Does Secularism Have a Debt to Christianity?

Does Secularism Have a Debt to Christianity? February 11, 2016

A popular article among some conservatives is “Secularism’s Ongoing Debt to Christianity” by John Steinrucken in the conservative online magazine American Thinker.

I didn’t think much of it.

Steinrucken says that he’s an atheist, but he has an odd accommodationist point of view. I don’t see him making many new atheist friends, and his view of Christianity as a false but useful fiction to keep the Proletariat in line can’t endear him to Christians either. Still, dozens of sites reference his article, many of them Christian.

First, let’s understand his thesis.

Religious faith has made possible the advancement of Western civilization. That is, the glue that has held Western civilization together over the centuries is the Judeo-Christian tradition. … Western civilization’s survival, including the survival of open secular thought, depends on the continuance within our society of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

As an atheist, he doesn’t believe that there is anything behind Christian faith. And though the somewhat-Christian West is at the top of the pyramid at the moment, other societies have advanced quite well without Christianity—consider the Islamic Golden Age, China’s many dynasties, India, the Aztecs and Olmecs in Central America, the Incas and Aymara in the Andes, Mali and Egypt in Africa, Greece and Babylon in the Eastern Mediterranean, Angkor and Sukhothai in Southeast Asia. He has a long way to go to show that Christianity does something that other religions don’t.

Next, it’s Christianity as a “moral compass.”

Can anyone seriously argue that crime and debauchery are not held in check by religion?

I say to any Christian who would be a rampaging maniac without religion: please remain a Christian! Since prisons aren’t overflowing with atheists, they may avoid crime simply because it’s the right thing to do. This reminds me of Penn Jilette’s observation

The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me from raping all I want? And my answer is: I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero. The fact that these people think that if they didn’t have this person watching over them that they would go on killing, raping rampages is the most self-damning thing I can imagine.

If you wondered if Steinrucken is really an atheist, he really looks like a clumsy Poe when he says:

Has there ever been a more perfect and concise moral code than the one Moses brought down from the mountain?

Wow—how many ways would this be wrong in American society? No, the law that Moses brought down from the mountain would be worse than useless. The Ten Commandments demand allegiance to God; the First Amendment allows religion but says that government must stay out of it. The Ten Commandments say nothing against slavery, genocide, and rape; today, we have a very different view of what’s right and wrong. The Ten Commandments presuppose a theocracy; the Constitution outlines a representative democracy.

You want a moral code that’s concise but doesn’t suck? Here are some suggestions from commenter Playonwords:

“Be excellent to each other” – Bill and Ted
“Do as you would be done by” and all the other versions of the Golden Rule
Primum nil nocere (first, do no harm)

Steinrucken next blunders into the question of morality and says that the secularist

can cite no overriding authority other than that of fashion.

Wrong again. Atheists point to a shared moral instinct. We’re all the same species, so we have pretty much the same moral programming. If Steinrucken is pointing to objective morality, I want evidence of such a thing. I’ve seen none.

For some reason, he has a chip on his shoulder about “secularists.” He pauses to paint a bizarre picture of how they fill their God-shaped hole. If it’s not nutty New Age nonsense,

they surrender themselves to secular ideologies or do-good causes, especially those in which they can mass with others in solidarity, shouting in unison mindless, ritualistic simplicities and waving placards of hackneyed and inane slogans.

My local atheist group organizes an event at the local blood center every eight weeks. At Christmas, we wrap presents at book stores, with donations going to a children’s hospital. We answer phones for the local public radio station pledge drive. We get together for social events and lectures. We don’t shout mindless simplicities or wave signs with inane slogans—should we?

Next, we’re told that

secularism has never offered the people a practical substitute for religion.

Do you substitute something for malaria or cancer? Or do you simply make victims healthy? But if you want to see it that way, the substitute for religion is reality.

We secularists should recognize that we owe much to the religionists, that we are not threatened by them, that we should grant to them their world.

They already have their world—read the First Amendment. I strongly support the demand that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

As for our not being threatened, guess again. Some Christians are eager to see prayer in public schools. To see Creationism taught in science class. To see prayers in government buildings from City Hall to Congress. To see “In God We Trust” continue as our official motto and placed on the walls of government chambers. To have the phrase “under God” remain in the Pledge. To see a de facto Christian requirement for public office.

Why should we be exercised over a Christmas Crèche in front of the county court house?

Because it spits on our governing document, that’s why. (Unlike what you may have heard, there actually are stupid questions.) Do we care about the First Amendment or not? If so, respect it and protect it.

And what harm will come to a child who hears prayer in the schoolroom?

You tell me. Should we deliver morning prayers by cycling through the religions represented in America, giving turns to Muslims, Mormons, Satanists, Wiccans, Hindus, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics, and so on? No conceivable harm to the schoolchildren, right?

Or—crazy idea—maybe we should leave the religious indoctrination at home and just focus on education at school.

Steinrucken doesn’t think much of “elitists,” which pop up occasionally as scoundrels in his essay. They stand on the shoulders of the Christian masses to practice “their conceits and dilettantes.” But it would be wise of them to

publicly hold in high esteem the institutions of Christianity and Judaism, and to respect those who do believe and to encourage and to give leeway to those who, in truth, will be foremost in the trenches defending us against those who would have us all bow down to a different and unaccommodating faith.

So fight fire with fire? When the Muslim believers attack, we must respond with Christian believers for some reason.

No, you don’t fight fire with fire; you fight it with water. A civilization that is immune to the siren call of Christianity won’t care much for Islam either.

But from Steinrucken’s standpoint, what’s the problem? If Christianity is the special sauce that makes a civilization run, what’s the problem with replacing it with Islam? Wouldn’t it provide the same thing? He’s asserted that Christianity is the best but provided no evidence.

This flabby apology for American Christianity never gets off the ground. It’s not that Christianity is the foundation on which is built American democracy; it’s the other way around. The Constitution is what we should defend and hold in high esteem. It’s the Constitution that gives religion its freedom.

A religious war 
is like children fighting over 
who has the strongest imaginary friend.
— Anonymous

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 3/11/13.)

Image credit: John Doe, flickr, CC


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  • alverant

    And what harm will come to a child who hears prayer in the schoolroom?

    Ask this question to christians when they go bat-shit crazy when they find out that a muslim or satanist wants to give a prayer and see the reaction.

  • JBrown971

    It is interesting how your hatred for Christianity won’t let you evaluate the article intellectually.

    For instance, if you look at the countries having the greatest problems with a self imposed Muslim infiltration, also happen to those declining most in Christianity.

    The Penn quote is curious, considering his own morality has been shaped by the Christian culture that surrounds him.

    Finally, when he says, “can cite no overriding authority other than that of fashion”. You respond with the same relativist morality he talks about within the context of that quote. You point to some “shared moral instinct”, which is malleable as society can make it.

    • adam

      “For instance, if you look at the countries having the greatest problems
      with a self imposed Muslim infiltration, also happen to those declining
      most in Christianity.”

      Who BOTH worship the same “God of Abraham”

      So the real problem here is the infiltration of the believers in the “God of Abraham”

    • It is interesting how your hatred for Christianity won’t let you evaluate the article intellectually.

      It’s interesting how you make a claim without showing your work. Did I say that I hate Christianity?

      For instance, if you look at the countries having the greatest problems with a self imposed Muslim infiltration, also happen to those declining most in Christianity.

      Careful, bro. You don’t want to compare countries based on belief. The not-Christian countries in northern Europe have far better social metrics than Christian America. Whoops–so much for more Christianity mapping to a better society.

      You respond with the same relativist morality he talks about within the context of that quote.

      Is there another kind of morality? Demonstrate it for me.

    • Greg G.

      The things you assume are “shaped by the Christian culture” are common to all human cultures and have been observed in monkeys, too. Even dogs have a sense of fairness. If fairness, compunctions against killing friends, resentments against deception and stealing are present in most primate species, it is disingenuous for Christians to claim it is their idea.

      The Bible seems to claim that God thought up “Thou shalt not murder” but the Egyptians must have been ahead of them as Moses had to run away for forty years after killing an Egyptian.

      • Michael Neville

        Yahweh didn’t have any compunctions about killing people. The Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to a political lobbyist so Yahweh killed the first born in Egypt. Why a farmer’s child should die because Da Lawd set up Pharaoh to fail only a Christian could explain.

        For that matter, Lot’s wife looks at Yahweh nuking Sodom and Gomorrah and ZAPPO! she’s a pillar of salt. Ol’ Yahweh had no problem killing folks just because he could and “innocent bystander” was a meaningless noise to him.

      • Susan

        The Bible seems to claim that God thought up “Thou shalt not murder” but the Egyptians must have been ahead of them as Moses had to run away for forty years after killing an Egyptian.

        An argument that the Israeli sanction against murder couldn’t have happened without belief in Egyptian gods seems (so far) logically equal to the argument that secular principles couldn’t have happened without belief in Yahwehjesus.

        Interesting that apologists never argue the former.

    • Jack Baynes

      You point to some “shared moral instinct”, which is malleable as society can make it.

      No more malleable than interpretations of the Bible.

    • adam

      “You point to some “shared moral instinct”, which is malleable as society can make it.”

      Interesting because of the ‘morality’ of christianity:

      But AGAIN, the morality YOU support is no morality at all

      With the morality of the ‘bible’
      ANY sin is forgivable, well except for blasphemy

      You CAN commit genocide and be forgiven.

      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 “good” is the REAL case where anything goes…except for blasphemy…..THAT is the ONLY thing so HORRIBLE that it is unforgivable.

      So, just as I said,

      THIS is the kind of ‘morality’ you get out of christianity.

    • Pofarmer

      “For instance, if you look at the countries having the greatest problems with a self imposed Muslim infiltration, also happen to those declining most in Christianity.”

      Which means what?

      • TheNuszAbides

        seriously. the guy thinks he can sneak in a hysteria-laden phrase like “self imposed Muslim infiltration” along with the [risible] claim that Steinrucker’s piece wasn’t ‘evaluated’ ‘intellectually’?

    • tsig

      Christian morality has changed radically in my own lifetime. Protestants used to be OK with birth control now it’s one of the great sins.

      • Heck, Protestants across the board used to be OK with abortion.

        http://valerietarico.com/2012/11/17/when-god-was-pro-choice-and-why-he-changed-his-mind/

      • TheNuszAbides

        you must be conflating either specific types of birth control and/or specific sects of protestant. some protestants have far more in common with catholics (other than which ‘earthly’ authorities they answer to) than with other protestants. the Religious Right movement that wants Roe v. Wade overturned may consist mainly of protestants, but protestants have no collective stance on condoms, The Pill etc.
        your larger point is entirely fair, of course. the most sensible believers and their thought-leaders know which way the wind is blowing, even if they scramble to attribute it to Bog’s Will to quell cognitive dissonance. and almost all of them have a moral code superior to their imaginary Boss.

    • TheNuszAbides

      The Penn quote is curious, considering his own morality has been shaped by the Christian culture that surrounds him.

      and Dennis Rader’s morality was “shaped by the Christian culture that surrounds him”. does that make his BTK repertoire “curious”?

  • Rudy R

    Atheist Republican politicians, journalists and activists are a special breed of atheist. S.E. Cup is a Republican and atheist and has the same attitude towards religion. They have to take the atheist apologetic role in order to function in Conservative circles.

  • “Has there ever been a more perfect and concise moral code than the one Moses brought down from the mountain?”

    Sorry folks, he’s right. If it weren’t for the moral perfection of the Mosaic code, we could totally be punished for beating our slaves to not-quite-immediate death with a rod. How fair would that be?

    • adam

      Remember what Jesus said, be sure and beat those slaves who didnt know what they were doing was wrong, less than those who did…

      • Nelson Cavanough

        This is extremely misleading. What you are referring to is simply an illustration Jesus used. He made no implication that beating salves was acceptable. Get your facts straight.

        • Michael Neville

          It sure looks to me that Jesus was telling slave owners to beat their slaves. Perhaps you can show the proper nuance to what seems to be plain speaking.

          Edited to remove snark.

        • Nelson Cavanough

          Your interpretation is incorrect. The illustration starts at Luke 12:41…

        • Michael Neville

          Then should me how it’s incorrect. You’re the one trying to twist the words so let’s see you twist them. Pull some shit out of your ass to show my interpretation of simple, straightforward words is wrong.

        • Nelson Cavanough

          The illustration starts at Luke 12:41…

        • Michael Neville

          That’s it? You fail. Better luck next time.

        • Nelson Cavanough

          You aren’t a very nice person. I take it that you can’t disprove my statement through reasoning and as a result you just can’t admit that your assumption was incorrect. You may not be able to see my face but I’m a person on the other side so chose your words carefully before you treat people this way.

        • Michael Neville

          I’m an asshole, I admit it. So what? Pay attention to what I say instead of how I say it. I told you to show me how the interpretation of Jesus’ words to beat slaves doesn’t mean to beat slaves. You failed to do so.

          Remember that respect is earned. So far you’re in negative figures for respect because you couldn’t do anything but stamp your little feet and whine.

        • buttle

          Come on, it really was a misleading use of Luke 12:41-48, which is a metaphor for the coming day of judgement, not a statement in support of flogging slaves, why are you even discussing it?

        • KarlUdy

          adam’s post could not be other than a deliberate misrepresentation, because a direct quote would include words to the effect of “The master will” directly before “beat slaves”. And the “Jesus said” is not even part of vv47-48, but v42 includes “the Lord answered” at the beginning of the quoted passage.

          The fact that this could be determined simply by looking at the Bible passage quoted makes the criticism of Nelson look extremely tendentious. When the reference is already given, why does Nelson need to say any more than that to read the quote is context could not possibly give the meaning that adam suggests?

        • Greg G.

          But Jesus isn’t condemning the master for doing the beating. Jesus thinks the master is justified in beating both slaves. The master in this parable represents the Lord himself. Jesus can’t be condemning the master in the story or he would be condemning God/himself.

        • KarlUdy

          Jesus is using the master beating the slave as an example of something that his hearers know happens. You could say that someone who chews gum in Singapore risks a few strokes of the cane, but someone who takes cocaine risks his very life. To say so does not condone either corporal or capital punishment but simply uses an illustration of current practice to make a point.

        • Greg G.

          If one talks about Singapore beating somebody for chewing gum, it is usually not a positive comparison. Who does the master represent in the story if not the deity? If Jesus thought there was anything wrong with beating slaves, he wouldn’t have the person committing a sin playing the role of the Lord. It is clear that Jesus condones the beating of a slave who didn’t know what to do, and even giving a severe beating to a slave. Jesus never repudiates Exodus 21:20-21. In Luke 17:9, Jesus thinks it is absurd to thank a slave in his rhetorical question.

        • KarlUdy

          C’mon, really?

          The gist of those verses is basically that someone who knowingly does wrong will be punished more severely than someone who unknowingly does wrong. Is that objectionable to you?

          Or is it objectionable that Jesus frames the wrongdoing and punishment in a setting that his hearers would be familiar with, but that would not be appropriate behaviour in your time and culture?

        • Greg G.

          The story says that someone who does wrong unknowingly will also be punished.

          Using that parable implicitly condones beating slaves as being acceptable. If Jesus didn’t think it was acceptable to beat a slave for unknowingly doing something wrong, then it would imply that punishment is wrong.

          Jesus makes lustful thoughts a sin. Reading Ezekiel 23 could get you condemned. He never says anything about not holding slaves and never says that there is anything wrong with beating slaves.

          The Old Testament has verses that explicitly allow beating slaves. Leviticus 25 says you shouldn’t treat your Israeli slaves harshly but Exodus allows a master to beat a slave to death if they suffer for a day before dying. Christians have Jesus abrogating some parts of the Old Testament that they don’t want to follow but Luke’s Jesus is endorsing those slavery laws.

          Do you think that Christian slave owners in the colonies didn’t beat slaves with Jesus words from Luke 12:47-48 in mind?

        • MNb

          “Is that objectionable to you?”
          Irrelevant for the question what Jesus thought of slavery. The fact that he used it in his metaphor the way he used it implies he approved of it. Or he wouldn’t have used it that way. It’s simple as that.
          Know what? Even that I don’t think objectionable. On the contrary – it’s what I expect from a human being living in the 1st Century. Explicitely condemning slavery would have been extraordinary. Jesus clearly wasn’t.
          Because he was just a human product of his time and culture.

        • adam

          “Explicitely condemning slavery would have been extraordinary. Jesus clearly wasn’t.
          Because he was just a human product of his time and culture.”

        • Jack Baynes

          It certainly says something about how God views humans. They are slaves who deserve beatings when they do wrong.

        • Greg G.

          Many New Testament verses compare the relationship between God and man to master and slave relationships. None of them make any allusion to this being a bad thing.

        • adam

          “Jesus is using the master beating the slave as an example of something that his hearers know happens”

          And so instead of saying something to the effect:

          No you shouldnt own other human beings.

          He says, beat the ignorant ones less than the knowing.

          “To say so does not condone either corporal or capital punishment but
          simply uses an illustration of current practice to make a point.”

          And instead of doing what he usually did and condemn the current practice, Jesus SUPPORTS it….

        • Jack Baynes

          He is comparing himself to the slavemaster. When I return, I will see how my slaves have done in the meantime. The ones who knew they did wrong, I will punish severely. The ones who did not know they did wrong, I will still punish but less severely.

        • adam

          “The ones who did not know they did wrong, I will still punish but less severely.”

          What a MONSTER…..

        • I wondered if the servants in the Parable of the Talents (which I’ve never understood anyway) could be slaves. According to the NET Bible, they are. Yet another casual reference to slavery without critique.

          https://net.bible.org/#!bible/Matthew+25

        • MNb

          Come on, Adam, by now you should understand how apologetics works.
          Yeah, Jesus did not literally say “you shouldn’t own other human beings”. But he didn’t say you should or even you are permitted either! Gotcha!. What matters is what he didn’t say! Except when it matters what he did say!

        • adam

          If X=Jesus supporting slavery then we know not-X= Jesus didnt support slavery.

          We know x cannot equal not-x

          Therefore Jesus…

        • adam

          Not a misrepresentation at all KarlUdy

          Jesus supported slavery..

          7 “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8 Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me,put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded?”

          –Jesus, Luke 17:7-9

        • And then you have the tangential support of slavery. If Martin Luther King had been Jesus back then, he would’ve used his power to get rid of slavery or at least make clear that it was bad. Jesus said nothing about it.

        • Greg G.

          The metaphor implicitly condones the beating of slaves by the master. The master in the parable represents the Lord. The parable means nothing if Jesus is comparing the Lord to a wrong-doer.

        • Michael Neville

          That’s the response I wanted originally, not some vague “yer rong” and a mention of a Biblical verse coupled with whining about tone.

        • Greg G.

          But the beating of slaves is still there as a deserved thing.

        • Jack Baynes

          And in the coming day of judgement, we will be treated as the master treats his slaves. Is the implication that God will treat us unjustly? Or that the master beating his slaves is just?

        • Susan

          Hi Nelson,

          You aren’t a very nice person.

          Michael said, “That’s it? You fail.” and this was your response.

          I’m guessing that Michael was reacting to your lack of an actual argument. “The illustration starts at Luke 12:41” would be better developed by a link (internet etiquette) to that chapter and verse, followed by an explanation of the illustration you think you can make and why it supports your case.

          I take it that you can’t disprove my statement through reasoning

          You have yet to support your statement with reason. It’s not his job to disprove an unsupported statement. I thought your point was that he didn’t give you a chance to finish. A case could possibly be made for that.

          So, here’s your chance. Begin to make your case.

          as a result you just can’t admit that your assumption was incorrect.

          What assumption?

          Sorry. Disqus has been become almost impossible lately so it’s possible I missed something.

          Please clarify.Are you saying that Michael’s inability to disprove your case is logically connected to an incorrect assumption on Michael’s part?

          That’s not how logic works, as far as I know.

          Please fill me in on the missing bits.

        • Greg G.

          Jesus used the example that it was OK to beat a slave. It is that simple. The context doesn’t make it any better. Don’t get in the habit of just saying that it is taken out of context. Show how the context changes the implication.

          For example, I can show you eighteen verses that have been translated with the phrase “there is no god”. But in context, those verse say “There is no god but me” and “the fool says in his heart, ‘there is no god'”. The meaning is different in context.

          But you cannot do that with the passage from Luke. It is still Jesus saying it is OK to beat slaves. He doesn’t say that beating a slave is wrong, ever.

          Neville is an old Navy man. I expect he could be much harder on you if he really wanted to hurt your feelings. Just thank him for his service.

        • tsig

          If you had an argument now would be a good time to present it, just quoting bible verses doesn’t cut it.

          Also quit whining, nobody likes a whiner.

        • Jack Baynes

          From elsewhere we know that a man who beats his slaves should not be punished unless the slave dies within 2 days. Beating slaves (and by extension, owning slaves) most definitely IS acceptable.

        • Greg G.

          Actually it says a day or two and the next day started at sundown.

        • Jack Baynes

          Does it strike anyone else as odd, that when discussing whether someone should be punished for murder, we get nice precise terms like “a day or two”. Shouldn’t important things like this be more cut and dry?

        • Greg G.

          Other sets of laws in the vicinity punished the killing of a slave. Perhaps Exodus was modified in a “keeping up with the Joneses” sort of way so they could say they had prohibitions against beating slaves to death but with no interest in actually punishing someone for it.

        • adam

          Slaves were PROPERTY not people.

        • Jack Baynes

          Ah, you’re right. I was thinking like a person, not like a god.

        • adam

          Not misleading at all,
          Jesus is God right??

        • MNb

          “Jesus is God right??”
          Only when it suits the apologist.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          The only misgiving I have about always using Jesus’ instead of other names in the Bible like ‘The Lord, YHWH, Elohim, etc’ is that it feels complicit with longstanding Christian mistreatment and cultural appropriation of the Jewish people and erasure of the very probable polytheism of the early cults. Still, saying Jesus is GOD is basically claiming he is the most dangerous monster.

  • MNb

    “That is, the glue that has held Western civilization together over the centuries is the Judeo-Christian tradition.”
    Whenever I read this expression I need a bucket. Let’s see what this tradition consists of.

    167 CE: Melito of Sardis accuses jews of killing god.
    306 CE: The synod of Elvira bans intermarriages of christians and jews.
    388 CE: Bishop Ambrosius of Milan defends a christian mob that destroyed a synagogue.
    535 CE: The first council of Clermont expels jews from public offices.
    629 CE: Christian priests convince Emperor Heraclius to kill off jews in Jerusalem.

    I’m going to skip some centuries and end with

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jozef_Tiso#Anti-semitism_and_deportation_of_Jews

  • MNb

    “giving turns to Muslims, Mormons, Satanists, Wiccans, Hindus, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics, and so on? No conceivable harm to the schoolchildren, right?”
    Actually I think yes – right. It’s a good way to teach some skepticism.

  • Michael Neville

    And what harm will come to a child who hears prayer in the schoolroom?

    I was raised as a Catholic. In the 1950s my father got his masters at Penn State, right in the middle of Pennsylvania. That state has been described as Philadelphia at one end, Pittsburgh at the other and Alabama in between. I was in second grade and there were prayers said every morning, including the Lord’s Prayer. The Catholic version of that prayer is slightly different from the Protestant (Catholics don’t do “the kingdom, power and glory” thing at the end). I mentioned this to the teacher who immediately added another prayer “for the salvation of Michael’s soul.” That prayer was said for the rest of the year. Being seven and eight and already damn to Hell is harmful, regardless of what Steinrucken might think.

    • Pofarmer

      You little shit disturber you.

    • Well that’s what you get for… er… knowing that Catholics and Protestants do some things differently? What?

    • TheNuszAbides

      (Catholics don’t do the “kingdom, power and glory” thing at the end)

      so is it just “… but deliver us from evil. Amen”?

      • Michael Neville

        Yes, exactly.

  • XCellKen

    Steinrucken, Seidensticker, can’t keep the players straight without a scorecard

  • KarlUdy

    Bob, I find it curious that you criticize the suggestion that Western civilization owes a debt to Christianity, and suggest that it is a mere accident of history that Christianity-influenced Western civilization is currently dominant, when other cultures shaped by Islamic, eastern or other religious traditions could have just as easily been dominant (and have been in the past). The reason I find it interesting is that you have said elsewhere that the only expression of science that is valid and useful is that that arose out of Christian-influenced Western civilization.

    • Greg G.

      Jared Diamond explained in Guns, Germs, and Steel how the geography of Europe gave it an advantage over other areas, which would have contributed to the success of any religion. The long horizontally so domesticated plants could grow more readily. The indigenous animals in Europe were easier to domesticate than their cousins on other continents.

      The mountain ranges made natural boundaries that made it amenable to smaller kingdoms unlike China that was flat and had major rivers that allowed swift movement of armies so one ruler could dominate it. They had the finest shipwrights in the world until the one ruler decided Chinese products were superior to anything else in the world so there was no need to trade. He ordered the ships to be dismantled and a generation later the skill for building ships was lost.

      On the other hand, when Columbus wanted to sail to India the other way around the world, he had more than one place to go for funding because of the geography of Europe.

      If that one Chinese ruler had not been so short-sighted, the argument might be about the contribution of Confucianism or Buddhism.

      • KarlUdy

        The ceasing of the exploratory voyages of the Ming Dynasty occurred about a century before Copernicus. And it is entirely possible that those voyages included visits to the Americas – before Columbus. There are massive differences in the attitude of the Chinese to foreign diplomatic relations, and to the underpinnings of the study of nature (remember that the birth of modern science in Europe is directly connected to the move away from Aristotelian thought.) A science founded on Buddhist or Confucian principles would look very different to Western science – as can be seen from the differences between Chinese medicine (underpinned by Chinese philosophy – mainly Daoism and Confucianism) and Western medicine (underpinned by Judeo-Christian and Greek philosophy)

        • Greg G.

          Western medicine developed when it stopped relying on Christian influences as it started adopting information from the Greek and Latin texts when they became available around the early 14th century. Western science developed at the beginning of the post-Christian era when the church lost it stranglehold on knowledge.

        • KarlUdy

          Unfortunately Greg, you don’t know your history of science. The key development of Western science was the abandonment of Aristotelian thought, as demonstrated in Kepler’s theory which suggested elliptical orbits – which was revolutionary precisely because medieval Aristotelian though demanded that the universe be built on perfect spheres, circles and straight lines, and Galileo’s proving that objects accelerate at the same rate irrespective of mass (again contra Aristotle).

          Granted, the church was the main proponent of Aristotelian thought at the time, but what was abandoned that was so instrumental in the formation of modern science was not Christian doctrine, but rather certain tenets of a particular Greek school of philosophy.

        • Unfortunately Greg, you don’t know your history of science. The key development of Western science was the abandonment of Aristotelian thought …

          Granted, the church was the main proponent of Aristotelian thought at the time…

          Didn’t you just undercut your own argument?

        • KarlUdy

          No, the medieval church appropriated some of the learning from Greek and Latin texts as Greg said, but these texts also introduced assumptions that were false, and needed to be discarded before science could progress further. It was not Christian doctrine that was holding back science at the time, but rather assumptions borrowed from Greek philosophy.

        • MNb

          On this one I agree – though I haste to add that christian doctrine did not nothing to help science progress either.

        • Greg G.

          If “the medieval church appropriated some of the learning from Greek and Latin texts”, why then are they not accountable for the “introduced assumptions that were false, and needed to be discarded before science could progress further”?

          A 14th century book, written by one of the doctors who made progress in medicine by reading the Greek texts, was used in medical schools for about three centuries. The lack of progress after the time when Greek science was introduced looks much like the lack of progress of the previous millennium.

          It was not Christian doctrine that was holding back science at the time, but rather assumptions borrowed from Greek philosophy.

          It was the Christian church that embraced Greek philosophy. Christian doctrine contributed little. How much damage was done by believing “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them”, is likely to be underestimated by Christians.

        • It was not Christian doctrine that was holding back science at the time

          Perhaps the doctrine, “We’ve got it all figured out” was the problem.

        • KarlUdy

          An attitude that is unfortunately present in any and all types of people, however, it has never been a Christian doctrine, even if some church leaders have unfortunately possessed such an attitude.

        • Greg G.

          They opposed certain things and could cite Bible passages to support them from opposition to the alleviation of pain for women giving birth (Genesis 3:16) to owning and beating slaves to gay and interracial marriage. If a new idea didn’t benefit the church, it was suspected of being a temptation of the devil.

        • adam

          ” however, it has never been a Christian doctrine,”

          Never been a doctrine that “Goddidit”
          I thought that was the whole basis of christianity?

        • You’re doing nothing to resolve the problem.

          Christianity was in charge in Europe. If it had the mojo to make science happened, then science would’ve happened. It didn’t (until after 1000 years of Christian rule).

          There is a glaring disparity between your claim and your evidence.

        • KarlUdy

          Christianity had footholds in Europe from the beginning of the first millennium, but to say that Christianity ruled Europe for 1000 years before science happened is to ignore much of the history of those 1000 years. Yes, the Roman Empire became officially Christian in the 4th century, but the Western Roman Empire fell to barbarian invasions just a century later, and Islamic armies threatened Europe periodically for most of the next millennium. Little things like having invading armies at the gates tend to be more than just an annoying hindrance to scientific development.

        • So where does this leave your argument?

          “All that science during the Renaissance and beyond? Christianity!” Is that your argument now? It’s like you’re on a melting ice flow.

        • Greg G.

          There are many advances in technology in warfare.

          List of Wars Year 1-999
          List of Wars in the 1000 to 14999
          List of Wars in from 1500 to 1799
          List of Wars in the 1800s
          List of Wars in the early 1900s
          List of Wars in the late 1900s

          War has been pretty constant yet science progressed only when Christianity had lost power.

        • KarlUdy

          The key things you seem to be missing are
          (1) Christianity did not have political power over Europe until much later than you are claiming – the crowning of Charlemagne in 800 would be a more accurate date of the beginning of Christian political power in Europe.
          (2) although wars may be an impetus for practical innovation, they rarely allow the space for reflective investigation.
          (3) I also think you are greatly underestimating the important development in science before the Enlightenment eg Roger Bacon

        • Greg G.

          Roger Bacon, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

          He is sometimes credited (mainly since the 19th century) as one of the earliest European advocates of the modern scientific method inspired by Aristotle and by later scholars such as the Arab scientist Alhazen. His linguistic work has been heralded for its early exposition of a universal grammar. However, more recent re-evaluations emphasise that Roger Bacon was essentially a medieval thinker, with much of his “experimental” knowledge obtained from books in the scholastic tradition.

        • Greg G.

          1) But Christianity did have political power in some areas between Constantine and Charlemagne but those areas did no better than others during that era.

          2) We can then rule out Christianity as a religion of peace. The wars were often between Christian kingdoms.

        • MNb

          Unfortunately Roger Bacon’s influence was close to zero. He was not mainstream enough – and that mainstream was christian through and through.

        • You keep making vague and changing claims.

          Stop, clarify your thinking, and make a clear statement using dates about what you claim Christianity did to science in Europe.

        • KarlUdy

          Let me see if I understand your position:

          You are stating that the church can claim no credit for the advancement of Western civilization. In particular you claim that the development of modern science in Western civilization was a mere accident of history, and that modern science could have quite easily happened in any place in time. Now, normally I would give such an argument the benefit of the doubt, but in your case, you have previously argued against the validity of sciences that arise from other cultural traditions. In my mind, you have two choices – accept a diversity in science alongside your claim that a Christian-influenced West is nothing special, or accept that the Christian-influenced West is something special alongside your claim that the science arising from non-Western traditions do not deserve to be treated as the same category as Western-civilization arising modern science.

          Another issue is the claim that the Christianity inherently hinders scientific progress, which I countered by pointing out examples of Christianity inspiring scientific progress, which have been met by various opposing arguments, including “that’s just an isolated example”, “but what about Galileo”, and your “if the church was in charge of Europe, why did it take 1000 years for modern science to come along”.

          At various times I have been trying to counter various of these arguments (none of which I believe hold much water). I would be much happier following one single train of thought down to the end, but I don’t think many others here want to do that, and disqus really struggles when discussions diverge.

        • ?? I’m trying to get you to clarify your position, since you started this. Your position is a greased pig, and it seems a reasonable request for you to make a clear, testable claim. Start with this, and include a date range.

          Let me see if I understand your position:

          … but I guess we’re going to look at my position instead?

          You are stating that the church can claim no credit for the advancement of Western civilization.

          No. I’m saying that the Church was largely in charge for over 1000 years. Your claim—whatever the hell it is—will have to deal with the fact that pretty much jack shit happened useful during this time.

          In particular you claim that the development of modern science in Western civilization was a mere accident of history, and that modern science could have quite easily happened in any place in time.

          It did develop largely in Europe. Why is that? The connection with Christianity seems to be an inverse one, so I’m amazed that you bring that one forward. Guns, Germs, and Steel sounds like a better line of reasoning.

          you have previously argued against the validity of sciences that arise from other cultural traditions.

          Don’t know what this means.

          Another issue is the claim that the Christianity inherently hinders scientific progress

          “Inherently”? I don’t think I said that. That certainly is the correlation, though.

          Technological progress pleased the church in the case of cathedrals, so boatloads of money went there. Progress was phenomenal. Astronomy to a small extent in the case of the dating of Easter. And then art and sculpture. Physics seemed to get in the way of dogma in the case of Galileo, lightning rods, and so on.

          examples of Christianity inspiring scientific progress

          I forgot or didn’t see this. Please repeat.

        • Michael Neville

          Galileo was brought before the Inquisition for professing heliocentricism. Copernicus’s, Kepler’s and Newton’s books were on the Prohibited List. Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for heresy. How can you pretend that isn’t anti-science?

        • Greg G.

          EXACTLY! The Catholic Church embraced the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas who was heavily influenced by Aristotle. When the Catholic Church began to lose power, Aristotle could be abandoned.

          Kepler was a Protestant which was part of the breakdown of the Catholic church.

        • Michael Neville

          Galileo was brought before the Inquisition on charges of heresy.

        • MNb

          Bollocks. Not founded on judeo-christian and Greek philosophy:

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

          Not any different.
          Plus the one example you provide is exactly the one which scientific content is debatable. There is also difference between say Dutch and American medicine. See Lynn Payer, Medicine and Culture.

        • tsig

          “A science founded on Buddhist or Confucian principles would look very different to Western science”

          I’m pretty sure that the laws of physics are the same whether you are Buddhist or Christian.

      • If that one Chinese ruler had not been so short-sighted, the argument might be about the contribution of Confucianism or Buddhism.

        Agreed. Lots of factors come into play, including luck. If Christianity had some magical society-shaping force (I mean in a positive way), I would’ve expected to see Europe as a juggernaut in proportion to how Christianity took over. The stagnant millennium wouldn’t have happened.

      • MNb

        “They had the finest shipwrights in the world ”
        At the time Columbus crossed the Atlantic Chinese ships were ten times as large.

    • tsig

      Christianity did it’s best to club science to death in the cradle. When it couldn’t kill it it learned to live with it and now tries to take credit for it.

      • David Schmidt

        Not true. Science arose in the West because of the Christian belief in a God who created an orderly world with rules and laws that can be understood. Furthermore, the Christian desire to understand the created order as a means of honoring God motivated the early scientists, the vast majority of whom believed in Christ Jesus.

        • What about the non-Christian scientists in Arabia, India, and China? Apparently scientists can be motivated by supportive societies whether they’re Christian or not.

          Science arose in the West because of the Christian belief in a God who created an orderly world with rules and laws that can be understood.

          How does this work? I don’t see this as a motivator; it looks instead like post hoc rationalization. Christians likelier say, “God’s got it all figured out. Famine, plague, drought, and good harvests are all caused by God. Don’t tell me that natural rules are actually the cause! That’s blasphemous.”

        • David Schmidt

          Name Arabian, Indian or Chinese “scientist” who determined created chemistry, astronomy (as opposed to astrology); who developed calculus, and discovered gravity. Because Arabs, Indians and Chinese did not believe in a God who created the universe with laws and order, there were no scientists, individuals who using rational, systematic approach to discovery.

          The Christian scientists of the 1600’s believed in a deity who created the universe with laws and rules. The scientist, wanting to better understand God’s creation, applied his / her God-given reason and understanding to figure out the world. He did this to glorify God.

        • adam

          ” Name Arabian, Indian or Chinese “scientist” who determined created chemistry, astronomy,”

          https://explorable.com/indian-astronomy

        • David Schmidt

          so what you are admitting is that you can’t. Furthermore, only in the West did the scientific revolution occur. So, I’m sure there were very wise and smart people everywhere. THE POINT is only in the Christian West did a worldview exist in which science could and did develop. This is a fact that you cannot ignore.

        • Greg G.

          The scientific revolution occurred when Christianity lost its political power. As soon as people were free to follow where the evidence led them, science grew exponentially. The church had nothing to do with it except held it back for centuries.

        • adam

          https://explorable.com/indian-
          I just did.

          ” Furthermore, only in the West did the scientific revolution occur.”

          Nope, read the link.

          “THE POINT is only in the Christian West did a worldview exist in which science could and did develop.

          Nope

          https://explorable.com/indian-

          “This is a fact LIE that you cannot ignore.”
          ftfy

          Christainity has a history of being anti-science.

        • WTF? Yes, modern science came out of Europe, but you’re imagining all sorts of connections with Christianity that are completely unfounded. You need to give us more than one sentence to back up your incredible claims.

          Why imagine that it was the Christian worldview that was at all relevant?

        • MNb

          Repeating your lie does not make it true. I showed you above that science developed independently from christianity in both India and China.
          That modern science developed in the West was not due to christianity, simply because it’s typical for modern science to neglect every single supernatural explanation. It could have happened in India just as easily, if this

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

          hadn’t disappeared about 900 years ago.

        • Greg G.

          Name Arabian, Indian or Chinese “scientist” who determined created chemistry, astronomy (as opposed to astrology); who developed calculus, and discovered gravity.

          All of those were developed by using Arabic numerals and algebra which is also Arabic. The concept of the number zero comes from India. The Chinese were a thousand years ahead of European Christians when it came to making paper and printing.

        • David Schmidt

          Neither example is science.

        • Greg G.

          You used calculus as an example. Newton invented calculus to derive his Laws of Motion. Neither would have been possible with the contributions of the Arabs and the Hindi.

          Kepler studied the motions of the planets using algebra.

          Chemistry uses algebra.

          A famous Newton quote is, “If I have seen farther than others, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants.” He wouldn’t have seen anything without algebra and the concept of the number zero.

        • MNb

          Indeed we may regret that the Romans, when they met the decimal system (I’d have to look up when; it was somewhere in the Middle East), they decided to stick to their own system.

        • MNb

          I gave examples of Chinese and Indian science just above. Dishonest as you are your prefer to neglect them.

        • who developed calculus, and discovered gravity

          Name the Christian scientists who discovered gunpowder and developed a mechanism for paper. Oops—that’s kind of unfair, since I deliberately picked discoveries made by non-Christians so you couldn’t answer the question. Which is kind of what you did.

          As for chemistry, alcohol and alchemy come from Arabic.

          Does the set 1, 2, 3 … look familiar? They’re Arabic numerals. The word algorithm comes from the name Al-Khwārizmī, a Persian mathematician.

          And you asked about astronomy. Most of our named stars come from Arabic.

          And this Arab golden age (ended in 1258) was during a time when Christianity was in charge in Europe and there was nothing to show for it.

          Now that I’ve shown you how it’s done, I’ll leave as an exercise for you to learn about things discovered in India or China.

          Because Arabs, Indians and Chinese did not believe in a God who created the universe with laws and order, there were no scientists, individuals who using rational, systematic approach to discovery.

          This is gibberish. Are you saying that seeing order required Christian glasses? That any order was perceptible only within Europe? That the other guys didn’t have gods who created things (including order)?

          You’ve made an outlandish claim and need to back it up. Show us what was unique about Christianity that gave us remarkable progress (despite the 1000 years of nothing in the history of Europe), show us that the other religions didn’t have the secret sauce, and show us that it was Christianity that was solely responsible for Europe winning the race.

          He did this to glorify God.

          You’re a funny guy. Christianity didn’t subsidize science (except in those few areas where there was a church benefit). Science came despite Christianity, not because of it.

        • MNb

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

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

          “The Christian scientists of the 1600’s ….”
          The christian scientists from before 1500 CE only parroted their ill-understanding of Greek texts. Apparently you think they didn’t feel the need to glorify the very same god. Which is nonsense.

        • Michael Neville

          Ever hear of Omar Khayyam? Besides being a poet, he wrote papers on geometric algebra (which is originally an Arabic word) and the binomial theorem. He devised a calendar which is more accurate than the Gregorian calendar we use today. And that’s just one Muslim mathematician and scientist, there are lots more.

        • KarlUdy

          David, the real issue here is that Bob has previously stated that scientific systems that come from non-Western civilization are not really science at all. He uses such an argument because it fits his narrative that religious truth is locally ascribed, but scientific truth is globally ascribed.

        • Huh? Where in the definition of “science” do we find disqualifiers for what people in Arabia, India, or China do??

        • KarlUdy

          You’ve given your opinion on this before: (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2012/08/why-map-of-world-religions-but-not-world-science/ and http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2011/08/map-of-world-religions/)

          And the key thing is what philosophy their “science” is based on. Science that arises out of non-Western civilization inevitably looks different to Western science because there are different assumptions that the cultures bring to their investigation of the world.

        • Yet again, you need to back up your claims. I don’t know what to make of them because there’s so little there.

          Science is science. If you’re saying that the techniques or attitudes toward science were different in 9th-century Europe vs. 9th-century India or China, be specific about what those were and how the “science” from India or China was substandard.

          If valid discoveries came from not-Europe, I can’t see how we can tar them with a not-science brush.

        • KarlUdy

          I don’t think they are substandard. But they may not always reconcile with Western understandings about our universe.

        • adam

          “But they may not always reconcile with Western understandings about our universe.”

          Actually they reconcile with modern physics MUCH MUCH better than “God of Abraham” superstitions

        • MNb

          And methodological naturalism is incapable of determining which understanding is wrong?

        • Greg G.

          But western science didn’t progress until it was free of the Christian culture. If other cultures had freed science from their religions, they would have ended with similar science. Science proceeds from success and failures. Science under the thumb of religion has all the failures but little success.

        • KarlUdy

          Wrong. If that were the case, a catholic cleric like Copernicus could never have been at the forefront of a scientific revolution in the late middle ages.

        • Greg G.

          From Nicolaus Copernicus, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

          The publication of this model in his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) just before his death in 1543 is considered a major event in the history of science, triggering the Copernican Revolution and making an important contribution to the Scientific Revolution.

          Blue Planet – Space (eBook) By Gina Hamilton says he was on his deathbed before he published for fear of the Inquisition.

          He was not on the forefront. He was in the shadows until after he died, thanks to the Christian church.

        • MNb

          His work came out of the same shadows thanks to the same christian church. I don’t know who that Hamilton is, but she’s just repeating a 19th Century myth.

        • Susan

          Science that arises out of non-Western civilization inevitably looks different to Western science

          Give me an example.

        • KarlUdy

          You can look at the variety of mathematics (eg base 2, 10, 12, 20 for starters, although there are many more differences) that evolved in different places. Or for a more specific example Chinese medicine vs Western medicine

        • Susan

          You can look at the variety of mathematics (eg base 2, 10, 12, 20 for starters, although there are many more differences

          That’s not helpful but thank you for responding. It would be more helpful if you explained how culture influenced each one and what that has to do with your claim. Also, how Chrisitianity (the belief in an immaterial being that pulled metaphysical nothingness from twixt its buttocks, came to earth as a human, never bothered to mention that slavery was a terrible idea, died, was resurrected to save our souls and give a few humans of all the species on earth an afterlife) helped to establish science.

          Chinese medicine vs. Western medicine

          Which Chinese medicine? Which Western medicine? What about Chinese and Western physics? Chemistry?

        • Greg G.

          The mathematics aren’t that different just because the of the base. My phone can calculate a multiplication using binary and get the same number I get using decimal numbers.

          Christianity started with Roman numerals, didn’t it? That numbering system is based on fives as much as tens. Then the guy now known as Fibonacci introduced in the base-10 Hindu-Arabic numbering system to Europe in the 12th century.

          Chinese medicine uses Western medicine and in the West, some use alternative medicine, which is similar to what we call Chinese medicine.

        • KarlUdy

          There are universes in Asia that offer degrees in both Chinese and Western medicine. Chinese medicine does not use Western medicine, or vice versa, they are two different theories of how the human body and health and disease work and one cannot be expressed in the other’s terms and definitions

        • Greg G.

          There are also degrees in alternative medicine:

          https://www.google.com/search?biw=1057&bih=652&q=eschatology+in+the+gospel+of+john&revid=1000828165&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwil_cfhrvPKAhXHWD4KHSuSBL0Q1QIIXigA#q=degrees+in+alternative+medicine

          These are separate from modern medicine.

          Many proponents of alternative medicine claim that modern medicine is more interested in treating the disease than curing it. I’ve seen it pop up on Facebook twice in the past week and other places over the past decade or so.

        • Susan

          they are two different theories of how the human body and health and disease work and one cannot be expressed in the other’s terms and definitions

          They can’t be evaluated scientifically?

        • KarlUdy

          They rely on different assumptions/explanations about how the human body works

        • MNb

          And those assumptions cannot be evaluated by methodological naturalism?
          Anyhow you’re producing blatant nonsense, only to be excused by sheer ignorance. This

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

          and this

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

          is an integral part of math as Euclides’ geometry. Denying and even neglecting those contributions (and let’s not forget the Mayan calendar either) is a form of European megalomania that border on racism.

        • Myna Alexanderson

          And yet Integrative medicine does not dismiss those non-Western modalities based on theoretical differences as you seem wont to suggest.

          An astronomical tool, the astrolabe, that while developed in the West was perfected in the East. The evolution of science and invention is not static, and moves from one place to the next. Gun-powder, paper-making, the compass, printing, the manufacture of silk, all invented in China moved West. All things integrate sooner or later. The Western world does not hold a monopoly.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          The point of scientific fact being universal and religious “truth” being regional is that science is a system that can be used to evaluate reality and minimize the influence of the users on obtaining and interpreting results. Religion is demonstrably about individuals’ metaphysical ideologies within their cultures (listen to some religious talk radio and the subjectiveness of the “truth” is heard being complained about all the time, notably never by any god but by only humans).

        • KarlUdy

          Those who think that science can operate independently from culture have never tried to do science in different cultures

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          What does that mean? If we are talking practice, then we are in obvious agreement. If we are talking about the concepts and methods themselves, then I am not sure your argument makes sense. The utility of science is trying to make its user irrelevant to the results and interpretations. If science did not show such utility results would range as vast as religious beliefs instead of the many theories we have arrived at from the consensus on results (compare origins of the universe in world religions accross history to our top competing models based on many discoveries and people rigorously testing each other’s work).

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          I teach math and physics to kids (and took them to the ADEK University of Paramaribo to make them do some experiments) from a culture so different that I have nothing in common with them. I’m not talking about Surinamese-Javanese kids, who via islam are connected to christianity and whose culture hence is related to mine. I’m talking about descendants from African runaway slaves, whose grandparents (and often their parents) don’t even speak the same language as me. They quit the Surinamese jungle only 50 years ago. I can perfectly discuss math and physics with those kids (and quite often nothing more) exactly because science operates independently from culture indeed. It’s also amazing and fascinating how pedagogic, psychological and didactic principles I learned in The Netherlands apply just fine to them.
          Yup, dear Karl, science is the universal language. It’s the word that should be globally spreaded, though unfortunately Kingdom will not Come.

        • Susan

          David, the real issue here is that Bob has previously stated that scientific systems that come from non-Western civilization are not really science at all.

          Link please?

        • KarlUdy

          I did link in a similar comment here. Scroll through and you might be able to find it if you’re lucky

        • Susan

          Hi Karl,

          Thanks. I found it right before you sent that.

          From the first link:

          Of course, the idea is nonsense. A new scientific theory isn’t culturally specific, and, if it passes muster, it peacefully sweeps the world. Astronomy replaced astrology, chemistry replaced alchemy, and the germ theory replaced evil spirits as a cause of disease. One scientist should get the same results from an experiment as another, regardless of their respective religions. Evolution or germ theory or relativity or the Big Bang are part of the consensus view among scientists, whether they are Christian, Muslim, atheist, or Other.

          I’m not sure how this supports your point that:

          “Bob has previously stated that scientific systems that come from non-Western civilization are not really science at all.”

          I saw nothing of the sort in the article.

          Sadly, the second link gave me a 404. Disqus has been acting up lately.

          Perhaps, we could focus for now on the first link.

          How does it say what you say it says? (Every time I type a sentence like that, I think of Pinker). 🙂

        • KarlUdy

          Bob gives examples of theories that arise from Western thinking that are accepted by a Western-thinking-paradigm dominated community.

          Some Eastern worldviews would regard it as nonsense to conduct any observation in isolation of the surrounding environment. A science resulting from such a worldview must differ from the Western-originating science we know.

          But Bob would say if they differ, they are not really science.

        • MNb

          “Some Eastern worldviews would regard it as nonsense to conduct any observation in isolation of the surrounding environment. A science resulting from such a worldview must differ from the Western-originating science we know.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          My dear Karl, the Observer Effect in Quantum Mechanics says exactly that we cannot conduct any observation in isolation of the surrounding environment.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observer_effect_(physics)
          This funny principle gave us Schrödinger’s Cat.
          You just demonstrated exactly what you argued against. Western-originating science confirmed those Eastern worldviews.

        • KarlUdy

          Johannes Kepler described his scientific endeavours as “thinking God’s thoughts after him”. Many other scientific pioneers have had a similar attitude.

          The post hoc rationalization here is your suggestion that Christians are not interested in understanding and investigating order in nature.

        • I’m simply pointing out that (1) you’ve done nothing but assert that somehow Christianity is the magic sauce, despite many confounding problems with the claim and (2) the Christian idea that God is the answer would argue against your position, since it asserts that God is at least behind the issues that matter and (who knows?) maybe he’s even behind simple things like why rocks always fall down.

        • KarlUdy

          Re (1): This is not what I have said. Instead my comments have been attacking the claim made here that Christianity impeded the progress of science (pointing out that Aristotelianism was the major factor holding back medieval science), and querying how you can claim a cultural diversity of scientific heritage here, and deny it in other places.

          Re (2): You can speculate as to the motivations and thought processes of Christians all you like, but the fact is that Christians like Kepler who made important advances in science have told us what they thought and believed about the relationship between God, order and the cosmos, and such beliefs are firstly, not as you characterize them, and secondly, evidently a clear motivation behind their scientific investigation and discovery.

        • (1) Then clarify what your point is. Sure looks to me like scientific progress came to an almost complete halt after Christianity took over after the Roman Empire. Clarify what you think Christianity brought to the party, and then show me why this glacial pace actually supports your position.

          (2) My speculation seems just as well founded as yours. That attitude I suggested seems quite well founded on Christianity.

          Kepler came a good bit later than Constantine and the rise of Christianity, as I recall, so I’m not sure how he fits in. If your point is that Christianity’s positive impact happened only with the Renaissance (or something), then make clear the date range you’re talking about.

        • KarlUdy

          (1) Huns, Goths, Vandals and Vikings are a better explanation for the halting of scientific progress in Europe at the time.
          (2) I’ll take my evidence over your speculation, thanks.

        • (1) Oh? Show me a time when Europe was peaceful. I suspect that whatever you can find in Europe post-Renaissance (assuming that’s the timeframe you’re now talking about)–a long period of peace, a geographic region of peace, or lots of wars–I can find the same in pre-Renaissance Europe. Or vice versa.

          Your argument continues to change. What timeframe are you claiming? I suggest you start over and give us a complete statement of what you’re claiming.

          (2) Evidence? You’ve made a bold claim with no evidence. Give me the evidence, then.

        • adam

          (2) I’ll take my evidence over your speculation, thanks.

          And I will take evidence from the time…by someone who understood

        • KarlUdy

          Another atheist myth for you bingo players – #23, and with a misattributed quote to boot!

        • Susan

          Hey Karl,

          Another atheist myth for you bingo players

          I agree that the quote is spurious. So much better if you provided a link so that we could all learn something.

          Adam is no dummy and is open to correction as far as I’ve seen.

          I could play theist bingo with you if that’s what you’d like (e.g. “here’s a scientist who says his belief in Jesus inspired his scientific inquiry”) but I prefer to keep communication open to the extent that someone demonstrates that they are willing to learn.

          Correct his error. Like this:

          https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Magellan

          I’m sure he would be happy to retire that one when he reads the link.

        • KarlUdy

          Susan, you seemed to do fine without the link.

          adam’s main contribution here seems to be to provide spurious, out of context, or plain false statements as if they were demonstrable facts that everyone should know.

          Further, correcting adam is kind of line playing whack-a-mole. He just changes topic and introduces a new spurious, out of context or plainly false meme.

          But maybe you can have some influence with him.

        • Susan

          adam’s main contribution here seems to be to provide spurious, out of context, or plain false statements as they were demonstrable facts that everyone should know.

          I disagree with that. I think he’s often provided particularly relevant links. I prefer to evaluate them link by link.

          In this case, if you had linked to the spuriousness of the source (sorry, couldn’t resist typing “spurious” again), you would have corrected Adam on the record.

          And if Adam ever used that meme again, I would agree with you.

          I doubt he would. But if I’m wrong, I would admit it.

          That’s how we all move forward.

        • MNb

          How prejudiced of you.
          See, I corrected Adam once. He reacted by doubling the criticism.
          Must I conclude you’re just another christian who doesn’t care about Matth. 7:1 ?

        • Greg G.

          1) Don’t omit the Inquisition.

        • KarlUdy

          I think you’re getting your historical periods mixed up. The inquisition came much later.

        • Greg G.

          The fear of the Inquisition kept Copernicus from publishing until he was on his deathbed. That puts a big damper on scientific inquiry.

        • adam

          One for me….

          Opps, sorry, some times it is difficult to discern these apologists from each other.

        • Susan

          That puts a big damper on scientific inquiry.

          Being afraid to make an honest inquiry on punishment of heresy is not conducive to good science.

        • MNb

          Unfortunately for this atheist myth Copernicus was not afraid of punishment of heresy. He was afraid of criticism by his colleagues and with some good reason, as he lacked empirical data.

        • Greg G.

          Copernicus shared his ideas with other astronomers in his town. It leaked out to other astronomers. Obviously he was not concerned with criticism of his colleagues. All he had was empirical data that was too abstract to be understood by anyone but astronomers.

          He only agreed to publish after getting a positive response from the sitting pope who had it explained to him. His work was published while he was dying or already dead.

          His theory was attacked on religious and philosophical grounds by Catholics and Protestants.

          His theory was still being attacked in Galileo’s time. From the Controversy section of the Wikipedia article on Copernicus

          Perhaps the most influential opponent of the Copernican theory was Francesco Ingoli, a Catholic priest. Ingoli wrote a January 1616 essay to Galileo presenting more than twenty arguments against the Copernican theory. Though “it is not certain, it is probable that he [Ingoli] was commissioned by the Inquisition to write an expert opinion on the controversy”, (after the Congregation of the Index’s decree against Copernicanism on 5 March 1616, Ingoli was officially appointed its consultant).

        • MNb

          Nope. Copernicus enjoyed the protection of

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

          Then this guy

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

          enthusiastically explained Copernicus’ heliocentrism to

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

          You may notice that none of them send the Inquisition to Frombork, Poland. Copernicus had nothing to fear of them.
          What he feared was the scorn of his colleague-astronomers and for a pretty good reason: he lacked empirical data to support his model. Those where provided by Tycho Brahe a couple of decades later, who didn’t exactly have to fear the Inquisition either.
          Must I conclude that being susceptible for one myth makes you susceptitble for others as well? Because you’re repeating a 19th Century myth here.

        • Greg G.

          The Wikipedia article on Copernicus is much richer than the last time I looked at two or three years ago. If Wikipedia is accurate, the story is not as dramatic as the links I supplied say it but it is not as wrong as you make it out to be.

          By then Copernicus’ work was nearing its definitive form, and rumors about his theory had reached educated people all over Europe. Despite urgings from many quarters, Copernicus delayed publication of his book, perhaps from fear of criticism—a fear delicately expressed in the subsequent dedication of his masterpiece to Pope Paul III. Scholars disagree on whether Copernicus’ concern was limited to possible astronomical and philosophical objections, or whether he was also concerned about religious objections.

          Above that is:

          In 1533, Johann Widmanstetter, secretary to Pope Clement VII, explained Copernicus’ heliocentric system to the Pope and two cardinals. The Pope was so pleased that he gave Widmanstetter a valuable gift.

          Under strong pressure from Rheticus, and having seen the favorable first general reception of his work, Copernicus finally agreed to give De revolutionibus to his close friend, Tiedemann Giese, bishop of Chełmno (Kulm), to be delivered to Rheticus for printing by the German printer Johannes Petreius at Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Germany.

          Legend has it that he was presented with the final printed pages of his Dē revolutionibus orbium coelestium on the very day that he died, allowing him to take farewell of his life’s work.

          It was published when he was on his deathbed or dead, depending on the legend.

          Even if it wasn’t fear of the Inquisition, he was afraid to publish though he did share his ideas with his colleagues, so we can rule out fear of criticism of experts. He agreed to publish after getting a positive response from the pope. It is plausible that was the factor that allayed his fear.

          Such a fear would not be unfounded. Under the Controversy section, we find:

          The first notable to move against Copernicanism was the Magister of the Holy Palace (i.e., the Catholic Church’s chief censor), Dominican Bartolomeo Spina, who “expressed a desire to stamp out the Copernican doctrine”.[91] But with Spina’s death in 1546, his cause fell to his friend, the well known theologian-astronomer, the Dominican Giovanni Maria Tolosani of the Convent of St. Mark in Florence.

          Tolosani may have criticized the Copernican theory as scientifically unproven and unfounded, but the theory also conflicted with the theology of the time, as can be seen in a sample of the works of John Calvin. In his Commentary on Genesis he said that “We indeed are not ignorant that the circuit of the heavens is finite, and that the earth, like a little globe, is placed in the centre.”[98] In his commentary on Psalms 93:1 he states that “The heavens revolve daily, and, immense as is their fabric and inconceivable the rapidity of their revolutions, we experience no concussion…. How could the earth hang suspended in the air were it not upheld by God’s hand? By what means could it maintain itself unmoved, while the heavens above are in constant rapid motion, did not its Divine Maker fix and establish it.”

        • MNb

          1) No, they aren’t. They came about 700 years after scientific progress in Europe halted.
          2) Only your evidence? My evidence is that the Byzantine Empire didn’t make any scientific progress either, despite being politically stable for at least 700 years. What does that say about christianity? Think … think … think … ah, got it. Christianity was not a factor for the scientific revolution of the 16th Century.

        • MNb

          “Sure looks to me like scientific progress came to an almost complete halt after Christianity took over after the Roman Empire.”
          Incorrect. Scientific progress in the Mediterranean came to an almost complete halt around 200 BCE – after Archimedes was killed by a Roman soldier. You may notice that’s about half a millennium before christianity became the state religion. If anything it was Roman authoritarianism that stifled scientific progress.

        • And the incredible Roman civil engineering–Pantheon, road system, heated baths, etc.? Are you saying that that simply used Greek science, not improved upon by the Romans?

        • MNb

          Yes as the first part goes, about Greek science.
          As for the second part – define what you mean with “improved”.
          The Romans were engineers (and very good ones even according to modern standards), not scientists, as your examples confirm. They didn’t formulate any new hypotheses, let alone test them (not that the Greeks did that too often).

          Pantheon? Acropolis.
          Paved roads? Ur, Babylonia, 2000 BCE.

        • To take things to new levels takes something. Call it just engineering if you want, but, along with the lack of new science, you don’t see that either within Christian Europe until the 1200s.

          http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/56/112156-004-C898B6B4.jpg

        • Greg G.

          I recall reading somewhere around the turn of the last millennium that a European city got a new back-up water supply. They had been using a Roman aqueduct until then.

        • Michael Neville

          The Romans had a very interesting bit of quality assurance in their bridge building. When the bridge was opened to traffic the builder and, if he was a different person, the architect were put in a small boat under the bridge. Some of those bridges are still standing 2000 years after they were built.

        • MNb

          “To take things to new levels takes something”
          Not necessarily new scientific insights and that’s what you claimed. Call it what you want – you still were wrong when writing

          “like scientific progress came to an almost complete halt after Christianity took over after the Roman Empire.”
          as shown by

          “until the 1200s”
          When christianity was still firmly in charge. Or rather firmly in charge again as the authority of the church had met some very low points in the centuries before. Good job making Karl Udy very happy by implying that christianity was necessary for scientific progress from 1200 CE on.

          “you don’t see”
          I do. If you don’t it’s because of your ignorance, your blinkers, your prejudice or all of them.

          http://www.flowofhistory.com/units/west/10/FC63
          http://www.answers.com/Q/What_were_the_agricultural_changes_in_the_Middle_Ages
          http://listverse.com/2007/09/22/top-10-inventions-of-the-middle-ages/

          Lots well before the 1200s. So if you equal engineering and technology to science the entire Middle Ages saw scientific progress as well. And christianity resisted exactly none of them.
          So much for you following the evidence.
          Idea: cure yourself from the false dichotomy that christianity was either totally pro or totally anti-science. Both are wrong. There is no correlation.

        • So much for you following the evidence.

          Right.

        • Greg G.

          1) It was the Catholic church that insisted on Aristotlean philosophy as a model of the universe. Science proceeded with the Renaissance when the Church was losing its power and fragmenting.

          2) Kepler showed that the Church had been wrong all that time about the orbits of the planets.

          These occurred where the Christianity that held political power for a millennium lost its power and its beliefs could then be refuted.

          It was the disintegration of the power of Christianity that led to the growth of science.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Another case, as with slavery and many other controversies, of a Christian calling bullshit on ‘the “truth” of Jesus’.

        • MNb

          Yup – that was a necessary, however not a sufficient factor. The power of christianity declined in the 10th Century as well, when popes where just puppets in the hands of the Roman aristocracy ….
          The disintegration was necessary to enable people like Kepler to find protection by authorities who still where religious. For instance Kepler for this exact reason had to move from Graz to Prague in 1600 CE.

        • adam

          Science proceeding IN SPITE of christianity’s superstition and ignorance.

          Christianity has a history of anti-science.

        • KarlUdy

          For those of you playing bingo at home, that’s atheist myth #16 😉

        • Michael Neville

          It wasn’t until 1758 that books advocating heliocentricism were removed from the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, which meant that Newton’s Principia Mathematica (published in 1687) was a prohibited book.

        • Wikipedia says that it was misattributed to Magellan by Ingersoll.

          (If you do actually have a list of atheist myths, I’d like to see them. I’m always looking for interesting arguments to respond to.)

        • Greg G.

          That article says that Ingersoll wrote that he “believed it was Magellan”. Somebody wrote it and it is pretty good as is no matter who wrote it. Near the end of the article it gives a similar quote from a letter from Christopher Columbus to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Perhaps Ingersoll was trying to quote from memory and the only name he recalled was “Ferdinand”.

          “I have always read that the world, comprising the land and the water, was spherical, as is testified by the investigations of Ptolemy and others, who have proved it by the eclipses of the moon, and other observations made from east to west, as well as by the elevation of the pole from north to south…” Letter to Ferdinand and Isabella describing Columbus’ third voyage to America.

        • KarlUdy

          They key issue is that no educated person in medieval times believed the earth was flat. It was never taught by the church.

          Danté, some 200 years before Magellan and Columbus, built his Divine Comedy on an explicit understanding that the earth was round.

          The problem with the quote was not that it claimed that Magellan believed the world was round, but that it falsely said that the church claimed it wasn’t. And I don’t think that adam cares much about what Magellan believed – no, his post was intended as a criticism of the church. So, no, the quote is not “pretty good as is no matter who wrote it.”

        • Greg G.

          Here’s an example of a pope in the 8th century who is ready to excommunicate a future saint for teaching about a round earth:

          St Vergilius of Salzburg (c. 700–784), in the middle of the 8th century, discussed or taught some geographical or cosmographical ideas that St Boniface found sufficiently objectionable that he complained about them to Pope Zachary. The only surviving record of the incident is contained in Zachary’s reply, dated 748, where he wrote:

          As for the perverse and sinful doctrine which he (Virgil) against God and his own soul has uttered—if it shall be clearly established that he professes belief in another world and other men existing beneath the earth, or in (another) sun and moon there, thou art to hold a council, deprive him of his sacerdotal rank, and expel him from the Church.

          There were still many literate people in France who wrote about a flat earth.

          However Tattersall shows that in many vernacular works in 12th- and 13th-century French texts the Earth was considered “round like a table” rather than “round like an apple”. “In virtually all the examples quoted…from epics and from non-‘historical’ romances (that is, works of a less learned character) the actual form of words used suggests strongly a circle rather than a sphere, though notes that even in these works the language is ambiguous.

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

        • MNb

          “Instead my comments have been attacking the claim made here that Christianity impeded the progress of science.”
          If that were the only point of your comments I would side with you. However you claimed a lot more.
          Plus you don’t recognize that quite a huge part of christianity does try to impede the progress of science since Charles Darwin indeed. Alas precious few christians refuse to recognize that it’s a christian problem. You’re one of them; so are Plantinga, Craig and some of their Dutch colleagues whose theses I have read.
          When some co-believer of yours spouts christian-inspired creacrap on this site you always meticulously keep your mouth shut.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Just based on the quote, I think Kepler would be in oposition to the influence of religion in many of the USA controversial cases we have seen in recent years (ID in schools, Hobby Lobby, opposition to LGBT+ people, etc) as the modern and nullified version of his quote seems to be “follow what thoughts we have thought after god” (don’t think, it makes sense, trust us). Though, perhaps today we would see an alive Kepler as also merely playing lipservice to thinking when convenient.

        • Susan

          The post hoc rationalization here is your suggestion that Christians are not interested in understanding and investigating nature.

          No one disputes that there are Christians who can do science. That’s the beauty of science.

          What does Christianity contribute to it?

        • KarlUdy

          Read Kepler’s quote in the comment you just replied to

        • Susan

          Read Kepler’s quote in the comment

          I read it. That’s why I asked the question.

        • KarlUdy

          If you had read it then you would have recognized, I hope, that Kepler was stating how his scientific investigation and discovery were motivated by his Christian understanding of God and his relation to the universe.

        • Susan

          Kepler was stating how his scientific investigation and discovery were motivated by his Christian understanding of God and his relation to the universe.

          I am not asking about a single scientist’s motivation to pursue scientific inquiry. There are countless examples of scientists who were motivated by not christianity to pursue scientific inquiry. I’m asking what christianity itself uniquely has contributed to science or now contributes to science.

          It’s not science. I see countless examples of christians (not necessarily you) denying science because of their particular christian beliefs and the remaining christians claiming that christianity is not susceptible to scientific inquiry.

          I don’t see a connection between it and science. The assumption that reality demonstrates patterns and that those patterns can be studied is not unique to christianity.

          So… do you see what I’m asking?

        • KarlUdy

          As I said earlier, Kepler expressed a view that was common among his scientific contemporaries. It was not an isolated view of one scientist, but an understanding that propelled a whole wave of investigation and discovery, even, some might say, the birth of modern science.

          Christianity may not be the only worldview that implies an intelligible universe, but it was the worldview that acted as the incubator for science in the West, and there are many worldviews that do not imply an intelligible universe – atheism, for example.

        • Susan

          Kepler expressed a view that was common among his scientific contemporaries.

          Of course it was. Bad form to not be a christian, then. None of this connects christianity to science.

          Christianity is a supernatural belief and is neither necessary nor useful in science.

          Christianity may not be the only worldview that implies an intelligible universe

          Of course it isn’t. Dealing with a universe that seems intelligible to some extent is necessary for survival. We couldn’t get out of bed in the morning without that assumption, nor can I imagine could our ancestors.

          it was the worldview that acted as the incubator for science in the West

          This is the claim I’m asking you to support. Repeating it without supporting it is not useful.

          there are many worldviews that do not imply an intelligible universe –

          I would put christianity in that category. It claims it but its claims don’t require an intelligible universe.

          Naturalism certainly does. As does methodological naturalism which is what science is.

          atheism, for instance

          “I don’t believe you.” is simply that. I suppose that statement implies nothing except that I don’t believe you.

          But it’s generally made by people who consider the universe to be intelligible to the extent that we have examined it.

          In response to claims that rely on supernatural thinking and special pleading.

        • KarlUdy

          Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying.

          I’m not saying that atheists don’t consider the universe to be intelligible. I am saying that it does not necessarily follow from an atheist worldview that the universe is intelligible. It does necessarily follow from a Christian worldview that the universe is intelligible.

          That foundation for understanding the universe was critical in the development of modern science.

        • Susan

          I am saying that it does not necessarily follow from an atheist worldview

          Of course it doesn’t. What a spurious statement. 😉

          You must know by now that “atheist” is a single statement on a single issue.

          There is one thing that follows from the word. That’s why it is silly that you brought it up.

          That’s why I brought up “naturalism” and “methodological naturalism”.

          I’m asking why it requires christian belief. The single statement that people can’t perceive patterns in their world without belief in yahwehjesus doesn’t seem to be adding up.

          Do you have something else except anecdotes about a scientist’s personal religious statement 350 years of doing science ago?

          Before he could know about quantum fields? Before he could know about DNA and natural selection? Expanding space? Hundreds of millions of galaxies?

          What would he make of Adam and Eve now?

          Where is your story without Adam and Eve?

        • Michael Neville

          Many Christians rail against naturalism as being anti-god. Alvin Plantinga uses a strawman version of evolution and a misunderstanding of statistics to argue against naturalism as being “unnatural” (no, I’m not making that up).

          The Catholic Church accepts naturalism with the caveat that god is the prime motivator of nature and science. Having got such a bad press for their persecution of 16th and 17th Century scientists the Catholics have no choice but to agree that the results of science are a better description of the world and the universe than Aristotle and a collection of myths and fables. BTW it wasn’t until 1992 that the Catholic Church cleared Galileo of heresy. Folksinger Robbie O’Connell has a song about it:

          Dear Mr. Galileo, please forgive the long delay-o
          You see we’ve been quite busy trying to settle an old schism
          And of late we’ve had financial and other matters consequential
          That demanded prompt attention though it was our best intention
          To have let you know much sooner before the recent bout of rumours
          That we fear we were too hasty with your excommunication
          And in light of further knowledge and much discussion in the college
          We’ve reassessed the situation and wish now in expiation
          To revoke your former sentence and in a spirit of repentance
          To extend our approbation of your cosmic explanation
          And again we beg your pardon realizing its been hard on
          A man of your education to have a tarnished reputation
          And we trust if in the future your ideas need some nurture
          That you’ll have no hesitation to discuss the situation
          With our confidential experts and hopefully we may avert
          The long deliberation of such sacred litigation
          And we send with deepest amity our best wishes for eternity
          And we trust your suffering will cease and your soul forever rest in peace.
          Amen.

          ©Robbie O’Connell

        • KarlUdy

          Although “atheist” may be a single statement on a single issue, you cannot avoid that that single position on a single issue has implications on many other issues. Not the least of which is that without a God to create the universe, the intelligibility of the universe is either a mystery, an anomaly, a coincidence, or a misunderstanding. The one thing the intelligibility of the universe cannot be is a logical consequence of there being no God.

          The intelligibility of the universe, however, is a logical consequence of the universe being a creation of the Christian God. (Note, there are other conceptions of God, where this may not necessarily be the case, but it is definitely the case with the Christian God.)

        • Susan

          without a God to create the universe, the intelligibility of the universe is either a mystery, an anomaly, a coincidence, or a misunderstanding.

          For one thing, all of those things are possible. The first one is certainly true right now.

          For another, “God” is a false answer. It’s neither necessary nor sufficient. It requires explanations itself that you require of the universe and that you can’t provide. It explains nothing and the evidence doesn’t support your claim.

          It doesn’t add up logically or morally.

          You are shifting the burden.

          The intelligibility of the universe, however, is a logical consequence of the universe being a creation of the Christian God.

          Then, show your work. Define your terms. Demonstrate that your claims are necessary and sufficient to explain reality.

        • TheNuszAbides

          way to send Karl swimming with the crickets!

        • Michael Neville

          I hate presuppositionalist arguments. First give us evidence that any gods exist. Once you’ve done that then show how your favorite god is the universe creator instead of Brahma or Ymir. After you’ve done that then we can discuss whether or not your pet god makes the universe intelligible.

          Remember who you’re talking to. We don’t believe ANY gods exist, let alone the narcissitic, sadistic bully you prefer.

        • KarlUdy

          Ok.

          1) We have a concept of God
          2) Jesus rose from the dead

          QED

        • Susan

          Ok.

          1) We have a concept of God.
          2) Jesus rose from the dead.

          QED

          Where do Adam and Eve come in?

        • KarlUdy

          Why?

        • Susan

          Why?

          No dodging.

        • KarlUdy

          I don’t see the relevance of Adam and Eve to this discussion. Why are you bringing it up?

        • Susan

          I don’t see the relevance of Adam and Eve to this discussion.

          You said:

          The intelligibility of the universe, however, is a logical consequence of the universe being a creation of the Christian God.

          Along with some other assertions.

          I think Adam and Eve is highly relevant to that discussion. It’s not a central part of the story of humans and yahwehjesus?

        • KarlUdy

          Adam and Eve are important characters in the Biblical narrative. So are many others. What’s your point?

        • MNb

          Susan asked a question: “Where do Adam and Eve come in?” You react by asking another question that bears no relevance to Susan’s question. That’s impolite.

        • KarlUdy

          She brings up Adam and Eve as what seems to me like a non sequitor question, and I ask her why and get accused of dodging, and then being impolite. Go figure.

          She either has a point behind why she’s asking the question, in which case, it would be helpful to know what it is so I can answer appropriately, or she doesn’t have a point, in which case, it needn’t be answered.

        • Susan

          Adam and Eve are important characters in the Biblical narrative. So are many others.

          No. Christian claims could easily ditch the story of Ruth, for instance, and remain the same.

          Adam and Eve are central to christian claims.

          Try removing them and see what you’re left with.

          I could be wrong when it comes to your version of “the christian god” but as you’ve only stated “the christian god”, how can I know?

          I’ll type your claim again:

          “The intelligibility of the universe is, however, a logical consequence of the universe being a creation of the Christian God.”

          If you don’t want to tell us where Adam and Eve fit in, that’s fine.

          Maybe I should have been more direct and asked:

          “How is the ‘intelligibility of the universe’ a logical consequence of the universe being a creation of your version of the christian god?”

          Please be specific.

        • MNb

          You talked about our Universe being a creation of your favourite supernatural agent. That includes Adam and Eve – or does it?
          She’s just asking and I’m curious as well.

        • MNb

          1) is a product of human imagination and nothing more.
          2) is also fictional.
          QED – you’re still presenting presuppotionalism.

        • KarlUdy

          My argument would be that
          1) cannot arise from imagination
          2) I believe that this conclusion is the best explanation of the available facts.

          I don’t think my argument qualifies as presuppositionalism. At least it doesn’t look like any of the presuppositional arguments I’ve seen.

        • MNb

          http://www.theopedia.com/presuppositional-apologetics

          Both of your points are examples of

          “The apologist must simply presuppose the truth of Christianity as the proper starting point in apologetics.”
          Without presupposing that truth neither point makes any sense.

        • KarlUdy

          I beg to differ.

          Although on the second point I anticipate we would disagree on how to interpret the evidence surrounding the resurrection – the existence of that evidence is not a presupposition of the truth of Christianity.

          On the first point, I think that there should be general agreement that there exists in this world a concept of God. Or do you disagree?

        • Greg G.

          On the first point, I think that there should be general agreement that there exists in this world a concept of God. Or do you disagree?

          There are many concepts of God. All but one of them are necessarily wrong, thus are the product of imagination, which may be inherited from others. We cannot distinguish a correct concept. It is more likely that all concepts of God are imaginary.

        • KarlUdy

          I disagree with your conclusion that all concepts of God are imaginary. In particular, I do not think that it could a transcendent God could have been imagined without a prior example.

        • Greg G.

          Do you think a Flying Purple People Eater could be imagined without a prior example? How could Plato imagine a realm where ideal forms existed without a prior example?

          God was not imagined as a transcendent being from the beginning. Many gods were thought of as being the forces of nature. Many gods were imagined as beings that interacted directly with the world and humans. As that sort of god became less and less plausible, the transcendent concept evolved.

          We see two versions of God within the first two chapters of the Bible. Elohim, Yahweh and El-Shaddai appear to be different concepts of God rolled into one.

        • KarlUdy

          I do not believe that a concept such as transcendence can evolve. It is an out-of-this-world concept and as such bears no relation to anything in this world, and as such, I don’t believe that it can be imagined without being suggested prior.

        • MNb

          Weird. Every time I read the word “transcendence” and read about the concept behind it it is totally not out-of-this-world. So apparently it does bear a relation to something in this world – to the people talking about it.

        • So the idea of transcendence must come from the transcendent world and can’t be imagined here?

          Seems like a manmade idea to me. What’s hard about it?

          Contrast it with a Flatlander imagining 3D. Now that would be hard. Imagining the supernatural (ghosts, demons, etc.) and the non-natural world they must live in seems trivial.

        • Greg G.

          That’s ancient philosophy. There are lots of things that are imagined that were never imagined before. There was a time when there were no brains on this planet but brains developed and became more complex. The first brains had thoughts that had never been thought before. More complex brains had thoughts that previous brains had never had.

          People often come up with the same new idea independently. People come up with new scientific theories that nobody has thought before. Often those new theories turn out to be wrong. How could someone ever come up with a theory that had no antecedent because it was wrong?

        • Susan

          I do not believe that a concept such as transcendence can evolve.

          It’s more than. It’s that plus one. It’s not that. It’s beyond that.

          What’s so hard about that?

          Kids do it all the time. “If I had three wishes, my first wish would be for an infinite amount of wishes.”

          It’s easily conceptualized. Nothing to it.

        • adam

          “I disagree with your conclusion that all concepts of God are imaginary.”

          Of course, you believe one out of millions of imaginary ‘god’s is real.

          ” I do not think that it could a transcendent God could have been imagined without a prior example.”

          Yep just like for Spiderman, Shiva, Ganesh or any of the MILLIONS of other ‘god’s you dismiss.

        • MNb

          1a. “Or do you disagree?
          Yes. There is not a concept of god – there are many.
          1b. That remark is irrelevant. I already agreed that concepts of gods exist. That’s not the point. The point is this. You can only make the salto mortale, as the deconverted theologian Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis formulated it, from that concept, which belongs to our concrete world, to your christian god in a divine world thanks to the presupposition that christianity is true.

          2. “how to interpret the evidence”
          That’s exactly the point, silly. Your interpretation only makes sense on the presupposition that christianity is true.
          Presuppositionalism all the way.

        • KarlUdy

          I’m a bit confused by your response. Is it possible to have a non-presuppositional argument?

        • MNb

          Yes. For instance one that claims to be founded on observations. Cosmological arguments are not presuppositional. They typically start with something like “there is our Universe”.

          When you make claims about a supposed supernatural/ immaterial/ transendental reality you have a problem though. There is no way to crossexamine your claims. This means you can only use deductional logic, which by definition starts with axiomata, assumptions, presuppositions or whatever.
          Typical for presuppositionalism though is the assumption that christianity is true – which is exactly what we atheists reject.

        • KarlUdy

          So, as I see it. The arguments that I proposed

          1) starts with the observation that there is a concept of (a transcendent) God. You may disagree with the argument, but it is not presuppositional

          2) starts with the observation of the evidence surrounding the claims of Jesus’ resurrection. Again, I don’t think it is presuppositional.

        • adam

          “2) Jesus rose from the dead”

          So did many others…..

          MAGIC

        • Michael Neville

          Raising from the dead is no big deal in the god biz. Osiris, Wotan and Rama all did it, Rama on numerous occasions.

          Anyway, that fails to meet the criteria for giving evidence of the existence of any gods.

        • KarlUdy

          I don’t know much about Osiris, Wotan or Rama rising from the dead. If Rama did it on numerous occasions, it can’t have been the same type of event as Jesus’ resurrection.And the nature and context of Jesus’ resurrection are indicative of his identity as more than a mere man.

        • Michael Neville

          What you’re doing is called special pleading. You’re claiming that your favorite god is different because his resurrection is something or other that these other gods’ resurrections aren’t. Resurrection means being dead and then becoming not-dead. Rama and Wotan both achieved resurrection, which says that resurrection is a generic clause in the boilerplate god contract.

        • KarlUdy

          You yourself provided the example of how Jesus’ resurrection is different from Rama’s. Osiris and Wotan’s resurrections I don’t know about and I didn’t say anything about. So I am not “special pleading”.

        • Greg G.

          You are special pleading the differences between the resurrections while ignoring the essential essence of the stories. Of course they aren’t exactly the same. The gospel accounts are a conglomeration of other literature.

        • KarlUdy

          What do you mean by a comglomeration of other literature?

        • Greg G.

          New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price collects the work of several scholars who have identified sources for the Gospel of Mark independently. Separately, they make very strong cases. Combined, they account for nearly every passage in Mark, which reinforces that Mark was using other sources. Mark combined Greek literature, such as the Homeric epics, with OT verses to make up stories. Mark also seems to have known Paul’s writing, putting ideas expressed by Paul as coming from Jesus.

          The other gospels used Mark’s fictional accounts. Matthew and Luke also borrowed from Josephus.

        • Yes, the story of Jesus isn’t identical to that of Rama; otherwise, we’d call him Rama.

          This sidesteps the question. The gospels came from a society full of resurrection tales.

        • TheNuszAbides

          then why oversimplify your second premise as “Jesus rose from the dead” with none of the supposedly essential context?

        • If you’re saying that other gods’ rising from the dead wasn’t identical to Jesus, of course you’re right. The point is, however, that the gospel story was written in a culture that was well aware of other gods’ resurrections. No chance that resurrection envy tweaked the legend as it went along?

        • Greg G.

          There are many stories about Osiris and Isis. One of the best known is the account by Plutarch. It tells how Osiris was brought back to life, given a magic penis, and impregnated Isis with Horus. A somewhat different story comes from the Pyramid Texts, which come from as far back in time from Plutarch as the Babylonian exile is from us. In that one, Horus resurrects Osiris.

          “Osiris” is a transliteration of the name directly from Egyptian to Greek. The Egyptian would be more like “Osir” of “Azar”. A transliteration from Egyptian through a Semitic language to Greek would be
          Azar > El-Azar > Lazarus. The city would be Anu, also known as Heliopolis, the City of the Sun, and, from the OT, On. The transliteration path would be
          Anu > Beth-Anu > Bethany.

          The Pyramid Texts have two sisters, Isis and Nephthys, mourning the death of Osiris. John 11 has Mary and Martha mourning Lazarus. One of the hieroglyphs for “Nephthys” is a feminized version of the hieroglyph for “Master” or “Lord”, which is the same meaning as “Martha” in Aramaic.

          Over a dozen phrases from John 11 are similar to lines found in the Utterances from the Pyramid Texts and one from the Book of the Dead.

          It is reasonable to think that the Library of Alexandria would have copies of these. John 1:1-18 uses the Logos concept the way Philo did and Philo would have frequented the Library, so it is reasonable to think the author of the Gospel of John had access to the Library or possibly to Greek translations of some of the works from the Library. It is plausible that John derived the Lazarus story from writings derived from the Pyramid Texts and the density of coincidences makes that very probable.

        • KarlUdy

          Fascinating. Sounds a bit far-fetched, but fascinating, all the same.

        • Far-fetched? I’ll grant you that Greg G’s summary is speculation and can’t be proved, but the explanation that you propose is supernatural.

        • Greg G.

          Almost everything in my summary comes from other sources. I stumbled upon the Nephthys-Martha connection independently and serendipitously. That shows the robustness of the theory that there are similarities waiting to be found. It’s almost like confirmation of a prediction of a scientific theory.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, it does seem far-fetched when you are used to reading the stories of the gospels as plausible accounts of actual events. But when you see that so many of them are reciting fictional stories from other sources, it becomes far-fetched to think that they are actual accounts of anything.

          Compare the Mocking of Jesus with the Mocking of Carabbas in Philo’s Flaccus VI 36-39 with Mark 15:16-20, John 19:1-3, and Matthew 27:27-31. Mark is certainly using Philo’s story. John has a shorter version of Mark but includes Mark’s addition of the blue/purple robe where Philo has Carabbas wearing a door mat.

          The previous passage in Mark introduces Barabbas suggesting that Mark modified the name Carabbas. Mark uses both Latin and Aramaic terms but he doesn’t explain the Latin words but usually does for the Aramaic. This is an indication that he expected his audience to know Latin but not Aramaic. He introduced Bartimaeus and explained the name meant “son of Timaeus”. Later, he had Jesus opening his Gethsemane prayer with “Abba, Father” so the readers would know that Barabbas meant “Son of the Father”. One “Son of the Father” was released and one was killed, which sounds like the scapegoat offering of the sins of Israel from Leviticus 16:5-22.

          The trouble with that is the scapegoat offering is for the Day of Atonement, not for the Passover. John tries to correct that by making Jesus out to be the Passover Lamb, contradicting the Synoptics that Jesus was crucified after the Passover meal, so John says Jesus was killed on the day the Passover lambs are killed. The problem with that is that the Passover lamb is not a sin offering.

          Who would have thought the “greatest story ever told” has so many gaping plot holes?

        • adam

          ” Sounds a bit far-fetched, but fascinating, all the same.”

          Compared to talking snakes and donkeys?

        • adam

          “I don’t know much about Osiris, Wotan or Rama rising from the dead.”

          Yes, we understand that you are working from a ‘god of the gaps’ position.

        • adam

          “1) We have a concept presumption of God”
          Fixed that LIE for you…

        • adam

          “It does necessarily follow from a Christian worldview that the universe is intelligible.”

          Then how come so many christians have so many views of the universe, that it is unintelligible?

          You know Mysterious WaysTM

          And how come christianity for MOST of its history was/is anti=science with MAGIC being the ‘intelligible’ answer?

        • Michael Neville

          Creationists are anti-science Christians (and Muslims). They prefer a 2500 year old myth stolen from the Babylonians to what science says.

        • KarlUdy

          You make me laugh adam. The church has always been opposed to MAGIC, not SCIENCE.

        • Susan

          The church has always been opposed to MAGIC

          Just heathen magic. Not its own.

          Would you like to provide an example of a supernatural claim that your church makes that is distinctly demonstrable compared to the supernatural claims of not your church?

        • Michael Neville

          That’s not correct. The church has always been opposed to magic that isn’t theirs. Exorcisms are magic. Transubstantiation as promulgated in Catholic dogma is magic. Miracles are magic. Christian churches have no trouble with these kinds of magic. It’s non-Christian magic that the church disapproves of.

          And you might ask Galileo about the church’s opposition to science. Modern day creationists are strongly anti-science. So stop pretending that your church isn’t opposed to science, this crowd knows better.

        • KarlUdy

          The church has always been opposed to magic. Full stop.

          The things that you say are “Christian magic” are nothing of the kind, because they are not magic.

          Magic: the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation or various other techniques that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature.

        • Susan

          The church has always been opposed to magic. Full stop.

          Full stop? That’s not very persuasive.

          The things that you say are “Christian magic” are nothing of the kind, because they are not magic.

          They look like magic.

          What’s the difference?

          That is meant as a respectful question. It is not sarcastic. I don’t think Michael’s was either. I think you chose to take it that way instead of responding.

          Please answer either one.

          .

        • KarlUdy

          None of the Christian activities mentioned are attempts to assure human control of either supernatural agencies or the forces of nature. So they’re not magic.

        • Susan

          None of the Christian activities mentioned are attempts to assure human control of either supernatural agencies or the forces of nature. So they’re not magic.

          So you keep saying. You’ve given me no reason to take your word for it.

          I asked you to show me the difference.

        • KarlUdy

          Why would you think any of the Christian activities are magic?

        • Susan

          Why would you think any of the Christian activities are magic?

          No dodging.

        • KarlUdy

          I’m not dodging. I’ve given a definition of magic. No Christian activity qualifies as magic. I think you probably misunderstand Christianity if you think Christian activities are magic. But I have no idea what your misunderstanding is if you don’t tell me where you disagree.

        • adam

          “No Christian activity qualifies as magic.”

          ANYTHING that claims the supernatural IS MAGIC….

          So you hare being dishonest, AGAIN.

        • MNb

          You wrote it yourself. Praying for other souls is trying to control your favourite supernatural agent to some extent – talking “Him” into forgiving me or something.

        • adam

          The definition of magic

          Full Definition of magic Merriam Webster

          1 a : the use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces b : magic rites or incantations

          2 a : an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source

          Yes, MAGIC

        • Max Doubt

          “Why would you think any of the Christian activities are magic?”

          Because (a) so many of them perfectly fit the common English definition of magic, and (b) because you are unable to objectively make any distinction between those supposed supernatural acts of an alleged god and what English speaking people would generally describe as magic.

        • adam

          “I asked you to show me the difference.”

          And he cant tell either..

        • MNb

          They are. Praying for souls for instance is an attempt to talk your favourite supernatural agent into forgiving those souls. Every time a christian tells me that he/she will pray for me he/she performs magic.
          Etc.

        • Greg G.

          If you think about Jesus and say “Amen”, it is not magic. If you don’t think about Jesus and say “Abra Cadabra”, it’s magic. Can’t you atheists see the difference?

        • adam

          Wouldnt matter, the christian ‘god’ is MAGIC

          Full Definition of magic Merriam Webster

          1 a : the use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces b : magic rites or incantations

          2 a : an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source

          Yes, MAGIC

        • adam

          “None of the Christian activities mentioned are attempts to assure human control of either supernatural agencies or the forces of nature. So they’re not magic.”

          “presumably” they are, so it is.

        • MNb

          Like praying, doing religious rituals like eating wafers and drinking wine, doing a pilgrimage, paying for indulgentia, hanging crosses, baptism – what have I forgotten?
          It’s a common christian complaint: that unbelief and secularism remove the magic from our reality.

        • KarlUdy

          The key point is that none of those activities are designed to enable humans to gain control over either nature or supernatural forces. Christianity is not about using rituals, prayers, etc to gain control over something like a genie (who calls us “Master”) but instead, a life of us giving ourselves over to God as our Master.

        • MNb

          Of course they are. They are meant to make that master you call god save human souls etc. An example you might recognize:

          “…..
          Give us this day our daily bread,”
          Whether bread is taken literally or metaphorically, the praying christian wants his/her god to fulfill some needs every day.
          “and forgive us our debts,”
          Whether debt is understood financially or metaphorically, the praying christian wants his/her god to remit something.

          “…..
          And lead us not into temptation,but deliver us from evil.”
          And here the christian wants protection from his/her god.
          Things the christian otherwise would not receive.
          That’s the very definition of control.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’m actually surprised that throughout my scrupulously polite childhood, it never occurred to me that there is no “please” in The Lord’s Prayer.

        • adam

          Full Definition of magic Merriam Webster

          1 a : the use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces b : magic rites or incantations

          2 a : an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source

          Yes, MAGIC

        • KarlUdy

          I’ve never really used Merriam Webster as I’m not American.

          I used dictionary.com for the definition I provided. I note that dictionary.com does not have anything along the lines of the (2) from Merriam Webster.

          Can I take it then, that by calling these things that are part of Christianity “magic”, you are saying that they seem to come from a supernatural source?

        • adam

          “”Can I take it then, that by calling these things that are part of Christianity “magic”, you are saying that they seem to come from a supernatural source?”

          No, of course not, but that is the christian claim

          Christianity is based on MAGIC

        • Max Doubt

          “The church has always been opposed to magic. Full stop.”

          You do not get to redefine the term “magic” simply because it makes the alleged supernatural actions and events of some religion sound silly.

          “The things that you say are “Christian magic” are nothing of the kind, because they are not magic.”

          Christianity starts with magic. That’s how the universe supposedly came into existence, how Noah’s flood began and ended, how that Jesus character came back to life after he died, the stuff saints do to become saints, every last bit of it. Again, just because ti sounds silly when you call it magic doesn’t mean you get to redefine the word. Most of us here think it sounds silly no matter what words you use. We just aren’t engaging in willful ignorance or dishonest wordplay to make it feel better.

        • KarlUdy

          Max, I have become aware that there are some different definitions of “magic” being used.

          adam pointed out that Merriam Webster has a definition of “magic” that means “from a seemingly supernatural source”. If that’s what you mean by magic, then I guess you are right – Christianity is about the supernatural.

          If you mean a different definition of magic, then I must disagree, for all the reasons I have given elsewhere.

        • Greg G.

          It seems that “magic” is defined by Christians to exclude miracles by the Lord. Other than that, there isn’t much difference between definitions. To us, magic is illusions or that which cannot be distinguished from the imaginary with no pretense that Christian versions are somehow different.

        • MNb

          According to your very own definition (magic is trying to control a supernatural agent) every time a christian prays for a soul (whether his/her own of somebody else’s) performs magic – because the prayer has exactly the goal to make your god (supernatural by definition) save that soul (whatever that means).

        • KarlUdy

          The key issue is control. Prayer is not a method to control God, nature, or any supernatural powers.

        • “Ask and you shall receive” sounds like prayer controls God to me.

        • Greg G.

          Matthew 18:19 (NRSV)19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.

        • adam

          No the key issue is “presumably”.

          You are being dishonest AGAIN Karl….

        • Susan

          The key issue is control.

          No. The key issue is claiming to have influence in an arena for the existence of which, you have made no case.

          When anyone does that, they are appealing to magic.

          You can say that in your particular magical arena, a magical appeal is made to have some influence with an imaginary agent in which you yield all imaginary control to that agent

          It’s still a claim about magic.

          I haven’t been rude to you. I’ve asked you reasonable questions.

          I’m not the only one but I can only appeal on my own behalf.

          Why do you pop in every few months, hit the reset button and think it’s OK to ignore the main problems with the arguments you tried to make a few months ago?

          I know it’s the internet and you might be predisposed to thinking I mean that question less than sincerely, but I hope you can see that it can be and is meant sincerely.

          When you come back, please try to catch up on your paperwork.

          =====

          Edit: i.e. Adam and Eve

          It’s important.

        • What other definitions of magic are there? (No one could think the topic was stage magic, IMO.)

        • MNb

          Strawman. Adam was not talking about “the church”. He talked about “so many christians” – like that Jesuit who stated that he would accept that 2 + 2 = 5 if church doctrine required so.
          For every christian supporting science there is a christian opposing it – and vice versa. Plus many of them (possibly the majority) was indifferent or neutral.

        • KarlUdy

          MNb – adam attributed the stances towards science and magic to “christianity”. I don’t think my statement is a strawman at all by using church in place of Christianity. If it makes you feel better though, I would equally say that Christianity has always been opposed to magic, not science.

          And you affirm my point my stating that probably most Christians were indifferent or neutral towards science – not anti-science. The Bible however, very clearly states that magic is wrong, and not to be practiced by Christians.

        • adam

          ” I would equally say that Christianity has always been opposed to magic, not science.”

          But you would be wrong, as christianity was founded on MAGIC.

          “The Bible however, very clearly states that magic is wrong, and not to be practiced by Christians.”

          Yes, like talking snakes and donkeys, food falling from the sky, wine from water, walking on water and resurrections – ALL MAGIC….

        • adam

          Karl,

          The christian church is based magic claims

          Without magic, Jesus was just another itinerant preacher.

        • MNb

          What we are saying is that it doesn’t necessarily follow only a christian worldview that our Universe is intelligible.

          “That foundation for understanding the universe was critical in the development.”
          Yes. And it’s still not a christian prerogative, which is exactly what you christians claim.

        • Greg G.

          I am saying that it does not necessarily follow from an atheist worldview that the universe is intelligible. It does necessarily follow from a Christian worldview that the universe is intelligible.

          You have that backwards. If there is no god, then life has to make its own way. If the universe was not mostly intelligible, then there would not be a difference between beneficial and detrimental genes from one generation to the next so evolution would be impossible. If evolution was possible in an unintelligible world, there would be no benefit to developing intelligence, which makes having a worldview impossible. So having a worldview necessarily implies an intelligible universe but necessarily not a god.

          In a supernatural universe, anything could happen. It may well be worse than Alice’s Wonderland. But we can still imagine an omnipotent being making it all work out.

          The only way to necessarily infer supernaturalism is if the world was completely unintelligible, that is, if your mind was capable of detecting what was intelligible.

          A heaven where anything you wanted would pop into existence for no other reason would be an example of supernaturalism. Or the converse would be a hell where your greatest fears would appear before you continuously for no other reason.

        • adam

          ” I am saying that it does not necessarily follow from an atheist worldview that the universe is intelligible.”

          Of course not, atheism says NOTHING about the intelligibility of the universe.

          Christianities’ claim is that ultimately the universe, ultimately ‘god’ is unintelligible

        • MNb

          “It was not an isolated view of one scientist”
          No. It was not even an isolated view of christian scientists. Babylonian astronomers has a very similar view. They were definitely not christians. Hence by no means that Kepler quote shows that christianity is either a necessary or a sufficient condition for science. It isn’t.

        • MNb

          No, he didn’t state that. He didn’t specify which god in that quote. That’s exactly why the Babylonians, the Ancient Greeks, the Indians and the Chinese could have said exactly the same.
          Once again you suffer from christian exceptionalism.

        • Greg G.

          Kepler didn’t need that hypothesis.

        • MNb

          “thinking God’s thoughts after him”.
          Yes.
          And any Babylonian, Ancient Greek, Chinese and Indian could have said the same.

          “your suggestion that Christians are not interested in understanding and investigating order in nature.”
          Augustinus of Hippo, one of the greatest minds ever, spend one chapter in his Confession on time (which is a gem) and a dozen on sin (which mainly consists of whining). That tells us something about his priorities, don’t you think?

        • Michael Neville

          I’ve always liked Augustine’s essay De Genisi ad litteram (The Literal Meaning of Genesis). He gave both theological and pragmatic reasons for rejecting Biblical literalism. I’ll mention just three of his reasons:

          Christians believe that God created the universe and people wrote the Bible, so preferring a book written by humans over God’s universe is disrespectful to God.

          If there is a discrepancy between a Christian’s interpretation of the Bible and God’s universe, the problem is most likely with the interpretation, not the universe.

          And my favorite:

          Often, a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other parts of the world, about the motions and orbits of the stars and even their sizes and distances … and this knowledge he holds with certainty from reason and experience. It is thus offensive and disgraceful for an unbeliever to hear a Christian talk nonsense about such things, claiming that what he is saying is based in Scripture … The unbeliever will dismiss the Christian as a fool and the Bible as a collection of fables with nothing important to say on any subject including redemption.

        • Greg G.

          IIRC, Augustine was not saying that the Six Day Creationists were wrong because the evidence showed it took much longer. He was saying that it disrespected God’s power to say it took him six days to do what he could have done instantly.

        • TheNuszAbides

          well, surely there was no database contemporary to his writing that could provide a foundation for “it took much longer”, either. was there even a theory of wind erosion yet?

        • Greg G.

          Christian belief in a God who created a world was there for several centuries yet they lost more knowledge the ancient Greeks had than they replaced it with. Knowledge grew when they received ancient Greek writings. Science really took off when it stopped trying to please the Christian church by putting god into their explanations.

        • tsig

          You don’t have to believe in god to notice the laws of physics. Christianity is so science friendly that it took 1600 years for it to get around to inventing science?

          Martin Luther > Quotes > Quotable Quote

          “Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has.”

          Science friendly???

        • David Schmidt

          Maybe, but no where else but in the Christian West did the scientific revolution occur. And based upon your premise that the mere observation of laws of physics, the science of physics developed, physics as a science should have developed in places other than the Christian West. Science developed in the Christian West because order was presumed based upon the Christian theology of a rational Creator.

        • adam

          “Maybe, but no where else but in the Christian West did the scientific revolution occur.”

          “So far, our look at ancient astronomy has concentrated very much upon Mesopotamia, European astronomy and the Islamic Golden Age. However, in any study of astronomy, it is impossible to ignore the work of the great Indian astronomers; their contribution to the science influenced Hellenic, Islamic and European thought for centuries, with their work carried down the great Silk Road into Europe.

          Indian astronomy was heavily tied to their religious and spiritual outlook of the world, but it contained many accurate observations of phenomena.
          This acted as a catalyst for the growth of mathematics in the subcontinent, one of the greatest legacies passed on by India to the western world.

          Indian Astronomy, Astrology and the Vedas

          The first records of sophisticated astronomy in India date back to at least 2000 BCE, where they are found in the Rigveda (c1700-1100 BCE), one of the primary and foremost texts of Hinduism. The ancient Indian astronomers used the stars and the planets to create astrological charts and read omens, devising sophisticated mathematical models and developing many interesting theories, many of which passed into the
          Islamic world and Europe.” https://explorable.com/indian-astronomy

        • MNb

          “no where else but in the Christian West did the scientific revolution occur.”
          If you’re talking about the revolution that gave us Modern Science: that one occurred around 1800 CE, had everything to do with Enlightenment and nothing with christianity.
          If you’re talking about the revolution of the 16th and 17th Century: that was inspired by the decline of christian authority regarding knowledge. Concrete: the influx of ancient Greek, ie prechristian texts after the fall of Constantinople.
          If you’re talking protoscience: It occurred in Babylonia, in Ancient Greece, in India and in China. Nowhere was christianity involved.
          Christianity arose in the 1st Century, remember? In the early 16th Century the scientific level was about the same as in a200 BCE.
          There is not even a correlation between christianity and science.

        • adam

          “There is not even a correlation between christianity and science.”

          Seems to me you made a negative correlation between the two.

        • MNb

          No. A negative correlation would mean that science regresses – ie that understanding and knowledge declines everywhere we see christianity. That’s not the case. I can only think of two times and places where that happened: Western Europe from 500-1000 CE and creationist communities in our times.

        • Greg G.

          Science developed in Europe when Christianity was losing its grip. Science took off when people stopped trying to put a god into every explanation. Science was pretty much stifled for a thousand years by the Christian church, who had the same God you espouse. You Christians don’t get to take credit for what happened when you didn’t get your way.

        • So modern science evolved in Europe. Let’s see … they were Christians there. Maybe it was the Christianity. But they were also meat eaters. And wine drinkers. Maybe it was the language. Or the social customs. Or the geography.

          You’ve got a long way to go if you want to pick any one correlation and say that it’s causative.

        • Michael Neville

          Paul wasn’t a big fan of thinking either:

          See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8 (NIV)

        • MNb

          “Science arose in the West because of the Christian belief in a God who created an orderly world”
          Not true. Modern science arose almost 18 centuries after your big hero died at the cross. The totally christian Byzantium Empire did not make any scientific progress during ten centuries besides inventing Greek Fire. Premodern science not only arose in the christian West, but also in India and China.
          Christianity is neither a necessary nor a sufficient factor for science. There is no correlation.

        • This is stupid and you should be ashamed for writing it.

          The belief in an orderly world (with or without gods) precedes Christianity by centuries. It continued for millennia before science was developed. It existed for millennia elsewhere in the world. None of the reasons you gave for science developing in the West are unique to the West, or to Christianity, or to the time period or circumstances of the development of science. That is true whether you take those reasons individually or in combination.

          It only takes a minute of thought to realise this.

        • The Christian claim is so vague that I don’t know what to make of it. It’s a just-so story to explain science in a pleasing way (disregarding the trials Christianity put science through).

          Any non-Christian can see that water runs downhill, never uphill. That a rock dropped always goes down, never up. That water gets solid when it gets cold enough.

          Yes, there’s order in the world. Obviously.

        • Greg G.

          The Egyptians noticed the orderliness of the world when they started doing agriculture in the Nile valley. They explained the orderliness by inventing gods. The Jews borrowed the idea thousands of years later. The Christians stole it from them.

        • primenumbers

          The Christian belief in a God who created an orderly world with rules and laws is just observations of how the world behave with god tacked on as an explanation. We all have access to the observations, and many of us have no need for the “explanation” that god did it.

        • Susan

          Science arose in the West because of the Christian belief in a God who created an orderly world with rules and laws that can be understood.

          I find that difficult to swallow. I don’t see how hunter/gatherer populations could have survived without the awareness that the world around them behaved in predictable ways with variations.

          We wouldn’t have learned to use fire to our advantage, to hunt, to avoid poisonous plants, to follow the food, to navigate and to adapt to changing seasons and climates without that.

          The assumption that a “god” was behind it explained nothing.

        • Loren Petrich

          I find it amusing to watch Christian apologists pretend that their religion is a variety of deism. They have to deny so much of their creed to do so. Miracles, God’s ways being mysterious, diseases and natural disasters as punishments for our sins, the Bible as The Truth, faith > reason, etc.

          The alleged absolute truth of the Bible was difficult to overcome, and it required a lot of interpreting away. It was especially serious when it came to the history of the Earth and its biota.

          Modern science got started a millennium after Xianity was made the official religion of the Roman Empire, and it got started only in the western half of Xianity, the Catholic half as opposed to the Eastern Orthodox half. So if Xianity was such a super scientific rationalistic religion, why this gross negligence?

          A more plausible hypothesis is the discovery of a lof of Greco-Roman proto-scientific writings, like those of Aristotle. However, a lot of people inded up becoming Aristotle-thumpers, just like Bible-thumpers.

  • Christopher Columbus helped shaped Western Civilization, like many others, with his Christianity: Rape, Oppression, War, Torture, Genocide. As did Hitler!

    • He brought along actual disease in addition to his mental disease, and that killed millions.

  • busterggi

    Why just look how 2000 years of peace and prosperity and progress occurred in Western Europe! Of course Eastern Europe, the middle east and North Africa also had Christianity but it was the wrong kind so all sorts of awful happened there.

    No wonder intellectual elites hate Christians – who wouldn’t be jealous of Jesus’ special chosen snowflakes who are saved while everyone else is damned.

  • L.Long

    Yes we owe a lot to xtians….We can point and laugh and say see!!! That’s why secularism is so important!!!! Then we can point to isLame and say see what the xtians would do if they had balls! So between all the various religions we can say secularism is the best way!!!

  • Greg G.

    Happy Charles Darwin’s Birthday!
    Happy Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday!

    Both were born on this date 207 years ago.

    • Michael Neville

      I forgot it was the birthday of the first Jewish US President, Abraham Lincohen.

  • RichardSRussell

    If “God did it” is the go-to explanation for anything that people don’t understand — which it was for the thousand years we call the Dark Ages — there’s no value or virtue to curiosity, which is the wellspring of science and technology.

    • And that’s what puzzles me about KarlU’s (ill-defined) position. He imagines that Christianity propels people to do science, when the reverse is true. Why spend all that time working on the math or doing experiments? You already know the answer: God did it.

      • MNb

        Some versions of christianity do.
        Some don’t.
        The Jesuits of La Fleche college for instance gave René Descartes the best math education he could get at that time.

        • TheNuszAbides

          if by ‘version of christianity’ you mean ‘well-funded organization that can afford to suspend theology for long enough to transmit practical knowledge’, sure.

  • L.Long

    After reading the comments I will add one thing….
    If ANY religion, meaning prayer to gawd and getting results, ( AND NO!!! having some delusional say ‘well it happen because I was inspired by gawd’ is BS and does not count) has produced any results as worthy of praise as medical science (not practice) or as universally useful as the phone system, pray tell what was it, cuz I missed seeing what it was!

    So other then saying well it makes me feel good, ya know like being constantly drunk, i see nothing worthwhile with any dogma.

  • epicurus

    “Can anyone seriously argue that crime and debauchery are not held in check by religion”?
    I think it was in “The God Delusion” that Richard Dawkins gave the example of looting by the citizens of a Montreal – a predominantly catholic christian city – during a police strike in the late 1960’s. The conclusion was that it is an effective police force, not God, that keeps people in check.

  • epicurus

    The effects of the Reformation and Thirty Years War contributed to the political secularization of Europe, as govts realized stability could only be achieved from non religious thought. Here is an interesting screen cap from the course guide of a Great Courses lecture series on the Reformation by Brad Gregory I listened to a couple years ago

  • Greg G.

    “Be excellent to each other” – Bill and Ted

    Have you ever noticed that the Bill and Ted movies follow the Christ mythos? In the original, a society far in the future is built on their catchphrase “Be excellent to each other” (not “love one another”) and they are worshipped. In the sequel, they go to hell and defeat the devil to come back to our realm. It’s like deja vu all over again.

    • I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t realize there was another film in the Bill and Ted canon.

      • Greg G.

        Prepare yourself for Bill and Ted 3. Do you think it will be about the Rapture of Bill and Ted?

      • Michael Neville

        Is such ignorance possible?

        Actually it is, I didn’t know about a sequel either.

        • My chagrin is matched only by that when I realized that I’d missed the theatrical release of Liar, Liar 2: Pants on Fire.