Gospels vs. the Perfect Miracle Claim

Gospels vs. the Perfect Miracle Claim July 23, 2015

gospels miraclesTry to imagine the most compelling miracle story possible. Here’s one; tell me what you think:

I met Jesus yesterday. At first, I didn’t believe who he was, but he turned my lawn furniture from steel into gold. I just got back from a dealer who assayed the furniture, confirmed that it was solid gold, and bought it. Over 200 pounds of gold at $1355 per ounce works out to be close to $4.5 million.

Guess who’s a believer now!

Compare this story against the gospels

Would you buy this miracle story? I’m sure I’ve convinced no one, and yet, as miracle stories go, this one is pretty compelling. It beats the gospel story, for example. Compare the two:

  • Taking the claim at face value, the time from event to the first writing was one day. There is no chance for legendary accretion. Compare this to 40 years and more with the gospels.
  • The time from original document to our oldest complete copy is zero days. Compare this to almost 300 years for the gospels. That’s a lot of time for copyist hanky-panky.
  • The cultural gulf to cross to understand this miracle claim is nonexistent. Compare this to our Greek copies of the gospels from around 350 CE, through which we must infer the Jewish/Aramaic facts of the Jesus story from around 30 CE.
  • This story claims to be an eyewitness account. The argument for the gospels being eyewitness accounts is very tenuous.
  • It uses a well-known and widely accepted deity. Compare this to Christianity, which must imagine that the Jewish god had Jesus in mind from the start and that that whole Jewish thing was just throat clearing before the main event.

Have I convinced anyone yet? If not, then why is the gospel story still convincing when I’ve beaten it on every point?

The Christian response

Let’s consider some responses from skeptical Christians. They might point to important elements of the gospel story: what about the terrified disciples who became confident after seeing Jesus, the conversions of former enemies Paul and James, or the empty tomb?

Okay, so you want a longer story? It’s hard to imagine that simply adding details and complications can make a story more believable, but I can give you that. Let’s suppose that the story were gospel-sized and included people who initially disbelieved but became convinced.

You say Jesus doesn’t make appearances like this anymore? Okay, make it some other deity—someone known or unknown. You pick.

You say that these claims are so recent that they demand evidence—photos, a check from the gold dealer, samples of the gold lawn furniture? Okay, then change the story to make the evidence inaccessible. Maybe now we imagine it taking place 200 years ago. Hey, it’s just words on (virtual) paper. Whatever additional objection you have, reshape the story to resolve the problem.

And yet if you were presented with this carefully sculpted story, you’d still be unconvinced. But why? What besides tradition or presuppositions of the rightness of the Christian position makes that more believable?

Example #2

Let’s make one last attempt with a more historical example to convince the Christian of an ancient miracle story. Imagine that we’ve uncovered a cache of Chinese documents from 2000 years ago. They claim miracles similar to those found in the gospels. Here are the remarkable facts of this find.

  • As far as historians can tell, these documents are originals, not copies. They seem to date from the period about which they are writing. (For the gospels, this gap is 300 years.)
  • They claim to be writing immediately after the events, and the paleographic evidence supports this claim. (For the gospels, this gap is 40 to 60 years.)
  • They claim to be eyewitness accounts. Not only do the gospels not claim to be eyewitness accounts, not only is there evidence against such an idea (Matthew and Luke wouldn’t copy most of Mark,  some of it verbatim, if they were eyewitnesses), but the evidence for the eyewitness tradition very weak (see link above).
  • Four different accounts in our Chinese documents give plausible independent attestation. The four gospels are not independent (the three synoptics rehash similar material).
  • There are no internal contradictions between the four accounts, nothing is unclear, and the message is unambiguous. Contrast that with the gospels, which disagree with each other and the rest of the Bible on such fundamental issues as whether or not salvation comes exclusively from faithhow long Jesus remained on earth after the resurrection, whether the resurrected Jesus had a spirit body or not, whether hell exists or not, and others.

Christian response #2

Here again, the claims of our imaginary find trounce every equivalent Christian claim. But our Christian skeptic has several plausible responses.

  • These Chinese authors were lying, and they actually weren’t eyewitnesses. Maybe they even had an agenda. This is just words on paper, after all. Who knows if they’re true, especially if they’re incredible?
  • They were confused, mistaken, or sloppy in their reporting. We can’t guarantee that an author from prescientific China recorded the facts without bias. Perhaps they were constrained by their worldview and unconsciously shoehorned what they saw to fit what they thought they ought to see.
  • We can’t prove that the claims are wrong, but so what? That’s not where the burden lies. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and this story simply doesn’t have it.
  • Gee, I dunno. It’s an impressive story, but that’s all it is. This is implausible, unrepeatable evidence that can’t overturn what modern science tells us about how the world works.

This Christian skeptic sounds just like me. These are the same objections that I’d raise. So why not show this kind of skepticism for the Christian account?

The honest Christian must avoid the fallacy of special pleading—having a tough standard of evidence for historical claims from the other guy but a lower one for his own. “But you can’t ask for videos or newspaper accounts of events 2000 years ago” is true but irrelevant. It amounts to “I can’t provide adequate evidence, so you can’t hold that against me.”

Ah, but we do.

Some Christians will point to Christianity’s popularity as evidence, but surely they can’t be saying that the number one religion must be true. When the number of Muslims exceeds that of Christians, which is expected to happen at shortly after 2050, will you change? Popularity doesn’t prove accuracy.

We need a consistently high bar of evidence for supernatural claims, both for foreign claims as well as those close to our heart.

If Christ has not been raised, 
our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
— 1 Corinthians 15:14

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 11/14/12.)

Image credit: Tax Credits, flickr, CC

"–"So you just want silence from opposition."–No. You're here whining that Bob isn't writing the ..."

Science and Christianity: A Dangerous Mixture
"The girls are moving the goal to another field for a different game - where ..."

Science and Christianity: A Dangerous Mixture
"Aye, indeed....Always consider the lurker...it's our duty."

20 Arguments Against Same-Sex Marriage, Rebutted
"Apologists throw puzzles at atheists like “What caused abiogenesis?” or “What caused the Big Bang?”Amusingly, ..."

Science and Christianity: A Dangerous Mixture

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Alicia

    A large number of Christians accept that somewhere between many and all of the miracle stories in the bible are legendary accretions. Not all Christians, obviously, but a large number.
    [For that matter, a lot of them don’t believe in the virgin birth at all or the resurrection as a literal event, but they still consider themselves Christian and I don’t feel like I was put on this earth to tell them that they aren’t allowed to.]
    Faith healer was a pretty major profession at that place and time (Josephus is full of them), and I don’t imagine they could have gotten by with that if they didn’t get some kind of results from time to time (coincidences and placebos and will-power-based or spirituality-high-based remissions do occur, after all, even today), so my opinion is that probably some number of stories in the gospels take some degree of inspiration from actual events, but I would only guess which ones started as what if someone had a gun pointed at my head.

    • Derrik Pates

      [For that matter, a lot of them don’t believe in the virgin birth at all or the resurrection as a literal event, but they still consider themselves Christian and I don’t feel like I was put on this earth to tell them that they aren’t allowed to.]

      And if Christians (particularly the more conservative, patriarchal ones) didn’t constantly feel the need to try to force obedience to (their flavor of) Christianity’s rules and dogma, no one would care. They can believe whatever the hell they want.

    • MNb

      Could you provide an example of a christian who thinks the Resurrection is just fiction?

      • Alicia

        My mom? Me, when I was Christian? Several of the other students and professors at my liberal Methodist seminary? Several participants in an adult sunday school class that my mom attended at her church a few weeks ago?
        Most of us believe that some number of disciples had some sort of experience (guilt and fear induced visions are pretty normal), or at most that Jesus, being a person of unusually powerful soul, made an unusually powerful ghost that mooched around for a couple days before moving on with his afterlife. Some believe it’s just a good story, like essentially all liberal protestants believe of the virgin birth.
        (I’m as agnostic about ghosts as I am about God. I haven’t seen any persuasive evidence that they exist, and I wouldn’t make any decisions based on a conviction that they did, but I can’t prove they don’t, and the part of me that likes reading fantasy novels kind of hopes they do).
        It does seem to come as a shock to certain atheists, but there are Christians well beyond the biblical literalism and brimstone boogey men that the Atheist likes to invoke.

        • MNb

          Thanks. I’ll keep it in mind.
          I sure knew that many christians are not literalists. See, I’m Dutch and the vast majority of Dutch christians are liberals. There is even a separate word for this category in my language:

          https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vrijzinnig_christendom

          You might remember that Dutch protestants belonged to the first who rejected the biological virginity of Mother Mary, almost 500 years ago. But many of them still think the Resurrection is a historical event. One, a prominent apologist, once wrote “I’m a christian because of the empty tomb.” I’ve never met any who unambiguously stated that the Resurrection is a myth.
          My question was a honest one. It seems you are guilty of exactly the same you accuse atheists of, in a mirrored version: immediately assuming that the only version of christianity I’m familiar with is the literalist one.
          If not your rant is superfluous. If yes you’re funny.

          How does that work? Regarding original sin, afterlife, atonement etc.?

        • Alicia

          Re: Original sin, afterlife, atonement.
          Liberal American Christians seem to be pretty unconcerned about nailing down those kind of metaphysics, and I don’t know any that take the phrase “original sin” seriously either. What the standard is in other countries I don’t know.
          Re: your “prominent apologist.” Very few professional public Christians will say on the record that they don’t believe the resurrection really happened. I strongly suspect the Jesus Seminar are all on the record that way, but mostly it’s a behind-closed-doors thing, because of a Pascals-wager type analysis: congregants who don’t think the resurrection was literal either don’t care what their pastor thinks or are comfortable guessing that their pastor doesn’t believe it’s literal either, whereas congregants who do believe it’s literal are likely to get their panties seriously in a wad if they find out their pastor “isn’t even Christian.”
          Re: my comments on atheist literalism.
          This isn’t the first post I’ve read on patheos atheist, nor is it the first comment section I’ve taken part in. That absolutely is an element present in atheist communities. I edited my comment to say “certain” atheists (which I’m usually more careful to say – sorry) so that it was clear I wasn’t saying all atheists are stupid in the same way (like with all groups of humans, each of us is stupid in our own way, and most of us are stupid in more ways than one, myself very much included)

        • MNb

          “This isn’t the first post I’ve read on patheos atheist”
          No, but it is your first reaction to a comment of mine.

          “”certain” atheists”
          You probably can guess the answer – I’m not “certain” atheists, neither am I responsible for them. So shrug.

          “(which I’m usually more careful to say – sorry)”
          No need for sorry – I already wrote that I thought it funny. You’re not exactly the first agnost making this mistake either. To paraphrase you: it’s absolutely an element in agnost communities to assume that the only version of christianity hardcore atheists like me can imagine is the literalist fundie one. You’re not exactly the first one to make this mistake. Fortunately you don’t seem as bigoted as other agnosts who attacked me on this strawman; usually I don’t lift the scales from their eyes and enjoy how they rant against atheist biases while fully maintain their own ….

          “your “prominent apologist.””
          Square quotes are not necessary. Here he is.

          http://gjerutten.blogspot.com

          http://www.refdag.nl/kerkplein/kerknieuws/dr_emanuel_rutten_steeds_betere_argumenten_tegen_atheisme_1_723043

          Last paragraph:

          „De meeste historici zijn het erover eens dat Jezus heeft geleefd, gekruisigd is, dat Zijn graf leeg was, en dat de discipelen meenden Hem te hebben ontmoet na zijn dood. Er is geen enkele seculiere verklaring die deze gebeurtenissen coherenter verklaart dan de Bijbel dat doet.”

          “Most historians agree that Jesus lived, was crucified, that his tomb was empty and that his disciples thought to have met them after he died. There is no secular explanation that explains these events more coherently than the Bible does.”

          It’s not hard to find American counterparts who say the same. So I think I can safely say that the Resurrection as a historical event plays an important role in christian thinking. Plantinga has a different angle: “rely on the Holy Spirit iso historical evidence” and still means that it really happened.

          “unconcerned about nailing down those kind of metaphysics”
          Then why bother about the rest, specifically god?

        • Alicia

          1) You are professing yourself utterly mystified as to why someone would be a Christian if they didn’t meet your standards of Christianity. This makes you one of Those Atheists, in my book. If you don’t like being thought of as being one of Those Atheists, don’t talk like one.
          2) I put “prominent apologist” in quotations to indicate that I was honoring your terminology, not for any other reason. Perhaps this is an issue of different usage rules in different nations of English?
          3) If you reread my last response, I said that most of our public Christians don’t disbelief in the resurrection in public either.
          4) “Then why bother about the rest, specifically god?” See point one. I don’t think I was put on this earth to tell people that they are being Christian the wrong way, but apparently you do. Not everyone has to think every part of their life to death. They can just say that they enjoy being at church and Jesus said some nice things and that they have subjective feelings that they like to attribute to “God,” and not have a coherent theology as to the metaphysics of atonement.
          Rather than rehearsing the reasons someone might choose to identify as Christian in spite of not believing this or that bit of Christian doctrine, I’ll refer you to my remarks on this webpage:
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2015/07/pro-gay-christians-wouldnt-atheism-be-easier/

        • MNb

          “You are professing yourself utterly mystified as to why someone would be a Christian if they didn’t meet your standards of Christianity.”
          Ah – you’re more bigoted than I assumed. Nice.
          I don’t have any standards of christianity. I just ask what christianity meant for you and means for your close ones. Sorry if I ask the wrong questions – I have never been baptized. So – what are the standards of christianity for those who think the Resurrection a myth?

          “Perhaps this is an issue of different usage rules in different nations of English?”
          I wouldn’t know. English is not my native language. Thanks for clarification.

          “I said that most of our public Christians don’t disbelief in the resurrection in public either. ”
          Yeah – I only tried to explain why I it’s a surprise to me to learn that some christians do disbelief in the Resurrection.

          “I don’t think I was put on this earth to tell people that they are being Christian the wrong way, but apparently you do.”
          LOL! Thanks for confirming your own bigotry. I don’t tell any christian that they are being christian the wrong way. I think every single version of christianity wrong. I even think agnosticism wrong (and here you should know that almost 40 years ago I started out as a an agnost and remained so for 10 years). That’s what I’m a hardcore atheist for. But you know, I also try to avoid attacking strawmen. So I make an effort to find out what a specific version of christianity actually means. What strikes me though is that especially the liberal christians (what we Dutch call “vrijzinnig”) are remarkably uncooperative. They prefer personal attacks like yours.
          Apparently you becoming an agnost hasn’t changed that.

          “they have subjective feelings that they like to attribute to “God,”
          OK, that makes sense. Thanks.

          Sorry, I’m not going to scroll through 167 comments. Feel invited if you want to repost some of yours here.

        • Alicia

          Reposting: That feels rude to this blog. They are three long posts fairly close to each other (the second two in response to things other say), if that would make it easier to find. Or don’t read them. I don’t care. I was just going through the motions of taking you seriously that you wanted to know why a person who did not sign off on all of Christian doctrine would want to be part of a church.
          I think there’s a way to link directly to a comment, but I don’t know how.
          Re: bigotry: So you think I’m a bigot, and I think you’re a bigot. Great. That is the ideal conclusion of all conversations on the internet.
          It’s possible that your non-native status is making you sound more absolute than you mean, but you’ve had a real tone issue with the all of the several “why would someone be Christian if they didn’t X” things you’ve said.
          There would be ways to ask that that sounded like open curiosity, but your phrasing didn’t come across that way. It came across as yet another atheist saying that they can’t understand why all progressive people wouldn’t abandon something they find meaningful and join the atheist in their purity and rational correctness.
          If that was at no point what you meant and it was just awkward phrasing from a non-native speaker, then my apologies.

        • Pofarmer

          To link to a comment hold or scroll over the place below your name that says how long ago the comment was posted. That should give you a copy command.

        • Alicia

          Didn’t work.

        • Pofarmer

          What platform?

        • Alicia

          Um. My kitchen table?
          Apparently I’m not computer literate enough to even know what you’re asking. I’m using safari on a mac. Are either of those my platform?

        • Pofarmer

          Safari on a Mac. Yes. I’m using safari on an ipad. And if I hold under your or my name a copy location message comes up. Is the other website using disqus?

        • Alicia

          Um. Which other website?
          The way my computer is set up, the URL past the .com only shows up when you hit refresh or what have you, so I didn’t know anything was happening when I clicked on it, and when I tried to hover and copy and what not all I got was the phrase “five days ago” to paste. Which I thought would be of limited interest to any of you. But that description did it for me.
          I’m pasting it to that Dutch guy, above.

        • MNb

          “That is the ideal conclusion of all conversations on the internet.”
          Agreed.

          “you’ve had a real tone issue”
          That only shows your bias, so shrug. That bias is confirmed by you neglecting me explicitely stating that I’m aware that not all christians are literalists, that this version of christianity is new to me and that I ask my questions to find out how it works. Fortunately you gave some answers as well and you might have noticed that I thanked you for it. Of course you may doubt my sincerity, but that would be your problem, not mine.

          “the several “why would someone be Christian if they didn’t X” things you’ve said.”
          Isn’t this a valid question then? Or are you just so biased that you immediately read this as “someone can’t be a christian if they don’t” ? That would tell us something about you, not about me.
          Notice that you answered it (thanks again) and that I totally accepted your answer.

          “they can’t understand why all progressive people wouldn’t abandon something they find meaningful and join the atheist in their purity and rational correctness.”
          Well, yes, I think everybody in the world who disagrees with me is wrong. That includes all the fellow atheists here as well. See, the moment I don’t think that I change my views so that I can think that again. Be sure this happens. You yourself provided a neat example: a few days ago I was convinced that all christians think the Resurrection really happened. You showed me wrong. Now I don’t think that anymore.

          “If that was at no point what you meant and it was just awkward phrasing from a non-native speaker, then my apologies.”
          For the same reason as the previous time I reject your apologies. It takes two to tango and the tango we dance seems to be called misunderstanding. The difference between you and me is that I take it light heartedly and that it makes me laugh.

          You could try to do the same, though of course it’s up to you.
          And I’m still very curious how such a belief works. So I repeat:

          What are the standards of christianity for those who think the Resurrection a myth?
          What’s the meaningful thing you think of when writing “something they find meaningful” ?

          Just consider me a total ignorant. Please correct me if the questions are wrong. “I don’t know” and “not specified” are good answers. No answer of yours will influence my evaluation “that version of christianity is dead wrong too”. We are not discussing that evaluation. I just want to understand what you believed and what your close ones believe. Afterwards I’ll feel obliged to tell you where my curiosity comes from and why it matters to me. You might be a bit surprised.

        • Alicia

          Here’s your links. Pofarmer very patiently walked me through how to link to the specific comments.
          Comment one: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2015/07/pro-gay-christians-wouldnt-atheism-be-easier/#comment-2146889883
          Comment two (in response to really obtuse guy right above comment 3):
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2015/07/pro-gay-christians-wouldnt-atheism-be-easier/#comment-2147466756
          Comment three: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2015/07/pro-gay-christians-wouldnt-atheism-be-easier/#comment-2147496543

          At this point it would probably not be productive for us to continue corresponding, but I did want to get you the links to “what someone might get out of church other than a doctrine hard on.”

        • MNb

          “not be productive”
          Pity. I still have those questions, though I must check yet if you’ve answered them elsewhere. Don’t feel obliged though.

          Thanks for the three links. I don’t have, and I can’t stress it enough, any problem with such people. See, my female counterpart is a professing muslima (has been member of the board of her mosque for a few years; I think she would be an excellent chairwoman, but she disagrees.). You can imagine she wouldn’t have stuck it out for 12 years now if I were the judgmental purist you sometimes tend to think I am. Indeed I see quite a few similarities between my female counterpart and the christians you describe. She doesn’t care about theology either. If I’d ask her if Mohammed really rode the sky on his horse Buraq she would just shrug. Of course I have a pretty good idea what Islam means to her. Sometimes I tease her a bit (she is far more independent than most of her cobelievers in Arab countries) but I never tried to deconvert her. She’s already a better person than me anyway.

          Thanks again for your effort – and I’m always in for more.

        • I think there’s a way to link directly to a comment, but I don’t know how.

          If you click on the time bit (“an hour ago” or whatever), that changes the URL at the top of the browser to that comment. Copy that URL and use that as your link.

        • Greg G.

          That’s another way I didn’t know. I’ll have to try that on the hand-held.

        • Cognissive Disco Dance

          What strikes me though is that especially the liberal christians (what we Dutch call “vrijzinnig”) are remarkably uncooperative.

          Yeah that. Most uncooperative ever. It’s almost like it’s a game or something. “Here you solve my Rubik’s Cube your own damn self. I got no time for lucidity. U mad yet bro?”

        • Pofarmer

          I used to enjoy being at Church until I realized that way too many people do take literal interpretations seriously. I was raised Methodist and Presbyterian, so missed most of the literalist crap. You cannot deny, however, that a manor minority, maybe a majority, of U.S. Christians are of the literalist young earth variety, we have political candidates saying God told them to run. This is a problem.

        • Pofarmer

          That is pretty close to deism, which is just a little hop to atheism.

        • Alicia

          Um, no. Deism is a god who started the universe going and then went to take a nap. That’s not what these people believe. Or rather, I’m sure some do, but the ones I was thinking of still think God is acting in modest ways, they just don’t think that the show stopper gospel “miracles” literally happened.

        • Pofarmer

          Notice I said “pretty close”. Liberal Christianity also gets pretty close to Pantheism sometimes. Not sure what “modest ways” God would be acting in. Curing Sams Moms Cataracts?

        • Alicia

          It’s called Process Theology. It posits a god that can nag at people to do things (nag the parents of a child being raped by Father Brown to ask the child if they are absolutely sure that everything is ok, perhaps) but can’t make any one do anything.

        • Pofarmer

          Why worship such a powerless God? You have a God that is indistinguishable from regular human intuition. It’s unfalsifiable-and pointless.

        • Alicia

          Because it gives them pleasure to do so. I really don’t see that they need to rationalize it to you any more deeply than that.
          More seriously: because believing that there is a force out there that gives a shit about the world is very comforting (I still miss it), and for those who can’t junk the “bad things happen” part of the triad [god is all powerful, got is all good, bad things happen, pick two] and still look rape/ genocide/ etc survivors in the eye, its a way to get out of “got is all powerful” and keep the “got is all good” that feels more important.
          Like I said, there are some full time professional Christian theologians who believe in that God. Feel free to tell them they should go be atheists.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Process_theology

          And all beliefs OR non beliefs in god are unfalsifiable. That’s why they are called beliefs. Atheism is no more provable than is the resurrection or the whispering god, and if anyone calls you out and demands that you prove there is no god, I’ll be happy to beat them up with you 🙂

        • MNb

          “I really don’t see that they need to rationalize it to you”
          And to themselves?

          “all beliefs OR non beliefs in god are unfalsifiable.”
          This is incorrect. The belief system of Young Earth Creationist Ken Ham is totally falsifiable. Any belief system that claims that faith healing works is totally falsifiable.

          “Atheism is no more provable than is the resurrection or the whispering god.”
          Depends on what your standards for proof are.

          “you prove there is no god, I’ll be happy to beat them up with you.”
          Tell me what you mean with “proof” and I’ll tell you if I can disprove god. Sorry for being distrustfull, but I have met too many believers and agnosts on internet who adapt their standards as soon as it becomes clear that I can prove there is no god indeed – ie raise the bar as suits them.
          Do you accept the challenge? Let’s see who gets the beating.

        • Alicia

          Sigh. So I’ll go ahead and keep going, even though you’ve irked me and I’ve offended you and nothing good is likely to come of it.

          “And to themselves?” No. I don’t. And if you think your partner is somehow “less than” for not having her beliefs nailed down in a tidy box, then I feel sorry for her having to live with you. In modern and premodern theology, people thought it was important to know HOW Jesus saved, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, etc. Post modern theology moved on and realized those kind of things are unprovable and therefore silly to try to pin down, valuable only as a very enjoyable as a conversational topic over beer.
          I would describe YEC as less a belief about God and more a belief about biology, but in doing that I’m probably making a tautology: beliefs about God are those beliefs that can’t be disproven; all other beliefs are beliefs about other things. Fortunately, I’m writing in the comment section of a blog, not my PhD dissertation, so the only thing that will happen is giving you yet another reason to think I’m an intellectual lightweight.
          I’ve read many many proofs of the existence and non existence of God and I have never seen a single one that didn’t either involve dubious logical leaps or any number or premises that were no more than opinion.
          You’re welcome to send me your pet proof of the non-existance of God (your own or a link to someone else’s), and I’ll tell you where I think it goes wrong.

        • I’ve read many many proofs of the existence and non existence of God and I have never seen a single one that didn’t either involve dubious logical leaps or any number or premises that were no more than opinion.

          So you’re saying that no one has a warrant to believe something so extraordinary as God given how little evidence supports it?

          You’re welcome to send me your pet proof of the non-existance of God (your own or a link to someone else’s), and I’ll tell you where I think it goes wrong.

          The Problem of Divine Hiddenness: the Christian god knows that I must understand that he exists so I don’t go to hell, and yet he doesn’t bother. That’s evidence that there is no such god at all.

        • Alicia

          Ok. So we have disproven the existence of the god-concept that we have disproven the existence of.
          And that disproves the existence of all god-concepts how?
          I would agree that it is proof that that line item of Christian doctrine is disgusting, but I don’t see that it has any bearing on the existence or non-existance of god.
          Christians don’t have an exclusive patent on god. There are theists in an expansive array of religions, although perhaps you hadn’t heard that.
          Care to try again?

        • Care to try again?

          No. I’ve lost interest. Thanks.

        • Kodie

          There’s no evidence of any gods existing. That leaves pretty much no god. Let’s just suppose there is a real god that nobody heard of, but most cultures invent any god they like to fit their culture in with reality – usually involves an origin story, dealings of fortune, and what happens after you die. But nobody knows the real god. Every story about any god is a myth, fictional, and established to supply explanations that are over-ridden by scientific ones, and political power over the local superstitious population, take any one and you’ll notice the similarities more than the differences. But there’s some real actual god out there who doesn’t make itself known, on top of all these myths, an actual god nobody has met or known or told stories about over the ages. One actual god, hidden and elusive, beyond the hidden and elusive gods of known myths, so hidden his story will never be told, because nobody can feel him or see him or know any qualities or characteristics or preferences he has. They freely make up whatever they wish and he is actually god and says or does not a single thing to interfere with human ideations and cultural priorities and mores. He exists and he’s in charge, he’s god, he’s really out there, and so so hidden, so so silent, so so not really there.

        • Alicia

          When I was a believer, one of my preferred metaphors was that God was an unbearable ball of light, and that the various religions were the welding goggles we used to look at It.
          All welding goggles obscure, and some (violent and deeply oppressive etc etc religions) were basically opaque, leaving the believer looking at the scene painted on the inside of the goggles and thinking it is god.
          But as humans, goggles were the best we could do.

        • Kodie

          At the risk of offending another person, that’s dumb. When I was younger, and never a believer, I did question beliefs and why and stuff anyway, thought that if there were a god and all the religions were about the same, he had to speak the local language to get through, so that’s why they were different. I could have gone on to be one of those with the “Coexist” bumper sticker or what have you. I now understand how religions really are too different for agreement, but I still live in the US where I grew up thinking diversity was cool and everyone should chill and tolerate one another’s beliefs. I did not know Christians were so intolerant of non-believers especially, nor really how many ways to be a Christian, I just have thought for as long as I could realize it, that I couldn’t believe adults took any of these myths seriously to heart rather than culturally.

          As for these goggles, god wouldn’t be invisible and unknown, you really think? How could he expect anything from anyone if he’s not coming in clear and consistently to everyone across the globe? The idea that a conscious and intentional being exists outside of materialism is absurd. I had given a lot of thought to many kinds of gods and religions I could imagine that didn’t actually exist, and the question is always either “why would our world be this way with such a god?” or “why would that god bother existing?” and the realization that I was making up gods as gods are always made up pretty much nailed that atheism home for good. “God’s” qualities only have to fit in with consciousness, intentionality, and this world where we live, and no gods work. Every religious person has to warp these qualities by suggesting a good but unknown purpose for every bad thing, for example, or superstitiously avoid doing certain things a certain way but often looking for those loopholes. None of these cultural priorities and aversions were created from looking at some dirty goggles.

          Why is religion isolated from culture when it’s a part of it? Look at anything weird a group of humans decide is good and watch how it becomes a thing. Watch how trends and fads move. I mean, kale, what the fuck is kale. A couple years ago it was pomegranates. I remember when coconut water was 2/$1.00 and now it’s $3.99. Do you think people get their ideas about how to do things and what everyone else is doing by looking through goggles and making their best guess? No, it’s the power of suggestion. Your flared jeans are so last year, and you’re not really with your husband if you use birth control but it’s ok to take scientific measurements of your temperature and fluids to avoid having sex when you’re at the fertile part of your menstrual cycle, the pope says, but god also says you’re entitled to make a left turn out of church and block traffic in one lane until traffic in the other lane lets you in, since there aren’t any cars in the bible.

        • Alicia

          I’m with you on kale. If anyone ever votes me pope, I’ll have it declared an abomination.

        • Kodie

          I ate kale once. I didn’t eat it twice. I like my vegetables, too, so it’s weird there’s a disgusting vegetable everyone else seems to like. I even had brussel sprouts once and I’d eat those again – probably good my mother never made them or else I’d be off them forever like lima beans. The woman can’t cook.

        • Alicia

          Ha! There’s a whole list of veggies that I discovered I liked once I got out of the house. My dad uses beef bullion and apple cider vinegar as universal condiments, and I still can’t stand either of them.
          The key to brussel sprouts is figuring out how cooked you like them, then eating them with plenty of salt and caramelized onions.
          My dad mostly ruined lima beans for me, but I was in a situation where it was that or something worse, and discovered I like them fine in curry.
          For me it’s the chewiness of kale that gets to me more than the taste. For a while I was on a restricted diet (failed act of desperation) and I’d pump up the nutrition of spicy stews by running some de-stemmed steamed kale through a food processor. But too much like work generally.

        • 90Lew90

          Get rid of any tough stalks, steam it briefly, then fry it with butter and salt. I love kale but not because it’s become fashionable. It does the same thing for me as savoy cabbage. Tastes great on the side of a roast dinner with rich gravy, makes me believe I’ve included a healthy ingredient, and makes me fart. I’d take savoy cabbage over kale or sprouts any day.

        • Kodie

          Can’t I just eat spinach? I’m pretty convinced my life is hard enough without trying to fit kale into it.

        • Alicia

          The minerals in spinach aren’t very available (bound to oxalic acid), but if you’re getting a beans/ nuts/ seeds for the magnesium and beans/ nuts/ seeds/ dairy/ sardines/ something for the calcium, spinach totally covers your greens bases. And it is much more soft spoken than kale.

        • TheNuszAbides

          mmm… carminative.

        • adam

          Invisible?

        • Greg G.

          Philo of Alexandria didn’t know even the basics of arc welding but the description sounds like his idea of God. He was a Hellenized Jew who thought Plato and Aristotle were influenced by Moses.

        • wtfwjtd

          At least arc welding is a useful process. I put on my welding goggles(actually in my case, I use a helmet), and can fix and repair things and make life better with the welder. Whenever I put on the god-goggles all I do is stumble around blindly until I stub my toe (or worse). Nothing productive gets done.

        • TheNuszAbides

          didn’t know even the basics of arc welding

          lost lab text of Heron of Alexandria – duh!

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “… God was an unbearable ball of light…”

          This sounds like God from Go Nagai’s ‘Devilman’ manga.

        • adam

          ..

        • MNb

          Now you start lying. That’s a bad start.

          “I’ve offended you”
          Nope, you have not offended me in any way and I made that explicitely clear by rejecting your apologies twice.

          “if you think your partner is somehow “less than” for not having her beliefs nailed down in a tidy box, then I feel sorry for her having to live with you.”
          Wow. This makes very, very clear how biased your attitude is towards hardcore atheists like me. It also makes clear how little empathy you have. If you were important to me I would be offended now. Fortunately you mean exactly nothing to me – just another nobody on internet. Finally you have made clear that your apologies are meaningless, because within the shortest time possible you do exactly again what you apologized before – this time in a worse way.
          Thus far I liked you, Alicia, but not anymore. Save yourself the effort to apologize, because I don’t consider you a sincere character anymore. I simply won’t believe you. Your apologies are disingenuous.

          “You’re welcome to send me your pet proof.”
          On two conditions.
          1. Improve your bad manners and quit personal attacks like the one I quoted above;
          2. Like I already requested: describe what you mean with proof.

          I don’t trust you anymore. From now on I assume you’re dishonest and will use double standards indeed. The fact that you haven’t made clear what your standards are confirms my suspicion. Hence the two conditions.

        • Alicia

          I don’t think it’s worthwhile for us to continue this conversation. You say that I have not offended you and that you rejected my apologies, and then you say that I’ve once again offended you and you don’t trust me anymore. I don’t think I can handle the drama.
          I’ve talked about proofs of theism/atheism with other people all day today, at the expense of doing the other more interesting and more productive things I had on my to do list. Feel free to read them if you want to know what I mean by unpersuasive proofs and why I don’t think it’s possible to have a persuasive one on an issue as untactile as the existence or nonexistence of God.

        • MNb

          “I don’t think it’s worthwhile for us”
          I’ll decide that for myself, thank you.

          “why I don’t think it’s possible to have a persuasive one on an issue as untactile as the existence or nonexistence of God.”
          Actually you haven’t. You just repeated the claim over and over again.

          “you say that I’ve once again offended you”
          Repeating your lie does not make it true. I didn’t write that. What I wrote is:

          If you were important to me I would be offended now. Fortunately you mean exactly nothing to me – just another nobody on internet.

          That’s not the same and you’re smart enough to understand that. So you repeat your lie deliberately.

        • Alicia

          Oddly enough, the decision to continue a conversation is not the sole province of one of the participants. In order to have a conversation with someone, the other person needs to agree to respond. I don’t see that you can force me to participate. Therefore, if I stop responding, the conversation stops.
          As it happens, one of your comments intregued me enough to keep going for one more exchange, just in case it becomes interesting to me again.

        • MNb

          “if I stop responding, the conversation stops.”
          A true pearl of wisdom. But if it’s worthwile to continue the conversation I’ll still decide for myself.

        • I really don’t see that they need to rationalize it to you any more deeply than that.

          In that I’m not the boss of them, yes. But if they want to claim that their position is logically defensible or that I should accept their beliefs, then no.

          believing that there is a force out there that gives a shit about the world is very comforting (I still miss it)

          I’m having a hard time getting my head around an adult believing something for no other reason than that it’s comforting.

          But that you’re trying to help explain this position, I appreciate your effort.

          And all beliefs OR non beliefs in god are unfalsifiable. That’s why they are called beliefs.

          I believe that you are a real person and not a robot. I could be wrong, but I have decent evidence for my position. More importantly, if I got sufficient evidence to the contrary, I’d change my opinion.

          Atheism is no more provable than is the resurrection or the whispering god

          Huh?? “There is no supernatural” and “Bigfoot exists” are both not provable so therefore I should believe them both? Or reject them both? Or something?

          I guess I’m old fashioned in that if something surprising has insufficient evidence for it, I reject it.

        • Alicia

          1) Because you have absolutely no beliefs that are not 100% rational. Congratulations on your escape from humanity. I hear its very nice, being a Vulcan.
          2) I have a hard time getting my mind around thinking that everything needs to be thought to death and nailed down, or that it’s somehow wrong to believe that the arc of history is long but it bends towards justice, or that my mother actually does love me in her own little way. I have a hard time getting my mind around the actraction of making myself over into the image of Mr Spock.
          3) You have (I assume intentionally) misread my sentence. Let me re-write it as two sentences. “All beliefs in the existence of god are unfalsifiable. All beliefs in the non-existance of god are unfalsifiable.” There are plenty of beliefs that are falsifiable (you’ve cited one). There are plenty of beliefs about the action of god that are falsifiable (MNb cites one). But the existence or nonexistence of god will always come down to unfounded conviction.
          Please read my response to MNb. I offer you the same challenge. I’ve read many proofs of the existence and non-existance of god, and I find them all ridiculous. Believe what works for you and move on.
          4) Again, you put words in my mouth. I did not say that atheism is no more provable than big foot. That was you. That “there is no super natural” I would also put in the category of unprovable conviction. You can prove “this event has a perfectly adequate natural cause and thus is inadmissible as proof of the supernatural,” but I don’t see how you can prove that nothing supernatural has ever happened, at least depending on how broadly you define supernatural.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          That last part makes no sense with an understanding of the burden of proof. Also, I imagine this is offensive to many atheists and believers as most people don’t want to beat or be beaten up, even verbally in the metaphorical sense.

        • Alicia

          Point one:
          Please see my responses to other’s questions about that sentence, below. I did not say that beliefs ABOUT god are unfalsifiable. Certainly some are. But the existence or non existence are both equally unprovable without recourse to other equally unprovable premises.
          Point two:
          I’m not responsible for eliminating all possibility of misreading by the humor impaired. I’ll add a smiley, just for you, but beyond that I concluded long ago that it is impossible to say anything that someone somewhere will not take offense at. I go with a “reasonable reader” assumption and move on with my life.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Ah, sorry. Also, what unfalsifiable premises have you seen atheists rely on? (I am not implying that I do not believe you. I want a better understanding of what you mean).

        • Alicia

          “If there were a God, it would be like this. I can prove through logic or observation (of varying quality) that there is no God like that, therefore there is no god.”
          All you’ve proven is that God isn’t like that.
          Here’s another atheist who agrees with me that proving atheism is a fools errand:
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unreasonablefaith/2009/06/six-improved-arguments-for-atheism/

        • Kodie

          I don’t even know what you’re talking about anymore.

        • Alicia

          I’m talking about the structure of the arguments I’ve seen from atheists claiming to prove that god does not exist. Glauz asked me to say what premises I found unprovable, so I told what kind of premises I found unprovable.
          Did you read the link?

        • Kodie

          Did you read the comments under that article? Atheism is not a position of convincing you there’s no god, but convincing you your arguments for god are fucking inadequate try again.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I agree that such an argument can be shown to be fallacious (such an argument usually includes the terms ‘benevolent’ or ‘loving and just’ before ‘god’ but that goes more into the problem of evil rather than something we might reason could accurately be termed a god). Also, the term that you are agreeing can’t be proven is ‘naturalism’ not ‘atheism’ as I can assure you that belief and lack of belief in gods both exist. However, a world we observe and experiment with does exist. The theist wants us to make unreasonable conclusions from insufficient evidence. Adding “super” onto natural doesn’t make the claims any more part of the natural world other than we know anyone can make a claim that other people will start holding as at least somewhat beyond questioning.

        • Alicia

          If it has ever seemed that I was arguing that atheism (or theism), or atheists (or theists) didn’t exist, then I certainly did not intend to.
          There are people who believe in god. There are people who do not believe in god. On average, the reasons for the second set of people’s belief will be more sensible than the first set (exceptions exist in all things pertaining to humans). Observable things exist. Sometimes theists try to prove unobservable things. They will fail at doing this.
          Are we together so far? I think so, right?
          The only thing I’m objecting to on this issue (and I’m fascinated that four separate people have been tag teaming me on this issue. I’m almost tempted to believe it’s intentional) is when atheists decide to play by theist rules and prove unprovable things. I think that is silly, and just as doomed to failure as the theist project.
          [Well, and I guess I’ve also objected to the assertion that *all* theists do/should try to prove unprovable things, on the grounds that many humans, including many theists, aren’t the kind of intellectual gamespersons who are wired to want to prove anything, but that’s been other people, not you]
          I’m confused by this sentence: “Also, the term that you are agreeing can’t be proven is naturalism, not atheism.” I thought the problem with my argument was that I was asserting *that* something couldn’t be proven, whereas others were arguing that it could. If you want to argue another side you’ll have to explain more clearly what your starting points are. Oh. Maybe you meant “dis”proven? That makes it make more sense.
          But I looked up naturalism, and it turns out to mean over a dozen things, none of which is really what I’ve been arguing for or against. I’m arguing that I’ve never seen a “proof” of atheism that did not come down to “God is not like this” or “Got is not necessary to explain phenomenon X” and that I can’t imagine one that would exist.
          If we’re going to argue what I *think* you may mean by naturalism, which did come up once at some point today:
          As it happens, I also don’t thing the existence of ghosts can be disproven. As far as clairvoyance or telepathy, any given incidences of them can be disproven, and we can say that at this point it is highly improbable that there are any valid instances lurking about in the world (whether that is equal to “proof” I will leave to the philosophers). But the thing about clairvoyance and telekinesis is that they have firm definitions and are testable. With ghosts, like god, all we can really prove is that certain versions of ghost mythology are incompatible with observations.
          PS: I love your name.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “PS: I love your name.”

          Thanks.

          What I got hung up on was the phrase, “prove atheism”, which didn’t make sense to me (you clarified what you meant with the “god is not like that” argument categories). The problem I have with such observations about these arguments being valid is that we also couldn’t use those arguments to disprove blatently ad hoc made-up things either.

          Any of those made-up things we are just giving an intellectual pass that we can’t prove that they are not true and any real world things that their stories were crafted around could be evidence for the made-up things, no well-reasoned studies to show why other more evident phenomena could not explain the real-world things better required. This is not how burden of proof works in the real world. And if ‘god’ is not like that, the theist should go back to the evidence and come up with a better model for peer review (though they often see their holy texts as evidence in themselves rather than a collection of claims that are all worthy of going through the verrification process and not necessarilly related to one another, otherwise lots of true things incorporated into any fictional work would be [fallaciously] reasoned as evidence for events that in reality never took place just because they are found in the same source).

          For an illustration of how prophecies, a major argument for gods, can be constructed so as to seem legitimate (this can also work for ghosts and other claimed supernatural things that are said to have interaction with our world) check out:
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2014/10/accuracy-of-the-prophecy-of-the-writings-of-the-bible/

        • adam

          ” I’m arguing that I’ve never seen a “proof” of atheism that did not come down to “God is not like this” or “Got is not necessary to explain phenomenon X” and that I can’t imagine one that would exist. ”

          You’ve seen it here with Kodie and probably every atheist on this site

          Definition of ATHEISM Merriam Webster
          2a : a disbelief in the existence of deity

          We have that disbelief and it has nothing to do with a ‘god’ that we disbelieve in, it has everything to do with the lack of evidence of such gods.

          Just as I suspect WE are all aleprechanist, afairiest, and aFlying Invisible Uniornists.

          We have DISBELIEF in these things due to the lack of sufficient EVIDENCE.

          Disbelief is the PROOF of atheism.

        • Alicia

          Disbelief is the *definition* of atheism.

        • adam

          Yes, I am ‘proof’ of that disbelief.
          As are all atheists.

        • MNb

          That’s not how I argue against god.
          Do you think “science works” an unfalsifiable premise?

        • Alicia

          No, I think science can (and has) be proven to work. It has many testable reference points in the observable world. Theism does not.

        • MNb

          OK.
          So the standards used by science to determine if a claim is correct or incorrect are reliable according to you?
          As I think the answer will be yes: is god according to you an immaterial/ supernatural/ transcendental being?
          Again if yes I think I can disprove god.

        • Alicia

          Yes, god (who I no longer believe in and have not for several years, as i’ve mentioned repeatedly) “is” immaterial.
          I shall await your proof with bated breath.
          Sorry I’m in such ill temper, but given the abusive language that’s been heaped at me by you and many others, I hope it’s understandable.

        • MNb

          “given the abusive language that’s been heaped at me by you”
          You are the one who started with abusive language directed to me – and wrongly assumed that I was offended. You’re a hypocrite. And that’s nothing more than a conclusion I draw from your very own comments.

          Plus you didn’t answer my first question:

          “So the standards used by science to determine if a claim is correct or incorrect are reliable according to you?”

          Before I proceed I need an unambiguous yes, because you have demonstrated that you’re not trustworthy. To make some progress I’ll specify them for you, though the list is not complete.

          1. Any hypothesis contradicted by empirical data must be rejected (Popper, Feynman). This won’t apply – for the time being you have immunized theism in this respect. That means we only can use deduction.
          2. Like any other acceptable theory theism must be consistent.
          3. Like any other acceptable theory theism must be coherent.

          I will use a few more, but all of them will be scientific standards. You have to accept that.

          Agreed?

        • adam

          “”If there were a God, it would be like this. I can prove through logic
          or observation (of varying quality) that there is no God like that,
          therefore there is no god.” ”

          This is easy to do when ‘God’ is defined with certain atributes:

          Full Definition of GOD Merriam Webster

          1
          capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality: as
          a : the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe

          “All you’ve proven is that God isn’t like that. ”

          Well, EXACTLY…

          What you cant prove is a ‘god’ that:

          : a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality

          4: a powerful ruler(Merriam Webster)

          Which is WHY most people define ‘god’ by their emotional investment in it to make it unfalsifiable.

        • adam

          “But the existence or non existence are both equally unprovable without recourse to other equally unprovable premises. ”

          As is the existence or non-existence of ANY IMAGINARY characters or creatures.

          My default position is skepticism.
          For others their default through propaganda based indoctrination is ‘belief’ by ‘faith’

        • Kodie

          Atheism is not unfalsifiable. Believers assert such claims that I do not believe. What am I supposed to do with nothing to believe? Not believe. How can non-belief be unfalsifiable? It has to do with belief, not a claim that there is no god. Any given evidence that there is a god fails utterly to convince me there is any god. Atheism is totally provable. What are millions of unconvinced people supposed to call themselves?

        • Alicia

          1) Ok. Prove to me there is no god. I’ve seen many people try to do it, but the most they ever prove is that some *specific* God concept is unsupportable.
          [Which is more than anyone who tries to prove the *existence* of god has every managed, as far as I’m concerned]
          2) I’m not sure what to do with the middle section. First you say that atheism is not unfalsifiable. Then you say it is a belief, not a factual claim. If it is a belief, not a factual claim (which is my position), then it is not falsifiable.
          3) “Any given evidence that there is a god fails utterly to convince me that there is any god.” Ok. You aren’t persuaded by arguments for theism. And the fact that Susie Christian next door isn’t persuaded by arguments for atheism means that therefore atheism is wrong? Or are you saying you specifically are the magic person who is the ultimate arbiter of what claims are and aren’t proven?
          4) People who believe there is no God are called atheists, yes. That’s the word we’ve agreed on in English for those people, and it’s a fine word. And people who believe that Jesus XYZ are called Christians. I don’t see how fact that there is a word for a group guarantees that their belief is factually correct.

        • Kodie

          Let’s just focus on 3: Susie Christian is convinced of Christianity, while I am not. Ayesha Muslim is convinced of Islam, while I am not. Manny Mormon is convinced of LDS, while I am not. Tom Cruise is convinced of Scientology, while I am not. Sanjay Hindu is convinced of Hinduism, guess what, I am not. Peace Love Storm (not his birth name) is convinced of paganism and I am not. Jane is convinced of Wicca, hey, I’m not! Peter is convinced there is a god of some kind and dammit if he can argue that there is but fuck you if you say there isn’t, oh fuck Peter. Norman is convinced of Judaism, though I am not so much.

          Sensing any themes?

          My position is that I am not convinced of their claims, and if challenged with said claims, will probably be not convinced of any of them, forever, because they are terrible, irrational, emotional, and fictional.

          That’s all. Atheism is not an assertion of any belief that there is no god. Get it through your head.

        • Alicia

          And [drum roll] each of those people is equally convinced of the non validity of all of the other’s beliefs. You’ve got ten people, each of which affirm one belief about god-stuff and refute the nine others. Do you still think your consistent refusal of their various beliefs is mathematically interesting?

          Here. Don’t listen to me. I just posted this with someone else, but I’ll post it again. I was trying to remember what wince-inducing arguments “proving” atheism I’d seen, and I came across this card-carrying atheist blogger who agrees with me that trying to disprove the existence of God is a fools errand.
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unreasonablefaith/2009/06/six-improved-arguments-for-atheism/

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what you’re arguing about. I used to post regularly to that blog, though it no longer updates, and now I am here. You don’t seem to understand atheism. When I am not convinced of any belief, what should I fucking goddamned call myself? I don’t sense or believe in any gods, there is no credible evidence for any of them.

        • Alicia

          Well, one of us doesn’t, anyway. I confess I’m just as mystified by your arguments as you seem to be by mine. Probably best if we don’t waste any more of each other’s time.

        • Kodie

          As hard as it seems to be for you to understand the position, it’s probably best you quit while you’re behind and continue to misrepresent atheism.

        • Alicia

          I’m not honestly attempting to represent atheism.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what your argument is or where it came from. Last thing I recall is you felt it not your place to tell theists they’re doin’ it wrong. But atheists, you don’t seem to have any qualms. So far, all I hear from you about atheism is how we can’t prove there isn’t a god, so we’re fucked into silence about telling theists they’re doing it wrong and everything you don’t do. If I’m misrepresenting your position, pardon me ever so much.

        • Alicia

          I’m happy to tell theists they’re doing it wrong. I’m on the record as being against young earth creationism, Christian patriarchy, genital mutilation, shitty theories of atonement, and gobs of other stuff.
          The behavior of the atheists that I was objecting to in this comment section was the question “if you don’t believe in [specific line item of christianity or specific theistic trope], why on earth would you be a [Christian/theist]?” which seems pretty disrespectful of the right of self definition to me (as above, to you).
          And I think atheists are welcome to tell theists that toxic beliefs are toxic, or that a specific belief (or belief in God generally) is illogical and stupid. I think they’ll get a lot further in life if they aren’t abrasive assholes about it, and if they understand that most people don’t hold their beliefs on a rational basis, but they have as much right to evangelize as anyone.
          What I don’t like, and I don’t know who the hell brought it up, is people claiming that they’ve proven the non-existance of god, because I’ve never seen one of those arguments that passes the laugh test. And I’ve been very careful to say that I’ve never seen an argument FOR the existence of god that passes the laugh test. I think both positions are equally unprovable, and that everyone should shrug and give up the project as a lost cause.
          I concede that the theists (proving the existence of god) is a higher burden of proof, but I have no idea why atheists insist on making themselves look ridiculous by not being content with the fact that all the proofs FOR the existence of god are ridiculous enough to die on their own merits.

        • Kodie

          As far as I can tell, all versions of theism are toxic to some extent, some more by the fact they cover the “respect” we’re supposed to have for believers, or “we’re not all like that”, or accusing atheists of attacking “low-hanging fruit” that nobody really believes (except those people who are low-hanging fruit who constantly barrage us with their terrible arguments). A lot of Christians seem to think their approach is more intellectual, and I think where you came in is one such fellow who thinks his theist arguments are stellar, but hasn’t shown so far any stellarocity in his arguments, just petulant whining and controlling how he is spoken to. Atheism just sticks in every Christians’ craw, and they can’t have it. They would rather submit to a YEC theocracy than let us “take over” their right to indoctrinate their children as they see fit. Or whatever their personal problems are.

          And then, on the other hand, who am I to say any Christian believers or other theists are doing it wrong? Toxicity isn’t necessarily wrong. If the evidence for a god they present points to that’s what’s true, then they’re not doing it wrong, per se. I’ve never been a Christian, I just think that if something is true, it shouldn’t be decided by what everyone else is doing or what seems the most fair or moral. Those are emotional arguments too. I will go out on a total limb and suggest that if there’s any good reason we should fuck over gay people, because there is a god and that’s what he insists, we should not go with our gut empathy and feel sorry for them. Let those assholes argue their fucking point if they have one.

          I do have a little more, I don’t know, understanding, for people who take a literal read of the bible than people who have some kind of hobby warping what it says to mean what modern educated and/or liberal people think. Holy shit, if you’re modern, educated, and liberal, why do you believe this stink of nonsense? Those are the people, in my opinion, who are doing reason wrong. IF the bible is the word of god, you can’t make excuses like that. It’s fully admitting the bible is whatever the hell you want it to say, then you should admit to yourself and quit being dishonest, you don’t believe in or worship or kneel to god and have no prayer of ending up in heaven if there is one. You’ve changed it all to mean whatever man wants it to! Admit the document is meaningless and get on with your life and stop hassling atheists.

          If you believe the bible is the word of god, literally, you need an education and a reality slap.

        • Alicia

          1) And, thus, you prove my point! Atheists and fundamentalists, joined in the conviction that the only legitimate way to understand the bible is as the infallible word of god. I would not have dared to say it as baldly as you, knowing that I would be accused of parodying something that no atheist has ever said. But you said it for me! Thanks! I’ve bookmarked this comment to refer to whenever someone tells me that atheists don’t say that.
          2) So you didn’t like it when you thought that I had told you that you weren’t entitled to call yourself an atheist, but you think you are completely in the right to tell progressive christians that they are wrong to identify themselves as christians? Because seeing the world in shades of gray is morally bankrupt, and black and white absolutes are the only legitimate way to approach life? Gotcha. Because, as we’ve already established, you are the final arbiter of what beliefs are and are not acceptable and rational.

        • Kodie

          Why believe the bible is the infallible emotion-based interpretations of Alicia? Where’s the honesty in that? Tell whoever asks you, that you prefer your personal version of the bible to a literal interpretation. Progressive Christians are aids and brothers-in-arms to Conservative Christians. Not a single one of them will be honest, but at least those who believe the thing literally are honestly literal because they are honestly frightened. Progressive Christians are rather brazen and bold in their edits, and yet still cannot tolerate an atheist, because hey, they’re fucking dishonest as fuck, and intolerant of the 1st amendment, as “progressive” as they claim to be.

        • Susan

          Hi Alicia. An outside question. Are you the same Alicia who popped into Estranged Notions about a year ago and spent some time after that at Strange Notions respectfully trying to engage with atheists who had been banned?

          I know there are a lot of Alicias. But I’ve only seen one on disqus. Is that you? It’s OK if it isn’t, but it would also be nice if it it is.

          1) And, thus, you prove my point! Atheists and fundamentalists, joined in the conviction that the only legitimate way to understand the bible is as the infallible word of god.

          I think much of the strawmanning people accuse atheists of doing would disappear if people stopped using the word ‘god’.

          Strawman! Strawman! I understand. You’re not a fundamentalist.

          The trouble is that ‘god’ shape shifts. It doesn’t ever mean anything and it almost always claims to account for everything.

          It’s a Trojan horse though, that almost always contains a claim of ontological agency,

          I am happy to listen to your position if you remove the word ‘god’ and state what you believe, what you are claiming/asserting or even just the discussion you would like to have. .

          I understand that you are frustrated that people are holding you accountable for things you don’t actually believe.

          But the word ‘god’ is a thousand-headed beast and it usually has an incoherent, unevidenced agent at the heart of it.

          If you are claiming ontological agency and you are here to have a dialogue, it’s your burden to carry. We could avoid every strawman if you just clarified your position.

          If you are or if you aren’t, why use the word ‘god’?

          I remain an igtheist.

          It’s not a commitment. It’s just that no matter what efforts I make to understand and to communicate back, I get ‘god’.

          Which means anything and everything.

          It’s not fair to pretend that we’re not addressing ‘god’ positions. Yours is just one more.

          What would you like us to know? We already know that ‘god’ claims can mean anything. You don’t have to explain that.

          Are you claiming an agent or not?

        • Alicia

          1) I’ve only been on Discus for a couple weeks.
          2( Igtheist! There’s a word for me! Thanks for teaching it to me.
          3) I’m really starting to believe in this conspiracy to keep arguing at me, given that as soon as I decide person D isn’t worth arguing with any more person E shows up out of no where. On a blog that is many days old.
          4) I’m too tired from it being past my bed time on a day arguing past other people to frankly be able to parse yet another piece of theology, so let me just say that I don’t think all atheists are fundamentalists. But I absolutely think that some are (all ideologies and all tribes have their fundamentalists. It’s an iron law of human society), and I think that Kodie proved my point.
          5) The shitty thing about human language is that we have to use words to communicate concepts, since we are unable to communicate mind to mind (as I conceded to Glauz a while ago). God is just the handle I’m using to hand [the set of concepts generally agreed to be referred to by that series of sounds/letters] from me to my correspondent. If you would like to suggest a synonym more to your liking, I guess I could use it, but it seems like a waste of mental energy.
          6) I don’t even know what ontological agency is, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t been claiming it. Other people have been claiming super powers (the ability to prove opinion). I’ve been telling them I didn’t think they did.
          7) At this point I don’t think it would be physically possible for me to make my position any clearer, so I will take any requests for me to do so as disingenuous. I’m sure I’ve contradicted myself, people who have been in correspondence with five or more separate people over the course of multiple days inevitably will, but I think if you wanted to know what I was arguing you could pretty well pick it up by reading the other things I’ve written. As such, I don’t feel obligated to say it all over again.
          8) What would I like you to know?? Um. I think I’ll repeat my position in number 7. Here is what I’ve done on this blog: Post a comment. Since then I’ve been responding to the demands of other people that I explain how it is that I dare to question their superior beliefs. What I’d like you to know is that none of us have any claim to a monopoly of knowledge or an entirely of knowledge and that claiming to have it is very unattractive. Note: I don’t claim I have monopoly of knowledge. I know I don’t know the truth. I just don’t think anyone else does either.
          9) Am I claiming to be an agent?!? Did I jet enter a Matrix film, or something? What does that even mean?!
          10) If I’m going to argue with you it will be on Tuesday, as I’ve got to work tomorrow. If you would like to argue with me, please start speaking sensibly and don’t ask me if I’m an agent.

        • MNb

          “let me just say that I don’t think all atheists are fundamentalists”
          Your starting point on this blog was that all atheists here are fundamentalists. You keep on labeling me as one despite me explicitely clear that I’m not.
          As a result you are the judgmental one – exactly what you reproach us for.

        • Alicia

          I have never believed that all atheists are fundamentalists. I merely believe that some are.

          My starting point on this blog (I just checked) was to point out that many christians don’t believe in the literal factuality of the miracles.
          From there I was attacked by a bunch of people who thought their definition of Christian (people who believe all the miracles) should be of more relevance to the lives of said christians than the christian’s own definition (someone who believes Jesus was a super cool guy, and finds church membership rewarding, for example).
          I tangled with them for a while, because people who refuse to allow other people to label themselves bothers me as much as it bothers you. Some of those people said ugly fundamentalist “I have all the answers” things, and I called them on it.
          And then somehow someone brought up provability, and I’ve been going round and round with people trying to explain that I don’t think you can disprove an unobservable phenomenon.

        • MNb

          “people who thought their definition of Christian (people who believe all the miracles) should be of more relevance to the lives of said christians than the christian’s own definition.”
          Only in your own imagination.

        • Ron

          Strong’s Concordance defines Christian as:

          – a follower of Christ

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

          I’ve only been on Discus for a couple weeks.

          Your first post is dated Sunday June 28, 2015 @ 2:10 P.M. Nearly a month ago from your post that I’m replying to, You have racked up over 1,000 posts in one month. You sure are a busy person on Disqus.

        • TheNuszAbides

          obviously someone needed to read up on the broader definitions of ‘agency’ and ‘agent’. done that yet?
          if you can’t even deal with Susan, who is just about the most patient and least hostile participant around here, then yeah, this blog probably isn’t going to become enjoyable for you any time soon.

        • adam

          Here let me help you out.

          Definition of ATHEISMa : a disbelief in the existence of deity

        • Kodie

          You didn’t tell me what I’m supposed to call myself.

        • Alicia

          You’re welcome to call yourself an atheist. I don’t police other people’s self identification, I just told you I didn’t find your arguments *about* atheism coherent. Although it occurs to me that that might be projection, because you’re telling me how I’m allowed to identify?
          I know I’m not a hard atheist. I’m a squishy, almost, wanna-be atheist who misses god. My only objection in my presence on this comment section has been A) atheists telling nonatheists what they are and aren’t allowed to believe and B) atheists who claim they can prove god doesn’t exist.

        • Kodie

          My position on atheism is coherent. I don’t believe in god because there is no credible evidence presented by theists for any gods. Emotional fallacies and outright lies they repeat are all they have so far. I don’t look around and feel like there is a god and convince myself that’s just my imagination – I merely remain unconvinced, and the more terrible arguments presented, repeatedly, the more unconvinced I feel emotionally, although I don’t think that’s possible. It’s just piles and piles of fallacies and lies that mount up.

          However, I see that Bob has lost interest trying to explain to you, and MNb who claims to have a positive argument against god, but … as long as we both have been on this blog, I don’t even remember what his arguments against god are. They may be pretty convincing after all, but I can’t say that I know what his arguments are. If I were you, and this is a suggestion, I wouldn’t use all the other atheists responding to you as placeholders for him until he returns. He speaks for himself. I speak for myself. Don’t mistake two different people for having the position you’re arguing against. As for the article you linked from UF, those are probably not the same arguments MNb would use. If he hasn’t answered yet, let him answer himself. I don’t know that anyone agrees with his arguments or supports them, so it’s not really good to assume we are all him and have the same answers for you he would have.

        • Alicia

          Um. The only thing I have done on this blog for the last several days is to respond to people whose comments show up in my email. And I just checked our electron trail and behold, yes, you started this. If I have at any point misunderstood your argument, I apologize. As I said, I find your writing very hard to follow. The punctuation keeps losing me.
          And I really think I’m going to stop responding, because it has really become a waste of my time.

        • Kodie

          I started what? You were here and I didn’t have any responses to you until today. If you’ve been here a few days, what did I start?

          Game called on account of punctuation? That’s stupid. MNb is not every single one of the rest of us. He’d happily eat us all or any single one of us for lunch if we make an argument he thinks is half-assed or whole-assed. Take your shit up with him. I didn’t start shit.

        • Alicia

          You started your correspondence with me. Our first interaction was you contacting me.
          I was interacting with MNb, and then you started interacting with me, so I responded. You are not the little victim here.
          And yes, I know I’m really bad and stopping responding to people who I know are wasting my time 🙂

        • Kodie

          Don’t waste your time trying to understand atheism. It’s so simple, but don’t try. Keep pretending you are confused because I can’t punctuate to your satisfaction.

        • Kodie

          I reiterate that I didn’t start shit. You wrote this in response to Bob, and his response was that he didn’t want to waste more time on you.

          Ok. So we have disproven the existence of the god-concept that we have disproven the existence of. And that disproves the existence of all god-concepts how? Iwould agree that it is proof that that line item of Christian doctrine is disgusting, but I don’t see that it has any bearing on the existence or non-existance of god. Christians don’t have an exclusive patent on god. There are theists in an expansive array of religions, although perhaps you hadn’t heard that. Care to try again?

          My response to this comment was:

          There’s no evidence of any gods existing. That leaves pretty much no god. Let’s just suppose there is a real god that nobody heard of, but most cultures invent any god they like to fit their culture in with reality – usually involves an origin story, dealings of fortune, and what happens after you die. But nobody knows the real god. Every story about any god is a myth, fictional, and established to supply explanations that are over-ridden by scientific ones, and political power over the local superstitious population, take any one and you’ll notice the similarities more than the differences. But there’s some real actual god out there who doesn’t make itself known, on top of all these myths, an actual god nobody has met or known or told stories about over the ages. One actual god, hidden and elusive, beyond the hidden and elusive gods of known myths, so hidden his story will never be told, because nobody can feel him or see him or know any qualities or characteristics or preferences he has. They freely make up whatever they wish and he is actually god and says or does not a single thing to interfere with human ideations and cultural priorities and mores. He exists and he’s in charge, he’s god, he’s really out there, and so so hidden, so so silent, so so not really there.

          Your response was about goggles. And then we talked about kale. Good times. You seem determined not to understand atheism and misrepresent a singular position of “atheism tries to prove there is no god.” Care to try again? You keep getting out of things by calling them incoherent, but I think you just won’t admit you don’t know what you’re talking about.

        • Alicia

          We are talking past each other. I think you are incoherent and don’t understand the issues or how to argue. You think I am incoherent and don’t understand the issues or how to argue. Therefore, we are wasting each other’s time. See how that works?
          Ok, I’m going to really really try to not respond anymore.

        • Kodie

          I don’t think you’re talking past me. You’re saying things that completely make no sense and I’m doing the best I can to steer you back. I can see why Bob S. gave up because you don’t want to learn.

        • Kodie

          What a waste of time, He purports to be an Atheist,yet doesn’t know that the onus of proof lies with those who claim god does exist. — poster Rob

          Did you read the comments? Everyone understands this.

        • David Hennessey

          Yes, atheism is a claim that there are no gods, literally.

          A-theism
          No-god

          Unconvinced people have always called themselves “agnostics” which literally means “unconvinced”!

          A-gnostic
          Don’t-know

          Millions of people have understood the meaning of these words for centuries, you are the only one who seems utterly baffled. You say “How can unbelief be unfalsifiable?”

          That’s the point, it can’t be, that’s why disbelief is as unprovable as any other claim about deities is unprovable, just your opinion. What do you even mean when you say, “Atheism is totally provable?” What is a god? What exactly are you claiming doesn’t exist? What would proof even look like? How can I assess your assertion?
          Personally, I don’t care if one or more gods exist, if I meet one here on earth or wake up after death, that’s the time to decide what they are and how it affects me.

          Your lack of understanding of the terms you use to describe yourself is very disconcerting, however, it undermines your logic and throws your reasoning ability into question.
          Can you explain yourself?

        • Kodie

          Theism – god-belief. Atheism – no god-belief.

          God and belief in god are not the same thing.

          Do you believe in god? I’m not claiming god doesn’t exist, I don’t believe there are any. I exist! And I don’t believe in god. If you don’t believe in god, you can pretend you’re not an atheist.

        • Yes, atheism is a claim that there are no gods, literally.

          A-theism

          No-god

          Did Daniel Webster die and have you take his place?

          I’m an atheist. How about if I tell you what I mean by that so that we can communicate going forward?

          Unconvinced people have always called themselves “agnostics” which literally means “unconvinced”!

          A-gnostic

          Don’t-know

          And this is not the original definition of “agnostic.” Look it up. Words change, and I suggest you let others tell you what their labels mean.

          It’s said that the redone St. Paul’s cathedral was called “amusing, awful, and artificial” by the English monarch in around 1700. The story could be apocryphal, but the point is that those words were all complimentary at the time. Meanings change.

          why disbelief is as unprovable as any other claim about deities is unprovable, just your opinion.

          There’s no symmetry here. The burden of proof is on the Christian who makes supernatural claims. If the argument is unconvincing, the skeptic is obliged to reject it.

          if I meet [a god] here on earth or wake up after death, that’s the time to decide what they are and how it affects me.

          And Christian dogma typically states that, by then, it’s too late.

        • tsig

          I can’t prove there is no green goblin in my garage but I don’t have to since the one who says there is bears the burden of proof.

        • MNb

          Depends on what you mean with “prove” and “goblin”. “Green” suggests it’s a material being, as colours depend on emitted light. Then it’s only a matter of searching well enough.
          Gods at the other hand tend to be immaterial. So to begin with we don’t have to search the entire Universe.

        • tsig

          It is only perceived as green what it’s actual color is is unknowable.

        • Greg G.

          Wavelengths beyond the spectrum at the violet end are ultraviolet.

          Wavelengths beyond the spectrum at the red end are infrared.

          Wavelengths beyond the spectrum at the green end are ubergreen. On Discworld, it is “octarine”, the eighth color of the spectrum, only visible to wizards and cats.

        • MNb

          Another science denier? Or are you clinging to a badly outdated philosophical argument?

          https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080515153422AA8xESV

          Totally measurable hence knowable. How you perceive it is irrelevant. Plus even if it were the colour green still were material, because we do the perceiving with our eyes and brain. Do a thorough search and you’ll prove well enough that there is no goblin in your garage, no matter what colour you perceive.

        • tsig

          If you look up you might see the point.

        • MNb

          I have been familiar with your non-point for more than 30 years. If you checked the definition of green you might see you don’t have a point. Unlike you I gave you a link to enable you.

        • tsig

          Just as the IPU is pink in it’s essence while being invisible so the green garage goblin is green in it’s essence and so is felt as green.

          🙂 :] :|}

        • MNb

          Thanks for showing that the IPU is an incoherent concept – when something is pink it isn’t invisible and when it’s invisible it isn’t pink. Now unlike you I’m not an expert on IPU, but I do have a hunch it’s a parody and that incoherence being its essence is meant to spoof a certain widespread belief system.

          “the green garage goblin is green in it’s essence and so is felt as green.”
          The same. “Green in its essence” is an incoherent statement and “felt as green” is even more. You only have confirmed what I wrote. As soon as we define colours in a coherent way it becomes possible to prove – not with absolute certainty, but very close – there is no goblin in your garage. To immunize your goblin for this little investigation you have to become incoherent. That’s exactly why I wrote “depends on what you mean with prove” – for me incoherence is enough proof something doesn’t exist. Guess what? God as an immaterial being is exactly as incoherent as your green goblin. If it isn’t for you you’re a science denier.
          I always like it when somebody thinks he/she contradicts me but actually confirms what I write.

        • when something is pink it isn’t invisible and when it’s invisible it isn’t pink.

          Next you’ll be saying that when the Trinity is 3 it isn’t 1, and when it’s 1 it isn’t 3.

          Gotcha!

        • tsig

          As Foghorn Leghorn said, “That’s a joke, I say that’s a joke son”.

          I always like it when someone mistakes the IPU for a serious argument.

        • MNb

          So “I can’t prove there is no green goblin in my garage” is a joke as well? Please next time provide a warning – Poe’s Law and such.
          Thanks for agreeing with me – you can prove there is no green goblin in your garage depending on what you mean with “prove” and “goblin”.

          “I always like it when someone mistakes the IPU for a serious argument.”
          Of course the point of the IPU is that it becomes a joke as soon as you take it seriously. Just like your green goblin. Which means you were wrong.

        • tsig

          How can a joke be wrong?

          If you are that desperate to score internet points then knock your self out.

          P. S. My Green Garage Goblin agrees with me, he always does. 🙂

        • MNb

          Thanks for the gazillionth time. The only info I have about Process Theology comes from Jerry Coyne, who hardly is an unbiased source.

        • MNb

          “think God is acting in modest ways”
          What kind of modest ways could that be? And why accept those and not the show stopper gospel “miracles”? Or don’t they just care again?

          Plus – will you make my day again and derive from my questions that I desire to tell believers how to believe?

        • tsig

          Where did you get this absolute certainty about what others believe?

        • But why believe in the supernatural (Jesus as a ghost) if you’re not going to accept the party line (Jesus resurrected after the crucifixion)?

        • Alicia

          Because one of them appeals to you and the other doesn’t. Because one of them violates your sense of the possible and the other doesn’t.

        • tsig

          If the supernatural is possible then there can be no possible limit on it.

        • Scott_In_OH

          It does seem to come as a shock to certain atheists, but there are Christians well beyond the biblical literalism and brimstone boogey men that the Atheist likes to invoke.

          If we’re talking about believing in the virgin birth and the resurrection, we’re talking about many more Christians than just those who believe in “biblical literalism and brimstone boogey men.”

          They may not be *universal* beliefs among Christians, but they are quite mainstream in Catholicism, Lutheranism, Methodism, Presbyterianism, and Baptist-ism (in its Southern and American varieties). I’m fairly certain that accounts for a large majority of Christians in the world, certainly in the United States.

          None of which is to say you’re wrong that there are self-professed Christians who don’t believe in those things, but challenging those beliefs is not the same thing as beating a strawman.

        • tsig

          Not really true Christians then.

  • busterggi

    It has to be remembered that toasters & Cheetos & grilled cheese sandwiches & pressed board wall panelling & oil stains in driveways did not exist in biblical time so god had to use other materials like the Red Sea for his miracles.

  • ningen

    I think it matters whether or not there is a tradition behind a story. Think of some of the popular modern Christian myths, such as the missing day myth. Many people believe these because they fit into a tradition that they have already accepted as authoritative. I know Catholics who recount various miracle stories and when challenged respond, “these have been looked into and found genuine by the Church”. Sadly, your lawn furniture story lacks that sort of pedigree.
    I have been paying attention, recently, to the kind of modern miracle stories found in Guideposts magazine (since I have a relative who appeals to them as evidence), and to the similarities between these and ghost stories, UFO stories, and urban myths. The point of these stories seems largely to be to evoke a kind of “Oh, wow, that’s freaky!” feeling that is either explicitly or implicitly followed with the claim that there is no conventional explanation (“so take that, Mr. metaphysical naturalist!”), and that therefore the proper explanation is ghosts,or aliens, … or Jesus.

  • Bogdan Stancu

    I actually had a very similar conversation with a Christian and his response was that, since he has “faith” in the truth of Christianity, all the other religions and any non-Christian miracle claims are false by default.

    • Pofarmer

      Isn’t tat what all the believers in those other religions say? Nothing like a little circle jerk reasoning.

    • tsig

      “My faith makes it so” is a common religious theme.

      • You, sir or madam, have a disturbing avatar.

        • tsig

          Thanks. 🙂

          It’s sir.

      • TheNuszAbides

        that was a big component of the World of Darkness RPG franchise of the mid-’90s – a fairly clever projection of the power of imagination. (or, to some rarefied gamers of slightly olden-er times, a perhaps more hamfisted approach to showing off the appeal of RPGing in general.)

  • Cozmo the Magician

    Well, I could point out that your lawn furniture story seems to be a modern rewrite of the Midas story. OTOH, the Jesus story is all 100% original …. oh wait.. nvm {;

  • David Hennessey

    Just a question, why am I as reluctant to believe in the absence of any gods as I am to believe in the existence of any gods? Even if I dismiss all known gods throughout history, it gives no evidence that a real deities don’t exist somewhere and are currently busy with other worlds or just talk to their own kind, no reason they should mention anything to me, is there? Then, one might decide to crush my little planet and my atheism won’t keep him(or her) from enjoying some planet pool.
    Such gods are scarcely worth believing in and believing wouldn’t save you either but atheism posits an aggressive negation of the possibility of gods, that is a belief, that is a religion with no evidence. Agnosticism seems the logical position for someone who has no evidence, pro or con, like whether there were canals on Mars, I was agnostic until they were proven to be illusions.

    We live a short and restricted consciousness, I hardly think we can definitively state that no gods exist when we haven’t seen a fraction of the universe and visited no other inhabited worlds nor even have instruments or senses to discern much of what the universe is made of. If you can’t admit that you don’t know if there are deities, if you insist that it CAN be known, don’t you have the obligation to explain how you KNOW whether deities exist?

    You say you see no evidence, so? I have heard that marijuana can cure some diseases, research has never been done in this area, I don’t know if it does or not. An atheist would say, “I see no evidence so we KNOW that it doesn’t cure cancer!” An agnostic would say, “There’s no evidence so I won’t say it does or doesn’t without a study.”

    If deities existed, what’s the chance that you would be given evidence, are deities consumed with a desire to be known by every sentient monkey who can debate their existence? It is your choice to believe in atheism but without evidence it is a completely arbitrary decision which seems to give you pleasure but you have offered no reason for that choice.

    Why should I make that choice, why do I resist that label? I prefer to expose the religious control systems in place today, not insist that I know about every corner of the universe. I would feel incredibly arrogant, why don’t you?

    • I’m an agnostic because I have no certain knowledge one way or the other. And I’m an atheist because I have no god belief.

      Others define the words differently.

      • David Hennessey

        Bob-You don’t get to define words unless you invent them, anything else is pure deception. You can’t be both agnostic and atheist, you either know or you don’t. Only faith can bridge the gap, if you have no certain knowledge yet have made up your mind, you are illogical, that is fine.
        When you decide what you really believe, please let us know, I wouldn’t call you an atheist or agnostic, just confused.

        • Kodie

          And I will call you a blowhard, because I’m feeling nice today.

        • I don’t get to define words … but you do?

          The definitions I used are common to many atheists. I didn’t make them up.

          For us to communicate, we need shared definitions. Now that you know what I mean by those two words, that should help our communication.

      • Greg G.

        Bob-You don’t get to define words unless you invent them

        David Hennessey gets to, though.

        • Pofarmer

          The arrogance is strong with this one. Apparently David Hennesey gets to define all sorts of things and flail away at straw men.

    • MNb

      “it gives no evidence”
      It can’t give evidence because god is by definition beyond time and space, isn’t he/she/it? Ie god doesn’t belong to our material reality.

      “one might decide to crush my little planet”
      And what means is this immaterial god going to use? Which procedures is he/she/it going to follow? See, to do so god is required to interact with our material reality one way or another. And that requires material means and procedures. So if you have defined god beyond time and space etc. the proposal that he/she/it might start crushing planets is incoherent.
      I don’t know how you value coherence, but I reject incoherent positions. If you do as well agnosticism is not the logical one.

      “not insist that I know about every corner of the universe. I would feel incredibly arrogant, why don’t you?”
      The entire Universe is material. By definition. If there is something immaterial it doesn’t belong to our Universe. God is supposed to be beyond our Universe. So why should I know every corner to conclude that the Universe doesn’t contain any god? Where is the arrogance? Rather you are the arrogant one to make that demand. You don’t have to know every toy car of your kids either to conclude that you won’t find a towel hidden there, do you?

    • tsig

      The nice thing is you’ve found a way to feel superior to everyone.

      Since god is supposed to be everywhere if he isn’t here he isn’t anywhere.

  • “Try to imagine the most compelling miracle story possible.”
    Ok, while I was travelling, my preselected radio stations weren’t doing it for me, so I ventured out into the unknown and hit the scan button. I came upon some soft rock and I pressed the button to keep this particular station.
    Over this past weekend, I happen to hit this particular button and noticed that the music was all about Jesus. It wasn’t what I was looking for and to be honest religious rock isn’t for me. But, I listened for awhile. The announcer came on – “K-Love, 96.7 – the station for relaxing music – and if you send us money, we will use that money to promote love in the world!” My hand was raised in mid air to change the station and reset the button – it lingered, and then I did it, I scanned for a new station and reset my button for the other station that was not religious.
    As I’m enjoying the new station, the next light turned red, and I pulled up with one car between me and the red light.
    I glance at the bumper of the SUV in front of me – you guessed it, a bumper sticker – “K-Love, 96.7 – the station for relaxing music”
    First, who ever puts bumper stickers on their cars anymore promoting radio stations?
    Second, come on what were the odds? a few minutes prior, I have this dilemma and there is the answer?
    Yup, I put that station back on my pre-selected buttons.
    And, that’s my miracle.

    • adam

      “The announcer came on – “K-Love, 96.7 – the station for relaxing music –
      and if you send us money, we will use that money to promote love in the
      world!””

      • adam – priests have frailties – but then again, who doesn’t?

        • adam
        • In law, Organizations do not have an actual identity – for example, when you look at the signature line on a legal document in which one of the parties is an “organization”, yup, it’s a person who signed.

        • adam

          organization
          noun or·ga·ni·za·tion ˌȯr-gə-nə-ˈzā-shən, ˌȯrg-nə-
          : a company, business, club, etc., that is formed for a particular purpose

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/be20eada2b37de3b894e21e212219efb332ad17f65d067662b58455f5a644fd6.gif

        • Kodie

          That’s an evasive and clueless response, fake lawyer.

        • adam

          “That’s an evasive and clueless response,”

          It is though, the VERY BEST that ‘faith’ prepares him for in dealing with reality.

          I cant imagine what he as been through with his ‘faith’

        • Kodie

          He doesn’t seem to understand organizations past the trustee who signs papers for them, and yeah, priests now and then have frailties, but for what are vows if they’re not going to keep them and be kept to them by that organization? And for committing crimes against children, which as we’ve discussed overly, “raping children for fun is just wrong.” Not wrong enough to be kicked out of the priesthood and sent to prison and not allowed to spend time alone in charge of children. Not enough to lose the support of everyone who knows you. Not enough to lose the authority you possess in that position, that children and adults look to you for spiritual guidance.

          I’m actually convinced by religious people that it’s not the molestation that’s wrong to them. They seem of the idea that what you experience, especially as a child, doesn’t harm you, you won’t remember, children are pretty resilient pods of innocence that aren’t fully formed people with conscience and stuff like adults are. What they worry about most is anti-indoctrination – I guess, “indoctrination” that goes against what they believe. They are fearful of gay counselors and teachers, not because of the rape (I’m not saying gay adults/teens are child rapists), but because they think there’s an agenda in mind to peel these young boys away from their parents and teach them how fun it is to be gay in private. Nobody was ever worried about heterosexual teachers and counselors spending time alone with young girls, who might rape and molest them, and teach them to be “straight”. If anything, the girls were blamed for taking that guy’s attention from his wife, dressing a certain way, making advances he could not resist. It doesn’t seem they are worried about their child being raped at all, even if they say they equate homosexuality with pedophilia. I could even guess further that they think their boys could defend themselves and would, and only get molested because they’ve been taught by someone else to enjoy it, especially given the attitudes toward rape in general, and ideas that one has to be taught to be gay and aren’t born that way. So they don’t consider a priest to be gay, they don’t consider his isolation from an adult world where sex is normal and habitual, they follow the church’s lead and force forgiveness on him as someone who knows he did something wrong and is very very sorry.

          In other arenas, they are suspicious of what kids are learning in school from other adults, especially in health class, about sex and self-respect, and horrified that adolescents want to find out what it’s really about and someone is trained to tell them it’s ok, and just be careful of your body and your feelings. They are suspicious that science classes are telling children there’s no god, because evolution contradicts what misinformation they’re getting at home and in church. They’re afraid of other teachers teaching their children, not of what other adults are violating their children physically.

          I would fault the stigma and misunderstanding about psychology, that people say things like “get over it,” or “I was hit when I was a kid and I turned out ok.” Some parents are protective of everything that might happen to a child, but part of parenting is introducing your child to be in this world, and knowing they don’t know everything to teach their child about that, and not being everyone for a child, they need to be exposed to other people, and other ideas. But an old-fashioned idea seems to be that children don’t know, don’t remember, and can’t be corrupted by anything other than ideas, of putting their child in trust to another adult and maybe that adult is the devil who wants to tempt the child from their upbringing with knowledge their parents don’t want him or her exposed to. Parents want to be in charge of those ideas, and obviously, all ideas can be threatened with exposure to contradicting ideas.

        • MNb

          “priests now and then have frailties”
          Believe it or not, that is not the main problem here. It looks like child abuse in the RCC is not worse than in the scout movement and among sports trainers (especially Dutch swim coaches have become infamous lately). The main problem is that there seems to be evidence that the RCC has actively facilitated child abuse by priests. And that would make it a criminal organization a la the SS at Nürnberg.

        • Kodie

          I assume what you mean by “facilitated” is “wasn’t fired from their job working near/with children immediately upon discovery, if not even reported to police”. I don’t have a problem believing people who want to have sexual access to children, unsupervised, often gravitate to jobs that allow them to. If you think such a thing is wrong, liberate that person from a job and let the law handle it. Everyone should be naturally disgusted, and not have a problem doing that, once the violation is discovered. What the issue we have is false accusations. At least while this issue was coming more public, it’s relatively easy to smear an innocent person once they’ve been tainted with the accusation of pedophilia. As everyone should be naturally disgusted, and they are, it’s harder for someone falsely accused to get on with their life.

          Actually in the beginning, it was easier for the rightly accused to blame the child for making up stories, and people would believe the teacher, coach, or priest, merely on account of their authority to know what actually took place and their position, over a child, often “forced” for lack of a better word, to report a crime that had not happened to them. I don’t know if it’s gotten any better, actually. Those in charge of getting children to speak out (while molesters often threaten them if they tell anyone) can have a tendency to coax a younger child to give the answer they want, not the answer that’s true. If you’re convinced that the accused is a pedophile, in the interest of keeping other children safe, asking again and again and again, until a child finally “tells” can result in a false conviction, at least in the court of public opinion. Children are now told what their naughty bits are, and to trust someone if they tell them someone violated them there.

          In the US, we have a system called CORI, which is a routine background check that seems to be required if you are working with children at all. It will look into your criminal history even if you were accused, and not just violations you might have on record against children. I worked somewhere that required CORIs (not in my position), and the employer was leery of someone whose CORI returned even a juvenile offense that has been supposedly cleared from the record, more than a decade earlier, and the applicant didn’t lie about it. I work with children now, and I have to keep my CORI clean too. Most job applications anywhere will ask if you’ve ever been convicted, and that’s that (I mean if you lied and said “no”, it might or might not be practical for them to check, but working with children will request a whole background check. In the system I am working now, I am required to have a general CORI, and to undertake their own background check as well, and there are guidelines and advice about never being alone with a child, not offering to drive them anywhere, etc., presumably so there is always another adult witness in case of an accusation, not actually to protect the child, either. Over the national system, one (accused) violator’s name was broadcast over email to all members. Kind of shitty without any kind of trial, but also leaning toward the error of protecting children by making sure he couldn’t find a place within the system to continue (if actually guilty). No further emails arose of a verdict on the guy.

        • MNb

          “I assume what you mean by “facilitated” is …..”
          A bit more.
          Culprits were often transferred to positions were they had excellent opportunities to continue their practices. And recently I read that catholic authorities actively tried to influence legislation with the specific aim to protect culprits.

        • To me, that’s the real issue. I appreciate that the actual damage is done by the pedophile. But the bureaucrat, not swayed by lust, moving a priest to another area just to protect the good name of the church?? Inconceivable.

          How about this: we do what’s right, and then we let the public decide the reputation of the church, good or bad. Surely God would approve.

        • MNb

          Except at Nürnberg of course, where the SS was on trial and convicted as a criminal organization. According to those standards your RCC should be convicted as a criminal organization as well – for systematical kidnapping of babies for instance, but probably also for endorsing child abuse.
          Fake lawyer indeed.

      • Aram

        I read articles as testicles the first time. Made me laugh.

        • adam

          Well it does make more priestly sense that way.

    • You wouldn’t want to call that a “coincidence” rather than a miracle?

      Now, if you were a fundamentalist, you’d tell us about people raised from the dead in your own church. That’s a miracle! Not well substantiated, I’m sure, but it’s a bold claim.

      • Miracles are coincidences that pertain to God.

        • Dys

          Your standard for what constitutes a miracle is conveniently low. And constitutes circular reasoning.

          You don’t have a miracle there…you have a coincidence that you lamely want to cite as a miracle.

        • Dys -when you go back to the New Testament, I can argue that all the miracles were not done to benefit the person to whom the miracle was granted, but rather, done to inspire.
          This inspired me, did it not?

        • Dys

          If it makes you feel better to call a rather pedestrian coincidence a miracle, go for it. Just as long as you don’t expect anyone else to qualify it as one.

        • There was a time when there was only one person on the face of the earth who still believed in God – Elijah. A truly spiritual person understands it may be a lonely job.

        • There was a time when there was only one person on the face of the earth who still believed in God – Elijah

          Oh? Show me the verse that claims this.

        • 1 Kings 18:22 “Elijah said to them: “I am the only prophet of LORD who is left, but the prophets of Baal number 450.”

          Thank you, may I have another?

        • Oh, you’ll get another good thrashing, I’m sure, but let’s finish with this one first.

          You claimed that Elijah was the only person who believed in God, remember? This verse fails.

        • don’t feel bad about this, BobS, it’s a common mistake. it’s not easy to put yourself into the sandals of the people who lived BC. you see they were taught by the God of the old testament, if you weren’t with God, you were against him. No other prophet? Yeah, that means no other person on God’s side. It’s the teaching of Jesus who instructed us, if a person isn’t against you, they’re with you – You’re a product of the teachings of the New Testament. It’s ok, there are worse things you could be.

        • Susan

          it’s not easy to put yourself into the sandals of the people who lived BC

          You’re funny, Greg. Not in a good way.

          No other prophet? Yeah, that means no other person on God’s side.

          No. It doesn’t.

          Sometimes, I consider the possibility that you are an atheist troll playing the ignorant, arrogant, evasive theist because it’s a fun game.

          Poe’s law and all.

        • Playing stupid would be the toughest part of that gig.

        • how did you know what I was going out as for Halloween this year?

        • MNb

          So it’s beyond your comprehension that during Elias’ life there might have been believing non-prophets?
          Well, call me unsurprised, I already know that your stupidity is bottomless.

        • Here’s what you all are missing – In the age of Elijah, the Jewish people believed they could not connect with
          God, except through their prophet. It is quite clear that Elijah was cut off from any congregation for a great length of time. Without, Elijah in their presence, they were without belief.
          Granted, I should have phrased it, “I can argue that..” Either way, I win.

        • Dys

          So if Elijah walked into a room, they were believers, and if he then walked out, they all magically stopped believing.

          So their beliefs about God changed at the drop of a hat…which isn’t how beliefs are formed.

        • Let me put it another way, if the last Prophet was defeated, it would have been the end of Judaism

        • Kodie

          Are you sure the bible isn’t a comic book?

        • Dys

          Sure, it’s conceivable that if the last prophet of a religion gets embarrassed or dies, then the number of believers could dwindle to nothing.

          But that doesn’t really get you anywhere with the claim that Elijah was the only believer.

        • And, you know, the real point I was making with you yesterday when this topic came up was that the job of being a truly spiritual person is a lonely one – it is undeniable, that Elijah felt very alone in his job as Prophet and believer of Judaism.

        • adam

          “And, you know, the real point I was making with you yesterday when this topic came up was that the job of being a truly spiritual person is a lonely one – it is undeniable,”

          It is easily deniable, as it is a LIE.

          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2225634/Is-worlds-happiest-man-Brain-scans-reveal-French-monk-abnormally-large-capacity-joy-meditation.html

          It is only under a CRUEL god, that makes your statement true.

        • And that might’ve been a useful contribution to the discussion, but you’ve derailed that with a simple mistake that you won’t admit.

          Things really go a lot easier if you just take your medicine and get it over with. Wouldn’t you teach this to your kids?

        • Dys

          Sucks to be him, but it doesn’t support your assertion that he was the only believer around, no matter how you look at it.

        • Kodie

          Are you lonely, is that why you can’t stop bothering us with this nonsense? Being a “truly spiritual” person is nonsense. Trying very hard and getting nowhere with this nonsense and still thinking you’re right and feeling sorry for yourself – you should be lonely. We know you would feel triumphant if you could convert one person, but you should feel lonely, because you’re wrong and peddling nonsense, not even skillfully, I must add. Your social skills are pathetic, trying to introduce this nonsense with movie quotes is pathetic. As wrong as you are, I think your tactics are even worse than your stories. It’s not uncommon for Christians to be socially tone-deaf, ignorant, not actively listening, but actively trying to wedge this bullshit in anywhere, any way, with no regard to your audience. You tried. You failed. You suck at it, now go be lonely.

        • Greg has a problem saying those three little words: “I was wrong.” I think it’s against his religion.

          Maybe he needs to say the Man’s Prayer.

          http://www.postthisinc.com/images/mansprayer.jpg

        • So now you’re changing the subject.

        • MNb

          You always win in your own eyes. That’s because you have a method that can’t fail: self-delusion.

        • I wish, no, the way I see things it’s more like the line in the Paul Simon song, “the more we reach our destination, the more we’re just slip slidin’ away”.
          self-delusion? – no, sobriety, you should try it sometime.

        • MNb

          Thanks for confirming that your method is self-delusion.

        • Kodie

          Prophets and believers aren’t the same thing. You seem to have fucked up. Again.

        • – you need to reread what I said my phrase “truly spiritual” modifies the word “believer” – ergo – Prophet. like they say in Monopoly, go back and definitely do not collect 200 dollars

        • Kodie

          I don’t need to reread anything coming from you – it’s all moronic.

          Go fuck yourself instead.

        • Who’s talking about truly spiritual people? We’re focused on what you’re trying to turn away from: your claim that “There was a time when there was only one person on the face of the earth who still believed in God – Elijah.”

          Let’s figure this one out first. My suggestion: admit that you confused “only person” with “only prophet” so we can move on.

        • No other prophet? Yeah, that means no other person on God’s side.

          At least you’re acknowledging the “prophet” vs. “anyone” distinction.

          You make a bold claim. Please back it up with a scholarly citation. Show me that everyone was a prophet back then so that “I am the only prophet of LORD who is left” means “I am the only worshiper of the LORD.”

        • where’s Greg G when you really need him?

        • You’re hoping that he would have some background that would support your position? I doubt it.

          I await evidence of your remarkable claim that “I am the only prophet of LORD who is left” means “I am the only worshiper of the LORD.” You don’t think you might’ve misspoken?

        • BobS, with all due respect, are you not the one, who is asking for more?

          “Please back it up…”….”Show me…” – all saith you.

          Ouch, Your Welcome,

        • ??

        • Kodie

          Looks like the bot fell off the table again.

        • Kodie

          Good to see you’re getting into the spirit of things.

        • Kodie

          There was a time when you claimed Elijah, in your storybook, was the only believer left on earth. And that time, you were fucking wrong, just like every other time.

        • adam

          ” A truly spiritual person understands it may be a lonely job.”

          A truly deluded person doesnt understand much of anything though.

        • Dys

          There was a time when there was only one person on the face of the earth who still believed in God – Elijah

          Much like your fantasy of their being a time when there were only two people who gave rise to the human race, this too is simply false.

          You’ve once again confused a story with history. And you’re still just calling a fairly unremarkable coincidence a miracle for no discernible reason other than the warm fuzzies you got from it.

        • Kodie

          It deluded you.

        • adam

          “Dys -when you go back to the New Testament, I can argue that all the miracles were not done to benefit the person to whom the miracle was granted, but rather, done to inspire.”

          No, I bet you cant and wont.

        • adam – the way I would argue it is thus: Question: What was perhaps the greatest miracle that Jesus performed? Answer: Easily, the raising of Lazarus from the dead – Question: Why did Jesus perform this Miriacle? Answer: In Jesus’ own words according to the Gospel of John Chapter 11 – 14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.
          You lost that bet.

        • MNb

          “What was perhaps the greatest miracle that Jesus performed?”
          He didn’t perform any miracle at all.
          But I grant you that you won the bet. The problem is just that your “way I would argue” is utterly ridiculous. It’s not really Adam’s fault that he underestimates your stupidity.

        • adam

          In Jesus’s own words?

          You dont give a SHIT about Jesus’s own words: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1b58ff6d8aa59fe53361e6ef624bef2959bf39ff80e8389f3dbda9a3875274aa.jpg

        • Kodie

          Nothing pertains to god – he’s a fictional character, which a lot of people believe is sincerely are real person-type thing. It’s not really even a coincidence, not a remarkable one, when you are listening to a radio station and another person listens to the same station, and you both happen to believe that fictional character is real. I don’t know what “miracle” happened that got you so fucking stupid!

    • Kodie

      You dope. What are the chances a local radio station would have other listeners in the area who like to put bumper stickers on their car to advertise to others what they’re thinking, believing, listening to on the radio. You fucking idiot. You know-nothing fucking idiot.