Reject the Scientific Consensus? How Do You Justify THAT?

Reject the Scientific Consensus? How Do You Justify THAT? October 7, 2015

What reason goes in that blank? What could possibly go in that blank? If you’re a layperson in a particular scientific field, how could you reject that field’s scientific consensus, where it exists, as the best provisional explanation of that aspect of nature?

People do reject the consensus—Creationists, for example—but I can’t begin to understand the thought process that justifies this conclusion. People reject radioisotope dating who aren’t geologists, reject the Big Bang who aren’t cosmologists, reject anthropogenic climate change who aren’t climate scientists, and reject evolution who aren’t biologists.

You might think that evolution is a remarkable claim. Perhaps even that the evidence isn’t there (though the fact that you’ve only dipped your toe into the water would scream out as the obvious explanation). What I can’t imagine is concluding, based in that “research,” that the theory of evolution is flawed. On what grounds could someone reject the consensus of the people who actually understand the evidencethe people who actually have the doctorate degrees and who actually do the work on a daily basis?

I often hear people handwaving justifications. I attended a debate in which the Creationist speaker demanded that we follow the evidence. That sounds like odd advice from someone who doesn’t have the consensus on his side until you translate that into what he meant: give yourself license to weigh scientific conclusions yourself and discard the ones you dislike.

When science and scripture conflict, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis tells Christians that they shouldn’t go with the discipline with the remarkable track record for telling us about reality. Instead, discard that and go with faith.

We should be very wary of any idea about life that has a consensus among non-Christians. Sadly, many Christians listen to the ideas of secular scientists and try to add these to the Bible. This shows that they have the same problem as the non-Christian—they don’t want to submit to God’s Word.

These same people wouldn’t dream of telling a surgeon how best to approach a particular operation or a pilot how to fly a plane. But they seem quite happy to read a Creationist book and reject any consensus in biology, geology, or cosmology that steps on their theological toes. Can these science deniers possibly be so self-important as to pretend to be the Judge of All Science®, anointing the correct science and rooting out the false?

Creationists’ arguments often defeat themselves. Ask them how they make their conclusion and few will say that they’ve evaluated the scientific papers themselves. Rather, they will point to Creationist or ID “scientists” from the Discovery Institute, the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), Answers in Genesis (AIG), or similar organizations. Apparently, they think that the conclusions of competent scientists is important. Fine, then be objective and look at the consensus of experts on that subject.

You’d think that organizations that constrained their “scholars” with statements of faith, as both the ICR and AIG do, would be disqualified from scientific discourse for being biased. Similarly, it’s baffling that many Christian scholars like William Lane Craig feel comfortable pontificating on science

  • when they have no scientific credentials to do so,
  • when they celebrate the consensus and use it to support their argument when it suits them (Big Bang) and then reject the consensus when it doesn’t (evolution), and
  • because they, too, are bound by statements of faith.

When they say that evolution is nonsense, I always ask: is that the facts or your statement of faith talking? (More in my post “Can Christian Scholars be Objective?”)

Science deniers often raise three objections.

  • The scientific consensus is wrong sometimes. Yes, sometimes it is. The consensus is not immutable truth but a provisional approximation to the truth. This doesn’t change the fact that the consensus is the best guess at the truth that we laypeople have.
  • Demanding that laypeople accept the scientific consensus in all cases is the Bandwagon Fallacy. No, it isn’t. The Bandwagon Fallacy (argumentum ad populum) says that “a million Chevy owners can’t be wrong”—if the majority believes it, it must be true. Note the differences: I argue that the consensus is our best bet, not that it is invariably true. Also, the scientific community is a group of experts of which laypeople are not members.
  • Okay, then it’s the Argument from Authority fallacy. Wrong again. The scientific community is quite different from a single authority. (I’ve written more about this fallacy fallacy and the role of consensus here.)

Sorry, folks—science is not a democracy. When it comes to the scientific consensus, no one cares what we laypeople think. Creationists have done an impressive job in deluding Americans so that, 150 years after Darwin’s Origin of Species, 40% still think that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.”

This rejection of science can be merely a personal tragedy as when Steve Jobs refused conventional medicine for his treatable cancer in favor of unproven techniques. It becomes a bigger problem when policy makers adopt it. Ben Carson rejects evolution and the Big Bang but assures us that his grasp of the big issues makes him presidential timber.

Rep. Paul Broun (R-Georgia) called evolution, Big Bang theory, and other disagreeable aspects of science “lies straight from the pit of hell.” Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) said about climate change, “I don’t think we can control what God controls.” Todd Akin (R-Missouri) has famously odd views on conception and evolution—he declared that “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy. Each has training wheels on their understanding of science, but all three were members of the House Science and Technology Committee.

Science deniers get high marks in Machiavellianism 101, but the American public’s childish relationship with reality puts us in a poor position to handle the challenges of the 21st century.

Related post: You Don’t Like the Scientific Consensus? Ignore it Away.

Evolution is one of the most robust and widely accepted
principles of modern science.

— American Association for the Advancement of Science

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 12/19/12.)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • busterggi

    Because I am the very special little snowflake of an all-loving god who will torture me forever if I ever think for myself.

    I just filled that blank.

  • LudicrousSextus

    Funny stuff. As if ‘climate change’ (AKA ‘Gore-bull warming’) has remotely panned out, or is remotely in the same ‘area of proven’ evolution is…

    It’s always fun when the ‘enlightened’ try to enlighten…

    • Climate change doesn’t have the longevity of evolution, and that’s relevant. But where do we go with that? “I won’t buy into any scientific theory that’s less than 50 years old”?

    • tsig

      Argumentum ad name calling.

      What kind of qualifications do you have or are you here to prove the point about laymen pontificating on science.

    • jh

      Funny – when scientists around the globe (and from different subspecialities as well) conclude that mankind has had an effect on our climate… I tend to accept the consensus. Please – there is no consortium of evil scientists out there that are creating bullshit just to mess with you.

      • Max Doubt

        “Please – there is no consortium of evil scientists out there that are creating bullshit just to mess with you.”

        Or try this one. Millions of scientists disagree with the consensus view that humans contribute to global climate change, but they’re all afraid to speak out against the mainstream for fear of losing their funding. The astrophysics crackpots are rather fond of that particular line of logic conspiracy conjecture.

        • TheNuszAbides

          The astrophysics crackpots are rather fond of that particular line of logic conspiracy conjecture.

          something tells me that insearchofblackassassins dot whatever [i’m NEVER going back there, but it might be good for an ironically sinister chuckle if you haven’t been and have the stomach] probably has some ‘thugified’ pics of Dr. Tyson for this very purpose.

    • I’m OK with 97% of the PhDs in a field explaining the mainstream theory to me. Why do you bring up Al Gore? He is, you know, not an actual scientist. I’m sure that you are correct in fearing that Japanese climatologists want to steal your lunch money*, but perhaps you could flesh out a few of the details?

      * Or whatever it is exactly that you think is happening.

    • Donalbain

      Wow. Playground level insults. Well, that sure beats the hundreds of scientific papers published on the matter. Well done.

  • God created the earth to look old, and the evidence in favor of evolution was planted by Satan to deceive us. Duh.

    ^Real answers I’ve heard.

    • jh

      I heard that the flood settled different bones on different levels and that’s why dinosaurs and humans lived together. (I didn’t get that one because I understand radioactive isotope decay rates … but I can see why a person who is ignorant about half-lifes would fall for it.)

      • Greg G.

        I remember hearing that the faster, smarter creatures scrambled to higher ground so the big, dumb dinosaurs were drowned and buried by sediment first as the explanation for fossils in the geological column. Apparently flowering plants only grew on Antediluvian mountains as they weren’t exactly fleet afoot.

        • TheNuszAbides

          unless they ‘figured out’ how to take advantage of the stupendous propellant power of [internal or encrusted] ballistospores! (probably too soon, but potentially good prehistoric-ish sci-speculative-fi)

    • Max Doubt

      “God created the earth to look old, and the evidence in favor of evolution was planted by Satan to deceive us. Duh.”

      Yep. The claim is that a god created the universe to behave exactly as if there is no god. And since the universe does behave exactly as if there is no god, the claim must be true.

  • Paul

    ” Ken Ham of the Institute for Creation Research ”

    Correction: Ken Ham, formerly of Institute for Creation Research and current President and CEO of Answers in Genesis

    “..Creationist “scientists” from the Discovery Institute, the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), Answers in Genesis (AIG),”

    Correction: Intelligent Design scientists from the Discovery Institute, and Creation scientists from the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), Answers in Genesis (AIG)…

    • You forgot the quote marks around “scientists”.Scientists do or teach science. These people have avowed that they are seeking evidence to support the claim that their religious myths are literally true.

      • Paul

        Nope, they have science degrees and they do and teach science. Just because you disagree with their conclusions doesn’t mean they are not scientists. Your comment is nothing more than a “no true Scotsman” fallacy.

        • MNb

          “they have science degrees and they do and teach science”
          and typically haven’t degrees in (Evolutionary) Biology. They are lawyers, there are some physicists, biochemists, lots of engineers and surgeons. There are even a few biologists. But
          1) a few biologists don’t make scientific consensus and
          2) none of them have (some part of) Evolution Theory as a specialization.

          Or do you think an elementary particles physicist is qualified to criticize Keynesian Theory and Monetarism?

          Not me. Not BobS either.

          So no “No True Scotsman” for you.

        • Donalbain

          No. They do not do science. As soon as you state that you will ONLY accept one conclusion, you are not doing science, you are doing apologetics.

    • Dys

      There’s no such thing as an Intelligent Design scientist, just as there’s no such thing as a Creation scientist. There are however scientists who also happen to be intelligent design creationists. Creationism isn’t scientific in the slightest, and its cousin ID is a pseudoscience.

    • MNb

      IDiocy is a version of creacrap, period. It’s not the same version as YEC, but creacrap it is.
      Every non-theory that includes “goddiddid” in one way or another and on that foundation claims to refute Evolution Theory is creacrap by definition.

    • Thanks.

  • Michael Neville

    Creationist Rick Warren said that if given a choice between science and the Bible he’ll go with the Bible. So don’t confuse Warren with facts and logic, he doesn’t give a damn about them.

    • They all say that, and then have the gall to claim scientists are ideologues. Pot, kettle.

    • That keeps the money flowing in, I imagine.

  • pastasauceror

    Climate change…(because) the evidence doesn’t support the claims.

    CO2 doesn’t follow temperature in any of the empirical records (EDIT: sorry, I meant that phrase the other way around of course), so it almost certainly is not the major cause of currently rising temperatures. I do think humans are the cause of rising temperatures, though, mainly through the Urban Heat Island effect and the adjustment of the temperature record by the various national weather institutes/bureaus (cooling trends mysteriously become warming trends after the data is “corrected”).

    I won’t argue this point as this is my own conclusion from looking at the evidence (scientific papers, etc), I’m happy to be proven wrong and will change my mind if further evidence comes to light supporting AGW. But at the moment, IMO it’s the only scientific consensus that isn’t supported by the evidence, and evidence is ALL that matters. Despite your justifications for consensus in your article, it still reminds me of WLC saying that the consensus of scholars is that the resurrection occurred, we all know what an atheist would say to that.

    • Ann Kah

      The CO2 record on the surface of the earth is not the same as the amount about ten miles up. There it forms a heat-reflecting layer trapping the escape of excess global heat, giving rise to the term “greenhouse effect”. CO2 up there has a dwell time of decades-to -centuries, as it isn’t available to be used by plant life or be absorbed by the oceans.

      Re the topic of the article: In the interests of full disclosure, I’m a chemist, not a climatologist. What is your academic field?

      • pastasauceror

        Yes, and water vapor accounts for 95% of greenhouse gases. I did a quick calculation (yes I did it myself, so show me if I’m wrong – data was from Climate Science websites not naysayer websites in case you were wondering) and found that ~10% extra cloud cover over the tropics on any given day has more effect on the greenhouse than the entire CO2 contribution from man-made sources since 1900. Added to this is the fact that temperatures are not rising in line with our currently massive CO2 rise (and as I said, empirical evidence shows they never have in earth’s history), and I’ve come to the conclusion that CO2 cannot be the primary cause of (the currently minuscule) temperature rise. Do you agree? If not, why not?

        Neither of us are in our field of expertise, therefore our fields don’t really matter. Once again, EVIDENCE is ALL that matters. (If you really must know, my field is computer science / programming, so I know how wrong the results of models can be, if you put garbage in you get garbage out. The climate models have given garbage out, their predictions are extremely inaccurate, so there is definitely something wrong with them, and from what I’ve seen it is the overestimation of the forcing effect of CO2).

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

          We’ll go with the climatologists on climate change instead of some yahoo who did some “quick calculations”, thank you very much.

        • pastasauceror

          I know you are, but what am I? 😉
          You can always tell the side of the argument without the facts on their side. They’re the ones who play the man rather than the ball.

          When you’ve done some research get back to me. If you don’t feel like looking at the evidence yourself, I’ve got a good priest you can talk to.

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

          I know you are, but what am I? 😉

          Not a climatologist. 😉

          You can always tell the side of the argument without the facts on their side.

          You’re right, I can. Unfortunately, you can’t.

          When you’ve done some research get back to me.

          Why? climate science as you’ve admitted is not your expertise, computer science/programming is.

          If you don’t feel like looking at the evidence yourself, I’ve got a good priest you can talk to.

          Have you talked to this priest on why His Holiness accepts the validity of Climate change science?

        • pastasauceror

          Them’s some rip-roaring comebacks guy. Got me rollin’ on the floor.

          Anyway, I’ll stick to discussing the facts with anyone who’s willing to give me some. Like I said, I’m quite happy to be proven wrong. *chirrup chirrup* *chirrup chirrup* They’re crickets by the way.

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

          Good luck. Also you may want to remind people that donations are welcomed in your open hat right next to the soapbox you’re standing on.

        • pastasauceror

          Yeah, it’s such a sad little soapbox, and empty hat too.

          How I wish I could jet-set around the world, racking up my carbon footprint, attending climate conferences financed by well-meaning government money, while making the big bucks from my alternative energy shares. 😀

        • MNb

          “I wish I could jet-set around the world”
          As far as this is a fact it’s irrelevant for climatology. So much for you willing to discuss the facts.

        • pastasauceror

          With the exception of Ann Kah, no one has given me any facts. When someone does I will reply, as for any other discussion I will stop now. Have fun.

        • tsig

          You need to give us something more than bare assertions.

        • pastasauceror

          Fact: CO2 rise *follows* temperature rise in all of our empirical climate records (ice cores, etc), not the other way around.
          Fact: Temperature rise is not currently following the exceptional rise of CO2 in the atmosphere.
          Fact: None of the climate models are accurately modeling real life temperature data. (Not even close)

          Let’s start with those, they are well known and you should be able to find the evidence for them easily. Let me know if my facts are wrong and you’ll be part way to convincing me AGW is real. (I’m not going to link articles, you can find them yourself from anywhere you trust)

        • tsig

          pastasauceror

          an hour ago

          “Do it yourself, if you’re interested.”

          (I’m not going to link articles, you can find them yourself from anywhere you trust)”

          I see, you make the assertion and everyone else finds the proof for you.

          That’s not how it works.

        • pastasauceror

          I’ve already seen the facts myself. If I spoonfeed you articles you won’t look at them. Do your own research. I’m only here to say that consensus is not proof. Peace, out.

        • Kodie

          I guess you don’t want to be taken seriously.

        • tsig

          “I did a quick calculation”

          Show your work.

        • MR

          Anonymous Internet Dude Does Quick Calculation, Overturns Scientific Consensus

          News at 11.

        • tsig

          Refuses to show work, demands that others look up data for him.

          Could be a pattern.

        • pastasauceror

          Do it yourself, if you’re interested. Don’t believe me if you’re happy to rely on the climate scientists. I don’t care.

          I just want people to not take consensus as fact.

        • You are aware that even the oil companies know global warming is a thing, right? (And have been aware of that fact for forty some years)
          (Link) http://fortune.com/2015/09/16/exxon-climate-change/

        • pastasauceror

          I never said warming wasn’t a thing, did I?

        • Ann Kah

          I see you’re being given a hard time by other commenters below, but I’ll try to explain in simple terms, adult to adult, what happens. CO2 holds in earth’s heat, and doesn’t let it escape into space. We’ve known the physics behind it since the days of Arrhenius. In modern times we have sent up satellites that have MEASURED the heat imbalance above and below that CO2 layer. These are inescapable facts. But the difficulty of predictions is because you and I see the heat in the atmosphere, on the surface, and of course that is only a tiny fraction of that heat. If more of it goes to melt ice in the arctic, we don’t immediately see that in the temperate zones. If it goes to heat the ocean, that’s not obvious to a person in Kansas.

          As you can see, predictive value is shakier than real science, but there’s no getting away from the fact that the rising heat and the CO2 are inextricably linked. The thing that I find most worrying is the oceans. They are enormous heat sinks, and the weather and climate makers for the entire planet. To put it simply, if we warm the oceans, we are screwed. Even a little bit will cause huge changes in the current patterns of weather. It’ll take CENTURIES to reverse the trend of warming oceans……..and the oceans are warming.

        • pastasauceror

          The oceans aren’t warming, at least not in any meaningful way (0.1C per century is the highest rate I could find mentioned)

          http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/06oct_abyss/
          Recent NASA satellite study shows deep oceans have not warmed since 2005.

          http://www.skepticalscience.com/cooling-oceans-intermediate.htm

          (Not a “denier” website, in case you were wondering 🙂
          A system of ~3300 buoys called the Argo network has been deployed since 2003. With no alteration of the data they actually show the ocean is cooling. Note particularly section 2 of that article. The comparison graph shows 2 different data sets from scientific papers, the first one (based on actual measurements) shows a cooling trend and the second (based on adjusted measurements) shows a warming trend. I know which data I would trust.

        • Ann Kah

          The abyssal waters are over a mile deep. Water at 1500 feet and above is warming:. . . . . . oops, Ann, try again . . . .
          This Disqus glitch is keeping me from pasting, so forgive me while I look it up again. You’ll probably have to cut and paste it.
          http://Www.climatehotmap.org/global-warming-effects/ocean-temperature.html
          That’s from the Union of Concerned Scientists, but it’s written in layman’s terms. By the way, YOUR link says “oceans are cooling”, but that’s under “climate myths”.

        • pastasauceror

          Did you actually read the articles I linked? They’re from pro-warming websites but they show that expected warming is NOT happening, particularly the NASA one. (Saying “oceans are cooling is a myth” is not saying they’re warming at an appreciable let alone the expected rate).

          Your article shows no data at all, in fact the only temperature mentioned is in the quote “some models suggest it is likely to warm the air…0.55degC worldwide over coming decades” This is meaningless speculation from models that are almost certainly inaccurate, and the only articles listed in the references section that could provide that data/model are from pre-2007 (right when the Argo network was just finished being set up but before full data was coming in, which is exactly the data collecting apparatus I was referencing to show that the oceans are cooling according to the *actual* data)

          Anyway, I think we’ve both put forward our cases, after this it will just be an argument, so I will leave it here.

          Guess we’ll all see what happens in coming decades. And by the way, I do think that we should limit our emissions of greenhouse gases just in case. I just don’t think the evidence is there to back it up at the moment. (But then, I also think that we should be doing something to protect ourselves from asteroid impacts, which are more likely to hurt us catastrophically than climate change, and only slightly more unlikely to happen in the near future).

          Have fun!

        • Dessany

          So from the NASA article you linked to:

          Coauthor Felix Landerer of JPL noted that during the same period warming in the top half of the ocean continued unabated, an unequivocal sign that our planet is heating up. Some recent studies reporting deep-ocean warming were, in fact, referring to the warming in the upper half of the ocean but below the topmost layer, which ends about 0.4 mile (700 meters) down.

          The scientists say outright in the article that the oceans are warming in the article linked. They are looking at why the deep ocean isn’t warming while above the 1.24 mile mark the warming continues.

          BTW, did you notice that they are directly measuring the temperature of the upper ocean, but said “The deep parts of the ocean are harder to measure,”.

          You said: “I know which data I would trust.”. Well I know which internet commenters I wouldn’t trust.

          Real scientists don’t cherry pick their data to fit their assumptions, they do what the scientists in the article are doing. They look at the areas where the facts don’t fit their theory and work to find out why. You are doing science creationist style.

        • pastasauceror

          So I’m cherry-picking? But here are the parts of the article you didn’t quote:

          “Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, analyzed satellite and direct ocean temperature data from 2005 to 2013 and found the ocean abyss below 1.24 miles (1,995 meters) has not warmed measurably. Study coauthor Josh Willis of JPL said these findings do not throw suspicion on climate change itself.”

          “In the 21st century, greenhouse gases have continued to accumulate in the atmosphere, just as they did in the 20th century, but global average surface air temperatures have stopped rising in tandem with the gases. The temperature of the top half of the world’s oceans — above the 1.24-mile mark — is still climbing, but not fast enough to account for the stalled air temperatures.”

          I went into my climate research undecided/agnostic. Did you?

          (Edit: PS. If you want to see an example of motivated reasoning read this article: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/OceanCooling/

          By the way here are the conversion factors so you understand just how small the temperature changes they talk about in the article are:
          0 – 700m: 10^22 Joules = 0.0105 C
          0 – 2000m: 10^22 Joules = 0.0036 C
          0 – 100m: 10^22 Joules = 0.069 C
          100m – 700m: 10^22 Joules = 0.012 C
          700m – 2000m: 10^22 Joules = 0.0056 C)

        • Dessany

          You seem to have a problem with reading. I clearly pointed out

          “They are looking at why the deep ocean isn’t warming while above the 1.24 mile mark the warming continues.”

          so you then quote a part of the article that says the same thing.

          “and found the ocean abyss below 1.24 miles (1,995 meters) has not warmed measurably. Study coauthor Josh Willis of JPL said these findings do not throw suspicion on climate change itself.”

          No wonder you’re a climate change denier. Your reading comprehension is rather limited.

        • pastasauceror

          My bad, I did miss the part where you said that.

          It did conveniently allow you to skip over my point though…which was:

          1) The deep ocean isn’t warming and
          2) The top half of the world’s ocean is climbing but “not fast enough to account for the *stalled* air temperatures”.

          (The actual rate measured from the spanking new state-of-the-art Argo array, as I’ve said a few times, is basically zero…in fact the raw data shows cooling, corrected data shows minor warming but unlikely above the error bars. BTW, out of interest I downloaded the actual Argo array data viewer today, with direct connection to the Argo servers, and I’ve done multiple sweeps across the latitudes/longitudes and cannot find one area where the ocean temperature between 0-2000 meters shows a warming trend since the array was installed…it’s flat as a pancake all round)

          Anyway, according to that article and hundreds of research papers, the ocean isn’t warming at anywhere close to the predictions/models and neither are the air temperatures. So that, my fine internet acquaintance, is why I don’t think AGW is an established theory; when predictions are falsified scientists go back to the drawing board…they don’t double down and/or rely on consensus.

          Also, I’m not a denier (apart from this sentence denying that I’m a denier)…name calling is low

        • MR

          adult to adult

          Therein lies your mistake.

          Jesus, he did a quick calculation. Cut him some slack.

    • Odd Jørgensen

      Scholars in theology is hardly scientists except in the broadest use of the term. it is not without reason that those that reject the godman claims rank in the high 90 percentile among the National Academy of science.

      • pastasauceror

        Exactly, and that’s because evidence is ALL that matters.

    • MNb

      “WLC saying that the consensus of scholars is that the resurrection occurred …”
      Problem for WLC and for you is that that is a lie. The consensus of scholars is that science – specifically history – can’t say anything sensible about the Resurrection, because its’ an act of faith. Hence it’s a false analogy.

      • pastasauceror

        It’s not a problem for me. I said it *reminds* me of WLC saying that (which is the part you left out), and my point was that EVIDENCE is ALL that matters. So your comment confirms my point. I guess we agree. 😀

        Consensus is useless in all areas of knowledge. Why?

        1. If the evidence supports a theory then the consensus doesn’t matter, the theory is backed by the evidence.

        2. If the evidence is against a theory then the consensus doesn’t matter, as the theory is not backed by evidence.

        3. If there is not enough evidence either way then the consensus doesn’t matter, as we should be agnostic until further evidence comes in.

        Do you agree? If not, why not?

        • MNb

          That was not what I was commenting on. You try to move the goalposts like a creationist.
          Your analogy remains a false one. And if that’s not a problem for you you’re intellectually dishonest.

          To spell it out for you: *it reminds* you of a lie, while what you call “your justifications for consensus” are anything but lies.

        • pastasauceror

          It wasn’t an analogy. But fine, I will retract it, it does not affect my point. (Also, do you know what “moving the goalposts” is? I think not)

          So, now will you answer my question? Is consensus a useful tool for getting at the facts or not?

        • MNb

          “I think not”
          I don’t care what you think.

          “So, now will you answer my question?”
          No. I don’t feel like.

        • pastasauceror

          Ah yes, avoid the important question and focus on misdirection. You should get a job in Climate Science. #jetset #greenmoney

        • MNb

          What you think important and what not is totally irrelevant to me. What I feel like and don’t feel like is.
          I don’t avoid that question. I flat out refuse to answer it. You have no idea (though if you were a bit smarter than you are and had read another comment of mine you would) what my position on that question is.
          I corrected a mistake of yours. I didn’t claim it affected your point. That you don’t understand that makes clear you’re less smart than you think you are.

          “You should get a job in Climate Science.”
          That can’t be a better job than I have now.

          “#jetset”
          I have exactly zero desire to join the jetset. This tells a lot about you and nothing about me.

          “#greenmoney”
          I care a lot less about money than you do. Again this tells a lot about you and nothing about me.

        • pastasauceror

          *woosh*

        • MNb

          Did you just turn your airco on?

        • tsig

          Is that the sound of air coming out of your denier bubble?

        • Eric Sotnak

          Arguments from consensus are a type of argument from authority. Whether or not an argument from authority bolsters the probability of its conclusion depends in part on whether or not the authorities in question are more likely to know the truth about the subject matter than non-authorities.

          The problem with WLC’s appeal to the authority of Biblical scholars in arguing for the resurrection is that those scholars can only be in a position to judge better than others what the texts say, and perhaps what (archaeological evidence exists) than others. But they are not in a position to say that what the texts say is actually true. So in this case pastasauceror is right about insisting on the evidence.

          But there are plenty of cases where knowledge and interpretation of the evidence is largely what authorities do. Precisely because the authorities have better knowledge of the evidence and better ability to interpret it, they are more likely to be correct than non-authorities.

          A significant difficulty is that biases are known to afflict authorities as much as anyone else. So if an authority has a vested interest in arguing for a particular claim, we know this can skew the authority’s judgment. It is not always easy to determine when and to what degree biases are at work, or to figure out how to minimize their influence. But this doesn’t mean it is impossible. Creationists, for example, sometimes like to claim that those favoring evolution are biased in favor of materialism, or something like that. Here the consensus argument is stronger the more we can find evolutionists who plausibly do not share in such biases (for example, by pointing out that there are plenty of theists who embrace evolution, and that theism is anti-materialist, etc.)

          I think Bob’s main point holds up: In order to reject an argument from consensus (or authority) one has to be able to say plausibly why they reject the consensus in favor of their alternative viewpoint. If they propose their own set of authorities, they need to say something about why they think their authorities are more likely to be right than the ones whose view they are rejecting. So, for example, someone who holds that vaccines cause autism has to defend the relative credibility of their sources over that of the majority consensus that says vaccines do not cause autism.

        • pastasauceror

          Very well said Eric.

    • tsig

      If scientists are busy fudging the data on climate why couldn’t they be fudging the data on evolution?

      • pastasauceror

        Peer review. Plus in the case of evolution, it is confirmed by multiple different scientific fields making fudging next to impossible. Climate data adjustments made by weather bureaus are not peer reviewed (the original methods were peer-reviewed, but the changes themselves are not, and it is this adjusted data that is being used to tell us every year is the “hottest one on record” when old values that were hotter when the data was measured are not anymore because the adjusted data is used instead of the measured data).

        Recently the Abbott government in Australia was considering investigating these claims (originally published in The Australian newspaper). The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet originally wanted the taskforce to also conduct “due diligence to ensure Australia’s climate and emissions data are the best possible, including the Bureau of Meteorology’s Australian temperature dataset”.

        But the investigation never went ahead because the DPMC told Abbott that “The way the Bureau manages its climate records is recognised internationally as among the best in the world…Nevertheless, the public need confidence information on Australia and the world’s climate is reliable and based on the best available science. (sic, sic sic sic…terrible sentence really)”

        http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-24/government-discussed-bom-investigation-over-climate-change/6799628

        EDIT: It’s quite funny to think that an investigation into the information and practice of the bureau was NOT performed, so that “the public” could have confidence in the Bureau’s information and practice.

        • Victor Venema

          Peer review. Plus in the case of evolution, it is confirmed by multiple different scientific fields making fudging next to impossible.

          The warming is seen in weather station data and weather balloons from weather services. (Weather services are meteorologists, not climatologists.) It is seen in the warming of every individual weather service. We have many countries on this Earth. They are all in on it?

          Warming is seen in the sea surface temperature of marine scientists.

          Warming is seen in tropospheric temperatures estimated from satellites (showing nearly the same warming as the surface measurements).

          Warming is seen in the temperature of lakes and rivers by hydrologists and ecologists. Warming is seen in the date rivers and lakes freeze and break-up.

          Warming is seen in nature, in the times trees bud and flowers blossom. In the times farmers sow the seed and harvest their grapes.

          Warming is seen in the decline of glaciers and ice sheets. It is seen in the decline of Arctic sea ice and snow cover observed by satellites.

          But if you want to discuss the adjustments made to station data, why do it here with people without the expertise? Why not come to my blog, where I explain the why, how and how much? If you demonstrate to have made some efforts to understand the basics, I am naturally happy to talk about your expertise-informed questions.

          For the normal readers here: it is someone inconvenient for the narrative of the mitigation sceptics that the adjustments of climatologists actually reduce global warming. Thus you do not often hear mitigation sceptics mention that.

        • pastasauceror

          I’m not questioning warming. The question is whether that warming is natural or anthropogenic. (And even more importantly, if it will even affect us in the long-run)

        • Victor Venema

          Pasta Sauceror, no you did “question warming” and did not talk about attribution (“whether that warming is natural or anthropogenic“).

          Just above you claimed the number were made up (“Climate data adjustments made by weather bureaus“).

          And before you wrote: “I do think humans are the cause of rising temperatures, though, mainly through the Urban Heat Island effect and the adjustment of the
          temperature record by the various national weather institutes/bureaus (cooling trends mysteriously become warming trends after the data is “corrected”).

          The least you can do for your political movement is make some bogus claim that lay-men cannot check.

        • pastasauceror

          I think you are demonizing me to suit your own narrative. I don’t have a “political movement”, I am a 20-year green party voter (and that is right to the present), I have in the past supported (with $$$) many conservation and environment causes/charities. And, in case it isn’t obvious, I have no shares or interests in fossil fuel companies 😀

          Even in the comments of mine that you quote I did not question warming, I think the data shows the earth is warming.

          What I have questioned (as I said) is whether this warming is from man-made greenhouse gas sources. And, in this very small sidebar point that I made, whether the bureaus (yes, of meteorology) are adjusting their temperature records *without bias*. (I’m not saying they’re doing it on purpose, but I believe there could be an implicit bias, it’s only human natural after all).

          Out of interest (and I have no idea of the answer, so it’s not a loaded question) when did the meteorological bureaus first start to correct observed temperature records?

        • Victor Venema

          My apologies if I sounds aggressive. That is what you get from years of interacting with people with no willingness to learn, who want to misinform the general public with their half-knowledge.

          Depending on what you call correcting, the oldest reference I know is from 1950 or 1854.

          To quote a paragraph from an article of mine:

          The most commonly used method to detect and remove the effects of artificial changes is the relative homogenization approach, which assumes that nearby stations are exposed to almost the same climate signal and that thus the differences between nearby stations can be utilized to detect inhomogeneities (Conrad and Pollak, 1950). In relative homogeneity testing, a candidate time series is compared to multiple surrounding stations either in a pairwise fashion or to a single composite reference time series computed for multiple nearby stations.

          Homogenization has a long tradition. In the early instrumental period, documented change-points have been removed with the help of parallel measurements. For example, biases due to changes in observing times were adjusted using multi-annual 24 h measurements (Kreil, 1854a, b). In the early 20th century Conrad (1925) made use of the Heidke criterion (Heidke, 1923) using ratios of two precipitation series. As a consequence, he recommended the use of additional criteria to test the
          homogeneity of series, dealing with the succession and alternation of algebraic signs, the Helmert criterion (Helmert, 1907) and the tedious Abbe criterion (Conrad, 1944). The use of Helmert’s criterion for pairs of stations and Abbe’s criterion still has been described as an
          appropriate tool in the 1940s (Conrad, 1944). Some years later the double-mass principle was popularized for break detection (Kohler, 1949).

        • pastasauceror

          No worries, and thanks for answering my questions.

          I’m subscribing to your blog on feedly now, I’m sure I will learn much. 😀

    • WLC’s consensus isn’t a scientific consensus. That’s all that I’m talking about here.

      Indeed, I doubt there’s even a consensus of theologians for WLC’s position. Believers from around the world can’t agree on how to please the supernatural, let alone how many god(s) there are and what their name(s) are.

  • MNb

    “What reason goes in that blank?”
    because I have evidence that refutes Evolution, Big Bang and Climate Change.

    “What could possibly go in that blank?”
    For instance a pre-Cambrian rabbit.
    Or living red blood cells found on a dinosaur fossil. Unfortunately for our creationist friends that one is a hoax.

    It’s not hard. It requires hard work to find such evidence though and that is always too much for our creationist friends.

  • MNb

    “Creationists have done an impressive job in deluding Americans …”
    If it comforts my American friends – a staggering 24% of the Dutch reject evolution as well.

    • MR

      No, that is not comforting.

  • L.Long

    If that was a real poll I would right ….
    I, DO NOT, reject…
    check all….
    because, NO ONE HAS SHOWN ANYTHING BETTER!

  • RichardSRussell

    I know that dinosaurs and humans co-existed because Walt Disney wouldn’t lie to me, and his studio’s getting set to tell us about The Good Dinosaur who befriended a little boy.

    And we wonder why people still believe this shit.

  • RichardSRussell

    [Creationists] will point to Creationist “scientists” from the Discovery Institute.

    Whenever the subject of this particular creationist front group comes up, I always ask “What is it, exactly, that they’ve ever discovered?”. The short answer is nothing. They conduct no research, run no experiments, employ no scientists, and publish no peer-reviewed scientific papers. They’re a propaganda mill for religious dogma, no more.

    I encourage other skeptics to ask this same question whenever this laffably labeled “think tank” is mentioned. And insist on an answer.

    • If you gave a million dollars to a college science program, they could do new research. But if you gave it to the Disco Institute, they’d just crank out more papers and books trying to obfuscate the fact that they can’t get any of their shit published in actual scientific journals. No new scientific discoveries at all.

  • RichardSRussell

    The use of the word “because” in Bob’s form carries with it the assumption that there’s some kind of rational thot process involved in rejecting the scientific consensus — that the science deniers have actual reasons that they can cite for doing so. But they themselves have no particular use for rationality and don’t see why they should have to justify themselves using rational techniques. “The Bible said it. I believe it. That ends it.” That’s all the justification they ever need, not a smidge of rationality to be found anywhere within it, and furthermore they don’t give a damn, because rationality is a lure and snare set by Satan to seduce the souls of the faithful, so there!

    • Kodie

      As an animal with the inclination to need persuasion, it doesn’t have to be a good reason to satisfy someone that they have arrived at their preferred conclusion via reasoning. They are being forcefully marketed to reject science by appealing to some reason, and when I use “reason” here, I don’t mean rational, I mean the appeal. I think there are lots of things people don’t form an opinion about until one side approaches them to tell them how the other side is a conspiracy, a fake, a plot by the government to overthrow god and ban Christianity. Hooks like that will grab a nominal Christian and now they have got a reason to listen to the spiel. I think there are a lot of people who were taught in school about evolution like I was, accept it (for really no reason either*) and never think of it again. It can’t be said to be exactly pertinent. Then they will find out they were indoctrinated with falsehoods and denied information about another explanation, because where are they getting their information about evolution now? The people who want them to believe evolution isn’t true. They’re not thinking, “I didn’t know very much about evolution in the first place.” It’s the fact they were persuaded to learn so much they never heard in school about evolution, “what the government doesn’t want you to know” and such, that they are suddenly persuaded to change what they used to believe, even though either way it didn’t mean that much to them before to seek out the information they didn’t understand on their own.

      *Despite Bob’s tendency to lean on the scientific consensus, I don’t think that most people use that as a reason to accept evolution or anything else either. In fact, science-deniers are much more attracted to the mavericks who are being “silenced” by the scientific consensus overlords. I don’t think this is the best argument to use precisely because none of them really care or understand it. People who accept evolution because that’s what they learned in school are indirectly believing the scientific consensus, but not as far as I can tell, directly accepting it in so many words – the same way nobody questions how computers or GPS works, well those things have become far more pertinent than evolution, we use them and they work. There is no lay application for evolution. Perhaps we need a list of spinoffs, everyday benefits we experience by evolution being true. Here is a list of NASA space exploration spinoffs. In the same way people don’t know how space exploration benefits anyone, evolution vs. creationism has become way abstract and political. https://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2008/tech_benefits.html

      In regular life for an ordinary person, me, personally, I find it difficult to care about that. I care what’s true, but on another level, it really doesn’t matter either way. What everyday benefits do we trace back to evolution that creationism or ID cannot provide?

  • avalon

    I have great respect for the scientific method but I also realize that scientists can be influenced by those who provide their paychecks. So I don’t blindly accept a scientific consensus without doing further research. I ask questions and look for the answers.
    For example, on climate change it’s said there’s a “97% consensus”. Where did that number come from?
    http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/97_Consensus_Myth.pdf

    If WLC is influenced by who pays him, can scientists be influenced for the same reasons?
    http://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2015/06/climate-wars-done-science/

    Can we look at how scientists gathered their data?
    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2015/09/almost-all-us-temperature-data-used-in-global-warming-models-is-estimated-or-altered.php

    I find it disturbing when a branch of science takes on the characteristics of a religion and is embraced with religious fervor by atheists. Climate change seems to have gone that route with “belief”, “deniers” (ie. heretics), and apocalyptic prophesies.

    https://theclimatefix.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/i-am-under-investigation/

    http://dailycaller.com/2015/09/17/scientists-ask-obama-to-prosecute-global-warming-skeptics/

    I agree with Bob that science is the best method of gaining information about the world. That’s why I’m opposed to political influence within the scientific community. Let’s get back to ‘pure’ science and leave the politics out of it.

    • Dessany

      So do tell how opposed to political influence you are when your first link is to a pamphlet by an organization founded by petroleum geologists. Yeah, let’s get back to “pure” science and leave it to the people without bias in the political effects of climate change. The petroleum geologists. /sarcasm

      • avalon

        Yes, and Christians reject the research of Bart Ehrman for the same reason.
        The fact is, I get all the information I can, from as many sources as I can. Doing so allows one to see the bias on both sides.

        • Dessany

          Right, from as many sources as you can. So why are your links all to right wing groups/news? Yeah that’s right.

          Let’s get back to ‘pure’ science and leave the politics out of it.

  • Scientific consensus, eh? What’s the scientific consensus on whether religion causes irrationality? For example, can anyone here point me to a peer-reviewed study which shows:

         (1) Upon becoming an atheist, a scientist starts doing better science.
         (2) Upon becoming a theist, a scientist starts doing worse science.

    No? Well that’s ok, rationalizations are available: (i) cognitive dissonance; (ii) compartmentalization. But why not produce a scientific study, with large N, peer-reviewed, which demonstrates (1) and/or (2)? I’m guessing that the true reason is that (1) and (2) are false, but nobody who would possibly do such a study, wants that known. But hey, maybe (1) and/or (2) are true! If so, I’d love to see scientific exploration of ‘why’, instead of rationalizations, folk psychology, and other non-scientific nonsense.

    P.S. correlation ⇏ causation (obligatory comic)

    • Paul B. Lot

      “What’s the scientific consensus on whether religion causes irrationality?”

      I’ve never seen this claim made by anyone. Where have you seen it? I would say it’s my impression that the converse is true.

      (1) Upon becoming an atheist, a scientist starts doing better science.
      (2) Upon becoming a theist, a scientist starts doing worse science.

      I’ve never seen these hypothesized, either. I have seen something close to their converses argued convincingly:

      The better the scientist, the more likely they are to be atheist.

      Your (1) and (2) are statement which I would assume are false, unless I saw some quite strong evidence.

      • “If somewhere within the Bible, I were to find a passage that said 2 + 2 = 5, I wouldn’t question what I’m reading in the Bible. I would believe it, accept it as true, and then do my best to work it out and understand it.”

        —Pastor Peter LaRuffa

        • adam

          Here you go in picture format:

        • adam

          Then of course THIS says it all in a different way:

        • Paul B. Lot

          @BobSeidensticker:disqus and @disqus_xusoHBL07f:disqus, help me out here guys if you would.

          I have a specific question, are you stating (where => mean “causes”):
          a) [Religion] => [Irrationality]
          b) [Irrationality] => [Religion]
          c) [Irrationality] [Religion]
          d) other

        • Think of the mind like a castle. If you lower the drawbridge to allow in religion, anything that mimics religion will likely get in as well–pseudoscience, weak arguments to get life insurance, “trust me, I’m a pastor,” and so on.

          Accepting religion increases the likelihood of accepting other poorly evidenced ideas.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “Think of the mind like a castle. If you lower the drawbridge to allow in religion, anything that mimics religion will likely get in as well”

          I want to claim that the irrational parts of human psyches cause/allow religion to exist (enter) in the mind, not the other way around.

          You use the castle figure to say that minds which allow in religion, allow in *other* irrationalities too, yes?

          But my question, then, becomes: “why did your mind let down the drawbridge for religion in the first place?!” It seems to me that minds must be irrational apriori; I mean, just think of how this relates to childhood-indoctrination.

          I think allowing religion to take hold in your mind is a symptom of, not a cause of, irrationality. As-such, I am happy to agree with the co-morbidities you’ve listed above.

        • For a child to accept what his elders say about reality is rational. These foods are good to eat; these foods will kill you; hot stoves are bad; stay away from strange dogs; never cross the street without Mommy or Daddy; God lives in heaven and cares about you.

          Once that’s baked in as semi-unquestionable dogma, it’s hard to change.

          We’re all somewhat rational, never perfectly so.

          Perhaps this doesn’t address all your questions.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “We’re all somewhat rational, never perfectly so.”

          Of course. I couldn’t agree more.

          “For a child to accept what his elders say about reality is rational.”

          Again: agree.

          When do the parents do this? While the child has very weak rational abilities. Trusting the adult is one of her/his rational defenses, and the parent actively breaks their child’s rational structures.

          So the answer to the question “why did your mind let down the drawbridge for religion in the first place?!” is “my parents told me to do it when I couldn’t help but trust their rationality.”

          *Edit to add*

          So, while the the irrational-firmware does not necessarily exist in the child’s BIOS from-the-factory, parental/educator interference re-flashes that BIOS – injecting code which allows religious software to run.

        • When do the parents do this? While the child has very weak rational abilities. Trusting the adult is one of her/his rational defenses, and the parent actively breaks their child’s rational structures.

          I’m not sure there’s anything to break. A child is naturally gullible (sponge-like), and that’s an evolutionarily smart way for children to be. I’m not seeing any irrationality here. The parents have a meme, and they pass it along.

        • Kodie

          I’d tend to agree with that – the rational machine wants to know why, but with nothing to compare it to, is satisfied with (I mean to some extent even a curious toddler is*) an answer. The thing they have to compare is, this adult takes care of me, is older than me, knows things I don’t know… I don’t know how we know this “trust authority” so well as babies, what choice do we have, but I don’t think this satisfaction with reasonable-sounding answers is “broken” in childhood so it no longer works as adults.

          *My thought here is that babies rack up a lot of questions pre-verbally, so once they’ve grasped enough of the language to communicate, they ask series of questions, not because they don’t believe what you tell them (rationally, skeptically), but because it just opens up more questions to them, and they have nothing to compare it to.

          I have elaborated on how I think adults also have nothing to compare it to, how when they are exposed to some fascinating new information, they have no equivalent knowledge of evolution, for example – they accept the elementary version of evolution they were taught in school until someone else makes that sound like it were a conspiracy to propagandize children and then go on to learn so much more about ID and ID’s version that makes evolution seem ridiculous, and why adults arguing against evolution have no idea what they’re talking about. They didn’t have a solid understanding enough of evolution to begin with, and having skated through school barely educated and not really questioned it before or since, they’re given what sounds reasonable explanation to reverse their former beliefs, a fear that they’d been mind-controlled by the government! The government and the scientific community reject ID because they have to continue to control children’s minds and turn them away from god! This is obviously an emotional hook, targeted at those uneducated people who don’t want to be “left out,” and don’t wish to continue living in the dogmatic haze of a public education. But like children, these adults have nothing to compare to what they’re hearing from a new source.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJlV49RDlLE

        • TheNuszAbides

          but while that narrative suffices for the ‘traditional’ set-up, it in no way explains, e.g., the conversion of Francis Collins. (unless i suppose we can dig up his childhood exposures and find that they indicate that he spent most of his pre-‘epiphany’ life in firm denial of ‘theologicl truths’ …)

        • Kodie

          It only answers what may be a typical example, but not all examples. You have seemed to think, in the past, that if we don’t teach religions to children, they will be much more difficult to believe as adults, but I disagree. I still think adults are superstitious, prone to gullibility, maybe you think this is because the drawbridge of magical thinking was already down. Notice how easily a Christian rejects magical thinking if it conflicts with Christianity. And I don’t agree on holding off on religious teaching until college age. To an adult who sincerely believes this is important for their child to know as their ABCs and basic manners rituals, all of which is indoctrinated to our language and etiquette customs, who can be expected to consider religion as an adults-only topic? Yes, it will fuck up their child. The adults are sincerely unable to agree with that, and trying to plant all the elementary seeds as a good parent. Besides which, a lot of parents don’t like being told what to do.

          Regardless of what a child is taught about religion as a child, I think the rational thinking is a hole in their upbringing. Obedience and rote memorization seem to be prized skills bringing all the good grades until college, and maybe even then. If someone is acting as they seem to should be (that is all fucked up), then it’s not always or often thought to teach them how to think. Your grades are good, but I don’t want good grades, I want to know you thought about how you should answer before you just wrote what you memorized. We’re trained fucking monkeys for the most part, not rational. Although there are logical fallacies, one being the fallacy fallacy, is that just because you have a bad reason to arrive where you ended up doesn’t mean you ended up in the wrong place.

          I was not raised in any religion, it was simply not discussed that much at home. To my mother’s credit, “because I said so” was not used a lot, if ever, but given reasons, even shitty reasons she had, why. I was not given a lot of opportunities to argue either. She had reasons, and I was not to disobey, which I guess is more like “my reasons outweigh your reasons because I said so” but I still remember this. I’m not an only child. I don’t think either of my siblings are Christian, but we don’t talk about that stuff, still. My sister seems to have that spiritual but not religious thing going, as far as I can tell from her facebook shares. Being without religion doesn’t mean you get extra doses of critical thinking to prevent future attacks on your vulnerability and gullibility. Whatever makes you want to buy stuff is the same marketing that religion and other irrational thoughts ride in on.

        • Notice how easily a Christian rejects magical thinking if it conflicts with Christianity.

          Can you think of a better analogy than the drawbridge one? Perhaps the idea is that the drawbridge is let down, the Christian meme comes on board, and it guards the gate against usurpers (but not non-competing supernatural/superstitious ideas).

          who can be expected to consider religion as an adults-only topic?

          I don’t imagine that it would be practical. I offered that as a thought experiment, nothing more. And I think as a thought experiment it makes clear that the basis of Christianity depends largely on childhood indoctrination.

          My challenge to Christianity: act like the Shakers, and accept only adults.

          Being without religion doesn’t mean you get extra doses of critical thinking to prevent future attacks on your vulnerability and gullibility.

          Are you saying that atheists are as gullible to stupid claims as Christians? Maybe. If you’re right, then my drawbridge analogy fails.

        • Kodie

          I think being a social species with a steep climb toward adulthood, we’re prone to cling to ideas that the group shares, no matter what it is. We’re born with no fucking moat. I really think it’s the other way around, we have no natural shields if something works, hardly any amount of stupidity is inevitably fatal. Peer pressure works at any age, any stage, and there are plenty of ideas that only adults have access or interest in. I can’t think of anyone who is indoctrinated in astrology, and yet it is part of our culture, and people above a certain age become intrigued at it. I was not brought up in any religion, and around that age of majority, I became intrigued by witches and spells and all that goofy occult fortune-telling shit. As someone who still called myself an atheist at the time, I would not even associate what I was interested in was a religion or a superstition. It was partitioned off in a part of mysterious things nobody taught me at home, nobody indoctrinated me in, and not even magical, but plausible. I don’t know, I carried on a few years?

          I remember moving in my early 20s to my 2nd apartment, and I had this standard tarot deck, and I wanted to get rid of them and not pack them with my stuff (I guess I was over it then and then you move and have to decide about stuff you haven’t looked at in a while), and I had a hesitation that I should keep them until I could transfer them safely … or something, and then I dropped them in the trash. I have to say this moment was the move to my second phase of atheistic atheism, or one of them. I am a packrat and sentimental about material items, and I like decorative shit, and eventual multi-media found (trash) art dilettante. Even a deck of tarot cards can come in handy for someone who doesn’t believe in fortune-telling, somehow. Anyway, one moment, I was thinking a bad thing could happen, or someone else might be able to use these, and the next moment, I was thinking it’s ok to just dump them. Compare to my sister, who still reads and shares her horoscope publicly on facebook.

          My analogy is that we’re not born with a moat, and anything can get by if it seems (not is) reasonable or packaged attractively. It’s not something you outgrow naturally. I guess I remember someone saying teens get naturally skeptical, well that’s a developmental stage. It doesn’t stick. Life gets real again. I mean, life feels really real as a teen, and you have to develop independence, part of that is almost like toddlerhood, but I also think teens are the most vulnerable to join cults, am I wrong? They’re not building critical structures and rejecting childish notions like Santa Claus, they are questioning their parents mostly. in preparation to live on their own without their parents, to protest that they are old enough to be treated like adults, trusted to drive and break the rules as soon as they are around the corner, to start to figure out who they are, try drugs (because their parents told them not to), believe they’re in love and will still be together to get married as soon as they turn 18, no matter what anyone says, to be susceptible to peer pressure, literally other fucked up teens advising them what they should do instead of adults who have been there, and disbelieve that their parents were ever young. Whatever critical thinking abilities might be acquired, they are not critical enough, as they just reject adults and believe teens who haven’t been there, they just got here. A lot of generalizing here, but I don’t think it’s too far away.

          By early adulthood, things just get weird. Now the teen dream is realized and it kind of sucks. You’re away from home, you’re expected to be responsible, the consequences get more real, and well, it doesn’t seem like the kind of time prone for rejecting fantasy. I do not think at all that adults are critical thinkers. We are mostly trained monkeys. In this early 20s stage, well all through life, thinking everything that happens is happening to you because you’re you – that’s where religion comes from. And when you’re on your own and there’s no parents, the freedom is as exhilarating as it is confusing. Going out drinking every Saturday night gets to be a chore, and is this all there is? People do want more. Their job sucks because they’re young and unstable and entry-level or getting by, and there’s no guidance, and it all feels shitty. This where the tarot cards came in! I had them for a while, but I started to look up how to do the readings and tried doing readings on myself. I didn’t like how it turned out, I did another reading, and another reading. I wanted the future to send me a message that it’s going to turn up, and what decisions to make. Do you really think adults are or would be immune to this bullshit if they weren’t initially indoctrinated in a religion while very young? No. Adults are fucking stupid.

          tl;dr – not even a moat, adults are stupid.

        • Right–we’re not born with a moat, though that grows with time as our skepticism and critical thinking skills grow.

          Maybe a moat with a drawbridge isn’t the best analogy. Maybe it’s more like you have a city with walls, and you can have guarded entrances (soldiers, drawbridge) or unguarded entrances (a bridge across the moat with free access). When Christians build their mental gates, they put the unguarded entrance in to allow Christianity to pass without having to meet the requirements of other ideas (those of the other religions, for example).

        • Kodie

          I think it is more of the cognitive dissonance…. Without knowing a whole lot in depth about anything, I’d envision a brain like it has slots. When the slot is filled, nothing else can easily compete for that slot. If you like, it is guarding that slot. You have a question, and an answer fills that slot; if no answer, the slot waits for an answer. I would, of course, also suggest that not every person has the same empty/filled slots. As the atheist I was before, I would not question too many things I was taught. Like I said, that evolution you were taught in school sits in that slot, but doesn’t come up very often in real life, so it is vulnerable to be replaced by, and competed for that slot. Most people are going along in life, thinking as a schoolchild, “when am I ever going to use this?” and evolution just really happens to not be useful to most people in their daily lives. You don’t know that much about it but a junior high or high school introduction and over-broad explanation of its mechanisms, and you’re probably not too alert, and you might just pass your science class that year, but the next year, it’s chemistry, and I was exempt from science in the State of New York past 10th grade biology. I think I can remind you how many trips during grade school and junior high we took to the local planetarium? And reviewed the same constellations year after year. Maybe they even told us how old the universe was, but that isn’t something that stuck in my head.

          So, evolution is holding that slot, but disintegrating and vulnerable. There is literally nothing forcing you to retain that belief over a lifetime, unless you go into a biology field and study science at the college level (which I was required to do for core requirements, and barely passed biology and astronomy). So you don’t have a moat over any slot, the slotholder is the guard, and if it’s something you use all the time, or is very important to you and you think about it a lot, it is impervious to new (perhaps the correct) information. But evolution isn’t like that for most people. The hook is that you’ve been lied to, and the government is trying to indoctrinate children into believing evolution so they will not be religious. Oh my! That’s scary! Freedom of religion and all that, how could the government be trying to overtake my freedoms? This is where you get a perfectly Brian Jenkin, who admits he formerly argued a bunch of theists, and then fell for the conspiratorial lure of creationism and ID. You can see how it would “open up your mind” if you did not know or care about evolution, that stuffy subject you learned at school mumbleteen years ago.

          I do think there are conspiracy addicts, however. If they have learned that one thing is fishy (from slick marketing to target their utter stupidity and wish to know what’s really going on), of course, they will seek out other things they used to know, and unknow them on purpose. I used the vaccine example also – we used to, or our parents used to, go to the doctor with the children, and get the shots. No questions, this is just what we did, and it was also required to admit them to school, so we just obeyed. Then some asshole scared people, and now there is a wealth of information to seize that slot by the power of fear of being poisoned, what’s going in my children, and what unnecessary harms are we risking to do this “mindless” thing called vaccination?

          But think about this a minute. How is it that, over many decades, nobody asked their doctor what’s in the shots? How does this work? Assuming something like measles is out there, it’s pretty convenient to avoid something like that, right? There’s no course to teach people about herd immunities, this really isn’t taught at school. I never learned about it. I also think I was the first year they stopped giving polio shots, if that’s the one with the obvious scar. The threat of a serious or even inconvenient* disease isn’t on one side to frighten people into mindlessly going to their pediatricians on schedule and getting their child immunized. Even then, nobody cared about herd immunity. You don’t want your child to get polio, or measles, or mumps, or diphtheria (what the fuck is diphtheria, right?), they get their shots. You’re doing this because the doctor says if they don’t, they could die. The schools says, if they don’t, they won’t be allowed to attend.

          *This is taken over by the “who says?” It is taken over by chicken pox pops and parties, and the idea that measles are just some spots, and you live just fine, i.e., back in the 50s and 60s, when everyone got measles and didn’t die. I had a 2nd grade classmate die from measles. Measles seemed to make a rare comeback during my college years, and we were all forced to update our immunizations. People don’t want to get their flu shots because they think the flu is just a really bad cold, when it’s another virus entirely, albeit with usually similar symptoms. This is just how stupid people can be about sickness, and take antibiotics after the fact, that do nothing but make bacteria stronger, or lately I’ve heard, kill the good bacteria and make us weaker. The human body only has so many ways of fighting against a microscopic invasion – respiratorially, mucousy symptoms, and the digestive system, also fever. I don’t even know enough to say whether symptoms are evidence of the attack against us or our body’s way of fighting back, the latter, I would guess, mostly. It seems like people are so afraid of suffering, they would rather risk suffering.

          And we really should ask more questions of the people advising us. I think this is lame that people are avoiding some pseudo-catastrophic outcome for their own children because, as a culture, we really don’t know why we give our kids vaccines, or any other information we take for granted. Once hooked on some alternate scare-tactic version, we’re prone to investigate sources that confirm it. That’s how the bullshit gets in.

        • Good metaphor.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I am a packrat and sentimental about material items, and I like decorative shit, and eventual multi-media found (trash) art dilettante.

          postcard exchange?

          not even a moat, adults are stupid.

          agreed–it’s not whether religion was shoveled into the hole at a particular stage of development, nor is it whether you really hit the books during your factory-schooling stage. i get the impression it’s mostly to do with a balance of (a) fairly rigorous training in critical analysis of every damn thing you ever do/observe–preferably starting as close to adolescence as possible, and (b) not getting a ridiculously swelled head about the fact that one has/uses this training because one can still fool oneself. i.e., to slightly amend, humans are powerfully stupid.

        • It seems to me that minds must be irrational apriori; I mean, just think of how this relates to childhood-indoctrination.

          Do you know of any scientific study which operationalizes the term “childhood-indoctrination”, or something like it, to show that teaching a child one’s religion is ‘indoctrination’, while teaching one’s child other things is not ‘indoctrination’? I’m also reminded of Randal Rauser’s The Myth of the Free-Thought Parent (also on Strange Notions). Note that Randal calls out indoctrination in Christianity: “‘Learning in a Time of (Cultural) War: Indoctrination in Focus on the Family’s “The Truth Project” Christian Scholar’s Review.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Do you know of any scientific study which operationalizes the term “childhood-indoctrination”, or something like it, to show that teaching a child one’s religion is ‘indoctrination’, while teaching one’s child other things is not ‘indoctrination’?

          No.

          Feel free to disregard everything I’m saying here as unsubstantiated. These are my best-guesses at modeling reality.

          You’ll note, also, that I’m having a side-conversation with @BobSeidensticker:disqus, a fellow-atheist, about how we rhetorically model our notions of rationality and religion. In conversation with whom, I hold myself to a different style and standard of evidence than I would with an actively-believing theist.

        • That’s fine. It fascinates me how I am starting to see the conversation you are having about rationality, irrationality, and theism, in the same light as some atheists view Christians wrangling about theology. It’s as if the Enlightenment injected a huge bolus of mythology† into our thinking, along with the great things it did for us. The right science to investigate this matter is sociology; here’s one of the most famous American sociologists’ judgment:

              Another exaggeration may have been the conventional view of the reach of scientific rationality. One does not have to look at religion only in order to find this thought plausible. It is amazing what people educated to the highest levels of scientific rationality are prepared to believe by way of irrational prejudices; one only has to look at the political and social beliefs of the most educated classes of Western societies to gain an appreciation of this. Just one case: What Western intellectuals over the last decades have managed to believe about the character of Communist societies is alone sufficient to cast serious doubt on the proposition that rationality is enhanced as a result of scientifically sophisticated education or of living in a modern technological society. (A Far Glory, 30)

          A French sociologist:

              Modern man is impervious to the preaching of the Gospel. That is connected with a number of sociological causes which I shall not recapitulate here. I shall emphasize one factor only. Man is said to have acquired a critical intellect, and for that reason he can no longer accept the simplistic message of the Bible as it had been proclaimed two thousand years ago. That is indeed one aspect of the diagnostic error, for we have in no way progressed to the stage of the critical intellect. Western man is still as naïve, as much a dupe, as ready to believe all the yarns as ever. Never has man gone along, to such a degree, with every propaganda. Never has he applied so little rational criticism to what is fed him by the mass media. (Hope in Time of Abandonment, 75)

          † Some books which dispel some mythology one sees in such discussions:

          • Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue
          • Steven D. Smith’s The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse
          • Michael Polanyi’s Personal Knowledge
          • Richard J. Bernstein’s Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis
          • Antonio Damasio’s Descartes’ Error
          • William T. Cavanaugh’s The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict
          • David Bentley Hart’s Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies
          • Stephen Toulmin’s Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity
          Interpretive Social Science: A Second Look
          • Hilary Putnam’s The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy
          • Mary Douglas’ and Steven Ney’s Missing Persons: A Critique of the Personhood in the Social Sciences
          • Michael Taylor’s Rationality and the Ideology of Disconnection
          • Kenneth Gergen’s Toward Transformation in Social Knowledge
          • John Milbank’s Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason
          • Elaine Ecklund’s Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think
          • Donald E. Polkinghorne’s Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences
          • Brad S. Gregory’s The Unintended Reformation
          • F.A. Hayek’s Studies on the Abuse and Decline of Reason
          • Bent Flyvbjerg’s Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice
          • Christian Smith’s The Secular Revolution

        • Paul B. Lot

          I am starting to see the conversation you are having about rationality, irrationality, and theism, in the same light as some atheists view Christians wrangling about theology

          That’s fine. I have no doubt that you see things the way you describe. That does not make it so. In particular, my point of view is open to change subject to the evidence. If I am wrong, then I am wrong.

          Western man is still as naïve, as much a dupe, as ready to believe all the yarns as ever. Never has man gone along, to such a degree, with every propaganda. Never has he applied so little rational criticism to what is fed him by the mass media.

          I am actively proclaiming that my point of view should in no-way be taken as a thorough argument or well-evidenced stance. Therefore the premise of hypocrisy-through-non-self-criticism is proven false, and the conclusions of the argument built on that premise are rejected.

          Finally, please note again that I am chatting with @BobSeidensticker:disqus about how-best-to-analogize/model our views. This is a conversation you seem to have no sensitivity for and/or interest in.

        • Therefore the premise of hypocrisy-through-non-self-criticism is proven false, and the conclusions of the argument built on that premise are rejected.

          What hypocrisy did I accuse you of? I’m afraid you’re seeing ghosts.

          Finally, please note again that I am chatting with @BobSeidensticker:disqus about how-best-to-analogize/model our views. This is a conversation you seem to have no sensitivity for and/or interest in.

          I’m sorry, your willingness to barge in on conversations I’ve been having with others, made me think you’d be ok with me barging in on conversations you are having with others. Was this wrong? Do you get to be the arbiter of where I’m allowed to comment, and where I’m not, while I must suffer you barging in whenever you like?

        • Paul B. Lot

          I’m sorry, your willingness to barge in on conversations I’ve been having with others, made me think you’d be ok with me barging in on conversations you are having with others. Was this wrong? Do you get to be the arbiter of where I’m allowed to comment, and where I’m not, while I must suffer you barging in whenever you like?

          Do I get to be the arbiter of where you’re allowed to comment? Of course not. I was under the impression that, since you had expressed strong feelings about it when people did it to you, you would understand and be sensitive when others asked you not to do it to them.

          “What hypocrisy did I accuse you of? I’m afraid you’re seeing ghosts.”

          Allow me to correct you. To help you better understand the charge I am talking about, consider the whole second quote as-emphasised by me:

          Modern man is impervious to the preaching of the Gospel. That is connected with a number of sociological causes which I shall not recapitulate here. I shall emphasize one factor only. Man is said to have acquired a critical intellect, and for that reason he can no longer accept the simplistic message of the Bible as it had been proclaimed two thousand years ago. That is indeed one aspect of the diagnostic error, for we have in no way progressed to the stage of the critical intellect. Western man is still as naïve, as much a dupe, as ready to believe all the yarns as ever. Never has man gone along, to such a degree, with every propaganda. Never has he applied so little rational criticism to what is fed him by the mass media.

          In this excerpt, Ellul is claiming that “Western man” is willing and ready to be duped into believing he has “critical intellect” and is, in fact, uncritical of the claim of having critical intellect to begin with. He is willing to accept anything.

          Believing you do XYZ, while doing !XYZ is (one of) the definition(s) of ‘hypocrisy.’

          Now, if you and I were talking about society, broadly-speaking, I might well be inclined to agree with you. However you pasted the quote to support your analysis that Bob and I were ‘wrangling’ about ‘rationality/irrationality’ the way Xtians wrangle about their mythologies.

          In other words, you decided to take the broad-case, sociological phenomenon – the purported nadir of Western society’s critical faculties – and apply it to Bob and me.

          I (think I) question everything.

          Therefore Ellul’s description of the hypocritical modern man does not apply to me. Therefore I reject the argument you built on top of it.

        • I was under the impression that, since you had expressed strong feelings about it when people did it to you, you would understand and be sensitive when others asked you not to do it to them.

          I wasn’t accusing you of violating any standards, being immoral, etc. Disanalogous.

          Now, if you and I were talking about society, broadly-speaking, I might well be inclined to agree with you. However you pasted the quote to support your analysis that Bob and I were ‘wrangling’ about ‘rationality/irrationality’ the way Xtians wrangle about their mythologies.

          You misinterpreted; I make not claim that you fit every pathology I excerpted. Sociology is a much more statistical thing. It’s more like this:

              The presumption that one knows exactly what modernity is all about rests, in turn, on the deceptions of familiarity. An individual is generally ready to admit that he is ignorant of periods in the past or places on the other side of the globe. But he is much less likely to admit ignorance of his own period and his own place, especially if he is an intellectual. Everyone, of course, knows about his own society. Most of what he knows, however, is what Alfred Schutz has aptly called ‘recipe knowledge’—just enough to get him through his essential transactions in social life. Intellectuals have a particular variety of ‘recipe knowledge’; they know just enough to be able to get through their dealings with other intellectuals. There is a ‘recipe knowledge’ for dealing with modernity in intellectual circles: the individual must be able to reproduce a small number of stock phrases and interpretive schemes, to apply them in ‘analysis’ or ‘criticism’ of new things that come up in discussion, and thereby to authenticate his participation in what has been collectively defined as reality in these circles. Statistically speaking, the scientific validity of this intellectuals’ ‘recipe knowledge’ is roughly random. The only safe course is to ignore it as much as one can if (for better or for worse) one moves in intellectual circles. Put simply: one must, as far as possible, examine the problem afresh. (The Homeless Mind: Modernization and Consciousness, 12)

          I suspect mythological thinking on your parts, but which specific bits of Enlightenment mythology, I would need to work more to figure out.

        • Paul B. Lot

          I was under the impression that, since you had expressed strong feelings about it when people did it to you, you would understand and be sensitive when others asked you not to do it to them.

          I wasn’t accusing you of violating any standards, being immoral, etc. Disanalogous.

          No, it’s not disanalogous. You’ve misunderstood.

          You have expressed strong feelings about people violating standards, being immoral, etc.. That much is true.
          You have also expressed strong feelings about people ‘barging in’ to your conversations.

          Of the two antecedents, one wonders why you were incapable of realizing I referred to the latter. Please acknowledge that you have mischaracterized my statement as disanalogous.

          You misinterpreted; I make not claim that you fit every pathology I excerpted.

          You accused Bob and me of wrangling over mythology. Then you posted a quote in which the author accuses modern “Western” man of holding to a hypocritical mythology of ‘critical intellect.’ If you did not, in fact, intend for that quote to be applied to Bob and me, I must ask you to take the responsibility for writing a comment which made it a conclusion *almost* impossible to avoid.

          Stating that I “misinterpreted” might be true in the sense of “Paul did not get the message that Luke intended”, but it is false in the sense that “Paul did not get the message most-likely to be taken from Luke’s comment.”

        • Of the two antecedents, one wonders why you were incapable of realizing I referred to the latter. Please acknowledge that you have mischaracterized my statement as disanalogous.

          I have never objected to people barging in on my conversations. I have objected to them doing that in certain ways. From the comment you linked:

          LB: My patience has run out with your barging into conversations, imposing your standards, and then faulting me for continuing with the standards I perceived to be in-play when I was talking with the other person.

          I have told you that I’m not faulting you.

          You accused Bob and me of wrangling over mythology.

          True.

          Then you posted a quote in which the author accuses modern “Western” man of holding to a hypocritical mythology of ‘critical intellect.’ If you did not, in fact, intend for that quote to be applied to Bob and me, I must ask you to take the responsibility for writing a comment which made it a conclusion *almost* impossible to avoid.

          You have drawn many wild and crazy conclusions, so I’m afraid I will have to stop responding to you, and ask you to stop responding to me, if you insist I not do what you claim I have done. I am finished trying to figure out the rules by which you require me to behave, in order to interact with you without catching flak from you.

          Stating that I “misinterpreted” might be true in the sense of “Paul did not get the message that Luke intended”, but it is false in the sense that “Paul did not get the message most-likely to be taken from Luke’s comment.”

          Has it occurred to you that your plausibility structure conditions you to see a different probability behind each possible interpretation than my own plausibility structure? Has it occurred to you that we would actually have to do some negotiating on this matter? As far as I’ve seen, it’s my fault, every time, when there’s a mismatch in protocol. And if that’s an exaggeration, I would estimate that > 90% of the time, you have said or implied that it is my fault. This gets tiring, as perhaps you can imagine.

        • Paul B. Lot

          You have drawn many wild and crazy conclusions

          I think this is false. You have made claims about me before, and had to walk them back after careful and precise analysis – I see this is going to be no different. Please name all the “wild and crazy” conclusions I have drawn, or rescind the accusation.

          I will make note that while some other people have commented on small corrections/told me I’ve been too harsh, I have yet to hear anyone else label any of the conclusions I have come to about you/your actions as ‘wild and crazy.’

          Had/if anyone else done/does so, I will take a much longer look in the mirror.

          You, on the other hand, have consistently struck me, and a large number of other people, as someone susceptible to exactly what you’re here accusing me of.

          That doesn’t mean I/we are correct.

          I’m just not currently worried that you have the better understanding of reality.

          Has it occurred to you that your plausibility structure conditions you to see a different probability behind each possible interpretation than my own plausibility structure?

          Yes.

          Has it occurred to you that we would actually have to do some negotiating on this matter?

          Yes.

          All you have to do to get me to rescind my statement is explain how to interpret the sequence of evens I described in another way. Help me understand how this sequence of events was meant to sound.

          1) You accused Bob and me of wrangling over mythology, mythology concerning rationality/irrationality.
          2) You posted a quote which claims that modern, western, man has told himself that he is rational and critical, but is deeply irrational and non-critical of everything.
          3) Believing you do XYZ, while doing !XYZ is (one of) the definition(s) of ‘hypocrisy.’
          4) _________

          What goes in the blank for #4? What was I to infer from the words and quotes you chose, the order of their arrangement?

          As far as I’ve seen, it’s my fault, every time, when there’s a mismatch in protocol. And if that’s an exaggeration, I would estimate that > 90% of the time, you have said or implied that it is my fault. This gets tiring, as perhaps you can imagine.

          I am not going to apologize to a man for hitting him back every time he hits me, much less apologize for making a note of his aggressions.

          I’m afraid I will have to stop responding to you, … if you insist I not do what you claim I have done. I am finished trying to figure out the rules by which you require me to behave, in order to interact with you without catching flak from you.

          What you do, with your own time, and with whom, is your own business.

          “and ask you to stop responding to me”

          I’m afraid that’s not going to happen for a while. If you stop responding to me on new threads, that’s fair enough. But there’s a large backlog of comments from you impugning my character/abilities which I’ll need to trudge through and extract answers from before I will leave you of my reply list.

        • I think this is false. You have made claims about me before, and had to walk them back after careful and precise analysis – I see this is going to be no different. Please name all the “wild and crazy” conclusions I have drawn, or rescind the accusation.

          If I do this, will you reciprocate and name all the times I made claims about you and then had to walk back? And by “name”, I mean with hyperlinks, but you have a habit of doing that so I’m just being pedantic.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Of course.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Additionally, direct your EN – themed conversation with me back over there.

          I have no desire to clutter @BobSeidensticker:disqus’s blog with out-of-context discussion.

        • MNb

          “It is amazing what people educated to the highest levels of scientific rationality are prepared to believe by way of irrational prejudices.”
          Yeah, scientific rationality is hard to master. So what?

        • Yeah, scientific rationality is hard to master. So what?

          Well, apparently Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of those people who finds it hard to master. And you know what? Maybe ‘scientific rationality’ just ain’t all it’s cracked up to be! Or is that an unfalsifiable belief on your part? I mean, the predictions we see below are hilariously bad:

              In this respect, the current intellectual climate is strikingly unlike the one that prevailed during the time in which the American republic (and, some might say, the modern world) were born—the so-called Enlightenment. Then thinkers were confident that, as the eminent historian Henry Steele Commager wrote, “with Reason as their guide they could penetrate to the truth about the Universe and about Man, and thus solve all those problems that pressed upon them so insistently.”[30] Commager, immersed in and seemingly intoxicated by he eighteenth-century writings, exudes as much as describes the scope and the audacity of that mind-set, or that mood:

          Everything discussed and disputed! What a din of controversy and debate, what a clashing of minds. … What is the nature of the universe and of the celestial mechanics that God imposed upon it? How does Man fit into the cosmic system? Is religion necessary? … What is the end and the object of life? Is it happiness, and if so, what is happiness? … What is the origin of government, what the basis and limits of government? What are the rights of Man—that cuts close to the bone!    These are the great questions that sent pens scratching across an infinity of pages, that launched a thousand Essays, Discourses, Considerations, Inquiries, and Histories. How they speculated, how they probed, how they wrote![31]

              From our current vantage point, that enthusiasm, and that confidence in the capacity of “Reason” (notice that Commager uses the upper case) to “solve all those problems that pressed upon [us] so insistently,” may look quaint, almost childlike. The era of so-called Enlightenment was, James Q. Whitman observes, “an odd and often overblown age.” And the thinkers of that period—the Voltaires, Jeffersons, Franklins—”remained fallible, and often comically fallible, human beings. The thrill of using one’s free reason for the first time, it seems, often clouded the senses.”[32] (The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse, 12–13)

          After enough false predictions of what science and technology alone can do, one has a basic choice:

               (1) believe that even more will finally solve the problem
               (2) consider that perhaps something different is needed

          The above is one example. Another is the second half of this comment. I will end with a definition:

               insanity: doing the same thing over and over again,
                                   while expecting a different result

          So: more science and tech? Is that all we need? Is it just harder to get that science and tech than we thought? Just really, really hard?

        • more science and tech? Is that all we need?

          Science and technology have delivered copiously, and your example of the bounty of food is a great example.

          But you ask if there’s more that we can do. I’m open to new ideas. More religion is often suggested (the Pat Robertsons of the world whine about how we need to turn back to God or claim that God is mad at us), but the idea strikes me as ridiculous.

          Your suggestions?

        • But you ask if there’s more that we can do. I’m open to new ideas. More religion is often suggested (the Pat Robertsons of the world whine about how we need to turn back to God or claim that God is mad at us), but the idea strikes me as ridiculous.

          Your suggestions?

          My first suggestion is to characterize and root out the Enlightenment mythology we still believe. Next, we should teach our public intellectuals to not speak about shit they don’t understand, so that the trends observed by Richard Posner’s Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline reverse. Then, I think we need to deal with this:

              Ronald Dworkin’s assessment is, if possible, even gloomier. Dworkin deplores “the lack of any decent argument in American political life.”[3] [M]ost people,” he laments, “now have no interest in discussion or debate with those they regard as belonging to an entirely alien religious or political culture.”[4] Nor is it only ordinary folks (a word I use with apologies to Jacoby, who cringes at the term[5]) who have lost interest in serious deliberation or debate, Dworkin declares. “[T]he news is not much better when we look … to the contributions of public intellectuals and other commentators. Intellectuals on each side set out their own convictions,” but rarely they make any effort to engage in “genuine argument.”[6] (The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse, 3–4)

          Then, I think we need to face this:

          No one expects that anything called “reason” will dispel such pluralism by leading people to converge on a unified truth—certainly not about ultimate or cosmic matters such as “the nature of the universe” or “the end and the object of life.” Indeed, unity on such matters could be achieved only by state coercion: Rawls calls this the “fact of oppression.”[36] So a central function of “public reason” today is precisely to keep such matters out of public deliberation (subject to various qualifications and exceptions that Rawls conceded as his thinking developed). And citizens practice Rawlsian public reason when they refrain from invoking or acting on their “comprehensive doctrines”—that is, their deepest convictions about what is really true—and consent to work only with a scaled-down set of beliefs or methods that claim the support of an ostensible “overlapping consensus“.[Political Liberalism, 133-172, 223-227] (The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse, 14–15)

          Then, I think we need to grapple with the facts and arguments in William T. Cavanaugh’s The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict. After that, maybe we will have rid ourselves of enough falsehoods to push forward. But at this point, I’m already so far from where we are, now. It’s kind of intimidating how much work there is to be done. :-/

        • MNb

          “Maybe ‘scientific rationality’ just ain’t all it’s cracked up to be!”
          As long as you don’t specify what you mean with “all it’s cracked up to be” this is an empty statement.

          “Or is that an unfalsifiable belief on your part?
          If it’s an unfalsifiable belief it’s because you didn’t specify “all it’s cracked up to be”. If you mean that I accept some unfalsifiable assumptions, yes, I do. I am aware that the falsifiability principle itself is not falsifiable.
          All irrelevant to our discussion. Science still delivers.

        • TheNuszAbides

          insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting a different result

          you’re just praying that gets into a dictionary some day, aren’t you? at least you didn’t attribute it to Einstein. try simply distinguishing between perseverance and perseveration.

        • adam

          “Do you know of any scientific study which operationalizes the term “childhood-indoctrination”, or something like it, to show that teaching a child one’s religion is ‘indoctrination’, while teaching one’s child other things is not ‘indoctrination’?”

          Let’s call it what it is – Propaganda.

          propaganda
          noun pro·pa·gan·da ˌprä-pə-ˈgan-də, ˌprō-
          ideas or statements that are often false or exaggerated and that are spread in order to help a cause, a political leader, a government, etc.

          and yes there is plenty of science on propaganda

          http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/science/columnist/vergano/2010-01-22-psychology-political-propoganda_N.htm

          And plenty of examples of it in action

        • I’m aware of propaganda. It’s what allowed us to suppress outrage at the 1999 NATO bombing of a Serbian news station, while getting all in a huff about the Charlie Hebdo attacks. You know, because we’re rational and they ain’t. I have a great book on it, Jacques Ellul’s Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes.

          But you didn’t actually provide what I requested:

          LB: Do you know of any scientific study which operationalizes the term “childhood-indoctrination”, or something like it, to show that teaching a child one’s religion is ‘indoctrination’, while teaching one’s child other things is not ‘indoctrination’?

          You are welcome to try again. And how about linking directly to the study in a peer-reviewed journal? If it’s not freely available, I can probably get it from my local public library.

        • adam

          Let’s call it what it is – Propaganda.

          propaganda
          noun pro·pa·gan·da ˌprä-pə-ˈgan-də, ˌprō-
          ideas or statements that are often false or exaggerated and that are spread in order to help a cause, a political leader, a government, etc.

          and yes there is plenty of science on propaganda

          https://duckduckgo.com/?q=peer+reviewed+articles+on+propaganda&t=ffsb

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’m still trying to figure out why, among all of his valiant efforts to be above all this cloudy-mindedness, Luke keeps using ‘famous’, like that either (a) should actually be important to any of us or (b) shouldn’t be important but secretly is because we’re all cloudy-minded.

        • Kodie

          I don’t think correlation equals causation here. I’ve seen a lot of reasons people think religion is true, but I don’t think that’s the first one in. Sure, a lot of people are indoctrinated, but I also disagree with Bob that if people weren’t exposed to religion until age 18 or whatever, that they’d be more skeptical of it. Adult humans are looking for patterns and meaning, and too something – I want to say “lazy” but it’s not exactly it – to check their sources. It’s become quite popular for people with any kind of irrational belief to claim they are the ones thinking for themselves, and it’s the rest of us who are just sheep. We’re just sheep for being educated enough about evolution to understand it isn’t magical or hard to believe. A nice list of other new age, pseudo-scientific, conspiracy-theory-addled crap that keeps going, year after year, facebook post after facebook post, and onto the popular news, generating more skepticism – hey guess what. For years and years, people let their pediatrician vaccinate their kids without asking any questions, that’s really why. Nobody questioned the doctor until someone alarmed them, and now they’re afraid of poison. This qualifies most people as “thinking for themselves” now, because they are not taking the doctor’s educated advice to inject their precious child with poison. They never questioned it before! They didn’t have a clue what was going in their children and why – nobody gave people a course in this.

          So anyway, it’s the same thing with religion, conspiracy theories, everything. You think you know what’s going on because that’s the way it is, you learned it in school from teachers, or someone on the news, and that’s all “sheep” thinking. Knowledgeable experts are telling you what you need to know and thinking you should probably listen, then someone gets your attention and tells you that’s all a lie. And people who go, “really?” You’re coasting along, doing what you were led to believe by experts, those people whose job it is to find out and tell us all, in their own specialties, and some cool guy says, “you don’t believe that, do you?”

          In the bible, it’s the same line as Psalm 14, “The fool hath said in his
          heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable
          works, there is none that doeth good.” OH, I don’t want to be “that guy!” I better find this god dude and be in the know, I don’t want to reject him and be thought a fool. It’s a hook, nothing more. Hey, forget all you’ve learned, and “think for yourself.” The truth, I think, is that nobody is learning stuff in the first place. There’s the idea that evolution is just “the establishment” cramming institutionalized lessons down your throat and not coming up with anything new and fresh. You sat through it, but did you learn it? Some other guy comes along, like a Brian Jenkin, thinking you’ve just got to check this other shit out, it will really turn your head away from that old stuffy nonsense. So it goes where the public schools are obligated to tell you that, the doctors are obligated to inject your children, the news is obligated to report some “official” version of a story, and it’s easily accepted without any kind of skepticism, right? Well, who really does know. Nobody. That’s what makes them perfect targets of alternate information, packaged as “think for yourself” and painting everyone who drones along as not thinking for themselves, not cluing in to this alternate information and getting their head turned to stuff “they don’t want you to know.” A secret is attractive, as is a scandal, and being “in the know,” without knowing what you don’t know in the first place, learn as much biased information as you can against those established, accepted ideas and practices. They will often, as has been seen, be more educated on this garbage secret than they ever bothered to learn about whatever was established in the first place, and all their sources will be biased against establishment, regardless of what it is – climate change, GMOs, evolution, vaccines, etc. They don’t care about your “consensus” beliefs, they fucking don’t understand how science even works to achieve a consensus, by experts who understand and evaluate the data for themselves. They’re listening to anyone who can tell them why that is mindless, or a conspiracy to keep ID out of school or keep injecting autism into your kids or poison us all with your freak vegetables.

          I don’t think adult humans are that smart, skeptical, rational, or critical thinkers in the first place, generally. It’s very easy to attract them to nonsense at any age, and it doesn’t have to allow religion first and everything else after. It’s all the same kind of irrational thinking. I recently saw a facebook friend of mine comment to a friend of his, who had posted a meme about “still waiting to use this” thing they had learned in school, which was basic algebra, solve for x. Of all the things I might have learned in school that hasn’t come up since, solving for x doesn’t take a long time to appear. Of all the basic skills learned at school at any time, no matter what profession you seek as an adult, geometry and algebra seem quite handy. Adults who live in homes, drive cars, time their carpool duties and regular jobs, and handle money, I don’t know when a person doesn’t use algebra. So this is just about how stupid I think most adults are, somehow either getting through life too stupid to solve basic mathematical life issues, or solving them all the time without realizing it was algebra.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” The atheist believes it in his brain.

          Besides, any Christian calling someone a fool is heading for the bum’s rush according to scripture…

          Matthew 5:22 says, “Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

        • adam
        • TheNuszAbides

          the public schools are obligated to tell you that, the doctors are obligated to inject your children, the news is obligated to report some “official” version of a story, and it’s easily accepted without any kind of skepticism, right? Well, who really does know. Nobody. That’s what makes them perfect targets of alternate information, packaged as “think for yourself” and painting everyone who drones along as not thinking for themselves, not cluing in to this alternate information and getting their head turned to stuff “they don’t want you to know.” A secret is attractive …

          + a billion.

          it’s kind of a pivot point where i still flinch when i read something otherwise agreeable* but that strikes the “ignorance vs. smarts” or “deluded vs. clear-minded” binary in a tribalistic way. stuff like “too bad, history will be on our side” when obviously nobody can seriously know that shit in advance, nor how any determination could potentially be overturned. and stuff like treating atheism as anything more than a starting point.
          the feeling of being in the know–reminds me of a Tim Leary line about the illegality of ‘consciousness-expanding’ (a valuable and not-at-all-necessarily dishonest euphemism) drugs contributing to the “secret society” factor among those who partake. ties in with mystery cults in more ways than one. and a short step from there to “wait, how many of the Founding Fathers were masons or freemasons or whatever? …. whoa, dude”.
          i have a lot more to ramble about norms and belonging and believing and trusting, but maybe i’ll sleep first and find a better place to unload it.

          *that’s in general – not referring to you in this thread.

        • adam

          I agree with Bob below, once MAGIC is the ‘best’ answer to the ultimate questions, rationality is already gone.

        • Evidence, eh? Let’s see what a famous Canadian philosopher has to say, Charles Taylor (2000 ‘citations’):

              In other words, in a hermeneutical science, a certain measure of insight is indispensable, and this insight cannot be communicated by the gathering of brute data, or initiation in modes of formal reasoning or some combination of these. It is unformalizable. But this is a scandalous result according to the authoritative conception of science in our tradition, which is shared even by many of those who are highly critical of the approach of mainstream psychology, or sociology, or political science. For it means that this is not a study in which anyone can engage, regardless of their level of insight; that some claims of the form: “if you don’t understand, then your intuitions are at fault, are blind or inadequate,” some claims of this form will be justified; that some differences will be nonarbitrable by further evidence, but that each side can only make appeal to deeper insight on the part of the other. The superiority of one position over another will thus consist in this, that from the more adequate position one can understand one’s own stand and that of one’s opponent, but not the other way around. It goes without saying that this argument can only have weight for those in the superior position. (Interpretation and the Sciences of Man, 46–47)

          Agree, or disagree? And will you agree or disagree based on:

               (a) evidence
               (b) reason
               (c) both

          ? As to whether the hard sciences are hermeneutical, see über-naturalist Penelope Maddy’s Second Philosophy: A Naturalistic Method:

              A deeper difficulty springs from the lesson won through decades of study in the philosophy of science: there is no hard and fast specification of what ‘science’ must be, no determinate criterion of the form ‘x is science iff …’. It follows that there can be no straightforward definition of Second Philosophy along the lines ‘trust only the methods of science’. Thus Second Philosophy, as I understand it, isn’t a set of beliefs, a set of propositions to be affirmed; it has no theory. Since its contours can’t be drawn by outright definition, I resort to the device of introducing a character, a particular sort of idealized inquirer called the Second Philosopher, and proceed by describing her thoughts and practices in a range of contexts; Second Philosophy is then to be understood as the product of her inquiries. (1)

          You could also consult the SEP article Theory and Observation in Science.

        • adam

          I am not sure where you are going.

          My point is that ‘faith’ especially ‘biblical faith’ is believing what you WANT to be true, without evidence. And this ‘belief’ is in MAGIC – the supernatural. THIS is an EMOTIONAL response not a rational one.

          rational Merriam Webster.
          adjective ra·tio·nal ˈrash-nəl, ˈra-shə-nəl
          : based on facts or reason and not on emotions or feelings

          : having the ability to reason or think about things clearly

          There are no facts that support MAGIC.

        • I am not sure where you are going.

          I’m saying that Bill Nye actually needs more than just ‘evidence’. He needs ‘reason’, and the very concept of ‘reason’ is deeply problematic. Indeed, I think one could phrase the difference between Christianity and what many atheists on the internet believe as differing interpretations of reality. That is, ‘more evidence’ is not always sufficient, sometimes you have to play with different interpretations. This is a known problem in the philosophy of science:

          Theory and Observation in Science
          Underdetermination of Scientific Theory

          My point is that ‘faith’ especially ‘biblical faith’ is believing what you WANT to be true, without evidence.

          Please prove that you have properly translated the words pistis and pisteuō, which are the words in the Greek in the NT. My claim is that you’ve provided a highly tendentious definition which advances your ideology in a non-rational way. William T. Cavanaugh analyzes such non-rational attempts to shape culture in The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict.

          And this ‘belief’ is in MAGIC – the supernatural.

          Please provide a rigorous definition of ‘the supernatural’.

          THIS is an EMOTIONAL response not a rational one.

          Ahh, emotions. Here’s what the science says about emotions, via neuroscientist/​neurobiologist Antonio Damasio’s Descartes’ Error (20,000 ‘citations’):

          When emotion is entirely left out of the reasoning picture, as happens in certain neurological conditions, reason turns out to be even more flawed than when emotion plays bad tricks on our decisions. (xii)

          Care to restate?

        • adam

          “Care to restate?”

          No

          supernatural Merriam Webster
          adjective su·per·nat·u·ral ˌsü-pər-ˈna-chə-rəl, -ˈnach-rəl

          : unable to be explained by science or the laws of nature : of, relating to, or seeming to come from magic, a god, etc.

        • Please define “laws of nature”. That is, do they all take on some particular mathematical form? Perhaps, for example, they can all be expressed as [partial] differential equations? Note, by the way, that Hume argued that one cannot receive data on causation through the senses. And so, it seems like the model of causation chosen is underdetermined by the evidence, along the lines of Underdetermination of Scientific Theory.

          Putting that potential problem aside, I think I hold to Christian Naturalism, so I guess I don’t believe in your ‘supernatural’. See also Leibniz’s theistic case against Humean miracles.

          Then again, according to your definition, ‘intentional explanations’ are ‘supernatural’:

          3.4.1 Intentional and Causal ExplanationsA first objection rests on the very character of intentional explanations. It suggests that a theistic explanation could not be both intentional and causal, since these represent distinct and mutually exclusive forms of explanation. No intentional explanation is a causal explanation. But I believe this claim to be wrong, for reasons I shall outline later (Appendix 1.1). I have no argument with the idea, defended by Donald Davidson, that intentions are causes and that intentional explanations are also causal explanations.[76] There is one issue that needs to be clarified here. I have suggested that intentional explanations are not nomological (3.2.1). They do, if you like, depend on something resembling a law, namely the rationality principle. But they do not depend on law-like generalisations linking particular intentions and particular actions. Does this mean that they cannot be regarded as causal explanations? Only if you believe that the citing of causal laws is a necessary condition of a causal explanation. But I shall argue later that it is not (Appendix 3.3.1), that causal explanations do not necessarily involve causal laws.[77] If this is true, then there is no difficulty with the idea that an intentional explanation is also a causal explanation. (Theism and Explanation, 51)

          So maybe I do believe in the ‘supernatural’. It looks like Gregory Dawes might as well, and he thinks that probably no religious explanation matches the stringent requirements he lays out. Hmmm, I’m not sure Dawes would be happy for you to say that he believes in the ‘supernatural’.

        • adam

          “So maybe I do believe in the ‘supernatural’.”

          Well if you believe in resurrection of dead people then you do.

        • Where did I say I believed this? It seems like you’re unable to track the arguments people are actually making. Is that because you don’t have a good response, and thus must deflect?

        • adam

          It seems like you’re unable to track the arguments people are actually making.

          “Well if you believe in resurrection of dead people then you do.”

          Full Definition of IF Merriam Webster

          1
          a : in the event that
          b : allowing that
          c : on the assumption that
          d : on condition that

        • MNb

          “the model of causation chosen is underdetermined by the evidence.”
          The model of causation has been falsified by Modern Physics, so this is totally irrelevant. Of course David Hume couldn’t know.

        • The model of causation has been falsified by Modern Physics […]

          Your evidence and/or reasoning? Mine is pp410–411 of Bernard d’Espagnat’s On Physics and Philosophy. I can also quote from physicist David Bohm, who probably should have gotten a Nobel Prize for the Aharonov–Bohm effect; e.g.:

              The assumption that any particular kind of fluctuations are arbitrary and lawless relative to all possible contexts, like the similar assumption that there exists an absolute and final determinate law, is therefore evidently not capable of being based on any experimental or theoretical developments arising out of specific scientific problems, but it is instead a purely philosophical assumption. (Causality and Chance in Modern Physics, 44)

          We could also get into Nancy Cartwright’s How the Laws of Physics Lie.

        • adam

          ” He needs ‘reason’, and the very concept of ‘reason’ is deeply problematic. ”

          How so?

          Science delivers, religion only promises.

        • I might be able to make arguments that religion has delivered. I would work off of the following scholarly work:

          • Joshua A. Berman’s Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought
          • Peter Berger’s A Far Glory
          • Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Justice: Rights and Wrongs
          • Yoram Hazony’s The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture
          • Louis P. Pojman’s essay “On Equal Human Worth: A Critique of Contemporary Egalitarianism” in Equality: Selected Readings
          • Steven D. Smith’s The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse

          However, it depends on what you mean by ‘delivers’. For example, does the advent of egalitarianism constitute an instance of ‘delivers’? Or are you perhaps only counting scientific knowledge and instrumental rationality under the rubric of ‘delivers’? You might also see these two excerpts on modern ‘rationality’. Furthermore, you said that science delivers. Let’s examine the historical record:

          In the 1960s, for example, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India, wrote that

          It is science alone that can solve the problems of hunger and poverty, of insanitation and illiteracy, of superstition and deadening custom and tradition, of vast resources running to waste, of a rich country inhabited by starving people. … Who indeed could afford to ignore science today? At every turn we seek its aid. … The future belongs to science and to those who make friends with science.[3]

          Views like Nehru’s were once quite widely held, and, along with professions of faith in the ‘scientific’ political economy of Marx, they were perhaps typical of the scientism of politicians in the 1950s and 1960s. (Scientism: Philosophy and the Infatuation with Science, 2)

          +

          Huffington Post, 05/02/2012: We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger

          Oh. Curious!

        • adam

          “I might be able to make arguments that religion has delivered.”

          But it does not deliver what religion claims, and that is MAGIC.

          MAGIC is the ONE thing that separates men from gods.

          egalitarian
          adjective egal·i·tar·i·an i-ˌga-lə-ˈter-ē-ən
          : aiming for equal wealth, status, etc., for all people

          I dont think equality after death is a reasonable assumption:

          And equality out of the bible?
          You cant be serious?

        • But it does not deliver what religion claims, and that is MAGIC.

          Most Christians through time have not seen God as a genie you can rub to get what you want, magically. So I’m afraid you’ll have to actually sketch what you mean by “MAGIC”, here.

          I dont think equality after death is a reasonable assumption:

          That is a deflection. Here is some information on egalitarianism:

              Pojman examines ten leading secular arguments advanced by theorists such as Ronald Dworkin, John Rawls, Kai Nielsen, Joel Feinberg, Thomas Nagel, and Alan Gewirth, and he finds all of these arguments wanting. Sometimes the arguments turn on demonstrable fallacies or on flagrant and unsupported discursive leaps; more often they do not actually offer any justification for equal worth at all but instead simply assert or assume it, or else posit that in the absence of any persuasive objection we should adopt a “presumption” of equal worth.[85] Pojman concludes that egalitarian commitments are “simply a leftover from a religious worldview now rejected by all of the philosophers discussed in this essay.”[86] Secular egalitarians are free riders, living off an inheritance they view with disdain. And he wonders whether “perhaps we should abandon egalitarianism and devise political philosophies that reflect naturalistic assumptions, theories which are forthright in viewing human as differentially talented animals who must get on together.”[87] (The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse, 180)

          Here’s a bit from Pojman:

              The possibilities [for grounding equal worth] are frighteningly innumerable. My point is that you need some metaphysical explanation to ground the doctrine of equal worth, if it is to serve as the basis for equal human rights. It is not enough simply to assert, as philosophers like Dworkin do, that their egalitarian doctrines are “metaphysically unambiguous.” But, of course, there are severe epistemological difficulties with the kinds of metaphysical systems I have been discussing. My point has not been to defend religion. For purposes of this paper I am neutral on the question of whether any religion is true. Rather my purpose is to show that we cannot burn our bridges and still drive Mack trucks over them. But, if we cannot return to religion, then it would seem perhaps we should abandon egalitarianism and devise political philosophies that reflect naturalistic assumptions, theories which are forthright in viewing humans as differentially talented animals who must get on together. (Equality: Selected Readings, 296)

          I also love how you ignored the fact that we have enough food to feed 10 billion people, and yet cannot feed the < 8 billion people on this planet. What went wrong? Do we need more science? More technology? Is that it? Maybe once we have enough food to feed 15 billion people, we will be able to feed the < 8 billion?

        • adam

          “Most Christians through time have not seen God as a genie you can rub to get what you want, magically. So I’m afraid you’ll have to actually sketch what you mean by “MAGIC”, here.”

          And yet that is what the bible claims

          “My point is that you need some metaphysical explanation to ground the doctrine of equal worth,”

          Nope, equal is equal, and the bible is certainly not for making people equal in THIS life.

        • And yet that is what the bible claims

          Feel free to support this with, you know, Bible verses.

          Nope, equal is equal, and the bible is certainly not for making people equal in THIS life.

          I see, so you’re just not willing to admit that possibly thinking inspired by Jesus and the Bible led to a belief in egalitarianism. Well, if your mind is closed to that, closed to the evidence and reasoning of reputable, well-cited scholars, then there’s not much we can talk about, I’m afraid. Your mind is made-up.

          P.S. I generally do not pay any attention to image macros. If you want to communicate with me, use searchable text. But if you’re looking for an emotional impact, of the irrational kind, then images are probably the way to go. People love looking at them; it feeds their fancy.

        • adam

          “I see, so you’re just not willing to admit that possibly thinking inspired by Jesus and the Bible led to a belief in egalitarianism. Well, if your mind is closed to that, closed to the evidence and reasoning of reputable, well-cited scholars, then there’s not much we can talk
          about, I’m afraid. ”

          Sure I admit it is possible, but it goes against the evidence in the bible itself. You know slavery, genocide, treatment of women as PROPERTY..

          But if YOUR MIND is made-up…

          ” If you want to communicate with me, use searchable text.”

          If YOU want communication from me, take what I give you, in the form I give you. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dfc48dd0da75ac253a1baba996b36eee6cc0c39d26269abc85e3c5f363e9d450.png

        • Sure I admit it is possible, but it goes against the evidence in the bible itself. You know slavery, genocide, treatment of women as PROPERTY.

          Oh I realize: as you read the Bible, this couldn’t possibly be the case. So, the question is whether you’re reading the Bible correctly or not. For example, you seem to exclude the possibility that there is a kind of ‘moral trajectory’ in the Bible. If you’re going to remain intransigent on how you interpret the Bible, then I will refuse to discuss the Bible with you.

          If YOU want communication from me, take what I give you, in the form I give you.

          I refuse:

          LB: I am ignoring all image macros from you. And if you continue to use them when replying to me, I will ignore all further comments by you.

        • adam

          “Oh I realize: as you read the Bible, this couldn’t possibly be the case.”

          No, this is after studying the bible AFTER reading it a couple of times.

          Of course, I read the Vedas, the Koran, the Tao and other religious text as well..

        • adam
        • I see no searchable text to reply to. Feel free to try again. I am ignoring all image macros from you. And if you continue to use them when replying to me, I will ignore all further comments by you.

        • adam

          “I see no searchable text to reply to. Feel free to try again. I am ignoring all image macros from you. And if you continue to use them when replying to me, I will ignore all further comments by you.”

          Yep, typical of theists acting like a 5 year old in the sandbox.

        • MNb

          You’re incapable of recognizing letters when they are too large? Maybe you should consult a medical expert.

        • Kodie

          I could read that just fine. I don’t know why it has to be “searchable text” but you seem kind of fussy.

        • I like to be able to refer to old comments, and to do this I search through both them and to comment to which they were in reply. The reason I do this is that I’m trying to continually learn things, not just dabble. If my interlocutor isn’t willing to not do something really obnoxious to me, then probably I won’t learn much from dialoguing with him/her, or it will take more effort on my part and I could use that effort more wisely with other folks. Make more sense?

        • you’re just not willing to admit that possibly thinking inspired by Jesus and the Bible led to a belief in egalitarianism

          The Bible is a sock puppet. You can make it say anything you want. If your point is that the Bible can be quote mined for verses about egalitarianism, I agree. What I would disagree with is the claim that the Bible provides unambiguous support for egalitarianism.

        • The Bible is a sock puppet. You can make it say anything you want. If your point is that the Bible can be quote mined for verses about egalitarianism, I agree. What I would disagree with is the claim that the Bible provides unambiguous support for egalitarianism.

          Your claim of “sock puppet” is kinda-sorta supported by Heb 4:12–13. But it has a way of having major contradictions when you try to do evil shit. Take, for example, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Please ignore Deut 23:15. Or take slaves who convert to Christianity. By Romans 11-reasoning, they are now ‘Hebrews by faith’. Most slaveowners in the South were not Hebrews, except in the sense of being ‘Hebrews by faith’. Please ignore Deut 15:12–18.

          I don’t know what “unambiguous support for egalitarianism” would look like, and more importantly, whether it would have any psychological bite whatsoever. Louis Pojman thinks that a metaphysics-free egalitarianism crumbles, rationally:

              The possibilities [for grounding equal worth] are frighteningly innumerable. My point is that you need some metaphysical explanation to ground the doctrine of equal worth, if it is to serve as the basis for equal human rights. It is not enough simply to assert, as philosophers like Dworkin do, that their egalitarian doctrines are “metaphysically unambiguous.” But, of course, there are severe epistemological difficulties with the kinds of metaphysical systems I have been discussing. My point has not been to defend religion. For purposes of this paper I am neutral on the question of whether any religion is true. Rather my purpose is to show that we cannot burn our bridges and still drive Mack trucks over them. But, if we cannot return to religion, then it would seem perhaps we should abandon egalitarianism and devise political philosophies that reflect naturalistic assumptions, theories which are forthright in viewing humans as differentially talented animals who must get on together. (Equality: Selected Readings, 296)

          I agree. So what we have is a “cut-flower-society”: no metaphysics being consciously discussed (where that discussion leads to any sort of agreement), but plenty deep within our subconscious. It’s the subconscious thing which matters for behavior (see to follow a rule). And so, we’ll be ok for a while. But I predict there will be decay, like pretty flowers get unpretty. One mechanism for this is growing wealth inequality, which is highly correlated with growing power disparity, and the empirical evidence says this about power disparity:

              In the Enlightenment tradition, rationality is typically seen as a concept that is well-defined and context-independent. We know what rationality is, and rationality is supposed to be constant over time and place. This study, however, demonstrates that rationality is context-dependent and that the context of rationality is power. Power blurs the dividing line between rationality and rationalization. Rationalization presented as rationality is shown to be a principle strategy in the exercise of power. Kant said that the possession of power unavoidably spoils the free use of reason. We will see that the possession of more power soils reason even more, that the greater the power, the less the rationality. The empirical study is summed up in a number of propositions about the relationship between rationality and power, concluding that power has a rationality that rationality does not know, whereas rationality does not have a power that power does not know. I will argue that this asymmetry between rationality and power forms a basic weakness of modernity and of modern democracy, a weakness that needs to be reassessed in light of the context-dependent nature of rationality, taking a point of departure in thinkers like Machiavelli, Nietzsche, and Foucault.[2] (Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice, 2)

          So, let’s just watch what happens as the clock ticks forward for a while. My prediction might turn out correctly, or it might turn out incorrectly. The following from Charles Taylor gives me additional confidence that I’m onto something:

              The worry has been repeatedly expressed that the individual lost something important along with the larger social and cosmic horizons of action. Some have written of this as the loss of a heroic dimension to life. People no longer have a sense of a higher purpose, of something worth dying for. Alexis de Tocqueville sometimes talked like this in the last century, referring to the “petits et vulgaires plaisirs” that people tend to seek in the democratic age.[1] In another articulation, we suffer from a lack of passion. Kierkegaard saw “the present age” in these terms. And Nietzsche’s “last men” are at the final nadir of this decline; they have no aspiration left in life but to a “pitiable comfort.”[2]
              This loss of purpose was linked to a narrowing. People lost the broader vision because they focussed on their individual lives. Democratic equality, says Tocqueville, draws the individual towards himself, “et menace de la renfermer enfin tout entier dans la solitude de son propre coeur.”[3] In other words, the dark side of individualism is a centring on the self, which both flattens and narrows our lives, makes them poorer in meaning, and less concerned with others or society. (The Malaise of Modernity, 3–4)

          I look forward to further evidence-gathering!

        • Wait—are you making the “Biblical slavery wasn’t so bad” or even “Biblical slavery was actually enlightened” arguments? I gotta disagree with you there. More in this post.

          I don’t know what “unambiguous support for egalitarianism” would look like

          It would be support for egalitarianism with nothing contrary. No support for slavery for life, no support for genocide, no prohibitions against mixed-race marriage, and so on.

        • Wait—are you making the “Biblical slavery wasn’t so bad” or even “Biblical slavery was actually enlightened” arguments?

          No. I’m saying that the slaveholders in America were giving the middle finger to the Bible. Therefore, the following—

          BS: The Bible is a sock puppet. You can make it say anything you want.

          —isn’t quite true. Which is what I said.

          It would be support for egalitarianism with nothing contrary.

          Where does this exist, and how effective is it in being turned from words, to reality? I gave you a scholarly argument that it doesn’t exist in any motivating form (Pojman surveyed ten popular arguments pro-egalitarianism and found them all wanting). I also pointed out what happens when you have power disparities, and noted that those disparities are almost certainly increasing. So… it seems like we’re actually headed away from egalitarianism in the way that matters most: demographics of power holders. I also provided testimony that people in democracies are becoming less interested in giving a shit about others where they’d have to actually move their asses and sacrifice to give that shit.

          No support for slavery for life, no support for genocide, no prohibitions against mixed-race marriage, and so on.

          No support for Rwandan Genocide § United States? Are you sure? How about support for 1999 NATO bombing of a Serbian news station, while condemnation for the Charlie Hebdo attacks? After all, those Serbs were being irrational, while we Westerners are rational (especially the French!).

        • I’m saying that the slaveholders in America were giving the middle finger to the Bible.

          Why would they do that when the Bible provided terrific support for their position?

          Therefore, the following—BS: “The Bible is a sock puppet. You can make it say anything you want”—isn’t quite true.

          I’m missing your defense of this position. You make the Bible say loving things about slaves’ rights. I make the Bible defend American slavery. On this one point of slavery, it does seem that the Bible is a sock puppet.

          ”It would be support for egalitarianism with nothing contrary.”

          Where does this exist, and how effective is it in being turned from words, to reality?

          You’re asking where one can find a document that is universally in support of egalitarianism?

          As for the Bible, I hold a God-given book to high standards. The Bible sure doesn’t look like that.

          it seems like we’re actually headed away from egalitarianism in the way that matters most: demographics of power holders.

          OK. I don’t have much interest in this topic.

          ”[A God-given book of morality would have no] support for slavery for life, no support for genocide, no prohibitions against mixed-race marriage, and so on.”

          No support for Rwandan Genocide § United States? Are you sure?

          My point was that the Bible sucks as a moral document. I have no idea what your point is.

        • Why would they do that when the Bible provided terrific support for their position?

          Ummm:

          LB: Your claim of “sock puppet” is kinda-sorta supported by Heb 4:12–13. But it has a way of having major contradictions when you try to do evil shit. Take, for example, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Please ignore Deut 23:15. Or take slaves who convert to Christianity. By Romans 11-reasoning, they are now ‘Hebrews by faith’. Most slaveowners in the South were not Hebrews, except in the sense of being ‘Hebrews by faith’. Please ignore Deut 15:12–18.

          Better?

          You’re asking where one can find a document that is universally in support of egalitarianism?

          Documents are only good if they have power to motivate. Philosophers build all sorts of castles of ideas. How many of those are lived in?

          As for the Bible, I hold a God-given book to high standards. The Bible sure doesn’t look like that.

          And how did you get those standards? How did you verify they were the right standards?

          OK. I don’t have much interest in this topic.

          Ok. I will quickly lose interest if we talk about theory divorced from practice, though. I’m interested in theory which actually matches reality, not ivory tower musings. So, for example, instead of seeing a few numbers about belief and disbelief, I opt for books which actually ask people why they believe or or disbelieve, like Elaine Ecklund’s Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think. This is called qualitative research; if someone ever runs into Neil deGrasse Tyson, please tell him about it (evidence he is unaware).

          My point was that the Bible sucks as a moral document. I have no idea what your point is.

          What’s my point? That the West de facto stood by while a genocide happens, and here you seem to be implying that we know better than to let genocides happen. Unless you think it’s ok to colonize a country, give social preference to one group and thus set up tensions between social groups, then withdraw and let those tensions turn into genocide? If you think that’s ok, then I’m going to consider your judgments of the Bible highly suspect, when it comes to genocide.

        • You ignored or misunderstood my question, so I’ll repeat it: Why would American slaveholders reject the Bible when it provided terrific support for their position?

          You copied a prior comment of yours. Presumably your “please ignore” bits were Bible quotes that could be used to support a modern revulsion of slavery. Yeah, I get it—the Bible is a sock puppet. Now that that’s out of the way, do you want to respond to my point that the Bible provides great support for American-style slavery for life? My points are summarized in the post I already pointed you to here.

          And how did you get those standards? How did you verify they were the right standards?

          My standards have the same grounding as yours. We get our moral sense from society and from our programming. I see no evidence of objective morality.

          What’s my point? That the West de facto stood by while a genocide happens, and here you seem to be implying that we know better than to let genocides happen.

          The West has a mixed track record. Yeah, I get it. In a difficult situation, sometimes we think we’re picking the lesser of two evils but aren’t.

          Why bring that up? Are you just trying to cloud the issue? The fact remains that Yahweh commanded genocide; ergo, Yahweh is a dick. The moral calculus is pretty simple.

        • Why would American slaveholders reject the Bible when it provided terrific support for their position?

          Because it only provided terrific support for their position if they cherry-picked or grossly distorted it. And you know what? Once a person is willing to do that, no document is going to do jack shit for them. They’ll decide on what they want, then legitimize it however they can finagle it.

          My standards have the same grounding as yours. We get our moral sense from society and from our programming. I see no evidence of objective morality.

          If your standards have the same grounding as mine, why are mine so different than yours? I grew up in suburban Massachusetts to a middle-class family. I went to public school and attended a very secular, top-tier research institution for college. My best man was and still is an atheist. Let me know what else you want to know to answer my question.

          Why bring that up? Are you just trying to cloud the issue? The fact remains that Yahweh commanded genocide; ergo, Yahweh is a dick. The moral calculus is pretty simple.

          If YHWH is a dick, and we also sowed the seeds for genocide and then failed to stop it, we are dicks as well. Our condemnation of YHWH falls on us.

        • Kodie

          People find Yahweh to have acceptable mysterious reasons and are not sickened by his moral (and fictional) character in the least – they think he’s real. We are disgusting animals sometimes, and still blame that on magical reasoning, “the fall.” Why aren’t we perfect, why isn’t everything perfect. “A story”. Even though (I think) most Christians don’t believe that story literally, it’s still somehow the given excuse for why they’re falling on their knees and threatening that someday I will too, to that (fictional) character in a book they read. God made us perfect, and we rejected this perfection, so it’s all us we deal with now.

          Without god, it’s us anyway. We’re talking to Christians all the time who believe that fictional character is not only real but makes them moral. It’s through interpretations they prefer out of a vague book authored by other humans, thousands of years ago, that they make up what they believe to be “objective” morality. There’s no evidence of that. There is evidence that you have your own interpretation too, so the accusation of cherry-picking as if that’s other people is kind of amusing. Your interpretation is just as cherry-picked and grossly distorted – yet, even though you’re really evasive about setting down what that is, and probably offended that I think I know something about you and accuse you of it, when you won’t answer the damn question yourself and keep trying to make us read your mind.

          You want to know what an atheist’s definition of “faith” is? It means you believe something that isn’t real as if it’s real. You don’t have to be specific.

        • adam

          “People find Yahweh to have acceptable mysterious reasons and are not
          sickened by his moral (and fictional) character in the least ”

          People found Stalin to be the same.
          Probably because of the same reasoning

          FEAR
          .

        • adam

          ” if they cherry-picked or grossly distorted it.”

          And yet bible god supposedly said:

        • adam

          “If YHWH is a dick, and we also sowed the seeds for genocide and then failed to stop it, we are dicks as well. Our condemnation of YHWH falls on us.”

          EXACTLY

        • Because it only provided terrific support for their position if they cherry-picked or grossly distorted it.

          Nope.

          I make my position clear in the post, which I’ve pointed you to twice. If you want to respond to my position, that is a succinct summary.

          And you know what? Once a person is willing to do that, no document is going to do jack shit for them. They’ll decide on what they want, then legitimize it however they can finagle it.

          Yes, indeedy. And therein lies one of the biggest problems with American Christianity.

          If your standards have the same grounding as mine, why are mine so different than yours?

          They are? That surprises me. Aside from my baby-eating habit (I’m going to a 12-step program for that), I’d imagine that our morals are quite similar. Tell me where you think we disagree.

          I’m pro SSM and abortion. I imagine we disagree there. Still, I assume there are hundreds of important moral claims on which we agree.

          If YHWH is a dick, and we also sowed the seeds for genocide and then failed to stop it, we are dicks as well. Our condemnation of YHWH falls on us.

          God made us imperfect, so our occasional penchant for genocide is God’s fault. But that’s an aside. The point is that God himself advocates genocide, not a good property in someone who claims to be perfect. It almost makes him look like (dare I say it?) a product of primitive early Iron Age tribesmen.

        • LB: Because it only provided terrific support for their position if they cherry-picked or grossly distorted it. And you know what? Once a person is willing to do that, no document is going to do jack shit for them. They’ll decide on what they want, then legitimize it however they can finagle it.

          BS: Yes, indeedy. And therein lies one of the biggest problems with American Christianity.

          I think this is the crux of our disagreement on slavery. I see the Bible as a whole unit, and I think one has to be extremely cautious about finding a contradiction and thus dismissing that text. I actually treat people the same way. If what a person says generally makes sense, I will take the exceptions as an indication that I am wrong, not that the other person is speaking nonsense. I will work very hard to see why it is that said thing seemed like nonsense to me. When you are allowed to pick and choose in a person, I think you do great evil to the person. When you are allowed to pick and choose in the Bible, I think the reasons you have for so-picking-and-choosing is deeply revelatory of your character, as Heb 4:12–13 makes clear.

          The remaining question seems to revolve around:

          LB: I don’t know what “unambiguous support for egalitarianism” would look like, and more importantly, whether it would have any psychological bite whatsoever.

          BS: It would be support for egalitarianism with nothing contrary.

          One way to model your thinking is via the following counterfactual:

          (X) If the Bible lacked nasty bits, history would look better.

          The extreme of this would be for the Bible to match your “with nothing contrary”. We could even imagine a Nineteen Eighty-Four scenario, where all the nasty bits have been expunged. Actually, there is the Jefferson Bible. Perhaps there is evidence that followers of the Jefferson Bible act better than others? If there isn’t, and if you cannot support (X) with any sort of solid reasoning with some evidence, then I’m afraid your criticism of the Bible’s support of slavery seems rather irrelevant.

          LB: If your standards have the same grounding as mine, why are mine so different than yours?

          BS: They are? That surprises me. Aside from my baby-eating habit (I’m going to a 12-step program for that), I’d imagine that our morals are quite similar. Tell me where you think we disagree.

          Hmmm, can you send me the address and schedule for that 12-step? I should probably stop my bad habit and join, too. As to how our standards differ, the most fundamental one is that I don’t blame God for human failures; I blame humans. This percolates out into my conception of ‘nobility’ and, I’m pretty sure, gives it a very different hue than yours, if not also a different shape and different function. The question has to do with how often we knew we were doing the wrong thing, when we did the wrong thing. I think the answer is: “commonly”, at least up to the point when conscience was seared. The general belief I get from others—atheists and theists—is buck-passing and claims of ignorance.

          For example, take the terrible, terrible predictions at Milgram experiment § Results. Experts and experts-in-training were asked to estimate how many study participants would ramp up the voltage on the test subject (who was a confederate) to lethal voltage—voltage they were told was lethal. Experts predicted 0.1%–2%. The actual number was 66%. This was in 1963, a mere twenty years after Nazi Germany. What is especially shocking is that usually, I find that research about human nature usually well-matches common beliefs about human nature. Rarely is there such a huge disparity. Why would this case be an outlier? Well, the explanation I currently prefer—I’m open to countervailing arguments—is that we want to believe in the Enlightenment dream, that we are autonomous persons with strong moral compasses. I think this is delusional belief, and that people are culpable for building toward that delusion. We were given fantastic evidence at Auschwitz, but we just ignored it because hey, that would damage my self-image! Or so my model of the situation goes. I really do need to investigate it thoroughly.

          We also might disagree when it comes to free will and moral responsibility. I’m not going to go spouting off about LFW, but I will argue that common conceptions of ‘moral responsibility’ are incompatible with CFW and DW. (Libertarian Free Will, Compatibilist Free Will, Deterministic Will) From Bruce Waller’s Against Moral Responsibility:

              The basic claim of this book is that—all the extraordinary and creative efforts of contemporary philosophers notwithstanding—moral responsibility cannot survive in our naturalistic-scientific system. Moral responsibility was a comfortable fit among gods and miracles and mysteries, but the deeper scientific understanding of human behavior and the causes shaping human character leaves no room for moral responsibility. (vii)

          The moral responsibility that is my target is the moral responsibility that justifies special reward and punishment. (1–2)

          No one is morally responsible for being bad or behaving badly—but this does not mean that no one has a character with profound moral flaws. (5)

          Now, I’m inclined to buy much of the argument in William Ryan’s Blaming the Victim. I subscribe to what I call a “small–∆v model of free will”, somewhat like the limited thruster fuel that satellites have for navigating Interplanetary Transport Network. We can make small little pushes and shoves, and that is it. You might be forced to disagree, based on your metaphysics. After all, what on earth is due to ‘you’, if all of reality can be carved up into:

               (A) facts predetermined by initial conditions + laws
               (B) stochastic noise

          ? This way of thinking, this metaphysic, precludes agent causation, by viewing all true causation as being carried out by impersonal laws of nature. Now, I could be wrong in thinking that you hold to this metaphysic; I am guessing at this point to cut down on the back-and-forth. But I suspect that my conception of ‘noble’ actually depends on one’s metaphysic, on this point. I think people have a tremendous amount of moral responsibility, and so much of this blaming of God is buck-passing. I’m guessing you heartily disagree.

          God made us imperfect […]

          Well, if we were made incomplete, without a deterministic trajectory, this seems necessarily true? But the reason that we were made incomplete would be that the completion process was to happen via free relationship, one which is impossible on emotivism:

              What is the key to the social content of emotivism? It is the fact that emotivism entails the obliteration of any genuine distinction between manipulative and non-manipulative social relations. (After Virtue, 23)

          But free relationship requires the possibility of failure, doesn’t it?

          The point is that God himself advocates genocide […]

          Yes, and you advocate abortion. Have more –9/12 to 12 year-olds (who weren’t threatening their mother’s lives, and who weren’t brought into existence via rape) died due to OT genocide, or abortion? I’m sure you also hate the Tenth Plague, even though all those children died painlessly with virtually no fear (sufficient fear could cause them to run away to a Jewish home which had covered its door frame with lamb’s blood). I see major, major moral contradictions in your thinking. I think the Bible was designed to draw them out, as well as tell us about God and how God has interacted with humans.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I see the Bible as a whole unit, and I think one has to be extremely cautious about finding a contradiction and thus dismissing that text. I actually treat people the same way. If what a person says generally makes sense, I will take the exceptions as an indication that I am wrong, not that the other person is speaking nonsense. I will work very hard to see why it is that said thing seemed like nonsense to me. When you are allowed to pick and choose in a person, I think you do great evil to the person. When you are allowed to pick and choose in the Bible, I think the reasons you have for so-picking-and-choosing is deeply revelatory of your character, as Heb 4:12–13 makes clear.

          Well isn’t it a great pity you are not consistent with that admirable philosophy. I might have saved a lot of wasted time and effort elsewhere, don’t ya think?

        • Do tell. I am always looking to become less of an asshole, less of an idiot, and less of an evil person.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well a few days ago you were not prepared to take the person of epeeist as a whole when you decided to take a single sentence of a comment and use it to judge his overall character.

          It would not have taken much to satisfy how far left-field you were on that score early on. Even after numerous commenter’s had pointed out your folly, you insisted upon gripping your assertion like a doggy chew toy. IIRC, you ended up offering an apology for said folly in the end.

          http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/estranged-notions-trial-by-fire.html#comment-2326555092

        • Why are you bringing up sins of mine for which I have apologized? Do you like rubbing people’s failures in their faces? If not, what is your purpose?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Look Luke…you are either a hypocrite, a liar, or you forgot about a couple of days ago and might be going a bit dottery.

          Either way, it is incumbent upon me to point out to others here of potential failings on your part. Ya know, the way you are quite prone to do elsewhere when it suits ya….Paul B. Lot will know what I mean.

          On the other hand, you have been averse to accept anything detrimental about Brandon Vogt without others furnishing ya with substantial evidence…perhaps the first of my three then?

        • I do like how you and Paul B. Lot are keeping a careful track of all my failings, whether perceived or actual. That is such a great way to treat another human being! You collect everything which could possibly be construed negatively, nothing that could be construed positively, and keep mushing my face in the result. I am thinking of writing a book called “Go to Hell!”, about strategies to make man-made hells and put people in them. You have given me fodder for this enterprise; for that, I thank you!

        • Paul B. Lot

          “I do like how you and Paul B. Lot are keeping a careful track of all my failings, whether perceived or actual.”

          Luke, let me assure you for my part: your actual failings are keeping me busier than I ever wanted to be.

          ” That is such a great way to treat another human being! You collect everything which could possibly be construed negatively, nothing that could be construed positively, and keep mushing my face in the result.”

          You’re a whiner, aren’t you? For someone as concerned about keeping track of others’ sins as you are, this is a hypocritical complaint to be sure. In any case, The record will show that my first attempts to interact with you were open. They were friendly. And they were helpful.

          You chose to proceed with me from then-on with the sealion method of interaction; treating me as if you were a defense attorney for SN/BV cross examining a hostile plaintiff’s witness.

          (I mention all of this not to bore the ‘CrossExamined’ readers, which I surely am, but merely to provide you with the evidence you would refute this comment for lacking, if I do not.)

          TLDR

          The long and short of it, is this.

          Had you wanted to interact with me in a pleasant manner; you had only to reciprocate my initial pleasantness.

          That my attitude with you has deteriorated to the point where you feel it is ‘hellish’ is a situation *almost entirely* of your own making.

          Not, by the way, that I mind the idea of your suffering. I don’t.

          I just hate reading whining hypocrisy.

          *Edits for formatting and an improper link*

        • You’re a whiner, aren’t you? For someone as concerned about keeping track of others’ sins as you are, this is a hypocritical complaint to be sure.

          Glorious! The tl;dr is that your use of the label ‘sin’ is gratuitous; it does not fit. However, it is useful to use that label, if your goal is character assassination. After all, it looks bad if I’m keeping track of people’s sins (at least sins of which they’ve repented). But if I’m actually doing something else—like keeping track of what a prejudiced moderator would probably consider ‘ban-worthy’, well that would be entirely different! Indeed, it would be an investigation into potential moderator bias! Now, of necessity, I would have to get into such a moderator’s head, to see how [s]he thinks and feels. I would have to simulate his/her judgment well, in order to accurately replicate it.

          And now the detailed argument. Here is the comment to which you have linked:

          LB: She was absolutely atrocious to me on DC; perhaps it is because she is a school teacher and needs to vent afterward. 🙂 Anyhow, it doesn’t do Michael Murray any good to include people like articulett and Paul Boillot in his list. I’m iffy on Pofarmer and josh as well, given my interactions with them on EN/OSTS. That should be a list of people who have posted fantastic blog comments, easily promoting the stated goal of SN, people who did get a little snarky or whatever at times but were really contributing, on the whole. Sadly, I’m not sure how well it resembles such a thing. :-/

          What you have labeled “sins”, is merely “behavior that the moderators on SN at least somewhat reasonably consider ban-worthy”. Nothing in what I said actually implies that said behavior is ‘sin’, in the sense of “disloyalty to God”†. Indeed, I have repeatedly noted that it is likely that the moderator behavior on SN will be biased against atheists. So, it could be the case that people on that list were actually returning snark-for-snark, like this offensive comment from the main site moderator:

          BV: But why should the materialist care? If we’re all just random, pointless collections of matter, why should the materialist go to great lengths to help a starving child in Africa? What’s the purpose?

          If an atheist had said something which Brandon Vogt interpreted as offensive, of intensity equal to how an atheist might interpret Brandon’s statement‡, I think that atheist would have been banned and/or had his comments deleted from SN. But I wouldn’t necessarily see Brandon’s comment here as ‘sin’, nor the equivalent atheist-to-Christian snarky comment as ‘sin’. Nothing in what I’ve said, to my knowledge, could possibly entail that ‘sin’ is the right word to use.

          Furthermore, I have actually started to push back against Brandon’s comment being acceptable. Here is how I started that process:

          LB: Have you ever asked these questions of friends of yours who are atheists? I can see them being extremely offended, but also not offended at all. I’m just curious to what extent you’ve field-tested this line of questioning, especially in the way you’ve done it. They seem… possibly extremely incendiary.

          Now, I claim that my ability to write the above is the result of keeping that list you mentioned. See, first I had to rule out comments like yours, which you stated was intentionally crafted to get you banned. After doing that, I could start narrowing down to the kinds of comments which should really be acceptable, if moderation on SN were perfectly balanced. After all, that is the crucial gray area: between perfectly balanced moderation, and the slight to moderate amount of prejudice which I claim is a fact of life when there is a dominant group and a lesser group, interacting. My keeping such a list is crucial for me to study the gray area.

          However, you have portrayed a critical component of this endeavor of mine—which may well be bearing fruit in my discussion with Clay James (first comment, last so far)—as me “keeping track of others’ sins”. I think that is wrong, and I think that is slanderously wrong.

          † On request, I can draw up a more technical definition from:
          • Josef Pieper’s The Concept of Sin
          • Alistair McFadyen’s Bound to Sin: Abuse, Holocaust and the Christian Doctrine of Sin
          • Edmond La B. Cherbonnier’s Hardness of Heart
          • Karl Menninger’s Whatever Became of Sin?

          ‡ See my conversation with Ignatius Reilly, starting here and ending here, to see how Brandon’s comment might be seen as quite offensive.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Look at you go, go-go-gadet-inspector @LukeBreuer:disqus . 🙂

          I’m going to move this back over to EN. There’s no reason to continue to bore Bob and his readers with a re-hashing of what didn’t go down here.

          For all those people who think Luke’s character hangs-in-the-balance on whether or not my comments are “slanderously wrong”, come on over: http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/2015/10/another-open-thread.html#comment-2332246149

        • Kodie

          Your personal unraveling is uninteresting, when after all, what you’re being accused of is holding yourself up to exemplify how you “actually” treat people (since 3 days ago) is how the rest of us should approach the bible for veracity or utility. Let’s stick to that.

        • That my attitude with you has deteriorated to the point where you feel it is ‘hellish’ is a situation *almost entirely* of your own making.

          Not, by the way, that I mind the idea of your suffering. I don’t.

          I wonder if you have ever indicated that any and all suffering is evil, and that God is evil for allowing it. I find that atheists vary widely on this matter; for example:

          Unlike Christianity, atheist views of the world do not see that there is much redemptive value in human suffering. (50 Great Myths About Atheism, 69)

          Now, you haven’t strictly said that I ought to suffer. But you don’t mind that I do. And, it seems, you are deeply invested in increasing that suffering, by slandering me. So, I think it is not too unreasonable to infer that you enjoy inflicting pain on those whom you think deserve it. I could be wrong, but in the absence of a better explanation, I think it’s a pretty decent one.

          It is as if you are my own little personal שָּׂטָן (= ‘ha-satan‘ ≈ ‘adversary, accuser’ ≠ Devil in Christianity), bobbing along, following me where I comment†, ensuring that others see me in the worst light possible. But perhaps you have a better explanation, here, which better fits the evidence. I’m always looking for explanations which better fit the evidence, at least subject to the restriction in 2 Cor 5:16.

          † But not everywhere. There are likely some locales where you would be seen for what you are and excoriated for it; it is obviously wise for you to stay away from such locales.

          Now, I do think hypocrisy is really bad:

          But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2:17–24)

          So, if I am truly being a hypocrite, then it is excellent of folks to point that out; I endeavor to love them for it. However, if I am not (e.g. Mt 7:1–5; my exegesis), then this applies:

          “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:33–37)

          May this be true! Modulo forgiveness which can blot out sins (modulo Mt 12:31–32), may this be true. May the thoughts and intentions of the heart be discerned. May misunderstanding be burned away, so that the truth shines gloriously out.

        • Paul B. Lot

          While you’re interacting with me here at Bob’s blog, feel free to address the charitable corrections I have generously provided you, the better to perfect your character.

          “I wonder if you have ever indicated that any and all suffering is evil”

          I don’t think I have, with you, but for the record: I do not.

          “and that God is evil for allowing it”

          I don’t believe a non-extant god is evil or good, simply non-extant.

          “Now, you haven’t strictly said that I ought to suffer. But you don’t mind that I do. “

          Both are true, in my opinion.

          ” And, it seems, you are deeply invested in increasing that suffering, by slandering me. “

          No no. I intend to do that by being truthful.

          “So, I think it is not too unreasonable to infer that you enjoy inflicting pain on those whom you think deserve it.”

          Of course I do. You hit me; I hit you back. It’s quite simple.

          t is as if you are my own little personal שָּׂטָן (= ‘ha-satan’ ≈ ‘adversary, accuser’ ≠ Devil in Christianity), bobbing along, following me where I comment†, ensuring that others see me in the worst light possible.

          I prefer to see myself as a gadfly. Think of me what you will, your intuitions and judgments are so fundamentally suspect in my eyes that I don’t care over much for your opinion. I do care for correcting the errors you propagate which affect others’.

          But not everywhere. There are likely some locales where you would be seen for what you are and excoriated for it; it is obviously wise for you to stay away from such locales.

          Again: think what you will, your opinion matters little. 🙂

          “So, if I am truly being a hypocrite, then it is excellent of folks to point that out; I endeavor to love them for it.”

          Well, shoot. I don’t know what to say…thank you for the compliment. This is…a bit awkward though.

          I love you too?

          In any case, two final thoughts:

          First – you have completely, utterly, and undeniably avoided my well-evidenced point: this “situation [is] *almost entirely* of your own making”. I consider your evasion coward’s behavior. Why are you running away?

          Second – Like I said earlier, EN-themed conversation will be moved back over there.

          *Edits for order*

        • I’m going to be a little onerous with the <blockquote></blockquote> (Why you don’t use those [more], I dunno), to keep a convenient record I can later copy/​paste from.

          LB: I wonder if you have ever indicated that any and all suffering is evil

          PBL: I don’t think I have, with you, but for the record: I do not.

          Fascinating! Do you ever clash with other atheists over this? The fashion these days seems to be for atheists to call all suffering, ‘evil’. I really should start keeping statistics on these things.

          LB: Now, you haven’t strictly said that I ought to suffer. But you don’t mind that I do.

          PBL: Both are true, in my opinion.

          Very interesting. How much suffering is ‘enough’?

          LB: And, it seems, you are deeply invested in increasing that suffering, by slandering me.

          PBL: No no. I intend to do that by being truthful.

          Oh. Well then, you might not want to slander me, then. That tends to detract from your case, and quite a lot at that.

          LB: So, I think it is not too unreasonable to infer that you enjoy inflicting pain on those whom you think deserve it.

          PBL: Of course I do. You hit me; I hit you back. It’s quite simple.

          Lex talionis? Or is it ok to hit back harder than you were struck, yourself?

          I prefer to see myself as a gadfly.

          I’m sure you do.

          First – you have completely, utterly, and undeniably avoided my well-evidenced point: this “situation [is] *almost entirely* of your own making”. I consider your evasion coward’s behavior. Why are you running away?

          I make a point of not responding to goading. In case it’s unclear, “Why are you running away?” is goading.

          Second – Like I said earlier, EN-themed conversation will be moved back over there.

          You slandered me on this blog, so I will reply on this blog. Unless I have a reason to comment at the link you provided, I will not comment there. @BobSeidensticker:disqus can decide whether to allow slander to stand on his blog, or not.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Do you ever clash with other atheists over this? The fashion these days seems to be for atheists to …

          gosh, if only it were easier for you to lump atheists together on any point other than whether or not a belief in a deity is present. you poor, striving thing!

        • Were you under the impression that if there is a fashion in a group of people, everyone follows it? You need to get out more. Or at least, come to SF. There’s plenty of variety here, even though there is also dominant fashion.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Were you under the impression that if there is a fashion in a group of people, everyone follows it?

          nope. try harder.

          You need to get out more. Or at least, come to SF.

          done both, thanks. it’s a rather lovely bay; if only i had more marketable skills i might prefer to live there.

        • nope. try harder.

          No thanks; I don’t think it’ll be worth it to play with you in the sandbox. Have a nice day!

        • TheNuszAbides

          a safe bet indeed; you haven’t borne up particularly well under any of the other ridicule.

        • Because I am banned from EN, please consider this comment “one fucking shred of evidence for this assertion”.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Fuck off, you piece of shit. You silly person.

          This is evidence that you are sad you got banned because of the comment, not that you wish you had not made the comment per se.

          And, for what it’s worth, I was asking for one fucking shred of already extant evidence; evidence Jim would have had at the time he made his unfounded assertion.

          Now, and for ever more, I will trouble you to not respond to me again. Goodnight, sweet Prince, and may flocks of demons pull you down into Gehenna.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeeeeeeooooooooooh!

        • The only other evidence is an email from me to Jim, which you will surely find a way to rationalize away, because you prefer telling yourself stories of how terrible a person I am. But of course, construing another person’s actions as terribly as one can is only something that is bannable if @LukeBreuer:disqus does it, not if anyone else on EN [repeatedly] does it. After all, the maximally fuzzy and subjective “moderator’s discretion applies at all times.” 😀

          This will indeed be my last comment to you, about such things, on Bob’s blog. I had a lot of fun talking to Bob about various things in the past and wish to keep open the possibility that we can have future discussions.

        • Paul B. Lot
        • Kodie

          Yes, you are a hypocrite. You held yourself and how you “actually” treat people (since 3 days ago, if that, debatable) as a standard against which people should not criticize the bible. In the last 3 days, I’ve seen you threaten 3 people, including myself, with your unwillingness to respond to their posts for petty fucking goddamned reasons.

          Edit: You are not “sin”-free. What you have done hurts your credibility and makes you appear deceitful, arrogant, and judgmental. This affects debate among actual people, and it appears you have consoled yourself that prayers to god, and maybe an apology to someone named epeeist, were enough. The question was really about the bible. You attempted to defend the bible against criticism by throwing yourself up as exemplary, or how one should approach an individual, in any case. That’s a fucking non sequitur, and you should get back to the fucking point. The bible deserves to be inquired about intellectually, and not just preserved sentimentally, as you appear to be doing. I don’t care how bad you feel, and what you’re being made to feel bad about. What you’ve actually done is derail the topic, with help from IA and Paul B. Lot, so, sure, I will hold them accountable for bringing this to our attention, but we were talking about the bible and how you think it’s all goodness, despite its flaws, because that’s how you “actually” go about judging people.

          I don’t see how that has anything to do with it, but as long as it’s out, it shoots straight back to your failed analogy and fails it even more.

        • Yes, you are a hypocrite. You held yourself and how you “actually” treat people (since 3 days ago, if that, debatable) as a standard against which people should not criticize the bible

          What on earth does this mean? I have no idea what you’re talking about, no idea how you got this idea of what I said or implied.

          In the last 3 days, I’ve seen you threaten 3 people, including myself, with your unwillingness to respond to their posts for petty fucking goddamned reasons.

          Why should I care what you consider a ‘good reason’ vs. ‘bad reason’? Why ought I trust your judgment? What you have done to earn my trust?

          Edit: You are not “sin”-free.

          Holy shit I had no idea!

          If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 Jn 1:8)

          Oh. Well then.

          What you have done hurts your credibility and makes you appear deceitful, arrogant, and judgmental.

          And I should care about people who judge by appearances, why?

          You attempted to defend the bible against criticism by throwing yourself up as exemplary, or how one should approach an individual, in any case.

          Where did I do this? I do not recall doing this.

        • Kodie

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/10/reject-the-scientific-consensus-how-do-you-justify-that-bible/#comment-2331605385

          Specifically:

          I see the Bible as a whole unit, and I think one has to be extremely cautious about finding a contradiction and thus dismissing that text. I actually treat people the same way. If what a person says generally makes sense, I will take the exceptions as an indication that I am wrong, not that the other person is speaking nonsense. I will work very hard to see why it is that said thing seemed like nonsense to me. When you are allowed to pick and choose in a person, I think you do great evil to the person. When you are allowed to pick and choose in the Bible, I think the reasons you have for so-picking-and-choosing is
          deeply revelatory of your character, as Heb 4:12–13 makes clear.

          I don’t hope that you expect people to catch you up on things you said yourself, how this all started, etc., as you should be able to remember what you said and how this all started. It seems like if people aren’t pinning links to this post in every post since it occurred half a day ago, and got sidetracked, you forgot. What you said, the analogy you made, how this all got started.

        • TheNuszAbides

          not to bore the ‘CrossExamined’ readers, which I surely am,

          not a bit of it! well, not this reader, anyway.

        • Kodie

          LB: I do like how you and Paul B. Lot are keeping a careful track of all my failings, whether perceived or actual.

          Given how much effort you painstakingly take, at all times, to track every note and bit of text you wish to refer to and link back to for the readers’ reference, I find this hilarious.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Particularly humorous are the “all” and “perceived” bit’s.

        • P.S. When do I get my scarlet letter? I would like a royal blue, if that’s possible. Otherwise, red the color of blood would be nice.

        • adam

          ….

        • Kodie

          What’s that, Adele?

        • Ignorant Amos

          FFS Luke, If ya didn’t wanna hear the answer then why did ya ask the question?

          And what happened to…

          Do tell. I am always looking to become less of an asshole, less of an idiot, and less of an evil person.

          Nothing like shooting the messenger.

        • IA: Well isn’t it a great pity you are not consistent with that admirable philosophy. I might have saved a lot of wasted time and effort elsewhere, don’t ya think?

          LB: Do tell. I am always looking to become less of an asshole, less of an idiot, and less of an evil person.

          IA: Well a few days ago you were not prepared to take the person of epeeist as a whole when you decided to take a single sentence of a comment and use it to judge his overall character.

          It would not have taken much to satisfy how far left-field you were on that score early on. Even after numerous commenter’s had pointed out your folly, you insisted upon gripping your assertion like a doggy chew toy. IIRC, you ended up offering an apology for said folly in the end.

          http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/estranged-notions-trial-by-fire.html#comment-2326555092

          When I made my request, I thought it would be obvious that I’m asking for things of which I am not already aware. After all, I am aware of all the things I have repented of—deeply, viscerally aware. Now, perhaps I was too hard on you for thinking that you were making me aware of what you perceive as stubbornness and unreasonableness. But here’s the thing. You have used a single act of mine—my comment on epeeist’s single sentence—to represent my character, in this context. Do you not see how you are doing to me, precisely what I did to epeeist? And you know what? I never said something this bad about epeeist:

          IA: Look Luke…you are either a hypocrite, a liar, or you forgot about a couple of days ago and might be going a bit dottery.

          At worst, I said/implied that epeeist is arrogant. Do you think it is worse to be arrogant, or worse to be (i) a hypocrite; (ii) a liar? And clearly you think those have sufficient probability to mention; it isn’t the case that (iii) you forgot… is clearly the right choice. For if it were, you would not have mentioned (i)–(ii). So as far as I can tell, you have evaluated me as being much worse than I ever evaluated epeeist as being. Do you disagree? If so, I would like a solid accounting for why you included (i)–(ii).

          I also find it curious that you picked but one example. It is as if you believe this:

          If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. (James 2:8–10)

          I should think that a normal person, upon encountering a request such as this—

          LB: Do tell. I am always looking to become less of an asshole, less of an idiot, and less of an evil person.

          —would want to fulfill it in a way which enhances the other person, instead of tearing him/her down. But perhaps you did not see the extent to which you were tearing me down? Perhaps you were not aware of this? Note here, that if you insist that your point of view, or your interpretive frame, is the correct one, then you are also thereby claiming that my point of view, or my interpretive frame, is wrong. I will ask you how you know this.

          Also, I wonder: have you considered that the way I treat others is something I learned from being treated that way, myself? Did you ever consider this? Because the message I’m getting is that I should have known better, and I’m getting that message loud and clear. It is curious that I’m always the one “who should have known better”, while others get off free, repeatedly. It’s such a wonderful experience!

        • Paul B. Lot

          Also, I wonder: have you considered that the way I treat others is something I learned from being treated that way, myself? Did you ever consider this?

          What…what’s that?

          Is it the sound of the tiniest fiddle, singing the tiniest, tormented lamentation?

        • Nope. I’m just pointing out irrationality on the part of others, who think that I can automagically learn to interact with others in a radically different way than I was taught (mostly by example), with virtually no help—mostly just vague accusations with the occasional single, clearly explained example. After all, I do try to assume that people are interested in helping me, rather than just painting me as ignorant, deluded, or downright evil. Am I wrong to assume this, when it comes to you?

        • Paul B. Lot
        • Ignorant Amos

          When I made my request, I thought it would be obvious that I’m asking for things of which I am not already aware.

          My example of epeeist was not an invitation to debate the matter here. It was an example on request of the contradictory nature of your assertion to Bob that you like to take your judgement of people on more than one comment. Which is very generous, but not how you operated a few days earlier and got into a flame war over the matter to the point of having to apologise.

          Your request is a non sequitur to the issue being addressed here. But that said, you seem to be well capable of doing the basics of research in order to get a handle on things competently. Regardless, you have one rule for one and a different rule for another. That negates what you said in comment to Bob vis a vis the Bible as a whole unit and how you assess folk.

          But here’s the thing. You have used a single act of mine—my comment on epeeist’s single sentence—to represent my character, in this context.

          Spoiiiing!

          Exactly my point. You do not always practice what you preach.

          Do you not see how you are doing to me, precisely what I did to epeeist?

          No, no, no…not by a long chalk. I’m using a single example to make an argument that while you preached one thing here, not more than a few days ago you practised a different move. That you got chastised for it, found to be wanting on it, and had to apologise for it, is academic to my point. You may have did the same thing numerous times, I don’t know, I only need one example support my hypothesis.

          And you know what? I never said something this bad about epeeist:

          At worst, I said/implied that epeeist is arrogant.

          Irrelevant.

          Do you think it is worse to be arrogant, or worse to be (i) a hypocrite; (ii) a liar?

          You forgot option (iii), that you had forgot. I don’t think you are lying. Nor do I reckon you forgot, dottery or not. So I’m left with a feeling of you being a tad hypocritical. Some might see being a hypocrite as a bigger smear on ones character than being accused of arrogance, I guess it’s a matter of subjectivity.

          But it is still irrelevent.

          And clearly you think those have sufficient probability to mention; it isn’t the case that (iii) you forgot… is clearly the right choice. For if it were, you would not have mentioned (i)–(ii).

          All three are possible. I lean towards (i) as I said. Others might see (ii) as has been expressed and as you are aware. I think (iii) is the outside bet given how you are able to recall and cite all sorts of books and scholarly papers, etc., but given the volume of commenting you have made over the last six days, I wouldn’t rule it out.

          So as far as I can tell, you have evaluated me as being much worse than I ever evaluated epeeist as being.

          As far as you can tell?

          All I did is get flabbergasted at what you professed as your holier-than-thou position in one comment here, that you exhibited a completely contradictory and polar opposite position in a comment thread elsewhere.

          So my evaluation doesn’t matter to the point in question here. What matters is that you evaluated epeeist disingenuously on a single comment when three days latter you claim ya don’t do that sort of thing. The detail is not all that important. Smoke and Mirrors.

          Do you disagree?

          I don’t really care. It doesn’t matter. It is for others to evaluate your antics by looking at the data and judging for themselves.

          If so, I would like a solid accounting for why you included (i)–(ii).

          See above.

          I also find it curious that you picked but one example.

          A bitch ain’t it?

          It is as if you believe this: (James 2:8–10)

          Nah, those yarns don’t impress me like they do you.

          I should think that a normal person, upon encountering a request such as this—

          Ah yes, the veiled insult, a “normal person”….what’s one of those then?

          LB: Do tell. I am always looking to become less of an asshole, less of an idiot, and less of an evil person.

          —would want to fulfill it in a way which enhances the other person, instead of tearing him/her down.

          Well perhaps you can help me out here, how would that be done?

          But perhaps you did not see the extent to which you were tearing me down? Perhaps you were not aware of this? Note here, that if you insist that your point of view, or your interpretive frame, is the correct one, then you are also thereby claiming thatmy point of view, or my interpretive frame, is wrong. I will ask you how you know this.

          You tore yerself down Luke. I merely pointed out that what you said here is not actually how you operate. You asked me to explain. I used the obvious example. You don’t like it. I give you three options on which I think might be reasons why. You were/are free to offer up alternative excuses for the slip. I’m open to alternatives.

          Also, I wonder: have you considered that the way I treat others is something I learned from being treated that way, myself?

          Are you claiming that victimisation is your reason for treating others not very generously?

          Did you ever consider this?

          Well, no. What reason should I have given your most recent history? But if that is the case, then I apologise for pointing out this issue. Have you been victimised? Are you projecting?

          Because the message I’m getting is that I should have known better, and I’m getting that message loud and clear. It is curious that I’m always the one “who should have known better”, while others get off free, repeatedly.

          The message should be, if you want to dish it, expect to receive it. No free rides. You’ll get free rides on sites with like minded folks. I thought it was all about the challenge and learning, including finding the chinks in your own armour.

          It’s such a wonderful experience!

          Well if you’ve been the subject of victimisation and it is affecting your judgement, perhaps some sort of counselling might be the more wonderful experience.

          I’m going to leave you alone at this point because you’ve worried me now.

        • Susan

          you’ve worried me now.

          Honestly, IA. I’m worried too.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There is definitely something to worry about.

          Now, I do think hypocrisy is really bad:

          But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2:17–24)

          So, if I am truly being a hypocrite, then it is excellent of folks to point that out; I endeavor to love them for it.

          Contrast that to what Luke said in the comment to me above.

          At worst, I said/implied that epeeist is arrogant. Do you think it is worse to be arrogant, or worse to be (i) a hypocrite; (ii) a liar? And clearly you think those have sufficient probability to mention; it isn’t the case that (iii) you forgot… is clearly the right choice. For if it were, you would not have mentioned (i)–(ii). So as far as I can tell, you have evaluated me as being much worse than I ever evaluated epeeist as being. Do you disagree? If so, I would like a solid accounting for why you included (i)–(ii).

          WTF? In a matter of an hour, accused of being a hypocrite went from much worse than arrogant, to being something one should aspire too and whose accusers are excellent and should be loved for the inference.

          Lost the plot.

        • Susan

          Lost the plot.

          Exactly. I see frenetic responses. Disconnects. Leap-frogging. Frenzied linking. Hypersensitivity to correction.
          Walls of links as though they are place holding his premises.

          I’ve had a glance through his recent commenting history (edit: which is copious) and see moments of lucidity and reasonableness in a fog of … I don’t know.

          I’m not qualified. I am truly worried.

          That’s all I have to say about that here at Cross Examined.

          Part of me is glad to see Paul’s methodical responses to Luke. I think that’s important.

          But another part of me is just worried about a human being.

          It’s a pointless worry because I am powerless to do anything about it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          agreed, armchairing something on the autism spectrum feels cheap at this rate.

        • Kodie

          I actually treat people the same way. If what a person says generally makes sense, I will take the exceptions as an indication that I am wrong, not that the other person is speaking nonsense. I will work very hard to see why it is that said thing seemed like nonsense to me.

          Doesn’t seem to match the person who, 4 days ago, said:

          LB: I happen to believe that statements like that are deeply revealing of character. You are welcome to disagree.

          I do not read that other blog at all, and I didn’t read the content of the arguments going on that you had, but you do want to know how to be less of an asshole? You don’t portray yourself as someone with a blanket policy regarding your judgment of individuals based on one statement as though you’d never even dream of violating your standards. Maybe it was still on your mind, as you say, viscerally, and that’s why you added it as a layer to an analogy that you were trying to create. But you did something out of sight of many posters here, but in view of other posters who also post there, in a way that implied you are above it, and it’s the rest of us criticizing the bible for good cause who need to work on shit.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Thank you!

        • adam

        • Ignorant Amos

          As to how our standards differ, the most fundamental one is that I don’t blame God for human failures; I blame humans.

          You do realise you are talking to atheists and an atheist moderator/owner on his atheist biog…right?

        • Nope, had no idea. I thought that @BobSeidensticker:disqus was a snake-handling fundamentalist! I must need to get my eyes checked. 🙁

        • Pofarmer

          I wouldn’t count on it.

        • Susan

          As to how our standards differ, the most fundamental one is that I don’t blame God (sic) for human failure, I blame humans.

          How do you blame humans for hundreds of millions of years of suffering in which nothing resembling a human existed most of which existed underwater and which still exists, most of which still exists underwater?

          Even in human history most people had no way of knowing and often no way of helping even if they knew.

          Somehow, all suffering is the fault of humans.

          I take my moral responsibllity as an earthling very seriously. People barking on about a deity they can’t support and which shows no particular moral responsibility to fellow earthlings and which doesn’t seem to exist and in no way seems necessary as an explanation… well, they need to make better arguments and fewer appeals to victimhood.
          .
          Their claims don’t add up morally or logically. And they require special pleading.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “Always with the negative waves Moriarty”

          Luke will come back with the, “who mentioned all suffering?”

          He is talking about human failure. Humans are to blame for human failure…who is disagreeing with him. Seems self evident. But humans are to be credited with human success too. Theists can’t abide that part of the dichotomy.

          Bad stuff humans do?…they’re own fault. Good stuff humans do?…God did it.

          It’s all about the free will don’t ya know?

        • adam

          “I think this is the crux of our disagreement on slavery. I see the Bible as a whole unit, and I think one has to be extremely cautious about finding a contradiction and thus dismissing that text.”

        • adam

          “I see the Bible as a whole unit, and I think one has to be extremely cautious about finding a contradiction and thus dismissing that text. “

        • I see the Bible as a whole unit, and I think one has to be extremely cautious about finding a contradiction and thus dismissing that text.

          And I don’t. The Bible claims to be divinely inspired. I then have a much, much, much higher standard for the quality of information in the Bible. Unfortunately, it looks just like it was written by primitive tribesmen thousands of years ago, uninspired by nothing supernatural.

          I evaluate the whole person, just like you. A fallible person and the book inspired by an infallible god aren’t even close to being comparable.

          One way to model your thinking is via the following counterfactual:

          (X) If the Bible lacked nasty bits, history would look better.

          No, this doesn’t model my thinking. I’m saying that the book inspired by a perfect god would look like it. It wouldn’t have some good stuff here and some bad stuff that contradicts it there.

          As to how our standards differ, the most fundamental one is that I don’t blame God for human failures; I blame humans.

          We all do nutty things, eh?

          Christian teaching is that we are imperfect because we come out of the box imperfect. As Hitchens noted, “We are created sick and commanded to be well.” Something doesn’t quite make sense there.

          The bigger issue is how the Bible documents God’s crazy stuff—the slavery, the genocide, the Flood, etc.

          For example, take the terrible, terrible predictions at Milgram experiment § Results.

          Imperfect people act imperfectly?! Who the hell made them imperfect? Find out and fire that bastard!

          I’m not going to go spouting off about LFW

          I have little interest in the free will debate. I assume it exists.

          However, I have quite a bit to say about God being such a champion of free will that he gives it to us, and that explains all the bad shit in the world.

          I think people have a tremendous amount of moral responsibility, and so much of this blaming of God is buck-passing. I’m guessing you heartily disagree.

          The buck definitely stops at God’s desk.

          ”The point is that God himself advocates genocide […]”

          Yes, and you advocate abortion. Have more –9/12 to 12 year-olds (who weren’t threatening their mother’s lives, and who weren’t brought into existence via rape) died due to OT genocide, or abortion?

          Very few 12yos died due to abortion.

          As for fetuses, yes, they died. I don’t see them as people. (More precisely, I see a spectrum of personhood, from 0% at conception to 100% at birth.)

          And God is still an asshole for commanding genocide despite your attempts to change the subject. That is the issue, not the errors of people who were deliberately made error-prone.

          I see major, major moral contradictions in your thinking.

          And I’m dying to hear about them.

        • I then have a much, much, much higher standard for the quality of information in the Bible.

          From where did you get your beliefs, on what constitutes “a much, much, much higher standard”? Did you get these beliefs from ‘the evidence’, or somewhere else?

          I evaluate the whole person, just like you. A fallible person and the book inspired by an infallible god aren’t even close to being comparable.

          That’s not my point. My point is that if you get to cherry-pick, you can support slavery from the Bible, but it is the very act of cherry-picking which is evil, whether (i) applied to the Bible; or (ii) applied to a person. Agree, or disagree? We’re talking about for Christians, when it comes to (i).

          LB: One way to model your thinking is via the following counterfactual:

          (X) If the Bible lacked nasty bits, history would look better.

          The extreme of this would be for the Bible to match your “with nothing contrary”.

          BS: No, this doesn’t model my thinking. I’m saying that the book inspired by a perfect god would look like it. It wouldn’t have some good stuff here and some bad stuff that contradicts it there.

          Wait, I’m confused. Doesn’t your thinking entail (X)? If it doesn’t entail (X), why not? That seems like a pretty obvious thing. If it would be better for the Bible to not have stuff you consider ‘bad’, surely that ‘better’ is linked to some sort of empirical result??

          Christian teaching is that we are imperfect because we come out of the box imperfect.

          Not all Christians. See Peter Enns’ Does Evolution Cancel Out the Fall of Adam? Depends on Whose Adam You Have in Mind, and John Schneider’s article “The Fall of ‘Augustinian Adam’: Original Fragility and Supralapsarian Purpose”. The tl;dr is that what you say is true of Augustine, but not necessarily Irenaeus. However, one has to be careful with the word ‘imperfect’. See, for example, Jonathan Pearce’s God cannot be perfect because perfect does not make sense.

          The bigger issue is how the Bible documents God’s crazy stuff—the slavery, the genocide, the Flood, etc.

          Yep, we can get to that. For example, those who wish to eliminate religion will need to confront the prominence of ‘religion’ in WP: Genocide definitions, as well as the conundrum presented at WP: Genocide § “Intent to destroy”. If religion forms part of a person’s identity, as can be argued from stuff like Charles Taylor’s Sources of the Self and Christian Smith’s Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture, then ridding someone of his/her religion can be seen as forcing a major identity change. And yet, at what point is this tantamount to murder, or at least to a mindwipe? From Taylor:

              What this brings to light is the essential link between identity and a kind of orientation. To know who you are is to be oriented in moral space, a space in which questions arise about what is good or bad, what is worth doing and what not, what has meaning and importance for you and what is trivial and secondary. I feel myself drawn here to use a spatial metaphor; but I believe this to be more than personal predilection. There are signs that the link with spatial orientation lies very deep in the human psyche. In some very extreme cases of what are described as “narcissistic personality disorders”, which take the form of a radical uncertainty about oneself and about what is of value to one, patients show signs of spatial disorientation as well at moments of acute crisis. The disorientation and uncertainty about where one stands as a person seems to spill over into a loss of grip on one’s stance in physical space.[1] (Sources of the Self, 28)

          Now, for some people, religion is like frosting on a cake. Which flavor, it doesn’t really matter. What color, it doesn’t really matter. But for other people, religion informs the underlined bits. How much does one have to change the underlined bits of a person, before you’ve murdered one person and created another?

          So, take all the above, and tell me whether some atheists, in trying to rid the world of religion—like Peter Boghossian—are actually close to wanting to commit genocide—if not already there. And then we’ll see how ‘moral’ we are, and whether we ought to trust our moral intuitions when it comes to genocide. I will say again, that our failure to prevent the Rwandan Genocide, even though we had reputable knowledge it was going to happen (Rwandan Genocide § United States), damages our moral judgment credibility. There is no way around this. You wouldn’t trust a terrible programmer to write core backend code, would you?

          The buck definitely stops at God’s desk.

          Do any bucks stop at our desks?

          As for fetuses, yes, they died. I don’t see them as people.

          I see. And your definition of ‘person’ is right because… why? IIRC, some slavery has been justified under the rubric that the enslaved persons are, well, not full persons. Maybe 3/5, maybe less. Why were they wrong?

          (More precisely, I see a spectrum of personhood, from 0% at conception to 100% at birth.)

          Curious. Well, that gives you warrant to eschew my thought experiment:

          LB: Suppose that after I have a tooth pulled out, I call a party and ask everyone to bring a hammer. The freaking tooth was making my life a pain in the ass, and so I want to celebrate its removal by its complete destruction. Everyone takes turn pounding it, piñata-style, until the dust seems to be as fine as it will get. People might think me weird in doing this, but I don’t think the notion of ‘immoral’ or ‘sacrilegious’ or any related thing would arise. Maybe I’ve found a constructive, perfectly safe way to deal with my anger issues that others could emulate.

          Now, let’s take a 5-month-old fetus. It was making my wife’s life much worse than my tooth ever made mine. So she gets it aborted and obtains the remains tissue. She calls up a bunch of her girlfriends and they all bring their blenders. The fetus is sliced up so that each woman can have a piece, they all plug their blenders in (and my wife had me ensure the circuits could take this), and they all initiate the disintegration of the tooth fetus. Oh, the glorious end of this pox on my wife! Somehow, I think people would have a problem with this if they found out. A major problem. I doubt my wife or I could get elected to public office with that kind of thing on our record. Not in the US, and my guess is, not anywhere in the world.

          (Yes, it is meant to make you uncomfortable. Very. See also: A Modest Proposal.) Tell me, what does one get when one is 4% ‘person’? Is this, perhaps, helpful for determining how many representatives a state can have?

          And God is still an asshole for commanding genocide despite your attempts to change the subject. That is the issue, not the errors of people who were deliberately made error-prone.

          I actually do not believe someone who (i) says X is wrong; (ii) does X. The combination of (i) and (ii) undermines the person’s credibility, completely. I believe this applies in Rom 2:17–24, especially v24.

          And I’m dying to hear about them.

          On this one, I think you’re going to suppress the truth in unrighteousness, via a convenient nominalistic definition of ‘person’.

        • We’ve got to stop trading these long emails in public. Tongues will wag.

          From where did you get your beliefs, on what constitutes “a much, much, much higher standard”? Did you get these beliefs from ‘the evidence’, or somewhere else?

          Morality comes from our programming and society.

          My point is that if you get to cherry-pick, you can support slavery from the Bible, but it is the very act of cherry-picking which is evil, whether (i) applied to the Bible; or (ii) applied to a person. Agree, or disagree?

          We’re talking about for Christians, when it comes to (i). LB: One way to model your thinking is via the following counterfactual:
          (X) If the Bible lacked nasty bits, history would look better.

          The extreme of this would be for the Bible to match your “with nothing contrary”. BS: No, this doesn’t model my thinking. I’m saying that the book inspired by a perfect god would look like it. It wouldn’t have some good stuff here and some bad stuff that contradicts it there.
          Wait, I’m confused. Doesn’t your thinking entail (X)? If itdoesn’t entail (X), why not? That seems like a pretty obvious thing. If it would be better for the Bible to not have stuff you consider ‘bad’, surely that ‘better’ is linked to some sort of empirical result??
          Christian teaching is that we are imperfect because we come out of the box imperfect.
          Not all Christians. See Peter Enns’ Does Evolution Cancel Out the Fall of Adam? Depends on Whose Adam You Have in Mind, and John Schneider’s article “The Fall of ‘Augustinian Adam’: Original Fragility and Supralapsarian Purpose”. The tl;dr is that what you say is true of Augustine, but not necessarily Irenaeus. However, one has to be careful with the word ‘imperfect’. See, for example, Jonathan Pearce’s God cannot be perfect because perfect does not make sense.
          The bigger issue is how the Bible documents God’s crazy stuff—the slavery, the genocide, the Flood, etc.
          Yep, we can get to that. For example, those who wish to eliminate religion will need to confront the prominence of ‘religion’ in WP: Genocide definitions, as well as the conundrum presented at WP: Genocide § “Intent to destroy”. If religion forms part of a person’s identity, as can be argued from stuff like Charles Taylor’s Sources of the Self and Christian Smith’s Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture, then ridding someone of his/her religion can be seen as forcing a major identity change. And yet, at what point is this tantamount to murder, or at least to a mindwipe? From Taylor:
          What this brings to light is the essential link between identity and a kind of orientation. To know who you are is to be oriented in moral space, a space in which questions arise about what is good or bad, what is worth doing and what not, what has meaning and importance for you and what is trivial and secondary. I feel myself drawn here to use a spatial metaphor; but I believe this to be more than personal predilection. There are signs that the link with spatial orientation lies very deep in the human psyche. In some very extreme cases of what are described as “narcissistic personality disorders”, which take the form of a radical uncertainty about oneself and about what is of value to one, patients show signs of spatial disorientation as well at moments of acute crisis. The disorientation and uncertainty about where one stands as a person seems to spill over into a loss of grip on one’s stance in physical space.[1] ( Sources of the Self, 28)
          Now, for some people, religion is like frosting on a cake. Which flavor, it doesn’t really matter. What color, it doesn’t really matter. But for other people, religion informs the underlined bits. How much does one have to change the underlined bits of a person, before you’ve murdered one person and created another?
          So, take all the above, and tell me whether some atheists, in trying to rid the world of religion— like Peter Boghossian—are actually close to wanting to commit genocide—if not already there. And then we’ll see how ‘moral’ we are, and whether we ought to trust our moral intuitions when it comes to genocide. I will say again, that our failure to prevent the Rwandan Genocide, even though we had reputable knowledge it was going to happen ( Rwandan Genocide § United States), damages our moral judgment credibility. There is no way around this. You wouldn’t trust a terrible programmer to write core backend code, would you?
          The buck definitely stops at God’s desk.

          Do any bucks stop at our desks?

          As for fetuses, yes, they died. I don’t see them as people.

          I see. And your definition of ‘person’ is right because… why? IIRC, some slavery has been justified under the rubric that the enslaved persons are, well, not full persons. Maybe 3/5, maybe less. Why were they wrong?
          (More precisely, I see a spectrum of personhood, from 0% at conception to 100% at birth.)
          Curious. Well, that gives you warrant to eschew my thought experiment: LB: Suppose that after I have a tooth pulled out, I call a party and ask everyone to bring a hammer. The freaking tooth was making my life a pain in the ass, and so I want to celebrate its removal by its complete destruction. Everyone takes turn pounding it, piñata-style, until the dust seems to be as fine as it will get. People might think me weird in doing this, but I don’t think the notion of ‘immoral’ or ‘sacrilegious’ or any related thing would arise. Maybe I’ve found a constructive, perfectly safe way to deal with my anger issues that others could emulate.
          Now, let’s take a 5-month-old fetus. It was making my wife’s life much worse than my tooth ever made mine. So she gets it aborted and obtains the remains tissue. She calls up a bunch of her girlfriends and they all bring their blenders. The fetus is sliced up so that each woman can have a piece, they all plug their blenders in (and my wife had me ensure the circuits could take this), and they all initiate the disintegration of the tooth fetus. Oh, the glorious end of this pox on my wife! Somehow, I think people would have a problem with this if they found out. A major problem. I doubt my wife or I could get elected to public office with that kind of thing on our record. Not in the US, and my guess is, not anywhere in the world.
          (Yes, it is meant to make you uncomfortable. Very. See also: A Modest Proposal.) Tell me, what does one get when one is 4% ‘person’? Is this, perhaps, helpful for determining how many representatives a state can have?
          And God is still an asshole for commanding genocide despite your attempts to change the subject. That is the issue, not the errors of people who were deliberately made error-prone.
          I actually do not believe someone who (i) says X is wrong; (ii) does X. The combination of (i) and (ii) undermines the person’s credibility, completely. I believe this applies in Rom 2:17–24, especially v24.
          And I’m dying to hear about them.

          On this one, I think you’re going to suppress the truth in unrighteousness, via a convenient nominalistic definition of ‘person’.

        • We’ve got to stop trading these long emails in public. Tongues will wag.

          From where did you get your beliefs, on what constitutes “a much, much, much higher standard”? Did you get these beliefs from ‘the evidence’, or somewhere else?

          Morality comes from our programming and society.

          My point is that if you get to cherry-pick, you can support slavery from the Bible, but it is the very act of cherry-picking which is evil, whether (i) applied to the Bible; or (ii) applied to a person. Agree, or disagree?

          I get to cherry pick; you don’t. I’m free to point out bad verses (in context, of course) in the Bible, while you are bound defending the Bible as a consistent, noncontradictory whole. Drop that claim if you’d like, but then that doesn’t leave the Bible in a particularly good state.

          Obviously, declaring a double standard is usually a foolish thing to do. This is one of those rare instances where it makes sense.

          Wait, I’m confused. Doesn’t your thinking entail (X)? If itdoesn’t entail (X), why not?

          This conversation is confusing enough without more tangents. You define X as “If the Bible lacked nasty bits, history would look better.” I have no interest in trying to find how this connects. I’ve already made clear what I think is the focus here.

          You sure do throw up a lot of tangents. Or smoke. I’m beginning to wonder which it is …

          ”The bigger issue is how the Bible documents God’s crazy stuff—the slavery, the genocide, the Flood, etc.”

          Yep, we can get to that.

          Huh?? There’s even more tedious preamble to get through? This book is getting boring, and I’m at risk of just laying it aside.

          If you don’t want to discuss the interesting conversations, what’s the point? You just like writing long, tangent-heavy essays?

          Now, for some people, religion is like frosting on a cake.

          Seriously, you want to avoid talking about slavery but instead talk about cake? My unwanted prescription: you really need to confront these difficult issues with your religion, if not in public, at least in your own mind.

          I will say again, that our failure to prevent the Rwandan Genocide, even though we had reputable knowledge it was going to happen (Rwandan Genocide § United States), damages our moral judgment credibility. There is no way around this.

          What’s the point? The West can’t get it right so therefore … what?

          It’s pretty clear to me that you just want to tap dance around the issue. In the fleeting hope that that’s not the case, I’ll make my point one final time: God, the omniscient, omnipotent, omni-benevolent creator of the whole fucking universe is shown in the Bible as being a genocidal asshole. Explain.

          You say that the West screwed up? OK—what did you expect? But your Bible makes clear that God didn’t just ineptly handle a genocide, he commanded them.

          And your definition of ‘person’ is right because… why?

          My definition of person is right for me. The buck stops here (there—answered your question). Your mileage may vary.

          some slavery has been justified under the rubric that the enslaved persons are, well, not full persons. Maybe3/5, maybe less. Why were they wrong?

          You think it’s for some reasons other than the ones you’ll come up with?

          Now, let’s take a 5-month-old fetus.

          A tooth isn’t a person. A fetus is partly a person.

          But yeah, I could imagine a woman seeing her pregnancy as a really bad thing.

          The fetus is sliced up so that each woman can have a piece, they all plug their blenders in (and my wife had me ensure the circuits could take this), and they all initiate the disintegration of the tooth fetus.

          You know how a rat trap works? You know how sausage or hamburger is made? These are things we accept that are also more gruesome than destroying a tooth; we’re just comfortable with them.

          Which is worse: going up to a doe-eyed calf, putting a pistol to its head, waiting a minute, and then shooting? Or taking Plan B to abort a 100-cell blastocyst?

          “And God is still an asshole for commanding genocide despite your attempts to change the subject. That is the issue, not the errors of people who were deliberately made error-prone.”

          I actually do not believe someone who (i) says X is wrong; (ii) does X. The combination of (i) and (ii) undermines the person’s credibility, completely.

          What is X? Commit genocide?

          Are you applying the tu quoque fallacy here? This error seems so obvious that I have to check to see if I understand your point.

          On this one, I think you’re going to suppress the truth in unrighteousness, via a convenient nominalistic definition of ‘person’.

          To be clear, I have little interest in your views about abortion unless you’re trying to impose your beliefs on the rest of the country by law. Then I take issue with that position.

        • Morality comes from our programming and society.

          What experiment could possibly falsify this claim? Or is this another example of Enlightenment mythology? To be clear, I am assuming you mean “only our programming and society”. If you did not mean ‘only’, do tell what else could also contribute to morality.

          I get to cherry pick; you don’t.

          Any topic which requires this standard is one in which I will refuse to participate. Your judgment of whether it makes sense is irrelevant to me.

          If you don’t want to discuss the interesting conversations, what’s the point? You just like writing long, tangent-heavy essays?

          No, I think people like you are riddled with false theological beliefs and it is tedious to tease them out. You’ve never once indicated to me that you could possibly be wrong as to your theological beliefs. This seems like the height of arrogance, to me.

          My unwanted prescription: you really need to confront these difficult issues with your religion, if not in public, at least in your own mind.

          I actually believe I am so-confronting. You saw evidence of this, and appreciated it as such:

          BS: Prayer, by contrast, doesn’t work that way.

          LB: You mean prayer isn’t magic technology? Man, I’ve been doing it so wrongly all these years. I thought God was a vending machine: put worship in, get giftie out. See, this is why I talk to atheists on the internet; they tell me these things!

          BS: You read the Good Book honestly, my brother. Good for you. Too many Christians give me the, “OK, now I realize it looks like it says that, but obviously it doesn’t mean that.” I’m sure that kind of Doublethink frustrates you as much as it does me.

          I would ask you to base your beliefs more on the evidence, and less on un-evidenced models you may be using to model me in your own mind.

          What’s the point? The West can’t get it right so therefore … what?

          Incompetence indicates ignorance if not outright false beliefs. If someone is a shitty programmer, you don’t trust what he has to say about programming, right?

          You say that the West screwed up? OK—what did you expect? But your Bible makes clear that God didn’t just ineptly handle a genocide, he commanded them.

          I understand this. How about I just fuck with the definition of the word ‘person’, like you have to defend abortion? Why is your fucking better than mine? (lolz) Can you point to any evidence for your way being ‘better’? Or is it rooted in thin air, or at best, mass social opinion? (Mass social opinion also enabled the Holocaust in Germany, eugenics in America, genocide in Rwanda, …)

          My definition of person is right for me.

          I see; but are my definitions wrong for me, when they conflict with your definitions? And will you use State force on me, so that your definitions win? From what you say later on, my guess is “yes”, and therefore you are being coy with your phraseology, here.

          You think it’s for some reasons other than the ones you’ll come up with?

          Nope, I just want to explore your reasoning. See, you have beliefs which undergird your objection to slavery as is discussed in the Bible. Those beliefs can be wrong. It is legitimate for me to investigate them. Or if it is not, I will exit conversations where it is not.

          A fetus is partly a person.

          What evidential fact makes this the case? What particle–field configuration makes this the case?

          Which is worse: going up to a doe-eyed calf, putting a pistol to its head, waiting a minute, and then shooting? Or taking Plan B to abort a 100-cell blastocyst?

          Which is worse: a painless, sudden death of a 12-year-old Egyptian firstborn, or a painless, sudden death of a 100-cell blastocyst? Recall that if the firstborn had really feared for his/her life, [s]he could have run off to a Jewish home where lamb’s blood had been painted on the door frame. Screw the potential life ahead of those children. As for the parents, well: “Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”” + ““Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.” + ““Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”” And yes, God judges the nations like he judges Israel; this is called ‘impartiality’.

          What is X? Commit genocide?

          Commit or set up the conditions such that it is likely to happen, and then fail to stop it when it does. For example, the West greatly elevated the Tutsis in power over the Hutus, during colonization. Without this power differential, the Rwandan Genocide almost certainly would not have happened. This “commit or set up the conditions such that it is likely to happen” is the argument used to blame God for our dirty deeds. So you see: ” “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” This also applies to Egypt’s mass-slaughtering (= genocide) of Hebrew baby boys.

          Are you applying the tu quoque fallacy here? This error seems so obvious that I have to check to see if I understand your point.

          It is an ad hominem, and valid:

              The ethical appeal is in tension with the conventional view that ad hominem arguments—ones addressed to the character of the arguer rather than to the soundness of his arguments—are illegitimate. Ad hominem argumentation is the converse of the ethical appeal, so if the latter is legitimate, as Aristotle and later theorists of rhetoric have argued, why should the former be thought illegitimate? It should not be, at least not always. The conventional view rests on a confusion of domains. Ad hominem arguments are out of place in debates that can be settled definitively. But debates over politics and ideology, the domain of the public intellectual, are not of that character. When the debater’s arguments must be taken, to a degree anyway, on faith, it is as rational to consider his general trustworthiness as it is to consider the general trustworthiness of any seller of credence goods. So if an adulterer writes an article denouncing adultery, we are entitled to consider whether his motivation may be guilt or an attempt to conceal his adultery or both. For if either or both motivations is operative, the denunciation is less likely to be the product of a sincere and well-reasoned belief in the wrongness of adultery and therefore somewhat less likely to be sound. Doubts about a public intellectual’s character may thus give rise to rational doubts about the soundness of his views. (Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline, 49–50)

          The author of that book is:

          Richard Allen Posner (/ˈpoʊznər/; born January 11, 1939) is an American jurist and economist, who is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. He is a leading figure in the field of law and economics, and was identified by The Journal of Legal Studies as the most cited legal scholar of the 20th century.[1]

          I think I’ll trust him about when ad hominem arguments are valid and when they are not, over you. But you are welcome to argue that I have not in fact made an ad hominem argument. I think I have.

          To be clear, I have little interest in your views about abortion unless you’re trying to impose your beliefs on the rest of the country by law. Then I take issue with that position.

          As I suspected; your “My definition of person is right for me.” is actually right for me, as well—at least in the public domain! This is a fantastic example of the following empirical result:

          Proposition 1: Power defines reality    Power concerns itself with defining reality rather than with discovering what reality “really” is. This is the single most important characteristic of the rationality of power, that is, of the strategies and tactics employed by power in relation to rationality. Defining reality by defining rationality is a principle means by which power exerts itself. This is not to imply that power seeks out rationality and knowledge because rationality and knowledge are power. Rather, power defines what counts as rationality and knowledge and thereby what counts as reality. The evidence of the Aalborg case confirms a basic Nietzschean insight: interpretation is not only commentary, as is often the view in academic settings, “interpretation is itself a means of becoming master of something”—in the case master of the Aalborg Project—and “all subduing and becoming master involves a fresh interpretation.”[4] Power does not limit itself, however, to simply defining a given interpretation or view of reality, nor does power entail only the power to render a given reality authoritative. Rather, power defines, and creates, concrete physical, economic, ecological, and social realities. (Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice, 227)

        • adam

          “No, I think people like you are riddled with false theological beliefs and it is tedious to tease them out. You’ve never once indicated to me that you could possibly be wrong as to your theological beliefs. This seems like the height of arrogance, to me.”

          There is a VERY easy solution:

          Present EVIDENCE instead of Gish Galloping

          The rest of your post

          tldr
          .
          .

        • Kodie

          No, I think people like you are riddled with false theological beliefs and it is tedious to tease them out. You’ve never once indicated to me that you could possibly be wrong as to your theological beliefs. This seems like the height of arrogance, to me.

          I would ask you to base your beliefs more on the evidence, and less on un-evidenced models you may be using to model me in your ownmind.

          What evidence? This is where you come and tell us your answer to the question instead of protesting and whining and expecting us to read your fucking damn mind.

          What are your false theological beliefs? All of them. Until you provide a winning definition we can all get on board with, I’m going with “you’ve never once indicated to me that you could possibly be wrong as to your theological beliefs.” WE DON”T HAVE THEOLOGICAL BELIEFS AND YOU DO. Get it yet?

        • I applaud your energy for this subject. I’m losing interest, however. I may fade away unless the conversation gets more interesting.

          I am assuming you mean “only our programming and society”. If you did not mean ‘only’, do tell what else could also contribute to morality.

          Yes, I do mean that. (Can I say that without a citation?)

          Any topic which requires this standard is one in which I will refuse to participate.

          You mean allows this standard.

          Is that just a custom from where you come from? Weird. I explained my reasoning. But you can’t deign to address it?

          I think people like you are riddled with false theological beliefs and it is tedious to tease them out.

          I’m the tedious one? I’m eager to move quickly to the interesting part of the conversation. You have something interesting to say? Then do so.

          You’ve never once indicated to me that you could possibly be wrong as to your theological beliefs. This seems like the height of arrogance, to me.

          You never once asked. This seems like the height of jumping-the-gun-ness.

          ”You say that the West screwed up? OK—what did you expect? But your Bible makes clear that God didn’t just ineptly handle a genocide, he commanded them.”

          I understand this.

          Good … did you want to address the issue? Did I just not say “please”?

          How about I just fuck with the definition of the word ‘person’, like you have to defend abortion?

          Saying that a single cell that you can’t see without a microscope isn’t a person isn’t “fucking” with the definition of person. If you want to define “person” some other way, OK. Let me know what you mean by the word, and hopefully we can continue to communicate successfully.

          Can you point to any evidence for your way being ‘better’?

          Yeah, I got evidence. Person: “a man, woman, or child.” Source: Oxford English Dictionary

          Or is it rooted in thin air, or at best, mass social opinion?

          It’s a fucking word! Yes, it’s social opinion. The definition is what people say it is.

          but are my definitions wrong for me, when they conflict with your definitions?

          Do you really not understand how discussions work? Have you never had a discussion in which you’ve changed your opinion or the other person changed his?

          And will you use State force on me, so that your definitions win?

          Yeah, the bag/sack distinction infuriates me. If I were a general, I’d line up all the people who use the word “sack” in front of a firing squad. And don’t get me started on people who confuse its/it’s.

          ”You think it’s for some reasons other than the ones you’ll come up with?”

          Nope, I just want to explore your reasoning.

          You talked about tedious discussions above, and yet you’re just passing the time of day by asking riddles? This conversation really needs to move along. If you have a point, just make it.

          you have beliefs which undergird your objection to slavery as is discussed in the Bible. Those beliefs can be wrong. It is legitimate for me to investigate them.

          One wonders why the throat clearing. Your tap dancing looks like evasion. If you’re actually eager to discuss the issue and have something interesting to day, do so.

          Or if it is not, I will exit conversations where it is not.

          Feel free.

          ”A fetus is partly a person.” What evidential fact makes this the case? What particle–field configuration makes this the case?

          ?? It’s a fucking definition! You can define “person” to be anything you want (though that will make conversation difficult). “Evidence” in this case is what a dictionary gives you.

          We’re going back and forth on the definition of the word, presumably so you can avoid discussing the issue at hand: is abortion immoral? and Should abortion be declared illegal?

          Which is worse: a painless, sudden death of a 12-year-old Egyptian firstborn, or a painless, sudden death of a 100-cell blastocyst?

          Where did “painless” come in? The Canaanite genocide certainly wasn’t painless. God clearly has little interest in easing the way to hell for oppressors of the Jews.

          Recall that if the firstborn had really feared for his/her life, [s]he could have run off to a Jewish home where lamb’s blood had been painted on the door frame.

          And the Holy Spirit is too stupid to notice? (Why do you worship these guys?)

          And yes, God judges the nations like he judges Israel; this is called ‘impartiality’.

          Israel didn’t get genocided. The Amalekites did, though. This is called “favoritism.”

          For example, the West greatly elevated the Tutsis in power over the Hutus

          We’ve been over this. How this gets God off the hook, I don’t know. And for this subtopic, that’s all I care about.

          “Are you applying the tu quoque fallacy here? This error seems so obvious that I have to check to see if I understand your point.”

          It is an ad hominem, and valid:

          Let’s then review the facts. This is tedious—you’ll love it.

          You said, “I actually do not believe someone who (i) says X is wrong; (ii) does X. The combination of (i) and (ii) undermines the person’s credibility, completely.”

          X = “Commit or set up the conditions such that [genocide] is likely to happen, and then fail to stop it when it does.”

          So, you’re saying that anyone who creates conditions in which genocide is likely to happen and then stands by when it does is not only wrong but is in no position to criticize anyone else’s attack on genocide.

          In the first place, this is indeed the tu quoque fallacy. And in the second place, I didn’t participate in genocide.

          BTW, are you from Africa? I wonder why the Rwanda thing keeps coming up. Do you need an apology from me or something?

          As I suspected; your “My definition of person is right for me.” is actually right for me, as well—at least in the public domain!

          You got me. I demand the right to decide on abortion for oneself. And I demand that right for you as well (assuming you’re in the U.S.). Is that an imposition on you? If so, I’ll just have to live with that.

        • Carving out this meta-discussion:

          LB: You’ve never once indicated to me that you could possibly be wrong as to your theological beliefs. This seems like the height of arrogance, to me.

          BS: You never once asked. This seems like the height of jumping-the-gun-ness.

          Really?

          BS: The buck definitely stops at God’s desk.

          LB: Do any bucks stop at our desks?

          That’s an investigation of a theological belief. You did not deign to reply to that question in your reply. Later, I asked you about a theological belief:

          LB: Do you think that ‘perfect morality’ is something which can be communicated in finite time to finite beings? If your answer “yes”, I would like to know how you formed this belief. It would appear to be a theological belief. I would also like to know how you test such beliefs—surely you don’t just nonreflectively accept them? Surely they could be wrong, and you have ways to test for this?

          BS: Correct.

          There, I asked how you’d know you were wrong if you gave a “yes” answer; you didn’t. Here’s another example, which I think falls under the rubric of “theological belief”:

          LB: IIRC, some slavery has been justified under the rubric that the enslaved persons are, well, not full persons. Maybe 3/5, maybe less. Why were they wrong?

          BS: You think it’s for some reasons other than the ones you’ll come up with?

          LB: Nope, I just want to explore your reasoning. See, you have beliefs which undergird your objection to slavery as is discussed in the Bible. Those beliefs can be wrong. It is legitimate for me to investigate them. Or if it is not, I will exit conversations where it is not.

          BS: You talked about tedious discussions above, and yet you’re just passing the time of day by asking riddles? This conversation really needs to move along. If you have a point, just make it.

          Here, you’re actively resistant to my exploring your beliefs, beliefs you use to issue theological objections to God as described in the Bible, and the Bible itself.

        • Aram

          Your beliefs are dumb, dude. Nothing personal.

        • Thanks for sharing. People like you, doing what you just did, make the world a better place.

        • Aram

          Indeed I do. I think Harry McCall already said it best last year:

          “I truly believe Luke Breuer’s commenting on DC has totally nothing to do with logic, but everything to do with Luke Breuer’s personal identity. In short, Breuer is no friend to either the world of religion or secularism. Luke Breuer simply loves rhetoric especially if it’s his own!”

        • This Harry H. McCall?

        • adam

          Seems like a pretty accurate assessment of you so far…..

          Excluding your constant claims of being the victim here.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Thanks for the link.

        • Kodie

          Wow, Luke Breuer, you are obsessive.

        • MNb

          Exactly as much as your metadiscussions.

        • adam

          I dont know about his beliefs, except in his belief in philosophers who he seems to claim agree with something he thought of once, or maybe now, or maybe not, maybe just the way he thought about it……shit who knows….

          He is as clear as mud.

          What is OBVIOUS, is that he is being deceptive and dishonest using tangents, distractions and PILES and PILES of HORSESHIT to say as little as possible in a verbose manner.

        • adam

          “Here, you’re actively resistant to my exploring your beliefs, beliefs
          you use to issue theological objections to God as described in the
          Bible, and the Bible itself.”

          The bible?

        • Kodie

          Here, you’re actively resistant to my exploring your beliefs, beliefs you use to issue theological objections to God as described in the Bible, and the Bible itself.

          Have you, Luke Breuer, not made the biggest fuss over being inquired about your meaning of faith? You refused to answer it, so you don’t like being asked, so you delete my posts from your inbox. That’s actively resistant to my exploring YOUR beliefs, beliefs you use to issue floods of theological inanity, and inflict yourself upon other people for the sake of hearing yourself talk.

        • Yes, I do mean that. (Can I say that without a citation?)

          Wait a second. You seem very interested in understanding why I believe what I believe. Do you not like it when I try and understand why you believe what you believe? I mean, if you have no evidence you can cite, fine, but realize that often Christians are expected to cite evidence on websites like this. Fair must be fair. If I’ve dialed up my “Where’s the evidence?” meter too high, I can dial it down. The dial is a bit sticky, but you’ve been prodding it enough that it has loosened. 🙂

          LB: I think people like you are riddled with false theological beliefs and it is tedious to tease them out.

          BS: I’m the tedious one?

          Why have you equated: “[your] theological beliefs” = “you[r identity]”? I didn’t do that.

          Good … did you want to address the issue? Did I just not say “please”?

          (i) The words used in the ‘genocide’ passages contain more verbs of the kind ‘drive out’ than the kind ‘exterminate’. (ii) Israel’s reputation, by the time they arrived to do any conquering, was that of “unstoppable force”. (iii) Upon entering the Promised Land to start conquering, the Israelites made the first step toward conquering—crossing the Jordan—and then circumcised all the men, giving the enemy a multi-day grace period for escaping. (iv) The best model for what was being done is ‘culture destruction’. All persons could have fled; only† those who preferred to fight to the death to support their culture had to stay. Much evil can be encoded nonlocally, in culture. (v) The cultures targeted were incredibly evil, at least as recorded in the narrative‡. (vi) God has a right to exterminate evil, and all people who insist on defending that evil to the death, in spite of repeated warnings. Note that Ninevah heard God’s warning and repented, and thus escaped extermination. (vii) Precision extermination is not always compatible with God’s desire for Theosis (sometimes it is).

          † Let me know if we must discuss the old, sick, orphans, etc.‡ Given that historical evidence questions the historicity of the genocides, it is invalid to only partly modify the text with history; either we should modify it completely or not at all.

          Saying that a single cell that you can’t see without a microscope isn’t a person isn’t “fucking” with the definition of person.

          We will have to agree to disagree, for now. We have too many other tangents going.

          Yeah, I got evidence. Person: “a man, woman, or child.” Source: Oxford English Dictionary

          This is from the DSM I, under the heading “PSYCHONEUROTIC DISORDERS” (31):

          000–x63 Sexual deviation    This diagnosis is reserved for deviant sexuality which is not symptomatic of more extensive syndromes, such as schizophrenic and obsessional reactions. The term includes most of the cases formerly classed as “psychopathic personality with pathologic sexuality.” The diagnosis will specify the type of the pathologic behavior, such as homosexuality, transvestism, pedophilia, fetishism and sexual sadism (including rape, sexual assault, mutilation). (38–39)

          In the DSM IV, homosexuality is not considered a pathology. When the DSM I was in force, was it true that “homosexuality is a pathology”? Or do you believe it never was a pathology, and that the authors of the DSM I got it wrong? If you think they got it wrong, then are you appealing to a ‘dictionary’ of sorts which is now 100% correct? If not, then why do you trust your current dictionary, when it was a bad thing for psychologists during the reign of the DSM I to trust 000–x63? Unless you disagree somewhere with my logic?

          It’s a fucking word! Yes, it’s social opinion. The definition is what people say it is.

          I reject nominalism, which means I am not predisposed to think like you do. Hence the mismatch. So: why is society right, on the definition of ‘person’ you advanced? After all, it was wrong when it came to slavery. So what makes it right, now, with regard to “who is a person”?

          Do you really not understand how discussions work? Have you never had a discussion in which you’ve changed your opinion or the other person changed his?

          I used to be a young earth creationist. Through discussion on the internet with atheists, I slowly moved to OEC, then ID, and finally to evolution—although I reject the philosophical barnacles which are often attached to the science of evolution. Is this good enough evidence for you?

          Your tap dancing looks like evasion.

          Appearances can be deceiving.

          Where did “painless” come in? The Canaanite genocide certainly wasn’t painless.

          I was referencing the Tenth Plague.

          Israel didn’t get genocided.

          Oh really?

          Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.” (Exodus 1:15—22)

          That looks like ‘genocide’, to me. Have I got the definition wrong?

          We’ve been over this. How this gets God off the hook, I don’t know.

          Ad hominem attacks are valid when it comes to hypocrisy and moral/​ethical reasoning. If you’re doing the bad thing, your authority to accuse others of doing the bad thing is obliterated. If you’re complicit in the bad thing, the same applies. If you could have stopped the really bad thing at extremely little cost, are raised in a culture which exacerbated the bad thing, and failed to stop it, you are complicit and your moral/​ethical reasoning is thereby suspect. It is always valid to question the bringer of accusations.

          So, you’re saying that anyone who creates conditions in which genocide is likely to happen and then stands by when it does is not only wrong but is in no position to criticize anyone else’s attack on genocide.

          In the first place, this is indeed the tu quoque fallacy. And in the second place, I didn’t participate in genocide.

          Tu quoque (/tuːˈkwoʊkwiː/;[1] Latin for “you, too” or “you, also”) or the appeal to hypocrisy is an informal logical fallacy that intends to discredit the validity of the opponent’s logical argument by asserting the opponent’s failure to act consistently in accordance with its conclusion(s).

          I was not discrediting your logical argument, and therefore what I was doing was not tu quoque. Instead, I am questioning your right to impose a moral standard to which you do not adhere.

          BTW, are you from Africa? I wonder why the Rwanda thing keeps coming up. Do you need an apology from me or something?

          No, I am not. Instead, I am sick and tired of Westerners acting superior in the realm of morality when they are complicit in the very evil they condemn. Hypocrisy is a pox on life. You realize that a major reason the US did not intervene in Rwanda is that the public did not want it to, right? In democracies (or representative republics), the majority is 100% responsible for the action of elected government representatives. Bill Clinton’s choice, as well as those he appointed, not to expend a few resources and a few lives to stop the death of hundreds of thousands of lives, reflects badly on the majority of United States citizens.

          You got me. I demand the right to decide on abortion for oneself. And I demand that right for you as well (assuming you’re in the U.S.). Is that an imposition on you? If so, I’ll just have to live with that.

          The right to own a slave was not an imposition on the slaveowner. It was an imposition on the slave. Likewise, the right to an abortion is not an imposition on the unborn human being. It is an imposition on the unborn human being. I care about those who cannot defend themselves. I am also, incidentally, pissed off that most Republicans simultaneously don’t ensure that the mothers and not-aborted children are wanted. That sickens me. They care about life before birth, and… which other life? Yeah, then they get nice and selective—at least with their actions.

        • If I’ve dialed up my “Where’s the evidence?” meter too high, I can dial it down.

          I think you’ve discovered the problem.

          (i) The words used in the ‘genocide’ passages contain more verbs of the kind ‘drive out’ than the kind ‘exterminate’.

          This is beneath you. You’ve read the verses—just find the ones that use different verbs.

          “[Joshua] left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the [Lord] had commanded” (Joshua 10:40).

          “The Lord heard the voice of Israel and delivered up the Canaanites; then they utterly destroyed them and their cities.” (Numbers 21:3).

          “[God said:] Strike the Amalekites and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant” (1 Samuel 15:3).

          “David attacked the land and did not leave a man or a woman alive” (1 Sam. 27:9).

          “Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you” (Deut. 20:17).

          (v) The cultures targeted were incredibly evil, at least as recorded in the narrative

          1. Right—history written by the winner. That’s gotta be impeccable.

          2. So God is going to respond to a culture that has occasional infant sacrifice by killing everyone? Who’s the real bad guy here? I don’t think it’s the Canaanites.

          (vi) God has a right to exterminate evil

          God is obliged to be moral about it. Slaughter with the sword? Surely an omniscient God could’ve thought of something better.

          (vii) Precision extermination is not always compatible with God’s desire for Theosis

          It’s pretty hilarious when the Pat Robertsons of the world point to hurricanes or tsunamis and say that it was God’s hand—maybe there was a future Hitler in Haiti or Indonesia that had to be taken out. (Why the other 300,000 people had to die is never answered.)

          ‡ Given that historical evidence questions the historicity of the genocides

          Yes—the genocides probably didn’t happen, at least not as dramatically as the OT says. Throwing the Bible under the bus doesn’t help you much, however.

          When the DSM I was in force, was it true that “homosexuality is a pathology”?

          Objectively true? I see no objective truth, at least when it comes to morality.

          then are you appealing to a ‘dictionary’ of sorts which is now 100% correct?

          No. Why would you ask such a stupid question?

          If not, then why do you trust your current dictionary

          Ah, another stupid question! I trust my current dictionary because I got nothing else. You’ll say that it’s imperfect. Yeah, duh.

          I reject nominalism, which means I am not predisposed to think like you do. Hence the mismatch.

          Must suck when you’ve got to deal with Neanderthals like me who use, y’know, dictionaries.

          why is society right, on the definition of ‘person’ you advanced? After all, it was wrong when it came to slavery. So what makes it right, now, with regard to “who is a person”?

          Answered in your next quote from me: Do you really not understand how discussions work? Have you never had a discussion in which you’ve changed your opinion or the other person changed his?

          I used to be a young earth creationist.

          Then bravo for changing your mind.

          Is this good enough evidence for you?

          You asked a question that seemed to betray ignorance of how humans talk to each other. I realize you do; I was trying to point out that it was stupid.

          I was referencing the Tenth Plague.

          Death is often painful. Why imagine that it wasn’t so for the 10th plague?

          “’if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.’ But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.”

          That looks like ‘genocide’, to me. Have I got the definition wrong?

          Seems like it. Genocide is killing every single person of a tribe or people.

          If you’re doing the bad thing, your authority to accuse others of doing the bad thing is obliterated.

          God, this is pathetic. I didn’t genocide anyone, but God did. So I will (with pleasure) charge God with assholery. How hard is this?

          For God, doing the right thing is like falling off a log. He never compromises, he just does the right thing. Easy. And yet the Bible shows him not doing so. Conclusion: Yahweh is not the omniscient, omnibenevolent character Christians claim.

          If you could have stopped the really bad thing at extremely little cost

          You’re referring to Rwanda? I doubt that “extremely little cost” applies. But, yet again, Rwanda is a tangent—a deliberate tangent, I’m guessing.

          So, you’re saying that anyone who creates conditions in which genocide is likely to happen and then stands by when it does is not only wrong but is in no position to criticize anyone else’s attack on genocide.

          Weird logic, but thanks for sharing.

          I am questioning your right to impose a moral standard to which you do not adhere.

          When I’m guilty of the shit that the Bible proudly puts at Yahweh’s feet, get back to me and we can talk. Until that point, I will happily and without any feelings of guilt, call ’em like I see ’em.

          No, I am not. Instead, I am sick and tired of Westerners acting superior in the realm of morality when they are complicit in the very evil they condemn.

          Quite appropriate if the topic were, say, how terrible Russia’s foreign policy is. Instead, we’re critiquing God’s foreign policy. Remember him? The guy who is “perfect”?

          The right to own a slave was not an imposition on the slaveowner. It was an imposition on the slave. Likewise, the right to an abortion is not an imposition on the unborn human being. It is an imposition on the unborn human being. I care about those who cannot defend themselves.

          Why? They’re not people.

          Rule of thumb: if you need a microscope to see them, you’re either looking at Whos or you’re looking at not-a-person. But hey—if you want to call anything you want a person (a slug, a mouse, whatever), knock yourself out. Just don’t constrain the rest of us by imposing your beliefs by law.

          I am also, incidentally, pissed off that most Republicans simultaneously don’t ensure that the mothers and not-aborted children are wanted. That sickens me.

          Thank you. Great to hear that we’re on the same page.

        • LB: (i) The words used in the ‘genocide’ passages contain more verbs of the kind ‘drive out’ than the kind ‘exterminate’.

          BS: This is beneath you. You’ve read the verses—just find the ones that use different verbs.

          I’m sorry, but if you cannot restrain yourself from making digs like this, I will axe the conversation of this tangent. This topic is extremely emotional; I find it to be a good test, that if someone finds himself/​herself compelled to make digs such as “This is beneath you.”, then his/​her rationality is likely compromised and the discussion will be largely fruitless. At least, I’m not good at continuing discussions when the emotional intensity is this high, at least on the topic of ‘genocide’.

          Right now, “Intelligence reports indicate that President Clinton and his cabinet were aware before the height of the massacre that a “final solution to eliminate all Tutsis” was planned.[229]” is just too poignant to me. We fucking knew Holocaust 2.0 was happening, and we fucking withdrew peacekeeping troops so that the Rwandans could rape each other, hack off womens’ breasts with machetes, and murder each other brutally—all based on political tensions between the Hutus and the Tutsis which were greatly amplified by European colonization. This shit, and our unrepentance about it, makes me want to call down Ezek 9:3–9 on the West. At least, it does when I get worked up about it, which I did today. And then there’s Holocaust 3.0 brewing in Myanmar, and we don’t give a flying fuck. And then people like you act like you the moral competence to judge God on the topic of genocide. I’m sorry, but this sickens me.

          So, feel free to rephrase without the digs; otherwise, this tangent dies. You may consider this a limitation of mine, and excoriate me with the words of your choice for this weakness.

          It’s pretty hilarious when the Pat Robertsons of the world point to hurricanes or tsunamis and say that it was God’s hand […]

          Indeed:

          There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1–5)

          I’ve been meaning to see how Pat Robertson dealt with this passage, but I’ve not got around to it yet. So much to do, so little time!

          Yes—the genocides probably didn’t happen, at least not as dramatically as the OT says. Throwing the Bible under the bus doesn’t help you much, however.

          Actually, if the genocides were a “what if” scenario, to teach us about God and human nature, that could be very interesting. It could serve to condemn those who condemn it, without God ever having actually commanded genocide. I’m not sure whether this idea really works, but it’s fun to think about from time to time. Gotta love Underdetermination of Scientific Theory!

          Objectively true? I see no objective truth, at least when it comes to morality.

          Ok, then you are at emotivism and have this to deal with:

              What is the key to the social content of emotivism? It is the fact that emotivism entails the obliteration of any genuine distinction between manipulative and non-manipulative social relations. (After Virtue, 23)

          BTW, that book has 18,000 ‘citations’. Would you care to indicate whether you think you can separate between ‘manipulative’ and ‘non-manipulative’ social relations, other than based on people’s perception? (After all, propaganda can control people without them realizing it; surely this ‘control’ is considered manipulation, nonetheless?)

          The reason I bring this up, is that I think you lose much more than you think by giving up on there being such a thing as “moral knowledge”. You are left with morality being defined by society, and that requires you to say that Jesus ought to have been crucified, from the point of view of (i) the Pharisees; (ii) the Romans; (iii) the Jewish mob. After all, society dictated that threats to the Powers that Be get destroyed. But feel free to try to argue that Jesus oughtn’t have been crucified. I predict that you will not be able to make a good case, and yet will still want to say that YHWH is evil because… you don’t like him.

          And so, we seem to be here (last quoted here):

          LB: I think I’ll continue to assume that the atheists with whom I am interacting consider it important to:

               (1) believe things only based on the evidence, pending:     (2) justify any a priori beliefs     (3) avoid believing things solely based on desire

          If any of (1)–(3) does not describe you, feel free to indicate as much.

          The only question is whether you want to say ‘moral belief’ or something else, like ‘moral preference’. For example: “It is my moral preference that Hitler was wrong to mastermind the genocide of the Jews.” That sounds a bit weak sauce, but perhaps that is merely my subjectivity talking.

          BS: You say that the West screwed up? OK—what did you expect? But your Bible makes clear that God didn’t just ineptly handle a genocide, he commanded them.

          LB: Can you point to any evidence for your way being ‘better’?

          BS: Yeah, I got evidence. Person: “a man, woman, or child.” Source: Oxford English Dictionary

          LB: In the DSM IV, homosexuality is not considered a pathology. When the DSM I was in force, was it true that “homosexuality is a pathology”? Or do you believe it never was a pathology, and that the authors of the DSM I got it wrong? If you think they got it wrong, then are you appealing to a ‘dictionary’ of sorts which is now 100% correct?

          LB: then are you appealing to a ‘dictionary’ of sorts which is now 100% correct?

          BS: No. Why would you ask such a stupid question?

          Well, you cited a dictionary as if it answered my question. I thought that was a really stupid response. And so, I gave you another example where it would be stupid to think that a carefully constructed dictionary-like document is trustworthy, like you treated the OED. So, it seems that you’ve indicted your own answer, kind of like how Nathan got King David to indict himself.

          Ah, another stupid question! I trust my current dictionary because I got nothing else. You’ll say that it’s imperfect. Yeah, duh.

          But clearly it isn’t all that there is to go on, because there was a progression from the DSM I → DSM II → DSM III → DSM IV, which was not caused by the ‘dictionary’. It was caused by something else. Here’s one accounting of the causes; I don’t vouch for it, but it gives some potential answers. Critically, it seems to falsify your claim that “I got nothing else.” Do you agree, or disagree? Surely homosexuals around the world are very thankful that psychologists and psychiatrists gave a very different answer from “I got nothing else.”—right?

          Must suck when you’ve got to deal with Neanderthals like me who use, y’know, dictionaries.

          It is indeed tedious, at times. I’ll manage.

          LB: I reject nominalism, which means I am not predisposed to think like you do. Hence the mismatch. So: why is society right, on the definition of ‘person’ you advanced? After all, it was wrong when it came to slavery. So what makes it right, now, with regard to “who is a person”?

          BS: Answered in your next quote from me: Do you really not understand how discussions work? Have you never had a discussion in which you’ve changed your opinion or the other person changed his?

          Well, here’s how I answered your “Do you really not understand…”:

          LB: I used to be a young earth creationist. Through discussion on the internet with atheists, I slowly moved to OEC, then ID, and finally to evolution—although I reject the philosophical barnacles which are often attached to the science of evolution.

          I was convinced with reason, using logic. But it’s not clear that you believe reason and logic can be used when it comes to morality, given your “I see no objective truth, at least when it comes to morality.” At least, the way reason and logic would work with them would be highly relativized. It would be better to say that you ‘convert’ someone to your morality, not ‘convince’ them to your morality. Conversion seems like a highly irrational process. That doesn’t mean it’s against truth, but it does make it at least a-rational. I’m very bad with irrational/​arational conversation. One way this shows up is that I’m very slow to pick up the social protocols in play. This might help explain the tangent which ended with: “I think you’ve discovered the problem.”

          Then bravo for changing your mind.

          Thank you. I always like bringing myself up when people lament about vigorous debate never resulting in someone changing his/her position. Other than converting to/from theism, I’m not sure what is a bigger change than YEC → evolution (caveat: sans philosophical barnacles).

          You asked a question that seemed to betray ignorance of how humans talk to each other. I realize you do; I was trying to point out that it was stupid.

          I may actually have ignorance in unexpected domains, in this realm. I have many lacunae here, which is probably part of what spurs comments like Aram’s:

          A: No, you’re not a liar. You’re honestly delusional, mad as cheese, not even close to a crack as clued in as you think. Harry nailed you right. You help no side. Only you masturbate verbal choleric spew in some narcissistic idea that you hold the motherlode of ‘deep thought’ in your soft little head. (And that’s without even getting into the whole Paul thing.) I’ve seen you rambling up and down the internet for a while now. You’re a mess, son. I real raging horrorshow of diarrhoetic delusion. And that ain’t character assassination (as you so colourfully put it). That’s a fact.

          The typo of “I real” instead of “A real” amuses me; I didn’t see that the first time. Freudian slip? Anyhow, if I didn’t have those lacunae, Aram probably wouldn’t have felt that it was possibly appropriate to type up such a steaming pile.

          Death is often painful. Why imagine that it wasn’t so for the 10th plague?

          Because painless death is perfectly consistent with the story, and thus a possibility. It is always good to let your interlocutor have the strongest case he can; if you can defeat that, you’re golden. If you cannot, then you have to start arguing the niggly details. Best to avoid the niggly details as long as possible, no?

          Seems like it. Genocide is killing every single person of a tribe or people.

          I suggest a look at WP: Genocide definitions. Tell me which one you pick, and why.

          God, this is pathetic.

          Rinse & repeat with my “I’m sorry, but if you cannot restrain yourself from making digs like this”, above. I wouldn’t do this if we didn’t have so many tangents going, but we do. So, if a few of them die off, it’ll mean less work for both of us. We can always pick them up later, when things have cooled off. I’m also tired and not interested in processing emotion from others, or emotion provoked in myself by digs from others.

          LB: So, you’re saying that anyone who creates conditions in which genocide is likely to happen and then stands by when it does is not only wrong but is in no position to criticize anyone else’s attack on genocide.

          BS: Weird logic, but thanks for sharing.

          You haven’t seen posts by Paul B. Lot and others trying to expose me as a hypocrite, to discredit me? I will have to tell them that they’re likely employing “weird logic”, as well!

          When I’m guilty of the shit that the Bible proudly puts at Yahweh’s feet, get back to me and we can talk. Until that point, I will happily and without any feelings of guilt, call ’em like I see ’em.

          Guilty… like the fact that the only reason America is like it is, is because of the genocide against Native Americans, including biological warfare? At what point did Americans’ hands get washed clean of their blood?

          Instead, we’re critiquing God’s foreign policy. Remember him? The guy who is “perfect”?

          Yep, and a person’s moral imagination is likely only as good as his/her moral actions. If you can dismiss an incompetent software developer’s ‘software imagination’ and judgment, I can dismiss an immoral person’s ‘moral imagination’ and judgment.

          Why? They’re not people.

          Neither were Blacks, according to some Southern slaveholders.

          Rule of thumb: if you need a microscope to see them, you’re either looking at Whos or you’re looking at not-a-person.

          I see, so you’re asking people to use their evolved imaginations in a highly artificial domain, and you’re using the result there, with no reflection, to decide definitions absolutely critical to morality. Nice!

        • if you cannot restrain yourself from making digs like this, I will axe the conversation of this tangent.

          You’re going to start avoiding subtopics?

          This topic is extremely emotional

          How? The Canaanite genocide was over 3000 years ago—is it too soon? Or is there something else that’s emotional?

          I find it to be a good test, that if someone finds himself/herself compelled to make digs such as “This is beneath you.”, then his/her rationality is likely compromised and the discussion will be largely fruitless.

          I don’t remember exactly, but I think the “This is beneath you” was an edit of “What the fuck? Just how fucking stupid do you think I am??” I guess patting myself on the back for my restraint was premature.

          I’m not good at continuing discussions when the emotional intensity is this high, at least on the topic of ‘genocide’.

          I don’t know how I could be more accommodating about recent genocide. For you the Rwanda thing was a big, big deal. OK, good for you. I’ve also used it as an example.

          Since you’ve raised it 4 or 5 times already as an attempt to divert the conversation from the actual issue–God’s genocide, let’s put Rwanda to bed and never, ever bring it up again.

          Right now, “Intelligence reports indicate that President Clinton and his cabinet were aware before the height of the massacre that a “final solution to eliminate all Tutsis” was planned.[229]” is just too poignant to me.

          Go vent on a political blog. This isn’t that.

          We fuckingknew Holocaust 2.0 was happening

          … and here it is again. Look, dude, I’ve given the issue due reverence. You bring it up more, and you’ll be displeased when my reverence turns into frustration. No more Rwanda.

          And then there’s Holocaust 3.0 brewing in Myanmar, and we don’t give a flying fuck. And then people like you act like you the moral competence to judge God on the topic of genocide.

          Oh, yes. I will, with delight, condemn God as a moral monster, a genocidal bastard. Whip yourself into a frenzy over Rwanda on your own time. Rwanda doesn’t excuse God, nor does it mean we can’t discuss God as a hideous character in literature.

          You have a bizarre concept of the grounding one must have to make the daily moral decisions we all must make. I told a white lie once, so therefore I can never declare that someone else errs by lying? The West didn’t do enough in Rwanda, so therefore I can’t evaluate and render judgment on God in the OT? Fuck that.

          So, feel free to rephrase without the digs; otherwise, this tangent dies.

          I think you’re confused about who controls the horizontal and vertical at this blog.

          It could serve to condemn those who condemn it, without God ever having actually commanded genocide.

          And yet your holy book says, without shame, that he did. QED.

          ”Objectively true? I see no objective truth, at least when it comes to morality.”

          Ok, then you are at emotivism and have this to deal with …

          Would you care to indicate whether you think you can separate between ‘manipulative’ and ‘non-manipulative’ social relations, other than based on people’s perception?

          No thanks. I have no time or patience for your homework. I will consider your defense of objective moral truth … if you have one.

          I think you lose much more than you think by giving up on there being such a thing as “moral knowledge”.

          I don’t. I just say that it’s not objective/absolute.

          You are left with morality being defined by society, and that requires you to say that Jesus ought to have been crucified, from the point of view of (i) the Pharisees; (ii) the Romans; (iii) the Jewish mob.

          That’s obviously true. Who would say otherwise?

          But feel free to try to argue that Jesus oughtn’t have been crucified.

          I’d just as soon make a case that the Wicked Witch of the East was cruelly killed by Dorothy’s house. They’re both literature.

          I predict that you will not be able to make a good case, and yet will still want to say that YHWH is evil because… you don’t like him.

          You’re not listening, are you? YHWH is evil because his own fucking book makes that clear. I use your book against you. You don’t like that? Then don’t have a book that glorifies actions that are now seen as bad.

          The only question is whether you want to say ‘moral belief’ or something else, like ‘moral preference’. For example: “It is my moral preference that Hitler was wrong to mastermind the genocide of the Jews.”

          Is there a question here? Are you asking how I justify the statement, “The Holocaust was wrong?” I say the Holocaust was wrong because that’s what my (1) programming and (2) society tell me. Haven’t we been over this before? You’ll say that that’s not much of a platform, and that’s true, but what else do I have? Show me something better.

          it seems that you’ve indicted your own answer, kind of like how Nathan got King David to indict himself.

          I’m not interested enough to wade through whatever all that was to figure out what you’re saying/asking. If you could be more direct in the future, that would help.

          there was a progression from the DSM I → DSM II → DSM III → DSM IV, which was not caused by the ‘dictionary’.

          Again, not clear what your point/question is. No, I don’t have time to read a long article.

          Right: homosexuality was declared a mental illness, and now it’s not. And?

          I was convinced with reason, using logic.

          Not what we were talking about. You scratched your head in bafflement at how one would argue convincingly for some issue—“a single cell is/isn’t a person,” for example.

          You responded by showing me that you’re open minded enough to change your mind. That’s nice; now: are we past the question of how discussions work and how one would argue for a moral issue?

          But it’s not clear that you believe reason and logic can be used when it comes to morality, given your “I see no objective truth, at least when it comes to morality.”

          We can continue down this path if you truly haven’t had explained to you the stance of someone who rejects objective morality. If you’re just making conversation or asking rhetorical questions, just dying to use a clever punch line, let’s just skip that.

          When I consult my programming, and I get a visceral “OMG—that’s disgusting!” then I’m not using reason to come to that moral conclusion. That’s just how I was put together. In other not-visceral, carefully reasoned issues (SSM, abortion, for example) then reason is indeed used. I hope this helps clarify.

          It would be better to say that you ‘convert’ someone to your morality, not ‘convince’ them to your morality.

          If we disagreed on a moral issue (SSM or abortion), I’d use reason to convince you.

          I’m very bad with irrational/arational conversation.

          I don’t want to get into one, so we’re on the same page.

          I always like bringing myself up when people lament about vigorous debate never resulting in someone changing his/her position.

          Your closed mindedness (or not) was never the topic.

          I have many lacunae here

          Quibble: I appreciate clever word usage, though I don’t know that it precisely applies here. Lacunae have worn away. I’m assuming you’re saying you never were good at this.

          Because painless death is perfectly consistent with the story, and thus a possibility.

          I’ll buy that: it’s possible that the Egyptian eldest were killed painlessly. I understand why you care, but why imagine God does? He shows no concern outside the Chosen People®. Non-Israelites? Fuck ’em.

          It is always good to let your interlocutor have the strongest case he can; if you can defeat that, you’re golden.

          Yes, that’s what I try to do.

          I suggest a look at WP: Genocide definitions. Tell me which one you pick, and why.

          No thanks. I’ll just go with Merriam-Webster’s #1: “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.” Are you saying that this isn’t what you use?

          Rinse & repeat with my “I’m sorry, but if you cannot restrain yourself from making digs like this”, above.

          Make my day.

          I wouldn’t do this if we didn’t have so many tangents going, but we do.

          I marvel that we both have so much time available for this.

          At what point did Americans’ hands get washed clean of their blood?

          ?? At what point did Germans’ hands get washed clean of WW2 and its war crimes? Answer: when we’re talking about individual Germans who didn’t do anything in WW2.

          You must be a laugh to go visit Japan with. Do you bring a soap box to stand on to periodically declare everyone guilty of the barbaric treatment of the Chinese by the Japanese army in WW2?

          Yep, and a person’s moral imagination is likely only as good as his/her moral actions.

          Yep, and we’ve been here before. When presented with God’s stated actions in the Bible plus the claims of perfection by Christians, the buck stops here. I have no choice but to evaluate those claims with my imperfect moral reasoning ability. And I’m sure you already know how the evaluation goes.

          Why do I feel we’re going around in circles, making little progress?

          If you can dismiss an incompetent software developer’s ‘software imagination’ and judgment, I can dismiss an immoral person’s ‘moral imagination’ and judgment.

          Huh?

          ”Why? They’re not people.”

          Neither were Blacks, according to some Southern slaveholders.

          What argument could this possibly be? People made moral errors in the past, so therefore … what?

          so you’re asking people to use their evolved imaginations in a highly artificial domain, and you’re using the result there, with no reflection, to decide definitions absolutely critical to morality. Nice!

          Great—I’m glad we’re on the same page. The microscopic world is indeed an artificial domain. And to idiotically imagine that the Land of the Whos and the Land of Real People are the same is ridiculous. A single cell isn’t a person.

          But, of course, this isn’t the issue. The issue is your insistence on imposing your views by law on the rest of us. (You do want to make abortion illegal, right?)

        • LB: (i) The words used in the ‘genocide’ passages contain more verbs of the kind ‘drive out’ than the kind ‘exterminate’.

          BS: This is beneath you. You’ve read the verses—just find the ones that use different verbs.

          LB: I’m sorry, but if you cannot restrain yourself from making digs like this, I will axe the conversation of this tangent. This topic is extremely emotional; I find it to be a good test, that if someone finds himself/​herself compelled to make digs such as “This is beneath you.”, then his/​her rationality is likely compromised and the discussion will be largely fruitless. At least, I’m not good at continuing discussions when the emotional intensity is this high, at least on the topic of ‘genocide’.

          BS: How? The Canaanite genocide was over 3000 years ago—is it too soon? Or is there something else that’s emotional?

          The topic of genocide, whether in the Bible or in the world today. Bob, you are moderator; you get to lay down laws of the land for your blog. But I get to set down laws for people talking to me. If they don’t want to abide by them, I will not engage them, or I will engage differently, in a way they like less. And if you don’t want to ‘let’ me lay down my laws (like I have, above), then we can either 100% avoid such issues, or I can leave this blog.

          Since you’ve raised it 4 or 5 times already as an attempt to divert the conversation from the actual issue–God’s genocide, let’s put Rwanda to bed and never, ever bring it up again.

          I don’t believe I was diverting. You do. That’s fine, but if I don’t get to talk about the Rwandan Genocide, I won’t talk about genocide in the Bible. See above on “set down laws”. Oh, and if you spin stories about why I do this (that is, going beyond the evidence), I will probably react to that in ways you don’t like. Well, unless you meant to provoke such reactions. But I know that too, and thus can automatically skip a few stages forward in that kind of ridiculous internet [middle-school-level] conversation.

          Rwanda doesn’t excuse God […]

          I never made that claim.

          You have a bizarre concept of the grounding one must have to make the daily moral decisions we all must make. I told a white lie once, so therefore I can never declare that someone else errs by lying?

          Straw man. I say you cannot judge on matter X if you’ve transgressed in matter X, until you have repented of transgressions in matter X. See Mt 7:1–5, especially the bit about ‘log’ and ‘speck’. And if you’re continually transgressing in matter X, repentance is obviously not happening. See Rom 2:1–24, noting (i) it follows on chapter 1; (ii) v24 is quite the smackdown; (iii) v24 does not target ‘heathens’. Also see Lk 6:39, about whether the blind can lead the blind (think of what a log in your eye does to your vision).

          I think you’re confused about who controls the horizontal and vertical at this blog.

          I think you’re confused about how much I want to stay around here and be knocked about however you and others wish. I came in a flash and can be gone in a flash.

          I will consider your defense of objective moral truth … if you have one.

          Meh, it’s a little tiring having only my views be examined. I will require trades in this matter, or I will ignore even more tangents. See above on “set down laws”.

          I don’t. I just say that it’s not objective/​absolute.

          Fair enough; I think I can draw on the bit I read in Robert Nozick’s Invariances to make sense of this. Hmmm, the term ‘objective’ even has problems with foundationalism, which I also reject. But you do need a God-point-of-view, I think. I think John Rawls requires that concept to “make sense” for his A Theory of Justice to make sense. I’m pretty sure much liberal political theory is predicated upon it. A matter for my own research, probably.

          LB: You are left with morality being defined by society, and that requires you to say that Jesus ought to have been crucified, from the point of view of (i) the Pharisees; (ii) the Romans; (iii) the Jewish mob.

          BS: That’s obviously true. Who would say otherwise?

          Why does anyone need to “say otherwise”? Isn’t every life valuable, even if it doesn’t defend itself? (See Jesus refusing to give a defense for himself at his trial.) I am problematizing your “morality is defined by society” stance, for Jesus was certainly part of ‘society’, and yet his value was 100% irrelevant in terms of “Should he live or die?”. Well, irrelevant in any way that matters. If the murderer struggles a bit before murdering, [s]he still murdered.

          I’d just as soon make a case that the Wicked Witch of the East was cruelly killed by Dorothy’s house. They’re both literature.

          You seem to think that the idea of the crime which is created in the judge’s and jury’s heads is not also an approximation, like the story of the Wizard of Oz and the story of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. No, you’re just refusing to judge on a very hard case, a case which might shatter your philosophy/​morality/​ethics.

          YHWH is evil because his own fucking book makes that clear.

          Where did you make this point clear, through internal contradiction? Do you need to be reminded of Rom 9:14–29?

          I say the Holocaust was wrong because that’s what my (1) programming and (2) society tell me. Haven’t we been over this before? You’ll say that that’s not much of a platform, and that’s true, but what else do I have? Show me something better.

          The only thing I think that could be better is a good God speaking to you in a way that you must trust (pisteuō), because you literally cannot do anything else and have it be ‘better’. This trust can be based on the asymmetry between knowledge of final causation and efficient causation (blog discussion); e.g. you can understand how to drive a car before understanding how internal combustion and automatic transmissions work. This asymmetry means you can trust someone based on knowledge of final causation, before figuring out the efficient causation. Or: you can trust a person’s character before you understand his/her competence. Or: you can trust based on non-scientific reasons, before figuring out the scientific reasons.

          Again, not clear what your point/question is. No, I don’t have time to read a long article.

          My point is that the move to removing ‘homosexuality’ from the DSM wasn’t based on dictionary definitions, dictionary definitions which you seem to lurv so much. That means there is a standard which can change them which isn’t the dictionary, which trumps the dictionary in authority. Archimedes found his lever and place to put it to move the world. I’m asking about the lever and the place it is put—neither of which is a ‘dictionary’.

          When I consult my programming, and I get a visceral “OMG—that’s disgusting!” then I’m not using reason to come to that moral conclusion. That’s just how I was put together. In other not-visceral, carefully reasoned issues (SSM, abortion, for example) then reason is indeed used. I hope this helps clarify.

          Yes; this is called emotivism, and it means that you cannot distinguish between: (i) manipulative social relations; (ii) non-manipulative social relations, as I argued (twice). I think this is a high cost to pay, a very high cost. It means that you actually cannot rationally discuss morality, except with those who already accept your visceral makeup. For those who are different in their visceral makeup, you must either live with as-they-are, or manipulative them with force, given that reason is powerless when the presuppositions differ. (Charles Taylor disagrees with this in Explanation and Practical Reason, but I think that is because he allows for something like ‘objective morality’.)

          Your closed mindedness (or not) was never the topic.

          Bullshit:

          BS: When you make a claim about slavery and I point you to a rebuttal, twice, and you refuse to read it, your concerns about not learning anything sound more like fears of learning something.

          I tore this to shreds, here. + More tedious analysis of this bullshit.

          LB: I suggest a look at WP: Genocide definitions. Tell me which one you pick, and why.

          BS: No thanks. I’ll just go with Merriam-Webster’s #1: “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.” Are you saying that this isn’t what you use?

          I think you’re naive to think that you can use Merriam-Webster in this way. There is a very, very good reason that there are so many examples at WP: Genocide definitions. See also WP: Genocide § “Intent to destroy”. Actually, the net effect of your insistence on using Merriam-Webster is that you will win the argument via oversimplistic definitions which cannot actually be used to navigate complex, human reality. The Bible deals with complex human reality, not pristine simplifications. Jesus had dirt under his fingernails, and so does the Bible. For more on this, see Peter Enns’ Inspiration and Incarnation.

          I marvel that we both have so much time available for this.

          You are one of the best atheist interlocutors I’ve ever encountered. 😀 Therefore, speaking for myself: I make the time.

          ?? At what point did Germans’ hands get washed clean of WW2 and its war crimes? Answer: when we’re talking about individual Germans who didn’t do anything in WW2.

          Ignore the primitive accumulation of capital (e.g. two families in a society get rich through much violence), and then you whitewash the future disparity, between those who are descendants of the haves, and those who are the descendants of the have-nots. The same applies for morality: if you do not explicitly repent of the evils done by those who formed your very identity, then you still have some of the presuppositions which justified those evils in your psychological makeup.

          You must be a laugh to go visit Japan with. Do you bring a soap box to stand on to periodically declare everyone guilty of the barbaric treatment of the Chinese by the Japanese army in WW2?

          Depends if they tried to fix what they broke or not. Recall:

          LB: Honestly, bad forgiveness teaching bothers me more. Here’s an experiment. Walk up to a church just as everyone is getting out, including the pastor. Go and smash a windshield with a hammer, in plain view. Then ask for forgiveness, claim that “Jesus paid it all!”, and attempt to walk away. See if forgiveness is free when it comes to mammon.

          Why do I feel we’re going around in circles, making little progress?

          Because it can take a little while to characterize the other’s position properly. You sometimes have to work through several misunderstandings, realize that you misjudged the precedence of importance of the other’s beliefs, etc. Such is life; if you don’t want to put in the effort, then accept the consequences of only being able to have deep conversations with people sufficiently like yourself. In software and hardware, you have to put in the hard work of matching protocols. Same with people.

          BS: Why? They’re not people.

          LB: Neither were Blacks, according to some Southern slaveholders.

          BS: What argument could this possibly be? People made moral errors in the past, so therefore … what?

          “moral errors”? How does that work? This probably feeds in the Archimedes thing above, so we might just work from there, for now.

          Great—I’m glad we’re on the same page. The microscopic world is indeed an artificial domain.

          And so, one ought to be careful in how one reasons toward the unknown, where the ‘perfect’ is mostly hidden in the ‘unknown’, like the underside of an iceberg.

          For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Cor 13:12)

          But, of course, this isn’t the issue. The issue is your insistence on imposing your views by law on the rest of us. (You do want to make abortion illegal, right?)

          No, I don’t believe that the law can change hearts, and the biggest problem we have is that we are valuing life less and less. See: the rapid spread of euthanasia around the world. The law is dead:

          Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. (2 Cor 3:7–11)

          We now have this choice, sans law:

          “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” (Deut 30:15–20)

          As far as I can tell, we are increasingly choosing “death”. But we’re calling it “life”, and thus fulfilling this prophecy:

          Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood,    who draw sin as with cart ropes,who say: “Let him be quick,    let him speed his work    that we may see it;let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near,    and let it come, that we may know it!”Woe to those who call evil good    and good evil,who put darkness for light    and light for darkness,who put bitter for sweet    and sweet for bitter!Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,    and shrewd in their own sight!Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,    and valiant men in mixing strong drink,who acquit the guilty for a bribe,    and deprive the innocent of his right!(Isaiah 5:18–23)

          Laws won’t do jack shit to make humans care more for each other. Actually, they never had that power: “For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Only the capital-L Law has that power; recall:

          LB: Most atheists who’ve given any indication one way or another, hate divine command theory. I’m inclined to agree! That’s morality forced on you from the outside, instead of morality welling up from inside—in the style of Jer 31:31–34 and Ezek 36:22–32. I think God very much prefers the “inside” version. Indeed, one could say that this is precisely what God did, when he sent Jesus. After all:

          For Christ is the telos of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4)

          Building off of How is Christ the “End of the Law”?, I’m inclined to say that just like scientific law approximates the laws of nature, so the OT law approximated true Law = the Logos = Jesus. Yes, true law, true morality, is a person, not some sort of abstract object or whatnot. And so, Jesus living inside oneself is Law living inside oneself. Which is what the New Covenant is about… or at least, includes.

          Sorry, you got me going. Or I got me going. Or he got me going.

        • Aram

          *cough* Dunning-Kruger effect *cough*

        • + 1 “Go to Hell!” topics

        • Aram

          Hey so, I came across this post over at Captain Cassidy’s blog here on Patheos, and immediately thought of you. Enjoy 🙂

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rolltodisbelieve/2015/10/29/stupid-is-as-stupid-does/

        • I get to set down laws for people talking to me.

          You’ve yet to explain why you can’t directly address the shit that God does in the OT. My working hypothesis: you know you’ll come out looking bad, so you want to tap dance away from it.

          I don’t believe I was diverting [with the Rwanda topic]. You do.

          Yes. I can see no other explanation why you bring it up over and over and avoid the topic of God over and over.

          That’s fine, but if I don’t get to talk about the Rwandan Genocide, I won’t talk about genocide in the Bible.

          Oh goody. My whole life has been leading up to your exegesis of God’s assholery. My cup sloppeth over.

          You’ve used the Rwanda dodge 5 or 6 times so far. Looks like your condition has been thoroughly and exhaustively met. I sure don’t want to get on the wrong side of Luke’s Laws®.

          if you spin stories about why I do this (that is, going beyond the evidence), I will probably react to that in ways you don’t like.

          Make my day.

          “Rwanda doesn’t excuse God […]”

          I never made that claim.

          One wonders then why God’s genocide invariably triggered your bringing up Rwanda.

          “You have a bizarre concept of the grounding one must have to make the daily moral decisions we all must make. I told a white lie once, so therefore I can never declare that someone else errs by lying?”

          Straw man.

          In a normal conversation, yes. Not this one. I’ve never genocided anyone, but you prohibit me from wagging a finger at God for his genocide. Very strange logic you have.

          I say you cannot judge on matter X if you’ve transgressed in matter X, until you have repented of transgressions in matter X. See Mt 7:1–5, especially the bit about ‘log’ and ‘speck’.

          (1) Fuck Matthew. That might guide your life; it doesn’t mine.

          (2) The matter is genocide. I’ve never transgressed genocide. And we’ve been over this many times. You’re stalling.

          I think you’re confused about how much I want to stay around here and be knocked about however you and others wish. I came in a flash and can be gone in a flash.

          Make my day.

          Oh, wait—have I used that line already in this comment?

          it’s a little tiring having only my views be examined.

          I seem to recall many question marks in your comments.

          See above on “set down laws”.

          Oh, Luke! You’re a real man! Punch out that bully on the beach for me!

          “BS: That’s obviously true. Who would say otherwise?”

          Why does anyone need to “say otherwise”?

          Someone needs to say otherwise for your question not to have been stupid. Otherwise, you would know the answer, and you’re wasting my time.

          I am problematizing your “morality is defined by society” stance

          Not very successfully.

          No, you’re just refusing to judge on a very hard case, a case which might shatter your philosophy/morality/ethics.

          I understand the charge, but not the explanation. Could you rephrase?

          “YHWH is evil because his own fucking book makes that clear.”

          Where did you make this point clear, through internal contradiction? Do you need to be reminded of Rom 9:14–29?

          Aaaah! Quoting scripture to an atheist is like a cross to a vampire! I’m melting … !

          But to answer your question: the OT says God did bad shit, and I evaluate that shit and declare it “bad.” Another angle: if you did that shit, you’d be bad; therefore, God is.

          The only thing I think that could be better is a good Godspeaking to you in a way that you must trust (pisteuō), because you literally cannot do anything else and have it be ‘better’.

          The FSM has spoken to me, and he told me to use more swear words when I write to you. Does that count? Or does it only count if it’s your superstition?

          This trust can be based on the asymmetry between knowledge of final causation and efficient causation (blog discussion);

          Your brain tells you something unbelievable … and you believe it? Since we all agree that the brain is very fallible, that we delude ourselves, and so on, I wonder why you’re so easily convinced. If you chatted with a Muslim for half an hour, would you convert? What about with a Scientologist or Mormon? If not, then why privilege your religion?

          Or: you can trust a person’s character before you understand his/hercompetence. Or: you can trust based on non-scientific reasons, before figuring out the scientific reasons.

          Let’s first figure out if God even exists.

          That means there is a standard which can change them which isn’t the dictionary, which trumps the dictionary in authority.

          Huh? The DSM wasn’t changed because someone found a new standard. What was found was new evidence.

          Yes; this is called emotivism

          Wrong again. This doesn’t express my own moral theory.

          It means that you actually cannot rationally discuss morality, except with those who already accept your visceral makeup.

          I’m happy to rationally discuss morality.

          “Your closed mindedness (or not) was never the topic.”

          Bullshit

          ?? I think I should know what concerns I had in the conversation.

          BS: No thanks. I’ll just go with Merriam-Webster’s #1: “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.” Are you saying that this isn’t what you use?

          I think you’re naive to think that you can use Merriam-Webster in this way. There is a very, very good reason that there are so many examples at WP: Genocide definitions.

          Say–I have an idea! If your goal is actually to communicate, when I tell you what I mean by a word, you now understand what that word means coming from my keyboard, and we move on. Sound good?

          You are one of the best atheist interlocutors I’ve ever encountered.

          Thank you. That’s very thoughtful.

          😀 Therefore, speaking for myself: I make the time.

          ?? At what point did Germans’ hands get washed clean of WW2 and its war crimes? Answer: when we’re talking about individual Germans who didn’t do anything in WW2.

          Ignore the primitive accumulation of capital (e.g. two families in a society get rich through much violence), and then you whitewash the future disparity, between those who are descendants of the haves, and those who are the descendants of the have-nots.

          So what’s the point? Everyone is guilty of every crime committed by every ancestor?

          Yes, I see that some people are beneficiaries of past crimes. Nevertheless, your claim that America’s past crimes forbids me from identifying God’s crimes is ridiculous.

          ”You must be a laugh to go visit Japan with. Do you bring a soap box to stand on to periodically declare everyone guilty of the barbaric treatment of the Chinese by the Japanese army in WW2?”

          Depends if they tried to fix what they broke or not.

          Japan has famously repented less for WW2 than the Germans have. But the point is individual citizens today—Japanese citizens, German citizens, and American citizens like me. You say I can’t say “Genocide!” I suppose it would really suck if Japanese and German citizens got the Luke treatment.

          And if America is guilty, then you must be outraged at Nuremberg. The West setting itself up as judge, jury, and executioner? What right did the West have—amirite?

          “Why do I feel we’re going around in circles, making little progress?”

          Because it can take a little while to characterize the other’s position properly.

          I have little patience for this. Speed things up.

          if you don’t want to put in the effort, then accept the consequences of only being able to have deep conversations with people sufficiently like yourself.

          I’ve written a frikkin’ book chatting with you so far. (Problem is, I have an actual book that I should be working on.)

          one ought to be careful in how one reasons toward the unknown, where the ‘perfect’ is mostly hidden in the ‘unknown’, like the underside of an iceberg.

          We were talking about the spectrum of personhood, from 0% at the single cell to 100% at the newborn. I don’t understand this switch to icebergs.

          No, I don’t believe that the law can change hearts, and the biggest problem we have is that we are valuing life less and less.

          Not totally clear. You don’t want Roe v. Wade overturned. Is that right?

          See: the rapid spread of euthanasia around the world.

          And here again, you don’t want to impose your views by law; rather, you just want to participate in the debate?

          We now have this choice, sans law

          Why quote the Bible as if its arguments are compelling?

          As far as I can tell, we are increasingly choosing “death”.

          I’ve voted for the WA state law supporting euthanasia.

        • You’ve yet to explain why you can’t directly address the shit that God does in the OT. My working hypothesis: you know you’ll come out looking bad, so you want to tap dance away from it.

          Given your highly probable belief in Enlightenment mythology, I’m not really sure I can get you to stop spinning yarns in just a few weeks of vigorous internet commenting. Maybe some day, though!

          Yes. I can see no other explanation why you bring it up over and over and avoid the topic of God over and over.

          I see, so what you cannot see, doesn’t exist. Right.

          In a normal conversation, yes. Not this one. I’ve never genocided anyone, but you prohibit me from wagging a finger at God for his genocide. Very strange logic you have.

          Have you supported nations and/or companies which increased the power differentials in genocide-prone nations required to legitimize genocide?

          I seem to recall many question marks in your comments.

          I see zero necessary connection between this and investigation of your views. But you’re right, I was exaggeration: you expose a teeny tiny bit of your views.

          Someone needs to say otherwise for your question not to have been stupid. Otherwise, you would know the answer, and you’re wasting my time.

          Your question seems to imply that if Jesus didn’t defend himself (that is: say otherwise, to society), it was ok for society to execute him. Feel free to clarify.

          But to answer your question: the OT says God did bad shit, and I evaluate that shit and declare it “bad.”

          Oh, ok, so you were actually wrong here:

          LB: YHWH is evil because his own fucking book makes that clear.

          It’s not that the book is internally inconsistent in this way (corresponding to the ‘ad hominem’ of Charles Taylor’s Explanation and Practical Reason), it’s that it conflicts with your subjective opinion. And whatever conflicts with your subjective [moral] opinion—at least if enough people agree with you—is considered “evil”. Got it! All we need to convict Jesus to death is enough people to subjectively feel he ought to die!

          The FSM has spoken to me, and he told me to use more swear words when I write to you. Does that count? Or does it only count if it’s your superstition?

          Well if the FSM keeps telling you new cool shit that passes the requirements of Thagard’s #1 and #2, go for it! There’s a reason I mentioned the stuff around “Not in Heaven”. See also my definition of ‘theological belief’. If you worship the FSM and he tells you equivalents of what negative index metamaterials would be to 1800s scientists, do it! The results can be only more awesomeness entering into existence.

          Your brain tells you something unbelievable … and you believe it?

          Egalitarianism being a good thing… unbelievable! Did I do that right? How about this:

          LB: There is also the switch in kind of ‘charity’, almost certainly caused by Jesus: from the liberalitas model, whereby charity is infrequently given and given to those who are ‘deserving’, to the caritas model, whereby charity is frequently given and not predicated upon how ‘worthy’ the recipient is. This was a radical break with the status quo. How much may have this profoundly impacted history? More scarily, are we drifting from caritas back to liberalitas?

          ? (The question would be: should we switch from ‘liberalitas‘ → ‘caritas‘?) Something tells me that while you want to be released from always supporting your claims with evidence, I am bound by a stricter requirement (correct me if I’m wrong). So: #1, #2.

          Since we all agree that the brain is very fallible, that we delude ourselves, and so on, I wonder why you’re so easily convinced.

          I will actually require evidence for that “so easily convinced”.

          Let’s first figure out if God even exists.

          Ahh yes, and we’ll do this by seeing God through the lens of scientific laws, amirite? That is, we want evidence of him that’ll always be interpretable as a new law of nature, completely as impersonal as the other laws of nature. After all, you want the experiment to be repeatable, you want God to be a magic vending machine, not a real person who has desires and values. As usual, correct me if I’m wrong.

          Huh? The DSM wasn’t changed because someone found a new standard. What was found was new evidence.

          Oh do tell. What ‘evidence’ defines something as ‘deviant’ vs. ‘normal’?

          Wrong again. This doesn’t express my own moral theory.

          I’m sure you tell yourself that, but: “I can see no other explanation” than emotivism. (See how obnoxious that style of argument is?)

          I think I should know what concerns I had in the conversation.

          Ok, so you use language kind of like Ravi Zacharias’ “visiting scholar at Cambridge University”.

          Say–I have an idea! If your goal is actually to communicate, when I tell you what I mean by a word, you now understand what that word means coming from my keyboard, and we move on. Sound good?

          Oooh, the Humpty Dumpty Theory of Language (direct link)?

          So what’s the point? Everyone is guilty of every crime committed by every ancestor?

          Nope. Guilt for a crime committed in the past, and having your identity formed with ‘moral presuppositions’ which legitimize that crime (vs. trying to fix what was broken), are very different things.

          Yes, I see that some people are beneficiaries of past crimes. Nevertheless, your claim that America’s past crimes forbids me from identifying God’s crimes is ridiculous.

          That hasn’t been my argument. My argument is predicated upon a model of personal identity-formation, which is something over and above what you’ve mentioned here. Shall I excerpt from Christian Smith’s Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture to talk about how you get most of your morality from your culture?

          And if America is guilty, then you must be outraged at Nuremberg. The West setting itself up as judge, jury, and executioner? What right did the West have—amirite?

          Nope, not following your logic.

          I have little patience for this. Speed things up.

          I’m doing the best I can. If it’s not good enough for your exacting standards, tell me and we can give up.

          BS: Great—I’m glad we’re on the same page. The microscopic world is indeed an artificial domain.

          LB: And so, one ought to be careful in how one reasons toward the unknown, where the ‘perfect’ is mostly hidden in the ‘unknown’, like the underside of an iceberg.

          BS: We were talking about the spectrum of personhood, from 0% at the single cell to 100% at the newborn. I don’t understand this switch to icebergs.

          See: “reasoning in an artificial domain”. I’m saying we should be more cautious than you seem to be.

          Not totally clear. You don’t want Roe v. Wade overturned. Is that right?

          You keep thinking in terms of ‘letter of the law’; I think in terms of ‘spirit of the law’.

          And here again, you don’t want to impose your views by law; rather, you just want to participate in the debate?

          I want people to, for example, come clean about all the things they will stop doing now that it’s easy for people to kill themselves. Just let those standards of care for geriatrics drop a little bit. Statistical impact? Those patients worst off will press the “die” button. Result? Drop in medical costs! Now, whether or not this happens is an empirical matter. But I want all the details spelled out. Also, I want transparency on what is happening, instead of euphemisms; see Words, Words, Words. Just like we were revolted at Vietnam when we saw what really happens, I claim we need to see what really happens with euthanasia. No sugar-coated stories. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

          Why quote the Bible as if its arguments are compelling?

          Compelling to whom? You were asking what I want. I answered, based on what I believe. Now you take issue with that? Stop asking such questions if you don’t want the answers.

        • Aram

          Holy crap, Luke. You didn’t actually answer one question. How can you not see that?

        • MNb

          He doesn’t want to. Never underestimate the power of self-delusion.

        • Aram

          True that.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’m guessing he runs with the “there’s no way any atheist would accept my real answers, so i just need to shake their Faith in Reasoning/Science/Government/Society/etc.!” premise. it’s harder for me to tell when he doesn’t get drawn out in a long thread like this one.

        • BS: So what’s the point? Everyone is guilty of every crime committed by every ancestor?

          LB: Nope. Guilt for a crime committed in the past, and having your identity formed with ‘moral presuppositions’ which legitimize that crime (vs. trying to fix what was broken), are very different things.

        • Aram

          You consider that an answer? How are you not seeing that you’re conflating being God with being human?

          Ah so. It all begins to make sense.

        • How are you not seeing that you’re conflating being God with being human?

          Please tease this out. I think I know where you’re going, but I’m tired of doing others’ work for them. (examples: #1, #2, #3)

        • MNb

          “I see, so what you cannot see, doesn’t exist. Right.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Your refusal to explain “why you bring it up over and over and avoid the topic of God over and over” is actually evidence for BobS’ working hypothesis that “you know you’ll come out looking bad, so you want to tap dance away from it”.
          See, you sound like a toddler who claims that he/she can outrun a dog, but brings up lame excuses why he won’t show it when asked.

        • “You’ve yet to explain why you can’t directly address the shit that God does in the OT. My working hypothesis: you know you’ll come out looking bad, so you want to tap dance away from it.”

          Given your highly probable belief in Enlightenment mythology, I’m not really sure I can get you to stop spinning yarns in just a few weeks of vigorous internet commenting. Maybe some day, though!

          More tangents. More evasion. I’m done.

        • With everything? That certainly would give me more time in my day. I don’t know what I’ll do with myself!

          Actually, I’ll be sad that I exhausted your patience, will look to see how I can say things more directly and succinctly next time, and by burning through people, finally learn to say things sufficiently quickly to get somewhere more interesting. It’s been a long road, and you’ve gone with me to places I’ve never been before with another atheist—or at least, we’ve been to many such places, where most atheists get exhausted much earlier. So thank you for all our dialogue to-date, and I hope you continue to find interesting theists to talk to!

        • Your style is unusual, with all the tangents. If I were bored, tracking down all your Easter eggs could be fun. Unfortunately, I’m closer to frazzled than bored, so they got in the way of the conversation.

          You have a lot of energy for the topic, and you can construct a coherent sentence, which isn’t always true with my Christian antagonists. My biggest complaint was that we had the opportunity to discuss issues like God’s actions in the OT, but you avoided that.

          Thanks for your time. Drop by again in the future.

        • Aram

          Your replies are certainly enjoyable, if nothing else 🙂

        • That reminds me of a discussion that got me into this whole atheism/Christianity debate about 25 years ago. After a day or two, my wife told me that I’d never convince my antagonist. But how could that be, when he was pitching such easy questions, and I was hitting them out of the park?

          She was right, of course. And my naivete remains.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Matt Dillahunty certainly disagrees with the much-bandied Mark Twain quote about not being able to reason someone out of something they weren’t reasoned into; his atheism came from an earnest mission to convert his atheist friend.

        • And Matt says that they do get emails to the show from new atheists about how their show helped push them toward reason. Change is rare, but it does happen.

        • MNb

          “The West setting itself up as judge, jury, and executioner?”
          Some nitpicking: the Soviet-Union also participated. They had at least one excellent prosecutor. When reading the transcripts you can almost smell the accused’s sweat.

          I admire your patience. I lost mine with LB after just one day. He’s not capable of a normal answer. Wants to discuss everything except what others bring up.

        • Fair point, thanks. I should’ve said “The Allies,” though the topic with Luke had been “The West.”

          I am indeed wasting my time with Luke. He’s an unusual specimen, though, and I guess I’m fascinated/horrified enough to want to dissect.

        • TheNuszAbides

          The DSM wasn’t changed because someone found a new standard. What was found was new evidence.

          damned well-put. in trying to think up my own response to that bit i was just working backwards and frustrating myself away from concision.

        • adam

          ” otherwise, this tangent dies. ”

          PROMISES, PROMISES, fucking PROMISES

          When are you going to DELIVER?

        • Ignorant Amos

          But, yet again, Rwanda is a tangent—a deliberate tangent, I’m guessing.

          What was Luke’s definition of “insane” again?

          Quite appropriate if the topic were, say, how terrible Russia’s foreign policy is. Instead, we’re critiquing God’s foreign policy. Remember him? The guy who is “perfect”?

          “LOOK!!!….over there….squirrel’s.”

          http://i43.tinypic.com/sb0e4y.gif

        • adam

          “The words used in the ‘genocide’ passages contain more verbs of the kind ‘drive out’ than the kind ‘exterminate’.”

          Geez, what a LIAR

          The rest of your post

          TLDR

          Because I am sure it is just full of more of this same kind of bearing of False Witness

          Cue the crying baby Jesus….

        • MNb

          “What experiment could possibly falsify this claim?”
          What experiment could possibly falsify the claim that Hitler ordered to invade Poland on September 1 1939? Or is this according to you just another example of Enlightenment mythology?
          Or perhaps you just asked a bad question, buying the false Young Earth Creationist claim that historical science is not science and only observational science is?
          Btw you should beware. You get upvoted by Greg, the champ of the logical fallacies on this site. He’s a creationist as well, though not necessarily a YEC.

        • We’ve got to stop trading these long emails in public. Tongues will wag.

          Let them!

          And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:28–32)

          “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:33–37)

        • Kodie

          Can you provide any evidence that this is anything more than your superstition?

          Why should anyone take you seriously?

        • adam

          “Why should anyone take you seriously?”

          Threats from an IMAGINARY ‘god’?

        • Just FYI, after this comment, pending no changes in your behavior, I will no longer read or reply to your comments. Actually, I’m going to set up a Gmail rule to auto-delete notifications of them. Someone else will have to tell me if you’ve decided to change. For justification of my decision, see:

          K: Silly fool theist

          LB: Hey, if you’re going to apply the “idiot filter” to what I write, I’m just going to respond to other people. Your nick is unique enough that I can make a gmail filter to send those Disqus notifications immediately to the trash.

          +

          K: All the other Christians try to make us define what YOU MEAN BY FAITH, and “nope, that’s not what I believe (guess again)” with no personal revelation and expect us to read their minds. Please, if you’re different, be different.

          K: This is called “manipulation” (see also: “goading”), and it is a reason to not talk to you.

          +

          K: Provide the evidence, or I have no choice but to project.

          LB: Really? You cannot restrict yourself to basing beliefs on the evidence?

          +

          K: I’m not manipulating you, unless you don’t like to be called out on typical Christian evasion.

          LB: “I’m not manipulating you, I’m just manipulating you.” And there you have it.

          Now, this isn’t “keeping track of others’ sins”, for I am not calling these things ‘sins’. Instead, I just don’t want to put up with your style of dialogging.

          I hope you find a theist to talk to who is willing to put up with you, who will

               (1) happily tolerate you saying “Silly fool theist”
               (2) “be different”
               (3) “provide the evidence”
               (4) not exemplify “typical Christian evasion”

          You are, of course, welcome to spin whatever story you want about me. I’m sure it will paint you in a very good light, and me in a very bad light: “but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

        • adam

          “but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

          We can quote your bible too:

          So much for all seeing…..

        • Kodie

          You’re a twisted little little man. Everyone can see this but you.

        • Kodie

          Someone else will have to tell me if you’ve decided to change.

          Ok, like, someone please on Sunday-ish, a few days, tell Luke Breuer I’m repentant like a motherfucker, and dying for his attention again.

        • adam

          “Can you provide any evidence that this is anything more than your superstition?”

          Of course NOT, otherwise it would be called SCIENCE instead of ‘faith’.

          “Why should anyone take you seriously?”

          Because, like the 5 year emotional level of his ‘god’, he will throw a hissy fit, then PRETEND that you dont exist.

        • Kodie

          Luke Breuer is such a warped person. He’s going to inflict himself on us without taking any constructive input.

        • adam

          “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every
          careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and
          by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:33–37)”

          And let the unsubstantiated threats flow….

          As this IRRATIONAL FEAR apparently is what drives your ‘faith’

        • TheNuszAbides

          You just like writing long, tangent-heavy essays?

          a hit, a very palpable hit!

          … but seriously, how else is he to constantly learn new things and emulate his famous thought-heroes?

        • MNb

          “I see the Bible as a whole unit, and I think one has to be extremely cautious about finding a contradiction”
          If the Bible says x at one point and -x at another that’s a contradiction. Why would I be cautious?
          Example.

          Gen. 3:16 “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children.”
          Got it. Giving birth is painful and that’s god’s punishment.

          Gen. 20:18: “For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.”
          And now god’s punishment is suddenly taking that same pain away.

          “and thus dismissing that text.”
          But I don’t dismiss the text at all, on the contrary. It’s exactly what I would expect from a book written by two different authors, who sought to explain two only slightly related phenomena (painful birthgiving and barren women) but didn’t realize that the combination of the two explanations doesn’t make any sense. Plus it probably made them feel good to show that the god they believed in was very angry with women.
          Ie typical work of man.
          The fun is only possible on the assumption that their god played an active role in both stories instead of being clumsy imagination.

          Same for Revelation. Many christians claim it’s such a difficult book. I think it easy. The author was high on the ancient equivalent of mushrooms and gave his imagination free rein. The problems only start on the assumption that the text should have any relevance for our 21st Century. Reject that assumption and it becomes a great read.
          Yup – a secular approach to the Bible makes things a lot easier.

        • Kodie

          I think one has to examine the whole of the bible and not be tempted to overlook the massive errors, discrepancies, and horrors regarding what one believes to be moral, just in order to keep one’s beliefs intact. I mean, it’s not just one mistake. What adult needs this as a guide in their life, and how does it even point to a coherent version of a god?

          I get that if this is the god we have, there’s a certain amount of having to put up with that, but there is no god, the bible is not a book about god, but about an ancient superstition.

        • Ron

          “I see the Bible as a whole unit…”~Luke Breuer

          But it’s not a homogeneous whole. It’s a collection of manuscripts penned (and redacted) by multiple authors over several centuries. The contradictions and inconsistencies between those texts highlight their distinct lack of divine origin. (Unless you wish to posit a malevolent and/or incompetent deity.)

          Nonetheless, the biblical message on slavery remains fairly consistent across both testaments. Leviticus 25 specifies how to treat Hebrew and pagan slaves. And according to Luke, Jesus explicitly condoned the institution of slavery in a parable about faithful servants:

          “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes.” ~Jesus (Luke 12:47, NASB)

        • But it’s not a homogeneous whole.

          Sure. Are individual persons homogeneous wholes?

          It’s a collection of manuscripts penned (and redacted) by multiple authors over several centuries.

          I like the term “library”.

          The contradictions and inconsistencies between those texts highlight their distinct lack of divine origin.

          From whence did you get your theological beliefs? After all, the qualities that would indicate “divine origin” are theological beliefs. So, did you get these beliefs by inspecting evidence of some sort? How did you test that these beliefs are the right ones?

          And according to Luke, Jesus explicitly condoned the institution of slavery in a parable about faithful servants:

          Jesus also said this:

          Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:20–28)

          How would you say that meshes with Lk 12:47?

        • Ron

          You don’t need to be a theologian to recognize these texts were written by superstitious ancient men, any more than you need to be a licensed auto mechanic to recognize your tires are flat.

          The third chapter of the first book reveals an “all-perfect” god with the emotional stability of a four-year-old child, and things grow progressively worse from there. We read entire chapters devoted to ritual sacrifice, daily victuals, temple layouts, priestly vestments and other acts of propitiation formulated to curry said god’s favor. We encounter entire books recalling acts of genocide, rape and pillage carried out in honor of this very same god. The second act proposes that this deity offered its own son as a ritual sacrifice to enact forgiveness of the world it condemns; an exercise that is as morally repugnant as it is illogical. And the final book details an impending apocalypse.

          The passage in Matthew further confirms Jesus’ support of indentured servitude and slavery.

        • You don’t need to be a theologian to recognize these texts were written by superstitious ancient men […]

          Agreed, but you might need to accept enough Enlightenment mythology; of particular importance would be: “There is no agent causation, only causation based on the laws of nature, which are of particular mathematical form.” More can be found in theoretical biologist Robert Rosen’s Life Itself, Nobel laureate Robert B. Laughlin’s A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down, and Nobel laureate Ilya Prigogine’s The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature.

          The third chapter of the first book reveals an “all-perfect” god with the emotional stability of a four-year-old child, […]

          Well, it’s not clear that the West has “the emotional stability of a four-year-old child”. For example, we know a genocide is likely immanent in Myanmar, against the Rohingya population. See the June 13, 2015 Economist article The most persecuted people on Earth?. Do you think the West will do jack shit to stop it? Here’s an example where they did… jack shit:

          WP: Rwandan Genocide § United States: Intelligence reports indicate that President Clinton and his cabinet were aware before the height of the massacre that a “final solution to eliminate all Tutsis” was planned.[229]

          Now, what did Clinton (et al—it wasn’t just Clinton) do?

          WP: Rwandan Genocide § United States: The U.S. lobbied the U.N. for a total withdrawal of U.N. (UNAMIR) forces in Rwanda in April 1994;

          Oh. And what were the other dates?

          WP: Rwandan Genocide: During the approximate 100-day period from April 7 to mid-July 1994, an estimated 500,000–1,000,000 Rwandans were killed,[1] constituting as much as 70% of the Tutsi and 20% of Rwanda’s total population.

          Oh.

          The passage in Matthew further confirms Jesus’ support of indentured servitude and slavery.

          And who are to be the indentured servants and salves? Christians, or non-Christians?

        • adam

          “The third chapter of the first book reveals an “all-perfect” god with the emotional stability of a four-year-old child, […]Well, it’s not clear that the West has “the emotional stability of a four-year-old child”.”

          I get it, the West is a ‘God’…..

          The rest of your post

          tldr
          .

        • Ron

          I’m not sure where you’re going with this. If you’re arguing that humans are solely accountable for their crimes and atrocities against others, then we are in full agreement. My point is that appeals to deities and holy books are frequently cited as justification for those atrocities. And the sooner we abandon such divisive religious pretexts, the sooner we move towards treating others as we’d like to be treated.

          As to the parable, the issue is not the intended audience; it’s the fact that the instructions were framed in a story that condones slavery. Moreover, in the parable of the Ten Minas, Jesus outlines exactly what will become of those who refuse to worship him as their redeemer:

          “But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.” (Luke 19:27, NASB)

          That’s quite a stark contrast to the “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” children are taught in Sunday school.

        • My point is that appeals to deities and holy books are frequently cited as justification for those atrocities.

          When was the last time the US used (i) appeal to deity; or (ii) appeal to holy book, in any geopolitically relevant matter? Europe? I’d like to know more precisely what you mean, by your words, here. For example, there is this—

          WP: All men are created equal: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;[7]

          —but that would be justification for the opposite of an atrocity. This raises the specter that such appeals are sharp knives, cutting both ways. For example, from Louis Pojman:

              The possibilities [for grounding equal worth] are frighteningly innumerable. My point is that you need some metaphysical explanation to ground the doctrine of equal worth, if it is to serve as the basis for equal human rights. It is not enough simply to assert, as philosophers like Dworkin do, that their egalitarian doctrines are “metaphysically unambiguous.” But, of course, there are severe epistemological difficulties with the kinds of metaphysical systems I have been discussing. My point has not been to defend religion. For purposes of this paper I am neutral on the question of whether any religion is true. Rather my purpose is to show that we cannot burn our bridges and still drive Mack trucks over them. But, if we cannot return to religion, then it would seem perhaps we should abandon egalitarianism and devise political philosophies that reflect naturalistic assumptions, theories which are forthright in viewing humans as differentially talented animals who must get on together. (Equality: Selected Readings, 296)

          Louis Pojman said that after surveying ten different leading secular arguments for egalitarianism. He found them all insufficient, for the reason that they require a metaphysical grounding and, well, major strands of secularism cannot allow such a thing:

          WP: Secularism § Secular society: 1. Refuses to commit itself as a whole to any one view of the nature of the universe and the role of man in it.

          So, perhaps religion is like a sharp knife. Sharp knives can be used to perform life-saving surgeries as well as vivisect children in a concentration camp. Shall we dull all sharp knives?

          As to the parable, the issue is not the intended audience; it’s the fact that the instructions were framed in a story that condones slavery.

          Yep; it’s as if God challenges people within their own systems. Charles Taylor explains how this works, and how it is frequently a good idea, in Explanation and Practical Reason.

          Moreover, in the parable of the Ten Minas, Jesus outlines exactly what will become of those who refuse to worship him as their redeemer:

          “But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.” (Luke 19:27, NASB)

          That’s quite a stark contrast to the “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” children are taught in Sunday school.

          Perhaps what children are taught in Sunday School is wrong. I am doing my small bit to counter this, actually. I teach Sunday School about once a month at my church, and at one point one of the children spoke as if God would ensure his/her life would be comfortable. I asked: “Was Job’s life always comfortable?” I didn’t quite get to the full force of Col 1:24, Rom 8:16–17, 2 Cor 4:7–12, and 1 Pe 3:17, but I’m working on it. In another Sunday School, I asked the kids whether they knew children who kept all the rules, and yet were still mean. They said “yes”. I asked if one needs to do something in addition to following the rules. It took a little discussion, but they came around to a “yes” answer. If you have suggestions in this domain, I’m all ears! 😀

        • adam

          “When was the last time the US used (i) appeal to deity; or (ii) appeal to holy book, in any geopolitically relevant matter?”

          The rest of your post

          tldr

          Looks like Gallop droppings

        • Ron

          When was the last time the US used appeal to deity?

          Well, I recall reading articles about some fellow named George saying, “God told me to strike at al-Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East.”

          Then there’s the constant refrain of:

          “God Bless our troops in [US occupied country of the day]”
          “God Bless America”
          “God Bless Our Nation”

          A more appropriate question is: when’s the last time God’s name wasn’t invoked to reinforce the ubiquitous ‘Murika, Fuck Yeah! mantra?

          In Europe?

          About mid-September Putin said, “It is morally incumbent upon Russia to change this terrible status quo in the Middle-East. Prepare for operation ‘Salvation’ and with God Almighty’s aid, we shall cleanse Syria from Obama’s ruthless terrorists.”

          I don’t need a metaphysical grounding to inform me that hurting others is wrong. Empathy and compassion are sufficiently good reasons in themselves. Simply following the dictates of a book or others isn’t being moral, anyways; it’s just blind obedience to authority. And a deity that fails to communicate that slavery is unequivocally wrong at all times is not worthy of my worship, in any case.

        • Well, I recall reading articles about some fellow named George saying, “God told me to strike at al-Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East.”

          Wait a second. So the US government is so fucking weak that the above can possibly count as legitimate grounds for action? I guess it isn’t a violation of the Establishment Clause (“Congress” ≠ “The Executive”), but I’ve always assumed it pretty much applies to all three branches. Anyhow, my question here is to distinguish between language as frosting on a cake, and language as the yeast that makes the cake grow.

          When you said “appeals to deities”, did you really mean to capture a situation where the only way religion is used, is as frosting? Suppose, hypothetically, that the only way religion is used in the US, in a governmental capacity (and thus subject to the Establishment Clause, modulo whether the Judiciary and Executive are subject to it), is in the frosting-sense. Would your claim still mean what you intended? Or does there have to be at least some meatier “appeals to deities”? I’m just trying to tease out precisely what you meant; sorry for having to be pedantic.

          In Europe?

          About mid-September Putin said,

          I’m sorry, I meant ‘Europe’ geographically, not politically. I’m pretty sure any generalization breaks down with Putin, just like every generalization breaks down with the Bible.

          I don’t need a metaphysical grounding to inform me that hurting others is wrong.

          I see. Do you know how you got the idea? It is not shared very widely, in my experience. For example:

          LB: So, I think it is not too unreasonable to infer that you enjoy inflicting pain on those whom you think deserve it.

          PBL: Of course I do. You hit me; I hit you back. It’s quite simple.

          That actually seems to be the human norm. Why are you different? Any ideas?

          Empathy and compassion are sufficiently good reasons in themselves.

          Ok. You probably see that I interact a bit differently than others. In my experience, people suck at empathizing with me. In fact, they love writing shit like this. How are empathy and compassion malfunctioning in them? We could also look at DC: The Basis for Morality is Empathy, and my question:

          LB: Can this basis always help those within a caste system, abolish it? It seems that all that is required to keep such a system stable would be to ensure empathy doesn’t attach to the ‘wrong’ targets. If those within each caste has empathy for only other members in that caste, it seems like the social system could be quite stable. Is there an error in my reasoning?

          Perhaps you have scientific evidence or at least philosophical reason to back your “sufficiently good reasons”? I’m particularly interested in whether your “sufficiently good reasons” operate well for a distinct subset of psychological types—kind of like how Jainism is good at picking off the nonviolent people—or whether there is evidence that it works more generally. I see myself as a big honking counterexample, but perhaps you have a way to explain me away. Many people do, and I’m always curious how the next one will do it. But I hope you don’t; I hope you have something really intriguing to say about these “sufficiently good reasons”.

          Simply following the dictates of a book or others isn’t being moral, anyways; it’s just blind obedience to authority.

          Oh, 100% agree. God lamented this “simply following” in Deut 5, and looked forward to a change in Jer 31:31–34 and Ezek 36:22–32. One can see some of this shift in Charles Taylor’s work:

          Of course, a large and complex thesis lies behind this flip reference. The basic idea is that Baroque culture is a kind of synthesis of the modern understanding of agency as inward and poietic, constructing orders in the world, and the older understanding of the world as cosmos, shaped by Form. With hindsight, we tend to see the synthesis as instable, as doomed to be superseded, as it was in fact.[…]Baroque culture, Dupré argues, is united by “a comprehensive spiritual vision…. At the centre of it stands the person, confident in the ability to give form and structure to a nascent world. But-and here lies its religious significance-that centre remains vertically linked to a transcendent source from which, via a descending scale of mediating bodies, the human creator draws his power. This dual centre-human and divine-distinguishes the Baroque world picture from the vertical one of the Middle Ages, in which reality descends from a single transcendent point, as well as from the unproblematically horizontal one of later modernity, prefigured in some features of the Renaissance. The tension between the two centres conveys to the Baroque a complex, restless, and dynamic quality” ([Passage to Modernity, ]237). (A Secular Age, 795–796)

          Sadly, there seems to be a shift away from internally motivated actions; see The Lonely Crowd, as well as René Girard‘s work; I recommend Scott Cowdell’s René Girard and Secular Modernity as an intro.

        • Aram

          I love that you keep referring back to my comment about your style of engagement. It makes me feel like a proper success. Thanks Luke! *beaming*

        • Ron

          The Second Amendment only prohibits the establishment of a sectarian state religion, not the holding of private beliefs.

          When I wrote about appeals to deities and holy books, I meant people who attribute events to supernatural forces and/or believe that they’ve received direct communications from their deity. At least six GOP candidates claim(ed) that God gave them the nod to run for the presidency. At least one Supreme Court justice believes the Devil is running amok in the world. At least one former Missouri congressman believed that unintended pregnancies following rape were something God intended because they weren’t “legitimate” rape. There are many more examples of this kind of thinking.

          If (St. Petersburg born and raised) Putin isn’t European enough for you, consider Tony Blair’s candid admission that sending British soldiers to Iraq was motivated by his faith. Or Angela Merkel’s recent remarks that “God put this task [taking in refugees] on our table.”

          And then there’s grown men who spit on little girls and hurl rocks at women they deem “immodestly” dressed.

          From my perspective, their “good” book hasn’t inspired them to adopt good behavior.

          As for sufficiently good reasons, all I can tell you is that empathy and compassion for others is what motivates me to treat people with respect and dignity. I’m unable to address your interactions with other respondents because I don’t have the time or inclination to follow all your online conversations. If you feel that they’ve failed to treat you fairly, you’ll have to discuss it with them directly.

        • The Second Amendment only prohibits the establishment of a sectarian state religion, not the holding of private beliefs.

          Yep, not sure I ever said anything which conflicts with that. You’re welcome to pick out a specific contradiction if you’d like!

          When I wrote about appeals to deities and holy books, I meant people who attribute events to supernatural forces and/or believe that they’ve received direct communications from their deity.

          I have no idea what you mean by a ‘deity’. I have seen many atheists wave that term around, and they are woefully inconsistent about it. Usually they just give me a dictionary definition, as if such things are ever useful in philosophical debate. It would be awesome if you were to deviate from the standard pattern. Furthermore, you failed to respond to this specific point:

          LB: Wait a second. So the US government is so fucking weak that the above can possibly count as legitimate grounds for action? I guess it isn’t a violation of the Establishment Clause (“Congress” ≠ “The Executive”), but I’ve always assumed it pretty much applies to all three branches. Anyhow, my question here is to distinguish between language as frosting on a cake, and language as the yeast that makes the cake grow.

          How about addressing that, directly?

          As for sufficiently good reasons, all I can tell you is that empathy and compassion is what motivates me to treat people with respect and dignity.

          I have heard many people say this. And then they fail to show empathy to me. When I tell them that they are failing, they deny it explicitly, implicitly or suspiciously leave the conversation. Can you guess how that makes me think of those who say stuff like, The Basis for Morality is Empathy?

        • Kodie

          I have no idea what you mean by a ‘deity’. I have seen many atheists wave that term around, and they are woefully inconsistent about it. Usually they just give me a dictionary definition, as if such things are ever useful in philosophical debate. It would be awesome if you were to deviate from the standard pattern. Furthermore, you failed to respond to this specific point:

          It seems to frustrate you that no atheists can define “deity” the way you do, but you’re so unwilling to help us out and clear up the misunderstanding we all have. You’re the believer, why won’t you state clearly what it is you believe in, so we can all understand what you’re talking about instead of guess (poorly, in your estimation)?

          It would be awesome if just one Christian would deviate from the standard pattern!

        • Ron

          Could you rephrase your question? Because I’m not really sure what you’re asking me to address.

          By deities, I mean:

          a supernatural being, like a god or goddess, which is worshipped by people who believe it controls or exerts force over some aspect of the world.

          For Jews and Christians that would be a god named God (Jehova, YAHWEH, YHWH, Elohim, etc.). For Muslims it’s Allah. For Rastafarians it’s Jah. For Hindus it’s Shiva, Vishna and Shakti. For Canadian Heathens, it’s the Norse gods. Does that answer your question?

          I get that you’re disappointed with others. What I fail to understand is how those disappointments enter into the discussion you’re having with me. Have I been uncivil or treated you poorly?

        • Gregory Dawes talks about a ‘rationality principle’ which does not obey the laws of nature, and yet has causal power:

          3.4.1 Intentional and Causal ExplanationsA first objection rests on the very character of intentional explanations. It suggests that a theistic explanation could not be both intentional and causal, since these represent distinct and mutually exclusive forms of explanation. No intentional explanation is a causal explanation. But I believe this claim to be wrong, for reasons I shall outline later (Appendix 1.1). I have no argument with the idea, defended by Donald Davidson, that intentions are causes and that intentional explanations are also causal explanations.[76] There is one issue that needs to be clarified here. I have suggested that intentional explanations are not nomological (3.2.1). They do, if you like, depend on something resembling a law, namely the rationality principle. But they do not depend on law-like generalisations linking particular intentions and particular actions. Does this mean that they cannot be regarded as causal explanations? Only if you believe that the citing of causal laws is a necessary condition of a causal explanation. But I shall argue later that it is not (Appendix 3.3.1), that causal explanations do not necessarily involve causal laws.[77] If this is true, then there is no difficulty with the idea that an intentional explanation is also a causal explanation. (Theism and Explanation, 51)

          Is this ‘rationality principle’ deity-like, or naturalistic-like? (I don’t see a middle to be excluded, but you’re welcome to establish that I’ve made a false dichotomy.)

        • Ron

          I honestly have no clue what the quoted text means or how it applies to anything I’ve written. Could you distill it down to simple English for me?

        • I can ask you a guiding question:

          (1) Is there a law of nature, or are there laws of nature, which causally direct(s) you toward truth and away from falsehood?

          If your answer is “no”, then I will ask you how you move more toward truth and away from falsehood. I think Dawes is talking about a ‘rationality principle’ which does not supervene on the laws of nature. I think such a thing is very problematic for naturalism. I need to check that against someone who’s up enough on these matters or willing to get up to speed.

        • MNb

          No. Laws of nature are descriptions of what happens in nature.

          “how you move more toward truth and away from falsehood.”
          Richard Feynman answered that one long ago:

          “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”
          Feel free to replace experiment with observation.

          “I think such a thing is very problematic for naturalism.”
          How is ambiguity a problem for anything?
          But let’s assume Dawes succeeds. I just (well, Feynman did) told you the scientific method to move away from falsehood. What’s the method of Dawes? How does he test his claims?

        • Ron

          Let me answer it this way…

          I’ve created two columns on a piece of paper with the following labels:

          Column 1 – Things once attributed to supernatural causes that now have natural explanations

          Column 2 – Things once attributed to natural causes that now have supernatural explanations

          So far, my first column contains the following entries:

          – astronomical phenomena
          – weather phenomena
          – seismic events
          – droughts, famines, floods, plagues, pestilence and other catastrophes
          – strokes, heart attacks and seizures
          – infertility, stillbirths, miscarriages and congenital defects
          – vision, speech and hearing impairments
          – diseases and physical deformities
          – mental illness

          What should I enter in the second?

          The scientific method may not yield perfect explanations, but it consistently improves upon the previous ones.

        • What should I enter in the second?

          Whether or not egalitarianism is how we should structure society. See what Louis Pojman has to say:

              The possibilities [for grounding equal worth] are frighteningly innumerable. My point is that you need some metaphysical explanation to ground the doctrine of equal worth, if it is to serve as the basis for equal human rights. It is not enough simply to assert, as philosophers like Dworkin do, that their egalitarian doctrines are “metaphysically unambiguous.” But, of course, there are severe epistemological difficulties with the kinds of metaphysical systems I have been discussing. My point has not been to defend religion. For purposes of this paper I am neutral on the question of whether any religion is true. Rather my purpose is to show that we cannot burn our bridges and still drive Mack trucks over them. But, if we cannot return to religion, then it would seem perhaps we should abandon egalitarianism and devise political philosophies that reflect naturalistic assumptions, theories which are forthright in viewing humans as differentially talented animals who must get on together. (Equality: Selected Readings, 296)

        • Ron

          What exactly falls under the heading of egalitarianism? And what evidence supports a metaphysical grounding for egalitarianism given that religious ideology has more often than not stood opposed to social equality?

          Moreover, social policies lend themselves to empirical evaluation via multiple quality of life indicators. This allows us to determine which countries fare best by comparing their results. And the statistics indicate that:

          – the most inclusive societies generate the highest scores;
          – secular nations fare better than religious ones.

        • Luke thinks that the Old Testament will produce something on egalitarianism that will stand up to modern scrutiny?

          I’ll have what he’s smoking.

        • What should I enter in the second?

          Aunt Mary’s cancer went away. Admittedly, she was receiving modern medical care, but she was also prayed for!

          How do you answer that, Mr. Smart Atheist Person?

        • MNb

          Nice job confusing teleology with causality.
          It’s deity-like. Intentions assume purposes.
          The non-theistic view is that humans use causality to arrive at a pre-determined purpose.

          Dawes produces bad philosophy, due to the ambiguous usage of the word cause.

          That said your comment has exactly zilch to do with Ron’s. But we already used to that bad habit of yours. It still makes you look bad though.

        • MNb

          “I’m saying that the slaveholders in America were giving the middle finger to the Bible.”
          Yeah. This guy disagreed with you.

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

          Now if this were a scientific dispute the opponents would develop a test – an experiment or some other observation.
          What is your test to decide who is correct?

          Plus this of course confirms that faith does nothing more to improve the moral character of Homo Sapiens than science and technology do – and the latter don’t even aspire, while many believers claim that faith does.
          So in this respect faith doesn’t deliver either.

        • adam

          “No. I’m saying that the slaveholders in America were giving the middle finger to the Bible. Therefore, the following—”

          BULLSHIT

        • adam

          “I also love how you ignored the fact that we have enough food to feed 10 billion people, and yet cannot feed the < 8 billion people on this planet. What went wrong? "

          Religious tribalism

          "Worldwide, more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group. A comprehensive demographic study of more than 230 countries and territories conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life estimates that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84% of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion."

          So the VAST majority of people in this world are RELIGIOUS.

          Why cant the MAJORITY feed the people on this planet?

          So yes, more science and LESS religion.

        • LB: I also love how you ignored the fact that we have enough food to feed 10 billion people, and yet cannot feed the < 8 billion people on this planet. What went wrong? Do we need more science? More technology? Is that it? Maybe once we have enough food to feed 15 billion people, we will be able to feed the < 8 billion?

          a: Religious tribalism

          And your peer-reviewed evidence of this is… where?

          So the VAST majority of people in this world are RELIGIOUS.

          Fun fact. I don’t see how it fits into your argument, scientifically. I do see that you’re waving your hands vigorously so nobody will notice that you made zero argument.

        • adam

          Why cant the RELIGOUS MAJORITY feed the people on this planet when SCIENCE has provided the food?

          Religious tribalism

          You know the POLAR opposite of your ‘egalitarianism’.

        • adam

          “Worldwide, more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group. A comprehensive demographic study of more than 230 countries and territories conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life estimates that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84% of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.”

          So the VAST majority of people in this world are RELIGIOUS.

          Why cant this VAST MAJORITY of the RELIGIOUS feed the people on this planet with all the food that SCIENCE has provided?

        • Why cant this VAST MAJORITY of the RELIGIOUS feed the people on this planet with all the food that SCIENCE has provided?

          I think they lack [sufficient] moral character, and I think that science and technology does approximately jack to improve moral character. But of course, when one frames the question as if the only thing we need is better science and technology (including political technology), such a possibility gets excluded by the very way the problem is framed. Indeed, this is what happens when scientists bring their science-dogma to bear:

              There are several reasons why the contemporary social sciences make the idea of the person stand on its own, without social attributes or moral principles. Emptying the theoretical person of values and emotions is an atheoretical move. We shall see how it is a strategy to avoid threats to objectivity. But in effect it creates an unarticulated space whence theorizing is expelled and there are no words for saying what is going on. No wonder it is difficult for anthropologists to say what they know about other ideas on the nature of persons and other definitions of well-being and poverty. The path of their argument is closed. No one wants to hear about alternative theories of the person, because a theory of persons tends to be heavily prejudiced. It is insulting to be told that your idea about persons is flawed. It is like being told you have misunderstood human beings and morality, too. The context of this argument is always adversarial. (Missing Persons: A Critique of the Personhood in the Social Sciences, 10)

          Mary Douglas, one of the authors, was a very well-known anthropologist.

          Another way to say this is: sin. But sin as understood a certain way. See:

          The Philosopher’s Complaint Against Relatedness    Here again the Bible is at variance with the wisdom of the world. Most thinkers have contended that no god could pass this biblical test; that every “external reference” necessarily enslaves the individual; and that the only true freedom would consist in the absence of all relations to anything outside oneself. The burden of their argument is that a relation which fulfills freedom is a contradiction in terms. Is it not true, the philosopher asks, that one does feel every external relation as a limit, an actual or potential obstacle to one’s will? Is not the only perfectly blessed state one of complete, unrelated self-sufficiency, void of any external relation whatever? Any point of reference external to oneself, he argues, automatically puts the self in subjection to an alien master. Any relationship in which one stands is, or may become, a ball and chain.    This refrain occurs again and again throughout the history of philosophy. (Hardness of Heart, 45)

              The doctrine of the fall means that the question of the right practice of relations (ethics) has to be relocated. The ethical question cannot be equated with possession of the knowledge of the difference between good and evil, for that is precisely the form of self-possession which led to the fall. Adam and Eve thought they could dispute what God’s Word really meant, get behind it to judge both it and God.[35] The assumption that we have the capacity to know the difference between right and wrong and to act upon it is in itself and on its own already a corruption of the image. It isolates one from God and others because what is right for one and others is assumed to be already known. The assumption that one already knows what is right stops communication because no new information or external agency is necessary. In what follows I will describe the image and its redemption as a relational process of seeking what is right in openness to others and God and thereby to the fact that one’s understanding and capacity are fundamentally in question. (The Call to Personhood, 43–44)

          To get a feel of how McFadyen (author of The Call to Personhood) thinks when applying sin to empirical matters, see:

          Pragmatic atheism    We live in a culture which is basically secular, which affirms the world’s integrity and independence from any external, non-worldly reality so that it may be understood in its own terms, without immediate or explicit reference to God.[3] Such secularity is neither necessarily nor intrinsically atheist, but it does issue a special challenge to faith and theology: if the world may be understood and lived in without transcendent reference, what place is there for God, and what point is there in speaking of God? If speaking of the world (e.g., its pathologies) in theological terms (as sin) makes no difference to secular ways of speaking, which are entirely adequate on their own, then why bother to speak of God at all? Would it not be better, less confusing and more honest, openly to abandon talk of God in these respects, if not to give up on God altogether? (Bound to Sin, 6)

          See also Josef Pieper’s The Concept of Sin and Karl Menninger’s Whatever Became of Sin?.

        • adam

          “I think they lack [sufficient] moral character, and I think that science and technology does approximately jack to improve moral character.”

          So you dont think….

          Because the CLAIM is that religion is the HOLDER of MORAL CHARACTER.

          Science dispels the SUPERSTITIONS that inhibit the improvement of moral character produced by religious superstition.

          Meteorology explains thunder, lightning and storms as natural phenomena rather than pissed off god need a ‘sacrifice’ to be appeased.

          ” No one wants to hear about alternative theories of the person, because a theory of persons tends to be heavily prejudiced.”

          I do, as do others, so this is dishonest, AT BEST
          Certainly INCORRECT.

          The rest of your post:

          tldr
          looks too much like the droppings of Gish’s horse.

          Would you like to try again?

          Perhaps in a concise manner that actually seems to make a point.

          One can use language to be precise and clear with its meaning when one wants to enlighten and communicate.

          Or one can use it to obfuscate serious flaws in ones argument.

          Religion also molds the ‘vision’ for the future:

        • The rest of your post:

          tldr

          looks too much like the droppings of Gish’s horse.

          I’m glad it’s not just me.

        • MNb

          “I think that science and technology does approximately jack to improve moral character.”
          Weird. Above you complained (falsely) that we demanded religion to deliver magical technology or something. Actually we deliberately leave it open to you what “to deliver” means.
          Now you do exactly the same what you accused us of – demanding something from science and technology that it doesn’t claim to deliver.
          I think this is called a strawman.

          Btw faith does approximately jack to improve moral character as well.

        • Above you complained (falsely) that we demanded religion to deliver magical technology or something.

          If you’re going to start imputing views to me without quoting them or at least linking them, my days discussing with you are over.

          Now you do exactly the same what you accused us of – demanding something from science and technology that it doesn’t claim to deliver.

          Bullshit.

          Btw faith does approximately jack to improve moral character as well.

          And your evidence for this claim is… what, now?

        • MNb

          “my days discussing with you are over.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Go ahead – make my day. Let your days discussing with me be over. You shouldn’t assume though that my days discussing with you will be over, because they won’t.

          Now having got this out of the way I can’t refind where you wrote this, so at least for the time being I’ll withdraw it. I don’t have any problem admitting that my memory fails me. If you had written “I never wrote such a thing” that would have sufficed for me.

          “And your evidence for this claim is… what, now?”
          Psychological research, that shows religiosity has zero influence on morals.
          And if faith would improve moral character I would expect less religious inmates in jail.

          Now you.

          “I think that science and technology does approximately jack to improve moral character.”
          And your evidence for this claim is… what, now?

          I mean – if you don’t provide it you’re guilty of a double standard, aren’t you?

        • By the way, I will have drastically less time to comment today, and most days. You are extraordinarily prolific. Of the many responses you gave to me (to which I have not responded), want to pick out one to three that you are most interested in?

          Now having got this out of the way I can’t refind where you wrote this, so at least for the time being I’ll withdraw it.

          Thank you; that was implicit in my statement. Too often, people impute views to me which I don’t think I hold, and they do it without carefully noting how they got the idea. Usually, I end up being right. However, sometimes I find that I committed myself to a view I did not intend. Seeing as I did not intend to, it is hard to figure out what I said that leads to such a view. Therefore, the other person’s help is crucial.

          If you had written “I never wrote such a thing” that would have sufficed for me.

          You sir, are a rare bird.

          Psychological research, that shows religiosity has zero influence on morals.

          Could you give me some examples? This topic fascinates me.

          And if faith would improve moral character I would expect less religious inmates in jail.

          Now you.

          I’m sorry; which empirical claim did I make for which I need to produce evidence?

          And your evidence for this claim is… what, now?

          The standard of the null hypothesis does not require me to produce evidence. However, I can give you Eric Schwitzgebel’s On Aiming for Moral Mediocrity, which is nicely complemented by the empirical evidence he presents in Cheeseburger ethics. You might say this is philosophy, but surely ethics philosophers would be interested in deploying science and technology to advance ethics? Maybe I’m wrong on this; I could ask Schwitzgebel, as he is quite responsive in his blog comments.

          I mean – if you don’t provide it you’re guilty of a double standard, aren’t you?

          Putting aside that I just provided a tiny bit of evidence (which you might quibble with as appropriate to your question): That depends on how you think about default beliefs. You seem to understand what universal priors in Bayesian inference are; we can think of those as our ‘defaults’, although I’ve expressed reservations about that which might make them not good enough for that discussion. Then we might be reduced to talking about our a priori beliefs.

        • Kodie

          Here comes that lovable H-word… Horseshit, Luke. Your demands for how people may communicate with your fucking majesty if you would deign to grace us all with your brilliant responses is ridiculous. Calm the shit down.

        • adam

          “Btw faith does approximately jack to improve moral character as well.

          And your evidence for this claim is… what, now?”

          Well we have YOUR admission that religion does NOT provide the ‘moral character’ to feed the world with the abundance that SCIENCE provides

        • Most Christians through time have not seen God as a genie you can rub to get what you want, magically

          Ain’t that the truth, brother? The problem is the too-weak faith of Christians today. After all, Jesus made clear, “my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:23–4).

          With stronger faith, I pray that Christians will see God as a genie, as he is described in the Holy Bible.

        • Ain’t that the truth, brother? The problem is the too-weak faith of Christians today. After all, Jesus made clear, “my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:23–4).

          That’s a curious restriction: “in my name”. What do you think it means?

          With stronger faith, I pray that Christians will see God as a genie, as he is described in the Holy Bible.

          I see, so people getting their personal illnesses cured, etc., will accomplish Mt 5:43–48, Jn 13:34–35, Jn 17:20–23. Gotcha! All we need to do is make everyone healthy, give them enough food, and then war and adversity and oppression will go POOF. (I think I’m being fair in surveying the ‘miracles’ that faith-healers claim to do. Have I missed any major categories?)

        • adam

          ” Have I missed any major categories?)”

          Of course……

          Heaven

        • That’s a curious restriction: “in my name”. What do you think it means?

          I’m dying to hear what you think!

          I see, so people getting their personal illnesses cured, etc., will accomplish Mt 5:43–48, Jn 13:34–35, Jn 17:20–23. Gotcha!

          Why would you think that? The hungry man asking for food won’t give us world peace; it will give the hungry man food. The Bible makes that clear.

        • I’m dying to hear what you think!

          You first. I think it’s only fair, given how much my own views are being put under the microscope?

          Why would you think that? The hungry man asking for food won’t give us world peace; it will give the hungry man food. The Bible makes that clear.

          It’s not I who thinks that, it’s all those folks who think that the only miracles God really wants to do benefit their individual persons. Now, if you travel to Rwanda and see how a widower can sit next to the guy who raped and brutally murdered his wife twenty years ago, that might start getting interesting. If Christians in the US admitted to institutionalized sin such that it costs, and then enacted works worthy of repentance? That I think would be quite interesting. Sadly, we prefer:

          “Is not this the fast that I choose:    to loose the bonds of wickedness,    to undo the straps of the yoke,to let the oppressed go free,    and to break every yoke?Is it not to share your bread with the hungry    and bring the homeless poor into your house;when you see the naked, to cover him,    and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,    and your healing shall spring up speedily;your righteousness shall go before you;    the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;    you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’If you take away the yoke from in your midst,    the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,if you pour yourself out for the hungry    and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,then shall your light rise in the darkness    and your gloom be as the noonday.And the LORD will guide you continually    and satisfy your desire in scorched places    and make your bones strong;and you shall be like a watered garden,    like a spring of water,    whose waters do not fail.And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;you shall be called the repairer of the breach,    the restorer of streets to dwell in.(Isaiah 58:6–12)

          🙁 At least it was a Pope who pushed an eight-hour workday, or so I hear. I need to fact-check that, but my source is generally pretty reputable.

        • adam

          ” sin”

        • MNb

          Demanding science to be perfect before admitting that it delivers is an error. Repeating it does nothing to remedy it.
          What did faith again to make everyone healthy etc.? Oh wait – that’s not what faith is meant for. Then for what exactly is faith meant?

        • Demanding science to be perfect before admitting that it delivers is an error.

          Good thing I didn’t demand that.

          Repeating it does nothing to remedy it.

          Repeating what?

          What did faith again to make everyone healthy etc.?

          You really seem to think that egalitarianism wasn’t a big deal, that we naturally moved toward it or some such nonsense. Here’s what one of America’s most famous sociologists has to say:

          The Dutch historian Jan Romein coined the phrase “the common human pattern” to denote some features of society and culture that can be found throughout history. The modern West deviates sharply from this common pattern, not least in the character and degree of individuation. This is the sound empirical foundation for the claim that Western individualism is an aberration; the common pattern has the individual tightly bonded within his community. (A Far Glory, 101)

          Hmmm, I wonder if there is a cause for that “aberration” which we could discover. What do you think? Important, or boring?

          Oh wait – that’s not what faith is meant for. Then for what exactly is faith meant?

          Define this beast you’re playing with: “faith”.

        • MNb

          Mainly addressed here.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/10/reject-the-scientific-consensus-how-do-you-justify-that-bible/#comment-2330829195

          “Repeating what?”

          Demanding that science is perfect before you accept “science delivers, religion does not”. Problems with comprehensive reading? It’s right before your nose in my previous comment.

          “You really seem to think that egalitarianism wasn’t a big deal.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Hey, why don’t you focus on what we actually write iso of what you think and wish what we write? This is so silly that it doesn’t even require an answer. It has exactly zero relevance for my question

          What did faith again to make everyone healthy etc.?

          Nice that you metaquote a famous and brilliant compatriot of mine. Now could you show what relevance it has for my question I repeated just above?

          “Define this beast you’re playing with: “faith”.
          I am not pretentious and arrogant enough to claim that I can provide a satisfying definition, but I gave it a shot in the comment I linked to.

        • Kodie

          Perhaps you’re familiar with the phrase, “even a broken clock is right twice a day.” Religion comes from people and people have thoughts and put those thoughts into action. Is it due to their beliefs? Was god literally intervening at that period of time? Could a person without faith arrive at a similar idea? Were/are most people religious, such that an idea was unlikely to come from someone without a religion? If faith delivered egalitarianism, how is that any different than how faith delivers authoritarianism, or sexism, or barbarianism or xenophobia? These are all ideas people have and credit their faith with sustaining. Is egalitarianism one mere interpretation of a biblical sock-puppet? What exactly is your claim here? Did I miss it from earlier or have you not been specific yet?

        • I also love how you ignored the fact that we have enough food to feed 10 billion people, and yet cannot feed the < 8 billion people on this planet.

          Uh huh. What was your point? Seems like a tangent.

        • We’re talking about what science does and does not deliver. We’re contrasting that with what religion does and does not deliver.

        • So corrupt, selfish, or inept distribution of food can’t be blamed on science or religion? OK. Seems like a tangent, but perhaps I’m missing your larger point.

        • Where did I say it cannot be blamed on ‘religion’? That’s like blaming stabbings on knives.

          My larger point is that science and technology vastly underspecify on matters like “whether we should be egalitarian?”, or “how ought we model ‘poverty’?”. And so, something in addition is needed. I think the thing we tack on always produces the phenomena we associated with ‘religion’—both good and bad. If you want a well-documented instance of this, see Christian Smith’s The Sacred Project of American Sociology, which is listed at Heterodox Academy § Publications, noting that Jonathan Haidt and Steven Pinker are listed on the About Us page. (I say this to lend a little legitimacy, in the sense of: “It’s worth taking this seriously.”)

        • Yeah, I daily curse the fact that you can’t get morality from Chemistry or Geology. I’m getting over it, though.

          I’m not sure where you’re going with this. Seems like we agree.

        • Wait, do you agree with this:

          LB: I think the thing we tack on always produces the phenomena we associated with ‘religion’—both good and bad.

          ? You’re going to somewhat blow my mind if you do, because many atheists like blaming religion for the ills of society, including folks on your blog (they’re so adorable!). In fact, I’m not sure I have ever found an atheist, other than my best man (!) and an old boss of mine, who would get close to solidly agreeing on the above sentence. Then again, I’ve only learned to phrase it as I did above, recently. Like, today.

          See also this:

          The socialist myth promises the fulfillment of both the rational dreams of the Enlightenment and the manifold aspirations of those to whom the Enlightenment has been an alienating experience. Such a promise inevitably grates against its imperfect realization in empirical reality, frustrating and often enraging its believers. This is nothing new in the long history of eschatologies, which is inevitably a history of the psychology of disappointment. (Facing Up to Modernity, 62–63)

          I do like sociological observations; they’re much better than astrophysicists pontificating well outside of their area of expertise, if you want to learn about, well, sociology, including sociology of knowledge. In that vein, you or other onlookers might like Christian Smith’s “How American Youth (Mis)Understand Science and Religion”[1] Two facts, with timestamps:

          7:00 “Key Point #1: Most American college-age emerging adults (ages 18-23) accept the secular “Enlightenment” “inherent warfare” model of the relationship between religion and science:”

          15:27 “Key Point #2: Nearly all American youth associate “science” with “evidence” and “proof,” but associate religion with “blind faith” and “private,” subjective “opinion.””

          I just love it! The conflict thesis is false, but you have Victor Stenger, a spokesman for atheism, writing this in Julien Musolino’s The Soul Fallacy:

              Apparently these organizations have not informed their members of this policy [of compatibility of religion and science]. A 2009 poll by the Pew Research Center found that 45 percent of Republicans (who are often conservative and Christian) see a conflict between science and their beliefs.[5] As for Democrats, 33 percent also say that science conflicts with their faith. Clearly a large number of Americans—liberal and conservative—believe that science and religion are incompatible. (7–8)

          It’s not clear that Stenger cares about the truth or falsity of the warfare model. I just love it when atheist public intellectuals don’t give a shit about evidence if it doesn’t serve their ideology!

          This comment, I won’t get into how many common conceptions of ‘faith’ are very far from pistis and pisteuō—the Greek words you find in the NT translated ‘faith’, ‘belief’, etc. Suffice it to say that we delude ourselves here quite gloriously. I empathize with Jeremiah:

          Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,    look and take note!Search her squares to see    if you can find a man,one who does justice    and seeks truth,that I may pardon her.Though they say, “As the LORD lives,”    yet they swear falsely.O LORD, do not your eyes look for truth?You have struck them down,    but they felt no anguish;you have consumed them,    but they refused to take correction.They have made their faces harder than rock;    they have refused to repent.(Jeremiah 5:1–3)

          [1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaS1SV7xwWQ

        • Wait, do you agree with this:

          Dunno. I have no idea what you’re saying.

          You’re going to somewhat blow my mind if you do, because many atheists like blaming religion for the ills of society

          I like blaming religion for some of the ills of society, not all.

          including folks on your blog (they’re so adorable!)

          And you’re so condescending! Makes me just want to pinch your cheek!

          I do like sociological observations

          Sounds boring.

          15:27 “Key Point #2: Nearly all American youth associate “science” with “evidence” and “proof,” but associate religion with “blind faith” and “private,” subjective “opinion.””

          Yes, that’s a worry.

          It’s not clear that Stenger cares about the truth or falsity of the warfare model. I just love it when atheist public intellectuals don’t give a shit about evidence if it doesn’t serve their ideology!

          No idea what you’re saying here. Stenger is making claims without evidence?

          I won’t get into how many common conceptions of ‘faith’ are very far from pistis and pisteuō—the Greek words you find in the NT translated ‘faith’, ‘belief’, etc. Suffice it to say that we delude ourselves here quite gloriously.

          Still no interest in just defining faith and the issues surrounding this?

        • I like blaming religion for some of the ills of society, not all.

          Do you base this blame on empirical evidence, noting that correlation ⇏ causation? I’m curious to see any evidence you do have, especially if it’s peer-reviewed.

          And you’re so condescending! Makes me just want to pinch your cheek!

          Yes, I can switch that off if you want. But if you’re going to let others condescend to me, it seems only fair for me to join in. And hey, anyone who knows me knows that I’m screwing around.

          LB: I do like sociological observations

          BS: Sounds boring.

          You realize that claims about religion’s impact on society are based on sociological observations, right? I mean, if they aren’t, that’s like trying to do physics without, you know, being a physicist and working with physicists.

          No idea what you’re saying here. Stenger is making claims without evidence?

          Stenger is not eschewing falsehood (the conflict thesis), while he simultaneously claims to believe things based on the evidence. This is known as “hypocrisy”, or at best “ignorance and incompetence”. Public intellectuals need to be held accountable for falsehoods they perpetuate. (Right?)

          Still no interest in just defining faith and the issues surrounding this?

          Given that I have so many other tangents going, I think I’ll let someone else convince me that [s]he is interested in taking the matter of ‘faith’ seriously. How would this person do this? By offering definitions that even possibly match the Greek, or explain how the meaning has evolved from Jesus’ time to now, and why the chosen definition is a good one, for now. If the person isn’t up for this, then I’m going to have to lecture again and I’m doing that enough, elsewhere. Honestly, it’s getting really tiring, and I may have to quit your blog if I’m doing only that and not learning things. I’m under no illusion that I’m going to convert anyone to Christianity or anything by my current behavior.

        • Do you base this blame on empirical evidence, noting that correlation ⇏ causation? I’m curious to see any evidence you do have, especially if it’s peer-reviewed.

          I’m too lazy to find studies on the impact of religion on society, so therefore I’m disallowed from pointing to religion as a cause of problems in society? Sounds a bit strict.

          Yes, I can switch that off if you want.

          No need. Be yourself. Just know that blog comments, like life, is a mirror.

          anyone who knows me knows that I’m screwing around.

          We don’t know you.

          You realize that claims about religion’s impact on society are based on sociological observations, right? I mean, if they aren’t, that’s like trying to do physics without, you know, being a physicist and working with physicists.

          My point is that if you want to go off on irrelevant tangents, don’t expect me to always find them engaging. The topic for me is Christianity and relevant tangents.

          Stenger is not eschewing falsehood (the conflict thesis), while he simultaneously claims to believe things based on the evidence. This is known as “hypocrisy”, or at best “ignorance and incompetence”.

          Ignorance … according to you. OK, that’s a data point. Thanks.

          Given that I have so many other tangents going, I think I’ll let someone else convince me that [s]he is interested in taking the matter of ‘faith’ seriously.

          You’re the one who demanded that we go research Strong’s to find the correct use of variant words about faith. I think I can be forgiven for thinking that you thought this an important issue. But yes, there are many tangents here.

          Honestly, it’s getting really tiring, and I may have to quit your blog if I’m doing only that and not learning things.

          When you make a claim about slavery and I point you to a rebuttal, twice, and you refuse to read it, your concerns about not learning anything sound more like fears of learning something.

        • I’m too lazy to find studies on the impact of religion on society, so therefore I’m disallowed from pointing to religion as a cause of problems in society? Sounds a bit strict.

          Suffice it to say that it would be nice to have a balance: to the extent that others must provide evidence for their position of a sufficient caliber, they ought to do the same. I’m happy to talk less formally, but I would want to do some work to establish fairness. Make sense?

          It is also the case that the less evidence you can bring to bear, the less I can learn about your position. However, you can still tell me how your belief interacts with other beliefs of yours. And if you’re courageous, you can say how being wrong on this belief would ripple through your belief system. :-p

          No need. Be yourself. Just know that blog comments, like life, is a mirror.

          It can be fun to see who judges quickly and without investigating much. I think being quick to judge is one of the huge problems in our country. Tentative guesses are ok, but I see a lot of solid judgment, I see a lot of positions adopted quickly, and stubbornly held to.

          My point is that if you want to go off on irrelevant tangents, don’t expect me to always find them engaging. The topic for me is Christianity and relevant tangents.

          Sure. I sometimes argue highly intuitively, such that I myself don’t always know why I said something. However, something intriguing happens: very often, such instances end up being quite relevant to the conversation. That being said, I am slowly learning to dial this behavior back in certain venues. It is tricky.

          You’re the one who demanded that we go research Strong’s to find the correct use of variant words about faith. I think I can be forgiven for thinking that you thought this an important issue. But yes, there are many tangents here.

          What? I cannot think (i) it is an important issue; (ii) discussion will be useless without someone who is willing to put in a decent amount of effort to discuss it? I’ve provided a little vetting process; I think it is quite sensible. I am very, very well aware that atheists love to talk about ‘faith’. For example, from Peter Boghossian, via Randal Rauser:

          There is perhaps no greater contribution one could make to contain and perhaps even cure faith than removing the exemption that prohibits classifying religious delusions as mental illness. The removal of religious exemptions from the DSM would enable academicians and clinicians to bring considerable resources to bear on the problem of treating faith, as well as on the ethical issues surrounding faith-based interventions. In the long term, once these treatments and this body of research is refined, results could then be used to inform public health policies designed to contain and ultimately eradicate faith. (A Manual for Creating Atheists, Kindle Locations 3551–55).

          Can you see how someone who (i) knows that Boghossian’s book is quite popular among atheists; (ii) has had many fruitless conversations about ‘faith’; (iii) believes that Boghossian’s definition is ideologically manufactured, would be a little cautious about talking to just anyone about ‘faith’? Ironically, Boghossian is probably employing what he means by ‘faith’, in order to say what ‘faith’ is. I talk about his definition of ‘faith’ over here.

          So perhaps, just perhaps, you can see how I am acting quite rationally, in this matter? If not, I would be interested to see you engage my rationalization and explain how it fails.

          When you make a claim about slavery and I point you to a rebuttal, twice, and you refuse to read it, your concerns about not learning anything sound more like fears of learning something.

          First, this recent comment probably addresses your point. Second, why do you jump so quickly to claims about my emotional/​intellectual state? I just wrote the following on Randal Rauser’s blog; it applies here:

          LB: That being said, I have been told, and found, that much more common causes of disagreement are:

               1. misunderstanding due to differing plausibility structures
               2. ignorance
               3. incompetence

          Why do people so quickly jump to ‘malice’ and ‘delusion’? I’d love to see empirical research on this.

          I actually missed your style of characterizing my repeated failure to respond to your words the way you were expecting; I will have to add to that 1.–3. or even re-engineer it.

        • I sometimes argue highly intuitively, such that I myself don’t always know why I said something.

          Hmm. You might want to get that checked.

          Can you see how someone who (i) knows that Boghossian’s book is quite popular among atheists; (ii) has had many fruitless conversations about ‘faith’; (iii) believes that Boghossian’s definition is ideologically manufactured, would be a little cautious about talking to just anyone about ‘faith’?

          Nope. I would’ve guessed that person would test the waters and, if he found a willing discussion partner, eagerly jump in. But you’re waiting for me to make the first move?

          First, this recent comment probably addresses your point.

          About slavery? No, unless I missed it.

          You handwaved about the Bible needing to be read in context, and I already replied to that: I have high expectations for the Creator of the Universe. I bet he could, without much trouble, author a book that consistently got the rules of frikkin’ morality straight. Seems like a fundamental requirement.

          Second, why do you jump so quickly to claims about my emotional/intellectual state?

          Second, why are you so quick to change the subject? “Look over here—something shiny!”

          I’m getting an increasingly strong sense that you’ve avoiding the issue. Do you want to respond directly to the Bible’s support for slavery? Is it possible that you’re unclear what I’m asking?

          Why do people so quickly jump to ‘malice’ and ‘delusion’?

          I accused you of neither. I am, however, accusing you of avoiding an uncomfortable issue.

        • adam

          “Why do people so quickly jump to ‘malice’ and ‘delusion’?

          I accused you of neither. I am, however, accusing you of avoiding an uncomfortable issue.”

          Why do so many apologists so quickly jump to the ‘victim’ card?

        • In Luke’s case, it seems like he wants to talk about anything but the Bible’s uncomfortable subjects. Strange–that’s the fun part!

        • adam

          “I bet he could, without much trouble, author a book that consistently got the rules of frikkin’ morality straight. Seems like a fundamental requirement.”

        • “If the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced [slavery] wrong, what are the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong?” – Dan Savage

        • LB: Can you see how someone who (i) knows that Boghossian’s book is quite popular among atheists; (ii) has had many fruitless conversations about ‘faith’; (iii) believes that Boghossian’s definition is ideologically manufactured, would be a little cautious about talking to just anyone about ‘faith’?

          BS: Nope. I would’ve guessed that person would test the waters and, if he found a willing discussion partner, eagerly jump in. But you’re waiting for me to make the first move?

          Interesting. Well, you guessed wrong. See, I try not to be insane:

              insane: doing the same thing over and over again,
                              while expecting a different result

          Surely it’s rational to try not to act insanely? Now, you do open up a possibility. And that is, that I should always hope that the next time will be better. Do you think that possibly this principle underlies your guess?

          You handwaved about the Bible needing to be read in context, and I already replied to that: I have high expectations for the Creator of the Universe. I bet he could, without much trouble, author a book that consistently got the rules of frikkin’ morality straight. Seems like a fundamental requirement.

          Wait a second. Do you think we have perfect morality, now? I’m guess “no”. Do you think that ‘perfect morality’ is something which can be communicated in finite time to finite beings? If your answer “yes”, I would like to know how you formed this belief. It would appear to be a theological belief. I would also like to know how you test such beliefs—surely you don’t just nonreflectively accept them? Surely they could be wrong, and you have ways to test for this?

          Second, why are you so quick to change the subject? “Look over here—something shiny!”

          Arguments presuppose things and sometimes I must question the presupposition before getting to the argument. Otherwise, I am forced to answer “yes” or “no” to questions such as: “Have you stopped beating your wife, yet?” However, I do need to learn to be more careful about labeling: “I think we hold different presuppositions, here. I think the following line of thought/​questioning will help tease out these differences: …”

          I’m getting an increasingly strong sense that you’ve avoiding the issue. Do you want to respond directly to the Bible’s support for slavery? Is it possible that you’re unclear what I’m asking?

          I think the Bible is written to push people along a moral trajectory, among other things. It can take you wherever you are, and push you forward. Now, if the Bible were like you think it ought to be—utterly pristine—then I think it would fail at this purpose. I think this purpose is more important than your non-evidence-based-beliefs on what “perfection” is. As to the NT and slavery, I think it undermines the very philosophical foundations of slavery; for an example of such foundations, see WP: Natural slavery § Aristotle’s discussion. I think that if the NT had attacked slavery head-on, it would have provoked a Fourth Servile War. And you know what? The Romans had become experts at putting down slave rebellions. A more subtle strategy was required. A more subtle strategy was employed. That strategy worked. I consider such success much more important than non-evidence-based-beliefs on what constitutes ‘perfection’.

          BS: When you make a claim about slavery and I point you to a rebuttal, twice, and you refuse to read it, your concerns about not learning anything sound more like fears of learning something.

          LB: That being said, I have been told, and found, that much more common causes of disagreement are:

               1. misunderstanding due to differing plausibility structures
               2. ignorance
               3. incompetence

          Why do people so quickly jump to ‘malice’ and ‘delusion’? I’d love to see empirical research on this.

          LB: I actually missed your style of characterizing my repeated failure to respond to your words the way you were expecting; I will have to add to that 1.–3. or even re-engineer it.

          BS: I accused you of neither. I am, however, accusing you of avoiding an uncomfortable issue.

          You’ve misunderstood, so I have repeated myself, with emphasis. You did not jump to ‘malice’ or ‘delusion’, but you jumped to something much worse than 1.–3. After all, those who refuse to learn are in the category of people not willing to do something to avert global climate change, which could easily produce billions of ‘climate refugees’. Such a person may not be guilty of ‘malice’ or ‘delusion’, but [s]he is still guilty of something quite terrible! And so, what I could say is this:

          LB‘: Why do people so quickly jump to ‘malice’, ‘delusion’, and/or ‘refusal to learn’? I’d love to see empirical research on this.

        • adam

          ” insane: doing the same thing over and over again,
          while expecting a different result”

          I get it, it is EVERYONE ELSES fault that YOU doing the SAME THING that doesnt work, over and over again.

          The rest of your post

          tldr
          .
          .

          Here is REAL victim, instead the puny one you PLAY here:

        • Kodie

          And yet – you wish for one of us to take your place and go insane for you, to answer YOUR QUESTION, what do we mean by “faith” or “deity” or “supernatural,” you’re the one who fucking believes that nonsense. You tell us what’s in your head, you’re not going to trap people so you can control and dictate and demand that we’re just getting it wrong, we have a naive understanding, god is not a vending machine, and all your other stock Christian excuses for god to appear to be nothing at all.

          No sir.

          You first.

        • adam

          Whats INSANE about Lukes Gish Galloping is that he clings to the very SAME beliefs that he can’t support –

          Repeatedly

          And then blames everyone else for his shortcomings.

          He, like others, thing being ‘reborn’ is the answer, when growing up is the only thing that will work.

        • adam

          Do you think that ‘perfect morality’ is something which can be communicated in finite time to finite beings?

          omnipotent Merriam Webster
          [om-nip-uh-tuh nt]

          1.almighty or infinite in power, as God.
          2.having very great or unlimited authority or power.

          noun
          3.an omnipotent being.
          4.the Omnipotent, God.

          The rest of your post

          tldr
          .
          .

        • Surely it’s rational to try not to act insanely?

          And, by your definition, I’ve been insane. I keep trying to get you to face up to the bad stuff in the Bible, and you keep changing the subject.

          Touché.

          Do you think we have perfect morality, now? I’m guess “no”.

          Correct.

          Do you think that ‘perfect morality’ is something which can be communicated in finite time to finite beings?

          No, but why change the subject yet again? God is plainly portrayed in the OT as an asshole. Respond.

          I hear baby Jesus crying at your impotent response …. Don’t you think you should respond? Heaven knows God is unable to.

          Arguments presuppose things and sometimes I must question the presupposition before getting to the argument. Otherwise, I am forced to answer “yes” or “no” to questions such as: “Have you stopped beating your wife, yet?”

          Necessary ground clearing? Not obfuscation? I’m happy to let the lurkers make up their own minds.

          I think this purpose is more important than your non-evidence-based-beliefs on what “perfection” is.

          Brilliant! It’s actually me who’s the problem here. I’m the one who tosses out half-baked nuttery, grounded on nothing. It’s not actually you who is quite clear of the bad shit God did in the OT but afraid to respond directly to it.

          Your argument (such as it is) seems to be “Well, you must understand that God takes people from where they are. Slavery, genocide, and good ol’ bashing babies’ heads against the rocks was just part of the culture! God has to work with what he’s given.”

          Sure, and yet Moses came down with the 10 Cs, and they went into effect immediately. Penalty for most of them: death. No training wheels; no warnings.

          God couldn’t get the most basic moral question, “Is slavery OK?” correct? Why worship him then?

          As to the NT and slavery, I think it undermines the very philosophical foundations of slavery;

          Because Jesus said, “Now hear this: no more slavery! I’m the fucking son of God, people, and I’m not kidding!”? I missed that verse.

          I think that if the NT had attacked slavery head-on, it would have provoked a Fourth Servile War.

          What part of “God is magic” do you not understand? When God doesn’t want something, it’s gone. Bam.

          It’s a mystery to me why it’s the atheists, not the Christians, who understand omnipotence.

          The Romans had become experts at putting down slave rebellions. A more subtle strategy was required. A more subtle strategy was employed. That strategy worked.

          Uh, huh. 1800 years later. Sort of. And yet there are more slaves today than at any time in history.

          LB’: Why do people so quickly jump to ‘malice’, ‘delusion’, and/or ‘refusal to learn’? I’d love to see empirical research on this.

          Nice strategy. It should have a name, preferably in Latin. When you are pushed into a tight spot, demand evidence. When that comes, demand research papers. When they come, dismiss the source.

        • And, by your definition, I’ve been insane. I keep trying to get you to face up to the bad stuff in the Bible, and you keep changing the subject.

          Have I changed the subject every time, or only certain times?

          No, but why change the subject yet again? God is plainly portrayed in the OT as an asshole. Respond.

          The reason is simple: if we’re assholes, we can only conceive of God as being so much better than we are. This does reject verbal plenary inspiration, but that was retarded from the get-go. You might like creating God in your own image. Also, see Ps 50:19–21 and Is 55:6–9, noting that you have probably heard a cherry-picked version of the Isaiah passage, which omits the first two, crucial verses.

          Sure, and yet Moses came down with the 10 Cs, and they went into effect immediately. Penalty for most of them: death. No training wheels; no warnings.

          Are you aware of how strict life is when you don’t have plenty, when everyone has to pull his/her own weight? I suggest a read of Roger Kimball’s The New Criterion article Introduction: the age of discussion. You seem to projecting a modern culture on an ancient one, in a completely illegitimate way. Things were absolutely brutal, back then. Ever hear about the orgy of limb-amputation that went on in Byzantium? And that was after Jesus.

          God couldn’t get the most basic moral question, “Is slavery OK?” correct? Why worship him then?

          I reject the premise; I say God went into a situation where slavery was accepted, and decided to regulate it and enact a long-term strategic plan to erode its very legitimating foundation. See, the Israelites had a hard enough time obeying even the commands they were given. See, for example, Nehemiah 5, where Israelites were mercilessly enslaving other Israelites, and Nehemiah had to step in and give a rousing public speech, based on OT law, to shatter the legitimations in place. People cannot become perfect in a day. They cannot even understand what ‘perfect’ is. And so, God takes them from where they are, challenges bits and pieces at a time, and slowly transforms those who are willing. The rest, well, you know.

          Because Jesus said, “Now hear this: no more slavery! I’m the fucking son of God, people, and I’m not kidding!”? I missed that verse.

          That is not the only way to eliminate slavery. It is as if because Jesus did not do it your way—a way, by the way, for which you have produced exactly zero evidential support for its effectiveness—therefore Jesus did not do it. I reject such reasoning.

          What part of “God is magic” do you not understand? When God doesn’t want something, it’s gone. Bam.

          Heh, if God actually acted like you did, the Bible would be radically different, you would be worshiping YHWH, and… yeah. No, God gives humans incredible leeway all throughout the Bible. Miracles are ridiculously rare, all things considered. It is as if God is working toward Theosis, which requires (by logic) a relatively “hands-off” strategy.

          It’s a mystery to me why it’s the atheists, not the Christians, who understand omnipotence.

          I doubt you actually do understand omnipotence. But give it a shot: tell me what you think of Understanding omnipotence, if you’d like.

          Uh, huh. 1800 years later. Sort of. And yet there are more slaves today than at any time in history.

          Wait, whose point does that make better? Don’t you believe we are morally superior to Jesus? If so, why so much slavery, still? BTW, there is also: How many slaves work for you? Economically supporting slavery is supporting slavery. The fact that the slaves might live in a different country—you know, “out of site, out of mind”—is 100% irrelevant to our moral culpability.

          When you are pushed into a tight spot, demand evidence. When that comes, demand research papers. When they come, dismiss the source.

          Oh, nice set-up. See, if I ask for evidence for your character assassination, it feeds right into your claim! Very clever. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. What oh what, shall I do?! I think I’ll continue to assume that the atheists with whom I am interacting consider it important to:

               (1) believe things only based on the evidence, pending:
               (2) justify any a priori beliefs
               (3) avoid believing things solely based on desire

          If any of (1)–(3) does not describe you, feel free to indicate as much.

        • Have I changed the subject every time, or only certain times?

          Certain. And BTW, it would probably speed things along if you’d make more statements and ask fewer questions. Questions (at this point in our conversation) sound like issue avoidance.

          if we’re assholes, we can only conceive of God as being so much better than we are.

          I didn’t say we’re assholes, though to some extent we are. Nevertheless, God’s actions in the OT make him far worse than the average person in the West today. No, it’s not particularly hard to judge this dude.

          You might like creating God in your own image.

          Ah, the ol’ kindergarten try. Well done. When presented with a supernatural claim—Yahweh, Xenu, Quetzalcoatl, whatever—we have no choice but to evaluate the claims in our own, fallible mind. Only an idiot first assumes the religion from which they come is true and then retroactively declares the God portrait to be valid.

          In my own fallible way, I weigh what the Christians’ own book says about God against their claims that he’s perfect. And the claims fail, miserably. A god can’t be good and bad concurrently. Conclusion: this pairing of claims doesn’t describe a being that actually exists.

          You’ll say, “Yeah, but you can’t know the perfect mind of God!” True enough. Show me that he exists, and that will be relevant. Until then, we’re back to my point.

          And that was a fine joke adding the Bible verses—like Bible verses are obligatory on an atheist. Thanks.

          Are you aware of how strict life is when you don’t have plenty, when everyone has to pull his/her own weight?

          Are you aware of how trivial it would be for God to change anything, anywhere, any time? I don’t want to hear about how tough it was for God, burdened as he was by the social conditions of the time.

          Things were absolutely brutal, back then.

          OK, and God was omnipotent.

          I say God went into a situation where slavery was accepted, and decided to regulate it and enact a long-term strategic plan to erode its very legitimating foundation.

          1. Could God have a plan that we’re just too stupid to understand? Sure. And irrelevant.

          2. God has a really, really slow plan to end slavery? Wrong: it hasn’t even ended now. As you saw, it’s worst today than ever (in absolute numbers, though admittedly probably not per capita). How about this: God just makes no slavery. Or changes some small thing so that slavery won’t work (maybe: all chains used to constrain someone turn into wax—or better). Or even declare slavery a sin in the holy book that he had been planning to collaborate on with Moses and Co.

          See, the Israelites had a hard enough time obeying even the commands they were given.

          And you don’t even have evidence that God even tried. Yet more evidence that the OT was written by ordinary people of the day with zero supernatural inspiration.

          People cannot become perfect in a day.

          God can enact perfect laws in an instant … and yet he didn’t.

          They cannot even understand what ‘perfect’ is.

          Rule of thumb: if God sez, it’s perfect. Y’know, like commandment #10, never eat goat boiled in milk. Cuz that would just be wrong.

          That is not the only way to eliminate slavery.

          No? I gotta say that the way God did choose certainly sucked. It’s hard to imagine it being any less effective. (And you worship this guy? Next time, pick someone smarter.)

          It is as if because Jesus did not do it your way—a way, by the way, for which you have produced exactly zero evidential support for its effectiveness

          BTW, your demands for evidence have gone beyond annoying. Normally, this is a good reminder, but no longer. Just sayin’.

          After thinking about it for 5 seconds, I think I’ve outsmarted God by finding a way to avoid slavery worldwide. He uses magic so that any time anyone takes any punishment against someone in a slave position, that punishment hurts him instead. Example: master strikes the slave with a stick, but the master feels it (and sustains any damage) while the slave feels nothing. The master screams abuse, but only he hears it. The master grabs the slave to prevent him from leaving, but the slave feels nothing. And so on. (h/t: Red Dwarf episode “Justice”)

          There you go: slavery gone almost instantly. As soon as every slave realized that the master was powerless, they’d leave.

          if God actually acted like you did, the Bible would be radically different

          Obviously. A magical god that actually used magic might sound more plausible. As it is, the Bible sounds like it has no more insight or imagination than that of desert tribesmen from millennia ago.

          I doubt you actually do understand omnipotence. But give it a shot: tell me what you think of Understanding omnipotence, if you’d like.

          Opportunity for homework rejected, but thanks.

          Don’t you believe we are morally superior to Jesus?

          I believe I’m morally superior to God, as portrayed in the OT. You, too, I’ll bet.

          If so, why so much slavery, still?

          The issue is: explain away the fact that God regulates slavery in the OT. Sorry to have to remind you.

          BTW, there is also: How many slaves work for you? Economically supporting slavery is supporting slavery.

          WTF?? The fact that humans today are imperfect does nothing to answer the problem of God being imperfect—in fact, of God being a complete asshole. Why do you keep making this argument? I see through it every time, and it makes you look like a liar.

          What oh what, shall I do?!

          Ask for evidence when it’s actually needed. Don’t do it when you’re just making conversation or when it’s not needed. If you must demand it, consider a phrase to explain why this is important enough to assign the homework.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or even declare slavery a sin in the holy book that he had been planning to collaborate on with Moses and Co.

          Maybe God or Moses were sapped by the 613th commandment. Plumb tuckered out thinking about all those far more morally important items to prohibit, like never eating goat meat that has been basted in dairy products for example. Or tattoo’s…no tat’s. Or shaving the beard. Or wear garments made of wool and linen mixed together….no, none of that vastly more important stuff needed overlooked..

          Slavery, rape and genocide? Yer good to go.

          Canaanite’s are particularly sought after for slave’s, ya get to keep them forever.

          Leviticus 25:46

          And you shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your slaves forever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, you shall not rule one over another with harshness.

          But at least the rules say ya can’t keep a kinsman as a slave…counts for something, right?

          Some other crackers…

          That the procedure of cleansing leprosy, whether of a man or of a house, takes place with cedar-wood, hyssop, scarlet thread, two birds, and running water Leviticus 14:1-7

          Not to sell a beautiful woman, (taken captive in war) Deuteronomy 21:14

          I’m wondering who gets to decide on what is beautiful? When I went to Sunday School we were ALL God’s children and we are all beautiful. How naive was I?

          Anyway, for a chuckle read…

          http://www.jewfaq.org/613.htm

          What a lot of bollocks. Funny though.

        • I think it was The Year of Living Biblically where the author tried to follow all of them for a year.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Must’ve been a right blast…NOT!

        • Certain. And BTW, it would probably speed things along if you’d make more statements and ask fewer questions. Questions (at this point in our conversation) sound like issue avoidance.

          Right. Refusals to answer my questions sound like presupposition-exposure avoidance. Perhaps we could both improve.

          BS: God is plainly portrayed in the OT as an asshole.

          LB: The reason is simple: if we’re assholes, we can only conceive of God as being so much better than we are.

          BS: I didn’t say we’re assholes, though to some extent we are. Nevertheless, God’s actions in the OT make him far worse than the average person in the West today. No, it’s not particularly hard to judge this dude.

          I simply don’t believe your “far worse”; I think Rwandan Genocide § United States and a July 13, 2015 Economist article on an impending genocide in Myanmar—The most persecuted people on Earth?—shows this to be hilariously false. What is actually true is that global economic practices have helped make this true: “”At the moment, the gap between the rich and the poor of Myanmar is the widest in the world,” said economist Dr Aung Ko Ko.” (The Nation, September 4, 2013). Let’s look at Myanmar’s top industries include:

               1. clothing
               2. illegal drugs
               3. oil and gas
               4. gemstones
               5. tourism

          Let’s consider the West’s benefits from 1., 3., and 4. First, 4. reminds me of blood diamonds. However, since not enough hue and cry has occurred with Myanmar, their rubies are acceptable. Next, we know that our continued dependence on fossil fuels is supporting regimes such as Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. We knew this when Carter was President, but we decided to kill off that research because hey, it’s cheaper in the short term to oppress other nations! I’m not sure I need to say much about clothing, given the number of warehouse collapses in the news.

          Furthermore, noting the Economist article date of 2015-07-13, we can make sense of the following:

          WP: Economy of Myanmar § External trade: However, on April 22 the EU suspended economic and political sanctions against Burma.[13]

          One can review the remaining EU sanctions and remaining US sanctions.

          The bottom line is that we are perfectly happy to let genocide happen, to be complicit in it, to benefit from the conditions that lead to genocide or at least make it more likely to happen, as long as it doesn’t happen on our doorstep, as long as we can be removed enough from the genocide to have plausible deniability. I don’t think a person in this position has any authority, any right, to question God on genocide. Bob, I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree, here!

          Only an idiot first assumes the religion from which they come is true and then retroactively declares the God portrait to be valid.

          Let’s test this argument via scholarship: Tomas Bogardus’ The Problem of Contingency for Religious Belief. Oh. Turns out all knowledge is contingent. Including your theological beliefs.

          In my own fallible way, I weigh what the Christians’ own book says about God against their claims that he’s perfect.

          From whence did you get your theological belief about ‘perfection’ and how have you tested it?

          You’ll say, “Yeah, but you can’t know the perfect mind of God!” True enough. Show me that he exists, and that will be relevant. Until then, we’re back to my point.

          Nope, you modeled me incorrectly. Recall the first two verses of Is 55:6–9. If you’ve only been told the second two verses, you’ve been fucked with.

          And that was a fine joke adding the Bible verses—like Bible verses are obligatory on an atheist. Thanks.

          This is a meta-strawman: I never said, nor implied, that “Bible verses are obligatory on an atheist.” Sorry.

          Are you aware of how trivial it would be for God to change anything, anywhere, any time? I don’t want to hear about how tough it was for God, burdened as he was by the social conditions of the time.

          And why would it have been in the best interest of an omnimax deity to do things differently? This exposes more theological beliefs in your part; I want to see them exposed and defended. I am especially interested in the source of those beliefs—how did they get formed? I will note that you said, in this very comment:

          BS: Only an idiot first assumes the religion from which they come is true and then retroactively declares the God portrait to be valid.

          So, if you didn’t assume your theological beliefs are true as they were initially formed—how did you test them?

          Or even declare slavery a sin in the holy book that he had been planning to collaborate on with Moses and Co.

          That wouldn’t work; people would find technical ways to avoid it. For example: wage slavery. Or debt slavery. What you really need is an injunction to love others as you love yourself. Which is what the Bible does have. For more, see Joshua A. Berman’s Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought. There, one sees a strategy for pushing toward egalitarianism which seems possibly pragmatically valid. Nothing you’ve put forward fits that bill. And you know what? I care more about something which actually gets results (per capita reduction is sometimes a step forward) than what satisfies your fancy—and yes, you’ve given me zero reason to think that your theological beliefs are anything but fancy. I’m beginning to think I’ve screwed up:

          LB: I think I’ll continue to assume that the atheists with whom I am interacting consider it important to:

               (1) believe things only based on the evidence, pending:
               (2) justify any a priori beliefs
               (3) avoid believing things solely based on desire

          If any of (1)–(3) does not describe you, feel free to indicate as much.

          Seeing as that was the comment to which you are replying, and you have failed to say anything, I will heretofore default to rejecting (3), when it comes to you & your theological beliefs.

          LB: See, the Israelites had a hard enough time obeying even the commands they were given.

          BS: And you don’t even have evidence that God even tried.

          I have no idea what would constitute “evidence” for you, for this question. Care to elaborate?

          God can enact perfect laws in an instant … and yet he didn’t.

          True. It’s as if he left things for us to do.

          Rule of thumb: if God sez, it’s perfect. Y’know, like commandment #10, never eat goat boiled in milk. Cuz that would just be wrong.

          Most atheists who’ve given any indication one way or another, hate divine command theory. I’m inclined to agree! That’s morality forced on you from the outside, instead of morality welling up from inside—in the style of Jer 31:31–34 and Ezek 36:22–32. I think God very much prefers the “inside” version. Indeed, one could say that this is precisely what God did, when he sent Jesus. After all:

          For Christ is the telos of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4)

          Building off of How is Christ the “End of the Law”?, I’m inclined to say that just like scientific law approximates the laws of nature, so the OT law approximated true Law = the Logos = Jesus. Yes, true law, true morality, is a person, not some sort of abstract object or whatnot. And so, Jesus living inside oneself is Law living inside oneself. Which is what the New Covenant is about… or at least, includes.

          After thinking about it for 5 seconds, I think I’ve outsmarted God by finding a way to avoid slavery worldwide. He uses magic so that any time anyone takes any punishment against someone in a slave position, that punishment hurts him instead.

          C.S. Lewis chews through that kind of argument in The Problem of Pain:

              We can, perhaps, conceive of a world in which God corrected the results of this abuse of free-will by His creatures at every moment: so that a wooden beam became soft as grass when it was used as a weapon, and the air refused to obey me if I attempted to set up in it the sound waves that carry lies or insults. But such a world would be one in which wrong actions were impossible, and in which, therefore, freedom of the will would be void; nay, if the principle were carried out to its logical conclusion, evil thoughts would be impossible, for the cerebral matter which we use in thinking would refuse its task when we attempted to frame them. All matter in the neighbourhood of a wicked man would be liable to undergo unpredictable alterations. That God can and does, on occasions, modify the behaviour of matter and produce what we call miracles, is part of the Christian faith; but the very conception of a common, and therefore, stable, world, demands that these occasions should be extremely rare. In a game of chess you can make certain arbitrary concessions to your opponent, which stand to the ordinary rules of the game as miracles stand to the laws of nature. You can deprive yourself of a castle, or allow the other man sometimes to take back a move made inadvertently. But if you conceded everything that at any moment happened to suit him – if all his moves were revocable and if all your pieces disappeared whenever their position on the board was not to his liking – then you could not have a game at all. So it is with the life of souls in a world: fixed laws, consequences unfolding by causal necessity, the whole natural order, are at once the limits within which their common life is confined and also the sole condition under which any such life is possible. Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself. (Chapter II: Divine Omnipotence)

          What you want is a world where moral laws are just like natural laws. But then they wouldn’t be moral laws, they would be natural laws. So you want a world with no moral laws. I think that would be a bad world.

          As it is, the Bible sounds like it has no more insight or imagination than that of desert tribesmen from millennia ago.

          If that’s true, then we’ve learned nothing in a millennium, about very important matters. I will illustrate with some NT passages:

               (1) Mt 5:43–48, Jn 13:34–35, Jn 17:20–23
               (2) Mt 5:23–24, Mt 18:15–20, Eph 4:25–27
               (3) Mt 7:1–5, Mt 23:1–4, Gal 6:1–5
               (4) Mt 7:15–23, Mt 13:24–30, Mt 25:31–46

          In my experience, Christians generally ignore (1) and (4), and most people—Christian or not—routinely violate (2) and (3). As a concrete example, in my exegesis of Mt 7:1–5, I point out that Jesus presumes that the purpose in judging is to help the other person. And yet, so frequently, I see judgment that has either zero intention of helping, or so much incompetence in helping that the result is the same: condemnation. I not only think Jesus was God and said these things, but I also think they’re obviously the way to act if you want to be a mature human being. For example, my thoughts on (2).

          The importance of (1) and (4) may be clear to the more observant person, who realizes the need to have “unity amidst diversity” in culture and society. Anyhow, I need to match this stuff up with published psychological research; sadly, I have not done that yet.

          I believe I’m morally superior to God, as portrayed in the OT. You, too, I’ll bet.

          Deflection. I’ll try again: “Don’t you believe we are morally superior to Jesus?”

          The issue is: explain away the fact that God regulates slavery in the OT.

          I do not believe I am obligated to do this.

          The fact that humans today are imperfect does nothing to answer the problem of God being imperfect […]

          You have yet to really take on my argument that an imperfect human being will judge imperfectly, especially when making judgments dependent on areas where [s]he is imperfect. You surely understand this when a person is a crappy software programmer or hardware designer. But somehow, you no longer think this way when it comes to moral competence. To be quite clear:

               (I) incompetent programmer ⇒ unreliable about programming
              (II) immoral in domain X ⇒ unreliable about moralizing in domain X

          Why do you keep making this argument? I see through it every time, and it makes you look like a liar.

          I’m sorry, but I will need a detailed explanation, for how the accusation “liar” fits. I’m glad you only said “look like a liar”, because actually calling me a liar ends our relationship—such as it is—unless you can (i) justify it to a reasonable outside party, which we’d have to agree upon, or (ii) recant and repent for the character assassination.

        • Aram

          No, you’re not a liar. You’re honestly delusional, mad as cheese, not even close to a crack as clued in as you think. Harry nailed you right. You help no side. Only you masturbate verbal choleric spew in some narcissistic idea that you hold the motherlode of ‘deep thought’ in your soft little head. I’ve seen you rambling up and down the internet for a while now. You’re a mess, son. I real raging horrorshow of diarrhoetic delusion. And that ain’t character assassination (as you so colourfully put it). That’s a fact.

        • You’re honestly delusional, mad as cheese, not even close to a crack as clued in as you think.

          Glad to know you go around the internet saying such things about people without a shred of concrete evidence listed. You make the world a better place. I wish more people would do precisely what you do. Don’t you?

          You help no side.

          I’m sure you have boatloads of evidence for this claim, but that it’s all classified so you cannot share it.

          You’re a mess, son. I real raging horrorshow of diarrhoetic delusion.

          Oh, you’re a professional psychologist? Tell us all what your favorite area of psychology is, and list some peer-reviewed journal articles in it for proof.

        • Kodie

          Anyone can find out your posting history and discover that it’s true, Luke Breuer has issues, and they are all carefully catalogued and referenced with hyperlinks. Wow, does anyone still call them hyperlinks?

        • Aram

          Oh dear sweet little Luke, how does one go about engaging with someone who only ever learned to speak, not listen? My ‘shred’ of evidence is your ubiquitous writings on the net, not to mention your blog (what a hoot). And yes, I admit to having a prejudice towards ignorant stupidity in written form, it not helping that your style of pompous conversing reminds me of my Y chromosome donor. Indeed, ‘Luke, you are my father!’ (said in a breathy voice)
          And much like him, you obviously suffer from a condition of, ‘so long as I speak, I remain real,’ combined with an unearned arrogant confidence. (You do realize other people don’t cease to exist when you’re not around, yes?) To clarify, I don’t go around the internet saying such things to people. It’s just you. Cause you’re special.

          One thing I’ve long ago learned (which will be impossible for you to understand, I grant), is that engaging with folks such as you is a meandering through lunacy to touch on madness. No thanks. I’ve paid my dues with that shit.
          I will suggest a prediction though. I bet you’re a hoarder. Am I right? Are you sitting in a home so full of crap you get around through tunnels? Pretty sure you do.

        • Oh dear sweet little Luke, how does one go about engaging with someone who only ever learned to speak, not listen?

          Well, I would suggest that such a person first read Mt 7:1–5 with this exegesis, to see if [s]he has log/speck issues. Next, I would point him/her to Alistair Cockburn’s Unknowable and Incommunicable, to establish that actually, miscommunication is really fricken easy. Next, I would suggest a book like Michael P. Nichols’ The Lost Art of Listening. Finally, if the person is a giant nerd, I would suggest “To Follow a Rule”, a chapter in Charles Taylor’s Philosophical Arguments.

          One thing I probably wouldn’t do, is approach the person with the phrase “dear sweet little”. Generally, I find that people who start that way have zero intention of listening. Now, I’m always welcome to being shown that the generalizations I’ve discovered hold only in a specific domain; I think this is true of pretty much all regularities, as one can explore over at Ceteris Paribus Laws and in Nancy Cartwright’s How the Laws of Physics Lie.

          My ‘shred’ of evidence is your ubiquitous writings on the net, not to mention your blog (what a hoot).

          Wait, like this one:

          Tormented Wanderer: Yep. It’s strange, but since that example (gaming any system), I’ve found that I’m much more capable of actively changing myself (largely for the better). My rejection of Hard Determinism (which I owe to you, mostly) has began to cultivate more confidence that I can achieve MUCH more than I’d ever envisioned for myself. It’s funny, too, because I always found gaming the system to be a fantastic contention to determinism of the will, but would never have admitted as much to you.

          ? See, when you pick everything I’ve said, you also pick up things like the above. And I don’t think things like the above are instances of what you’re describing. So if you actually want to help, you’ll have to do something a bit less vague than wave your hands vigorously.

          And yes, I admit to having a prejudice towards ignorant stupidity in written form, it not helping that your style of pompous conversing reminds me of my Y chromosome donor.

          Were you under the impression that “Oh dear sweet little Luke” is somehow not a dick move, just like being pompous is a dick move? Or do you regularly fight evil with evil, hoping that evil won’t win?

          (You do realize other people don’t cease to exist when you’re not around, yes?)

          No, I thought I was God, in Bishop Berkeley’s metaphysics. Esse est percipi.

          One thing I’ve long ago learned (which will be impossible for you to understand, I grant), is that engaging with folks such as you is a meandering through lunacy to touch on madness. No thanks.

          Tee hee hee. Or are you not describing your current interaction with me as ‘engaging’? Perhaps you mean this comment of yours to be talking at me instead of listening to me? That would make a lot of sense. You even have a perfect rationalization: you don’t listen to people who don’t listen. Maybe you even apply this to yourself, and never self-reflect as a result. This reminds me of those who are intolerant of the intolerant. I wonder how many are truly consistent in: (i) hating themselves; (ii) loving everyone, even e.g. homophobes.

          I will suggest a prediction though. I bet you’re a hoarder. Am I right? Are you sitting in a home so full of crap you get around through tunnels? Pretty sure you do.

          What are you willing to put on the line for this prediction? That is, how much will it hurt you (reputation or whatever) if you’re wrong? Or do you not actually put any stake in your truth-claims, such that if you’re wrong, you don’t give a flying fuck?

        • Kodie

          I don’t think Luke Breuer understands.

        • Aram

          Judge not lest ye be judged is utter nonsense, made up by sharp-minded bastards with an agenda, parroted by soft-headed folk such as yourself ever since.
          I’m going to guess I care a great deal less what people think about me than you do, Luke. It’s obvious in how much you want to sound intelligent and clued in, but your literal-minded thought structure betrays you time and again.
          I feel for you Luke. Honestly I do. The world must seem a very strange and unfriendly place at times, but oh no, it couldn’t be because of how you approach interactions. Oh no, it simply couldn’t be that.

          By the by, of course it wouldn’t hurt me to be wrong about whether or not you don’t let so much as an old flyer leave your home. It’s just an inkling I get from the way you write. But perhaps you’ve overcome that demon, in which case I applaud you, sir.

        • Judge not lest ye be judged is utter nonsense, made up by sharp-minded bastards with an agenda, parroted by soft-headed folk such as yourself ever since.

          Looks like you didn’t read my exegesis. If you had, you would know that I don’t hold the the common understanding which you perhaps think is the only one. See also my Christianity: judgment. I evaluate all the time. What I don’t do is condemn; to get an idea of this, see how Jacques Ellul describes ‘scorn’:

              We have to try to understand the meaning of this inhuman insanity. To scorn is to condemn the other person to complete and final sterility, to expect nothing more from him and to put him in such circumstances that he will never again have anything to give. It is to negate him in his possibilities, in his gifts, in the development of his experience. To scorn him is to rip his fingernails out by the roots so that they will never grow back again. The person who is physically maimed, or overwhelmed by mourning or hunger, can regain his strength, can live again as a person as long as he retains his honor and dignity, but to destroy the honor and dignity of a person is to cancel his future, to condemn him to sterility forever. In other words, to scorn is to put an end to the other person’s hope and to one’s hope for the other person, to hope for nothing more from him and also to stop his having any hope for himself. (Hope in Time of Abandonment, 47)

          This is the thing you did to me. You used Ellul-scorn. The Bible says only God is supposed to condemn to death (whether faster or slow).

          I feel for you Luke. Honestly I do. The world must seem a very strange and unfriendly place at times, but oh no, it couldn’t be because of how you approach interactions. Oh no, it simply couldn’t be that.

          Well, I’m glad you acknowledge that I understand I create some of the interactional problems I experience. Maybe someday, you will consider that perhaps you do this thing, too! It will hurt at first to realize this, but after a while, you’ll be able to interact with more people, more easily, at less emotional cost. It’s great once you’ve mastered it. The beginning, though, can be like doing double sessions before a sports season.

          By the by, of course it wouldn’t hurt me to be wrong about whether or not you don’t let so much as an old flyer leave your home. It’s just an inkling I get from the way you write. But perhaps you’ve overcome that demon, in which case I applaud you, sir.

          Meh, if you’re not going to put any skin in the game with your predictions, I’m gonna ignore htem.

          P.S. It’s pretty hilarious you call me “soft-headed”. Nobody has ever done that, in the history of my existence. You are the first. There might be a reason for that. After all, I’ve been debating and discussing on the internet with atheists for over 10,000 hours. Never once do I recall someone calling me “soft-headed”. Instead, I get the opposite. 😛

        • adam

          Christianity: judgment.

          two types of judgmentJudgment can be done in one of two ways:

          according to man’s standards
          according to God’s standards

        • Paul B. Lot

          Well, I’m glad you acknowledge that I understand I create some of the interactional problems I experience. Maybe someday, you will consider that perhaps you do this thing, too! It will hurt at first to realize this, but after a while, you’ll be able to interact with more people, more easily, at less emotional cost. It’s great once you’ve mastered it.

          Lol 😛

        • adam

          “It’s great once you’ve mastered it. ”

          Must be why his interactions here are so good with EVERYONE else besides himself.

        • Kodie

          Luke Breuer wants pity! Would you look at yourself?

        • adam

          “Luke Breuer wants pity!”

        • Aram

          Emotional cost? I suppose people have been known to lock their mouth open when laughing too much. Would be somewhat painful I wager.

          Not to worry, Luke. I assure you I’m in a very good place emotionally these days (though I admit it wasn’t always this way). I do appreciate your concern though. Very kind.

          Though yeah, I suppose I have partially Ellul-scorned you, being as how it’s true I expect absolutely nothing of value to emerge from your fingertips. However, I wouldn’t say it’s a complete Ellul-scorning as I’m always prepared to be pleasantly surprised by someone proving me wrong.
          So far, you haven’t.

          On that note, regarding soft-headed, I’m genuinely surprised this is the first time you’ve heard it.

          soft-headed

          adjective

          lacking wisdom or intelligence.

          “you are becoming soft-headed in your old age”

        • LB: P.S. It’s pretty hilarious you call me “soft-headed”. Nobody has ever done that, in the history of my existence. You are the first. There might be a reason for that. After all, I’ve been debating and discussing on the internet with atheists for over 10,000 hours. Never once do I recall someone calling me “soft-headed”. Instead, I get the opposite. 😛

          A: On that note, regarding soft-headed, I’m genuinely surprised this is the first time you’ve heard it.

          Perhaps you need this sage advice:

          A: Oh dear sweet little Luke, how does one go about engaging with someone who only ever learned to speak, not listen?

          Oh sorry, there was no advice there, only criticism. I had to provide the advice. 🙂

        • adam

          “Well, I’m glad you acknowledge that I understand I create some of the interactional problems I experience. Maybe someday, you will consider that perhaps you do this thing, too! It will hurt at first to realize this, but after a while, you’ll be able to interact with more people, more easily, at less emotional cost. It’s great once you’ve mastered it. “

        • Never once do I recall someone calling me “soft-headed”. Instead, I get the opposite.

          You can be both. “Soft headed” isn’t a compliment, just like “hard headed” often isn’t.

        • Kodie

          If I may, they’re both metaphors, and Luke Breuer doesn’t seem to be skilled at getting metaphors. The head has a lot of working parts, but mainly the head, referring to the brain, or the brain encasement. You do not hear “soft-headed” a lot, at least I don’t. “Hard-headed” would refer to the skull, stubbornness, willingness to smash one’s skull repeatedly rather than learn something new or change one’s mind, or do something one ought to do; impervious as a barricade to others’ thoughts or plans. “Soft-headed” would refer to the contents of the skull, i.e., complete mush, or possibly referring to a baby’s skull or soft spot, soft-headed like a baby, or else pliable, moldable, easily influenced, also like a baby.

          I don’t think Luke is soft-headed; Greg is soft-headed. Luke is hard-headed.

        • Paul B. Lot

          I’ve never heard “soft headed” before, either; I am familiar with “soft in the head”:

          http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/soft+in+the+head

        • Kodie

          The way Aram uses it, it seems more sponge-like, or naive. Greg, who is soft-headed, loyally upvotes comments from Luke, who is hard-headed, because Luke uses a wide range of arguments and vocabulary that soft-headed Greg thinks are sound and rational. Greg has never made any such literate or functional argument in his life, even outside of the internet as a fake lawyer. Greg can’t argue his way out of a paper bag with the bottom fallen through and a good half torn out of one side. Not to say Luke’s efforts are winning, but he is really organized, thorough, and knowledgeable about a subject from his perspective, and if he weren’t so distracted by his failing reputation, lol, I mean, he spends his arguments hammering away from himself – he doesn’t just have a hard head, he has a hammer (and I don’t mean an intellectual hammer like soft-headed Greg might think I mean), to swing at anyone who approaches talking him out of his beliefs. I mean a figurative smashy-smashy “I’m not having this” kind of hammer. Nothing is getting in that skull of Luke’s, he’s making sure of it.

        • Aram

          Well said. Though to clarify, my use of the word comes from it meaning ‘lacking wisdom or intelligence.’ Luke may indeed be intelligent (in how he interprets his bubble-view of the world), but he is certainly not wise (being as how he’s, you know, in a bubble).

        • Awwww, you say such nice things in such a beautifully backhanded way! The way you slotted in the following was glorious:

          K: Not to say Luke’s efforts are winning, but he is really organized, thorough, and knowledgeable about a subject from his perspective […]

          + 1 “Go to Hell!” topics

          […] if he weren’t so distracted by his failing reputation, lol […]

          I’m curious: should I just 100% ignore attacks on my reputation, whether implicit or explicit? Here’s our previous exchange on this matter:

          K: Silly fool theist

          LB: Hey, if you’re going to apply the “idiot filter” to what I write, I’m just going to respond to other people. Your nick is unique enough that I can make a gmail filter to send those Disqus notifications immediately to the trash.

          K: You come off as extremely fussy. I have yet to encounter a theist on this blog who want to answer WHAT THEY MEAN BY FAITH. If you want to set yourself apart, answer what you mean by it yourself.

          Let’s juxtapose what seems like a giant-ass contradiction—“from [my] perspective”:

               (1) “knowledgeable about a subject from his perspective”
               (2) “answer what you mean by it yourself”

          On the one hand, you write as if it’s almost surely the case that (1) discredits what I say. On the other hand, you want me to do (2) And yet, how is it not the case that (1) and (2) are talking about the same thing?

          P.S. Here’s why I might appear ‘fussy’. I see a lot of questions aimed at theists from atheists as being of the kind, “Have you stopped beating your wife, yet?” If the theist does anything but question the implicit presuppositions, [s]he has lost already. As to why definitions are important, first there is this empirical research (one prior mention to Bob):

          Proposition 1: Power defines reality    Power concerns itself with defining reality rather than with discovering what reality “really” is. This is the single most important characteristic of the rationality of power, that is, of the strategies and tactics employed by power in relation to rationality. Defining reality by defining rationality is a principle means by which power exerts itself. This is not to imply that power seeks out rationality and knowledge because rationality and knowledge are power. Rather, power defines what counts as rationality and knowledge and thereby what counts as reality. The evidence of the Aalborg case confirms a basic Nietzschean insight: interpretation is not only commentary, as is often the view in academic settings, “interpretation is itself a means of becoming master of something”—in the case master of the Aalborg Project—and “all subduing and becoming master involves a fresh interpretation.”[4] Power does not limit itself, however, to simply defining a given interpretation or view of reality, nor does power entail only the power to render a given reality authoritative. Rather, power defines, and creates, concrete physical, economic, ecological, and social realities. (Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice, 227)

          See, which definition is used can mean everything, just like which axiom you use in a formal system of reasoning can mean everything. And so, I pointed out to Bob that in the DSM I, ‘homosexuality’ was listed under the category “PSYCHONEUROTIC DISORDERS”, while in the DSM IV, it was not mentioned at all. This difference was very, very important to homosexuals. And so I asked this:

          LB: When the DSM I was in force, was it true that “homosexuality is a pathology”?

          BS: Objectively true? I see no objective truth, at least when it comes to morality.

          Contrast this to the following:

          BS: Why? They’re not people.

          LB: Neither were Blacks, according to some Southern slaveholders.

          BS: What argument could this possibly be? People made moral errors in the past, so therefore … what?

          Contradiction? No:

          LB: I think you lose much more than you think by giving up on there being such a thing as “moral knowledge”.

          BS: I don’t. I just say that it’s not objective/​absolute.

          LB: Fair enough; I think I can draw on the bit I read in Robert Nozick’s Invariances to make sense of this.

          And thus we have:

          LB: You are left with morality being defined by society, and that requires you to say that Jesus ought to have been crucified, from the point of view of (i) the Pharisees; (ii) the Romans; (iii) the Jewish mob.

          BS: That’s obviously true. Who would say otherwise?

          The final question is: Was it morally right for society to have executed Jesus?

          Let’s see where our innocent-seeming definitions take us, shall we? Let’s see if I was right to be fussy in principle about words like pistis andpisteuō, by seeing if it’s every right to be fussy.

          I leave the reader with a compare & contrast:

          BS: Yeah, I got evidence. Person: “a man, woman, or child.” Source: Oxford English Dictionary

          LB: In the DSM IV, homosexuality is not considered a pathology. When the DSM I was in force, was it true that “homosexuality is a pathology”? Or do you believe it never was a pathology, and that the authors of the DSM I got it wrong? If you think they got it wrong, then are you appealing to a ‘dictionary’ of sorts which is now 100% correct?

          LB: then are you appealing to a ‘dictionary’ of sorts which is now 100% correct?

          BS: No. Why would you ask such a stupid question?

          +

          LB: I suggest a look at WP: Genocide definitions. Tell me which one you pick, and why.

          BS: No thanks. I’ll just go with Merriam-Webster’s #1: “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.” Are you saying that this isn’t what you use?

          LB: I think you’re naive to think that you can use Merriam-Webster in this way. There is a very, very good reason that there are so many examples at WP: Genocide definitions. See also WP: Genocide § “Intent to destroy”. Actually, the net effect of your insistence on using Merriam-Webster is that you will win the argument via oversimplistic definitions which cannot actually be used to navigate complex, human reality. The Bible deals with complex human reality, not pristine simplifications. Jesus had dirt under his fingernails, and so does the Bible. For more on this, see Peter Enns’ Inspiration and Incarnation.

        • Kodie

          Luke Breuer, you waste thousands and thousands of words. Yes, I still expect you, the believer, to explain what believing means.

          You avoid answering any question that might trap you, but you are already trapped in your ego.

        • MNb

          One big Argumentum ad Otariidam.

          http://wondermark.com/1k62/

          http://simplikation.com/why-sealioning-is-bad/

          Don’t feed the sealion!

        • TheNuszAbides

          and they’re both numb of nut.

        • … ok?

        • TheNuszAbides

          It’s great once you’ve mastered it.

          who told you that?

        • How do you find the time to write so much? Do you have other blogs where you write as much?

        • I do consulting work, am in a transitional phase of life where I need to be background-creative a bunch, and so have temporarily allowed myself to spend more than 1–2 hours commenting/day, since last Friday (7 days ago). I also think that the knowledge and skills and understanding of others I am developing and honing are important. So I make time. Let me tell you why. (or stop reading here)

          I believe that failure to be able to really talk to people who are vastly different from oneself is a huge problem plaguing the US right now. Take, for example, this steaming pile from Neil deGrasse Tyson. It may not seem like a steaming pile, so let me suggest a slight tweak. Pretend that there is a treatment program one can go through to go from being black-skinned to white-skinned. Read Tyson’s words, or watch the video, as if he’s talking about how everyone ought to get the treatment to be white-skinned, and it’s really sad that 7% of National Academy of Sciences members refuse the treatment—”Because that’s not 0%. Yes, it’s low, but it’s not 1% or 0.5% or 0.1%”. (4:15)

          What’s just great is that Tyson tries to give himself an out:

          4:53 I don’t care—I personally don’t care what people wanna believe. This country was founded on religious freedoms. That’s how that happened. What enabled the religious freedoms is that our Constitution makes no mention of God at all, which means nobody’s God reigns supreme over anyone else’s. And there, it is the religious freedom which attracted all these waves of immigrants for so many centuries.

          5:17 I don’t have any issue with what you do in the church. But I’m going to be up in your face if you gonna knock on my science classroom and tell me that I gotta teach what you’re teaching in your Sunday School. ‘Cause that’s when we’re gonna fight.

          This is the old saw about “privatized religion”. So while religious folks have to keep their values in their pants, atheists get to wave theirs around in public†. Among other things, I think it’s important to have really good arguments against stuff like what Tyson spews here. And I think I have them. What will come out of this? Well, maybe some day I can take a buzz saw to stupid shit that Christians say (recall: “I thought God was a vending machine: put worship in, get giftie out. “), and stupid shit that public intellectuals say, so that they at least fight about the right things‡.

          This is part of my answer to your question, because it motivates me. I care deeply about this stuff. Tyson is out there making people like me seem dumb, without someone ever having met me. I think that’s a terrible thing to do to another human being. I will fight him, like this but more pedantically correct. And… I will do other things as well. Like promote Jacques Ellul’s The Subversion of Christianity, which rips a new one in much of Christianity. Or see this wonderfully named book: What’s Wrong with Protestant Theology? Tradition vs. Biblical Emphasis.

          Notes for pedants (I’ve never thought of you as a pedant, Bob):
          † Yes, I am being succinct because this comment is already long. I can probably get as pedantically correct as you’d like, on request.
          ‡ For the pedant: no, I was completely unaware that this could possibly be a contentious statement.

        • Paul B. Lot

          You simply seem to not understand what you’re talking about. 🙁

          Read Tyson’s words, or watch the video, as if he’s talking about how everyone ought to get the treatment to be white-skinned, and it’s really sad that 7% of National Academy of Sciences members refuse the treatment—”Because that’s not 0%. Yes, it’s low, but it’s not 1% or 0.5% or 0.1%”. (4:15)

          vs.

          These are scientists among us, in the National Academy of Sciences who are religious and pray to a personal God—and I know some of them! And you’re fighting the public for religious beliefs!
          Figure that one out first. Because maybe there’s an asymptote. Maybe ya can’t change everybody. Maybe that’s telling us something. Maybe there’s something in the brain wiring that positively prevents some people from everbeing an atheist. And if that’s the case, then in a way they can’t help it—and you’ll never know it, because you’re not one of them. So I ask you first for compassion with the public, but you should target your exercise and your experiments on understanding that number.

        • Huh? You mean Luke misconstrued something? Or just plain misunderstood?

          That’s so weird.

        • You’re being like Clay James right now:

          LB: But why should the materialist care? If we’re all just random, pointless collections of matter, why should the materialist go to great lengths to help a starving child in Africa? What’s the purpose?

          […]

          CJ: Finally, Brandon´s comment should not be offensive and it is a very good question.

          Now, you can’t see it, just like Clay James cannot see it. What you have to do, is actually trust my subjective judgment, that how I receive Neil deGrasse Tyson’s words is how I expect a black person would recieve my suggested modification, which you quote but do not underline.

          You cannot just say the word ‘compassion’, and mean it. Don’t you understand this? You can use all the right (= pedantically correct) words, and yet be 100% dick. Now, you probably cannot understand this if you’ve not been in a severe minority, such that folks can say shit like this and be unchallenged by anyone but you:

          A: But do you ever stop and think, ‘hmmm, why is so much shit flung at me on a constant basis? Is it really because everyone else is messed up…or could it be…oh my…could it…possibly…be me…’

          Suppose that a Christian in the event with Tyson wanted to speak up and challenge his statements as offensive. Do you think that Christian would get air-time? My guess is “No”, that the Christian would get shouted down as being ignorant and/or evil—although perhaps those things would only be insinuated, not stated explicitly. The net message would be the same: the Christian ought to keep the nonconforming bits of him out of sight. Oh, and yes: Tyson doesn’t actually say “out of sight”, he says:

          5:17 I don’t have any issue with what you do in the church. But I’m going to be up in your face if you gonna knock on my science classroom and tell me that I gotta teach what you’re teaching in your Sunday School. ‘Cause that’s when we’re gonna fight.

          Doesn’t seem so bad, does it? Except there’s prejudice steaming out every orifice of his when he says:

          2:39 […] For the following reason: until that number is zero, you’ve got nothing to say to the general public. These are scientists among us, in the National Academy of Sciences who are religious and pray to a personal God—and I know some of them! […]

          There is no way to validly interpret that other than: “We have diseased people among us! They can’t help the disease, but they’re there. I know some of them!” Paul, if you cannot see this, then you are simply blind to a serious level or prejudice. If you deny this, you’re following after the pattern of all the other folks, who are in the majority in the relevant domain, and thus can define away reality—because hey, nobody will listen to the prejudiced-against folks. Convenient how that happens, isn’t it? Not to worry: I am getting better and better at ‘competitive storytelling’, and I will be part of revealing this prejudice, along with the folks at Heterodox Academy (including Jonathan Haidt and Steven Pinker).

        • Paul B. Lot

          What you have to do, is actually trust my subjective judgment, that how I receive Neil deGrasse Tyson’s words is how I expect a black person would receive my suggested modification, which you quote but do not underline.

          I 100% trust that you’re being honest with me about this.

          You cannot just say the word ‘compassion’, and mean it. Don’t you understand this? You can use all the right (= pedantically correct) words, and yet be 100% dick.

          I 100% agree with this.

          Now, you probably cannot understand this if you’ve not been in a severe minority, such that folks can say shit like this and be unchallenged by anyone

          You’re making assumptions about me again; I have been in the minority. I understand what you’re trying to say – I just think you’re reading the situation incorrectly.

          There is no way to validly interpret that other than: “We have diseased people among us! They can’t help the disease, but they’re there. I know some of them!” Paul, if you cannot see this, then you are simply blind to a serious level or prejudice.

          Here’s the crux: the popular (as far as I can tell) general-academic opinion about faith/atheism is basically a that [being religious] = [mental disorder] AND [a choice].

          So Tyson is talking to an audience, which he believes holds those two, contradictory, opinions. (That’s clearer in the longer video which I also shared with you.)

          As an aside, your analogy, “…everyone ought to get the treatment…”, lines up pretty well with what my impression and what I think Tyson’s impression of the general-academic-opinion is. Lots of people in academia think this way: BOTH that religious people are bonkers, but also, and condescendingly, that it’s a choice.

          Tyson is trying to re-align the conversation about faith-in-science to EXAMINE why even some of the top minds in science are believers, instead of just a) pretending they didn’t exist and b) sneering at the general-public condescendingly for being “too stupid” to let go of god.

          TLDR: The question of faith can not be merely a matter of low-IQ; contra the tacit/unspoken assumption, and non-rigorous belief, in much of academia.

          This would’ve been clearer if you’d watched the entirety of the longer video….but I understand that 41m is a long commitment to ask. :

        • You seem to think that:

          PBL: Here’s the crux: the popular (as far as I can tell) general-academic opinion about faith/​atheism is basically a that [being religious] = [mental disorder] AND [a choice].

          is much worse than:

          PBL‘: Here’s the crux: the popular (as far as I can tell) general-academic opinion about faith/​atheism is basically a that [being religious] = [mental disorder] AND [a choice].

          It isn’t. They are both terrible, for neither is supported by the evidence!!! (helpful links: “What’s the scientific consensus on whether religion causes irrationality?”; your a)–d); my request for evidence for the converse) Furthermore, Tyson presumes that education causes a decline in religiosity because religiosity is irrational. He 100% omits the possibility that there is prejudice against religiosity, which functions to:

               (1) disincentivize the religious from becoming educated†
               (2) disincentivize the religious scientists from being noticeable
               (3) stymie career advancement of the religious

          If you want a hard evidence microcosm of this, read Why Are There So Few Christian Anthropologists? Reflections on the Tensions between Christianity and Anthropology. Tyson’s talk excludes (1)–(3) by presupposition, not by anything explicit. However, (1)–(3) are obviously relevant to the talk he gave. When you are a public intellectual, you are responsible for wholeness in your presentation; if you omit important bits which might threaten your entire endeavor, you are culpable. Ignorance is not an excuse. Failure to include it is not an excuse.

          Don’t you see how much wrong there is in Neil deGrasse Tyson’s 7-minute speech? Please tell me you don’t blindly accept Enlightenment mythology, but instead have properly tested it to the best of your ability. For example, if you believe that religion increases the incidence of violence over non-religion, have you tested it against the evidence? For example, one could consult William T. Cavanaugh’s The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict or David Bentley Hart’s Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies. It strikes me that Tyson does none of this. He perpetuates lies and prejudice (and bad philosophy), and doesn’t even seem to know it.

          † N.B. I clearly know many things, but I am not “educated” per Tyson’s definition:

          0:30 What percentage of educated people are religious? The number drops. I’m talking about graduate degrees, here. Of all people with masters and PhDs, the religiosity drops—somewhere around 60%, maybe 65%. The point is that it drops, with education level.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “You seem to think that…is much worse than:”
          Yes, quite. Even more less bad, would be the position that [being religious] = [one of the natural human reactions to that human’s frontier of knowledge/ignorance]…..that’s the position that I *actually* think Tyson espouses.

          The “[mental disorder] + [choice]” characterization is what I am positing Tyson believes is extant in the scientific community, and he is fighting it.

          “Don’t [I, PBL,] see how much wrong [to you, Luke,] there is?”

          Of course I do.

          Look, Luke, I think you’re a much better large, fast, substantive post-maker than am I. On the other hand, I think my mirror neurons are better trained than yours – in particular because I used to be an ID-championing extremely devout Catholic. Behe was mah boi. Now I’m all about dat Feynman, dat Feynman. I have gone through a THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY DEGREE CHANGE* on this in my lifetime. 🙂

          It took a huge amount of work to undo-the cognitive dissonances and shoddy wiring (what I believe was shoddy wiring & dissonance) left over from my indoctrination (education).

          I think you’re being lazy. I think you want to understand Tyson’s words without doing the very, very hard work to imagine what it’s like to be in Tyson’s head here.

          TLDR: Tyson does not conflate causation/correlation – the statistics show a decrease in religiosity wrt education. Tyson points to a list of “unimpeachably brilliant” scientific-minds-who-were-also-religious to make the case that there may very well exist an unacknowledged variable (a natural human tendency) which confounds the general academic community’s correlation/causation-confusing opinion that “[education] causes [atheism]….and those religious guys at the top are just ‘nutters.’ ”

          I don’t think I want to keep going on this topic with you unless I see evidence that you *are* doing that hard work to understand what you’re talking about.

          *180

        • Yes, quite. Even more less bad, would be the position that [being religious] = [one of the natural human reactions to that human’s frontier of knowledge/​ignorance]…..that’s the position that I *actually* think Tyson espouses.

          That’s an interesting phrasing. The following conversation between me and David Hardy over on SN seems possibly relevant—I’ll let you judge:

          LB: I think this is a serious, serious problem, for those who claim that their moral faculties are up to the job of judging God.

          DH: In which case, I equally question anyone who judges God to be good as one who judges God to be bad.

          LB: What are the dynamics of this mode of thinking/​acting?

          DH: Please clarify what you are asking. I am saying those who say we cannot judge the morality of God in regards to evil but then accept our ability to judge that God is morally good are being inconsistent in how they apply this thinking.

          LB: It seems to me that what this requires is that we be very careful when we try to think in the direction of perfection. Jonathan Pearce picks out some problems in his God cannot be perfect because perfect does not make sense. The commandment against idolatry may slot in here perfectly; I go on about it over here.

          There’s a way I can extract something sensible from that view—focusing on the term ‘ignorance’. I claim we need to be very, very careful about how we deal with ignorance. For example, see Dempster-Schafer theory, plus Ignoring Ignorance is Ignorant. Older Christian theology constantly emphasized that God is much, much, much ‘bigger’ than we, ‘different’ than we, ‘more‘ than we are. That has been lost in a bunch of places, but it does survive in pockets. One consequence of this style of thinking is that one is very careful about making claims past your proper knowledge base. I am told that one of the bleeding edge topics in the philosophy of science is the ‘extrapolation problem’, with the charge perhaps led by Nancy Cartwright. This is the dual of her focus on Ceteris Paribus Laws, which can be seen in her How the Laws of Physics Lie.

          Furthermore, we can view Fitch’s Paradox of Knowability as restoring a participatory view of truth, since unless you want to shed one of the axioms, logic dictates that “all knowable truths are known”. If knowledge can only ever be transmitted from ‘knower’ to ‘not-yet-knower’, then we either have a finite upper bound, or there is an infinite being. 🙂

          The “[mental disorder] + [choice]” characterization is what I am positing Tyson believes is extant in the scientific community, and he is fighting it.

          I understand.

          On the other hand, I think my mirror neurons are better trained than yours – in particular because I used to be an ID-championing extremely devout Catholic. Behe was mah boi.

          I started as a young earth creationist. Not only have I read Behe’s book, but my father had him over to my house for dinner when I was in my teens. So nanny nanny boo boo!

          Now I’m all about dat Feynman, dat Feynman.

          He had some excellent things to say and do; his “What I cannot create, I do not understand.” is the first of three quotes on my website. His attitude toward philosophy was atrocious though; de Broglie, Bohm and Einstein were much better there. Karl Popper called Einstein “Parmenides”, and Einstein can be legitimately called a ‘philosopher’.

          I think you’re being lazy. I think you want to understand Tyson’s words without doing the very, very hard work to imagine what it’s like to be in Tyson’s head here.

          You might be right, but I’m not seeing it. My conversation with you and Bob should help you see more and more of why I think what I do, and give you more and more opportunities to point out the flaws in my thinking, if they exist and are significant in this domain.

          TLDR: Tyson does not conflate causation/correlation – the statistics show a decrease in religiosity wrt education.

          Really? Tyson only thinks that the truth-oriented aspects of education are correlated with a decrease in religiosity, and not causal factors? I don’t believe it. I am almost certain that Tyson thinks that it is the truth-oriented aspects which are causal factors in decline of religiosity. He has conflated correlation with causation; a very probable explanation is that he has uncritically swallowed Enlightenment mythology.

          Tyson points to a list of “unimpeachably brilliant” scientific-minds-who-were-also-religious to make the case that there may very well exist an unacknowledged variable (a natural human tendency) which confounds the general academic community’s correlation/causation-confusing opinion that “[education] causes [atheism]….and those religious guys at the top are just ‘nutters.’ “

          Oh give me a break. He sees religious scientists as unfortunate beings whom can be tolerated. And this is how the scientist’s religiousity will be viewed:

          a: This could be your “underdeveloped critical/​rational skills”, but she still has critical/​rational skills, she just doesnt use them for her religious views, they are highly compartmentalized.

          I argued this kind of explanation would be provided: “Well that’s ok, rationalizations are available: (i) cognitive dissonance; (ii) compartmentalization.”

          I don’t think I want to keep going on this topic with you unless I see evidence that you *are* doing that hard work to understand what you’re talking about.

          Here, we are disagreeing on how much work the other is doing understanding someone else’s views. Perhaps we will have to end the conversation at this disagreement.

        • P.S. His compassion is targeted toward the public, not the religious scientists. It’s not at all clear that he has compassion for religious scientists.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “It’s not at all clear that he has compassion for religious scientists.”

          He has the compassion to want to not sweep their faith under the rug. He wants to stop treating them as-if-they-were-failing to be good intellectual examples.

          In the longer video I originally linked, you can clearly see the reverence that Tyson has for man super-religious scientists.

          I have little doubt that many religious scientists are sick of their faith being a taboo subject/dirty secret.

          (No doubt many also just don’t care to mix the two aspects of their lives.)

        • He has the compassion to want to not sweep their faith under the rug. He wants to stop treating them as-if-they-were-failing to be good intellectual examples.

          You seem to think that scientists-who-are-Christian would be happier for atheists to think of them as having incurable mental disorders. Have you tested this against the evidence? Have you asked any scientists-who-are-Christian whether they think this ‘compassion’ is true ‘compassion’, vs. nice things Neil deGrasse Tyson and other believers in Enlightenment mythology tell themselves in lieu of investigating the empirical evidence?

          In the longer video I originally linked, you can clearly see the reverence that Tyson has for man super-religious scientists.

          I don’t see how that would possibly matter. We admire John Nash (e.g. A Beautiful Mind), but we don’t want his paranoid schizophrenia. We think he would be better without his paranoid schizophrenia. This is how folks will treat scientists-who-are-Christian: they would be better without their disease/​mental disorder religion.

          I have little doubt that many religious scientists are sick of their faith being a taboo subject/​dirty secret.

          Just like homosexuals were happy to be out of the closet and yet thought of as deviants?

        • Paul B. Lot

          1) I understand your frustration at the marginalization you’re describing – I used to be a believer too.
          2) I think you’re misunderstanding this situation. In particular I think you’re misunderstanding how much worse it is to know people think XYZ about when they won’t say it to your face vs. when they respect you enough to do so.
          3)

          I have little doubt that many religious scientists are sick of their faith being a taboo subject/​dirty secret.

          Just like homosexuals were happy to be out of the closet and yet thought of as deviants?

          I’m not sure this analogy is apt: in particular, if we grant the premise that “society has stopped treating homosexuality as a “taboo/dirty secret”, ie. it now has no problem with people being “out” and “proud” with their sexual orientation, I don’t think it makes sense to characterize the culture-to-subculture relationship: “yet though of as deviants”.

        • 1) How were you marginalized? AFAIK, believers of the more orthodox sort are mostly marginalized (i) in certain places online; (ii) in academia.

          2) I’ve had people say that I’m a worthless human being who should be reshaped into others’ image or die, for a huge portion of my life. No, this is not better. That’s like saying that explicit sexism is better than implicit sexism. Nobody believes this about sexism, at least that I know of.

          3) You missed the obvious error: homosexuals were not happy to merely be ‘tolerated’ after they had ‘come out’. They did not want to be thought of as ‘deviants’. They worked very carefully to change this. They were wildly successful. They got so drunk on their success that they fell for Michael LaCour’s fabricated data.

          4) Another thing which is profoundly strategic—I doubt deGrasse Tyson was conscious of doing it—was to flip Christianity from being a “religion of freedom” to being a “religion of slavery”. No longer is it that truth = Jesus and the truth shall set you free. No, no, no. If you think truth = Jesus, the ‘truth’ will enslave you. But the slavery might be at the neurological level, so you might be off the hook. You’ll be like how people think of mentally disabled people. You’ll be defective, but only in the “[s]he couldn’t help it” category. Therefore, you will get pity. I’m sure people just adore getting pity like this.

        • Paul B. Lot

          1) I am not going to discuss it with you. Not now, anyway. If you don’t want to believe me, that’s fine. Consider it withdrawn.

          2) “worthless human being who should be reshaped into others’ image or die” <– This is no-bueno. They get negative points.

          3) “You missed the obvious error: homosexuals were nothappy to merely be ‘tolerated’ after they had ‘come out’.” Nah, bruh. I know plenty that are. But I, like I imagine they, consider equal-rights a vital part of ‘tolerance.’
          “They did not want to be thought of as ‘deviants’.” If the culture accepts them and their ‘non’ standard-ness, then I don’t think the word “deviant” is apt. At least, not with the negative-connotations you seem to be using it with.

          4) “Jesus” is not the only form of religiosity out there. Tyson’s view apply just as much to Muslims/Hindus/Jews/etc… So I’ll trouble you to get off you “Christianophobia” horse here.
          “Therefore, you will get pity. I’m sure people just adore getting pity like this.”

          He advocated compassion (pity, if you like) for the general public. Academics/intellectuals/scientists feel “pity” for the public on a huge range of issues, feeling bad for them about their religiosity is no different.

          WRT to scientists, Tyson advocates trying to systematically understand, not “pitying”, those who are at the top-of-their-fields-AND-religious.

          I don’t think you can make a case that Tyson feels undue condescension for religious people as-a-whole when you can hear the reverence in his voice when he talks about I. Newton.

          Finally, as I said in my other post to you on this Tyson thread, I think I’ve about shot my bolt here. If you don’t care to do (what I see as) the necessary work to understand what I’m talking about, that’s fine: but I won’t do any more work to correct it either.

        • 4) “Jesus” is not the only form of religiosity out there. Tyson’s view apply just as much to Muslims/​Hindus/​Jews/​etc… So I’ll trouble you to get off you “Christianophobia” horse here.

          “We’re not persecuting just you, so you cannot say that we’re persecuting you!”

          He advocated compassion (pity, if you like) for the general public.

          What he means by ‘compassion’ is not what I understand as ‘compassion’. I think his is a simulacrum. Also, to your “general public”:

          BS: He’s saying that atheists should stop hassling ordinary Christians until we have a message that’s so clear that the scientists are all atheists.

          LB: Yep. And what effect will this have on scientists’ treatment of scientists-who-are-Christian? My wife is a scientist and a Christian. I have a vested interest in whether prejudice against her is being stoked by a public intellectual. Not only that, but a scientist who has given evidence of being stupid about science outside his narrow field (in an un-transcribed bit, he indicates that all [empirically valid] QM interpretations† are indeterministic; this is false).

          † He may just say “QM is indeterministic”, which expands out to what I said.

          WRT to scientists, Tyson advocates trying to systematically understand, not “pitying”, those who are at the top-of-their-fields-AND-religious.

          Tyson is a smart guy. If he were truly, truly “trying to systematically understand“, he would give evidence of knowing about work like Elaine Ecklund’s Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think. No, I think a much better explanation is that he wants to stamp out Christianity among scientists (especially elite scientists), and he only wants as much understanding as it will take to accomplish that goal.

          I don’t think you can make a case that Tyson feels undue condescension for religious people as-a-whole when you can hear the reverence in his voice when he talks about I. Newton.

          Sorry, in my experience, the go-to argument for many atheists these days is to treat Isaac Newton’s religion as an unfortunate barnacle required so that he wouldn’t be persecuted. There is no respect for the religious aspect of Newton from atheists, as far as I seen.

          Finally, as I said in my other post to you on this Tyson thread, I think I’ve about shot my bolt here. If you don’t care to do (what I see as) the necessary work to understand what I’m talking about, that’s fine: but I won’t do any more work to correct it either.

          It is curious that you think I am not trying to understand your point of view. I am. But I do not do it like you. Why? Because we approach reality differently. Is that bad? Well, that depends on whether you think all other people ought to be remade in your own image. If you don’t, perhaps you will just accept that some people go about truth-seeking and mutual-understanding in ways differently from you, and that’s ok.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          So your basic claim is that Tyson is a liar. Interesting.

        • No. Lying requires knowledge of the truth and intent to deceive. I have not imputed this to Tyson.

          That you would impute that view—“So your basic claim is that Tyson is a liar. Interesting.”—to me, constitutes character assassination. Because only a dick would think that of Tyson on the available evidence. Only a dick would plausibly think that. And so:

          + 1 “Go to Hell!” topics

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          You claim Tyson is highly intelligent, but merely faking his compassion, and that he is also being disingenuous about his motives, since you describe what you think he should have done, given those motives.

          You claim is faking compassion, and imply he is concealing his motives.

          That is accusing him of lying. I fail how to see how those claims on your part can be otherwise interpreted

        • You claim Tyson is highly intelligent, but merely faking his compassion […]

          Wrong again:

          LB‘: No. Lying Faking requires knowledge of the truth and intent to deceive. I have not imputed this to Tyson.

          You claim is faking compassion, and imply he is concealing his motives.

          Also false.

          That is accusing him of lying. I fail how to see how those claims on your part can be otherwise interpreted

          You clearly fail at basic logic. Or, you don’t realize that the way you view reality might have problems here and there, and that your interlocutor might see it better than you, here or there. Whatever it is, you’ve failed twice. Care to try for a third?

        • TheNuszAbides

          There is no respect for the religious aspect of Newton from atheists

          why on Earth should there be? who respects the alchemical aspect of Newton? the point (not sure i believe you actually missed it) is that his religious bent in no way disqualifies his monumental scientific progress* from the esteem of people you are hysterically painting as would-be-scientific-Christian-Holocaust-ifiers.

          *progress which nobody is at all likely to prove required any belief in monotheism to come about.

        • adam

          ” I don’t think it makes sense to characterize the culture-to-subculture relationship: “yet though of as deviants”.”

          Of course those who rationalize genocide, murder and torture as “good’ are deviants.

          It is a self destructive behavior:

        • Take, for example, this steaming pile from Neil deGrasse Tyson.

          Give me just the paragraph where he says something egregious.

          So while religious folks have to keep their values in their pants, atheists get to wave theirs around in public

          Not what I believe, and I’m almost certain not what Dr. T believes.

          (recall: “I thought God was a vending machine: put worship in, get giftie out. “)

          I do recall. And that is indeed what the Bible says.

          I will do other things as well. Like promote Jacques Ellul’s The Subversion of Christianity, which rips a new one in much of Christianity. Or see this wonderfully named book: What’s Wrong with Protestant Theology? Tradition vs. Biblical Emphasis.

          I won’t be reading them. Very brief summary?

        • Give me just the paragraph where he says something egregious.

          I just explained to Paul B. Lot; skip to “2:39” if you want.

          Not what I believe, and I’m almost certain not what Dr. T believes.

          I don’t think you realize how much power one has, when one gets to control the education of the young. For example: Hitler Youth. (No, neither the US nor the West is anywhere near that bad.) You can teach values implicitly instead of explicitly. For example, you can add all sorts of little philosophical claims as you’re teaching the theory of evolution, such that it all seems like science. These ‘philosophical barnacles’ set up a worldview of a certain type, of a type antithetical to Christianity. Most Christians don’t seem to know this explicitly, but they fight because they know something is wrong. I actually know some of the details, and can explain them if you’d like.

          Tyson may not explicitly believe that, and I did not claim that he believes it. Instead, all he has to do is support a system which naturally leads in that direction. That is, as far as I can tell, precisely what he’s doing. First and foremost, he has to discredit religion among scientists, and his presentation does a fantastic job of it. It almost presupposes that “religion is dumb”, in a fundamentalist way per this technical definition:

          Resistances to pluralism have been conventionally subsumed under the category of “fundamentalism.” I am uneasy about this term; it comes from a particular episode in the history of American Protestantism and is awkward when applied to other religious traditions (such as Islam). I will use it, because it has attained such wide currency, but I will define it more sharply: fundamentalism is any project to restore taken-for-grantedness in the individual’s consciousness and therefore, necessarily, in his or her social and/or political environment. Such a project can have both religious and secular forms; the former concerns us here. (The New Sociology of Knowledge, 41)

          I do recall. And that is indeed what the Bible says.

          False. The Bible has the restriction “in my name”, and it is an important one. If you want to pursue this discussion:

          LB: That’s a curious restriction: “in my name”. What do you think it means?

          Yes, you want me to tell you. But no, I want to expose some of your theological beliefs, and God knows you’re trying to expose plenty of mine, so I think fair’s fair.

          I won’t be reading them. Very brief summary?

          Much of Ellul’s book can be seen as taking Mt 20:20–28 and Jn 13:1–20 seriously. Excerpt:

              How truly intolerable, then, is a message, and even more so a life, that centers on weakness. Not sacrifice on behalf of a cause that one wants to bring to success, but in all truth love for nothing, faith for nothing, giving for nothing, service for nothing. Putting others above oneself. In all things seeking the interests of others. When dragged before the courts, not attempting any defense but leaving it to the Holy Spirit. The renunciation of power is infinitely broader and harder than nonviolence (which it includes). For nonviolence allows of a social theory, and in general it has an objective. The same is not true of non power. Thus the revelation of X cannot but repel fundamentally people of all ages and all cultures. (The Subversion of Christianity, 166)

          Ruthven’s book can be seen as eschewing a Protestantized version of the Not in Heaven doctrine, which basically says that God will never act in reality in a way that can be discerned as adding any new propositional content to human knowledge. This is a stronger claim than “canon is closed”; it says that while God might lurv us very much, he really has nothing more to say to us until heaven. Such a stance is very convenient; it makes Christianity nigh unfalsifiable on the divine action front. You see, any divine action has already happened, so e.g. if it futzed with the laws of nature (e.g. Jesus’ death and resurrection), the laws are now the new ones, and we cannot probe the change in any way other than examining historical documents like a biblical scholar would do.

        • I just explained to Paul B. Lot; skip to “2:39” if you want.

          And? I didn’t find Tyson’s comments very clear, so your

          There is no way to validly interpret that other than: “We have diseased people among us! They can’t help the disease, but they’re there. I know some of them!”

          is unconvincing. But going down your path, I don’t see the problem. He’s saying that atheists should stop hassling ordinary Christians until we have a message that’s so clear that the scientists are all atheists. There is indeed a meme out there that infects lots of people, you included.

          Bottom line: your hysteria about Tyson’s speech seems misplaced.

          I don’t think you realize how much power one has, when one gets to control the education of the young.

          You’re making that argument to the wrong guy. I’ve written a post making clear that Christianity relies on indoctrination of children. If Christianity were an adults-only thing like voting or driving, it would be gone in a few generations (remember the Shakers?). And what does that tell you about the validity of Christian belief if you must indoctrinate children for it to stick?

          you can add all sorts of little philosophical claims as you’re teaching the theory of evolution, such that it all seems like science.

          Do you reject evolution?

          These ‘philosophical barnacles’ set up a worldview of a certain type, of a type antithetical to Christianity.

          Top of my head: tough shit for Christianity. If it has a hard time coexisting with reality, I’m the last person to care.

          But then I don’t know what barnacles you’re talking about. Are these false ideas? Or simply ideas that are inconvenient for Christianity?

          False. The Bible has the restriction “in my name”, and it is an important one.

          Uh, yeah. So when you pray in the name of Jesus, do you get what you want? Does prayer “work” like the electricity in your home “works”? Or is there a completely different definition of “works” that you must invent to try to give prayer some respectability?

          When dragged before the courts, not attempting any defense but leaving it to the Holy Spirit.

          That would be an impressive and naïve trust in the Holy Spirit. But who does that?

          This is a stronger claim than “canon is closed”; it says that while God might lurv us very much, he really has nothing more to say to us until heaven. Such a stance is very convenient; it makes Christianity nigh unfalsifiable on the divine action front.

          And smart people will still embrace an unfalsifiable, evidence-less, incredible supernatural belief in the 21st century. Fascinating.

        • He’s saying that atheists should stop hassling ordinary Christians until we have a message that’s so clear that the scientists are all atheists.

          Yep. And what effect will this have on scientists’ treatment of scientists-who-are-Christian? My wife is a scientist and a Christian. I have a vested interest in whether prejudice against her is being stoked by a public intellectual. Not only that, but a scientist who has given evidence of being stupid about science outside his narrow field (in an un-transcribed bit, he indicates that all [empirically valid] QM interpretations† are indeterministic; this is false).

          † He may just say “QM is indeterministic”, which expands out to what I said.

          And what does that tell you about the validity of Christian belief if you must indoctrinate children for it to stick?

          This is false, because there are adult converts. Instead, it is likely true that whatever child learns, while young, is incredibly influential and hard to change.

          Do you reject evolution?

          I accept the empirical aspect; I reject the philosophy that is invalidly attached, or at best, attached in the style of Underdetermination of Scientific Theory.

          Top of my head: tough shit for Christianity. If it has a hard time coexisting with reality, I’m the last person to care.

          I have no idea what you mean by “reality”; I’m guessing you mean truth, but I’m talking about prejudice and bias in science which is based on Enlightenment mythology and not “the evidence”.

          But then I don’t know what barnacles you’re talking about. Are these false ideas? Or simply ideas that are inconvenient for Christianity?

          Ideas which are not the only plausible interpretation given extant evidence and extant theory. The problem is when scientists wildly extrapolate past the evidence and treat the result of that extrapolation as if it is a genuine, bona fide product of ‘science’.

          So when you pray in the name of Jesus, do you get what you want?

          Can the ambassador of a country act and say whatever he feels like saying, while speaking in the name of that country?

          When dragged before the courts, not attempting any defense but leaving it to the Holy Spirit.

          That would be an impressive and naïve trust in the Holy Spirit. But who does that?

          Well, it depends on what “attempting any defense” means. If one sees Paul as doing whatever it is being described in Acts 13–14, that would pick out one interpretation which the NT says was done in the past. As to how often it is done now? Well, look at persecution of missionaries in the world. I’m not up on these data.

          And smart people will still embrace an unfalsifiable, evidence-less, incredible supernatural belief in the 21st century. Fascinating.

          Yep; Tyson’s apparent acceptance of Enlightenment mythology shows that you are quite right.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          Please list specific barnacles.

        • Here’s a big one. Whether it’s a ‘philosophical’ or ‘mathematical’ barnacle is up for debate, although the two are closely connected, since they both depend (≠ supervene) on thinking in the realm of the a priori:

          1. randomness + natural selection are known to be sufficient to account for what we see, today

          Theoretical biologist Robert Rosen gives some of the reasoning for why one would want to reject such a thing:

              Indeed, in mathematics, set-ness is such a basic and familiar notion that it took two thousand years for it to be recognized explicitly; even then, it took a strange mind (as contemporaries reported Cantor was) to see it and to deal with it. Once it was pointed out, and its central role in mathematical thought made explicit, then everyone saw it. Indeed, within a generation, and in the teeth of paradoxes it had already spawned, David Hilbert was saying, “From the paradise created for us by Cantor, let no man drive us forth.”    The notion of system-hood is at that same level of generality and places the same kind of role in our management of the ambience. As noted, it segregates things that “belong together” from those that do not, at least from the subjective perspective of a specific self, a specific observer. These things that belong together, and whatever else depends on them alone, are segregated into a single bag called system; whatever lies outside, like the complement of a set, constitutes environment.    The partition of ambience into system and environment, and even more, the imputation of that partition to the ambience itself as an inherent property thereof, is a basic although fateful step for science. For once the distinction is made, attention focuses on system. Systems and environment are thenceforth perceived in entirely different ways, represented and described in fundamentally different terms. To anticipate somewhat, system gets described by states, which are determined by observation; environment is characterized rather by its effects on system. Indeed, it is precisely at this point that, as we shall see, fundamental trouble begins to creep in; already here.    The growth of science, as a tool for dealing with the ambience, can be seen as a search for special classes of systems into which the ambience may be partitioned, such that (1) the systems in the special class are more directly apprehensible than others, and (2) everything in the ambience, any other way of partitioning it into systems, is generated by, or reducible to, what happens in that fundamental class. Newtonian mechanics, for instance, thought it had found such a class; so, today, does quantum theory. But it is above all, a special class, embodying an equally special way of coping with the system-environment dualism itself. Whether this is enough is, at root, the basic question. (Life Itself, 42)

          One may wish to combine this with Ceteris Paribus Laws; for further reading, see Nancy Cartwright’s How the Laws of Physics Lie and Nancy Cartwright’s Philosophy of Science.

        • And what effect will this have on scientists’ treatment of scientists-who-are-Christian?

          Are you not paying attention? He imagines a situation when atheism is so compelling that the people who understand how evidence, etc. works (scientists) are convinced. There won’t be Christian scientists.

          I have a vested interest in whether prejudice against her is being stoked by a public intellectual.

          Show me that Tyson does this.

          This is false, because there are adult converts.

          Don’t think much before you click “Post,” do you?

          Christianity would die within a few generations without childhood indoctrination. Yes, there are adult converts; no, their influx isn’t enough to keep Christianity afloat.

          “Do you reject evolution?”

          I accept the empirical aspect; I reject the philosophy that is invalidly attached, or at best, attached in the style of Underdetermination of Scientific Theory.

          What is this supposed to mean? You’re saying that there is too little information for you as a layman to decide if you should embrace evolution or not?

          It’s the scientific consensus.

          I have no idea what you mean by “reality”; I’m guessing you mean truth

          “Truth” is hard to find. What I’m convinced is true might not be.

          I’m talking about prejudice and bias in science which is based on Enlightenment mythology and not “the evidence”.

          What is this prejudice? Does it apply w/r evolution?

          Are you an evolution denier or not?

          The problem is when scientists wildly extrapolate past the evidence and treat the result of that extrapolation as if it is a genuine, bona fide product of ‘science’.

          Examples?

          “So when you pray in the name of Jesus, do you get what you want?”

          Can the ambassador of a country act and say whatever he feels like saying, while speaking in the name of that country?

          I have no idea how this is relevant.

          I assume you’re admitting that the Bible is wrong when it says that God answers prayer (with whatever caveat is appropriate—using the name of Jesus, having 2 or more people, praying for a healing, etc.).

          LB: When dragged before the courts, not attempting any defense but leaving it to the Holy Spirit.

          BS: That would be an impressive and naïve trust in the Holy Spirit. But who does that?

          LB: Well, it depends on what “attempting any defense” means. If one sees Paul as doing whatever it is being described inActs 13–14, that would pick out one interpretation which the NT says was done in the past. As to how often it is done now? Well, look at persecution of missionaries in the world. I’m not up on these data.

          Yet again, I have no idea how this addresses my question.

        • Are you not paying attention? He imagines a situation when atheism is so compelling that the people who understand who evidence, etc. works (scientists) are convinced. There won’t be Christian scientists.

          Yes, nobody pay attention to the in-between time, where you get:

          LB:”Too many Jews, not enough ovens.”

          Oops, I mean:

          “Too many Christians, not enough lions.”

          Where is this? In academia. But hey, why don’t we skip the time of persecution? Yeah, that’d be great! Kind of like skipping the bit about eliminating all the Jews, except you know, so much better, because ‘religion’ couldn’t possibly be constitutive of identity. (As I said there: compare to a Babylon 5 mindwipe.)

          : I have a vested interest in whether prejudice against her is being stoked by a public intellectual.

          BS: Show me that Tyson does this.

          Can all prejudice be tracked in the way you are asking me to track it? Furthermore, this sounds like one of those things where if you have a woman around she can point out how something is obviously sexist, while the men all think it’s just dandy and the woman is seeing thing.

          Christianity would die within a few generations without childhood indoctrination.

          Indoctrination? (Also: I reject your claim [edit: as you presented it] without proper evidence/​reasoning.)

          BS: Do you reject evolution?

          LB: I accept the empirical aspect; I reject the philosophy that is invalidly attached, or at best, attached in the style of Underdetermination of Scientific Theory.

          BS: What is this supposed to mean? You’re saying that there is too little information for you as a layman to decide if you should embrace evolution or not?

          I’ve started the list:

          LB: 1. randomness + natural selection are known to be sufficient to account for what we see, today

          You can go there for the reasoning, and I can expand on it.

          Examples?

          Tyson claiming that QM is indeterministic. He made a claim about ontology when that simply isn’t valid. From quantum physicist-turned-philosopher Bernard d’Espagnat:

              In order to properly understand the nature of this argument, let us first derive from what has been recalled above the obvious lesson that (as already repeatedly noted) quantum mechanics is an essentially predictive, rather than descriptive, theory. What, in it, is truly robust is in no way its ontology, which, on the contrary, is either shaky or nonexistent. (On Physics and Philosophy, 148)

          I’ll have to think of other examples. My wife has talked about stuff that has shown up as extrapolation in “discussion” sections of paper, which has then gone on to be treated as Gospel Truth when it just wasn’t. Oh, the first philosophical barnacle, above (“1. randomness + natural selection…”) is probably the best example. More examples can be found in the books by two Nobel laureates: Robert B. Laughlin’s A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down and Ilya Prigogine’s The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature.

          I have no idea how this is relevant.

          I was explaining how “in the name of Jesus” probably functions.

          I assume you’re admitting that the Bible is wrong when it says that God answers prayer (with whatever caveat is appropriate—using the name of Jesus, having 2 or more people, praying for a healing, etc.).

          Nope. I am rejecting prayer as a magical incantation that always works (like Harry Potter magic). That’s because such a model of prayer does not involve ‘cooperate causation’; it would be a unilateral action by a single agent. There’s no ‘relationship’ in that. Go back to the manipulative vs. non-manipulative social relations from (mentions: #1, #2): if prayer is just magic-technology, it cannot be part of a non-manipulative social relation.

          Yet again, I have no idea how this addresses my question.

          Then perhaps I didn’t understand your question, and perhaps you need to flesh it out more. Or you could let that tangent die.

        • Yes, nobody pay attention to the in-between time, where you get:

          LB:

          “Too many Jews, not enough ovens.”

          Oops, I mean:

          “Too many Christians, not enough lions.”

          Huh? Where does Tyson say this? I scanned your transcript and couldn’t find it.

          If you could try to be as clear as possible, that would help.

          LB: I have a vested interest in whether prejudice against her is being stoked by a public intellectual.

          BS: Show me that Tyson does this.

          Can all prejudice be tracked in the way you are asking me to track it?

          I’m saying that if you get huffy about attacks that aren’t vague but hit close to home, there had better be something to the claim.

          If Tyson isn’t guilty of what you’re charging him with, don’t muddy the waters by bringing up these tangential concerns.

          Christianity would die within a few generations without childhood indoctrination.

          Indoctrination? (Also: I reject your claim [edit: as you presented it] without proper evidence/reasoning.)

          Tap dancing? Your tell is when you demand evidence, Poker Face. This issue is getting a little hot so, instead of facing it squarely, you change the subject somehow. I wish you wouldn’t.

          Here’s your evidence. Yes, adults convert into Christianity. More convert out. Seen most generously, 65 million people in all religions will have switched in by 2050, when there will be 8.1 billion believers. That’s less than one percent.

          http://www.pewforum.org/files/2015/04/PF_15.04.02_ProjectionsOverview_religiousSwitching_640px.png

          I’ve started the list:

          LB: 1. randomness + natural selection are known to be sufficient to account for what we see, today

          So you’re not an evolution denier?

          Tyson claiming that QM is indeterministic.

          And isn’t it, under the Copenhagen interpretation?

          the first philosophical barnacle, above (“1. randomness + natural selection…”) is probably the best example

          of what? You’re saying that evolution is more complex than this simple statement? That is true, but this natural explanation for life remains sufficient. No God required.

          I am rejecting prayer as a magical incantation that always works (like Harry Potter magic).

          I do, too. You need to have a talk with Jesus, though. He’s confused about it.

          Then perhaps I didn’t understand your question, and perhaps you need to flesh it out more.

          You quoted Ellul, “When dragged before the [legal] courts, not attempting any defense but leaving it to the Holy Spirit.” And I observed that no one does this. (Or in the very, very rare cases when someone does actually trust in God over common sense, like praying for sick children, it never goes their way.)

        • LB: Yes, nobody pay attention to the in-between time, where you get:

          LB:”Too many Jews, not enough ovens.”

          Oops, I mean:

          “Too many Christians, not enough lions.”

          BS: Huh? Where does Tyson say this? I scanned your transcript and couldn’t find it.

          If you could try to be as clear as possible, that would help.

          You didn’t click the link to the post which sets the context. See the LB, above. I make all these links so that it’s incredibly easy for you to go to the context. Please actually take advantage of that, rather than act as if I’m not truly being really fucking clear.

          I’m saying that if you get huffy about attacks that aren’t vague but hit close to home, there had better be something to the claim.

          Let’s see what you have to say about the “Too many Christians, not enough lions.”, after you’ve seen it set in context.

          If Tyson isn’t guilty of what you’re charging him with, don’t muddy the waters by bringing up these tangential concerns.

          Can every instance of racism or sexism, in isolation, be seen as “that bad”? If your answer is “no”, then please integrate this into your objection to my failure to give you a peer-reviewed paper on how Tyson does what I claim (yes, I’m exaggerating, but not too much, I think—sadly).

          Tap dancing? Your tell is when you demand evidence, Poker Face. This issue is getting a little hot so, instead of facing it squarely, you change the subject somehow. I wish you wouldn’t.

          Holy shit. Theist asks atheist for evidence of empirical claim. Atheist says he’s tapdancing for asking.

          Here’s your evidence.

          That’s neat evidence, but it doesn’t necessarily imply the following:

          BS: Christianity would die within a few generations without childhood indoctrination.

          Try again, if you’d like. Oh, and: “If you could try to be as clear as possible, that would help.”

          So you’re not an evolution denier?

          I’m pretty sure I’ve both explicitly and implicitly said this to you, at this point. Three days ago:

          LB: I used to be a young earth creationist. Through discussion on the internet with atheists, I slowly moved to OEC, then ID, and finally to evolution—although I reject the philosophical barnacles which are often attached to the science of evolution. Is this good enough evidence for you?

          BS: Then bravo for changing your mind.

          How about not revisiting shit where I’ve been “as clear as possible”?

          And isn’t it, under the Copenhagen interpretation?

          Do you understand the import of the word ‘interpretation’, when it comes to the phrase interpretations of quantum mechanics? Here, I will help you by providing a snippet from physicist David Bohm, who probably should have gotten a Nobel Prize for the Aharonov–Bohm effect:

              The assumption that any particular kind of fluctuations are arbitrary and lawless relative to all possible contexts, like the similar assumption that there exists an absolute and final determinate law, is therefore evidently not capable of being based on any experimental or theoretical developments arising out of specific scientific problems, but it is instead a purely philosophical assumption. (Causality and Chance in Modern Physics, 44)

          Make sense?

          You’re saying that evolution is more complex than this simple statement?

          No. Try reading the excerpt I provided from theoretical biologist Robert Rosen’s Life Itself.

          No God required.

          Cut it with the straw men. They’re obnoxious and slow down the conversation. Aren’t you already pissed that the conversation is running slowly?

          I do, too. You need to have a talk with Jesus, though. He’s confused about it.

          The middle is not excluded.

          You quoted Ellul, “When dragged before the [legal] courts, not attempting any defense but leaving it to the Holy Spirit.” And I observed that no one does this.

          I have no reason to believe you can possibly know this with any reasonable confidence.

        • TheNuszAbides

          when scientists wildly extrapolate past the evidence and treat the result of that extrapolation as if it is a genuine, bona fide product of ‘science’.

          Examples?

          off the top of my head, e.g., evolutionary psychology gets pushback for positing things like ‘modules’ theoretically and then extrapolating further, given modules. some ‘hard’ scientists pooh-pooh evopsych as an entire branch. whether any of this is done ‘wildly’, i restrain myself mightily to suspend judgment.

        • Greg G.

          When dragged before the courts, not attempting any defense but leaving it to the Holy Spirit.

          That would be an impressive and naïve trust in the Holy Spirit. But who does that?

          Holy Spirit, Attorney-at-law

        • adam

          “Bottom line: your hysteria about Tyson’s speech seems misplaced.”

          Hysteria is his calling card.

        • MNb

          “all he has to do is support a system which naturally leads in that direction.”
          Evidence that there actually is such a system?
          Evidence that Tyson actually does support such a system?
          Oh, forget it. You already have made clear that you are either stupid or dishonest, so nobody should give a f**k anyway. You’re a worse waste of time than the worst creationist.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          What barnacles? Be specific.

        • Andre B

          Tyson is out there making people like me seem dumb, without someone ever having met me. I think that’s a terrible thing to do to another human being.

          Agreed. It’s a shameful thing to deprive somebody of their natural right to make themselves seem dumb.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Oooph.

          That’s cold, Luke.

        • You took that as a sleight? Or have I completely misinterpreted? I had basically one word to go off of, so…

        • Paul B. Lot

          I mean…you responded to [someone else discussing one’s “right to make themselves seem dumb”] with a link to [your criticism of @BobSeidensticker:disqus and me as theologically-wrangling-Enlightenment-myth-believers]….with nothing more than the words “True that.”

          If, out of all the possible interpretations of your reply available to a reader, I chose one which did not match your intentions: my apologies.

          In any case, I didn’t find it a particularly heinous sleight, if a sleight it was.

          My comment was made in this spirit:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APgrUnNQPQw

        • Ahh. See, another interpretation was that while others subconsciously/​unconsciously act in nasty ways, I consciously do so, and thus am the most evil one of them all.

        • Kodie

          You flatter yourself way too much.

        • MNb

          “failure to be able to really talk”
          Could you define “really talk”.?
          Because in my view what you do is not “really talk” – it’s a big Argumentum ad Otariidam. But I suppose you will disagree (or you wouldn’t do it), hence my request.

        • adam

          “Pretend that there is a treatment program one can go through to go from being black-skinned to white-skinned.”

          You mean like you PRETEND that there is a ‘god’?

        • adam

          “Take, for example, this steaming pile from Neil deGrasse Tyson. It may not seem like a steaming pile, so let me suggest a slight tweak.”

          Your tweak – PRETEND that it does..

          And all the while you PRETEND that genocide, punishing the innocent and creating EVIL are all ‘good’ things.

          Psychopathic or at least sociopathic.

        • MNb

          “So while religious folks have to keep their values in their pants, atheists get to wave theirs around in public.”
          That’s not at all what Tyson said in the two quotes you provided. So either you’re stupid or dishonest. My bet is the latter.
          What he’s saying is that religion must stay out of the classroom. He’s totally right. Do you think I teach “there is no god” when I teach Pythagoras’ Theorem or kinematics? Even my fundie pupils (yes, I have a few) know better.

        • adam

          “Tyson is out there making people like me seem dumb, without someone ever having met me. ”

          No, you do THAT all on your own.

        • adam

          “Tyson is out there making people like me seem dumb, without someone ever having met me. “

        • Ignorant Amos

          A suppose a bulked out half answer is better than none. Or maybe not.

        • MNb

          “Generally, I find that people who start that way …..”
          Have you been called “dear sweet little” on internet that often? If no, what do you mean with “generally”? N=1? N=2? Perhaps N=3?

        • Paul B. Lot

          As an aside, I myself have an issue with holding onto stuff/clutter.

          My bedroom is a FEMA disaster area right now. Too many computer parts laying around that may eventually find a home, for one.

        • adam

          “I’m sure you have boatloads of evidence for this claim, but that it’s all classified so you cannot share it.”

          No your inane posts ARE boatloads of evidence.

        • Hey, thanks for contributing to the cause:

          LB: I am thinking of writing a book called “Go to Hell!”, about strategies to make man-made hells and put people in them. You have given me fodder for this enterprise; for that, I thank you!

          If you’re interested in helping even further, perhaps you could tell me to what extent you agree with Paul B. Lot, per this comment. And if you’d be interested in answering my further questions for Paul, I’d be indebted to you. It seems Paul is unwilling to answer questions such as the one at the end of this dialogue:

          LB: Now, you haven’t strictly said that I ought to suffer. But you don’t mind that I do.

          PBL: Both are true, in my opinion.

          LB: Very interesting. How much suffering is ‘enough’?

          Perhaps you have more courage?

        • Aram

          Suffering is a part of living on a wild unpredictable planet stocked with differently aware or not-so-aware animals. It is the price of admission into life. Nothing more.

        • I find that suffering and pain are remarkably predictable. For example, I knew that, acting as I am on CE, a certain portion of the population would come along and write:

          A: You’re honestly delusional, mad as cheese, not even close to a crack as clued in as you think. Harry nailed you right. You help no side. Only you masturbate verbal choleric spew in some narcissistic idea that you hold the motherlode of ‘deep thought’ in your soft little head. I’ve seen you rambling up and down the internet for a while now. You’re a mess, son. I real raging horrorshow of diarrhoetic delusion. And that ain’t character assassination (as you so colourfully put it). That’s a fact.

          IA: Look Luke…you are either a hypocrite, a liar, or you forgot about a couple of days ago and might be going a bit dottery.

          Either way, it is incumbent upon me to point out to others here of potential failings on your part. Ya know, the way you are quite prone to do elsewhere when it suits ya….Paul B. Lot will know what I mean.

          These are calculated to make me hate myself or at the very least, drive me away from here due to the pain of not being liked by the dominant social group. They were extraordinarily predictable. Yours was better than Ignorant Amos’, so I’ll give you that. It was still pretty terrible, though. If you really want to be good at making others feel like worthless piles, I suggest some more practice. You can try on me, if you like!

          What I haven’t seen yet, is the child mob-like behavior one sees in the Star Trek TOS episode Miri. I guess @disqus_0FsPDLqpUy:disqus, @disqus_xusoHBL07f:disqus, and @disqus_XgWFEPNuyW:disqus have been trying. Fortunately, Gmail ignore rules work quite well. Too bad Kirk didn’t have those for when he was trying to get the communicators back.

        • Kodie

          Luke Breuer seems paranoid and could learn to take a look at himself as others see him, but he’d rather ignore everyone who points out his issues, and keep on having them. Did I get this right, this is Pofarmer’s doing?

        • Aram

          This entire reply is one big fapping tangent.

        • Kind of like your flapping mouth/fingers?

        • Aram

          fap

          (informal) To indicate that someone (normally the speaker) is either masturbating, or inspired to by sexual arousal.

          I was watching some porn – fap fap fap – when my computer crashed, again!

        • Paul B. Lot

          I was watching some porn – fap fap fap – when my computer crashed, again!

          Do…do you work for the NSA?

          How did you know?

        • You might like the term “spiritual masturbation”; a spiritual mentor of mine came up with it. You can probably imagine what it means…

        • Aram

          That’s a very common term. Your mentor lied to you.

        • LB: […] a spiritual mentor of mine came up with it.

          A: Your mentor lied to you.

          I see, so people cannot independently come up with the same term! There is no convergent evolution with language. Damn. I’m gonna have to go think about this for a while.

        • Aram

          Yeah, I’ll give you that. Maybe he just happened to come up with it on his own, kind of like Alexander Graham Bell beating Elisha Gray to the patent office (as the legend goes).
          For the record, I doubt it. But maybe.

        • Why did you jump so quickly to “lied”? Surely you don’t lie so quickly?

        • Aram

          Because I’ve heard the term ‘spiritual masturbation’ bandied about for decades. But hey, maybe your mentor lives in a cave and upon your once a month visit to chant softly together skyclad, he (definitely a ‘he’ because I just know a woman could never be your spiritual mentor) bestowed upon you the curdling offerings of his latest enlightened contemplation, all to the sound of water dripping down the sides of his glorious mountain hole. “Son,” he said, you sitting cross-legged between his thighs looking up at him glowingly. His voice cracked from lack of use, so he worked his tongue around to build up saliva. “Those others, all prancing and gleaming about Jesus this and my chakra that. No Luke my boy. For much like the middle-age boys in the phallic Corvette Stingray, such proclamations are but a spiritual masturbation of the most heinous self-serving kind, where even those nice leather seats the Stingray comes custom couldst never such a stain purge clean again.’ To which you hobbled home, limping slightly, dripping from the exertion of your dark mountain visit, eager to share the new term you’d so poignantly just learned.

          That’s why I jumped to ‘lie’ so quickly

        • LB: Why did you jump so quickly to “lied”? Surely you don’t lie so quickly?

          A: Because I’ve heard the term ‘spiritual masturbation’ bandied about for decades.

          Bandied about in what regions? The entire US? You seem to have an ‘extrapolation problem’.

          (definitely a ‘he’ because I just know a woman could never be your spiritual mentor)

          This is slander and/or defamation.

          That’s why I jumped to ‘lie’ so quickly […]

          You have a really, really shitty view of people—or at least, Christians. I don’t think the evidence warrants it. More precisely, I don’t think the evidence warrants you thinking that you’re that much more righteous rational/​whatever than they. And you really do seem to think this. If you didn’t, I am almost sure you would not speak in such a holier-than-thou manner. However, in allegiance to Ceteris Paribus Laws, I’m open for you to surprise me and offer me an alternate story (see: “competitive storytelling”).

        • Aram

          And you apparently have no sense of humour, so here we are. To answer your question, I’ve lived all over the world (including working as a carnie and travelling right across your States for a while, though I’m not an American), and yes, people were spiritual masturbating left and right.

          ps are you saying a woman could be your spiritual mentor, because I thought your holy book forbid a man being beholden to a woman, hence my aside.

        • And you apparently have no sense of humour […]

          You are incredibly naive if you think that you can criticize a person repeatedly and viciously, and then expect that person to laugh with you, without ever having convinced that person that you are even possibly interested in what is best for him/her.

          ps are you saying a woman could be your spiritual mentor, because I thought your holy book forbid a man being beholden to a woman, hence my aside.

          Tee hee hee, nice rationalization. You were clearly implying that I support a horribly sexist regime. Possibly you wouldn’t be if this were a theist blog, but it is an atheist blog which loves to criticize Christians in any way possible. There is also your comment history to me, of which I don’t recall you ever saying anything particularly positive about me. (But perhaps you said one or two, and it has been greatly outweighed by the quantity of shit-throwing you’ve done.)

        • Aram

          Indeed Luke, you’re the victim here. Literal-minded people often think they are. Take care now. It’s been a homeslice. No need to wait up.

        • When you go before a judge, do you complain that [s]he’s thinking literally while you were thinking/​acting… ‘metaphorically’? ‘analogically’? ‘figuratively’?

        • adam

          “because I thought your holy book forbid a man being beholden to a woman, hence my aside.”

          Not in his ‘holey’ book

        • adam

          “You have a really, really shitty view of people—or at least, Christians. I don’t think the evidence warrants it.”

          Get a mirror, you will see the evidence that warrants it

        • adam

          “You might like the term “spiritual masturbation”; a spiritual mentor of mine came up with it. You can probably imagine what it means…”

          Yes….

          Religion

        • Ignorant Amos

          IA: Look Luke…you are either a hypocrite, a liar, or you forgot about a couple of days ago and might be going a bit dottery.

          These are calculated to make me hate myself or at the very least, drive me away from here due to the pain of not being liked by the dominant social group. They were extraordinarily predictable. Yours was better than Ignorant Amos’, so I’ll give you that. It was still pretty terrible, though. If you really want to be good at making others feel like worthless piles, I suggest some more practice. You can try on me, if you like!

          You have equated EVERYONE in the Western world as being complicit in the Rwandan genocide because we all did nothing to prevent it, in order to equate us all as at least as evil as the OT character with powers to prevent such morally reprehensible antics with the bat of an eyelid. It is completely fucked up and you are a cunt for suggesting such a thing, but then again, you are a demonstrably an arrogant Christian hypocrite apologist, so I’m hardly surprised.

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/outshinethesun/outshine_the_sun_another_open_thread/#comment-2334887560

        • You have equated EVERYONE in the Western world as being complicit in the Rwandan genocide because we all did nothing to prevent it, […]

          Ummmm…:

          LB: No, I am not. Instead, I am sick and tired of Westerners acting superior in the realm of morality when they are complicit in the very evil they condemn. Hypocrisy is a pox on life. You realize that a major reason the US did not intervene in Rwanda is that the public did not want it to, right? In democracies (or representative republics), the majority is 100% responsible for the action of elected government representatives. Bill Clinton’s choice, as well as those he appointed, not to expend a few resources and a few lives to stop the death of hundreds of thousands of lives, reflects badly on the majority of United States citizens.

          In case you’re a little sleepy: “EVERYONE” ≠ “the majority”.

          P.S. This is also false:

          we all did nothing to prevent it

          But I don’t feel like refuting it at the moment. You can find what I actually said if you want to get a response; if you keep exaggerating my positions, I will feel no compulsion to continue correcting you.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Okay, so not us then. Why bring it up?

          BTW…

          In democracies (or representative republics), the majority is 100% responsible for the action of elected government representatives.

          …is still a load of bollocks.

          The D’Hondt method[a] (also known as Jefferson’s method and Bader-Ofer method) is a highest averages method for allocating seats in party-list proportional representation.

          Then there is the Northern Ireland Executive.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Ireland_Executive#Procedure

          Other examples exist to refute your simplistic thinking on this complex matter.

          You are being insincere, your inference was plain to see. We are all guilty by association so no better than God.

          We know the apologetics you are trying on here and they are silly pants. The God character in your story operates as an individual and autonomously. The equivalence is so false it is hilarious.

        • LB: “EVERYONE” ≠ “the majority”

          IA: Okay, so not us then.

          BTW…

          In democracies (or representative republics), the majority is 100% responsible for the action of elected government representatives.

          …is still a load of bollocks.

          But then it isn’t actually a ‘democracy’, nor a ‘representative republic’—right?

          The D’Hondt method[a] (also known as Jefferson’s method and Bader-Ofer method) is a highest averages method for allocating seats in party-list proportional representation.

          Ah! Did you get that from David Deutsch’s wonderful section in The Fabric of Reality?

          Other examples exist to refute your simplistic thinking on this complex matter.

          Wait, are you saying that the minority has political power? How much of the minority? ≤ 45%? ≤ 20%? What is the supremum value?

          You are being insincere, your inference was plain to see.

          You know, I’m tempted to say that at least one of us is being insincere, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think more discussion is needed. Sadly, you don’t seem to think so. You seem to fit into my “Why do people so quickly jump to ‘malice’ and ‘delusion’?”, as if deploying the fundamental attribute error is hella-fun and much more interesting than truth-seeking and being charitable to the other person.

          The God character in your story operates as an individual and autonomously.

          Actually, I disagree; see Roger Olson’s Holley-Hull Lecture “A Relational View of God’s Sovereignty”. Also:

          And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. (Ezek 22:30)

          Examples of God being non-autonomous: Ex 32:9–14, Num 14:11–20, and Num 16:19–23.

        • TheNuszAbides

          The equivalence is so false it is hilarious.

          painfully so–wistfully at best.

        • Paul B. Lot

          FWIW:

          These are calculated to make me hate myself or at the very least, drive me away from here due to the pain of not being liked by the dominant social group.

          Is false.

          I’ve never seen @Ignorant_Amos:disqus act in such a way, and I think if he did so unconsciously and it was proven to him retroactively that that was the case, I imagine he’d be mortified.

          Not everyone makes their harsh/unpleasant statements with as cold and calculating a heart as you do, @LukeBreuer:disqus .

          I have no doubt that IA said what he said because he believes it is true.

          I have no doubt of this, because it is true.

        • adam

          Problem is Paul, this is just not that isolated of an incident for ‘believers’ trying to be as nasty and cruel as the bible god.

        • FWIW:

          These are calculated to make me hate myself or at the very least, drive me away from here due to the pain of not being liked by the dominant social group.

          Is false.

          So if that’s the effect that such says have repeatedly had on me in the past—who is responsible for the effect being as such? I mean, it works pretty reliably: when you take a steaming dump like that on a person in the social group, you marginalize the person.

          Not everyone makes their harsh/unpleasant statements with as cold and calculating a heart as you do, Luke Breuer .

          I see; so when I tell them the effect they have, do they then become culpable? I can see them not knowing beforehand. But when they are told, does the dynamic suddenly change, for them? In my experience, this is the dynamic which actually takes place:

          What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. (Romans 7:7–12)

          That is, when I indicate that something said was hurtful, the dogpiling starts. My saying something is hurtful is analogous to God presenting Paul with a law—if it is indeed wrong to inflict suffering on others. Susan identified such dogpiling behavior as standard to humans (she might restrict to K–12; I would not):

          S: It’s just that Luke is disarming. He reminds me of a kid in the older grades I went to school with who would goad and poke and miss efforts at social cues until the kids started to turn on him and say awful things and every single time, he would say, “My dad is going to sue you.”. Then, it was like a feeding frenzy. .They would just all hiss at him and taunt him.

          This is not a diagnosis of Luke. I am not qualified.

          So, this is independent confirmation that the dynamic I describe, exists. So Paul B. Lot, once people learn that something is hurtful to me, if they continue doing it, do they then get properly described as cold and calculating? Or is it somehow the case that when someone like me says “that was hurtful”, you get to dismiss it?

        • Aram

          Are you honestly such a fragile little snowflake, Luke? Genuinely, tell me true.

        • Oh I see, so if the whipping boy can take it, whip him.

          BDSM, much?

        • Aram

          Only if it’s a holiday tomorrow.

        • Touché.

        • adam

          “Oh I see, so if the whipping boy can take it, whip him.”

          WOW, those WORDS must REALLY hurt…

        • adam

          “So if that’s the effect that such says have repeatedly had on me in the past—who is responsible for the effect being as such?”

          Yeah, Luke, it is EVERYONE ELSE…..

          But YOU.

        • Susan

          Damn it, Luke. You’re exhausting.

          I will respond to this later.

          —–

          Edit 7 hours later to fulfill that promise.

          when you take a steaming dump like that on a person in the social group, you marginalize the person.

          IA didn’t take a steaming dump as Paul explained.

          I would be happy to respond to my comment from there here and explain what it intended if Bob doesn’t mind but I think it’s also possible that it would be more appropriate to deal with it over there as we’re way off discussion into Lukeland.

          You accused IA of following you all over the internet (which he hasn’t done, ) though you seem intent on provoking people to follow you all over the internet.

          Make up your mind.

        • It’s how I deal with all the shit people throw at me: I out-shit-throw them. 😛

        • Aram

          But do you ever stop and think, ‘hmmm, why is so much shit flung at me on a constant basis? Is it really because everyone else is messed up…or could it be…oh my…could it…possibly…be me…’
          Take the plunge, friend. Let Jesus die. Join us in reality. It smells so much better out here.

        • But do you ever stop and think, ‘hmmm, why is so much shit flung at me on a constant basis?

          All the time.

          Is it really because everyone else is messed up…or could it be…oh my…could it…possibly…be me…’

          I do seriously consider this, on a case-by-case basis.

          Take the plunge, friend. Let Jesus die. Join us in reality. It smells so much better out here.

          Nope, I’m going to go with “Christian” in George Herbert’s A Dialogue-Anthem:

                                        Christian, Death

          Chr.   ALAS, poor Death ! where is thy glory ?          Where is thy famous force, thy ancient sting ?Dea.   Alas, poor mortal, void of story !          Go spell and read how I have killed thy King.Chr.   Poor Death ! and who was hurt thereby ?          Thy curse being laid on Him makes thee accurst.Dea.   Let losers talk, yet thou shalt die ;          These arms shall crush thee.Chr.                                           Spare not, do thy worst.

                    I shall be one day better than before ;          Thou so much worse, that thou shalt be no more.

        • adam

          Christian death?

        • Aram

          And yet, if you’re being honest, you have no idea what comes after death, if anything. Indeed, if it’s really all about making it to heaven for you, you should consider converting to the Bahá’í Faith. Now there’s a religion determined to win Pascal’s Wager.

        • And yet, if you’re being honest, you have no idea what comes after death, if anything.

          Ahh yes, because it is logically impossible that a being outside of our reality could have communicated to us in a way we could plausibly trust him/​her/​it. I bet you simultaneously believe that if we created a reality of simulated, digital, sentient, sapient beings, that the programmer (who is ‘totally other’) could interact with them in a way they could believe it was a flesh-and-blood programmer interacting with them.

          I suggest a read of The Computational Theory of the Laws of Nature—at least, read the section on “God’s Problem” and the last few paragraphs.

          Indeed, if it’s really all about making it to heaven for you, you should consider converting to the Bahá’í Faith. Now there’s a religion determined to win Pascal’s Wager.

          I’ll let the reader sort out the atrocious logic involved, here.

        • Aram

          Goddamn you’re literal-minded, Luke. It’s fascinating to see. You’re like a different species, like a dog amongst wolves, oblivious. Run away from the voices in your head, Luke. Run for the hills!

          On that note, I also must run. It’s been as expected. Take care Tenderheart. I wish you nothing but the best. Cheerio.

        • Goddamn you’re literal-minded, Luke.

          As opposed to… illogic-minded? It’s not like you approve of analogies, or else the following would be possibly false:

          A: And yet, if you’re being honest, you have no idea what comes after death, if anything

          I’ve demonstrated how obviously false this is, but I’ll elaborate further: we could run a digital simulation of sentient, sapient beings, and them give some of them bodies, Caprica-style. Let’s compare & contrast that to the concept ‘afterlife’.

        • adam

          ” I bet you simultaneously believe that if we created a reality of simulated, digital, sentient, sapient beings, that the programmer (who is ‘totally other’) could interact with them in a way they could believe it was a flesh-and-blood programmer interacting with them.”

          Well OF COURSE, it that programmer was Omnipotent….

          It would be no effort at all, right?

        • adam

          “I’ll let the reader sort out the atrocious logic involved, here.”

          Yeah, since heaven is just a product of the IMAGINATION….

        • Kodie

          Why did god make everyone so stupid that they can’t even understand him? That must be hell for him, it is for me.

        • adam

          ” Indeed, if it’s really all about making it to heaven for you,”

          I think heaven would be perfect for Luke:

        • MNb

          Oh, I certainly have an idea what comes after death. So please show me my dishonesty. This won’t suffice:

          “You have no idea what comes after death because you can’t possibly know what comes after death.”
          except when you explain why I can’t know. The only argument I now can think of is “you can’t experience what comes after death during your lifetime by definition”. That’s not good enough though. I can’t experience what happened during the American Civil War either. Neither can I experience the burn out of the Sun. Still I can know things about the American Civil War and the burn out of the Sun.
          But perhaps you can do better than me, so you’re invited.

        • Aram

          Sure, I’ll concede that ‘no idea’ was too much. More like ‘can’t know for sure what comes next, but based on the evidence probably nothing conscious’. Better?

        • MNb

          Yes, but not good enough.
          Are inconsistency and incoherence standards to you to decide that a concept is wrong?
          I’m asking because the christian concept of afterlife is incoherent indeed and I think I can show it.

        • adam

          “I’m asking because the christian concept of afterlife is incoherent indeed and I think I can show it.”

          I for one, would like to see your thoughts on this.

        • MNb

          If “what comes after death” involves (part of) me this is only possible on dualism. We are more than pretty sure that in our material/ natural reality there won’t be a me after I die. It’s the immaterial/ supernatural/ transcendental part of me that is supposed to go anywhere. Let’s call it soul.
          The big problem is that the only way to interact with our material/ natural reality is by using material/ natural means and following material/ natural procedures. That’s why Paley’s Watchmaker Analogy fails; it’s a false analogy, because it without any further do jumps from a material/ natural source to an immaterial etc. one.
          That very same problem applies to a supposed human soul. How does it interact with its connected body? If it cannot, what does it mean to talk about a soul called MNb? How do we test any postulation about that soul? If we can’t I call for William Ockham to cut this superfluous extra entity away. I don’t have a soul. Hence I cease to exist after I die.

        • Aram

          Sure. The mind is but the brain and if the brain is dead how then can there be a mind.

        • Aram

          Are you sure you’re talking to the right person?

        • MNb

          Yes. I think I can show that the christian concept of afterlife is incoherent. I also think incoherence a reliable standard to reject concepts. It’s why I reject the concept of afterlife.
          So I have an idea what comes next and I think a pretty good one.
          See underneath, my reaction to Adam.
          Abstract version: dualism is incoherent hence I will cease to exist after I die.

        • Aram

          You’ll get no argument from me. Having read a few of Patricia Churchland’s books (among others) regarding the burgeoning discipline of neuroscience, I’m fairly convinced that as much as thoughts may feel detached, ethereal even, our mind is a product of our physical bodies and simply cannot survive our death. Indeed, we already all know that a head injury can change a person immensely. Why would we presume dying wouldn’t wipe them out completely?

          In an interesting side-note thought experiment, we may well control another body one day, an avatar so to speak, but it will in no way be connected to who we are now, just that a mosquito, for example, needs something to steer it around. Totally irrelevant to this discussion, but I find the idea intriguing.

          In another interesting thought experiment, taking the Christian view that all aborted fetuses go to heaven, what kind of personalities would they have do you think? How the hell would they behave?

        • a head injury can change the person immensely – the soul is not located in the brain.

        • Aram

          You’re right. As the Russians say the soul is located under the bladder, because when you pee it’s lighter on your soul. Now piss off.

        • Dys

          Of course it isn’t – there’s little reason to suppose such a thing as a soul exists, let alone come up with some magic way for it to interact with material. The soul isn’t located anywhere…except in people’s imaginations.

        • Greg G.

          But the concept of “soul” is located in the brain as an imaginary construct, but nothing else.

          If the soul is not in the brain, a person’s behavior should not change as a result of brain damage.

        • Kodie

          Is it in your butt?

        • Kodie

          I feel like there would have to be a special side area just for the fetuses. Nobody wants to look at that.

        • Aram

          Yeah, fair point. Though even if they were magically in adult bodies or whatever, who would they be? How would they act? Where would their personality have come from?
          Christians never think this shit through.

        • I think the way you analyze the Christian concept of afterlife is incoherent. It’s as if you took a pumpkin you bought at your local fruit stand and carved it all up and then placed it under a microscope, proclaiming that you understand this pumpkin – this is incoherent or at best incomplete – you still need to go back to the farm, dig up it’s roots and analyze those as well – then you will understand that pumpkin truly – The point? To understand the Christian concept of the afterlife, you need to go back to it’s roots – yup, the bible – don’t talk to me about your understanding this concept until you include in your discussion the Bible.

        • Greg G.

          The writers of the Bible thought the mind was in the heart and kidneys, like the Egyptians did before them.

          Some Bible verses that say “heart” when it should say “mind” or “brain”:

          Psalm 139:23-24
          Luke 10:27
          Romans 10:10
          Genesis 6:5
          1 Chronicles 28:9
          Deuteronomy 32:46
          Psalm 19:14
          Proverbs 3:5
          Proverbs 10:8
          Proverbs 15:8
          Proverbs 18:15
          Proverbs 23:7
          Psalm 14:1
          Hebrews 3:12
          Hebrews 4:12
          1 John 3:21
          Luke 2:19

          Bible verses that say “kidneys” (“reins” in the KJV while the NIV uses “mind”) when it should say “mind” or “brain”:

          Psalm 7:9
          Psalm 16:7
          Psalm 26:2
          Jeremiah 11:20
          Jeremiah 12:2
          Jeremiah 17:10
          Jeremiah 20:12
          Isaiah 29:13
          Revelation 2:23

          Revelation 2:23 only verse in New Testament that mentions kidneys, in a paraphrase from Jeremiah 17:10.

          Revelation 2:23 uses the Greek “nephros”, as in “nephritis”, imflammation of the kidneys.

          The Christian concept of the afterlife is incoherent because it relies on a mix of the Bible, Greek and Egyptian ideas, and Dante’s Inferno.

        • Greg G, I really applaud your citing the parts of the Bible that talk about the soul but this is not enough, it’s the first step- you remind me of the little boy in the story who comes home from school so happy he has learned all about human anatomy in science class. “Daddy, Daddy”, he says, I know all the parts of my body!!” The Dad smiling said, wow, Luke, tell me, where’s your elbow?, the boy points to his elbow, wow, Luke, tell me where’s your knee?, the boy, points to his knee. Wow, Luke, you’re amazing, how do you know all these things?” Luke, with a sly look at his Dad, points to his head and says, “Kidneys, Kidneys”.
          No, Greg G., a second step is needed, the one Aquinas took is the one that uses the Bible to support intellectual analysis-Aquinas finds the soul that exists of itself, separate from the body, and yet the soul linked to the form of the body – it is the only analysis that fits with the promises found in the OT and NT, especially where it is found that our bodies, including the fetus’ will take the form of a “glorified body”. That Aquinas was a smart guy.

        • Right–I always go back to the thirteenth century for my scholarship on medicine and science.

        • Greg G.

          Luke, with a sly look at his Dad, points to his head and says, “Kidneys, Kidneys”.

          That is what the authors of the Old Testament would have said, though they would have pointed to where the kidneys were. Luke only had the name wrong.

          The human brain is the only biological organ to name itself.

          Aquinas argued from Aristotle’s Four Causes which is where Aristotle went wrong. The Church embraced that [EDIT removed] as the Final Cause was a gap they could fit God into. But when science started to focus on the Efficient Cause, the other Causes turned out to be essentially nothing but forms of the Efficient Cause. Humanity then began to escape the Dark Ages. Aquinas should be vilified, not worshiped.

          EDIT – Forgot how old Aquinas was.

        • adam

          ” That Aquinas was a smart guy.”

          Catholic smarts

        • That was a Freudian slip, I suspect.

        • IA didn’t take a steaming dump as Paul explained.

          Let’s see if you’re being fair, with a test case. Taking the following as context:

          BV: But why should the materialist care? If we’re all just random, pointless collections of matter, why should the materialist go to great lengths to help a starving child in Africa? What’s the purpose?

          IS it true, or false, what ClayJames says:

          CJ: Finally, Brandon´s comment should not be offensive and it is a very good question.

          ? He’s trying to dictate what is, and is not, “offensive”. Or: what ought to be offensive, and what ought not to be offensive. I’m guessing you will say that no, actually an atheist is the one we should ask about “offensive” (see Ignatius Reilly’s comments starting here, ending here).

          So, should you and/or IA decide what has the effect of a “steaming dump” (on me), or do I get to decide it? Now, the language is just a bit ambiguous, between:

               (i) was a steaming dump
              (ii) acted as a steaming dump

          Strictly speaking, I mistakenly spoke as if (i), when I only know (ii) for certain. This spawns two questions:

               (a) was it ok for IA to do (ii)?
               (b) what ought IA do when he is notified that (ii)?

          Feel free to give them a shot. Or you can stop legislating on IA’s behalf. Up to you. Did IA ask you to butt in? I certainly didn’t.

          You accused IA of following you all over the internet (which he hasn’t done, )

          I will no longer humor claims of what I did or did not do, when issued in a negative context like this, if they are not accompanied by at least hyperlinks to the offending actions.

          though you seem intent on provoking people to follow you all over the internet.

          I’m not sure why this was relevant to say, except as a dig. And how would I provoke people to follow me? Whose fault is it, that they follow me? It seems like you’re trying to say something negative about me with this sentence fragment, but it is deliciously ambiguous, such that you retain plausible deniability.

        • Susan

          Not responding to the steaming pile diatribe.

          I’m not sure why this was relevant to say, except as a dig.

          Not a dig.

        • Not a dig.

          Then why include it? It seems utterly irrelevant.

        • Susan

          Then why include it?

          I’ve never seen anyone reference so many personal skirmishes on the internet as a way of interacting.

          That is, in order to engage your arguments, we have to learn the background of all the skirmishes you’ve ever been involved in that you’d like to bring up, Look! Squirrel!

          Then, you accuse IA of following you all over the internet, even though he’s been at the two sites in question quite regularly for a long time and you just showed up at both of them quite recently.

          You need to make up your mind.

        • That is, in order to engage your arguments, we have to learn the background of all the skirmishes you’ve ever been involved in that you’d like to bring up, Look! Squirrel!

          I have no idea what you’re talking about. Maybe you should stop mouthing off about situations you don’t properly understand? I’ll repeat myself:

          LB: Or you can stop legislating on IA’s behalf. Up to you. Did IA ask you to butt in? I certainly didn’t.

          The ‘mole hill’ → ‘mountain’ process here seems to require you to care about squabbles other people are having. Perhaps it would be good to take Reynoldsp56’s advice:

          Reynoldsp56: You want someone else to fight your battles for you? Really?

          ? Alternatively, you could be impartial and make “[experiment results so far: such comments are allowed to stand, as if they are true]” no longer true. But I doubt you’ll do that, because that would be consistent with truth-seeking and impartiality, and you haven’t given an indication you care about both those things. Instead, you’ve given a very different indication. Let’s explore!

          Then, you accuse IA of following you all over the internet,

          It’s pretty funny that I excluded precisely that “all over”:

          LB: It is as if you are my own little personal שָּׂטָן (= ‘ha-satan‘ ≈ ‘adversary, accuser’ ≠ Devil in Christianity), bobbing along, following me where I comment†, ensuring that others see me in the worst light possible. But perhaps you have a better explanation, here, which better fits the evidence. I’m always looking for explanations which better fit the evidence, at least subject to the restriction in 2 Cor 5:16.

          † But not everywhere. There are likely some locales where you would be seen for what you are and excoriated for it; it is obviously wise for you to stay away from such locales.

          However, exaggeration is good for character assassination! Well, you’ve joined the שָּׂטָן crowd, but I’ll modify the text just for you:

          LB‘: It is as if you are my own little personal שָּׂטָן (= ‘ha-satan‘ ≈ ‘adversary, accuser’ ≠ Devil in Christianity), bobbing along, following me where to [some] places I comment† which did not involve you, ensuring that others see me in the worst light possible. But perhaps you have a better explanation, here, which better fits the evidence. I’m always looking for explanations which better fit the evidence, at least subject to the restriction in 2 Cor 5:16.

          † But not everywhere. With exclusion zones. There are likely some locales where you would be seen for what you are and excoriated for it; it is obviously wise for you to stay away from such locales.

          Better? Is that more technically accurate for your pedantic needs? (It’s ok, I have pedantic needs, too. I just try to strategically make a fuss, where my ‘strategy’ is clearly different from yours. To each her/his own!) I might need to tweak “worst light possible”, as there is ambiguity in the “possible”: does it allow for evil motives, for cherry-picking? And so forth. But for now, I’ll leave that sleeping dog lie.

        • Kodie

          You upheld yourself as a standard of how you treat people and do not judge them harshly overall for one statement, around 3-4 days after having violated this standard (if it even was a standard you had, up to that point), as an analogy to how people should approach reading the bible, which does have major flaws, and isn’t even analogous. You are a hypocrite, Luke Breuer, and overly sensitive. As they way it goes, you do think you’re better than everyone else, and think everyone else would be served by following your example and leave that precious bible alone, because you don’t judge people, except that you do, even if you apologized, you had no reason to include misrepresenting yourself as a way to guard your bible. It’s fallacious, misleading, and incoherent. You want credit for being a good person, when that’s irrelevant.

        • Susan

          That is, when I indicate that something said was hurtful, the dogpiling starts

          Hi Luke. Just wanted to let you know that I responded with an edit on my previous comment.

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/reject_the_scientific_consensus_how_do_you_justify_that_17/#comment-2335099875

        • Thank you; as you perhaps guessed, I never would have seen it, otherwise.

        • Susan

          Thank you.

          You’re welcome.

          I never would have seen it otherwise

          That’s disqus.

        • Aram

          That’s what I was thinking. ‘Calculated to make me hate myself, etc…’ This guy lives in a seriously fucked up mental/emotional world. I almost feel bad for teasing him now (though not really).

        • adam

          “For example, I knew that, acting as I am on CE, a certain portion of the population would come along and write:
          A: You’re honestly delusional, mad as cheese, not even close to a crack as clued in as you think. Harry nailed you right. You help no side. Only you masturbate verbal choleric spew in some narcissistic idea that you hold the motherlode of ‘deep thought’ in your soft little head. I’ve
          seen you rambling up and down the internet for a while now. You’re a mess, son. I real raging horrorshow of diarrhoetic delusion. And that ain’t character assassination (as you so colourfully put it). That’s a fact.

          WOW, with quotes even, you are more omniscience that the bible god.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “Perhaps you have more courage?”

          Don’t fret, little one, you’ll get more of my attention when I can spare it.

          Unfortunately I’ve spent too much time with you recently. 🙁

        • But fretting is so fun! Recall the Joker in The Dark Knight, where he is explaining to Gordon how he gets to see “all the little emotions” come out of cops as he tortures them to death? Well, my fretting is like the Joker’s knives. Or at least, I tell myself that story. I’m sure there are innumerable others. After all, in venues like this, it’s all about who can get his/her story to stick, by out-competing all others. We could call it ‘competitive storytelling’.

        • Kodie

          Yes, I’m sure Luke Breuer tells himself a lot of stories, none of which have any point.

        • William Davis

          After all, in venues like this, it’s all about who can get his/her story to stick, by out-competing all others. We could call it ‘competitive storytelling’.

          Great point! This is exactly how the Bible was formed, competitive story telling 🙂 I don’t think people realize how many didn’t make the cut.

          These are Hebrew Scriptures that Catholics now include but protestants do not:

          Tobit

          Judith

          Additions to Esther (Vulgate Esther 10:4–16:24)[26]

          Wisdom (also called the Wisdom of Solomon)

          Sirach (also called Ecclesiasticus)

          Baruch, including the Letter of Jeremiah (Additions to Jeremiah in the Septuagint)[27]

          Additions to Daniel:

          Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children (Vulgate Daniel 3:24–90)

          Susanna (Vulgate Daniel 13, Septuagint prologue)

          Bel and the Dragon (Vulgate Daniel 14, Septuagint epilogue)

          1 Maccabees

          2 Maccabees

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

          Gospel of Thomas – possibly proto-Gnostic; 1st to mid 2nd century; collection of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus, 31 of them with no parallel in the canonical gospels

          Gospel of Marcion – 2nd century; potentially an edited version of the Gospel of Luke or a document which predates Luke (see: Marcionism)

          Gospel of Basilides – composed in Egypt around 120 to 140 AD; thought to be a gnostic gospel harmony of the canonical gospels

          Gospel of Truth (Valentinian) – mid 2nd century; departed from earlier gnostic works by admitting and defending the physicality of Christ and his resurrection.

          Gospel of the Four Heavenly Realms – mid 2nd century; thought to be a gnostic cosmology, most likely in the form of a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples.

          Gospel of Mary – 2nd century

          Gospel of Judas – 2nd century

          Greek Gospel of the Egyptians – second quarter of the 2nd century

          Gospel of Philip

          Pseudo-Gospel of the Twelve – A Syriac language gospel titled the Gospel of the Twelve. This work is shorter than the regular gospels and seems to be different from the lost Gospel of the Twelve.[1]

          Gospel of Perfection – 4th century; an Ophite poem that is only mentioned once by a single patristic source, Epiphanius[2] and is referred to once in the 6th century Gospel of the Infancy

          Gospel of the Hebrews

          Gospel of the Nazarenes

          Gospel of the Ebionites

          Gospel of the Twelve

          Armenian Infancy Gospel[citation needed]

          Protoevangelium of James

          Libellus de Nativitate Sanctae Mariae (Gospel of the Nativity of Mary)

          Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew

          History of Joseph the Carpenter

          Infancy Gospel of Thomas

          Latin Infancy Gospel (Arundel 404)[citation needed]

          Syriac Infancy Gospel

          I think it was the Infancy Gospel of Thomas that portrayed Jesus as using his magic powers for evil as a child, but then learning to control them and use them for good when he got older. It’s no surprise that one didn’t make the cut, lol. But, I’m not done:

          Gospel of Eve – mentioned only once by Epiphanius circa 400, who preserves a single brief passage in quotation.

          Gospel of Mani – 3rd century – attributed to the Persian Mani, the founder of Manichaeism.

          Gospel of the Saviour (also known as the Unknown Berlin gospel) – highly fragmentary 6th-century manuscript based on a late 2nd- or early 3rd-century original. A dialogue rather than a narrative; heavily Gnostic in character in that salvation is dependent upon possessing secret knowledge.

          Coptic Gospel of the Twelve – late 2nd century Coptic language work – although often equated with the Gospel of the Ebionites, it appears to be an attempt to re-tell the Gospel of John in the pattern of the Synoptics; it quotes extensively from John’s Gospel.

          Secret Gospel of Mark – suspect: the single source mentioning it is considered by many to be a modern forgery, and it disappeared before it could be independently authenticated.
          Gospel of Matthias

          Gospel of Cerinthus – ca. 90–120 AD – according to Epiphanius[4] this is a Jewish gospel identical to the Gospel of the Ebionites and, apparently, a truncated version of Matthew’s Gospel according to the Hebrews.
          Gospel of Apelles – mid-to-late 2nd century; a further edited version of Marcion’s edited version of Luke.
          Gospel of Valentinus[5]
          Gospel of the Encratites[6]
          Gospel of Andrew – mentioned by only two 5th-century sources (Augustine and Pope Innocent I) who list it as apocryphal.[7]
          Gospel of Barnabas – not to be confused with the 16th century pro-Moslem work of the same name; this work is mentioned only once, in the 5th century Decree of Gelasius which lists it as apocryphal.
          Gospel of Bartholomew – mentioned by only two 5th-century sources which list it as apocryphal.[8]
          Gospel of Hesychius – mentioned only by Jerome and the Decree of Gelasius that list it as apocryphal.[9]
          Gospel of Lucius[9] – mentioned only by Jerome and the Decree of Gelasius that list it as apocryphal.
          Gospel of Merinthus[10] – mentioned only by Epiphanius; probably the Gospel of Cerinthus, and the confusion due to a scribal error.
          An unknown number of other Gnostic gospels not cited by name.[11]
          Gospel of the Adversary of the Law and the Prophets[12]
          Memoirs of the Apostles – Lost narrative of the life of Jesus, mentioned by Justin Martyr. The passages quoted by Justin may have originated from a gospel harmony of the Synoptic Gospels composed by Justin or his school.
          Fragments of possibly unknown or lost (or existing) gospels[α][edit]
          Papyrus Egerton 2 – late 2nd-century manuscript of possibly earlier original; contents parallel John 5:39–47, 10:31–39; Matt 1:40–45, 8:1–4, 22:15–22; Mark 1:40–45, 12:13–17; and Luke 5:12–16, 17:11–14, 20:20–26, but differ textually; also contains incomplete miracle account with no equivalent in canonical Gospels
          Fayyum Fragment – a fragment of about 100 Greek letters in 3rd century script; the text seems to parallel Mark 14:26–31
          Oxyrhynchus Papyri – Fragments #1, 654, & 655 appear to be fragments of Thomas; #210 is related to MT 7:17–19 and LK 6:43–44 but not identical to them; #840 contains a short vignette about Jesus and a Pharisee not found in any known gospel, the source text is probably mid 2nd century; #1224 consists of paraphrases of Mark 2:17 and Luke 9:50
          Gospel of Jesus’ Wife – 4th century at the earliest.
          Papyrus Berolinensis 11710 – 6th-century Greek fragment, possibly from an apocrpyhal gospel or amulet based on John.
          Papyrus Cairensis 10735 – 6th–7th century Greek fragment, possibly from a lost gospel, may be a homily or commentary.
          Papyrus Merton 51 – Fragment from apocryphal gospel or a homily on Luke 6:7.
          Strasbourg Fragment – Fragment of a lost gospel, probably related to Acts of John.

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

          Note that these are just gospels that possibly could have made it into the canon, but they lost the story telling competition. I have not even begun on other non-canonical works like forged Pauline letters. You ought to hang out on Bart Ehrman’s blog some.

          http://ehrmanblog.org/pauline-forgeries-2-thessalonians-as-a-test-case/

          You have to pay, but it all goes to charity, and it isn’t much 🙂 Try his books too.

        • Greg G.

          Suffering is unpleasant so lifeforms will try to avoid it to continue living and reproducing in an indifferent universe. The existence of suffering is incompatible with the concept of an omnipotent, benevolent being.

        • adam

        • Paul B. Lot

          Oh lordy do I love me some Bill Hicks.

        • Suffering is unpleasant so lifeforms will try to avoid it to continue living and reproducing in an indifferent universe.

          I will take advantage of a delicious ambiguity:

          LB: So, I think it is not too unreasonable to infer that you enjoy inflicting pain on those whom you think deserve it.

          PBL: Of course I do. You hit me; I hit you back. It’s quite simple.

          Now of course, you meant experience suffering, not inflict suffering. But Paul B. Lot still disagrees:

          LB: I wonder if you have ever indicated that any and all suffering is evil

          PBL: I don’t think I have, with you, but for the record: I do not.

          I’m pretty sure this conflicts with what you believe:

          GG: The existence of suffering is incompatible with the concept of an omnipotent, benevolent being.

          Do you have any idea as to why another atheist, who very much dislikes me at the moment (he believes I have seriously injured him, to the extent one can via internet conversation), disagrees with you on so fundamental a concept?

          Perhaps you could tell me how you formed that theological belief. How do you test to see if it is correct or not? Surely you test your beliefs for both validity and soundness? (When it’s maths, you can only do validity, of course. Pedants rejoice!)

        • Paul B. Lot

          Luke, ah Luke…

          “But Paul B. Lot still disagrees…do you have any idea as to why another atheist…disagrees with you on so fundamental a concept?”

          You have, predictably, once again come to an incorrect conclusion.

          (As a side note, and this is something I will point out over and over again as we back-track, down the road, so don’t feel obligated to let the full weight of my suggestion sink in just now, given how poorly equipped your cognitive systems are at running accurate models of others-in-general, and those-you-disagree-with-specifically, you should stop putting words in others’ mouths. You’re not good at it.)

        • You have, predictably, once again come to an incorrect conclusion.

          Are you saying that:

          LB: I wonder if you have ever indicated that any and all suffering is evil

          PBL: I don’t think I have, with you, but for the record: I do not.

               ⇏ God would possibly allow suffering

          ? It would nice to see a little more detail.

          […] given how poorly equipped your cognitive systems are at running accurate models of others-in-general, and those-you-disagree-with-specifically […]

          Oh, that’s delicious. Do you think you’re better equipped in this domain, in your modeling of me? I am dying to hear the answer. Because maybe you should take your own advice, when it comes to your model of me:

          […] you should stop putting words in others’ mouths.

          But perhaps you already think you never do this, to me. But isn’t that part of the problem? When you think that you understand the person well, you don’t think you’re putting words in his/her mouth. So, how does one operate, given the dynamic of “the noetic effects of sin”? (Sin blinds oneself to one’s errors and allows continued action to remain consistent with the erroneous beliefs which resulted from sin.)

        • Kodie

          Luke Breuer, you paint a very vivid portrait of yourself, nobody needs to judge you or model you in their own estimation. The evidence you create is clearly that you are a head case with zero self-awareness or aspiration to take responsibility for your interactions.

        • Paul B. Lot

          ⇏ God would possibly allow suffering
          ? It would nice to see a little more detail.

          No, little one. I will not do more work for you. You made an unjustified leap to an incorrect conclusion. Full stop. End of story-time.

          The only thing for you to do here is accept that. Acknowledge it. And ask for forgiveness.

          Do you think you’re better equipped in this domain, in your modeling of me? I am dying to hear the answer.

          No, I do not. I have a very tentative model of you in my head right now, the trunk has many branches. I am quite well aware that my inital problem with you was caused by your quickness-to-judge, and so I am being very cautious to not-do-that here with you because I dislike you and do not desire to give you ammunition, quite apart from the fact that I try very hard to make not-jumping-to-conclusions-publicly my defacto setting.

          But perhaps you already think you never do this, to me. But isn’t that part of the problem? When you think that you understand the person well, you don’t think you’re putting words in his/her mouth.

          No, not at all little one. I know that I do this all the time. When I do it in my private life, in my interactions with people I care about, it’s deeply frustrating (because I think I know them so well). I am profusely apologetic when I make these mistakes one-on-one.

          In my ‘public’ life online it’s a bit less painful, because I know that I have even-less-complete-information on which to base my internal-models.

          TLDR: Not at all. I am happy, and desirous, of knowing when the homnonculi I have inside my head, running online-interlocutor-emulation scripts, are misbehaving.

          That I am open to, and eager for, corrections of these internal-models/homnonculi does not mean that I am shy of pointing out mistakes/bad assumptions/faulty logic of people online when I think I’ve found them.

          A) Some of the time the error lies inside my head/bad models/disgruntled homnonculi.

          B) Some of the time the error lies in the (lossy) communication medium, per se.

          C) Some of the time the error lies in the actual comments/person I think it does.

          It seems to me that C) is the case with us. That is, of course, a tentative conclusion – open to evidence/correction/revision.

          But we will discuss this more in depth, later; elsewhere.

          *Edits for formatting and to remove unnecessary parentheses.*

        • No, little one. I will not do more work for you. You made an unjustified leap to an incorrect conclusion. Full stop. End of story-time.

          The only thing for you to do here is accept that. Acknowledge it. And ask for forgiveness.

          I am obligated to apologize for saying “I’m pretty sure this conflicts with what you believe:”? I left room for error; I have more confident protocol-words than “pretty sure“.

          PBL: No, I do not. I have a very tentative model of you in my head right now, the trunk has many branches. I am quite well aware that my inital problem with you was caused by your quickness-to-judge, and so I am being very cautious to not-do-that here with you because I dislike you and do not desire to give you ammunition, quite apart from the fact that I try very hard to make not-jumping-to-conclusions-publicly my defacto setting.

          Good to hear. I could probably learn from your extreme carefulness. You should have seen how much I generalized 10 years ago! It was a royal mess. But the thing is, it’s hard to learn what you describe, when so many others are happy to violate the standards you set up in this comment. Very few people do what you describe here. I’m not even sure you do it, but I can work under Mt 23:1–5-type conditions, if I must.

          In my ‘public’ life online it’s a bit less painful, because I know that I have even-less-complete-information on which to base my internal-models.

          Fascinating. And yet, I have to apologize to you for guessing incorrectly about what you think? I mean, do you always apologize for guessing incorrectly in this way? In my experience, rarely do people apologize for guessing incorrectly about me. So if I employ my fleshy mirror neurons, I won’t do the thing you say I ought to do. As you can hopefully see, this is a tricksy situation.

          TLDR: Not at all. I am happy, and desirous, of knowing when the homnonculi I have inside my head, running online-interlocutor-emulation scripts, are misbehaving.

          Hehe, I like that way of describing it. I’ve befriended a sociologist and he says that every person is a community.

          A) Some of the time the error lies inside my head/bad models/disgruntled homnonculi.

          B) Some of the time the error lies in the (lossy) communication medium, per se.

          C) Some of the time the error lies in the actual comments/person I think it does.

          It seems to me that C) is the case with us.

          Curiously enough, I find this is the default position of most people online, when they interact with me. It doesn’t really seem like they reasoned to C); it seems like they defaulted to C). After all, if they considered A) and B), you would think I’d at least sometimes see evidence of it. And yet, I rarely do. At least, my recollection is that I rarely do. Now that you’ve drawn out A)–C) explicitly, I will hopefully be more aware.

        • adam

          “Curiously enough, I find this is the default position of most people
          online, when they interact with me. It doesn’t really seem like they reasoned to C); it seems like they defaulted to C). After all, if they considered A) and B), .”

          Don’t worry lil Luke, it is EVERYONE else, except you.

          ” you would think I’d at least sometimes see evidence of it. And yet, I rarely do.”

          Demonstrates the depth of your delusional state.

        • TheNuszAbides

          you should stop putting words in others’ mouths. You’re not good at it.)

          how classically tragic, then, that that very premise is so recurrently the fire in his belly, or at least the spark in his vaporous craw.

        • I marvel at the links you add. Do you have some trick to make finding the links and putting them in quick? If I were to do the same, it would add a lot of time.

        • I will list some ways I make nicely formatted posts, with many hyperlinks, with remarkably little effort. First, I use an $70 OSX text/​HTML editor, Sublime Text 2. However, there are plenty of free ones with macro support, so the details below are probably still valid.

          For example, the sequence of keystrokes to blockquote-with-hyperlink, when the hyperlink to the comment is on the clipboard, is:

              <bl[tab][ctrl-shift-j]PBL[3x ctrl-→][→]

          This results in (except you’d see the raw HTML):

          BS: |

          The cursor ends up at the vertical bar: |; I can then go copy the contents of the comment, return to my text/​HTML editor, and paste. Without adding that hyperlink, I just have to:

              <bl[tab]

          That results in (showing the raw HTML ’cause it’s short):

              <blockquote>|</blockquote>

          (I’ve thought about having the [ctrl-shift-j] insert the <blockquote></blockquote>, negating the need for <bl[tab], but there are times when I don’t want that, so for now I deal with the little bit of extra effort.)

          Similarly, if I have a hyperlink on the clipboard, when I hit [ctrl-shift-h], it will:

               (1) surround the text with a hyperlink if anything was selected
               (2) else insert: <a href="[clipboard contents]">|</a>

          (Again, cursor at the vertical bar: |.) The [ctrl-shift-j] and [ctrl-shift-j] are mapped to ST2 macros I wrote. Many free text/​HTML editors offer both (i) color syntax highlighting for HTML; (ii) macro functionality. I’d be happy to post my ST2 macros.

          I also like to indent things, like numbered lists (although it gets ugly when text flows onto the next line). The way I do this is to insert tabs while editing, and then do a search-and-replace at the end, to replace the tabs with &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;. That way it is super-easy to do the indenting. I actually use a regex to capture tabs or 4–5 spaces, which are left-aligned: ((?<! )| ) {4}(?! )|t. Note that &nbsp; stands for Non-Breaking SPace.

          Just recently, I got frustrated with the fact that the Disqus input textbox automatically adds newlines to text. So for example, to enter this long poem (Habakkuk 2:6–11), I’d have to do the replacement above, paste it into Disqus, and then delete a bunch of bogus newlines. But one can replace a newline with <br/>. So I have another regex replace, to grab only the solo newlines: (?<!n)n(?!n)<br/>. It works great; it only replaces the newlines it has to, so while the end result is uglier, it is a lot nicer than it would be, otherwise!

          There’s another trick: how to nest <blockquote></blockquote>. If you do it naively, you either get too little space or too much space. It’s obnoxious. The correct way to nest is this way:

          <blockquote><p>level 1</p><blockquote>level 2</blockquote><p>level 1</p></blockquote>

          Yeah, it’s obnoxious, and you cannot have any newlines in that, but the rendered result is pretty:

          level 1

          level 2

          level 1

          Note that the deepest <blockquote></blockquote> doesn’t need <p></p>; all others do or you get crap like this with no newlines:

          level 1

          level 2

          level 1

          This with one newline between each level (recall that Disqus turns single newlines into double, so you’d have to work to produce this in the textbox, post-paste):

          level 1

          level 2

          level 1

          And this with two newlines between each level:

          level 1

          level 2

          level 1

          Ugly!

        • Wow–very elaborate. I doubt I’d use these techniques, but this does expand the mind. Thanks.

        • It’d be nice to have a decent WYSIWYG, but there are technical reasons for Disqus not to, having to do with WYSIWYG editors (such as TinyMCE) spitting out junky HTML. The internet has not, to my knowledge, really solved this problem. Then again, my knowledge is dated, so I expose my ignorance for someone to correct it. 🙂

        • adam

        • adam

          tldr

          Is this just more Gallop droppings or what?

        • Kodie

          I’m starting to think Luke Breuer is really petty about the smallest shit, and bitter about something outside of the internet.

        • adam

          Certainly petty about the smallest shit, I mean when one worships the “God of the Gaps” and the gap is quantum fluctuations, you have to be.

        • TheNuszAbides

          you mean you haven’t embraced the so-unfalsifiable-it’s just-gotta-be-true Dogma of Original Bitterness? somewhere in the Songbook of St. Coughing, iirc.

        • I simply don’t believe your “far worse”; I think Rwandan Genocide § United States

          WTF? I don’t know what to make of your position. Who gives a shit about fallible people failing? They’re fallible—of course they fail. God on the other hand is very, very fallible in the Good Book, despite the fact that he’s perfect.

          Look: just tell me that you don’t want to confront this issue head on because it shakes your faith so we can put this behind us. Otherwise, I keep thinking you’re stupid or something and just can’t parse my English.

          ”Only an idiot first assumes the religion from which they come is true and then retroactively declares the God portrait to be valid.”

          Let’s test this argument via scholarship: Tomas Bogardus’The Problem of Contingency for Religious Belief.

          I’m too stupid to understand how this makes sense. Or uninterested.

          From whence did you get your theological belief about ‘perfection’ and how have you tested it?

          You’re a smart guy. I’ll bet you can answer this question all by yourself rather than waste our time.

          I never said, nor implied, that “Bible verses are obligatory on an atheist.”

          And yet you used them in your argument nonetheless. Perhaps there’s some baseline comedy under there you just don’t want to admit.

          And why would it have been in the best interest of an omnimax deity to do things differently?

          I don’t know. And once again, you’ll want to give the hypothesis the benefit of the doubt. “God could have good reasons.” That’s not the way we do things in Reason World.

          So, if you didn’t assume your theological beliefs are true as they were initially formed—how did you test them?

          I can’t get past the assumption that this is mindless busywork. Is there an honest question there? If so, I want to waste as little time as possible answering it. Please sharpen the question.

          That wouldn’t work; people would find technical ways to avoid it.

          Dang. Gotta be tough being the Big Man, don’t it? I mean, you’re omni3 and yet ya just don’t get the respect you ought to. People think that omnipotent means omnipotent, but when they can just ignore you at will … it’s enough to make an omnipotent deity cry.

          For example: wage slavery. Or debt slavery.

          Tough, very tough. I’ll bet a god one billion times smarter than you would have to think many seconds to figure out how to do things so he could get his way.

          There, one sees a strategy for pushing toward egalitarianism which seems possibly pragmatically valid. Nothing you’ve put forward fits that bill.

          Not my job. It is God’s job, though. And our world looks precisely like a world in which no god has ever existed. You can bet what I conclude from that.

          C.S. Lewis chews through that kind of argument in The Problem of Pain:

          Oh, dear. The big guns.

          I’ve read some CS Lewis. Not impressed. In this case, the existence of gratuitous evil is enough. And don’t tell me God gives a shit about free will when he allows crime victims to have their free will trampled all the time without doing anything.

          Anyway, the burden of proof for God on your strong shoulders.

          Meta observation: After spending hours chatting with you, I’m sensing that the useful phase has come to an end. You have lots of ideas, but I don’t think I’ve learned anything new. You might argue that that shows my closed mindedness. I disagree, but that’s just my view. You know the topics that interest me. If you want to clarify your position on those, that might be worthwhile.

          I’ll try again: “Don’t you believe we are morally superior to Jesus?”

          I have no opinion on the matter. I haven’t thought about it enough.

          Deflection. I’ll try again. “I believe I’m morally superior to God, as portrayed in the OT. You, too, I’ll bet.”

          You have yet to really take on my argument that an imperfect human being will judge imperfectly

          What’s to take on? I agree. Obviously.

          But somehow, you no longer think this way when it comes to moral competence.

          Huh? Stay away from the cough syrup for at least 12 hours before you reply, please.

          (II) immoral in domain X ⇒ unreliable about moralizing in domain X

          Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ve made clear that I agree already with this tautology. And (I’ll repeat yet again), I have no option but use the imperfect mental tools I have to evaluate the Christian claims (you’re welcome). And my conclusion: they’re laughably flawed. That dude from the OT who ordered the genocide and supports slavery—you actually mean he’s the one who’s perfect? You gotta be kidding.

          I’m sorry, but I will need a detailed explanation, for how the accusation “liar” fits. I’m glad you only said “look like a liar”, because actually calling me a liar ends our relationship—such as it is—unless you can (i) justify it to a reasonable outside party, which we’d have to agree upon, or (ii) recant and repent for the character assassination

          This ain’t hard, Mr. Thin Skinned. I talk about slavery in the Bible. You respond with, “Well, yeah, but … but slavery right now is pretty bad! (Even though we don’t have any because of God’s very slow but very fabulous plan to very slowly get rid of it!) And you’re probably a beneficiary of slave labor right now, Mr. Western Capitalist Pig!” And then I say that I agree with your concerns and can’t we please, please get back to the actual topic which you must understand is the actual topic because that’s the topic that makes you sweat. Over and over you talk about Rwanda instead of God’s genocidal actions and modern slavery instead of God’s support for slavery. Either you’re too stupid to understand how arguments work (unlikely) or this is an attempt at deception—hence the comparison to a liar.

          I probably agree with you about Rwanda and slavery. Now, let’s put that to bed and you never bring them up again.

        • Who gives a shit about fallible people failing?

          I give a shit when a faulty instrument gives a reading and the reading might be bad because of the instrument being faulty. You seem very confident that no matter how faulty the instrument is, we can still trust its readings. This makes sense, if there is nobody outside to point out flaws in the instrument, on a channel that doesn’t have the same faults as the instrument. And yet, God is precisely a person who can point out flaws in that [reliable] way. How do I think he does it? Well, partially: via our struggling with scripture, and letting it judge us instead of us judging it. Although, it’s really a cyclic thing, because one does have to kinda-sorta judge scripture in order to understand it.

          Look: just tell me that you don’t want to confront this issue head on because it shakes your faith so we can put this behind us. Otherwise, I keep thinking you’re stupid or something and just can’t parse my English.

          I realize you believe this. I probably cannot shake that belief. But I’m not going to allow you to stamp your way of interpreting reality, onto me. That’s quite the dick thing to do, actually. What you’re doing is 100% ignoring that my interpretation might be valid, when it conflicts with yours. There’s a great passage from U. Leeds faculty Alistair McFadyen on this topic:

              The doctrine of the fall means that the question of the right practice of relations (ethics) has to be relocated. The ethical question cannot be equated with possession of the knowledge of the difference between good and evil, for that is precisely the form of self-possession which led to the fall. Adam and Eve thought they could dispute what God’s Word really meant, get behind it to judge both it and God.[35] The assumption that we have the capacity to know the difference between right and wrong and to act upon it is in itself and on its own already a corruption of the image. It isolates one from God and others because what is right for one and others is assumed to be already known. The assumption that one already knows what is right stops communication because no new information or external agency is necessary. In what follows I will describe the image and its redemption as a relational process of seeking what is right in openness to others and God and thereby to the fact that one’s understanding and capacity are fundamentally in question.

          The choice between good and evil implies that people are already in touch with reality and their only task is its administration . . . The choice between good and evil calls elements within our environment into question: the real ethical question calls us into question.[36]

          Consequently the focus on our own possibilities is replaced by an emphasis on our need of, and thereby our relations with, God and others. (The Call to Personhood, 43–44)

          You have followed the pattern of Adam and Eve, trying to get behind my words and judge me (and God). I think that’s a dick thing to do. But I’m guessing you don’t. We will probably have to agree to disagree, here. The only question for you is whether you let it go, or insist on defining reality, by telling a story you think is more true than mine. Are you going to try to play Death, in George Herbert’s A Dialogue–Anthem? He’s a dick, too.

          BS: Only an idiot first assumes the religion from which they come is true and then retroactively declares the God portrait to be valid.

          LB: Let’s test this argument via scholarship: Tomas Bogardus’ The Problem of Contingency for Religious Belief.

          BS: I’m too stupid to understand how this makes sense. Or uninterested.

          You may consider that to be my reply to your “Only an idiot” comment.

          LB: From whence did you get your theological belief about ‘perfection’ and how have you tested it?

          BS: You’re a smart guy. I’ll bet you can answer this question all by yourself rather than waste our time.

          Suffice it to say, I predicted correctly (evidence I had so far):

          LB: You’ve never once indicated to me that you could possibly be wrong as to your theological beliefs. This seems like the height of arrogance, to me.

          BS: You never once asked. This seems like the height of jumping-the-gun-ness.

          Well, I will declare myself “not a smart guy”, and re-ask you the question: “From whence did you get your theological belief about ‘perfection’ and how have you tested it?” I suspect this is quite the uncomfortable question. But if you are just going to state the obvious—for example: “What I think is perfect is what I want the most.”—just do it. Don’t be shy.

          BS: Only an idiot first assumes the religion from which they come is true and then retroactively declares the God portrait to be valid.

          LB: So, if you didn’t assume your theological beliefs are true as they were initially formed—how did you test them?

          BS: I can’t get past the assumption that this is mindless busywork. Is there an honest question there? If so, I want to waste as little time as possible answering it. Please sharpen the question.

          So my investigating your theological beliefs is “mindless busywork”? C’mon, you think it’s ok to refer vaguely to ‘religion’, as if that actually refers to anything (it doesn’t), and yet when I refer vaguely to ‘theological beliefs’, all of a sudden it’s unacceptable? C’mon. But if you really need it, I have sharpened: tell me how your idea of perfection was formed, or at least how you tested it for error. That is clearly an important concept for this entire discussion. Indeed, much of it has revolved around your idea of who God should be.

          And yet you used them in your argument nonetheless. Perhaps there’s some baseline comedy under there you just don’t want to admit.

          I’ll let you chew on that for a little while. You’ll probably spit it out, but I don’t feel like chewing it for you and feeding it to you, momma-bird-to-baby-bird.

          LB: And why would it have been in the best interest of an omnimax deity to do things differently?

          BS: I don’t know. And once again, you’ll want to give the hypothesis the benefit of the doubt. “God could have good reasons.” That’s not the way we do things in Reason World.

          I’m not parsing this. It looks like you’ve given yourself a free pass: no matter how good the world is, you can just imagine up some shit that lets you say it ain’t perfect, and therefore (i) God doesn’t exist; or (ii) God ain’t perfect, either. How have you not done this very convenient thing, which I sometimes describe as: “Defining your way to victory.”?

          People think that omnipotent means omnipotent […]

          A meaningless statement.

          And our world looks precisely like a world in which no god has ever existed.

          You cannot possibly know this. Prove me wrong: show how you formed this belief in a properly justified fashion.

          I’ve read some CS Lewis. Not impressed. In this case, the existence of gratuitous evil is enough.

          Stay on topic, stay on topic.

          Meta observation: After spending hours chatting with you, I’m sensing that the useful phase has come to an end. You have lots of ideas, but I don’t think I’ve learned anything new. You might argue that that shows my closed mindedness. I disagree, but that’s just my view. You know the topics that interest me. If you want to clarify your position on those, that might be worthwhile.

          Well, I’ve enjoyed things so far. If you’ve petered out and just aren’t interested in justifying a single one of your theological beliefs, that’s that. I’ve gotten much further with you on various topics than most atheists, and for that I am immensely thankful. It’s sad you haven’t learned anything from me, although I know you at least liked something I said:

          BS: Prayer, by contrast, doesn’t work that way.

          LB: You mean prayer isn’t magic technology? Man, I’ve been doing it so wrongly all these years. I thought God was a vending machine: put worship in, get giftie out. See, this is why I talk to atheists on the internet; they tell me these things!

          BS: You read the Good Book honestly, my brother. Good for you. Too many Christians give me the, “OK, now I realize it looks like it says that, but obviously it doesn’t mean that.” I’m sure that kind of Doublethink frustrates you as much as it does me.

          Perhaps, however, that’s pretty low yield for all the work you’ve put in.

          Deflection. I’ll try again. “I believe I’m morally superior to God, as portrayed in the OT. You, too, I’ll bet.”

          Nope, I do not think I’m superior to YHWH, as portrayed in the OT. For example, see Isaiah 58.

          Huh? Stay away from the cough syrup for at least 12 hours before you reply, please.

          How’d you know I have a cough? Unfortunately, the good stuff (Phenergan with Codeine) hasn’t been doing jack shit, so I stopped taking it last week. 🙁 Pray for me?

          Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ve made clear that I agree already with this tautology. And (I’ll repeat yet again), I have no option but use the imperfect mental tools I have to evaluate the Christian claims (you’re welcome). And my conclusion: they’re laughably flawed. That dude from the OT who ordered the genocide and supports slavery—you actually mean he’s the one who’s perfect? You gotta be kidding.

          Actually, this is the most clear I ever recall you being. My apologies if I missed earlier cases! So, have you ever found that your mental tools need tweaking? You seem to have never acknowledged that might be required, for thinking about God and/or what he would do if he existed. You seem to always be quite confident in this realm, despite being 100% unwilling to say how you test your theological beliefs [for error].

          Well, all I can say is that you have benefited immensely from the genocide of the Native Americans, with them still underwriting your nice existence via having to continue to exist on the shittiest land in America. So you condemn it on the one hand, while refusing to fix the damage it has caused on the other, where you benefited from [some of the] the damage-incurring process. For you to not properly respond to this boggles my mind. Indeed, I think your own response is most appropriate: “You gotta be kidding.”

          This ain’t hard, Mr. Thin Skinned.

          Ahh yes, thin skinned people respond to stuff like this—

          A: No, you’re not a liar. You’re honestly delusional, mad as cheese, not even close to a crack as clued in as you think. Harry nailed you right. You help no side. Only you masturbate verbal choleric spew in some narcissistic idea that you hold the motherlode of ‘deep thought’ in your soft little head. (And that’s without even getting into the whole Paul thing.) I’ve seen you rambling up and down the internet for a while now. You’