The Childish Faith of John Lennox

The Childish Faith of John Lennox June 3, 2016

Childish? Childlike? You tell me.

I’ll admit to being a bit awed by an Oxford mathematics professor weighing in on Christianity. John Lennox makes a good impression. He’s a clean-shaven Irish Santa Claus with three doctorates. A nice guy with a formidable intellect and much practice as a public speaker—that’s an impressive package.

I heard him speak in Seattle a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, I wasn’t much impressed then … but perhaps I missed something. I recently listened to an hour-long interview (Cross Examined podcast for 5/4/13, “John Lennox on evil”), mostly on the Problem of Evil, which only solidified my unfavorable opinion.

I summarize each claim from Lennox in bold below. Let me encourage both Christian and atheist readers to pause with each salvo to see what they think. Is the Christian point a strong one? What is the best atheist response? Is there something missing from either side here?

Atheists whine about the Crusades and the Inquisition, but why don’t they take seriously the violence and harm caused by atheist regimes like those of Stalin and Mao?

Because the atheism was a consequence of the actual problem, that these regimes were dictatorships. Stalin was an atheist because he was a dictator. He wasn’t a dictator because he was an atheist!

Atheism was central to the Soviet Union’s policy. After all, Marx said that religion was the opium of the people.  

Sure, atheism was central. Churches had to be shut down because they competed for power. Atheism was simply a consequence of the dictatorship; Stalin didn’t do damage in the name of atheism.

As for “religion is the opium of the people,” that was a compliment! Opium is medicine, remember? Here is Marx in context:

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

Marx wasn’t saying that religion dulled the senses of people; rather, he was saying that in a society with terrible conditions, it provides solace. His complaint was simply that religion could do no more than address a symptom, leaving the underlying problem untouched.

Atheists complain about the evil that God allows, but by what standard do they judge something as evil? If there is no god, good and evil are just a matter of opinion. There’s no rational justification for moral concepts if you abolish God.

I don’t reject the idea of morality and evil; I reject the idea of absolute morality or evil. Look in the dictionary—the definitions don’t assume absolute or objective grounding. Imagine that morality is absolute if you want, but don’t pretend that the dictionary backs you up.

We all believe in absolute values; we all acknowledge a standard outside ourselves. Atheists prove this when they argue for right and wrong. For example, we all agree that baby torture is wrong.

We don’t have absolute values; we have shared values. That’s not surprising since we’re all the same species. We agree that baby torture is wrong because we have the same moral instinct.

Atheists can be moral, but they can’t justify morality.

The natural explanation explains what we see without relying on anything supernatural. Morality has an instinctive part (from evolution) and a social part (from society). (More here.)

The instinctive part explains the certainty we have about fundamental moral rights and wrongs and explains why these are shared across societies. We even see elements of morality in other primates.

The social part changes with time and place. For example, slavery is obviously wrong in the West now, but it wasn’t a problem in centuries past. Some aspects of morality vary greatly by society—honor, for example.

Atheists can’t explain where absolute morals come from.

Agreed. Neither can Christians. I keep hearing this confusion of shared morals with absolute morals. And I keep seeing no evidence for the remarkable claim that morality is grounded outside humans.

By rejecting God, in what sense has the atheist solved the Problem of Evil?

Do you not know what the Problem of Evil is? It asks: How can an all-good God allow evil? Drop the idea of a god, and the problem vanishes. Completely.

Your move.

But evil and pain haven’t gone away.

Yes, that’s true. You’ve got a fundamental contradiction with the Problem of Evil that attacks the very foundation of your religion, but from an atheist standpoint, there is no problem.

Note that you’ve also gotten rid of all hope.

How childish are you? You care about solace but not truth? I don’t know about you, but I’m looking for the truth. The pleasantness of a doctrine doesn’t change how I evaluate its truth. “The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps” (Proverbs 14:15). Don’t we want to be prudent?

Sure, God could’ve made us so we wouldn’t do bad things, but we’d be robots without free will.

So you think God is a champion of free will? When victims of murder or rape have their free will options violated, God doesn’t step in to do anything about it. Why then imagine that he’s deliberately not acting so that the free will of the criminal is allowed? And I’d be careful with that free will argument. If being unable to do evil makes you a robot, what does that make God?

Is there free will in heaven? There must be if free will is so important. Then why isn’t heaven full of evil just like the earth is? Perhaps the beings in heaven are enlightened, and they know how to use free will properly. They would simply not be tempted to do bad things.

If this enlightenment is the instruction manual to make free will work, why didn’t God give it to us?

Concluded in part 2.

The universe we observe has 
precisely the properties we should expect 
if there is, at bottom, 
no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, 
nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.
— Richard Dawkins

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 5/15/13.)

Photo credit: Christliches Medienmagazin pro, flickr, CC

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • epicurus

    I can’t believe he would be so stupid as to not know what the problem of evil entails. No all loving/powerful/knowing God- no problem of evil.

    • Greg G.

      William Lane Craig has multiple advanced degrees. I have seen him misstate the Problem of Evil, too. The strawman version of the PoE is not as formidable.

      • 100meters

        I think W L Craig’s wife, Jenny Craig, has more insight on this important theological question.
        If god is omnibenevolent…then why are there calories? And this is no straw(berry cheesecake) man argument.
        Also, Ken Ham (with Muenster on rye) has a point…but when he combs his hair just right, it doesn’t show.
        OK, I’m done.
        Stick a (salad) fork in me.

        • Greg G.

          I think you should have started with the salad, then the sandwich, and finished with the strawberry cheesecake for dessert.

          But you had me at Jenny Craig. The rest was just icing on the cake.

        • epicurus

          Hah, and maybe she uses lane as well prompting a song : “Jenny Lane, is in my eyes, and in my eyes.” (Beatles “Penny Lane” just in case anyone’s not familiar)

    • Greg Koukl as well. He made a big deal about this “discovery” that, hey, the atheist has to deal with the Problem of Evil, too!

      Uh no, idiot, the atheist has to deal with evil. the Problem of Evil is exclusively a Christian problem. Enjoy.

      As a side note, the other Christian variants in the early days, Gnosticism and Marcionism, didn’t have a PoE since they thought that the father of Jesus wasn’t the dude who created our earth and all its problems.

      • epicurus

        If I were to cut Lennox some slack I could suggest what he is really trying to ask (like I should have to explain what a guy with a Phd is trying to ask), is how would an atheist deal with a problem of absolute values or some such, or by what standard do atheists judge something as evil, etc etc.
        The trouble is, just about every other assertion Lennox goes on to make is asking those questions, so I can’t even help him there. Truly stupid.

        • My own hypothesis is that when you have someone who has an independent reputation like Lennox jump into the Christianity field, they’re just talking to their peeps. His value is his reputation, and he’s spending it to preach the gospel (of course, to outsiders, he’s losing his reputation as he preaches). That his argument doesn’t make much sense never seems to matter. His audience respects authority and just wants reassurance and a pat on the head.

        • MNb

          “or by what standard do atheists judge something as evil”
          That’s not cutting him any slack either. Or must I assume that Lennox has never heard of Jeremy Bentham, who addressed this 200 years ago?

        • epicurus

          I guess there is just no helping the guy!

      • MNb

        Koukl got his degrees at crappy institutes, Lennox at two of the best universities in the world (according to Wikipedia he received a degree at Cambridge as well).
        Polytheism pastafarianism don’t have the PoE either. They don’t defend perfect gods.

        • I think it was Biola (formerly an acronym for Bible Institute of Los Angeles) for Koukl. Yeah, Biola vs. Cambridge isn’t much of a comparison.

    • They love trying to turn the problem of evil back on atheists. I suspect this is not actually ignorance, but desire for to play “I know you are, but what am I?” Yet as Bob said, no God, no problem.

  • epicurus

    He may be wrong about Stalin and Mao, but I’m glad he used them instead of the usual Hitler reference. Hitler may have disliked Christianity, but from everything I’ve read, he was no atheist. I get very tired of people saying Hitler was an atheist.

    • im-skeptical

      In 1941 Hitler stated that he was a Catholic and would always remain one.

      • Not only that, but he persecuted and banned atheist groups, the SS forbade atheists and its oath denounced them, etc. There’s a lot of evidence on this score. Not surprising really, since their enemies the Marxists were famously atheists.

  • busterggi

    In short he’s a collection of re-run apologetics.

  • RichardSRussell

    Atheists can’t explain where absolute morals come from.

    True. We also can’t explain where unicorns come from. And for the same reason.

  • Michael Ross

    Atheists complain about the evil that God allows, but by what standard do they judge something as evil? If there is no god, good and evil are just a matter of opinion. There’s no rational justification for moral concepts if you abolish God.

    This is not an solution to the problem of “evil”, this is just playing with words. Theodicy can be rephrased as the problem of suffering, or the problem of pain, without phrasing it as a problem of moral evil, and the argument is still coherent.

  • Tony D’Arcy

    I might return to make a more weighty contribution, but John Lennox is a windbag par excellence. They should park him wherever the nearest wind farm to Oxford is.

  • Aram

    The whole ‘where does morality come from if not God’ argument is out of control. And yet utterly simplistic. We evolved into a social animal. We developed ways of better surviving as a social animal eg not killing each other. Indeed, there would be no fucking debate about ‘absolute morality’ if we hadn’t first evolved as a social animal, one that is now capable of talking about it. This shit is so fucking done.

  • MNb

    “why don’t they take seriously the violence and harm caused by atheist regimes”

    Strawman. Plus this has preciously little to do with the Problem of Evil, which is not about arguing that christianity is morally inferior to atheism and necessarily so. Spoiler: I don’t think so. The PoT can be formulated in terms of Gulag and Cultural Revolution as well.
    Taking that route to discuss atheism vs. christianity is childish indeed.

    “There’s no rational justification for moral concepts if you abolish God.”
    What’s irrational about “happiness is to be preferred to being unhappy”?

    “We all believe in absolute values”
    If Lennox thinks himself a rational thinker he should refrain of cheap rhetorics like this. The “we” has one and only one purpose: to stifle the discussion by an appeal to the tribal instincts of Homo Sapiens. Look, Lennox, I don’t belong to your tribe. I don’t believe that. I don’t believe. So you are flat out wrong, if not lying.

    “Atheists can be moral, but they can’t justify morality.”
    Correct. Neither can theists.

    BobS: “You care about solace but not truth?”
    I think there cannot be hope without truth. Christianity is hopeless exactly because it’s false. It’s not hard to point out in which respects stalinism and maoism are false as well.

  • RichardSRussell

    We have ample evidence that people who are ferociously smart in some areas can be completely obtuse in others. The classic example is Linus Pauling, a double Nobel Prize winner (in chemistry and peace), who spent his declining years touting the imaginary health benefits of megadoses of Vitamin C.

    • Michael Neville

      For an intelligent, educated guy Lennox sure is ignorant and stupid.

  • Jack Baynes

    Note that you’ve also gotten rid of all hope.

    We can have hope without God. When we are in need we can hope that our fellow man will help us, that our own skills and abilities will be enough to pull us through on our own or even that random chance will come out on our side.

    All we lose is the hope that some unseen power will tilt chance in our favor.

    • Greg G.

      God must tilt chance in the atheist’s favor just as often as he does for the praying theist lest he expose his existence and destroy faith and free will.

  • Myna A.

    How can an all-good God allow evil?

    Here’s an interesting link about the psychology of “evil”.
    http://dissidentvoice.org/2008/05/beware-the-psychopath-my-son/

    • Michael Neville

      Beware the psychopath, my son.

      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch.
      Beware the jubjub bird and shun
      The frumious bandersnatch.

      • Myna A.

        He took his vorpal sword in hand:
        Long time the manxome foe he sought —
        So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
        And stood awhile in thought.

        • Michael Neville

          And, as in uffish thought he stood,
          The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
          Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
          And burbled as it came!

        • Myna A.

          One, two! One, two! And through and through
          The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
          He left it dead, and with its head
          He went galumphing back.

        • Michael Neville

          ‘And has thou slain the Jabberwock?
          Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
          O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
          He chortled in his joy.

        • Myna A.

          `Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
          Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
          All mimsy were the borogoves,
          And the mome raths outgrabe.

        • Michael Neville

          A picture from the book How to Discipline Your Pet.

      • Boy! If I had a nickel for every time that goddamn bandersnatch got frumious with me …

        • Susan

          If I had a nickel for every time that goddamn bandersnatch got fruminous with me…

          Don’t get me started.

          Metadiscussion question…

          I’ve wanted to ask this for a very long time now.

          I can only find a person’s comment in the thread from their comment on the thread by clicking on their name. If that person has decided to make their comment history private, then I’m forced to load pages upon pages in order to find their comment. This is cumbersome and sometimes, impossible.

          This <s.often mostly prevents me from responding to Kodie and Myna A. and TheNuszAbides and many other commenters with whom I’d like to interact.

          Two questions:

          1) Am I missing something obvious? I just want to know how to jump to their comments the way I can easily jump to Greg G.’s or MNb’s.

          2) Is the need to link through the commenter a Patheos guideline?

          I spent a couple of years on disqus responding through time links, which wasn’t a problem no matter what the privacy status of the commentator.

          I’ve been wanting to ask this question for a very long time now but there was never anything close to an appropriate spot in which to ask it.

          This is a little forced, but is as good a spot as any.

        • Kodie

          I do remember why I put my profile to private, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem right now. It seems like people can’t follow my comments since I locked them, since I look at my followers and I can’t follow them back if their profiles are private, either. I don’t follow commenters anyway. I tend to keep up or let it go, via my inbox comments. I feel weird that there are commenters on my follow list I don’t recognize, but they may have changed their name or something. People can just follow you if your profile is open, by meaning, stalking you all over the internet if that is where you post. If they can’t follow you, they can’t do that, and to block them, you have to private your profile.

          Anyway, I just use time stamps on the post or come to the comment I want to respond to from my email. If there is some kind of disruption and I felt like it was really important, like I already started forming the composition to a response while playing Candy Crush, and the tab was closed, I go through all the page loads too. Sometimes if I have to restart my laptop or I take it to work, I bookmark the tabs of posts I was thinking about. It’s better than World Table, it’s better than World Table, it’s better than World Table, it’s better than World Table, it’s better than World Table it is better than World Table.

        • Susan

          I do remember why I put my profile to private, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem right now.

          It’s a big problem for me right now. All I want is to be able to respond to everyone in the conversation equally. That includes (in a minor way) up votes and (more emphatically) responses.

          That’s why I asked the question.

          I wasn’t thinking about who’s following whom but how we can have a sorta honest discussion in the dog’s breakfast that is Disqus.

          It’s better than World Table, it’s better than World Table, it’s better than World Table, it’s better than World Table, it’s better than World Table it is better than World Table.

          Yeah. World Table was the worst. So bad that Disqus beats the bejeezus out of it.

          I’m not even complaining about Disqus any more. I’m just trying to figure out how to get straight to a person’s comment

          For the first few years on Disqus, I was on sites that used time stamps. I don’t seem to have that option here.

          All I want to know is can I respond to your comment on a thread that’s over 1200 comments long (for instance)? How can I do it?

          Also, is it a Patheos rule to link by the commentator?

        • Kodie

          I’m really not sure what you’re asking about. There are time stamps, and I can click on them to go to that comment, but if I can click on it, then I’m already on the comment. That’s on patheos. I get all the posts to my email, and then click “reply to __” and clicking on that brings me to CE, to the post I want to respond to. I don’t generally read threads in disqus, but I do check comment responses, and sometimes respond there. I don’t look for older comments unless I accidentally or by necessity closed a tab that was holding that comment.

        • Susan

          There are time stamps, and I can click on them to go that comment

          Where? I can’t find them. If I check the right hand part of the page where new comments go, the only option I seem to have is to click on the commenter’s name and that’s where most things become nearly impossible.

        • Kodie

          Ah, you’re talking about the Recent Comment column on the right. I haven’t tried to use that in a long time to get to a new post. I just get them in my email and read them there, then if I want to respond, I click “reply to” their name to get to patheos. Sometimes, I quickly check new responses to my own comments at disqus and respond to them from disqus. I kind of remember the Recent Comments used to also have a time stamp, but I guess now they don’t.

          Are you getting comments in your email? Sometimes, it can be its own pain in the ass. I quickly learned the other day, a new thread made over 700 comments in one afternoon, so I attempted to start at the beginning, and it was 700 responses in the same subthread. I didn’t get very far and gave up altogether. When there’s a new thread, I try to start at the beginning, and if I post something, all future responses show up in my inbox except for my own posts. I don’t get into threads from a sidebar comment from Recent Comments column, but sometimes I see activity from a thread I must never have commented in, so I would just go to that thread and try to start from the beginning and usually quit.

          I think they did used to have time stamps so you could click on the exact post, just like you can click on “14 minutes ago” or “2 years ago” to load a particular comment, usually to link to the url, but otherwise wouldn’t need to, as you’d be at the comment you’re clicking on. I think Bob once or twice fiddled with the Recent Comments column, and was protested to put it back, since some commenters use it, but maybe he snuck out some feature you’re used to and nobody noticed at the time. He’s commented before that he doesn’t use disqus the same way a lot of other people do (to check recent comments to one’s own posts), so fiddles with things he doesn’t know are useful. I’d ask him if he could put those time stamps back in, maybe he can do it.

        • Susan

          Are you getting comments in your e-mail?

          Only when people directly reply to me. Or occasionally, when someone I follow has participated in a thread somewhere.

          Other than that, no. I’m not sure I want to get 700 comments in my inbox so that might be a good thing.

          I’d ask him if he could put those time stamps back in, maybe he can do it.

          I didn’t know that might be an option. I’ll ask him tomorrow, then. Thanks for your feedback.

          I have to work early and had to work late today. My eyes are falling out of my head.

          Thanks, Kodie.

        • Kodie

          Only when people directly reply to me. Or occasionally, when someone I follow has participated in a thread somewhere.

          Other than that, no. I’m not sure I want to get 700 comments in my inbox so that might be a good thing.

          These are options in your disqus profile as to how to receive comments. Sometimes, I just skip whole chunks.

          Goodnight Susan.

        • Yes, I didn’t think the Recent Comments column was good for anything, but I think it was MNb who protested, so I’ve left it alone.

        • MNb

          You think correctly. I use it every single day. I think it a pretty good, though not perfect way to check if there is interesting new stuff.

        • Greg G.

          I use Recent Comments most and email notifications second most.

        • Greg G.

          I whinged to get you to make it list the ten most recent comments.

          Just last night, I went into the HTML of the page and extracted the code for the Recent Comments widget and a bunch of CSS. I ended up deleting all the Javascripts because it kept reloading the page. I was able to set the number of replies to 25 but that was as high as it would go.

          In Internet Explorer, the widget took a while to load but clicking on the name opened with the post’s thread and the yellow bar for the post. It also had a link to the article itself.

          In Chrome, the widget loaded faster but clicking on the person’s name opened the Disqus profile. It also had the link to the article. But it also gave a timestamp linked to the post and subthread. The timestamp didn’t update but that would require something in the JavaScript I deleted most likely.

          Then indented lines are added or modified code. You can copy and paste the code below into an HTML file.

          ____________________________________

          <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd”><html xmlns=”http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml” lang=”en-US” xml:lang=”en-US” xmlns:og=”http://opengraphprotocol.org/schema/” xmlns:fb=”http://www.facebook.com/2008/fbml”><head profile=”http://gmpg.org/xfn/11″>

            <title>Recent Comments on Cross Examined</title>

          <link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/wp-content/cache/minify/000253/fY_dCsIwDIVfaKH1B8Gnkdgea7VryxLRxxdWV9zN7g5fviQcawIyJIqprHcUGWwn55Ol_XHYLSOK4UNaanRC7-gDdDVp6F_Pt2JYBCrGSf9AyIEDRmSVLbvUV-KJapGVNyGxwjc-myuyaeqE7GMOXZXiIica4SMvnRq79DoPaGX3nA_88rJ5TaCD7fkL.css” media=”all” /><meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=UTF-8″ />

          <div id=”execphp-7″ class=”widget widget_execphp”><div class=”widget-wrap”><div class=”execphpwidget”><div class=”B_300x250_Pos3″><script type=”text/javascript”>pathjs.renderSlot(‘B_300x250_Pos3’);</script></div></div></div></div><div id=”text-13″ class=”widget widget_text”><div class=”widget-wrap”><h4 class=”widget-title widgettitle”>Recent Comments</h4><div class=”textwidget”><div id=”recentcomments” class=”dsq-widget”>

            <script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://crossexamined.disqus.com/recent_comments_widget.js?num_items=25&hide_avatars=0&avatar_size=32&excerpt_length=80″></script>

          <script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://js.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/dsq-recentcomments.js”></script><link rel=”stylesheet” href=”http://css.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/dsq-recentcomments.css”></div></div></div></div><div id=”execphp-6″ class=”widget widget_execphp”><div class=”widget-wrap”><div class=”execphpwidget”><div class=”B_300x250_Pos4″><script type=”text/javascript”>pathjs.renderSlot(‘B_300x250_Pos4’);</script></div></div></div></div><div class=”sidebar-bottom-left”></div><div class=”sidebar-bottom-right”></div></div></div></div><div id=”footer” class=”footer”><div class=”wrap”></div></div><br/><div id=”page-wrap”><div id=”long-ad”><div class=”B_728x90_ft”><script type=”text/javascript”>pathjs.renderSlot(‘B_728x90_ft’);</script></div></div></div>

            </html>

        • Greg G.

          I thought about posting last night but was worried the links wouldn’t show correctly. When I saw this thread, I decided to post it and I find I was correct.

          EDIT: Anybody know how to make an HTML slash or period in Disqus?

        • anas qamar

          Just go to your notification. You’ll see that someone has replied to your comment. Instead of clicking on their name, go down and click on “View in discussion”, which will be right next to the “Reply” button.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i think she’s just wanting to get to any comment by particular persons without having to open up the whole

        • Michael Neville

          It’s better than World Table, it’s better than World Table, it’s better than World Table, it’s better than World Table, it’s better than World Table it is better than World Table.

          This is known in the rhetoric biz as “damning with faint praise.”

        • Kodie

          I don’t have a huge amount of experience with other types of message boards or comments sections, but it’s better than a lot of other things too, until you get to that 700 post sub-thread, and then it’s about the same.

        • But have you tried World Table?

        • Michael Neville

          Yes. I was unable to make replies to any comments.

        • MNb

          Yes. And (re)finding comments was even more difficult. But I’m willing to try it again if the guys have made progress. I formulated three demands of which I have forgotten two. The third one is the recent comments link in the right column.

          Ah. I remember a second one. Email notification.

        • My question to Kodie was rhetorical since she said about Disqus that “it’s better than World Table.” I’m pretty sure that Kodie thinks that Morse code is better than World Table.

        • Greg G.

          I preferred chiseling my comments in cave walls by torch light to World Table.

        • MR

          World Table is still around?!…. Hmmm…, just tried to log in again and all I get is spinning, spinning…..

        • Susan

          World Table is still around?!

          I checked a couple of Patheos sites to see if anyone’s using it and how that’s working for them but couldn’t find it on the couple I checked.

          Does anyone use it here?

          Does anyone know where it’s used and how it’s working for them?

        • TheNuszAbides

          in a low-ceilinged, poorly ventilated and damp cave.

        • Kodie

          I think I figured out Susan’s complaint was that the Recent Comments column doesn’t work like it should. They don’t link to the comments, there is only a link to someone’s profile, and a link to the entire thread. You can’t actually get to someone’s recent comment if you think, hey I’d like to read the rest of that comment, and respond to it. I checked around Patheos and not in 3 different blogs where bloggers use it does it work the way it used to. I remember once in a while clicking on it, but I didn’t use it a lot.

          Further, if someone has blocked their profile, you can’t see their comment at disqus, as it would be near the top, since it is recent, making it slightly more convenient if the profile isn’t locked, but impossible if it is, but unless it was the last comment that person made, it still won’t link to that comment.

        • MNb

          Ah, I didn’t get that. The Recent Comments column works just fine for me.

        • Susan

          The Recent Comments column works just fine for me.

          Are you able to navigate your way directly to the new comment even if the commentator’s history is set to private?

          I can’t.

        • Greg G.

          There are some whose name appears in gray that cannot be linked but I thought they didn’t have an account. But I have been able to use Recent Comments to get to a post whether their accounts were private. I have never tried putting my account to private, though.

        • Susan

          I have been able to use Recent Comments to get to a post whether their accounts were private.

          Specifically, how? Like I said originally, I might be missing something that should be obvious.

          I can only access (as Kodie figured out), the commentator and the thread. That works fine on a new thread but not when someone shows up after hundreds of comments or even if Kodie responds to the new comment to the old thread, unless someone whose history isn’t set to private responds to her.

          “Recent Comments” shouldn’t be this difficult.

          I have never tried putting my account to private, though.

          I have NEVER put my account to private. I have no problem with people doing so. What’s frustrating is that it’s very difficult (sometimes, nearly impossible) to interact with people who do choose to do so.

          What am I missing?

          What are you and MNb and IA doing to get there?

        • Kodie

          It doesn’t work that way for me anymore. I didn’t use it a lot before, but I know it used to work, and now it doesn’t. What is the point of a recent comments column that only links to a profile on disqus (if it’s not locked) or the whole thread and not the comment itself? Can you imagine how this sucks for someone who uses it like you do, that it’s merely decorative now?

        • MNb

          Yes, thanks to World Table. It’s one of the main reasons I refuse to use it.

        • Susan

          I think I figured out Susan’s complaint was that the Recent Comments column doesn’t work like it should

          That’s exactly it. “Recent Comments” has always been a very useful way to see that someone’s commenting and to be able to go directly to their comment.

          It only works in this case, if you haven’t set your history to private.

          It’s a thread killer if you can’t get back to the thread without loading page after page.

          Especially with disqus when things aren’t necessarily (and generally aren’t) ordered from first to last (or last to first,if you choose).

        • Kodie

          I just subscribe to threads by participating in them, and all comments but my own get sent to my email. It can take a while to keep up or very little time, sort of depends on my time and interest in a topic. I’ll keep a thread to read later if I’m very interested but don’t have time now sometimes, or I’ll just ignore whole chunks of it and meet up with it later, wherever it happens to go, and I follow through the link in my email to go to patheos. When a new thread starts, I attempt to start at the beginning, and if I make a comment, it starts sending responses to comments I haven’t even read yet, if I’m still reading through the comments, but it can get quickly out of hand. I go to disqus to see responses to my own comments, and respond at disqus.

          I only used recent comments column when I could see a comment in a thread I must not have subscribed to that looked interesting, but it did used to work (in firefox), now it doesn’t. It’s not something I really relied on to see those comments in the first place, since I just get them in my email. I don’t follow commenters on disqus, I read one blog, and if you comment on another blog, I would get more stuff to read sent to my inbox, and I don’t feel like that’s something I want to do. Bob makes a post every couple days, and the pace is busy enough, the commenters are good. For example, I used to read FA – too many articles per day, too many comments to keep up with. I don’t feel like adding an interest in another blog is something I can do right now, or follow commenters to like their posts and read what they’re reading. I just got back here and already have thousands of comments in about 5 threads to make a decision about.

        • TheNuszAbides

          well … since i don’t, at this juncture, particularly fear/anticipate being disqus-stalked, i’ll de-privatize my account. but only because i think i love you. 🙂

        • Susan

          Works for me. 🙂

        • Kodie

          I unlocked mine for you Susan, and I guess MR ;P but I will lock it again if I get any old funny business from anywhere.

        • MR

          Ah, thank you, Kodie! 😀

        • Susan

          I unlocked mine for you Susan, and I guess MR.

          Thanks Kodie. It’s not necessary now that Myna pointed me to “All Comments” but it speeds things up.

          “Recent Comments” changed from being functional to being barely functional.

          I always relied on new articles, young threads, recent comments and e-mail replies. Mostly in that order but the last two depending on how the discussion went.

          As the new articles don’t generally remain young threads for long, I always relied on “Recent Comments”

          It used to do its job on the opening page. It doesn’t any more.

          It still does its job on the “All Comments” page.

          I will lock it again if I get any old funny business from anywhere.

          I hope you don’t get any of that. Being followed is not always creepy. Some people just like to see what you’re weighing in about. It’s the internet, though. There are some creeps. I understand your caution.

          I agree. If you get any old funny business from anywhere, lock it again.

          In the meantime, thanks.

          🙂

        • OldSearcher

          Being followed is not always creepy. Some people just like to see what you’re weighing in about.

          Absolutely! And following interesting people is a great way to find new great blogs and new great people.

        • Kodie

          I used it to great effect, since no matter how many times you said this is the way of the future and it’s done, no backsies, you changed it back.

        • MR

          I do remember why I put my profile to private, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem right now.

          Does that mean you’re going to take your profile off private now? Because I sure miss being able to follow you.

        • Kodie

          I don’t post anywhere but here. I posted last week a couple times to a pest reviving an old thread on FA about how you couldn’t set off a smoke alarm with a hot shower, and then I came here.

        • MR

          So, does that mean no?

        • Kodie

          Convince me that being followed is something I want. I have 9 followers, and I don’t know that it serves me at all.

        • MR

          Who cares if it serves you? It serves me. I benefit because I can more easily follow your comments and not wonder if I’m missing some pearls of wisdom from you. I value your comments and if I could mainline them I would. Since that’s not possible, the best I can hope for is for you to remove the privacy barrier that separates every word you utter from me. Me, me, me, dammit. Won’t you think about me?

        • Michael Neville

          I have a similar problem. I can look at a comment if it’s an upvote or a reply to me but I have to load the entire thread if I want to look at a private commentator’s comments.

        • You seem to be beyond this little trick, but in case others haven’t figured it out, if you click on the time stamp (“8 hours ago” in the case of your comment at this moment), you can make that one the headline question. That is, the yellow bar will move to that question, and the URL in the address bar will change its comment #. Then you can copy that URL to use as a reference.

        • 2) Is the need to link through the commenter a Patheos guideline?

          Not to my knowledge.

        • Susan

          Not to my knowledge.

          Thanks. I asked because I’ve only run into this problem on Patheos but haven’t been on enough sites to know whether there was a connection.

          Is it possible to set things up so that one can link to comments by time stamp in the Recent Comments section or would that be a major pain? It would make a huge difference in making everyone’s comments accessible in threads where the comments have gone to multiple pages.

        • Greg G.

          The Recent Comments are a Disqus widget. There are a few controls allowed, like the number of comments displayed (up to 25) and whether to display the avatar. I haven’t examined the code in great detail and I don’t know what is available to change by the moderator though. I did a few tests last night on the code before this thread began and found that it displays differently in Internet Explorer than it does in Chrome. I don’t know what I left out to cause it but Chromes links to the Disqus profile from the name and to the post from the timestamp. The timestamp doesn’t appear in Internet Explorer but the name links to the comment.

        • Susan

          The timestamp doesn’t appear in Internet Explorer but the name links to the comment.

          Thanks, Greg. That’s very helpful. I much prefer Chrome to IE but if it means being able to navigate discussions, I’ll use IE.

        • Greg G.

          That is just for the code I extracted. I must have left out the code that makes Chrome change the timestamp link to the name.

        • Susan

          That is just for the code I extracted.

          Oops. Sorry Greg. I was in a hurry and read too quickly.

        • The Recent Comments thingy is just an option that is either enabled or disabled. It’s not customizable, so I’m afraid you must take it or leave it.

          Sorry. But you can see how keeping things simple means that Patheos doesn’t have to hunt down bugs in custom code for each of their hundreds of blogs.

        • Susan

          Sorry. But you can see how keeping things simple means that Patheos doesn’t have to hunt down bugs in custom code for each of their hundreds of blogs.

          Thanks. That’s what I meant when I asked whether it was a Patheos thing.

          I know it’s not a Disqus thing because I spent a couple of years on Disqus where time stamps are the standard thing. I found you first from Strange Notions (ptooey!) and spent a great deal of time at
          Estranged Notions which also uses time stamps in the Recent Comments section.

          This was always an easy and obvious strategy to follow new contributions to any discussion.

          I wanted to know it it was possible to do that through Patheos. Now, I understand that it isn’t.

          I have no problem with the fact that the code you are working with is restricted in large measure by Patheos.

          It’s just that from the outside, I don’t know which code that is.

          The “Recent Comments” completely fails to work the way “Recent Comments” is generally meant to work.

          Now, I know I’ll have to just ask fellow commenters who find that it works, what they’re doing so that I can do the same and see if I can’t make it work for me.

        • Myna A.

          If I am on the actual thread for the comments, the comment won’t show up, but if I am on All Posts, the comment will show up after about a 30 second delay…first showing the thread, then the comment. It’s very odd. I took my comments off private mode just now. I changed the setting during the troll episode and then forgot all about it.

        • Susan

          Thank you, Myna. That’s exactly what I needed to know.

          It probably seemed so obvious to others that they didn’t think to mention it. I always used “Recent Comments” once the comments under an article became too many. It used to work but now it doesn’t.

          I never noticed “All Posts”.

        • Myna A.

          It’s confusing. When the comment comes up, it doesn’t necessarily show replies that others have given, which I’d like to see as well so I don’t repeat something or not get a clearer understanding. The “All Posts” thing was just something I experimented with to see if I could get any particular comment to show up easier on whatever thread, and it did.

  • catfink

    Hard to believe that such an intelligent and accomplished man is so oblivious to the obvious and widely-known problems with his religious beliefs.

    Atheists complain about the evil that God allows, but by what standard do they judge something as evil? If there is no god, good and evil are just a matter of opinion. There’s no rational justification for moral concepts if you abolish God.

    I guess he’s never heard of utilitarianism or any other secular moral theory. And Plato explained 2,000 years ago why the assumption that there’s a God doesn’t solve the supposed problem of the origin of morality. If something is good because God commands it, then morality is also “just a matter of opinion” (God’s opinion). If God commands it because it’s good, then there is a source of morality outside of God. So what is that source?

    Sure, God could’ve made us so we wouldn’t do bad things, but we’d be robots without free will.

    Does God have free will? If God does not have free will, but God is perfect, then “being robots without free will” is not an imperfection. Conversely, if God does have free will, and God always chooses good, then it must be possible to have free will and always choose good. So why didn’t God make us that way? If God has free will and sometimes chooses evil rather than good, then God is not perfectly good, which contradicts Christian teaching.

    And what about the inhabitants of Heaven? If they don’t have free will, then again there’s nothing wrong with “being robots without free will.” If they do have free will, then either it’s possible to have free will and always choose good (so why didn’t God just make us that way in the first place?), or there is evil in Heaven, which contradicts Christian teaching that Heaven is a place without evil.

    • TheNuszAbides

      If they don’t have free will, then again there’s nothing wrong with “being robots without free will.”

      exactly. free will is supposedly a gift, something we special creations “in His own image” (impossible to satisfactorily explain) deserve … and if we use that gift ‘properly’, our afterlife ‘reward’ includes losing it? or no longer needing it? we needed it why exactly? to justify being rewarded …

  • Michael Neville

    Lennox’s arguments are what we expect from “Dr” Kent Hovind or Ray Comfort, not from an intelligent, educated Oxbridge prof like Lennox. Each one of his arguments are PRATTs (points refuted a thousand times.). At least Edwin Woodruff Tait is using more sophisticated arguments against atheism.

    • Susan

      Each one of his arguments are PRATTs (points refuted a thousand times.).

      I can’t help but question his honesty for this reason. I understand when a christian shows up here who’s been taught these points but hasn’t spent much time outside the compound, that they might sincerely think they have a case that’s never occurred to people who don’t believe them.

      But people like Lennox and Craig (and many others) know the problems with their arguments and continue to trot out the same arguments every time.

      They don’t seem to care that their arguments are wrong, just that they can persuade people with them.

      At least Edwin Woodruff Tait is using more sophisticated arguments against atheism.

      Sophisticated fog. They’re fancy but just as vacuous.

      • Michael Neville

        I didn’t say Tait’s arguments were good, I said they were sophisticated, unlike Lennox’s arguments. At least Tait is putting some effort into his arguments.

        • Susan

          I said they were sophisticated, unlike Lennox’s arguments.

          To be fair, Lennox has been busy becoming proficient enough in mathematics to be a professor at Oxford.

          While EWT seems to be mostly a divinity student. He is an expert at fog.

          I don’t want to discourage EWT from participating but I think I find the “sophisticated” arguments for “God” the most annoying.

          If I could get a doctorate in Snowflake Fairies, my arguments for them would be sophisticated too.

        • Kodie

          He’s using a lot of big words and lots of them, but he’s … just sort of generating them.

        • MNb

          Not when defending “IDiocy is not theology and should be taught in science class.” That’s nothing but parroting IDiot “arguments” (including straightforward lies) that have worn out long ago. There is no sophistication there.

      • Kodie

        Sophisticated fog. They’re fancy but just as vacuous.

        Well, someone as educated as he is seems to think he is too educated to fall for cheap tricks, while the dumb ones rely on their having “common sense”. They don’t see how we could possibly reject it, either way – we’re overthinking it, or we’re focusing our arguments against those dummy underthinkers.

      • MNb

        “They don’t seem to care that their arguments are wrong.”
        No. A colleague of Lennox, Dutch apologist Emmanuel Rutten does exactly the same in his thesis. Unfortunately I can’t refind it right now, but he wrote something like
        – If we wake up in the morning and find a bicycle in our backyard that wasn’t there the way before we assume that somebody has thrown it over the fence. So we we wake up and find ourselves in a universe we must assume somebody placed it there as well.
        Must I really assume that a scholar like him – he has read and written about frigging Heidegger – isn’t aware of Paley’s Watchmaker Analogy and the criticism it has received? Still he doesn’t address it.
        Of course he got praised by his examinators. Since then I totally understand why Chris Hallquist states that philosophy of religion is looked down upon by proper philosophers. They are not philosophers. They are apologists. They are seekers for lame excuses.

  • gb2030

    Michael, Susan; I have to say that the acronym PRATT annoys me. Firstly, there’s a certain intellectual laziness involved (“I’m clever enough to use this acryonym but not clever enough to actually refute the point myself…”). It’s like dismissing someone’s argument as a “partisan talking point” – it really is just a way of dismissing something without bothering to actually produce an argument against it. Secondly there is no such thing as refutation in this case; there is a huge difference between making a point – rightly or wrongly – and “refutation” which is a logical proof that the statement is clearly wrong. As it’s not possible to PROVE the existence or lack of existence of a god, you equally cannot refute someone’s statement on the issue. After all, to prove the existence of a god, you must produce the god and introduce him to us. To prove his nonexistence is equally absurd. You can rebut it, argue against it, or lastly and least acceptably, dismiss it with a sneer, which is all that using the word PRATT does.

    • Michael Neville

      I have to say that the acronym PRATT annoys me.

      Pardon me, Sir or Madam, you must have mistaken me for someone who gives a damn about your annoyance.

      If you had bothered to read the OP and the comments below Susan’s and mine, you would have read rebuttals of most of Lennox’s arguments. “Stalin was an atheist”, “morality is absolute”, “atheists have no basis for morality”, “atheists have no hope”, and “God gives us free will to be evil” are all sneers thrown at atheists by people who just want to sneer at atheism. I have refuted each and every one of those points many times before as has pretty much every atheist active in the blogosphere.

      You whine (yes, you’re whining) that we’re not refuting Lennox. Why should we? Lennox isn’t bringing anything new to the debate. All of his arguments are Points Refuted A Thousand Times before. Just because you’re unfamiliar with the refutations doesn’t mean they haven’t been made.

      As it’s not possible to PROVE the existence or lack of existence of a god, you equally cannot refute someone’s statement on the issue.

      Actually you’re wrong. It’s possible to refute Lennox’s favorite pet god through the Problem of Evil™. A critter who’s omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent, which according to the Christian propaganda Lennox’s god is, should not allow evil to happen. An omniscient god would know a specific evil will happen, an omnipotent god would be able to stop that evil, and an omnibenevolent god would want to stop the evil. Since evil happens with great regularity, then any gods hanging around do not have at least one of those omni-attributes.

      There, rebuttal has been made to one of Lennox’s PRATTs. Are you happy now?

      EDITED TO MAKE MY POINT CLEARER.

      • gb2030

        Firstly, I should say I am as thorough-going an atheist as you are.

        Secondly, I don’t agree with Lennox. At any point.

        Thirdly, I read the article and all comments before posting.

        That doesn’t excuse laziness. Dismissing someone’s points as PRATTs is no different from my dismissing everything you just said by explaining it away as “liberal nonsense” or “atheist drivel” or whatever rude dismissive comment you wish to use (including ” you must have mistaken me for someone who gives a damn”).
        If you get annoyed by “sneers thrown at atheists” perhaps you might want to think twice before writing sneers thrown BY an atheist.
        Lastly, your “refutation” is quite silly (TM).
        Why would an “Omni-benevolent” god want to stop evil? If it is the result of the action of free will, it’s not his/her responsibility, and stopping it would alter the consequence of free will, which would negate the whole point of free will – which ultimately makes US responsible. If god stopped the Holocaust, we would never understand the nature of Hitler, or the nature of evil, at all. This is all supposed to be a learning process for man, according to Christian dogma, and we would learn nothing if god interfered in that way. So Omni-benevolence does NOT equate to stopping evil, or wanting to. If God exists AND is Omni-benevolent, he would not necessarily interfere, stop, or even ameliorate evil. He would probably, however, be pretty depressed by now with us. Your argument fails. It’s a fine rebuttal… but is not a refutation.

        • Michael Neville

          Why should arguments which have been rebutted for years be rebutted once again, especially when us atheists are talking amongst ourselves? Answer me that instead of whatever the fuck you’re whining about now?

          If you get annoyed by “sneers thrown at atheists” perhaps you might want to think twice before writing sneers thrown BY an atheist.

          You tell me you’re an atheist. How am I supposed to know that, especially when all I know about you is that you’re a supercilious, whining asshole? Besides, why should I care? You whined “you’re not refuting Lennox but instead you’re using an acronym that I find annoying and you need to pay attention to my whining because…well, just because.”

          Why would an “Omni-benevolent” god want to stop evil?

          Fuck but you’re an ignorant, whiny asshole. Omnibenevolent means “all good” and “all loving”. Such a critter would, by definition, want to keep evil from happening. Don’t tell me my rebuttal is quite silly when you don’t even know what one of the main points in the rebuttal means.

          As for your “free will” nonsense, you’re just parroting Christian apologetics (are you sure you’re an atheist?). Free will works to excuse the perpetrator of evil but how many victims use free will to be victimized? No, you’re wrong, free will fails as a defense for the problem of evil. I grant you one point, your understand of the problem of evil is slightly better than Lennox’s. Although that’s not saying much.

        • MNb

          Yeah. The funny thing is that Gb actually could have a point if he recognized that it’s totally thinkable that theists bring up a story that explains why an omnivolent god allows evil. It’s just that they haven’t found it yet. As a consequence it works better as an inductive argument iso a conclusive disproof.

        • Herald Newman

          What I don’t understand is how free will is violated by knowing that God exists, and why believing in Yahweh is so fucking important???

          At the very least I would expect God to work with us as a teacher, or parent, teaches a child. Instead what we find is that we’re essentially abandoned in the wilderness, completely naked, and no hints about how to survive. How exactly is Yahweh omni-benevolent again?

        • Susan

          What I don’t understand is how free will is violated by knowing that God exists

          You would understand it in Opposite World. In this world, it’s just plain nuts.

          The more information you have, the freer your choice to make reasonable choices.

          I am free to act appropriately, to love appropriately, to resist appropriately etc. according to the information I have on every other subject.

          Suddenly, when it’s Yahwehjesus, I’m supposed to switch over to Opposite World.

          It’s the sort of schtick I would use if I were trying to sell imaginary cars to someone.

          “The more evidence you have, the higher the odds that you, as a consumer, will make the wrong choice.”

        • Michael Neville

          The more information you have, the freer your choice to make reasonable choices.

          Exactly. If I’m supposed to make a decision about some being’s existence and vital evidence to support that existence is withheld, then I’m more likely to make a wrong decision. Thus the theist argument about freewill fails.

          Besides, why is it so necessary that I make my decision? I’ve never seen the Iguazu Falls in South America so I don’t personally know if they exist. However there’s lots of evidence available that they do so I accept their existence. Why should gods be any different from waterfalls?

        • TheNuszAbides

          The more information you have, the freer your choice to make reasonable choices.

          and by its restriction of information shall ye know an institution’s worthiness.

        • gb2030

          OK, having now been sworn at, called whiny and called an asshole, I no longer need to polite – so thank you for that, you supercilious moron.
          To answer your first question, you need to rebut points to show you are capable of intelligent thought, rather than using the utterly lame excuse that someone else has already made your point for you. Any Nazi can explain how the Fuhrer has already explained the important points of National Socialism, and thus uncleverly avoid having to demonstrate their own complete lack of understanding of their own dogma.
          Secondly, I don’t have to prove my atheism to you, and as you quite correctly point out that you don’t care anyway makes your point utterly unnecessary and thus idiotic…
          Omnibenevolent does not mean all good, (that would be omnibenificent, you malodorous heap of parrot droppings). It means that God is predisposed to love us without qualifications, endlessly. That’s ALL it means. It does not mean that he has to approve of what we do, or fix our mistakes, or take action against evil that we do. You don’t even know the meaning of the words you try to use; and when offered the slightest criticism, explode in infantile rage and tantrums.
          Your argument is childish, your conclusions equally so, and your entire demeanor an embarrassment to the atheist community in general.
          You sir, are a pratt as I learned to use the word in Ireland thirty years ago – a fool, a moron and a twit.
          Now get stuffed.

        • Susan

          Omnibenevolent does not mean all good

          Theists generally refer to their deity as “all good” or “goodness itself” and omnibenevolence has often been the word used to discuss that claim.

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

          If you’d like to get technical, then we can replace “omnibenevolent” with “omnibeneficient” as “perfectly good” is how christians describe this immaterial, inexplicably male agent.

          You don’t even know the meaning of the words you try to use

          It appears he knows the meanings as most theists and atheists agree to them. I will happily switch to “omnibeneficient” if it makes you happy but that doesn’t mean Michael is wrong as far as usage.

          when offered the slightest criticism, explode in infantile rage and tantrums.

          Michael strikes me as a lovely guy but I’ve known him in the internet sense for a while now. You’ve just met him.

          Has it occurred to you that part of the problem is that you showed up here out of nowhere, ignored the fact that the article addressed the arguments, ignored that most of the comments here addressed the arguments and chose instead, to correct a couple of us about a highly technical “R” in the PRATT observation that someone (probably exasperated by years of the reset button) reasonably observed?

          A technical point that depends on your definition of “proof”, a definition you still haven’t provided?

        • Michael Neville

          OK, having now been sworn at, called whiny and called an asshole, I no longer need to polite – so thank you for that, you supercilious moron.

          If you thought your first post to Susan and me was polite then you’re even more stupid than I originally thought. You didn’t use foul language but you were condescending and patronizing, which is hardly polite.

          To answer your first question, you need to rebut points to show you are capable of intelligent thought, rather than using the utterly lame excuse that someone else has already made your point for you.

          Bob did a good job in rebutting Lennox’s argument in the OP. Just because YOU think I need to do something that’s already been adequately done is no reason for me to do it. Also I note that you did zip point shit in rebuttal to Lennox. Why do I have to do something that you’re too lazy to do?

          Any Nazi can explain how the Fuhrer has already explained the important points of National Socialism, and thus uncleverly avoid having to demonstrate their own complete lack of understanding of their own dogma.

          Godwin’s Law rears its head. And no, asshole, I’m not going to explain Godwin’s Law to your dumb, ignorant ass.

          Secondly, I don’t have to prove my atheism to you, and as you quite correctly point out that you don’t care anyway makes your point utterly unnecessary and thus idiotic…

          Did I ask you to prove your atheism? No, fuckwit, I did not. I rhetorically questioned it when you used a stock Christian apologetics argument to “refute” my comment about the Problem of Evil. That argument didn’t actually refute my comment but you’re probably too fucking stupid to realize it.

          Omnibenevolent does not mean all good, (that would be omnibenificent, you malodorous heap of parrot droppings).

          WRONG! Omnibenevolent means “All-loving, or infinitely good”, you putrid knuckledragger. This on-line dictionary says so, giving the etymology as Latin omni meaning “all”, and benevolent, meaning “good”, As usual, you’re nowhere as knowledgeable as you pretend you are.

          It means that God is predisposed to love us without qualifications, endlessly. That’s ALL it means. It does not mean that he has to approve of what we do, or fix our mistakes, or take action against evil that we do.

          What’s this “God” thingy you’re referring to? I thought you were supposed to be an atheist. Or is that only when you’re arguing with real atheists? As for the rest of your claim, it fails due to you using an incorrect and idiosyncratic definition of omnibenevolent.

          You don’t even know the meaning of the words you try to use; and when offered the slightest criticism, explode in infantile rage and tantrums.

          Yawn. If you want infantile, look in the mirror, you’ll see an whiny assclown.

          Your argument is childish, your conclusions equally so, and your entire demeanor an embarrassment to the atheist community in general.

          You failed to refute my argument but somehow that’s my fault. You are a silly cockmuppet.

          You sir, are a pratt as I learned to use the word in Ireland thirty years ago – a fool, a moron and a twit.

          You were in Ireland? Am I supposed to be impressed? I spent 20 years in the US Navy. I’ve been in countries you’ve only heard of in the news. Incidentally I’ve also been in Ireland, both Ulster and Eire. As for insults, you’re just a plain, ordinary, common or garden shithead.

          Now get stuffed.

          Eat shit and bark at the moon, douchemonger.

        • MNb

          That’s an impressive rant.

        • MR

          Michael, apparently you don’t understand the rules. See, he gets to open the conversation with condescension, but you’re not to consider that impolite. Having poisoned the conversation from the get-go, he then gets to feign insult should you deign to express offense. Your offense at his bullshit, however, counts for nothing. Those are the rules.

        • Pofarmer

          Apparently, we’re not doing atheism right, or something. I’m a little confused on the point.

        • MNb

          But …. but …. not believing the right way is essential!

        • Michael Neville

          Silly me, forgetting the rules like that. Thank you for explaining them. :^þ

        • catfink

          Omnibenevolent does not mean all good, (that would be omnibenificent, you malodorous heap of parrot droppings). It means that God is predisposed to love us without qualifications, endlessly. That’s ALL it means.

          You can’t define your way out of the problem. If God is good, if God does not want there to be evil and suffering, why did he create a world with evil and suffering?

        • MNb

          Especially as he also created a realm without evil and suffering – it’s called Heaven?

        • Susan

          Why would an “Omni-benevolent” god want to stop evil?

          Why would an omnibenevolent,omniscient, omnipotent agent that plucked reality from metaphysical nothing create evil?

          Hundreds of millions of years of suffering before anything resembling a human existed. SO much suffering when humans exist that humans CANNOT prevent.

          What about groups of humans who were starving to death and other humans who could help didn’t know they existed? Could they have cured pneumonia, gangrene, tooth decay without the knowledge and means?

          Could they have saved the billions of children who died before the age of five when they had no way to do so?

          The christian response is breathtakingly myopic.

          It doesn’t even begin to add up.

        • Myna A.

          Upvote x 10

        • catfink

          Why would an “Omni-benevolent” god want to stop evil? If it is the result of the action of free will, it’s not his/her responsibility, and stopping it would alter the consequence of free will, which would negate the whole point of free will – which ultimately makes US responsible.

          What is the point of “making us responsible?”

          If god stopped the Holocaust, we would never understand the nature of Hitler, or the nature of evil, at all.

          Why would a God of love create a world with evil in the first place?

          Your “free will” defense also contradicts other aspects of Christian teaching, as I explained in another comment.

        • Susan

          Your argument fails.

          Hi gb. I know it’s the internet and I don’t expect you to respond right away. You are not responsible to respond right away.

          But as you chose to fixate on the one comment that you found “lazy” and Michael’s and my responses to it and explain that you were annoyed by non-arguments, it would be very disappointing if you don’t respond to the problems with the arguments you provided on behalf of christians for the Problem of Evil.

          It would certainly come off as “lazy”.

          Take your time. It is the internet but a non-response would only confirm Michael’s first instincts to your introductory comment.

        • MR

          Careful, Susan, you don’t want to come off as impolite by suggesting he could come off as lazy.

    • MNb

      “it really is just a way of dismissing something without bothering to actually produce an argument against it.”
      Not necessarily so. It’s also an observation and hence not meant as an argument.

      “least acceptably, dismiss it with a sneer, which is all that using the word PRATT does.”
      That’s just your personal opinion. Why would anyone care about what you accept and not accept? If I want to sneer I sneer. If I want to use the acronym PRATT to sneer I use it. I just don’t claim it’s an argument. If you have a problem with that, well, it’s your problem, not mine.

      “As it’s not possible to PROVE the existence or lack of existence of a god.”
      Define proof and especially disproof. I mean, I can convincingly prove Pythagoras’ Theorem – and as easily disprove it the next time. It just depends on the standards.

      • gb2030

        I never claimed using the word PRATT was an argument; very much the opposite, I pointed out that it was a SUBSTITUTE for argument. And therefore, by its nature, in a place devoted to argument with people arguing about everything, lazy.
        Feel free to sneer. Just don’t complain, as Michael did, if others sneer back. You always reap what you sow.
        A logical proof is a construct intended to demonstrate truth or falsity. You can’t demonstrate the existence of God, without bringing God along and getting him/her to explain himself. Anything else is merely substitution. You can’t prove the lack of god, by the same criteria; all you can show is that he isn’t in the room, right now.

        • Kodie

          I thought the PRATT was because Lennox should know the answers to his arguments by now. That’s what the article was about, and Bob, the author of this blog and the article did elaborate on the arguments Lennox seems clearly ignorant of. We gotta keep talking about that? If you have a comment about the article, a problem or rebuttal to any of the arguments within the article, go ahead. But you seem to have a stick up somewhere about lazy responses. Responses to points already made in the article?

        • Susan

          I thought the PRATT was because Lennox should know the answers to his arguments by now.

          It’s pretty obvious that wtfwjtd was observing that.

          But gb2030 is hung up on the technical point that the “R” in PRATT means “refute” which has to mean “disprove”. A point I’m happy to acknowledge if he would be charitable enough to consider that wtfwjtd wasn’t being that technical. Also, if gb2030 would define “proof”.

          Response to points already made in the article?

          That would be nice.

    • Susan

      I have to say that the acronym PRATT annoys me.

      It doesn’t annoy me. If that were the only response on these pages, it would be cheap,but I’ve rarely seen it used. As MNb said, it wasn’t put forth as an argument. It was an observation. A perfectly reasonable one considering the history of apologetics.

      You’re new here, I think. You could check Michael and my comment histories and see that we’ve responded for a very long time to the arguments. I was observing that it’s dishonest of apologists to use the same fallacious arguments again and again, though the fallacies in those arguments have been pointed out again and again.

      They don’t develop them and respond. They hit the reset button as though no one had ever responded.

      Define “prove” (as MNb also asked) and I will respond to your technical point. Otherwise, I’ll ignore it.

      to prove the existence of a god, you must produce the god and introduce him to us.

      I could produce myself if I knew where to find you and introduce myself to you but it wouldn’t necessarily be “proof” of my existence. Again, until I know what you mean, I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

      The fact is that theists can’t produce any god, let alone introduce “him” to us.

      To prove his non-existence is equally absurd.

      Asking me to demonstrate the non-existence of an agent is absurd.

      Asking someone to demonstrate the existence of an agent (if they claim the agent exists) is not absurd.

    • Greg G.

      You can rebut it, argue against it, or lastly and least acceptably, dismiss it with a sneer, which is all that using the word PRATT does.

      B-b-but Bob already rebutted and argued against them in the article. There was nothing left to do but sneer and say “PRATT”.

  • Herald Newman

    Lennox is unfortunately stuck trying to defend what cannot really be defended. on one hand, he’s a well educated man, who has some respect in his field. On the other hand, he’s a Christian, and feels the need to defend that faith.

    Frankly, it wouldn’t matter who it was, because there simply are no good defenses for theism, let alone Christianity. What strikes me as strange is how a well educated man can push such weak arguments for his faith…

    • epicurus

      I always picture mathematicians as critical logic chopping machines. And while they may be within their own disciplines, I guess religion, or just the need to really really believe something regardless of the evidence, can override critical thinking ability.

      • Michael Neville

        I think the problem is more basic that than that. Lennox, like a lot of intelligent, educated people, thinks he’s smarter and more knowledgeable than he actually is (I occasionally suffer from this myself).

        • epicurus

          I always forgive you because you are an ex submariner and I’m fascinated by submarines 🙂

        • Michael Neville

          The Three Rules of Submarining:

          1. Ensure that the number of surfaces equals the number of dives.

          2. Keep people out of the water tanks and water out of the people tank.

          3. Remember that your submarine was built by the lowest bidder.

        • epicurus

          Haha, that’s great stuff!!

        • Herald Newman

          I think you’ve hit it here. Dunning-Kruger claims another victim who thinks that his ability to prove things in the realm of mathematics somehow means he can prove things in the real world…

        • Susan

          thinks that his ability to prove things in the realm of mathematics somehow means he can prove things in the real world…

          It makes him an even bigger hypocrite as far as I can tell, because mathematics requires clearly defined terms and that you show your work every step of the way.

          You don’t just get to hand-wave that the next mathematician must be wrong and claim that you are therefore, reasonably right.

        • Herald Newman

          I have to suspect that it comes down to accessibility, in that most of the world hates mathematical type proofs. If that was his game then the modal ontological argument would be at the front of his arguments.

          The impression I get is that his arguments are dumbed down for a Christian listener, while still being a sufficient wind bag. It seems to me that Lennox, like most apologists, is really trying to bolster the faithful, rather than convince anyone outside that he’s actually right.

        • Susan

          It seems to me that Lennox, like most apologists, is really trying to bolster the faithful, rather than convince anyone outside that he’s actually right.

          And he should know, as a professor of mathematics, how dishonest that is.

          That is, he knows he’s not checking his work. He knows all the problems with his approach. Definition by definition. Step by step.

          That he ignores the responses to those positions and pretends they don’t exist is an error a layperson could make. But not Lennox.

        • MNb

          According to psychology all people do. It’s necessary to bolster self-esteem, without which people couldn’t get things done.

        • TheNuszAbides

          that explains a great deal about my occupational trajectory.

    • It’s amazing. You’d think that he’d realize that he should keep his mouth shut. If he wants to believe, just believe.

      I guess he has no interest in his reputation. But then again, God likes to get sacrifices. Lennox’s reputation may be the most valuable thing he can sacrifice.

      • Argus

        I wonder if it’s just wishful thinking as a means to cope with his mortality?

  • Could you please not repeat the “Stalin was an atheist because he was a dictator” idea? That not the case. He was already an atheist before coming into power-it was part of Marxist ideology. The objection should be that the crimes are really due to Marxism, as it justified them, not atheism. Part of Marxism as interpreted by Stalin and others was to eliminate religion. Atheism does not say that. So the analogy he tries to make is a complete failure.

    • gb2030

      I agree. I have never found that argument, or the Christian argument that atheism is good for evil because atheists lack a moral compass, to be true in any way. But it’s not Marxism fault, either.
      The real argument should be: Which system can be used to justify evil more easily, atheism or religion? And the answer is, religion, because an atheist may or may not decide to do evil, but religion – (at least Christianity and Islam) – regularly JUSTIFIES evil, as being either the work of God, or demanded by god. The Bible and the Koran explicitly demand lots and lots of smiting against unbelievers, after all. I have yet to read an atheist tract calling for the deaths of those who believe…

      • I think Marxism enables this, especially in some variants. However your argument does make sense. Atheism does not prescribe acts, though an atheist may follow a philosophy which does. However religion does prescribe by definition.

    • MNb

      “Part of Marxism as interpreted by Stalin and others was to eliminate religion.”
      Bar one – stalinism.
      But that’s just nitpicking. I am largely with Gb2030 underneath.

      • True, Stalin actually went easy on compared with Lenin. Hoxha in Albania actually went the furthest and banned it entirely.

        • MNb

          Again bar one – the religion he presided himself. Marxism has a strong religious character. Bertrand Russell showed it is modeled after christianity. The role of YHWH is played by dialectic materialism.

        • gb2030

          If anybody hasn’t read it, the very best critique ever raised against Marxism must be Karl Popper’s “Open Society and its enemies”. Marxism fails by theory (it assumes happiness resides purely in ownership of the means of production, an idiotic idea at best, and its economic theory is seriously flawed); and it fails in practice (because the dictatorship of the proletariat will always lead to one very big, mean proletariat bastard in charge). But Marxism is not essentially anti-religion (despite Marx’s famous dictum of the opiate of the people) and has after all been closely tied to radical Catholicism in South America and other places, for many years. It’s a fairly fine line between Marx’s idea of abolition of private property and Jesus’ renouncement of personal possessions…

        • Michael Neville

          One of the main failings of Marxism is its misunderstanding of economics. Marx posits a theory that asserts that the market or exchange value of any commodity is the amount of labor embodied in it. By focusing on one aspect of a good’s production and ignoring others (scarcity of raw materials, transportation, regulatory costs, etc.) Marx ignores the true value of goods.

          Let’s consider supply and demand. Supply is simply the availability of the product or service. Demand is the subjective value placed on a good or service by those
          who would purchase it, the price they are willing to pay, as well as the number who wish to receive the product or service. Supply and demand are what determine the value of something, not the amount of labor. Value is subjective to the individual and so is hard to incorporate into a general philosophy.

        • MNb

          “because the dictatorship of the proletariat will always lead to one very big, mean proletariat bastard in charge”
          This one stems from Bakunin. It’s why Marx forced him out of the First International in The Hague, September 1872.

        • Michael Neville

          The socialists and the anarchists have always been at odds with each other.

    • Yes, valid point. Thanks. I should’ve caught that.

  • Yonah

    As a Jewish Christian theist, I have to admit that Bob has won the argument here…so far.

    I think about a point that Bob has pushed before about religion being exempt from taxation in the U.S. While that doesn’t have much to do with the topic here, I would like to give Atheists some better economic ammunition which ties to the issue of “morality”. And that is: Follow the money. For while there can be a good amount of money changing hands in religion…..ask how the money gets used in payment toward employees. What does the church pay the church janitor?…even a so-called “progressive church” which squawks high and low about “social justice”

    How much do they pay the janitor per hour? Where did “morality”….suddenly go?

    • Michael Neville

      Personally I feel that as long as a church janitor is paid the prevailing wage for janitors in the particular area then the church is acting as morally as any other employer.

      • MNb

        Yeah … but things are different when said church claims to hold and promote a better morality than the one that determined the prevailing wage.

      • Erp

        Note that churches are often exempt from paying unemployment insurance to employees so a key point might be is whether employees particularly low level ones will get unemployment benefits.

    • Good questions. If churches, mosques, etc. had open books, we could see. Makes you wonder what they have to hide.

      • Yonah

        I don’t have a good sense on how many American religious congregations have closed books. I wonder also if the media just doesn’t pursue the matter. But, the fact remains that “liberal” mainline denominations can mouth “economic justice” or “living wage”…and then not practice it in-house.

        • I don’t have a good sense on how many American religious congregations have closed books.

          In terms of filling out IRS 990s so that they’re available at places like Charity Navigator? I’d’ve guess almost 100%, but I don’t have data on that. Do you suspect otherwise?

          A handful of churches having done this doesn’t help much. You need almost all of them so that statistics can be drawn–average and top salaries, amount of money passed through to charities, etc.

        • Yonah

          I like Charity Navigator a lot. I would be in full agreement with full transparency through whatever means.

  • Atheists whine about the Crusades and the Inquisition, but why don’t they take seriously the violence and harm caused by atheist regimes like those of Stalin and Mao?

    Because the atheism was a consequence of the actual problem, that these regimes were dictatorships. Stalin was an atheist because he was a dictator. He wasn’t a dictator because he was an atheist!

    The statement by Lennox doesn’t entail that atheism is a causal factor. Instead, he merely needs to argue that removing religion, ceteris paribus, doesn’t necessarily improve human flourishing. (I anticipate correlative statistics of human flourishing in secular countries to be posted in reply to this.)

    Atheism was central to the Soviet Union’s policy. After all, Marx said that religion was the opium of the people.

    Sure, atheism was central. Churches had to be shut down because they competed for power. Atheism was simply a consequence of the dictatorship; Stalin didn’t do damage in the name of atheism.

    Again, the implicit claim (to which I suspect Lennox is responding) is that by removing religion, the situation will improve (on average). Marx didn’t want the people to have solace from religion, for that would make them less interested in revolting against their industrialist oppressors, with whom IIRC he saw the church as regularly collaborating. The question is, was he correct? Does removing religion lead to things being better (at least after some initial slaughter)? Many have believed this, but I find the evidence wanting.

    Atheists complain about the evil that God allows, but by what standard do they judge something as evil? If there is no god, good and evil are just a matter of opinion. There’s no rational justification for moral concepts if you abolish God.

    I don’t reject the idea of morality and evil; I reject the idea of absolute morality or evil. Look in the dictionary—the definitions don’t assume absolute or objective grounding. Imagine that morality is absolute if you want, but don’t pretend that the dictionary backs you up.

    You don’t seem to actually be disagreeing with Lennox, here. Recall that seven months ago, I presented you with the fact that the DSM I categorized homosexuality as “pathologic behavior”, while the DSM IV did not. You have no grounds for saying that the DSM I was wrong while the DSM IV was right, because there is no deeper dictionary to which you can appeal. You agreed: “I trust my current dictionary because I got nothing else.”

    We all believe in absolute values; we all acknowledge a standard outside ourselves. Atheists prove this when they argue for right and wrong. For example, we all agree that baby torture is wrong.

    We don’t have absolute values; we have shared values. That’s not surprising since we’re all the same species. We agree that baby torture is wrong because we have the same moral instinct.

    What would the difference be, between absolute and shared values? Earlier you said “absolute or objective”, so perhaps you could also indicate what the difference would be between shared and objective values. Perhaps we could compare the West’s reaction to (i) the 1999 NATO bombing of a Serbian news station; (ii) the Charlie Hebdo attacks. It seems to me that on an objective basis, one party didn’t like what another party was doing with its propaganda machine, and so carried out a lethal attack against civilians. If one was wrong, the other was wrong—civilians are civilians. But if we go by “shared values”, maybe that allows us to at least faintly praise (i), while condemning (ii).

    Atheists can be moral, but they can’t justify morality.

    The natural explanation explains what we see without relying on anything supernatural. Morality has an instinctive part (from evolution) and a social part (from society).

    Again you don’t seem to be disagreeing with Lennox: ‘justify’ ≠ ‘explain’. Justification happens on the normative plane; explanation happens on the empirical plane. There’s cross-talk, but the normative can disagree with the empirical. Probably Lennox is arguing that atheism saps the power of the normative to pull away from the status quo. Going back to the DSM I vs. IV, my guess is that Lennox has an explanation for why such changes occur, in comparison to your bottoming out at the dictionary-level.

    Atheists can’t explain where absolute morals come from.

    Agreed. Neither can Christians. I keep hearing this confusion of shared morals with absolute morals. And I keep seeing no evidence for the remarkable claim that morality is grounded outside humans.

    There is a difference between morality being grounded outside human consciousness and morality being grounded outside of human being. Humans having built-in telē (plural of telos) is a way to have the former but not the latter. Now, I’m not sure what role ‘evidence’ is playing here, in a distinctly normative sphere.

    • The statement by Lennox doesn’t entail that atheism is a causal factor.

      Lenox was very clear that atheism was the cause.

      You have no grounds for saying that the DSM I was wrong while the DSM IV was right, because there is no deeper dictionary to which you can appeal. You agreed: “I trust my current dictionary because I got nothing else.”

      I trust DSM IV over DSM I. I don’t see how this is relevant to Lennox’s confusion about morality.

      What would the difference be, between absolute and shared values?

      They might appear the same, but shared morality has a natural explanation.

      Earlier you said “absolute or objective”, so perhaps you could also indicate what the difference would be between shared and objective values.

      For this discussion, none.

      • Lenox was very clear that atheism was the cause.

        Ok; I didn’t listen to the podcast. If you drop that causal claim and run with what I said, I think the thrust would be very similar. It would still be an argument against the atheist position and it would still exonerate ‘religion’. I find that people sometimes agree with an argument because the conclusions are validly reachable, even if the route taken to those conclusions was invalid.

        I trust DSM IV over DSM I. I don’t see how this is relevant to Lennox’s confusion about morality.

        Surely Lennox believes that the DSM I and IV are attempts to access something more fundamental, some nature of humanity. He may think that errors have been made, but the idea would be that they aren’t just descriptions of socially constructed reality layered on top of evolved ‘nature’. You, on the other hand, have nothing ‘deeper’ to which you believe you can appeal.

        They might appear the same, but shared morality has a natural explanation.

        Why can’t teleology of human nature be discovered naturally? Are we just presupposing teleology out of ‘natural’, a priori? That would seem to be awfully dogmatic.

        For this discussion, none.

        So then the criticism is that there is no possibly empirically detectable difference between the two? That would seem to be a good challenge for Lennox. I could see him replying in two ways: that there actually is an empirically detectable difference, or that by narrowing our view to ‘the empirical’, we improperly disregard aspects of reality which allow the distinction to exist.

        • Are we just presupposing teleology out of ‘natural’, a priori? That would seem to be awfully dogmatic.

          Your asking about why natural (rather than supernatural) is the null hypothesis? That’s just how we do things on this planet.

        • Why is teleology necessarily ‘supernatural’? I’m not even sure what you mean by ‘supernatural’—the term is notorious.

        • I thought you were making a natural/supernatural distinction.

        • Nope. I’m highly dubious about that alleged distinction. Part of the problem is that ‘natural’ itself has been a moving target. For example, those who want matter/energy to constitute existence have a hard time with spaceless, timeless quantum fields like the one Lawrence Krauss think generated our universe. There’s also the problem that if the laws of nature are the only causal powers, then it is incorrect to say that you believe something because it is logical, as if logic has causal power. That would make logic ‘supernatural’, which seems problematic. This whole area is a mess.

        • Cygnus

          Hey Luke! Some people are wrong on the Internets and you can’t sleep or take the garbage out so you have to go around with your keyboard and correct them LOL! Ain’t you paid no more attention at Randal’s failed tentative apologist blog?

          Lemme tell you ’bout the supernatural/natural difference. You see, there was a time when everything was supernatural, according to the holy scriptures, shoved down the throats of children to keep them ignorant by religious leaders.

          But little by little people found out that the bible explanation of natural as supernatural is a pile of steaming horseshit, so they stopped to read the supernatural bible and went study the nature and found out that there’s no supernatural, just natural.

          Of course Christians has lost their audience, the churches are now just religious artifacts and people are not listening to those church janitors horse-manure supernatural spewing. Now Christians claim that there’s no difference between natural and supernatural, so come back and experience Jesus natural love, be an altar boy.

        • MNb

          Weird. A problem I’m not aware of. What’s the problem with spaceless, timeless quantumfields?
          Saying “the laws of nature are the only causal powers” is incoherent. In the first place those laws are descriptions of our natural reality. In the second place since 80 years many of those laws are not causal at all but probabilistic – including the ones that describe quantum fields.
          Finally I don’t believe something because it’s logical. But I suppose you could formulate this correctly. Then my guess is it will become clear that your point is not that logic – and science in general – is ‘supernatural’, but has metaphysical elements. Then you would be right. But the only reason you think this whole area a mess is your own convoluted thinking.

        • Susan

          Why is teleology necessarily supernatural?

          Define “teleology”. Theists almost exclusively claim that there is a “final cause” “outside of nature”. That lets them off the hook for defining agency, which means they’re off the hook for everything and still get to claim something for which they can provide no evidence.

          the term is notorious

          I agree.

          What are you claiming? How can you support it?

        • Define “teleology”.

          There are probably a number of notions which could suffice to establish an ontological difference between (i) absolute/​objective values and (ii) shared values. The basic idea would be that what is best for human thriving is something we can be wrong about with our ‘shared values’, that (ii) is not the most fundamental, accessible standard.

          I care much more about exploring what it would take for there to be a true difference between (i) and (ii) than about some particular notion of teleology. This would enable us to say things like: “The DSM IV treatment of homosexuality is superior to the DSM I treatment of homosexuality.” Otherwise, you’re left saying that the change is something closer to fashion, which seems distinctuly undesirable, completely apart from theistic claims.

          Theists almost exclusively claim that there is a “final cause” “outside of nature”.

          There is actually debate among Christians as to whether there are final causes in nature as well as well as outside of nature (for humans), or only outside of nature. A proponent of the former would be Steven A. Long, and you can read his argument in Natura Pura: On the Recovery of Nature in the Doctrine of Grace.

          That lets them off the hook for defining agency, which means they’re off the hook for everything and still get to claim something for which they can provide no evidence.

          I don’t see how this follows. Ostensibly, you don’t think there is teleology at all, but still think that you can define agency.

          What are you claiming? How can you support it?

          I didn’t see myself as claiming anything with regard to the natural/​supernatural distinction. I made my contention more clear in the first two paragraphs of this comment.

  • katiehippie

    “Atheists can be moral, but they can’t justify morality.”
    I don’t need to justify my morality, why does he?

    • adam

      Theists can justify morality either:

  • TheNuszAbides

    As for “religion is the opium of the people,” that was a compliment! Opium is medicine, remember?

    cue the pearl-clutchers’ brigade …

  • TheNuszAbides

    … why don’t [atheists] take seriously the violence and harm caused by atheist regimes [sic] …

    rhetorical trick: forcing the response into either ‘failing to address’ whether the violence and harm is taken seriously in the first place (Bob, you may not consider that much of a trap, but a slice of the credulous/sensitive won’t pause to contemplate how you consider it), or prefacing a refutation with “of course i take violence and harm seriously, but …”

  • TheNuszAbides

    Atheism was central to the Soviet Union’s policy. After all, Marx said that religion was the opium of the people.

    what are his doctorates in again?

  • TheNuszAbides

    If there is no god, good and evil are just a matter of opinion.

    1. what makes that sentence itself anything more than ‘just a matter of opinion’? sure, tons of theist cheerleaders will pat him on the back out of sheer uninformed sentiment, but does he back it up at all? apparently not …
    2. couldn’t he consult a don of linguistics before pretending that God (or even Hebrew) established these concepts? even if he could show that the earliest known instance of a term commonly accepted as denoting either of these moral values was explicitly divine in nature or subject matter, that would still only be the earliest known instance, in a field of barely/slowly increasing sampling array.

  • Soviet hellhound

    The churches in USSR were shut down because the people STOPPED VISITING THEM AND GIVING MONEY to clergy. For your information, people stopped supporting the churches’ infrastructure after the February revolution (made by the bourgeoisie, not by the Bolsheviks). As soon as there was no criminal sanctions for not attending the church services anymore, people just stopped doing that from under the cane. They still could visit the churches and believe in God as mush as they wanted, without any punishment from the Soviets. Religion just lost its appeal, and the state that protected the rights of the poor and repressed in the first place, had no desire to supply religious layabouts and obscurantists with money. The Bolsheviks kept and repaired all the historically and/or architecturally significant churches, but to keep the regular churches in good condition and supply the priests with necessary items was the believers’ duty. It’s funny how we usually accuse the believers of ignorance and lack of desire to learn, while repeating common lies about the historical events that happened less than 100 years ago. Don’t do that, it looks silly, to apply a printable term. Also: the Western atheists’ nearly animalistic fear of communism, Bolsheviks, USSR etc. is very much like an ancient illiterate,deceived by a local priest peasant’s fear of Satan and various monsters from hell. I recommend you to do some research before making statements that paint atheists as a horrible caricature of our ignorant believing (all kinds of rubbish) friends. There are a number of other things that need some critical comments for severe historical and logical inaccuracy, I might comment on them later. Aside from all of this, keep up the good work, thank you.

    • The church during Soviet times and its bounceback since is an interesting topic. Thanks for adding your thoughts.

      It’s funny how we usually accuse the believers of ignorance and lack of desire to learn, while repeating common lies about the historical events that happened less than 100 years ago. Don’t do that, it looks silly

      Expand on your concerns. I’m guessing you object to my claim that Stalin was a bad man because he was a dictator, not because he was an atheist?

      • Soviet hellhound

        Good day! I left a reply for you yesterday, but somehow it shows up only at my profile page. Probably, it was marked as spam as the message was quite long. Not sure if it changed your opinion in case you read it, since it all must sound to you like I’m saying 2×2=118, that Stalin was not a bad man at all, contrary to what John Lennox thinks and to what atheists seem to feel necessary to distance themselves from, yet, I had to try. Thank you.

    • I’ve written in more depth about Stalin, atheism, dictators, and all that here:
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/04/stalin-was-a-mass-murderer-and-im-not-too-sure-about-myself-genocide/

      I see that there’s a lot of difference between Hitler and Stalin. The issue is the harm they did. Wikipedia says, “Between 1934 and 1939, Stalin organised the “Great Purge”, in which millions of alleged “enemies of the working class”—including senior political and military figures—were interned in prison camps, exiled or executed.” If you’re saying that the numbers are exaggerated 10-fold, that doesn’t change much in my mind–Stalin would still be a very bad person.

      • Soviet hellhound

        Executed for having done what? You haven’t read the criminal actions papers, have you? “Alleged” is a fine word, and when this word is applied to the Great Purge issues, it clearly means that all of those poor people were innocent lambs; to learn and tell otherwise would be tantamout to blasphemy. I guess, that the very good persons would be those enlightened Western authorities who blamed Stalin for political, ideological and economical reasons, and, at the same time, allowed, practised and preached racial segregation before, during and long after Stalin’s death, while there had been no such thing in the “totalitarian” USSR. Of course, they were good, kind and lovely, the truly democratic Western leaders. Even when they dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and when they planned a nuclear attack on USSR according to the, no doubt, sweet and pleasant and good Truman Doctrine. When they signed the Munich Agreement, when financed Hitler for years, creating a monster. Even now, when they terrorize sovereign countries all over the world because of resources, money and sales markets – over pure profit – under the pretext of defending human rights, they are still good and moral, although, the word “still” is unnecessary. They always are. I surmise, then, that the good Western democracies live in a fair, fairy-tale world, where injustice is entirely demolished, where everybody has only rights and never duties. Where nothing terrible or difficult ever happens. That would give them a right to tell us just how wrong we are with our deep and genuine respect for Stalin and all the Soviet people he led to a better life. The harm Chamberlain and Daladier did, which I mentioned above, is not the issue? The harm Roosevelt and Churchill did, when they postponed opening the second front in Europe until June, 1944, is also not the issue? The victims of McCarthyism in USA were not victimized enough to be acknowledged as such? I thank you for the link, I’ll read it, even though I suppose the following discussion will be useless. And let me thank you sincerely, at least, for seeing the difference between Stalin and Hitler. Some of the highly acclaimed Western atheists, who, in other cases, do a very important and helpful work of encouraging people to see and face the truth, can’t offer even that at the mere sound of Stalin’s name.

        • Thanks for your input.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks for your input.

          While it lasted.

        • I dunno. He made a valid point (that I’ve noted) that religion is fine for a dictator as long as it can be harnessed.

          He seemed to be a Stalin apologist–how do you know that all those people sent to the gulags, etc. didn’t actually deserve it??! And so on. And a lot of “Well, let’s not imagine that the West doesn’t have a lot to be embarrassed about, which I’m fine to provisionally accept, but that was completely off the topic (that he raised): Stalin wasn’t really that bad.

          Something about how Stalin was unfairly tarred by Western historians and Solzhenitsyn, etc. I didn’t get any evidence, just claims.

        • Greg G.

          I wonder if he is a Russian hacker type????

        • MNb

          Perhaps, but I can assure you that that type walks around in The Netherlands as well. Also read the last paragraph of this article:

          https://freethoughtblogs.com/singham/2017/09/22/the-good-and-bad-from-sanders-foreign-policy-speech/

          “the US’s continuing destabilization of Venezuela, to the extent of supporting military coups against the government.”
          Such marxists only support people protests when it suits their marxist agendas.

      • Soviet hellhound

        I’ve read the article, just want to add some thoughts to your reasoning: you say that atheism was merely a tool for eliminating an alternate – religious – authority. I’d say that it was more than that in relation to USSR: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Likbez (this article is not the epitome of historical truth, but you can get the general idea) Atheism was also a part of a very important (and extremely successful) plan to educate the whole population of Russia, to replace religious absurd with the scientific view on the Universe. Likewise, atheism is a logical part of the main marxist philosophical approach – historical materialism, where there is no place for faith in any god. On the other hand, you say that for a dictatorship religion is a problem, which is not quite true. Religion was used as a tool for controlling and taming people for centuries, the latest example – Hitler (and also his satellites), who widely used religion as an ideological tool, despite his own disparaging comments on the subject. There was no need to eliminate a rival (church), if the rival agreed to follow the orders and fulfilled the agreement. This is all about the old, moss-covered fiction believers try to make people accept: atheists have no morals because they don’t believe in God. It’s such a laughable notion – life itself disproves it. People are different. The only thing that all atheists share is that they reject belief in the existence of god. They can have very different views about other subjects, like you and me, in this very discussion. As well as the religious faith never stopped believers from committing crimes and immoral behaviour, not to mention that their sacred book is full of atrocities and acts of inhuman cruelty. In my opinion and, if I’m not terribly mistaken, as some studies show, atheists are more moral, than believers, as a rule. I would also say that teaching by a good example, encouraging honesty, critical thinking and seeking for truth, produces a much much better result, than a forced religious indoctrination by fear, threats, shame, false hopes and demagogic justifying the immoral behaviour from the “book of books”.

        • Good point about religion being useful as long as it accepted that role.

        • TheNuszAbides

          who was this? that was quick.

        • MNb

          A guy who called himself Soviet Hellhound. In reply to my comment above he wrote (it’s too good to be lost):

          “The same can be said about you, MBb. Creationists woud be proud to see that you share their views on communism so … religiously. A true zealot. The part about the civil war in Spain and Soviet “betrayal” is so ridiculous it makes me think that they don’t teach history anymore in the world of human rights and pink ponies. A pity.”

          Recently I finished Orwell’s Hommage to Catalonia. It’s superior to his two more famous later works. It’s also way superior to Hemingway’s For whom the bell tolls, which is nothing but a rewrite of A Farewell to Arms (the only Hemingway novel I really like is The Old man and the Sea).
          Hommage to Catalonia is devastating for the role of the Soviet-Union in the Spanish Civil War. It was even worse than I knew before reading it.
          But of course revising history is a well known Soviet-communist trick.

        • The guy was well spoken and from a .ru email address. But I guess, like the Lone Ranger, he’s gone into the sunset.

    • MNb

      “the state that protected the rights of the poor and repressed”
      Good to see confirmed that commies like you are as religious as creationists.
      Your ilk conspirated with the bourgeoisie to liquidate the Catalan Revolution in the first half of 1937.
      Amongst others.