Would God Want You to Tell a Gunman, “Yes, I’m a Christian”?

Would God Want You to Tell a Gunman, “Yes, I’m a Christian”? October 5, 2015

I’m sure you’ve heard of the October 1 shooting at the Oregon community college by Christopher Mercer that killed nine. Stories swirl around his motivation and why he asked victims about their religious beliefs. Was he persecuting Christians? Was he promising them an afterlife based on his Christian views? We can’t say, but the popular conclusion that his motivation was anti-Christian seems premature.

who would die for a lie?John Mark Reynolds is a fellow Patheos blogger in the Evangelical channel, and he imagines a situation where someone with a gun is singling out Christians and killing them. If placed in such a situation, he hopes that he would have the courage to stand firm rather than deny his Christian belief. “I don’t wish to die yet,” he says, “but there are some things worse than death.”

I admire that bravery. It’s pointless, thoughtless, and stupid, but it’s brave.

(Dr. Reynolds and I have had some interaction before. He was the one who sounded the alarm about anti-theistic Stalin wannabes like me eager to establish an atheistic dictatorship and rule the world. I responded here and here.)

Reynolds sums up his dilemma in facing this imaginary shooter: “Better dead than betraying the High King of Heaven.”

Would you die for your father’s honor?

Let’s imagine a parallel. Suppose that instead of God, you’re defending your biological father. The gunman declares that your father is a dirty, rotten scoundrel and will shoot you if (and only if) you disagree. Is your father’s honor in the mind of one deranged idiot worth dying for? No father would want that. No father would find it sweet or caring that his child sacrificed their life for his honor or reputation. Instead, he’d find it stupid and pointless.

This example is so meaningless—defending with your life the honor of a god that many Christians admit to occasionally doubting—that I almost wonder if Reynolds imagines an ending like that in the Abraham and Isaac story. God saved Isaac’s life at the end, and the whole thing turned out to be a bizarre and heartless test. The god who knew everything had to see if Abraham was so blindly obedient that he would follow even the most immoral of commands.

I’ve written before about Christians’ excitement over Christian persecution. Jesus promised that Christians will be persecuted, so perhaps this is vague validation that they’ve backed the right horse.

Christian persecution 2000 years ago

The article alludes to Christian martyrs in Roman times, and I guess Reynolds worries about modern Christians not living up to the sacrifices of their ancient forebears. But let’s be clear about what we’re talking about. Category 1 is people forcibly rounded up and executed for being Christian. Category 2 is people given the choice of forever abandoning their religion in favor of the Roman religion or die. And category 3 is Reynolds’ imagined situation where he has the option to lie or die. Unlike the other situations, Reynolds has an easy out.

(The “Who would die for a lie?” argument is tangential, and I respond to that here.)

Would God want your sacrifice?

Reynolds gives the obvious parallel: would you lie to Nazis to protect Jews hiding in your house? He concludes, “Nazis did not deserve the truth.” But a mass murderer does? Reynolds would lie to Nazis but feels obliged to tell the truth to a madman with a gun? He might respond that it’s not the recipient of the message but the message itself. “There are no Jews here” hurts only the Nazi plan, while lying that “I’m not a Christian” makes God sad (or furious or disappointed or something).

This is the god that Christians tell us is overflowing in love and understanding … but he also wants Christians to sacrifice their lives in meaningless tests? Why worship this guy?

The Bible sometimes approves of white lies. The Hebrew midwives lied to Pharaoh (Exodus 1:15–21). Rahab lied to protect the Israelite spies in Jericho (Joshua 2:5).

Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6). Does God need anything more from you to know where you actually stand?

Reynolds wrings his hands. “There are worse things than death for a Christian and one of those things is a life of secret shame.” Shame? Then apologize afterwards to God. Could God be so stupid that he doesn’t understand what happened? He’s a billion times smarter and a billion times more understanding than any father. And what’s there to apologize for anyway? You preserved God’s gift of life—sounds like God would congratulate you for making a smart decision.

Death is not the worst thing for a Christian. A life that continues based on cowardice in the face of the ultimate test would be worse.

Personal doubt (which I’ve been pleased to see many Christians acknowledge) is a test of your faith. Performing an arbitrary procedure to save your life is not. Isn’t God smart enough to get it? What kind of delicate flower of a god would care that you didn’t defend his honor? There’s a difference between a noble cause and a stupid one.

This is a lot of drama for the honor of someone who gives no evidence of even existing.

The Bible:
because a bunch of guys who didn’t know
where the sun went at night
totally have all the answers.
— WFLAtheism

Image credit: John Doe, flickr, CC

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  • The Eh’theist

    I didn’t find Reynolds’ post well-conceived either. The Nazi digression with the “it doesn’t matter” narrative felt a little like “they’ve rejected the messiah, and have no relationship with Jesus to ruin, what’s one more white lie involving them going to change? ”

    But the worse point for me is the “holier than thou” nature of his thesis, given the text he’s used as the basis of his argument. The New Testament dedicates significant space in multiple books to Peter’s denials of Jesus in the face of a mob, Peter’s possible scourging and even death if he acknowledges Christ. Did Peter go on with a lifetime of secret shame, per Reynolds?

    Nope, if we take the story as written, Jesus sought him out, triple forgave him, and gave him the top billing on the day of pentecost and possibly over the whole church depending on your theological persuasion. Reynolds’ thesis is flatly contradicted by his source material. Jesus said something about Pharisees laying burdens on people that they invented, and that text may be applicable here.

    • Great point about Peter.

      I made a comment to Reynolds’ post, which was moderated. I checked in later. Not only were there were no comments, the commenting section had also been removed.

      I emailed him to alert him that I’d made this post, as a courtesy and to give him the opportunity to consider new ideas and respond. I suspect that dialogue isn’t was he’s into.

      • John Mark N. Reynolds

        Wow. As a Socratic teacher that is a harsh thing to hear. I love dialog. In fact, I love it so much that I cannot blog AND turn on my comment section, as I feel that not responding is unfair. I did not censor your comment in particular, because my blog does not take comments! Ever. My blog was not “moderated” and then comments turned off. My blog is not open to comments.

        The second reason I do not allow comments is because my discussion board experience (going back to the Q-link!) is that the discussion often degenerates. Either it turns into an echo chamber of facile agreement or it attracts trolls repeating talking points.

        • MNb

          You repeat talking points on this very page. Are you a troll now? Or are you kind of special?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I have nothing to do with the IT issue. I asked that comments be turned off. As far as I know they are.
          As for “repeating talking points,” I am sorry you see it that way. I tend to respond on blogs with comments on that directly address my posts. . . I cannot always (having a day job) . . .
          I simply cannot blog and moderate a comment section. When I blogged at the Washington Post before moving to Pathos, they had a “comment on” policy and so felt duty bound to interact. I did, enjoyed it, but found it very, very time consuming.
          I simply don’t have that time. I figure that my blog is one of many and that general interaction can come from other blogs.
          Maybe, therefore, I should not ever respond in other comment sections (I am open to that), but in this case was “called out” for not responding.

        • Thank you for clarifying. It’s hard to parse someone’s intentions from few clues, and I seem to have over-parsed.

          As for comments on your blog, your “God help us” post did indeed accept comments, and now it doesn’t. I assumed that change was a deliberate action on your part.

          For example, take your latest post (fragment below). It shows 0 comments. Your prior post has that space blank. Perhaps your posts allow comments until one is made, and then it shuts off comments?

          You might want to take this up with the IT folks so that readers don’t get the wrong idea like I did.

    • John Mark N. Reynolds

      You realize that the fact that Jesus forgave Peter means that Peter did the wrong thing, right? We don’t want to do the wrong thing even if we can be forgiven for it. Think folks.

      • Kodie

        I don’t want to do the wrong thing and be a Christian.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          If you think Christianity is wrong, then you certainly should NOT be a Christian. I deeply admire honest atheists who have faced wicked social persecution for standing for their views.

      • Kodie

        Think how often an atheist has to lie to Christians, who are the majority in the US. Think how often we have to weigh the decision if we want a job or a home or friends, etc., that people have to go along to get along. Think how often Christians make life difficult for people with beliefs that aren’t Christian, because you can’t handle a little difference of opinion. I think if a gunman asked you if you were a Christ-believer, and you said yes because of massive guilt with you imaginary friend, that’s so sad. Christians use their privilege to bully people every day into suppressing their urge to tell the truth about what they do or don’t believe. Think yourself.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Every time a Christian does this: they are wrong. I think if I were an atheist, something I seriously considered in grad school, that I would be proud to stand for truth as I sound it. I hope I would.
          I can promise you that as a traditional Christian in the academic world I have been harassed, spat at, lost job opportunities.
          I don’t think God is “imaginary.” You do. So all you are doing is restating your position in an insulting way. What good is that?

        • Kodie

          I think if a gunman pointed his gun at me, and asked me if I were Christian, I wouldn’t know what to say. I’d probably have to guess “yes” was the right answer, based on my previous life experiences.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I am sorry that is your experience. We should tell the truth about our deepest beliefs, because as you are showing we cannot guess what the reaction would be. I for one would rather die witnessing to the truth as I saw it rather than dying with a lie I thought would save me and did not.

      • Jack Baynes

        And Jesus wouldn’t forgive a Christian today for doing the same thing?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Of course he would. I prefer however to do the right thing before needing forgiveness.

  • Jack Baynes

    Poor St. Peter, having to live out his life after having failed “the ultimate test” 3 times….

    • Brilliant!

      • John Mark N. Reynolds

        Unless you note that Christians do view him aa having failed and been forgiven . . . a point I acknowledged in my post as those Christians who later said denying Christ was unpardonable were defeated for just this reason. The fact that an error can be forgiven doesn’t mean you want to make it.

        • The parable of the Good Samaritan makes clear that sometimes you have to do a little bad thing (touching a sick person, which will require ritual cleansing) to avoid a big bad thing (letting the guy die).

          If we ignore Jesus’s prediction that Peter would indeed deny him, Peter lied (little bad thing) to save himself (big bad thing).

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          That is a decent argument and some Christian ethicists would accept it. (higher goods). I think ritual cleansing is nothing like doing a moral evil and so your Good Samaritan analogy fails.
          I sometimes kneel when I cross the altar at church as a sign. It would be no wrong at all not to do it for any good reason (aging knees being one). Rituals are good, but they are not moral laws as Jesus often says.
          I generally buy lesser evils for greater goods . . .. why I would always lie to a Nazi to save a life. In my opinion, there are some lies where I:
          a. am unsure of the outcome of my truth telling (madmen are unpredictable as are evil men).
          b. would have to live with the doubt that all I did was be a coward and plan to repent.
          I think the truth is better:
          a. if I am killed, which I do not desire, then I have witnessed (like Socrates) to a profound truth: some ideas are worth truth telling.
          b. if I am not killed and I have told the truth, then that is even better.

        • a. if I am killed, which I do not desire, then I have witnessed (like Socrates) to a profound truth: some ideas are worth truth telling.

          I can imagine that some truths are worth dying for. But when you’re dying over the impression a gunman has in his head about you, that’s stupid.

          You’ll say that it’s the aftermath in your own head that you’re concerned about. But, again, you’re just fretting about one murderer’s opinion–not that big a deal.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. I don’t care what the gunman thinks. I care about the witness to truth. I care about living with cowardice (or that possibility). Look: did Socrates do the right thing Bob?

        • Sure, let’s say Socrates did the right thing by drinking the hemlock. That’s very different from you worrying about whether you can live with yourself for telling a white lie to a murderer.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Why? That’s is (I am sure you know) one of the very arguments Socrates made. What don’t you like about it?

        • I think ritual cleansing is nothing like doing a moral evil and so your Good Samaritan analogy fails.

          Huh? Ritual cleansing is the remedy for doing the small sin in the Good Samaritan situation, and repenting to God is the remedy in the white lie situation.

          The sin of letting someone die to avoid ritual impurity is a huge wrong. The sin of telling a white lie is not.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Breaking a ceremonial law is not a sin It is the equivalent of farting at a party.

        • I’m pretty sure that breaking kosher laws in the time of Moses was a capital offense. No?

          The OT’s 613 laws aren’t 613 suggestions.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Sigh. No.
          There is (and was in the minds of rabbis who were not Christians) a difference between the moral law (binding on everyone) and the ceremonial law (binding when possible). Many a rabbi, not just Jesus, pointed out that you pull an ox out of a ditch, or save a life, or do good, on the Sabbath if there was no other way to do so.

        • Kodie

          I think Jesus died stupidly and by choice. If he were really the son of god and a savior, wouldn’t he do more good staying alive and doing good things, perhaps eternally, teaching people how to live and prosper and grow? Instead, you all find the martyr more emotionally satisfying as a sacrifice, and capable of doing more good. I think 2000 years of walking the earth building a real relationship with as many people as he could would have a bigger effect. Why do I have to think of these things? In general, I think “sacrificing your life” by dying is the wrong way to sacrifice your life, if you are intent on doing such a thing.

        • Jesus going back up to heaven is rather like Joseph Smith having to give the golden plates back to Moroni.

          An immortal, 2000-yo Jesus passing along wisdom and doing miracles would do a lot to convince people that Christianity is the right horse. Ditto the golden plates.

        • Jack Baynes

          Do you think Jesus would have preferred Peter not denied Jesus? Then Peter would not have been able to lead his church.

          Wouldn’t God want the same of today’s Christians? Keep yourself alive so you can better serve him?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I do think Peter would have done better to not deny Jesus. I do not know what would have happened if he had not and neither do you.
          God does not need my service. I get to serve Him. He does not “need” me to do anything, so like any decent gentleman I prefer to die (like Socrates) if I must die (and I hope I do not) with the deep truth on my lips and not a cowardly lie.

        • Jack Baynes

          What a sad god that would prefer his followers die than to tell a lie that hurts nobody.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I am not arguing based on God’s preference, but what a good man (like Socrates) would do. You seem unable to catch that.

        • Jack Baynes

          I would assume that a good man values life, including his own, and would not throw it away needlessly.

          Would the world be a better place if a gunman killed me for calling myself a Christian than if he let me live because I said I was not?
          I can’t see how it would be.

        • Kodie

          Do you have children? Would they want you to die that way or come home?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          God does not prefer his followers to die, lie, or hurt anybody.

        • adam

          “God does not prefer his followers to die, lie, or hurt anybody.”

          How well do you know this IMAGINARY god of yours?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I don’t know Him well. That’s a lot. I do know about Him because He is not imaginary. I experience Him daily, test my experience with reason, and do the best I can to be open to being wrong. However, nearly capitalizing imaginary is unlikely to persuade me

        • adam

          “I don’t know Him well. ”

          Oh, I think you know him better than you think. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0475458f4fd52f3b0b86eb714433ff8ab751ac1d0bddf2f25c23e130ca9d13db.jpg

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          So you have decided poster slogans are arguments? In fact, I don’t always want to love my enemies or be kind to them. Sometimes I want to call them names. God isn’t me and he doesn’t exist in my head

        • adam

          After what you’ve put down as arguments?

          “In fact, I don’t always want to love my enemies or be kind to them.
          Sometimes I want to call them names. God isn’t me and he doesn’t exist
          in my head”

          Funny you should mention that:

          The bible god hates his enemies as well.

          “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Romans 9:13

          The bible god calls people names as well.

          “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”

          Yep, you sound JUST LIKE YOUR GOD…

        • Max Doubt

          “God isn’t me and he doesn’t exist in my head”

          Yet you’re unable to objectively demonstrate that your god thing is substantively different from any other figment of your imagination. It can’t do anything. It doesn’t have any effect on the universe. There is nothing to objectively differentiate it from the monster in a little boy’s closet, the invisible magic princess who occupies the empty chair at a little girl’s make-believe tea party, or some mentally ill person’s imaginary friend. Sure, you feel it’s real, but that mentally ill person feels his pal is real, too. Sorry. When you’re talking about the alleged all powerful master of the universe, you’re going to need more than that.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          A series of insults that boil down to: I don’t agree with your arguments. Great. That is why we keep discussing things in philosophy. No good is done by saying it as a series of insults.

        • Kodie

          What you perceive as insults is actually growing impatience with your end of the dialogue. You present claims as if we should all accept them and move on. You cite nameless, “many” philosophers, “relevant atheists,” or atheist philosophers who back your assertions and give us a big problem!

          None of this is any argument worth having. I don’t agree with your style of arguing because you have replaced it with argument from authority. When do we “keep discussing” things? You’re a brick wall on that concern.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. I am trying to take your assertions and get claims out of them to discuss. When you say ideas don’t exist without brain; I think you should at least know the state of play about ideas like numbers. Start here:
          http://welovephilosophy.com/2012/12/17/do-numbers-exist/

          This article shows a good reason to reject my Platonism but also the problem with your view. It gives the state of play.

        • Kodie

          Your assertions continue to be “many” or “most” people agree with you that I’m too stupid to get this. You linked that same article multiple times to make sure I understand, I already understand. The concept doesn’t exist outside the brain to process comprehension of the concept. The chess move is physical. It changes the physical make-up of the rules of the game which are also conceived physically.

          Or do you think “walking” isn’t physical either? I can get that you don’t understand “reading” to be physical, even though you sense words with your eyes and process them in your brain. You add some other element that I don’t even think is platonism as described by that article that this idea in a physical context of words outside my mind and outside of your mind is also happening aside from your physical brain or mine. But do you think “walking” isn’t physical, material?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Th idea isn’t physical … When humans do it the we are walking not idea of walking!

          I linked because it gives the most powerful reason that you need to address and are missing in your simple nominalistic:

          Science is the best arbiter of what exists.
          Therefore, if science says something exists, we should accept it.
          Science relies (heavily and intractably) on mathematics.
          Therefore, science says that numbers exist.
          Therefore, numbers exist.

        • Kodie

          And you think I’m the simple one?

        • MNb

          “Th idea isn’t physical …..”
          Just because you say so?
          The idea of walking is also physical. It exists within our head.

          “science says that numbers exist”
          So what? Numbers exist within our heads. They are part of the language called math.

        • Kodie

          Walking also comes from the brain. Thinking about walking is also happening in the brain. Physically moving is obviously physical. Mathematics is a language. Language also in the brain. There is no “4”. A scientist wouldn’t rely on the number “4” for example, but a physical relation of something arbitrarily (in the brain/language) measured 4 to something physical else.

          You’re not getting this.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Because:

          Science is the best arbiter of what exists.
          Therefore, if science says something exists, we should accept it.
          Science relies (heavily and intractably) on mathematics.
          Therefore, science says that numbers exist.
          Therefore, numbers exist.

        • Kodie

          I’m getting the idea you don’t know how to think.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Then I will keep trying to improve. Always a good task.

        • Glen

          A number is just a descriptor. It’s not a thing.

          Though you could have a physical number ‘4’. If you only have 1 of them, the one ‘number 4’ is a descriptor of how many of those physical objects you have.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I am sorry about this mistyped sentence: Th idea isn’t physical … When humans do it the we are walking not idea of walking!

          It should read: the idea of walking is not physical. You are walking when you walk and not idea of walking! They are two different type of things.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          You are a nominalistic and I linked to the article to give you state of the art nominalism so we can have a better discussion. It also gives the best problem with my view!

        • MNb

          “I am trying to take your assertions and get claims out of them to discuss.”
          No, you’re not. Max Doubt wrote

          “you feel it’s real, but that mentally ill person feels his pal is real, too. Sorry. When you’re talking about the alleged all powerful master of the universe, you’re going to need more than that.”
          and you dismissed this as an insult.
          Granted, you gave the ontological argument and the argument from math (plus a few more I forgot at the moment), but just like Kodie wrote “you present claims as if we should all accept them and move on.”

          It doesn’t work that way and exactly this shows that you’re intellectually dishonest and argue for a predetermined conclusion.

          That article of yours neglects one important problem – what do we exactly mean with “exist”? I don’t have any problem with saying that abstract concepts exist. They exist within our human heads. They probably don’t exist in the heads of worms and certainly not within chairs.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. But fine. What do you find unpersusive about the ontological argument?

        • MNb

          Wow, if you call this a series of insults your toes are even longer than those of the average Young Earth Creatinist ….

        • Max Doubt

          “A series of insults that boil down to: I don’t agree with your arguments.”

          My comment was straightforward. It was not a disagreement with your arguments. It was a rejection of your claim that a god exists, with a simple explanation as to why any reasonable person would reject it. That you see it as an insult is telling.

          “Great. That is why we keep discussing things in philosophy.”

          Discussing things in philosophy seems to be an effective way for you to avoid supporting your claim that a god exists.

          “No good is done by saying it as a series of insults.”

          Maybe you can understand if I explain it again. You said, “God isn’t me and he doesn’t exist in my head,” but you seem quite unable to objectively demonstrate that your god thing is substantively different from any other figment of your imagination. Until you can, in your head appears to be the only place it exists and where it will remain. It has no power to affect the universe outside your imagination, so the comparison to a little kid’s imaginary friend or a mentally ill person’s delusion is perfectly apt.

          And we’re still left with this, pretty much exactly where we were before you even entered the conversation: There is no objective evidence to support any claims that any gods exist as anything other than figments of individuals’ imaginations. If you can’t provide that evidence, my rejection of your claim is not an insult. It is, as far as we know so far, a true statement.

        • MR

          When you’re talking about the alleged all powerful master of the universe, you’re going to need more than that.

          Yes, the facade begins to break down once you start to realize that the “all powerful master of the universe” looks an awful lot like people doing people things and nature doing nature things—nothing more. Hey, I’m quite happy to believe in an “all powerful master of the universe.” Hell, I did most of my adult life. But dressing up everyday life to fit a false narrative is nothing more than a child’s game. An all powerful master of the universe who so loves the world shouldn’t be so god-damned hard to demonstrate, yet all we ever get is woo talk. Hint: I used to believe in the woo; it doesn’t work anymore. Show me.

        • Glen

          Can you think of anything that you fundamentally disagree with God about? That you think that he is wrong about?

          Unlikely.

          NOBODY thinks their god is wrong about anything, because he can’t be wrong about anything. And if your god believes something, then you believe it to. It’s the same with every last theist no matter what they believe. Scientific investigation has even borne this out.

          You think it’s wrong to not be kind to others, even those you consider enemies. So does your god.

          I also think it’s wrong to be mean (or worse) to those I very much dislike, yet when I’m angry with such people I certainly don’t want to be kind to them, and I might not be if they are present at the time of my anger with them. Yet after I’ve calmed down and I’m back to my standard thoughtful compassionate self I realize it is (or was) wrong to be mean to them.

          The difference between what I do and you do, is that you attribute that to god. I attribute it to different mental states along with my own understanding of the human condition.

          God IS you, and he only exists in your head. Prove otherwise.

        • Kodie

          God is presented as a flawed human with more power than a human. That makes him “good,” “righteous,” “just,” and “perfect.” He’s just like you or me, he is moody, he gets insecure, he has his disappointments, and then because he’s god, he gets to do what he wants to do – whether that is give someone another chance, or pound them to smithereens and wipe them off the face of the earth, for a supposed higher purpose than our own. No. In earth terms, there is no one above god to tell him he’s being an asshole sometimes. We’re his subjects, like it or not. He doesn’t have a boss himself, so his purpose is simply whatever he wants, not for us, but for himself, just like we deal with our purpose (in general). Our purpose is not eternal. We just want to live comfortably, for example, so our “subjects,” say, children, have to do what we tell them to do, and given millions of chances to get it right so we will not be disappointed. Other inhabitants of our homes are there by our grace, a dog, a parrot, whatever, or exterminated because they don’t serve our purpose, weeds, ants, burglars.

          God is just a human type of guy. I don’t see anything good or special about this character, other than he has the power to wipe us out… you know, if we don’t wipe ourselves out first trying to serve “his” purpose.

        • Glen

          Indeed. It couldn’t be any more clear that ‘god’ was made in the image of man.

          The Biblical god especially is the best and the utter worst of humanity in his thoughts behaviors and actions.

        • Kodie

          Adults also think, in order to be humble, one needs a tyrannical parental type over them (this is one of the believers’ alleged virtues).. not only do they abuse this “relationship” by wielding their own god’s powers over others, they don’t have a perspective of what it really means to be humble. I’m humble enough that I live in a giant world with a lot of other people and have control over barely anything. Their humility should come from knowing they can’t always get what they want here. The world is not a vending machine! They think it is the other way around – as long as they have god, they should be able to dictate what they wish and have it granted by everyone else.

          Not humble.

        • adam

          ..

        • Glen

          Indeed.

          Never have you heard anyone exclaim… “I think homosexuality is perfectly fine. God however opposes it. I’m in total disagreement with God. He and I don’t see eye-to-eye on the subject.

          If you disapprove of homosexuality, of course your GOD disapproves of it. If you approve of it, of course your GOD approves of it. If you’ve been inculcated to think that it is wrong, but you do it anyway, then your God thinks its wrong but he forgives you for doing it.

        • adam

          It is the primary result from any Revealed ReligionTM.

          The only thing that gets ‘revealed’ is the individuals themselves and their own ‘wishful thinking’.

  • Warren

    Students often do not understand why we cannot deny Christ. After all, we do not mean what we say to the mad dictator. If Caesar asks us to throw a pinch of incense into the fire and proclaim him god, then why not? He is not god, the officials know he is not god, and we can mock him in our hearts as we do the deed. Yet our fathers and mothers in the Faith did not say, “Caesar is Lord.” They died in the thousands to Roman vanity and later in the millions to atheist “rationalism.”

    *wince*
    Roman emperors only became gods posthumously.

    • John Mark N. Reynolds

      Sigh. You know they claimed divine prerogatives before full theosis. Right? . . . they had not yet “ascended” but knew they would ascend and demanded worship the Christians would not give. Christians would venerate the Emperor, but not worship him. You are quibbling.

  • The Christian Victimization is only fueling the extinction of Separation of church and state. Other then that it seems like a reason to try and be as relevant as something like BlackLivesMatter which actually has a cause against the actual persecution by the justice department legal system.

    • John Mark N. Reynolds

      So the thousands of people in my church dying in Syria, who send my home parish messages before they die, are imaginary? The atheists killing us in China and North Korea are not killing us? I live in a global community, I hope your experienced is not so parochial.

      American Christians have always been the majority in the United States and remain the overwhelming majority. You may thank us for setting up a society where few people are killed for their religion or lack of one.

      We are not being killed here (generally) and atheists are not being killed here (generally). This is good news.

      • Kodie

        Atheists are harassed, shunned, denied rights, abused verbally and physically, and over-run by political messages that say we do not count and should leave to find another country if we don’t like it. It seems like you only care about what’s happening to Christians. I have been called a Satanist by an ex-boyfriend, and I may have lost a job for opening up about being an atheist (at an orientation meeting for new interns at a diverse, multicultural setting where people were open to speak about such things, and where I had had my job for over a year). I didn’t have that job a week later, for some other trumped up bullshit reason. I don’t tell a lot of people that I’m an atheist, because man, the over-reaction just isn’t worth it.

        Religion is such bullshit, that’s why people are killing anyone over it. They’re wrong, but that doesn’t make you less wrong.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I disagree with what happened to you. I am sorry for it and speak out against it when I can.
          I may be wrong. Atheism may true. I have good philosophic friends who are atheist and I respect their reasoning. I don’t call what they believe bs. I am sorry you live in that kind of world.

      • I was mainly mentioning America. Nice flipflop towards a backwards ass country being shat on by both Alqueda who ironically we have funded and Assad who people generally hate because hes assad and does pretty bad shit too.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Hate to see my folks called backwards as they die. They have and had a great and modern civilization . Might want to check your privilege

        • Check my privilage? Oh you mean the fictional America is a christian nation JesusHu Ackbar everywhere JesusSharia being pushed down minoritys throats and attempts to make people lose their rights or equality because of chapters in a book about talking snakes and 13 headed dragons. Why don’t you check your privilege. The only jimmies you’re rustlin are your own. In Reason We Trust.

  • ajginn

    Dostoevsky covers this in Book 3, Chapter 7 of The Brothers Karamazov:

    http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/brothersk/section4/page/2/

    • John Mark N. Reynolds

      Good find. It is more subtle in the book than the Spark Notes makes it.

      • ajginn

        Yes, but The Brothers K is a looonnng book. Cutting and pasting is not practical. I’d encourage everyone, theist or atheist, to read it though. It’s the greatest novel ever written, IMHO.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Amen

  • Snowflake

    What sane person would want to rule the world?

    I did have this discussion with a client what to say if a guy with three hand guns and one rifle asked if you are Christian. He put it so clearly: What idiot would answer yes.

    Even when I believed in god, I thought he must have had some common sense.

    All snark aside, I offer my condolences to the victims and their families. I hope that some say they can find peace and comfort.

    • Yes, it’s a terrible tragedy.

      Perhaps you’ve seen this meme that is tangential. I’ll share it in case not everyone has:

      How about we treat every young man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants to get an abortion — mandatory 48-hr waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he’s about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence, an ultrasound wand up the ass (just because). Let’s close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, and stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun. Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun.

      It makes more sense to do this with young men and guns than with women and health care, right? I mean, no woman getting an abortion has killed a room full of people in seconds, right?

      • Snowflake

        I have not seen that. I thank you for it. It cuts to the heart of the matter.

        I don’t understand how some people think.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Perhaps you should try. One great thing about earning a secular philosophy degree was being encouraged (and having) to learn how the best people think who do not agree with me. Try it. It is invigorating.

        • Kodie

          What serious platitudes you offer.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          You think learning how other’s think a platitude? You might, but I hope not.

        • Kodie

          I meant what condescending platitudes you offer. Or don’t you know how rhetorical questions go. How much do you put yourself in the mind of a young man who wants to kill a bunch of people so you know how he thinks? Tell us what you think he must have been thinking.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I can’t. I can only control my own reaction to him. And I hope my reaction would be courage and truth telling, witnessing to a greater truth (like Socrates) and not cowardice.

        • Snowflake

          I’m sorry, try what? Get a degree in philosophy? Nah. I’m a social worker, and work as a psychotherapist. Happy with that, but still can’t understand how some people think. Working with abuse victims will do that.

        • Kodie

          He said he can’t either:

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/10/would-god-want-you-to-tell-a-gunman-yes-im-a-christian/#comment-2292280273

          I can’t. I can only control my own reaction to him. And I hope my reaction would be courage and truth telling, witnessing to a greater truth (like Socrates) and not cowardice.

          Invigorating platitudes!

        • Snowflake

          *Sigh*. You know, it just hit me. They actually believe this stuff. I feel sad. Not when they trample rights and all, but to live with these beliefs is so sad.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          This wasn’t addressed to you, but was the suggestion we all try to think like another person.

        • Kodie

          That suggestion was a direct response TO Snowflake!

          When I asked you to do it, you said you couldn’t either.

          Invigorating!

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Threads get complicated. I said to you we should try to think like others. I try to do so… Even with those who disagree. Philosophy taught me that but it does not require a degree in philosophy to do it.

        • Kodie

          It was one comment up. When I asked you how you can think like the shooter, you said “I can’t.” You were insulted that I called it “platitudes,” but it turns out I was spot on. You give one suggestion to Snowflake, and then your follow through was “I can’t.”

          Snowflake said, “I can’t understand how some people think,” and your answer was blah blah blah philosophy, try it, it’s invigorating! I called it platitudes, you got insulted, I asked you to try to understand how the shooter thinks, and it seems by then you had forgotten making that suggestion, because you answered, “I can’t.” What’s the difference between you can’t and Snowflake can’t? Philosophy?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I cannot think like the shooter. If I were a psychologist or a better person or had more time, I might try so we could help him. Sadly, I am not up to it.

          I think thinking like your opponent is a god thing but that doesn’t always mean I succeed at doing it.

  • SteveK

    Interesting question. It’s not morally good to lie (we were not created for that), however it seems obviously morally good to thwart evil by denying it the food it craves – which is an excuse to pull the trigger. Maybe the solution is to not answer the question and let the chips fall wherever they fall. Maybe the solution is to answer by asking a question and see if the gunman moves on. At the end of the day you cannot control what the gunman will do. You can only control your response.

    • And you’re back at square 1.

      When the gunman says to you, “You there! Are you a Christian?” do you lie or do you defend Jesus’s honor and get killed for doing so?

      • SteveK

        I already answered the question Bob. So we’re now at square 2. Bring me back to square 1 and my response is the same.

      • John Mark N. Reynolds

        Jesus honor is beyond my defending. My honor may require the truth.

        • I don’t get it. You’re going to die for your honor as judged by a lunatic with a gun?

          I’m not seeing the downside from the Christian perspective. You lie to a gunman and get to live. If you need a heart-to-heart with God to get your head together afterwards, that makes sense. But surely God will agree that you did the right thing.

          If God hates suicide, he would hate your throwing away your life to make a point to a gunman.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          First, I do not know for certainly what the gunmen will do. I don’t know he is “mad.” Many Christians have been killed for their faith by people who were not at all mad.
          Second, God will certainly forgive me for any sin if I am truly sorry. But am I sorry for a lie I told intending later to say: “I am sorry.”
          As for suicide: think more carefully. I HOPE the gunman doesn’t kill me. If he is “mad,” there is no predicting what he will do (Who knows . . . he might respect “bravery!”) . . . so the safe path is the path of honor. Tell the truth. He is the one who kills or does not kill. Whatever else this is, it is not suicide.

        • But am I sorry for a lie I told intending later to say: “I am sorry.”

          Where’s the problem? That’s what happened when you deliberately lied to the Nazis about the Jews. Repent to God afterwards for that non-crime if you want to, but this one is a no-brainer. Ditto your thought experiment.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          The “lie” to a Nazi is not for my own good, but for someone else. I do not therefore face the real moral challenge that my lie was just self-serving cowardice. By the way: telling the truth to Nazis is in fact self-serving cowardice.

        • But telling the truth to a murderer with a gun is nobility?

          I put the Nazis and the murderer in more or less the same bin. Not so for you?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I put them in the same category as killers. I do not put myself in the same position. In one case, I am lying to save you or someone else. In the other case, I am lying to save my own hide.

        • Greg G.

          Why are others worth lying for but you are not?

        • Kodie

          Yes, Nazi soldier, there are Jews here. They are proud of their beliefs and strong heritage! They should die with honor!

          But seriously, didn’t a lot of Jews hide from Nazis, lying in effect to their own delusional gunman? If they would lie to their gunman Nazi soldier Hitler to save themselves, why shouldn’t you? 6 million Jews spoke up for their faith and did not waver in the face of any Nazi. Yeah?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Because I can save others knowing I am not acting on cowardice, but not myself. I am worth saving . . . I hope to be saved, but not at the cost of a clear witness to truth ala Socrates.

        • Kodie

          His superstition is not about lying itself, but renouncing his faith on a stack of bibles to a shithead who wants to kill him right now. He claims the promised immortality is only going to make getting killed even sweeter. If his last words ever are to a gunman, “I am not a Christian,” and gets shot in the face, he’s going directly to hell.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Kodie: can you engage in a discussion civilly please? Hard hitting discussion . . .great. But this is mostly name calling.

        • Kodie

          Bob doesn’t seem to understand your issue, but that is your issue, correct? Don’t have to use so many words to cut to the chase.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. You have missed the point. If I lie to save you, that is brave and not self-serving. If I lie to save myself, it may be (despite all my rationalizations) simply because I have no spine. And I have no idea the impact of my truth telling EVEN if I die. When Socrates died, when he could have escaped by a lie or by running away, he condemned certain anti-philosophy attitudes forever.

        • Your thought experiment is morphing before our eyes. Maybe we are simply not starting with a shared assumption of it.

          If Socrates died to publicly show the importance of certain principles, then perhaps that was worth it. His public execution/suicide made an important impact on history. If you’re imagining yourself in that situation, I see your stance, but I thought you were imagining yourself in a hidden classroom with no opportunity to make a public statement.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I was imagining myself in a classroom like that in Oregon (ma the students and teacher there rest in peace). The public bravery of many there (Christian and not Christian) was well attested.

        • Dessany

          It was not known by the people there that anything would be well attested. That’s an after the fact conclusion.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Yes. It is a reasonable conclusion in our tech age. Yes?

        • Dessany

          Perhaps. Except one of the things we have learned is that what we hear from these attestations is not necessarily true. In times of extreme stress memory becomes undependable. Multiple witnesses hear and see different things even when seeing the same thing. It’s not that people are lying, it’s just a fact of how we react as humans.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          My clarifying the same thought experiment is not morphing. I said: if someone does something like Oregon (assuming we have the account right), then I would have to say “yes.” I am now more fully explaining my reasoning. I try to keep to 500 or so words . . . that is already long for blogging.

        • John, a question regarding suicide: does it entail for you only killing yourself by deliberate action, rather than just getting in harm’s way, or doing so under coercion, like Socrates?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Yes. Ethics (not just Christian ethics) deal with unintended consequences all the time. No Christian ethicist of any standing thinks a person has to prolong death with medical care . . . all think putting a pillow on Grandma is wrong. We don’t want a person to die, but we don’t want to prolong their pain by propping them up. If they were to get better anyway, we would rejoice.
          You might not agree with the use of this example, but this standard ethics. I am not responsible for evil that happens when I did not intend it or do what caused it. Telling a man the truth should not kill me and so I am not responsible for my death anymore than wearing a “short skirt” provokes a rapist.

        • How do we draw the line, and where? Is suicide by cop a valid concept?

        • Kodie

          Without knowing everything I might need to know, I would say that these people don’t go in killing because they want to commit suicide, but that it becomes a desperate situation and they’d rather not go to jail. As far as I can tell, they probably think their mission will succeed, and I don’t know if they planned too far in advance to realize it would not. Plenty of gunmen get caught alive, and some do escape and hide. “Suicide by cop” seems to be the result of trying to win at shooting cops once they arrive, and not knowing what exactly they were thinking at the time because they usually do end up dead, they might have thought it would turn out differently, or at least had some sort of mantra like “never surrender” that meant more to them than living in jail or on the run as hunted.

        • Suicide by cop refers to cases of people provoking police by pointing guns at them that turned out later to be fake, for instance. There are more nebulous cases as well which may also qualify as this, those it’s hard to say for sure after the fact. Being shot by the police rather than surrender when they have already committed crimes seems different.

        • Kodie

          I’ve really only heard the term used for criminals who are in a hostage-type or barricade standoff where their only escape is to come out slowly with their hands above their head, or one guy trying for a miracle against dozens of cops, place surrounded, all with their guns pointed at the doors. He should know he’s going to die the second way, but that was his choice.

        • Those are examples too of course.

        • Withdrawing care from a patient they rely upon to live versus active euthanasia has always seemed like a distinction with little difference to me. In either case, the patient will be killed by your action, right or not.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Not always in fact. Sometimes you withhold extraordinary care hoping the patient gets better and they do. This is a basic ethical distinction and is not just a Christian one.

        • True, but there are cases when it will surely kill the patient. If that is the intention, to let them die, would it really be so different from an overdose of barbiturates? Let me give you another example: letting newborns die rather than attempting to help them if they have certain problems. Death by neglect, no? Is that really so different?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Letting someone die is not the same as killing them. One could be an atheist and see this distinction. It is not based on my theism.

        • So negligent homicide isn’t valid as a concept then?

          This had nothing to do with atheism or theism that I can tell.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. I don’t wish the patient to die. I just don’t prolong his dying. (If I believe my action cannot cure him.) Surely you see the difference between that and just killing him?

        • I think that if your withdrawal of care is the direct cause of the patient’s death, then it is killing them. While this does not mean it is necessarily immoral (that’s a separate issue) just in terms of causality at least this is on you.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. It is a secondary (and accidental) impact of my decision.

        • I think that if it’s known they will not survive without the life support, and it is withdrawn, then death cannot be called an accident after that.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          It is not intended. So there is a difference. Not saying a great difference, but small differences are the grist of ethics. I would say all of this if I were an atheist.

        • In some cases, intentions do not matter. The foreseeable result does. It is here the concept of negligence comes in. I don’t assume that we disagree because of atheism or theism, nor would it surprise me if an atheist took your view.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Right. So I think you are correct: at a certain point, reasonable outcomes mater, but then so does the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary care. At this level, nobody is positive of the right thing to do!

        • Yes, it does get very murky.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Indeed. Let me say as a theist: a free will universe means that some moral decisions are very hard . . . and on those we do our best and pray for mercy. No Christian (at least) believes one will be condemned for a choice one could not know.

        • Interesting. Then you would feel that those who do not know about Christianity will not be condemned (assuming it us true)? Also, I think that there is a contradiction here with Original Sin, whereby humans are said to be condemned for the decisions of our putative ancestors that we could not know about until they had already happened.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Fundamentally yes. We know, if we know anything, two things about God (from a Christian point of view). He is loving and just. So my assumption (knowing nothing to the contrary from even the most conservative Christian point of view) that people receive clarity at the moment of death and decide. And original sin (understood differently in Christian communities) is a problem of being when it comes to later people (not Adam) and not of choice. I am not condemned by Adam’s choice (as if it was mine), but because my being is such that the joys of Heaven feel like pain to me. I am broken. I can be fixed and so God came to fix us.

        • We know, if we know anything, two things about God (from a Christian point of view). He is loving and just.

          That’s not my conclusion from the Old Testament. His love and justice are pretty savage.

          If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was the invention of Bronze Age people.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          So . . .let’s assume that is true. That is not the main issue. The main issue is materialism. Is it true? Or is something like theism (including deism) true? Nothing about the OT says jack about that biggest of questions.

        • So . . .let’s assume that is true. That is not the main issue.

          Sounds like the main issue to me! If God in the Old Testament is indistinguishable from the fabrication of Bronze Age people, why believe their nonsensical ramblings? As anthropology or sociology it’s admittedly valuable and fascinating, but this ain’t history.

          The main issue is materialism. Is it true? Or is something like theism (including deism) true? Nothing about the OT says jack about that biggest of questions.

          Materialism is the null hypothesis. I’m happy to go elsewhere if provided with evidence. There simply isn’t sufficient evidence to show that the supernatural exists.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Do ideas exist?

        • Ideas exist.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          So then a metaphysical realm exists apart from nature?

        • Are you saying that the material/immaterial distinction is evidence for the supernatural? Nope.

          Yes, we have abstract concepts like “courage.” That doesn’t prove the supernatural.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Why is materialism the null? Why not idealism? Experience both the ideal in the material… Dualism is the simplest explanation

        • Kodie

          Ideas happen materially and are stored materially.

        • Huh? The null hypothesis includes the supernatural?

          Is that your final answer?

        • adam

          I suggest he call a ‘friend’

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. Dualism is more sensible than either idealism or materialism to what we see. This does open the world to God but I have not argued that yet since oddly most people here think getting Alzheimer’s destroys ideas not just memories.

        • Susan

          Dualism is more sensible than either idealism or materialism to what we see.

          You can’t just state that that is the case. You have to make the case.

          And Bob asked a simple question.

          He made no argument about idealism or materialism or dualism.

          Throwing three umbrella claims of philosophy side by side in a single sentence without showing the connection is gauche.

          Why not just answer the question? It doesn’t have to be a yes or no answer. It might even be more complicated than “Is that your final answer?” but for goodness sake, address the question.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I think dualism is preferable to idealism because I seem to experience the material world. Idealism can explain it away but this seems strained to my experience of matter. Materialism fails to account for my experience of ideas and mind though it can explain them away. Therefore I think the default position should be some form of dualism about nature.

        • Kodie

          Materialism is all we know. That’s why it’s the default position. Anything else is your faulty conjecture, unless you can somehow do better than replacing 1 with god to attempt to force a logical concession that god exists. That was hilarious.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. I am not. I am trying to get you to concede the simplest immaterial being exists, one most relevant atheists concede, because if you can’t get that talking about God to you is a waste. You are trapped in a kind of weird materialism that is pretty indefensible: eg ideas do not exist without brains.

        • Kodie

          Hey insulty insulterson, name these ‘most’ ‘relevant’ atheists. You are trapped in a sky daddy fantasy where you don’t have to support your assertions with any evidence, other than “most”, “many” “relevant” blah blah blah nameless countless support your delusion, give us something credible, for once.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I copied you in a summary of arguments on both sides of the issue so you could get up to speed.

        • Kodie

          It wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already understand, thank you professor. You didn’t actually answer my question, and you linked me to the same article about 5 times.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Because I have failed to show you the serious problem with your simple nominalism and tried another voice to help.

        • Kodie

          You didn’t fail, you didn’t even try. You just insulted, then you get petty about it.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          If I was it string the problem clearly or my theism was confusing the issue I wanted you to see another summary of why your position is in tough shape.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Great! Then respond to the serious problem you face on your own assumptions:

          Science is the best arbiter of what exists.
          Therefore, if science says something exists, we should accept it.
          Science relies (heavily and intractably) on mathematics.
          Therefore, science says that numbers exist.
          Therefore, numbers exist.

        • Kodie

          Abstract things are language to describe a physical relationship. Why wouldn’t we have language like that? Where does language occur? In the brain.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          It occurs in the mind which isn’t just the brain.

        • Kodie

          I’m going to dismiss this further claim you make without evidence, your philosophical arguments are rather poor, and assume you don’t know very much about how the brain works and don’t care to find out. Your philosophy satisfies you too much.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I hope not. Even if I thought the brain produced the mind, I would make this distinction as the mind must deal with ideas.

        • Kodie

          Why not, repeating your claim is not supporting it. You don’t know how brains work, that’s pretty obvious.

        • adam

          “Why is materialism the null?’

          Because you cant have ideas without material brains.

          Don’t you people ever think these things out before you spew them ignorantly?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Circular. Our if Berkely is right we postulate matter to make sense of our ideas … See idealism … At least as plausible as materialism.

        • adam

          Idealism isnt possible without material brains

          The ever shrinking god of the gaps.

        • Well, that would be a good idea, assuming it’s true.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          In fact, we do not know this. People have survived with the withdrawal of life support. The ethical question: are you still rooting for life.

        • Dessany

          I’m rooting for what the person who is living through that wants to do. Consent. It’s not my decision to make for them.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          We agree totally there.

        • People have survived many things. One does not say that the fact a person shot in the head survives, however, means that the shooter is not responsible (by analogy).

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Sorry . . . hit enter by mistake. No. . . because the shooter intends death or should know that he is positive action will kill. Withholding EXTRAORDINARY CARE (not food, air, water) is not intending to kill. It is NOT prolonging death. I think we mostly agree.

        • There is a crucial disagreement, but that’s okay.

        • Tell the truth. He is the one who kills or does not kill. Whatever else this is, it is not suicide.

          I’m getting an unpleasant Duggar flashback. You probably know that they decided early in their marriage to “let God decide” how many babies their frequent unprotected sex would create.

          Which is simply childish. You have lots of sex and (barring medical issues) you’ll have lots of pregnancies. You wave a gun in a bank and you will get put in jail and charged with a crime (or possibly shot dead).

          The thought experiment I took from your post was that you knew the gunman would kill you for the Christian answer (since he’d done so before). If you want to say that the gunman only might kill you, I don’t know how that changes the problem.

          Is this a “how could I live with myself?” kind of problem? I’m completely missing it. God will understand that you did the right thing by protecting your life. The cowardly move and the sensible move turn out to be the same thing.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I think this response on your part clarifies the confusion. The Dugger response is childish. . . . and I do not believe in artificial birth control. The Dugger’s decide to do what will make babies and act as if God will personally intervene in a free will universe to obviate any bad decision. Nonsense . .. even from their (narrow) Christian perspective.
          In the case of the gunmen, I am not doing the shooting (the sex pun intended). I don’t want to die. I don’t want him to kill me. In ethics this is an “unintended consequence.” The killer kills me, I don’t kill myself by telling the truth.
          If I lie to save another, then I know why I lied. If I lie to save myself, I can never be sure that I am not simply a cowardly man. I prefer to die (if someone wishes to kill me) like a man and not lying. Socrates makes this case in Phaedo and I am persuaded by him.

        • How trivial a statement must you declare truthfully in this life-or-death situation? “I’m a Christian” is one. What about “I’m a Mason” or “I’m an American” or “I have an 8 handicap in golf”?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I would not dignify the gunman with a lie about anything I found central to my worldview. I would not die for my golf handicap, but I would die if he said: “Do you love the dialectic?”

  • John Mark N. Reynolds

    I made it clear in my post that the problem of this confession isn’t God (He forgives and is not insecure!), but us. There are some lies it is not good for us to tell just as (I think) there are some moral actions that lead to enough shame that life may not be worthwhile. I think honor matters and I would if I were not a Christian Platonist, but merely a Platonist!

    My point was this: to give up one the deepest organizing truths of my life to save my life, when I also believe in eternal life is not worthwhile. It is caddish.
    As for Peter: you will note that the my post deals with the early Church on this issue. Both the Lord Jesus and the Church following his example let people like Peter “try again” and follow Him. Forgiveness exists: of course it does. That does not mean that the shame of having been a coward is not there. The perhaps legendary story of Peter trying to run away from his duty to avoid Nero and death and Christ saying “Quo Vadis” makes the point that Peter finally ended courageously.

    I do not think madmen or Nazis (nearly the same) are due the truth. They are not. The notion that my point was that it was ok to lie about Jews because Jews do not matter is a perverse misreading of my point. All people are created in God’s image and protecting them is good.

    The point is not God’s honor, but mine.

    And I do not want to be persecuted (no sane person does) anymore than I hope that my nation requires me to defend her honor. However, if persecution comes I hope I act with honor. Can I be forgiven if not? Of course.

    As for your obsession that I think your particular kind of atheist is going to persecute us, let me repeat: of course not. Your kind shows no aptitude socially to get beyond a fringe movement! (with a smile). Atheists killed us in the name of atheism and are doing so in places like China and North Korea today.
    American atheists are my churches least worry as we are being slaughtered in
    Syria just now whatever we say.

    This is bad and I hope it ends, but I do admire those who die with dignity as I would if I were an atheist. We are all going to die and to cling to life regardless of dishonor strikes me as unworthy of the philosophy of Lucretius let alone the philosophy of Jesus.

    • MNb

      “to give up one the deepest organizing truths of my life to save my life, when I also believe in eternal life is not worthwhile.”
      Good for you.
      Irrelevant for anyone else.

      “The point is not God’s honor, but mine.”
      Good for you.
      Irrelevant for anyone else.

      “Atheists killed us in the name of atheism and are doing so in places like China and North Korea today.”
      Uh no. Christians – and also atheists btw – were killed there in name of maoism and juche.
      The first victims of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 were not christians or any other believers. The first victims were other atheists – specifically anarchists and left-socialists.
      But I guess facts like these don’t matter too much to you.

      • John Mark N. Reynolds

        They do matter to me. My friends who were denied college education because they were theists (though they were Marxists) show that you are missing something. Atheist inability to admit the obvious (some atheists have killed millions in the name of atheism) has shamed even some fellow atheists.
        As for “irrelevant for anyone else” . . . one hopes to demonstrate why a person would do a thing using self as an example. From classical times to now, ethicists have argued that some acts are shameful enough that a man would be better to die than do them. One good candidate is to deny one’s deepest convictions to save a life one will lose anyway in a few years (at most!).
        Dying an honorable death has been viewed (by Christians and non-Christians) as preferable. Immortality only adds to the case.

        • Kodie

          Laugh’s on you, buddy.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Well. There is an argument.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Should I respond: “No. The laugh will be on you, buddy.” I think not.

        • Kodie

          That you would choose to die stupidly because you were promised immortality anyway? Yeah, you should totally threaten me.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I would choose to die with a truth on my lips and not a lie. Even if I were an atheist. Go read Phaedo.

        • We’re plowing old ground, but how do you do anything “in the name of atheism”?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Because atheism is a negation of a belief (“God exists”) that some people think has logical implications. We can disagree with that . . . but this more robust view of atheism has allowed atheists to do good and bad things in the name of broader atheism.

        • Atheists do good in the name of Humanism–that actually has a creed. Maybe you could even do bad in the name of Humanism. Since atheism is merely the rejection of a claim, I can’t imagine saying anything less except not saying anything at all. How this becomes something you can do “in the name of,” I don’t see.

          “I kill you now in the name of non-belief in unicorns!” doesn’t really work. Sure, you can say it, but who would? It doesn’t follow.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Suppose any belief x. If I say: not x, then not x may have implications. If x is not true, then w, y, z beliefs based on x may also not be true. This may have implications on my actions.
          Some atheists believe “not God” has implications on other areas (morality) for example. You may not agree, but it is a plausible position that has caused trouble (and good) in other people.

        • Which doesn’t help justify “I will kill you in the name of non-belief in unicorns!” (or anything else).

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. I don’t think it does either. Sadly, not everyone has agreed with us. Some people (not you) have thought: there is not God:
          therefore:
          1. there is no divine moral commands.
          2. Therefore: I give my life meaning.
          3. Therefore: I think my world would be better off without people who disagree with my beliefs.
          We both don’t accept the reasoning, but it is not stupid . . . and the people who made it wrote many learned books defending their actions and arguing their atheism necessitated what they did.

        • Jack Baynes

          And people who believe in your God have come to that same conclusion.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Absolutely. I would never deny it.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Indeed! I would never deny it!

        • Guest

          Doesn’t make sense. You start with “lack of belief” and then in number 3 you switch to “belief”. Atheism is a lack of belief and you can’t do anything in the name of Atheism because it is a “lack of belief” and that’s it.

          Who are these people who wrote many books defending killing people in the name of “a lack of beliefs in gods”?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          We can all agree that the there are vanishingly few moral implications to the non-existence of unicorns.

        • Yes, we can. For some odd reason, though, we can’t agree that there are vanishingly few moral implications of the non-existence of the supernatural.

          Obviously, morality still exists for the atheist, to head off one possible point of confusion.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          We cannot because many atheists have argued that the non-existence of God did have moral implications. I am glad we both agree they were wrong, but they do exist.

        • Christians will say that the atheist has cut off the possibility of objective morality. I agree, but since the Christian can’t access objective morality either, this isn’t an issue.

        • Dessany

          There are vanishingly few moral implications in the non-existence of a deity. Just as there are few moral implications in the existence of a deity. You need to have more than that for moral implications. Example: Theism –> Christianity; Atheism –> Secular Humanism.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Here is one: if there is no God then the Divine Command theory of Ethics is false. If there is not God (one might assert as many atheists do), then humans create their own meaning and ethics. If this is so, (one might assert), then my ethics demands the plague of religion be removed like any other plague would be removed. I am glad you are not persuaded by those arguments, but they are not stupid and smart people made (and are making) them.

        • Huh? From “I have no god belief” we get to “I must remove the plague of religions from the earth!”??

          Nope.

          If your point is that we can’t be sure that someone won’t go from any one axiom to any one conclusion. OK, I’ll buy that. But aren’t we trying to stay within the realm of sensible thinking?

        • Dessany

          Except that the Divine Command theory of ethics implies more than a deistic deity. It implies a god or gods that have passed on information in the form of commands. Thus you have a religion such as Christianity or Islam. The mere idea of a god doesn’t give you the Divine Command theory.

          I do assert that humans create their own meaning and ethics. However, it doesn’t follow from humans creating their own ethics that we need to remove the “plague of religion from the world”.

          However, the more obnoxious and dangerous religions become that may become a popular option. Just look at ISIS. I don’t think many would consider it unethical to remove the “plague of ISIS” from the world. The problem is how to do that in a functional and humanitarian way that doesn’t create more of the same type of disaster.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. But I have yet to defend divine command theory. We could turn this thread into something else . . . but the author has conceded that I was not “defending God’s honor.” Surely I need not defend every theistic idea on one thread?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          And if deism is true: atheism is false. That is all I need to argue here.

        • Sure. You’ve got a long way to go to show that deism is true.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Why? Ideas exist. Ideas are immaterial. We only experience then in minds. Why not postulate a Mind to hold them? (Plato).

        • Yes, I agree that minds exist. I don’t agree that minds need the supernatural.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          What if we call the realm of minds, the X realm (immaterial). And we say that in X there exists Mind. That would be God in any sense I have ever heard term used. That does not mean the God of the Bible is that God in all His attributes, but the God of the Bible MIGHT be that God. We would know this: materialistic atheism is false.

        • Materialistic atheism? You mean the atheism that denies that ideas exist because they are not built from matter? I’m pretty sure that no one subscribes to that view.

          Your problem remains: just because “courage” or “love” or “mind” are abstract ideas (unlike “car” or “house”) doesn’t mean that you’ve found a place to put God. We’re still firmly in the natural world.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          How? Where are the ideas in the natural world?

        • Where is the number 5 in my computer? It’s stored in a particular register or memory location. It doesn’t have mass, but the physics behind why that location has “5” in it is straightforward.

          Where is “love” or “courage” or “I’m hungry” in my brain? Science is fuzzier about the physics behind it, but it seems only a matter of time before we’ll be able to explain this as clearly as the “5” in my computer.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          In fact, the number 5 isn’t in your computer. Five doesn’t disappear if your hard drives ceases to be. A representation or image of the number is there which your mind will interpret as 5. The number 5 isn’t the pixels on the screen… either or the shape “5” or “V” … There is a universal behind the symbols

        • “I’m hungry” is in my brain. If I die, “I’m hungry” has no vessel, so it’s quickly gone, too.

          Computer memory (I’m not talking about a disk drive) holds values. When you turn off the power, the values go, too.

          An idea in your head is no more inherently puzzling than “5” in a computer memory location. At the moment, the idea in the brain is less understood than the 5 in the computer, but that is no clue for the supernatural.

        • Dessany

          Ideas come from our very real, material brains. To postulate a non-material brain is to postulate something we have no experience with.

        • Dessany

          Not really. We were discussing the “vanishingly few moral implications” in believing in a deity or not. I pointed out that belief or non-belief in a deity is not enough to support those moral implications. You pulled out the Divine Command theory. I stated that the Divine Command theory requires more than belief in a deistic like deity it requires a structure like Christianity where those commands are documented.

          Then you say if deism is true atheism is false? What? This wasn’t about the truth or falsity of deism vs atheism. As I pointed out you need a religion or philosophical world view to convey morals. A belief or non-belief in a deity conveys “vanishingly few moral implications.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. You misunderstood my point. Maybe comm box clarity is hard on my end. My point is that some atheists have used denial of God to say “therefore divine command theory is false” (sensible) and drawn moral implications from it.
          Not all theists believe in divine command theory (see Plato)!
          I am not defending divine command theory just pointing out that some atheists draw logical conclusion from apophatic statements. That is not just true of atheists btw. It is a strange belief of Internet atheists (of a certain sort) that atheism is “merely” the denial of God. Surely (as some atheists have claimed) this MIGHT have further implications.

          This is true of any important denial. (Try: there is no nation called China.)

        • Dessany

          Just like Christianity atheists are all over the map on what they believe. We have everything from misogynists to feminists and Randians to Secular Humanists. To say that atheism is something is like saying theism is something. At their basis theism is a belief in the existence of a god or gods and atheism is a lack of belief in the existence of a god or gods.

          An atheist wouldn’t accept the Divine Command theory just because it requires a god to work. But to draw moral implications from Divine Command theory, you need to have more than just a basic belief in the existence of a god or gods. You have to either go into the religious beliefs on the theist side or the ethical beliefs on the atheistic side. So Divine Command theory tends to not work with consent ethics. This is one of the problems we run into in discussing sexual ethics.

          Unfortunately it’s after 1 here and I have to go to work in the morning. Good night.

          Edit: I didn’t mean to say that theists don’t have ethical beliefs above when I said religious beliefs vs ethical beliefs. It’s just how my tired brain worked tonight.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I got tired to. Late night commenting is fraught with peril.

        • Guest

          “It is a strange belief of Internet atheists (of a certain sort) that atheism is “merely” the denial of God.”

          I have yet to meet an “Internet Atheist” that defines Atheism as the “merely” the denial of “God”. To deny God, God must exist. Atheist lack belief that any gods exist.

          Where do these “Internet Atheists” reside? I’m truly curious

        • If you value your honor in the eyes of a murderer over your life, that’s your business. It’s that you encourage this on others that seems to me to be unhelpful. If people were likely to come across this opportunity, I’d see it as irresponsible.

          But here’s another thought experiment that comes to mind. The gunman asks you if you’re a Christian. If you say yes, he will shoot someone else (some random other person in the class). What now?

        • On what grounds do you say that they killed in the name of atheism, rather than anti-theism, say?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Well, the atheists who killed THOUGHT they were doing so based on implications of atheism (if x is not true, then y, z follow). YOU might disagree, but that academic discussion will not bring back 25 million dead people.
          The weird notion that denying something (not x) has no further implications is a weird Internet atheist idea that as far as I can tell has no academic support. Can we just lose it?

        • I think it was more complicated than that. Marxism said that religion was an outgrowth of specific material conditions that would fade away when these were removed. Some, however, were not content to merely let it “fade” but tried to force this by killing people. I don’t think it was simply “killing in the name of atheism” but rather part of their overall ideology which was more complex. The distinction between atheism and anti-theism is important.

          Nobody here, I’m sure, believes atheism has no implications either. It’s just they disagree about what those implications are. However, it seems clear that atheism by itself does not entail the implication of “therefore we must now eradicate religion” for instance.

    • My point was this: to give up one the deepest organizing truths of my life to save my life, when I also believe in eternal life is not worthwhile. It is caddish.

      Which might be a sensible response if ISIS gave you an ultimatum, convert to Islam or die. We’re not talking about that; we’re not talking about you changing your worldview; we’re talking about you giving a madman the false answer that he needs to hear to let you live.

      That does not mean that the shame of having been a coward is not there.

      Your imagine situation and Peter’s are not at all the same. Peter had a specific test given him by the Son of Man (“you will deny me 3 times”), and he failed. (Of course, you could wonder whether he failed if Jesus made clear that no other outcome was possible.)

      You facing down the gunman has no such test.

      The notion that my point was that it was ok to lie about Jews because Jews do not matter is a perverse misreading of my point.

      Did I say that Jews don’t matter?

      We are all going to die and to cling to life regardless of dishonor strikes me as unworthy of the philosophy of Lucretius let alone the philosophy of Jesus.

      This honor issue is interesting in general. Honor strikes me as far too often overdone than underdone (your example would be one; another might be risking soldiers’ lives to grab dead soldiers’ bodies off the battlefield), but I confess that I haven’t thought about this enough to have a useful opinion.

  • John Mark N. Reynolds

    Bob:
    God does exist. We have adequate philosophical and experiential reasons to know this. Are you willing to seriously wrestle with arguments like those of Swinburne?
    JMNR

    • MNb

      No need to wrestle with the arguments of Swinburne. This guy

      http://www.amazon.com/God-Age-Science-Critique-Religious/dp/0199697531

      has done that already. Spoiler: Swinburne totally fails.

      • John Mark N. Reynolds

        Better work after he shamed himself with his sloppy Atheist manifesto and of course philosophers of religion (that are religious) responded . . . how philosophy works (as opposed to “total failure”) . . . see evenhanded review here: http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/36607-god-in-the-age-of-science-a-critique-of-religious-reason/

        • MNb

          Of course apologists (they are not philosophers as they argue for a pre-determined conclusion) have responded. What they did not is responding convincingly. That includes Andrew Pinsent, who neglects the most important stuff in the book, while the points he does mention (on scientific laws for instance) are lame – so lame that the appropriate term becomes nitpicking.
          I have read several reviews of Philipse’s book (never read Atheist Manifesto though) by apologists. They do nothing to repair Swinburne’s arguments, so they remain a failure.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Citation please

    • You know of good arguments that God exists? I’d be delighted to engage with them, thanks. But don’t just give me “Swinburne” as your answer; point me to one or two of the most convincing ones.

      • John Mark N. Reynolds

        OK. Let’s start with one of the least persuasive (to me), but still logically sound. What do you find unsound about Plantinga’s version of the ontological argument?

        • Don’t know. I’ve responded to the ontological argument in general here.

          If Plantinga has made important additions to the argument, I’m interested. As an aside, I’ve seen philosophy abused enough that I must confess that I have a bad attitude toward philosophy.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          So, I read your post. You have misunderstood even Anselm’s version of the argument. Have you read his response to the “fool” . . . a Christian critic who made one of our counter-arguments at the time?

          He deals with some of our counter arguments in his discussion there. Can you respond to his argument for “best” that is reformulated after the “fool” responded?

          Or perhaps, it would be best to start with one of your objections: existence cannot be a predicate (ala Kant). Good objection. This is just the objection that Plantinga formulated his argument to avoid. He uses “possible worlds” logic (modern modal logic) to formulate his version of the argument to avoid this trap. Yes?

        • No, I don’t believe I’ve read Anselm vs. the fool.

          Yes, I’ve read Plantinga’s modal logic version. I found it weighty and opaque, which I’m guessing was the goal.

          Why are we discussing philosophical arguments? Didn’t you say that philosophers aren’t of one mind on these arguments? If I were well read enough on these topics (not the case), I could simply parry your Plantinga with some contrary paper by anti-Plantinga. I have little interest in such a chess game and would simply be wasting your time.

          I think I want what you can’t give: arguments that are plain and simple and make clear that the Christian god as defined in the Bible exists.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Since Anselm developed the ontological argument, it would be a good idea to read him before trying to refute him.
          The goal was not to be “weighty and opaque” but clear. Just as scientists use highly technical language to avoid misunderstanding, so do philosophers. We are clear, but to a layman it seems hard. A good modal logic class would clear up what he was saying.
          Now oddly you are responding like a fundie! Humans experience the divine overwhelmingly in all places at all times. We are told by atheists this is a delusion. What appears true to us is not. Well and good. We look at their arguments and respond: it is more complicated than you think. They respond. We respond. Then we are told: don’t complicate things!
          LOL

        • SteveK

          It’s a common response around here. I’m enjoying your comments Mr. Reynolds. Thanks.

        • The goal was not to be “weighty and opaque” but clear.

          Sorry, Alvin—major fail. I hope you made it as clear as possible, but I didn’t find it so.

          Humans experience the divine overwhelmingly in all places at all times.

          According to you, perhaps. I don’t see it.

          We look at their arguments and respond: it is more complicated than you think. They respond. We respond. Then we are told: don’t complicate things!

          And my point remains: the best you’ve got are opaque arguments. You recommend that I take a class in modal logic … to see convincing evidence that God exists?! That’s a heckuva lot of work to get the vague outline of the dude who is passionately eager to have a relationship with each of us.

          Do you not see the problem with your position?

        • SteveK

          The class isn’t needed to be convinced. It’s only needed when you want to formally state a logical argument, but who goes around needing to do that? I’m convinced of many many things (and so are you) and I’ve never taken a class in modal logic.

        • Reynolds suggested that the class would help to understand Plantinga’s ontological argument.

        • Dessany

          Humans have experiences they define as divine. Are they delusion? Definitely some of them are. Are they all delusion? Definitely not. Are they all divine? Definitely not. Are any of them divine? Probably not.

          The interesting thing about these experiences is that the further away from being scientifically studied the more explicit and worldly they are. Why are most of the amazing faith healings done without medical evidence? The closer they come the more subjective they become. Basically, they are anecdotes.

          The human brain is an amazing thing and we are just starting to really understand it. I look forward to what we are going to learn in the future.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Go read Lourdes site.

        • Why? I’m not a scientist or MD. And if you’re not, why would you be convinced by your inept and incomplete evaluation of the evidence?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Because Lourdes implies non-theist scientists to try to refute the cases and they do not.

        • When miracles are the scientific consensus, I’m there.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          What if you discovered that scientists are human and that they will not accept a miracle ever . . . because it would change their metaphysical views? What if their commitment to Naturalism (not scientific naturalism) makes them blind to reality? Isn’t that a kind of fundamentalism you should worry about?

        • Yes, I’m concerned about scientists too wedded to their view to accept challenging input.

          I don’t think that’s the problem with miracles not being part of the scientific consensus. Fame, fortune, and Nobel Prizes await the boat rockers who successfully overturn popular ideas.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Except that fame, fortune, and Nobel prizes only go to materialist explanations so it is reinforcing.

        • You’re saying that, try as they might, scientists still find nothing but natural explanations for scientific phenomena? Yes, that’s true.

          My point remains: give solid empirical evidence for the supernatural, and you will definitely rock our world.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Ideas exist. Miracles happen at Lourdes even under the most rigorous definition.

        • Kodie

          Ideas exist entirely in the brain. I have an idea and you don’t have the same idea. I can transmit my idea to you through language and demonstrate it so your brain can hold that idea also. Later on, after you’ve run some errands and forgotten our conversation during the day, you can recall that idea in your brain, again. Maybe I have ideas and don’t share them with anyone, maybe I’ve written them down in a notebook years and years ago, and suddenly find that notebook and read it. Maybe I’m dead and you’re sorting through my things, and you read it. Before you read some of those ideas, they didn’t exist. Nobody was having those ideas. I had them, now my brain is dead; sometimes later, those ideas can be transmitted so you can think them in your brain too, from language written in a notebook. Maybe I have a secret code and you can’t crack the code, those ideas may be lost forever until someone else possibly thinks them. Maybe they weren’t original in the first place.

          Ideas can be set aside forever with no one to think them. If you had an idea for a great building, and built it, visitors across the globe could appreciate your idea by visiting in person or looking at photos of it on the internet. Then humans go extinct. Does your idea exist? Your building is now a home for wild animals, who don’t “get” your idea, so nobody is having that idea, it doesn’t exist. They also found my notebook there and chewed on it a little and then it got rained on.

          That’s a thing by humans, setting aside ideas in symbols like the alphabet, some other devised code, or an execution of that idea. Outside of the brain, those are not ideas. When you’re living across the street from your building (so you can look at it out the window), you are having that idea over and over again – seeing it through your eyes, recalling the process, admiring your work. When you go back to the other room to read a book, maybe you can’t read that book because you can’t stop thinking about that building idea and try not to think about going back to sit at the window. So someone’s book idea is not being had in your brain at that time. It stays in the book, in symbols, until you’re ready to stop obsessing about your building. When you’re forgetting about your building while you immerse your focused thoughts into the book, someone else might be thinking of the building because they live there, or they are driving around the block and suddenly comes into view. All those ideas are happening in the brain, and when the brain dies, so do the ideas it can have. When there are no more brains, the idea of how fantastic your building is will also be gone. We can talk about some history book where some old building was pretty grand, and try to have that idea again, but those ideas stop being had in people’s brains when there are no more people who remember your building.

          I’ve been trying to remember the name of a character on a tv show that’s not on anymore, and that information is stored in the internet where I can easily find it. I had an idea, where did it go though? I list off all the other characters, and can you say that idea exists? If it was in my brain, and now it’s not, where did it go? All I have to do is look it up and I will say, of course. Then there are people I went to high school with and I don’t remember them at all. It’s like looking at a stranger. The idea left my brain who they were, and being reminded will bring no recognition, but they and the people who ever knew them will still have that idea. There are billions of dead people whose ideas are all gone, if any were original. They told people and might have even written it down somewhere, but it’s gone.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          You simply cannot say: show me a miracle and then just say: ok, if miracles happened that might be one, but I now miracles do not happen. What can I do? If so, you have created a viciously non-falsifiable materialism. . . . even though you also believe in immaterial mind and ideas!

        • I don’t understand your concern. I’ve never said that I know miracles do not happen.

          Let me try again: I have little interest in your or my evaluation of a particular medical miracle claim because we are not experts in medicine or physiology. But when the consensus of relevant scientific experts is that a particular incident is not explainable by natural laws and could not be so explained, then I’m there.

          I’m more than meeting you halfway.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          The relevant scientists, hundreds, who have studied any given Lourdes miracle agree.

        • Show me that this is the consensus of the relevant scientists.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Go to the Lourdes site. They list the researchers and their conclusions, which are usually negative by the way

        • Kodie

          How can a scientist declare something has no scientific explanation, as a fact, for all eternity? Why would you believe them if they did? How can scientists declare something a miracle, science doesn’t study immaterial supernatural causes and cannot determine anything to be scientifically miraculous? You’re not using your head. If something has no current scientific or statistical explanation, it cannot scientifically be classified as any such miracle.

        • Kodie

          Lourdes is a tourist location. Of course, you believe what they tell you about their money-making scheme.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Let’s just take one example of the bad arguments found on this blog. The writer argues the “low” success rate counts against Lourdes. But the 67 miracles requires NO POSSIBLE natural explanation. That means ingenuous minds cannot find a way that nature without divine intervention could have done the job. Suppose you went to Lourdes with terminal cancer, prayed, and got better immediately and the cure lasted No matter. It would not count as evidence (in this very, very strict sense) since it COULD have been remission. Of course, if you think (for other philosophical reason there is a God), healing is a logical and natural explanation. The low number at Lourdes is because it holds the HIGHEST standard of NO chance cure.
          So we see the reasoning capacity of this blog.

        • Kodie

          67 people out of 250 million people experienced some “miracle” vs. how many that just stayed home? You are trying to compare it to some other site on earth, offering an even lower rate of suggestible “miracles”, which is false. I thought you were a philosopher, this is so shoddy!

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. You have misunderstood the statistics. Many go. Many claim “miracles.” The low number is obtained by adopting the most skeptical view of what could count as a miracle and investigating over years.

        • Dessany

          I’m afraid I find that implausible. You have the omnipotent, omniscient god of the universe and all he can do is 67 miracles in Lourdes, France? Surely he could round it up to 100.

          This is the problem. If there really were miracles happening, there would be no question there were miracles happening. We’re talking about this god that can do everything and he can’t make a miracle impressive and real enough to show what he can do? Seriously?

          So the first miracle happened in February 1858. How can we determine over a hundred years later that there was NO POSSIBLE natural explanation? That’s a silly idea that with the science known at the time they could determine there was no possible explanation. We still have medical mysteries we just can’t explain.

          That’s just one out of 67 and easily knocked out. Are any of them miracles? Who knows and who cares? How does it change anything? Does it feed the hungry? Does it help the homeless? Does it stop the rampant theft among the Wall St financiers? See I’m more interested in things that have a real effect for the good for people suffering in our world. Miracles? Right up their with the lottery for all the good it does.

        • This gets to the larger problem that I raised with JMR earlier.

          We’ve got the creator of the universe, eager for a relationship with each and every one of us, and the evidence for his existence is this? Claims that look very much like self-serving arguments from a church that’s trying to look relevant in an era of science?

          The solution is obvious: get these miracles widely investigated so that their validity is the scientific consensus. Indeed, forgetting the church’s partisan goals, it would be criminal not to reveal to the world that the supernatural exists. It would be the scientific discovery of the millennium.

        • the 67 miracles requires NO POSSIBLE natural explanation.

          I think you mean that the miracles permit no possible natural explanation.

          Then I wonder what the delay is. Lourdes should encourage the relevant scientists to review the data and publicly highlight the results.

          The ball’s in the court of those who claim that these are miracles. Until it is the scientific consensus that these are miracles, I’m entitled–no, obliged–to think that these are just more of the same.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          They have done so and continue to do so.

        • A few scientists say that no natural explanation is possible for the Lourdes miracle claims? OK, but my problem remains. I’d be a fool to accept that as the final say on the matter. Wake me when the scientific community is on board. Until that point, I have no choice but to reject the claims.

          This reminds me of the handful of biologists who reject evolution. They (and lots more non-biologist PhDs) say that Creationism or ID makes sense and evolution is crap. Here again, I’d be a fool to accept their opinion over the scientific consensus.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          But this the consensus of the scientists who have studied the phenomena… Not outliers

        • Uninteresting. I want the consensus of the relevant scientific community (I suppose that would be physiology or medicine?).

          If you’re concerned that this would be a hardship for them, I doubt it. To participate in the most important scientific discovery ever would be an honor. If you’re fighting inertia, however, I’ll bet that their attitude is, “Been there, debunked that.” Miracle claims are a dime a dozen, as I’m sure you know.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          So you were uninterested in the opinion of all the scientist who have studied the phenomena?

        • Kodie

          Please cite actual scientists independently studying “miracles” that occur at Lourdes. All I could find was medical panel who complied with the Catholic Church’s criteria for a miracle. You don’t have to believe in god to affirm that a patient claiming a miraculous cure or recovery meets the criteria for a miracle created by a religious organization.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          The scientists are independent as scientists.

        • Kodie

          No, they are not independently investigating miracle cases to meet scientific criteria. They are retained specifically to be assigned miracle claim cases, and investigating them scientifically so far as they meet religious criteria.

          Huge difference! Is there anyone else?

        • Kodie

          They are a committee of doctors hired specifically to check a patient’s claim against a list of criteria created by the Catholic Church. They are not independent, and they are not scientists.

        • It’s of passing interest; nothing more.

          You do see my point, right? If you think my position is ill-informed, show me the error.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I think you have a naive philosophy of science. Why? You demand evidence, get it via an event like Lourdes, return demand more. Miracles happen. A Philosophical Naturalist can’t see them because of metaphysical blinders. Lourdes is an example you cannot explain away.

        • Look–this is really, really simple. I do not have a PhD in physiology (let’s assume that that’s the scientific expertise needed to evaluate Lourdes miracles). So you have a handful of smart guys–scientists, even–who say that the Lourdes events absolutely couldn’t be explained naturally, ever. I’m looking at a scientific consensus that the supernatural doesn’t exist. I’d be an idiot to go with the handful over the consensus.

          That’s how it works for we laymen. No one asks for our viewpoint when it comes to the consensus. Doesn’t much matter whether you like that or not–c’est la vie.

          You demand evidence, get it via an event like Lourdes, return demand more.

          Why is this hard? I’m not qualified to evaluate the evidence! And guess what? If you don’t have a PhD in medicine, biology, physiology, or anything else relevant to the evaluation of medical miracle claims, neither are you.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Why do you think there is a scientific consensus the supernatural doesn’t exist?

          Second, scientists are trained to look for natural answers. Great! Very useful, it will be useless in determine things that are not in that domain exist. Going to people who only look in one field and saying “what about other fields?” Isn’t smart.

          Instead, we ask: does science so explain reality we have nothing left or little enough left it looks nature is all there is.

          And in fact there are while domains science as science cannot explore such as math. As a result, we can ask what other domains are there? One possible one is immaterial agents. If they exist science would be blind to them.

          We would need at least the inability of science to explain what appears to be intelligent agency by natural causes to mice forward.

          One such case is Lourdes.

        • Kodie

          We would need at least the inability of science to explain what appears to be intelligent agency by natural causes to mice forward.

          One such case is Lourdes.

          Seems like you’re intent on ignoring the process at Lourdes in favor of fake science to reach your favorite conclusion. You can’t then use that as any credible evidence. It hasn’t been studied scientifically.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Nice try. It has.

        • Kodie

          Stamp your foot again, ignorant!

        • Why do you think there is a scientific consensus the supernatural doesn’t exist?

          Is this a trick question?

          Everyone including scientists like Copernicus and Newton used to believe that God existed; they simply had found some of the rules that he used.

          The Newtons of today only rarely believe (Francis Collins being an example) because they don’t need to and because that’s not where the evidence points. We have a mountain of examples of things that we thought were God-caused but we now realize are not; we have no example going the other way—not even Lourdes, if you can believe it.

          Is Lourdes a no-brainer win for your side? Then I encourage you to shine a spotlight on it and get a re-critique, because the consensus is very much against your position at the moment.

          Second, scientists are trained to look for natural answers.

          Imagine a phenomenon really did have “God did it” at its core. Scientists would be turning the puzzle this way and that, trying to find a way around this obvious answer, without success. After decades, they’d have to acknowledge the elephant in the room.

          Has never happened.

          One possible one is immaterial agents. If they exist science would be blind to them.

          Not really. If you’re simply imagining a supernatural world that has no impact on ours, then yes. But who would care? There’s a world of who-knows-what supernatural beings that interact not at all? They might as well not exist.

          But that’s not what anyone is talking about. You in particular are talking about a supernatural world that very much does interact with our world. Cool—there’s your scientific claim. Let’s get science in to investigate. (Keep in mind, though, the track record of such investigations to date.)

          We would need at least the inability of science to explain what appears to be intelligent agency by natural causes to mice forward.

          One such case is Lourdes.

          Why do you keep bringing this up? The consensus has spoken, and your side didn’t win.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          But a scientific consensus on miracles, assuming one exists, is not interesting if science is limited in its claims today to methodological naturalism.

          That has been a useful limitation but means a scientist as scientist cannot say anything about minds as minds, numbers, or God (if God is immaterial) because that is not what they could find.

          Now scientists could make the stronger claim that Naturalism is true. There is nothing else to find!

          That, however is a philosophical claim not one of science and is quite disputable. That is where math is a very deep basic problem for Naturalism if numbers exist.

          If not, then a Naturalism will always say: we seem to have an insolvable problem with mind and numbers but give us time. Many miracle claims CAN be explained naturally so that must be how it is and where we can’t find an explanation give us time.

          In fact, one reason not to find past success of science persuasive is that it generally dealt with physical phenomena where physical causes (immediate causes) were not surprising. None of that ever addressed the bigger issues like mind.

          Now if you want to shift to a defense of philosophical Naturalism that is a new topic.

        • Bravo for your engagement on this issue. Keeping up with all these comments is exhausting.

          As you might imagine, most of the Christians who blunder in here are neither as civil or intelligent.

          But a scientific consensus on miracles, assuming one exists, is not interesting if science is limited in its claims today to methodological naturalism.

          Already addressed. If the supernatural exists and interacts with our reality, then that is a scientific claim. Let’s not disqualify science when it is precisely the tool to use (Templeton prayer study, as an example).

          Now scientists could make the stronger claim that Naturalism is true.

          Science is always provisional, but that’s where the evidence points.

          a Naturalism will always say: we seem to have an insolvable problem with mind and numbers but give us time.

          What’s the problem? What “exist” means when it comes to abstract ideas?

          Many miracle claims CAN be explained naturally so that must be how it is and where we can’t find an explanation give us time.

          When miracle claims fall like wheat before the scientific scythe, that’s a reasonable provisional conclusion.

          In fact, one reason not to find past success of science persuasive is that it generally dealt with physical phenomena where physical causes (immediate causes) were not surprising.

          Surely you’re not saying that the conclusions of science are not surprising. Some (quantum physics, cosmology) are so insanely non-common-sensical that only with the evidence from science would we even dream these things.

          “It is my supposition that the Universe in not only queerer than we imagine, is queerer than we can imagine.” – J. B. S. Haldane

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          First, it would depend on the level the agent interacts. Some theists thinks God’s intervention is limited to the metaphysical.

          Science we would agree would be God blind there and the. The theistic argument is that such lawfulness makes God more likely than not.

          You are right that Ian making a stronger theistic claim and one that has made false predictions in the last. My claim is that avid also intervenes as a mind in the natural order.

          I need one probable place where he has done and I need not assert He often does so. In fact, philosophic Christians would not expect God to be the immediate cause of must physical actions for reasons of good creating and wisdom.

          I would argue that the existence of human mind and ideas has always suggested the best place to look for such interaction: mind.

          I have also pointed to one Biblical plausible miracle… Jesus rising from the dead and could point to several other more modern cases. I picked Lourdes because most agree it is what God would do when He can (heal) and people area asking. There seem to be a small number of cases that still appear plausible despite effort.

          As for the scythe of science I see the same slow down… Early on theist (mostly) scientists showed DIRECT intervention of God did not happen where some (though not all) postulated it would happen. This has slowed down as science gets to the frontier of the natural: mind and agency.

          In this sense, if persuaded by philosophical arguments for immaterial mind and God, you are open to seeing information as needing a different kind of solution than what the methodological naturalism has found.

          Again I get it. You have given a good reason to be an atheist. Another is gratuitous suffering (at least against an active good God).

          I don’t find those reasons persuasive as far as I can tell NOT because I would freak out to an atheist. Why would I? But because when I look at both sides I have picked the one that seemed on the whole best.

          I sont think it dumb to be an atheist. Forms of atheism are very appealing and if you look at my work I let idiot religious have it when they act like “read this book and all sane people will convert.”

          I am trying to interact here to make the same point about theism. We may be wrong but not obviously so in all forms.., including Christian forms. This is what I meant when I sloppily said I doubt most here will find arguments I have sound, sound.

          By pushing everyone, including me, to think harder and more clearly and state our beliefs in public we can kill the triumphalism that can exist in me or you thy is dangerous.

          Look: I think theism is true and you should be a Christian and try to say why. I also know not everyone I respect will agree. We do our best. However, hard discourse doesn’t have to include insults which demonize.

          I am particularly concerned about this because when my community says all atheists of all kinds are evil bad guys of the Nazi sort we drive unstable souls in our camp to do bad things. I tried to speak up after the Norwsy massacre for that reason. Our language plausibly contributed to top that dude over … I would only turn the mirror to the atheist community and ask if the same thing happens.

          I think one can be a theist of the deist sort pretty easily and have great arguments. I think Christianity a closer call and miraculous Christianity harder to prove still. Within the limits of this con box I have tried to pint toward the arguments that work for me… And I have done that imperfectly I am sure. Still I hope to keep follow Socrates example to the end of my days…

        • Some theists thinks God’s intervention is limited to the metaphysical.

          Does that change our reality? If so, then that is (yet again) a scientific claim, potentially testable by science.

          I would argue that the existence of human mind and ideas has always suggested the best place to look for such interaction: mind.

          It looks to me like you’re doing what I see many apologists doing: finding a scientific puzzle and setting up shop, declaring that this is the key to insight into how God is interacting with our world. What happens next is predictable: science unravels that mystery after a decade or two and, in god-of-the-gaps fashion, the apologist decamps and finds yet another scientific puzzle (there will always be one).

          They have no skin in the game; they never pick a scientific hill to die on. They never say, “My faith rests on problem X never having a scientific solution.” But for a man of principles like you, you might want to consider your approach to make sure that this isn’t you. What Would Socrates Do?

          I have also pointed to one Biblical plausible miracle… Jesus rising from the dead and could point to several other more modern cases.

          I’ve written much about the resurrection (responding to Gary Habermas’s minimal facts case, for example). I’m not convinced.

          I picked Lourdes because most agree it is what God would do when He can (heal) and people area asking.

          I find “Why doesn’t God heal amputees?” to be relevant.

          This has slowed down as science gets to the frontier of the natural: mind and agency.

          Is this a hill to die on for you? If science decodes mind, will this threaten your Christianity?

          If not, then your position devolves into, “Science has unanswered questions; therefore, God.”

          if persuaded by philosophical arguments for immaterial mind and God

          Yes, immaterial mind. No, God.

          These are two very, very different things.

          Another is gratuitous suffering (at least against an active good God).

          Good one. I find the Problem of Divine Hiddenness about as vexing for the Christian.

          when I look at both sides I have picked the one that seemed on the whole best.

          If you say so. How do you correct for your own bias in favor of Christianity?

          I am particularly concerned about this because when my community says all atheists of all kinds are evil bad guys of the Nazi sort we drive unstable souls in our camp to do bad things.

          Yes, I share your concern.

          I think one can be a theist of the deist sort pretty easily and have great arguments.

          This is a big can of worms, though I hesitate (for time reasons) to open it. Let me just say that I find the most effective apologetics to be the most obtuse ones. These are the ones where your antagonist is forced to say, “Wow—heavy stuff. I haven’t thought about that. Let me puzzle over it for a while.”

          Again, this is how the creator of the universe interacts with his most cherished and beloved creation? The humans that he desperately wants to know him? He needs philosophers like you and Plantinga to whip up obtuse arguments that take 10 minutes to state and perhaps hours to understand, and that’s the way God wants to show himself?

          No: God shows himself like he showed himself to Adam or to Abram. He just saunters over for a beer and a chat. That theologians must invent and polish these arguments over centuries shows how empty your position is.

          Have you ever stopped to think why faith is celebrated within Christianity? Why it’s even needed? Adam and Abram and Moses didn’t need faith. What does it say that Christians today do?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          The Newtons of today specialize and limit themselves in terms of expertise to science. That becomes obvious when they try to talk about philosophy. They are not experts.

          It used to be that one very great man could master both. A problem of profess!

        • The Newtons of today specialize and limit themselves in terms of expertise to science. That becomes obvious when they try to talk about philosophy. They are not experts.

          Perhaps so, and yet the scientists remain the arbiters for your Lourdes claim.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          They remain gatekeepers for a particular kind of miracle claim: the divine agent has acted in a primary way beyond His normal processes He set up.

          For other kinds of divine action … They will receive Naturalist explanations (fine) but science wouldn’t see them or couldn’t distinguish the natural from the agent.

        • I say that the gatekeepers of the question, “Have there been miracle cures at Lourdes?” are the relevant set of scientists–MDs and physiologists, I suppose. We are on the same page here, right?

        • Kodie

          They serve on a panel to meet the requirements the church has to determine if they call something a miracle, i.e. god intervened in this person’s illness. The church thinks eh, that’s enough evidence to call it. The church has a great tourism industry, or the town does, or both, so that millions of sick people will seek divine intervention in a location far from their homes and go home and stay sick or die. I may sound cynical but I’m still curious about how often these anomalies occur when people just stay home.

        • Kodie

          200 million visitors, 7000 claims, this small panel of doctors really does a pretty good job dismissing just about every case it looks at. Not a miracle, definitely not a miracle… nope, not one either. Natural explanations win. This guy wants to take it to another level and claim extra miracles that this body doesn’t even recognize, so neither does the church, meanwhile, in so many words, his claim from the beginning was science supports the church’s recognition of 69 medical mysteries as “miracles” (as now known to be exaggerated due to my own reading about how this process is done) is his evidence that god exists.

        • Kodie

          What? Lourdes is not scientifically investigated. You can’t tell me about any independent scientists doing science to study the supposed miracle effects at Lourdes, and you are fooled into thinking what’s being done to classify miracles is science.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          The doctors that study Lourdes agree there is no natural explanation. The cures are immediate and last. Why be stubborn?

        • Kodie

          In over 200 million cases, you got only about 7000 claims, and of those, 69 “confirmed” cases that the Catholic Church determines qualify for miracles. The doctors at Lourdes do not say there will never be any natural explanation. The doctors at Lourdes, nor any other independent scientist do not review old cases that are on the books already. What is being conducted at Lourdes is not science, why be naive?

          The “success” rate of affirmed “miracles” at Lourdes is not even scientifically interesting, apparently, or there is some secretive plot against actual scientific inquiry. I knew you couldn’t find a scientist – first you claimed they were scientists, and you repeatedly have answered me that they are independent. I didn’t mean from each other, I meant from Lourdes, scientists conducting actual science using the scientific method, not the non-scientific arbitrary method the church has designed for fools like you.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          The doctors who investigate at Lourdes are not controlled by the Church. Their work is open to critical examination.

        • Kodie

          I’ve asked you about 5 or so times already. They are controlled by the church in that they are only asked to give their limited opinion about whether the patients meet the church’s criteria. They are not asked to do any other work involving these claims, nor do they go rogue and do actual science to investigate these claims. I’ve asked you for independent fucking goddamned scientists, are you going to refuse now because I “insulted” you? Or are you going to insult me with another vague nearby non-answer? You only seem to have those two modes. I have been extremely patient with you up to a point. For me, extremely patient.

        • Kodie

          Just admit that Lourdes either does not allow open inquiry, or that no serious credible scientist is even interested in debunking their pseudoscience. How hard would it be for you to admit something like that? Instead, you insist the doctor panel at Lourdes are the independent scientists. You have made this claim as a substitute for an answer quite a few times.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          The scientists st Lourdes are allowed to fully investigate and see if the claim that a miracle might have occurred is sustainable. The church has defined what will count as a miracle. One thing that would be true of a miracle that is indisputable (though not all miracles) is that there would be no alternative explanations to God acting.

          That is all science could ever do as it deals only with natural causes … Though that does leave science a problem of how to deal with mind in the end if mind is immaterial.

          What about the Process do you dispute? Let’s take one at a time without invective and not many charges at once.

        • Kodie

          You have a severe problem understanding this. The church has invented an extreme list of requirements a patient’s recovery may meet before they will rather arbitrarily presume a supernatural agent. The scientists at Lourdes do nothing to sustain the claim that a miracle occurred. They adhere to the list. The list is what the church will require of anything they call a miracle. It’s the same list, but you keep pushing those doctors to endorse your claims of miracles. That’s not what they do. Your choice to believe this list is so extreme as to leave no other option but god is your own failure at logic. Science doesn’t have a problem with imaginary things.

          The part of the process I dispute is where people go to Lourdes, feel better, make a claim to the church, and the church feels compelled to “discover” miracles by ruling everything else they do know out, and by presuming god. For this, they appear to use legitimate doctors who dismiss almost everyone who comes in the door. Some they cannot. Those are people the church will declare miracles. The part of the process I dispute is where you early on claimed that science had a huge part in proving miracles, and using this as your evidence of god, taking a huge liberty with science as the church does. The patients seem to meet this criteria. They may be unsolved mysteries, forever. Where are the records of their process?

          In the real world of medicine, if something isn’t known, people actually look for a medical treatment. They look for an answer. If they never find the answer, the case may be filed. In the real world of science, everything is open-ended. Something is unknown today, when we find that answer, we return to the problem case and resolve it. It’s published, other scientists are invited and encouraged to keep pecking at it. In Lourdes, they peck at it in a very particular way, and apparently nobody cares if we ever find a real answer or not.

          Ruling out all other known KNOWN KNOWN KNOWN KNOWN natural causes does not suffice to presume god did it. Science doesn’t have a problem with the immaterial, or the imaginary. You do. Don’t pretend that science has anything to do with this horseshit. Why do you keep trying to sneak science as a way to endorse your personal beliefs?

        • Kodie

          Upon reading about the Lourdes Miracle “process,” accordingly, the Church employs a couple dozen medical professionals to evaluate patients claiming to have experienced a miracle. Accordingly, these doctors are supposed to be impartial, and accordingly, I think they are. They really only have to keep records, track patients’ recovery duration, find out if they’re getting real medicine on the side, and make annual meetings where they discuss whether a patient meets the Church’s criteria for a miracle. Only then is the Church invited to review the records in order that some event may be called a miracle that happened at Lourdes. In doing this, the Church thinks it is doing a good job being sciencey.

        • Kodie

          So, self-selected scientists declaring some event(s) miraculous doesn’t make you skeptical at all? Because “no scientific explanation now” doesn’t mean “no scientific explanation ever”, and dabbling in supernatural studies is sure to ruin any scientist’s credibility. This is like those self-selected archaeologists who pursue Noah’s Ark or some such shit.

          I suppose you believe the Shroud of Turin is authentic?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          That isn’t what is done at Lourdes. They are engaging in the very investigation, including skeptics, you demand. Idea: explain the miracles and gain fame.

          If you look at back issues of the NCSE reports you will see articles detailing my attacks at creationist meetings of false claims of discoveries. I think the late great Bob Schadewald wrote it.

        • Kodie

          Your earlier (and continuing!) assertions about how “science” is being done on miracles has misled me. I done gone looked it up myself, so I could cut through the muck. They are not doing any science. They are clearing patients to pass a list created by a religious organization to seem scientific and rigorous, using some medical knowledge and some research. You’re not finding out about any scientists who are intrigued by the claims and studying them independently, using scientific standards.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Ha! Nice try. We are talking about people who research a claim find it is the sort of thing that could be a miracle and hand the next ( non scientific research ) to the theologians.

        • Kodie

          You continue to assert what is being done is science, and that science backs your claims with evidence, the church uses scientists, who use science to determine if something could be an authentic miracle. You were doing all the talking. You were making these claims. If I weren’t so nice, I’d start calling you a liar.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Insults would at least not be new here.

        • Kodie

          It’s either fool or liar, John. Which do you think is appropriate? I’ve explained it, so you either can’t understand, don’t want to understand, or intentionally misrepresent it.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Or I could be unpersuaded. Give me one reason, hopefully without invective, that shows that Lourdes isn’t suggestive of miracles happening … Doing all science can do with such claims. We can then discuss that one claim.

        • Kodie

          You’re stubborn to be persuaded. You’re settling for pseudoscience, and then misleading by calling it science, independent scientists, and not controlled by the church. 20 doctors meeting a checklist on patient claims is not science, no matter how much you wish. Having no other records for independent scientists to investigate? I’ve asked you if the records were open, show me those records. Don’t show me the anecdotes. Science publishes open records, and I have asked you for independent scientists or open records a bunch of times now. I am asking like a broken record, not a bunch of unsupported claims, just 2 QUESTIONS THAT ARE FOR YOU TO ANSWER.

          Don’t pretend the request is too confusing for you. Don’t pretend that “they are all independent scientists” is the correct answer without their published record of research. That you are persuaded that real miracles occur at Lourdes based on your own thin claims and wishful thinking despite my repeated demonstration that real science is not what that is, is not progressing this discussion, neither is addressing me about my rudeness, or to correct me about not being Catholic, or any other dead end you want to divert me.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          The records are available to review. I don’t know if they are on line so you can review then now.

          The scientists that investigate are not controlled by the Church. They are allowed to come to any conclusion they wish about whether a natural event can now be said to have occurred.

          That is all science can ever say about a possible miracles.

        • Kodie

          Look for them.

          The doctors that are on the committee are by virtue of belonging to this committee (CMIL), are not independent, but an agency of the Catholic Church. They are assigned patients who have come forward with their claims to do only what is asked of them and nothing more. I’m not saying they can’t be objective, and it’s in the church’s best interest that they are. You misled me (us) earlier about science’s “independent” investigation supports the Lourdes miracle claims, but I am straight on this now, so stop condescending to me. They are only asked to compare each patient’s medical record with the church’s checklist. Does this illness recovery have any known explanation? I know the doctors can dismiss everyone who passes their door if they do not fit the criteria.

          If you are satisfied with this half-assed process without any evidence of the process records, I can’t help you. I’m not. The church wants these criteria met, and that’s all. They don’t ask for science to endorse authentic materials, but just get enough information so they can exchange “no known scientific explanation” with “god did it.” There’s plenty of good scientific explanations (which I’ve already gone over) why the frequency of authenticated miracles have dropped since the 1990s – we found the natural explanations, and probably the internet making medical journals more accessible, so these explanations can be discovered instead of not known by anyone on that particular panel and whatever journals and colleagues they have access to. Can you see naturalism working? The doctor panel is catching fewer and fewer medical anomalies that can’t yet be explained, because they have more information at their fingertips and more ways of networking with more doctors, someone who does know the natural explanation, plus medicine is getting better and people who go to Lourdes are already getting well by the time they arrive, and their claims get dismissed. According to another thing I read about it, the ailment is supposedly supposed to be incurable. Lots more things are curable now.

          How many people go to Lourdes and die spontaneously? Has anyone collected any statistics on its killing properties? Probably the church hasn’t any interest in the “science” in that.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I don’t think you’ve added anything new. I don’t think you’ve fairly characterized the process or how a good process would work. Our readers can judge.

        • Kodie

          I’ve fairly characterized the process. There is no good process for classifying anything as an authentic miracle. You seem to mistake all these posts of mine as looking for a better process, and ignore relevant input. Through no means such as the Lourdes CMIL process, nor any other devised process can someone determine if an event was caused by an immaterial supernatural conscious intentional agent you call “god” or “Fred” the omnipotent one. Lourdes statistics practically scream that there isn’t a god, because even medical mysteries are less frequent than they used to be, for naturally explicable reasons. I see no omnipotence, and I don’t know why you’d bring up Lourdes to demonstrate omnipotence. If that’s what the omnipotent one can do, I think it must sap all of his strength for up to a decade to fix one human body.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          One of the chief shroud researchers is from the University of Rochester, dear alma mater, and I am skeptical of its authenticity

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Meant employs not implies

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Plantinga’s (as modified over a long discussion) is the modern version. Missing it is like responding to Darwin and ignoring . . . let’s say modern formulations by the late Will Provine (a fine chap by the way. . . rest in peace).

        • Greg G.

          Even WL Craig knows that none of Plantinga’s arguments work. At best, he thinks the combined weight of two dozen of Plantinga’s arguments favor the existence of God. That means not a single one of them is a proof of the existence of a god. I think two dozen failed arguments favors the non-existence of gods.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          WL Craig has been a colleague. You misunderstand what a philosopher means by “work”. Some arguments are sound but not persuasive. Others are unsound. You are missing Craig’s point. They disagree on “evidentialism’ not on the arguments themselves. Plantinga has an epistemology that allows for belief in God to be “properly basic.” Craig does not agree.

          Philosophers like to argue and clarify. Both Craig and Plantinga agree on the existence of God, but not on epistemology. This would be true if both were atheists!

        • And this is my frustration with philosophy. It’s great for making a smokescreen. What I expect when I ask for evidence for a god who deeply loves us and desires to have a relationship is simply, plain evidence. It should take a minute or less. “See the guy with the beard over there? That’s him”–something like that.

          When long-winded deist arguments are the best Christians have to offer, that to me is an admission that there is no good evidence.

          But that was an aside. Again, I ask you for one or two compelling arguments for the Christian god.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Sigh. I gave you an argument. Please refute it. Don’t just attack philosophy. That is anti-intellectual.
          If the God of deism exists (and I think we pretty much know He does), then atheism is false. That is all I am required to prove at the moment.
          So let’s start with Licona on Jesus as risen from the dead. There is a specific argument.
          Second, let’s postulate that a single miracle exists and use Lourdes as containing (at least) one example.

        • Dessany

          Since you’re arguing on an athiest blog stating that “we” pretty much know the god of deism exists is ridiculous. You may believe that but we make no such claim to knowledge.

          Presuppositional ideas merely try to move the burden of proof from the person making the claim to the person who doesn’t accept the claim. No need to go on to the much murkier claims of Jesus rising from the dead until you have fulfilled your burden of proof.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. I am just asserting that deism is rarely refuted . . . even on atheist blogs. But you are right. I should not have said “we.” Bad manners and I am sorry.

        • Dessany

          Not much in deism to refute. Could there be a god or gods that started the universe(s) and then did and does nothing? Sure.

          But what is the difference between a god that does nothing and no god? I’m going to leave the whole starting the universe thing out since there is no way we can see that far back yet (if ever).

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          A huge difference. If deism is true, then there could be a Law of Nature (as Jefferson believed) and of Nature’s God. This has giant moral implications.

        • Dessany

          Yes but how do you tell the difference between scientific laws that describe the universe and a Law of Nature and of Nature’s god when there is no communication between Nature’s god and humans?

          How do you show there is a deistic deity or deities sitting on the sidelines watching or playing poker or whatever a deity does when they don’t do anything except start the whole process?

          If you can’t tell the difference then there are no moral implications.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Not true. If there is a God, even if He does not talk to us, He (might) have put a moral code in us and the world that we can discover. This would work like natural laws. See Jefferson. Or Locke.

        • Dessany

          That still doesn’t answer my question. How do you tell the difference? Especially when there is no agreement on what that moral code is. Even among religious people.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          We study morality, try out ideas against the moral universe and see what works

        • Dessany

          Still doesn’t answer the question of how you tell the difference.

        • Sure, God might’ve put a moral code in us. But what is left unexplained after evolution? Why isn’t the natural explanation sufficient?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          If, as Jefferson thought, God built the laws into the universe, we would discover them by investigation

        • The only arguments that I seem to come across–fine tuning, design, moral, ontological, transcendental, etc.–are deist arguments. Look at Wm. Lane Craig’s opening arguments at any debate.

          Show me that my refutations are incomplete or flawed if you want, but don’t tell me that I don’t address them.

          Step 2–going from a deity to the Christian god–is often ignored by apologists.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I agree. That is a stinky thing Christian apologists do. I don’t defend it ever.

        • Sigh. I gave you an argument. Please refute it.

          I’ll look into it.

          Don’t just attack philosophy. That is anti-intellectual.

          No, what is anti-intellectual is giving an obtuse smoke monster of an argument and pretending that that will suffice.

          Bravo for Plantinga is he’s able to hide behind an argument that I won’t be able to dismantle. But is that seriously where you want to be? You want to plainly admit that in all the obvious ways, Yahweh is just like all the other made-up gods, except that you’ve stashed him away in a secret room in the castle high up on the hill?

          If the God of deism exists (and I think we pretty much know He does)

          Speak for yourself. Maybe I’m too stupid, but in argument after argument that I investigate, I find that the emperor has no clothes. This blog is a record of that search.

          So let’s start with Licona on Jesus as risen from the dead. There is a specific argument.

          I have responded to the minimal facts argument of Gary Habermas here. How is Licona’s different? If it is substantially so, can you point me to something more approachable than his The Resurrection of Jesus?

          Second, let’s postulate that a single miracle exists and use Lourdes as containing (at least) one example.

          I know of zero miracles that have happened. If you know otherwise, preface your example with a definition of “miracle.”

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          A miracle would a case like those of Lourdes where a personal agent (in this case God) is the most reasonable explanation.

        • Show me one example where the relevant scientific consensus (medicine, physics, whatever) agrees that this miracle happened and that natural explanations do not now nor will ever suffice.

          I’ll grant that there is a vetting process for the 67 or so Lourdes miracles, but this alone is insufficient.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Why? If a man prays, is healed, and there is no plausible natural explanation unless one knows there is no God (a priori) then the conservative (reasonable) position is that God healed him.

        • Then my request is reasonable.

          Obviously, no one cares much if I’m convinced–particularly me. Convince the experts. And not just one expert, but make it the consensus view of the entire community.

          This wouldn’t be an imposition, I predict. The community of doctors or physicists or whatever would be eager to participate in this high-profile project.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Lourdes does that.

        • And yet there is not one miracle that scientists have accepted.

          Lourdes only goes so far. It hasn’t convinced the wider community. There’s the problem.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Why hasn’t it? Not because of the evidence. . . but philosophical presuppositions. The science clearly says they are miracles (conservative hypothesis), but that would mean Big Change for many, many people.

        • Careful–that’s a bold charge. Do I understand you to be saying that any objective doctor (are we only talking about medical miracles here?) would have to admit that not only are these Lourdes cures mysterious with no clear natural explanation but that they couldn’t have a natural explanation?

          You’ve got a pretty low opinion of scientists.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I think scientists are human. All of us are invested in “our deal.” And yes that includes me. Everyone agrees that there are no natural explanations for Lourdes miracles. Atheism says: someday there will be one. Theism (deism) says: for now then we prefer the simple explanation: we thought there was a God, we prayed, and he answered. Of course, the only miracles are NOT those with no other explanation, but since atheists will accept even very improbable natural explanations to simple personal agency (if it includes a divine agent), I only include these. In short, I am not argument that the only miracle are those of gaps in knowledge, but that miracles happen .. . and that there is even a category of miracles where the most hardcore atheist has nothing.

        • Everyone agrees that there are no natural explanations for Lourdes miracles.

          I doubt that, but let’s assume that for the moment. The supernaturalist’s challenge is showing that natural explanations are impossible. To say, “Well, we don’t have a natural explanation at the moment …” is no win for the deist.

          Another example: cosmology has no consensus explanation for what caused the Big Bang. That doesn’t mean that the supernatural explanation wins by default.

          Theism (deism) says: for now then we prefer the simple explanation: we thought there was a God, we prayed, and he answered.

          A very, very complicated explanation. You posit a supernatural world that (yet again) is not part of the scientific consensus.

          there is even a category of miracles where the most hardcore atheist has nothing.

          Sounds like “science has no explanation … therefore, God.” Color me unconvinced.

        • Kodie

          As of 2006 only 67 cures have been ‘authenticated’ out of some 250 million people seeking them. This represents a success rate of less than .00003% or 1 per 3.7 million people.

          Again as of 2006, there had only been 4 ‘miracle cures’ since 1978 – an impressive 1 every 7 years! This coincides with better diagnostic technology and so more accurate assessments of the seriousness of medical conditions and the likelihood of spontaneous remission. Like other miracles, the supply of miracle cures at Lourdes appears to be drying up as science advances.

          This declining success rate, low though it was, so worried the Church that in 2006, Monsignor Jacques Perrier, Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes and the most senior cleric at the Catholic shrine, faced with competition from fundamentalist Christian Churches also offering ‘miracle cures’ in the form of faith-healing sessions, far more cheaply and accessible than his at Lourdes, decided to redefine a ‘miracle cure’.It now includes practically any sign of improvement defined with such wooly terms as ‘unexpected healings’, ‘confirmed healings’ and ‘exceptional healings’. Note, there is no reference to permanence or even duration of this ‘healing’ and it takes no account of other treatment the patient might be having. The goal-posts have been widened so far they seem to be almost outside the corner flags.

          And of course, not a single instance of these 67 ‘miracle cures’ has ever included such things as spontaneous regeneration of a limb or an organ, rejoining of a transected spinal cord, regeneration of destroyed brain tissues, repair of gross disfigurement or scarring, or indeed anything at all that could truly be regarded as without scientific explanation, although such cures should be well within the capability of a creator deity able to raise the dead.

          http://rosarubicondior.blogspot.com/2015/05/faking-it-at-lourdes.html

        • Kodie
        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          If this blog convinces you compared to the secular French scientist employed at Lourdes, you have proven my point about confirmation bias and atheism.

        • Kodie

          You are not the least bit skeptical of a scientist on their payroll? Wow, you are the perfect illustration of gullibility. They are in a lucrative business, of course they have paid endorsement of their product and/or service. Jeez, you smell like turnips!

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          They don’t pay their scientists who are outside critics, but you know that right?

        • Kodie

          Why do you keep using the word “employ”? Do you mean exploit?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. I mean “allow to research the phenomena.”

        • Kodie

          And you believe they are totally impartial?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          There are enough that yes … Cumulatively

        • Kodie

          Cumulatively is not how science works. You got 67 so-called medical miracles from a site that has been visited by over 250 million people seeking a medical miracle, and 250 scientists “employed” as you say, but not paid, by Lourdes to endorse their product and/or service, which is, in fact, tourism, out of how many scientists.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          That isn’t how Lourdes investigations work.

        • Kodie

          Oh tell me about the magical version of scientific investigations at Lourdes then.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds
        • Kodie

          Right, that’s not magical, and the medical professionals are not deeming anything miracles. All they are doing is examining patients who claim a miracle cure or recovery at Lourdes, finding no other current scientific explanation, examining their medical history, keeping tabs on their other medical treatments, and tracking the duration for a length of time it may be deemed “permanent.” That list of criteria was compiled by a religious organization, not scientists. They can objectively find patients meet the criteria (and eliminate so many that do not), but are not calling anything a miracle. Honest scientists would never rule out a future scientific explanation, but they are not asked to, the church doesn’t put that on their table, that’s on their own table.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Right because science as science can never see a miracle. It is limited by methodological naturalism … Not a bad technique but unable to see beyond the natural. There job is to say if the natural can do the job.

        • Kodie

          You can’t just rule out natural causes permanently. They can rule out current understanding of natural explanations, and they only need to pass a 2/3 vote with the committee – that means 7 of them can be unconvinced.

          I think it’s a low bar to set, and not rigorous science. You had made many claims that scientists were studying the miracles at Lourdes, you misled me. Scientists are not studying the miracles at Lourdes, a small committee of medical professionals are deciding among themselves if there is no natural explanation that they know of.

          Who else are they consulting? They are just making sure the patient isn’t backing up with medicine (kind of irresponsible, I think), and waiting to see if whatever they had comes out of remission or what. They are not going over old cases when they learn something more modern that could have helped them refuse a past case miracle status. It looks real tight and official, and obviously has you snowed. How many times do you see on some talk show or whatever, someone says they went to 46 different doctors with something and nobody ever saw it before, or mistook it for some other illness, and none of the medicine worked? Doctors aren’t banks of knowledge. They attempt to recognize a lot of common illnesses and don’t always know where to look when solving mysteries. You’re asking 20 doctors to cover all knowledge and 13 of them get to outvote the other 7 (I assume the bishop will vote yes miracle). That’s not quite 2/3, that’s 65% yes (it meets the church’s definition of a) miracle.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Sigh. You know they consult other doctors.

        • Kodie

          Are the records published anywhere?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Yes. As is the person’s name … Anyone can confirm her healing or show it false.

        • Kodie

          I know the anecdotes are listed, I’m talking about the records.

        • Kodie

          No, I read up on it, and all the scientists have to do is measure claimants against the church’s criteria. It is meant to be rather rigorous, but still leaving it up to the church to decide “no scientific explanation ever” with non-science. There is a scientific explanation for the huge decrease in frequency of so-called miracles, which is, there was a scientific explanation (that had yet to be discovered) for earlier spontaneous cures, and most people prefer the modern medicine now and don’t need to make the trip. Those left traveling are the most hopeless and least likely to experience anything spontaneous or miraculous. Doesn’t stop people from claiming to the church, and that’s the funny thing, isn’t it? Where the medical panel did find scientific explanations for many patients’ recoveries (usually but not always prior medical intervention), people still thought it was god. People go to the doctor and just to cover themselves, visit Lourdes, and think they got better because they were at Lourdes.

          Thankfully, the church seems to know better than to make such a mockery of the process, it sure seems legit to you when they find fewer “miracles”!

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          You realize that just because a thing could have happened spontaneously it does not mean it did? The criteria is set up to be a higher standard. Keep reading!

        • Kodie

          It’s a low unscientific standard. It resolves to create an atmosphere where if something is unexplained currently by anyone on the panel of 20 doctors, then it shall ever be.

          That’s not how reality works.

          I’d love to hear about a case that had been on file for how many years
          and, before the recovery could be deemed permanent and passed on to the bishop for his warm tummy feelings, one of the doctors found a natural explanation. Have they never reversed a case after it was called a miracle? Has none of the cases thus far ever emerged to have a natural explanation and reversed its miracle status?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          They wait a long time to see, but yes the church had conceded errors about miracles.

        • Kodie

          Which ones?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds
        • Kodie

          Right, they are cumulatively impartial because that is how science works, when all those scientists work to produce results for a religious mafia, and all scientists put conclusions up for a 2/3 vote at the end; all small groups of collaborating scientists write their conclusion in the book forevermore, and no scientists are ever expected to be skeptical of the results and perform their own tests independently.

          Please stop asserting this is science.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          More name calling. There is no evidence that Lourdes researchers aren’t doing their job. You assume it.

        • Kodie

          You don’t seem to be able to realistically grasp what their job is, and keep asserting that they are doing science, shut the book and believe it. How many times have I asked you to name independent scientists doing scientific method to study the supposed miracles at Lourdes? I have repeated many times what the doctors’ roles are there, and you have not disagreed with me, yet you seem to be under the illusion that it’s science.

          You were misleading from the beginning, but maybe it’s not your fault since you are the natural gullible target of the Catholic Church and their non-scientific methods. To you, eliminating most of the claims over the years seems like scientific integrity when they really don’t meet the requirements, and to an extent, I agree that they are eliminating most of the claims as they should. It’s the ones that get through that you are not curious about, scientifically. All they do is meet an arbitrary requirement as to what the Catholic Church deems a miracle – no known scientific explanation. Once it’s in the books, the door to scientific inquiry is closed – not that it was open, it was offered to an elite panel of doctors who vote on conclusions, and not shared with the general public or independent scientists.

          The opposite of science. Science does not simply agree with the Catholic Church and a small isolated committee of doctors that any such miracles were authentic. It only satisfies the Catholic Church. If you want to make claims that these are real and authentic miracles as evidence of god, you better be pulling some independent scientific studies.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I am not Catholic in fact. I don’t necessarily accept Church claims about why the miracles as miracles occur.

        • Kodie

          I can’t believe you thought that was relevant to mention, and only that.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          You make many assertions and I try to take them one at a time. Threads are hard enough to follow without getting too many claims in one block of text.

        • Kodie

          I didn’t make many assertions. You have deliberately and hostilely ignored the same deliberate explanation of what you misunderstood about the Lourdes process every time. I consider it hostile that out of the whole thing, you correct me that I assumed you were a Catholic, which wouldn’t be the first time you’ve misled anyone, wouldn’t be the first time you get to feel like a macho man correcting someone about a simple and harmless assumption. But you have to be truthful about your faith, that’s got to be your priority. Not a Catholic, just a fan. Got it. Was that really important?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          So assume you are right about me. Give us one problem you have with the process …. Not many surrounded by invective so I can deal with one at a time cordially.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          In the sense of “use”

        • Kodie

          What I’ve found out is that Lourdes employs a couple dozen medical professionals who keep statistics for the church for people claiming to have been cured miraculously. The church defines what a miracle is, based on a lengthy, but faulty, process to track medically anomalous recoveries from illness or impairment.

          The CHURCH makes a somewhat reasonable but still arbitrary list of checkpoints for each recovered patient to achieve in order for the CHURCH to declare it a miracle. The medical team only has to keep records of what was wrong with them in the first place, whether they received other treatments, and whether the recovery is sustained for a length of time to be deemed “permanent.”

          Of course, there are other scientific explanations called statistics. Measured against statistical remission or spontaneous recovery in such a fashion, of course, many people pray to be cured, and only a bare handful find themselves cured. Especially for those gullible enough to go to Lourdes to be cured, the emotional overwhelmingness of the experience of being somewhere you sincerely believe to be a holy site can be enough to trigger a remission, but obviously no guarantee. All of that is physical, chemical, and not solidly a plan. Religion does suggest things, and a believer cannot be blamed for reacting to the dinner bell, so to speak.

          The statistical decrease in accounted “miracles” at Lourdes is also explained – most people try medicine first, and medicine is better. The people left with no hope at all are not cured at Lourdes at the same rate as before because they have a serious disease or injury with no medical treatment available (such as to regrow limbs but other things that even god can’t do that are internal), and will have no chance. With higher traffic and lower “miracle” rates, how much longer will this place manage to stay in business?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          You are wrong again. Let’s take one error: the cure has to be an anomaly. Since spontaneous remission happens in some diseases… It isn’t allowed to count.

          Let’s take a second error you have made: nobody is saying these are the only miracles of Lourdes … Just the ones that cannot be explained away by even the most skeptical. So a facuke use of statistics doesn’t work.

          Supposed God cures me instantaneously of a disease that sometimes humans get better from naturally… No matter how quick the cure or related to the prayer in time… It isn’t allowed to count for these purposes. Of course if you are a theist, it seems likely what we label a “spontaneous remission” in this case is a miracle. Since however a skeptic will not be convinced, this is a category that demands higher evidence.

        • Kodie

          The more modern medicine is taking care of more people, the fewer claims that are brought to the committee of doctors to affirm meet the criteria for the church. Up to a point, the stories about Lourdes miracles are just stories with no way to verify them and no real records to investigate. The Church deemed them miracles, however, and built the legend status. Now that traditional medicine and statistical research is filling in the blanks, fewer and fewer patients’ recoveries qualify, by the church’s low non-scientific standard, as an actual miracle.

          You’ve given up hope of ever finding a scientific explanation – that is god of the gaps.

        • adam

          “Since spontaneous remission happens in some diseases… It isn’t allowed to count.”

          THAT is EXACTLY what they are seeing, spontaneous remissions.

          THAT is the ONLY thing they count.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. Not as far as they can tell. They are seeing singular cases.

        • adam

          Nope just remissions

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          The permanent nature of the cure over a long period of time eliminates your worry that it is hyoe.

        • Kodie

          I’m not that impressed as you are.

        • adam

          “The permanent nature of the cure over a long period of time eliminates your worry that it is hyoe. ”

          Nope still doesnt demonstrate your ‘miracles’

          Remissions are not that uncommon.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Up to 250 outside scientists investigate a claim over years.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          You cannot have it both ways: claim that there are “few” miracles and then argue that the scientists who found the “few” are on the payroll (despite evidence) for agreeing the “few” are miracles.

        • I care only about the evaluation of the scientific community. That you or I or a single scientist is impressed means nothing.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Actually the medical community that studies Lourdes agrees these are miracles …or could be miracles.

        • Show me that the medical community at large says that the Lourdes events are actual miracles with no possible natural explanation.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          That is the consensus of those who study it

        • adam

          “The science clearly says they are miracles (conservative hypothesis), but that would mean Big Change for many, many people.”

          No science CLEARLY shows miracles are DELUSIONS.

          It they were science, nobody would need FAITH….

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Please define faith. I doubt you’re using it the way traditional Christians do. And science does not show miracles are delusion… To give one example : http://en.lourdes-france.org/deepen/cures-and-miracles/the-international-medical-committee

        • adam

          “To give one example : http://en.lourdes-france.org/d…”

          Where is the science?
          This is a bunch of religious people making claims.

          ” It is the 69th cure of Lourdes recognized as miraculous by a Bishop.”
          http://en.lourdes-france.org/deepen/cures-and-miracles/danila-castelli

          The same kind of Bishop who sees demons….as real.

          https://duckduckgo.com/?q=bishop+exorcism&t=ffab

          Faith:

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          The Bishop certifies the miracle.., he doesn’t do the science. You might try a modern speech translation or you will make the kind of mistakes that people make listening to Shakespeare. That is a translation from Hebrew to ENGLISH… But English evolves!

          Here is a rough definition of faith: accenting the truth of a thing based on best reason and experience tentatively.

          More substantial than hope, but less than certain.

        • adam

          “The Bishop certifies the miracle..,”

          Yes, just like he certifies IMAGINARY demons for exorcism.

          Let us just stick with the bible definition of ‘faith’ when talking about the bible. Ghosts, demons and gods have nothing to do with the best reason and all to do with IMAGINATION, INDOCTRINATION and FEAR.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I gave a Biblical definition: hope made substantial by evidence.

        • adam
        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. I do not think that we should have “wishful thinking” as the basis for a life

        • adam

          That is what the bible calls ‘faith’

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. It isn’t. Of course the Bible isn’t one book, isn’t in English, so can you give me the exact reference?

        • adam

          ..

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Exactly. And what that means in the text is faith gives intellectual substance to our hopes… Reasonable expectation that what hasn’t happened yet will happen as it did in the past.

        • adam

          Hope is not intellectual, you are just projecting your own wishful thinking on the subject.

          certain of you do not see…….

          Delusional

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Why?

        • adam

          Because you WANT it to be true, just like for Heaven.

        • Kodie

          It doesn’t give intellectual substance to anything. I’m not getting that context about anything happening in the past. I’m getting a story about people following orders from nobody and getting rewarded magically, even though there was no precedent. It’s a story.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Well, here’s an idea: let people who believe a thing tell you what they believe. Of course it would be easier for you if we read the text as you suggest but we do not…

          We may be wrong, but why invent a straw man?

        • Kodie

          No, I get that you think you have sufficient evidence to believe there’s a heaven when you die if you just hang on to your Christian beliefs, but that you don’t have any reason to believe that any stronger than wishes or hopes based on past events or evidence, and neither does any character in the context of that passage. It’s a neat little story about how “faith” is not knowing anything but doing it in case it’s true, and then because how the story goes, it is true, so things turn out if you have faith.

          In your faith, going back to the discussion about the gunman, you would expect to be able to speak the truth of your Christianity to a gunman threatening to kill you for that very answer, so you could die with honor. You hope that it might turn out differently, but your back-up plan is stated as eternal life. In this scenario, you’ve also let it go to the gunman to decide whether you live or die because he’s at whim. He has all the power in this scenario, which is familiar to me for reasons most people talk about god. He’s this imaginary “ultimate” – he is the gunman threatening you. He wants to give you emotional rewards (like honor even in death) for telling the truth to a fuckwad on earth shooting your face off for being a Christian, and punish you with guilt and shame at being cowardly enough to save your own life by lying.

          If there was a revolutionary take-over, and some army was rounding up Christians in your neighborhood, would you hide in your house with the curtains closed and barricade the door, or would you open the door and offer yourself to be executed? What if they weren’t killing Christians, but enslaving them. Would you be brave to tell the truth and be their slave?

          Now think – “god” has the ultimate power, according to Christians, and you cannot mess with that, talk back to it, sass it, mock it, or deny it. Or else you be in biiiiig trouble. Like, die, to the bad place. Here on planet earth, the ultimate power is whoever has that power currently, that is the gunman – if you don’t give the magic answer he wants, he kills you. There isn’t really any more. That you think this gives you a dignified death and a reward in heaven for not cowering to a silly petty little earthly gunman, then you don’t have any precedent or evidence to think that will come based on any past events. The recent past event had you thinking your faith was some magical shield that wouldn’t save your life, but some afterlife. In other words, because “god” has all the power and you want this ultimate satisfaction, you say things you wouldn’t otherwise say, and mean things you wouldn’t otherwise mean. If there were no promise of heaven, no threat of hell, and just the end of your life with a right answer and a wrong answer changing the trigger, you know you would do whatever that gunman said. You’re doing it with faith in god.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          In fact, atheists in places like China and Islamists are today making people in my Church make these calls. Starting with Ignatius we have developed answers.

          I would not (I hope) do what the gunman said without an afterlife. I hope I would be a man like a Lucretius. Of course, life after death is only comfortable to some … Others like Epicurus find the possibility frightening. What will it be like?

          Like Socrates I think that there is life after death and it will be good… And that this is a reason not to fear death. I don’t see that however as the one reason.

        • Kodie

          I think you missed the point about god pointing a gun at your face and saying “love me or else”.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I don’t think God does this. I think He lets us choose to love Him and live with the consequences of our choice.

        • Kodie

          He makes the consequences of not loving him severe, like an abusive husband. What do you think the word “else” means? Say you’re not a Christian or live with the consequences. The gunman also lets you choose your consequence.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          And so I choose the consequences.. I am free and don’t let fear or the gunman choose how I die.

        • adam

          “Of course the Bible isn’t one book, isn’t in English, so can you give me the exact reference?”

          Which ‘bible’?
          http://www.bible-reviews.com/charts_basic.html

          Your all knowing god, couldnt even get a straight copy of his word out to everyone. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cc0683c46c223fdc911c65e5d289d567c11417848d0a5f9b413f549a06e5d601.jpg

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Faith is “substantial” hope: evidence for things coming but not yet seen (Hebrews 11:1) that is … It isn’t a wish, Like hope, it hasn’t happened yet so it isn’t certain, but it is a reasonable expectation based on what we know

        • adam

          no substantial there, just wishful thinking.

          For evidence unseen

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          You know see context that means future events. I don’t see my wife loving me tomorrow, can’t be sure she will, but I extrapolate from her past behavior to accept that she will. That is faith.

          Is it useless to pretend you know what people believe when they don’t except your definition of what they believe?

        • adam

          “That is faith.”

          That is not what the bible says ‘faith’ is. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3298cec031aed87ecad68eda344651ff1991966d8bad9d120ff60083677e2bd4.jpg

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Siri hates my use of except and Accept!

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          We cannot see the future as people. We might hope for an outcome, but without evidence. Faith is more substantial. It is a reasonable expectation based on past experience.

          Look, I know you wish we believed what you say we believe, but we do not. I have discussed faith in orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant churches in this way and never been contradicted. Since there are 2 billion of us, I have no doubt you can find outliers who say dumb things, but this is what Faith means in the mainstream

        • adam

          “Faith is more substantial. It is a reasonable expectation based on past experience.”

          Not biblical faith, biblical faith is wishful thinking.

          ” Since there are 2 billion of us,”
          And no two of you believes in god in exact way.

          You all use your IMAGINATION to create a god that reflects what you WISH for. Since all your wishes are different, all your IMAGINED gods are different.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Since people are different they experience things differently and even interpret their experience badly. True of everything.

          We are learning as we think, experiment, and learn to know a God who is there.

          You seem pretty angry. I am sorry about that.

        • adam

          “Since people are different they experience things differently and even interpret their experience badly. True of everything.”

          Except with One True GodTM

          “We are learning as we think, experiment, and learn to know a God who is there.”

          Nope, you are all created your own god in your own head, that is why your god agrees with you SO MUCH…

          “You seem pretty angry. I am sorry about that.”

          You should be sorry, I am not angry.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Ok. Then can we cool the invective?

        • adam

          Yes, as soon as you demonstrate that this ‘god’ of yours is not IMAGINARY.

          See, with Revealed RelgionTM, each ‘believer’ MUST create their own god out of their own experiences, there is no way out of it. You IMAGINE your god.

        • Kodie

          What is reasonable about faith in Jesus saving your soul and going to heaven after you die? There is no evidence that any of those things exist. There is no reasonable expectation based on any evidence that that isn’t just a story to make anyone feel better.

          My basic premise for being an atheist is that I can’t even believe adults believe any of this or need any of it to feel alright. That’s it. It is not based in the real world. The arguments you keep repeating are presuppositional, I guess they sound all wrapped up and logical if you want them to, but not if you actually think about it. At least that’s how I presume an adult would approach it, but I guess not. I’m not trying to be insulting – I didn’t have a religion to rebel against, I’m not the kind of atheist religious people are always claiming they used to be. We don’t all admit there is at least some kind of god, and the arguments lack logic and the evidence lacks credibility.

          Although I find Bob’s articles interesting for the most part, I don’t really need it to convince myself. Asserting that we all agree on some kind of deist god or omnipotence is weird.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          really we have enough topics now without bringing in more. We live in a universe with material and immaterial things… Including numbers. The material world shoes harmony with the immaterial world. This strongly suggests Mind.

          This is a concise general argument.

        • Kodie

          It’s not an argument, it’s an assertion. Immaterial abstract concepts exist only as abstracts as we comprehend them, not immaterially. When you say something like “courage” exists, how does it exist? When we observe a behavior and label it, somewhat arbitrarily. We would not say the 9/11 hijackers had courage, but some Muslims would differ in that judgment call. You want to voluntarily die because you believe in a reward in your afterlife, if a gunman asked if you were a Christian, how is saying “yes” qualitatively different than flying a plane full of passengers and fuel into a skyscraper? Why did people give Caitlyn Jenner grief over being granted a Courage Award instead of someone whose career consisted of military service that probably entailed killing innocent people to serve a war mission that is possibly corrupt? Because military service (for our side only) is generally conceded as being courageous, while putting on a dress is not. But being who you really are even though everyone is going to be nasty and cruel is courageous, would you not agree? Courage is not a “thing,” not even an immaterial thing. It’s an observation of a relationship between someone and their environment.

          In effect, you don’t have the courage to lie to the gunman, so I would say your courage to tell the truth is not true courage. That’s an opinion based on my own values, and no, I do not agree with anything you assert without evidence, nor any of your fallacious arguments with faulty premises about any immaterial “things” “existing.” Immaterial things like numbers do not exist. I don’t care what Bob concedes, he’s not my teacher. He is a person with his own concept and decision to agree with you about that. So twice that I’ve seen you throw that flag on the field, Kodie shut up and listen to Bob, I’m winning because the blogger agreed with something I said and you have to line up with your spokesman now.

          I certainly do not!

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          So you think courage the concept is made of atoms?

        • Kodie

          Yes, but not really. You want vague. I will stop bothering to explain.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Please start!

        • Kodie

          Holy shit you moron. I have.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. You put many ideas into insult laden posts. That’s too bad. Take one thing you are saying, say it without invective, and the. We can discuss it.

        • Kodie

          I patiently lay out a diagram for you, and you just say well “many” other philosophers agree with you and I’m just behind the times, better catch up with Bob, who has already conceded something superficially that satisfies your ego. You’re not having any discussion.

        • Kodie

          You put many claims into posts with the argument from authority and insist we either all agree, or should be made to agree before you can move ahead. You never think that you should explain what’s wrong with something I said, only that “many” philosophers, atheists, ‘relevant atheists,’ or “atheist philosophers” disagree with me, or never what you believe is right about your argument. It’s all straw men and hand-waving and argument from authority. Please stop being a shit at discussion and we can perhaps get somewhere.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I like imagination… It helps us find solutions to real problems. I think indoctrination is always bad.

          Fear is useful as it warns us of dangers. Living fearfully not so much.

        • adam

          ” I think indoctrination is always bad.”

          And yet here you are CLAIMING miracles and waxing philosophically trying indoctrination yourself.

        • Kodie

          The bishop certifies it a miracle according to a list of criteria created by the church, the scientists only adhere to this list they’re given. Once they vote as a committee whether all points on the list were satisfied, the bishop gets to check his tummy.

          Faith is the ignorance of facts right in front of you in favor of something you hope is true.

        • Guest

          ???

          faith

          fāTH/Submit

          noun

          noun: faith

          1.complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
          “this restores one’s faith in politicians”
          synonyms:trust, belief, confidence, conviction; More
          antonyms:mistrust

          2.strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

          synonyms:religion, church, sect, denomination, (religious) persuasion, (religious) belief, ideology, creed, teaching, doctrine
          “she gave her life for her faith”

          a system of religious belief.
          plural noun: faiths
          “the Christian faith”

          a strongly held belief or theory.
          “the faith that life will expand until it fills the universe”

        • Kodie

          Moreover, for a modern mentality, it is difficult to say that something is “inexplicable”. They can only say that it is “unexplained”.

          Do you not read the sites you link or understand the words?

        • Kodie

          The Committee meets once a year, in the autumn. They examine the current files, When everything is in place (this can take some time) the committee decides by way of a vote whether to declare or refuse to confirm that this cure is inexplicable according to present scientific knowledge. A two-third majority is required for an affirmative vote.

          And this is why you accept a rather low cure rate at the Lourdes. It’s much more miraculous when you believe the process to be rigorous and eliminate most candidates, that demonstrates that god can’t really do much of anything about anyone coming to Lourdes, and it’s a super-duper long shot. What are the odds they’d get spontaneous recovery meeting all these criteria without hauling their ass all the way to Lourdes? I mean, what are the statistical recovery rates over the rest of the planet?

        • adam

          “An estimated 200 million people have visited the shrine since 1860,[5] and the Roman Catholic Church has officially recognized 69 healings considered miraculous. Cures are examined using Church criteria for authenticity and authentic miracle healing with no physical or psychological basis other than the healing power of the water.
          6]”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lourdes

          69 unexplained (by the Church) cures for 200 MILLION attempts.

          Of course this is the Catholic Church, so there may be some bias….

        • Kodie

          They have a system rigged that fools people into thinking it’s rigorous science, and only allows a few “miracles” to pass in the first place, which only strengthens how miraculous they are, a) because miracles just don’t happen all the time, even at Lourdes, and b) to demonstrate that it’s not all loose – even so, only about 7000 patients have approached Lourdes to make the claim, out of 200 million. If Lourdes were a miraculous healing spot, millions of instantaneous cures and recoveries of anything, with no scientific explanation, and for permanent duration, millions, and only at Lourdes. That number would be scientifically inexplicable. To me, the low frequency with which claims pass their test not only demonstrates how ineffective god must be, but that there’s a scientific explanation for all of them. Studying them on an individual basis like they do, and carefully selecting criteria to meet, what was it .0000335% success rate, that’s indicating to me that these are statistics of their own examples of illness, not miracles. Scientific explanations of a limb regrown would obviously be stunning. Millions inexplicably cured would be easily stunning. I don’t mean lowering the standards, I mean all those really sick people got well at Lourdes would be statistically inexplicable. Even if some of them were already taking medicine, even if some of them would have cleared on their own as a known occurrence, even if there is some crazy mineral cocktail in the water there that’s doing it, or some rare microbe that eats cancer (I don’t know if that makes sense). Are independent scientists studying the water itself, the air, the angle of the sunlight off of the mountains at 3:30pm, no – because .0000335% success rate is not interesting at all. Meanwhile, what’s the rate of unexplained recovery on a global scale? Some articles make reference that the pilgrimage, the arrival, the overwhelming “spirit” of the place itself, with all that hype, is the psychological booster shot that helps some people, and yeah, that works for some people – that’s still a physical cause. There are sick people all over the world who will get well without Lourdes, and they’re not miracles either.

          See also how low their standards were before they’d gotten on the map. Doctors didn’t know all that much medicine, and I’m sure many if not all were Christian or Catholic. Catholicism wants its credibility and they know people would get smart and think they were just trying to fool everyone. Since 1947, when they instituted the standards, there was about one miracle affirmed per year until the early 1990s. Then it plummeted to about 1 per 7 years. As far as I know, once it’s in the book as a miracle, the case is not examined again, by anyone.

          Did science explain more of the applicants’ recoveries, so fewer would pass the “inexplicable” criterion? More people using better medicine before going? Medicine’s most difficult cases being all who is left to try Lourdes? I also find it a little bit amusing that you have to get permission from the Catholic Church to talk about your experience at Lourdes, if you should happen to believe it cured you, but the Church hasn’t passed your case yet, or denied it miracle status.

        • TheNuszAbides

          To me, the low frequency with which claims pass their test not only demonstrates how ineffective god must be, but that there’s a scientific explanation for all of them.

          to the more elitist brand of flock, this is merely ‘evidence’ of how ~unworthy~ the vast majority of petitioners are. because Da Fall, etc.

        • Kodie

          The science says they only meet the criteria created by the Catholic Church for miracles. It is rather rigorous but by no means scientific evidence of miracles.

        • adam

          “The science says they only meet the criteria created by the Catholic Church for miracles.”

          THE Catholic Church?

          They wouldnt lie and deceive, would they?

        • adam

          “then the conservative (reasonable) position is that God healed him.”

          or not https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5ee915253fa07ff4626d90a656183605c3e19d6819f919134227ff9313927909.jpg

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Come on. This is a parody of serious religious people …these people were wrong as every pastor in my community would say. Christians build hospitals and see wholistic medicine; mind, spirit, body as a good thing.

        • adam

          They HAD ‘faith’
          It is no parody, but what FAITH drives people to BELIEVE. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7806a697bef899edff7c44b03febd70e5adf1103df88fa7c42824c92aff75c05.jpg

          Christians wouldnt NEED hospitals if miracle were not IMAGINARY.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          We helped build them because we have more sophisticated ideas than that misogynist Twain knew.

        • adam

          And you KNOW better than to depend on ‘miracles’.

          While STILL promoting them as a propaganda tool for indoctrination, demonstrates your DISHONESTY.

        • MNb

          Why? Just because science can’t explain? You claim you have read God in the Age of Science, in which for instance chapter 10.2 deals with miracles as evidence for god. In short: you can’t escape the God of the Gaps.
          But there is more.

          How is an immaterial agent interacting with our material reality reasonable in any sensible meaning of the word? If it is, which means did the immaterial agent use and which procedures did it follow? If you have read the book indeed (the section about “God loves X”, chapter 7.2 and 7.3) you show either your intelllectual dishonesty or stupidity by not addressing the problem. As we safely can rule out the latter you are a fine example why I refuse to call you a philosopher as you confirm my inductive conclusion that all apologists at one point or another have to become intellectually dishonest.

          What you call miracles – and the Lourdes committee doesn’t exactly represent scientific consensus – are nothing but examples of “we don’t know”, ie “scientific explanations haven’t been found yet.”

          As long as you don’t have addressed the problems outlined by Philipse you could as well maintain that superconductivity at relatively high temperatures is most reasonably explained by a bored personal agent (in your case “God”) who likes to toy with magnets. But as you undoubtedly won’t deconvert as soon as physics has managed to formulate an explanation this example is not a test for theism. Same for miracles. In other words, for you miracles are a win-not lose situation. You win as long as there is no scientific explanation but you won’t lose as soon as science does explain it.
          Like I wrote – intellectually dishonest.
          And there is the other problem no apologist ever addresses. Why accept one supernatural claim (god caused a miracle in Lourdes) and reject another (god toys with magnets)? What’s your method? Without a method it looks like if you’re just sucking things out of your big religious thumb – and that’s what makes BobS look down on philosophy.

          Now let the handwaving begin.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Many claims there… Let’s leave the invective out. First, I have written in the Gaops argument as a chapter in the book “Mere Creation.” Start there.

          Put briefly, the Gaps claim against religion assumes what is contentious: a fully naturalistic cosmos.

          Suppose the problem of matter/mind were insoluble as you claim. Why be a materialist? I start with a mind in investigating which makes idealism at least as good a solution as materialism.

          And you have Lourdes wrong. They are excepting the skeptic standard that any physical explanation trumps any personal agency that is God. They are looking for examples of personal agency that cannot be explained away. That there are some is a problem for your point of view… And all you can give us is a materialism of the gaps… A promissary note that someday we’ll know .

          Maybe.

          As for your physical example, I don’t have any reason to think a personal agent is involved in the situation with magnets you describe. If I did, I would look for one. When I asked God to help me, and he dead… I have reason to examine whether God did help me. If I’m talking to a skeptic, one thing I can do is eliminate any possible material explanations. Of course, that’s not the only reason to think God is involved, one also has the situation itself.

          In fact philosophers have worked hard to lay down benchmarks for when it’s reasonable to look for a personal agent, we call God. One doesn’t attribute agency to an action word agency doesn’t seem required…

        • Kodie

          Science has a pretty decent track record. Medicine does a lot more than Lourdes can do or ever did. You have given up hope that science will ever explain things you don’t understand, that’s why you leap right to miracle and lower your standards.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Pardon typographical error’s… I am in a position of having to use Siri. That is fraught with peril

        • adam

          “A miracle would a case like those of Lourdes where a personal agent (in this case God) is the most reasonable explanation.”

          Why would a ‘god’ who has not been demonstrated to be anything but IMAGINARY, be the “most reasonable explanation”?

          More “God of the Gaps”

          Is this the VERY BEST that your ‘faith’ provides for you?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          You do not know that God (Islamic, Jewish, Christian, Platonic etch) is NOTHING like all the other “gods.” Don’t confuse the fact that we use the same English world (regrettable) for the God of the philosophers and the “super heroes” of the myths.

        • You do not know that God (Islamic, Jewish, Christian, Platonic etch) is NOTHING like all the other “gods.”

          Huh? I’m saying that the Christian god is quite similar to many other gods; the other gods are made up; therefore, the Christian god looks like it was made up.

          You want to say that Yahweh is unique? Well, obviously. They all are.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. The God of the philosophers is omnipotent (for example). Thor isn’t. Zeus isn’t. There (logically) can be only one or no omnipotent God, not many. So God is ontologically different from the other “gods.” You are making a simple category error based on our use in English of the same word (minus a capitalization) for two totally different things. The God of Islam, Plato, Christianity, and Judaism has as much in common with “gods” as hose on someone’s legs have to do with hose that use in the garden.

        • I just invented a god called Fred. He’s omnipotent.

          It’s not that hard.

          You might say that Yahweh has been active in human society for longer, and that’s true. I don’t think that that’s especially relevant, however. That the origin of Yahweh is hidden in the mists of history doesn’t bolster his believability.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Then I worship Fred. He is (logically) the same being as any other God. The name you have given Him changes but the quality you assigned means that Allah, Fred, Yahwah, and the God of the Philosophers are the same being.

        • Allah and Yahweh are the same? How do you know that your route to the divine is correct and the Muslims’ isn’t?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I think about it. Look at the evidence. Allah is God. How best to get to Him? Harder question . . . and that is why we thing and trust in mercy of Allah. He was, after called Allah long before Islam.

        • When do you stop lumping gods together? The Christian god is triune, which is blasphemous from a Muslim standpoint.

          If you can go that far, can you also throw in the Mormon god? They worship the same Jesus.

          We seem to have a different take. I look at Islam and the Koran looks invented (maybe not deliberately). You seem to say that they’re just a clumsy or inept route to the same god you worship.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Religions may add other qualities to Fred, but if Fred is omnipotent He is The God. Now . . . should we add those things to Fred that Islam adds. I think not. . . but that is a different discussion. Islam says enough to get us to the same God, I just think it says false things in addition. Of course, they would say the same and so we have a different discussion.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          There is one God and Bob has named Him Fred. Fine. Fred we will call Him. He is omnipotent so the same being (logically) as any other omnipotent being.

        • Kodie

          You mean imaginary?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. Bob has given the actual God a new name. That anybody can do.

        • Kodie

          I meant the omnipotent part. I don’t get the assumption. If there’s an omnipotent god and you don’t care what his name is, you must care what else he wants. Maybe Fred doesn’t penalize anyone for talking shit about him, and he’s totally cool if you deny him in a crisis (or any other time).

          It’s sort of like you’re saying god is like the President of the United States. You might call him Barack. You might call him Mr. President. But you’d also call George Bush “Mr. President” even though he no longer is the president. You can see having the same title doesn’t make two characters the same in any way other than you have presumed a quality of “omnipotence.”

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No Bush and Obama are not the same being. There is nothing about the quality of “president” that means only one person can have it. . . .as we can see. But omnipotence, if any being has it, then it must be the only one. One cannot be all powerful and unable to defeat the other guy. Only one being can logically be All Powerful.

        • Kodie

          I guess you don’t understand. If Bob claimed that Kodie was omnipotent, but you claimed that you were omnipotent, and we both can’t be, you can still see how we’re different, and if one of us is actually omnipotent, it would kind of matter which one of us was, since we aren’t the same.

          Fred isn’t your God. He’s the one Bob is selling. You’re selling a different one.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Then that’s why we have philosophy to investigate whose claims are correct. Though if someone claims I am omnipotent, I will quickly falsify that claim

        • Kodie

          We’re actual people who can superficially enter a contest to see who is the strongest, smartest, most powerful in all the land. I see no evidence that your god is real much less omnipotent. It more like seems you picked an omni quality that you consider to worship, and then place a personification to go with that quality. It is like all the other omni- qualities people choose to describe god, and yet nothing about reality suggests this god exists more than a bunch of people worship some inanimate abstract quality that nothing in the universe may have. I mean, let’s assign (for the sake of argument), that the sun is the most powerful object (and pretend our solar system is the whole universe), but it’s not all-powerful. It can’t thread a needle. It can’t walk a dog. It can’t program a robot. It can’t fold a fitted sheet. Given all together, the universe itself is “all-powerful”, but not personified. Everything that can be done or can happen is part of this one big universe. What I can do is part of it, what you can do is part of it, etc. That makes an all-powerful ONE called UNI-VERSE. But there are things it can’t do, like make a rock so heavy it can’t lift it, etc., all those weird questions about god’s omnipotence. Can god feed the hungry? Can god stop wars? People who are hungry either eat or may starve to death, and god seems to encourage war and then act all sympathetic because it pleases people like you emotionally to think so.

          You are looking at an abstract quality of ALL-ness, not MOST-ness as a quality you admire and then worship, and then plug in a personality that helps you find your keys or doesn’t help you give enough comfort to your Syrian refugees to matter (i.e. end the conflict, find welcoming havens for so many of them, etc.) All you can do is “god is with you, god is blessing you” and maybe they are grateful for a little message like that in their grief, but you’re working like a dog to get not very far. Who else can do it? No who. The universe is a thing, not a person. It’s like a bunch of rocks you collected as a kid, only humongous, extensive. Endless drawer full of rock collections. Not even sort of interested in you like a parakeet.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Actually a collection of rocks is interesting… To a mind. And I see evidence of the mind controlling the universe.

          In fact you have shown why the sun cannot be God, it is not all powerful. God is, if God exists.

        • Kodie

          That was an irrelevant response.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. The sun cannot be omnipotent. It was an example you used that shows such examples are easily refuted.

        • Kodie

          Irrelevant. I didn’t say the sun was omnipotent. You’ve obviously gotten nothing from that post, but felt compelled to point out something obvious to me as if I’ve made some mistake. I don’t believe there is a god, and I don’t feel convinced that omnipotence of any one being is even plausible. I certainly see no evidence in the real world of an omnipotent singular being.

          The sun does its fucking job. We can observe it, it’s been extremely useful to earthlings. What does god even do? Your argument is raggedy and bare, “god is omnipotent, he just is!”

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Here is one thing He does: create and sustain reality.

        • Kodie

          That’s a claim John. Demonstrate this with evidence.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          The existence of mind and natural laws.

        • Kodie

          That’s not evidence. Just more claims.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Mind exists. Natural laws exist at the cosmic level. Matter exists. Immaterial objects exist like numbers. The argument is that these facts make most sense in theism.

        • Kodie

          You know those are still just claims, right?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I am summarizing the argument so you can see where I was/am going

        • Kodie

          Been that way before, still not convinced.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          So you claim.

        • I’m just being difficult here, but you could have more than one god who is omnipotent in this universe.

          As for when these two guys get into a fight, you just play the “could God make a rock so heavy he couldn’t lift it?” gambit. Just say that two omnipotent guys are obviously equal, so it’s an illogical question to ask who would win.

          This is an aside, but you were the one who brought up omnipotence. How do you deal with the fact that God’s superpowers in the Bible increase over time? He’s rather like Thor in the beginning, dropping by Abram’s place for a beer and then chatting with Moses in his tent “just as a man speaks to his friend.” He has to send out angels for recon to validate what he hears is happening in Sodom.

          And now he’s omnipotent and omniscient? How did that happen? More importantly, why are you still on board after the story morphs over time (almost as if it’s a myth)?

        • TheNuszAbides

          did he flounce or something? i’m somewhat amazed he didn’t reply to this comment at all.

        • In another comment, he said he was done. He did engage quite a bit, which I appreciate. Curiously, he allows no comments at his blog, probably because it takes up too much time.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          If you call the northern most point on the globe: Fred, then the North Pole (geographic) is identical to the place you call Fred.

        • Kodie

          You would say the North Pole is where Santa Claus lives, and you would say Fred is where that slave-owning drunk-smelling intruder lives.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. I would not say that.

        • Kodie

          Omnipotence is not a place, it’s a quality. You are saying whoever the omnipotent one is, no matter what else he is or what he wants, you believe in it. I’m saying your god is not the omnipotent one, Fred is.

          I also honestly don’t understand why two entities cannot both be omnipotent.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          To be all powerful means (informally): to be able to do anything that can (logically) be done. One thing an all powerful being is “most powerful” by definition. But if two beings are called “all powerful” than neither is. They are very, very powerful, but not omnipotent: they tie for most powerful, so are not al powerful
          So logically if you call the omnipotent One Fred and I call him Bob: Fred and Bob are two names for the same being. Now you might also say Fred is all knowing while I deny it . . . and we would have a different discussion.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know about that. I think two or more entities can have the same full-strength powers. You seem to assume that one would simply have to be the best like it’s the Olympics. You are still not understanding how God and Fred are two different characters. Fred may not be omnipotent while God is. You claim God is, while Bob claims Fred has those qualities, not God. You are praying to a false idol, says Bob. Anyone can make up a character with imaginary qualities, and we call him Fred. You assume Fred is just another name for God, but that’s not the case. You don’t even know Fred. You just heard about him tonight. God might have had some powers, he had a good run of it, but you only assumed his omnipotence, while he basically did almost nothing. Fred just graduated from god college, and is ready to find some friends in the real world.

          You are in denial if you think Fred is the same character as your God, just because he has the quality of omnipotence. I mean, if a gunman pointed his gun at you and asked you if you believed in Fred, what would you say?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Yes. I do. Bob said Fred is omnipotent. If Fred is, then he is the same as any other name for the one omnipotent being. You cannot be all powerful and not the most powerful by definition.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Think about the concept of all-powerful

        • Kodie

          I think about it, and I don’t see evidence of any such being demonstrating such a concept. To me, that is your fixed idea that there is one, and only one, and you don’t care what name it’s called, because it is the one with the omnipotence. I think there could be two. I don’t think there are any.

        • Kodie

          How much money does Fred want?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. The Christian God, like the Jewish God, and the Islamic God has properties that mean that all are the same. (omnipotence to pick one) Zeus could not exist and that have nothing to do with Thor existing, but if not omnipotent being exist then Christian God, Jewish God, and Islamic God do not exist.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          OK. Give me an argument against deism as the most sensible (conservative) approach. Math works. The cosmos is a cosmos (understandable). Things make sense. All of these things suggest, though we agree they do not absolutely necessitate, a Mind. In fact, the existence of mind and ideas suggest that materialism is false . . . as ideas cannot be reduced to matter and energy.

        • What’s the null hypothesis? I would’ve thought atheism.

          Math works. The cosmos is a cosmos (understandable). Things make sense. All of these things suggest, though we agree they do not absolutely necessitate, a Mind.

          What?? Math works … as far as it does. To illustrate that things aren’t quite as put to bed as you imagine, explain the patterns in prime numbers that mathematicians see.

          “Things make sense”? Oh, please. We don’t understand all that we don’t understand; for some of it, we may never understand. What fraction of all the knowledge in the universe is even accessible by humans? Maybe all of it, maybe 0.1%; we don’t know. Perhaps we never will.

          We’re Douglas Adams’ puddle: we adapt to the universe, not vice versa.

          No, I see zero evidence of a mind. But let’s turn your puzzle on its head: you say that you look around and you see Mind? Then what would you expect if this mind weren’t active in our universe? Could 2 + 2 = 9 in such a universe? Could something be a rock and a not-rock at the same time?

          If these would be impossible in the not-God universe, then maybe our universe doesn’t look so Mind-ish after all.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          You have missed the basic point. No idea, none, can be reduced to matter.

        • And you have ignored mine. I’d like you to respond.

          Now let me address yours:

          No idea, none, can be reduced to matter.

          And … ? Are you trying to say that the supernatural is in there somewhere? You’ll have to do more than allude to it.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Good. In fact, if an idea cannot be reduced to matter and energy ALL IDEAS are “supernatural.” They cannot be explained materialistically. So. . . we now have a universe chock-a-block with immaterial things (ideas). Where do ideas usually exist . . . .in our experience minds. Can we reduce even human minds to “brains” . . . we cannot (at least plausibly). So I think a conservative intellectual position is (at least) Jefferson’s deism. There is a God.

        • Kodie

          Why not? Because you say so?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. Because an idea is immaterial. Challenge: construct a material idea.

        • Kodie

          From my brain? I don’t even know what you mean that ideas are immaterial.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Take the idea of “1” . . . not the symbol, but the idea. The reason we put math on the Voyager is because we know that any sentient being would discover ideas like “1.” You cannot make “1” out of atoms. Right? That is why the concept “1” is immaterial.

        • Kodie

          How do you put math on the Voyager in something other than symbols? There is no “1” without a thing to count. We use language to describe the world and “1” is a descriptive term. Input, thinking, language, symbols. 1 is not a thing, it’s how we describe that thing, in that there is one of them.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          By using geometric representations we assumed would be universal because we assume that all sentiment beings woukd Discover geometry

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          What does the play Hamlet on paper, the play Hamlet on the disc, and the play Hamlet in my mind have in common? The play Hamlet… The ideas

        • Kodie

          And you are going to say Shakespeare discovered Hamlet? If you’re already familiar with Hamlet you are using your brain to think those ideas that Shakespeare shared with you across time and media. But without using your brain, you can’t access any of those ideas in any media. Those ideas are in storage and you can’t access them without reading or watching. A plastic disc is a physical object that isn’t doing anything on your shelf, neither is a book. If your eyes aren’t looking at the written or acted play, and you are doing something like cooking dinner and concentrating on not slicing your thumb off with the big knife, the idea isn’t being had anywhere.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I am saying that Shakespeare put together the ideas that he discovered into Hamet… a new combination of ideas we experience only on our minds.

          Note: ideas like 1 would still exist if there were no humans and and the basic ideas that form Hamlet would still exist if there had been no Shakespeare. It was the genius of Shakespeare to use them anyways.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I am saying that the storage medium isn’t the thing… Including your brain

        • adam

          The brain isnt just the storage medium, but the processor.

          Create ideas without the processor.
          Create ideas without the material brain and energy.

        • Kodie

          Do you think brains are merely storage media?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I think that is one thing they do as the main instrument of the human more be.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          My mind does need a storage medium bout it isn’t that medium.

        • adam

          “My mind does need a storage medium bout it isn’t that medium. ”

          so demonstrate ideas without this kind of medium.

        • Kodie

          The brain actually does stuff you know. Maybe you don’t know.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I know. Since Bob has conceded the point numbered exist mind independent as even mist trained atheists do … You might want to chat with him. This is a basic error … Confusing a brain with an idea.

        • Kodie

          An idea can’t be had outside the brain.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          By humans? Yes…

        • adam

          “No. Because an idea is immaterial. Challenge: construct a material idea.”

          Construct an idea without a material brain.

        • Dessany

          There have been no ideas developed without a brain. How do you take ideas away from the material brain when there has never been a way to develop them without the brain?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Well, we have brains so we discover ideas using them ,but one should not confuse the organ with the organist. Yes?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          And it is a big universe. Surely we can postulate sentience without brains? Ideas don’t require them. “1” as a concept/idea would exist if nobody thought of it.

        • Dessany

          We can postulate anything. I happen to love reading fiction. Lot’s of postulating going on there. Doesn’t mean they didn’t come from a brain.

          Yes, we as living, material beings can see that the concept one exists if there is no one there to think of it. That doesn’t change the fact that it still takes a material brain to conceive of the concept. We have no experience of ideas being made without a material brain.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          It takes mind to discover it. . . in us that correlates with brains. We don’t “make” ideas like 1.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          We don’t make ideas

        • Kodie

          The microscope doesn’t make the items on the slide bigger, but we can’t see them without a microscope.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Right!!! Like our brains the microscope is an instrument for our minds… A tool!

        • Kodie

          You’re confused. I’ve said a lot today about ideas, and I have to back it up and ask you some questions, you just answer them. If you have an idea and don’t tell anyone or write it down, where is it? If you have an idea and don’t tell anyone or write it down, and you died, do you think that idea still exists? And where?

        • adam

          “In fact, if an idea cannot be reduced to matter and energy ALL IDEAS are “supernatural.””

          So which ideas are void of matter and energy?

          Demonstrate by creating an idea with matter and energy.

        • adam

          “They cannot be explained materialistically.”

          They cannot be explained other than materially.

          Ideas are MEANINGLESS without material brains to create and think them.

        • Dessany

          Except for the fact that we have no experience of an idea coming from anything but a very material brain.

        • adam

          ” No idea, none, can be reduced to matter.”

          EVERY idea can be reduced to matter.

          1. to create the idea you need a material brain
          2. to think about the idea you need a material brain.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          That is using a brain to think about an idea not showing the idea is your brain.

        • adam

          So demonstrate an idea that exists without brains?

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’d be curious to find the ‘original’ Mind ‘argument’ – for a long time I thought it was Aquinas but I hadn’t yet read any Plato …
          it seems like Paley’s Watch analogy-chestnut is just a ‘modernized’, more-sparkly iteration of this ‘consciousness-of-the-gaps’ presupposition-insisting-it-isn’t-presupposing.

        • Dessany

          So things work and therefore god? You are making assertions; not making an argument.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. I am saying certain “ideal” things work (like math) which suggests (strongly) a Mind. We will call that Mind God. If you wish to call Him Fred or Freda, you may. All the same: materialism is very unlikely.

        • Dessany

          How do they strongly suggest a mind? The only experience we have with things like math is that they require a material brain to develop them. In fact, they need a brain that has developed over billions of years of evolution. If that isn’t materialism, what is?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          In fact, we discover math truths. We don’t invent them. Good luck reducing mind to brain.

        • Dessany

          Don’t we? So Muslims didn’t invent algebra, they just discovered it? Without a brain you have no mind or thoughts. Funny thing, when a brain is damaged the mind is too.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Yes. We discovered algebra. Obviously, when the instrument is damaged the organist plays badly or at least differently.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          When my wife’s trumpet is damaged the sound changes but she doesn’t

        • Susan

          In fact, we discover math truths. We don’t invent them.

          That is not an established fact. Placing “in fact” in front of it, is not something philosophers would find honest.

          Good luck reducing mind to brain.

          Good luck demonstrating a mind without a brain.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Most mathematicians are in fact Platonists about numbers: they think they exist.

          Ideas exist without brain if this is true.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          It is the standard way math truths are discussed. We don’t create them… We discover them.

        • Have you forgotten the lesson of Phineas Gage? He got a tamping rod blasted through his brain, and it changed his personality.

          Alzheimer’s is another example of organic change to the brain causing changes in the mind.

          You say that the mind is more than what the brain can do? I await the evidence.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I am not denying that an organ is played by an organist and damaging the Organ will damage the sound. I am saying you’ve done nothing to reduce the organist to the organ.

        • If your point is that “mind” and “brain” aren’t synonyms. I agree.

          What I’m saying is that (1) all the evidence says that the mind is simply what the brain does (corollary: damage the brain and damage the mind), and (2) the burden of proof is yours anyway. You’re the one claiming the supernatural, after all.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. The burden of proof is not on me. I am claiming the obvious: you can’t reduce an idea to matter. You can’t store it on matter either … Only trigger a mind to recollect an idea based on stimuli.

        • Kodie

          Do you have any idea how brains work? Triggering neurons are physical.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          The brain is physical. The mind and ideas are not. You keep confusing the medium the mind uses with the mind

        • Kodie

          You keep talking about the mind like it’s not the brain. I think you’re confused.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I think you should ask how many atheist philosophers would agree that the mind is just brain. Answer: very very few.

          Why? Concepts are not brain states.

        • Huh? All atheist philosophers agree that the supernatural exists and that the mind is evidence of the supernatural?

          If that’s not what you mean, please clarify.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Someone in this thread said mind is brain. I am trying to gently say that few atheists (even)!say this. That someone wasn’t you.

        • Kodie

          You keep asserting and assuming that you’re correct and never do anything but weak little reprimands about not confusing the organ with the organist. You are making a baseless claim that the mind is something, somewhere else than the brain processes.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          So where is the color yellow in the brain? Materialism tried reductionism for decades and simply could not make it work. Ideas just aren’t reducible to physical states.

        • Kodie

          Neurons transmit the idea yellow so that I can imagine it or recognize it when something appears to be yellow. In reality, nothing is yellow.

        • Kodie

          I don’t conflate thoughts with language, i.e. concepts.

          Mind is what the brain does.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Maybe. That would be the next discussion. Ideas are not reducible to matter and energy and so exist without matter. As a result we can go ahead and see if mind does as well. I think so… And that would be the next step. At least now you are not reducing mind to matter. Or are you?

        • Kodie

          There’s no use in going forward with you until you concede that ideas cannot happen without matter, no matter how much you wish and presupposed your conclusion that it’s immaterial and that the mind is separate from the brain. Many neuroscientists agree that you’re wrong, so there is no point in continuing this discussion. The brain is a physical mass in the body. You can cut open the skull and see it. You can pull it out of your head, maybe you have tried that once or twice just to study it. You can’t look directly at the brain to see what it’s doing. You can develop instruments and tests to study where ideas materially form. You think it’s like rain or an apple tree where you just go find ideas or they occur externally to you. You haven’t supported this claim, you just assume we’re all up to your speed (which is slow).

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          In fact your nominalistic view about ideas is a minority position due to very serious problems. Platonism, my position, also has a serious problem but you are not getting it right. Start here to see a description of the state of play so we can be talking about the same thing and you can make a better attack on Platonism!

        • John Mark N. Reynolds
        • I am claiming the obvious: you can’t reduce an idea to matter.

          I agree, as I’ve already made clear.

          Is this your whole point? That there are abstract concepts and concrete concepts? I thought you had some belief in the supernatural that you wanted to work in here.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I am trying to get your folks here to see this point we both know is obvious. There is no sense talking about God if you think the number 1 is just a brain state. That’s pretty far out there … We agree on this as we should but that makes two of us (and most relevant scholars)

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Damage the brain and you do not damage the ideas

        • Kodie

          If those ideas were not stored somewhere before, yeah you do. You also damage that individual’s capacity to hold that idea anymore. If someone has Alzheimer’s, and they can no longer recognize their daughter, everyone else can associate the daughter with the parent, but the idea “my daughter” is gone from that individual.

          If I have an idea that will regrow amputated limbs, and then I don’t write it down anywhere, and I die, that idea is fuckin’ gawn. The faculty of human thought is storage of ideas elsewhere to transmit them to others, to write on paper or computers and send that language for another person to grasp their idea. Another faculty of human animal is to think almost ceaselessly, and most ideas can be scrapped because they’re garbage. We have to turn over a lot of ideas to find one that might work, and we do it socially with communication most effectively. Collaborating with others is suggested to be the most effective path to productive ideas, rather than hoarding them in isolation with just you and your notebook in the secret lab in the basement. Those ideas there are better coming from storage, as in “how to cook meth” or something, just kidding.

          How many ideas have you ever had that you think were bad ideas, that you simply stopped thinking about – once they were in the brain trash, you forgot to think of them again and they’re gone. We don’t need it. Hopefully, you replaced it with another idea that worked. If you talked it over with someone like you’re doing now, and we’re giving you critique on how flawed your personal ideas are, you’re married to them and not willing to trash them. However, we’re not going to adopt them either. Lying to a gunman is so easy. There’s no honor to worry about, that is another idea you’re strictly married to.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I am talking them over. I am not persuaded because mostly what I see are rants, slogans, and no substance to engage.

          Let’s take a simple idea to keep from being unclear or opaque: do you think the number one disappears when a brain disappears but was thinking about one? Like most mathematicians, I think the number one has human mind independent existence. Can we agree on that?

        • Kodie

          I don’t think it does. We conceive of numbers to symbolize items. I count to one, to count one cat. When I’m not here, one cat is still here, and I can think of one cat independently of being near her. But the number one doesn’t effectively exist unless there is something that needs to be described by counting how many there are. Before humans, did the universe exist? Yes, one universe. Does the universe count? Can it count it’s stars and galaxies without us?

          The number 1 is meaningless outside of an item to count.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. As almost any mathematician could tell you, higher math stops counting and begins using concepts with any representation: no line exists in reality but we can think about and use lines mathematically. Same with 1.

        • Kodie

          Key phrase: we can think about and use.

          Without brains, this doesn’t exist.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Why doesn’t exist? Thinking? In living humans thinking always occurs with any number of physical activities….the question is the relationship of thinking, which uses immaterial ideas, is matter (even atheist philosophers know almost surely not) or a function of brain (much better) or epiphenomenal (harder).

          You are going to end up with a mind body problem no matter what.

        • Kodie

          Ideas are generated and processed in the brain. I try to explain to you – you can’t think of what I’m thinking unless I tell you. The language processes in the brain. My brain sends impulses to the muscles in my fingers to type them from memorizing the keyboard layout as I was taught in 10th grade. Your eyes see the letters and recognize the words as thoughts from my brain that you can see, with your eyes, that are now processed in your brain, as reading, as you were likely taught by 1st grade. When you move on to the next post, and forget this one, this thought is stored, physically, outside of my brain and outside of your brain. The only way to access this post again is to read it, bookmark it if you want to read it over and over, or remember it, or have it bumped by someone perhaps 6 years from now answering it. Interesting, what did I say 6 years ago?, or to remember it with your brain.

          I didn’t get these ideas from a unique thought generated from my own brain. I processed videos and other articles with my own reading capabilities and comprehension, in my brain, from someone else’s brain. Hamlet does not exist out there. It is in your brain. It is in my brain. Everyone who is familiar with the play at all can sufficiently recall it in their brain to some capacity, maybe a costume from a character or a date they took to see it, or a line here or there, the general plot, that it’s written by Shakespeare, that Mel Gibson (? Kevin Costner?) was magnificent as Balduccio. See how it breaks down? Again, when you see it acted out, that is physical entirely. Actors are physical, their vocal cords are physical, their ability to remember lines and cues and marks are all physical. You are experiencing it in your brain. It’s not out there. Shakespeare didn’t grab immaterial Hamlet ideas from the air. Anything that inspired him happened physically, whether outside his brain observing or hearing other stories, or inside his brain where he turns a clever phrase.

          I don’t end up with a mind body problem at all. You keep making this claim as if it’s a show stopper. I’m not impressed. Do a little dance and twerk it first.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Here is a summary of your problem (and a better description of mine) so you can see the real issue: http://welovephilosophy.com/2012/12/17/do-numbers-exist/

        • adam

          “Damage the brain and you do not damage the ideas ”

          Of course you do:

          Alzheimer’s disease

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Damages the organ not the idea. You may not be able to count but numbers still exist.

        • Susan

          You may not be able to count but numbers still exist.

          Brains make maps and models. Without brains, there are no maps or models.

          Unless you have evidence that there are.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Let’s assume you are right for the sake of argument. If all humans disappeared would any new sentient species discover the concept 1? Doesn’t this thought experiment suggest, as Voyager assumes, that truths of math are independent of our particular brains?

        • Kodie

          We don’t need another sentient species to “discover” anything. I don’t know how different animals conceive of amounts of things, for example. Some animals seem to be able to be trained to do (or memorize) simple arithmetic. Some animals can be trained to comprehend human language and communicate with us in that language, not just mimic words or sign language. To a great extent that we know of, animals perceive angles and heights, recognize weather and magnetic fields, and create practical abodes that are architecturally and aesthetically stunning and structurally sound and practical abodes, yet they don’t tend to get fancy with it – it’s just their own version of a basic hut. We’ve observed something as simple as mold finding the quickest route from A to B, something humans need a lot of information gathering and instruments to do.

          But does something like a number exist outside of a practical use, as we use symbols to describe something that doesn’t exist and just say “one”. Animals who can grasp any bit of math do not seem to have a use for concepts in the ether. They are calculating physical objects and relationships of physical objects. How can something like a bird figure out weaving without making a nest? How long would it take humans to devise weaving without observing anything like a nest? How long did it take, seeing nests and not getting any inspiration from it at all, the practice of gathering means carrying, and what were they using before they figured out how to construct light, sturdy, strong, practical, and materially available carrying devices that didn’t collapse or fall through the bottom? Without the practical need, would we have come up with that at all? Did the idea exist in the ether for birds to use? What in a world without grass or sticks might they have come up with instead? It’s hard to imagine, we don’t live in that world.

          Without a practical need, the use for the “idea” of a number 1 is brain trash. It doesn’t matter if it’s true, it doesn’t matter that there are objects that could be counted. We find it useful to take inventory. We find it useful to measure how many miles the shortest route is. We don’t find every idea useful, most ideas fail. What happens to them then? Is there a repository of failed ideas somewhere? I don’t mean the antique shop or the patent office. When a language dies, it means nobody on earth has any idea what it is. I just don’t find the idea of “ideas” as something that is discovered, yet humans haven’t invented the earth and everything in it. Certainly some things are discovered that become useful to humans, until they devise something more useful through innovation. But most ideas necessarily fail and are not put to use, where do they go. Puff the Magic Dragon (still?) lives by the sea, Winnie-the-Pooh lives at the House at Pooh Corner. What about all the rest of them? They’re gone. Outgrown brain trash.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          This boils down to: numbers don’t exist without our using them. this is pretty hard to defend. Start here: http://welovephilosophy.com/2012/12/17/do-numbers-exist/

          This article gives all the problems both sides face. My position and your own… At least this way we can give you the best objection to the Platonism of most philosophy about geometric concepts and numbers!

        • TheNuszAbides

          Without a practical need, the use for the “idea” of a number 1 is brain trash.

          nice! the ‘junk DNA’ of memes … and physical evidence in the form of massively redundant detritus of the Information Age …

        • adam

          Numbers do NOT exist without brains.

          Neither do ideas.

          Without materialism YOU have NOTHING.

        • OK … and I’m still waiting for the evidence for the supernatural.

          “Blue” and “cute puppies!” are stored in the plogiston somewhere, and we just tap into it?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Bob… I would but most people on this board will not take even the first step … That many trained atheists accept that non-material things exist. And by the way if they exist they don’t need ether or have phlogiston!

        • Surely you’re not saying that there are adults who think that “courage” doesn’t exist because it can’t be weighed or measured.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Yes … I guess there are.

        • I await the evidence of such odd people.

          For our conversation, this is a tangent. I’ve yet to see evidence for the supernatural from you. As I understand your argument, you’ve distinguished between abstract and concrete nouns and left it there.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          And I have argued that abstract nouns like 1 are mind independent. They exist. Like most sophisticated atheists you concede this… Now: we agree there is a realm off immaterial objects so God’s immaterialism is no longer a potential problem. We couple that with our own minds, ideas, and experiences as well as arguments for Gods existence and the most conservative explanation will be that God exists.

        • As I mentioned before “exist” is a fuzzy term when it comes to abstract objects like “1.”

          If God is immaterial just like the concept “blue” is immaterial, OK.

          Let’s see: we start with “1” and end up with “God exists.” I missed the part in between.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Excellent. We haven’t done the part in between yet because mostly your compatriots haven’t conceded the point. So you go further and concede mind is immaterial? (Even if related to matter?)

        • The mind is what the brain does. Yes, it’s immaterial.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Good. So thinking is impossible for any being without a brain?

        • We have countless examples of thinking with a brain and zero for thinking without a brain.

          Artificial intelligence from computers is a potential counterexample, but I doubt you want to go there.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Why not? If you are right mind would emerge from a computer. If I am right a mind could use a sufficiently complex computer. That will not settle anything

          The problem is how does matter ever produce an immaterial object. It looks like a category error to say it does.

        • If you are right mind would emerge from a computer.

          The question, “Can computers ever think?” has been central to computer science since before I took a class on Artificial Intelligence in the 70s. Even now it’s debated. You propose to cut it a la Gordian Knot with a single sentence? I don’t think so.

          The problem is how does matter ever produce an immaterial object. It looks like a category error to say it does.

          You’re saying that we see these immaterial minds being created, but you question that they have a natural/material cause? I go back to Phineas Gage. Or any Alzheimer’s patient. You destroy the vehicle, and you destroy the mind that was created by that vehicle.

          That this is natural is the obvious conclusion. Maybe it’s wrong, but that’s where the evidence points.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I didn’t mean to cut off the discussion just point that if computers got complex enough to be used by mind or produce a mind (either way) ,.. It would nut settle the question.

          Your examples show mind performance affected by matter. However equally well documented effects like the placebo and nocebo effect suggest mind can within limits fix the underlying problem. This also explains how mind can often work around startlingly limited brains.

          In short a dualist isn’t surprised by your examples … We would expect them if dualism is true. Our real problem is how the immaterial and material interact.

          There are several potential solutions, but none I find fully satisfying.

          On the other hand, I think your position has the same problem … How does the non physical interact with the physical…. While also adding trying to pull an immaterial thing out of a material hat.

          Btw: dualist always knew the body impacts mind performance in a big way . One need only look at wine use to see all kinds of chemically induced changes in body mind interaction. You have just given other examples.

        • How are placebos relevant? The brain is complicated, and it fools itself–fair enough. I still don’t see the supernatural.

          I think your position has the same problem … How does the non physical interact with the physical…. While also adding trying to pull an immaterial thing out of a material hat.

          Where’s the problem? If you’re simply saying that puzzles remain, sure. But “neuroscience hasn’t figured out everything” is no hill to die on.

          Emergent phenomena (fluidity and wetness aren’t in any water molecule … and yet these properties appear given enough of them) seems relevant here. A single neuron doesn’t think slowly; it can’t think at all. But put 100B together, and you get a brain.

          Cut to the chase here: what are you saying? That this mind thing is a messy and complicated business; therefore supernatural?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No not that it so messy .. But immaterial. I don’t think the material can produce the immaterial

          My last comment here ( see above) I have to get back to my day job.

        • OK, thanks for your input.

          We’ll have to do this again sometime.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Second, how does the immaterial mind interact or come from the material brain?

        • There are a couple of interrelated answers.

          1. I don’t know; I’m not a neuroscientist.

          2. Neuroscience/physiology only knows so much.

          3. Thinking is an emergent phenomenon. Take a neuron from a billion-neuron brain, and it doesn’t think one one-billionth as fast or as well; it doesn’t think at all. But put them together and (like fluidity, say) you get this emergent property.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          But the emergent property is non physical. You don’t see s problem there in categories?

          This isn’t an issue of neuroscience but philosophy. All the neurons in the world are physical things …. Even a huge number of them. The problem is that the mind that emerges and uses idea is no physical unlike the neurons.

        • I see no problem. We’re beyond the question of material/immaterial. Yes, concepts like “blue” are immaterial.

          The problem is that the mind that emerges and uses idea is no physical unlike the neurons.

          The mind is what the brain does. We’ve gotten to material + immaterial, but you have failed to show that the supernatural exists.

          You seem to be saying, “But wow! Think of the mind! It’s just so … wow!” Yes, the mind is cool. I have one myself and I really like it. But is the supernatural necessary? Simply acknowledging that some things (like “blue”) are immaterial seems to give us quite enough categories for “mind.”

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Ok. First step done. And the most important one. Could an immaterial agent exist?

        • Sure. God could exist.

        • Kodie

          Oh, lol. Kissing Bob’s ass. Nice. Now we agree god is possible, right! You just claimed it into existence. You replaced 1 with god, voila!

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. I start by saying we know some immaterial things exist … And then we would have to go further to get to God. If you cannot get that reductionism fails with ideas … Well it isn’t useful to go further. You have predetermined the conclusion.

        • Kodie

          You start by making an assumption that “we all know” something, so all you have to do is not name “many” people, atheists, philosophers, etc., who already agree with you just to tell me I’m stupid. Where are your credible evidences?

          I don’t have a lot of trust in who you find to be credible, for starters. Not recognizing not-science at Lourdes over deliberate illustrations about what’s not-science about these “miracle” inquiries makes me think you’re pretty gullible, and round up those who agree with you rather than think critically about what they’re saying or what I’m even saying. You have claims claims claims, one shitty argument you’re trying very hard to walk us through using misleading language until diligently called out, and any resistance is “‘many’ philosophers think you’re intellectually inferior to moi, so I can just be glossy here and shame you instead of support my assertions.”

          I’m thinking an idea, can you discover it?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          here is a better way to attack my Platonism to elevate our discussion. It also shows why many atheists even think immaterial objects exist: http://welovephilosophy.com/2012/12/17/do-numbers-exist/

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I have said immaterial things can exist. My next step would be to show immaterial agents can exist. Lourdes suggests they do.

        • Kodie

          The Catholic Church takes the data they want and interprets it how they want. There is no science at Lourdes, there is meeting an arbitrary list of criteria. Science would never rule out a natural explanation, while the Church is eager to engage doctors who are willing to affirm they know of no scientific explanation thus far and equate that with both serious scientific inquiry to gain your trust, and inexplicability, to serve the presupposed conclusion that god must have acted on these patients.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          You are simply asserting these doctors are doing this with no evidence.

        • Kodie

          I’m simply reading the same thing as you’re reading, but you assume they are doing science, and I can see that there is no science. Science seeks an explanation, science makes a hypothesis and tests it. They are ruling out known scientific explanations up to as far as they know how to research, which maybe they do and maybe they don’t try too hard. Where are the published records of their process?

          You are simply asserting these are authentic miracles because a body called the Catholic Church deems them so, according to their religious beliefs and a pseudo-scientific process, according to everything I read at that site you helpfully linked to. I’m not getting information from debunking sites anymore, they are not that helpful anyway. Apparently, these records and cases are considered closed off to independent, actual scientific inquiry.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          So what evidence of a miracle would you accept that wouldn’t include “no natural explanation?”

        • Kodie

          I’m saying science wouldn’t rule it out. The church doesn’t care. I’m not looking for evidence of miracles, although in one of my posts, I said millions cured at Lourdes would be stunning. You have it backwards, “rigorously” vetting claims of only several thousand people over the last 70 years who claimed they got better, and finding only 69 fit the criteria according to doctors, who I’m promised are diligent, honest, and objective (with no evidence) – I mean, they must be if they find so few, right? They are catching frauds and mistakes and don’t make the church to be a fool, accepting all claims, they are professionals! I’m saying with such a low number, there is bound to be some natural explanation that was overlooked, even a fudge, fraud, or a mistake along the way. Those are natural explanations, even if they aren’t the cause of the recovery. “This mystery was never solved” does not rate anything a miracle to me.

        • The lack of scientific consensus on Lourdes makes it very clear that this won’t work for your argument.

          Aside: are you Catholic? Your work at Biola would suggest not. I don’t remember evangelicals caring much for Catholic miracle claims.

        • adam

          “Damage the brain and you do not damage the ideas ”

          You absolutely do, and it is demonstrable.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Second, the mind can in fact to a great extent reroute and get around a damaged brain. The so called placebo effect is an example of mind impacting the body the other way

        • Interesting but off topic. We’ve explored abstract vs. concrete nouns, and I’m still waiting for your allusion to the supernatural to be backed up with an argument.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Bob … If abstract objects exist then other material things could exist. Right?

        • ?? I agree that both abstract objects exist (though we could quibble over what “exist” means in this situation) and that material things exist.

          Did you mean immaterial?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Yes. Immaterial objects can and do exist.

        • Kodie

          “Therefore god.”

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. Too hasty. Therefore Gid might exist and the argument made often by village atheists that his mere immaterialism defeats the possibility of His existence fails. One argument need not do everything.

        • Kodie

          You’re misdirecting. You already showed Bob’s card “1 exists” to everyone, shuffled up the deck, mixed up the shells, boom boom boom, “GAWD!”

          Your mere assertion that immaterial things exist is not an argument.

        • Courage is an immaterial object that exists? That seems like clumsy wording. But if you want to go there, what’s next?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          If so, then I want to be courageous by acting out that concept. I can have court age but only by exemplifying it not creating it.

          I hope to live in harmony with that external idea we call courage and discover what it is.

        • Ron

          “If the God of deism exists (and I think we pretty much know He does), then atheism is false.”

          But we don’t know a god exists. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation. And a capital G “god” paired with a capital H “he” does not describe a deistic position.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          It can. See classical deists who often used caps for God.

        • Susan

          Don’t just attack philosophy. That is anti-intellectual.

          What is anti-intellectual and dishonest is to sneak the term “sound” in to describe an argument when it is clearly the wrong term.

          As I have no doubt you know better, I can only see it as a dishonest tactic.

          Please explain.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I was writing to many people late at night and misused the term. My bad.

        • Susan

          I was writing to many people late at night and misused the term. My bad.

          That doesn’t make sense. You repeatedly used the term and used it again when I asked for clarification.

          As the distinction between “sound” and merely “valid” is as basic as it gets in deductive reasoning, it doesn’t seem reasonable to expect me to think that you were just sleepy.

          Of course, your claim that Plantinga’s argument is “sound but not persuasive” is wrong.

          Sorry John. I do try to be charitable but this smells funny.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Why? I made a basic error using sound in a pop sense during a late night discussion. Emabarrassing but there you have it

        • Susan

          Why?

          Because you began by claiming Plantinga’s argument was “sound” and challenged Bob S. to explain what was “unsound” about Plantinga’s argument.

          Then, you explained to Greg G. that some arguments are “sound but unpersuasive” while others are “unsound”.

          I made a comment which included this:

          I hear “sound” and I assume we’re talking about deductive reasoning in which an argument, if valid, and if each premise is necessarily true,can only result in a true conclusion.

          When you say “sound” but not “persuasive”, I assume you know something else about what it is for an argument to be “sound” that I, as a layperson, have never heard.

          I assume you’ve studied philosophy so you will be able to answer my question. It’s meant respectfully.

          Your response was:

          If I said: God exists, therefore God exist, then that is logically sound. It is valid like P is P or P therefore P, but you will not be PERSUADED by it because you deny the truth of “God exists.” So the argument is valid, but not persuasive. If it had many steps we would call it “sound,” but you still might find reasons to deny the truth of one of the premises and so be unpersuaded.

          That is, in lecturing about philosophy, you ignored seemed intent on blurring the clear and crucial distinction between validity and soundness and when asked to clarify, you didn’t. It doesn’t look like an accidental slip up.

          This is fundamental stuff. To claim an argument is “sound but unpersuasive” is to claim that the argument is won and that the error lies with the unpersuaded.

          To defend it by claiming that you’re using “sound” in a pop sense when you are lecturing people about understanding philosophical arguments and explaining the technicalities of logical arguments… well.. it does not fly. .

          I’m sorry. I think it showed persistent dishonesty. The structures of deductive arguments are very basic and the terminology very specific. “Sound” and “valid” are not at all the same.

          You say it was an accident. I don’t buy it.

          _____

          Edit: To strike and replace.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Ok. I made. Mistake talking to many people from thread to thread who were all at different levels. If you see a lie there I don’t know what to say… I corrected myself the next day when the error was pointed out.

          I will say Plantingas argument has scarcely been understood here and certainly not refuted. It is certainly valid. Like many other philosophers I think the premises true and this is not an attsck on that… Just a claim I misused a word late at night flying from thread to thread on a phone on purpose.

        • Susan

          I made. Mistake talking to many people from thread to thread who were all at different levels.

          You entered the conversation misrepresenting logic. You repeated the error to more than one person to whom you responded.

          You lectured on modal logic while repeatedly blurring two of the most basic and distinct terms in logic.

          I corrected myself the next day when the error was pointed out.

          The error was pointed out several times before that. It wasn’t until someone spelled it out in clear terms, that you acknowledged it.

          If you are a philosopher, you couldn’t make that mistake. It’s too fundamental.

          Either you are not the philosopher you claim you are or you are playing shenanigans with philosophical terms to stun people into acquiescence.

          I will say Plantingas argument has scarcely been understood here

          That’s fine. Explain it.

          and certainly not refuted.

          I’ll take your word for it when you explain it and I see that it hasn’t been refuted.

          Like many other philosophers I think the premises true and this is not an attsck on that

          Then, you’ll be happy to demonstrate that the premise is true. Also, many other philosophers is a weasel term. What percentage of philosophers?

          Not that it matters. What matters is whether they can demonstrate that it’s true.

          You know that’s mandatory in a deductive argument, don’t you?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Susan:

          If you don’t think a person, even a trained person, could make a mistake shifting from thread to thread at night … Ok.

          Plantinga has presented a version of the ontological argument that is valid. Someone kindly typed it out below.

          What premise do you find dubious? I don’t find any dubious so I don’t have a car to make until you attack one.

        • Susan

          If you don’t think a person, even a trained person, could make a mistake shifting from thread to thread at night…

          Not that kind of mistake. Not repeatedly. Not when they are explaining philosophical technicalities.

          You asked me why and I made an honest attempt to document why. I call shenanigans.

          You claim sleep-deprivation and e-mail bombardment (a combination with which I am familiar).

          I don’t believe you. We won’t make much progress on that point. It’s on the record that we disagree.

          Plantinga has presented a version of the ontological argument that is valid.

          OK. That knocks it down a whole bunch of notches.

          Someone kindly typed it out below.

          Help me out. If you right click on their time link and click on “Copy link address”, you can paste it to a comment box. I hate disqus. The threads are always time jumbled and disjointed and after a certain number of comments become a nightmare to load.

          It took a tremendous amount of work just to reconstruct our discussion chronologically after hours of being at work and away from it.

          Sorry. Explaining why I need a link. Can’t find the “kindly typed” argument.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Can you just tell me my goal in this “sheninanigan?”

        • Susan

          Can you just tell me my goal in this “sheninanigan?”

          To win, if it’s intentional.

          Or maybe you’re just parroting apologetics and think it’s philosophy.

          Either way, you misrepresented two of the most fundamental terms in basic logic and you did it repeatedly.

          For the record, you say you didn’t mean to. For the record, I say I don’t believe you.

          Let’s move on. Please link the argument by Plantinga that is merely valid so I can revisit it and check that the premises are necessarily true.

          I’d be happy to see you defend each premise.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I am sorry now I think you are unclear on what I was saying in the midst of your case. I think Plantingas argument valid and the premises true. I linked to a restatement of the argument. I concede many find it unsound because they think some premise false. I think it sound.

          If I am remembering correctly last night I (more than once) use sound and valid as interchangeable terms which was stupid. This isn’t because I am “just an apologist” or don’t know better. I do.

          In fact, it was irrelevant to my point and by being wrong made my pint unclear. I want to know what people in this board, Bob in particular, don’t like abou this (least persuasive argument). I think it is widely believed to be valid and as summarized here plausibly sound : http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/theistic-proofs/the-ontological-argument/the-modal-ontological-argument/

        • Susan

          In fact, it was irrelevant to my point

          In fact, it wasn’t.

          Thank you for the link.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          In fact: I have spelled out what I meant to say.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          And you are welcome

        • Susan

          I concede many find it unsound because they think some premise false.

          Again, they don’t need to find it or to prove it false.

          A sound argument requires premises that are necessarily true.

          It’s basic.

          and as summarized here plausibly sound

          You’ve gone from “sound but unpersuasive” to “valid and plausibly sound” and “logically possible” and you claim it was irrelevant to your point?

          Demonstrate that each premise is necessarily true.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I see.

          Perhaps this would clarify the discussion: sound deductive arguments are sound if premises are true and the form valid.

          Arguments for God or any other object are generally this sort. The only give us increase probability.

          The ontological argument claims something stronger: God necessarily exists because the premises are all necessary or indisputable.

          If this summary is only for my sake, then take it that way. I find (or found) in shifting about in a thread I can lose track of all the assertions or the linguistic precision being used.

          If this clarification captures what you are saying well the. I agree that most arguments for Gods existence are deductive but the ontological argument is different.

          I think then that while a person can dispute a premise of the Plantinga version as incoherent, unclear, or not necessarily true (as in criticisms of earlier versions did with some success), they will not succeed. This dispute then will be different then a dispute centered around deductive statements.

          Is that a decent summary of the state of the discussion?

        • Susan

          sound deductive arguments are sound if premises are true and the form valid.

          Yes.

          Arguments for God or any other object are generally this sort. The only give us increase probability.

          What does a deductive argument have to do with probability?

          The ontological argument claims something stronger

          I’m not sure what you mean by “stronger”.

          I think then that while a person can dispute a premise of the Plantinga version as incoherent, unclear, or not necessarily true (as in criticisms of earlier versions did with some success), they will not succeed.

          I disagree.

          This dispute then will be different than a dispute centered around deductive statements.

          Then why all the mentions of “sound” and “valid” (not to mention the equivocating of these two very distinct aspects of logical thinking)?

          I find (or found) in shifting about in a thread I can lose track of all the assertions or the linguistic precision being used.

          I appreciate your position. Internet discussions are difficult, particularly when you make a lot of assertions and sometimes, I hate, hate, HATE disqus but it’s all we have, so we have to do the best we can. 🙂

          I’m curious and ask this respectfully. You referred to philosophers in first person plural earlier. You said “we”.

          Are you a philosopher?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          And be happy for you to tell me what premise you think false.

        • Kodie

          Con artistry.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Mere insult.

        • Kodie

          John, do you think you’re not being insulting? You remain to assert several arguments as if they are true and we should just accept them, let you lead us by tight reins down the alley where you want us to go, and bolster your ego by finally having nowhere to run as you force us to concede your fantasy is logically possible. I’m prone to believe Susan, you’re dishonestly trying to mislead people using weak arguments that you foolishly believe are strong, and you’ve also dishonestly ignored my point about Lourdes doctors not doing science. I asked you a bunch of times what independent scientists are studying these alleged miracles? You dodge. You ignore. You repeat your mistake as I’ve given you nothing to think about. What makes you think this is an arm-wrestling match? Your big fat-headed machoistic delusional ego. You want an insult, that’s what I think of you.

          You’re not any philosopher.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Ok then. Making big money here.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          You are also ignoring the fact I think the premises true and therefore the argument is a good argument. I also pointed out not everyone finds all the premises true or appealing thus making this unpersusive to some.

          As far as I can tell your quibble is over my saying the argument is sound. It isn’t if a premise is false.

        • Susan

          It isn’t if a premise is false.

          It isn’t if a premise isn’t necessarily true.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          What? No. We accept the truth of many premises in arguments without saying they are necessarily true.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds
        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Here is a more complete discussion.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          And I am not sure what you mean by demonstrate that it is true when many times a premise depends on a philosophical intuition you can then challenge.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I think in this sea of insults and embarrassingly naive atheist arguments (numbers don’t exist! Alzheimer’s destroys ideas!) I can see why you want to pick on my late night error in words but my main point stands: Bob dismisses arguments for God without knowing up to date versions of them… As I said this is to me the least persuasive of the group but it is valid and the premises are not obviously false. It strikes me as sound. Philosophers DO attack the premises but do so from many directions. What is yours?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I use the term in a popular sense when I shouldn’t have

        • adam

          “If the God of deism exists (and I think we pretty much know He does), then atheism is false”

          You think wrong, perhaps you BELIEVE it does, but youve not demonstrated that YOUR ‘god’ is anything but IMAGINARY…

          “That is all I am required to prove at the moment. ”

          Then you’ve done squat….

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          OK. You don’t think the universe points to a God. You are not persuaded by the arguments. Many thinkers are.

          Can you say exactly what you don’t grasp I. The ontological argument? Or in the argument from mathematics and order?

        • adam

          “OK. You don’t think the universe points to a God. You are not persuaded by the arguments. Many thinkers are.”

          No most are indoctrinated to presuppose a ‘god’

          ” The ontological argument?

          The argument doesn’t even try to provide a reasoned basis for concluding that your imagined flawless god must exist. The argument essentially jumps from “an imagined god must be imagined to be flawless and an
          imagined flawless god much be imagined to have existence” to “my imagined god must exist” without basis – and that’s the flaw of the argument: the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          You have pretty radically misunderstood the argument… A critic did a good job copying Plantingas version below in this thread… And giving a decent response, which I think fails. You might want to go down and look at that.

        • adam

          God of the Gaps

          What else do I need to know?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. It isn’t. First, the claim of a miracle we are using here accepts the atheist contention, for purpose of evidence, that any natural explanation defeats any cure, no matter how improbable the natural explanation. Second, the cure must be instantaneous, complete, and lasting. So it is what would happen if a miracle took place. These are not the only kinds of miracles just showing that even given the highest standard miracles happen.

        • adam

          “First, the claim of a miracle we are using here accepts the atheist contention, for purpose of evidence, that any natural explanation defeats any cure, no matter how improbable the natural explanation.”

          So DEMONSTRATE the science that says miracles are real.

          If miracles were science, 911 would ring through to a church.

          God of the Gaps.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Is this serious or trolling? I will assume this is serious though mostly it is just snark. Science is a great thing that Christians helped develop. Most natural problems need natural solutions and so 911 rings the right place.

          However there is more to reality than nature… There are ideas for example.

          Science can only say (given limits of what it does) that natural explanations do not exist and that if there are miracles this would be one.

        • adam

          “Is this serious or trolling?”

          Seriously trolling

          “However there is more to reality than nature… There are ideas for example.”

          And there is IMAGINATION, ideas and IMAGINATION dont have to reflect reality.

          “Science can only say (given limits of what it does) that natural
          explanations do not exist and that if there are miracles this would be
          one. ”

          No science does not say there are miracles.

          If it did, it would be science and not ‘faith’ AGAIN.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Ideas are real. Imagination postulates alternatives to reality and we can make them real. Imagination is good.

          Math is an example of a field that deals with ideas.

          Science says miracles could happen and might. Since it is limited to natural explanations it cannot be sure if a miracle even if they exist.

          That isn’t bad just proper limits to fields.

        • adam

          “Imagination postulates alternatives to reality and we can make them real.”

          Spiderman is a creation of the imagination.

          Please make me a Spiderman.

          Or make me invisible, or have the power to levitate
          Or show me how to make my own universe and be ‘god’
          One can IMAGINE to be god, so that means we can make it real, right?

          or are YOU just IMAGINING all this waxing philosophically?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          That we can imagine doesn’t mean it is real real or that in all cases we can make it real now. It does give us an alternative reality to investigate. Sometimes what we imagine exists, sometimes we bring it into being, sometimes we cannot at least yet.

        • Kodie

          Where does science say miracles could happen and might? If you cite Lourdes, no they don’t. They are in tight cahoots with the church, but are limited to examining patients claiming miracle cures or recoveries from the Lourdes site according to the church-defined limits. They do not say miracles could happen and might. They serve on a special medical committee to determine if patients brought in for them to examine meet those criteria.

          ONLY.

          The church, let’s say, has this special medical book like most such books only including the diagnosis: miracle. They hire real doctors to examine these patients who come in for symptoms of “miracle” and all the doctors can and do do is examine the patients for those symptoms. They are not hired to do anything else. They are not hired to offer any other expertise. This barely qualifies as science, as the only scientific thing they are doing is ruling out current scientific explanations.

          Where are your independent scientists studying these so-called miracles with scientific criteria and the scientific method?

        • Kodie

          The claim of miracle is using a list of criteria created by the Catholic Church – that a cure or recovery is scientifically “inexplicable,” and no credible, responsible scientist would rule out a future scientific explanation. The church doesn’t ask that they do, so that’s actually lowering the bar.

          For the purpose of evidence, I’ve asked you a few times to cite independent scientific inquiry into the so-called miracles at Lourdes, and you haven’t. You are satisfied that these doctors are meeting the church’s criteria instead of science’s, and are ever more delighted the few cases they can find to meet these incredibly “rigorous” points. How “instantaneous”? How do they keep tabs on whether someone used traditional medicine that finally kicked in, but lied to be counted as a miracle? Are they stalking them with private detectives? Or like those fools who already go to the hospital and thank god for the miracle of getting better as a result? You are happy they even get to vote, 2/3rds majority.

          No, sorry, I am not satisfied by this until real science independently qualifies these results. These people are filling out medical charts, and if they get a full set of checks, the church signs off on it.

        • Greg G.

          Craig uses Plantinga’s formulation of the Kalam yet does not consider it to be a proof. Does Plantinga think any of his arguments prove the existence of God? If he did, he wouldn’t need to do another argument for gods.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          You don’t understand Plantinga. His main work is in epistemology. He does not think “proof” is necessary. By the way, he would think the same if he were an atheist. They disagree on a particular approach to theories of knowledge. Plantinga is not found of notions of “proof” (like many other philosophers) and Criaig is (like many other philosophers. They are not arguing about the soundness of the arguments per se, but the status of such arguments in a reasonable life.

        • Dessany

          So his argument for god existing is to start with the idea that god is “properly basic”. That sounds rather circular.

          My problem with the ontological argument is that it tries to define god into existence. There needs to be more than a definition to make something real. Even to make something rational to believe in.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. This is not an argument for God’s existence, but part of a broader epistemology (which one need not be a theist to hold) that says that some ideas are “properly basic.” And circular arguments are not bad . . . just vicious circular arguments or logical/mathematical proofs would be fallacious!

        • Dessany

          You would need to be a theist to hold that belief in god is properly basic. I understand the need in epistemology to have properly basic beliefs. I find the idea that god is a properly basic belief to be a run around the burden of proof.

          Please define the difference between a circular argument that is acceptable and a vicious circular argument.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          This is just straight logic. It is not even controversial you know. A vicious circular argument assumes the conclusion without effort. God exist because God exists is NOT bad because circular . . . it is like 2+2=4 . . . both sides of the equation imply the other . . . but because it is UNPERSUASIVE. All big enough views end up “circular” so “circular” is an informal fallacy to describe unpersuasive (cheap) arguments.

        • Dessany

          I don’t claim to be a philosopher. Please don’t make assumptions about what I’m saying. I asked because I didn’t know what you meant.

          You say both sides imply each other. Looking up circular reasoning I found this:
          http://www.numeraire.com/download/WhatIsCircularReasoning.pdf

          In a logical argument, viciously circular reasoning occurs when one attempts to infer a conclusion that is based upon a premise that ultimately contains the conclusion itself.

          So if your (Plantinga’s) premise is that god exists (god is properly basic) and your conclusion is that god exists. How is that not viciously circular?

          In the math problem you are showing that the two sides are equal. Two sets of two equals four. But in the god existing one you have a claim of existence as your premise and a claim of existence as your conclusion. How can that not be viciously circular?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Because like P therefore P (a basic logical axiom) . . . . any statement IF TRUE logically implies itself. Logic does not deal in truth . . . we can make grist out any statement. Logic deals in VALIDITY. So the statement God exists therefore God exists is Valid, BUT unpersuasive to an atheist because he or she denies the truth of the claim. The problem with viciously circular arguments is not (technically) a logical fallacy, but a problem of assuming truth in the first part . . . and therefore announcing the second part must be true. Doe that make sense? I enjoy teaching this sort of thing AND DO NOT mean to sound condescending. It is hard to get tone in a com box (one reason I don’t like com boxes . . . another being my shoddy vision which makes proofing here hard).

        • Susan

          any statement IF TRUE logically implies itself.

          It’s the “IF TRUE” bit we’d like to get at.

          Logic does not deal in truth…

          It depends on what you mean by truth. Logic deals in the consequences of axioms.

          DO NOT mean to sound condescending.

          Not so far. Nothing you’ve said about logic sounded condescending.

          It is hard to get tone in a combox.

          Tell me about it.

          my shoddy vision which makes proofing here hard

          That’s gotta be tough. You’ve done a good job so far, staying organized and clear.

        • Dessany

          Thank you. That is easier to understand.

          So when:
          1. Plantinga assumes that god exists as properly basic and
          2. uses it in his argument to prove the existence of god and
          3. since he must know that atheists won’t accept that as properly basic
          what is the purpose of the argument he is making?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Because not everyone is an atheist. He isn’t assuming he will persuade you. He is showing that the atheist notion that the ontological argument is unsound is wrong. If it is sound, then it might persuade you . . .
          So assume with me (and not Plantinga) that his beliefs about basicality are not right . . . then the existence of a sound argument for God’s existence will lead us to wonder why we are NOT persuaded. What premise do we think false. In fact, philosophers on both sides have done that . . . but one is left thinking that if the conclusion were not so unpleasant, that people would pick on the premises less!

        • Dessany

          Why do you think the conclusion is unpleasant? Is your god so unlikeable?

          Whether a god is pleasant or not has no bearing on existence. If there were actual proof of a god that was evil I would accept it’s existence. Worship however is another matter. I wouldn’t worship a good god either. But I could accept it’s existence if there were some actual proof of it’s existence beyond assertions.

          I’m thinking that when you’re talking about the conclusions being unpleasant you mean more than just acceptance of existence. I think you’re going into worship and acceptance of the god(s) as, for want of a better word, “masters”. Yes that is an unpleasant thought.

          I pick on the premise because while it may be sound philosophically it’s not sound scientifically. I’m an atheist because there is no proof of a god. Doesn’t mean there isn’t one or more, just means there’s no evidence for it or them.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          There is proof for God. You just reinterpret it.

          Why wouldn’t you worship goodness? It seems worthy of worship.

        • one is left thinking that if the conclusion were not so unpleasant, that people would pick on the premises less!

          Do I understand you right? You’re saying that atheists are picking their conclusions based on how pleasing they are?

          And all this time I thought it was more likely to be the Christians justifying the faith of their childhood plus yearning for life after death.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Yes. I meant that… Just as the Epicureans denied the existence of gods because they wanted to remove fear of the afterlife. Everyone has their biases

        • Susan

          Some arguments are sound but not persuasive.

          What form of argument are you talking about? I hear “sound” and I assume we’re talking about deductive reasoning in which an argument, if valid, and if each premise is necessarily true,can only result in a true conclusion.

          When you say “sound” but not “persusasive”, I assume you know something else about what it is for an argument to be “sound” that I, as a layperson, have never heard.

          I assume you’ve studied philosophy so you will be able to answer my question. It’s meant respectfully.

          You’re the least evasive of all the christians I’ve met here so far. Though it might sound like a backhanded compliment, I don’t mean it that way. You’ve engaged.

          Plantinga has an epistemology that allows for belief in God to be “properly basic”.

          How solid is that epistemology?

          Please don’t link. Explain what you think about it. I’ve had a snootful of Plantinga on this subject. I don’t feel like revisiting the links.

          .

          Philosophers like to argue and clarify.

          I hope you’re one who likes to clarify.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          If I said: God exists, therefore God exist, then that is logically sound. It is valid like P is P or P therefore P, but you will not be PERSUADED by it because you deny the truth of “God exists.” So the argument is valid, but not persuasive. If it had many steps we would call it “sound,” but you still might find reasons to deny the truth of one of the premises and so be unpersuaded. Does that make help?
          I am sorry if I fall into philosophy talk. . . .occupational hazard.
          Thanks for the encouragement! I love following the argument wherever it leads. I can tell you with all my heart and soul, I would rather be an atheist if I thought it true than a theist for the promise of all the riches of the world.

        • Susan

          If I said: God exists, therefore God exist, than that is logically sound.

          If I said schmerpz exists, therefore schmerpz exists, then that is logically sound.

          you will not be PERSUADED by it because you deny the truth of…

          I don’t accept your premise. You haven’t defined its terms nor demonstrated it to be true. “Deny the truth of” seems to be inappropriate language.

          If it had many steps we would call it “sound,”

          Yes. And at least there would be an argument to evaluate, not just tautology.

          but you still might find reasons to deny the truth of one of the premises and so be unpersuaded.

          You’d have to establish that the premises are necessarily true in order to claim that I’m ‘denying the truth of one of the premises’.

          Are you talking about deductive arguments or not? That was my original question. When you say “sound”, are you referring to deductive arguments?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. I am saying the premises cannot be true and the conclusion false. The problem is plenty of sound arguments have false premises.
          Socrates is cheese.
          All cheese is made of milk.
          Therefore Socrates is made of milk.

          This is valid, but not persuasive, since premise on is highly questionable. BUT IF premise 1 were true, then the conclusions could not be false.

        • Susan

          The problem is plenty of sound arguments have false premises.

          Then, they’re not sound.

          They’re merely valid.

          Going to bed.

          Will respond in the morning.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Yes. Sorry. Right on.

        • Susan

          Yes. Sorry. Right on.

          Then “sound but not persuasive” is a complete misrepresentation.

          If you’re a philosopher, that seems dishonest.

          ____

          Edit: And your statements that Plantinga’s arguments are ‘sound’ need to be revised.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I should have said Plantingas arguments are valid, but unpersusive to some because they attack some premise. Like many other philosophers I think them valid and persuasive

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Right. Valid not sound in the technical sense I should have used.

        • MNb

          And that’s an elementary problem of all arguments that rely on logic alone. So much for the ontological argument being adequate.

        • If I said: God exists, therefore God exist, then that is logically sound.

          How can it be sound if premise 1 isn’t universally accepted?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I am sorry I should have said it was a valid argument but not persuasive. My late night error

        • OK, got it.

        • MNb

          This one?

          1. A being has maximal excellence in a given possible world W if and only if it is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good in W; and
          2. A being has maximal greatness if it has maximal excellence in every possible world.
          3. It is possible that there is a being that has maximal greatness. (Premise)
          4. Therefore, possibly, it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly good being exists.
          5. Therefore, (by axiom S5) it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.
          6. Therefore, an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.

          Replace “wholly good” in 1 by “wholly evil” and the argument is equally valid. So we have two beings that have maximal excellence, which is logically impossible.
          Any attempt (I have read a few, ao by your Dutch colleague Emmanuel Rutten) to argue that “wholly good” should be accepted but “wholly evil” not results in special pleading and/or defining god into existence.

          To delve a bit deeper: the argument is build on a semantic error.
          The 0-value of omnipotence is having no power at all.
          The 0-value of omniscience is having no knowledge and understanding at all.
          The 0-value of omnipresence is not existing at all.
          The 0-value of perfectly good is total indifference.
          The 0-value of perfectly evil is also total indifference.
          In mathematical language: with “wholly good” you suddenly introduce a negative axis. A being that is maximally excellent though excels in both directions.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          This is a misunderstanding of the nature of evil. Good can exist without any evil. Not so good. However at least you got the argument copied into the thread

        • TheNuszAbides

          Good can exist without any evil. Not so good.

          and where’s the ‘adequate’ argument establishing that as valid rhetoric?

  • I HATE DRM

    I thankfully have never been in a situation like that but I believe you should be honest if you are a Christian you should probably say you are who knows maybe it is just a test

    • John Mark N. Reynolds

      I agree. And not because God would not forgive me (He would), but because I am going to die someday and prefer to have died like a man and not like a coward clinging to the last drop of life at the cost of honor: not God’s honor, mine.

      • If this were just your curious predilection, that’d be fine, but you encourage this attitude on every Christian.

        I can imagine lots of things where I’d have a hard time living with myself–not putting myself in danger to save someone, say–but defending my honor to a lunatic sure isn’t one of them.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          How do you know him to be a lunatic? That is a big assumption. Let’s grant that in this case (for all I know) the man is a lunatic. People are confronted all the time by sane people (it is happening now in Syria) with evil intent who kill.
          I cannot predict what will happen if I tell the truth. I probably will die, though who knows the evil guy may respect my honesty. I do know this. Dying will happen. I would rather die for truth . . . let’s say philosophy. . . then lie in the HOPE that my life will be saved.
          This isn’t just my curious predilection, but that of Socrates for example. I hope I would die for philosophy in my city as he did.

        • Kodie

          How do you know he’s evil?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I assume a mass shooter is either mad or evil. Am I missing a category?

        • Kodie

          I assume they’re mad. I assume they’ve been pushed to the brink of their ability to cope in this world, and lashed out at people because they did not get help or know who to ask for help, or were embarrassed to ask for help, or were laughed at because they did ask for help. I don’t know what evil is, I don’t know anyone like that, and I assume it’s just some judgment from Christians who don’t know what it’s like to be someone else or understand how others think.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I do not think all the people who ran the camps in the Soviet Union were “insane.” Solzhenitsyn makes that clear. They were sane people, otherwise good, doing very evil things in the name of their beliefs. Any of us might do this. We must all guard against it (Christians, atheists, Muslims).
          If they are mad, I see no reason to think a lie will keep me safer than the truth.

        • Kodie

          Delusion is a madness. People who get swept up in a movement like that are targeted for their emotional pliability. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/body/hatred/
          Yes, I think some insanity is transmittable, as the victim becomes almost robotically programmed to execute the plans of their leader, the faulty reasons why it is “good” to do so, etc.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          As our courts demonstrate daily, not all evils are done by the insane.

        • Kodie

          I beg to differ, as I think a lot of it has to do with the stigma of mental illness and the stigma of asking for help. Also a lot to do with being judgmental and wishing to harshly punish people who do things that harm us, or any one of us. Our attitude toward prisoners is definitely in need of a good long look. Treating people like scum because you need them to be scum to feel better about who you are is a great way to get a harder criminal once they’re up for parole. If people turn to crime, I think, and the justice system tends to agree with me, there must be something wrong with them. I wouldn’t guess they were just bad to the bone. Something happened in their life.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          We agree on treatment of prisoners.

        • I think that claiming without evidence that all criminals must have a mental illness (this is not to say some don’t) itself is pretty stigmatizing. After these mass shootings now, we almost automatically see such speculations and blaming, usually without evidence again. This is not helpful in the least that I can tell. Additionally, there is a big difference between mental illness and insanity, which means they are not legally responsible. Having a mental illness alone does not equal insanity by itself. Very few insanity defenses work. I think people find it convenient to blame these acts largely on mental illness, without considering other causes for them.

        • Kodie

          I agree though I didn’t mean it that everyone with a mental illness is violent, or even delusional. To me, crimes are an extreme anti-social reaction to something that went wrong. I don’t think mental illness is at all well-understood. Is suicide just something a depressed person might do? Or can someone be pressured to think that is the only solution to a problem? Can a problem depress someone or is that just how they are? When someone goes out to lunch, and the waiter brings the wrong order, and the patron’s reaction is to scream at them, are they seeing the situation correctly or incorrectly? If they are seeing it incorrectly, is that what you would call sane? Screaming in a restaurant can get you bounced, or they may call police. Maybe not. Maybe they will bring you free pie.

          Mental illness is not any one thing, but it seems pretty easily categorized as “not interpreting stimuli correctly.” Reacting (socially) inappropriately is a related but not necessary association.

        • They can be, but sometimes crimes are a cold, rational calculation made by someone to get what they want, regardless of laws, morals or consequences to others.

          I agree mental illness is still little understood, and psychology itself seems still in its infancy. Hopefully there will be progress on that front especially due to increasing neurological findings.

          Suicide is a known risk for people with clinical depression, something I know all too well as someone that has it. The desire is to escape from what can be truly indescribable pain. Suicide is merely the means to an end here.

          However, this does not mean that all suicide is caused by clinical depression, it’s just a common cause. Ordinary depression is also possible, from causes such as you mentioned. Clinical depression is not necessarily caused by any such external stimuli, however. It can affect people who by all appearances have entirely happy, stable lives.

          It is perfectly possible that someone who overreacts in the manner you describe could have a mental illness, but also that they just had a very bad day, for example. This is why people should not play armchair psychiatrist because although some disorders have symptoms which can be easily recognized, many do not.

          Yes, it is very diverse, and as you said related to though not always identical with socially inappropriate behavior.

        • 90Lew90

          Can you remember what state ‘Greg’ (the un-lawyer) said he lived in? He’s fannying about here http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/2014/04/top-7-claims-for-same-sex-relationships-being-unnatural/ No longer pretending to be a any more, dishing out dogs’ abuse on same-sex marriage and also pretending he wrote something that’s been all over various comment boards for a month…

        • Kodie

          That doesn’t look to be the same Greg, they have different profiles. Greg the fake lawyer lives in Connecticut. I note that your Greg is way more articulate in putting together what he’s thinking, vile as it is.

        • 90Lew90

          Maybe you’re right, but the general gist is the same and the language isn’t that good, this one just latches onto something he thinks sounds good and keeps reposting it. Thanks anyway!

        • Kodie

          A lot of Christians say a lot of the same things, but it’s hard to sound different, and these two Gregs sound very different to me.

        • 90Lew90

          Yeah, you’re right.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I agree.

        • “Lunatic” was an arbitrarily chosen derogatory word.

          “Gunman” is fine if you want to be picky.

          I cannot predict what will happen if I tell the truth.

          Perhaps I misunderstood your thought experiment. I thought you were assuming that “Yes, I’m a Christian” would certainly get you killed.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I don’t think we can have that kind of certainly with either a “mad man” or an evil man. Both tend to operate in highly unpredictable ways. As a result part of my calculus is a certain cowardice on my part versus death if the gunman chooses to kill me. I cannot control his actions. Some cowards try to save their lives only to die. Some brave people tell the truth, following the example of Socrates, and actually live.
          Of course, I think there is life after death which only strengthens my consideration. I would (with Roman atheists) think the same if I were an atheist for the reasons I have given. We all die. I would prefer to die with my flags flying.
          I know your mileage may vary, but this is the case as I see it.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Perhaps, however, I should honor your reading and say: “Suppose I was certain the truth would get me killed.” Is there a truth I would die to witness for? Yes. Like Socrates, I would hope to die for philosophy: showing the examined life need not fear death and go forward as he did with courage. I think Christianity is that kind of truth. It makes me less afraid to die and I think that a noble death can witness to a certain kind of truth.

        • I do accept the idea of, “it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees” (though it’s vague), so let me offer that as a possible shared viewpoint.

          I know your mileage may vary, but this is the case as I see it.

          And if you said exactly what I already think, your post would be a waste of my time. You raise interesting points, but where it gets objectionable is when you advocate this pointless martyrdom for other Christians.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I advocate what seems best to me as you do. I also advocate people reasoning for themselves. You can be sure not all Christians agree with me. I disagree with them, but applaud the dialectic of disagreement.

        • Kodie

          Right, the strength of your consideration lies in self-preservation, i.e. not renouncing your faith (which is a lie) and dooming yourself for all eternity. When you die by a possible gunman, you want to make sure god knows you’re still his friend because you won’t be able to explain later, if you do get killed.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          That is not even remotely my position. I don’t think my “lie” is unpardonable as I have stated several time here and in my post. I don’t think it would damn me and my motivation is not to avoid hell.

      • tsig

        Then you will die for your own pride.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          That would be good in the sense of living well and having good pride

        • tsig

          Then god has nothing to do with it and it’s all your ego.

      • Jack Baynes

        What honor? You saved your life at the cost of nothing. You saved your family the pain of dealing with your death. You can continue to be a benefit to the world.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Like Socrates one hopes that a noble death helps other people…

    • Kodie

      Yeah, maybe god totally hired this hitman to trick you.

      • John Mark N. Reynolds

        That seems highly improbably doesn’t it? As Cartesian demon experiments prove, some skeptical ideas are impossible to refute, but unworthy of belief. This seems like one of them.

        • Kodie

          It seems highly sarcastic.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Ok then.

    • Jack Baynes

      A test by who?
      Why do you care if you “fail” a test like that?

  • John Mark N. Reynolds

    After this discussion, can we at least agree that I never suggested we die for “God’s honor” . . . in fact I said: “We cannot deny Christ, survive, and ever know if we were merely self-justifying cowards.”

    • OK, thanks for the clarification.

      • John Mark N. Reynolds

        My pleasure. I am VERY sorry I do not have time to do this more often, but I have had an (otherwise) horrid cold that has given me some time to respond.

      • John Mark N. Reynolds

        Very fruitful.

  • rg57

    I would waste as much of his time as possible with questions back.

    • John Mark N. Reynolds

      What a sad view of life. Wasting my time. Rather: let’s discuss and learn together. What happens in every good class. . .

      • Kodie

        Why do you assume he’s talking about you? He’s talking about what he would say to the gunman.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          If true, then I think that telling him the truth carefully using reason would be a way to waste his time. Thanks for the catch.

        • Kodie

          I’d speculate he’d waste no time wasting both of your faces for talking so much.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          probably. so best to die for the truth!

        • It’d be impossible to live with yourself if you lied to a murderer?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I certainly would have to live with myself and seek forgiveness… Including from myself. I hope I could die bravely for an idea…if I failed I’d have to go on

        • I have some sympathy for someone who stands up for principles and ideals, but where does it end? How insignificant does a truth have to be before you’ll not die for it?

          The lie, “No, I’m not a Christian” told in private to a murderer is not that big a deal in my mind. You’d tell it in an instant to save another person; I don’t know why it’s different for you alone.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Because I can never be sure of my motivation when it comes to myself… Cowardice and self-seeking are easy vices to fall into. I have to say I would think this generally if I were not a theist as did atheist Romans! Of course then my deep truth would not be Christianity

        • Kodie

          You are self-seeking – you want some kind of glory. You can’t easily dismiss foolish feelings of shame and guilt when you just saved your life so easily. Why call saving your own life “cowardice,” why label it such? If I had to lie and say I was a Christian and didn’t get killed, my feeling would be “phew, that worked!” It seems you are working with an archaic model, you keep talking about Socrates and then Romans. You are part frustrated cowboy/pirate, and even though you have said you would tell the truth and hope you didn’t die, it just sounds like you’re glorifying the opportunity to prove something to someone, you just never get any spectacular adventures to demonstrate it.

          And this is what’s toxic about masculinity. What’s stronger, crying like you don’t care what anyone else thinks, or punching your fist through the wall? What’s stronger, outsmarting a gunman with a quick lie or telling the truth so your family can be proud at your funeral?

        • Motivation? You’d tell a lie to a murderer to save my life. Your motivation is obvious.

          And ditto if the roles were reversed. Why is it any different when you do it for your own skin?

          It’s fine to take a humble view of your own worth in the grand scheme of things, but where does it get ridiculous?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          It isn’t my own worth … It is whether I am being a coward when it is time to act like Socrates.

        • Kodie

          The question is really, if the Nazi asked him directly if he was a Jew, what he would say (if he were Jewish). How would he feel if he were hiding in your basement, when you have to lie to the gunman about whether that Christian is here, would he storm upstairs like the Socrates character and proudly proclaim his faith and his presence, or stay cowering in the basement and live through the ordeal. How would he feel about his honor if he found a safe place to hide and nobody had to answer that question, and come out when it’s safe, or if you gave him a safe place to hide and also lied to protect him. He wants to be brave, let him be brave.

        • That is an amusing twist–would he permit me to lie to save him or would he barge in to declare his love for Jesus.

          I can’t imagine any Jew hiding in the attic of an apartment in Amsterdam barging down to demand that the Nazis take him away. Given his post, what would his critique of those Jews be? Are they cowards who slap the face of the very god who gave them life?

        • Kodie

          Wow, what a toxic mentality your religion gives you.

  • Elvenfoot

    Traditionally, Christians take denial of Christ pretty seriously. In Matthew 10:33 Jesus says, “33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” Denying Christ out of pure fear may certainly be forgiven if repentance is sincere, but it is definitely not something Christians should do on presumption.

    • Jack Baynes

      Then he proved himself a liar and made Peter the head of his church.

      • John Mark N. Reynolds

        Well, Peter repented. Christians can be forgiven sins.

        • adam

          “Christians can be forgiven sins.”

          Yes, of course, christian ‘morality’:

          “It is really under biblical ‘morality’ ANYTHING goes except for blasphemy of the holy ghost.

          Yes, you can genocide and be forgiven.
          Yes, you can murder, rape and be forgiven.

          You can genocide every single individual in any group except lets say a baby and its mother, you can beat that baby to death, rape its lifeless body, then carve that baby up and eat it, cut off that mothers head and shit that baby down her throat…..

          And STILL be forgiven.

          So the biblical ‘morality https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3ea2c9f325e60ecd338789e235354b6d3ae8c92cdf2aea26c7537af89da0a4c8.jpg ‘ is the REAL case where anything goes…

          Well anything but blasphemy

          That is way to horrible for forgiveness.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No.

          Blasphemy can be forgiven. You cannot be forgiven a sin you are glad you committed… That is refusing to heed conscience or the Holy Spirit (called blasphemy of the Holy Spirit). Being forgiven does not take away the necessity of civil punishment. We can refuse to hate the murderer but still punish him.

          You really like slogans on posters!

          Sadly the truth generally does not fit on s poster.

      • Joe

        Jesus never appointed Peter as head of the church. Jesus Himself is the head of the church, not any sinful man. And Christ most certainly never appointed a “Pope”.

        • TheNuszAbides

          too bad that couldn’t be more clearly recorded somewhere …

      • Elvenfoot

        Uh, no. Peter repented, and Jesus forgave him.

      • TheNuszAbides

        sadly this only boosts the “look how merciful He is!” card. then again, the notion-chain that he forgave Peter for being dishonorable in triplicate but then ~built His Church~ upon that freshly-forgiven ‘Rock’ … plays neatly into the Mafia analogy. See, I can be nice … and I know you would never betray me again … right?

        • Keep in mind that the Criterion of Embarrassment (applied here as, “But that whole thing about Peter must be true, because look at how embarrassing it is!”) requires that it actually is embarrassing. If the author of Mark didn’t like Peter, it’s not embarrassing at all. Don’t forget the Paul vs. Peter/James factionalism in the early church.

  • John Mark N. Reynolds

    I have tried to respond to the original argument and all the questions I could today. I was glad to see Bob and I agreed that I did not in fact argue that we must die for God’s honors. As for the rest, the discussion is long . . . but I must tend to my own blog and job. Thanks Bob for letting me respond.

    • John Mark N. Reynolds

      I only wish I had the time to curate comments!

    • MNb

      Now I have the opportunity – you thanks for moderating a comment away I spend half an hour on quite a while ago.
      Like you wrote underneath – making me waste my time by not following your own advise is very sad.

      “let’s discuss and learn together”
      Something you don’t live up to yourself.
      Sad indeed.

      • John Mark N. Reynolds

        I dont have comments on my blog ever because I have no time to moderate them. I assume blog to blog interaction is better.

  • Joe

    Luke 9:26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

    • Clover and Boxer

      Ezekiel 23:20 There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.

      • Joe

        Ok, what is your point?

    • Clover and Boxer

      Deuteronomy 25:11-12 If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.

    • Clover and Boxer

      2 Kings 2:23-25 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.

      • Joe

        Again, what is your point?

    • Clover and Boxer

      Ephesians 6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.

      • Joe

        Point?

        • Clover and Boxer

          What was your point in your original post?

        • Joe

          I may have not expounded it very clearly, but I was responding the question in the title of the article. My point was, if you refuse to stand up for what you believe in, in Jesus Christ, that seems to indicate that you are ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and when Jesus returns He will be ashamed of you, in other words, you most likely do not truly have salvation in Jesus Christ if you are ashamed to pronounce it to the world. It also shows that you have no concern for the lost person who is pointing a gun at your head, because if you proclaim the gospel to that person, God may save them, and you might just be the messenger that God is going to use to cause them to be born again. Not because of who you are but because of God’s sovereign grace.

        • Clover and Boxer

          Just for fun, (since I don’t think Christians overcome the burden of proof for their deity), I’ll respond to this. You say there’s shame involved in lying to a gunman, but that’s not right. It’s fear that makes you lie, not shame. But don’t worry, there’s probably some other Bible verse you can find for that too.

        • Joe

          To answer you parenthetical, God does not have to be proven. You know God exists, you simply suppress that truth in unrighteousness. Even so God can be proven to exist: A building has a builder, a painting has a painter. All of creation has a Creator and He is God. Something does not come from nothing.

          Additionally, there is a burden of proof on those who claim that God does not exist. If you say there is not a burden of proof for those claiming God does not exist, you do not use fair and balanced scales.

          Lying is not justified based on motive. Lying is wrong because God says “You shall not lie”. God did not say, “You shall not lie, unless there is a gun pointed at your head, then you can lie.”

          If you say there is no shame in lying to a gunman, what is your standard for making this claim?

          I think the author made a analogy in the article about lying to Nazis about hiding Jews, that this was justified. I do not agree. Silence is an option, and silence is not a lie.

          And I do not quite agree to references in the Bible about people purposefully lying and being righteous before God specifically because of the lie, or that that lie was a righteous thing to do. I do not believe that the Bible is specifically saying that.

          My absolute standard is the inerrant word of God of the Bible. It sounds to me like you reject that. That is your choice. I choose to believe and trust in God.

        • Dys

          You know God exists,

          Nah…see Joe, you’re just pretending God exists because acknowledging that there’s no eternal justice and that there’s often no reason for why things happen is scary.

          See how arrogant it sounds to tell someone what they know or don’t know? You should probably not do it any more, because you’re lying about information you don’t possess.

          Even so God can be proven to exist: A building has a builder, a painting has a painter.

          Your proof of God is a laughably bad semantic argument? It didn’t work for the notoriously inept apologist Ray Comfort, and it doesn’t work for you either.

          Lying is wrong because God says “You shall not lie”.

          Actually, a book written by an unknown author says that, and it’s attributed to God. And there’s definitely an asterisk next to it, because there are instances not only of God telling people to lie, but of God lying himself.

          My absolute standard is the inerrant word of God of the Bible

          Except that it’s not an absolute standard, because it has to be interpreted, and it’s your inherently subjective opinion that it’s inerrant. So in actuality, you’re operating on a subjective standard.

        • Joe

          “Nah…see Joe, you’re just pretending God exists because acknowledging that there’s no eternal justice and that there’s often no reason for why things happen is scary.”

          It is because God exist that there is justice. There is no naturalistic explanation for justice.
          Everything happens according to God’s perfect plan and purpose.
          —-
          “See how arrogant it sounds to tell someone what they know or don’t know? You should probably not do it any more, because you’re lying about information you don’t possess.”

          That would be true if I was the source of the claim. But I do not speak on my own authority, but what God has written in His inerrant word.

          —————-
          “Your proof of God is a laughably bad semantic argument? It didn’t work for the notoriously inept apologist Ray Comfort, and it doesn’t work for you either.”

          Just because you don’t like it, does not mean it is not true. Is it a perfect analogy? No. But that does not negate its accuracy and validity.

          ———–
          “Actually, a book written by an unknown author says that, and it’s attributed to God. And there’s definitely an asterisk next to it, because there are instances not only of God telling people to lie, but of God lying himself.”

          The authors of the Bible are known. Again, you simply choose to reject it. But your belief has no effect on the truth.

          God has never lied.
          ——————-
          “Except that it’s not an absolute standard, because it has to be interpreted, and it’s your subjective opinion that it’s inerrant.”

          The claim to inerrancy is not based upon the translations, but to the original manuscripts, the textual history and the subjects on which the Bible speaks. But again, you can choose to reject it, but that does not change the truth.

        • axelbeingcivil

          Justice is a word that’s very hard to pin down – what it means and what is considered justice vary considerably over time – but the general use of the term, meaning providing fair treatment, is pretty easily explained as an outcropping of human society-forming behaviours.

        • Joe

          God’s truth does not change. God’s justice does not change.

          How man attempts to pervert and distort God’s truth does continually change. But God does not.

          If the standard comes from humanity, then how does that explain the German regime in the late 1930’s where the extermination of the Jews was an accepted “standard”.

          Righteousness and justice do not change over time. Meanings of words do not change. If they change, then we have no effective means of communicating truth to one another, and the very words on this forum are absolutely meaningless.

        • axelbeingcivil

          Justice is a word, applied contextually to action. Even you have to admit this; your own framework demands such. After all, you are a mortal, finite human being, claiming a fact about an infinite, divine being. You claim God’s truth doesn’t change and God’s justice doesn’t change, but you are not God, are you? You claim revelation has guided you to these statements but, being flawed, can you ever trust in them? After all, if you make the affirmation that you understand these things completely – that you know something irrefutably true about them – you are claiming a finite mind can grasp at least some facet of the infinite.

          You apply justice, therefore, to whatever fragmentary belief you have of what justice is, but your definition can, nay, must, by your own beliefs be flawed as well. It might be less flawed than others, something I’ll consider for the sake of argument, but it must, by your own beliefs, be flawed. Your flawed view of what justice is means you are doing what everyone else has: Applying a word to a context.

          Words also change over time, and this is pretty evident if you’ve ever, say, tried to read the Canterbury Tales. The words you and I are speaking right now would be unrecognized in medieval Europe, as would our conceptions of justice (I doubt, or at least sincerely hope, you wouldn’t find the idea of slaughtering people just for being Jewish or Muslim to be in any sense just). Yet our language is descended from theirs, and with it, the meaning of their words have changed. They called it justice (or a word like that) to slaughter Jews, because they believed they were subhuman.

          Somehow, though, we communicate just fine, despite this. We work within the mutual framework of our time. Our language isn’t perfect at conveying information and context, but it works well enough for us.

          Finally… I think the standard of morality coming from humanity explains just fine how the Holocaust happened. I think it’s far easier to explain why some people were given over to that sort of madness and others not if you realize that humans aren’t all guided by some perfected internal moral compass. People’s morals are shaped by their nature and their nurture, and this can produce angels and devils in equal measure. Our lack of a perfect moral compass is why our morals are shaped by our surroundings. It’s why Sampson burning down a city full of innocent people, including children, and depriving them of their shelter and food supply was considered morally upright to a tribal people who saw tribes as homogeneous masses of identical persons, but, today, it fills most of us with revulsion and horror. It’s why owning and beating slaves was an accepted part of Hebrew culture well into the late 1800s (you can find plenty of Rabbis defending the institution of slavery in the United States), but today, most Jews you speak to (I’ve read some frankly vile Orthodox Rabbis’ works, but I’m talking 99.999% of Jews here) would be aghast at the very idea.

          We change, our language changes, our beliefs change. You’re no more or less a product of such things than I am, I think.

        • katiehippie

          If god let all that happen, he’s a pretty poor sort of god. His plan sucks.

          https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/7a/eb/82/7aeb825b6b6b858261f71a9f1d64e478.jpg

        • Dys

          Meanings of words do not change.

          Nothing says “I don’t have the first clue as to how language works” like this statement of yours.

        • TheNuszAbides

          maybe fingering a ‘LOGOS’ talisman while formulating the throwaway.

        • adam

          “It is because God exist that there is justice. ”

          There is NO justice in YOUR ‘god’

          Justice?
          Let’s see what YOU are supporting as ‘justice’

          It is really under biblical ‘morality’ ANYTHING goes except for blasphemy of the holy ghost.

          Yes, you can genocide and be forgiven.
          Yes, you can murder, rape and be forgiven.

          You can genocide every single individual in any group except lets say a baby and its mother, you can beat that baby to death, rape its lifeless body, then carve that baby up and eat it, cut off that mothers head and shit that baby down her throat…..

          And STILL be forgiven.

          So the biblical morality is the REAL case where anything goes…
          .
          .
          .
          Again except for blasphemy of the holey ghost,

          THAT is so horrible, that it is UNFORGIVABLE.

        • Joe

          “There is NO justice in YOUR ‘god'”

          So you are making the claim to omniscience. What is your standard?

          ——————-
          “Let’s see what YOU are supporting as ‘justice'”

          I believe and trust in the word of God in the Bible and what He defines as righteous, not me or any other human being.
          ————
          “It is really under biblical ‘morality’ ANYTHING goes except for blasphemy of the holy ghost.

          Yes, you can genocide and be forgiven.
          Yes, you can murder, rape and be forgiven.

          You can genocide every single individual in any group except lets say a baby and its mother, you can beat that baby to death, rape its lifeless body, then carve that baby up and eat it, cut off that mothers head and shit that baby down her throat…..

          And STILL be forgiven.

          So the biblical morality is the REAL case where anything goes…
          .
          .
          .
          Again except for blasphemy of the holey ghost,

          THAT is so horrible, that it is UNFORGIVABLE.”

          I addressed this in a different response. You do not understand what blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is.

        • adam

          “So you are making the claim to omniscience. What is your standard?”

          No, I am not making the claim to omniscience as YOU ARE.

          My standard:

          “It is really under biblical ‘morality’ ANYTHING goes except for blasphemy of the holy ghost.

          Yes, you can genocide and be forgiven.
          Yes, you can murder, rape and be forgiven.

          You can genocide every single individual in any group except lets say a baby and its mother, you can beat that baby to death, rape its lifeless body, then carve that baby up and eat it, cut off that mothers head and shit that baby down her throat…..

          And STILL be forgiven.

          So the biblical morality is the REAL case where anything goes…

          “I addressed this in a different response”

          Where?

          ” You do not understand what blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is.”

          Yes, I do, you are LYING, AGAIN…. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3ea2c9f325e60ecd338789e235354b6d3ae8c92cdf2aea26c7537af89da0a4c8.jpg

        • Dys

          It is because God exist that there is justice. There is no naturalistic explanation for justice.

          Well, there’s an assertion you haven’t backed up with anything useful. It’s not true, of course – there are naturalistic explanations for justice, linked to empathy.

          That would be true if I was the source of the claim. But I do not speak
          on my own authority, but what God has written in His inerrant word.

          The age-old duck and cover to cowardly avoid taking responsibility for one’s unfounded assumptions. The fact remains that you’re pretending to knowledge you do not possess, just as the anonymous author of the text you’re relying on was. The problem you’re seeking to avoid isn’t escapable – you’re relying on your own subjective assessment to make the knowledge claim you are. And it’s sheer arrogance to do so.

          just because you don’t like it, does not mean it is not true. Is it a perfect analogy? No. But that does not negate its accuracy and validity.

          No, the fact that it’s a semantic word game, and thus not an argument at all dismantles any claim to its accuracy or validity. It’s an insubstantial word trick, that’s all. The kind professional dishonest apologist Ray Comfort likes to play.

          The authors of the Bible are known.

          No, for the most part, they’re not. Your belief on the matter is quite simply wrong. Perhaps you’ve carelessly confused traditional attribution with actual authorship.

          God has never lied.

          Right…he just sends lying spirits to prophets to lie on his behalf. Those pesky technicalities…

          The claim to inerrancy is not based upon the translations, but to the original manuscripts

          The original manuscripts do not exist, and the fact remains that the claims of inerrancy are based on personal, subjective opinions of people. You might not like it, but there’s no way around it.

        • Max Doubt

          “That would be true if I was the source of the claim. But I do not speak on my own authority, but what God has written in His inerrant word.”

          You’re handing off responsibility for your unwillingness/inability to be honest to a figment of your imagination. That’s a pretty immature way of facing reality. If you were seven years old it might be cute, although still dishonest. As an adult, it’s dishonest and cowardly, not to mention a really shitty way to treat other people in a conversation about reality.

        • Joe

          I never said I have blind faith or that I do not bear my own responsibility and accountability in evaluating truth.

          ————–

          ” As an adult, it’s dishonest and cowardly, not to mention a really shitty way to treat other people in a conversation about reality.”

          By what standard?

        • Kodie

          Common courtesy, for starters. Social skills. To you, we’re just common ordinary people, while you have the “truth of god” to yammer on about, he’s totally your best friend and he wrote the truth in this book you read, for real! That’s exactly what makes you sound so silly and it’s easy to not take you or your message seriously.

          Why would god take a chance leaving his representation up to you? If he wants me to know him, why send you and your silly, condescending, anti-social talk?

        • Joe

          “Common courtesy” is another term for truth by popular vote. Germany, as a nation, thought it was ok to murder more than 6 million Jews in the 1940’s. That is what happens when morality comes from popular vote. Morality must come from an external, perfect standard, not a human standard. God is the only source of morality.

          I never said I was better than anyone. I am not. But I am better off, not because of anything I have done or who I am, but because of who God is and what He has done for me, although I am completely and utterly undeserving of Him or His love, grace and mercy.

          I am not the representative of God, but He has allowed me to point to Him, to possibly show someone His truth. He does not need me for anything, yet He chooses to use me.

        • Kodie

          Did you just compare intellectual honesty with Hitler?

        • TheNuszAbides

          practice makes perfect …

        • adam

          ” That is what happens when morality comes from popular vote.”

          No, THAT kind of ‘morality’ is STRAIGHT FROM THE BIBLE….

          All your LYING is making the baby Jesus cry…

        • adam

          “yet He chooses to use me.”

          Yes, he used YOU to demonstrate how mindless and cruel FAITH makes people.

          And of course he OBVIOUSLY choose YOU to LIE and BEAR FALSE WITNESS

          Since you will take no credit for that….

        • katiehippie

          Maybe god is using you to show us not to fall for clueless arguments.

        • TheNuszAbides

          leading by [poor] example. one of my favorites!

        • Clover and Boxer

          On Topic: So you agree that the verse you quoted from Luke about shame doesn’t apply to this situation?

          Off Topic:

          “You know God exists, you simply suppress that truth in unrighteousness.”

          We’ll have to agree to disagree.

          “A building has a builder, a painting has a painter.”

          I agree with this.

          “All of creation has a Creator”

          Prove it. You’ve simply made a bald assertion.

          “Something does not come from nothing.”

          Even if this is true, you still have to prove your deity created everything.

          “Additionally, there is a burden of proof on those who claim that God does not exist.”

          Fine. I’m not claiming a god doesn’t exist. Now prove that your deity exists.

        • Kodie

          My absolute standard is the inerrant word of God of the Bible.

          So you agree with the passages quoted to you earlier? You know the one you asked over and over to Clover and Boxer, what is the point? What is your point?

          I don’t believe in god because the evidence is not credible. I’m not hiding from anything or suppressing anything – it’s not actually there. Why make up a fairy tale where you actually believe god would choose to intervene if you proclaimed your faith to a gunman? He may want to hear about Jesus after all, and spare your life, but that’s not because of any god. There are other reasons people fall for that shit.

        • Joe

          “So you agree with the passages quoted to you earlier? You know the one you asked over and over to Clover and Boxer, what is the point? What is your point?”

          Yes, those passages he quoted are in the Bible. The motivation behind posting those quotations was not stated.

          ——-

          “I don’t believe in god because the evidence is not credible.”

          By what standard do you measure? Your own perspective? Or objective standard?

          “Why make up a fairy tale where you actually believe god would choose to intervene if you proclaimed your faith to a gunman?”

          I don’t make up any fairy tale, nor do I follow a fairy tale.

          If God chose to intervene with a gunman, it will be because it is His sovereign will, not simply because I publically declared my faith in Him. God is not in any way obligated to me.

        • Kodie

          The purpose was to point out to you other things the bible says, and if you are in disagreement with those passages, then why would you believe any other part of it. I see we’re dealing with someone who chooses to ignore parts of the bible.

          I don’t know what you mean by objective standard. Every person, religious or not, judges on their own personal standard of whether they sincerely wish to believe something or if it smells like bullshit to them. Religion is marketed apparently to people who like to “think for themselves” by following what other people suggest to them. That all smells like bullshit to me. You cannot convince me otherwise. I don’t know about any objective standard, but I know you’re not using one.

          That’s a fairy tale. You feel as though god may intervene at any point, and that your choice may have god-intervening consequences. That’s straight out of fairy land.

        • adam

          ” You know God exists, you simply suppress that truth in unrighteousness. ”

          And YOU are a LIAR.
          And everytime you tell this LIE you make the baby Jesus cry…

        • Joe

          On that, I have not lied. It is what the word of God says.

          Romans 1:18-19 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (19) For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.

        • Jack Baynes

          No, it is what the Bible says.
          We don’t know if is the word of God. And even if we knew it was the word of God, we wouldn’t know if it were true.

          And we can speak from personal experience that it is not true.

        • Joe

          Actually, you can know that the Bible is true.

          John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, (32) and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

        • Jack Baynes

          Did you not read?
          I do not now know that God exists. The Bible claims that I do know. I therefore KNOW that the Bible is not entirely true.

        • katiehippie

          You know the bible is true because it says it is. Oh boy.

        • Max Doubt

          “It also shows that you have no concern for the lost person who is pointing a gun at your head, because if you proclaim the gospel to that person,…”

          If you’re faced with the possibility of being killed by an insane person, and you spend even a second of time considering how the characters from some ancient myth play into the situation, you’re an idiot.

        • Joe

          By God’s grace, I wouldn’t think of how someone from an “ancient myth” handled a situation.

          You imply that the Bible is an “ancient myth”, in that, you are wrong. And you imply that someone who trusts in the word of God is an “idiot”. You may disagree, but fundamentally, that is simply an ad hominem.

        • Max Doubt

          “By God’s grace,…”

          There is no evidence to support any claims that any gods exist and no objective evidence to suggest what people perceive as gods is substantively different from any other figment of the imagination. Unless you are the first person in the history of humanity to provide that evidence, let’s just be honest and agree on that, and henceforth not waste time invoking figments of your imagination as if they’re relevant to a conversation about reality, ‘kay?

          “… I wouldn’t think of how someone from an “ancient myth” handled a situation.”

          You at least implied that faced with a life or death situation that required claiming a belief in a god or not, you’d claim that belief. And since there is no objective reason to consider any gods something other than figments of the imagination constructed from descriptions of characters from ancient myths, apparently you would consider characters from some ancient myth in the situation.

          “You imply that the Bible is an “ancient myth”, in that, you are wrong.”

          No, I am not wrong. Not objectively. Not definitively.

          “And you imply that someone who trusts in the word of God is an “idiot”. You may disagree, but fundamentally, that is simply an ad hominem.”

          No. An ad hominem would be to suggest you’re wrong or that your argument fails because you’re an idiot. You can be an idiot and have your argument fail because you are unable to objectively support it. To consider your belief in the actual existence of characters from works of fiction, when responding to a life or death situation, would be irrational. And that’s why you’d be an idiot to do that. See?

        • Snowflake

          So Jesus would be angry at you for denying him when you had a gun to your head? Yikes. I’m a mom. I wouldn’t care if my son told the killer to shoot me, if it kept him alive.

        • Joe

          “So Jesus would be angry at you for denying him when you had a gun to your head?”

          I did not write that.

          ———-
          “I wouldn’t care if my son told the killer to shoot me, if it kept him alive.”

          You are also not God.

        • Jack Baynes

          You are also not God.

          No, Snowflake is far more moral.

        • Joe

          If you reject the truth of God, you have no standard by which to judge God.

        • Jack Baynes

          We can examine how God is presented and judge whether that being would be considered moral if a human acted like him.

          He would not.

        • Joe

          So you imply that your moral standard is humanity.

          Hitler would argue the same reasoning.

          My belief is that the created (us humans) have no right or ground on which to judge the Creator (God).

        • axelbeingcivil

          Out of curiosity, what’s that belief predicated on?

        • Joe

          Orthodox Christianity (not Greek or Russian Orthodox, just to avoid that confusion), that the Bible is the inerrant and all sufficient word of God.

        • adam

          “the Bible is the inerrant and all sufficient word of God.”

        • axelbeingcivil

          That seems a little circular, doesn’t it? Or at least perhaps a touch skeezy. You’re accepting a belief about God’s character ostensibly from God itself telling you so. If God is your source for information about God, how can you tell it’s at all trustworthy?

        • Joe

          If I believe that Bible is the absolute source of truth (that is my claim), then to refer to the Bible is not circular.

          If I referred to an outside source to make a claim that the Bible is the absolute truth, that is a self refuting claim.

          Analogy, If I wanted to find out if the President lived in the White House in Washington DC, I would look inside that White House in Washington DC. Likewise that is not circular logic.

        • adam

          “If I believe that Bible is the absolute source of truth (that is my claim), then to refer to the Bible is not circular.”

          It absolutely IS

        • axelbeingcivil

          Your analogy doesn’t really work (analogies rarely do, in my experience). Your claim the Bible is true is referring to the source of the claim as proof of the claim. Your analogy is independent verification of a truth claim from an outside source.

          And, yes, referring to the Bible as proof that the Bible is the absolute source of truth is circular. That is pretty much the definition of circular; the Bible is true, which we know because the Bible says so, which we trust because the Bible is true, which we know because the Bible says so, etc.

          I could, quite sincerely, probably not come up with a better example if you asked me for one.

          Independent verification of a truth claim doesn’t refute the claim. If it did, science would be a joke. As it stands, we can communicate across the internet.

        • MNb

          “If I believe that Bible is the absolute source of truth (that is my claim)”
          A claim based on belief is a claim based on nothing.

        • Joe

          “A claim based on belief is a claim based on nothing.”

          And that statement itself is a “belief”.

        • Jack Baynes

          How do you know the Bible is the absolute source of truth?

        • Joe

          Through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, reading and studying the Bible, examining the textual evidence and history and trusting in God.

        • Jack Baynes

          How can the Bible prove that it is the absolute source of truth?

        • adam

          Because it SAYS so…

        • Jack Baynes

          Sure we do.
          Is the creator a good thing?
          If he tortures and kills us and treats us badly then no he is not a good thing from our point of view.

        • Kodie

          According to Joe, you’re supposed to know you deserved it.

        • Joe

          So you reject the idea of justice, righteousness and holiness?

          God does not not torture, kill and treat us badly as some capricious villain. God executes divine justice against sinful, wicked and rebellious creations. Yet the amazing part is He is offering His hand of mercy and grace to you in Jesus Christ, but you choose to reject it because of your pride and love of sin.

        • Jack Baynes

          He tortures and kills us for the horrible sin of not knowing he’s there. He judges all sins worthy of death and hell.
          That is not justice.

          Holiness? I do not attach any importance to holiness.

          He decided that after he had his son killed he could finally forgive us? That’s great for us, too bad for all the people he condemned to hell before Jesus. And again, that offer is only open to those who believe, and he’s refused to offer evidence of his existence two thousand years. Again, not justice.

        • Joe

          “He tortures and kills us for the horrible sin of not knowing he’s there.”

          No, that is a mischaracterization. God executes divine justice against sin, not ignorance.

          ——-

          “He judges all sins worthy of death and hell.”

          That is correct and that is His sovereign right as the one and only Creator.

          ———–

          John 3:16-19 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (17) For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (18) Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (19) And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

          Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

        • adam

          “No, that is a mischaracterization. God executes divine justice against sin, not ignorance.”

        • MNb

          “that is a mischaracterization. God executes divine justice against sin, not ignorance.”
          Again I’m fine. I don’t know that there is any god, that’s ignorance, not a sin and hence your god won’t execute his divine justice to me.

        • Joe

          Have you ever told a lie? If you have, that makes you a liar.
          Have you ever taken something that is not yours? If you have that makes you a thief.
          Have you ever used God’s name as a curse word or profanity? If you have that makes you a blasphemer.
          Have you ever hated someone? If you have that makes you a murderer at heart.
          Have you ever looked on someone with lust? If you have that makes you an adulterer at heart.

          If you have not kept all of God’s commands absolutely perfectly, then He sees you as a lawbreaker, deserving of His justice. Yet for this time He is offering you His grace and mercy if you would turn from sin and trust in Jesus Christ.

        • adam

          ” Yet for this time He is offering you His grace and mercy if you would turn from sin and trust in Jesus Christ.”

          You mean the guy who says it is ok to BEAT SLAVES?

        • adam

          “If you have not kept all of God’s commands absolutely perfectly, then He sees you as a lawbreaker, deserving of His justice.”

          Justice?

          “It is really under biblical ‘justice’ ANYTHING goes except for blasphemy of the holy ghost.

          Yes, you can genocide and be forgiven.
          Yes, you can murder, rape and be forgiven.

          You can genocide every single individual in any group except lets say a baby and its mother, you can beat that baby to death, rape its lifeless body, then carve that baby up and eat it, cut off that mothers head and shit that baby down her throat…..

          And STILL be forgiven.

          So the biblical ‘justice’ is the REAL case where anything goes…

          Well anything but blasphemy

        • Dys

          I see someone went to the Ray Comfort school of idiotic apologetics. We don’t brand someone who lies once a liar for the rest of their lives. It’s when someone develops a reputation for lying that the label sticks.

          Please, I know most apologetics are terrible, but there are at least some that are more intelligent than this tripe.

        • Jack Baynes

          Do you think telling a lie is a sin worthy of death and hell?
          No concept of proportional punishments in justice?

        • MNb

          God doesn’t exist, so shrug.

        • Jack Baynes

          “He judges all sins worthy of death and hell.”

          That is correct and that is His sovereign right as the one and only Creator.

          God has the power to break his toys, that does not mean we have to think him good for doing so.

          Yes, I mentioned the Jesus story. You didn’t address the faults in it, that he waited thousands of years before giving a way to avoid punishment for simply existing. And then he only made that route to avoid unjust punishment available to the small portion of humanity that believed in Jesus (or even knew of him, for centuries, Christianity was confined to a small corner of the world.)

        • katiehippie

          So god gets to kill people for not following the rules he made up?

        • Jack Baynes

          Except when he tells people to ignore those rules.

        • katiehippie

          Sounds like a trap to me. **glancing over shoulder**

        • adam

          “God does not not torture, kill and treat us badly as some capricious villain.”

          Absolutely, like a ravenous tyrant

        • Kodie

          Um, no. God doesn’t do anything. People do things because they believe god is working through them and needs them to fulfill some kind of mission. I reject the idea that justice is a supernatural effect. And, why does god speak through people like you who just don’t sound like they know anything? If he were real, why would he choose you to represent him to us? How is that working for him?

        • adam

          “So you reject the idea of justice, righteousness and holiness?”

          Apparently YOU do:

          Justice?
          Let’s see what YOU are supporting as ‘justice’

          It is really under biblical ‘morality’ ANYTHING goes except for blasphemy of the holy ghost.

          Yes, you can genocide and be forgiven.
          Yes, you can murder, rape and be forgiven.

          You can genocide every single individual in any group except lets say a baby and its mother, you can beat that baby to death, rape its lifeless body, then carve that baby up and eat it, cut off that mothers head and shit that baby down her throat…..

          And STILL be forgiven.

          So the biblical morality is the REAL case where anything goes…
          .
          .
          .
          Again except for blasphemy of the holey ghost,

          THAT is so horrible, that it is UNFORGIVABLE.

          And YOU want to CLAIM that this is JUSTICE?

          How warped can you be?

        • adam

          “Hitler would argue the same reasoning.”

          He did NOT, he argued YOUR ‘god’s’ ‘moral standard’

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zt5gLf455Q8&feature=youtu.be

        • Joe

          Clearly, as shown by what Hitler did, Hitler was not a Christian, and the Bible never commands us to murder people.

        • Kodie

          Are you sure you read it?

          http://www.evilbible.com/Murder.htm

        • Joe

          I don’t do links, and I certainly don’t do websites that twist scripture to promote their own evil desires by decontextualizing scripture.

        • adam

          “I don’t do links, and I certainly don’t do websites that twist scripture to promote their own evil desires by decontextualizing scripture.”

          Yes we understand that you like to decontextualize scripture on your own.

        • Kodie

          Oh yeah, I forgot you’re superstitious.

          The bible is full of god commanding people to murder! It’s the illiterate cherry-pickers like you who make excuses that those are not really murders, so it’s ok to take human life away because some believer commanded other believers to despise them and judge them to be wicked, according to a god none of them could see. What a crock of shit, sir.

          Nothing you say is believable, but I’m certain you’re going to keep it up anyway. Why would god choose your poor representation for himself, or any believer? Brainwashed bunch of bullies and assholes, I think.

        • Joe

          By the grace of God, I am not superstitious.

          Do you think it wise to click on any like that someone posts on a forum where you do not know that person at all? Where virii, malware, spyware, etc abound on the internet?

          God never commanded anyone to murder. God used man to execute divine and perfect justice, not murder.

        • adam

          “God never commanded anyone to murder.”

        • Kodie

          Brainwashed bullies and assholes. Of course that’s not murder! Purge purge purge, just like Hitler. But Hitler wasn’t commanded by god, even though he said he was. You just decontextualized Hitler’s divine command.

        • katiehippie

          Oh god, I’m really starting to hate the word “scripture” Revering a piece of paper sounds like idolatry to me.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I don’t think JoeGuest is currently primed to grasp “the map is not the territory”.

        • adam

          “Bible never commands us to murder people.”

        • Kodie

          We have plenty of right and ground to judge believers in this fiction, and who wield their imaginary friend like a weapon, through bible verses and such, at other people, and presume we all believe in that god, we’re just suppressing our beliefs for some other reason you also made up and falsely believe. When you say obvious lies like that, and we know where you’re getting your information, your credibility plummets. The bible is a collection of myth stories, and you take it seriously as though it were true. Plenty of ground to judge you for that, and for the people who are feeding you information that is obviously false. For the purpose of retaining believers, they will feed you all sorts of lies about atheists, and being an atheist, I know they’re a lie because they’re about me, and I have every right and ground to judge me, I know me, I am me! You don’t get your info from god, just some jokers who would be butthurt if your brain kicked into gear and left.

        • Joe

          You appear to claim your standard is yourself.

          Can you be wrong about anything you know or believe?

          I know you reject my “credibility”, that much is clear. But one does not come to the truth of God based on my credibility. And I know you will continue to reject God and His truth unless God does a supernatural work in you.

        • adam

          “You appear to claim your standard is yourself.”

          No YOU appear to claim YOUR standard is YOURself.

        • Kodie

          I’m claiming your standard is yourself. You don’t know how brains work, and how easily suggestible you are.

          I don’t care if you won’t believe me. I don’t find any evidence that god exists, only people who talk about it all the time like they’re in a cult, which only tells me you must be in a cult.

        • Ron

          To judge is to render an opinion. If you’ve deemed God to be good, then you’ve judged God and violated your own beliefs.

        • Joe

          Ok.

          How have I violated my own beliefs by examining God and coming to understand His truth?

          God never commands us to not evaluate evidence for truth. As a matter of fact, He tells us to evaluate, to judge:

          John 7:24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

          You may be making a claim to the oft misquoted, twisted and misapplied “Do not judge” but that is not what that passage says. That passage is a warning against hypocritical judgment, it is not a ban of evaluating any given situation.

          Matthew 7:1-5 “Judge not, that you be not judged. (2) For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. (3) Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? (4) Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? (5) You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

        • Ron

          You stated it was your belief that humans had no right to judge God. I’m merely pointing out that formulating an opinion about God’s nature (good or bad) requires you to make a judgment about God’s nature based on some external standard.

        • Joe

          I agree. I judge (evaluate) the truth of God by what He has revealed to me through His word. I do not think I said that I was the source of authority. God is the one and only source.

        • adam

          “I agree. I judge (evaluate) the truth of God by what He has revealed to me through His word. I do not think I said that I was the source of authority.”

          Doesnt matter what you ‘think’ you’ve created your own god in your own mind.

        • Kodie

          You evaluate how you personally feel and then form an opinion in your own mind, using your own judgment, and if it makes you feel good, you think it came from god “revealing” something to you. That means, in shorter terms, it makes you feel better to ignore god’s abusive, violent, and non-existent sides.

        • MNb

          “Hitler would argue the same reasoning.”

          Really? You mean like here?

          “I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty
          Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord’s work.”

          [Adolph Hitler, Speech, Reichstag, 1936]

        • Joe

          Hitler twisting scripture does not make him righteous before God.

        • adam

          “Hitler twisting scripture does not make him righteous before God.”

          He didnt twist scripture, he FAITHFULLY followed it.

          http://www.nonstampcollector.com/christian-apologetics-hitler-cant-help-you.html

        • Kodie

          According to Joe.

        • Joe

          According to the truth. That is not to say I know all truth. But God is the only source of truth. Clearly, Hitler demonstrated that he did not know God of God’s truth.

          If you claim that Hitler demonstrated God’s truth, you know not God yourself. But you have already as much claimed that.

        • adam

          “Clearly, Hitler demonstrated that he did not know God of God’s truth.”

          ABSOLUTELY Hitler demonstrated that he DID know ‘God of God’s truth’

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mRx9dhmKYw

        • Kodie

          That’s not clear to me. It seems to be only your opinion.

        • Kodie

          It’s not like he’s real anyway, but we do have a standard by which to judge believers in this fiction, and your adoration of such a monstrous character. There is no truth of god, you are rejecting reality.

        • Joe

          What is your standard?

        • adam

          Standards?
          Let’s see what YOU are supporting as ‘standards’

          It is really under biblical ‘morality’ ANYTHING goes except for blasphemy of the holy ghost.

          Yes, you can genocide and be forgiven.
          Yes, you can murder, rape and be forgiven.

          You can genocide every single individual in any group except lets say a baby and its mother, you can beat that baby to death, rape its lifeless body, then carve that baby up and eat it, cut off that mothers head and shit that baby down her throat…..

          And STILL be forgiven.

          So the biblical morality is the REAL case where anything goes…
          .
          .
          .
          Again except for blasphemy of the holey ghost,

          THAT is so horrible, that it is UNFORGIVABLE.

        • Joe

          You misunderstand what is meant by blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

          Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is knowing the truth of God and then purposefully choosing to reject it. If you reject the truth of God, you are rejecting God. If you reject God, why would He bring you into His kingdom?

        • axelbeingcivil

          Doesn’t the Bible also claim (wrongly, but for argument’s sake, let’s say) that everyone secretly believes in God but refuses to acknowledge Him because they just love sin so much? Doesn’t that mean that EVERY human being who was pretty much not raised Christian from day one is automatically unforgiveable, because they know the truth but reject God?

          These things seem in contradiction.

        • Joe

          Romans 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (19) For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. (20) For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

          No one is a Christian because they were raised Christian. No one is born a Christian. No one is a Christian because of geographical location.

          A person is a Christian because God has done a supernatural work in them to literally give them a new heart and cause them to be born again.

          And yes, apart from the work of God, any and all people are under the condemnation and wrath of God because there thoughts and deeds are evil.

        • adam

          ” No one is born a Christian.”

          Agreed:

        • Joe

          I never said we were born atheists. Everyone is born knowing that God exists, but that does not mean that they are righteous before God.

        • adam

          “I never said we were born atheists.”

          I know
          I did.

          ” Everyone is born knowing that God exists, ”

          NOPE, you are a LIAR, everyone is born atheist until someone starts telling us lies.

        • MNb

          “Everyone is born knowing that God exists.”
          Lovely christian arrogance. No, when I was born I didn’t know god existed.

        • Dys

          No, they aren’t. You simply don’t have the knowledge to make such a claim. And it’s not true besides.

        • axelbeingcivil

          You might wish to be careful about word choice; “literally” being given a new heart would be something very much subject to scientific scrutiny. Christians would, for example, be far less prone to heart defects (accounting for the benefits of positive thinking and community interaction), and this is not, to my knowledge, something we see. Just as many Christians have defective heart valves.

          At the very least, we’d discover a useful alternative to heart transplants.

          The point being, Romans says, in whatever way you wish to phrase it, that no-one is without excuse for not believing. Romans 1:21 says it pretty blatantly: That people recognize God instinctively, but refused to thank God and instead turned to idol worship and depravity. He is saying that God’s existence is undeniable and recognizable by everyone.

          That means that everyone must innately know the truth of God, and any belief otherwise is the knowing rejection of ultimate blasphemy; that everyone commits the unforgivable sin.

        • MNb

          “A person is a Christian because God has done a supernatural work in them”
          Excellent – then I have nothing to fear. Your god hasn’t done any supernatural work in me hence he is OK with me not being a christian.

          “to literally give them a new heart”
          Ah. God is a surgeon who performs heart transplantations! Hey, I know a few surgeons who’d love to see him at work. Can you make an appointment for them?

        • adam

          “And yes, apart from the work of God, any and all people are under the
          condemnation and wrath of God because there thoughts and deeds are evil.”

        • Kodie

          That’s human standards.

        • Kodie

          Why indeed, if it were real. There is no truth of god, just some guy named Joe who declares such a silly thing.

        • adam

          “You misunderstand what is meant by blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.”

          No I dont.

        • Ron

          By what standard did you determine that God was good?

        • Susan

          By what standard did you determine that God was good?

          Good luck getting an answer. They never respond to that question.

        • Ron

          Third-millionth time’s the charm? 🙂

        • Joe

          By the revelation of the Holy Spirit and reading and studying His word of the Bible and trusting in Him.

        • Susan

          By the revelation of the Holy Spirit and reading and studying His word of the Bible and trusting in Him.

          You haven’t described a standard

        • Joe

          God is truth. God is the one and only absolute standard.

        • Jack Baynes

          But if we accept that the Bible is the word of God, we know that God lies.

        • Susan

          God is truth. God is the one and only absolute standard.

          By what standard do you determine that?

        • Jack Baynes

          Because God says so. (or rather, because the Bible says God says so. But the Bible also says the Bible is the word of God, so it’s the same thing)

        • MNb

          God –> absolute standard –> truth –> god.

        • adam

          “God is truth. God is the one and only absolute standard.”

          Such a poor, poor standard…..

          And such a CRUEL, CRUEL person you’ve become because of it….

        • Ron

          How did you determine the Bible is God’s word? Or that the Holy Spirit isn’t just a manifestation of your own thoughts?

        • Kodie

          You highly underestimate the power of suggestion in you. Your standard is yourself.

        • MNb

          That’s not a standard – that’s stuff sucked out of your big fat christian thumb.

          God is good –> His word of the Bible –> god is good.

        • adam

          “By the revelation of the Holy Spirit and reading and studying His word of the Bible and trusting in Him.

          You mean by creating ‘god’ in your own human mind.

        • katiehippie

          So god is good because he says he’s good?

        • Snowflake

          Wow! Thank you kind sir.

        • adam

          “You are also not God.”

          But YOU are:

        • Joe

          I never said I was God. Nor did everything I have said here say that it is my opinion.

          By God’s grace, I also do not cherry pick the Bible. You do not know me.

        • adam

          “I never said I was God. ”

          I said it.

          “By God’s grace, I also do not cherry pick the Bible.”

          Then YOUR ‘god’s grace’ is wasted on you.

          Are you out killing homosexuals?

        • Joe

          John 8:7-11 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (8) And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. (9) But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. (10) Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” (11) She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

        • Jack Baynes

          John: But didn’t your Dad say?

          Jesus: Shut up about what my Dad said!!!

        • Joe

          Gross mischaracterization of what is being said in that scripture.

        • Jack Baynes

          Nope. That’s exactly what happened. Jesus would contradict the rules that the Old Testament God put in place, and then insult his followers for calling him on it. “Are you still so dull?”

        • Kodie

          According to Joe. You interpret things the way you like, and call that “god’s revelation,” it’s really just your opinion. Feel free to talk about what makes your revelations correct and someone else’s incorrect. Because that’s all according to Joe.

        • adam

          “Gross mischaracterization of what is being said in that scripture.”

          NO its not, and you’ve demonstrated no such thing, except in your IMAGINATION.

        • adam

          …..

        • Snowflake

          Forgive me for misunderstanding. I do not know what you mean by Jesus being ashamed when he returns. Should I change my statement to Jesus would be ashamed for denying him when you had a gun to your head?

          “You are not god”. I would be quite surprised to find that I was. Especially since I am atheist. I do wonder about people worshiping such a god.

        • Max Doubt

          “You are also not God.”

          I am.

        • TheNuszAbides

          all-caps fail!

        • Dys

          So if you lie about being a Christian to save your life, you’re probably No True Christian™.

          It also shows that you have no concern for the lost person who is pointing a gun at your head, because if you proclaim the gospel to that person, God may save them

          Combined with Mysterious Ways.

          The nice thing about completely unverifiable things is that you can make them up…maybe God has plans for you to spread the gospel in the future, and wants you to lie to fulfill that destiny. Hurray! Now there’s a religious validation for lying to save one’s life.

        • Joe

          Matthew 16:25-26 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (26) For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

        • Jack Baynes

          And that’s why Peter died when he denied Christ 3 times.
          He didn’t die?

          Wow, Jesus is pretty bad at this truth thing.

        • Joe

          It is a metaphor.

          And Peter did eventually die a martyrs death, according to tradition.

          ———-

          “Wow, Jesus is pretty bad at this truth thing.”

          No, you choose to not read the passage exegetically.

        • RichardSRussell

          Y’know, you could threaten anybody with death over anything at all, and if you wait around long enuf, your threat will come true, because we all die eventually. What you lack is any sort of cause-effect link that demonstrates that it was the threat which led to the demise.

        • Dys

          Doesn’t really address what I said, and ignores biblical examples of God-endorsed lying. If you rely on mysterious ways to engage in victim blaming, mysterious ways can easily be used to refute it.

          It’s the same twisted, perverse logic WLC uses to feel pity for the perpetrators of genocide in the OT, but none for the victims.

        • Joe

          Please provide a specific verse, in context, that God “endorsed” (meaning God said that that person was righteous for their lying) lying.

          ——-

          “It’s the same twisted, perverse logic WLC uses to feel pity for the perpetrators of genocide in the OT, but none for the victims.”

          I do not completely understand this statement, but the latter part of the statement assume a false presupposition that there was a genocide again “innocent” victims, rather than God’s perfect justice and execution of capital punishment against a wicked, evil and idolatrous people.

        • adam

          “but the latter part of the statement assume a false presupposition that
          there was a genocide again “innocent” victims, rather than God’s perfect
          justice and execution of capital punishment against a wicked, evil and
          idolatrous people.”

          Yes, those ‘wicked, evil and idolatrous’ children and babies….

          Belief in a cruel god makes a cruel man. TPaine

        • Joe

          So you choose to deny God’s free will and make yourself god?

          Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

          Romans 3:10-12 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; (11) no one understands; no one seeks for God. (12) All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

          Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

          Psalms 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

          God is not cruel, you simply hate Him, because He warns you that your sin will destroy you if you do not repent and turn to Christ and live.

        • Kodie

          You are confused – we’re criticizing a fictional character. I simply do not believe anything you say because it’s ridiculous and mythical. You want so badly to be right here about atheists, but you’re wrong.

        • Joe

          Why would someone use so much energy to attack a “fictional character”, unless you truly know that God exists, you simply hate Him?

          I am often wrong about Atheists, I know that. But God’s word is not wrong.

        • MNb

          Nobody attacks that fictional character. We attack your delusional ideas about your made up character you call god.

        • Kodie

          Because believers believe god is real and believe he is good. Your snappy little responses about not being in any position to judge a fictional character are due to your superstition.

          It’s just like telling me I shouldn’t step on a crack or I’ll break my mother’s back.

        • adam

          ” unless you truly know that God exists, you simply hate Him?”

          The same way you simply hate Ganesh, Shiva, Zeus and the tens of thousands of other gods you DENY….

        • adam

          “So you choose to deny God’s free will and make yourself god?”

          It is not free will when under a threat.

          And NO, I dont make myself god, that is what believer do, make THEMSELVES ‘god’ in their own minds.

        • MNb

          Indeed god is not cruel, because he doesn’t exist.
          But if your god existed indeed he would be an immaterial version of Hitler.

          “He warns you that your sin will destroy.”
          He doesn’t exist, hence doesn’t warn, sin is meaningless and I will just live on.

          “turn to Christ and live.”
          turn to christ and become braindead, you mean.

        • MNb

          “a false presupposition that there was a genocide again “innocent” victims.”
          That’s exactly what Dys means – your christian love does not extend to guilty victimes. That’s very unlike Jesus.
          Plus I’d like to know how newborn babies – who were also ordered to be killed by your not so loving god – could be not innocent.
          Finally it’s obvious from the OT that those victims, exactly like you, were willing to die for their belief (in Baal), which according to your very own logic shows that their belief was true.

        • Ron

          Please provide a specific verse, in context, that God “endorsed” (meaning God said that that person was righteous for their lying) lying.

          “In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?” (James 2:25, NIV)

          Rahab is considered righteous for having lied to the guards about the spies she was harboring.

          Edit: Fixed typo in verse.

        • Joe

          Rahab was righteous because of her faith in God, not specifically because of her lie.

          And you have the wrong reference:

          James 2:5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?

          James 2:25-26 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? (26) For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

          Even so, that passage is referring that faith will be followed by works. It is not focusing on Rahab’s lie.

        • Ron

          The typing error has been corrected. (Thanks for the heads up.)

          However, verse 26 actually supports my point. Saying her works (lying and treason) were justified constitutes a direct endorsement of her actions.

        • Joe

          Her works was the assistance of the spies, but her works was not what justified her before God. Her faith alone justified her, not her lies or her help of the spies.

        • Jack Baynes

          It does not say she was righteous because of her faith, it says she was righteous for what she did.

        • Joe

          Again she was not righteous specifically because of her lying, but because she had faith in God.

        • Jack Baynes

          “righteous for what she did” means “righteous for having faith in God?”

        • Ron

          Read it again: “Faith apart from works is dead.”

          It’s a package deal:

          No Works = Dead Faith = No Righteousness

        • Joe

          Common misquote and misapplication.

          Good works comes as the fruit of salvation in Jesus Christ, not the pre-requisite. If someone has salvation and faith in Jesus Christ, good works will naturally flow from that faith. Works do not create faith, nor is it synergistic. If you believe that works must accompany faith, than you reject the sufficiency of Jesus Christ, and thus implies that Jesus sacrifice on the cross was meaningless.

          Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (9) not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

        • Dys

          God’s justice can’t be perfect, because then he couldn’t possibly be merciful. And really, describing an entire group of people as evil and wicked because “God said so” is an obvious shield for xenophobia and racism. Immoral monsters use the “they had it coming” excuse for their atrocities.

        • MNb

          I don’t give anything in return for my soul because I don’t have one. That would be a very bad deal.
          But if you want to give something in return for your soul maybe I can interest you to buy some baked air from me?

        • adam

          “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits
          his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

          For an IMAGINARY ‘soul’?

        • MNb

          “when Jesus returns He will be ashamed of you”
          Ah, then everything is allright. Jesus will never return and hence will never be ashamed of anyone.

          “It also shows that you have no concern for the lost person who is pointing a gun at your head, because if you proclaim the gospel to that person, God may save them, and you might just be the messenger that God is going to use to cause them to be born again. Not because of who you are but because of God’s sovereign grace.”
          Well, then your god wasn’t merciful enough to shower the victims of that Oregon atheist killer with his sovereign grace – and now they’re dead.
          Unreliable chap, that god of yours. Or rather he simply doesn’t exist and hence has no grace to distribute.

        • L.Long

          And WHO denied jesus 3x and then became the main boss dude of the new religion??? Xtians who believe denial is so awful has not read the book o’BS.

        • Joe

          I never said denial was an unforgiveable sin.

          Peter was never the head of Christianity. Jesus Christ is the head of Christianity.

          Please do not confuse Roman Catholicism with Christianity. They are not the same thing.

        • adam

          Roman Catholics ARE as much christian as you are.

        • Joe

          Actually they are not if they believe in the Roman Catholic system and it’s multitude of unbiblical doctrines, such as:

          Praying to dead people.
          Indulgences
          Salvation that comes from faith plus works
          The Pope
          Mary was an eternal virgin
          Mary is a mediatrix of salvation
          Worship of Mary
          The insufficient continual re-sacrificing of Jesus in the daily practice of the Mass
          The priest has authority over Christ
          The priest is an “alter Christos” (another Christ)
          The Pope is referred to a “His Holiness” or “Holy Father” which are both blasphemy
          The Pope is infallible speaking ex cathedra
          Synergism
          Unbelievers go to Heaven
          Salvation is only through the Roman Catholic church
          Extra grace is added through the sacraments of baptism, confession, confirmation, anointing
          Priests can absolve sin
          Infused versus imputed righteousness
          The insufficiency of the gospel of Jesus Christ (the whole reason for the Reformation)

          And many other false doctrines disqualifies the Roman Catholic church as Christian.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, they’re superstitious idolaters, and you’re so not. These superficialities make no difference to an atheist.

        • Jack Baynes

          The way he treats the Bible, we could call him an idolater as well.

        • adam

          I already have, it is obvious.

        • adam

          And they will claim YOU are not because you dont believe in those things.

          But you all are just as christian as each other.

        • Joe

          A Christian is defined by God in His word in the Bible, not by a church, not by man. The Roman church rejects the Bible.

        • adam

          “The Roman church rejects the Bible.”

          Bearing FALSE WITNESS

          You are making the baby Jesus cry and crap his diaper.

        • adam

          Already RUNNING AWAY Joe?

        • Snowflake

          Really? Seems a bit rude to me. I believe that RCC’s believe they are Christians.

        • InDogITrust

          I expect that this will come as a shock to the RCC.

        • Jack Baynes

          You’d think he’d want to come down every once in a while and make corrections and clarifications. Fix bad translations. Address new technologies. Smack down his priests when they abuse his children.

        • adam

          You would think so, if it was real…

          ” Smack down his priests when they abuse his children.”

        • TheNuszAbides

          so glad the Patriarchs have been able to clear that up this whole time. *yawn*

        • MNb

          That you don’t follow your favourite Holy Book.

      • adam

        ……

    • Clover and Boxer

      Leviticus 20:15 If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he is to be put to death, and you must kill the animal.

      • adam

    • Clover and Boxer

      Leviticus 14 The Lord said to Moses, “These are the regulations for any diseased person at the time of their ceremonial cleansing, when they are brought to the priest: The priest is to go outside the camp and examine them. If they have been healed of their defiling skin disease, the priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop be brought for the person to be cleansed. Then the priest shall order that one of the birds be killed over fresh water in a clay pot. He is then to take the live bird and dip it, together with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. Seven times he shall sprinkle…

      • adam

        ..

    • Ron

      Fair point. Parallel passages are found in Mark 8:34-38 and Matthew 10:32-33.

    • Dys

      Martyr justification for imagined rewards? Even God permitted lies in the bible when he felt like it.

      • Joe

        No one in the Bible was specifically called righteous because of their lies. God does, however, use means.

        • Dys

          Translation: God said it was ok, so they can get away with it, even though it was technically wrong.

          Really weak justification for an obvious loophole.

        • Joe

          Please show a specific verse in the Bible where God says the person is justified and righteous in their lying.

        • Dys

          Did you actually read what I said? Or did you just skip it so you could repeat yourself and pretend it addressed my point?

          Because it looks like you’re trying to squirrel out of the problem.

        • Kodie

          I would suggest that people use excuses and prop god up to support whatever rule they want to break for “reasons”.

        • MNb

          What kind of means would that be?

    • MNb

      The Bible doesn’t have any authority here, so shrug.

    • RichardSRussell

      So this “Son of Man” might be ashamed of you and your words. So what? BFD.

      • Joe

        Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

        • RichardSRussell

          But that’s not exactly responsive to the question I actually asked, is it?

          You do realize that quoting the Bible to an atheist carries no weight at all, don’t you? Do you have an answer to why I should give 2 hoots in hell why somebody else might be ashamed of something that I did or didn’t do? What difference does it make if they are? For example, I’m not at all ashamed that you’re making a total fool of yourself here. Why should I be? I’m not the one doing it.

        • Joe

          “You do realize that quoting the Bible to an atheist carries no weight at all, don’t you?”

          The Atheists disbelief in the Bible has absolutely no effect on the truth. You can disbelieve gravity all you want, if you jump out of a plane flying at 35,000 feet without a parachute, and you say “I don’t believe in gravity”, you will still impact the ground. My belief that the Bible is true and you disbelief that the Bible is true is irrelevant to that truth.

          “Do you have an answer to why I should give 2 hoots in hell why somebody else might be ashamed of something that I did or didn’t do? What difference does it make if they are? ”

          And yet here you are involved in the postings. For people who reject the truth of God, Atheists are awful passionate about their disbelief…

          ——-

          “For example, I’m not at all ashamed thatyou’re making a total fool of yourself here. Why should I be? I’m not the one doing it.””

          I am not here to impress you or seeking your approval. I am here to take a stand for the truth.

        • Kodie

          Myths don’t carry the same weight as science. We can study gravity, you can only regurgitate your delusions.

        • voxvot

          How does one “regurgitate” a delusion?

          “Myths don’t carry the same weight as science”

          There’s a lot of science that is now myth, how do you know how much of what is now science will be myth in the future?

        • adam

          “There’s a lot of science that is now myth, how do you know how much of what is now science will be myth in the future?”

          Thousands and thousands of years of IMAGINARY gods, and every year these ‘gods’ get smaller, weaker and harder to pin down.

          God is disappearing and science actually works.

        • voxvot

          That response is tu quoque fallacy.

          God is not disappearing, the concept of God is becoming more refined.

        • adam

          “God is not disappearing, the concept of God is becoming more refined.”

          Let’s see

          From creating the universe
          Walking in the garden of eden with adam
          Creating the 10 in stone
          Turning people into stone
          Having to get MAN to create the bible in paper and papyrus

          Appearing on toast…..

          Quickly disappearing

          The god of the gaps shrinks as the gaps get smaller and smaller.

        • Kodie

          One regurgitates that the bible is as true as gravity and compares my disbelief with jumping out of an airplane without a parachute.

          Say something relevant. Science is a method, and religion is a story.

        • voxvot

          Okay, where did I say that the Bible is as” true as gravity”?

          You seem to be “making shit up”, which is kinda funny because that’s what you’re always accusing Christians of.

          “Say something relevant”…what did I say that wasn’t relevant?

        • Kodie

          You didn’t. You asked me about my response to someone else.

          It’s irrelevant to ask about science that has been overturned by new science.

        • voxvot

          So only “new” science is relevant? What’s the timescale for defining new, does everything in science become false at set intervals?

        • Kodie

          Did I say anything like that? You asked how much science will be myth in the future, and it wasn’t relevant.

        • voxvot

          Yes you did, you said,
          “Myths don’t carry the same weight as science”

          I’m asking you which science? Is it all of the old science that science has proven wrong, or only the new science which will, of course, be proven wrong in due course? What “science” are you talking about?

        • all of the old science that science has proven wrong, or only the new science which will, of course, be proven wrong in due course?

          Science is always proven wrong eventually? That’s news to me. Expand on this.

        • voxvot

          The theory of Luminiferous aether, a revered scientific rubric well into the 20th century; complete tosh, of course.

        • I don’t know that it would be a “rubric,” but I think I know what you mean.

          Sometimes theories are overturned–is that all you meant? Your comment, “the new science which will, of course, be proven wrong in due course” suggests something quite different.

        • Susan

          complete tosh, of course.

          How do you know it’s tosh?

        • Kodie

          So your response is basically “science changes so we can’t trust it either,” right? Guess how we find out if and when science was wrong about something in the past? Not myth. Never myth.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “There’s a lot of science that is now myth”

          when people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.

          Isaac Asimov – The Relativity of Wrong.

        • voxvot

          At the time it was first generally accepted that the Earth was spherical, it was still thought that the Earth was the center of the universe, so science wasn’t so much “right” as it was wrong in a different way.

          Once the idea of geocentrism was rejected it became accepted that the Sun was the center of the universe, which was also false.

        • adam

          ” My belief that the Bible is true ”

          Absolutely

        • RichardSRussell

          OK, why are you doing that? Simply to hear yourself talk? Or are you actually hoping to convince someone that what you say is true? Because, if so, you’re going about it poorly, particularly when you quote a book that your audience is known not to trust as if it’s some sort of reliable authority.

          And, of course, you still haven’t answered my question (now asked twice) about why it should matter to anyone if somebody else is ashamed of something that I might or might not have done. Seems to me that the only person who has any reason to be ashamed of something is the person who did it. Why do you believe otherwise? Repeat: Why do you believe otherwise? Don’t quote somebody else to me. Try to explain it in intelligible words of your own.

        • Joe

          “Or are you actually hoping to convince someone that what you say is true?”

          I am hoping that someone will seek the truth from what I post here. God is truth.

          ——-

          “that your audience is known not to trust as if it’s some sort of reliable authority.”

          My audience is not solely you. You don’t know everyone that may read these posts.

          ———
          God is your Creator (whether you believe it or not). If you are not seeking to please Him out of gratitude, then He has the right to be ashamed of you (in the sense that you have disobeyed His creative decree, and unless you turn to Him, He will cast you out.

        • RichardSRussell

          Your audience may not be solely me, but I’m the one whose question you were nominally responding to, so why choose to make an argument almost certain to be disregarded due to the highly unreliable and disrespected nature of your authority?

          You are making some headway in finally getting around to answering my original question when you state that God has the right to be ashamed of something that I (not he) did or didn’t do. But heck, again, so what? Anybody at all has that right. You can feel ashamed of something I did. So could Barack Obama or Lindsay Lohan. Why any of you would possibly be inclined to do so is a great mystery, but nobody’s denying you the right to feel that way if you want to. But again, BFD. So what? Who cares? Certainly not me. What difference does it make?

        • voxvot

          We are not talking about what you would do, as an atheist you don’t believe in the afterlife. Christians believe that this life is an unimportant prelude to life everlasting. This lunatic just offered them a fast track to paradise.

        • adam

          “Christians believe that this life is an unimportant prelude to life everlasting.”

        • Kodie

          Sounds like a Muslim- you want a fast track to paradise? Here, strap this bomb on your chest and walk into that store over there – kaboom!

        • Pofarmer

          Ah, this life is but a walking shadow.

          What a horribly destructive non evidenced load of bullshit.

        • TheNuszAbides

          great cheap trick for obsessively Collectivist cultures, though!

  • L.Long

    Well ignore the book o’BS.
    Someone ask that and my answer would be what ever allows for survival! Period! Death proves nothing! Many would like to THINK they would say Yes!Xtian! but I doubt very many would unless they were young and mostly innocent(read as not to bright). If 5th down the line and saw the results of the question, I would say what ever made him continue on. Assuming I was not able to really stop him! Which when I was in school I was not skilled in stopping him.

  • Rudy R

    You shouldn’t sacrifice your life based on an idiot’s Q&A session.

  • RichardSRussell

    This comment is only barely related to the subject of this essay, but you’ll see shortly why it reminded me of this true story.

    A teenage boy shows up at his high school one morning and is immediately surrounded by a SWAT team with bulletproof vests and weapons drawn. He’s upped against the wall, patted down, handcuffed, and dragged off for interrogation, all the while asking what the hell’s going on. The cops are asking him where the guns are.

    Turns out that the gendarmes were summoned by school authorities after one of his classmates showed the principal a text message from the lad in which he intended to say “Gonna be in the main hall at 9 AM.” But he spelled “Gonna” as “Gunna”, and auto-correct helpfully changed it to “Gunman”.

  • busterggi

    Throw an extra buck into the collection basket and Jesus will forgive anything.

    • John Mark N. Reynolds

      No. He will not. As He said.

  • voxvot

    If you are a Christian you believe that a good life subordinated to Jesus Christ guarantees a life everlasting in paradise, so you’d be stupid not to declare your faith and risk eternity for a brief extension of your existence on this mortal plain.

    • adam

      “If you are a Christian you believe that a good life subordinated to
      Jesus Christ guarantees a life everlasting in paradise, so you’d be
      stupid not to declare your faith and risk eternity for a brief extension
      of your existence on this mortal plain.”

      If you believe in that kind of stupidity…..

      • voxvot

        That doesn’t refute my point, in fact it doesn’t even address my point; I take it you are not a rationalist?

    • Jack Baynes

      Unless Jesus decides your answer was equivalent to suicide and turns you away.

      • voxvot

        Suggesting that these innocent victims committed “suicide”? Atheist logic 101.

        • Jack Baynes

          Christians say their God condemns people for all sorts of strange things. I wouldn’t put it past him.

    • Max Doubt

      “If you are a Christian you believe that a good life subordinated to Jesus Christ guarantees a life everlasting in paradise, so you’d be stupid not to declare your faith and risk eternity for a brief extension of your existence on this mortal plain.”

      If you think your god thing might revoke your ticket to heaven for saying whatever it takes to save your life instead of declaring your faith that it exists, reasonable people would consider that irrational. You’re imagining your god thing as a vindictive, narcissistic asswipe.

  • John Mark N. Reynolds

    Let me sum: Bob agrees the main post misunderstood my argument. I don’t think we are dying to protect God’s honor. We still don’t agree, I think, that a Socrates should die for Philosophy. I say yes…

    I have argued that the ontological argument, ideas, math working, and natural laws suggest at least a deistic God. I pointed to the arguments of Licona and the miracles of Lourdes as two reasons to go beyond deism.

    In the “I was wrong” category I used a popular definition of “soundness” in a technical discussion. That was sloppy.

    • adam

      “I have argued that the ontological argument, ideas, math working, and natural laws suggest at least a deistic God. ”

      Suggest

      suggest
      : to mention (something) as a possible thing to be done, used, thought about, etc.

      Possible, not even probable.
      Certainly UNCONVINCING at best.

      You havent demonstrated anything except blind faith yet.

      • John Mark N. Reynolds

        Come on. That’s just wrong … Suggest can also mean “cause one to think something”

        • adam

          Think about Shiva, Ganesh, Zeus does that make them real?

          If THIS really the very best that YOUR ‘faith’ has prepared you for in demonstrating YOUR ‘god’?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No, I don’t base my faith on imagination. I didn’t bring up imagination. I was just pointing out that imagination isn’t a bad thing.

        • adam

          “No, I don’t base my faith on imagination.”

          Sure seems like it from here.

          Seems like you have IMAGINARY god, IMAGINARY miracles, etc.

          NONE of which you demonstrate as real.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          all of which are demonstrably real

        • Kodie

          According to fools of the church. Science does not do anything like demonstrate that miracles happen at Lourdes or anywhere else. They authenticate a patient has met the church’s low standard that to you seems like a high standard because it keeps the statistics so awfully low. A high standard would be authentic scientific inquiry, not this sham that you keep asserting is science.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Just a set of insults.

        • Kodie

          John, you have repeatedly ignored the point, which is an insult to me. I think I’m entitled to lump you in with fools by now.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          What would it include? List the qualities and we can discuss them.

        • Kodie

          If science cannot explain thus far, those cases would just be unsolved until the future. I can only go so far as to say a set of unusual recoveries has occurred and I don’t think anyone would disagree with statistically low occurrences of recoveries by saying they’re unusual instances. It’s the church wants to and you want to leverage these mysteries into evidence of an immaterial agent. How do you go that far on what little we can learn from these pseudoscientific inquiries?

          The doctors only meet the church’s requirements. If they find a known cause, they offer it and the case is dismissed. If they can’t find a known cause right now and over a sufficient period of time, the church takes it up to award them as miracles. That’s a leap, scientifically. You had previously exaggerated science’s role here to bolster your claim that miracles are good evidence, and I think you are still trying to. The church says they are miracles because they are a business trying to sell membership. Science does not say these are miracles, but release the cases to the church to do what they want with them after they have met their criteria. I’m not disagreeing they are thorough at what they do. You just seem to be really more impressed than I am. These are doctors who are hunting for others’ research on whether these illnesses are prone to spontaneous recovery. Nobody seems to be investigating physical causes, even if it is something special in the water itself, because it’s obviously nothing in the water that is helping 200 million other sick people. What are the global statistics regarding each patient’s illness, recovery rate? Are they just as likely to get well staying at home?

          I still would like you to provide these open books on these cases. I only have some obvious questions that don’t seem to be answered anywhere, but I am not a scientist and I would need to be one to construct a proper scientific hypothesis and study it. Seeing how those doctors do their jobs, their whole job, would also add to the information I have now, as I could see what might be missing information that the church didn’t ask for (aside from exchanging “not currently known” with “god did it”).

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Some of this is on the Intrrnet. Other documents are in books not on the Internet.

          I don’t own those documents.

          This was a helpful post to me as it focuses I just the two issues withou invective. Thanks.

          Now my question is: do miracles happen?

          Science could show they are highly likely not to happen by finding no cases where there are not better natural explanations.

          Science limits itself generally to natural explanations. That is great and harmless (even helpful) limitation that allows great progress in studying things that are physical.

          But unless we know everything is physical (minds, ideas) then it does limit how much science can explain. When a personal agent does something how much can be explained by science? It depends on what you think the relationship between mind and matter is.

          So all science can do in an investigation of putative miracles is say; this could be one. This the scientists are given freedom to do.

          There are other expectations to a miracle (an unusual act from the putative agent we call God) that limit chance … Endurance, immediacy, totality of healing. In other words if God exists, then miracles like Lourdes is what we would expect.

          Of course it is always possible that a miracle claim will turn out to be false or not evidentiary. Remember if Gid acts as agent then He may answer many prayers, but we are (for purposes of persuasion) eliminating any case where the natural sciences could explain it.

          Unless one assumes Naturalism is true, then science will only be able to point out the possibility mind acts. Now if you assume metaphysical Naturalism is true, you have made a philosophic claim and not a science one. It is a serious claim about the world but cannot be settled by science!

        • Kodie

          I’m not making any philosophical statements. Only religion asserts an immaterial conscious intentional type of agent like god, and Lourdes is a tourist site. What they do with the information those doctors collect is up to them. I am under no requirement to find their exchange of “no known physical explanation” for “god did it” compelling. I don’t think credible scientists find .0000345% “success” anything to bother looking at, frankly. And all we have to do is wait for a natural explanation to come up the research pipe and they are not miracles. Surely, some of the older cases can be firmly dismissed now that we know a lot more about medicine, but does anyone care?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          “I am not making philosophical statements” is a philosophical statement.

          Religion is not the only group to assert immaterial agency. Anybody thinking the human mind exists immaterially would agree. One need not be a theist to find arguments for mental materialism I persuasive.

          Calling Lourdes just a tourist site is just an insult. Some people go as tourists. Some go for healing. Some go to pray. They are not there as tourists.

          And yes: we would care. Explain them and that would be interesting.

          Finally, you misunderstand the statistics. Many other miracles may happen at Lourdes and from a theistic point of vie almost surely do. They are not however the kind of healing that is likely enough to merit attention… They are gradual or partial or short term. The small number of Lourdes cases fit a tighter filter including no natural explanation for now.

          God does many things at Lourdes missed by the filter … Just as if we to prove the existence of a human agent to the level of no possible non agent explanation we would radically cut down the examples

        • Kodie

          I was referring to Lourdes and immaterial – conscious and intentional – agents. Meaning god did it. I don’t think the mind qualifies for that. You may want to settle in and explain all the evidence that the mind qualifies, even though I disagree with you about the mind, I was not even talking about that. So you successfully diverted your answer.

          Only Paris has more hotels in France than Lourdes does. Are there souvenir shops? Yes. Just because visitors are sick doesn’t mean it’s not in the business of tourism.

          I’m not going to even get into your lofty claims about even more instances of god intervening with people at Lourdes that the church doesn’t even qualify. Are you serious. Note the conspicuous lack of very necessary invective in the last sentence.

          You can’t even wrap your head around meeting a medical requirement the church designs and labeling it “miracle” arbitrarily.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Many errors here. One example: tourism happens at Lourdes. Right. My point is that it isn’t just that and saying it is isn’t helpful.

          You misunderstood me. God is mind. We are mind. When mind does something I was calling that an agent ( as opposed to natural acts without mind causing the event directly). If minds are fundamentally immaterial in humans the possibility God exists as immaterial mind is greater …supported….though not proven.

          Cases where someone asks God to do something, it happens immediately, and endures where this doesn’t happen naturally are very strong examples for God existing as an active agent… As opposed to deism.

          That was why mind is important to the discussion.

        • Kodie

          God is fictional, minds are brains. It’s very frustrating to you that some people just don’t see things your way. I think in Lourdes, nobody gets cured. These little statistical anomalies that fascinate you are anecdotal to me and serve no function. Lourdes serves a fantasy people have that they will get well there and profits from it.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Bottom line; the Lourdes process is a pretty good example of people keeping to their professional domains of knowledge.

          When a scientist says Naturalism is true, he isn’t doing science even if phililosoohically he was right.

          When a theologian says: the Earth is the center of the universe then he is doing science.

          Lourdes tries to give each domain their job.

        • Kodie

          Right, the doctors can’t find a natural explanation and the church slaps on a label, pretending science endorses this process. Not science.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          They don’t slap on a label. They apply open criteria before asserting it. What would you add to immediacy, longevity, and totality?

        • Kodie

          What would you call exchanging “no known natural explanation” for “god did it” except slapping on whatever label they want. They don’t have scientific evidence of any such thing.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          They couldn’t. Science stops there and so they apply philosophy.

          It’s like math. Empirical Science can’t study the non empirical objects there just use them.

        • Kodie

          No, not like math. Not like philosophy either. The church, at least to you, appears to have a high regard for the scientific explanations it can use to prove god exists by the process of elimination. In reality, I mean science, those medical mysteries would just stay mysteries and not graduate to the church’s arbitrary designation, the “answer” they employed science to serve as “god did it.” Science met their requirements. If the standards were lower or higher, they would just do what they were asked to do within their professional capability to carry out that task. The church then draws what they present to you as a firm conclusion based on pseudo-science and god of the gaps.

          This satisfies you, not me. If you are calling this philosophy, I would call into question how you sleep at night imagining you are a philosopher.

        • When a scientist says Naturalism is true, he isn’t doing science even if phililosoohically he was right.

          Why? Isn’t that where the scientific evidence points?

          Lourdes tries to give each domain their job.

          Lourdes makes a scientific claim: that there is now and will ever be no way that natural explanations will suffice to explains the Lourdes events.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          That is actually a philosophical claim about the nature of science and this paricular event. Since it has an empirical prediction it can be falsified in this particular car by science. It hasn’t been yet but good for them for being clear and making a philosophical and empirical prediction.

        • adam

          If they were REAL, AGAIN it would be science and not REQUIRE faith (wishful thinking)

          Sorry, but your god of the gaps keeps getting WEAKER and SMALLER as our gaps get smaller.

          THAT is why when ‘faith’ is not enough, people like you scour philosophy to create some POSSIBILITY that YOUR ‘god’ MIGHT be hiding in IDEAS and NUMBER, INSTEAD of actually existing.

        • Glen

          It’s interesting to note with theists that the further out science has probed and explored and examined our universe and reality the further out the theists have had to push their ‘god’.

          To the point now where he exists outside of space and time entirely. When he used to live just up the top of some mountain, till we looked there and had to push him into the sky above the clouds, and ever out from our universe.

        • adam

          Demonstrated well that ‘God’ is nothing but human ignorance and superstition.

        • adam

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

          What’s the difference between conceiving a maximally great being and imagining a maximally great being to you?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Imagining means I can investigate them. I have found some claims about them to be false and some to be true

        • Kodie

          How smart are you at figuring out whether what you think you see and what you see are the same thing? Lightning and thunder might suggest a kind of god too. You are looking at modern versions of things you don’t understand and filling in the gaps with a kind of god. Just because something is suggested means you’re the right person to interpret those suggestions and form a realistic picture.

    • Snowflake

      Sorry sir. Hush.

    • Dys

      Wait…someone still thinks the ontological argument is a good case for the existence of God? The idea of something doesn’t necessitate nor require its actual existence.

      • Pofarmer

        Scary isn’t it? These are the “bright lights” of the Evangelical movement. Math proves God. What a maroon.

        • Dys

          I mean, I know Plantinga tried to class it up using modal logic (that likewise has problems), but the classic version doesn’t really amount to much more than wishful thinking.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. It isn’t as the hard work even critics of the argument have to do shows. You might think the argument ultimately fails, I don’t, but it isn’t easy to do so.

        • MNb

          It is. Just consistently replace perfectly good with perfectly evil.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Define perfect evil without reference to good? I suspect that one will find evil is a concept dependent on goodness.

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

          And vice versa.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I don’t think that we can get from math to God directly but from math existing, working in the cosmos, and needing mind (a Platonic case). It is a long car and starting with math and the nature of math is just a first step. For an interesting neo-Platonist theist arguing his case see AE Taylor’s short book: Does God Exist?

        • MNb

          Fails. Math is nothing but a language, with its own grammar. And that’s something there is evidence for.
          Platonism begs the question. It starts with assuming that there are ideal circles etc.
          If Taylor brings up something new (and it’s so short) why don’t you present it here?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Start here to get s neutral view of the state of this question: http://welovephilosophy.com/2012/12/17/do-numbers-exist/

        • Pofarmer

          I seriously doubt if Taylor says anything different than Craig, Plantinga, Swinburne, or Feser. I’m worn out on reading purported adults trying to argue why their imaginary friend is real.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          That’s too bad. It is the sad equivalent. Of theists who assert they are tired of reading God blind people who assert their mental inability is a sign nobody can see/

        • Pofarmer

          Hell, if Taylor has something Earth shattering and original, post it here.

      • John Mark N. Reynolds

        You know the argument has progressed since Kant.

        • Dys

          And it’s still fundamentally flawed, regardless of the spin Plantinga tried to put on it. It’s just not a good argument. One needs to presume a maximally great being meeting all the usual omnis is possible before the argument even gets off the ground. And I’ve yet to see any good defense that demonstrates that such a being actually is possible.

          In spit of the flourishes, ontological arguments generally seem to be exercises in attempting to justify what someone already believes, regardless of whether there’s a good reason to.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Why isn’t it possible? Possible is a big category of being

        • Dys

          I didn’t say it was or wasn’t possible. But that’s precisely the issue – it’s an unknown. As such, it seems unwise and unfounded to just take as granted that such a being is possible.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Why? I conceive an all powerful being… I am not for the moment saying He exists. Can you show why what humans think they are doing isn’t?

        • Dys

          The fact that you can conceive of something doesn’t magically make it a possibility, especially when it comes to the grandiose claims surrounding god concepts. In terms of Plantinga’s setup, it doesn’t seem far removed from begging the question.

          I don’t know if a God is possible or not. And I don’t see how anyone can objectively claim to know either.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          It fact possibly existing is such a low threshold it does … Unicorns turn out not to exist, sadly, but the are possible. You would have to show my conception is incoherent and so not really possible…, like thinking about round squares

        • Susan

          You would have to show my conception is incoherent and so not really possible…

          I can’t think of a weaker argument for the existence of anything than “You have to prove it’s not possible.”

          If I lived for a hundred years, never slept, never ate and just made stuff up and insisted people prove it was incoherent or they should take it seriously as an ontological claim, I would have done a great disservice to reason.

          But I could stand toe to toe with anyone who thought they could sneak that sort of thing in as a respectable claim.

          That is, I could make any sort of claim, no matter how ridiculous and seal it with, “Prove that it’s not possible.”

          Seriously, John?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Are you following this thread at all? The original claim was that an omnipotent being was not possible… I am saying possibility is a low threshold and it is conceivable. Tjat wasn’t by itself an argument that the possible thing exists I the actual world. Yet.

        • Susan

          Are you following this thread at all?

          I’m trying. It’s disqus but I think I’m keeping up.

          The original claim was that an omnipotent being was not possible…

          Do you mean Dys’s claim or the article’s claim?

          I addressed Dys’s claim.

        • Dys

          He can’t be talking about my claim…I never stated that an omnipotent being was impossible. I stated that I don’t think we know whether such a being is possible or impossible.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Which seems to be possible things need a characteristic “possible in reality” … That is vague. I am asking you to spell it out.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I am not saying all possible things exist just that rhings that are conceivable and coherent are possible.

          There may be no omnipotent being but contra the early claim it is conceivable.

        • Susan

          I was replying to this.

          The fact that you can conceive of something doesn’t magically make it a possibility

          Dys isn’t talking about logical possibilities. She’s talking about what’s possible in reality.

          That is, it’s logically possible that aliens probe us both when we’re asleep and erase all memory of the experience.

          But there’s no reason to take seriously that that model is a reliable model of the way reality behaves. Or that it’s even possible in reality.

          I am not saying all possible things exist just that rhings that are conceivable and coherent are possible.

          They are logically possible, maybe, depending on the claim.

          I honestly can’t imagine a weaker defense for your position, except to make claims that are incoherent and conflict with one another.

          Oh… yeah. Many theists do that too.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Can you explain “possible in reality”? It appears you are equivocating.

        • Susan

          Can you explain “possible in reality”?

          That is, we don’t know if there are life forms capable of or interested in reaching our planet in order to probe us and erase our memories.

          Dys was resisting your “logically possible” because it’s sneaking in “really possible”.

          There’s a difference between “logically possible” and what reality allows.

          As I said, the weakest possible argument for one’s position seems to be one that says your claim is ‘not logically impossible’ and that your argument is valid and that it is up to someone to demonstrate that a premise is false.

          When we all know deductive reasoning requires that the argument is shown to be valid and that each premise is shown to be necessarily true.

          It is up to the person relying on a deductive argument to show that both are the case.

        • Kodie

          <3.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. It is up to you to say which premise seems false if the argument is valid.

        • Susan

          No. It is up to you to say which premise seems false if the argument is valid.

          No. While that process can be useful, you are shifting the burden.

          A sound argument requires a valid structure and necessarily true premises.

          It can only be called ‘sound’ if the premises are demonstrably true. Putting the burden on others to demonstrate that they are false means you can implant unfalisfifiable, vaguely defined premises and claim your argument is sound when you have no justification to claim the premises are true.

          This is an error in logic.

          I just realized that you have signed off and now I’m engaging in Lastwordism, howling at the moon. That was not my intention. It’s just that I’ve been at work all evening and this was my first chance to respond.

          I thought your comments merited a response. Now, I’ve gone to all the trouble to type it so I’m going to post it.

          For the record, it was sent after you announced you wouldn’t be here to engage so it should be noted that you might have a perfectly good response if you were still here. You’re still welcome to if you find the time.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “This is an error in logic.”

          +2

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          So by possible in reality you mean: exist. You are right. We don’t know all possible beings exist. We look and cone to the conclusion they do or don’t with different levels of certainty. The ontological argument shoes that there is one type of possible being that if possible must exist in all possible worlds including the real one. Since the premises are boy obviously false the job of the skeptic is to find one and show why it is false …or easier not persuasive.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I agree with your space alien example for the first reason you gave. It could be true but there is no reason to think it true. Your phrase “possible in reality” needs some explaining

        • Kodie

          As opposed to only possible if you construct a fantasy world where of course it could exist. When apologists and theologists make their religious arguments, it seems so easy for them to reconstruct reality to conform to their conclusion in fantasy. As in the one where you claim miracles are evidence of god, or that the mind is independent and immaterial of the body.

          If you redefine everything to a fantasy in ignorance of how the world actually works and what we actually already do know, impossible things of course would line up to become more possible. If the first premise is some distortion of reality, your conclusion will fit better, won’t it. You might not even notice!

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          That’s is not how modal arguments about possibility work.

        • Kodie

          We’re all here to learn from your expertise, stop insulting me.

        • Kodie

          No one said it was not conceivable.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          So it is logically possible … Exists in a possible world. Put crudely then the question can become does it exist in the actual works. The ontological argument shows that if God exists in a possible world then He exists in all worlds … Including the real one… That is Bisbexistence is necessary.

        • Kodie

          Ha ha, no. You believe ideas float around in immaterial-land, and if I happen to grab one to conceive of it in my mind which is my brain, that makes the giant leap to possibility because the idea was real, why not the actual god? You’re stunningly stubborn about what you assert.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Susan:

          I was replying to this: The fact that you can conceive of something doesn’t magically make it a possibility, especially when it comes to the grandiose claims surrounding god concepts. In terms of Plantinga’s setup, it doesn’t seem far removed from begging the question.
          I don’t know if a God is possible or not. And I don’t see how anyone can objectively claim to know either.

        • Dys

          You’ve confused logical consistency with possibility.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. I am saying there is at least one reason that a thing a person appears to name would not be possible is internal incoherence. At one point many atheists argued that God could not exists because terms like omnipotent could not be defined. They led to absurdity so that theists were not saying things at all…this is much much less often asserted in philosophy because analytic philosophers like (one example) Ed Weirenga began to show that there were robust definitions of those terms that made the discussion possible. This discussion helped move forward dialog as the “non-starter” case against theism faded.

        • Dys

          And I’m saying that it seems you’ve decided that internal coherence is not just one of the factors in determining possibility, but the only one. And it doesn’t follow.

          Even Plantinga himself admits his argument doesn’t work as a proof of the existence of God. It was intended to demonstrate that belief in God was rational (and it can be debated whether the argument is even persuasive in that effort).

        • Kodie

          Sure, just demonstrate how an immaterial agent would affect material objects without being detected materially in order to be studied as actually material and not immaterial.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Hard problem that philosophy examines. The equivalent of knowing how an immaterial mind rises from or interacts with a material brain… As even most materialists can no longer justify making mind simply the brain. This is a problem for everyone but idealism…

        • Kodie

          So you keep asserting. “Many,” “most” “this is a problem for everyone”. Please, you’re insulting.

        • Kodie

          I can conceive an all powerful being too. Funny how I don’t automatically conclude that it exists like you do.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I do not automatically assume it exists. The ontological argument suggests it exists.

        • Kodie

          Funny how the ontological argument isn’t really convincing unless you want it to be.

        • primenumbers

          Because the problem of belief in god is one of psychology not philosophy!

        • Taneli Huuskonen

          Which is greater: a being that can prove the ontological argument to be fundamentally flawed beyond repair, or a being that cannot?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          It depends on which is correct. A being who sees flaws that do not exist is inferior. A being that cannot see flaws that do exist is inferior.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          It it can be conceived it is possible: there is a possible world where you are a theist. Just not this one!

        • MNb

          Hasty generalization. I can conceive something exists and doesn’t exist at the same time. I can conceive something is full and empty at the same time. I can conceive something is maximally evil and and maximally good at the same time.
          You can’t, you say?
          Then the ontological argument, no matter which variation, concludes both a perfectly good and a perfectly evil being. That makes two perfectly powerful entities – which is a logical contradiction.
          If anything the ontological argument shows there is no god defined they way it defines that god.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          No. We would need to cardiology define good and evil as analytic philosophers do. At least this is an objection as opposed to an insult! So let’s get to to and define evil…

        • Dys

          Sorry, but possibility isn’t the low hurdle you clearly want it to be. The mere act of conception does not make something possible.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          It makes it logically possible

        • Dys

          Logical possibility and actual possibility are hardly the same thing.

        • primenumbers

          if as John suggests that “ft it can be conceived it is possible”, then possibility isn’t just a low bar, it’s no bar at all. Such arguments are “ratchets”.

        • primenumbers

          “It it can be conceived it is possible” – I conceive that the statement is wrong.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          And it is possible it is. Go read so modal logic.

        • primenumbers

          Self contradictory things are impossible and I can conceive self contradictory things.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          They are impossible at the same place at the same time. Go read some modal logic. P could exist in world W and ~P in W’. You could therefore think of them both. You would the ask which world is the real world.

        • primenumbers

          So you’re saying there exists a possible world where 2+2 = 5?

        • Ron
        • primenumbers

          Well there you have it!

        • MNb

          Do you think it is possible that an entity is perfectly good and perfectly evil at the same time? If no that what you call god can’t be maximally great or whatever fancy words you prefer to use.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I think the concept incoherent because a being cannot be perfectly evil.

        • Kodie

          Claimster claims again!

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Is that a claim?

        • primenumbers

          Oh, but I can conceive of a perfectly evil being, thus is must be possible. You cannot now say such a thing is impossible.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          If you can, then yes. You are right! But I bet your being has qualities that make him … As it turns out not perfectly evil. So what is evil?

        • Glen

          One could equally ask, so what is ‘good’?

          If you can answer that, then evil would be the absence of good, or the opposite of good.

          But the universe knows nothing of good or evil. These are concepts of sentient beings living among one another. The universe just is.

          Good and evil are subjective evaluations.

        • primenumbers

          Well that is a problem with perfection that cuts both ways. Any problem you can demonstrate that makes perfect evil not quite perfect will also apply to a perfectly good being.

        • Taneli Huuskonen

          Here’s a breakdown of Plantinga’s ontological argument for non-logicians.

          1. Make a bunch of assumptions about the nature of reality.
          2. Show that under those assumptions, one can formally prove the implication A -> B, where A and B are two different formulations of the claim that a god exists.
          3. Pretend you’ve done something profound.

        • Glen

          You do realize a perfect ‘being’ wouldn’t do anything.

          Existing in a state of perfection, what motivation would there be to do or create anything? Or really even to think anything. Or for anything to occur other than a perfectly static state?

          The maximally perfect being wouldn’t thus be a being at all. And indeed the maximally perfect being maximally perfects itself out of existence.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Do think this applies to a greatest possible being? I prefer not to shift terms as com box discussions are hard enough.

        • Glen

          It would apply to any ‘greatest possible being’ that was maximally perfect.

          Do you deny that your greatest possible being is maximally perfect?

          You can also see my postulate on what would be greater than the greatest possible being. Either of these destroy the Ontological argument for demonstrating a ‘god’ that is capable of ‘doing’ anything.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          We would first have to see if maximally perfect is coherent. Define please.

        • Glen

          Maximally perfect would be a state in which there is nothing more to be done to increase perfection.

          As you believe in a god that does things, desires things, and is discontent, then you must not believe in a maximally perfect god.

        • Ron

          Exactly. I’ve posed this same question to other apologists, but have never received a satisfactory answer.

        • primenumbers

          I don’t think there is one. Perfection entails no lack, and hence no possibility of desire to create.

        • Ron

          Agreed! Consequently, the Christian theist’s conception of God is flawed. The cognitive dissonance upon coming to such a realization must be overwhelming.

        • primenumbers

          As is evidenced by the amount of rationalizations created by their body of faith.

        • TheNuszAbides

          this is where the “nature of evil” discussion goes off the rails (from what i’ve read): Evil being the [wishfully-thinking] Losing Team, the Wrong Answer, etc., makes it the antithesis of goodness-wholesomeness-perfection (conveniently interchangeable); therefore an ‘absolute’ Evil would be utter disintegration of Everything; therefore Evil can be a convenient Opposition Force when ‘we’ need someone to defend The Good, but won’t ~philosophically~ qualify for a genuinely balanced dualism/binary; therefore Logically Validating Faithful can keep pretending they don’t have any obligation to take on the “what about the perfectly evil being” problem.

        • Glen

          I can conceive of a maximally powerful god.

          What can be greater than such a being?

          An infinite number of maximally powerful beings.

          As they would all be separate beings and vying to be the ONLY maximally powerful being, they would be in a perpetual and endless state of struggle with one another.

          Since they would thus expend ALL of their power in a perfectly balanced struggle against one another to be the ONLY and GREATEST being, there would be absolutely no power to spare to do anything else other than to be in a perpetual state of resistance against one another.

          And thus they could not DO anything in the material universe and it would be no different than a universe in which they didn’t exist.

    • Ron

      I’ve read that the majority of philosophers are atheists. It seems even academics aren’t convinced by your arguments.

      • John Mark N. Reynolds

        The majority are. That is a powerful fact actually and I take it seriously. However philosophy is a big discipline and most philosophers do not know as much outside their specialty. That is if one is not an epistemologist the. One need not have kept up there… Specialists in philosophy of religion do not exhibit this atheist bias. The counter claim is of course that religious believes are drawn to philosophy of religion.

        This is worth investigating and is on the whole a good point by thoughtful atheists. It is one reason I considered becoming an atheist in grad school and one reason I take seriously to this day.

      • John Mark N. Reynolds

        I am sorry my thumbs are bad at text entry! My point was that a person not specializing in x may not have kept up with x or even thought much for a while about x.

        • Ron

          True. But I’m inclined to argue that those who moved on to other specialties gave careful consideration to the philosophy of religion and concluded it was a dead end.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          That is certainly true of some but then some philosophers give up on epistemology for similar reasons! Many non-religious engage in philosophy of religion and many rekigious don’t walk a party line. Peter van Inwgen is for example a world class philosopher, theist, and materialist. It is illuminating to hear him discuss folk like Swinburne!

          As I said, the fact that most philosophers do not believe in God is on the whole a good point for atheism.

          One goal I have here is to end the weird pop atheist belief theism is obviously dumb, the arguments all easy to dismiss, and theists are just engaged in apologetics all the time.

          That pretty obviously is not true. Theism may fail but it does not obviously fail. Let me say that in the same way serious atheism or nominalistic views of Platonism are important. I am not persuaded by the arguments on the whole, but they are there. There are good reasons not to be a theist, but on the whole I think the arguments are more persuasive for theism. I didn’t want that to be true at one point in my life, but that is the conclusion I came to.

          That’s why I have and have had non-theist mentors. What isn’t helpful is not taking the discussion seriously enough to get it right.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          And of course in the rapid back and forth here I have made mistakes, or been unclear, or misused terms. That’s why I stay for a good length of time so as not to hit and or “win.”

          I hope we can get to the point in Anerican society where theists engage non-theists civilly and bin-theists engage theists seriously. Neither camp is going any where and we need to get along to make progress.

          And progress is made Plantinga on the ontological argument is a response to earlier critics. That will go on.

        • Ron

          I think you’ll face an uphill battle because most people’s religious beliefs aren’t informed by philosophical arguments. Nor are they preached from the pulpit. From my experience, the alter call in fundamentalist churches is always preceded by an emotionally-charged sermon on eternal salvation—not philosophical arguments.

          And as a non-believer, I require empirical evidence to sway my position. Philosophical arguments alone are not sufficient.

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          I agree if the claim is empirical. I don’t think empirical evidence will do much to settle non empirical claims.

          You are right. Emotionalism and appeals to insider status are bad reasons to become Christian … Or an atheist. Both groups make that mistake.

        • Ron

          I confess that I’m philosophically challenged, but doesn’t positing the existence of something constitute making an empirical claim?

        • John Mark N. Reynolds

          Not of it isn’t a physical object: mathematical objects wouldn’t be empirically verifiable.

        • primenumbers

          But math objects don’t “exist” in the same way as physical things exist. To say a math object “exists” means it is a product of mind as instantiated in a physical brain structure. We can all agree that people have concepts of god as instantiated in their physical brain structure, but when we ask “does god exist?” that’s not answering the question as intended.

        • Ron

          How so? Isn’t mathematics dependent on the existence of objects subject to enumeration? Without things to count, mathematics would have no practical application.

  • Glen

    Yet another example of how atheists are more intelligent and rational than theists.

    If a deranged gunman was going around shooting everyone who didn’t proclaim to be a Muslim, I (and most atheists) wouldn’t have any problem saying we were Muslims and “praise Allah”! We don’t think there is some imaginary sky-daddy who is going to be displeased and angry and burn us for eternity for having said something to a deranged killer that we didn’t actually believe.

    We value our lives far more than those who believe they are going somewhere after they die.

    • John Mark N. Reynolds

      In fact, my claim does not depend on pleasing God or Heaven. It is a version of Socrates argument in Phaedo.

      • Glen

        So you feel you would have difficulty living with yourself for having not proclaimed your Christianity in the face of having your material life snuffed out?

        Your god is pretty harsh on doubt, eh? What do you think would be the consequences? Do you believe your god is infinitely forgiving?

        Do you believe, as most Christians do, that your god will eliminate all pain and sorrow when you die and go to heaven?

        Then why would you fret over it during the few more decades or so that you have here in the material existence when you will have millions of billions of trillions of quadrillions of quintillions of sextillions of septillions of years to not have to be bothered by it? And by-the-way, that doesn’t even scratch the surface of eternity. Eternal existence. Welcome to hell.

    • Stephen “Steve” Sponsler

      puke

  • John Mark N. Reynolds

    You know a Roman atheist would disagree? His honor would count more and the heritage and memory he left. Atheism does not settle this question.

    • Kodie

      Does anyone still remember those dudes?

      • John Mark N. Reynolds

        Yes.

        • Kodie

          I mean personally, so as to be honored or dishonored by his choice.

        • adam

          Of course not.

          It is a STUPID concept.

  • John Mark N. Reynolds

    So this has been great, I have my own blog and job so I am going to stop my part of the discussion here. There are still good questions I could answer, but they are getting us into many topics. Fine. I introduced many ideas! However for me I have hit my limit in time and in finding it easy to keep all the threads of discussion going without confusing terms or issues. Below I tried to give Bob my reasons for coming and hope I accomplished some of them. I will try to come back when relevant.

    Of course I never really want to stop! I love discussion and good debate… But job, family, and just sheer hatred of the clumsy disqus interface makes me say farewell for now!

    Let’s try to follow the argument where it leads with civility.

    • Max Doubt

      “Let’s try to follow the argument where it leads with civility.”

      Regarding your claim that a god exists and your argument to support that claim, it looks like it leads where it has always led. Your utter failure is noted. We aren’t terribly disappointed, of course. You met our expectations exactly. Do come back if you ever get any objective evidence to support the claim.

    • I appreciate your input to the conversation. Like with Max below, I didn’t find your arguments convincing, but civil and thoughtful Christians are rare.

  • quinsha

    Any god/dess who can’t defend their own honor aren’t much of a god/dess.

  • Forjackbeijer Cool

    i’m a committed christian, but i hate guns and am completely for gun control.

  • JBSchmidt

    Having read the article and a good half of the comments, please explain to me the difference between you, the atheists commenting and the gunman? While, obviously, you and those commenting lack a firearm, the desired effect is the same.

    Demand a proof of your faith. If they decline, you win and to you be the glory, for you have become their god (not unlike the power the gunman held in his hands). If they accept, then it is open season to buckshot them with ridicule.

    • I don’t know who you’re talking to. It doesn’t sound like it’s me.

      • JBSchmidt

        Yes. You and the other atheists accepting a similar set of beliefs.

        Maybe I wasn’t completely clear. I am saying that you and the other atheists holding your view are acting in kind with the Oregon gunman.

        • The gunman asked if you’re a Christian or not. By contrast, I’m asking (or inviting) the Christians to make a clear statement of their supernatural beliefs and defend them. This doesn’t sound like a burden since so many Christians declare that carrying out the Great Commission is their obligation.

        • JBSchmidt

          HA! ‘inviting’ Couldn’t the gunman have used the same play on words? He was inviting them to acknowledge God, shooting them was simply for sport.

          You have no desire to be proved wrong and will demand the supernatural be made self evident through your own eyes prior to accepting the words of Bible or other Christians. My guess is the gunman demanded the same.

          Our Great Commission was to spread God’s word. I have no belief that I cause you to believe (the Bible says that isn’t me job anyway). My hope is that those who do visit your page and have not yet hardened their heart, will see a real alternative to atheism.

        • adam

          ” My hope is that those who do visit your page and have not yet hardened their heart, will see a real alternative to atheism.”

          Why we we want to be DELUSIONAL like you, thinking seeking the truth about reality is the same as murder?

        • JBSchmidt

          Memes and straw man arguments. That should make a productive discussion.

        • adam

          And comparing atheist seeking the truth about reality with an armed murderer is productive in your mind? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a5f0c1b5fd29b4121cfa2f5b6ccf92c41e9344ea90b40505a7e33e2fe3ca14d4.jpg

        • JBSchmidt

          Yes, and that is the straw man. I never associated murder, but the tactic of demanding (or as Bob puts it ‘inviting’) Christians to deny their faith.

          Just wondering, do you have any of your own thoughts or do you rely on others to tell you want to believe.

        • adam

          “I never associated murder, but the tactic of demanding (or as Bob puts it ‘inviting’) Christians to deny their faith.”

          So you are a master at False Witnessing.

          The shooter didnt demand them to deny their faith.
          He obviously believed in the Christian ‘god’ telling them they would be meeting it.

          “Just wondering, do you have any of your own thoughts or do you rely on others to tell you want to believe.”

          Yes, these are my thoughts

          I dont need to rely on others to tell me what to believe like some do:

        • JBSchmidt

          That’s two without a meme. Good start.

          In the movies when the bad guy says ‘meet your maker’ is he testifying to the god of that individual or is he mocking their maker? The shooter in Oregon was mocking God.

        • adam

          “That’s two without a meme. ”

          Nope, like with Reality, you just cant see properly with your wishful thinking.

          “In the movies when the bad guy says ‘meet your maker’ is he testifying
          to the god of that individual or is he mocking their maker? ”

          Neither, he is say words from a story.

          “The shooter in Oregon was mocking God.”

          Evidence?

        • MNb

          So that’s your source of information, besides a badly outdated book? Movies?

        • Kodie

          What is it with these people and their “why would this fictional character say/refer to something if it wasn’t a fact?”

        • Kodie

          God isn’t real, but believers like you are abundant and oppressive. You not only believe that shit, but you believe everyone has to indulge you as well. Hypocrite.

        • MNb

          You keep on lying. Nobody here demands christians to deny their faith. We just maintain that faith is devoid of reason. And the first one to point that out was a christian. His name was Soren Kierkegaard.

        • Kodie

          Your faith has made you paranoid, hateful, and arrogant. Yeah, everyone wants to be like you, softened of brain.

        • The gunman actually was killing everyone, Christians as well as others. The “Are you a Christian?” was little more than small talk.

          Oh yes–I demand evidence of God. Are you faulting me for that? God gave me a big brain … to do what with? To just check at the door of the church? I suggest that if God gave me a big brain, it’s there to use. When you and I are standing in judgment, I won’t have to hem and haw about what I did with God’s gift.

          Our Great Commission was to spread God’s word. I have no belief that I cause you to believe (the Bible says that isn’t me job anyway).

          Then what is the Great Commission? The Holy Spirit doesn’t have a mouth so you’ve got to speak for him? Why can’t he do the job himself?

          My hope is that those who do visit your page and have not yet hardened their heart, will see a real alternative to atheism.

          Is your belief falsifiable? Is there anything that would cause you to reject Christianity?

        • JBSchmidt

          Demanding evidence is one thing, rejecting the holes in your own is another. Atheists, even with science, have no explanation for how we (the universe as a whole) came about. You can claim that at some point science will find an answer, but that is not an answer, but a belief that requires faith. In addition, to insult me for failing to use my brain in finding God, assumes you can prove God doesn’t exist.

          If you reject the supernatural, why would I entertain you with Biblical doctrine regarding the Holy Spirit.

          ‘Falsifiable’? Are you asking me to deny God? Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, expected his words about Christ to be verified by the congregants through speaking to those who had eye witness testimony of Christ’s death and resurrection (1Cor15:1-11). If Christianity persisted through the persecution of the first couple centuries it is only because they could verify the truth of Christ. So in order for Christianity to be falsifiable, one would need to be able to prove the contrary. As Paul himself writes in 15:12-58, they couldn’t then, why should it happen today.

        • adam

          “Atheists, even with science, have no explanation for how we (the universe as a whole) came about.”

          And just WHY is that even important?
          What does it have to do with our lives currently?

          ” If Christianity persisted through the persecution of the first couple centuries it is only because they could verify the truth of Christ.”

          Well of course, THIS verifies Hinduism, Buddhism and atheism, amoung others.

          But it is a FALLACY, of course

          The bible:

        • Demanding evidence is one thing, rejecting the holes in your own is another.

          Uh, OK. Change of subject, but OK.

          Atheists, even with science, have no explanation for how we (the universe as a whole) came about.

          Correct! And … ?

          You can claim that at some point science will find an answer, but that is not an answer, but a belief that requires faith.

          I have no use for faith (defined here as belief not firmly grounded in evidence). I can trust in science because of its track record.

          In addition, to insult me for failing to use my brain in finding God, assumes you can prove God doesn’t exist.

          I don’t mean to declare that you’re not using your brain, but I am questioning it. If your God belief is the result of a thoughtful consideration of all the evidence, I’d like to hear about that.

          No, I can’t prove God doesn’t exist. Should I? Seems to me that the burden of proof is yours.

          If you reject the supernatural, why would I entertain you with Biblical doctrine regarding the Holy Spirit.

          I reject the supernatural because there is no evidence supporting it, just to be clear.

          ‘Falsifiable’? Are you asking me to deny God?

          I’m asking you to follow the evidence. If Yahweh is a myth just like Zeus, I’m asking that you put them in the same bin.

          Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, expected his words about Christ to be verified by the congregants through speaking to those who had eye witness testimony of Christ’s death and resurrection (1Cor15:1-11).

          And that means what to you? You haven’t spoken to eyewitnesses of Christ’s resurrection.

          If Christianity persisted through the persecution of the first couple centuries it is only because they could verify the truth of Christ.

          Read about the “Naysayer Hypothesis” for a thorough debunking.

          So in order for Christianity to be falsifiable, one would need to be able to prove the contrary. As Paul himself writes in 15:12-58, they couldn’t then, why should it happen today.

          Huh? Paul says that it was falsifiable … in a story? I’m not sure what argument you’re making here. And why should a claim of an eyewitness mean anything particular to you? You can’t talk to the eyewitness.

          What does it say to you that your belief is unfalsifiable?

        • adam

          “What does it say to you that your belief is unfalsifiable?”

          He shares a mind with Ken Hamm?

        • JBSchmidt

          You want me to read your own work for proof that your own beliefs are true?

          If your belief is falsifiable, why do you believe it?

        • MNb

          Because it hasn’t been falsified, silly.

        • You want me to read your own work for proof that your own beliefs are true?

          If your argument is the Naysayer Hypothesis, then I offer my rebuttal to that argument. Read it if you’re curious to see how it holds up.

          If your belief is falsifiable, why do you believe it?

          I’m not sure what one has to do with the other, but to answer your question: I believe there is no supernatural because that’s where the evidence points.

        • JBSchmidt

          I looked over the hypothesis. It assumes that while countless Christians were being slaughtered, not a single historical notation is made by a naysayer. It assumes there were naysayers. It assumes the 8 (or 9) writers of the Bible were the best salesmen to walk the planet. Finally, what we do see is imitators Christianity. If Christ was a phony, or his followers were liars, why all the spin offs. People don’t usually do that with lies.

          I won’t argue your belief in the supernatural (or lack there of). It is where we.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “why all the spin offs. People don’t usually do that with lies.”

          What’s your evidence for this claim?

          While I wait for you to find credible sources/examples to back it up, here are some counterfactuals:
          Scientology
          Christian Science
          Mormonism
          Seventh Day Advent
          Jehovah’s Witnesses
          [thousands of other ‘protestant’ denoms]
          [all the varieties of Buddhism]
          [all the varieties of Hinduism]
          [all the varieties of Zoroastrianism]
          [all the varieties of Hellenistic Cults]
          [all the varieties of modern conspiracy theories]

        • [The Naysayer Hypothesis] assumes that while countless Christians were being slaughtered, not a single historical notation is made by a naysayer.

          A notation about what? About Christians not being slaughtered? There is indeed evidence that the great martyrdom of Christians is largely fiction, but that’s not what we’re talking about.

          What I’m talking about is naysayers who would write down that the gospels story is bunk. You don’t see that, which is a point against the Naysayer Hypothesis, which works to my favor.

          If Christ was a phony, or his followers were liars, why all the spin offs. People don’t usually do that with lies.

          Spinoffs? Good question. Why are there so many spinoffs of the dying-and-rising god example? Jesus wasn’t the first one. That the gospel story came from a culture suffused with Mesopotamian, Greek, and Egyptian examples makes one think that the Jesus story was a copycat.

        • Glen

          To date, everything we had not had an explanation for, that people had previously attributed to some ‘god’, has ultimately been found to have a natural explanation.

          What would lead us to believe that this trend will not continue with other things we’ve yet to adequately explain? Such as the origin of life and the universe.

          We do have ‘faith’ that science will one day find these answers, even if it takes 100,000 years. And we suspect like everything else before it, that it will be a naturalistic explanation. However it’s not ‘blind faith’. It’s belief based on the demonstrated track record of science to find the answers and give us the best representation of our reality we have.

          As for falsifiable, in order for something to be a scientific hypothesis it has to be falsifiable. In other words can it be proven wrong.

          Can your ‘god’ belief be proven wrong? How?

          The Null Hypothesis can be proven wrong. It’s falsifiable. Just provide ONE shred of evidence for your god.

        • JBSchmidt

          “give us the best representation of our reality” Interesting that you don’t look for truth, but demand it from Christians. You can use faith, but call it stupid for Christians.

          I do have a track record, the Old Testament predicted the life and death of Jesus Christ.

        • Glen

          Science doesn’t makes claims about absolute ‘truth’. It makes claims about the best representations of reality we can determine. This is widely regarded as truth, and as we’ve seen science works remarkably well for not only advancing our knowledge but predicting the future.

          Still the ‘truth’ could be that we are all part of an elaborate computer model in ‘the matrix’.

          And even if science were able to demonstrate that’s the case, science could still not say that is the ‘absolute truth’. It would merely be our best representation and understanding of reality that we can and have determined.

          We aren’t demanding ‘truth’ from Christians. We are saying that there is no more reason to believe that there is a god that exists which created everything, than there is to believe we are living in ‘the matrix’. In any case, all that matters is what we know of the ‘reality’ that we exist in. And so far, that does not include any demonstrable intervention from a ‘god’ or the programmers of ‘the matrix’.

        • JBSchmidt

          “We are saying that there is no more reason to believe that there is a god that exists which created everything, than there is to believe we are living in ‘the matrix’.”

          So you are asking us to deny our faith.

        • Glen

          We’re not asking you to deny anything.

          We’re simply saying that when it comes to making decisions and choices, particularly as they concern the running of our society, and educating children, we are going to stick with science and known demonstrable reality.

          And it’s a good principle to stick by on a personal level as well, so it’s of value to dispel people of their delusions, particularly if those delusions are being widespread.

        • JBSchmidt

          Science does not produce morality. It can only produce speculation on the viability of certain situations.

        • Glen

          So what ‘produces’ morality?

        • JBSchmidt

          You obviously know my answer. It sure isn’t science. So how do you get societal morality if you are rejecting religion and trusting in science to guide society?

        • Glen

          I don’t know your answer. Please tell me, what ‘produces’ morality?

        • JBSchmidt

          We have a creator and that creator instilled morality into each one of us.

          You?

        • Glen

          So your ‘god’ defines morality?

          Or does morality exist regardless of your god and what he happens to say?

        • Glen

          By-the-way. I didn’t think you could or would answer this, because you can probably see quite clearly where it is heading. And it doesn’t end well for the ‘god gives us morality’ idea.

        • adam

          ” And it doesn’t end well for the ‘god gives us morality’ idea.”

          Cognitive dissonance keeps them from thinking this through:

        • adam

          “So your ‘god’ defines morality?”

          But of course:

        • Glen

          Did your god instill animals with morality as well.

          We see many moral behaviors exhibited in other animal species. Particularly other social species. And even more particularly in our closest relatives, other primates.

          Many of the behaviors we identify with morality and moral behavior are evolutionarily selected for, again most particularly among social species which have survived and thrived by relying on one another and living together as groups working toward common goals.

        • adam

          “We have a creator and that creator instilled morality into each one of us.”

          Morality into each one of you?

          Morality?

          And just how does this morality play out in the bible:

          “It is really under biblical morality that ANYTHING goes except for blasphemy of the holy ghost.

          Yes, you can commit genocide and be forgiven.
          Yes, you can murder, rape and be forgiven.

          You can commit genocide on every single individual in any group except lets say a baby and its mother, you can beat that baby to death, rape its lifeless body, then carve that baby up and eat it, cut off that mothers head and shit that baby down her throat…..

          And STILL be forgiven.So the biblical MORALITY is the REAL case where anything goes…

          And THIS is the kind of ‘objective MORALITY’ you get out of a biblical deity

          Well anything but blasphemy

          That is way too horrible for forgiveness.

        • adam

          “We have a creator and that creator instilled morality into each one of us.”

          Ahh, so THAT’s why you have no trouble LYING and BEARING FALSE WITNESS….

        • adam

          “We have a creator and that creator instilled morality into each one of us.”

          Morality into each one of you?

          Morality?

          And just how does this morality play out in the bible:

          “It is really under biblical morality that ANYTHING goes except for blasphemy of the holy ghost.

          Yes, you can commit genocide and be forgiven.
          Yes, you can murder, rape and be forgiven.

          You can commit genocide on every single individual in any group except lets say a baby and its mother, you can beat that baby to death, rape its lifeless body, then carve that baby up and eat it, cut off that mothers head and shit that baby down her throat…..

          And STILL be forgiven.So the biblical MORALITY is the REAL case where anything goes…

          And THIS is the kind of ‘objective MORALITY’ you get out of a biblical deity

          Well anything but blasphemy

          That is way too horrible for forgiveness.

        • adam

          ” It sure isn’t science.”

          It certainly isnt religion:

        • Kodie

          Your outdated obedience manual isn’t something I would trust in.

        • adam

          ” It can only produce speculation on the viability of certain situations.”

          Yes, moral situations as well.

          Dunning Kruger

        • MNb

          Glen tries to explain to you why he doesn’t have any faith, liar.

        • JBSchmidt

          You he is establishing that if I don’t accept his view, than anything could be possible.

        • MNb

          As long as you don’t explain us your method he is right. But he is still not asking you to deny your faith.

        • adam

          “So you are asking us to deny our faith.”

          Quite the opposite, I want EVERYONE to understand what ‘faith’ means and does to people.

        • Kodie

          Wow, bad at reading comprehension. Contrarily, we are wondering which Christian among several billion of you has the credible argument, and to please come forth with it, and stop with this “hardened heart” myth and other emotional appeals.

          That’s not a good reason to believe, but you go ahead and believe anyway. What you have is an insecurity that is fed by other believers who would make us out to be proselytizing – no, that’s still you guys. You want us to believe your fairy tale? You want us to leave you alone, but here you are, voluntarily, telling us we’d just as soon shoot you in the face. What the fuck. We just have no reason to believe there’s a god, not one credible reason, but we also live in a society where Christians who are demonstrably wrong about reality want to alter our function to match your fantasy.

          It offends you that parents can teach their children about god at home and bring them to church, but prayer is off-limits at school? I really don’t know what you’re saying, other than you think removing religion from arenas where it’s bullying and oppressing people is the same as forcing you by gunpoint to deny your own personally held beliefs. How insecure are you?

        • MNb

          I don’t demand truth from christians. I think it a useless term.

        • adam

          ” Old Testament predicted the life and death of Jesus Christ.”

          Nope, you are lying AGAIN….

        • As you can imagine, I’ve thoroughly researched claims of OT predictions (Is. 7, Is. 53, Ps. 22, Daniel). You can search for those posts if you want more.

        • MNb

          “Atheists, even with science, have no explanation for how we (the universe as a whole) came about.”
          In a sense you are correct, so let me grant you this.
          The problem is, neither have believers such an explanation. “Goddiddid” explains everything hence nothing.

          “assumes you can prove God doesn’t exist”
          Depending on your definition of “proof” indeed I can. But why would I show you as long as you refuse to define the parameters of “proof”, to use your own words above? Plus you already have shown that you’re willing to lie.
          You’re not trustworthy, so we’re going to have this discussion on our terms.
          Before I tell you why I’m an atheist you will have to define “proof”. My prediction is that you’re going to set the bar unreasonably high.

        • adam

          “Oh yes–I demand evidence of God. Are you faulting me for that? God gave me a big brain … to do what with? To just check at the door of the church? I suggest that if God gave me a big brain, it’s there to use.”

          Of course, THAT doesnt work for everyone:

        • TheNuszAbides

          I want Mike Judge and Robert Smigel to completely take over the entertainment industry.

        • MNb

          “You have no desire to be proved wrong”
          It didn’t take you long to show you’re a liar.
          I have criticized BobS harshly myself. He totally allows it.

        • JBSchmidt

          Then I stand corrected. I have not read his entire body of work.

        • adam

          “Maybe I wasn’t completely clear. I am saying that you and the other atheists holding your view are acting in kind with the Oregon gunman.”

          Yes, we understand that YOUR VIEW is that an atheist seeking the Truth is equivalent to a murderer shooting people dead.

        • JBSchmidt

          Adam, you now twice asked for ‘truth’. Please define the parameters of that truth. If I am not mistaken, your world review involves everything that we currently see and accept as belief nothing more than random chance. Furthermore, if your faith is such that you completely reject a deity, in truth, you have no more evidence to that fact than I have to the contrary.

          The faith of those who died in Oregon was undeniably strong. My faith suffers none, by this article. Rather, I am simply pointing out that Bob is using the same tactic s the gunman.

        • adam

          ” If I am not mistaken, your world review involves everything that we currently see and accept as belief nothing more than random chance. ”

          You ARE mistaken.
          And apparently IGNORANT of SCIENCE as well.

          “Furthermore, if your faith is such that you completely reject a deity, in truth, you have no more evidence to that fact than I have to the contrary.”

          Yes, just as we both have the same information about Invisible Flying Pink Unicorns, Leprechans, and fairies.

          Your default seems to be ‘belief’ first in SUPERNATURAL MAGIC, without any evidence.
          Mine is – demonstrate that magic is real before believing.

          I dont completely reject a deity, I just see no convincing evidence of ANY.

          ” Rather, I am simply pointing out that Bob is using the same tactic s the gunman.”

          So you are bearing false witness.

          Cue baby Jesus, crying his eyes out.

          “My faith suffers none, by this article.”

          Yes, of course:

        • Kodie

          Nobody is asking you to deny your faith. Nothing bad will happen to you! What is your fucking problem?

        • adam

          “Nothing bad will happen to you!”

          He thinks the truth about reality will crush his ‘faith’

          Since Reality doesnt support his delusions.

        • Kodie

          He’s one of those Christians who is offended that atheists even exist, as though we’re judging him unworthy to live, and persecuting him by our very existence. He likes to think his faith is like armor and that he has to proclaim it all the damn time to reinforce himself. Then he runs across some article, and, like JMR, constantly imagines himself in cowboy showdowns where he is battling “evil” atheism with his core Jesus faith and “winning”. I have seen no reason to believe that it’s true, however. That’s what’s missing. Good for you JB, you are a believer. Who is threatening you with a gun?

        • MNb

          That we dare to open our filthy atheist mouths.

        • adam

          ‘truth’ about reality is how it works and how we can make it work.

          As opposed to biblical ‘faith’ which is defined as wishful thinking. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e3ea4a000b9a1ee03db0f8158116783b8dff12170abbbd7af8e612ee9e20e36b.jpg

        • Bob is using the same tactic s the gunman.

          The gunman said, “I invite you to tell me the best arguments for Christianity”? I hadn’t heard that.

        • Glen

          We are simply operating on the Null Hyptothesis. The Null Hypothesis is the default position.

          You use it nearly every moment of every day. When you open a door to walk out of a room, you simply assume that you will not walk into a portal that whisks you away and deposits you in deep space somewhere. Why? Why do you not believe that? By default.

          You are using the Null Hypothesis. You don’t believe things for which there is no evidence and for which there is no good reason to believe such. You don’t worry every time you sit in a chair that you will fall right through it as if it weren’t there.

          This is quite different than ‘faith’ (as defined as believing that for which there is no evidence). This is understanding based on our experience of reality and our knowledge about how that reality operates.

          We don’t have ‘faith’ that there is no god. We, using the standard null hypothesis, maintain the default position that no such thing exists, until such time it is proven otherwise.

          The Null Hypothesis is the basic mechanism of science.

        • JBSchmidt

          Glen, statistically speaking, the inhabitable earth should not have come about by random chance. Statistically speaking evolution needed far longer than currently predicted to produce the protein variation. Yet you put your faith in the ability of science to be right.

        • adam

          “Glen, statistically speaking, the inhabitable earth should not have come about by random chance. ”

          Physics and chemistry are no random.

          ” Statistically speaking evolution needed far longer than currently predicted to produce the protein variation.”

          Nope, you are either misinformed, ignorant and bearing false witness (again)

          “Yet you put your faith in the ability of science to be right.”
          Nope, AGAIN no faith needed, science delivers, religion does not.

        • JBSchmidt

          Adam, no meme?

          If everything was not created randomly, what guided it creations?

        • adam

          What make you think anything ‘guided it creations’, I mean beside some old childish superstitions?

        • JBSchmidt

          I love your memes. They are bumper stickers.

          If there is no guide, it is chance. If it is not chance, then what?

        • adam

          “If it is not chance, then what?”

          Same as before

          Physics and Chemistry

        • JBSchmidt

          Where did they those chemicals and forces come from?

        • adam

          Chemicals are made of atoms, and the forces are properties of those chemicals.

        • Kodie

          Where do you suggest an immaterial creator got materials?

        • Paul B. Lot

          “everything was not created randomly, what guided it “

          What was the guiding agent? The path of least reseistance for aggregate interactions to increase entropy.

          In other words: whatever events made the Universe less organized after they took place than it was before.

        • JBSchmidt

          Chance?

        • adam

          “Chance?

          MAGIC?

        • Paul B. Lot

          “Chance?”

          No, not random chance. The opposite of random chance. On the very-small scales, quantum fluctuations may well be random.

          But the macro “everything” you seem to be talking about….plants and planets and mosquitoes and stars…are governed more by statistically-normalized rules of mechanical interactions.

          Physical regularities in:
          the way atomic nuclei behave
          the way electrons behave
          the way atoms behave
          the way compounds behave
          the way large molecules behave
          …mixtures
          …minerals
          …proteins….etc….etc….

          These all have directionalities, chiralities.

          It is easier to oxidize a pile of shredded paper into carbon dioxide & water than it is to take water and carbon dioxide and turn them into paper.

          Why?

          Because of the directional gradient of the necessary reactions.

          [carbohydrate] => [h20] + [co2] — exothermic

          [h20] + [c02] => [carbohydrate] — endothermic

          This is why we get paper from plants — organisms which use the in-pouring electromagnetic radiation of the sun (light) and use it to do useful mechanical work at the atomic/chemical level.

          How can you be expected to understand macro-phenomena without taking the time to learn the fundamentals?

          Go home and practice before you try to ball, son.

        • MNb

          Probability, which can vary from 0 to 1.

        • MNb

          Nothing was created. Creation implies a creator.
          What guides the process of evolution has already been mentioned – the laws of physics and chemistry.

        • JBSchmidt

          Where did those laws come from?

        • adam

          “Where did those laws come from?”

          We developed them to explain our reality.

          Just as IGNORANT animal herders developed the mythology that has become the bible, thinking in their ignorance that MAGIC is how reality works.

        • Glen

          Do we REALLY need to explain this?

          Here. This is how it happened.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyeJ55o3El0

          First gravity was just a bill. Well not even a bill, just an idea!

        • MNb

          From nowhere. They just describe how things work in our Universe. These descriptions are formulated by human beings like you and me.

        • Glen

          As has been noted, these things are not random.

          Evolution is not a random process. Mutations may be random, but natural selection is not. And natural selection begins as soon as the first primitive self-replicating molecule comes about.

          You may have a 1 in 200,000,000 chance of winning the PowerBall lottery. But your chances would improve dramatically if you got to keep every right number each time a new draw occurred until you had six right numbers and the power ball.

          And people DO win the PowerBall lottery even without playing 200 million times, nor keeping right numbers each time. Even while the numbers are drawn at random.

          When you have that many ‘players’, even with completely random ‘numbers’, someone is going to ‘win’.

          So not only do you not understand evolution, biology, and chemistry, but you also do not understand statistics.

        • JBSchmidt

          You anaolgy is again false. Evolution does not allow a single individual the ability to collect all the genetic information to then reproduce as a new species. For all the proper protein changes to combine in a single new species you would require all the powerball winners to converge in a single genetic tree. Please tell me the odds of that? Or using your analogy, all the powerball winners purchasing their tickets from the same clerk, using the same numbers and winning thousands of consecutive 100million dollar drawings.

        • adam

          ” Evolution does not allow a single individual the ability to collect all
          the genetic information to then reproduce as a new species.”

          Because that is not what evolution claims, you AGAIN are either displaying your gross ignorance or being deceptive.

        • JBSchmidt

          I am responding to Glen’s analogy, he set the stage for that, not I.

        • adam

          But I am responding to YOUR stupidity, not Glen’s analogy

        • Glen

          Well that isn’t how it works.

          You can either wholesale get workable mutations among millions or billions even trillions of mutation ‘attempts’. (Someone wins the lottery even despite 1 in 200 million chances)

          Or you get piecemeal changes, with each one working ‘just a little bit better’ than the previous incarnation. (Someone keeps a working piece of the lottery each time the right number comes up in subsequent draws).

          This is a much simplified explanation, however you can find the extensive details on how all this works in published peer-reviewed scientific works.

        • MNb

          “Evolution does not allow a single individual the ability to collect all the genetic information to then reproduce as a new species.”
          Correct – because you’re presenting a strawman here. Try to understand Evolution Theory first before you criticize it. I will save you many silly errors and prevent you from looking like a ridiculous ignorant.

        • JBSchmidt

          If I am correct in responding to some else comment, how am I establishing the straw man?

        • Kodie

          What educated, informed people mean by evolution is a totally different thing that what Christian apologists lie to their audience about evolution. You are the latter, dummy.

        • MNb

          If.
          You aren’t.

        • Kodie

          Where have you gotten such misinformation? Tell me again what are the odds that there is a god and it’s the one, the specific cult you belong to, that’s the correct one? Because all I can see is superstition and stories, bulked out with lies and misapprehensions of science and other ways humans measure reality. Seriously, you believe a powerful genie breathed without lungs or a mouth, all the material in the universe and then puffed instant complex life into one planet only, and only one species has this genie’s interest. At some later point, he magically impregnated a teenage girl in order to save the world somehow, that his eventual mania and execution (once he was grown) would have the magical power to remove all of something called “sin” so when you die, you don’t have to really die. It’s a myth. Why can’t idiots like you even recognize that? I find it wholly and utterly amazing that adults are so childish and needy that this is what gets them through. And that you are even fooled by dishonest arguments that convince you that is more likely than nature being nature. You don’t even know what you’re talking about, so you’re uneducated, which makes you perfect target for this bullshit.

          So when the gunman puts his gun in your face, and you die because your faith means more to you than living, you’d abandon everyone who loves you and would miss you for this childish story, and the lights just go out. What a rewarding, arrogant, and selfish act for yourself, you die and there’s nothing, not even the sudden acknowledgment that you were wrong.

          And before you start with the tone trolling, you’re an offensive piece of shit as far as Christians go, dictating to us that we’re talking is just like sticking a gun in your face trying to win a pissing contest. You have already exposed yourself as a hostile person, an asshole, and I have no problem cutting to the chase with you as you have opened that gate yourself.

        • adam

          ” Mutations may be random, but natural selection is not. ”

          the mutations are not random either, they depend on the same chemistry and physics.

          They may seem random to us not understanding exactly what chemical reactions are occuring to make that change.

        • Glen

          You’re right. I didn’t mean to imply completely random. Obviously chemical and physical processes are not random, but operate in definitive manners.

          But by the same token neither are power ball drawings completely random, but merely have the appearance of randomness.

          In any case, the process of evolution is by no means random.

        • JBSchmidt

          The creation of the processes were mere chance. If not, what put them in place?

        • adam