and why we don’t take them seriously and god beliefs, which we have to take seriously, are that fairy beliefs are harmless. I know a 9-year-old girl who believes in fairies and her parents perpetuate it by leaving gifts at the site in the form of little fairy figurines, so she now has a big collection. Is this harmful? Are there adults who believe in fairies who – may be frightened of fairies and poison the soil to get rid of them, or put things in their garden that could be harmful to children who run through or animals? Maybe. We’d call that person delusional though.

          Even Karl’s argument is that lots and lots of people do believe in god, and I responded to that, and he responded back to a different piece of that post and ignored what I said – we have to take those beliefs seriously, because those people can and do organize to push for certain laws in accordance with their superstition, and fairy believers do not. People who believe in god are starting from wrong and then voting toward a theocracy where we’d have to go along with their beliefs if not believe them ourselves. I said we have to take these people seriously, because they are in massive numbers, actively interested in oppressing everyone else. We have to take them seriously, but never their god.

          Just look now at the people who actively hope for god to rain down fire and destruction just because of Obergefell. They are so mad that the US has nationwide marriage equality, that they are vocally expressing a sincere hope that the US gets destroyed by god, just to show us we’re wrong. They are upset, they want to leave, they want the US destroyed, so yes, that is serious. If god takes a while, I don’t see what will stop any of them from taking matters into their own hands, because they start from wrong. “God” doesn’t care because he doesn’t exist, but they sincerely expect him to demonstrate his disgust with the US, and then we’ll see!

        • Christianity is popular … therefore what? Therefore it’s true? Therefore its claims of God should be taken seriously?

          I’m happy to take them seriously. That’s all I do all day. Show me the reasons.

        • Susan

          God makes sense of life and the universe in all its complexity in a way that no other conception of reality does.

          Interesting. So far, you have been either unable or unwilling to show that.

          Then, you employ an argumentum ad populum rather than answer a simple, direct question.

          There is no distinction, as far as you can show.

          That much is clear.

        • KarlUdy

          Susan,
          Are humans generally rational or irrational in their beliefs?

        • Kodie

          I know this one!

        • Susan

          Susan,
          Are humans generally rational or irrational in their beliefs?

          Karl,

          What is the distinction between your agent and MNb’s fairies?

        • KarlUdy

          God is eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, the source of all life, truth and being.

          Fairies at the bottom of the garden are physically constrained by location. By MNb’s suggestion they have some power over the blossoming of flowers. I don’t know much else but I haven’t heard of anyone suggest that fairies are not limited in power, etc.

        • Susan

          I haven’t heard of anyone suggest that fairies, are not limited n power, etc.

          No. The extent of powers isn’t the issue.

          The problems with MNb’s immaterial agents seem obvious:

          1) There is no evidence for his fairies except the garden.
          2) There is no explanation for the fairies.
          3) The fairies add no explanatory value.
          4) There is no reason to assume an agent is required for flowers to grow.

          Supersize your agent’s attributes all you like. It doesn’t escape the same basic problems you’re happy to stick the fairies with.

        • KarlUdy

          1)There is no evidence for God except the universe (We can work with that for now)
          2) There is no explanation for God (OK)
          3) God adds no explanatory value (I must disagree, and you have already read that I think God gives much explanatory value)
          4) There is no reason to assume an agent is required for the universe’s existence (Again I disagree. I do not think the universe is eternal, and I don’t find the idea of the universe spontaneously coming into existence persuasive)

          I have not introduced any new arguments here, so anyone who has been reading what I’ve written should be able to see why I see a difference.

        • Kodie

          1) There is no evidence for the fairies except for the flowers in the garden.
          2) There is no explanation for the fairies.
          3) The fairies add tremendous explanatory value – we’d have no flowers if not for fairies
          4) There is a great reason to assume an agent is required for the garden’s maintenance. That reason is there’s no reason not to consider that it’s fairies.

          Look, remember you think demons cause diseases?

          Let’s take this dead seriously now.

        • Susan

          remember you think demons cause diseases?

          Really?

        • Kodie

          Yes. Even though we may know a scientific cause is something else, we don’t know that it wasn’t demons who put that there to make you sick, or got inside and attracted the whatever caused your disease to you.

        • Susan

          Even though we may know a scientific cause is something else, we don’t know that it wasn’t demons

          Well, many people take demons seriously. So, it’s a serious idea.

          Why aren’t you taking it seriously?

        • Kodie

          Karl doesn’t so much assert that demons definitely do cause diseases, at least not out loud where we can hear what he really thinks, but just that we cannot rule it out.

        • Susan

          just that we cannot rule it out.

          OK. Thanks for the clarification.

          It’s true that we can’t rule it out. I’m glad to hear that he feels sheepish enough about it to put it in the arbitrary ‘can’t rule it out’ pile. It doesn’t say much for it.

          I hope he understands that we can’t rule fairies out either, by the same logic.

        • TheNuszAbides

          it’s his standard brand of cheek, yet another exercise in “yeah but you can’t prove that superstitions aren’t functional perspectives”.

          not everyone everywhere can be an epidemiologist by the time they have their first chores assigned to them, amirite?

        • KarlUdy

          You really want to have a discussion about fairies?

          I do like the odd bit of British folk mythology but I think you probably know even less about it than theism.

        • Kodie

          Quit stalling.

        • Susan

          1)There is no evidence for God except the universe (We can work with that for now)

          Then for now, we will consider gardens (edit) flowers evidence for fairies. Neither one of us has to show it.

          2) There is no explanation for God (OK)

          OK.

          3) God adds no explanatory value (I must disagree, and you have already read that I think God gives much explanatory value)

          You haven’t been able to explain anything. So, no.

          I do not think the universe is eternal, and I don’t find the idea of the universe spontaneously coming into existence persuasive.

          What does an agent add? How do you explain the existence of the agent? Why is an agent necessary?

          Telling me that you find some things persuasive and some things unpersuasive without showing your work is not much of an argument.

        • KarlUdy

          You haven’t been able to explain anything. So, no.

          It’s not that I haven’t been able, but the conversation hasn’t actually got to that point. But just for you, I’ll start off with one thing (comments here devolve into chaos way too easily even with just one point at a time): the concept (note I say concept, not content) of right and wrong.

          What does an agent add? How do you explain the existence of the agent? Why is an agent necessary?

          Evidence is more on the side of the universe not being eternal, which introduces the question of how it came into being. If you want to avoid an infinite regress there must be an eternal first cause.

        • Susan

          (comments here devolve into chaos way too easily even with just one point at a time)

          It’s disqus. That’s one problem.

          the concept (note I say concept, not content) of right and wrong.

          Talk about devolving. One second you were arguing that your agent was the best explanation for the ‘existence’ of the ‘universe’. Now, you’re appealing to ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

          So, you’ll drop you universe argument, I guess. You showed no work for it.

          Now, you’re claiming that your unevidenced agent has explanatory value when it comes to the concept of right and wrong.

          Noted that you have abandoned an ‘is’ argument for an ‘ought’ argument

          And have yet to make the argument.

          Evidence is more on the side of the universe not being eternal,

          What do you mean?

          which introduces the question of how it came into being.

          That’s an old question, Karl. That’s what cosmology does and does well.

          If you want to avoid an infinite regress

          What does ‘infinite regress’ mean where our models of spacetime break down(e.g. the initial conditions of our universe)?

          there must be an eternal first cause.

          Let’s pretend that you made it this far.

          You really, really haven’t but let’s grant the whole ball of wax for the sake of argument.

          How do you get from ‘an eternal first cause’ to an agent?
          .

        • KarlUdy

          It’s not just disqus.

          Talk about devolving. One second you were arguing that your agent was the best explanation for the ‘existence’ of the ‘universe’. Now, you’re appealing to ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

          You were asking about explanatory value.

          Noted that you have abandoned an ‘is’ argument for an ‘ought’ argument

          No I have not. I am talking about the fact that there is a concept of right and wrong. I am not talking about what anyone ought to do or believe or think.

          What does ‘infinite regress’ mean where our models of spacetime break down(e.g. the initial conditions of our universe)?

          If the cause of our universe was not eternal, then it too would logically need a cause, etc etc (And we are talking logically prior as opposed to chronologically prior.)

          How do you get from ‘an eternal first cause’ to an agent?

          If the eternal first cause did not have the ability to choose to act or not act, then we would be still be asking “What caused it?”

        • Susan

          It’s not just disqus.

          That’s why I said ‘that’s one problem.’ Disqus is the dog’s breakfast. People have managed to have reasoned discussions despite that.

          That you are a theist dropping old canards at an atheist site means there’s a likelihood of dogpiling. That’s another problem. Nature of the beast.

          That you refuse to answer a simple question about immaterial agent claims really compounds things. .That’s on you.

          Edit; Comment continued in next panel because disqus is punishing me for calling it the dog’s breakfast.

          My computer freezes at every stroke I want to type.

        • MR

          That you refuse to answer a simple question about immaterial agent claims really compounds things. .That’s on you.

          ^1

        • TheNuszAbides

          i am invariably grateful for Susan’s most prominent and refreshing qualities: extensive patience and economical devastation.

        • Susan

          (Reply to Karl continued…)

          You were talking about explanatory value.

          I was. You were claiming that your immaterial agent had explanatory value when it comes to the existence of the universe.

          It doesn’t. There is no reason to place an agent where our models break down. So, you gished your way over to ‘the concept of right and wrong’.

          No I have not. I am talking about the fact that there is a concept of right and wrong. I am not talking about what anyone ought to do or believe or think.

          Yes. You have. You argued a few comments ago that the only explanation for a universe existing is Yahwehjesus and you abandoned that position (without making any headway) to claim that if moral agents (humans) have concepts of right and wrong, it could only be ’cause Yahwehjesus. Sorry that your interest in cosmology and ethics goes no further than substandard apologetic arguments.

          ,If the cause of our universe was not eternal, then it too would logically need a cause, etc etc (And we are talking logically prior as opposed to chronologically prior.)

          What logic addresses the ‘prior’? You completely ignored MNb’s explanation of cosmology to ask him a hypothetical you couldn’t answer. Logic is as good as reality.

          Let that be noted. Your interest in physics is no less impressive than your interest in ethics.

          Good luck dealing with Euthyphro and event horizons. Yahwehjesus to date is a terrible response to both.

          If the eternal first cause did not have the ability to choose to act or not act, then we would still be asking “What caused it?”

          Almost everything we observe does not require an agent’s choice. Why should we assume an agent where our flashlights don’t shine? What does an agent’s choice add to things? What can you show to support an agent?

          (Those are separate questions. You are required to answer them if you expect anyone to take your argument ‘seriously’ and it should bother you if you can’t answer even one of them.. That’s up to you.)

        • KarlUdy

          That you are a theist dropping old canards at an atheist site

          I am a theist at an atheist site. I don’t expect everyone (or anyone, really) to roll over and say “Wow! I haven’t heard that before!” but I don’t think it is fair to say that I’m dropping old canards.

          I am rather surprised at the wilful ignorance shown by many here. That God is by definition “eternal” is simple. This isn’t an argument that God necessarily exists. (ie I’m not throwing that out to suggest that therefore theism is true or atheism is false.) But it does mean that “Who made God?” is never going to get off the start line as an argument against God’s existence.

          I think there are still a bunch of people or more here who still don’t get that and I’m beginning to think that it is mostly because they don’t want to and they are happier thinking that all theists are unthinking hypocritical morons so anything they say must be either lies or nonsense.

          My computer freezes at every stroke I want to type.

          Happens to me all the time too. That’s one of the reasons I try to keep my comments short.

        • MNb

          “I don’t think it is fair to say that I’m dropping old canards.”
          They are. It’s not exactly the first time I presented the objections to the first cause argument. Like anyone else you refuse to address them. Your best attempt was your hypothetical question “if there is a god, would you expect …..” and I already showed you why that goes wrong: that way you can assume everything and anything.

          “the wilful ignorance shown by many here.”
          Like you not wanting to know that the universe coming into existence was not a causal event, you mean?

          “That God is by definition “eternal” is simple.”
          Not at all. You haven’t shown yet that that definition has anymore meaning than “god is a square circle”. Plus lots of religions postulate a non-eternal god creating the whole shenanigan.

          “Happens to me all the time too.”
          To me it happens only when I have downloaded many comments. A solution is to type your comment in Wordpad first.

        • Susan

          I don’t think it is fair to say that I’m dropping old canards.

          I can be wrong, misinformed and occasionally cranky (I try not to be, but frustration can bring out the worst in me sometimes) but I try VERY hard to be fair.

          First, you created a ridiculous forcing argument by suggesting that there are only three possibilities for the existence of the universe.
          It was a terribly formulated argument to begin with.

          MNb explained to you that reality doesn’t care about humans misapplication of the notion of causes. (We’ll ignore the complexities and details of agents for now and focus on your need for a ‘first cause’ (another term you haven’t defined).

          You completely ignored his physics to ask him a hypothetical that pretended physics wasn’t important when it comes making claims about the existence of our universe.

          It was a silly, point-dodging hypothetical and MNb gave you a logically equal hypothetical in response. What he didn’t point out (and it was kind) was your point dodging.

          You then cried foul because he wasn’t taking your immaterial agent seriously. Logic doesn’t work that way.

          Karl, you’re uttering apologetics and seem to be so emotionally committed to your belief that you can’t see special pleading when it is reflected back to you.

          I’m not sure how to proceed from here. I would like to have a respectful conversation but unless I take your claims ‘seriously’ no matter how malformed the thinking behind them seems to be, you will just think I am one of those people who doesn’t take your claims seriously. For some reason, that’s my fault.

          I’ve asked you to give us a good reason to take them seriously.

          You haven’t.

          When I mentioned that your agent had no explanatory power when it comes to the existence of universes, you moved on to ‘the concept of right and wrong’ as best explained by Yahwehjesus and didn’t seem to the least bit concerned that your agent (the one that was supposed to be the only explanation for the existence of the universe) had no explanatory power when it comes to the existence of universes. This is what apologists do. They never follow through. That there are people who buy it does not make it ‘serious’.

          I get that an attribute of some unevidenced deities is that they are ‘eternal’. It’s a meaningless term when uttered by humans who show no sign of understanding what time is. Yahwehjesus is ‘not time’. That’s what that means. Also ‘not material’. Not ‘natural’. Omni several terms that are never defined.

          How about infinite? It sounds good if you don’t have to examine the implications of infinity.

          How would any human define and evaluate these attributes?

        • KarlUdy

          Susan, I am sorry if I have misunderstood what you have asked me. Our interpretations of the nature of reality are obviously worlds apart.

          I’m not sure exactly how I responded differed from what you asked for, and due the nature of disqus, I can’t even see the relevant comments (without doing a search for them).

          Thank you for being the most civil commenter I have ever come across on this blog.

        • MNb

          Still dodging – and now in the most polite way possible. Though some people (not me) think dodging rude behaviour. That would mean you’re not polite at all.

        • Kodie

          Karl, what a weak, weaselful response.

        • Susan

          Susan, I am sorry if I have misunderstood what you have asked me.

          I thought I asked some clear questions but I will try again. Here’s one:

          1) Why did you ignore MNb’s point about having (at best) a god who plays dice with the universe? Also, no need for an agent.

          Here’s another:

          2) Why did you divert to a hypothetical that you don’t take seriously in any other context and think it’s reasonable to demand that we take your context seriously?

          I hope those questions are more easily understood. I asked a lot more but feel free to answer one at a time. Please don’t use special pleading.

          Thank you for being the most civil commenter I have ever come across on this blog.

          Thank you. I’m not sure how to take that. I didn’t see uncivil comments from others in this particular discussion.

        • KarlUdy

          1) As to “God playing dice with the universe” I can’t remember where he said that, and don’t know the context, so I’m sorry I can’t answer

          2) MNb was asking me questions about the means and procedures God used to create the universe. I asked the hypothetical to see what his expectations were as to what he would expect us to know and understand about these things. At some point (maybe very early in the piece) I would get to a point where my only answer would be “I don’t know” and given that we all have limits on our knowledge we would all get to such a point at some stage. I wanted to know if not knowing all the details was going to be a deal-breaker for him. I phrased it as a hypothetical because I wanted to avoid both him feeling he might be being trapped into affirming God’s existence where he didn’t intend to, and because I didn’t want it to devolve into “Well, God doesn’t exist anyway” which wouldn’t help me understand him.

          As I alluded to in other comments, the mention of fairies is a common rhetorical tactic by atheist apologists to get people to think about God equated with something they couldn’t bring themselves to believe in without actually arguing the point. So I asked him if his question was serious. Sincere might have been a better word.

        • Susan

          As to “God playing dice with the universe” I can’t remember where he said that, and don’t know the context, so I’m sorry I can’t answer

          You can click on a commenter’s history (yours and MNb’s) and find the exchange.

          MNb said:

          I’m not proposing a creator at all for the simple reason that “to create” is a causal act and the preponderance of evidence for physics and cosmology is that our universe is thoroughly probabilistic. That’s what quantum fields express.

          What I’m saying is that your option 1) is seriously flawed because you’re not able to tell us how your creator did it, which means he used and which procedures he followed (assuming that our universe is causal, which doesn’t seem the case at all). So even if your argument is set up in a correct way your conclusion is not justified. Your best possible conclusion is “we don’t know because all possible answers have their problems.”

          You replied (completely dodging MNb’s point):

          Just as a hypothetical, if God did exist and created the universe, do you expect that we would necessarily be able to comprehend the means and procedures for how God would create a universe?

          It was all special pleading after that.

        • KarlUdy

          So it was the same exchange? Then for 1) the answer is that I wanted to know more about what he thought before I answered, and then he responded with the fairy comment, and we never got past there.

          It wasn’t a dodge. I wanted clarification on MNb’s thoughts.

        • Susan

          I wanted to know more about what he thought before I answered

          You began with a forcing argument.

          It doesn’t work. You ignored MNb’s statement that “the preponderance of evidence for physics and cosmology is that our universe is thoroughly probabilistic.”

          Where does that leave your ‘only three possibilities’?

          You proposed an unnecessary agent with no explanation, no evidence and no explanatory power when it comes to the existence of universes.

          From your previous comment:

          the mention of fairies is a common rhetorical tactic by atheist apologists to get people to think about God equated with something they couldn’t bring themselves to believe in without actually arguing the point.

          If it were a mere rhetorical tactic, you would show how your immaterial agent (with no evidence, explanation or explanatory power) was a reasonable proposal as opposed to fairies.

          It is an exact echo of your hypothetical. Your hypothetical is equivalent to MNb’s hypothetical until you make a case that it isn’t.

          Something’s gone wrong in your logic if you can’t see such an obvious point.

          Many people still believe in fairies and fairies were taken very seriously by a large percentage of the population for a very long time.

          Also ghosts, goblins, demons, vampires, ancestral spirits, angels, anal-probing aliens and countless other apparently imaginary agents.

          That people take some apparently imaginary agents seriously does not say anything about the realness of those agents. You have to show your work if you are expecting your particular apparently imaginary agent to be taken seriously here.

          So far, you haven’t done that. Until you do, I see no reason to give Yahwehjesus any more respect than I give fairies.

          Nothing rhetorical about it.

        • Kodie

          Just a reminder, his outstanding response was that we need to get out and talk to some other people. Who aren’t here; instead, we have KarlUdy, who chooses to be here specifically to engage in such discussions on an atheist blog with atheists who wait to find out the answer. I don’t know if he simply doesn’t know, or additionally encourages atheists to speak to Christians offline so we can capture the magical ingredient and get saved. Lazy, Karl.

        • Susan

          his outstanding response was that we need to get out and talk to some people

          Which ignores the evidence that at least some (if not most) of the atheists he encounters here had their heads filled with this drock until honest inquiries into the drock proved unsupportable.

          Karl is repeating the same drock and thinks it ‘sophisticated’, ‘rational’, ‘intellectual’ and ‘meaningful’ but he can’t address the most basic problems with it. He’s bought it and seems to think that anyone who doesn’t accept the arguments hasn’t considered the arguments. That’s what they tell him. Why he accepts it, I don’t know.

          Atheists are made of straw.

          It’s very simple.

          I don’t believe you, Karl. (I do hope you’re reading this. I have no intention of talking behind your back.)

          Karl has given me no reason to believe him. He’s bought into the magic bracelets. He takes offense if we compare his bad argument to other bad arguments he automatically dismisses as ridiculous.

          That’s why I’m an atheist when it comes to his particular deity. I don’t accept his claims and find the arguments he’s put forth in support of them guilty of special pleading.

          When that is pointed out to him, he reverts to more special pleading.

          I’m not sure how to forge an honest discussion on those terms.

          I’d like to. I’m trying.

        • MNb

          You are doing very well, but perhaps you expect too much. Certainly on internet and certainly believers (because of their emotional investment, not because they’re stupid or something) hardly ever will admit that they are wrong. So the best we can do is laying bare their logical fallacies and that’s exactly what you do.

        • Kodie

          I’m not sure how to forge an honest discussion on those terms.

          I’d like to. I’m trying.

          I think you’re doing it. It would be ok if Karl participated honestly, but pointing out his dishonesty the way you do is also very effective.

        • MNb

          You totally got your clarification. We never got past there because you refused to accept what I think: your hypothetical god question is exactly the same as my hypothetical fairy question. What’s more, the fact that we never got past there confirmed the point of my counter question: you don’t have a method to seperate correct claims about the supernatural from incorrect ones.
          And that, my dear KU, is a very good reason not to believe in gods, souls, fairies or whatever belongs to the supernatural.

        • Kodie

          All I heard was there were too many posts and he lost track of the original question, since he dodged it at the first. He could have addressed it and not been so confused what was expected.

        • MNb

          To me this happens only when I have downloaded many comments. A solution is to type your comment in Wordpad first.

        • TheNuszAbides

          disqus is punishing me for calling it the dog’s breakfast. My computer freezes at every stroke I want to type.

          in my experience that seems to be a function of a very long thread such as this, possibly magnified by my preference for a) firefox and b) various attempts to stave off unwanted cookies and other intertubes-chaff. (but i have never compared notes. would you consider a) or b) relevant in your case?)

        • Greg G.

          I have used Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome on my laptop and the native Android browser, Chrome, and Opera Mini on my phone. It is mostly the number of posts you have showing that slows things down to a crawl. Each one has to check the time, up votes, and replies. You can open new comments with the “Load more comments” link at the bottom, from the “Recent Comments”, or the new replies when you leave the window open on an active article for a while.

        • MNb

          “I am talking about the fact that there is a concept of right and wrong.”
          Without telling us how god taught living creatures that there is such a concept, which means he used and which procedures he followed it remains a god of the gaps.

          “If the cause of our universe was not eternal, then it too would logically need a cause”
          Assuming that the universe coming into existence was a causal event, which is a wrong assumption, science denier.

        • Susan

          It’s not that I haven’t been able, but the conversation hasn’t actually got to that point.

          You’ve been given so many opportunities to address your own logic
          and have done everything you can to avoid that conversation.

          You have been able.

        • MNb

          “the concept (note I say concept, not content) of right and wrong”
          God of the gaps is not an explanation.

          “which introduces the question of how it came into being.”
          God of the gaps is not an explanation. You already admitted (sort of, because you tried to duck that one as well) that it’s impossible to tell how your god pulled off the first causal relation, which means he used and which procedures he followed. Moreover with your snark criterium you showed that you don’t have a method to research that question.

          “If you want to avoid an infinite regress”
          Quantum fields might have existed (whatever exists means in this context) forever. Saying that your god created those quantum fields is accepting a gambling god (Einstein) and hence refutes christianity.

          “there must be an eternal first cause.”
          Finally you, exactly like any Young Earth Creationist, go on repeating your claims while neglecting relevant problems. Here the problem for you is that our universe is not causal. So this is contradictory with “the universe not being eternal”. Our universe coming into existence was according to modern physics not a causal event.

          Yup, you’re a science denier – you let your personal theology dictate what science can and cannot say.

          Those are not the only problems with the cosmological argument. Another one, if we neglect above mentioned problems, is that it’s related with Fine Tuning. During the act of creation you suppose that your god fine tuned the natural constants. That rather suggests polytheism – one god for every single constant.
          The cosmological or first cause argument is one of the weakest, because it can be refuted in so many ways.

          “It’s not that I haven’t been able”
          It’s not the first time I confront you with these issues. You never addressed them.

        • Kodie

          Let’s put it to the test – assume we all believe that MNb’s garden was tended to by fairies, so you should approach the question seriously as you would want us to take your god seriously.

        • God is eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, the source of all life, truth and being.

          You know God’s properties because the Bible says so? Any other reason? And if it’s based in the Bible, why should I accept them?

        • KarlUdy

          These are generally accepted properties of God. Nothing particularly Bible-specific about them, although the Bible wouldn’t disagree with any of them.

        • MNb

          Lots of religions don’t give their gods those properties. They are not generally accepted at all; in fact they are only typical for the three abrahamistic religions. So you are guilty of special pleading as well.

        • KarlUdy

          Which religions?

        • YNWA40515

          Judaism, Christianity and Islam are collectively known as the Abrahamic religions, because they share Yahwe’s/Allah’s foundational covenant with Abraham as their common denominator.

          Set the fairies aside, since you seem so singularly determined to miss the point. Let’s take a different tack, one that (at least) nullifies your ability to dismiss the validity of the argument by invoking an argumentum ad populum fallacy. Here follows two conflicting faith-based assertions, both of which are believed by millions of people, past and present. Which of these two statements do you accept as true or false? Feel free to reject both statements as false, but please explain why you reject either or both of them, and specifically, what objective, evidentiary grounds exist for rejecting either (or both). Additionally, –and this is the most important thing– please explain in detail how you apply those same standards to what you actually do believe to be true, and how the application of those same standards clearly and objectively demonstrates the truth of what you believe; alternatively, explain why you choose not to apply those same standards to what you believe:

          1. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son*, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life”

          2. “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his Prophet**”

          *AKA, Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus Christ, etc.

          **NB: A corollary of this statement– in case you weren’t already aware– is that while the aforementioned Jesus was a fairly stand-up guy, he was not actually the son of God, and/or God Himself in human form, just a lower case “p” prophet.

        • KarlUdy

          We’re getting quite a way from the original topic here (Is “Who made God?” a good argument).

          Anyways …

          I affirm 1. and deny 2.

          Please forgive me, but my answers are not going to be detailed, but more broad brush-strokes

          Some of the reasons for this are:
          1) The ability of Christianity to better explain life, the universe, and the human experience than Islam.

          2) The textual evidence for the Bible is superior to that of the Koran (and all other contemporary writings)

          3) I find the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus convincing

        • Kodie

          This is still the earlier topic you skipped out on, and you didn’t follow the directions. Lemme help:

          but please explain why you reject either or both of them, and specifically, what objective, evidentiary
          grounds exist for rejecting either (or both). Additionally, –and this is the most important thing– please explain in detail how you apply those same standards to what you actually do believe to be true, and how the application of those same standards clearly and objectively demonstrates the truth of what you believe; alternatively, explain why you choose not to apply those same standards to what you believe

        • YNWA40515

          Yeah, that was disappointing, if not entirely unexpected.

          But I hope you would agree with me that a Muslim could supply the precise opposite of all your responses. Why–objectively– would he or she be wrong?

          To go point by point:

          Number one is just a baseless assertion. You could replace “Christianity” with anything– Scientology, Wicca, Last Thursdayism– and it would be just as true or false. It’s perfectly fine for you to feel that way, but the point of this is to get you to recognize the difference between something that can be objectively demonstrated to be true– or at least argued, based on actual, mutually agreed upon evidence– and your personal opinion (irrespective of how many other people share that opinion).

          2. “The textual evidence for the [truth of the] Bible is superior to that of the Koran (and all other contemporary writings)”

          This is at least the beginning of an argument, which can ostensibly be supported by evidence, but as of now it, too, is just an assertion, one which pretty much every Muslim ever would reject out of hand. Why would they be wrong to do so?

          3. Again, on this point– especially as it’s worded– there’s nothing inherently wrong with it, so long as you recognize that it only rises to the level of being personally convincing to you (and other Christians, obviously). It needs a great deal more support to rise above that level, however. Why do you suppose it is, for instance, that Muslims and Jews rather emphatically do not find that evidence convincing?

        • KarlUdy

          Long essays don’t work too well in a comment box. I apologized at the beginning but I can flesh out a little based on your responses

          1) I understand that it is a generic statement, but you could write a book on this and still not cover everything. One example of the sort of thing that I think Christianity explains better than Islam (and all other explanations) is how humans can be simultaneously capable of great good and great evil.

          2) The oldest extant manuscripts of the Koran are not known to the public or even made available for academic experts to examine. The official line is that there are no copying errors in any Koran, which I don’t know is demonstrably false or not, but without being able to look at the manuscripts – who can tell? Most Muslims are unable to even try to check this because their Arabic is not good enough.

          3) Why do people believe in conspiracy theories? In the US, there are significant portions of the population who are “birthers” or “truthers” – sets of beliefs that entail huge conspiracy theories. Gossip, and propaganda, especially related to insider/outsider dynamics are incredibly powerful. Most people just hear the gossip and propaganda and don’t investigate further.

          In short, every explanation of the resurrection story other than that Jesus rose from the dead requires a conspiracy theory of some sort.

        • YNWA40515

          1. I’m not concerned with whether the statement is generic, and you should not be either, unless you’re attempting to avoid addressing the question. What I’m looking for is the methodology. Whether Islam or Christianity is better at explaining anything is irrelevant– I want to know what motivates you to assert that one or the other is better at anything. And for you to recognize that, absent any attempt at argument, your assertions are fundamentally no better or worse than a Muslim simply making the opposite assertion.

          2) This at least is an argument. I’m an atheist, so I’m a bit biased, but I suppose it’s as good a reason as any to reject the authenticity of the Koran. On a related note, are you familiar with the septuagint? If so, why would it (or any other translation of any part of the Bible) be immune to the same sort of skepticism you direct toward the Koran?

          3. Intriguing! Did it ever to occur to you that the story of the resurrection itself might also have been a conspiracy theory? No? Just the stories that attempt to explain it as something other than a resurrection? No one could have any possible motivation to believe that Jesus rose from the dead even though he didn’t? Okay then.

          But you know, I swear I saw Elvis just the other day.

        • KarlUdy

          2) We have the manuscripts. They are available (for the most part) for experts to study and compare. Even the general public have access to facsimiles of most of them. Because of the number and age of the manuscripts, we can be more confident that they have been preserved as written than any other ancient document.

          Re the skepticism towards the Koran. Only the Arabic version of the Koran is considered valid in Islam. This means that most Muslims are unable to question their Imam about the meaning of the Koran, they can only accept their Imam’s interpretation.

          3) Count how many people must act or react abnormally for any particular explanation of the resurrection account.

        • MNb

          “We have the manuscripts.”
          I suppose you mean the snippets – there is a bigger gap between the oldest complete versions of the Gospels and the actual events than between the oldest complete versions of the Quran and its actual events.

        • I swear I saw Elvis just the other day.

          My goodness! The gap between now and your experience is far shorter than that for the Bible. And there’s no cultural gap. And there’s no centuries of copying.

          I’m a believer! For the same reason that the New Testament must be correct, so must your statement–it’s more evidentially solid on every point than the NT.

        • MNb

          No, that’s incorrect. The natural explanation – something happened and people back then developed a myth/legend – doesn’t require any conspiracy. It’s a well established fact that Homo Sapiens has a strong enough imagination to make up all kind of stuff and start to believe it too.
          If you call this “a conspiracy theory of some sort” too you either have to argue that the story of Jonah in the whale is historical or is the result of a “a conspiracy theory of some sort”. I don’t think you will. My guess is that you go with “it’s a legend developed by people”. Then we can go with “The Resurrection is a legend developed by people” as well.

        • Greg G.

          Unknowable is another but then how would any properties be known. That makes the generally accepted properties irrelevant. In order to know, you need a reliable method of separating fact from imagination.

          “I can’t see it therefore it [fill in the blank]”. You would use “doesn’t exist” for a fairy but “is invisible” for what you want to believe.

          The accepted properties of God looks like a list of excuses for believing in the non-existent.

        • adam

          “These are generally accepted properties of God.”

          You mean like SLAVERY was generally accepted as santioned by the same ‘god’.

        • Kodie

          Nothing about just “generally accepted” makes you wonder if it’s really true? Everyone already knows so nobody has to research it?

        • KarlUdy

          It’s how language works. We have generally accepted meanings for words. What I gave is what is generally accepted for “God”. Don’t like what it means? Then use a different word.

        • Kodie

          You said “properties”. Not a definition – an actual thing you actually believe in and its properties. We don’t know any such thing, you just “generally accept” it and don’t wonder how that you do know. You don’t know. You accept someone else’s idea, and it’s just such a common idea that you don’t even think there’s a question to ask about it. Reminder: atheists think that’s fucked up to not ask.

          Here is what you wrote in case you be shifty and change it:

          These are generally accepted properties of God. Nothing particularly Bible-specific about them, although the Bible wouldn’t disagree with any of them.

        • Yes, they’re generally accepted properties; I’m asking why one should believe they apply to God. People just like them? Or is it more substantial than that?

          I see that those properties can vaguely be grounded in the Bible, but the contrary properties can as well. Applying those properties to God seems difficult to me. Thoughts?

        • Greg G.

          Gods with testable properties don’t survive long in this day and age. The only gods left have vague properties with built-in excuses for being indistinguishable from an imaginary being to protect them from scrutiny.

          Religion is so absurd that it comes close to imbecility. –H. L. Mencken

        • MNb

          Who says that the fairies in my garden are physically constrained? They belong to the supernatural! So they aren’t physically constrained by definition. Perhaps they are supernaturally constrained, but that doesn’t make any difference for the key question:

          how do you seperate correct claims about the immaterial, non-physical, supernatural, transcendental, whatever (assuming that you think your god a correct claim) from incorrect ones (like the fairies in my garden)?

          Saying because “god is eternal, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent” means you are defining your god into existence, just because.

          Plus of course my fairies also are “eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, the source of all life, truth and being”, but only when it comes to flowers. But they obviously tend those flowers beyond space and time, in the same domain as your god is be supposed to exist. That doesn’t make sense, you say? Then “god being the source of all life, truth and being” doesn’t make sense either, because these things equally belong to our natural, material, physical, non-transcendental reality.

        • KarlUdy

          how do you seperate correct claims about the immaterial, non-physical, supernatural, transcendental, whatever (assuming that you think your god a correct claim) from incorrect ones (like the fairies in my garden)?

          The level of snark is a good start.

        • MNb

          Let’s apply that principle to your answer ….
          Yup, the level of snark is too high and hence you’re answer is dismissed.

          So you don’t have a method and use snark to hide it, because you’re too dishonest to admit it.
          Thanks.

        • YNWA40515

          “Plus of course my fairies also are ‘eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and
          omnipresent, the source of all life, truth and being’, but only when it
          comes to flowers
          .”

          Infidel! Everyone knows that fairies are also vital to the tending of various and sundry bushes. And ivy. And shrubs. I’m afraid you’ve left me no choice but to declare a holy war on you and your kind for this irreverent blasphemy!

        • Pofarmer

          Then you run headlong into the problem of evil and Eurythro dilemma. Those qualities don’t correspond to our reality.

        • KarlUdy

          Which is a much better objection to God than “Who made God?”

        • adam

          No, if you ‘believe’ that life is too complex to have evolved on its own,

          And you HAVE to have ‘special pleading’ of a ‘creator’, then you need to explain where your ‘creator’ and its KNOWLEDGE comes from.

        • Greg G.

          But “Who made God?” is a fitting objection to “God is the source of all being.”

        • Pofarmer

          The Problem of Infinite regress isn’t insubstantial. If you can posit one immaterial being, you can come up with any number of them.

        • adam

          “God is eternal, omniscient,

          A pretty poor ‘god’ by any stretch of the imagination

        • adam

          God is eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, the source of all life, truth

          Truth according to the bible god

          Belief in a cruel god makes a cruel man TP

        • Pofarmer

          Was that supposed to be an actual argument?

        • Kodie

          That’s a red herring. What is “important” and why should belief in a fictional character be elevated to the level of “important”? Well, if adult believers in this/similar fictional character are killing people, or each other, for instance, because of their disagreement arose over the seriousness with which they take their beliefs and disagree with another’s beliefs, then dammit it’s serious! If adult believers in this/similar fictional character causes them to deny reality from their children, and their children die of treatable illnesses because they’d rather wish them away, then dammit it’s serious!

          I would like to take this second one as a GREAT EXAMPLE. It’s a great example when people have so much faith in god, that none of these children just get better without a doctor’s intervention. BUT you who believe these diseases may be caused by demons, may think another way other than medicine could be helpful to remove the demons and cure the disease, that would be what you think, right? Because you’re talking to demons, and you’re not defeating infections or critical failure in organs with antibiotics or surgery or some other kind of medicine that’s been proven to work. You may as well think that’s all magical, and why should other adults take you seriously?

          But that’s not why it’s a GREAT EXAMPLE. Most Christians do not think it’s demons, and they don’t have faith in god to miraculously cure someone if that is his will – they credit god for the development of the medical field instead. Most Christians do not have any faith in god to communicate directly with an unbeliever, they only credit god for opening someone’s ears or hardening their heart, but you Christians know you have to deliver the message, or else we’d have never heard it. Plus, you’re actively poisoning us, because once the spell is heard and rejected, that person is doomed. The person is better off if you kept your mouth shut and they never heard of Jesus, according to you. But how would they hear about Jesus? They have to hear it from another person! They have to be “open-minded” so the words will influence them toward belief. Because the belief is so irrational that they can’t just listen to you and be convinced. Well, where is your faith in god to let us know himself what he wants from us and how to behave? Look at this old book and open your mind from the preconception that it’s fictional.

          I mean, read it with a regular human normal brain, and with a normal amount of literacy, it’s obviously fiction. You have to be taught by other people how to read “what’s really written” to “get it”. Arguments go on for weeks about how the Christian reads it properly to suppress the really disgusting parts to a level that’s not so bad.

          There is no reason why religion should be that important in society today than fairies, but the fact remains that the more serious it is, the more we find it necessary to compare it to the sillier things that are harmless like fairies and Santa and leprechauns. Because that’s how seriously you should take it. Fairyists aren’t withholding medical attention from their children, Santaists aren’t stigmatizing women’s sexual freedom, Leprechaunists aren’t trying to take away people’s civil rights, none of these people are seriously trying to leverage their beliefs into policies the rest of us sane rational people have to obey. They are superstitions and so is yours.

        • MNb

          If you don’t think my question nonsensical then you can find the answer to your own question my answering mine.
          I’m waiting and note that you still haven’t done so.

          “Feel free to prove that you’re different.”
          And how am I supposed to do that? Especially as this “not willing to treat the idea of God seriously” is way too broad. You could permit yourself to argue that the very fact that I don’t believe already means that I don’t treat the idea seriously.
          You have devised a test without telling your rules. That makes me suspect you already have decided the outcome: failure, especially because you have shown your dishonesty before.

        • Kodie

          Not sure how seriously to treat it, or how to treat it seriously. It is an abstract fantastical idea that the problem is people who take it too seriously!

          You don’t understand a thing about atheism, so there is no use talking to you do.

        • MNb

          Why is that a relevant question?
          He just showed that he understood my reaction.

          If my question is nonsensical, so is yours.
          If your question deserves a serious answer, so does mine.
          What will it be, Karl? I leave it to you to decide.

        • Kodie

          Are you saying you don’t see how they are similar at all? Doesn’t sound familiar at all?

        • KarlUdy

          I think my reply shows I see the similarity. I just don’t know what point MNb was trying to make.

        • Kodie

          The point was anyone can make claims. God is not a separate kind of category just because you believe it exists.

        • MNb

          I already told you what the point was:

          “same kind of question, same kind of answer.”
          I leave it to you to decide what the answer is. Suit yourself.

        • 90Lew90

          It’s possible to view the notion of the existence of God as ridiculous as fairies while taking religion very seriously.

        • MNb

          “It looked like …”
          Once dishonest always dishonest.
          It looked like to you. You desperately want it to look like that, so much that you didn’t even recognize the deliberately similar formulation – something I of course did intentionally.

          What I’m saying is that I treat the idea of your god as seriously as the idea of fairies in my garden. It’s up to you to determine how serious that is.

        • adam

          “Or are you saying that you treat the idea of God at the same level as the idea of fairies at the bottom of the garden?”

          Since what we are REALLY looking at is not the idea of god or fairies but the BELIEVERS in those, the better analogy is that I view adult BELIEVERS of gods in the same view that you probably view adult BELIEVERS of Santa Claus.

          Or even adult believers in Amun-Ra
          “Amun-Ra retained chief importance in the Egyptian pantheon throughout the New Kingdom (with the exception of the “Atenist heresy” under Akhenaten). Amun-Ra in this period (16th to 11th centuries BC) held the position of transcendental, self-created[2] creator deity “par excellence”, he was the champion of the poor or troubled and central to personal piety.[3] His position as King of Gods developed to the point of virtual monotheism where other gods became manifestations of him.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amun

          They are obviously deluded.

        • KarlUdy

          Should I view adult disbelievers of God in the same way as adult disbelievers of minds outside of themselves? Why or why not?

        • adam

          You should view disbelievers of gods in the same way as adult disbelievers in minds outside of a brain.

          We can demonstrate minds outside our self in other peoples brains.

          We cannot demonstrate gods

        • Greg G.

          An atheist doesn’t have to be someone who thinks he has a proof that there can’t be a god. He only has to be someone who believes that the evidence on the god question is at a similar level to the evidence on the werewolf question. –John McCarthy

        • KarlUdy

          How can you demonstrate that their are minds outside of ourselves as opposed to there are probably minds outside of ourselves?

        • adam

          Neuroscience demonstrates minds outside ourselves in others brains.

          Can you demonstrate minds without brains?
          Or is this the same LACK of demonstration as for your ‘god’?

          What was your god’s first thought?
          And what was your god before this first thought?

        • KarlUdy

          Does the existence of roads prove that traffic exists?

        • adam

          No traffic proves that traffic exists.

          Obviously you either deny neuroscience or are too ignorant to understand it.

          Can you demonstrate minds without brains?
          Or is this the same LACK of demonstration as for your ‘god’?

          What was your god’s first thought?
          And what was your god before this first thought?

        • Kodie

          What minds outside of ourselves? You mean other people?

        • YNWA40515

          “Or are you saying that you treat the idea of God at the same level as the idea of fairies at the bottom of the garden?”

          Speaking for myself, yes. And frankly, you’ve given absolutely no one any reason not to do likewise.

        • KarlUdy

          I have to disagree.

          But if you’re a Liverpool fan you can’t be all bad 😉

        • thatguy88

          Yes, no, maybe. This creator, however, would have to show/prove itself. That’s the point of empiricism in and of itself (you know, the scientific method?). Otherwise until then, neither you nor I know nad/or have the slightest clue as to whether or not this is true.

        • Kodie

          Where did god exist before the universe existed?

        • KarlUdy

          I don’t know. But I do know that things can exist without having a physical location.

        • Pofarmer

          Such as?

        • KarlUdy

          eg the number 7

        • MNb

          The number 7 refers to 7 physical locations and also is located in our totally physical minds.
          Try again.

        • KarlUdy

          We’re going to differ on the nature of our minds. Are you saying that the concept would not exist apart from our minds?

        • adam

          “Are you saying that the concept would not exist apart from our minds?”

          Yes, Karl your IGNORANCE is showing:

          It might seem like an obvious piece of any numerical system, but the zero is a surprisingly recent development in human history. In fact, this ubiquitous symbol for “nothing” didn’t even find its way to Europe until as late as the 12th century. http://www.history.com/news/ask-history/who-invented-the-zero

        • MNb

          Without physical minds. Not specifically ours.

          “We’re going to differ on the nature of our minds.”
          Of course. And that shows the circularity of your

          “I do know that things can exist without having a physical location”
          You don’t know. You assume this because without this assumption you can’t argue for your god. Next thing is that you assume things like god to proclaim your “knowledge” that things can exist without having a physical location.

        • Kodie

          What is 7?

        • Pofarmer

          The idea of the number 7 was created by human minds. It doesn’t exist “out there” somewhere.

        • Otto

          And can anyone say that the number 7 would “exist” outside of existence? It seems to me that the concept of number 7 is tied directly to existence.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, yes,mthe concepts of mathematics were created to describe our physical world. Math is an approximation, in a lot of places. But math doesn’t “exist”. Math was created by human minds.

        • Otto

          Exactly, math is a description of what we see in the natural world so how could it ‘exist’ apart from existence?

        • Pofarmer

          I’ve seen Catholics argue that the fact that we can use math and logic to describe existence indicates it was intelligently designed. Else, how,could we understand it?

        • Otto

          Yeah…the fact that the universe is consistent with itself is ‘proof’ of their god. It would be better for their argument if it wasn’t consistent…isn’t that what a miracle would look like?

        • Pofarmer

          Well, yes, you would think a miracle would appear as an exception to the natural order. Even something as mundane as a certain sect of Christians or Jews or whatever showing up with statistically fewer car accidents would seem to be, at least, some minimal proof. But we don’t get arguments like that, well, except for some Mormon arguments, what we get are arguments thatnthe way things are is proof of God, notwithstanding that the way things are could be proof of any God. They also have to ignore or downplay that we have better explanations for many of the things they take for granted.

        • Kodie

          Like what?

    • LinCA

      You wrote,

      As I see it there are three options:
      1) There is a God (who is eternal) who created everything

      Let’s look at the available evidence, shall we?

      There is not a single shred of evidence that could convince a reasonable person (one who doesn’t already believe) to start believing that there are gods, any gods. The assertion that such a god, for which there is no reasonable case, would also be eternal is preposterous. Without evidence that your god even exists, you certainly don’t get to claim it is eternal.

      You wrote,

      2) The universe is eternal

      and,

      The preponderance of evidence for physics and cosmology is that 2) is false.

      Incorrect. There is no evidence that the universe is not eternal. There is evidence that it is.

      You wrote,

      Which leaves us with 1)

      No, it certainly doesn’t.

      • KarlUdy

        Incorrect. There is no evidence that the universe is not eternal. There isevidence that it is.

        OK. So one study concluding the universe is eternal. How many studies do you think there are concluding the universe is not eternal? Where is the preponderance of evidence?

        • LinCA

          You wrote,

          So one study concluding the universe is eternal.

          Which is infinitely more than all the evidence for gods.

          When looking at the score, there is an abundance of evidence that a universe exist while there is nothing to even suggest there are gods, add to that that there is evidence that the universe could be eternal and without evidence for gods there is also nothing to suggest they are eternal. That makes it 2 for the rational camp and 0 for the believers.

          You wrote,

          How many studies do you think there are concluding the universe is not eternal?

          That was your claim. Care to provide some links to those studies? I’m not aware of any that claim that there is evidence the universe is not eternal.

          You wrote,

          Where is the preponderance of evidence?

          Like I said, there is no evidence for gods. They are just as likely as the Easter Bunny.

        • KarlUdy

          Care to provide some links to those studies? I’m not aware of any that claim that there is evidence the universe is not eternal.

          ?!?!

          Here’s some reading for starters.

          http://www.technologyreview.com/view/427722/mathematics-of-eternity-prove-the-universe-must-have-had-a-beginning/

          http://arxiv.org/abs/1204.4658

        • LinCA

          OK. So scientists haven’t established whether or not the universe is or isn’t eternal. That still doesn’t support your assertion of a god. Where is the evidence for it? Where is the support for it being eternal?

        • KarlUdy

          So scientists haven’t established whether or not the universe is or isn’t eternal.

          There is more evidence on the universe not being eternal, which is what I originally said, before you rashly said there was none.

          That still doesn’t support your assertion of a god.

          I did not assert God. I suggested God as the best explanation of the existence of the universe, by showing it was better than the two other explanations. And as I have said elsewhere, God is by definition eternal.

        • LinCA

          You wrote,

          There is more evidence on the universe not being eternal, which is what I originally said, before you rashly said there was none.

          No, I said I wasn’t aware of any.

          You wrote,

          I did not assert God. I suggested God as the best explanation of the existence of the universe, by showing it was better than the two other explanations.

          Without any evidence for the existence of such a god, it isn’t an explanation of anything.

          You wrote,

          And as I have said elsewhere, God is by definition eternal.

          Since gods exist only in the minds of believers, they disappear the moment the believer’s brain stops working. Gods are by definition as mortal, or even more so, than the believers in them.

        • KarlUdy

          No, I said I wasn’t aware of any.

          Earlier, you said:

          Incorrect. There is no evidence that the universe is not eternal. There isevidence that it is.

          Since gods exist only in the minds of believers, they disappear the moment the believer’s brain stops working. Gods are by definition as mortal, or even more so, than the believers in them.

          Thanks for providing a perfect example of argument by assertion.

        • LinCA

          You wrote,

          Thanks for providing a perfect example of argument by assertion.

          Kinda like when you asserted that gods were by definition eternal? Only different, because there isn’t a single rational argument for the existence of gods. Which goes to the point that gods are imaginary and only exist in the minds of believers, and therefor cease to exist when the believer ceases to exist, or stops believing. Without evidence for gods, the default position is that they don’t exist.

          So, unless you provide some evidence that gods are real, all I need to do is laugh at the ridiculous assertion that they provide a reasonable explanation for anything. Without evidence, a belief in gods is just as infantile as a belief in the Tooth Fairy.

        • Kodie

          How is it any different than god is eternal by definition? He’s a fictional character anyone apparently gets to define. Whatever question about life or the universe you may have, you refer to a being that doesn’t refer to itself, you refer to it among other humans as a thing that exists and has any qualities you want it to have that sufficiently answer your questions. But then you are always just making an assertion. How can you criticize someone for making an assertion their own definition based on valid clues as to the nature of this god? God only appears in language between humans, who use their brains to think of god and communicate about him. Without humans to believe in or discuss god, it seems he does disappear.

          So how do you figure he’s eternal? Just ’cause?

    • Rudy R

      It’s special pleading to suggest God can be eternal but not the universe. Physicists and Cosmologists don’t know what caused the Big Bang. But not knowing something doesn’t default to a god.

      • KarlUdy

        Eternal is tied up in the definition of God. If it’s not eternal it’s not God.

        If it’s not eternal, it also did not exist at some point, in which case it needed to be caused to come into existence (unless it was a quantum particle).

        • adam

          “Eternal is tied up in the definition of God. If it’s not eternal it’s not God.”

          Says Liars for Jesus – Karl

          eternal Merriam Webster
          adjective eter·nal i-ˈtər-nəl

          : having no beginning and no end in time : lasting forever

          : existing at all times : always true or valid

          : seeming to last forever

          When you LIE you expose what kind of ‘god’ you worship – one that NEEDS your dishonesty to survive.

        • KarlUdy

          Adam, please re-read what I said …

          Eternal is tied up in the definition of God

          I did not say that God is tied up in the definition of eternal

          I like that quote you posted though 🙂

        • adam

          I read it Karl

          eternal isnt ‘tied up’ in the definition of god.

          Look at all the dead gods out there.

          There a tens of THOUSANDS of non eternal gods….

        • KarlUdy

          I read it Karl

          Kind of unfortunate you posted what you did then.

          Weirdly ironic, though.

        • adam

          No not at all.

          Weirdly stupid of you, though.

        • KarlUdy

          I know what you posted and then deleted.
          You know what you posted and then deleted.

          You don’t have to live this way.

        • adam

          Yes, I edit my posts.
          So, post it if you think it’s relevant.
          But post all the edits

          Because, no I dont know what I posted and then deleted.

          When dealing with dishonest people like you, Karl
          I just dont put that much into it, because I know I wont get much if anything from you.

          You dont have to live this way either Karl.

          You COULD start actually answering questions, HONESTLY, but without an honest god, why would you bother…..

        • KarlUdy

          I see you’ve put the image back.

          It was something of a Catch-22, I guess

        • adam

          I didnt delete any image or put it back, so AGAIN, Karl you are just mistaken.

          Or more likely, just dishonest again.

        • KarlUdy

          Maybe I was mistaken. It wasn’t showing up for a while there though.

        • Kodie

          Karl, don’t you know sometimes disqus doesn’t post all the posts in a subthread? So when you go back to answer a different post, one you saw earlier might not show up. Stop accusing adam of taking anything down. I don’t know what makes you think he’s the kind of person who would think twice about something he’d posted and remove it!

        • Kodie

          Eternal is a quality you give to your god just because it sufficiently ties up that loose end to the question like you want it.

        • KarlUdy

          Is the universe eternal?

        • adam

          Dont know.

          So what was YOUR ‘god’s’ first thought?

        • Kodie

          Did I expect a relevant response from Karl? Silly me.

        • Without Malice

          Is your god eternal. There is no more reason to think that a god that might have created the universe is eternal than it is to think that he popped into existence just before the Big Bang. Since time itself came into existence with the Big Bang it makes no sense to ask what existed in the time before the Big Bang – there was no time before the Big Bang. It may well be that there are just as many universes as their are atoms in our universe and all of them tied up in an ongoing process of creation and destruction that is unending. Since nothing that man has learned about the universe and how it works requires the interference or help of a supernatural beings, it is rather a pointless statement to say that it took such a being to bring about the Big Bang.

        • KarlUdy

          A first cause must be a necessary being. The only other alternative is an infinite regress.

        • Greg G.

          A first cause must be a necessary being. The only other alternative is an infinite regress.

          An uncaused first event eliminates the need for a first cause.

          A cause cannot have an effect unless it has something to act on. A cause acting on nothing cannot have an effect and if there is no effect, then there is no cause.

          So it is either an uncaused first event or an infinite regress.

          Quantum events do not require a cause so the necessary being is unnecessary.

          All there would have to be is an unstable nothingness. A stable nothingness would require something to maintain stability and, so, could not be nothingness.

          The energy of a pair of opposite particles is equal in magnitude to the potential energy of the forces between them but with an opposite sign. So the spontaneous generation of the particles and the space between them is a zero-sum game so there is no limit to the number of them. Even a universe full of them. Even multitudes of universes. Even multitudes of pocket universes inside universes.

          And it doesn’t require fairies and elves to make them.

        • Without Malice

          Your propositions are nothing but baseless assertions. The Big Bang was he cause of the universe and the Big Bang is not a necessary being or any kind of being. You’re being childish in the extreme. As for infinite regress, that’s much more probable than some supernatural, eternal being having to bring the material universe into existence but needing no cause to bring himself into existence. If our God is eternal then the universe would also be eternal since there could be no period in his existence when he was not creating the universe because it would be impossible for an all-knowing being to not be in a creative act which arose from his fundamental characteristic of being the creator of all things. So either God has been creating the universe from all eternity or he has been creating the precursor causes of the universe from all eternity; either way, the created must necessarily be as eternal as the creator just as the Son must be as eternal as the Father even though he proceeds from the Father in your rather bizarre Christian theology.

        • KarlUdy

          I think you have a misunderstanding of eternal. Time is part of our universe. But our universe began when time began. Eternal means without beginning or end.

        • Kodie

          So how can eternity be interrupted by a creation of a thing with zero materials? What was god doing the rest of the time? That’s a long time to zone out not having anything to do.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Does eternity make sense without time?

        • KarlUdy

          Eternal means without beginning or end.

          I guess one of the implications of that is that non-eternal things could not exist without time.

        • Greg G.

          What about something that has a beginning but no end?

          Imaginary things have no beginning and no end so eternal would also have to have existent in the definition.

        • KarlUdy

          I would think that imaginary things by definition have a beginning.

        • Greg G.

          Imaginary things do not exist so they do not begin. Thinking of something does not make it a reality. A model is not the thing. A mental image of something is not the thing.

        • KarlUdy

          A mental image of something is not the same as a physical representation of that mental image. To say that the mental image is not a thing at all though … I disagree

        • Greg G.

          I didn’t say the thought doesn’t have a beginning. I said thinking of something does not make it a reality. I suppose thinking of a thought would make the thought a reality if you want to get meta. But you can’t think of the farthest thing from your mind.

        • Kodie

          Imaginary things can have any quality you want them to have. They don’t need to be logical.

        • MNb

          “Eternal means without beginning or end.”
          Like the circumference of a circle?

        • KarlUdy

          A popular analogy at weddings

        • Kodie

          I’m not sure why. The phrases “to join together” and “until death do us part” are also popular at weddings. Beginnings, endings, no circles.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Can anything exist without time?

        • MNb

          Nobody knows.
          Moreover KU’s god exists beyond our universe (whatever that means), so we get the question: is there something like supernatural time?
          Hence we see once again that the concept of god produces more problems than solutions.

        • MNb

          “Time is part of our universe.”
          How do you know? Cherry picking physics and philosophy again?

          http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/string-theory-predicts-a-time-before-the-big-bang/
          http://www.universetoday.com/116835/what-came-before-the-big-bang/

          Rejected because it doesn’t suit your theology, I guess.

        • I’ve seen Christians getting incensed at the question, “What was God doing before he created the universe?” They want to declare it invalid somehow, without evidence.

          Augustine’s supposed response to the question: “Preparing Hell for those who ask such questions.”

        • Without Malice

          Good old St. Augustine. What a nasty piece of work he was, teaching that unbaptized children and infants went to hell and that heretics should be burned even if they recanted. I can’t imagine how sick a mind must be to come up with such horrendous ideas.

        • Pofarmer

          “A first cause must be a necessary being.”

          “But modern physics says the universe is probabilistic, not deterministic, so a “first cause” doesn’t make sense.

          “The only other alternative is an infinite regress.’

          No, not really. Our Universe, could be the result of a one time quantum event. It could be the result of generation from other Universes, we could be the output of a black hole in another Galaxy, for instance. But, at any rate, if God could be uncaused, why couldn’t our Universe be uncaused?

        • MNb

          Nope.
          ‘Cause probabilism.

        • Rudy R

          You assume that there was nothing before something. The default very well could have been something rather than nothing. Again, it’s special pleading to state that a god could always be, but not a particle.

        • KarlUdy

          If there is a something, then what is it and how is its existence explained?

        • Rudy R

          The short answer is we don’t know. There were many things we first attributed to a god, but were later found to be explained by natural processes.

          And by the same token, if there is a god, then what is it and how is its existence explained? You’re trying to answer a mystery with a mystery. The difference between theists and atheists is that the theist asserts the mystery has been solved without having empirical evidence and the atheist asserts we don’t have the empirical evidence to solve the mystery.

        • KarlUdy

          I am not appealing to something we don’t know to reach the conclusion that God created the universe.

        • Rudy R

          What is it you know that made you conclude that a god created the universe?

        • KarlUdy

          Read my first comment.

        • Rudy R

          If you are referring to “The preponderance of evidence for physics and cosmology is that 2) is false”, then what is the evidence?
          Also, it’s most probable that this universe is not eternal, but we don’t know what existed prior to the Big Bang. All anyone has at this point is a hypothesis, which is an assertion without applying the strict scrutiny of the scientific method.

        • KarlUdy

          Also, it’s most probable that this universe is not eternal

          So you agree. Thank you

          If we can agree that the universe most likely was brought into being somehow, then the next question is ‘how’ or ‘by what’?

        • adam

          If if the answer is ‘by what’

          Then the next questions is ‘how’ does this ‘what thing’ do it and WHERE did this ‘what thing’ come from.

          So you have the same question MINUS the ultimate KNOWLEDGE you claim with a ‘god’.

          The REAL question is where does knowledge come from, because an ‘all-knowing’ god doesnt need to learn.

          And we KNOW that KNOWLEDGE comes from learning

          What was your god’s first thought?

          And what was your god before this first thought?

        • Rudy R

          I didn’t state anything provocative and I’m willing to bet most atheists would agree. Where we part ways is that you claim to know that the universe was created by a god. Right now, the answer to the question of “how” and “by what” is not known through empirical evidence. And it may never be known. I understand that you believe your logic behind the 3 options is a slam dunk for your god assertion, but I assure you, most Cosmologists don’t agree with how you frame assertion #2. There are many more possibilities.
          Have you ever considered that we don’t know what we don’t know? For instance, we know, with a fair amount of certainty, that we understand how our universe operates and which is reflected in the laws of physics. But there could have been a different set of laws that governed matter before the Big Bang, that could answer your question of “how could the universe just spring up out of nowhere without a creator?”

        • KarlUdy

          But there could have been a different set of laws that governed matter before the Big Bang, that could answer your question of “how could the universe just spring up out of nowhere without a creator?”

          How many of these different sets of laws would result in a universe where intelligent life would form?

        • Greg G.

          Theists like to point out that if just one of the physical constants were changed slightly, the universe would not support complex chemistry. But it has been pointed out that adjustments to more than one constant would allow complex chemistry to work. The weak nuclear force could go to zero, too, with very little change to our universe.

          Victor Stenger wrote about a computer simulation of various combinations of values for physical constants. It turns out that one in four combinations would allow chemistry that is complex enough for life to develop.

        • KarlUdy

          Interesting. Different numbers to what I’ve heard quoted before.

        • adam

          “How many of these different sets of laws would result in a universe where intelligent life would form?”

          Only ONE is needed.

        • Rudy R

          Our uniqueness does not invoke a creator.

          “Why are we here? Because we’re here, roll the bones…Why does it happen? Because it happens, roll the bones” Neil Peart

        • MNb

          Quantum fluctuation perhaps. Alas we lack empirical data.
          “Goddiddid” is the well known

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_of_the_gaps

        • Kodie

          How is god’s existence explained?

          Uh, how about let’s make him eternal. Problem solved. Whereas is science, people actually seek to know such things, in religion, they can just defeat the obvious questions with any convenient definition and pretend they’re learning more and more about this deity.

    • Or:
      4) There is some kind of a previous thing (another universe, a multi-verse state, a formless foam of hyperspace, etc) that existed, with itself having a cause– but that chain ends at a certain point.
      5) That previous thing existed, and it itself didn’t have a creator.
      6) That previous thing existed, and there’s a chain that keeps shifting around beforehand.
      7) We just can’t know.
      8) There is a something that’s not the God of the Bible, such as the God of the Koran or of any of the hundreds of creator-related deities, involved.
      Etc.

      You’re committing a very base logical fallacy.

    • No, I’m saying that “eternal” is a pretty well-understood word.

      Which leaves us with 1).

      So process of elimination then? You’re going to ignore the probability for #1 because it’s impossible to compute and how we don’t call you on it?

      4) Our universe is 14 billion years old, and we don’t know where it came from

      Modern cosmology says 4).

    • crackerMF

      dear karludy,

      please edify us to why you have no problem with an “eternal” god but you find “problems of an infinite past” so “untenable”.

      sincerely,
      – logical minds everywhere

  • carbonUnit

    “I know where buildings come from because I’ve seen them being built.”
    So one would have had to see God creating the universe to really know he did it. This has a familiar ring. Oh yeah – “Were you there?”

    • Kodie

      Where did he get the materials?

      • carbonUnit

        Hobby Lobby?

    • That’s Ken Ham’s favorite line. I’m sure he’d never make an argument as weak as the one made by this author. (Or maybe not.)

  • Curtis Martin

    What a silly discussion. I’m a Progressive Protestant (read, Not and Evangelical Fundamentalist). I do believe in an “Other” and I name that Other God. I do embrace the framework of Christianity to help in understanding this God. I would by no means, however, consider my understanding complete or even necessarily correct. Other cultures and societies use different frameworks in their quest and if that works for them, great. While I do believe that God is best expressed in the life, teaching and example of Jesus the Christ – and I do believe in the Divinity of Jesus, I am not worshipper of the Bible as so many American Christians are. Biblicism is perhaps the biggest heresy in Evangelical Christianity and many if not most of the problems I find that Atheists have with “God” seem really to be problems with a literal reading of The Bible. With that said, there is no “Evidence” for God. Faith, by definition, is a belief in something that is beyond evidence. While I interpret nature as Creation, an Atheist wouldn’t. My take on this book is that whoever wrote it lives in some sort of contained Christian existence and is making a fool of himself. I don’t blog so perhaps continuing on would be good to take up a few weeks worth of work or it’ll be good for a laugh, but it appears to me to be a complete waste of time.

    • MNb

      Great. Then you can safely neglect the vast majority of BobS’ articles and the even vaster majority of the comments. They are not for you. They are for christians who claim that there are arguments and/or that there is evidence for their god indeed.
      My female counterpart believes. She never has claimed any argument or evidence. She was totally correct when she pointed out that “it’s all about having an answer ready.” She has read a very few of my comments here and thinks my hobby silly. I’m fine with being silly.

    • LinCA

      You wrote,

      I do believe in an “Other” and I name that Other God. I do embrace the framework of Christianity to help in understanding this God.

      and,

      With that said, there is no “Evidence” for God.

      Without evidence, all you have is folklore. How does folklore help you understand your god? Does it not, at best, allow you to understand what others believed about it? How can folklore compel anyone to believe it is real?

      • Curtis Martin

        When I see a Sunset, or look into a baby’s eyes (cue sound of needle being pulled off of record.
        Pretty much. Although I will say that generations of history and wisdom from the Christian Church do account for much of the framework I use. That’s not to say the Church is perfect – it’s not by a longshot, what with all the humans we let in – but as I said, I’m choosing one of the available frameworks out there to try and understand how I relate to the God that is beyond Science (beyond = outside of and not quantifiable). So Tradition and teaching from other Christians who have gone before is certainly a large part of how I can make sense of things in my tradition. I also do admit to certain feelings, none of which can be proven or measured and I wouldn’t pretend to try. I have faith that that my “folklore” contains truth – not all of the truth, mind you, but truth. I also have faith (not provable, by definition) that there is more to existence that what can be proven. Still, the book guy just seems lame. Take Care

        • wtfwjtd

          At least your brand of Christianity isn’t quite as offensive as the fundamentalist type. But I do see that you have retained one odious aspect of it–you love to make evidence-less assertions, and occasionally take personal cheap shots without backing them up. To wit:
          “Still, the book guy just seems lame.”

          See, this is one of the most offensive aspects of Christianity of any flavor–its adherents wanting to legislate crazy, unsupported-by-the-evidence statements, or taking personal cheap shots and making character attacks to try and deflect from their own weak belief systems and assertions. None of this really helps your case, whatever it may be.

        • Curtis Martin

          I don’t want to legislate anything and I think that anyone writing a book to either prove or disprove God (and especially their version of God) is an idiot. It’s a fruitless, circular argument and it always seems to be based on a caricature of the opposing side. My “Case” is only that I can’t prove my case – and I’m ok with that.

        • wtfwjtd

          So, I hear you saying that you aren’t sure if Vishnu, Zeus, Apollo, and the thousands of other gods that mankind has invented are real or not, and anyone who asserts that we can know beyond reasonable doubt one way or the other is an idiot? If this is the case, then how do you know that your picking the Christian God is the correct choice?

        • Curtis Martin

          I don’t. And I’m ok with that.

        • MNb

          “It’s a fruitless, circular argument.”
          How do you know? Again faith, ie it makes

          I. Curtis Martin.
          I. Curtis Martin.
          I. Curtis Martin

          feel good?

          See, as low my opinion of for instance WL Craig is, his arguments imo are not circular. So your invited to point out his circularity.
          After reading your comments I won’t hold my breath though.

        • Curtis Martin

          funny thing – this comment thread is in response to a blog post in which the author begins a series where he is going to debunk of a bunch of “Christian” arguments, my opinion, as a Christian, is that, at least the first two arguments were pretty lame to begin with. Faith can’t be proven or disproven until after the fact. My criticism is that all of the arguments, are circular and therefore it’s a silly discussion.

        • curtcameron

          Wtfwjtd, I think Curtis was talking about Eric Hyde when he said “the book guy.”

        • wtfwjtd

          You may be right. From the context of the original post, it wasn’t clear; and sometimes, things get scrambled because of the way Discus posts follow-ups to threads.

        • LinCA

          You wrote,

          When I see a Sunset, or look into a baby’s eyes

          How does that have anything to do with gods, and not everything with your religion’s folklore?

          You wrote,

          I’m choosing one of the available frameworks out there to try and understand how I relate to the God that is beyond Science (beyond = outside of and not quantifiable)

          But how can it provide understanding? If all you have is folklore, what can you learn other than what others believed?

          You wrote,

          I have faith that that my “folklore” contains truth – not all of the truth, mind you, but truth.

          If all you have is faith, how can you be certain, to any degree, that what you have is truth?

          You wrote,

          I also have faith (not provable, by definition) that there is more to existence that what can be proven.

          Of course there is more than what (currently) can be proven, but how is latching on to unsubstantiated folklore going get you any closer to finding out what is really out there?

        • Curtis Martin

          Oh good heavens! The whole Sunset/Baby crap was the kind of answer I figure you guys must get here all the time. Hence the theater directions of pulling the needle off the record.

          The topic at hand is that some guy wrote a book to debunk 10 common Atheist Arguments. This is one of those things where I get a bit embarrassed as a Christian. I think I’ve made it pretty clear – I don’t know in an empirical what that I have is “the” truth. I am choosing to remain in a culturally appropriate framework/religion to deal with trying to understand what I can’t, by definition, “know”. But it works for me. For me, the thousands of years of tradition point to truth, even if it’s a bit cloudy. I’m not from the “The Bible says it so that settles it” crowd so I’m not all that concerned about “settling” anything.

          I totally get that this isn’t much in the way of Proselytizing, but oh well. I doubt you guys really need to hear much of that on this blog anyway. I’m ok with not knowing but trusting that I’m onto a small part of the truth. And I don’t need to launch into a soliloquy about God in the Sunset to try to convince anyone else. However if you like…..

          One night, a man had a dream. He was walking down the beach and, as he looked back he saw two sets of footprints in the sand……………..

        • LinCA

          You wrote,

          I think I’ve made it pretty clear – I don’t know in an empirical what that I have the truth.

          I get that, I just wonder why an otherwise rational adult would.

          You wrote,

          For me, the thousands of years of tradition point to truth, even if it’s a bit cloudy.

          But why would you think that? What reason is there to believe it is anything but ignorant folklore?

          You seem to realize, rationally, that there isn’t any reason to believe any of it, yet you elect to believe some of it. I’d really like to understand why you’d do that.

          Is it the community that you get from belonging to a congregation?

        • Curtis Martin

          This is an answer for me – not one intended to convert anyone or “prove” anything. I actually do give credence to the staying power of the Christian story. I do believe that something happened on the Sunday after the crucifixion. Whether a bodily resurrection or not, those that were there, and had seen the absolute destruction of their hopes in the public execution of their leader, changed and changed dramatically enough that they affected the world. I am well aware that the Jesus story is similar to others. Yet for some reason, it stuck. This story cost those who were telling it their lives, yet it continued to grow. Is that folklore? I know that there’s a lot of folks that deny any historicity to Jesus existence, but still the story grew and is part of the world today. For me, that says that there is something going on here that’s worth following. Please note, I’m NOT a Biblicist. While I take the Bible seriously, I do not take it literally and I feel it is being misused in the Evangelical tradition. So I’m not going to go all Chapter and Verse trying to defend the Bible as inerrant. No Flood, No 6 day creation, No humans riding dinosaurs and no Hell (or likely heaven).
          Family, a Congregation, good music at Christmas and Easter are all a part of why I’m a Christian. At the heart of the matter, I do believe that there is a God that is at work in the world – primarily through those that align their goals and actions with that Power. I don’t believe in trying to convince everyone the world is ending and that we have to be ready to leave and head on to the next world. I do believe that I’m supposed to do what I can to create the world God intends.
          You are correct, I realize that Faith is, at it’s core, irrational. I find a book about 10 Bad Atheist Arguments to be a bit of a waste of trees. Any Atheist can bring the discussion to a standstill by just saying ” oh yeah? prove it!”. I certainly haven’t “proven” anything. But I do have a faith that centers me and I do belong to a community that upholds me when I need it. You ask why I would elect to believe, but I don’t understand really why I would elect not to.

        • LinCA

          You wrote,

          You ask why I would elect to believe, but I don’t understand really why I would elect not to.

          I can’t see how reading a Harry Potter book could lead me to believe wizards are real. I can’t imagine that basing real world decision on irrational stories could be a smart way to lead my life. I guess I value accuracy over comfort. I imagine all reasonable adults would.

        • Pofarmer

          “I guess I value accuracy over comfort. I imagine all reasonable adults would.”

          Unfortunately. No.

        • Curtis Martin

          I do take a bit of exception in your comparing J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books as akin to the Bible. Not to say that there isn’t a lot of spiritual subtext and morality woven into the Harry Potter books. The Bible, itself a collection of 66 books is a different kind of book than a modern, fiction book. Christians also take notice of other means to evaluate God’s presence and intentions. The Bible contains a lot of wisdom within it’s tales – very few of which are to be taken literally. Accuracy is not really all that relevant. Hence, my criticism of the Book being reviewed. I think I’ve made it clear in a different post, but it does bear repeating – I am not a Biblicist. The Idolatry of the Bible is, perhaps, the single greatest problem with modern, Evangelical Christianity. There are other ways of learning and connecting with God beyond just the Bible.

        • LinCA

          You wrote,

          I do take a bit of exception in your comparing J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books as akin to the Bible.

          I was being generous. The Harry Potter books are far better written and far more believable. They are far less contradictory. They don’t promote violence, discrimination, misogyny, and are suitable for young readers. None of that can be said about the bible.

          You wrote,

          The Bible, itself a collection of 66 books is a different kind of book than a modern, fiction book.

          It’s fiction, nonetheless.

          You wrote,

          Christians also take notice of other means to evaluate God’s presence and intentions.

          How? Wouldn’t that open avenues to establish whether it is real?

          You wrote,

          The Bible contains a lot of wisdom within it’s tales – very few of which are to be taken literally.

          Nothing of wisdom in it is original to it and there’s a lot of abject atrocious crap in it.

          You wrote,

          Accuracy is not really all that relevant.

          Maybe not for you, but society suffers when lesser men take it literally and screw up for everyone. It is when people don’t realize that it is nothing but folklore and claim it has some authority, is when the problems start.

          You wrote,

          The Idolatry of the Bible is, perhaps, the single greatest problem with modern, Evangelical Christianity.

          You are probably correct.

          You wrote,

          There are other ways of learning and connecting with God beyond just the Bible.

          Again, how? And how can those methods not be used to establish whether it is real?

          The creature exists only in the minds of the believers. Without any evidence for it, it is no more likely to be real than the Easter Bunny. How can anyone “know” anything more than they don’t already know (as the creature they are “learning” about exists only in their minds)? Or do you consider learning about what others believe about their gods to be useful in connecting with your own?

        • Curtis Martin

          If I were a good Methodist, I would tell you Scripture, Tradition, Experience and Reason.
          Again, I don’t know how truly familiar you are with the Bible, but the Evangelicals (the loud, conservative ones) are not reading it right. Inerrancy is foolishness and sets up untenable positions. There are lots of contradictions in the Bible as it is a Book written from many different points of view. Knowing that doesn’t concern me a bit, but it ties the Biblicists up in knots as they try to deny it.
          As I’ve said over and over, I’m not interested in the kind of evidence that you are. I am ok with taking things on faith. I can’t prove faith and I’m not going to try – nothing I write would convince you.

        • LinCA

          You wrote,

          If I were a good Methodist, I would tell you Scripture, Tradition, Experience and Reason.

          Since we’re not talking about any of that, i don’t have to tell you that none of it provides anything of substance to establish whether this god of yours is real, of course (which is probably why you’re not bringing it up).

          You wrote,

          Again, I don’t know how truly familiar you are with the Bible, but the Evangelicals (the loud, conservative ones) are not reading it right.

          The notion that there even is a right way to read it is laughable.

          You wrote,

          Inerrancy is foolishness and sets up untenable positions.

          I don’t see how any position (other than that it is folklore) is anything but untenable.

          You wrote,

          There are lots of contradictions in the Bible as it is a Book written from many different points of view.

          Which should really be your first clue to lack of veracity of anything in it. Even a single contradiction, even so much a single ambiguity, means it is not the work, or even inspired by, a perfect being. A single blemish ruins perfection.

          You wrote,

          As I’ve said over and over, I’m not interested in the kind of evidence that you are. I am ok with taking things on faith.

          I get that. I get that you really don’t care whether the answer you get is accurate to the best of your ability. I get that you prefer an answer, any answer, and don’t care whether it is rational, as long as it is comforting.

          You wrote,

          I can’t prove faith and I’m not going to try – nothing I write would convince you.

          I know faith. I just think it’s a silly method to determine anything, especially when it comes to the important issues.

        • Curtis Martin

          The Bible is a Human Product. It is not intended nor capable of being “Perfect” in any sense of the word. I don’t worship or serve the Bible. I get that we don’t agree on the usefulness of Faith or the existence of God. Take Care

        • LinCA

          You wrote,

          The Bible is a Human Product.

          Entirely.

          You wrote,

          It is not intended nor capable of being “Perfect” in any sense of the word.

          Of course not, but it is also not inspired by a perfect being, contrary to what is often claimed. The contradictions prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is an entirely human product. It reflects only human folklore. None of what allegedly makes it special is corroborated by any independent source.

        • Curtis Martin

          Well, now that’s where you and I disagree. I believe that the Holy Spirit can illuminate and inspire the Bible. You Don’t. We simply will not agree. The Bible must be read critically and it must be argued with. It is not some magic book of spells or a cut and dried instruction manual. I do believe it is a worthwhile book for study. I think we’ve reached the end point for each of us on this.

        • LinCA

          You wrote,

          I believe that the Holy Spirit can illuminate and inspire the Bible.

          Only if the holy spirit is also wholly incompetent. If it partook in any part of the writing and compilation of the book, and was even half competent, it wouldn’t have spawned some 40,000 different sects and cults within Christianity, wouldn’t you think?

          You wrote,

          We simply will not agree.

          Why not? Are my arguments not reasonable?

          You wrote,

          The Bible must be read critically and it must be argued with.

          Now, if only everyone would agree to at least that, I would probably have less of an issue with believers (just FYI, I don’t really have an issue with you, I just think that you are smart enough to shed your beliefs but refuse to).

          You wrote,

          It is not some magic book of spells or a cut and dried instruction manual.

          I agree (see we can agree).

          You wrote,

          I do believe it is a worthwhile book for study.

          Also true.

          You wrote,

          I think we’ve reached the end point for each of us on this.

          Just when we were getting somewhere. I just agreed with the last three of your statements. Are you sure we can’t reach agreement on the others?

        • adam

          “he Bible, itself a collection of 66 books is a different kind of book
          than a modern, fiction book. Christians also take notice of other means
          to evaluate God’s presence and intentions. The Bible contains a lot of
          wisdom within it’s tales – very few of which are to be taken literally.
          Accuracy is not really all that relevant. ”

          So it is JUST like a collection of Harry Potter books.

          Very few to be taken literally and accuracy is really not all that relevant.

          True of all fiction and mythology

        • Curtis Martin

          Oh – and the Harry Potter movies are much better – and the ride too!
          The Bible is useful as sacred scripture. That is not the same thing as a text book. I don’t read it like a text book. I could go on with mi liberal view of Inspiration, but it just doesn’t matter. We’re not going to agree. Take Care.

        • adam

          “The Bible is useful as sacred scripture.”

          Yes, ISIS uses to justify stonings, beheadings, the killing of homosexuals and non-believers

          The KKK uses it to justify killing and their treatment of blacks

          Hitler used it to justy the mass murder of Jews.

          The bible is useful as sacred scripture is its’ PRIMARY problem.

        • Curtis Martin

          And Christians throughout time and history have used it as a reason for selfless sacrifice and Charity and Kindness. I’m ok with paradox. And I’m ok saying that just because some folks have gotten the book wrong, doesn’ invalidate it.

        • Kodie

          You don’t really have any authority to say they’ve gotten it wrong actually. The fact remains that when you’re delusional about reality, you can use it to justify anything you prefer. If you prefer to be kind, why can’t you just be kind? Why do you need instructions from a book for that?

        • Curtis Martin

          If someone’s interpretation of the Bible causes harm, they’ve gotten it wrong.
          We all get external instructions. We all make decisions on which sources we continue to rely on and which ones we eliminate. For some folks, their parents turned out to be right. For some folks, that guy who talked you into robbing the liquor store turned out to be wrong. Most people weed out the sources that aren’t dependable as they go along. I find that my faith is a reliable resource.

        • If someone’s interpretation of the Bible causes harm, they’ve gotten it wrong.

          Huh? How does that work?

          The Bible says what it says. My interpretation is that it’s just Bronze Age mythology. From our 21st-century perspective, it causes harm. Looking at some modern Christians’ interpretation of it, it causes harm.

          If you say that in your view, they’ve gotten it wrong, go ahead and argue for that position.

        • Kodie

          Depends what you mean by harm. They all think that’s true. Every Christian thinks they’re doing it right and not causing harm. Maybe you’re doing something from Christianity that you think is your god-given purpose in life that does cause harm, and don’t realize it. I know a lot of people who are just more thoughtless than they realize when they are trying to be nice! Even homophobes are led to believe if they don’t harass people, they’ll be tormented in a lake of fire when they die, and they’re trying to love them enough to harass them until they change who they are.

          Imagine there is a lake of fire hell when you die, which they do – which is more harm, leaving people be and letting them rot in hell, or getting between them and their sin any way you can, before it’s too late? When Jesus says “love your neighbor,” this is exactly what he means. Any interpretation you have that justifies however you want to express that love to your neighbor is equally valid. If your expression of love to your neighbor is to babysit their kids home sick from school so they can both go to work, or help them shovel the snow, that’s the same thing as harassing the gay out of them, because you love them and want what’s best for them. They would tell you you’re harming them by watching their kids, because women are supposed to submit and let the husband go to work, and you’re not harassing enough people who are gay, so you just don’t care about their eternal torment.

          Well, it just turns out you don’t believe there is eternal torment, and you find places in the bible where you can interpret love and acceptance of gay people as equals. How nice. You get to decide what the god you believe in wants and disregard people who also decide that he wants gay people in hell. It’s the delusion at the source of it. You really need a connection to a deity to be helpful and generous with your time? You need a source where being like that comes from?

        • Curtis Martin

          Again, the topic was that all of these arguments are guaranteed to be circular and to never get anywhere. I could understand you better if I were trying to convert you, but I’m not. I’m really just tired of this. I believe in God and I do so within a Progressive Christian framework. You don’t believe in a God at all – or at least not one that is involved in the world. Great. You think I’m somehow less of a person than you because of my beliefs. I don’t happen to share the same opinion of you. We’re now at the point where we’re going to stay. Whether we right novels or snark back and forth, neither of us is going to change our opinion. Best of luck to you.

        • Kodie

          Let’s see – from my perspective, the bible offers nothing interesting and unique. To you, it offers whatever you want and you don’t like the rest so you either shove it away or come away with some perspective on some other culture (which can be interesting). You claim that the whole thing is a book of people trying to get to know about god in their way, in their time, and you accept this even if a lot of it is totally wrong, according to your own personal preferential take on this book. In modern times, people who agree with or rationalize and whitewash the inconveniently disturbing parts of it are, according to you, “wrong.” But the people who were trying to know god and guess what he wanted or use their beliefs for political power and lawmaking, were doing just what you do and reaching inconveniently disturbing conclusions.

          So these characters in the bible, their relationship with god as secure as yours is, their faith, their feelings that they were doing god’s will, they weren’t uncertain. These people weren’t trying to get to know god, they knew him in their gut just like you do, how you feel good about the kind of Christianity you practice. Their feelings were as the same. And according to you, all wrong. And yet, their story is in the bible as an account of where god’s head was at the time, not the people. How could god exist and send such an awful message when people needed him like you do? Do you feel bad these people were just making shit up along the way as per their own customs and what felt right to them to do? How they had slaves, how they treated women, how they treated people in other lands, was all right with god. It’s in the story because it remained truly the story about god in these people’s lives and you whitewash it out, it was really just those people’s attempts to learn about the god they worshiped, and the stories they would tell each other about him and what he liked and didn’t like.

          The part where it’s not true is a sufficient explanation for all that historical bullshit. We’re not going to say they should have known better, but if they were listening to a god you also listen to, and disagree with in this part, then there either is no god in that part of the bible at all to know, or there was, and he was really like that. But he’s not anymore. Right? He was perfect and then he changed – still perfect! Or was not already perfect and became perfect. Or still isn’t perfect, like, how you make up a convoluted system to impregnate a teenager magically, so she has a baby and raises up a human man who suddenly appears after almost 30 years of knowing nothing about him, in order for him to teach a bit and then get himself killed to take on everyone’s sin forever.

          What doesn’t make any sense is god’s part in this. He allegedly created the whole universe in 6 days, which of course is a myth, but made a human version of himself that needed time to mature before he got famous. His interest in saving the people of earth through his own begotten son is stalled 30 whole years, which is a complete life span for most of the people who were alive when he was born. Within that time, he could have just saved everyone – how does god need this one person to spread a message from him 30 years after he conjured it up? How does he think this is going to work? I get that you’re the kind of person who would be impressed that it did get out of the neighborhood “and that’s why it’s true.” I know, I don’t really know how your mind works, but it sounds like something you’d say. Just seems like a pretty shaky plan when if god can do stuff, he could have just done stuff. Sounds like the myth of a man, your idol, your role model, millions or billions of people’s role model, and for all that, is there anywhere to go when you die? No, I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that. It’s just that you admire the guy and you want to think he is the source of all the things he wrote in red in your booklet (I also imagine you’ve torn out whole sections of your bible that you don’t think matter).

        • Curtis Martin

          That was Thomas Jefferson.
          The reason I keep trying to feebly explain my theology is because you have so much of it wrong. Just way, way wrong. But without a common language, there’s just no way to make this work. What I don’t understand is you utter lack of respect for me as a human. You and I don’t agree, but I’m not trying to belittle you. The Bible is not the book the Evangelicals believe it to be. As a non Christian living in America, it is quite likely that what you know about the Bible, and have summarily dismissed and poppycock, is a version that I would disagree with as well. The same goes for the Penal Substitution theory of Atonement that you kind of understand. That whole version of what Jesus was doing on the Cross, well, that’s not at all my theology. I’m not asking you, or anyone to “Ask Jesus into their heart” so that they can go to heaven. I don’t even think there is a heaven – at best, we’re absorbed back into the cosmos. But you tell me my beliefs are nonsense, and then you rehash some sort of nonsense and tell me that those are my beliefs. By the way – the word translated as Virgin means young girl – it doesn’t mean what it does today. The point of the birth story was to say specifically that Jesus is Lord, Caesar is not. Caesars presented themselves as God and often had a birth story that included a Deity as a father and an “Immaculate Conception” as well. The story of Jesus Birth was specifically political and it was anti-Rome. This is just one instance where I believe something completely different than what you told me I did.
          I am a Christian. I’m not unhappy with being a Christian. I don’t need any more justification than that.

        • Curtis Martin

          You keep putting Evangelical Theology in my mouth, but the fact is, I just don’t believe in most Evangelical Theology. When I try and explain my Progressive Theology, you respond with more Evangelical Theology because even though you haven’t even been a Christian, you know all about how it works or doesn’t work. You keep telling me that what I believe is nonsense, but the stuff you want to call nonsense isn’t really all that close to what I believe.

        • Kodie

          That’s not what I did. I was explaining to you that your idea that there is value in the bible in the characters and how they’re all on a quest to find god or you evaluate each situation as their own circumstances for knowing god, and how you believe they’re all wrong, and how sad.

        • Curtis Martin

          I don’t even understand what you just said. How I believe they’re all wrong? I don’t know what you’re talking about. Who’s all wrong, Evangelical Fundamentalists? Old Testament Bible writers? People who like Pineapple and Ham on their Pizza? (this just in, Pineapple on Pizza is always wrong).
          Your last post included allusions to a bunch of stuff that you think you know about Christianity, but is only applicable to Evangelicals. And then you tell me that it’s all wrong! Of course it is. God didn’t Kill Jesus to pay for the Sins of the World – that’s cosmic child abuse. It also means that God is guilty of Murder and it means that God is in the Extortion business. None of which fits into my theology.

        • Kodie

          Nothing you don’t like, ’cause it’s your theology.

        • Curtis Martin

          I just happen to think that you don’t know as much about Christianity as you think you do. Not that you’re all that interested, but it would be nice if, in dialogue, you acknowledged this. If you’re ever bored, check out “The Phoenix Affirmations” and if you really want to go down a rabbit hole, head on over to Wikipedia and hit Christus Victor. I’m not at all thinking you’ll change your mind on anything – if you’re happy being an Atheist, then there’s no reason for me to think you should change.

        • adam

          ‘just because some folks have gotten the book wrong’

          What is the punishment for homosexuality IN THE BOOK?

          What is the punishment for blasphemy IN THE BOOK?

          The problem isnt that ‘some folks’ got it wrong, it is sanctioned BY THE BOOK..

        • Curtis Martin

          “The Book”? Sorry, that’s just not at all accurate. There are many, many different books and letters and poems in the Bible. They don’t always agree and they certainly don’t create a monolith. Furthermore, as a Christian, I don’t really need to concern myself with Leviticus. There is simply no “Book” the way you’re carrying on. I’m sure when I’m walking with my church tomorrow in Pride, I’ll hear the same taunts from the folks on the street corners. Look, The Bible is wrong about stuff. Any Christian who can’t admit that is simply immature and worried that if one thing is wrong, then it all must be. Faith just isn’t like that.

        • The Bible is wrong about stuff.

          Which stuff? You say one thing and Westboro Baptist says another. It’s all subjective.

        • Curtis Martin

          Perhaps it is all subjective. I would vehemently say that Westboro Baptist has done a lot of harm. One clarification that I always make with them – they are really more of a family than an actual church. No organized Baptist denomination will claim them.
          Anyway, I don’t believe that the Bible is inerrant or infallible. It contains contradictions in opinion and in detail. It’s not perfect, but it can’t be as it’s a human product.

        • But you’re certain that Christianity is correct? Is this for a good reason?

        • adam

          .
          “There is simply no “Book” the way you’re carrying on”

          Yes, indeed it is NO ‘Word of God’.
          And everyone gets to delude themselves into creating their own god.

          That IS my point.

          “Faith just isn’t like that.”

          Yes, I understand ‘faith’

        • just because some folks have gotten the book wrong, doesn’ invalidate it.

          The issue isn’t fending off challenges that invalidate it; the issue is showing that it is valid. “Ha! You haven’t proven my beliefs wrong!” isn’t much of a stand.

        • Curtis Martin

          Funny – my thesis here is that Faith is unprovable. I know that there is no way I’m going to convince anyone here of anything. I’m not interested in converting anyone. I just thought that the Idea of Atheist Busting arguments was silly in the same way that Christian Busting Arguments are. We are two groups with different understandings truth.

        • And I’m asking by what logic you can claim to be satisfied with your Christian position. Believe whatever you want, but why think that you can satisfy yourself that those supernatural beliefs are correct?

        • Curtis Martin

          I guess the answer is that you and I just have different standards of “proof” and “Satisfaction”.

        • I doubt it. I suspect that you and I would ask for similar evidence and be similarly skeptical for Mormon claims, for example. We’d have similar stands when buying a house or a used car.

          I’m guessing we only differ in a big way when it comes to your Christian beliefs.

        • Greg G.

          The Bible, itself a collection of 66 books is a different kind of book than a modern, fiction book.

          Yes, it has less editorial control so it contradicts itself more than modern fiction but it is still fiction.

        • Curtis Martin

          The Bible is a multi-Vocal Book. It’s authors argue with each other and the facts of the stories don’t always agree. The book is not an accurate scientific or historical book an it shouldn’t be treated as such. Much of what is in the Bible is poetry and much is retelling of tall tales to teach lessons and inspire the country. The Bible is full of truth, but not in a history/science/textbook kind of way. If you try and read it like that, it falls apart completely. Yes, much of it is fiction, but that’s not a problem when you understand what you’re reading.

        • Greg G.

          If you read it to learn morality, you’ll read lots of immoral examples, like how to enslave people. You might learn the wrong lessons. So you need moral understanding before you pick it up which means you don’t need to read it for moral understanding.

          Even fiction has some truth in it. I watched television shows for years and when I drove in Los Angeles, I recognized the streets from those shows.

          John 18:13 says Ananus was the father-in-law of Caiaphas. This is likely to be true but confirmed.

          I find the Bible is more interesting from a skeptical perspective. Studying Mark as literature is fascinating. Almost all of his sources can be identified. How he combined them to create characters is interesting. He takes a character from a source and then adds an Old Testament verse or two. For example, Legion in Mark 5 is Polyphemus the Cyclops from the Odyssey, dressed up with Isaiah 65:4, which has him eating swine in tombs, and Psalm 107:10, which has him in darkness, gloom, and chains. The name “Polyphemus” means “famous” because it is literally “many speak of”, as you see the roots of polygon and blasphemy in it. The phrase “for we are many” has “polys” for “many”. Mark uses Aramaic and Latin words but he explains the Aramaic so he was apparently writing for Romans. He uses the name “Legio” which means “many soldiers” but the word immediately before it is “lego” for said. So Mark was making a visual pun for his readers with a hint that “LEGO LEGIO” was “many speak of” so that his readers knew he was doing mimesis on Homer. It is as obvious as John Goodman’s eyepatch in O Brother! Where Art Thou? that he represented the Cyclops.

        • Curtis Martin

          For what it’s worth, I believe that reading the Bible Skeptically is the only Moral way to read the Bible. Jesus read it that way as well.

        • Kodie

          Special pleading on the Jesus parts of the bible.

        • Curtis Martin

          I’m not even exactly sure what you mean. But yes, I think it’s right to put more emphasis on the recorded words of Jesus than on the rest of the Bible (you may have heard the term “Red Letter Christians” – this comes from the many bibles that print the words of Jesus in red). I also think it’s right to ask of the Bible, would Jesus do it this way? What about this story points me to Jesus? What about this story, should I follow what is happening to the main character, would draw me away from Jesus? If that is what you mean by Special Pleading, then sure.

        • Kodie

          You are not reading that part of the bible skeptically like Jesus would.

          You remind me of those people on facebook who are always posting inspirational quotes made up as memes as if they’re more helpful or become truer in that format. Your format of choice is a character named Jesus. You think it’s right to ask the bible, like, what should I do so I can be like that popular guy (well he’s popular now but almost nobody seems to be like him that much). You have a role model, so of course you would be interested in his words and the way he puts them. But that doesn’t mean it’s magical, or that the bible is the only source. If you’re skeptical or even critical of the rest of the bible, and judgmental of Christians who have different areas of interest within the bible or interpret it “wrong” from you (“right”?), then you’re a basic hypocrite.

        • Curtis Martin

          Kodie – You and I are not going to agree on much of anything – other than to continue this is just plain useless. You really don’t know what you’re talking about when it comes to the Christian Faith. Many of your assumptions as to what I believe are just plain wrong. But without a common vocabulary, or the slightest interest on your part to understand where I might be coming from, this is a completely useless conversation. I’m not who you think I am, but you’ve made it clear that you think I’m less of a person than you. Fine. you win. I’m a pathetic mouth breather who can’t think for himself and depends solely upon my magic spell book and my invisible sky friend. I’m deluded and any solace I take from my Faith is useless because there really is no meaning to our random existence. Take care.

        • Kodie

          You told us all about yourself, so we know your faith is an important guide and structure in your life. Just no good reason why.

        • Curtis Martin

          For cryin’ out loud. It works for me is the reason why. That’s the only reason I need. I understand that this is not a reason that resonates with you in the least. I believe that there is a God who is involved with the world and involved with my life. There is no empirical proof for such a claim. Nothing I can ever say could be quantified in a way that would satisfy you. That was my original point – you and I are going to measure “proof” in incompatible ways.

        • Kodie

          Atheists generally don’t believe the bible is a literal history, but often argue with people who exalt the main character in that story. There is an easy explanation for this book existing and you’re almost all the way there.

          Yes, much of it is fiction, but that’s not a problem when you understand what you’re reading.

          That’s not much of a problem for atheists, if that’s what you’re saying, agreed. But what you seem to be saying is that you do worship the book, because you’re very protective about how it’s to be read, and the proper way to interpret things it says. Much of what is written in the bible is about political control and fear-mongering, and superstitious irrational advice that claims to come from a god but really is just people imagining things they should do. Do you interpret the bible as I do?

          In another post, you talk about the characters in this book wrestling with what I assume you believe is an actual god, and getting it wrong most of the time. You seem to agree they do get it wrong most of the time, but as a product of their culture and customs and political authorities, etc. Atheists would interpret the whole thing as obviously a storytelling device to transmit a superstition that evolves over a couple thousand years until they invented Jesus. Now, if there is a god, and if he was the one who invented Jesus, what about that impresses you so much? The part where he is this or that, or the part where he knows he’s going to be killed and doesn’t run away when he has the chance? You seem to believe that man is more real than anyone else in the entire book, and what he did was god’s message to the world, and a gift. Rationally (and morally) speaking, what kind of god thinks up this convoluted system to “save” people from a hell he has the complete power to save them from otherwise?

          Here is where the typical Christian goes on about free will and we have the choice to deny the gift and choose hell ourselves, and it’s really not god doing it. But rationally looking at this system of bringing himself (I guess) to life with humans, doing some parlor tricks and teaching them some parables, and then getting himself killed for being so radical, to take on all our sins himself, and die – that doesn’t sound like an ideal way to counteract “sin” or whatever, and yet, to this day, Christians can’t agree what is sin. They are doing what you do, voting for what kind of god and what kind of judgment they prefer.

        • The gospel story is just that–a story. Yes, I realize that it talks about disciples disbelieving and then believing, but that’s just a story. Why imagine it as history?

          And yes, Christians talk about disciples being martyred, but that’s just legend. I’ve explored the evidence–it’s quite poor. Certainly not history.

          One religion will be #1, but what does that have to do with its accuracy? Surely you’re not saying that just because a religion is popular that it must be true.

          Family, a Congregation, good music at Christmas and Easter are all a part of why I’m a Christian.

          Sounds like you’re a cultural Christian. Community and tradition are fine. But why keep the faith without evidence part?

          Any Atheist can bring the discussion to a standstill by just saying ” oh yeah? prove it!”.

          I don’t. I simply demand evidence for a path. Why go down the Christian path if that’s not where the evidence points?

        • Curtis Martin

          Ok, so I’ve tried to leave this part out because I know it makes no difference to you guys. But Christianity is real for me. I am absolutely willing to admit that culture is part of it, but I know for myself that God is present in the world, in my Church and in my Life. Can I “prove it”, of course not. But I know that for me, my Faith is a part of my life – not just the good music at Easter, or the non-ironic singing of Christmas Carols. I understand that nothing I can say about my experience or feelings is going to sway an Atheist in an online forum to jump to my side. So I’ve tried to be careful to acknowledge that.
          Stories can contain truth without being historical fact.
          I’m not unaware that Fox’s Book of Martyrs is really a book of stories designed to inspire Christians to tough out their circumstances.
          I’m not saying that a religion is true because it’s popular, I am saying that there is truth in Christianity and one of the ways I know that is that it has remained with us for 2,000 + years. I also accept other religions that have that kind of staying power. There is truth contained in their teachings as well. Otherwise, they would have simply shriveled up and died out.

        • I appreciate your honesty. I understand how faith can be a part of your life. Doesn’t work for me, but it does for millions of Christians, Muslims, and other believers. If there were no social consequences (I’m just thinking about a minority of Christians here), I’d find another hobby.

          Stories can contain truth without being historical fact.

          Like a novel? OK, but no novel will convince us that the supernatural is real. It can inspire us, make us cheer or weep, and give us insights into the human condition, but a novel doesn’t give us new, verifiable information about reality.

          I am saying that there is truth in Christianity and one of the ways I know that is that it has remained with us for 2,000 + years.

          And how is that relevant?

          I also accept other religions that have that kind of staying power.

          It’s old; therefore it is partially or largely true? What kind of rule is that?

          Are you saying Hinduism is true? Or is it just a cultural thing in large parts of India?

          Otherwise, they would have simply shriveled up and died out.

          A very bold claim that needs big evidence.

        • Curtis Martin

          I do value staying power. I don’t think Hinduism, for example, is still around unless there is some truth within it’s teachings. If a religion just doesn’t work for people, if it is found bankrupt, then it will die out. I’m sure there are many folks in this forum who believe that this is exactly what is happening with Christianity. Time will tell.

        • You’re confusing truth with value. Yes, Hinduism has value to Hindus. Same with Christianity to Christians. That doesn’t mean that the supernatural claims of either are correct.

        • Kodie

          Christianity is just as real for every other Christian. Other religions are just as real for everyone else who believes in that stuff. Stories can contain truth, because they are written by humans who think about stuff that matters to them, and a little bit of them, or a lot, makes it into the story, and it’s kind of a way that people relate humanly – by knowing other people with similar stories, or learning about other people’s stories that are not the same, and opening up that side of humanity to them. And we are humans, they were humans, humans have a long history. 10,000 years ago, humans had a lot of habits we share with them, like probably social customs, eating together, finding shelter together. So what about this one book has resonated with you, and then so many other people, in different ways? What’s truth for you is disgusting for them, and apparently vice versa.

          Outside of the supernatural beliefs, stories about humans through history still contain truths that we can learn and expand our knowledge from, that doesn’t make it sacred, and if it’s sacred for you, it’s just as sacred for someone else whom you take offense to how they are manifesting their sacred and dear beliefs.

          We get a lot of people like you who think they are the good kind of Christian, and we should get to know more about you and how you’re “not all like that”. Guess what? It’s more common than you think and just as tedious to argue with. We don’t know everything there is to know about you, but you’ve gone out of your way to assure us that you’re not a homophobe and you like to maybe give to charity. We don’t know what other parts of the book motivate you, all we know is that you believe you need this book to be who you are, and that it’s still a supernatural tale that you take seriously except when you don’t want to. Do you not understand what kind of Christian that makes you? Still justifying your actions as if divinely guided, mainly judgmental of how other Christians interpret the book. I can’t even tell you how little I care how you decide they are wrong, just how often you try to reassure us that you don’t like them either. We get a lot of Christians who are not like you much at all, but are the same when they introduce themselves. Another one like you wasn’t as reassuring with tons of words and paragraphs. Just the opposite and only answered questions like this “well I’m not like that, try again.” Scratching through the many layers, pretty much exactly like you.

          Nonsense. It’s all a lot of who gives a shit. What’s the topic.

        • Curtis Martin

          The topic was how 10 sure fire arguments against Atheism don’t really work. I agreed with that based on the idea that Atheists and Christians (for whom the book was written) just aren’t ever going to truly agree. We have different ways of deciding what it true.

        • Kodie

          Why do you think you’re an exceptionally different kind of Christian?

        • Curtis Martin

          I don’t recall that claim. I am not from the convert ’em camp and I’m not from the “your all going to hell” group. I would imagine, perhaps wrongly, that you hear from those folks primarily. I was just trying to state where I am coming from without implying that I am better than you or more saved than you or anything of the sort.
          Candidly, I simply cannot rationally wrap my head around Atheism. I just don’t have that much faith. I’m glad you do.

        • Kodie

          You did go on about yourself at some length, and how you are not that other kind of Christian you imagine wrongly that we get primarily. Christians like you can’t wait to tell us atheists they exist too. They just don’t give any better reasons to treat any or all of the bible as they do. It’s kind of like saying you don’t believe in Santa Claus anymore, not like a child, but then it comes up that you did this nice Christian thing and sent a wad of money to a Nigerian prince who was in a temporary financial bind.

        • Curtis Martin

          do not mess with the Claus. I’m gettin’ that BB gun this year for sure.

        • Small correction: there is no book here. The original document was a blog post.

        • Kodie

          I notice a lot of religious people find something in their particular set of beliefs, denomination, interpretations of the same set of stories or whatever, that resonates with them and that’s how they decide that it’s true. It never accounts for themselves projecting what they’d like to hear from their idea of a perfect god. It’s an idea such as “I like to believe that…” fill in the rest, such as “I like to believe that hell isn’t really a lake of fire, but a state of being separated from god.” “I like to believe what I believe, and disregard or wave away parts of it from the same source, that are in conflict with what I’d like to believe is true.”

        • Curtis Martin

          I think you’re definitely on to something. I think that there is an alignment of values, yes. The waving away parts that are in conflict, well, I don’t know how learned you are in the Bible, but there are definitely different ways to relate to the Bible. I’m not going to get into it here, but it’s not just tossing out stuff we don’t like – even if it seems like it. Ultimately, what you describe is, I think Divinely ordered. In other words, it’s the Spirit, not just dumb luck or political preference that leads us to our house of worship.

        • adam

          “Bible, but there are definitely different ways to relate to the Bible.”

          This describes well the fundamental problem with the ‘Word of God’. This Revealed ReligionTM. By which I mean, if this is the VERY BEST that a god can do to get its message out, then it is a VERY POOR communicator.

          But ultimately, it still seems that god is self created idolatry at every level.

        • Curtis Martin

          The Bible isn’t perfect. I don’t worship it. The Bible is Words About God, Jesus is the WORD of God.

        • Kodie

          It’s just really hard to figure out where you got that understanding if you reject the bible. I mean, you can read it and see all kinds of silly things people used to do because they believed there was a god. And then he shows up at the end, just a man like you! So I don’t know where that came from that you think it’s any more real.

        • Kodie

          You really think so? You really really think all these different kinds of Christians are led to their particular brands of faith because they are divinely guided there, and not because it’s more popular where they live, it’s what they grew up with, it appeals to their personal sense of justice or personal experience with reality? For another thing, it is absolutely tossing out parts of the bible one doesn’t agree with. Whether to take something literally or as a metaphor, it’s all rationalizing away some conflict with one’s personal beliefs. What do you think about slavery in general? Do you think it’s ok sometimes to own another person? Are you the kind of Christian who makes excuses why god puts up with slavery and even instructs how to treat them? Was this just one time, god couldn’t command against it because people were just going to do what they wanted anyway? Was holding someone hostage to be your labor animal for a few years really not that bad? When you go about justifying stuff in the bible, and it could be anything, you’re designing the kind of god you would obey or worship, and you are conveniently getting rid of stuff or spinning it, because if there is a god of the bible, you wouldn’t really worship him unless you got a chance to redesign him to be like you want him to be.

          One of those things about the bible is, it’s an optional manifesto. There is something for everyone in there to like, there are likely some kinds of answers for a lot of I guess you’d call spiritual questions, like “why did my dog have to die” and how to patiently wait for the feelings of grief to pass – I mean, after all, when you’re still alive, you still have work to do, so you need some help moving very quickly past the sharp pains and snapping back into your obligations. There aren’t a lot of people or situations on earth where you could get away with a long time of grief and have people pitching in for you. They have their own lives, and they often feel uncomfortable listening to the inevitable whining as any given person who has lost a loved one will not know when it is time to stop boring people with that sad story that’s only sad to you. I think this mattered a lot more in olden times like the bible because they didn’t have grief counselors specifically to help you manage, and also to talk to because everyone else finds you to be a drag.

          I’m really not trying to minimize anyone’s grief, but for anyone whose ever known someone who lost a loved one, you know, you want to be a good friend, but it gets to be too much of a burden to care about the loss of someone you didn’t even know with your friend. You don’t know what to say anymore, you used it all up in the first 2 weeks, you’re out of advice. Keep taking it easy, keep doing what you can, keep not worrying about how much you have to do and let someone else take it on. In olden times, your inactivity due to grief probably had a bigger impact on the society, so they need you back to work, and I’m pretty sure the bible is chock full of self-help on that agenda.

          What I mean is, whatever issue you have in emotion-land, the bible will give you a way to deal with it, whether it’s healthy or not doesn’t matter. Stop stewing and get back to your responsibilities with minimum impact on everyone else’s productivity.

          Then it also has how to have slaves, and how to offer your daughters as any good host would to visitors. Do you really need the bible or god to help you recover emotionally or deal with some interpersonal issue, because you don’t have this knowledge from any other source? You think it came from god, since it is in the bible, and it’s pretty handy that god invented it because people are too stupid to figure it out? You don’t just have to toss the parts you don’t like, you can actually figure out that the parts you do like aren’t from a god, and actually can use that advice, or get advice from anywhere and just use what works. What’s upsetting to see are people who think because they all of a sudden feel great and they used to feel disturbed constantly, that Jesus did any of that to them. That the convoluted path to better mental adjustment is to have god validate you first, instead when it was that you followed some advice that worked in your favor, like magic. What’s upsetting is so many Christians being fooled by that parlor trick into never again shutting the fuck up about how wonderful Jesus turned their life around – and then adopting parts of the bible that are just too ugly to believe anyone is disgusting enough to believe. They had a good mood so they associated that mood with every single word in that book that they prefer to be true, suddenly it just is.

        • Curtis Martin

          Kodie, and this is a sincere question – what experience with Christianity do you have? I say this because you don’t write like an Ex-Christian, but I could be wrong. I just disagree with so much of your interpretation of the Christian Experience. Your understanding of how I read the Biblical Text and what it is used for, is just not accurate. The Bible is just not useful as the kind of advice book you seem to assume I would use it for. As I’ve mentioned, I do not think the Bible is “From God”. I do think it’s a book recording people’s wrestling with God and I do think that it is useful, but not in the magic answer book way. There are broad themes in the Bible. God has a tendency to favor outsiders and misfits. God cares specifically for the poor and oppressed. God is not impressed with the things that Humans seem so impressed with.
          As for your question about Slavery – the humans writing the Bible just accepted slaves as part of the fabric of life. Now, Slaves were to be treated better in the New Testament, but Slavery was simply part of the life. But, while slavery was accepted by the Biblical writers, the underlying themes of the Bible do not support owning people.
          I gotta tell ya though, I’ve not really read anything in the Bible that would instruct me on how to deal with my dog dying. Maybe Joel Osteen or Rick Warren wrote a book on it, but I don’t think that one’s in there. As far as helping your friend grieve, I would suggest just being with them and not trying to do anything – just be. Now, I would also pray that they have peace and comfort in their sad time, but my real understanding is that I should be as much of that peace and comfort.
          So do I really need the Bible? I wouldn’t say that. But the Christian Community would be helpful. By the way, the Bible really isn’t designed to be read individually but as part of a community that argues with it and wrestles with it. Christianity is really supposed to be lived in community as well. If you were talking with an Evangelical Fundamentalist, I’m sure I’d be giving you chapter and verse to fix the problems that you presented, but I don’t use the Bible the way you seem to assume.

        • Kodie

          I’m not an ex-Christian. I assume there are things in the bible that people trick themselves into believing such wisdom for dealing with life’s trials came from god and only god could teach these ways. Or Jesus, or whatever. You recognize that these passages come from the life experience of a human, and lots of times, humans are wrong. But what about this book wrestles with an actual god? Basically what I’m hearing from you is that you’re advising to belong to a book club that only reads one book, and try to make it say things it doesn’t state on the page, but try to figure out where these characters are coming from, just like a high school class might analyze literature like Tom Sawyer or The Great Gatsby.

          And?

        • MNb

          ” I don’t need to launch into a soliloquy about God in the Sunset ….”
          No. You only need to talk comment after comment about

          I. Curtis Martin.
          I. Curtis Martin.
          I. Curtis Martin.

        • Curtis Martin

          would you prefer I make snarky comments that assume what you believe and why you believe it?

        • Greg G.

          I think MNb would like that.

        • Pofarmer

          “I’m ok with not knowing but trusting that I’m onto a small part of the truth.”

          That deserves an eyeroll.

        • Curtis Martin

          consider plenty of eyes rolled.
          I get it – I’m on an Atheist Blog. Faith, or believing what you can’t know, is pretty much considered stupid around here. I don’t share that point of view, but I understand that most folks here do. I was simply trying to state my opinion, not to coerce anyone here to change there’s

        • Pofarmer

          Believing what you can’t know is pretty much depending on your imagination.

          Godisimaginary.com

        • TheNuszAbides

          or – more boringly – on someone else’s.

          i used to have an apt Iris Murdoch quote written down. can’t find it anywhere now. it distinguishes between imagination (as a creative force of sorts) and fantasy (as entirely reliant on an external imagination).

          this one’s the best i could dredge up verbatim, and applicable far more frequently in this neck of the woods:

          Almost anything that consoles us is a fake.

        • adam

          “Faith, or believing what you can’t know, is pretty much considered stupid around here.”

          I dont consider it as much stupid as gullible.

        • Curtis Martin

          and that’s your point of view. We just simply disagree.

        • adam

          And yet I can demonstrate my claim.

        • Curtis Martin

          Christian Science? Good Grief. I’m about as far away from that small sect as one can get. I’m certainly not going to defend them anymore than I would defend David Koresh or Jim Jones or Sean Hannity.

        • adam

          “Faith, or believing what you can’t know, is pretty much considered stupid around here.”

          I dont consider it as much stupid as gullible.

          Like I said gullible….

        • adam

          So……….

          Then it is more like this:

        • Curtis Martin

          Ahhh., how civil. Seriously, I don’t have that high a view of scripture. It seems like most of your Christian visitors must come in with the whole – “The Bible Says it, I Believe it so that Settles it” attitude. The Bible has an important place in Christianity, but it doesn’t deserve to be worshipped. I certainly don’t put all of my faith in the Bible.

        • adam

          “I certainly don’t put all of my faith in the Bible.”

          So just how much ‘faith’ do you withhold from the bible and what is found in it?

        • Curtis Martin

          I try to read the bible through the lens of Jesus. I would use what’s called Faithful Questioning rather than Blind Obedience. I’m looking for redemptive, not retributive violence. There is much more to reading the Bible than a simple Historical-Critical exegesis.

        • adam

          So THIS begs the question:

          Which Jesus?

          Jesus is Jehovah made flesh, and Jehovah was a murderous monster who commands BRUTAL death for minor offenses.

          So if not Jehovah
          Then is it the Jesus whose last words were to the effect of ‘oh god, why have you forsaken me?
          (of which in another context would be oh, god, why have I forsaken myself?)

          Or the Jesus who thinks it is all right to beat slaves who dont know they did wrong less than those who do know they did wrong?

          Or the Jesus that describes hell?

          See this is the problem with Revealed ReligionTM, every single one of you HAVE TO CREATE your god in your own image.
          You HAVE to commit idolatry, because the ‘word of your god’ is the primary source of its own confusion.
          So you pick what agrees with you and you mold a god on that.

          The problem comes from the support of the OT, as the ‘word of god’, this is what fundamentalist USE to justify cruelty, killing and denigration of other human beings.

          Jesus CLAIMS to retributive, isnt that what Revelations is all about.

          Dont get me wrong, it sounds like you are problem a ‘liberal christian’ and I am thankful that you have better morality than your god, but I fail to see the usefulness of a god if you are not going to do what it commands.

          You could find a much cleaner redemptive value in Buddhism, without all the dirty ties to Jehovah.

        • Curtis Martin

          I’m not sure exactly how you’ve been taught to read the Bible or if you’ve just heard anti-fundamentalist arguments. The Biblicists do set themselves up for quite a fall and I really have no interest in defending them. The Jewish religion has quite a different relationship with the text than do Christians. In fact, if one takes the Bible seriously at all, you’ll find that all throughout the narrative in the Hebrew Bible, there is a counter narrative as well. While the war porn is raging (the conquest of Canaan didn’t exactly happen the way the Bible claims) in the text, trying to fire up the nation while they were actually in exile, there is a voice that keeps reoccurring that says care for the oppressed. This is the voice that finally wins out in the revelation of Jesus. Jesus does you contemporary parables that are dated today. Jesus challenges the religious elites of his day – those that sold out to the occupying forces of Rome in exchange for the ability to continue their abusive Temple Sacrifice Racket. If anyone argues with a conservative interpretation of the Bible, it’s Jesus. He’s pretty ticked at the way it’s being currently interpreted.
          Look, You and I aren’t going to agree on this and it’s not worth arguing all night over. Just understand that the way that Fundamentalists are reading their Bibles is not the only way that the book can be read.

        • Greg G.

          Mark wrote his gospel as an allegory. He wasn’t writing about a real Jesus.

        • Kodie

          I’m not sure exactly how you’ve been taught to read the Bible

          Phonically, by 1st grade.

          For comprehension, sometime before the end of 6th grade.

          Everything else is taking someone else’s lead to ignore the parts you feel sick about and find that gem of wisdom to latch onto to hope that it’s real and active in your life.

          I won’t speak for anyone else, but I suspect they agree with what I’ll say about that – that’s cognitive dissonance. You believe, from everything you’ve written as I understand it, with my nearly 40 years of literacy and all, in a cult of personality. You pick the Jesus you like, and you let him teach you how to read the rest of the book so it’s not awful or entirely fictional. The rest of us are just reading like we were taught to read. If that’s “not the only way” to read, then you are kidding yourself, simply stated.

        • adam

          “I’m not sure exactly how you’ve been taught to read the Bible or if you’ve just heard anti-fundamentalist arguments.”

          I understand exactly how people read the bible, they read it to create a god of their own image.

          ” The Biblicists do set themselves up for quite a fall and I really have no interest in defending them. ”

          I agree, but NOT doing so indicates that this ‘Word of God’ is no such thing,

          “The Jewish religion has quite a different relationship with the text than do Christians.”

          That is an UNDERSTATEMENT, the christians have so bastardized the Jewish texts as to be unrecognizable to Jews.

          ” there is a counter narrative as well. While the war porn is raging (the conquest of Canaan didn’t exactly happen the way the Bible claims) in the text, trying to fire up the nation while they were actually in exile, there is a voice that keeps reoccurring that says care for the
          oppressed.”

          Yes, that is why the bible commands for the ownership of SLAVES,

          And of course women and children as PROPERTY not as oppressed, so you are misleading in your statement at best.

          ” If anyone argues with a conservative interpretation of the Bible, it’s Jesus. He’s pretty ticked at the way it’s being currently interpreted.”

          I agree that the bible Jesus is a LOT more like Buddist than Jehovah – he who NEVER changes

          So it AGAIN demonstrates that Jesus is not the Jehovah who never changes but just another iternient preacher/magician common to the times who most likely was exposed to some Buddhism.

          “Just understand that the way that Fundamentalists are reading their Bibles is not the only way that the book can be read.”

          Exactly my point
          So how is this the ‘Word of God’ if everyone gets to interpret it however they want?

          You might as well choose Harry Potter to form your image and morals

        • Curtis Martin

          Gosh, you guys are big fans of Harry Potter! The Bible absolutely contains material that reflect the society from which it came. We have moved beyond slavery and treating women like property and calling it a marriage.
          The Bible is words about God, Jesus is The Word of God.
          There are Books upon Books with different interpretations, different Exegesis and different Hermeneutics that can change the meaning and shed new light on the Biblical Text. My answer is that for a book to spawn so many different ways to read it, it must be unique book.

        • adam

          “My answer is that for a book to spawn so many different ways to read it, it must be unique book.”

          No, that is the way all books read, that is the problem, it would be unique if everyone would read it the same way.

          IDOLATRY…

          Yes, bible reflects the society from which it came, superstitious, sexist, violent and ignorant of where the sun went at night. And you speak of this like it is a good thing?

        • Kodie

          It’s a book that people think is the breathed word of god, and it makes them so unhappy that they have to write it over for themselves. How unique!

        • Kodie

          Why do you think the lens of Curtis isn’t equipped to read the bible?

        • Cognissive Disco Dance

          Although I will say that generations of history and wisdom from the Christian Church do account for much of the framework I use.

          But of course. Jesus is divine and God is best expressed through Jesus. Bestest expressedest ever. Why settle for anything less.

        • Curtis Martin

          He’s the Real Thing! (sorry, my 70’s Evangelical Upbringing snuck in there) A) as a matter of fact, I do happen to believe that Jesus is the best expression of what God is like. I do want to make very clear, however that B) You’re free to settle for a different model if you want. While this works for me, I have no doubt that there are others for whom different models work just as well. I will also concede that if you’re happy in the way you’re answering life’s questions, then by all means, keep doing what you’re doing – you’ll get no lecture from me on why my way is better.

        • Greg G.

          I do happen to believe that Jesus is the best expression of what God is like.

          So do I, but it appears to me that Jesus is a myth, too.

        • Curtis Martin

          we’ll just have to amicably disagree.

        • Kodie

          A) as a matter of fact, I do happen to believe that Jesus is the best expression of what God is like.

          What do you think god’s role is? I mean, I don’t see “god is like” Jesus. Jesus is expressed like a human who teaches some stuff and then of course dies. What about the rest of the world? What about everything else? Does god do that too? How is any of the rest of the world, the universe, even, like Jesus? It’s very hard to express what I mean, but I guess all the violent drama, geological and biological torments, mostly, that not just humans suffer from needlessly (if there’s a god who is expressed like Jesus).

        • MNb

          I. Curtis Martin.
          I. Curtis Martin.
          I. Curtis Martin.

        • Curtis Martin

          Ditto my previous response. I am only speaking for myself, not in an attempt to convince anyone to agree with me. It’s just a statement of my belief/opinion.

        • Pofarmer

          Basically, your stuck in personal mental masturbation mode, is what I’m seeing.

        • Curtis Martin

          whatever that means. (wow – can’t believe how misunderstood my fake sentimentality post was!)

        • Without Malice

          The history of Christianity is a history of bloodletting almost unequaled in the annuls of mankind. Millions of Christians have gleefully slaughtered millions of other Christians over the most arcane and idiotic points of dogma one can imagine. And then there’s the 2,000 years of anti-Semitism that led directly to the Holocaust. There’s not much to be proud of in your history.

        • jh

          Also – please note that the secondary murders of innocent people because of christian mores and practices. The christians have blood on their hands for every woman who sought a back alley abortion because christians made abortion illegal, for every suicide by a GLBT who was not supported by his christian family and community, for every bit of progress that has been stifled by christians because they were afraid that their myth would become myth, for every woman and child who was forced to live with an abusive husband/father because God loves marriage, the slave who was killed by his christian master, the native american who was killed because it was “Manifest Destiny”.

          The culture of christianity is tainted by blood and death throughout.

        • Greg G.

          It’s another Death Cult from the Desert.

    • Rudy R

      Your theistic perspective is not what atheists have issue, as far as I can tell. Atheists have a real issue with theists that legislate their beliefs forcing everyone to live as they do. If you don’t want to marry someone of the same sex, don’t. If abortion is not an option for you, don’t have one. If contraception is not an option for birth control, don’t use it. If you don’t want to provide services to taxpayers based on their sexual orientation and/or religious preferences, than you shouldn’t be afforded the right to participate in the American marketplace. These are the type of issues that compel atheists to speak out against religions and to refute faith as a better way of understanding the world than the application of empirical evidence.

      • Curtis Martin

        My Church has married Same Sex Couples for years. It was only a few years ago, however, that our marriages were recognized as legal. I never understood how that wasn’t religious discrimination. The LAST thing I want is Baptists making the laws for us Congregationalists!

        • RichardSRussell

          And it wasn’t until today that they were recognized as legal in all 50 states.

          The last thing I want is religious people of any stripe making laws for everyone else based on nothing but their religious beliefs, and that’s all the prohibition against gay marriage has ever been. Today is a landmark ruling for church-state separation.

        • Curtis Martin

          At least here in Washington State, they have been legal for 2 1/2 years. We woulda been the first to vote for same- sex marriage, but Maine is on the East Coast and the darn sun comes up over there first!

        • MNb

          Meh. My native country beat you with more than 10 years.

        • Otto

          Hey, I am just impressed it didn’t take another 10-20. 😉

        • Curtis Martin

          we had “everything but marriage” for a couple a years……… sigh. I’m just glad it’s over – it should have been a slam dunk 15 minute case years and years ago.

    • Max Doubt

      “My take on this book is that whoever wrote it lives in some sort of contained Christian existence and is making a fool of himself.”

      It’s good to know we finally have a real Christian who understands what is true about Christianity and what is not. Welcome to the world. You ought to let all those other Christians know you’re the guy with the answers. They all have this silly notion that they have it figured out correctly.

      • Curtis Martin

        Oh Dear! You see, I attend a UCC congregation – United Church of Christ – although sometimes referred to as Unitarians Considering Christ(!). We’re kind of allergic to answers, we’re just really big on questions! There are actually a lot of us Progressive Christian types out here, not all Christians are Evangelicals or Southern Baptists.

        • MNb

          Reread your first comment. It’s all about you, what you believe. You are telling the world, especially atheists, what you say that christianity is about. Very egocentric.
          Just count how many times you used the word “I”.

        • Curtis Martin

          Ok, this one kinda bugs me. Part of this is the internet and all, I suppose. My point is that this is what I believe and it is my opinion. I am trying to make sure that I don’t come off as telling anyone that my belief is better than there’s or that they need to convert to my way of thinking. Perhaps I overused the word “I”, but It’s only because I don’t want to come off as proselytizing. I certainly don’t mean to imply that I have all the answers or that my way is THE way.

    • Clover and Boxer

      “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

      • Curtis Martin

        Perhaps, but not in the case of something truly unknowable.

        • adam

          ESPECIALLY in the case of something truly unknowable.

        • Clover and Boxer

          You can’t falsify the dragon in my garage, so I’m going to believe it because it makes me feel good–and I DO believe in the Divinity of the Dragon in my Garage. But of course I can’t prove it. Only idiots try to prove or disprove such things. So I’ll believe it, because I want to, and I can’t prove or disprove it, nobody can, so there. Why do you bother participating in such a “silly discussion” anyway?

        • tubi11

          Are you planning to demand 10% of my income for your dragon? Or have the dragon stipulate every decisoin in my life, yet still claim that I have free will?

          If so, I demand proof that your dragon exists.
          If not, well, it’s a free country.

        • adam

          There is no DEMAND of 10%

          It is more like ‘insurance’ against damage by said Dragon down the road.

          Of course you have the free will to do whatever the Dragon commands.

        • What if it’s TROGDOR?

          Then he just burns you up anyways, regardless of what you do!

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3cTPrWoHnM

        • TheNuszAbides

          latest fave:

        • Hah, cool!

        • Greg G.

          Dragons don’t demand 10% of your income. They want 10% of your income in gemstones and precious metals.

        • TheNuszAbides

          aren’t they stereotypical greedheads? a 10% cut sounds awfully generous to all the puny non-dragons.

        • Cognissive Disco Dance

          While I do believe that God is best expressed in the life, teaching and example of Jesus the Christ – and I do believe in the Divinity of Jesus

          Yeah I guess he would have to be divine to cast out demons all day. Makes sense.

        • Curtis Martin

          Probably would. Or maybe the stories took in the world view of their time and there are other lessons to be learned.

        • Without Malice

          What lessons? Most of his teachings do not rise above the mundane, and some are downright idiotic – like his teachings on divorce and eunuchs – and all of his best teachings are nothing but reiterations of OT teachings that could have come from any 1st century rabbi. We know basically nothing about the man’s life before he started his little ministry; and that’s very strange, since his family outlived him by decades and could have supplied a record of his entire life. Of course in Mark his family thinks he nuts, and perhaps not without reason, so maybe they just chose not to cooperate with any of the gospel writers. And if he had really been the “son of God” wouldn’t he had told the truth to the people about how Adam and Eve were just a myth and that we were really the product of 4 billions years of evolution; and wouldn’t he had told them the true causes of diseases, and mental illness, and epilepsy instead of leading them to think they were caused by evil spirits and demons? When you really look a the supposed greatest story of told there’s not much there there except for superstition and ignorance.

        • wtfwjtd

          Jesus the god-man taught that demons cause disease. One wonders, what else was he teaching that was just as wrong? Some god-man.

        • Curtis Martin

          and some gorgeous set design. Zefferelli’s movie was kinda dull, though.
          I think most of the people then were smart enough to understand that Adam and Eve were a myth. It’s only been in more recently that literalists have tried to ruin the Bible. Yes, there were a great many other Jewish teachers, some who came before Jesus were very much in his tradition. For some reason, they are mostly lost to history. I believe that there’s a reason for that. As for the core message of Jesus’ teaching, He was primarily trying to reform Judaism and, to a great extent, that has been accomplished. His target was the Jewish elite who had sold out to the Occupying Romans. His message was certainly meant for a certain time and a certain place, but it is now for all people and all time. Mark was primarily writing to a Roman Audience (his Gospel is likely the source text for Matthew and Luke) and his main thesis is that Jesus is Lord, not Caesar. Also, Jesus is most human in Mark. Anyway, we’re simply not going to agree. Take Care.

        • Greg G.

          John also used Mark but not word for word.

        • Curtis Martin

          John is very different from Matthew, Mark and Luke and was the last Gospel written. While Mark is the oldest and acknowledged as the source for all of the Gospels (each community had a different focus – Mark to the Romans, Matthew to the Jews, Luke to the Greeks, John to everyone), John is the most mystic of the Gospels.

        • Greg G.

          I’ve learned that the stories about Jesus in the gospels are drawn from the Greek literature, the Hebrew literature, and the earlier Christian literature of the day but none of the sources are about Jesus, except where the Christian literature borrowed from the Hebrew literature.

          The epistles don’t support the idea of a teacher or a preacher nor any teachings. Most of the mentions of Jesus are mindless adulation but the few factoids are from the Old Testament. There is nothing in the New Testament about an actual first century Jesus.

        • Curtis Martin

          The Epistles were written first, The Gospels were written toward the end of the lifespan of Jesus’ contemporaries. I think a lot of what was going was in relation to the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD. That said, I do take the Story of Acts seriously. I am one who believes that something happened to inspire the original Apostles. There are many theories about who Jesus was, member of the Essenes, member of a suicide cult (hence picking a fight that was sure to get him killed), non-existent myth. Regular Dude with warmed over greek teachings. I am persuaded by the sheer success of the Church that there is a real Jesus at the heart of the story. I also do believe (this’ll make ya all barf, I know) that bodily resurrection or not, the Spirit of Jesus is at work in the world today. Of course I can’t “prove” it, but it is my Faith.

        • Kodie

          The sheer success of the church is from terrorism.

        • Curtis Martin

          I would argue that it is as much from being co-opted as a state religion. That said, I certainly agree that there is some ugly, ugly history in the Christian Church.

        • Kodie

          What exactly do you think happens when something is co-opted as a state religion, and there are people there who do not believe the same religion? What would happen in America if that happened?

        • Greg G.

          There are multiple religions that have survived for fourteen centuries or more so we know that whether a religion is true or false is not a factor for longevity. Christianity was found to be useful by Constantine which allowed it to build an infrastructure just before the Roman Empire collapsed and left a power vacuum. Before that time, it was just another cult. The only connection to Jesus was centuries old documents so it wouldn’t have mattered whether Jesus had been real or not.

        • Curtis Martin

          I happen to think that surviving for fourteen centuries tells me that there is truth in that religion. Not all truth, or THE truth, but truth. I don’t think God is confined to Christianity.
          The worst thing that ever happened to Christianity, was being adopted as the official state religion. Christianity works best as an underdog, an outsider. Christendom is finally coming to a close and that’s exciting news for Christians. Christianity loses so much of it’s power – as does any religion – when It is confused with the Government.

        • I happen to think that surviving for fourteen centuries tells me that there is truth in that religion.

          Nope. Alchemy has been around for a long time. Astrology, too. Does that mean that there must be truth in them? What if homeopathy were still popular 1000 years from now–would it become more true over that time? Drop your admiration for longevity–not a good guide to truth.

        • Pofarmer

          Acts is made up bullhit with parts of it copying Josephus, dude. Richard carrier has a video presentation on it on you tube.

        • MNb

          Well, something truly unknowable can’t be accepted either. You for instance claim you know the name of your creator. So according to you your creator is not truly unknowable.

        • Unrepentant Atheist

          Well, if it is unknowable, then how do you have any definition, understanding, motive, purpose or any vision whatsoever of this God? If he is “unknowable”, then you couldn’t have any reason to believe that any of creation could be his, because that could potentially be evidence which would make him knowable.

          Essentially it is an oxymoron. As the article says, his actions to distort reality and physics would be measurable which would give hints to what he is. But there is no real evidence for that either.

    • I guess it’s nice not to worship the Bible, but you’ve got to get your data from somewhere. I can’t imagine Tradition is a reliable source.

      Yes, I do take the Bible literally. Handwaving away the nasty bits is a cop out, and I won’t let Christians off the hook that easily.

      Faith, by definition, is a belief in something that is beyond evidence.

      I agree. Many Christians today say that, no, faith is belief well-grounded in evidence, which seems to me to be evasive.

      • Greg G.

        Yes, I do take the Bible literally. Handwaving away the nasty bits is a cop out, and I won’t let Christians off the hook that easily.

        A religion based on a literal interpretation of the Bible is like polishing a turd. CM rejects the parts of the turd that are identifiable as shit and pretends the unidentifiable remnant is not a turd.

  • Greg G.

    Todays’ SMBC. Does it remind you of anyone?

  • MR

    Sorry, off topic, but I just saw that they have just lowered the confederate flag over South Carolina and have now raised the rainbow flag. Let the gaymes begin.

    Edit: Oh, now I know what Scalia really meant yesterday when he was complaining about ‘jiggery-pokery’.

    • Greg G.

      On the other hand, I just saw a news alert that the Supreme Court has struck down same-sex marriage bans.

      • MR

        Actually, that’s what I was referring to. I flubbed my first iteration and said ‘confederate’ when I meant ‘rainbow’.

        • Otto

          thanks for clearing that up…that had me confused.

          Great day for the US and its Constitution despite Roberts claim this had nothing to do with the Constitution….wth?

        • RichardSRussell

          Apparently in con law he nodded off somewhere around the 7th or 8th Amendment.

          “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
          —9th Amendment US Constitution

        • Greg G.

          I went looking for an article on the SC flag. I thought they had taken down their flag with the stars and bars and put one up that was only the stars and bars.

        • MR

          Yeah, sorry for that confusion. 😛 I should have said something like “the South has taken down the confederate flag and raised the rainbow flag.” 😉

        • Greg G.
        • MR

          Ha! Hadn’t seen that.

    • I was surprised at Scalia’s catty response in his minority opinion in Obergefell. Seems like he spent most of his firepower on criticizing language.

      • MR

        Parts of it read like a snarky blog comment.

  • Beth Clarkson

    Hyde begins by asking what “evidence” means. My answer: evidence or argument of sufficient quality that would convince you the other guy’s argument is strong.

    I’m find with this individualized definition for evidence. I’m unclear on which direction you are using these arguments.

    The atheist argument of “There is no evidence for God’s existence.” is correct if it’s a shortcut for saying “There is no evidence for God’s existence sufficient to convince me”. However, it’s not correct if you are using it to persuade others than their belief is incorrect. Different believers have different ideas about what evidence is and what is sufficient for convincing them.

    • Greg G.

      That’s why we ask for unambiguous evidence. For example, they have a myth that their god created the universe so the universe is evidence for their god to them but it is evidence for every religious creation story as well.

    • Pofarmer

      It’s not about individual evidence, Beth, it’s about unambiguous, Universal evidence. There’s a T shirt that says “Science doesn’t care what you believe.” That kind of Evidence. The speed of Light doesn’t change based on religion. Likewise, the understanding of the Force of Gravity is unambiguois. Evolution theory, can be successfully used by those of any religion. It’s when you get into theology that these Universals fall apart.

      • Beth Clarkson

        There is no unambiguous or universal evidence for god. That fact is sufficient for a lot of people to reject the concept. For others, subjective personal evidence and/or interpretation of mundane evidence is sufficient to support their belief in god. .

        • Greg G.

          For others, subjective personal evidence and/or interpretation of mundane evidence is sufficient to support their belief in god. .

          Right. That’s where you have to explain cognitive dissonance to them. They hold one standard of evidence for everything else they believe or don’t believe, including other religions, but a weaker standard for their own religious beliefs.

        • Pofarmer

          “There is no unambiguous or universal evidence for god. That fact is sufficient for a lot of people to reject the concept.” Many would posit, except for childhood indoctrination and appeals to emotion, many, many more would reject it.

        • Sure, people can believe for good reasons or poor. But are you saying that subjective personal evidence and interpretation of the mundane is sufficient to believe in the supernatural?

        • Kodie

          Largely through the power of suggestion.

  • RichardSRussell

    In a court of law, you have 3 kinds of evidence: material, circumstantial, and testimonial. I can’t imagine that there’s a single atheist anywhere on the planet who would seriously contend that there’s no evidence for God once he or she understands that testimony counts as evidence. So this supposed “atheist argument” is really just a red herring.

    • inkhorn

      But isn’t that exactly what the author said here? “The atheist argument remains. I wouldn’t say that there is no evidence for God—the very existence of Christianity is evidence..”

      • RichardSRussell

        I was springboarding off the headline which stated the supposed atheist claim as “There is no evidence for God’s existence.” I don’t think any atheist actually claims that, despite Eric Hyde’s evident assertion that it’s one of our favorites.

        • inkhorn

          Fair enough. Testimony (what one might call “personal revelation”) alone though, is not enough to convict, right? A better position to assert might be “there is no material evidence for God”.

        • adam

          “personal revelation’ is responsible for the disagreement on what ‘god’ wants

          Makes testimony pretty useless.

        • Greg G.

          But they point to the world as material evidence for a god because their myth says their god created the world. I say there is no unambiguous evidence for a god.

          “The atheist argument remains. I wouldn’t say that there is no evidence for God—the very existence of Christianity is evidence..”

          The existence of Buddhism is evidence for the Tao.
          The existence of atheists is evidence for the non-existence of gods.
          The existence of Hinduism is evidence for the existence of billions of gods.

          The existence of contradictory beliefs is evidence that the existence of belief systems is not valid evidence of the truth of said belief systems.

        • inkhorn

          But that’s circular, right?

          – Earth exists.
          – Why?
          – God created the Earth per our lore.
          – Why is our lore trustworthy?
          – Because God gave us the lore.
          – How do we know that God gave us the lore?
          – Because God exists.
          – How do we know that God exists? Because Earth exists… (or, my favorite, “you just have to have faith”)

        • Greg G.

          Yes, but the radius of that circular argument is greater than many of their arguments! 80)

        • RichardSRussell

          Regrettably, any number of people have been sent away wrongly based on bad eyewitness testimony and nothing else. The general public (from which juries are drawn) has a high opinion of eyewitness testimony, but almost any psychologist will tell you it’s for shit.

    • jh

      Why are you using the rules for evidence using legal codes? Surely, if we are examining reality, we should use the scientific rules for evidence. By that standard, there is no evidence of a supernatural agent.

      • RichardSRussell

        While I certainly agree with you that that’s the proper standard to apply, the supposed atheist argument as phrased by its naysayer didn’t contain the qualifier “scientific”, thus the proper interpretation of his statement is, to my mind, the more general one.

  • jrb16915

    “….. may be the grandest possible argument, that a supernatural being created the universe…”

    To the author, do you accept the logical possibility that there is an un-caused first cause before the universe came into existence?

    • JoBar

      It really doesn’t matter what the author thinks. He’s not making any claims about “first causes” or “prime-movers”. The burden of proof is on those who make the claim with certainty that a supernatural being created the universe, not the ones who question it. This is what #1 is really all about. And there is insufficient evidence (read: no material evidence) to make such a claim with the vigorous certainty that Christians do.

      • jrb16915

        I am not making any claims at all. I am just stating the logically conclusion that every action has a cause, except for the initial un-caused. This is most logical reality in world bound by time. Absent sufficient evidence of an alternative, I can’t understand how anyone can use reason to deny the existence of an un-caused cause.

        You didn’t attempt to answer the question, so I will restate in other words: What “evidence” can you provide that offers a more logical conclusion than the existence of an un-caused cause?

        • Greg G.

          The last I heard, quantum events and some radioactive events are spontaneous and uncaused. A universe could be an uncaused quantum event.

          Some quantum events could be the spontaneous appearance of an electron and a positron pair. The positron is like an electron traveling backwards through time. The energy that produces the pair would be a photon which of course travels at light speed so time doesn’t occur to it. It’s emission and absorption is the same instant to it, even when you see a star light years away, to the photon, leaving the star and being absorbed by a pigment in your eyeball is the same instant. So the photon that creates a positron-electron pair would be the same photon created by their annihilation. Alternatively, the event could be viewed from the perspective that the electron is knocked backward in time by the same photon that knocks it forward in time, as in a time loop that is unaffected by the rest of the universe.

        • jrb16915

          I am not a physicist, but I think even in that the total energy in the system is still a constant, with matter being just one form of the energy.

        • jh

          I remember reading somewhere that the “nothing” in the beginning of our reality was still something. It’s merely that laypeople are using the vernacular meaning of nothing rather than the “nothing” that physicists are referring to.

          (it was probably a lay article for people who aren’t physicists but I can’t remember the title or the website.)

        • I read an article that had about 7 definitions of “nothing.”

        • Greg G.

          A Universe From Nothing by Lawrence Krauss defines it that way.

          The Platonic ideal of a perfect nothing is like a perfect equilateral triangle or a perfect circle. They are mental concepts that could not exist in reality.

        • I’ve heard WLC handwave about how the physicists aren’t doing it right because they’re not using the “philosophers’ nothing”–that is, absolutely nothing.

          Since we’re talking about cosmology, I think I’ll go with the cosmologists’ nothing.

        • Otto

          WLC never explains how God would go about creating something from a philosophers nothing. If he can’t explain the mechanism that is used for that apparent contradiction I have no reason to accept his absurd conclusion that such an action would require a timeless, un-embodied mind that “exists” outside of existence…whatever that means.

        • Greg G.

          Right. How can a cause acting on nothing have an effect?

        • Pofarmer

          How can something outside of our spacetime interact with it in the first place?

        • Pofarmer

          Neil Degrasse Tyson has pointed out that as an Electron orbits the nucleus of an Atom, it pops into and out of existence, from our perspective. If it can do that, then there isn’t much reason to assume that they couldn’t just spontaneously pop into existence in the first place.

        • MNb

          It’s a bit more complicated – it actually is on all points on the orbit at the same time. Plus the orbit is not a line but a spectrum. All we can do is assign a probability.

        • Pofarmer

          So, it would be like a sparkling sphere?

        • TheNuszAbides

          that ‘we’ seem to have become rather skilled at this particular probability-crunching (ten decimal places? indistinguishable from magic!) is one more fascinating drop in the Bucket of Science; it’s still so galling to see people co-opt Gould’s efforts as peacemaker (his heart was in the right place?) into the bone-headed sub-school of relativism that equates belief in [any] theism with “belief in atheism”.

        • Greg G.

          Right, but the total energy and the total potential energy total to a constant zero. At least, that is my understanding of Alan Guth but I am an amateur physicist like I am an amateur gynecologist.

          Also, astronomers have found that the universe is not only expanding, but the expansion is accelerating so the total energy and the total potential energy are both increasing but the total of them together remain zero.

        • JoBar

          I never said that You were making any claims nor did I wish to answer your question. But my comment does say that the atheist’s position on this topic doesn’t matter. Only those who make claims have the burden to justify their position with evidence.

          Now I’ll answer your question, since you think that I dodged it.

          tl;dr version:
          The supernatural isn’t logical. Deism can’t be proven or disproven. It isn’t logical to conclude anything without evidence.

          Longer version:
          An un-caused first cause is just a more subtle way of saying a “first, supernatural” cause. So you’re saying that the supernatural explanation is the most logical. This idea has been burning out since the inception of the scientific method. Whenever science finds an explanation for something, it has always been natural, not supernatural. So forgive me and anyone else who will not jump to the conclusion that the most logical explanation for something is magic.

          I will say, however, that this deist point of view cannot be either proven or disproven by the very nature of its proposition. If science finds the answers to what the universe is like before the big bang, then deists just have to shift their prime-mover further outside the rhelm of reality. So Neither of us can provide evidence for the deistic god.

          Also, there is no reason to believe that there needs to be a first cause. Science understands very little about space and time. The idea that these dimensions work together is only 100 years old. Finite time and finite space is still merely provisional, like every other fact (theory) in science. Science isn’t absolute, so you can’t conclude absolutes from science. i.e. Your position only survives if the universe is finite.

          The logical conclusion is the null hypothesis (i.e. no supernatural cause) because it is not logical to conclude anything without evidence. Your conclusion seems logical to you because your first believe in the supernatural. When you have a gap in understanding, you simply fill it with magic.

        • jrb16915

          You don’t actually make any sort of argument here. You simply posit that since there can be no first un-cause. And then kind of babble around that. Your assertion that atheist’s can have faith in whatever they want to believe with evidence to support that belief is intellectually lazy. And my question is about something that is purely natural. What happened at the beginning of time?

          In a situation where something isn’t definitively proven, and there are multiple possible explanations, reasonable people evaluate what evidence is available, and whatever best fits the evidence is a reasonable conclusion even if not proven beyond doubt.

          The best physical evidence available suggests the universe has a beginning. There is no physical evidence to suggest that there is an infinite past.

          So it is reasonable, even if not provable by observation, that there was a beginning, and at the beginning there was nothing. Again this is what the best scientific evidence suggests.

          So this leaves two choices, Stephan Hawkins recent , novel and also un-provable theory that everything spontaneously came into being from nothing. Or something cause everything to come into existence out of nothing. This is a tautology. Either it was caused or it was spontaneous. Humility says “we really don’t know”. But the reality is the spontaneous explanation is more fantastic than an external cause.

        • JoBar

          response to your paragraph 1:
          “You don’t actually make any sort of argument here.” Please read the tl;dr version if reading comprehension is hard for you.

          “You simply posit that since there can be no first un-cause.” (Fragment) Since you didn’t formulate a sentence, you actually don’t make any sort of argument, lol.

          My argument is clearly that the supernatural is not logical. I never say that there cannot be a first cause, just that supernatural explanations should not be substituted in our gaps in understanding the universe. That substitution is truly lazy, my friend.

          “Your assertion that atheist’s can have faith in whatever they want to believe with evidence to support that belief is intellectually lazy.”

          Definition of Faith: firm belief in something for which there is no proof — merriam-webster(dot)com/dictionary/faith definition 2b(1)

          First: If you have evidence, then you don’t need faith.
          Second: Again you’re claiming I said something that I didn’t say. This is clear from the fact that you equate having faith with having evidence.

          “What happened at the beginning of time?”
          I assume you mean before the big bang. Neither of us have evidence, and therefore neither of us know. You’re proposing a supernatural hypothesis that cannot be tested. I propose the null hypothesis until there is something that can be tested. Neither of us have an answer. But one of us is approaching this problem with logic and one is Concluding magic.

          response to paragraph 2:
          I agree. There isn’t evidence available for the deistic stance you’re making, though. So this paragraph supports the null hypothesis. Show me some material evidence that is available for the contrary, then you have an argument.

          response to paragraph 3:
          You’re right. I never disagreed with this. I simply stated that science does not claim absolutes.

          response to paragraph 4:
          Again, I agree. But “nothing”, in its colloquial definition, may not represent what physical “nothing” is. i.e. science only recently has started to uncover what matter really is, and therefore just beginning to understand the physics of a pure vacuum. Regardless of that, I follow what you’re saying.

          response to paragraph 5:
          You say, “Humility says ‘we really don’t know’.” I wish you stopped there. That is the most logical stance on this topic. But unfortunately you then claim that the supernatural is the best conclusion.

          That is exactly our impasse: I say one can’t conclude anything without evidence. You claim that the best available “evidence” is an argument that the supernatural is the best substitute in our lack of material evidence, and therefore must be the best conclusion.

        • Kodie

          You’re not actually being reasonable as you think you are. What you’re doing is fitting in the only way it makes sense to you must be the correct reasonable thing to believe happened. “The only way it makes sense, the only way I can personally understand such a thing” is not a reasonable answer, it’s an argument from incredulity.

        • MNb

          “The best physical evidence available suggests the universe has a beginning.”
          The best physical evidence available also suggests that that beginning wasn’t a causal event.

          “the spontaneous explanation is more fantastic than an external cause.”
          Agreed. Quantummechanical probabilism is more fantastic than classical causality. It also has way more and the best physical evidence.
          You’re arguing against the first cause argument without realizing it yourself.

          “everything spontaneously came into being from nothing”
          To make things a bit more complicated: that nothing you’re talking about is not nothing according to some definitions of the word. Do quantumfields exist? If yes our universe was neither caused nor came into being from nothing, if we accept the best physical evidence available. Quantum fields may have been created by a creator who loves gambling or they might have existed eternally. Or they might have contained nothing.
          In all cases christianity is in serious problems.

        • jrb16915

          Nothing means nothing. If you reject the possibility of an absolute nullity, then you reject the concept of a beginning. So your response does not address what I put forward.

        • It’s not the case that every action has a cause except for the first one. Quantum physics provides counterexamples.

    • MNb

      Not me. See, according to Modern Physics our universe coming into existence was not a causal event.

  • JoBar

    Eric Hyde’s article at the onset says, “I will not delete any comments, no matter how uncivil or juvenile they become, because, for me, it is an important part of the article.”
    …There’s no comment box at the bottom of his article…
    Did he lie and remove the option for people to comment? Or did I miss something? Has anyone else had this issue?

    • Ron

      The article Bob linked to is a re-blog. Hyde’s personal blog did allow comments yesterday, but has now been marked as private.

      • JoBar

        I guess it’s safe to say Hyde lied then? Unfortunately, this isn’t very shocking.

      • I just checked and found the same thing. I wonder why he hid his blog.

        To take a charitable view, perhaps the original blog allowed comments, and the text inviting comments was copied into the second blog (pravmir) that didn’t.

      • JoBar

        If it’s private now, does that mean we can’t access it and make comments?

  • guadalupelavaca

    “1. There is no evidence for God’s existence.”

    The problem is that most people don’t understand the meaning of evidence. Most people think it means proof. Proof is an accumulation of credible evidence.

    The bible is proof of God’s existence. However, it is called hearsay evidence and thus lacks credibility. It is not necessarily untrue, but it just lacks sufficient credibility to be allowed into evidence. People should say there is no proof of God’s existence.

    • adam

      “The bible is proof of God’s existence”

      • Marvel is still calling Spiderman “The World’s Greatest Superhero”? Really?

        Could he defeat the Hulk? Thor? Doctor Strange?

        /feels-wronged-somehow

      • MNb

        I suppose you have a lot of such cumulative evidence for Spiderman?

    • jh

      How about using the scientific standard of what is and is not evidence? I find science to be a far more impartial, coherent, and self-correcting method of determining truth than subjective feelings.

      I think you are using legal standards of evidence. I suspect that is a lower bar than what would be considered evidence in the scientific sense.

    • Greg G.

      The Bible is not unambiguous evidence for God. It is only evidence of what some people may have thought in their own place and time.

    • Pofarmer

      The Bible is evidence people wrote about God or Gods they worshiped and or believed in. Saying the Bible is proof of God, is like saying that “Principia Mathematica, is proof of Gravity. It isn’t. No more than Harry Potter is proof of Wizards.

    • Pretty much every one of these ten atheist arguments is clumsily worded in a way that no thoughtful atheist would phrase it. I would never say, “there is no evidence for God’s existence.”

    • Dys

      The bible is proof of God’s existence.

      Or

      People should say there is no proof of God’s existence.

      Pick one. You can’t have both.

    • Jerry P.

      I don’t think the bible is either proof or evidence for the existence of a god. The bible is just a collection of claims written down–it isn’t evidence that any of those claims are true. I can claim anything I want. The truth value of any claim I make doesn’t increase if I write it down. Evidence needs to exist independent of the claim.

  • The top atheist argument that now has me convinced: He can’t even stop satanists from taking over the Supreme Court.

    • adam

      The bible Satan is OBVIOUSLY more powerful than the bible god.

      And less of a homicidal maniac.

    • Pofarmer

      Hi Theodore. Still crazy as a pet Raccoon I see.

    • Dys

      It’s nice that you have something new to run around and scream “The sky is falling” about.

      • It is, at least, no longer falling. It has fallen. Past tense.

        • Dys

          But it’s still something new you get to make inane hyperbolic assertions about.

        • In a week or two it won’t be. In 20 years, as tax revenues and citizenship dwindles, and parenthood largely forgotten, people will wonder what caused it.

          The war is over.

        • Dys

          Like I said, you’re Chicken Little. And just as accurate. But at least you have a reason to sing the Doom song.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMbQNu-d7QU

        • Huh? No one will be a parent?

          You do know that people are drawn to sex and sex makes parents, right?

        • MNb

          Ah, nothing turns this apologist on as a nice Doomsday Scenario. Never mind the facts.

        • D Rieder

          No, that’ll be in the year 6565.

        • 2050 by the math rather than stupid songs from the 1960s.

        • I wonder why engage with your hysteria, but I’ll just note that 2050 is the year when Islam will pull pretty much even with Christianity in terms of number of adherents.

          I bet baby Jesus cries about that–whaddya think?

        • Kodie

          By what math? There’s already over 7 billion people on the planet, and it’s only going to get worse. Did you hear we’re in the middle of a major extinction period? Humans are raping the planet like fire ants on a cow.

        • Kodie

          Good, but unfortunately, your scenario is not taking place.

        • The sky has fallen with the same-sex marriage decision? Tell me more. What bad stuff will happen?

          I’m married, and I see zero impact on my marriage. How about you? Married? Any affect?

        • Near as I can tell, parental rights have been terminated (raising children now has zero connection to marriage, not that it has had that great of connection since no-fault divorce went into effect, this is just the end of the battle, not the beginning). Family is now whatever people want it to be, and if the state decides to break up your family, it is now fully within their rights to do so, for any reason. Adult interests are put ahead of child interests, children are now actually wards of the state.

          That’s just the start of what I can see of the effects of this incredibly badly written decision that changes the very definitions of marriage and family in extremely unexpected ways.

        • MNb

          My parental rights were terminated as soon as my son became 18. Before me raising him had zero connection to marriage anyway, because he never expressed the desire to do so before his 18th birthday.

          “Family is now whatever people want it to be,”
          Yes and that’s a good thing.

          “and if the state decides to break up your family, it is now fully within their rights to do so”
          Eh? The Netherlands have legalized same gender marriage in 2001. Since then the Dutch state has broken up exactly zero families for the simple reason the state doesn’t have any means to do so.
          You’re either lying, ignorant, stupid or some combination.

        • The Dutch didn’t obliterate parental rights with a court ruling to legalize same sex marriage. I’m talking about the ruling Friday in the United States, not some other country’s experience.

        • The Netherlands made SSM legal over a decade ago. We did it over a decade ago as well, in Massachusetts. And then in many more states. The sky hasn’t fallen. And now we have a SCOTUS ruling that adds more states.

          Yes, the fallout from the prior examples are extremely relevant to seeing how it’s going to play out in the US.

          You’re just a puppet of political forces who want to cry that the sky is falling, despite the lack of evidence. I hope you’re getting well paid.

        • The netherlands has nothing to do with the statement “Precedent protects the right of a married couple not to procreate, so the

          right to marry cannot be conditioned on the capacity or commitment
          to procreate.”

        • I have no idea what your point is. Be more clearer next time.

          Yes, a married couple is not obliged to procreate. What’s your point? Is that a problem?

        • MNb

          So if an American court legalizes same gender marriage it obliterates parental rights but if a Dutch parliament does the same it doesn’t.
          You still may be lying and ignorant, but you’re definitely stupid.

        • The devil is in the details. The Dutch court merely added on same sex marriage. The American court spent reams of paper on why children are irrelevant to marriage. Two different cultures produced two vastly different rulings.

        • And since children will happen regardless of whether marriage even exists, your argument makes no sense.

        • Parental rights do not have to be granted. Any children that arrive are, under Obergefell, wards of the State by default, not of their parents.
          Give the gay activists another inch, and they will implement Dan Savage ‘ s solution- all women sterilized at birth for the next 35 years.

        • These are interesting claims, but I wonder why you have no links. Please provide them or retract these statements.

          2 claims, 2 links. I’m waiting.

        • Kodie

          You don’t sound like you’re well in touch with reality.

        • That’s OK, neither is this guy: http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/26/politics/scotus-opinion-document-obergefell-hodges/#document/p6
          Law has nothing to do with reality.

        • Kodie

          I don’t think children are inevitable. What Ted is imagining is a world in which having children becomes unaffordable, but not having children is not made available, so the state will have to take over and redistribute these children to wealthy people and/or Christians, but those gay people are ruining his plan! The state has already made children no longer the sole property of their parents to use, live vicariously through, and damage as they will with religions, according to him, so it is only a matter of time before all these children are adopted like too many kittens by wealthy gay CEOs instead of wealthy Christian families.

        • It’s good we’ve got you as a translator. I didn’t get that.

        • Kodie

          I’m not really sure what’s gotten into Ted, actually. It seems that a lot of these Christian fools think it’s all tied together, and soon, people will just boycott parenthood or something so the government doesn’t take their children? I’m not sure why he thinks this law makes children wards of the state now. Whereas, before, in a state that didn’t allow gay people to marry, an adopted or biological child would only have one parent listed on the birth certificate and not their partner. Now they can have two legal parents, everywhere. But this means people will stop having children for some reason, because before, it was only a matter of getting stuck with the bill and a lifetime of dreams derailed, now it means they might get adopted by gay parents, so let’s just get sterilized everyone so that won’t happen.

          I guess by “wards of the state” means gay married couples are legally accepted as a format under which adoptions would be granted as usual, instead of under special scrutiny, or denied altogether. There was no ruckus when it was assumed the first in line were always hetero Christian couples.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, the devil is in your details. Don’t think we would have been so late if the Christian conservatives trying to block it from happening hadn’t brought up children in the first place. “But two gay people can’t biologically create a child!!!!” Well, so they went and addressed your objection. Having children isn’t a requirement for anyone who gets married – that seems to have always been the case. Now they can add marriage between gay couples.

        • MNb

          Yeah, the devil is in the details and has made you his victim, not me. Why should he? I already deny god.
          The Dutch court didn’t do anything. For one thing there is no Supreme Court who can make such verdicts. It was Dutch parliament that added on same sex marriage. And one of the arguments indeed was that children are irrelevant to marriage. Two not too different cultures produced respecively a law and a ruling that say exactly the same: marriage must be open to same gender couples as well. The arguments are the same, the effect is the same. Oh wait – Dutch law is more radical. See, religious marriage in The Netherlands is not recognized by law. This has been the case since I don’t know when. Civil servants who perform marriages are not allowed to opt out due to conscientious objections because both the Dutch constitution and Dutch law forbid discrimination. Such civil servants have to quit.
          You don’t know what you’re writing about. Stupid and ignorant; possibly lying.

        • Parental rights have been terminated? What is that supposed to mean?

          Less fevered imaginings and more facts, please. I’m a parent, and I see no downside. Is there one? Then tell me ASAP.

          Family has pretty much always been what people decide it to be. Gay men have lived together for centuries, and some probably called themselves a family.

          How is the state breaking up families, and what does that have to do with Obergefell?

          Get out and listen to something besides Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and Fascist Radio. You got an argument? Make it instead of groundless charges.

        • “Parental rights have been terminated? What is that supposed to mean?”

          What it says. There is no assumption of rights for biological parents; that has been destroyed by this ruling, and all state laws surrounding marriage and parenting are now null and void by this ruling.

          That is the down side- you now have zero legal right to be your children’s guardian.

          That’s how sloppy this ruling was.

          Of course, as an atheist, you should be for this. Parental rights were just a religious bigotry to begin with.

        • “Parental rights have been terminated? What is that supposed to mean?”

          What it says. There is no assumption of rights for biological parents; that has been destroyed by this ruling, and all state laws surrounding marriage and parenting are now null and void by this ruling.

          I’m a parent. Show me how my rights or relationship has changed. At all.

          Give me quotes and links from the decision to back up your claims, or admit that you’ve lied.

          That is the down side- you now have zero legal right to be your children’s guardian.

          Prove it.

        • Go read the dissenting opinions. All of it is in there on how incredibly bad the Majority Opinion is for state laws regarding marriage, parental rights, and the perpetuation of the species.

          But of course, since you are an atheist, you believe in the overpopulation and global warming myths, so anything that restricts procreation is a good thing to you. Rejoice that children will now be raised by the state to be good little scientists, without any of that horrid need for procreation.

        • Dys

          So basically you have a bunch of fear mongering.

        • Yes, I consider the entire subject to be fear mongering and terrorism. But with a purpose: getting the human race to reduce its population, so that certain parties can exploit the resources left behind.

        • Dys

          Once the Illuminati and the Anunnaki sort out their differences, I’m sure they’ll get right on that.

        • “Certain parties”? You mean like “Humanity”?

        • No, I mean those who are bribing government to happen.

        • You believe in conspiracy theories but reject the scientific consensus on climate change. Must be fun to invent your own reality.

        • Kodie

          Like CEOs who want to rape the middle and lower class so they can’t afford to have children? Or the Christians who want to outlaw birth control and welfare taxes so those children will have to be stolen by the Pregnancy Crisis Centers?

        • The first. In the case of the second- the children live. In the case of the first, the population is reduced to allow more resources to be consumed by those who can afford to pay for a lavish lifestyle.

        • Kodie

          So what exactly do you have a problem with. Blaming it all on gay people having the right to marry equally doesn’t seem to fit in with the issues you’re having coping in a more realistic world than what you perceive.

        • I’m not blaming it on the gay people. That is your perception. I am blaming it on the sexual revolution and the 5 dictators who decided that it was up to them to change reality.

        • Reading your comments is like reading a page-turner novel. I know it’s all fiction, but I have to find out what comes next.

          So who are the 5 dictators?!

        • Are you really so unintelligent you can’t guess? The 5 justices who decided to overturn 1000 years of precedents for a novel concept.

        • I am indeed that unintelligent. When you said dictator, I was thinking president or some other head of state. It applies so poorly to a council of judges that I didn’t follow. As usual, you’re too quick for me.

        • Kodie

          A novel concept? Like, just for fun, let’s try this new thing out and see if it’s fun for everyone, troll those Christians real hard, lol! Or for thousands of years, homosexuals have been denied the right to even be acknowledged without risking their lives, that a progressive, inclusive idea had finally met its time?

          Ted, you’re a fucking idiot.

        • Perhaps there is an evolutionary reason that homosexuals were persecuted for that long that you are attempting to change.

        • Kodie

          Perhaps hatred, fear, and bigotry had something to do with it. Get your head out of your ass for a change.

        • Hatred, fear, and bigotry are evolved characteristics in a species. Evolution happens because those traits are useful to survival.

          What are you, a creationist or something?

        • Kodie

          What has history to do with evolution? All you have to do is look at history and see what hatred, fear, and bigotry are good for.

          What are you, a Nazi or something?

        • It is not history- but pre-history that hatred, fear, and bigotry are useful for. And in fact, most of history as well. It is only in the rather new (less than 250 year old) experiment of multi-cultural pluralistic societies that these cease being an asset and turn into a liability; and if you understand the reason they were an asset to begin with they are much easier to deal with.

        • Kodie

          You mean, if you consider pre-history to determine your righteousness in hatred, fear, and bigotry, instead of opening your fucking eyes and determine the danger is not there. Instead, you are concocting danger there as yet another rationalization of your righteousness in hatred, fear, and bigotry. I mean, imagine if we let those slaves go free, what do you think they’re going to do to us?

        • The danger is still there. Nothing has changed in reality, other than a bunch of people trying a scientific experiment that they *do not know the outcome of*.

        • Kodie

          No, Ted, this is progress. What’s scientific about marriage? People who were once threatened with death and imprisonment for no reason other than your sick self-hatred are now free to enjoy equal rights. If you want people to change for your comfort, then you were born on the wrong planet.

        • For progress, you need an actual output of data more than a half a human generation.

          There is 2000 years worth of data saying that cultures that embrace homosexuality get conquered and eliminated, and run into demographic issues.
          What have you got, other than an emotional feel good “at least we’re not beating them up anymore”?

        • Kodie

          Cultures that don’t embrace homosexuality are going to pick on us now? Because that’s just the kind of assholes we don’t need, we can just deal with the home-grown assholes trying to kick-shit the gay out of people who are gay, for their own fucking good, right? Rather than be right, you would rather go down ugly.

        • They already are, have been for 14 years now, or maybe you do not remember the World Trade Center

        • Kodie

          Was that the reason? Regardless, what kind of treasonous asshole are you now? You’re ashamed or fearful of global repercussions. You don’t care how fat, greedy, and stupid Americans are. You’re not embarrassed. Fuck yeah, ‘murica. You tell those Muslims you’re gay and proud.

        • Yep, tell that to the next Islamic you meet.

        • Kodie

          I thought these colors don’t run. You suck.

        • The colors ran when the homosexuals started threatening politicians. America is worthless.

        • Kodie

          Nothing like that ever upset you before, so you’re also a hypocrite. Do you know how many hundreds of thousands of soldiers have given their lives for every American’s freedoms, and you want to hide under a rock because someone might attack us because there’s gays? You’re disappointed because someone who was oppressed in America got their freedom, and you’re ashamed and frightened like the piece of shit you are.

        • Are you kidding? African Americans pulled the same trick in the 1960s. The Vietnamese pulled it in 1974. The North Koreans in 1954. It was only due to the other allies that we won WWII.

          America has not been “these colors don’t run” for longer than I’ve been alive.

        • Kodie

          African Americans pulled what same trick? Ted, are you an old cranky racist? I think you must be an old cranky racist – that doesn’t make it ok, it just means you fear how things down here will turn out after you die, and you won’t be able to enjoy heaven. You’ve been sick to your stomach for decades! If you can’t get over it, well just get over it.

          http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/quotative_like.png

        • Once again, bigotry has its reasons for existing. Learn those reasons instead of just quoting mindless brainwashing slogans.

        • Kodie

          So how many slaves do you wish you could have?

        • Slavery is better than minimum wage work. At least the slave owner, to protect his own investment, is required to provide food, clothing, shelter, clean water, and medical care (otherwise the slave sickens and dies). The free market provides no such guarantees.

        • Kodie

          You didn’t answer the question.

        • MR

          See how easily you can reveal someone’s racism. You’re awesome.

        • Neither did you. Why are you for big business paying people less than what it takes to survive?

        • Kodie

          Did I say I was? Let’s stay on track. What does that have to do with slavery and how many slaves you wish you could have?

        • MNb

          Kodie hasn’t chosen to be born in an uncivilized country that doesn’t have minimum wages. I was lucky to be born in one. Guess what? My country has way less believers than yours. Would you say that there is a correlation? Might be, because the politicians who introduced minimum wages were totally secular. American politicians seem to lack secularity these days.
          Yup – you have succeeded in making look your religion bad again. It opposes social improvements.

        • MNb

          The answer he did provide is very revealing though in many respects.

        • Kodie

          It was revealing, but an attempt to steer the conversation and get his hobby horse some exercise. He has a whole stable full of them, they don’t all need to come out. Funny how he is ashamed of his country because other people are gay; he is not ashamed of being a crusty old racist, among other nasty terrible things.

        • I suspect that an observer would find few slaves living in objectively better conditions than the working poor. If you’re saying that it sucks being at the bottom of the ladder, amen.

          Let’s not pretend that slavery was better, however. But if you truly think that it is, stand up for your position. Advocate slavery in modern Western society.

        • MNb

          In addition to BobS underneath: if you’re going to defend slavery on Biblical grounds I’m interested in buying your daughter. I will even convert for it if your price is good.

        • Like Kodie, I’m confused about what “trick” we’re talking about.

          So the U.S. didn’t pull its share during WW2–what the hell are you saying? I visited the Normandy beaches last summer on the 70th anniversary, and it seems that the U.S. contribution was substantial. Clarify.

          bigotry has its reasons for existing.

          What does that mean? That prejudice is justified by a kernel of truth? Tell us more.

        • MNb

          “it seems that the U.S. contribution was substantial.”
          Every Dutchman, Belgian and Frenchman should realize. TS may be right that the USA won thanks to its communist ally, but I’m still grateful for their contribution. Or I would have been born in the Soviet Republic of Holland.

        • MNb

          Yes – Dutch me won’t forget that I might have been born in a communist country if it weren’t for Eisenhower and co.

        • Kodie

          I really don’t understand this bullshit anymore. We’re supposed to be very patriotic country that’s obnoxiously patriotic at times, soldiers fighting for freedoms and we’re very patriotic at the times we’re supposed to thank soldiers for laying their lives on the line for our freedoms (especially so since 9/11), and it’s often the same kinds of people who socially “enforce” or “police” appropriate patriotism toward the soldiers doing their job, who don’t understand our Constitution, and don’t actually want some Americans to have freedom. I don’t actually agree with all our war causes or anything like that, and parts of being an American can be embarrassing. People from other countries hate the shit out of America and trash talk us freely exactly because of embarrassments like Ted Seeber.

          I would not even try to suppress his freedom of speech, because we learn so much about our neighbors this way.

        • I think it’s called “doing the right thing.” Remember MLK? Expanding rights for the disadvantaged few? It’s like that.

          Are the Muslim kids being mean to you on the playground? Tell them that America does the right thing, regardless–how about that?

        • Without an external objective morality, the “right thing” is nothing more than religious myth, under separation of Church and State there can be no “right thing” allowed.

        • Kodie

          Religion is just a way to justify being horrible to some people, but you’re a weasel who likes to suppose there is an evolutionary reason why black people were (and should continue to be) enslaved, or gay people were (and should continue to be) having “the gay” beaten out of them or killed. What an empty slob you are if that’s what your religion says to do. What an ignorant empty slob.

        • Atheists should know, they are all weasels with no justification.

        • Kodie

          Said the guy who was born a hundred years too late to own slaves, darnit!

        • There are plenty of slaves around. They’re just called minimum wage workers now, and you no longer have to actually provide them with a living.

        • Greg G.

          You don’t get to beat them either.

        • Funny, I know plenty of former minimum wage workers disabled by sub-standard working conditions. Might not be the owner beating them, but the machinery sure does.

        • Greg G.

          There would always be a man with a machete where slaves fed sugar cane into a wind-driven pair of rollers that squeezed out the juice. The man had to hack off the arm of a slave whose arm got caught. That was to reduce the amount of blood in the cane juice. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

        • Kodie

          I have absolutely no idea why you are even bringing this up. Slavery of any kind is wrong. You seem to think official slavery is any better than minimum wage work. You also seem to think I think the current system is fair or productive, or that maybe you are associating poverty with abortion and homosexuals gaining equal civil rights, which is what you get when you look for answers to questions with your head up your ass.

        • And slavery is preferable to being a minimum wage worker in the U.S.? Is that your final answer?

        • Yep.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Ted; having you around is incredibly useful.

          It’s easy to think that all religious people are mildly deluded, holding benign and quaint ideas — or merely frauds and charlatans pretending to espouse “traditional” beliefs in their own calculated self-interest.

          You, on the other hand…you are a personified warning, a living signpost urging us to heed the real and lasting damage caused when susceptible individuals are exposed to the artificial mental illnesses of extreme religious beliefs in general, and your version of Catholicism in particular.

          Because of posters like you, crotchety and pedantic atheist posters like me can rest assured that we’re not just being Chicken Littles.

          Thank you.

        • MNb

          And another empty barrel making a lot of religious noise.

        • MNb

          ” under separation of Church and State there can be no “right thing” allowed.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Dutch law – secular since I don’t know when – has no problem at all allowing the right thing.

        • Dutch law allows gay marriage- which is not the right thing. Thus Dutch law does not know right from wrong.

        • Kodie

          You were asked what was wrong with it and you went on an incoherent rant about children being wards of the state.

        • Greg G.

          The objective measures of morality is harm and benefit. You can’t pretend to have an objective morality independent of the consequences.

        • Yes. And there is so much harm in homosexuality and atheism that it is terrorism.

        • Greg G.

          There are inherent problems in people. Religion introduces more than it pretends to solve. You still haven’t shown a reason for your opposition to gay marriage that makes a lice of sense. You have a religiously installed hatred but you try to justify it with the lamest of reasons.

        • TheNuszAbides

          You have a religiously installed hatred but you try to justify it with the lamest of reasons.

          i’m not seeing how ‘but’ is appropriate in that statement. 😉

        • adam

          Terrorism:

        • Kodie

          You’re just scapegoating.

        • So are you, for that matter.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Talking with Ted is like wrestling a swine in a pen full of shit.

        • MR

          Talking with Ted is like wrestling a swine in a pen full of its own shit.

          FTFY.

        • Kodie

          If you truly believe there is some evolutionary benefit from excluding or killing or beating or harassing people who are different from you, but still humans, then you are the terrorist.

        • Show me that this external objective morality exists. I see no evidence.

          Look up “morality” in the dictionary. The ordinary, non-objective version explains things just fine.

        • adam

          Yes. we understand how laws prevent you from acting objective moral and doing the ‘right thing’

        • Pofarmer

          Ole Ted really is a loon.

        • Dys

          He’s a special kind of crazy…lately he’s been running around calling homosexuals satanists, insisting that all newspapers are now tabloids, insisting America sucks now (because teh gays), etc. Basically, a bunch of right-wing hyperbolic freakout rhetoric devoid of any real content.

          And there’s always his famous redefinition of rape…in that he defines it as any sex outside of marriage.

        • Pofarmer

          And saying birth control is poisoning a womans body.

        • Dys

          I’ve also noticed Ted’s opinions on homosexuals tend to resemble the same type of arguments that so-called racial realists use to justify their racism.

        • adam

          Me thinks the man proteths too much….

        • Paul B. Lot

          @TheodoreSeeber:disqus is a self-described sufferer of mental problems.

          If memory serves, he claims to be somewhat far down the autism spectrum — is that accurate Ted?

        • Greg G.

          I can believe that.

        • TheNuszAbides

          insisting that all newspapers are now tabloids

          the one glimmer of hope: that he has begun to grasp the idea that there can be organized efforts to distract and/or misinform unquestioning masses.
          doesn’t look like he can recognize the possibility of any such efforts being “well-meaning” … unless they’re from His Side, of course.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          My ex-wife was a muslima. She reconverted after she remarried.
          My female counterpart is a muslima.
          One of my best friends here is a muslim.
          I don’t have to tell them because they already know. Unlike stupid ignorant catholic you.

        • Why didn’t they cut off your head as the Koran requires?

        • Kodie

          Aside from the extremists, among Muslims I encounter, both families have two children only and no more. They are nice as anyone also. The latest problem I had with local Muslims was Monday night, I couldn’t find a parking spot because I live near a mosque and it was some Ramadan mass (or whatever Muslims call their meetings) at night, and the streets were so packed with cars, many of them illegally parked. I have a similar problem with Jews when they have evening events at their temple that I can see from my window, and that’s only because none of these people live in my neighborhood, and crowd out residents for parking when they come over in large numbers.

        • Greg G.

          We have 2000 years of data showing cultures getting conquered and eliminated due to geography and technology. Why are you so focused on sexuality?

        • MNb

          Po already answered your question – he’s a good and faithful catholic. Sexuality is the favourite fetish of good faithful abrahamists.

        • Technology comes from heterosexual lifelong procreative monogamy. You do not get a new genius from a man and a man getting married without a huge carbon footprint that under global warming, we can no longer afford.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Alan Turing.
          Jacob Appelbaum
          Christa Muth.
          Totally not heterosexual and totally not procreative.
          The only remaining interesting question regarding you is if your stupidity and ignorance know any bottom.

        • All of whom were part of global warming.

        • Are you saying these people did not have heterosexual parents?

        • Kodie

          All children technically have heterosexual parents. What is the problem?

        • Paul B. Lot

          Are you saying that you know that their parents were not homosexuals?

          Are you saying that people with homosexual attractions are incapable of procreation?

        • “Are you saying that you know that their parents were not homosexuals?”

          Yes, because in a bigendered species, it takes a male and a female to make a child. Exclusively homosexual people are not capable of making a child through a homosexual act.

          “Are you saying that people with homosexual attractions areincapable of procreation?”

          Having the odd, easily ignorable attraction does not make one a homosexual. Once Gay Always Gay is a myth.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Wow…what a confused response.

          I mean, I don’t know what else I expected; it was the product of a confused source.

          “Once Gay Always Gay is a myth.” — Uh…I’ve never heard that before, but sure. I don’t put human sexuality into a magnetic field where everything ends up on one end or the other.

          But you avoided my question.

          Let me rephrase it for you in a more idiot-proof way:

          Are people who aren’t “having the odd, easily ignorable [ss] attraction”, but are primarily/exclusively attracted to their own gender, incapable of having intercourse with a member of the opposite gender and thereby begetting children?

        • Simple answer, Yes.

          If you are exclusively sexually attracted to members of your own gender, then you are incapable of doing what it takes to have a child naturally and morally with a member of the opposite gender.

          Likewise, if you are capable of having relations with a member of the opposite gender, it proves that you are NOT EXCLUSIVELY GAY- and that in fact, what attractions you feel are likely just hallucinations.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Holy shit.
          New.
          Levels.

          *golf clap*

          If you are exclusively sexually attracted to members of your own gender, then you are incapable of doing what it takes to have a child naturally and morally with a member of the opposite gender.

          What if you’re a woman who has accepted a marriage proposal out of filial duty, but you secretly love the ladies?

          Do you really want us to agree with you, Tedders, that that woman is biologically incapable of procreation?

          Likewise, if you are capable of having relations with a member of the opposite gender, it proves that you are NOT EXCLUSIVELY GAY- and that in fact, what attractions you feel are likely just hallucinations.

          Okay, so; what if you really are a gay dude (not hallucinating), Teddy ole boy, and you get married because you feel pressured to from society/family…but the only way to get the soldier to stand to attention is to get drunk, keep the lights off, and think about bananas and flannel?

        • “What if you’re a woman who has accepted a marriage proposal out of filial duty, but you secretly love the ladies?”

          So the husband rapes the wife? Once again not “doing what it takes to have a child naturally and morally”.

          “that that woman is biologically incapable of procreation?”

          no, just that she is psychologically incapable of consummating the marriage.

          “but the only way to get the soldier to stand to attention is to get drunk, keep the lights off, and think about bananas and flannel?”

          Then that is rape. Same difference.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Okay.

          So.

          Let’s put a pin in your ridiculous and ignorant definition of “rape.” I don’t have enough time to address all of your errors in one post, but I wanted to mention that I noticed it.

          I see you, Ted. You’re on notice.

          Now that we’ve gotten this far up into your rabbit hole, and what an uncomfortable hole you have, sir, let’s recap;

          1) You claimed that technological advances can’t “come from” homosexuals.
          2) You were provided with several names (by myself and others) of homosexuals who have definitively advanced technology.
          3) You countered by implying that your point wasn’t about those landmark people per se but about the fact that they had parents who were heterosexual and life-long monogamous partners (a bald assertion).
          4) You were then asked whether or not you knew with certitude that every (life-long, monogamous) pair of parents-of-homosexuals-who-advanced-technology were not, themselves, homosexual.
          5) You answered that; no, they were not, because if there were they would not be able to carry out the physical act of consummation.
          6) When put several potential cases of physical-consummation-without-sexual-attraction, you countered with: “that would be rape.” — A counter which, while batshit stupid in its own right, more importantly does nothing to answer the question: “is it possible for homosexual people to get married to, and procreate with, members of the opposite sex.”

          The answer to this question is clearly, in theory, “yes”. More importantly it is clearly “yes” in practice as well.

          History is full of people who get married against the grain of their natures and later regret it.

          So; no, in fact, you cannot know that every pair of parents of every homosexual who ever advanced the state of human technology was heterosexual — a proposition which probably doesn’t need refuting except that silence tends to imply consent in humans’ minds.

        • My answer had nothing to do with marriage, and I have one question for you:
          Can two people of the same gender make a child? Can an exclusively homosexual act, with NO help from anybody else, make a child?

          Because that is what you are really claiming.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “My answer had nothing to do with marriage”
          -Okay, so we’ll remove the constraints of family pressures, cultural/religious traditions, and courtship — speaking only of individual sexual encounters. Yes…my job is getting much harder now.


          “Can two people of the same gender make a child?”

          No one here has every made the claim that something like the movie “Junior” is plausible. So you have asked the wrong question.

          Let’s be clear: I’ve read all your posts about “once gay always gay is a myth”…”fleeting attractions”…”hallucinations”…etc…

          So. Given how badly you want/need to believe that “engaging in one homosexual act does not make one a homosexual” –you must clearly believe that the inverse is also true.

          THEREFORE.

          The answer to the appropriate question, “does engaging in one (or a series of) heterosexual act make one a heterosexual?”, is clearly “No.”

          THEREFORE.

          You can not infer anything about the sexuality of the parents of children-who-turned-out-to-be-gay-AND-advanced-human-society/technology.

          Game. Set. 69.

        • Kodie

          You were made to loathe yourself, obviously, and now you’re fixated.

        • adam

          rape?

          Fine with bible god

          Pay off the previous owner (father) and take your property.

        • adam

          “Okay, so; what if you really are a gay dude (not hallucinating), Teddy ole boy, and you get married because you feel pressured to from society/family…but the only way to get the soldier to stand to attention is to get drunk, keep the lights off, and think about bananas and flannel?”

          Wow, do you know Teddy, cause that sounds just like him.

        • Kodie

          You’ve been severely damaged by misinformation.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Hah!

          Great minds think alike.

        • Greg G.

          Is the carbon footprint bigger because they are married instead of just living together or living separately? To reduce their carbon footprint, you would have to kill them. Is that what you really want? Many geniuses are gay. You may need to kill off old people as they aren’t producing geniuses. Did you see Logan’s Run back in the 70s?

        • Their carbon footprint is larger because to procreate, they need a donor and a laboratory. To reduce their carbon footprint for procreation, they can go straight and have children normally.

          After all, homosexuality is taught, it isn’t innate.

        • Greg G.

          The justifications of your hatred are crap. I knew a lesbian couple who had one of a gay couple donate sperm. All they needed was a turkey baster.

          Besides, a church has a larger carbon footprint than a medical lab.

          After all, homosexuality is taught, it isn’t innate.

          I don’t believe you know what you are talking about. I have known a guy from when we were about 4 or 5 years old from Sunday School. He was different than the other boys. He was not taught to be that way. I went through 12 years of school with him. I didn’t know what it meant back then but figured it out after high school. I saw his mother in a store several years ago nearly 200 miles from where we grew up. He was with her. He has come out of the closet. It was obvious that he was gay from his youth before he was anywhere near making sexual decisions.

        • A turkey baster made of plastic. Plus, of course, all the travel (using hydrocarbon based transportation) between the couple and the sperm donor.

        • Greg G.

          They were neighbors and they could reuse the turkey baster. They nursed the child so it never had a bottle, so that’s less plastic than most heterosexual couples. They had a simple lifestyle. They had a small carbon footprint.

          You are really looking like an idiot with such lame justifications.

        • Kodie

          The real only solution is extinction. You’re picking out one type of person to take on all the responsibility for being like everyone else. That’s all they want, and you want to imprison them and scapegoat them. Humans are all like that, but you want them to just have more children.

        • So you are for the extinction of humanity. Thank you for letting us know.

        • adam

          No thank you teddy!

        • Kodie

          You’re the one who is in favor of it.

        • And bullying people into being gay merely because they are different is nothing more than brainwashing.

        • Dys

          And bullying people into being gay merely because they are different is nothing more than brainwashing.

          Considering the nonsense you’re spouting, you’re the last person who should be talking about brainwashing.

        • Greg G.

          He was bullied into trying to live straight. He married and had a child but it wasn’t him. His dad was a rough country boy. He could never stand up to his father until old age crippled him.

        • adam

          Oh, who bullied YOU into being gay?

        • Several groups attempted to do so, and harmed my dating chances by doing so. I had to spend some time NOT associating with people from high school to recover heterosexuality.

        • Haggard’s Law, eh?

        • adam

          Makes sense.

        • Kodie

          People aren’t bullied into being gay. You certainly have no problem with bullying people who are different and enslaving them, or bullying them to pretend they’re straight just to comfort your delusions. You find there to “possibly” be an evolutionary benefit to killing people you perceive as different than you rather than including them in your definition of people.

        • Things I Never Thought I’d say to My Son

          From a blog about a mom raising a boy who’s pretty gay.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, straight couples never do that. Having children in general is what increases a carbon footprint, so it doesn’t matter if they do it naturally. Too many people don’t give a shit about the environment, Ted, so you’re just making a scapegoat.

        • Nope- overpopulation causing pollution is a myth. Laudato Sii.

        • Kodie

          You sound the opposite of informed.

        • Less than 1/10th of humanity causes 90% of the pollution- the problem is not overpopulation. The problem is a lifestyle that is against life.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Hehehe.

          And how many of those 90%, who only cause 10% of pollution, are content with their standards of living? How many of them are happy with their:
          1) access to food
          2) access to clean water
          3) access to shelter
          4) access to health care
          5) access to education
          6) the level of social instability in their region
          7) the level of crime in their region
          8) the level of control over local/national politics
          9) the level of control over their own bodies
          etc…
          ?

          How many would not choose to live the way the other 1/10th live their evil, “against life” lifestyles?

          Why do you fetishize abject poverty, Ted?

        • Why do you fetishize materialism?

        • Paul B. Lot

          I’ve worn the same pair of work shoes for years now.

          The rubber soles are detaching from the heels; I should probably replace them.

          But I probably won’t. I think I’ll try to repair them with glue. Again.

          I don’t think you understood my question, certainly your choice to replace [a state of existence of other humans] with [a metaphysical outlook on reality] indicates a category error in your thinking.

          You did a shitty job of trying to invert my second question, and I can understand why you wouldn’t want to answer it.

          However my first question…that you avoided altogether.

          “how many of those 90%, who only cause 10% of pollution, are content with their standards of living?”

        • Greg G.

          Do you oppose the materialism that leads to these?

          1) access to food
          2) access to clean water
          3) access to shelter
          4) access to health care
          5) access to education
          6) the level of social instability in their region
          7) the level of crime in their region
          8) the level of control over local/national politics
          9) the level of control over their own bodies

          Just because we can reproduce exponentially doesn’t mean we can provide these to everyone. We couldn’t support today’s population if everyone was hunter-gatherers, yet your computer leaves a far greater carbon footprint than the lifetime of a hunter-gatherer.

        • http://persquaremile.com/2011/01/18/if-the-worlds-population-lived-in-one-city/

          That’s why we need to start changing the way we think.

        • Greg G.

          The maps don’t consider the land required to support a densely populated Texas.

          I agree that we need to change the way we think. Those maps were from four years ago and there is now 400 million more people on the planet than there was then. The population is growing faster than the ideas for how to deal with the growth can be tested, developed, and implemented.

          Poor people reproduce more because they need someone to take care of them when they are old. Bigger families means a smaller burden on each child and a more lucrative retirement. People with retirement plans don’t need so many children.

          But changing the way we think is not necessarily the big problem. We need a workable solution. But we shouldn’t assume there is a workable solution for unlimited population growth just around the bend. We should try to limit the growth rationally until we can support the population with decent standards of living.

        • Apparently you did not think to click through to the second page, which addresses those concerns:
          http://persquaremile.com/2012/08/08/if-the-worlds-population-lived-like/

          Funny how he made the same point Pope Francis did: that it is your notion of a decent standard of living that is the problem.

        • Greg G.

          Those concerns are not addressed on that page either. I don’t want to read an entire website in hopes that it answers my question. If it does, the give me the link and quote the part that does, just so it isn’t overlooked. What is the workable solution and how do they know it will work on a global population?

          that it is your notion of a decent standard of living that is the problem.

          My notion of a decent standard of living? Which of these to you think are dispensable?

          1) access to food
          2) access to clean water
          3) access to shelter
          4) access to health care
          5) access to education
          6) the level of social instability in their region
          7) the level of crime in their region
          8) the level of control over local/national politics
          9) the level of control over their own bodies

          I do not think a maximum population is an optimal population. It seems rather dystopian.

        • 6,7,8,and 9 are luxuries, and are not impacted by population, but rather by liberty (the more liberty a population has, the more of problems will exist). 1 to 4, we have enough of for a population of 80 billion, as pointed out in the maps in the 2nd link.

          The key issue is education; which is also a luxury.

          So yes, if you want everybody to live like they do int he United States or the United Arab Emirates, you need 5 planets the size of earth just to maintain our current population- because that standard of living is extremely wasteful. Have everybody live at the standard of living that they do in Bangladesh, and there is plenty of room to expand.

          How about not killing people to support your standard of living? Oh yeah, that’s unthinkable.

        • Greg G.

          So your Utopia is 80 billion uneducated people with no say over anything. There probably would be no crime because nobody would have anything to steal. People would be like industrial chickens but cages wouldn’t be necessary because there would be no place to go.

          How do would they keep the population from doubling? Do they cull people? Who decides who doesn’t get to have children? Who decides who gets to be breeders? Do they get a choice or would that be a luxury.

          Sounds great! Sign me up.

        • Kodie

          Why do you blame gay people for materialism? Having children is how most people maximize their materialism. Ignoring environmental issues because their religion assures them everything is fine is another way people maximize their materialism. I know someone who said they hate the word “carbon footprint” so much that they intend to maximize their carbon footprint out of fucking spite.

          What kind of planet do you live on? Not earth.

        • Kodie

          Citation. Not even going to be polite about it.

        • You apparently have a concern for sustainability and the environment, which are laudable traits in conservative Christians (assuming I’m putting you in the right bin), so that’s worth celebrating.

          But keep in mind the benefit that that 1/10 of the population creates. Vaccines, antibiotics, wind turbines, cell phones, Wikipedia, and all the rest of technology pretty much doesn’t come from the 90%.

          That doesn’t mean that the 1/10 isn’t greedy and short sighted, but let’s just keep some perspective.

        • Kodie

          Ted is literally saying that gay people produce 90% of the world’s pollution:

          Less than 1/10th of humanity causes 90% of the pollution– the problem is not overpopulation. The problem is a lifestyle that is against life.

          I asked for a citation, but do you really think only 10% of the world’s population produce 90% of it’s pollution? Is 90% of the world’s population…. uncivilized and tribal and beating the shit out of its gays like Ted’s god intended, so they’re not civilized enough to make pollution or get with the program. That’s what Ted is saying, literally.

        • I was assuming that the 10% = “the West.” But maybe you’re right that he meant “the gays.”

        • MNb

          Kodie is right. I quote from Ted, two days ago (see above):

          “To reduce their carbon footprint for procreation, they can go straight and have children normally.”
          Admit it – you can’t argue with that. Neither can any other sensible human being.

        • IVF has a bigger carbon footprint than screwing? Even if that’s true, that’s an indictment of straight childless couples far more than gay childless couples because there are more childless couples who are straight than gay!

          I’d be fascinated to see what fraction IVF is of the total U.S. carbon footprint. I wonder how many zeroes are after that decimal point.

        • MNb

          My bet is that he doesn’t like IVF either – ‘cuz natural divine law or something.

        • Well, yeah. Makes baby Jesus cry.

        • Kodie

          You can’t really say the “lifestyle” (as Ted calls homosexuality) is against life if they are purposely creating new life. I don’t know the data, but adoption is still probably more popular. IVF is a specific procedure to create an embryo from an egg that has to be expelled (either donated or from the woman who is going to have the child herself) and sperm that is ejaculated (either donated or from the man who is fathering said child himself).

          Surrogacy is another thing, it may or may not use IVF from a donated egg. It may be that the sperm from one or both fathers will be used to impregnate her. Lesbians likewise take sperm donations directly, so to speak.

          Straight couples avail themselves of these options all the time.

          But Ted was also against adoption. His initial message was that allowing gay couples to marry explicitly makes children no longer the property of their biological parents but wards of the state. It sounded drastically to apply to all children – to threaten the wanted biological children of heterosexual married couples, it just makes all the sperms and all the eggs within the public domain to make children, all the way from unintended teen pregnancies all the way to intentional IVF surrogacy, and distribute them to those environmentally hazardous gay couples as well as those wholesome green heterosexual Catholic couples with fertility issues.

          “Overpopulation” isn’t the issue in consuming material resources, because being “for life”, biologically procreating the biologically efficient way doesn’t consume resources – tell that the the people that have to feed their children but can’t afford to, or buy new clothes to put on their backs, that were told they couldn’t use birth control or have an abortion. Tell that to the parents who take for granted their children need 3 years worth of disposable plastic diapers, and seriously look at all the material waste that goes into the creature comforts that go into supporting human life. How many cheap sofas and end tables that people just had to buy to live in an apartment for 2-4 years did I see discarded on the sidewalk in my small neighborhood of about 3.5 block-long streets since college let out at the end of May, and they’re just going to buy a new one they can afford that will last about as long as their next lease. How many piles of bags of garbage filled with packaging for food have I seen twice a week?

          Ted is making a scapegoat: gay couples overcoming their natural procreation obstacle (because they’re “against life,” isn’t that obvious?) the same way straight people do, in far bigger numbers, is the single issue in pollution, according to him. The environment would be perfectly clean, green, and protected if everyone would just be straight and have as many babies as they can make at home.

        • I’ll let others try to beat some sense into about gaiety being learned behavior.

          As for the carbon footprint, is this supposed to be ironic? Or a Poe? The carbon footprint of IVF is a negligible addition to that of raising a child in the West. Perhaps one fewer ballet lessons might even things out.

        • Read Laudato Sii

        • Kodie

          So the right thing to do is oppress certain people and make them procreate more in hiding of their true selves, to reduce our carbon footprint? I don’t know, I seem to think those Islamic theocracies that will behead you as soon as behand you are where all the oil is at and probably not so green.

        • Kodie

          Your parents presumably were straight, and look what they had. Hetero parenting does not guarantee any geniuses, and the more procreative a monogamous couple is, the lower the percentage of geniuses they’ll bear. None of them will be encouraged, especially if they are girls. Stigmatizing intelligence as a left-wing conspiracy to outlaw their religious beliefs, they believe they are outsmarting the rest of us just by outnumbering us. The religious will not provide humanity with any geniuses, due to their denial of urgent problems, and their allergy to intelligence.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “Technology comes from heterosexual lifelong procreative monogamy.”

          What the fuck are you talking about, dingbat?

          Hadrian?

          Leonardo DaVinci?

          Alan Turing?

          Holy shit. I can’t believe that after all these years you are still able to show me new depths of idiocy.

        • Technology comes from heterosexual lifelong procreative monogamy.

          WTF?? I realize that most of the world’s problems are the gays’ fault, but they can’t create technology, either? Wow–who knew?

        • MNb

          “run into demographic issues”
          The main demographic issue we are dealing with right now is that the Earth is overpopulated, so let’s propagate same gender relationships! It’s fun that your argument doesn’t work even if we accept your silly assumptions.

        • MNb

          “What’s scientific about marriage?”
          Oh, that’s simple. Believe it or not, in the 80’s I was against same gender marriage (and so was my gay father) for a stupid reason I find hard to recall, let alone formulate in a coherent way. Take this.
          You have a group of people that expresses the desire to marry. Ask them: “do you expect marriage to make you more happy?” I’m pretty sure the vast majority will answer with a firm yes. And that’s what made me change my mind long ago.

        • Greg G.

          By all means marry, if you get a good mate, you’ll be happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher. –Socrates

        • Dys

          Here’s the thing Ted…you don’t know the outcome either. Your fear mongering and doomsaying are merely reflections of your own religious biases, not reality.

        • True, I don’t know the outcome. But maybe we’d like to try the experiment with LESS than a billion people first? And a control group?

        • Kodie

          I don’t understand what’s the experiment.

        • MR

          This is dog whistle stuff ‘mongst some religious groups, I think. Catholics? The Great Homosexual Social Experiment. Will civilization survive? Fear-mongering. It leaves them breathless.

        • Kodie

          I feel like everyone’s had long enough to get used to it. Bad things happen to gay people when they’re hated, and bad things happen to cultures that accept homosexuals as equals when other cultures hate. It’s like, I’m afraid for you to be gay so don’t be gay, because then you’ll get the shit kicked out of you! Here, let me start.

          What would happen if we stopped doing that and I just don’t know what the experiment is still! They’re still thinking there’s some agenda? We’ll have elephants and penguins getting married to a flock of sheep and one guy who is already married to a few of the sheep.

          I mean, I feel like, the only idea left may be polyamory, but then that’s really the end of the line here. If there were other groups or relationships of people that were sickening to Christians, they’d have come out with gay people, how many letters long is the full spectrum acronym now. I don’t have an issue with polyamory, even if it means abusive domestic partnerships – I’ll say that it doesn’t stop monogamous couples from getting married, and I am against abuse. Give people an option to get married, and of course that is open to abuse. Close off marriage as an option to people, just go back to monogamous monoracial couples, and fuck, there is just a lot of opportunity there for abuse. So I would not say that polyamorous groups should not get married because it will open the door to abusive or religious situations. That door is already fucking open.

          Ted is imagining that combinations not dreamed of before will assume the next spot in line – homosexual pride in the first place opened that gate to whatever. What’s in there that’s terrible? Christians act like they are used to gay people and almost borderline acceptance, just fear pedophiles and bestiality and incest – hey that shit’s not on the rainbow. I don’t see that on the rainbow, nobody else is associating those things with the rainbow.

        • They get confused by the slippery slope thing. They mix same-sex marriage in with incest and pedophilia with no thought to the apples and oranges problem..

          Do incest and pedophilia cause harm? If so, then that’s why society isn’t going to push for allowing them. SSM is no more inherently harmful than straight marriage.

        • Kodie

          But don’t they sound a little like, you hear them almost saying they do accept gay people marrying, it’s just that they are afraid of where that will lead, or what kind of other people hate gay people so we have to suppress our gay people to prevent the attacks on us as a country, and let’s suppress them through violence and inequality, almost not because they don’t want them to have rights, it’s just unfortunate that they are at the gateway to these other ridiculous requests, and if we allow gays, we’re obligated to accept elephant-penguin-man-sheep marriages. Oh, the tractor also wants to get in on that? Let the tractor marry! We can hardly say no to that, since the gays.

        • MNb

          Almost.

        • If you’re hearing “We love the gays; we’re just concerned about the reactions of the unreasonable people,” then you have a more sensitive ear than I do. This concern about the Muslims from TS is the first time I’ve heard this.

          To me, the simple “Does it cause harm?” standard gets the job done. A conservative might well respond, “Well, no harm to any individual person, but it’s still dirty!” but that may be an inherent gulf between us and them.

        • Kodie

          I’ve heard variations of it, usually from parents. Parents worry that their child is gay, ostensibly because they’re afraid that child will be bullied and harassed, which they may be. They could equally be worried if their child is overweight or has some other perceived difference from “normal”. Anyway, I’ve heard variations of this, and it usually comes from parents wanting their child to fit in and be normal, and some belief that homosexuality is chosen, or they can be fixed, or pretend and nobody will notice, and will go to extreme lengths to themselves pretend they are not ashamed of what the neighbors will call their own failing as parents, put a lot of pressure on the kid, for that kid’s own good, to act straight, and by “a lot of pressure,” I am sure I mean threaten them or kick them out of the house, if it comes to that – and if the kid is gay, it will probably come to that, or they will closet themselves. There’s no real in-between unless a parent accepts and celebrates their child, if the parent is brave enough to face criticism because they will get criticized. I mean, if gay people are harassed, also their parents.

          In situations where there really isn’t anything that can be done, let’s say some disfigurement or disability, the parent will not be ashamed, and instead take on the mama bear role like a parent should, but the general public is also more humanly accepting of disabilities as something that cannot be fixed, where homosexuality is still believed to be something that can be fixed, as well as being overweight is blamed on the parents, and some parents do the same thing – put those kids on diets and shame their bodies.

        • I heard on a podcast about an adult guy from Alabama who was gay. Eventually, he just couldn’t take it and wanted to move to NY City.

          His mother pleaded for him not to, because everyone would know that he was gay (I guess everyone knows that the gays go to NYC). In other words, his mother was concerned primarily about her reputation in the community rather than her son’s happiness.

        • Kodie

          Well, a good parent tries to hide that it’s really about their ego, and tries to influence the child by making them self-conscious about something instead of loving them for who they are, and defending their child against criticism. Apparently, homosexuality is too much of a disappointment for some parents to handle gracefully. The mere fact does exist, however, that people just don’t want to have to be the targets of shitty people making fun of them, and the way around that most people do is try to make their target smaller and blend in.

          Let’s not pretend that people aren’t shitty to gay people or parents as if they’ve done something terrible to deserve to be the laughingstock of the community, or shunned from the community for accepting their child that way. Social pressure is real and difficult to face, if there’s any way to avoid it. When people talk about Jesus or god expressing love, I kind of think they really believe it is more loving to put social pressures on people to change themselves, and that this is the kind of “love” Jesus really meant – when god or Jesus says to love your neighbor, that means to preach at them constantly or shun them if they don’t want to practice your beliefs, because arriving at these beliefs any way you can make them happen, no matter what you do, if those are your goals, then anything you do to get there is “loving” your neighbor. It doesn’t actually mean to be gentle and generous and non-judgmental; it means to judge them very much.

        • Greg G.

          We did it with New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. The French Quarter and Bourbon Street suffered little damage while the parts of the city with a Christian church on most every corner was flooded. Either there is no god or he hates Christians most of all.

        • MNb

          Excellent idea! Let’s take a country with about 17 million inhabitants instead. For instance The Netherlands. Let’s take a similar country with approximately an equal amount of inhabitants. For instance Switzerland and Austria. That’s an experiment of 14 years.
          Zero difference, except that The Netherlands have made some more people happy than the other two countries.

          But of course, as every single bigot does, you will dismiss these simple facts for some or another stupid reason.

        • MNb

          Eh? Same gender marriage has been legalized in The Netherlands in 2001. The outcome seems pretty clear: it has had zero impact, except for contributing to the happiness of a minority.

        • The Netherlands is a high carbon, wasteful society contributing to global warming.

        • MNb

          Yeah. So is the USA. And Austria. And Switzerland – two countries that haven’t legalized gender marriage up to now. Of course The Netherlands were already such a country before 2001. Conclusion: zero impact.
          Because it has exactly zilch to do with same gender marriage.
          How stupid are you exactly?

        • I point out that ONLY high carbon societies are gay.

        • What the hell does that mean? That there are no gays in Yemen or Cambodia?

        • Those are high carbon societies. Low carbon societies are tribal people, and most of them still have a taboo against homosexuality.

        • Hate the gays to be kind to the planet? You need a bumper sticker!

          I imagine that tribal people have high infant mortality, too. There’s a lot of intertribal violence as well. Maybe it’s all that death that’s keeping the carbon output down.

        • And your solution is … ?

        • “Scientific experiment”? You mean legalizing same-sex marriage?

          I know how it’ll turn out–why, is this a tough question for you? It’ll turn out like it did in Massachusetts (where it was legalized in 2004) and Belgium before that and the Netherlands before that. For straight people, life went on as before.

        • Pofarmer

          Leave it to a Catholic to argue in favor of our most ignorant, carnal, pre-historic biases. But, really, there have been past societies that didn’t think anything of homosexuality. It’s the Abrahamic religions that have gone all ape shit over it.

        • Pofarmer

          No, he’s a Good Catholic. Rooting for ignorance and fear.

        • MNb

          That explains a few things, thank you.

        • MNb

          Perhaps there is. Then it’s high time to throw that is-ought fallacy where it belongs: into the dustbin.

        • Ok, creationist.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          This is so stupid that it took me a while to get what you write. So you are even ignorant about the is-ought fallacy.

          http://www.txstate.edu/philosophy/resources/fallacy-definitions/Is-ought.html

          “The is-ought fallacy occurs when the assumption is made that because things are a certain way, they should be that way.”
          The thing that is a certain way: “perhaps an evolutionary reason that homosexuals were persecuted.”
          The ought to be that way part is you using it as a justification for your anti gay bigotry. And it’s hight time to throw the latter part into the dustbin. By no means it’s necessary to become a creationist for this.
          Just ask Ol’ Hambo. That creationist is in your camp, not in mine.

          https://answersingenesis.org/family/homosexuality/how-should-a-christian-respond-to-gay-marriage/

          Do you recognize your own arguments?
          How deep is your stupidity?

        • MNb

          The word dictator comes from Latin. It means someone ordering you to do something you don’t want to do.
          How exactly are those five dictators ordering you to marry someone of the same gender?
          Oh wait – they don’t.
          Hence they aren’t dictators – you only use a fancy word to make them look bad.
          Instead you look stupid.

        • Greg G.

          Gotta be the five SCOTUS judges who voted out gay marriage bans.

        • MR

          It’s just that he’s so whackadoodle, it’s hard to know where he’s going with this stuff.

        • Kodie

          Don’t like to read? Can’t read?

        • Dys

          Teddy’s gone off the deep end with this ruling…he’s calling for secession elsewhere.

          EDIT: Actually, it appears he’s been a fan of secessionist movements for a while now. The ruling on gay marriage just adds on to the sense of persecution, I suppose. Personally, I’d advise he emigrate to Russia; Putin doesn’t like gays or the LGBT community at all (and has laws that actively discriminate against them), and he stands for “traditional values”.

        • MR

          What’s with the conspiracy theory whacko’s lately?

        • Dys

          The Supreme Court ruling has given them new material to work with, and it makes them feel special to have privileged insight into what’s supposedly really happening.

        • Kodie

          Watch them go to Israel and try to claim the holy land for themselves, because there is nowhere else for them to go. Maybe somewhere in Africa where they can have all the guns they want.

        • Kodie

          It’s the end times.

        • Kodie

          That’s so specific! If we’re fear-mongered to reduce our population, then we won’t have been fear-mongered to increase our population like one would do if they were so enfrightened of the opposite. “Certain parties,” I think it’s time for your aluminum foil helmet to be retuned.

        • Tell me how this decision will affect procreation either up or down.

        • Kodie

          You’re going to have to spell this out in detail, because it just sounds like you’re making shit up.

        • Kodie

          Near as you can tell, far, far detached from reality.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Oh look, Ted made it over here! Yay!

        • Didn’t I see him at the Thinking Christian blog?

  • As long as a Christian, an atheist, an agnostic, a Muslim, a Buddhist, and everyone else at the table has a different definition in their head of what the term “evidence” means, then such conversations end up being completely futile. Mostly just chances for the religious to embarrass themselves.

    At the end of the day, Christianity– at least the traditional, non-progressive form– asserts a lot of solid things about what God did to directly, physically intervene into physical history. God steps into events constantly. Yes, certain points were generally thought to be metaphorical, but not all. There was a big census under the Romans. There was a special star that the wise men could detect and use as a sign. There was a killing campaign under Herod. King David didn’t just exist, but was a compelling military leader setting up a bloodline going into the New Testament age. It goes on.

    And, point after point, it’s not just that science, history, etc fails to find proof for these things. Such arguments actively get disproven. For one, sweet goodness, the Roman Empire was so gigantic and so socially organized that evidence of a census covering the Jews would have been all over the place– but the Bible was just, on that, flat wrong.

  • duke_of_omnium

    RE: #2: More truthfully, “Those who use this charge as some sort of intellectual checkmate have
    simply failed to grasp what Christians understand as “eternal.”” fails because atheist doesn’t CARE what Christians have labeled to be “eternal”

    It’s not that we have failed to grasp it; we just reject the christians’ arbitrary, question-begging, convenient assignment of “eternalness” to a “being” they that they literally cannot define.

    • D Rieder

      This. It is always amazing and a little humorous how a theist in their defense of their God and to counter what seem to me to be completely logical questions like how did God come to be the way he/it is, will introduce “eternality” as if they invented it yesterday or it’s a deep secret, and no one, at least not the atheist they are talking to, ever heard of it before. As you say, we grasp it and in fact we think we grasp the idea better than they do…we realize they made it up so their God could be the answer to the question.

      What they don’t realize is that once the idea of making up definitions and properties is introduced, the door swings both ways. Now, with no foundation or basis, I can imagine some field/force/realm of natural existence that is…you guessed it…eternal. It doesn’t at all require I imagine the universe as we know it…the expanding space/time we see around us…has “always” existed, just something that can, with a quantum fluctuation generate the occasional universe. Problem solved.

      Of course I made it up. Of course it is unverifiable and unfalsifiable, but that puts it exactly on a par with their concept of God as the eternal answer.

      • duke_of_omnium

        I simply make the universe “eternal” under the Christians’ definition. It eliminates the question of “who created the universe” since eternal stuff cannot be created. And while it’s true that various stuff within the universe isn’t eternal, that doesn’t destroy the eternalness of the universe; this is where the fallacy of composition becomes quite useful.

  • primenumbers

    “Everything that begins to exist has a cause.” – and the next step beyond that is “Everything that exists, began to exist”. You can ask the theist to find a counter-example to that. If they do then their whole argument will fail because either their’s some co-eternal things to god, or that they are special pleading for god (which we know they are, just adding more obfuscatory layers to their argument to hide it).

    • Pofarmer

      Yep, the are basically just defining their idea of God into existance.

      • primenumbers

        Aren’t they always?

        • Pofarmer

          What I particularly enjoy is when they say God is immaterial and unknowable and then proceed to tell me all about him anyway.

        • Greg G.

          Their God wouldn’t dare contradict them.

        • wtfwjtd

          Ha! If God really is “unknowable”, how would we even know that?

        • MNb

          What I even enjoy more is asking them “how do you know all this about god when you just told me he’s unknowable?”

    • KarlUdy

      I might believe you if you could tell me what the largest prime number is.

      • Not a helpful response. Better: give primenumbers the counterexample to “Everything that exists, began to exist” that he asks for.

        I’m thinking: cars, trees, me, the earth, the universe–seems like everything.

        • primenumbers

          The only counter-example I’ve ever received to that question is “god”, which in the context is not a helpful response….

        • Kind of evidence-less question begging.

        • primenumbers

          Yup! Existence is always determined empirically (outside of formal systems). You may have all the theory in the world about your new super-particle, but you still have to build your high energy collider and find the particle. You don’t get to celebrate your theory until it is empirically determined true.

      • primenumbers

        You’re not trying to confuse conceptual things with real things are you?

        • KarlUdy

          I’m trying to figure out how you deal with an infinite regress with real things.

          As another example, is it correct to say that in a brick wall, where bricks are placed on top of other bricks, is it special pleading to say that some are not?

        • Greg G.

          I’m trying to figure out how you deal with an infinite regress with real things.

          Mathematically, a positron is equivalent to an electron going backward in time. Some universes in the multiverse could be composed of positrons, anti-protons, anti-neutrons, and the like.Time in those universes would be going in the opposite direction.

          Relativity shows that the order of events in time depends on the relative velocity of the events and the observer. It takes millions of years for a photon to travel from a distant star to the retina of your eye for you to see the star. But to the photon, traveling a light speed, being emitted and being absorbed by the pigment in a rod or cone cell is the same instant.

          Those are two unexpected properties of time within our universe when applying our common sense understanding of time. The infinite regress problem may be even more absurd when applied to the multiverse.

        • primenumbers

          What infinite regress of what real things?

        • KarlUdy

          “Everything that begins to exists has a cause” and “Everything that exists began to exist”

          How is this not an infinite regress that you are proposing?

        • primenumbers

          I’m not proposing that “Everything that begins to exists has a cause”. I’m making an even more basic proposal “Everything that exists began to exist” that I’m asking for a counter-example to.

          If you think the two of them together lead to a problematic infinite regress, then that’s great as that’s the problem the theistic arguer falls into.

        • KarlUdy

          Are denying the former or affirming the latter?

        • primenumbers

          I’m asking for a counter-example to my proposal.

        • KarlUdy

          The first cause.

        • primenumbers

          Causes are not things – they’re conceptual explanations for physical events.

        • Greg G.

          What did the first cause act on to get an effect?

        • “What did the first cause act on to get an effect?”

          In terms of Infinitude the effect is inevitable and not different than the cause.

          To me it suggests the root nature of sentience.

        • Greg G.

          A positron is mathematically equivalent to an electron traveling backwards in time. A photon travels at light speed so time does not change for it. The same photon could create the positron-electron pair and be the result of their annihilation. Their entire existence is a self-caused event. The universe could be something similar. There is no suggestion of sentience.

        • How is their potential to exist explained?

        • adam

          Perhaps they always exist and only our ability to measure them is the potential.

        • Kodie

          I thought you left.

        • adam

          “To me it suggests the root nature of sentience.”

          Sounds like woo.

          So what happens when people lose their sentience?

        • MNb

          And here KU places himself in the same category as any Young Earth Creationist and IDiot. Oh sure, KU is not an evolution denier. He still does exactly the same though: accept science when it suits him and reject it when it doesn’t. I quote:

          “The preponderance of evidence that the universe had a beginning.”
          What he rejects is

          “The preponderance of evidence that the universe is not causal, but probabilistic and that that very beginning of our universe was not a causal event and hence didn’t need a first cause.”
          Of course he could reformulate his cosmological argument in terms of probability. Then he ends up with a god playing dice, as Einstein already remarked.
          Of course I already have told him so a few times.
          Of course nobody should expect that he will be honest enough to admit his error. Because then his beloved argument would fall apart.
          So much for KU being reasonable and being loyal to the scientific method.

        • And the challenge of primenumbers, “Give a counterexample to ‘everything that exists, began to exist'” remains.

          Without a counterexample that we’re familiar with, that emphasizes how incredible is the claim, “Oh, yeah, but God just didn’t begin to exist! It’s easy! :-)”

        • MNb

          As another example, is it correct to say that when walking backwards along the circumference of a circle, no single step will be the last one?

      • Greg G.

        The largest prime number is two times the square of X, plus one, where X is the largest integer.

        Asking me to give the largest integer would be moving the goalpost. 8oP

        • KarlUdy

          Nice try, but problematic. Is the largest prime number an integer? Is 2x^2+1>x?

        • Prime numbers are always integers. And yes to your second question. I’m missing the problem.

        • Greg G.

          Is the largest prime number an integer?

          Being an integer is one of the properties of being an integer.

          Is 2x^2+1>x?

          How could it not be?

        • KarlUdy

          How could the largest prime number be greater than the largest integer and yet still be an integer?

        • Greg G.

          Now you are moving the goalposts. There is no largest integer and there is no largest prime number. A number is not a material thing. It is a concept.

        • KarlUdy

          There is no largest integer and there is no largest prime number.

          Thank you

        • Kodie

          Where were you going with this again? That obfuscatory layer thing?

        • Greg G.

          I looked up a formula for generating prime numbers. The one I saw was x^2 + y^2 + 1. I simplified it to one input as one of the examples was with both equal to one. But it turns out that it doesn’t work for all values. The source said it works for some values but I missed that. It occurred to me that my simplified version would give multiples of 3 for any integer greater than one. Then I realized that the original formula would always give an even number if one of the inputs was odd and one was even. Then I went back and read it more closely.

          Why are you thanking me? Your example failed as it is not a real thing. It is no more real than an imaginary god.

        • “It [the largest prime number] s no more real than an imaginary god.”

          So,why do you suppose there is so much concern for this urgent debunking of “imaginary gods”?

          The real deal must be something different. Perhaps the infinitude of Singularity or Infinitude itself.

          The seeming realness of numbers must be a clue.

        • Greg G.

          So,why do you suppose there is so much concern for this urgent debunking of “imaginary gods”?

          I think it is important to debunk the belief in imaginary gods because beliefs inform actions. Actions based on unlikely beliefs have bad consequences than actions based on likely beliefs. I have noticed in the newspapers that about 20% of the articles involve religious conflict.

          People can convince themselves to believe things that aren’t so. It’s self-brainwashing. They tried to explain everything in terms of God for a thousand years in the Dark Ages and we can see that success. When people began to understand the world without God explanations, human knowledge exploded.

          The real deal must be something different. Perhaps the infinitude of Singularity or Infinitude itself.

          That sounds like woo. It’s probably not as harmful as religion as long as you don’t oppress people. Projecting the future has always been about as successful as actual prophecies in old scriptures. Not the fictional stories written to retrodict them, mind you. Look at the projections of the future in old magazines. They are no better than a blind squirrel.

        • “That sounds like woo. “

          Right. Must be woo.

          Otherwise you might be barking up the wrong tree.

        • Greg G.

          Many things sound like woo. Most of it is woo. What is your methodology for separating non-woo from woo?

        • Kodie

          The real deal must be something different. Perhaps the infinitude of Singularity or Infinitude itself.

          Without any explanation, it just sounds like a load of horseshit you made with a religion generator.

        • Kevin Osborne

          Look up the story “The Machine Stops” by E.M. Forster.

        • What will we find there? Give us a summary.

        • Greg G.
        • Kevin Osborne

          We? I presume you are not the Queen of England in disguise, so must assume atheists wish to now be addressed as a group, which is fine as it requires only pronounal adjustment.
          I’m responding to greg’s point above about future projections by mentioning one of the most famous science fiction short stories. I’d be a little surprised if one of we had not read it, possibly even several of we. However since understanding requires a bit of movement I’ll let we who are up to it do the search and the rest of we can forbear.

        • Kodie

          On a blog, WE can all read your suggestion to Greg G., so I don’t think Bob S. is the Queen of England, he just assumes his readers (any more than just one himself, for instance Greg G., to whom you suggested it and the onlooker to the comment in this case, Bob S.) may look at it and wonders what WE might find there (or just the two of them, still counts as more than “I”, so a pronounal adjustment is not necessary). It’s just ridiculous to throw out a book title and assume there is anything so interesting about a book title that WE would follow your suggestion anyway. Give a little blurb why it might be worth anyone’s while.

          Really, going over this with you seems stupid but you can handle that when Bob S. writes a comment, he assumes you know more than one person is reading it, and since it’s his blog, let’s just say, you walked in the house with all of us here, and said something. He is being a good host.

        • Kevin Osborne

          My personal antipathy toward the group collective thinking overcame my willingness to understand the blog founder’s sense of proprietory ownership. I apologize to him for any offense taken by the “we” part of my comment.
          With regard to the reference, anyone who is interested enough to look further will do so and those who are not, won’t. There is a good deal of fun involved, to me, in looking things up, finding related items and looking them over, and it is useful in broadening outlook as well. With regard to the blog, it is not a house and you are not a tenant unless you want to look at it that way. The more “we” there is in anyone the less likely that person is to have trust in individual examination and evaluation. Without that perspective stays inside the box. Or house, or blog, whatever.

        • 90% of the “You should read X” comments point to things that would not repay my reading, hence the request for a summary.

        • Kevin Osborne

          This is where we differ. I love referals because I learn new stuff every time, in some fashion. Each to his own.

        • Kodie

          A blog is sort of a room, and there’s a guy whose room it is, and his regular guests we can assume stop by often enough to call “we” when a new person stops by. It’s not a “we” against “you” or anything. He’s familiar with a good couple handfuls of regs, so it would be rude of him to us to exclude us when he is speaking about who might learn something interesting from a book you suggest. He’s not speaking for all of us, he is just including us in his curiosity about the book you suggest, and we can mean 2 people, like I said – Greg G., to whom you directly suggested the book, and Bob S., looking over his shoulder so to speak, answering you directly.

          As for book suggestions, we get a lot of book suggestions full stop. Nothing to tease or tempt or inform us why anyone would want to look at it. Just to say, it’s not a comment, it doesn’t stand in for a comment, if there is something in the book that you would like to reiterate, please say what that is, or just a general short recommendation including even a broad summary about the subject of the book is helpful. We just went about 3 weeks with someone else who couldn’t say anything, just read this book just read it, just read this book, Bob S., why didn’t you mention this book, Dawkins only mentioned it in passing in his book and he should have spent more time with it, people gotta talk about this book! What’s in the book, Jimmy? Just read it, you’ll see. So Greg G. did set aside a bit of time and read it, gave his remarks, and then was accused of not reading it. I get that you think people ought to be curious enough to just check out book titles left and right, without having any clue as to the mysteries held within, but man, give me a break. That’s not sociable behavior.

        • Kevin Osborne

          This “we” business is a bit much. If you want a closed shop advertise it as such. I’m happy to let you folks do whatever you do in private. The story I referred to would take three minutes to check out, and I would expect half the people in the room to have at least heard of it.It is probably one of the 20 most famous sci-fi books ever written. I used it because it is, if obvious, an also rather amazing prediction of the internet published in 1909, which is a nice counterpoint to Greg’s point.
          I think people who do not jump on what comes up in front of them are missing the boat. This place functions on presenting the next item you are ready to see, for the purpose of understanding. When you turn that off, you’re stuck in place.

        • Kodie

          You’re really sensitive. I am trying to explain to you something, and I’m sorry if you don’t feel welcome, I haven’t read a lot of your posts, skimmed past them, but apparently you’re offended by attempts to assimilate you to the local culture. You have your peculiarities, but don’t expect people to find a book title interesting all by itself or respond to you to discuss the book if they’re not already familiar with it. They have no idea THEY I said THEY have no idea what purpose you have to suggest it.

        • MR

          Just seems common courtesy to me.”Hey, here’s a book you might like, it’s about…” Here this guy’s in three posts and can’t be bothered to summarize? Why should I bother to research it myself?

          Our CEO used to send links all the time and you’d read them and think, why the hell did he send that? He never put anything in context. Everyone quit bothering after a while.

        • The weird thing was that, in this case, it was a cool story that was sympathetic to the atheist message.

          That might’ve been part of the intro.

          Kevin is apparently eager to follow up on all tips to read articles and books. That’s great that he’s got the time and that it’s always a profitable read. Most of the stuff that strangers point me to in the comments here, however, is crap.

        • MR

          I don’t have time to read the 15 books I’m in the middle of. 🙁

        • Pofarmer

          My problem is, I get in the middle of a book like “the Soul Fallacy” or Braintrust, and I’m convinced, so I have a hard time finishing them. It’s not like I don’t know the ending.

        • MNb

          “It is probably one of the 20 most famous sci-fi books ever written.”
          Good for you. I have never heard of it.
          The two titles I mentioned above probably are two of the 20 most famous books ever written in Dutch.
          So what?

        • Kevin Osborne

          If you want to pretend Dutch is supreme feel free to do so. The garbage folks use to support a postition is just that, garbage. Have fun with it.

        • MNb

          If. If you want to pretend that nobody will address your foolish arrogance you are simply dead wrong.

          “The garbage folks use to support a postition is just that, garbage.”
          Now only if you realize that that applies to you ….

          “one of the 20 most famous sci-fi books ever written”
          “two of the 20 most famous books ever written in Dutch.”
          Same argument, same garbage. Only you are too foolish to realize that your version is as much garbage as mine.

        • Kevin Osborne

          All right, let’s say they are both garbage. I reject the position that anyone is required to explain a reference because I don’t need such explanations. If you do, so be it.

        • MNb

          “because I don’t need such explanations”
          Does this mean you know at beforehand why you will accept or reject a recommendation, even if you have never heard of the book?
          Remarkable.

        • Kodie

          So you choose to die on the hill of ‘discourteous, stubborn asshole.’

        • MNb

          “anyone who is interested enough to look further will do so”
          The smart thing to do is telling why someone could be interested. I mean, I can as easily suggest you to read Bordewijk’s Blokken and Knorrende Beesten. Will you, just because I suggest you to?

        • Kevin Osborne

          Were we on a Dutch or German or Czech site perhaps I would suggest different books, but you are on an English speaking site so it is reasonable that a book written in that language would be refered to. If you want to refer to Inuit or Cherokee feel free. It makes as much sense.

        • MNb

          Carefully missing the point, just as expected. The point is not about the language but about you refusing to provide any explanation why anyone should read your recommendations.
          Both Blokken and Knorrende Beesten have been translated into English, so even in this respect your pseudo-argument falls on its face.

          “It makes as much sense”
          in every single language, including English.

          Plus this is quite an international blog. There are more non-English native speakers than you might think and certainly more non-Americans. You’re just an arrogant fool who takes his own culture for granted.

        • Kevin Osborne

          The person who starts throwing insults generally has already lost, which is a shame since I wasn’t trying to win anything.

        • MNb

          Neither was I, so your first sentence doesn’t make any sense.
          Plus it wasn’t an insult. It was a conclusion I drew from your comments.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Lol.

          Oh yeah, well: He who smelt it dealt it.

          Game. Set. Match.

        • Greg G.

          Orwell’s 1984 is pretty good, too, though he was off by a few years. Instead of the government monitor us through out TVs, our tendencies are data mined through our internet activity.

        • The Wikipedia summary was helpful. Yes, that’s quite a good story, thanks. And over a century old, too.

        • Kodie

          I suppose there is so much concern for this urgent debunking of imaginary gods because real people arrange their whole lives and sometimes my whole life to go along with their derangement. Religions also have a way of poisoning them of having the courage to ask the questions they’d like to have answers to. That’s all sorts of fucked up.

        • adam

          “So,why do you suppose there is so much concern for this urgent debunking of “imaginary gods”?”

          Same as always.

          The way they use their political power.

        • MNb

          Speaking for myself – I simply enjoy debunking imaginary gods.

        • Greg G.

          The seeming realness of numbers must be a clue.

          We are best with integers as long as they aren’t too big and good with rational numbers but complex numbers are difficult. Some of the most important numbers in the universe are irrational which we barely comprehend.

          We can model things mathematically but the model is not the thing. The things are real, the models are not. Some models are impossible to calculate because we cannot represent irrational numbers in a computer and the results vary wildly depending on how many significant digits are used.

          Your real numbers seem to be imaginary.

        • MNb

          “complex numbers are difficult”
          ???
          Neither my son nor I ever thought complex numbers difficult. Just i² = -1, that’s all.
          Letting go of causality, that was hard.

        • Greg G.

          As mathematics, they aren’t so difficult but trying to make sense of them in real world applications, like the effects of capacitance and inductance in an AC electrical circuit, blew my mind.

          Disqus didn’t let me post at first with ”
          You must authenticate the user or provide author_name and author_email.” I opened another window and it made me log in. Apparently, Disqus logged me out after I hit the “Reply” and before I hit the “Post as”.

        • adam

          Exactly Karl, they are IMAGINARY

        • adam

          IMAGINATION

        • primenumbers

          It’s been known since Euclid that there’s no largest prime.

        • KarlUdy

          As I said to Greg G.

          Thank you.

        • primenumbers

          It’s an irrelevant question to the problem we’re discussing though.

        • Kodie

          No response, just “gotcha”?

        • adam

          Yes, Karl it is IMAGINARY..

      • adam

        IMAGINARY

        What about YOUR ‘god’ Karl

        What was it’s first thought?
        What was it before it’s first thought?

  • ravitchn

    It is pointless to argue about whether God exists. The real question is what kind of God. The God of the bible and the koran is a God involved with humans and their concerns. There is no evidence of this outside of these scriptures and these scriptures are the work of various men over time. Nothing in them demands belief; you can believe or not. Nature does indicate some sort of creation or creator but all you get from that is deism, the same belief in our declaration of independence: Nature and Nature’s God. So why not stop this pointless argument. As long as there has been human life men and women have entertained the notion of a god or gods. But proof, there is none. Proof of God’s receptivity to prayer and petition, there is none. So the God we care about can only be reached in an existential way, like Pascal or Kiergegaard. Namely, with a universe that shows no place for humans humans can choose to believe and to act upon belief, but they cannot persuade others, nor should they.

    • axelbeingcivil

      I think the “Nature indicates some sort of creator” statement is up for debate.

      • Larry Logan

        This may be childish thinking, but I do not see the evidence of God in a rock. Now the creation of that rock is another matter. One problem with that is geology that explains the creation of rocks as requiring millions of years. (I guess coal is a better example.) Now we are on edge of evolution, but that is a different matter.

        • axelbeingcivil

          Geology as a whole does, yes, though we can see the processes of weathering, uplift, and vulcanism today. Run back the clocks and these things make sense only through the lens of an ancient Earth.

          Why the issue with millions of years?

      • James

        Good point – he says it’s pointless to argue about existence, then he slips in the mere assertion that God exists as a presumed fact.

        Pascal and Kierkegaard’s “God” looks curiously like something that doesn’t actually exist.

    • MNb

      “It is pointless to argue about whether God exists.”
      I know someone whose arguments were convincing enough to turn me into a 7 on the scale of Dawkins.

  • Tania

    Are they aware that their argument for the existence of God can be applied to any other gods? By their logic, there are lots of gods floating around in the sky.

    My own answer:

    No 3 Never heard this argument against god from an atheist before. Is not that God cannot do certain things, there’s just no evidence that God did one damn thing.

    No. 4 Have they ever step out of their small box where they lived. There are entire cultures and civilizations that have well developed religions other than Christianity, ie India, China.

    no. 5 Wow! So the Romans intellect just lined up in droves to convert? No Constantine driving other religions out. How about the Romans fed us to the lions narrative Christians like to remind us so much so very often.

    No. 6 Did the author do an actual poll to support his claim on the last sentence.

    No. 7 All Mighty Powerful One couldn’t find other means to unite humanity other than let his Son get tortured, crucified then bleed to death?

    No. 8 Makes no sense at all.

    No. 9 My brain cells are fried.

    No. 10 True, Evolution is never about how life began. In fact I don’t think atheists ever used evolution to convince themselves not to believe in a god. True, believing in a god may help with existential issues. That god doesn’t need to be the Christian God.There are millions of Hindus who are living a well and meaningful life. But those answers to the “meaning” of life are what the individual formulate themselves in their minds. Not God whispering in their ears however one would like to believe.

    • And it’s amazing how clumsily formed the atheist “arguments” are, almost to the point of being strawmen arguments.

      • MNb

        But don’t you know then how sweet strawmen taste?

        • Greg G.

          Strawmen are bullshit once the bull is done with them.

      • James

        To me that’s quite telling – I see atheists such as yourself trying to tackle the toughest questions head on. Apologists, conversely, routinely evade, deflect and fight strawmen.

  • ravitchn

    Does it really matter if there is a God? A God who would have something to do with your future is no God that really exists; it is only a figment of imagination. The God who might exist is not concerned with Mary’s job prospects or Jeff’s lack of sexual restraint when he meets women, etc., etc. If you think God cares about such matters you have a very disrespectful attitude towards Him.

  • The thing about atheists is that they are good at rooting out the inaccurate and the ridiculous, but lousy at the follow through.

    Descriptions and speculations about God that people arrive at or learn from each other are picked apart. Quite easily really, since there is no moderating positive enthusiasm for the subject.

    Ideas and imaginings are left debunked and degraded, but then the ball gets dropped.

    More accuracy is not provided, but the conclusion that God must not be real is assumed.

    Since the nature of God is not a subject of interest, except in the negative, they never sincerely apply themselves to a better understanding of what it might actually be.

    The whole business is just the exercise of a personality trait. Not an enquiry into existential Truth.

    Too bad really.

    • MNb

      If you’re interested I can give you three reasons, in my eyes very convincing ones to be an atheist.
      If you’re interested I can also tell you what
      a) would make me convert;
      b) would make me convert to christianity.

      “they never sincerely apply themselves to a better understanding of what it might actually be.”
      How interested are you in a better understanding of what the Surinamese Watra Komantri actually might be? Still you don’t believe in it.

    • Greg G.

      Since the nature of God is not a subject of interest, except in the negative, they never sincerely apply themselves to a better understanding of what it might actually be.

      No, we don’t sincerely apply ourselves to a better cognitive dissonance to make up a story with no verifiable facts.

    • the conclusion that God must not be real is assumed.

      By whom? Not by me. I consider that God might be real every time I read a Christian’s comments.

      Give me some good arguments.

      • Sorry, not qualified.

        If you can let go of the Christian thing for awhile and start with new ears then perhaps.

        Otherwise it probably doesn’t matter.

        • What Christian thing? If you’re concerned that I only reject Christianity, put your mind at ease. I reject all religions equally.

        • “I reject all religions equally.”

          Seems only fair.

          No sense getting fixated.

    • Kodie

      There is no credible positive argument for a god. What are we supposed to do with this? What more were you expecting? To point to the air and say, “there, see? No god there.” Oh, he’s hiding somewhere, of course. He’s not a vending machine, of course. Our hearts are just hardened, of course. God can’t be rationally evidenced to exist, so what are we left with? Nothing. The nature of any god is a speculation that some god already exists, and where is that going? A feeling or belief that he may be like this, he may be more like that. Mysterious reasons why a conscious entity doesn’t appear to exist, and yet blind groping on the probabilities that he has some qualities that fit with whatever we can see? Yeah, um, nope.

      • “There is no credible positive argument for a god.”

        Because I exist; Because there is the experience of sentience; I personally find it most reasonable to interpret this as evidence of God. More reasonable than not to.

        Don’t need to ask a Christian or the Muslim what the rules are.

        What it means, is for me to discover. If there is ancestral wisdom that resonates with my experience I embrace it. If there are false trails I avoid them.

        I do not find God to be hiding but rather omnipresent. How can it be otherwise?

        • adam

          “I do not find God to be hiding but rather omnipresent. How can it be otherwise?”

          Delusion

          Grandiose delusions

          Main article: Grandiose delusions
          Grandiose delusions are distinct from grandiosity, in that the sufferer does not have insight into their loss of touch with reality. An individual is convinced they have special powers, talents, or abilities.

        • Unthinking clichés of this sort are what I was talking about.

        • adam

          Very thinking and very descriptive.

          You appear to be talking woo while sounding grandiose in your ‘capability’ to find supernatural god in your own existence.

        • MNb

          Yeah. Thus far you haven’t provided any better:

          “Because I exist; Because there is the experience of sentience”
          Two clichés in a row.
          Rather typical you haven’t even taken the effort to decline my invitation underneath. This tells me that you prefer clichés to thoughtful conversation. Of course you can make me happy, prove me wrong and still accept it.

        • Existence and the experience of sentience qualify as clichés in your book?

          If your invitation sincere please proceed.

        • Dys

          You attacked clichésand offered deepities in return.

        • MNb

          No. That’s not what I wrote. What I wrote was that “existence hence god” and “experience of sentience hence god” are clichés.

          “If your invitation sincere please proceed.”

          I refer you to my comment underneath. Are you interested in the three reasons why I’m an atheist? Please answer below, because it’s a rather different topic.

        • Kevin Osborne

          As you do. own, and express. What is not known can be explored. What is known can’t be. Can you explore?

        • Pofarmer

          Explore what? How? How do you tell reliable info from unreliable?

        • MR

          Exploring something that doesn’t exist isn’t quite the same, am I right? Are we supposed to explore every quote-unquote unknown, simply because someone claims it exists? Crystals and voodoo and rosicrucianism, too? Where and how do I draw the line?

          Isn’t spending most of my adult life believing in something that I’ve come to realize is a lie exploration enough?

          Mankind has built an industry around religious fantasy. A Disneyland for grownups to believe in, but there’s no real magic in the magical kingdom, peoples.

        • adam

          No, I have no delusions that I have special insight into MAGIC and the supernatural.

          I explore everyday.

          Can you demonstrate the MAGIC of the SUPERNATURAL?

          Do you think yourself ‘special’ that a god has ‘choosen’ YOU ?

        • Kevin Osborne

          There is only existence and we recognize it to whatever degree we choose. God didn’t choose me, I chose God at least insofar as entering this place.

        • adam

          “God didn’t choose me, I chose God at least insofar as entering this place.”

          As so do all the deluded….

        • I’m not sure where you’re coming from. If you’re a Christian, I invite you to give us your best evidence or argument(s) for God’s existence.

        • Kevin Osborne

          I’m not a Christian. The God I refer to is explained at length on this thread, but is basically an awareness of all things that cooperates to create individual realites with individuals (thee and me) in this place. The Christian God IMO is, or was, an individual or individuals of greater perspective and energy, who like the Olympian gods communicated with and played around with humanity. This sort of creature can still exist and affect individual lives and may even insist on attention, or “worship” from humans as a means to reward or punishment. The solution to that is greater awareness.
          In terms of proof, I would say the best is how can relativity exist where every individual has a different viewpoint/reality yet realities on earth are coordinated to perceive seemingly the same occurences in an instant. Someone must be running the projector.

        • Kodie

          This would be where one might ask for your citations.

        • Kevin Osborne

          I am my citation. I have discovered how few see it this way, however it still makes sense as a model and everyone is free to take it or leave it.

        • Kodie

          This sort of creature can still exist and affect individual lives and may even insist on attention, or “worship” from humans as a means to reward or punishment.

          In terms of proof, I would say the best is how can relativity exist where every individual has a different viewpoint/reality yet realities on earth are coordinated to perceive seemingly the same occurences in an instant. Someone must be running the projector.

          You aren’t your own citation because you are making claims for other people. Don’t you realize how silly you sound?

        • Greg G.

          How do you distinguish a true idea that pops into your head from a false idea that pops into your head? Did an idea pop into your head that you are too smart for a false idea to pop into your head?

        • Kevin Osborne

          Good question-the first one, I mean. There is no absolute truth or falseness. One can be more accurate. Accuracy is having a viewpoint closer to the co-created reality of the larger percentage of viewers. So the “inaccurate” view still exists as part of this place, and the “accurate” view exists as part of this place. And, accuracy can change as one moves across time and space.

        • Kodie

          You’re basically saying, if we all hopped on the same train headed toward Delusionville, then it would become a real place by the time we arrived. We’re telling you to put down the fucking bong.

        • Kevin Osborne

          That’s exactly it, except you don’t need the train.

        • Kodie

          Where do you get your weed from?

        • Greg G.

          I think you do.

        • Greg G.

          At a time when everybody thought the world was flat, they held a false belief. It was an absolutely false belief. They people who crossed a land bridge into North America from Siberia thinking the world was flat could not get to the same continent as the Icelanders who traveled in boats thinking the world was flat.

          If the idea of a square circle pops into your head, it is an impossible thing unless you play word games.

          We can speculate about how the universe works. Science calls them “hypotheses”. A good hypothesis will have implications about the unknown. There can be several hypotheses that explain the known but the implications of the unknown are different. Experiments are designed to confirm or disconfirm the implications of the hypotheses.

          When Einstein worked out his theory that light could be affected by gravity, scientists realized that during an eclipse, a star would be blocked the sun and moon but according to Einstein’s hypothesis, it should have been visible.

          So the scientists went to various locations where the eclipse would be total to observe the event. Sure enough the star was visible, but more than that, it was seen precisely where the math of the hypothesis predicted it would be. It was not just a bunch of hand-waving.

          It might have been wrong. Most people had no idea about it. Most people don’t know how GPS works either but it relies on that theory. It is not a majority held understanding. It is how the universe works.

          Scientists observe the red shifts of distant galaxies to determine how fast they are moving away from us. The variation of the red shift of one edge vs the other tells how fast it is rotating. These observations are of events that happened before there were humans. It is not an observation of the majority. Most people don’t understand Doppler mechanics let alone electromagnetics.

          These measurements of distant galaxies are consistent even though they are observations at different times and different places throughout the greater part of the existence of the universe.

          We cannot distinguish your imagined universe from a brain in a vat scenario, a dream of Vishnu, Last Thursdayism, a deceptive demon, or any other solipsism. We can only interact with the reality presented to us. If you interact with the universe in a way that you imagine it should be when it isn’t, it hurts.

        • MNb

          Well, isn’t your method to increase accuracy personal experience? That’s a highly unreliable one.

        • Kevin Osborne

          It is the method we all use, unless you have a better explanation.

        • Greg G.

          Apply skepticism to your own experiences. We all see things incorrectly and forget parts. One should try hard to exclude false understandings.

        • MNb

          Regarding your “proof” I suggest you to study some Special Relativity first. It might save you from some silly nonsense.

        • Kevin Osborne

          Please explain how I am seeing it incorrectly.

        • I do not find God to be hiding but rather omnipresent. How can it be otherwise?

          How indeed? And yet that belief is held only by those who already believe. The open-minded non-Christian looks around and finds that claim ridiculous. God is where, exactly … ?

        • As an open minded non-Christian, I find my conclusion reasonable. And proceed from there.

          As another open-minded non-Christian, you find the claim ridiculous. And proceed from there.

          The reasonable conception of God that I entertain can only indicate omnipresence. As in the entirety of nature and the non-finite potentiality underlying it.

          The project of life then being, the contemplation of just what my existence is actually relative to.

          To those unable or unwilling to stretch their ideas of God beyond the litany of popular conception, then it will be difficult to attribute a True sense of omnipresence to anything. Even nature.

          Sentience becomes just chemical reactions in the brain. Rather than an emergent characteristic of Infinity.

        • You say, “How can it be otherwise?” as if God (or the supernatural) is obvious to all of us. He’s not obvious to me. Am I missing something? Or is this just your personal spirituality that you’ve come to on your own and that others won’t find obvious?

        • adam

          “As an open minded non-Christian, I find my conclusion reasonable. ”

          Of course YOU do, as do all the others who create gods in their own minds.

        • MNb

          What does omnipresence mean if we can’t detect it? If you can detect it, why don’t you tell us your method?

          “Sentience becomes just chemical reactions in the brain.”

          Is this the problem with you have with unbelief? Very unreasonable.

        • “Is this the problem [with] you have with unbelief? Very unreasonable.”

          It’s the strident nearsightedness that seems to want adjusting.

          “What does omnipresence mean if we can’t detect it? If you can detect it, why don’t you tell us your method?”

          The usual means (whatever works)*. But not necessarily chemistry class. That is about slicing and dicing. Interesting and useful stuff, but serves a different purpose. That’s about the parts and not the whole.

          *Perhaps zen practice for you. (Though you can’t keep YOUR ideas or expect to see progress.)

        • MNb

          Zen method is a method, not means. So you can’t get specific, exactly like I expected. Thanks.
          Also Zen method has not been shown to produce reliable results. Thanks for that answer as well.

          “It’s the strident nearsightedness that seems to want adjusting.”
          And of course thanks for this clarification. So not accepting your unvalidated claims is near sighted. Well, that’s what all quacks say as well.

          In other words – everything you wrote is build on wishful thinking. There is no need anymore to proceed from this point.

        • adam

          “Sentience becomes just chemical reactions in the brain. . ”

          Interesting how the interruption of this chemistry is ALL that it takes to remove sentience.

        • Or so it seems.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Lol.

          What’s your evidence to the contrary?

        • adam

          Can easily be demonstrated and has been for everyone who has died.

        • Yes, we all love Mark Twain.

          But “billions and billions of years” is just him being funny.

          A year is a unit of time and implies sentience.

        • adam

          “A year is a unit of time and implies sentience.”

          but time does not.

          You can stop all this disbelief in god, by demonstrating that YOUR ‘god’ is not imaginary.

        • Kodie

          Why do you think you have something to say? I have been alive a number of years, while my niece has been alive many fewer years. Before she was born, years and years went by that she was not sentient. The age of the universe is something we calculate in human terms, years, earth terms really. Trees record the years, they’re not sentient, are they?

        • Greg G.

          A year is a unit of time and implies that the earth went around the sum once. The thought that it implies sentience implies woo.

        • Kodie

          So we can all (I think?) agree that there is an everything, there is everything. To pretend that that means that everything is god or a god is stretching the definition of everything to a particular sort of sentient being, like “the manager of everything.” Then you go and say something goofy like:

          Sentience becomes just chemical reactions in the brain. Rather than [your imaginary character] an emergent characteristic of Infinity [with a capital I]

          That is because you’re uncomfortable with the truth that you have to capitalize certain letters to show us you’re talking about something outside of reality, and rather just something you wished were true. Your emotional need to belong to everything is not satisfied by mere chemical reactions, mere scientific facts, or mere existence, so you got to inventing a scenario that elevates your existence to something more powerful and meaningful and recognizable in the sentience of “the manager of everything.”

        • “That is because you’re uncomfortable with the truth that you have to capitalize certain letters to show us you’re talking about something outside of reality, and rather just something you wished were true.”

          No it is a stylistic choice. A form of emphasis.

          Your assumption that it is something that I “wished were true”, is the result of having a preconceived opinion both of the nature of Reality (there I’ve done it again) and of the lack of value in anything I might say.

          That is politics. And so, you have not actually attempted to understand the point.

          In case it matters to you, I will mention that there has been reference made to “the manager of everything” except by you. My contribution has been about what I call “The Entirety” or the “Emergent Characteristic of Infinitude”.

          These represent, what is to me, the undeniable foundation of my sentient existence.

        • Kodie

          You’re not impressing me with any meaningfulness in the things you take the time to say. It just sounds fluffy fuzzy wuzzy feel-good, and lacks any substance for something to actually talk about.

        • Kodie

          There doesn’t seem to be a point to understand.

        • Greg G.

          Because I exist; Because there is the experience of sentience;

          That evidence works for a dream of Vishnu or a brain in a vat just as well. Do you have anything less ambiguous?

        • “Do you have anything less ambiguous?”

          As stated, it is the correct starting point.

          Why would I seed the experiment towards an actually ambiguous and ultimately stupefying result.

          There are plenty of opportunities for that, without being deliberate about it.

        • Greg G.

          How about a 1 Kings 18 experiment like when Elijah started a bonfire by prayer. We each get a grill, charcoal, and a steak. You use prayer to light your fire. I’ll use the products of science to start mine. Do you like steak tartare?

        • I prefer tofu.

        • Greg G.

          I’ve been eating tofu for a few days. The many ways my wife and her family make it are wonderful. I’d be a vegetarian if they made it everyday.

        • adam

          I am still interested to see whose tofu actually gets cooked in the challenge.

          Science or the IMAGINARY god….

          I’ve got my money on Greg G. and science.

        • Kodie

          Why does assuming there is anything “the correct starting point”? Emotions?

        • Kodie

          For what it’s worth, I don’t find your sentience a credible positive argument for god.

        • adam

          It does explain why there are so many versions of god, though.

          Each creates their own in their own ‘sentience’

        • Kodie

          I’m not particularly impressed with sentience as a factor. Other animals’ sentience, notwithstanding, I imagine these other animals are theists also, in their way. They don’t know why it rains, they don’t know why there will be no fish today. They have their instincts and behaviors, just like people do, and I like to imagine them wondering about stuff. I got this idea from babies, who are trained theists from the get-go. They pray when they cry and their prayers are answered immediately by virtual strangers. Their every need is met practically immediately, their pain is comforted, their displeasure repaired, they know not how it’s done, it’s just done – the first thing they learn is that they’re the center of the universe, and I think that is a very hard thing to unlearn. Along the steps of development, you do learn there are other people with other needs, and it’s mildly disappointing, and difficult to accept. Religion fits right in there. It stagnates social development because it affirms that although on earth, someone might get a bike for their birthday and you only got socks, and someone got an A on their paper and you didn’t even see the part where they worked hard and tried to answer the questions correctly. Everything is easy for everyone else, and those people suck, and when I get my big brother to help me overcome my envy, I feel like I am powerful and important again, and the center of my imaginary friend’s universe.

          So when you’re crying and someone sticks a pacifier in your mouth, I have no idea how that even works, but it’s the same thing.

        • Observing nature is one thing but imposing politics on it is another.

          “… and I think that is a very hard thing to unlearn. “

          Are you talking about “sentience” in general or the development of the individual ego relative to other egos?

        • Kodie

          I think the development of the ego is nearly unavoidable, but maybe it’s just my culture. Babies’ every needs are met until they can start to fend for themselves and take care of some of their needs independently. Plenty of times, this stage is accelerated because of a new baby in the household too. Religions all sound to me like an immature desire to crawl back into the womb, or an aborted emotional development and a need for an extremely attentive parent, where real parents tend to let go, and you can start to tell they’re faking praise, or actually in some families, you just can’t get enough attention and grow up needing your ego fed and validated through parental attention that you can never win more of than when you were an infant. Religious people plot out a character who will meet their every need and gives them all the attention they can handle – hence “imaginary friend.”

        • “Religions all sound to me like an immature desire to crawl back into the womb, or an aborted emotional development and a need for an extremely attentive parent,”

          Religion for me, is what I have made of it.

          It is the same as a musician learning his instrument. There are stages and practice. Revelations and moments of abandon.

          The experience of Freedom.

          It is about successfully being Human.

        • Greg G.

          That’s your methodology? How do you distinguish a revelation from a wild idea that popped into your head? Do you favor ideas that involve beauty and what gives you a warm fuzzy feeling while rejecting ideas of suffering?

          You don’t seem to have made an effort to distinguish truth from what would be nice if it was true. That is woo.

        • MNb

          “It is the same as a musician learning his instrument.”
          Great! What a musician learning his instrument does is doing lots and lots of physical exercises. Please tell us what physical exercises, preferably with pictures, you have done to “learn your religion”.

          “Freedom. Human.”
          From now on I’m going to assume that whenever you write a fancy word with a capital that it means nothing, unless you manage to explain what it means, of course.

        • Kodie

          So you are clearly expressing that this “truth” is only true for you and is not applicable to people who choose not to make whatever you’re making up for yourself to enjoy life. That’s what life is – you do it your way, fine, but you came here to pity everyone, and that’s what is so sanctimonious and arrogant of you. I heard that religion was supposed to help with negative emotions, but I guess yours doesn’t do such a great job.

        • Greg G.

          Religion: a daughter of hope and fear, explaining to ignorance the nature of the unknowable. –Ambrose Bierce

        • MNb

          Yeah, observing nature is one thing. Observing your god being part of said nature (which is your claim) is another thing, because nobody has succeeded to do that.

        • “It does explain why there are so many versions of god, though.

          Each creates their own in their own ‘sentience'”

          And if your limitation piggybacks on “theirs” nothing much will come of it.

          Who is this all encompassing “they” anyway? It seems like it must be very distracting.

        • adam

          they

          believers in imaginary gods

          You can stop all this disbelief in god, by demonstrating that YOUR ‘god’ is not imaginary.

        • Is anything NOT imaginary?

        • adam

          Yes, of course.

          You can stop all this disbelief in god, by demonstrating that YOUR ‘god’ is not imaginary.

        • Hold your hands out in front of you.

          Look at them as you move the parts.

        • Dys

          Ugh…really? At this point, you’d probably be better of just going with the circularity of “everything is evidence for god (as long as you believe in god first)”.

          For criticizing atheists on not “following through”, your own seems to be fairly illusory and substance-less, consisting of faux profundity.

        • “For criticizing atheists on not “following through”, your own seems to be fairly illusory and substance-less, consisting of faux profundity.”

          If you don’t come to the same conclusions as me, that automatically makes me falsely profound?

          What was my initial premise again?

          That my sentient existence is not outside of the Entirety of existence both actual and potential.

          That I can reasonably consider the Singularity as described as God. My experience being both relative to the whole and absolutely integrated with the whole.

          Simple stuff really, and known for thousands of years.

          There is obviously a level of confusion caused by immediacy of the relative side of the equation.

          This has also been known for thousands of years.

        • Greg G.

          That my sentient existence is not outside of the Entirety of existence both actual and potential.

          I think that makes sense, I think. The polysyllablism obfuscates a simple tautology. Your existence is within the universe, sure.

          That I can reasonably consider the Singularity as described as God. My experience being both relative to the whole and absolutely integrated with the whole.

          No, you can imaginatively consider that but it doesn’t follow from reason that there is a “Singularity” or that it could be called a “God”.

          Simple stuff really, and known for thousands of years.

          None of that has been “known” for thousands of years. Appealing to the “knowledge of the ancients” is woo.

        • Susan

          That I can reasonably consider the Singularity as described as God.

          What do you mean?

        • MNb

          Yeah, your initial premise is clear to me.
          The next step “hence god” remains a non-sequitur. I have explained you why and you haven’t addressed it yet.

          “Simple stuff really, and known for thousands of years.”
          Bogus. Singularity is a word that has been used for less than 100 years. What you described is not singularity. It’s an open door presented as a deepity. And “hence” god remains a non-sequitur, no matter how many fancy words you use.
          Plus you just have rendered the word “know” meaningless, unless you explain us your method. I have explained mine.

        • Dys

          If you don’t come to the same conclusions as me, that automatically makes me falsely profound?

          Nope. But you seem to have a nasty habit of engaging in what are commonly known as deepities. The opening and closing of one’s hand is not a demonstration that your god exists.

          Yes, everything came out of the singularity, including the components that led to the emergence of sentience. That does not imply or indicate that the singularity itself was sentient. If you want to call the former singularity god in some nod to pantheism, that’s your business. But your criticism of atheists doesn’t hold up very well, particularly given your examples.

        • adam

          Ok,

          You can stop all this disbelief in god, by demonstrating that YOUR ‘god’ is not imaginary.

        • Greg G.

          Wow! They look like fins that were modified to walk on land, then modified for grasping, and then modified to manipulate objects, too, all over a few hundreds of millions of years.

          It looks like they came to be as they are with no need for a god.

        • Kodie

          I think he was going more for the “high talk” of dude, like … fingers. Whoa.

        • Paul B. Lot

          What I find really interesting is looking at my feet.

          If I’ve had enough to drink and I tilt my head the right way, I can get my brain to imagine them as really long hands.

          Big toes are just stiff thumbs.

        • MNb

          Just done so.
          Unlike your god I can see it – and so can most people.
          Unlike your god there is a coherent and consistent theory that describes what’s happening – a theory that totally does not depend on me, like your god.

          Very likely not imaginary. Very likely your god is.

          Weren’t you the one who complained about atheists not researching? You are the one who doesn’t, because what I wrote above is quite an open door.

        • Yes, hands are cool. I’d imagine someone with crippling arthritis would see them as very cool.

          Is there a lesson here? Or were we just stopping to smell the roses?

        • Kodie

          I don’t think of it as a limitation. What religious people do is try to come up with an imaginary concept that is limitless, and also pointless to reckon with reality. Anything you want is whatever you can imagine it to be. We’re all in this together, and trying to weave some sort of epic tale of the universe, starring you, doesn’t make it so. What you are calling a limitation because atheists do not often dream up fantasies with no limit is just acceptance of reality, because no fantasy would explain what we have.

        • My premise is quite a bit simpler than your frantic elaborations about what it means.

          Some familiarity with Yoga might untangle your interpretation.

        • Greg G.

          Using Yoga as a brainwashing technique should not be recommended. It is possible to reduce your critical thinking with relaxation techniques and accept things that should be considered critically.

        • Susan

          My premise is quite a bit simpler than your frantic elaborations about what it means.

          Please state clearly what your premise is.

        • MNb

          What does a series of physical exercises have to do with your natural god?

        • Kodie

          Great answer, nothing in there.

        • What do you suppose it IS worth?

        • Paul B. Lot

          It’s another data point which confirms my own intuition that your argument is logically invalid.

          If you have an intuition that your sentience is ‘proof’ of divinity; and Kodie and I both, independently, have an intuition that it is not — then we are at a logical impasse.

          Intuitions regarding a possible relationship between [sentience] and [supernatural phenomena] can be contradictory, and are therefore of no evidentiary or logical merit.

          That’s the worth of her point of view, to me.

          *EDIT*

          To be clear: the fact that our intuitions contradict each other means that they don’t tell us anything one way or the other.

          My negative intuition is not proof of non-divinity, and I would never pull the same bullshit move you have of trying to get someone else to accept it as such.

        • Who said anything about “supernatural phenomena”?

          This appears to be an unacknowledged monkey wrench.

          My inputs were, Existence and the Experience of Sentience.

          You seem to have added something extra.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “My inputs were, Existence and the Experience of Sentience.”

          It is true that our inputs to the left side of the following equation were not supernatural.

          [brmckay’s experience of sentience and existence] = [ the existence of God].

          What you got out on the right side — was.

          Does that answer your question about “who said anything…”? *Drumroll* It was you.

          Unless you’re being coy about your definition and use of the term “God” as being a word which references a non-supernatural concept — in which case your use of the word is disingenuous.

          Whether or not you’re being disingenuous about “God”, you certainly are in your other statements here:

          “This appears to be an unacknowledged monkey wrench.”…”You seem to have added something extra.”

          Ugh. Your equivocation is truly off-putting.

          Pat yourself on the back, you’re doing my work for me.

        • The word “supernatural” is meaningless.

          Nothing is outside of nature. Even that which only potentially exists.

          It is not equivocation or disengenuous to work from an improved understanding. In my opinion, getting a better idea of the full scope of things is the WHOLE POINT.

          What is your reasoning behind the insistence that God must be supernatural or it isn’t God?

        • Paul B. Lot

          The word “supernatural” is meaningless….
          Nothing is outside of nature. Even that which only potentially exists…What is your reasoning behind the insistence that God must be supernatural or it isn’t God?

          What is your goal in being so obtuse? I don’t care what we agree the three letters “G”,”o”,”d” shall refer to in any given context/conversation.

          The plain fact is that, unless otherwise clarified, all English interlocutors in general, and the people here in particular, are going to take the referrent of “God” to be something meant to be “supernatural”.

          Your definitional fight is not with me, it’s with every
          – Theist
          – Deist
          – Satanist
          – Pagan
          – Christian
          – Jew
          – believer in _____
          – [many theologians]
          – [many philosophers]
          – etc…

          who came before us.

          It’s no skin off my back.

          What IS a problem between you and me is the fact that you choose to use the word, which you know has specific natural meanings and connotations in English, in a non-standard way….you don’t ANNOUNCE that fact to your interlocutors…and then you ACCUSE them of faulty logic and dialectic when they use it the proper way.

          You are a jackass.

        • “You are a jackass.”

          What definition of that should I use?

          If you ask a 2nd grader what “math” is you will get one answer. If you ask graduate student specializing in quantum mechanics or string theory, it will be another.

          My point is, that the God you have decided isn’t anything at all, is actually everything.

          This is apparently tricky for people to work with. At least without some dedicated practice.

          Hence the spectrum of approximations. Yours included.

        • Greg G.

          If something can’t prevent suffering for all sentient beings, why call it a god? If something can prevent all suffering but doesn’t, what not call it the Ultimate Sadist instead of God? If something doesn’t out of indifference,

          You only have woo to try to make a distinction between an indifferent, mindless universe and an indifferent universe with sentience.

        • This is your discontent not mine.

          Everybody always wants to know “what can God do for me”? or “If God really loved us….”.

          The petulance just oozes out.

          Some, however just want to Know. Finding it out, the love thing is inevitable. It’s built in. The Self of our self.

          If you see suffering then do your part to ease it. We are all in this together.

        • MNb

          “Some, however just want to Know.”
          What’s the difference between Know and know?
          What’s your criterium to decide that you Know something?

          If you can’t answer these question you’re just producing meaningless phrases.

        • Greg G.

          I’m not talking about my own personal suffering. I’ve had some broken bones and things that required hospitalization but not in the last 25 years. I’ve suffered the loss of close friends to death but I accept that as part of life.

          I refer to all suffering of all sentient beings. Why did you assume I meant my own suffering? Does it never occur to you that people are starving to death? That creatures are eaten alive?

          Some of us want to know but when you capitalize the word it seems that you want something like absolute certainty. No method of acquiring knowledge can do that. Woo can give you a false sense of it.

          There is a lot of baggage with the word “God”. If you don’t mean to include the baggage, avoid the word or explain what you mean by it.

          If you only look at the nice, pretty parts of the universe, your perspective will not be the whole. If you come to grips with the agony and ugliness within the universe, you may as well accept that it is indifferent. If it is indifferent, then you can’t say that there is any intelligence behind the indifference.

        • Pofarmer

          Like Ignorant Amos says, “How can someone be so asinine with just one head?”

        • ” Why did you assume I meant my own suffering? “

          I didn’t. That was a general comment on the “Since God doesn’t fix everything, there is no God” boondoggle. One runs into it all the time on these atheist blogs. Maybe it was even one of Bob’s Top 10.

          I can be just as philosophical about Life as you. Though, you may have missed it, being so busy invoking “woo” at the drop of a hat.

          “There is a lot of baggage with the word “God”. If you don’t mean to
          include the baggage, avoid the word or explain what you mean by it.”

          I have explained myself repeatedly. But, reliance on good will and
          respect from the “other” in the mix, seems a limitation in this venue.

          My response to a lot of baggage is to toss the baggage out. Make things better. Move forward. God is not the baggage.

          Just for the record, I press these same points with theists as well.

          If it seems that someone can learn a less abstracted and proprietary sense of God, then I try to serve that possibility.

          I also try to keep my ears open to the words of others who might do the same for me.

          The viewpoint that I have described does not depend on the word “God”. It however, is different from the viewpoint that I find amongst you all. So I emphasize what makes it different as best I can.

          As in Buddhism, Yoga, Zen or any of the Monist traditions there is an atheistic aspect to my understanding. In the full bloom of Realization, there are no distinctions. The God question is moot.

          But …

          It would be false to jump to that until it is True. As long as there is a sense of otherness, then it is reasonable to make reference to God.

          This respects the process. The theme of Life’s journey as I see it.

        • Kodie

          You may think you’re explaining yourself, and we’re just cutting you down for kicks, but that’s not What Is True.

        • The exercise that I’m engaged in is clear to me.

          What you are doing may also be clear to you.

          What is True? All of it.

        • Kodie

          The exercise that you’re engaged in may be clear to you but the response was how it is not clear to us.

          I have explained myself repeatedly. But, reliance on good will and respect from the “other” in the mix, seems a limitation in this venue.

          You’ve accused us without cause. Your perceptions are faulty, your awareness of those around you is prejudiced, and your honesty is therefore lacking.

        • Greg G.

          You don’t get to sweep the Problem of Suffering under the rug by calling it a “boondoggle” and placing the responsibility on someone else. Every person and every trainable animal could do all they could to relieve and prevent suffering and not approach eliminating it.

          If your god is capable of preventing suffering, then all suffering is unnecessary. If your god is sentient, then it would have made a choice for other sentient creatures to suffer unnecessarily. That is sadism. A sadistic force is not an admirable god.

          If suffering is necessary, then suffering can do something that your god is incapable of, which means it is no more a god than we are.

          The name of this blog is “Cross Examined“, which is laden with Christian overtones. If you want to argue about a different type of sentience, you should be sure to make that distinction. It’s like we had to beat it out of you that you have a different concept in mind. A simple declaration that you were not referring to a theistic god would be good. Just saying you were more of a pantheist would be good.

          You have argued that love and beauty suggest a sentience while placing the responsibility for the ugly and suffering on us. That methodology is certain to keep you from getting the big picture. You only view the good side and go with a sentience. Looking at the good, the bad, and the indifference does not imply sentience. One shouldn’t expect a realistic result from cherry-picking inputs that give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. That is woo.

        • MNb

          “It’s like we had to beat it out of you that you have a different concept in mind.”
          Tsk, tsk, Greg, you forgot something very important. Many believers are so convinced of what they believe that they by default assume that they are the only ones who represent the content of TEH belief system. So if you attack Ol’ Hambo’s claim that the entire shenanigan was created in six days folks like McKay immediately scream “Strawman! That’s not what I believe! How dare you!”

        • MR

          It’s a convenient tactic to hide in an obscure, undefined cloud of belief. Think of WaterOnMars. That way you can always keep them guessing. It’s like my wallpaper analogy, just when your opponent thinks they’ve tackled that bubble, it morphs into something slightly different and reappears just over there. “Heavens, no, I didn’t say that!” By not clearly defining your stance, you insulate your belief from criticism. By insulating your belief from criticism, you avoid having to justify it–even to yourself.

        • The Christian response to your statement about the Problem of Evil is to demand to know how you can be so arrogant to judge God. But, of course, we must judge the evidence for God (which is precisely what you’re doing) until we know for sure there’s a God.

          The Christian wants to presuppose God, but that isn’t how the game is played.

        • Greg G.

          If there is evil in the world, an omnipotent god who abhors evil is ruled out. Unnecessary suffering is one evil.

        • Dys

          My general response to people who tell me that I don’t have the ability to judge God is to inform them that I expect them to play by the same rules, and to never say that God is good. Because no matter how they try to get around it, they have to make a judgement call on the matter. And as soon as they do, they’re judging God.

        • “Since God doesn’t fix everything, there is no God”

          Who says that? I don’t.

        • Greg G.

          I think it was an exaggerated comment on what I was saying. It probably should have been, “Since God doesn’t fix everything evil, there is no God,” it would be very much like Epicurus’ Problem of Evil that theists haven’t given a good response to for 23 centuries.

        • Paul B. Lot

          If you ask a 2nd grader what “math” is you will get one answer. If you ask graduate student specializing in quantum mechanics or string theory, it will be another.

          You need an editor. This vignette adds nothing to your point or our conversation.

          [young child’s grasp of maths] is to [physicists’ grasp of maths]
          as
          [Paul’s definition of “God” as supernatural] is to [brmckay’s definition of “God” as everything]

          This figure which you construct does no logical work for you. Your definition of “God” is not something elusive, practically or theoretically, nor is it something of which I was unaware before your mentioning.

          Both conditions would have to be true for the figure to be logically applicable.

          Your ideas are not novel.

          They are not difficult.

          They are not strange.

          I am pointing out to you that you are a cretin not because your idea is unsettling or tricky. I mention that you are an asshole because you didn’t have the clarity or courtesy to mention that you were playing word games from the outset.

          You’re at a blog called “Cross Examined”, wherein the owner posts about his point of view as an ex-Christian.

          “God” as non-supernatural concept, as “the entirety and totality of being” is an ancient and well-respected point of view.

          But that is not *generally* the conception of “God” in the Western, much less English speaking, world; and more importantly it is not the view of “God” held by Christianity — the religious context which is specifically being countered (broadly speaking) in the blog.

          So, knowing that your particular referent for “God” was almost certainly not going to be immediately understood by the people who frequent this blog in general, and knowing that your chosen referent for “God” was antithetical to the context of this blog specifically — why equivocate with the word?

          Had you had begun your interactions here with asterisks, or parenthesis, or intelligible sentences indicating that when you say “God” you mean [Spinoza’s “God”]/[pantheists’ “God”] you would’ve avoided confusion and misunderstanding.

          Instead, you chose to be cute and coy, to pretend like it was impossible than anyone here had ever been exposed to, much less, considered this other definition.

          Look at all the time we’ve wasted unpacking the confusion you’ve sewn by saying “God(a)” when you knew it was more than likely that people would read and understand “God(b)”.

          But on top of your terrible job of communicating your ideas…you’ve accused others of not understanding your conflated terms because of ignorance or a lack of follow-through.

          Let me just finish this up by pointing out that my main reason for rejecting religious claims in general , and any given superstitious/supernatural claim in particular, is that so often those claims are made by imprecise, undisciplined, logically impaired fools.

          In other words: dumb fuckers who wear shit-eating-grins born from D/K self-deception.

          Yours included.

          *Edits for style and taste.*

        • Kodie

          If it is inside nature, then how is science to discover it?

        • MNb

          “Nothing is outside of nature.”
          Ah, thanks. That addresses two of my three arguments for atheism, so I will save you them.
          However that raises another issue. And if you cared about “following through” as you claim you will be capable to address it.
          The synonym for the scientific method is methodological naturalism. Ie everything that’s part of or inside of nature can be investigated with the scientific method. That apparently also applies to your god (specifically your god, because the abrahamist one belongs to the supernatural).
          So which scientific tests do you propose to investigate god?

          See, that’s what the dichotomy natural/supernatural (or transcendental or immaterial) has been developed for.

        • Kodie

          He didn’t answer me yet, maybe he will answer you.

        • Since, we are not outside of nature and the investigation is into our self-awareness.

          We study awareness and the prototype of awareness within nature.

          We develop techniques of meditation and enquiry.

          We respectfully encounter the experience of others past and present.

          We apply strict honesty and refined intention.

          The question “Who am I”? What is this “I”? Who is asking?

          We learn to play music or climb mountains to the point of “no reflection”. Clear the way for pure spontaneity.

          Let the mind subside into it’s source.

          Since absolute awareness can not be two. We continue until there is only One.
          ——-

          (I persist in my technique of capitalization because I like it. My sense of having said it right is satisfied. So sue me.)

        • Kodie

          Since, we are not outside of nature and the investigation is into our self-awareness.

          Is your strange usage of punctuation also a personal preference? I don’t mind investigating “self-awareness.”

          We study awareness and the prototype of awareness within nature.

          To some extent, everything that lives has awareness of its environment. It may not be up to your religious standards or goals, but in order to adapt to the environment, some part or feature of the organism responds to the stimuli of the environment.

          We develop techniques of meditation and enquiry.

          So?

          We respectfully encounter the experience of others past and present.

          No, you’re a liar. You encountered our experiences disrespectfully, and you continue to cast aspersions on our experience by comparing yours favorably to whatever you perceive as some sort of shallowness or emptiness or anger on our part. You have your shield up, it’s blocking your view, and prejudicing you.

          We apply strict honesty and refined intention.

          No, you’re a liar. See above.

          The question “Who am I”? What is this “I”? Who is asking?

          “Who am I?” is a good question, but everything after that is layers and layers of chasing your own tail. You want to find your authentic self and that’s great. Who is your authentic self? Apparently someone who gets ideas about who he is from someone else.

          We learn to play music or climb mountains to the point of “no reflection”. Clear the way for pure spontaneity.

          Known to the rest of us as “muscle memory.”

          Let the mind subside into it’s source.

          Which is your environment – in your case, what you choose to feed it with, and who you keep company with, just like all religions or cultures.

          Since absolute awareness can not be two. We continue until there is only One.
          ——-

          I guess what you’re trying to do is break down your individual self and ego in some way so that everyone can think the same things the same way. Also known as ‘joining a cult’. You are as individualistic as ever, and “absolute awareness” is a distraction, since you can never have it. You will always be ignoring something, right now you’re ignoring our perceptions of you and insisting you make any sense that isn’t woo.

          (I persist in my technique of capitalization because I like it. My sense of having said it right is satisfied. So sue me.)

          It is the mark of the dope, so keep using it if you like.

        • Greg G.

          Since, we are not outside of nature and the investigation is into our self-awareness.

          We investigate nature itself and try to eliminate personal bias from the investigation.

          We study awareness and the prototype of awareness within nature.

          We develop techniques of meditation and enquiry.

          We respectfully encounter the experience of others past and present.

          We apply strict honesty and refined intention.

          That has much in common with the methodology of many religions. It has proven to produce unreliable results. Why persist?

          The question “Who am I”? What is this “I”? Who is asking?

          Yes, that is an interesting question. You can recognize connections to the whole yet the “I” is distinct from the whole.

          We learn to play music or climb mountains to the point of “no reflection”. Clear the way for pure spontaneity.

          Let the mind subside into it’s source.

          Since absolute awareness can not be two. We continue until there is only One.

          There is no reason to think absolute awareness is even possible. Our minds are limited by our brains. If our brain consisted of every particle of the universe, it doesn’t follow that it could completely comprehend itself, let alone everything else.

        • MNb

          Thanks for not answering my question:

          “Which scientific tests do you propose to investigate god?”
          because I totally didn’t expect you to.

          “(I persist in my technique of capitalization because I like it. My sense of having said it right is satisfied. So sue me.)”
          Something else you have in common with snake oil sellers.

          “The question “Who am I”? What is this “I”? Who is asking?”
          As a famous Dutch neurobiologist said: “I am my brain.” Nothing you postulated about sentience, spontaneity an awareness exists outside of our brains.

          You can repeat your fancy language until the cows come home, they continue to lack any meaning regarding what you incorrectly claim to deduce.

        • MNb

          Eeehhhh …. you’re the one adding something extra to “the experience of sentience”, not PB Lot.

        • No, sentient existence is the something extra that indicates both the need for, and the possibility of, a profound understanding.

          Are we getting any closer. How have you approached this elemental question?

          Best I can tell it is not even on your radar.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Your first sentence is goobledeegook. Just intellectual mush.

          The rest of your sentences are more nearly intelligible, but you’ve deployed them in such a manner as to avoid what Mr. MNb was pointing out.

          MNb pointed out that when I paraphrased your post, I didn’t “add” anything “extra” when I used “[supernatural phenomena]” in place of “God.”

          If you write to an audience in English, to say nothing of the audience on a non-believer’s blog, you’re dealing with a population of people who take “God” to mean something supernatural.

          All MNb seems to have been doing, to my eye, is pointing that obvious fact out to you.

          Further; claiming that someone who makes that 100% predictable and usual association is “adding” something to the discussion because your personal, idiosyncratic definition of the word “God” is what the rest of us refer to merely as “the Universe” is an instance of conversing in bad-faith.

        • “If you write to an audience in English, to say nothing of the audience on a non-believer’s blog, you’re dealing with a population of people who take “God” to mean something supernatural.”

          Well, there is your problem. Why get on my case?

          You all are so hard wired to haul out the Unicorns and Flying Dragon stuff that you don’t even take a look at what has been proposed.

          Call it the Universe if you like. I often do myself. But there are other implications that come into play when sentience is kept on the table.

          Our paradigms are obviously different but you all spend our time setting me up to defend a bunch of nonsense.

        • Kodie

          When are you planning to defend your bunch of nonsense?

        • Greg G.

          But there are other implications that come into play when sentience is kept on the table.

          Do you have any non-wooish justification for putting sentience on the table at all?

        • Paul B. Lot

          “Well, there is your problem. Why get on my case?”
          Because this is an English-speaking, Western-style blog. More importantly it’s an ex-Christian blog. Most of the atheists here (I believe?) are ex-Christians of one sort or another. There was no reason to think that you had shifted from a Christian concept of “God” (or something near it) to talking about Spinoza’s “God”.

          That’s why, you ignorant twat.

          You all are so hard wired to haul out the Unicorns and Flying Dragon stuff that you don’t even take a look at what has been proposed.

          No. I am quite familiar with the concept that you were trying to talk about coherently, and it is not something unsympathetic to my mind.

          I see no reason to accept an ur-consciousness hypothesis, but I don’t see any reason to rail against it either.

          Our paradigms are obviously different but you all spend our time setting me up to defend a bunch of nonsense.

          I didn’t set you up to do shit. You set yourself up when you thought and wrote so poorly.

        • Kodie

          Human intelligence is a quality that most do not even use to its potential. Religion is a cul-de-sac that eats up most people’s capacity to imagine something that doesn’t exist. Our collective property to imagine something that doesn’t exist is our human animal quality to innovate something that does not yet exist by imagining it and working toward making that happen. Both technology and religion use observations of nature and environment to assess the potential for the creation. We see a bird and know that flight is possible, and humans long to fly, and now we can. Flying in an airplane isn’t that different from sitting in your living room though, but it is possible and, disregarding fuel, is probably an efficient way to get from A to B in a short span of finite time we’d rather not waste driving, traveling by train or boat, or hitching up horses or walking. Wheels are not intuitive – observing round things rolling incites an idea to make a round thing so we can roll instead of clomp along step by step.

          What does religion do instead? It invents flying carpets, essentially. It says you can fly if you just buy the right rug. Sounds pretty dopey. It’s the dream that you’re going somewhere with this, and it turns out you’re just sitting in the middle of the floor. Just open your eyes and look at yourself, sitting on a rug like a child and pretending.

        • I was enjoying your scenario with only a few points I wanted to make. Right up to the last paragraph.

          “What does religion do instead? It invents flying carpets, essentially. It says you can fly if you just buy the right rug. Sounds pretty dopey. It’s the dream that you’re going somewhere with this, and it turns out you’re just sitting in the middle of the floor. Just open your eyes and look at yourself, sitting on a rug like a child and pretending.”

          I’m not going to try and fill in the gaps in you education right now.

          But consider that; The inside and the outside of our experience are most surely are of equal value.

          And, as I understand it. They are not different. That boundary is conceptual.

          This is one of the foundational insights of religious contemplation.

          The capacity to understand and to live from this perspective is an important part of that “unused potential” of the “Human Intelligence”.

          It represents the purest form of religious impulse. No matter what you see on the news…

          … like a child pretending to be all grown up.

        • Kodie

          Religious contemplation just uses up ordinary impulses. The fact that one can create a whole universe of subjective, idealistic ideas doesn’t make any of them real, you just have no talent in making an effective attempt at progress or aid to your fellow human. I’d call it tainting the brain with bullshit so millions or billions of people couldn’t be effective if they tried. They are poisoned by wrong ideas and “faith” that things will turn out like they want them to, no matter what they do – no, the will turn out like they will, regardless of what you do or do not believe. Religion makes people feel entitled to something that isn’t theirs, and take it away from someone else. I mean some things, but effectively, I do mean brains.

        • “Religion makes people feel entitled to something that isn’t theirs, and take it away from someone else. I mean some things, but effectively, I do mean brains.”

          You have said it, so it must be true.

        • adam

          “You have said it, so it must be true.”

          After your carefully worded rebuttal, hers has a lot more credibility than yours.

          But what have you got but IMAGINARY gods….

        • adam

          “The inside and the outside of our experience are most surely are of equal value.”

          Religion is a demonstrated proof that people DELUDE themselves into believing things that dont exist in reality.

        • MNb

          Why should it be on my radar?

          “sentient existence is the something extra that indicates both the need for, and the possibility of, a profound understanding.”
          See, this is not the “extra” I was talking about. I don’t have any problem with this quote. I have huge problems with what you omit this time and with what it all began: “hence god”.
          It remains a non-sequitur. Still you are the one who keeps on adding that extra.
          See? There simply is nothing to be on my radar. You haven’t pointed out anything that even possibly could be on my radar.
          So shrug.

          “How have you approached this elemental question?”
          Which elemental question? If “we are getting any closer”? How I approach is simple – I am committed to the scientific method. And that one says that I don’t need to get any closer to anything you propose. Plus deduction (something you totally failed to provide thus far) tells me that there is nothing (nothing that you have proposed) to get any closer to.
          Only rarely has a god been so void as yours.

        • Well, I guess not then.

          “Only rarely has a god been so void as yours.”

          Is this conclusion the result of the scientific method, or politics?

        • adam

          Is this conclusion the result of the scientific method, or politics?

          Your LACK of a viable demonstration of YOUR ‘god’.

        • MNb

          It’s the result of you hardly providing any substance – not providing anything to investigate. You are even hardly providing a method – the only specific things you mentioned were deduction (which you totally haven’t used) and Zen (which I reject due to lack of reliability).
          So there is nothing to research with a method that’s unreliable. Instead you use fancy words and spell their first letters with capitals. Very, very void indeed. I’m almost tempted to write: your god is Void.

        • Kodie

          You are cherry-picking what you call in another post “ancestral wisdom” and getting confirmation for your personal desires from the fact that many people attribute their imaginations, their sentience, awareness, to a great and sentient power of the universe. If you feel it too, you think they are correct. I feel it too, but I only attribute it to the kind of animal we are. People who put humans on a high pedestal do not seem to see the bigger picture, and it’s really just an annoying fetish. So, you like life, you like thinking of stuff, you like enjoying things that feel powerful, so you intentionally seek some source of all of it in the wrong place – other fallible humans.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Intuitions regarding a possible relationship between [sentience] and [supernatural phenomena] can be contradictory, and are therefore of no evidentiary or logical merit.

          In response to this sentence, you gave me a red-herring about purported definition mistakes on my part.

          Since then I have managed to, gradually and with much effort, extract from you a more honest definition of what you mean by “God” as something like “universal consciousness.”

          Let’s backtrack from the cul-de-sac you lead us down previously; allow me to modify the post I made before in light of this new information.

          You have an intuition that your sentience is a sort of insight into “universal consciousness”, yes?

          Kodie and I do not.

          What evidentiary weight, then, should we (or the other readers) place on your intuitions – versus – our intuitions?

        • Kodie

          I find humans illogical and credulous for the most part. I don’t think most humans do anything special with sentience, they take a lot of pictures though.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m sorry, but that’s pathetic. Sift and sort through a bunch of woo to find what trips your trigger? Coooollll, Maaannnnn.

        • “I’m sorry, but that’s pathetic. Sift and sort through a bunch of woo to find what trips your trigger?”

          What? Are you saying that your woo is bigger than mine?

          What I actually said, was:

          “What it [the deduced existence of God] means, is for me to discover. If there is ancestral wisdom that resonates with my experience I embrace it.”

          This is reasonable. Not overstepping, or projecting expectations. Avoiding the assertion of that which has not yet been experienced and tested.

          If others are testifying to the same observations and experience then the confirmation is helpful.

          What is your problem with this?

        • MNb

          “This is reasonable.”
          Nope, it isn’t, because you have missed one tiny step. You never deduced the existence of any god.

        • You weren’t there.

          is there going to be a lot more of this deflection? Why not just do your homework?

          There will be time for choir practice later. (if you still feel the need)

        • You weren’t there.

          He wasn’t where?

        • MNb

          No, I wasn’t there when you deduced the existence of your or any other god. That’s because you never did such a thing.

        • Greg G.

          You weren’t there and you were probably sober at the time.

        • Pofarmer

          “If others are testifying to the same observations and experience then the confirmation is helpful.”

          Not really. How do you determine that you’re all not suffering from the same delusion?

        • The usual safeguards are built in.

          Logic, Beauty, Love.

          This word delusion is interesting. In your hands it seems so ominous and dare I say it. Omnipresent.

          What is the difference between a “working assumption” and “a delusion”.

          Who’s basic premise or paradigm has all the bugs worked out and is beyond reproach, is perfectly executed and flawless?

          What exists that is completely understood?

        • MNb

          “Who’s basic premise or paradigm has all the bugs worked out and is beyond reproach, is perfectly executed and flawless?”
          Wrong question, because you fail to recognize that a basic premise or paradigm doesn’t need to be perfect to work better than any other. So that’s the correct question:
          “Which basic premises and/or paradigm has the least bugs, suffers from the least reproach, is executed better than anything else and has the least flaws?”

          Love and Beauty – especially when written with capitals – don’t qualify. Logic does. Hence I point out that you thus far never deduced the existence of any god.
          Empirical evidence also qualifies.

        • Greg G.

          But chaos, ugliness, and indifference are also built in. If you ignore that, you are just putting your thumb on the scale for logic, beauty, and love.

          Don’t ignore all the suffering. The universe is indifferent. When I see beauty, I appreciate it for what it is. If I thought it was a product of a powerful sentient being, it would look like child’s play. Is that the best a powerful sentient being can manage? Yimou Zhang could do better.

        • Pofarmer

          Is beauty just the appreciation that something isn’t trying ti kill us for a moment?

        • Kodie

          I guess there are a lot of things that won’t kill us, but beauty is often the appreciation of things in the ignorance that it will kill us. I was going to start off with “the sun” for example, but then I thought of babies. Nothing seems to age people faster than having children.

        • Greg G.

          I recently saw a quote that said beauty in nature could be dangerous. Beauty combined with a casual nature is usually lethal.

          Don’t lick your fingers if you grab a beautiful tree frog.

        • MNb

          That screams for a picture.

          https://animalcorner.co.uk/rainforests/graphics/paf1.jpg

          Pure beauty indeed.

        • MR

          Oh, MNb, you are human!

        • Kodie

          Humans often report similar types of experiences and emotions. Why do you think that’s so amazing that it has to come from outside of you, rather than the kind of animal you are? Do you ever consider other animals and their experiences?

        • Inside and outside. No difference.
          (I’d like to start talking like this now. As they say. Less is more.)

          Yes, I consider other animals and their experiences. Sentience is sentience.

          The surface differences are like clouds in the sky. Constant change and combination. Endless variation. But the underlying awareness is immutable.

          Work with that understanding or not, it is always available.

        • Greg G.

          Clocks change time continuously. They cannot be set precisely the same. That doesn’t mean they are sentient or that the universe is sentient.

        • Kodie

          It’s still a sack of shit you’re carrying around, so to speak. I like to talk like this now. Right to the point.

        • adam

          “Inside and outside. No difference.”

          Yes, difference

          ” But the underlying awareness is immutable.”

          Wrong AGAIN, dead is dead.

          Less is more:
          No, less than what you’ve demonstrated is NOTHING.

        • Kodie

          The thing is “ancestral wisdom” is such a broad category, and you are going by personal resonance (i.e. emotion) to judge it as wise or not, rather than rationally discovering whether or not it bears any resemblance with reality. That’s how you tell if you like a song, it’s not how you determine whether there is a god and what he’d be like.

        • MNb

          I exist hence god is a non-sequitur.
          Experience of sentience hence god is also a non-sequitur.

          “More reasonable than not to.”
          Would you care to provide any reason?

        • “Would you care to provide any reason?”

          Yes.

          The fact that the question arises.

          Instinct. Same source as my immune system.

          “I exist hence god is a non-sequitur. Experience of sentience hence god is also a non-sequitur.”

          Can YOU explain the reasoning behind that statement?

          Just seems like “head-in-the-sand” to me.

        • adam

          So the FACT that questions arise about the Flying Spaghetti monster proves it?

          Leprechans, fairies, Zeus, tens of thousands of gods all exist because people had questions about them.

        • MNb

          The fact that the question arises makes a positive answer more reasonable then a negative one? Great method.
          I raise the question what a square circle means. According to you it’s more reasonable to assume that a square circle can be drawn than to assume it can’t.

          Since when is instinct reasonable? Instinct is a function to save time by bypassing reason.

          “Can YOU explain the reasoning behind that statement?”
          Yes. You would have been able as well if you googled non-sequitur. There is no reason why B (god) follows from A (whether it is “I exist” or “I experience sentience”). What’s more, if this logic would be valid it would apply to everything and anything.
          I’m typing on my keyboard hence god.
          I rub my eyes hence god.
          I take a leak on the toilet hence god.
          Chocolate tastes good to me hence god.

          Again according to you not accepting this is “heads in the sands”.

        • We are obviously working with different expectations of what God might reasonably be expected to be.

          If think all that supernatural, magical, woo, mumbo jumbo has you blinded to a very simple premise.

          We are not separate from All that is.

          This, the most basic understanding of God, should be beyond debate.

          God being existence, both potential and in fact.

          If it boils down to just a word, then don’t use the word. But that does not erase the Universe.

        • MNb

          I don’t expect any god anything to be, so your first sentence doesn’t make sense. Tell me what you expect your god to be and I tell you why I don’t believe in your god. In fact I already made this offer to you. Very typically you neglected it.

          “We are not separate from All that is. This, the most basic understanding of God, should be beyond debate.”
          Why not? Because you say so?

          “God being existence, both potential and in fact.
          I prefer to keep it simple. I call existence existence, both potential and in fact. Just like I call our universe Universe and not God, YHWH, Allah, Quetzalcoatl or whatever.
          That prevents me from special pleading like you accepting “I experience sentience hence god” but rejecting “I take a leak hence god.” No matter what you and I expect, if the latter is a non-sequitur so it the first.

        • adam

          “I take a leak hence god.”

          But if you take a dump, dont offend god, cover it up.

        • Kodie

          I kind of wonder if most Christians don’t keep that verse in their back pockets any time they “sin”. If you keep it on the down-low and cover it up, god will not see anything indecent from you and turn away.

        • Greg G.

          Why is human poop indecent but not other animals’ poop. There’s a lot of unburied poop in the world but God takes offense at the odd turd. Whose idea was poop anyway?

        • Kodie

          If we didn’t poop, I don’t think we could eat. We could have been made to photosynthesize. That would be cool.

        • Greg G.

          If an omnipotent being doesn’t like human poop, why couldn’t he make digestion 100% effective? He could make us able to metabolize all our food and to make our food 100% metabolizable.

        • Kodie

          I can’t actually imagine a system like that that isn’t of course magical.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, green people would be cool. Going to San Francisco to see the girls with flowers in their hair would mean something else.

        • Politics.

        • adam

          Then quit playing politics and CLEARLY demonstrate that YOUR god is not IMAGINARY..

        • adam

          “God being existence, both potential and in fact.”

          No, in YOUR opinion

          Now if you could ONLY just demonstrate that YOUR god is not IMAGINARY…..

        • Are you familiar with the term autopilot?

          I remember you now. You’re the pamphleteer running door to door with the good news. “God is for fools!, God is for fools! … “

        • adam

          Yes,l am familiar with the term.

          Are you familiar with the term PROPAGANDA?

          I remember you now, you’re the delusional asshole who keeps claiming ‘god’ is something that you cant demonstrate is anything but IMAGINARY…

          You have a god who keeps slipping away to the point now where ‘god’ is nothing more than philosophical masterbation.

          You whole ‘god’ concept is shrinking into NOTHING…

        • Paul B. Lot

          I haven’t seen that image before; that’s a pretty good infographic.

        • Otto

          It’s Otto Pilot…just sayin.

        • Greg G.

          When I spell “autopilot”, I still have that alternate spelling in my head. When I hear disco, I think of the night club scene. I ask the guy next to me to pinch me to see if I’m dreaming.

        • Otto

          I saw that in the movie theater at 13 yrs old with my uptight mother…it holds a special place in my heart.

        • Kodie

          Maybe you are dreaming some of the time.

        • Greg G.

          That’s pantheism, aka woo.

          If something is incapable of preventing suffering, why call it God?

          If something is capable of preventing suffering but doesn’t, it is indifferent or sadistic. In either case, why call it God?

          If it is sadistic, why bother with it, it would only torture you.

          If it is indifferent, why even try to think it is sentient? It’s woo based on wishful thinking.

        • Kodie

          None of us capitalize the A in “all” like it means something different than a lower-case a.

        • adam

          “We are not separate from all that is.”

          We are not separate from our environment and god is the creation of man.

          “This, the most basic understanding of God, should be beyond debate.”

          So says the PROPAGANDIST spreading the Big Lie.

        • adam

          “We are obviously working with different expectations of what God might reasonably be expected to be.”

          Yes, we expect god to be IMAGINARY like all the gods before it.

          YOU however expect it to be Real in spite of a lack of credible evidence.

        • adam

          “The fact that the question arises.”

          Can a human really place his whole head up his ass.

          The mere fact that the question arises demonstrates its truth?

        • Knee jerk defensive obfuscation. (One has to wonder, what’s with these people. Oh, .. right! Their atheists.)

        • Paul B. Lot

          “Oh, .. right! Their They’re atheists.”

          FTFY

        • You got that right, my brother. When have atheists ever sought clarity in any argument?!

        • Kodie

          Obfuscation of what?

        • Greg G.

          I used “obfuscates” in a reply to him recently. He must have liked it.

        • Kodie

          Well, he seems to think he’s making some kind of point, and all we can do is raise the clatter to muffle the sound of his voice. I don’t forget he came here