Faith, the Other F-Word

Faith, the Other F-Word July 13, 2016

What is faith? Is it belief in accord with the evidence? Is it belief regardless of the evidence? Something else? Faith is defined in many ways. Let’s try to untangle the confusion (some of which I suspect is deliberate).

Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on Faith and Reason. Read other perspectives here.

Faith and Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa’s troubled relationship with faith is well known. She was celebrated by society but ignored by God. About her prayer life, she wrote of “silence and emptiness.” She described her own life as “darkness,” “loneliness,” and “torture” and compared it to hell. An editor at Jesuit magazine said, “I’ve never read a saint’s life where the saint has such an intense spiritual darkness. No one knew she was that tormented.”

And yet one biographer said about this dysfunctional life, “Her church regarded her perseverance in the absence of a sense of divine response as perhaps her most heroic act of faith.”

Heroic? When God doesn’t answer, is he inscrutable or just not there? Was Teresa displaying admirable perseverance or foolish futility? This persistence is laudable only in a world where religion celebrates faith over evidence.

For being so widely used, the definition of “faith” can be slippery. Let’s consider the two popular definitions, each staking out a different relationship with evidence.

Faith definition 1

Everyone wants good reasons supporting their beliefs—or at least to appear that way. Many Christians use the following definition for “faith.”

Faith definition 1: evidence-based belief; that is, belief that follows from the evidence. For example, you might have faith in your car’s reliability because it’s done a great job so far, but that faith will fade if it begins to act up. I would call this “trust,” and many Christians are fine with that—they just say that “faith” and “trust” are synonyms.

The Bible has plenty of examples where evidence backs up belief.

  • Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal to a bake-off where the first one to get his sacrifice lit by heavenly fire gets to execute the others (1 Kings 18).
  • An angry crowd came to Gideon’s house after he destroyed an altar to Baal. Gideon’s father told them, “If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar” (Judges 6:31).
  • The parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25) makes clear that good works and not faith are the ticket to heaven.
  • Jesus did his miracles in part to prove his divinity. “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves” (John 14:11).

This conflating of faith with trust is popular among modern apologists as well.

  • Mathematician and apologist John Lennox said, “Faith is not a leap in the dark; it’s the exact opposite. It’s a commitment based on evidence.”
  • Christian podcaster Jim Wallace said that faith is “trusting the best inference from the evidence.”
  • Presbyterian leader A. A. Hodge said, “Faith must have adequate evidence, else it is mere superstition.”

Drs. Norm Geisler and Frank Turek in I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist said that plenty of evidence backs up Christian claims:

[For many nonbelievers] it’s not that they don’t have evidence to believe, it’s that they don’t want to believe.

God has provided enough evidence in this life to convince anyone willing to believe, yet he has also left some ambiguity so as not to compel the unwilling.

(My post responding to this book is here.)

Faith definition 2

But if you have any familiarity with Christianity, you know that doesn’t cover the spectrum. Faith can also have a very different relationship with evidence.

Faith definition 2: belief held not primarily because of evidence and little shaken in the face of contrary evidence; that is, belief neither supported nor undercut by evidence. This would be a belief that can’t be shaken by a change in evidence (such as, “I won’t give up my faith in Jesus for any reason”). Evidence for one’s belief can be nonexistent or it can argue against one’s belief (blind faith), or evidence can simply be insufficient.

Again, let’s start with the Bible to find support for this evidence-less faith:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. … And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:1–6).

Then Jesus told [Doubting Thomas], “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (John 20:29)

The Hebrews passage has no need of evidence, and the statement of Jesus celebrates those who believe despite a lack of evidence.

Let’s check in with some early church fathers.

If you chance upon anything [in Scripture] that does not seem to be true, you must not conclude that the sacred writer made a mistake; rather your attitude should be: the manuscript is faulty, or the version is not accurate, or you yourself do not understand the matter. (Augustine)

[I don’t understand to believe but rather] I believe to understand. (Anselm of Canterbury)

Now consider some modern sources. Kurt Wise has a PhD in geology from Harvard, and yet he’s a young-earth Creationist. In high school he used scissors to cut from a Bible everything that science concluded couldn’t be interpreted literally. He said about the resulting corrected Bible, “I found it impossible to pick up the Bible without it being rent in two.”

But his definition of faith doesn’t follow the evidence:

If all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate.

William Lane Craig’s gullible acceptance of magic rather than evidence as the ultimate authority is equally disturbing:

Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter, not vice versa. (Reasonable Faith [Crossway, 1994] p. 36)

We can see both definitions of “faith” in Geisler and Turek’s I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Above, we saw how they celebrate evidence when they think they have it. But the very title of their book denigrates “faith” as a leap unsupported by evidence. They say:

The less evidence you have for your position, the more faith you need to believe it (and vice versa). Faith covers a gap in knowledge. (p. 26)

Finally, consider a faith that has real-world consequences. Though religion wasn’t involved, it seems faith rather than physics guided a hot-coal-walking exercise put on by motivational speaker Tony Robbins in 2012. Twenty-one people were treated for burns.

Snake handlers believe that Jesus said about them, “In my name … they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all” despite the very clear evidence to the contrary.

Pastor Mark Wolford died from a snakebite in 2012, and he had watched his father die from the same thing. Pastor Jamie Coots refused medical treatment for a snakebite in 2014 and also died. If anyone knew that God doesn’t protect believers from snakebite it was him, since that was his ninth snakebite.

Christian commentary

Christian scholars grope around as they try to justify belief without evidence.

John Warwick Montgomery suggests crossing a busy street as a parallel. You never have absolute certainty of your safety when you cross a street. Instead, you wait until you have sufficient confidence, then you cross. And then, you don’t just take 99 percent of yourself across (to match your degree of confidence in the safety of the trip); you take all of yourself. Faith jumps the gap, both for busy streets and for Jesus.

Another example is marriage. You don’t have certainty that the Bible is true, but you don’t have certainty that you’ve picked the right marriage partner, either.

Nope. Neither example makes the Christian case. Crossing a street is always based on evidence. You look for good evidence that it’s safe, and you reconsider your conclusion if new evidence comes in. You also weigh evidence in the search for a compatible mate. In the same way, we follow the evidence for the reliability of the Bible as well—and find very little, not enough to support its enormous claims.

Alvin Plantinga has an interesting angle:

No one thinks there is good evidence for the proposition that there are an even number of stars; but also, no one thinks the right conclusion to draw is that there are an uneven number of stars. The right conclusion would instead be agnosticism.

Is there a reason to believe that there’s an even number of stars? No. An odd number? No. What about God—is there reason to think that he exists? No. That he doesn’t? Yes! You can throw up your hands in the case of the number of stars because it’s impossible to answer—agnosticism (or apathy) is an appropriate response. But the data is in for God, and that hypothesis fails for lack of evidence, just like the leprechaun and Zeus hypotheses.

Anselm said, “I believe to understand,” but that won’t work for me. If God exists, he gave me this big brain to use. It would be impolite to ignore its objections or be a Stepford wife. If God exists, he’d be happy to see me challenging empty Christian claims.

Pick a definition and stick with it

Lots of words have multiple definitions. The problem here is that “faith” is often used to mean belief based solidly on evidence (but only when outsiders are looking). For example, “I have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow.”

But within Christian circles, the heavy burden of evidence is shrugged off, and faith might mean “believing as your heart speaks to you.” Christians might then speak with unjustified confidence about what heaven is like and who’s going there, what signal God conveyed with a recent disaster, who’s on God’s naughty list, and so on.

Christians, to help you make your own arguments more clearly and honestly, let me suggest some word hygiene. Use trust to mean evidence-based belief, belief in accord with the evidence and which will change as the evidence changes. Use faith to mean belief not primarily supported by evidence and which is not shaken by contrary evidence.

Each word has its place. Be consistent. Sloppy usage only confuses your message and yourself.

Continue with “How Reliable Is a Bridge Built on Faith?” for a spirited critique of faith.

Faith is the excuse people give
when they don’t have a good reason.
— Matt Dillahunty, Atheist Experience

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  • Loren Petrich

    My favorite definition of faith is from Mark Twain in Following the Equator, beginning of Chapter 12 (1897): “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”

  • watcher_b

    Excellent. I think we as atheists can take things to far by saying that faith ONLY means belief without evidence. Which I disagree with. There are a lot of terms that get abused within religious circles that have a proper meaning outside. Like when Evangelicals talk about having a “relationship” with God, but when you get a definition of what “relationship” means in that context it has a VERY different meaning outside of that context. “Faith” is the same thing. It is an abuse of language, I think, but that is what we do as humans.

    When in conversations about “faith” hold people’s feet to the fire to get them to be consistent and to define their terms. I really enjoyed how the Street Epistemology group were handling things, asking if they have “faith” like that in anything else.

    • Kevin K

      The problem is that fuzzy definitions allow for all sorts of mischief. This is a classic ploy in many types of rhetoric/argumentation to start with one definition and then shift to a second definition to score meaningless rhetorical points.

      To use a different example, take the use of the word “theory”. In many scientific disciplines, “theory” is used to mean the highest level of explanatory power. Colloquially, however, theory is often used in the sense of “educated guess” or “hunch”. (and there is a dictionary definition supporting its use in this way). From which you get the creationist canard “evolution is just a theory”. Of course it is…but in the same way gravity is just a theory.

  • Sophia Sadek

    I have faith that the Sun will appear to rise tomorrow as the Earth continues to move.

    • Better, thanks.

    • Ignorant Amos

      Just for the sake of interest, and because I watched an example of it recently, if you are travelling at more than 650 mph westward, depending where you are on the globe, 1000 mph at the equator, then it will appear to rise tonight and eventually set in the east behind you, if you are going fast enough.

      Professor Brian Cox follows Earth’s epic journey through space. He takes to the air in a top-secret fighter jet to race the spin of the planet and reverse the passage of the day.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07kxdr9/forces-of-nature-with-brian-cox-2-somewhere-in-spacetime

      And for anyone with some time to kill and in need of a good laugh, here’s a flat-earther’s explanation for what is happening and why Professor Cox has supported an anti-globalist position…no seriously, they walk amongst us.

      https://www.theflatearthsociety.org/forum/index.php?topic=67362.30

      • Sophia Sadek

        I am reminded of stories told by SR-71 pilots about watching the Sun rise and set in reverse as they flew west at such speeds.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It was fascinating to watch.

      • MR

        Only viewable in the UK. 🙁

        You’re going to have to have us over one night, IA, so we can watch it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or you could use a free vpn software such as “Hotspot Shield” and save all the inconvenience.

          Hotspot Shield is the world’s most popular Virtual Private Network (VPN) that allows you to access blocked websites and services online, secures your browsing session, protects you from hackers and WiFi snoopers on public WiFi networks, makes you anonymous and untraceable on the Web and detects and blocks malicious websites.

          http://download.cnet.com/Hotspot-Shield-Elite/3000-2144_4-75609924.html

          Or watch it via Exodus, SALTS, etc. on Kodi…

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodi_(software)

          Not that I would mind the company you understand, it just seems a tad extreme and unnecessary to make such a trip.

        • Greg G.

          Not that I would mind the company you understand, it just seems a tad extreme and unnecessary to make such a trip.

          If you are buying the beer, we’re coming anyway.

        • MR

          But then I’d have to download the software and figure out how to use it and probably be flagged by some obscure government agency for having it…. It’s just easier to come over…, say…, six-ish?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh, alrighty then….whenever!

      • MNb

        Alas I missed this but thanks to MR underneath the nice FETters have made my day once again.

        “What really went on was the Typhoon followed the sun on its cycle around the CIRCULAR Earth. The plane of Earth. Basically it followed the moving light of the reflective sun that was moving AWAY from it and to keep track of it to give the still illusion, it simply had to equal that suns motion….not the Earth’s.”

        Absolutely brilliant.
        If I retire, still have the energy and have nothing better to do I’m going to write a booklet called Flat Earth Math.
        Just for fun.

        http://i.huffpost.com/gen/837629/images/o-FLAT-EARTH-facebook.jpg
        The white perimeter is call the Great Ice Wall. We mentally sane people mistakenly call it Antarctica.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/flat-earth-society-psychology_n_2038198.html

        • That map makes a testable claim. A sea journey that goes to the outside of S. America, Africa, and Australia should take a super long time, 3 or 4 times longer than one through, say, the Panama Canal, Mediterranean, Suez, Indian Ocean, and back.

          I wonder if flat earthers talk about that.

        • Michael Neville

          Also an airplane trip from Japan to California would be shorter than an airplane trip from Japan to Spain.

        • MNb

          They do. I’ve forgotten how (my memory is not unlimited) but if I ever write that booklet (but don’t hold your breath) be sure I’ll address it – and defend it. I’ll also try (if) to get rid of the conspiracy elements. Those NASA pictures FETers claim to be false should be explained (away) by curved rays of light. Especially the mathematical projection of a space picture of Antarctica to the perimeter of a circle looks promising. Maybe it will involve light taking a U-turn!
          I really think this kind of geekness big fun. There is a lot you can do with math. Of course FETers don’t give a f**k about Ockham’s Razor. The more complicated and crazier the assumptions the better.

        • You should read about Cyrus Teed, the founder of Koreshanity. He argued that we’re living on the inside of a sphere, not the outside. And he proposed experiments to prove it.

          http://www.skeptic.com/junior_skeptic/issue54/

  • RichardSRussell

    Back in 2008, I blogged about faith in a series of posts beginning here. At the end of the series I did exactly what Bob suggests above, defining specific terms to refer to specific methods by which people arrive at conclusions. I ended up identifying 8 main methods of deciding; in order from most to least reliable, they are:
    1. Logic
    2. Reason
    3. Confidence
    4. Trust
    5. Chance
    6. Obedience
    7. Hope
    8. Faith

    • MNb

      What’s the difference between logic and reason?
      Aren’t confidence and trust rather results iso methods?
      What’s the difference between hope and faith?
      I am missing the method called induction.

      • RichardSRussell

        Induction is 1 of 2 major forms of reasoning (Method #2), the other being deduction. If you click on the word “here” in my original post, it’ll take you to the 4th from the last in a series of blog posts about atheism. Go there and then keep on clicking on “next post” to get the rest of the explanations.

  • JustinL

    On the other hand, “I Don’t Have Enough Evidence-Based Belief To Be An Atheist” is probably a more accurate title.

    • It would be, but then it wouldn’t allow them to embrace all the contradictory definitions of faith in a single book.

  • wtfwjtd

    JWM’s analogy of crossing a busy street might be more accurate, if he specified that you were to do it while blind-folded and ear-plugged.

  • Michael Neville

    without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists

    This god sounds like an insecure, narcissistic megalomaniac.

    • wtfwjtd

      He also sounds like a trickster god. He makes our reality appear as if it operates by random forces, and then demands absolute belief that he’s the one pulling the strings. And if you don’t or can’t? Sucks to be you, pal.

  • Mister Two

    I have a real problem with John Loftus insistent definition of “faith” as being “belief without evidence” and nothing else. We certainly use the word “faith” to mean “confidence.” He says we don’t have faith that our spouses won’t cheat on us, we have confidence based on prior experience. Words often have multiple, related but not identical, meanings.

    I like the more commonly memorized version of the definition in Hebrews: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I actually pointed this out in a Bible class at church (because I still go). What that means is that faith is a substitute for evidence, a substitute for substance. I think the context there is “hope of Heaven.” Makes sense: We can’t see it, can’t touch it, don’t know anyone who’s been there. No traditional evidence and no actual substance, so faith serves as a substitute.

    Now, concerning a creator, lots of people may tell us that there’s evidence, but it always boils down to “it’s should be obvious to you!” or else it’s the god of the gaps… what came before the big bang? That’s not evidence or substance.

    And even if there is a creator, the Hebrew Bible itself is evidence that its gods, El Elyon (the Most High god) and Yahweh/Adonai (Jehovah/the LORD), are mythological.

    • Christians wonder if there’s a heaven and have faith that it exists. There’s an infinite things they don’t wonder about or have faith about: the inhabitants of Pluto, whether we turn into flies when we get to heaven, whether Poseidon is real, and so on.

      Their faith seems to be lined up with their wishes. I wonder if that’s a clue.

      • wtfwjtd

        And much of the time, Christians can’t understand how this distinction makes a difference within society. It’s one thing for a Christian to say that “I have faith that heaven is real, and I’ll go there one day, even though I have no credible evidence for this.” As a non-believer, that’s fine, I really don’t care about that.
        But, when the Christian states that “I have faith that god hates gays, and society therefore needs to persecute them, even though I have no evidence for either of these things”, they’ve opened up a whole new terrain. With their first claim, they can go play in the corner with their make-believe and it’s largely their affair. With the latter claim, they are trying to forcefully drag a large segment of society into their fantasy, against their wishes.
        So yes, definitions (and evidence)do matter, and what we do and compel people to do as a society needs a firmer base than “I have faith that God told me to do this to other people.”

        • Agreed. A Christian who keeps his beliefs to himself is a small matter. One who insists on imposing them on others is a bigger problem.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s fascinating to watch the Christian mind at work. I’ve started pushing back in some if the more egregious stuff on Facebook lately. One lady said ” pray your very hardest that God takes Control.” I asked “How do you know he isn’t in control now”? She says “Well, he is, but he’s just stepped back and testing us. ” uhm. Ok.

        • wtfwjtd

          I think that approach has the potential to be constructive, if one can resist the urge to be snarky, and especially if one has a younger audience who is viewing the interaction.
          You are right though, the endless rationales that people employ to prop up their religious narrative can be quite fascinating and entertaining. I’ve done the same thing on occasion, and I have to be very careful sometimes not to burst out laughing. You have to be quick on your feet too; for example, to the reply that “well, he(God) is (in control), but he’s just stepped back and testing us”, you might say something like “oh, so God is in control by not being in control?” or something like that, depending on how far you want to take it. Amusing stuff!

        • Pofarmer

          I replied ” But that’s not what you said.” And the crickets commenced

        • You might push the unfalsifiability concept in this case. A bit advanced for many people, admittedly, but they should understand someone taking a position from which they simply will no retreat no matter what evidence you provide. They don’t like that in others … shouldn’t they avoid that themselves?

        • wtfwjtd

          Unfalsifiability might be easy to push in this case, as in “So a world where God is in control looks just like a world where God is not in control? Since that’s the case, how do you tell the difference?”
          The thing I’ve found, is that people’s religious thinking is often (very frustratingly) shallow. As an example, remember I told you we got a relative to read your book in exchange for us slogging through “Case For Christ?” They claimed they read it, and all I could get out of them was that “that Jim fellow was just angry with God” and he “needed to get right with God.” Oh, and that atheism was popular in the liberal media these days, blah blah blah. That’s pretty much it, I couldn’t even get enough to do a book review that would fill in the back of a postage stamp. They offered as evidence for their God belief that they knew heaven was real because…people that have had NDE’s have gone there, and come back to tell us about it! And God speaks to them, as in telling them about stuff that’s going to happen. Seriously! More like, stuff that they want to happen, when it does, God looks like a genius to them because they think he told them about it beforehand.
          Like I said, very frustratingly shallow, as if any of this would be convincing to a thoughtful person.

        • That is frustrating. I can imagine a Christian reading it and having legitimate concerns (though it’s not written as an atheist novel). I suppose their not engaging with the actual arguments (“the book says X, but that’s wrong because of Y”) is what one expects. I imagine their reason returns when they’re critiquing arguments from the other guy’s religion.

          Did you have a more substantive discussion with Case for Christ?

        • wtfwjtd

          “Did you have a more substantive discussion with Case for Christ?”

          Unfortunately, no. One mantra that many Christians seem to adopt is not to take more than a passing glance at the actual underpinnings of their belief system. It’s almost as though they know that their beliefs are based on premises that are embarrassingly shallow…and so they prefer to retreat to the “safety” of not knowing and not wanting to know. Ignorance really is bliss, for some people.

          Another relative has “helpfully” loaned us Frank Turek–yes, it’s the CRIMES nonsense–and Cold Case Christianity. Maybe I can strike up a casual conversation about these, I’d actually agree to read the damned things if they would agree to talk about them. We’ll see.

        • And that’s my frustration. If the arguments were at least reasonable or interesting or new, that would help.

          Maybe point them to a couple of posts here and encourage them to add comments to highlight the errors.

        • wtfwjtd

          The thing is, in my case, they expect us to believe this stuff again, and yet can’t, or won’t, articulate just why we should. All they’ve got to cling to their own belief is “personal experience” stuff, and none of it is at all convincing to anyone but themselves. And sometimes I even wonder about that; when people have spent a lifetime believing what amounts to nonsense, they’ve invested an enormous amount of time and money in the enterprise, and I think they just keep believing…simply because they’ve always believed. How do you break through that?

          Maybe now that my apologetics relative knows we don’t believe anymore, I can strike up a conversation with him about those books.

        • MR

          The thing is, in my case, they expect us to believe this stuff again, and yet can’t, or won’t, articulate just why we should.

          Read this last night from Walter Kaufmann’s Critique of Religion and Philosophy

          Why are most believers so reluctant to specify the meaning of the religious propositions they cherish? There are at least three reasons. First, there is security in obscurity. Precision invites refutation.

          Secondly, many religious propositions, including almost all statements about God, are not reducible to any one meaning but essentially ambiguous. The believer feels that the original proposition is more profound than any translation he could ever hope to furnish: there is somehow more to it—namely, though he is not likely to think of it in these words, an indefinite number of other possible interpretations.

          The third point is intimately connected with this ambiguity. The believer senses, however dimly, that previous generations, and even other believers today, associate widely different meaning with the same propositions. What determines his acceptance of religious propositions is not primarily their peculiar adequacy to his own intentions and ideas but a desire for continuity. As soon as a particular translation of a religious proposition is accepted as completely adequate, the continuity both with past generations and with one’s own disappears.

        • I guess they’re determined to double down. The alternative, to admit that they’ve been wrong all this time, would be unthinkable.

        • Kodie

          This is evidence-like-ish to them. It drives me crazy that they make conclusions based on what is to how they wish or think it would be. If god were in control, things would be different than they are, or why he seems not to be in control is for X made-up reason. Maybe god is in control and this is what he wants and you don’t get a say in how you think it would be different. In that way, they think there is “evidence” of god, that’s what is confusing, they think they are interpreting actual evidence of god, what god wants, what god does and doesn’t do, and why he does or doesn’t do it.

          They use that line on us all the time. We say, if there were a god, this is how we think it would be different than how it is. This is based on evidence from reading the bible or claims Christians make about god that are incompatible with the evidence of how things actually are. God is good, but not when he’s angry, but that’s all good too, because he’s angry at the right people, he’s sending messages to people, he’s letting us solve our own problems and testing our faith, so it’s still good if he’s not doing what we think he should do.

          No, this is evidence that there isn’t any god, there isn’t consciousness or intention from an elevated super-human immaterial type of dollhouse player. No plan, no interference, it’s just a story and a superstition.

          They say, no, you think god must act like a vending machine and make everything perfect. Hey, we’re just concluding from the evidence like they are, we’re just supposing the evidence for god would create a different set of reality than we’re experiencing now, just like they are. He’s just stepped back and testing us? He’s not in control, but we want a different world than we get, and want god to step in, and vend out that magical idealistic world?

      • John Purssey

        Don’t people only wonder about things that are of concern for their lives? I think that is a little broader than just their wishes.

    • MNb

      “the evidence of things not seen”
      If “seen” means “observed” then this is a typical case of lack of word hygiene. Evidence is observable by definition.

    • Kevin K

      So, in your lexicon, faith is a substitute for evidence? Sorry…I’m not tracking.

      • Mister Two

        The Hebrew writer in chapters 10 and 11 is urging the reader to “not shrink back,” to continue believing that what they are waiting for will eventually come to pass. So he talks about Abel, Enoch, and Abraham, and how they never received the things promised, but “saw” them ahead, and that they were desiring a “heavenly country.” This is the context in which the author describes faith as being substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen. It’s essentially saying that because what they were looking for was not material, they could “see” it by faith, and that faith was, in effect, their substance and evidence.

        This is why I said that faith is a substitute for substance and evidence. It substitutes for evidence when the thing believed in is immaterial. God is also immaterial, and so there is no traditional evidence for the existence of God, only faith.

        And I am no longer a believer because I can see that god is/gods are a hypothesis that would, if provable, explain existence. The problem is that the hypothesis for Yahweh in particular depends upon what has been written about that particular god, which appears in a book whose explanations contradict what we have physical evidence and substance for. Faith might be alright if there were no physical evidence (or it might be useless — but that’s another discussion), but because there is physical evidence that contradicts what the book about Yahweh asserts, then that god seems almost certainly not to be real.

        • there is no traditional evidence for the existence of God, only faith.

          In the Bible, there’s plenty of direct evidence. Adam, Abraham, and Moses all saw God face to face.

        • Mister Two

          Moses saw his hind parts, IIRC. I don’t recall Abraham’s encounter, unless that was Jehovah himself and not an angel delivering the news that Sarai was to have a child. Adam and Eve seem to have walked around in the garden with a god who was apparently human sized. So the Hebrew writer forgot about all of those encounters, I guess!

        • adam
        • Moses saw a lot more than that: “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Ex. 33:11).

          God and 2 pals came to Abraham’s tent for a beer: “Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. So he quickly left the entrance to his tent to greet them” (Gen. 18:2).

        • wtfwjtd

          I guess God had gotten over being pissed with Moses for whatever, since God had tried to kill him in Ex 4:24-26.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Kevin K

          Sooo…wishful thinking, then? If I think god is going to give me a pony, all I have to do is keep digging through the manure?

  • Joe

    Good article. As usual, getting a clear definition of a word from Christians is like nailing fog to a wall.

    I do take issue with this statement: ” What about God—is there reason to think that he exists? No. That he doesn’t? Yes!’

    The position of agnosticism proposed by Plantinga seems correct. Of course, he’s talking about the DEISTIC god. The ‘Prime Mover’, or the ‘Uncaused Cause’. We currently have no way of knowing of the existence of such a being, or of disproving it. Therefore agnosticism makes the most sense. Now, if you’re talking about the BIBLICAL god, then of course there doesn’t seem to be a good reason to believe it exists.

    That’s where the apologetic sleight of hand comes into play. Plantinga was talking about one god concept, when he himself is a believer in an entirely different one.

    • MNb

      “We currently have no way of knowing of the existence of such a being, or of disproving it.”
      Depending on the meaning of “disprove” yes, we do have a way.

      • Joe

        Please, go on.

        • MNb

          Do you think something is disproven if for the time being demonstrated to be incoherent, unresearchable and superfluous for our understanding?

        • Joe

          Incoherrent, Yes. Also, being unfalsifiable would be enough to count as disproof, in my opinion.

          I should stop you there, as the concept of a ‘first cause’, or ‘prime mover’ is actually well supported philosophically, and is perfectly coherent. It just isn’t necesaasrily ‘god’, or ‘a god’. I actually resist attempts by theists to posit something that could possibly be naturalistic, or non-sentient, as godly.

          Something being untestable or superfluous isn’t a disproof, it’s exactly what some apologists rely on to avoid the defeat of their claims.

        • MNb

          Well, given thousands of denominations in christianity (conveniently ignoring all the other religions) only I can safely maintain that the god concept is unfalsifiable indeed. There is not way to test claims about god.

          God is usually supposed to be immaterial. All means to interact with our material reality are material themselves. For instance Gen. 1:3 “And God said” claims that god created the entire shenanigan by producing sound. Sond is material – it consists of vibrating molecules.
          An immaterial entitiy using material means (like sound) to interact with our material reality (like “creating”) ceases to be immaterial.

          Finally there isn’t anything that is understood better by postulating an immaterial reality. The best believers have done is the god of the gaps. It were christians (for instance Bonhöffer) who pointed out how that fails:

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

          “how wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know.”

          No believer has been able to do so. I

          So there you are. It’s not absolutely certain, but if science doesn’t provide absolute certainty I don’t see why atheism should. Handwaving this with “it doesn’t count as disproof” without any further do is lame in my eyes. Apparently you don’t care about Ockham’s Razor. So much for your stance for well supported philosophy.

          “actually well supported philosophically”
          That’s debatable, but soit. The big problem though is that the CA makes some scientific claims which directly contradict science. Or can you tell me the cause of a radioactive atom decaying at moment X instead of moment Y? Modern Physics can’t – but it can tell you the probability of that atom decaying within a given time interval. And the CA doesn’t tolerate probability.

          Now philosophy – and the CA is a prime example – only uses one method: deduction. Modern Physics, like all science, uses two, namely deduction and induction. So in case of a conflict Modern Physics is more reliable than philosophy. That means causality and hence also the CA must be dismissed.

        • Joe

          We aren’t talking about the Christian god(which falsifies itself just within the bible), we’re talking about a deistic god. I haven’t named any properties, so I don’t see how it can be disproven?

          Occam’s razor is only probabilistic acceptance, it isn’t any form of definitive proof.

          The cause of radioactive decay? An unstable nucleus. Again, it’s not true to say it’s uncaused, only that it is not CONSCIOUSLY CAUSED in time. Therefore the KCA kind of hangs in there by the skin of it’s teeth. The KCA can be dismissed for other reasons, but again, it doesn’t definitively falsify a god-concept, just that particular argument itself.

        • Yes, certain nuclei decay, but that doesn’t explain why the electron came out now instead of at some other time. The Copenhagen model says that there is no cause.

        • Joe

          No, it doesn’t explain that, but if the nuclei was not ‘overcrowded’, decay wouldn’t happen. Even the best (IMO, also my favourite) explanation for the origin of the universe has a ’cause’: Vacuum energy. That it happens probabilistically, and not due to the will of a creator, doesn’t mean there is no cause.

          It may be sophistry on the part of the apologist, using the man-made definition of ’cause’ to support their argument post-hoc, but it logically makes sense: Unless you can accept infinite regress, there has to be a’ ‘first cause’. The theist says it’s god (then goes on to posit their particular deity of choice), the naturalistic atheist (like myself) says its vacuum energy. Occam’s razor can (and should) be applied, but it’s still only am acceptance on the basis of probability.

        • MNb

          “That it happens probabilistically, and not due to the will of a creator, doesn’t mean there is no cause.”
          This is another fine example of ambiguous language used to obfuscate matters.
          Causality a la the CA for a first god implies a correlation of either exactly 0 or exactly 1. Probabilism allows for all values in between. Vacuum energy only makes sense on probabilism and hence cannot be a cause.
          I suppose you can reformulate the CA in terms of probabilism indeed. If you accept just vacuum energy as the thing that started it all off you deny what the CA is formulated for: an immaterial agent. If you accept the possibility of that immaterial agent you still have debunked about every single monotheism Homo Sapiens has ever formulated bar pastafarianism.
          So the CA is still not exactly an argument for agnosticism.

        • Joe

          No, I’m saying the CA doesn’t prove god, but disproving the CA does not disprove a god. It only disproves that argument. The level of proof/disproof remains at 0 after thousands of years of humanity. Probability says that atheism is true, but the default for all of us is really agnosticism.

        • MNb

          “disproving the CA does not disprove a god.”
          I never made that claim. Neither does Herman Philipse in God in the Age of Science. So shrug.

          “The level of proof/disproof remains at 0”
          Then you don’t care about coherence.

          “we’re talking about a deistic god”
          A material god, whether deistic or not, is not any more coherent than an immaterial one exactly because it becomes subject of scientific research. Now you can start play word games and equate “vacuum energy” with “god” but then the entire god question becomes meaningless.

          “Occam’s razor is only probabilistic acceptance, it isn’t any form of definitive proof.”
          And that’s why I began with asking what you mean with proof and disproof.
          In science (which uses both deduction and induction) no single proof ever can be definite. So it’s just silly to demand that deductional arguments can. You’re playing the same intellectual dishonest game to argue for your agnosticism as almost all apologists: you vary your standard of proof according to your needs for your predetermined conclusion (namely a level of exactly 0) so that you always can dismiss whatever doesn’t suit you.
          Sorry, you’ll have to find yourself another playmate.
          Specify exactly what you mean with proof and disproof or I’ll stop taking you seriously.

        • Joe

          Proof is either empirical evidence, mathematical or logical proof.

          Seriously, if you’ve found away to prove a negative, all of philosophy would be all ears. Even Russel’s Teapot was an attempt to show the ridiculousness of using unprovable claims, not as disproof.

          If you could disprove the deistic god of Aristotle, Craig and other similar apologists wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. Some have built their entire careers on the unfalsifiability of the deistic god.

        • MNb

          “if you’ve found away to prove a negative”
          Seriously, this is totally possible empirically, mathematically and logically.

          1. I can prove I won’t fall upward when jumping from a tower at a given moment X by jumping from that tower at moment X. By doing so I proved a negative (won’t fall upward) empirically.
          2. I can prove mathematically that ((-x)^4)^3 doesn’t equal (-(x^4))^3. A second grader of my class just did this morning.
          3. I can logically prove that a living being able of procreating with dogs isn’t a human being.

          “the unfalsifiability of the deistic god.”
          Yawn. You keep on using ambiguous terminology. You do so because you’re only interested in confirming your pre determined conclusion: agnosticism.
          Unfalsifiability is not the same as unprovability.
          Dislearn intellectually dishonest tactics first. Then I’ll take you seriously. Bye.

        • If you’re in Suriname, that’s pretty good evidence that MNb is not in Seattle.

        • Hans-Richard Grümm

          First, I can (and do) accept infinite regress since I accept the negative integers.
          And if you don’t, there is stiil no reason why there has to be a single “first cause” – and not an arbitrary number of uncaused causes.

        • MNb

          I didn’t ask for the cause of radioactive decay. I asked for the cause of the exact moment of radioactive decay of exactly one given unstable atom.
          If you maintain it’s not true to say that that exact moment is uncaused you reject all Modern Physics as formulated since the 1930’s. and specifically Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Relation.
          Try again.
          Or admit that the CA (not only the Kalam version) contradicts Modern Physics.

        • Joe

          How can you have the cause of a time? Time is what causes happen within. The CA contradicts many things, including the current theory of time (B-theory), but not the causation aspect. This actually came from Aristotle, not the Kalam school.

        • MNb

          I didn’t ask for a cause of time. I asked for a cause something happening at a specific moment. That’s nothing special. The cause of you getting a bloody nose at moment X and not at moment Y is me punching you just before that moment X and not just before moment Y. This is expressed in a well know formula:

          m.dv = F.dt

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

          There is nothing comparable for a radioactive atom decaying.
          Again you failed.
          Then again, if you had succeeded you wouldn’t write comments on this blog, but scientific articles that qualify for the Nobel Price for Physics.

          “The CA contradicts many things, including the current theory of time (B-theory), but not the causation aspect.”
          You’re getting silly. I wrote that the CA demands (not contradicts) causality and hence does contradict probabilism as postulated in Modern Physics. Elsewhere I also wrote that likely the CA can be reformulated in probabilistic terms and that that doesn’t help your agnosticism in the least.

    • I am agnostic about God (either the Christian one or a deistic one)–I don’t know if (s)he/they exist(s). I’m also an atheist–my conclusion is that the evidence points to no god (either Yahweh or a deity).

      Good point about Plantinga’s sleight of hand.

      • Jason K.

        Apart from our own existence, it is impossible to know anything with certainty, including whether a god exists. So I don’t see the point of declaring one’s agnosticism on the issue of god’s existence but no other issue. No, it’s not possible to “know” whether gods exist, but neither it is possible to “know” whether other people exist. All we can do is rely on the information provided by our senses to make the most rational judgments possible.

        No one ever says “I am agnostic about the existence of my mother, but my conclusion is that the evidence points to her existence,” even though that would be the philosophically correct statement. It’s taken for granted that humans are not omniscient, and our conclusions can never be certain. So why single out the god hypothesis as special? Why this need to declare oneself agnostic about gods, but not fairies or Bigfoot or anything else which lacks evidential support? It smacks of inconsistency to me.

        • why single out the god hypothesis as special? Why this need to declare oneself agnostic about gods, but not fairies or Bigfoot or anything else which lacks evidential support?

          I’m agnostic about Yahweh and Zeus, and I’m agnostic about fairies and unicorns.

          But one of these things is not like the other. Belief in Yahweh causes problems in the world that belief in the others don’t. That’s why I single out Yahweh belief as an issue to focus on.

    • Jason K.

      I do take issue with this statement: ” What about God—is there reason to think that he exists? No. That he doesn’t? Yes!’

      But there is positive evidence that gods do not exist.

      1) Human beings have a known propensity for inventing gods. Even if one religion turns out to be correct, that still leaves thousands of gods who were worshiped and believed in but never existed. So we know most gods are fictional, and we currently have no reason to believe any of them are not.

      2) Even after centuries of study, religious scholars cannot agree on which gods exist or what properties they possess. There is no convergence of expert opinion, as in the sciences. Theology changes but does not progress. It produces no new knowledge.

      3) Gods usually exhibit the very traits desired by human psychology, suggesting they are a product of wish fulfillment.

      4) To date, there is no verifiable evidence for any supernatural occurrence at any point in human history, including the intervention of a deistic god.

      Now, granted, nothing in this list makes the existence of a god an impossibility, but these are definitely solid reasons for doubting their existence, and that includes the “deistic” varieties.

  • Ol’ Hippy

    I’d probably think that a persons faith was instilled by the family and through their teachings and practices become part of that persons world view with little room, or utter lack, for critical evaluation. The children just ‘soak’ up what’s expressed in the family. I’d go further and say that a good portion of families would be abhorred at any kind of critical discourse which would be discouraged at the very least. So the faith is just there now and clogs the persons ability to judge much of anything without a ‘faith’ bias. Clearly not a way to have a free and open society.

    • John Purssey

      ISTM that this approach could be applied to any world view – theistic, animist, atheist, etc. But children frequently do disagree with the world view of their upbringing. Fowler’s Stages of Faith looks at this phenomenom.

      • Kodie

        I feel like for the most part, people believe whatever they already believe until that belief doesn’t work anymore, and then sometimes beyond then, force themselves to believe it. Questioning something that doesn’t itch at you to be questioned seems really rare. It is like my lengthy diatribe on pedestrians and traffic, long story short, people don’t become as alarmed or conscientious by near misses and close calls as you would think. I get this a lot socially too. People who remain oblivious and nothing really bad happens as a potential consequence overestimate their own safety in future events. People who cross the street while texting learn to rely on their safety because drivers are spotting them in time, instead of calculating the occasional driver who is also texting or otherwise distracted or just doesn’t see them. My mother is one who won’t turn on her headlights on her car, because she can see at dusk. Fucking not thinking how invisible cars are as dusk approaches without their headlights, especially gray cars like hers. Often, when you make a social faux pas, nobody will come right out and tell you what a buffoon you are (outside of the internet, lol), and you just keep on trucking, thinking you haven’t slighted someone and everyone who was your friend before is still your friend. In many situations, everyone acts like your best friend and you don’t think maybe they loathe me. I know lots of offensive people who have no idea, because people don’t make it apparent that this person’s behavior is offensive or at odds with the immediate culture. Everyone has to know “that guy”! They’re not just wild cards who don’t give a shit, they literally have no idea that anyone is laughing at them or talking about them behind their back. They don’t notice body language, facial expressions, or excuses as social rejection, they just keep on thinking those people enjoy their company.

        If there is no regular or expected consequence of actions, people generally keep behaving as though there are none, that the accident that finally happens is someone else’s fault, or the guy who finally tells you off is the only person who hates your fucking guts and is therefore fucking crazy and easily done without. Instead of accumulating information and learning new ways to avoid accidents or social errors, people generally believe they’re doing ok.

        I definitely think this about the religious. Their religious beliefs aren’t contradicted within the context of their lives to an extent they feel a need to question them. They are reinforced then to avoid questioning whenever the urge does arise, out of fear. Loathing atheists and fearing atheism as a “worldview” doesn’t interfere with their lives, believing the lord is good and on their side and available for a chat any time they want to pray doesn’t smack their face with the stupidity of it all, at least as long as they get positive results. They look for signs, and the signs always appear in some acceptable form, even if they have to retrofit it into the sign requested. Faith works until it doesn’t, and the usual counsel when it doesn’t is another at their church, and their advice is to try harder and keep trying until it comes back.

        The worst thing for some of them would be to accept and acknowledge that there is no god, so they do anything to avoid doing that. Maybe a stricter religion, maybe a looser one, whatever they can fit into their experience. So they are crossing the street without looking, and most of the time, no cars are coming. It works until it doesn’t work. When you get hit by a car, blame that driver, not yourself for not looking. Blame the atheists for trying to undermine your faith by bringing up these questions they don’t feel the need to ask. Christians all the time think atheists should just shut up and let them believe what they like, but according to many atheists formerly from a religion, they were trapped and needed to know there was something worth questioning for. These Christians think they’re not hurting themselves, nor anyone else, because these trapped people can’t speak up, and with or without atheists, they’d go on believing that their beliefs are harmless. When the negative effects are told right to them, they deny it, they sincerely believe they are keeping to themselves, or standing up for their beliefs where they think they are being persecuted, for example, by marriage equality or anything like sharing American freedoms with citizens who formerly were unequal. It works for them so they keep doing it. They are instructed to keep doing it when it doesn’t work because the alternative is probable hell. When it works, why question, and when it doesn’t, how dare one question and not keep the faith that everything is as planned.

        Children can disagree if they are exposed to alternate lines of thought. I don’t think children are as gullible as many people think, but it’s the authority they fear if they speak out. It’s the children who believe the authority of their parents or a teacher or another adult like a priest who sexually abuses them. If they don’t fear authority, they might speak out, or they might be smart and keep it to themselves. Pretty astute at reading the room by a certain age. Then again by adolescence, the draw of atheism to rebel, or new age, satanism, or whatever, as a side effect of exploration to a dark side they weren’t exposed to as innocent children, vulnerable to cults as people who really understand what they’re going through, etc.

  • Bill Spivey

    “Faith is pretending to know things you can’t possibly know.”

    Whoever said that struck gold it seems to me.

  • Kevin K

    Fascinating. Here you are providing multiple definitions for the word “faith” and explaining what might be problematic with those definitions…and in the very first post I clicked on of the others, the religious were straw-manning atheism and atheists into a single definition.

    I guess they didn’t get to see your post before they posted theirs. Basically, they scored an “own goal” without even knowing it.

  • watcher_b

    Sean Carroll’s new book, “Big Picture”, really gets into the appropriate context for phrases and words. We can talk about the Sun “rising” within the context of every day talking, but within the context of scientific evidence it doesn’t make any sense.

    “Theory” is another word where it makes sense in one context and something else other places.

    Your three definitions of “Faith” are another example, and kind of an extreme example as it definitely means belief based on evidence in one context and in the religious context it means belief without evidence. The problem is when we start shifting contexts within a single conversation. And like I said in my other comment, we need to hold people accountable when they do that.

    I think there is a temptation to say that this is a problem. That words should have the same meaning in every context. That language should follow strict rules and people should be punished for not following those rules! (maybe not that extreme). But we aren’t robots and that is not the way human language works. But I think we can roll with the punches.

    Anyways, “Big Picture”. Excellent book that relates to this subject.

    • we need to hold people accountable when they do that.

      Agreed. It depends on context, but sometimes IMO it’s good to stop at a point of insanity and refuse to move forward until your antagonist realizes and acknowledges the problem. Make them take the heat.

  • Len

    Sloppy usage only confuses your message and yourself.

    But that’s their whole game plan. The idea is to (mis-)use the word “faith” to explain stuff and then hope the mark – sorry, believer – thinks “that sounds OK”.

  • Yonah

    My challenge here is to pose our repeated argument in a most simple way. Bob, you do not include faith as a political agenda in your spectrum of thought. If you go back to the Catholic description of Mother Theresa’s contending with doubt as “heroic”…with no valuation of Mother Theresa on my part…I would simply point out that, therein, the Catholic political agenda that “the show must go on” is clearly to be observed. Then, in my view, the question should be: What is the good or evil or in between of any of it?

    If we were (and we can) to speak of the “Democratic faith” or “Republican faith”, we do so in the sense of values wedded to agenda. In the political conventions coming up, this (for show) gets dressed up in the party platforms…which will be discarded and reshaped in various ways in subsequent back room deals from now to kingdom come. Staying in such a messy process (or activity?) is, by and large, de facto = “keeping the faith”.

  • Kodie

    I have to pick apart the example about pedestrians using real-world instances from my perspective as a driver. There are lots of pedestrians who must use faith instead of evidence. Usually it is on the driver to protect the pedestrian from completing the error. I mean, 100% responsibility of the driver as an insurance-holder, to avoid hitting the invisible pedestrian. Just the other day, I was driving at night, and in the oncoming lane, a car had stopped and the pedestrian he stopped for started crossing, assuming I would also stop. I stopped very short because all this happened very quickly and I didn’t see a pedestrian, and all my shit fell off the passenger seat and my bag dumped out. That’s faith. On another night this week, I see a pedestrian dressed all in black, with his phone out, walking in the oncoming lane, i.e. with traffic from the other side, right in the middle of it, not in danger from me, but there is a blind curve behind right behind him, and he could have gotten killed. Faith. More than once, I’ve almost hit pedestrians who look and assume no cars are coming because I can’t see them, and they can’t see me, even though I am approaching the corner, or not even the corner, just popping out from behind a van, start walking and then look.

    I’m a lot more cautious, A LOT, but the amount of people who assume to cross at their right-of-way are taking a faith approach that the driver who holds legal responsibility will also be conscientious – if they don’t see a car coming, that is “evidence” to them that no cars are coming, and yet, a car is coming. So is true for the driver who sees no pedestrian behind the last car parked, but they are there starting to walk. You shouldn’t move your vehicle where you can’t see beyond, and assume no pedestrian is behind that car. 99% of the time, they aren’t, say, but that conditions drivers to think “never” instead of “maybe this time”.

    If it seems like I’m busting on pedestrians only, more than once I’ve also almost hit a car because they checked their mirror maybe 15 seconds ago, or not at all, they are parked on the side of the road and then suddenly move and go ahead of me. More than once, I’ve almost hit a car because the driver looks to their right, not expecting a car (me) to be there and coasts their left turn by muscle memory and not stop and look at actual evidence of a car coming.

    As far as I can tell, these encounters of close calls are totally meaningless to them and don’t arouse any conscience in them to be more focused or responsible in the future. The faith and the evidence comes from terrible actions not having consequences every time. You make a left turn in front of someone and they stop short so they don’t crash into you, you’ve not learned through experience and evidence that your actions are terrible. You walk down the middle of the street at night and don’t get hit, then that seems safe to do. You start walking across the street and assume the oncoming car sees you, be sure and give them a solid glare because it’s not your fault at all – right-of-way protects you from harm. You don’t learn that terrible behaviors are instances where you might improve to protect your life and live in a cooperative society, you learn through repetition of escaping harm that they’re perfectly good and fine and safe and responsible. Keep ignoring evidence, you’ll probably be fine or blame someone else when they do hit you.

    • I went to college in Boston but drove very little during that time. Since then, we go back to see family, and the winding roads sometimes laid out centuries ago plus the ad hoc rules are stressful to an outsider who comes from Seattle where the roads and avenues have numbers for names and are laid out in a grid. You’d think that faith would be less used in the more chaotic environment.

      • Kodie

        No, almost everyone wears a black coat in the winter, about half the bike riders have barely one little light to see them, and everyone seems to act like the rules of right-of-way have magical powers to stop cars if you are crossing at the crosswalk or not at the crosswalk. In what’s called the Back Bay, there are grids because it is filled in, and the cross streets are alphabetical, but the rest of the city was settled by cow farmers or something, I don’t really know. Where I live, settled pretty late, I imagine, like how Harlem and the Bronx used to be “the suburbs”, like practically no roads are straight to where you want to go, and plenty of them are one-way because they were narrow to begin with. Pre-car when I was on foot, there’s still no way to walk straight where you want to go. It’s zig-zagging or going all the way around. More than a few times, I walked a lot farther than I had to since I didn’t know a shorter way or where I was. You want to go straight, but dammit someone built a modern apartment complex all the way across and there’s no way to cut to the other side. It’s like that.

        But people think they aren’t going to get hit, and usually they don’t.

        • Michael Neville

          There are three rules to remember when driving in Boston:

          1. Ignore all left and right signs (right turn only, keep left, etc.). These are merely political slogans.

          b. The lines painted on streets and highways are part of a beautification project. To properly admire them, drive so your car is straddling the line.

          iii. Every other driver is an idiot and/or an asshole.

        • MR

          Interesting…. We have that third rule here, too.

        • Kodie

          iv. When you’re running late, you’ll always be behind that guy who pauses at every intersection to see if there are any pedestrians who were content to wait until it was safe or got the walk sign, and lets them cross right now. Guy walking dog at his leisure, green light, doesn’t matter. “That guy” isn’t from around here originally, and he’s not doing it to be safe, but the general rule of committing random acts of kindness is fuck the line of cars stacking up behind you.

        • Kodie

          The general behavior I’ve noticed is that people take right turns a ton slower than left turns. They take left turns like they actually have the right of way, and they take right turns like the intersection is crowded with pedestrians even when it’s totally clear.

        • MNb

          During my college years in Amsterdam there was another one: get out of the way of tramlines and cabs ASAP – they never slow down.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXvw_UGin98

          Now imagine all three mixing because in the inner city (which is on walking distance of that point) the roads and pavements are too small. Broader roads have tramlines. This guy is a fool:

          http://www.destination360.com/europe/netherlands/images/s/transportation.jpg

          No matter its reputation, Paris seemed safer to me.

        • Michael Neville

          The city in Europe I hated to drive in was Rome. The Roman drivers knew the location of the gas pedal and the horn. All other controls were optional. Naples drivers weren’t much better.

        • Greg G.

          iii. Every other driver is an idiot and/or an asshole.

          Yes, everyone who drives slower than you is an idiot and everyone who drives faster than you is is an asshole.

        • I guess each region has its own driving peculiarities. Ballard is a neighborhood in Seattle, historically populated by lots of Scandinavians. Here’s how they do it:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBgIvH0tu6Y

    • MNb

      “If it seems like I’m busting on pedestrians only”
      No, you aren’t. You’re busting on pedestrians (I don’t have a drivers license myself) who forget one important rule: the car is always stronger. As a pedestrian and cyclist I take the mirrored attitude: I always assume that the driver is a potential murderer until proven otherwise. What use is it if I’m right according to the rules and still end up in hospital?
      So one thing I do is making sure indeed that I’m very visible, even if it annoys the hell out of drivers. I’m convinced that very, very few drivers are intentional murderers and I don’t think that’s faith based.
      My attitude was confirmed when a former neighbour on her bike was hit by a van, both advancing when a traffic light turned green. She went straight on, the van turned right and she was in the dead angle. No matter who was to blame, she was the one who was in coma for a few weeks.
      Boston sounds like Amsterdam during my college years. Fortunately the city council of Amsterdam has done a lot to make traffic in the city safer.

      • Kodie

        I almost hit a bike kind of the same situation – we were both turning right, but I didn’t remember passing him or see him come up the side. There were two right turns available, the 90-degree and the hairpin, so I almost hit him as he continued to cross me on the right while I made the tight angle. Completely startled the shit out of me, so I honked the horn, he’s yelling a me, like why you honk at me bitch, you’re the one at fault! I apologized for almost hitting him and that he startled me, then we each went on our way. Since then, I’m checking all my mirrors all the time like paranoia, even when I travel to my suburban home town, where nobody rides bikes or walks anywhere unless they had a DUI.

        In Bob’s example from pedestrians don’t cross the street without evidence, blah blah blah, I mean, the faith thing here is that humans are humans, they don’t need evidence, they need … indication and habit and lots of weaker things than evidence before they make a lot of crucial decisions. Statistically, it works just fine for them. Some thought processes of the average human:

        1) right-of-way has magical powers
        2) there’s usually not a car/pedestrian there, so there is probably not one now
        3) if I looked a couple of seconds ago, nothing could possibly have changed since then
        4) I can see them so they must be able to see me
        5) “I’m an excellent driver!”
        6) “I’m excellent at multi-tasking!”
        7) haven’t died so far, this is working just fine.

        And this is while just about everyone notices and complains about the driving, walking, or biking idiots every damn where. Everyone knows there are mayhem danger factors, especially in all these crazy cities where people drive more competitively.

        The conclusion turns out to be, you don’t need to be that careful to cross the street, you don’t need evidence that no cars are coming before it’s safe to cross. You need the statistical probability that if cars are coming, they’ll stop in time, don’t worry that you scare the shit out of drivers, wear out their brakes, and make them hate piece of shit pedestrians looking up from their fucking phone just glaring as they also have no idea how slow they’re walking while the green light ticks away, but never assessing their responsibility or reflecting on how close to death they might have been. They get away safe, you’re safe, why worry about stuff that didn’t actually happen. Why try to be more careful, conscientious, or considerate in the future if you don’t have to be?

        I want to give recognition to the people who aren’t like that too. It’s just when you’re out on the road, you have to watch out for the idiots more, can’t go around admiring all the people who aren’t a menace.

        • MNb

          “why you honk at me bitch, you’re the one at fault!”
          I really don’t get that. I prefer you being at fault, honking like crazy and me being safe to you not honking (whether at fault or not) and me ending in a grave.

        • Kodie

          People are conditioned to be insulted by getting honked at, and so by honking at him, it was like I was saying it was his fault, and he didn’t think he was at fault. I know I’m supposed to check my mirrors, but what the fuck, are mirrors even magic? If I can’t see you because I didn’t see you, even if it’s because I didn’t look because I didn’t pass a fucking bike. Yes, this is how stupid I am and how stupid people in general can be. Bike riders just assume everyone is looking out for them. Accidents happen when two physical objects try to occupy the same space, when one or both makes an error. So, say the bike assumes my error and waits and I never see him and he’s not in my way, so I don’t have to almost hit him and get a scare. He doesn’t have to feel insulted or almost get crunched real bad. I really hate the attitude that just because the driver is the most responsible legally and financially that this puts everyone else on the road as without any responsibility at all.

          So anyway, every time I see a phantom ghost all-black-wearing pedestrian casting shadows ahead of me, I don’t think damn I’m good at spotting these people, lucky them, I think I probably can’t see all of them, and one day I won’t see one and I will hit them. Once, I saw a bunch of ’em at a corner waiting to cross safely, and as I take the right turn curve on green, one of them fucking decides to run across right in front of me, while his friends waiting on the corner laughing. Holy shit this world sucks sometimes.

        • Susan

          Your list is a keeper. It describes human errors in thinking very well and those errors are committed in all kinds of situations.

          1) right-of-way has magical powers
          2) there’s usually not a car/pedestrian there, so there is probably not one now
          3) if I looked a couple of seconds ago, nothing could possibly have changed since then
          4) I can see them so they must be able to see me
          5) “I’m an excellent driver!”
          6) “I’m excellent at multi-tasking!”
          7) haven’t died so far, this is working just fine.

          Also, this is a keeper:

          you have to watch out for the idiots more, can’t go around admiring all the people who aren’t a menace.

          I’ve always said that most people must be pretty good drivers (also, huge kudos to people who design traffic systems) or the roads would be full of carnage.

          Every now and then, there are two idiots on the highway at the same time and it goes through my mind that a combination of their behaviour could get me and/or someone around me killed.

          But mostly, it’s astonishing how effectively huge numbers of vehicles move around and how rarely collisions occur.

          We never notice the good drivers. That’s why they’re good.

  • Myna A.

    Mother Teresa’s troubled relationship with faith is well known. She was celebrated by society but ignored by God.

    Mother Theresa is one of the most profound illustrations of an individual who went into her chosen service with what might be described as a talisman of fantasy. She was convinced, convinced, mind you, that Jesus would not only bless her endeavors, but make of them a success beyond measure. When the overwhelming reality of human suffering sank in, the belief that she could, with her deity’s grace, eradicate it, was almost too much for the delusion to endure. It was the expectation given her by her religious faith that was the greater lie. I wonder if, that even in the face of non-evidence-of-divine-intervention, as it were, she became trapped in the public veneer of her story.

    Better she had been open to a more Buddhist point of view. That suffering is a reality, and the best that can be achieved is to ease that suffering where one can. That one still carries the water to the well even when coming to realization.

    Here are a couple of links to books written by former sisters who worked under Mother Theresa:

    Colette Livermore: https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Endures-Leaving-Searching-Meaning/dp/1416593616/ref=pd_sim_14_4/190-0668406-9675331?ie=UTF8&dpID=51Kc-1E7tHL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR107%2C160_&psc=1&refRID=4WTXQRKHJXBBVE716DTT

    Mary Johnson: https://www.amazon.com/Unquenchable-Thirst-Memoir-Mary-Johnson/dp/0385527489

    If God exists…

    “What is God after all? An eternal child playing an eternal game in an eternal garden.” — Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950)

  • Cygnus

    “Mother Teresa (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997), or “The Slutta from Calcutta” to her college friends, was a star of several “nunsploitation” films and competed in the “Albania’s greatest Love-machine” competition every year of her tragically short life.
    Born Teresa Smith in Bolton she had a tough childhood after her parents disowned her and sold her to a Kosovan soldier of fortune. At the age of 12 she moved back to Britain, only to realise that she had taken a wrong turning in Trieste and had ended up in Calcutta. It was here that she contracted her hideous wasting disease that marred her few remaining years.

    She ended her life with many unwanted children living in and around her home in Calcutta. It has also been speculated that the children were young’uns that Teresa had singlehandedly saved from abortion by aborting them and keeping them as gardeners and maids. At 24 she had suffered more than most from the aging disease that wracked her and died in monstrous agony and terror in the middle of the Calcutta. Her carcass was sold to an organ grinder’s monkey for 300 bars of gold-pressed latinum dominus. ”

    It’s from an encyclopedia, not conservapedia, of course.

  • christopher hubbard

    “What about God—is there reason to think that he exists? No. That he doesn’t? Yes!” Back when I used to be an agnostic, it was the smugness and certitude of atheists (like this post) that was a complete turn off. 3 questions that I have for agnostics and atheists (mostly atheists given their attitude and usually (like here) a hostile one) that I have yet to get any good answers to are;

    1- you say there’s evidence (as if this is definitively provable one way or the other, hence faith is not an evidence based deduction but one for which there is insufficient evidence one way or the other) of no God, yet you say nothing (at least not here) as to how the universe was created. the universe (whatever your time line) has a beginning or a creation. something comes from something. something cannot come from nothing. to assert that there isn’t some Higher Power is not just as much an article of faith as asserting that there is it is also less logical.

    where did all of this come from?

    2- given that there is no proof of the origins of the universe (not just fossil and archaeological records here on earth per our own planet) one way or the other, do you ever doubt your own atheism? plenty of believers of all faiths do.

    do you?

    3- and finally, do you ever hope that you’re wrong? i would rather believe in a Higher Power and find out (later on) that there isn’t (obvious disappointment that that would result in) one than believe that there isn’t and find out later that there in fact is (a bigger revelation to be sure). the world/universe has been around a lot longer than any of us. it is human nature to believe in a larger force(s), higher power. to belittle that as somehow lacking in reason to believe otherwise is capital S Smug.

    don’t be smug.

    be a better atheist.

    • it was the smugness and certitude of atheists (like this post) that was a complete turn off.

      It’s shorthand. Space is at a premium.

      I’ve written dozens of posts arguing for the nonexistence of God. I can’t carefully go through each of them here.

      1- you say there’s evidence (as if this is definitively provable one way or the other, hence faith is not an evidence based deduction but one for which there is insufficient evidence one way or the other) of no God, yet you say nothing (at least not here) as to how the universe was created.

      I can’t prove that God doesn’t exist. Simply following the evidence is all I do and all I encourage anyone to do.

      This post isn’t about the universe, though I have other posts that touch on this. Search “cosmology.”

      As for your challenge, science doesn’t yet have a consensus answer about where the Big Bang came from. Is this relevant? Seems like an irrelevant tangent.

      … the universe (whatever your time line) has a beginning or a creation.

      Maybe. Some models don’t have a beginning. It’s the frontier of physics, so it’ll get pretty non-commonsensical.

      something comes from something.

      Oh? Tell that to the Christians who say that God created the universe from nothing.

      something cannot come from nothing.

      Show me. Besides, our universe appears to have a net zero energy (and equivalently, zero mass). The usual applications of the laws of thermodynamics don’t seem to apply.

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/03/what-good-is-philosophy/
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/10/how-does-the-kalam-cosmological-argument-suck-let-me-count-the-ways-2-of-2/

      to assert that there isn’t some Higher Power is not just as much an article of faith as asserting that there is it is also less logical.

      So “faith” means “belief without evidence”? OK—I agree.

      But to your point: “higher power” has never been the answer to anything. It’s been advanced as the answer to lightning and famine … and then where heredity comes from and the origin of the universe … and now there are new scientific puzzles that Christians are quick to say, “Well if you don’t have an answer, I do!”

      Nope—it wasn’t helpful before and it isn’t now.

      where did all of this come from?

      “I don’t know” can be an honorable and honest answer.

      2- given that there is no proof of the origins of the universe (not just fossil and archaeological records here on earth per our own planet) one way or the other, do you ever doubt your own atheism? plenty of believers of all faiths do.

      Yes, isn’t that interesting? Many honest Christians will admit that doubt is a big burden for them. No, I have no doubts. I remain eager to investigate new Christian arguments, and I’ll happily follow the evidence where it leads. If Christianity is the truth, great. So far, the evidence is basically zero.

      3- and finally, do you ever hope that you’re wrong?

      Have you read the Bible? The jerk who runs things in the Old Testament is more savage and unreasonable than Ivan the Terrible. No, I don’t want to spend eternity with that.

      i would rather believe in a Higher Power and find out (later on) that there isn’t (obvious disappointment that that would result in) one than believe that there isn’t and find out later that there in fact is (a bigger revelation to be sure).

      Is this Pascal’s Wager? Very, very unconvincing. Look it up.

      the world/universe has been around a lot longer than any of us. it is human nature to believe in a larger force(s), higher power.

      An excellent observation. Good for you. Where does that take you?

      to belittle that as somehow lacking in reason to believe otherwise is capital S Smug.

      … but what if it is lacking in reason (that is: not following the evidence)? Can I not say the truth without being smug?

      • christopher hubbard

        sorry mr. seidensticker, but your responses are unconvincing. my questions were not gotcha’ or trick questions.

        your statement that caught my attention (and that i began my reply with) is simple enough: “What about God—is there reason to think that he exists? No. That he doesn’t? Yes!” you answered yes with an exclamation point no less! your response seems to walk that back when you say “I’ve written dozens of posts arguing for the nonexistence of God. I can’t carefully go through each of them here.” with all due, i’ve never read you until this post so forgive me. but your reply is nowhere near as definitive as your original claim. there is just as much reason to think or to not think for both positions. that’s kind of the whole point. you seem to want it both ways.

        1-will you concede that there is just as much reason to believe that God/Gods exist as not? or conversely that there is just as much reason not to as to??

        your answer exemplifies smugness. and reconfirms why even when i was agnostic why i never was an atheist.

        you talk about evidence as if this were a crime scene investigation and all we have to do is gather all the blood, prints, samples, eyewitnesses, forensics, etc. and voila! after the fact investigations rarely get anywhere close to 100% and that’s with a much smaller sample size.

        2-will you concede that the majesty of the universe is so vast and so large that simply reducing it to your comfort words does little to actually reveal its origins? even believers in the big bang will have to concede that the energy necessary to make the physical world we know about (quite a bit) and the rest of the physical world we can only speculate about (almost certainly quite a bit more) is above the proverbial comprehension of human beings. and even if … all that matter and energy had to come from somewhere.

        where?

        to believe that it came from a Higher Power is not irrational, without evidence or unreasoned. your dismissal of the possibility is.

        and smug.

        sorry mr. seidensticker but you kind of reveal yourself here: (ME)”… the universe (whatever your time line) has a beginning or a creation.

        (YOU) Maybe. Some models don’t have a beginning. It’s the frontier of physics, so it’ll get pretty non-commonsensical.”

        maybe??? no sir, not maybe. definitely. when and how and why are unknowns but not what. you get lost in “models” and “frontiers” because you are avoiding the fact that there has to be a beginning. everything on earth has a beginning and so far everything has (or will have) an ending but to simply dismiss the fact of coming into existence as a maybe or a hypothetical or an unknown is worse than people who believe in a Creator.

        even devotees of the Big Bang acknowledge that there was in fact a Bang and therefore a Creation, a Moment, a Start . . . a Beginning.

        it’s not a maybe mr. seidensticker. it’s a definitely. the only question is (other than where and how and when) who and why.

        when i get to Heaven one day one of the first questions i have for Him is “where did you come from?”

        something (you, me, patheos, the world, the universe, dinosaurs and microorganisms) can only come from something yes sir. something cannot come from nothing.

        “i don’t know” is an honest answer. but it presupposes that there might be alternatives or answers outside of your assertion that belief in God is irrational (again, your dismissal way up top that got my attention). at best it is a known unknown.

        admittedly it is a known unknown. in this life.

        which is why evidence (in this life) is futile. the issue isn’t evidence sir but faith.

        i have faith that their is a Higher Power. you have faith there isn’t. i could be wrong. so could you. you seem to not even to want to allow for that fact. that isn’t rational or logical or (dare i say) fair sir.

        it is smug. not because one or the other is true but because they are unknowns. known unknowns.

        don’t be smug.

        be a better atheist.

        • Susan

          saying “there is no good reason to believe theistic claims” is certitude.

          No. I meant I have never encountered a good reason after all these years. As far as the evidence goes, no good reason (or coherent model or evidence to effectively support any model) has been provided.

          I would be willing to change my mind if you provided a good reason.

          Instead, you provide God-of-the-Gaps.

          An implicit reliance on some vague agent with no evidence and so far without showing how, even if there was an agent, it would explain anything you imply it does.
          .

          .

        • christopher hubbard

          YOU: “I would be willing to change my mind if you provided a good reason.” ME: i doubt it. your certitude reflects a mind that is made up. just admit you reject the possibility of a Higher Power. that’s at least honest. your word games as if there is sufficient evidence to fill in the gaps (“God-of-the-Gaps” is a special kind of smug!) betrays a lack of complete knowledge that we humans (in this life) will never have.

          to say about the biggest question in the universe that there is complete (and unassailable) information one way or the other is the height of hubris.

          try humility instead.

          be a better atheist.

          be less smug.

        • Susan

          your certitude reflects a mind that is made up. just admit you reject the possibility of a Higher Power.

          You have great certitude that the trouble is with my certitude (even though all I’ve done is explained that I have never encountered a good reason after all these years.

          Rather than provide a good reason, you explain that the problem is with my certitude.

          I think it’s fair to say that I don’t think there is a good reason to think that fairies live in my guitar case. And because of the lack of good reason to believe such a thing, it is reasonable to tentatively believe not-such-a=thing.

          Do you think anyone has provided a good reason to accept the existence of fairies in my guitar case?

          If you don’t, is it reasonable to say that the dearth of convincing reasons to believe they exist there is a good enough reason to assume they don’t?

          Or would that position just open you up to accusations of smugness and admonitions to be a better afairyist?

        • christopher hubbard

          the problem is your certitude. that’s on you. i wish you luck. if you find it you’ll notice some other things too; a better attitude, grace, cheerfulness, humility. all good things. whether or not there is a hereafter even if there is not (and i’m betting on there is) people who come to faith after being doubters and skeptics before (i used to be agnostic too) generally become better people than their former selves. it has for me. i suspect it will for you too. lots of luck!

        • Susan

          the problem is your certitude

          So, if you have so far found no good reasons to believe that fairies live in my guitar case, and you suggest that the dearth of reasons is good reason to not belive it…

          The problem would be with your certitude?

          What is it you’re suggesting I’m certain about?

        • Susan

          if you find it you’ll notice some other things too;

          Find what, exactly?

          a better attitude, grace, cheerfulness, humility.

          Have you found “it”? Because so far you have demonstrated none of these qualities.

          generally become better people than their former selves.

          I’m putting this as respectfully as I can manage, under the circumstances.

          You must have been quite the ass.

          The fairies in my guitar case just nodded solemnly when I typed that.

        • Michael Neville

          the problem is your certitude. that’s on you.

          Susan, Bob and I will drop our certitude the instant that evidence that any god exists is presented (note that’s any god, not just your favorite deity). Absent any evidence, it’s reasonable for us to believe in the absolute and total lack of gods.

          a better attitude, grace, cheerfulness, humility

          When will you gain these attributes?

          (i used to be agnostic too)

          (So what? Are we supposed to be impressed? Are we to think “this guy used to be an ‘agnostic’ but then drank the kool-aid so there might be something in his god belief”?)

        • christopher hubbard

          you aren’t interested in evidence (offers of proof that make an ultimate conclusion more or less likely than without it… one doesn’t have to go to law school (i did) and learn all about evidence and relevancy to understand this for they are pretty easy concepts to grasp) but in certitude. there’s so much about the world and the universe we humans (let alone each of us as individuals) can never know even as we learn more and more to seek out some foolproof certitude is an act of futility. own it.

          atheists are just as much going on faith per their atheism as theists and pantheists are about theres. that you don’t even allow for that fact is smugness personified.

          (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/08/13/atheists-more-smug-than-religious-people-spoof_n_3747666.html)

        • Michael Neville

          So you admit that you don’t have evidence because if you did you’d be pushing it at us, not giving feeble excuses as to why you can’t be bothered to give it.

          As for your groundless accusation of atheists having faith, you have no clue as to what our atheism actually is. We do not believe gods exist. Notice that this is not “we believe gods do not exist” which is a positive statement and does require faith. Instead we say we don’t believe gods exist. No faith required for this non-belief.

          Do you even look at the article you linked to? It’s a parody and actually rather funny. It’s not meant to be taken seriously. As a result, I have trouble taking you seriously.

          As for your accusations of smugness, you are the epitome of smug, as well as being patronizing, pompous and pretentious.

        • Myna A.

          …smug, as well as being patronizing pompous, and pretentious.

          The domain of the very young and English Lit professors…and while we know Christopher is not the latter, we might fairly speculate is likely the former.

        • christopher hubbard

          no. i’m not interested in a God v. no God debate. the quote way up top that i lead my reply with was the only question i had. i’ll repost it in full for you. it’s not long. “What about God—is there reason to think that he exists? No. That he doesn’t? Yes!” mr. seidensticker seems to want it both ways. one can answer yes to both or no to both but not yes to one and no to the other. theism, pantheism and atheism are all faiths to one extent or another. that’s all i’m stating. and atheists who want to pretend otherwise (that they don’t come to their position as much out of faith and emotion and a belief) are lying to themselves.

          and being smug.

        • MNb

          “i’m not interested”
          Do you always ask questions while not interested in the answers? How smug. From your first comment:

          “3 questions that I have ….”

        • Kodie

          Is there a reason to think god exists?

        • christopher hubbard

          yes. there is. when you die, do you ever hope to reconnect with everybody you ever cared about in this life, namely your parents, family, spouse, etc.???

          i have yet to encounter someone so nihilistic.

          perhaps your the first.

          i doubt it.

        • MNb

          No, I am the first. I never hope for impossible things. Not to mention that your belief doesn’t even guarantee on its own terms that I will reconnect with them.
          I foster realistic hopes for the here and now. There is nothing nihilistic about it.
          How smug of you to suggest this.

          Don’t be smug.

          Be a better christian. Study Matth. 7:1.

        • christopher hubbard

          what a pity. and yes i will pray for you. lost souls are every bit the creation of God as am I.

          good luck.

        • MNb

          You need the good luck more than I do when you start praying for me.
          I am not and have not a lost soul. I don’t have a soul at all. Fortunately, because I would be worse off if I had.

        • Kodie

          That’s an example of wishful thinking. In reality, when you die, you don’t miss those people anymore. I don’t think that’s nihilistic, but realistic. Facing reality. The reason you believe in god is wishful thinking, the fantasy that something could happen without really considering the high probability that it won’t.

          But gosh, is there an even better reason? Like evidence?

        • christopher hubbard

          so you don’t want to wish for an afterlife?

          i doubt the people who care about you think the same about you.

          reciprocity goes a long way.

        • Michael Neville

          Why would we want an afterlife? Just because you’re afraid of dying doesn’t mean everyone is.

        • Kodie

          Given that lowercase christopher hubbard came here in defense of the “smug” assertion “Is there a good reason to believe in god? No. Is there a good reason not to believe in god? Yes!” Exclamation point is his kryptonite! His sole reason giving for believing in god after all is this “afterlife” wishful thinking. That’s so far the only reason he’s given that’s “good” to believe in god. When asked for evidence, he bypasses the request, he’s not interested in the question, he’s just interested in tone trolling, but when pressed for any good reason to believe in god, it’s to believe that one day he will see his dead loved ones again. He hates so hard being ridiculed for it, that’s being “smug” of us. He has no evidence, he just wants to believe he’ll go to heaven someday, even though, among Christians, he’s quite the arrogant asshole. He has no doubt or humility that he will someday go to heaven. He has no room in the brain he has that he doesn’t know anything about to doubt he’ll see his mommy again someday, or his dog, or maybe he lost a child. So sad. Still, it’s not a reason to believe in god, not for me, maybe for him. He just hates people hating his dearly held beliefs. That’s all he’s held up to defend them – that’s his reason, his dearly held, his reciprocity. If we allow him to believe someday he’ll have a catch in heaven with his dad and one more bowl of his grandma’s chicken soup, he’ll shut up. If we rant and disabuse him and come up with many reasons that’s fucking delusional, he thinks that’s too “smug”.

          He doesn’t have another reason. Not one other reason.

        • MNb

          No, I don’t want to wish for an afterlife. Whether the people do who care about me has zero influence.
          I’m too busy with the here and now.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what you mean by reciprocity. In my experience, Christians are happiest when they can assume everyone thinks the same things they think, and get hostile and defensive when they find out someone doesn’t.

          Is the afterlife real, or should I just shut the fuck up and believe?

        • Michael Neville

          when you die, do you ever hope to reconnect with everybody you ever cared about in this life, namely your parents, family, spouse, etc.???

          That would be nice. I also wish for a pony and a space ship. Will your god give me those when I die?

          i have yet to encounter someone so nihilistic.

          Facing reality isn’t nihilistic. However I suspect that, like so many other things, you don’t know what nihilism actually is. And no, quarter-wit cretin, I’m not going to educate your dumb ass on nihilism.

        • Greg G.

          do you ever hope to reconnect with everybody you ever cared about in this life, namely your parents, family, spouse, etc.???

          It’s a nice idea but is it going to be exciting after 900 billion years? Then another 900 trillion years of it. That’s just the beginning.

        • Kodie

          As much as I hate to admit it, as much as I love and treasure some people, there’s only so much I think I could take. Life is a story that ends. Some characters go before you, and some go on a while after you. It hurts, and once in a while, you wish you could call someone on the phone and hear their voice after they died. I save some voice mails for that reason. But say, my dad. He tells me a lot of the same stories over again and some are new to me, so he’s a cool guy, I like talking to him, but it’s also like trying to clean a closet and finding a shoebox of letters. The contents of the closet are all around you, and you’re just immersed in this box of old letters, that’s your day. It might be weeks before you can tend to the closet now. That’s what it’s like talking to my dad. It’s hard to choose what is important now, it’s a person who may not be with me much longer or a closet that will still be there but is colossally in my way daily until I find another good time to get around to it. If I thought, hey, I’ll catch up with you in heaven, dad, I’m more inclined to put him off, right? If I think I have 900 billion years to hear about that time he worked in a grocery store or that time he almost saved a dog on the highway again, I’d never call him back. Those stories are boring, but in another way treasures I’ll wish I had back. That doesn’t mean I will, and I could always reminisce the other times I heard them. He wouldn’t know the difference, being kind to a living person or regretting that you weren’t until it was too late … doesn’t make a difference to them. If you have eternity to connect with that person, would you even treasure them anymore or take them for granted? I mean that when you’re both alive or when you’re both dead in heaven, either way. If you think you can catch up with someone in heaven and hear their favorite stories over and over again, would you even want to go there? Sentimentally, to hear one more story one more time, but not every time they pinned you down.

        • Kodie

          I come to my position of atheism by finding the claims from theists not only unbelievable, but so fucking stupid that I can’t believe adults really believe any of that crap. I hope that’s not too smug. I could change my mind if there was some evidence of it being true that wasn’t a heap of fallacies and bullshit only idiots believe.

        • christopher hubbard

          you don’t know many believers well do you? i can tell. if you do/did i find it unfathomable that you would be so insulting and demeaning to their face about things they hold so dear. i’m pretty sure i know why you (and many other atheists) do this.

          p.s. i wouldn’t even approach raiders fans with that kind of contempt. and that’s just football!

          be well.

          be more graceful.

          it will brighten your day. =)

        • MNb

          How sad that you need grace to brighten your day. I need the company of nice people – ie not you.

        • christopher hubbard

          because people possessing and practicing grace are not nice. i suspect deep down you are a very unhappy person. an egg avatar is usually a giveaway.

          lots of luck.

        • MNb

          “because people possessing and practicing grace are not nice.”
          Those are your words, not mine. I only say that I need the company of nice people and that you’re not nice.
          I don’t have an avatar because I don’t care about avatars.
          Your suspicion is wrong. I’m a moderately man happy at the moment.
          Your suspicion shows how smug you are.

          Don’t be smug.

          Be a better christian. Study Matth. 7:1.

        • i suspect deep down you are a very unhappy person

          You’re a therapist, too? What luck that you stopped by to point out all our problems.

        • Kodie

          Your superficial judgments of people’s choice of avatar is not an adequate substitute for evidence of god. Furthermore, if you are an example of someone who believes in god, your personality fucking sucks. We get that from the words and judgments, not your beliefs, which you haven’t given any positive reason to “be less smug”. All you’ve shown yourself to be is a judgmental kind of Christian with no substance, a nasty, hostile piece of know-nothing shit. Do you think you’re being nice and did nothing possibly offensive? Are you here to confirm your presupposed beliefs of what atheists are like, but not to show or learn anything or discuss any substance? That makes you a total fucking asshole, and not a goodwill ambassador of your faith. It makes you pretend to be nicer than us, but you’re really just a judgmental piece of shit. Do you think you’re portraying Christianity in a positive way? You’re not. I get that you don’t want to share evidence because what, that’s too hard, no atheist ever believes it anyway, it’s easier to just be a judgmental asshole. You know why atheists don’t believe the evidence? Because it’s shallow idiotic and totally sucks.

          Try to be more something else. You’re not making Christianity look really good to the atheist. But we’re not really about believing a heap of false garbage just because a Christian was “nice”. You’re not nice. You want us to be less smug when people like you are the kind of people we have to deal with all the time, in real life? Who demand or suggest we just keep it shut and go along with your Christian beliefs, and don’t talk back, don’t vote against your fantasy-based policies, etc?

          Go fuck yourself already, you’re a Christian. Congratulations, you think you’re better than everyone else for no reason.

        • Oh, c’mon and admit it! You like a little raw meat now and again, and a chew toy like christopher is just the thing to put a smile on your face.

        • Kodie

          I don’t give too much of a shit what fantasies people hold dearly. I care if they’re real. In reality, I don’t quiz people and reject them because they believe fantasies unless they get in my fucking face about it, which is most theists judge and hate atheists just because we call you dicks and idiots in our private forums, and refuse to be pushed around and locked into your fantasies as a ritual of belonging to society whenever it comes up in public forums.

          Yes, I live in Boston, and I hate the Red Sox and the Patriots, the Celtics and Bruins too, but they don’t come up much.

          I don’t give a shit who knows it, and it’s a fucking piece of shit that would smash my windshield over it!

        • be well.

          be more graceful.

          it will brighten your day. =)

          Y’know, when you have all the asshole comments and then drop in your Pollyanna ending, it just makes your pseudo-Christian message all the more nauseating. Think about how your message comes across.

        • christopher hubbard

          i do. everyday. you should try it.

        • Michael Neville

          You come across as smug, patronizing, pompous and pretentious. If that’s your goal then you’re achieving it quite well.

        • MNb

          No, you don’t – or you’re too stupid to realize that your thinking bears no fruit.

        • Kodie

          Every day, try using capital letters when grammatically appropriate, and proper sentences. Nobody is going to believe you took the LSATs with this shit.

        • Michael Neville

          No, you’re not interested in a god v no god debate. What you are interested in is scolding us for not believing in gods.

          You fail to understand that

          What about God—is there reason to think that he exists? No. That he doesn’t? Yes!

          is not contradictory in the least. There is no reason to think that God (Yahweh-Jesus) exists because of the lack of evidence for Y-J. There are arguments that Y-J doesn’t exist. The problem of evil and related problem of suffering both show that Y-J doesn’t achieve the omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent attributes that Christians claim they do. So you’re wrong when you claim that Bob’s arguments are contradictory.

          Atheism is not a faith, something you’d realize if you had the slightest idea about what atheism is. I’m not accusing you of lying (unlike your accusations that we lie). Instead I accuse you of invincible ignorance because you refuse to listen to us when we demonstrate our lack of faith.

        • christopher hubbard

          atheism is not a faith mr. neville??? what pray tell is it? atheism takes the prefix a an attaches it to theism. it is every bit as much a faith (to believe in it) as theism and pantheism. this is not a controversial or contentious observation to make but apparently (many, if not most) atheists come undone at the assertion (well founded) that their belief system is just as much an emotional one as the people they differ with.

          if it’s not a faith why then is the atheist channel and mr. seidensticker’s blog on patheos and combined with all the other faiths of the known world?? the very subline to their masthead/title is “hosting the conversation on faith” mr. neville.

          you’re making this way more complicated than it need be.

          and i’m pretty sure i know why you do this.

          be less smug sir.

        • Michael Neville

          be less smug sir.

          You first.

        • christopher hubbard

          that’s non-responsive non-counselor. what is atheism? it’s not a trick question.

        • MNb

          Atheism is the statement that there is no god.

        • christopher hubbard

          wrong. it’s the belief that there is no God. theism is not the statement that there IS a God.

          both are beliefs.

          i accept this. i don’t even question it.

          why do you play silly games pretending otherwise?

        • MNb

          So you claim to understand better what atheism is than atheist me. You even accuse me of playing silly games while I was dead serious.
          How smug of you.

          Don’t be smug.

          Be a better christian. Study Matth. 7:1.

        • Kodie

          Theism is the belief in god and A-theism is the disbelief in god. The non-belief. Do you not fucking get a clue? You haven’t and no Christian has so far offered the evidence, so I ask you – what exactly should I believe in if I can’t believe it? If you don’t make a claim and an argument and offer evidence, the thing you believe in is something I cannot believe in. If you don’t get it by now, it’s not a belief that there is no god. It’s the disbelief of fountains of claims made by theists that are utterly unbelievable. It’s going to take more effort on your part, all you seem to care about is censoring people from disbelieving the wishful thinking you hold dearly or saying much about it. When you say something about it that is believable, we might actually listen, we might actually change our minds. But you don’t, and you make excuses, probably because you can’t. All your problem is with “attitude” or some shit.

          Make a believable claim for a change, one of you. Am I supposed to pretend I believe in your god for your comfort? Am I supposed to not say anything, when Christians in our society are given a pass to believe whatever they want and believe it’s their 1st amendment right to get me to go along?

          Think again, asshole.

        • wrong. it’s the belief that there is no God.

          Correcting people on what they believe? A great way to have them think of you as an asshole.

        • christopher hubbard

          no sir. what people (you) believe is none of my business. atheism attaches the a prefix to theism. it’s entirely a reaction (the opposite) to theism. atheism is the belief that there is no God. theism is the belief in one God. and pantheism is the belief in multiple Gods. where you end up is your business but your over the top smugness (the belief in no God is rational but the belief in God(s) is not) is not very appropriate for Patheos. take a look at other channels sir. you’ll notice a theme.

        • Aram

          Over the course of this thread your ignorance is astounding, Christopher. Also your lack of capitals betrays an adolescent mind as yet not fully formed. I can only hope time and experience will be a friend to you eventually. In short, you clearly do not understand atheism beyond what I assume your pastor has been bellowing at you from the pulpit. How about this quote for a better description than the strawman you keep trying to prop up:

          “To me, complete rational logic tells me to be atheist about all of the Earth’s religions and utterly agnostic about the nature of our existence or the possible existence of a higher being. I don’t arrive there via any form of faith, just by logic.”
          – Tim Urban

          (substitute ‘Earth’s religions’ with ‘leprechauns and elves’ and perhaps you’ll begin to get the point – though no doubt another decade at least is needed based on your endlessly repetitive utterly cliche comments here. Then again, of course some people do manage to go a whole lifetime without ever critically examining their narrow views and cultural indoctrination. Jury’s still out on you. Cheerio)

        • christopher hubbard

          says the guy with the cartoon avatar? are those chickens or roosters?? grow up.

        • Aram

          Funny you should mention it (though I see you take issues with avatars far more than a guy sitting on his rotund ass, face hidden behind a camera should). The graphic of my avatar (a rooster, a hen, a chick, a zygote, a sperm, and an egg in fact) was/is the full extent of the sex education as ‘taught’ by a religious curriculum called Accelerated Christian Education (A.C.E.).
          I was in this alleged school for eight years of my life, and I use this avatar in memory of the sheer ignorance the makers of this abomination of ‘schooling’ created, all to the point of hoping to have more children age into older humans as ignorant as themselves. Coincidentally, my recollections of this asinine time in my life sound astonishingly like your smug certainty on here concerning things you cannot know.
          It’s all right, Christopher. I know you’re young and so can excuse your pompous posturing. I only hope one day you too will pull your head from your rear. In the meantime, you do realize at this point you’re just wasting your time here, yes? Or do you stick around purely for the emotional masturbation?

        • Kodie

          Do you ever say anything that’s relevant? It’s pretty clear you have been backed into a corner of irrelevant Christians beliefs with no evidence, that you resort to being superficial and judge people by their avatars (this is 3rd by my count). Don’t be superficial, bring something of substance. Like maturity, evidence, an original thought, etc.

        • Don’t underestimate Christopher! He has lots of degrees or something and knows all about evidence or something.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Law degree’s must be a gift in the State’s judging by some of the rhubarbs that declare having one on the interwebs.

        • Myna A.

          Only the ones handed out by the “Mayor of Munchkin City, In the County of the Land of Oz.”

          Or the wizards to brainless scarecrows.

          Or something.

        • Aram

          You truly do attract the best of the best Christians!

        • Kodie

          Atheism is the lack of belief in the claims of theism. Get it through your thick moron skull. Make a claim, support that claim. If your claim is that atheism is a belief, you haven’t even supported that claim. All you do is repeat what you’ve been taught, like a fucking moron. If your claim is that god is real, support that claim. If you don’t, and no Christians can or do sufficiently, fucking accept that we don’t believe those claims. That’s all there is to atheism.

          Go tell your pastor or whoever has been feeding you shit to shit on atheist forums like you know shit. You don’t know any shit. You know nothing. You support nothing. You claim A LOT. And you demand A LOT. Not very graceful of you, darling. Go fuck yourself.

        • christopher hubbard

          my claim way up top if you bother to read is that it’s irrational to believe that there isn’t a God but rational to believe there is one. both are either rational or irrational.

          it’s not one or the other.

          apparently even this the most basic of observations is a bridge too far.

        • Kodie

          Your claim as I asked you what a good reason to believe in god was about wishful thinking of an afterlife where you die and meet up again with people you loved. You seem to want to believe there is a god because it’s safer if you’re betting than not believing in god. I am surprised nobody called Pascal’s Wager on you. That’s a terrible reason to believe in god, not least of all because of all the contradictory god claims that are made. I really don’t know what you are here for. You seem to want to believe god is real and to escape ridicule by haunting atheist blogs and whining the shit out of them, supporting no god claims and providing no evidence. There is no good reason to believe in god, but there are thousands of shitty reasons, and we have heard a lot of them. I want to say “all of them” but saving room for the actual person who has a credible argument, instead of repeating one of the shitty ones.

        • christopher hubbard

          wishful thinking? perhaps but don’t you wish that it turns out to be so.

          my guess is your mother, father, grandparents, friends and family who love you would like to see you after they/you pass on the other side.

          maybe you don’t.

          if you don’t, spare them the pain of telling them.

        • Kodie

          Is that your main issue against atheists? How lame.

        • christopher hubbard

          i don’t have any issue against atheists. i feel sorry for them.

          to reject the possibility that life has a purpose and is not just random and that this is it for each of us and there is nothing that comes after is quite depressing.

          to each his/her own but to mock those (of all cultures, languages, ethnicities, etc.) as believers in fairies, pixy dust and mystics is below the belt.

          and i suspect it’s because most atheists aren’t a very happy lot.

        • Kodie

          It’s below the belt to justify on belief of a fantasy to vote for policies that make me have fewer rights as a person, to count less as a person. It’s depressing for people with childhood issues that you can’t even provide evidence for. You want to believe what you want to believe. Ranting and whining that I also have a belief!!!!!!!! because you couldn’t fucking hack living without your imaginary friend is bullshit. Shut the fuck up already you child.

        • christopher hubbard

          “vote for policies that make me have fewer rights as a person, to count less as a person.”

          making up straw men is perhaps why you aren’t so happy.

          i have a J.D. your rights talk is pure rubbish.

          you know not what you speak.

        • Kodie

          You must realize nobody really thinks you are a J.D. Just telling everyone to shut up now, the J.D. is on it, then babbling some bullshit isn’t credible.

        • Greg G.

          If it is rational to believe there is a god, show that it is rational. You have been invited to do so.

          I will warn you that many theists have tried to do that and found that it is the other way around. That is why many of us are atheists.

        • Ignorant Amos

          L. Ron got the banhammer from Bob earlier this morning…the fruitcake won’t be replying anytime soon chum.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks, I haven’t seen that. I have been catching up on some of the replies from my inbox that I missed last night.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Me too…am still wading through the couple of hundred from yesterday…some dross spewed by that wanker.

        • Greg G.

          Atheism is the opposite of theism. Theism is the belief in a god or gods. Atheism is no belief in a god or gods.

        • christopher hubbard

          very good.

          was that so hard?

        • Greg G.

          Just so you finally understand that atheism is not necessarily a belief that there is no god.

        • christopher hubbard

          no sir. they’re all beliefs. theism, pantheism, monotheism (what i believe in), polytheism and yes atheism.

          this is now going on day 2 of denying the obvious.

        • Kodie

          No, this is day 2 of you not getting it, and persist in making claims you cannot support, and not listening to others. You arrogantly believe what you believe is the ultimate definition, without any support. Meanwhile, you deny what you’ve been told – what you have been taught is “true”. Why are you such an asshole? Be less smug.

        • Greg G.

          No, atheism is a lack of a belief. Do you consider bald as a hair color? Is not collecting stamps a hobby for you? Do you consider hardwood floors to be carpeting? Do you consider perfect health to be a disease?

        • christopher hubbard

          a lack of belief is still a belief nevertheless.

          to say otherwise is actually to insult atheism and render it nothing.

          a belief that there is no God is not nothing.

          it is a belief.

          here i am giving your belief system formal credit and you can’t even take that.

          perhaps you’re not even an atheist but a nihilist.

        • Susan

          a lack of belief is still a belief nonetheless

          Person B. lacks the belief that fairies dwell in Person A.’s guitar case. You agree with Person B.

          “Nonsense.” you say with colossally smug certitude.

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

        • Susan

          but a nihilist

          What kind of nihilist?

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

        • Kodie

          Holy shit, you’re preaching, asshole. You’re insulting all of us by settling in here and keep telling all of us what you want to believe is true. Never ask us, never find out, never listen when it’s explained to you over and over and over again. Just presuppose some bullshit, and think, if you tell it to us, that’s supposed to make it all good, so courteous, so graceful. Opposite, you’re actually offensive, insulting, and continue to be full of shit. What the fuck is wrong with you????!!!! Oh yeah, you’re full of Christian mental problems.

        • Greg G.

          a lack of belief is still a belief nevertheless.

          You are talking gibberish.

          to say otherwise is actually to insult atheism and render it nothing.

          That is what atheism is – nothing. No belief on one particular subject.

          a belief that there is no God is not nothing.

          Atheism is not the belief that there are no gods. Atheism is the lack of belief in gods.

          here i am giving your belief system formal credit and you can’t even take that.

          Atheism is not a belief system. It is the result of thinking hard about theism and seeing that theism has no basis but wishful thinking, often the result do a fear of death and eternal punishment, both installed by a baseless religion.

          perhaps you’re not even an atheist but a nihilist.

          Nope. Atheism is just a lack of belief about one subject. Life is more enjoyable when it is enjoyed in the present instead of waiting for a baseless promise of pie in the sky. Religionists who think life is all about sin and living according to a made-up dictator seem more like nihilists. You can’t find your own meaning for life. The meaning of life must revolve around an imaginary being’s imaginary ideals.

        • christopher hubbard

          you should do yourself a favor and wander beyond the atheist channel.

          the wonderful thing about Patheos is that they’re all there; judaism, catholicism, buddhism, evangelicals, mormons, hindus, muslims, progressive christians.

          it will do your smugness a world of good.

          and yes atheism is a belief system.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Greg G.

          the wonderful thing about Patheos is that they’re all there; judaism, catholicism, buddhism, evangelicals, mormons, hindus, muslims, progressive christians.

          Not one of them are based on anything but speculation. Many of their followers have come here. I do go to other Pathos sites sometimes. I like to learn things. There’s not much to learn except for what somebody once made up. I prefer to let them come to me.

          and yes atheism is a belief system.

          It’s no wonder you are a theist. You can’t think and you can’t learn.

        • Greg G.

          Humans, cats, and dogs are all different species of mammals. Likewise, monotheism, polytheism, pantheism are all variations of theism. Atheism is not a form of theism, it is the opposite of theism. Some theists are monotheists and some theists are polytheists. Some atheists have no belief in a god and some have a belief that there is no god. The common aspect is the general position that neither of those two types have a belief in gods.

          Why do you keep denying the obvious? Is it something you learned in church and cannot question without stirring up the discomfort of cognitive dissonance?

        • You don’t even know what theism means.

          I defined an atheist as someone who has no god belief.

          your over the top smugness (the belief in no God is rational but the belief in God(s) is not) is not very appropriate for Patheos.

          There’s nothing smug about following the evidence. (Do you even know what the word means?) You think that my conclusions that God doesn’t exist are flawed? Then add comments to the respective blog posts and point out the flaws.

          You’re outraged at my conclusion but, in all this time, have taken no steps to point out the flaws.

          I’m sure the Patheos leadership is delighted that you’ve taken such an interest in making everyone follow the rules. The rules you seem to imagine don’t exist.

          take a look at other channels sir. you’ll notice a theme.

          I was just poking around the Muslim channel. Yes, I see a theme. Are you saying that that’s a theme that you embrace?

        • christopher hubbard

          i have a J.D. remember? i know what evidence is more than you do. your next offer of proof that there is 100% definitive proof of no God will be your first.

          you have none. and back before you got flustered and were having a civil discussion with me (we can get back to that if you want but i doubt you and your army of faceless/nameless trolls will have it but one can always hope for the best!) you said you weren’t 100% certain (nobody is … not even theists and pantheists).

          that’s why it’s called faith mr. seidensticker.

          that’s why the name of this site that hosts you is called Paheos: Hosting the conversation on faith.

          if you’re looking for a scientific or metaphysical or some other forum to discuss God/no God from a scientific perspective you might want to take your smugness elsewhere.

          i’ll stay here. =)

        • Kodie

          I don’t think you are getting it, fuckhead. Make a claim of any god. If it is credible, we’ll consider it. The fantasy, however, that there is a god, is entertained and argued by many theists, mostly Christians. I don’t believe them. Please have the “GRACE” to acknowledge that. The argument for atheism entirely is the lack of credibility of THEIST ARGUMENTS. What are we supposed to believe in if claims of gods are not credible? PLEASE HAVE THE GODDAMNED GRACE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU EVASIVE ASSHOLE!!!! This has been brought up to your fucking nose to smell more than once, and you ignore it every time. If you don’t have the grace to acknowledge that you are not the only participant in this discussion, that you are dictating and demanding what the terms are, you’re admitting you’re not courteous, and that you’re not a fucking law student. You have zero grasp here, buddy, you have zero grasp. If you’re not taking the time to acknowledge what people, atheists, are saying to you, and dictating your demands of what you wish we believed, according to some doctrine you adopted, then you are totally full of shit about everything. You’re not courteous, you’re not grace, you’re not a law student, and you don’t know shit. If you do know shit, and you’re still acting like a fake lawyer trying to win a case, you’re still exposed as a piece of shit. Go ahead, fucker.

        • christopher hubbard

          mostly christians?

          you must not be very familiar with monotheism. jews and muslims believe in a single God too.

          i suspect though that you spew none of your venom their way.

          most atheists i’ve come across are little more than anti-christian bigots.

        • Kodie

          You must live in a tiny little mirror hole with no vision other than your pastor, how does it feel when I draw a fucking picture of you, asshole. I think all religious people live in a fantasy world. If someone of any of them wants to get in my shit, wants to control my world, I am on it, you fucker, better believe it. Why aren’t you a Muslim? Why do you think you know everything about atheists when you are in a fucking den of atheists, instead of asking us what we think YOU FUCKING KEEP TELLING US WHAT YOU BELIEVE WE THINK, HUNDREDS OF TIMES????? That’s fucking offensive, insulting, bigoted as it comes. Go fuck yourself as soon as possible.

        • i have a J.D. remember?

          No, I don’t remember your ever telling me that.

          i know what evidence is more than you do.

          Then show me some. Give me evidence that Yahweh exists.

          You don’t have any, do you?

          your next offer of proof that there is 100% definitive proof of no God will be your first.

          It would indeed. I will never make such a claim.

        • christopher hubbard

          so you will never make a clam yourself but you are demanding (DEMANDIING) that i show you some?

          argument 101 mr. seidensticker is predicated on good faith. and good faith is predicated on fairness. fairness is predicated on reciprocity.

          i’m not arguing anything one way or the other or that those who differ with me show their work. none of my business.

          to suggest however way up top (i quoted you fairly and accurately) that a belief in God is irrational but a non belief in one is rational is ipso facto bad faith.

          they both can be irrational or both rational.

          they can’t be one and another.

          make up your mind sir. you don’t get to have it both ways.

          having it both ways = smugness. from the get go.

          don’t be smug.

        • so you will never make a clam yourself but you are demanding (DEMANDIING) that i show you some?

          I have a whole fucking blog of claims backed up by argument and evidence. Your turn.

          Let me guess: you like being an obnoxious shit and don’t like actually putting yourself out there by making a (gasp!) argument of your own. Much more fun attacking rather than defending. Am I right?

          argument 101 mr. seidensticker is predicated on good faith. and good faith is predicated on fairness. fairness is predicated on reciprocity.

          Click on All Posts at the top of the page, and you’ll see a link with abstract for every single post I’ve done here.

          Reciprocate … if you can.

          to suggest however way up top (i quoted you fairly and accurately) that a belief in God is irrational but a non belief in one is rational is ipso facto bad faith.

          No, what’s bad faith is mischaracterizing what I said. That’s not it.

        • christopher hubbard

          no. not my turn. simple question for you (based off of your own post way up top) . . .

          is the belief in God (or multiple Gods) and the belief in no God rational?

          or is the belief in God (or multiple Gods) and the belief in no God irrational?

          that’s it.

          i’ve been seeking that answer for now going on 2 days.

          your dog and pony show is revealing.

        • Since I’ve already answered your questions and since you’re increasingly annoying, I think I’ve answered this enough. I have no idea what your game is–just be a shit and annoy atheists?

          WWJD

        • christopher hubbard

          unless you were paraphrasing somebody else here sir (there’s no footnote or what have you) these are your words;

          “Is there a reason to believe that there’s an even number of stars? No. An odd number? No. What about God—is there reason to think that he exists? No. That he doesn’t? Yes! You can throw up your hands in the case of the number of stars because it’s impossible to answer—agnosticism (or apathy) is an appropriate response. But the data is in for God, and that hypothesis fails for lack of evidence, just like the leprechaun and Zeus hypotheses.”

          that’s the entire paragraph towards the bottom.

          you don’t have to apologize to me.

          just own what you said.

        • Yes, I said that. And now, after wading through uncountably many boring and insulting comments from you, I say again: so what? I responded to this in my first comment to you.

        • christopher hubbard

          so what is not an answer sir.

          it’s a dodge.

          both can be rational or unrational but not one and the other.

          that’s the double standard.

          you don’t get to have it BOTH ways.

          which is why you do are doing this song and dance that all witnesses do when exposed in the light of day.

          ProTip mr. seidensticker … i anticipated your reaction hours ago.

          i can play chess better than you.

        • christopher hubbard

          rereading your words is actually damning of your thinking sir. the number of stars is infinite and unknown (i agree) but the origins of all life, matter, space, time, etc. isn’t.

          that takes some chutzpah sir.

          be less smug.

          be a better atheist.

        • You have yet to state a problem.

        • christopher hubbard

          no. i have. the double standard.

          you’re in denial.

        • Kodie

          No, you’ve exposed yourself as nothing but a blowhard coward piece of shit with a piece of sand up your ass about atheists.

        • christopher hubbard

          i’ve noticed a trend on social media (here, Facebook, twitter, etc.)

          people with egg avatars or something other than them as their profile (unless they are a brand new user and haven’t uploaded a picture yet) are the most angry people i have come across.

          they curse. they call you names. they type in ALL CAPS. they project straw man.

          show your face to the world.

          you’ll be a happier, nicer person.

          i can almost promise. =)

        • Kodie

          Did you MISS the couple times I already said that Christian men like you would notice my avatar when I DID SHOW MY FACE and say something to hit on me, to try to soften me, to objectify me, to try to distract the point I was trying to make to them? Cowards, all of you. Fuck you if you don’t like my avatar. It seems to be your fetish, but I am who I am, and I have always been this way, true face or not. Go fuck yourself, I would tell you that with my face or with another avatar, we’re humans, we’re connecting, this is the feeling I keep getting from you. You’re creepy, you’re fucking nonsense. Go fuck yourself.

        • christopher hubbard

          projecting onto others a reaction they haven’t committed (particularly when they know nothing about you) is ipso facto prejudicial.

          you have some issues.

          spend less time on social media.

          it will do wonders for your attitude

          all the best.

        • Kodie

          Sorry I said something that doesn’t ring true to you, but it rings true to me. You’re creepy. You’re fetished about people’s avatars showing who they really are, and you are avoiding the topic. If you have evidence for god, you might make me believe in god. If you don’t have evidence, you’re you’re just being a pest.

          A creepy pest.

        • Aram

          You’re aware that you’re not showing your face in your own avatar, yes? (mostly belly and crotch) So I guess by your logic you’re a miserable angry git. Hmm, actually in this case it seems you’re right 🙂 Well done, son.

        • Greg G.

          Atheism is no belief that there is a god.

          Believing that there is a god is playing silly games.

        • Kodie

          Why do you presume to speak for anyone else? We’re here, you dictate that we’re smug and then you tell us what you have been falsely led to believe we believe, so SMUGLY that you tell us we’re wrong, even when we fucking tell you. Does it never occur to you that you’re wrong? Does it never occur to you that whatever you believe is so fucking wrong, and it just appeals to your emotions in a childish way? It’s like you came here to throw your toys at us and tell us we’re poopy. Where did you get such language, the Christians? Who told you what we believe or don’t believe? We’re here, you could just ask us. Instead, you develop this arrogant chip on your shoulder and demand we lower our voices and stop telling you stuff – hey, asshole. Nobody made you come here. Nobody made you read our stuff. Nobody forced you to comment. You believe something silly and childish which has no evidential backing in any logic, and you have the fucking gall to dictate that we “believe” something – we don’t believe the claims. We find the arguments for god to be lacking. Demand that we just take a step back and let theists believe, in addition to their wild fantasies, that they rule the world and have a greater right to speech? That’s “grace” to you, motherfucker!!???

          Absolutely go fuck yourself. You have made your stand on “the afterlife” as a “good reason to believe in god,” as opposed to none (exclamation point!). You have made your stand on being too bored or tired or your time is worth too much to offer evidence for this belief. Evidence is the only good reason for a belief that ridiculous, that superstitious, that fantastical. Abstract nouns? Things that are, but not seen are real, so everything not seen but felt or defined must be real! Seriously, that’s all you have? That’s what you want me to shut up when Christians want to whine and bitch over everything, from paper coffee cups being too holiday-generic to well, sluts really can’t be raped.

          Don’t care what “christopher hubbard” judges as “smug”. You’re just some asshole on the internet. Not a Christian. Not better than me. Not interested in anything but repeating presumptions and being a judgmental asshole.

        • christopher hubbard

          i didn’t ask any of you anything. other than mr. seidensticker’s original post (which i saw in my news feed as a patheos subscriber (have been for 3-4 years) which prompted my very civil, courteous response (3 questions mostly) the rest of you all (i’ve lost count how many at this point (you too, most of whom post no actual picture or name of themselves and leave me suspicious about who i’m talking to) have simply piled on.

          grow up.

          show your face to the world.

        • Susan

          show your face to the world.

          You must be a troll. Your avatar picture shows no face and you are lecturing people on the internet about showing their faces.

          have simply piled on

          You didn’t expect people to respond to your initial comment and request that you provide something substantial?

          Myna A.’s avatar is Hello Nietzche, by the way. A grownup reference that might go over your head.

          I seriously attempted to address your comment and you ignored my attempts and stuck with your script.

          You were obnoxious when you got here, have remained obnoxious and have provided nothing of substance to the discussion.

          grow up.

          There’s an example.

        • Kodie

          Nobody here seemed to take your initial comment to be civil or courteous. I used to post an actual picture of myself, but tempted too many Christian husbands to faint and objectify me. Fuck your shallow shit. You have zero substance as for the “fact” of Christianity, you have only insults, and your really a fucking insulting bastard, so go fuck yourself.

        • christopher hubbard

          if you want people to take you seriously, in addition to posting a picture of your actual face or likeness, stop with the f-bombs.

          that’s so junior high school.

        • Kodie

          I didn’t see the evidence for Christianity yet. Keep pretending you have an argument, fake lawyer 2.0.

        • show your face to the world.

          Why? You won’t.

        • christopher hubbard

          you can clearly see me. no avatars. are you so insecure that you have to flex your bicep to feel good about yourself publicly? i change my Facebook and twitter profile often (thus my disqus profile (which i hardly ever use btw).

          get over yourself.

        • you can clearly see me.

          Wrong again. But I guess this shouldn’t surprise me. This duplicitousness (“Show yourself, coward” to someone else but “I showed plenty” about yourself) is your trademark.

          you have to flex your bicep to feel good about yourself publicly?

          It’s pretend, moron.

        • christopher hubbard

          it’s pretend?

          even worse.

        • I’m always eager to open up a Disqus notification with a comment of yours! It never fails to be a witty, thoughtful, loving addition to the conversation.

        • christopher hubbard

          this ends when you give a good faith answer (for the first time) or have the wisdom to get off disqus of the night.

          the choice is all yours.

        • No, the choice is yours. You’ve become a waste of time.

          Bring up something useful to discuss or get banned.

        • Susan

          why do you play silly games

          Why do you shirk the burden of proof?

          What are you claiming? How do you support it?

        • christopher hubbard

          hahahahahahah. this isn’t a court of law. i have a J.D. by the way? have you even taken the LSAT? there is no burden of proof. you’re free to believe what you want (none of my business). but not believing is no less an act of faith than believing.

          atheists are having a devil of a time with such a simple observation.

        • Kodie

          Fake lawyers populate the internet by the thousand. You act like a shitty piece of shit lawyer who knows enough to rough people up and give ’em a hard time, like in the movies, but you don’t sound like anyone who understands any logic or what a credible argument is. KEY, if you’re studying to be a lawyer. If you think there’s a god, and we don’t believe there’s a god, you have a language barrier, a logic barrier. We don’t believe there’s a god, and you don’t even fucking understand English here. You make a claim, and you think distraction is a credible strategy, distraction from the claim, distraction from the support of the claim. If I don’t believe there’s a god, what the fuck am I supposed to believe in, fucker? What the fuck, seriously? You have no evidence, so there is nothing new to consider. I have rejected old evidence from many many many many many other Christians because it’s ridiculously incredible. You do have the burden of proof. Suck it up fake lawyer 2.0.

        • Susan

          Hahahahahahahahahah.

          If you had gone to law school, they would have taught you that the burden of proof has a philosophical definition that is rooted in epistemology and that is why it is applicable in legal arenas.

          I was an astronaut by the way. It got monotonous so I quit and went into brain surgery.

          Or we could both just accept that we are both anonymous people on the internet, one of whom makes the effort to put a capital at the beginning of each sentence and attempts to address the points the other makes while the other one is an obnoxious jerk who has contributed nothing substantial to the discussion. .

          you’re free to believe whatever you want

          I don’t believe theist claims. This has nothing to do with whether I want to believe them or not. It has everything to do with the fact that they are vague and unsupported.

        • christopher hubbard

          based on what? i have yet to hear (from any of you) an actual, thoughtful reason (give me just one) why there is no God or Gods.

          i’ll wait ….

        • Susan

          I’ll wait.

          I’m still waiting for your explanation, an actual thoughtful reason to proclaim that Person A’s claim about fairies in their guitar case is nonsense.

          As far as god/gods, what are you claiming and how do you support it?

          You should be familiar with that question as you have impressive credentials as a guy on the internet who claims to have studied law.

        • Ignorant Amos

          As far as god/gods, what are you claiming and how do you support it?

          Space Ponies…because I say so….that’s why am a Smug fecker after all….with 20 Law Degree’s…

          Sound familiar?

        • Susan

          based on what

          Based on my interactions with theists throughout my life and now, my interactions with you.

          Make a clear claim and support it.

          How complicated is that?

        • Kodie

          Liar. You lie. You are full of untruths on the subject of what you have yet to hear. The reason people don’t believe in gods is that the evidence offered by theists is incomplete, illogical, incredible. I myself have already told you this and you have the gall to post that you have yet to hear such and such. That’s the only reason to be an atheist. Theist claims and arguments are unbelievable. I have told you they are not only unbelievable, but so fucking unbelievable. I told you that hours ago. Don’t act like I didn’t. Don’t pretend nobody else saw it. You liar.

        • Susan

          so fucking unbelievable

          He will think he has just won a point because you said “fuck”.

          It’s OK to be an obnoxious jerk who blames everyone else for his inability to make a clear claim and support it.

          But at least, he didn’t say fuck.

          Then he will tell people to grow up because they have a Hello Nietzche avatar or they don’t have a (possibly real) picture of themselves where their face is obliterated.

          In the meantime, he will use the word “God” as though it meant anything specific, will make no argument on its behalf and will blame us for asking him to do better.

          Fuck.

        • Kodie

          I’ve told him twice at least why my avatar doesn’t have my face any longer (it always bothered me when men would objectify me from my avatar, but I didn’t change it until World Table forced the issue) and told him two other times what I think of his shallow judgment of people’s avatars. It’s his means of distracting from the FACT he has no evidence, or believes sharing any wouldn’t do any good. We reject it! Atheists reject evidence offered by Christians, and their lame excuse that it wouldn’t do any good because we’re “smug” and “have a belief in no god”. He’s great at changing the subject to avoid responsibility. It’s some complaint or another, never evidence or a direct answer.

        • Susan

          I’ve told him twice at least

          He has a script and is unable to improvise when he deals with real people outside of the compound.

          He ignored the article Bob S. wrote and fixated on a single sentence.

          All responses his questions are ignored. All efforts at respectful discussion are ignored.

          Twice is enough.

          For all of us.

          The only reason to stick to your guns is for possible lurkers.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yip…you called it spot on.

        • Myna A.

          i’ll wait

          You are the type of individual who has what everyone runs into from time to time in their lives…the one with the god
          complex who is quite convinced of his own cleverness. You are not here to engage, but to instruct. You know what
          and how people think, as is evidenced in your comments, and when others argue too uncomfortably for HRH, you resort to falsely claim a law degree, which is easily discredited by very nature of your juvenile English composition games, a lack of clear and concise debating skills and as Susan pointed out, a lack of knowledge on a basic philosophical definition used in law.

          The frustration of your audience (and that is what you want, an audience to sit in awe…god complex, after all) is that you are so self-enchanted that you’ve got no shame. You’ve deafened your ears and insist that others maintain their manners. What a crock of self-appointed, grandiose shite.

        • christopher hubbard

          that’s non-responsive non-counselor. a simple good faith attempt at an answer (evidence of no God) is so much easier than this round-and-round projection.

          i know why you all do this.

        • Kodie

          Bob, please ban this motherfucking troll.

        • christopher hubbard

          troll? how long have you been a subscriber to Patheos?

          you are aware that it’s a site with multiple faith channels and (probably) hundreds of bloggers and providers across them all.

          you don’t get to dictate terms.

          ban? what a totalitarian/purist instinct.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s not a dictate ya moron, it’s a request…one that I second.

        • christopher hubbard

          you responded to me.

          next time when you encounter a comment by someone you don’t know and have nothing but animus to say… find the better angels of your nature and let it go.

          every one of you save for mr. seidenstricker attacked me. like you.

          i defend myself.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You’re a dickhead….you’ve been a dickhead from your first comment…others have tried to engage your asinine fuckwittery with rational discourse. I’ve chosen to dispense with such pleasantries from the get-go and treat you in the manner that befits such a knobber.

          So pah!

        • christopher hubbard

          i take it by your (i didn’t even come across you until like an hour ago) and others descent into venom, name calling, f-bombs, and general 3d grade taunts that you ran out of intelligent things to say a while ago.

          yes, i know that i’m good at getting under people’s skin.

          it’s a skill.

          that you wish you had.

        • Ignorant Amos

          3d grade taunts

          Now ya know I’ve found your level…ya Clampett.

          it’s a skill.

          Not really…any fuckwit can do it.

          that you wish you had.

          Some would say am a dab hand at it, but like I said, nothing special if a fuckwit like you can do it.

          But now that you’ve admitted it, at least we all know what yer game is, ya trolling fuckwit.

        • Myna A.

          you don’t get to dictate terms.

          Neither do you. It was a perfectly reasonable request.

        • Kodie has contributed here for years. You’re a pile of sick that just showed up yesterday.

          Kodie’s suggestion is pretty much where my head is at, too. Get useful or get banned.

        • christopher hubbard

          i’ve been here for years (4-5 to be exact) too.

          do you only want like a secret club of fans or do you want people who come to you (thank Patheos promoting the question of “is faith rational or irrational?” … where i got the words) (http://www.patheos.com/Public-Square?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Patheos%20071616%20(1)&utm_content=&spMailingID=51841859&spUserID=NDQyODc5NjExODAS1&spJobID=962130656&spReportId=OTYyMTMwNjU2S0)

          because if not you’re not interested in conversing at all.

          you’re a bully.

          here’s a counter post to yours in the same promotion (http://www.patheos.com/Topics/Faith-and-Reason/Is-Disbelief-Rational-Tom-Gilson)

          mr. wilson isn’t smug but courteous, inviting and thoughtful.

          be more like mr. wilson.

        • Get useful or get banned.

        • christopher hubbard

          i am useful.

          so what isn’t a good answer.

          you got caught with your hand in the cookie jar.

          you can’t even offer a defense?

          i can do a better job defending your claim than you!

        • Ignorant Amos
        • christopher hubbard

          nothing persuades like memes.

          your mom must be so proud of your language!

          :sigh:

        • Ignorant Amos

          Boo-hoo!

          Is my language getting under your cretinous skin?

        • Nope, you’re useless. And you’re gone.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yipee!

        • MNb

          You’re the one who is not interested in conversations. You wrote it yourself: not interested in the god-no god discussion.

          Man, are you a piece of shit.

        • christopher hubbard

          i’m curious mr. seidensticker … do you and your fellow bloggers ever get together, meet, converse, snapchat, Skype, email, FaceTime, etc?? because if you do (and i hope you do) i find it astounding that you would be this discourteous and condescending to any of the catholic, evangelical, mormon or even progressive christian bloggers.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Even a pile of sick has it’s uses…not like this knuckle-dragging fuckwit.

        • Myna A.

          i know why you all do this.

          “A god complex is an unshakable belief characterized by consistently inflated feelings of personal ability, privilege, or infallibility.” –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_complex

          You’ve got it bad.

        • Susan

          that’s non-responsive non-counsellor

          Yet, she was very specific as many people here have been. Your non-responsive response is:

          that’s non-responsive non-counsellor

          Your non-responsiveness is well-documented here.

          I might as well add to the data by repeating this question that you keep ignoring..

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

          You’ll fail to respond again as you’ve failed to respond since you got here.

          Then, you’ll admonish us with all the misplaced confidence of a guy in a tinfoil hat with his pants around his ankles.

          Or, in a parallel universe, you could acknolwedge that it’s a fair question and resist the urge to just repeat instructions on how to burn strawmen in the town square as an example to the world of your power and cleverness.

          This is a serious question. It’s a respectful question. It’s a fair question.

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

          Don’t be non-resposive, non=counselor.

        • Our non-counselor is in timeout.

          🙁

        • MNb

          You systematically neglect the answers you got to the three questions in your first comment. Why would anyone take the effort to give an answer to another question of yours if you’re so uncourteous to comment on those answers?

        • Argus

          Smug 3.0

        • MNb

          See that you’re a liar? On this very page you wrote that you’re not interested in the god-no god discussion. Hence you’re not waiting at all.

        • Myna A.

          i have a J.D. by the way? have you even taken the LSAT? there is no burden of proof.

          Is that what is called fibbing for Jesus?

        • i have a J.D. by the way?

          Prove it. I don’t believe you.

          People who actually have a law degree don’t need to keep repeating it.

        • christopher hubbard

          i don’t have to prove anything to you. i only bring it up when people who know little about evidence and offers of proof and how reasonable people (not just jurors) can come to different conclusions based on the exact same evidence presented.

          which is to say it’s not a proof issue.

          and never has been.

        • No, you don’t have to prove your law degree to me. Or your big dick. But your blather here simply reinforces the supposition that you made up one to compensate for the lack of the other.

          I’ll happily talk about burden of proof etc. without fear that I’ll have to bow to your superior knowledge. But thanks for the warning.

        • Myna A.

          i don’t have to prove anything to you.

          Typical.

          Dude has got no shame.

        • Argus

          University of Phoenix?

        • Argus

          smug 2.0

        • Susan

          both are beliefs.

          Person A believes that fairies dwell in their guitar case.

          Person B does not believe that fairies dwell in Person A’s guitar case.

          Discuss.

        • christopher hubbard

          nonsense. i don’t have a guitar case (nor a guitar) and i stopped believing in fairies (the tooth fairy somewhere around 8-9 years old). i do believe in a Higher Power that created you as well as me. is that so bad?

          all the rest is projection.

        • Kodie

          Yes, it’s so bad, if you think atheism is “smug” for calling you on evidence for that higher power.

        • Susan

          nonsense

          Why?

          I don’t have a guitar case

          Person A has one and claims that fairies dwell in it.

          I stopped believing in fairies

          The problem is your certitude, then. That is all on you.

          all the rest is projection

          Now, yer gittin’ it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Old Mother Hubbard was a real tit…Law degree, my arse!

          i stopped believing in fairies (the tooth fairy somewhere around 8-9 years old).

          Ya let him off lightly on that one. I wonder what his reason for his conversion to Afairyist was, around about the same age I stopped believing in God as it happens.

          i do believe in a Higher Power that created you as well as me.

          Just not fairies…a rose by any other name.

          all the rest is projection

          Now, yer gittin’ it.

          I don’t think he ever did get it, irony seemed to be lost on him…it must’ve be down to his stellar intellect I guess.

        • MNb

          Believing in a higher power because faith is indeed exactly as bad or good as believing in tooth fairies because faith.

        • Argus

          smug

        • adam

          “both are beliefs.”

          WRONG

          atheism is a disbelief in deity.

        • Michael Neville

          My two word sentence was not about atheism but about your demand that I “be less smug.” Even a half-wit cretin, by which I mean you, should have been able to figure that one out. But maybe I’m giving you too much credit. Maybe you’re only a quarter-wit cretin.

        • christopher hubbard

          it’s not a demand.

          it’s a suggestion.

          strangers you meet (particularly who have different religious, political or philosophical viewpoints from you) will take much more kindly to you.

        • Kodie

          Dear Christians (you can tell all your buds),

          When you back down about your beliefs in public and demanding everyone go along with your fantasies or otherwise believe you are being persecuted, go fuck yourselves. Atheists have just as much a right to talk.

        • Michael Neville

          As I said when you “suggested” I be less smug, you first. When you stop being smug as well as pompous, patronizing and pretentious then I’ll consider not being smug. But you have to make that first effort, motherfucker.

        • christopher hubbard

          again, that’s non-responsive non-counselor.

          i know why you refuse to even attempt an answer.

        • Michael Neville

          I have told you in other posts what atheism is. If you can’t keep up then take notes.

        • MNb

          ” it is every bit as much a faith”
          Just because you say so?

          How smug of you.

          Don’t be smug.

          Be a better christian. Study Matth. 7:1.

        • Argus

          Why is everyone ripping on Smug the Dragon? He’s awesome.

        • it is every bit as much a faith (to believe in it) as theism and pantheism. this is not a controversial or contentious observation to make but apparently (many, if not most) atheists come undone at the assertion (well founded) that their belief system is just as much an emotional one as the people they differ with.

          In your worldview, can anything be believed due to good evidence?

          Tip: try to avoid telling other people what they think. That makes you look smug.

          https://letmesaydotcom.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/20130423-164029.jpg

        • christopher hubbard

          that’s non-responsive non-counselor. is being more than obnoxious to readers a violation of the terms of service for content providers mr. seidensticker. i’m pretty sure you signed some kind of an agreement with “Patheos–hosting the conversation on faith” didn’t you?

        • Life’s a mirror, pal. You want a civil conversation? Then be civil.

        • Michael Neville

          That was totally responsive. That you’re too stupid to understand it doesn’t mean it is, it just means you’re too stupid to understand it.

          Just because Patheos uses the slogan “hosting the conversation on faith” doesn’t mean atheism requires faith. Do you believe that cats ask for Meow-Mix by name or the New York Times prints all the news that’s fit to print? Are you writing smug letters to the NY Times asking why they’re not mentioning the fire that burned a store in East Poodunk last week? In other words, are you stupid, really stupid, or incredibly stupid by thinking a slogan means atheists use faith?

        • Michael Neville

          Atheism is the lack of belief in gods. Do you not believe in djinns, leprechauns or orcs? I don’t believe in them either and I need zero faith not to believe in them. Similarly I don’t need faith to not believe in prime movers, heavenly fathers, magic sky pixies, or any other sort of deities.

          but apparently (many, if not most) atheists come undone at the assertion (well founded) that their belief system is just as much an emotional one as the people they differ with.

          What we object to is idiots like you telling us what we believe or don’t believe and why we don’t believe. We object to idiots like you insisting that we follow YOUR mistaken beliefs about our beliefs. We’re telling you you’re wrong and explaining why you’re wrong and you won’t listen to us. You’re convinced you’re right and mere facts and logic won’t change your mistaken beliefs.

        • christopher hubbard

          no i don’t. and i don’t insult people who do.

          why do you enjoy belittling believers? particularly when atheism is a belief too! a different belief of course but a belief nonetheless.

        • MNb

          Because those believers belittle atheists. Like you do.
          Don’t belittle us.
          Be a better christian.

        • Michael Neville

          and i don’t insult people

          This is a blatant lie. You not only insult us but you quite obviously take great joy in doing so.

          why do you enjoy belittling believers?

          We’re not belittling believers, we’re belittling YOU! The point that you don’t understand the difference says volumes about your vanity.

        • Kodie

          Mostly because they come here with such weak shit. What am I supposed to believe in if I don’t believe in it?????? Answer the fucking question.

        • Michael Neville

          I’m not belittling believers, I’m belittling you because you are a stupid, smug, pompous, patronizing, pretentious asswipe.

          Atheism is a non-belief. Since you’re too stupid to understand the difference between belief and non-belief and too moronic to pay attention when people explain the difference then I won’t bother to try to explain it to you again.

        • Kodie

          You don’t have an argument for theism, do you? Why would anyone believe it? How can you make someone who doesn’t believe it believe it? You don’t have a fucking clue why anyone is atheist, do you? You don’t have any idea in your head but “faith”. Yeah, it’s a lot of faith to hear claims and claims and claims that don’t make any fucking sense and to not believe them just because some asshole scolds us to be less smug about it. We didn’t hunt you down to tell you there’s no god and beat you about the head, but now you’re here. You’re telling regulars on a blog not to be so smug, but I just don’t recall when we went to get you from wherever you were comfortable and forcing you to be here, not believing the bullshit you hold dearly. Don’t hold it so dearly, it’s nonsense.

        • adam

          ” atheism takes the prefix a an attaches it to theism. ”

          Yes, without belief in deity

        • As for your accusations of smugness, you are the epitome of smug, as well as being patronizing pompous, and pretentious.

          Winning souls for Christ through smug pomposity!

        • MNb

          “you aren’t interested in evidence”
          You are the one who isn’t interested in evidence as you neglect the answers I gave to your three questions. Instead you prefer to continuously whine about atheist smugness – and comedy gold: to back it up you linked to a parody article at HuffPo!
          I must admit that with defenders of the faith like you it is a bit hard to avoid feelings of superiority. Fortunately my female counterpart, some of my best friends and most of my colleagues (all believers) prevent me.

        • Myna A.

          if you find it you’ll notice some other things too; a better attitude, grace, cheerfulness, humility. all good things.

          Yes, all good things. From pagans and their pantheons to Buddhists who find arguments about a single God or many gods irrelevant, all would say good attitude, grace, cheerfulness, humility are wholesome things and not only strive, but do live those attributes.

          …people who come to faith after being doubters and skeptics before generally become better people than their former selves.

          People who have left faith after being believers before are no less inclined to enhance their lives as well. To view the world without a prejudicial God story is an open road to discovery…not to the pretense of having discovered, because that is at best a limited road, and at worst a closed one.

          I could argue that a conscious force may or may not exist within the mechanism of the universe; could argue that the earth, itself, is a manifestation of that force and has nothing whatsoever to do with any God story, and the religionist would shudder for wont of a story. It’s as though life with the absence of storied gods is without direction or meaning.

          it has for me.

          Congrats.

          i suspect it will for you too.

          Why? Are we all you?

          lots of luck!

          Thanks!

        • MNb

          “the problem is your certitude.”
          Susan asked you specifically to provide good reasons and evidence. You turned your back on her question with your arrogant and smug “I doubt it”.

        • Greg G.

          There are many things in my office that I accept are real. I accept that you are real, even though I have never seen you. It is not a difficult level to reach to show me something is real. It is usually difficult to show that imaginary things are real.

        • christopher hubbard

          so only physical/tangible things are real? is love real? of course it is. between lovers. between parents and children. between friends. you know it. i know it. but it’s not something you can see, touch or observe. it’s a feeling. an emotion. a spirit. so is hate. so is pain. so is joy. we both know these things are true. they aren’t imaginary yet when it comes to (most) people’s belief that something created and ordered and precedes us, you dismiss this is irrational because it is not physical or tangible.

          why do you do this?

        • Greg G.

          it’s a feeling.

          Yes, love is a feeling.

          an emotion.

          Yes, love is an emotion.

          a spirit.

          No, a spirit is an imaginary thing.

          Love can be imaginary? Pain can be imaginary. There is a fine line between pain or emotional states being real or imaginary. But these are not actual existent things.

          Are you trying to argue that your god is as imaginary as psychosomatic pain or emotional states that come from misunderstandings like unrequited love?

          Why do you believe in things that are not physical or tangible and even immune to evidence just because somebody told you about it?

        • christopher hubbard

          “Why do you believe in things that are not physical or tangible and even immune to evidence just because somebody told you about it?”

          you are contradicting yourself. it’s obvious. love, joy, hate, pain are not physical or tangible even though they are absolutely real. fleeting perhaps but real nonetheless.

          why do you not accord the same recognition to faith (as much emotional as any and all of the above)? i have a pretty good idea why atheists do this. it’s why when i was an agnostic i wanted nothing to do with atheism.

        • Kodie

          It’s probably ’cause you’re fucking stubborn and lack any apprehension that it’s hard to believe in something adults should have outgrown.

        • MNb

          “it’s obvious. love, joy, hate, pain are not physical or tangible”
          How smug of you. This is not obvious to me at all.

        • Myna A.

          i have a pretty good idea why atheists do this.

          Seems like you have a lot of ideas about a lot of things. Most adolescents do.

          Here’s a link to some famous atheists: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_atheists

          Why don’t you write a letter to the ones yet living and let them know how smug and silly they are. Oh, and don’t forget to omit the capitalization factor in your correspondence! You want to be taken seriously, don’t you?

        • christopher hubbard

          there’s no need to go on a fishing expedition when mr. seidensticker is a perfect example right here. and confirms my impressions with a capital T.

          by the way grown ups don’t use avatars of hello kitty or furry animals, cute though they may be.

          try showing your face to the world. =) you’ll be amazed at how it does wonders for self confidence and overcoming self doubt and insecurities.

          all the best.

        • MNb

          “overcoming self doubt and insecurities.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          If you’re right that certitude is our problem we don’t need to.

          Don’t be smug.

          Be a better christian. Study Matth. 7:1.

        • Michael Neville

          by the way grown ups don’t use avatars of hello kitty or furry animals, cute though they may be.

          As I said before, you’re not only smug but patronizing, pompous and pretentious. Who are you to tell an adult what she can or cannot use as an avatar? Just because you don’t do Hello Kitty doesn’t mean nobody else can.

          Admit it, you’d love to have this car:
          http://www.snopes.com/photos/automobiles/graphics/hellokitty.jpg

        • christopher hubbard

          typical. credibility doesn’t depend on legal rights mr. neville. especially when legal rights aren’t the issue. and yes, i know more about all things legal than you do.

          take the LSAT first.

        • MNb

          Mr. Neville didn’t talk about legal rights, silly boy. Your eventual grace doesn’t do much for your understanding.

        • Michael Neville

          You’re not credible, legally or illegally. I didn’t say anything about legal rights, I was asking why YOU, you pompous, patronizing loser, think you can dictate what someone else uses for an avatar.

          BTW, if you think for a second that I believe you’re a lawyer then you’re even more stupid than I previously thought.

        • Kodie

          Great, we need another fake lawyer.

        • Myna A.

          LoLoLoL. You might want to look more closely to get the message parody of the avatar, silly boy.

          there’s no need to go on a fishing expedition when mr. seidensticker is a perfect example right here. and confirms my impressions with a capital T.

          No, you are terrified to write to even five persons on that list. Shaking in your boots. Only a child would confirm an impression based on one blog by one individual or even ten blogs by ten individuals. Let us know when you have read through a hundred just to begin.

          The rest of your silly comment is, well, just silly. No one can take you seriously!

          [Edited to add thoughts. I laughed so hard I inadvertently hit the submit before I was finished.]

        • Only a child would confirm an impression based on one blog by one individual.

          Actually, one sentence in one post of one blog by one individual.

          I guess Christopher likes to start with the basics. He’ll work up to the big ideas in a decade or so.

        • Myna A.

          Oh yes, you are indeed, correct!

        • Kodie

          I showed my face for about 3-4 years and all I got from it was patronizing asshole theists like you telling me they couldn’t believe such foul language from such a pretty girl. They were all using their real names and were all married guys, and once I called them on it, they changed their name to guest and disappeared. Try again. Your arguments are getting weaker. The avatar isn’t to your liking? What else, should we bake you cupcakes and cheer your name? Fuck off, you dick.

        • Greg G.

          Do you spell “impressions” with a capital T?

        • Michael Neville

          It’s the only capital he’s used so of course he makes a point of misusing it.

        • Greg G.

          love, joy, hate, pain are not physical or tangible even though they are absolutely real. fleeting perhaps but real nonetheless.

          They are states of a physical brain. Pain is not felt if the nerve impulses are interrupted with Novocaine, for instance. Pain is the brain’s reaction to nerve impulses. It is not a real item.

          I’m not sure you have a good idea about anything. Your thoughts on atheism seem to come from a pulpit. I do not recognize faith as something of value because it is the worst reason to believe anything. The most wrong ideas in the world are held by faith.

          All religions require faith. But they are contradictory so they cannot all be right. In fact, at most, only one can be right and every other religion is wrong. But none of them stand out from the pack when viewed objectively. The holders of any religion will maintain that theirs is the right one. None of them can back it up with facts or reason. But they could all be wrong.

        • christopher hubbard

          so is faith. getting atheists to admit that faith is an emotion akin to those others is like pulling teeth. why i don’t know.

          why do you think it is?

        • Michael Neville

          getting atheists to admit that faith is an emotion akin to those others is like pulling teeth. why i don’t know.

          Because faith isn’t a fucking emotion, you motherfucking dumbshit. Faith is trying to convince yourself about something without the slightest evidence that it exists or is a reasonable thing to believe in. Faith is what theists use because they have zip point shit evidence for their delusions. If you assholes had evidence you’d drop faith. But since you don’t have evidence and you know you don’t have evidence then you cling to faith. In your case, faith makes you feel good about your evidenceless beliefs.

        • Greg G.

          Faith is a poor way of thinking. When one holds ridiculous beliefs, they can be manipulated to do ridiculous things.

        • christopher hubbard

          oh really? do you trust your family and friends? faith is no different than trusting that there is a God. if you don’t want to knock yourself out. why you all (with such glee) enjoy belittling those who do (the vast majority of humanity by the way) is beyond me.

          try courtesy instead.

          you’ll be amazed how far it will get you.

        • Michael Neville

          WRONG! As I said, faith is belief without evidence. You don’t “trust” that there’s a god, you hope and wish for a god. If you had evidence for your god then you wouldn’t use faith but since you don’t have evidence you left with wishful thinking.

        • Michael Neville

          try courtesy instead.

          You first, dipshit.

        • christopher hubbard

          i’ve been nothing but courteous. i’ve called you mr. neville (because i don’t know you). ditto for mr. seidenstricker. i’ve lost track how many (not just you) have dropped f-bombs on me or called me names. i have thick skin (as you can tell). but it’s duly noted.

          your answer is non-responsive by the way. faith in God or Gods plural is pretty analogous to trust in friends, family, peers and people. trust (like faith) can be betrayed. but when it’s good and reciprocated few things in life are better.

          don’t mock people who believe different than you.

          and don’t call them names.

        • Michael Neville

          You think you’ve been courteous? Belief in gods isn’t the only thing you’re delusional about. Courtesy means more than not using foul language. Courtesy is reading what other people write and responding to that instead of arguing with the atheist who lives solely in your imagination. If you don’t like me calling you a motherfucking shitstain on the panties of life then you can start being courteous to me.

          For instance several of us have told you what atheism is. It’s not “I believe gods don’t exist” but this simple fact hasn’t entered your fucking stupid dumbass brain. Is that because you’re too fucking stupid to understand it or because you’re don’t believe us when we tell you what atheism is? I realize these two choices are not mutually exclusive.

          don’t mock people who believe different than you.

          I don’t mock you because you believe differently (learn what a fucking adverb is, you cretinous pile of pig feces), I mock you because you’re rude, smug, pompous, patronizing and pretentious.

          and don’t call them names.

          Fuck off and die, you maggot-invested heap of dogshit.

        • Kodie

          You’re delusional if you think you’ve been courteous. You’re delusional if you think calling people who are probably your elders by their title is enough to claim you’re being courteous is courteous. Stop spinning and spinning and spinning. You’re full of shit, and keep repeating what you’ve been told about atheists by people who aren’t actually atheists and never asked atheists tells me… you’re fucking stupid. It’s the opposite of respectful to ignore what people tell you and then keep telling them what your belief tells YOU to believe about them. Ask them, listen to them. Otherwise, your “courtesy” is phony.

        • i’ve been nothing but courteous.

          Wrong again. Get an honest third party to review your comments–you’ve been an asshole.

          and don’t call them names.

          Like “asshole”?

        • christopher hubbard

          you don’t do well when challenged do you mr. seidensticker?

          i’ve been a Patheos subscriber for 3-4 years now. the catholic and jewish channels are my favorite. i don’t respond to the authors of posts very often but the few i have are night and day compared to you when it comes to their readers, basic manners and courtesy. never a thank you for reading (customer service 101). you’re the first to call me names and use salty language directly.

          is this how you raised your children to behave?

          i have been nothing but courteous. you on the other hand…

          you have issues sir.

          i don’t think this is the place where you’re going to find them.

        • you don’t do well when challenged do you mr. seidensticker?

          You’re the Chinese water torture. No, I don’t do well with little asshole comments over and over and over and over. How many comments have you dumped on us so far? A couple of hundred?

          Ah, for a civil Christian who actually wanted to discuss something interesting! If you know of any, point them my way.

          i’ve been a Patheos subscriber for 3-4 years now. the catholic and jewish channels are my favorite. i don’t respond to the authors of posts very often but the few i have are night and day compared to you when it comes to their readers, basic manners and courtesy.

          I doubt that. Treat them like you treated people here, talking down to them, telling them how they actually believe (to correct what they tell you) over and over and over and over.

          Come back after that experiment and tell us how it went.

          you’re the first to call me names and use salty language directly.

          Great! It’s nice to be first sometimes.

          i have been nothing but courteous.

          No, you’ve been an asshole.

        • christopher hubbard

          my original comment was to you. nobody else. all of your many nameless/faceless trolls piled on me.

          sorry mr. seidensticker but i defend myself.

        • i defend myself.

          And that “defense” was obnoxious. You got a shitstorm that you brought on yourself and then whined about.

          Life’s a mirror, pal.

        • christopher hubbard

          no. what would you do when you ask a perfectly reasonable question (my original question to you yesterday … i seriously thought this was over last night) and you get bombarded by 15-20 people. most of whom are nameless and faceless.

          they must be ashamed of something mr. seidensticker.

          what do you think they’re ashamed of?

        • MNb

          I’m ashamed that I belong to the same species as you.

        • MNb

          You have not been courteous at all.
          You have asked three questions. I have answered them extensively. You continue to neglect my answers. That’s not courteous.
          You have claimed to understand better what my atheism means than I myself. That’s not courteous.
          You have postulated that deep down I’m very unhappy, without any justification while you are totally unqualified to make such conclusions. That’s not courteous.
          You’re the one with an issue. That issue is called vanity – the exact opposite of what your hero Jesus preached.

        • Myna A.

          don’t mock people who believe different than you. and don’t call them names.

          Helas…si désolé

        • Kodie

          That’s your amazing argument? Faith in your friends and family who exist is the same as making faith in an imaginary friend like god? What about evidence, you don’t give a shit? You don’t give a shit about evidence, you just like your feelings, and you looooove lording them over other people who don’t believe that bullshit. I belittle you because you came here and showed your weakness. You know why we don’t accept your stupid evidence? Because it’s fucking stupid. And you’re stupid for believing it. But I didn’t go find you to tell you that. You showed up here. You went to an atheist blog and tell people to be less smug, code for censoring ourselves around your sensitive fantastical believing shit. I don’t think I should have to in those circumstances. I think you deserve to be told, you’re a weak piece of emotional shit with zero substance in evidence of god. I don’t care how far that will get me with the shitty likes of you.

        • MNb

          Is that why you stick to repeating the same stuff over and over again, not moving at all? Because you lack courtesy?

        • Greg G.

          do you trust your family and friends? faith is no different than trusting that there is a God.

          It is a lot different. I told you how easy it is to convince me that something is real. I believe my friends and family are real because I can see them and they interact with me in real time.

          When my friends and family make promises, I don’t fully expect them to follow through because things come up unexpectedly.

          That type of trust is much different than religious faith. You should be ashamed to even make the comparison. If an omnipotent being listened to prayer, you shouldn’t have to make excuses when they are not answered.

          [You don’t have to capitalize the word “god” when you are referring to a god in general. If you are using it as a name, it would be proper to capitalize it.]

          try courtesy instead.

          you’ll be amazed how far it will get you.

          You should take your own advice. If I am discourteous to you, it is likely that you started it.

        • Kodie

          Why don’t you provide evidence? If you had any, you’d be happy to show it, not an avatar, not some shallow insubstantial requests like you keep hammering on, but evidence that your faith is correct, and that we are being “smug” over something we don’t have a right to be. Delusional, you are, delusional, and keep coming up with distractions. Is “faith” something people have without evidence? We don’t have faith in “no god” we have faith that your evidence is totally lacking! You haven’t given in to the request, but instead, keep making stupid comments about grace and smugness and what people’s avatars look like. That’s nowhere near god. That’s nothing to do with god. Is faith just believing some wishful thinking garbage and assuming superiority without anything to show for it!!! I think it is.

        • christopher hubbard

          because it’s not a proof problem. i could say the same of you. provide evidence there isn’t.

          it’s a known unknown.

          which is why believing in X, Y or Z is an act of faith.

        • Kodie

          What the fuck are you talking about? Atheism is a rejection of claims of any god unsupported by evidence. If you are here to offer any evidence, go ahead. If you are here to present your stupid beliefs of what atheism is over and over and over and over, we heard you. You didn’t hear anyone else, but the sound of your own smug voice.

        • MNb

          The god concept is incoherent.
          That’s proof enough.
          No faith required to say that there is no god.

        • Because you’re too clueless to formulate a sensible challenge? Or is this a trick question?

        • christopher hubbard

          i’m not even challenging sir.

          i’m calling foul on your double standard (belief in God is irrational but non belief is rational).

          it’s one or the other.

          i don’t care which of the two you conclude.

          but make up your mind.

        • i’m calling foul on your double standard (belief in God is irrational but non belief is rational).

          Not what I said.

          You’re a lawyer? Getting simple facts wrong doesn’t sound like what a lawyer would do. Maybe just a clerk. Or the janitor.

        • christopher hubbard

          i quoted you. it’s exactly what you said.

          you can take it back if you like.

          but you said what you said.

          transcripts are a WONDERFUL thing.

        • You said, “belief in God is irrational but non belief is rational.” I didn’t say that. Try again. Better yet: drop it. This conversation is boring.

          transcripts are a WONDERFUL thing.

          Aren’t they, though? They let me show that you’re a liar as well as an idiot.

        • christopher hubbard

          transcripts ARE a wonderful thing mr. seidensticker.

          your words verbatim;

          Is there a reason to believe that there’s an even number of stars? No. An odd number? No. What about God—is there reason to think that he exists? No. That he doesn’t? Yes! You can throw up your hands in the case of the number of stars because it’s impossible to answer—agnosticism (or apathy) is an appropriate response. But the data is in for God, and that hypothesis fails for lack of evidence, just like the leprechaun and Zeus hypotheses.

          my paraphrasing your comment as belief in God being irrational and non belief as rational is a direct deduction from your words.

          own your words sir.

          you haven’t even tried to defend or explain or justify them.

          i’m pretty sure i know why.

          witnesses exposed on X-examination get defensive and petulant too.

          i’ve seen your behavior before sir.

        • my paraphrasing your comment as belief in God being irrational and non belief as rational is a direct deduction from your words.

          Tip: since you can’t paraphrase, just stick to direct quotes.

          you haven’t even tried to defend or ex plain or justify them.

          Where’s the problem?

        • christopher hubbard

          the problem is your whole schtick (here, to me) is baseless. you don’t answer questions. so what isn’t persuasive sir.

          it’s smug.

          don’t be smug.

        • Myna A.

          it’s smug…don’t be smug

          Smug troll.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • MNb

          I answered the three questions in your first comment. You have systematically neglected my answers. You admitted why: you’re not interested.
          That’s smug.

          Don’t be smug.

          Be a better christian. Study Matth. 7:1.

          But you don’t and you won’t. You’re rather smug.

        • Argus

          Yeeaahhh…I’m gonna have to go aheaaaad and ask the mooooderator to just ..yeeeah you know go ahead and end this threaaaaad.

          And I’ve been looking for that staaapler….i’m just gonna go ahead and TAKE that.

        • MNb

          Eh? I have no problem admitting that faith is an emotion. Atheism is the lack of that emotion.
          You don’t seem to understand what you write yourself anymore.

        • Ignorant Amos

          i have a pretty good idea why atheists do this. it’s why when i was an agnostic i wanted nothing to do with atheism.

          You do know you are a fuckwit, right?

        • Kodie

          Surprisingly, he has no idea.

        • christopher hubbard

          protein amos … putting ignorant in front your name (and with an avatar and no picture) is not a good look.

          it begs credibility from you.

        • Ignorant Amos

          blaaah, blaaah, blaaah….you are just noise ya cretin….

        • Myna A.

          A fuckwit troll.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes indeedy.

        • MNb

          Love is physical, like all emotions and feelings. No brain (which is physical) no emotions and feelings.

        • christopher hubbard

          it’s a physical feeling yes, but it’s not a tangible physical thing one can see, touch, observe, etc. like any object. your literalist criterion leaves out things that are known (and believed) which are the things (love, joy, pain, faith) people value the most in life. your cognitive dissonance is showing. be well.

        • There abstract nouns. Yes, we get it. Not everything is physical.

          Is that it? Is that the conclusion of today’s lesson?

          be well.

          http://fashion-design.pop-cult.com/images/sillisculpts.jpg

        • Argus

          Yeeaahhh…I’m gonna have to go aheaaaad and ask the mooooderator to just ..yeeeah you know go ahead and end this threaaaaad.

          And I’ve been looking for that stapler….i’m just gonna go ahead and TAKE that.

        • No, not the Swingline!

        • Argus

          “I could…could..burn the place down…”

        • Kodie

          These things aren’t tangible, but they are commonly recognized and labeled. You feel pain, I feel pain. Not everyone feels pain over the same things. MNb and I are discussing boundaries and guilt or whatever when meeting people or knowing people, and his boundaries are different than mine. I tend to imagine that real live sociable people would not be so bold as to walk into one’s home one day after being introduced, just because the door was not shut. I tend to give people, or used to, the benefit of the doubt. What is a “benefit of a doubt”? My experience with people is they are fucked up and weird, and rather than get into the murky territory of having to flip from hospitable to completely hostile and toss them from my home, I prevent them getting to know me completely. He’s got a handle on creating boundaries and not minding to be an asshole to them (they’re the asshole, see) when they go ahead and cross that line. That means I feel pain and he feels pain, but he can express it easily and not fear consequence, while I still can’t fucking believe giving someone any indication of neighborly behavior creates a sudden open door for them to be parasitic.

          Obviously, experiences are different. Labeling experiences is a little difficult. I mean, how can someone feel love for someone I hate? If your best friend said he loved someone, and you did not love her, how could you believe he really did love her? It’s mental. What if you know or could easily guess the object of his affection was a bad person, a gold digger or status seeker, and not really the right woman for him? Is his love real, is it wrong? How can it be both?

          People like you who bring up all these abstract nouns like to think they are the same thing as believing there’s a god, and to some extent the belief in god is also mental, it’s also shared, but the object of that belief, is it real? Did it create the universe, is it a separate thing from any human, can we communicate or get communication from it? When you love someone, are they real or fictional? Plenty of people fall in love with a character from tv or a movie. They become obsessed and stalk the actor and possibly do something harmful, they might believe that character loves them back and is hurt when the actor does not, when the actor is just some person who doesn’t know you, doesn’t want to spend time with you, and is ultimately (for good reason) frightened by you. But the love is still real! It’s just not reciprocated. It can’t be. The emotion we call love is a feeling we relate to, that usually but not always includes someone who loves us back.

          I think god belief falls into this category, where you feel something but the object of that feeling doesn’t exist and in no way can return those feelings to you. People do get obsessed, like you seem to be. Obsessed to the point of hating on and shitting on people who don’t fucking find the beliefs and claims at all credible. Give us credible. Don’t give shitty lame empty arguments. If there’s anything to believe in, you should be arguing that it exists, not that it’s just like a short list of abstract relational nouns. Just as love between two people surely exists, so does love from one person for a fictional character that cannot love them back.

        • MNb

          Neurobiologists can observe physical feelings like love.
          I don’t leave out anything.
          How smug of you to make that accusation.

        • Kodie
        • MNb

          If you’re into alt punk metal:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdPGUyfwQL4

        • christopher hubbard

          nothing persuades like memes totally unrelated to the issue/question at hand.

          #CarryOn

        • MNb

          That you don’t recognize the relation doesn’t mean there is no relation.

          How smug of you.

          Don’t be smug.

          Be a better christian. Study Matth. 7:1.

        • Kodie

          The warm fuzzy feeling faith gives you is one or both of those chemicals in your fucking brain. Learn something about how brains work or shut the fuck up about how annoying atheists are. There’s nothing as annoying as a stupid ignorant uneducated fuck like you.

        • christopher hubbard

          is your mother proud of the way you talk to strangers?

          be a better atheist.

        • MNb

          What’s wrong with her language? That she openly uses the f-word?

          How smug of you.

          Don’t be smug.

          Be a better christian. Study Matth. 7:1. That might enable you to show some love, compassion and understanding.

        • Kodie

          Oh, tone troll. I better fucking watch my language, what I said might get missed by the prude who don’t take no lessons from no atheist. Learn how fucking brains work or shut the fuck up.

        • Michael Neville

          Eat shit and bark at the moon, asshole. We’re adults here and we can use adult language. If you don’t like it that’s your fucking problem, not ours.

        • Huh? You’re OK with Jesus reading through your comments? If you think that every word you type comes across covered in fairy dust, think again. Or get a third party you trust to critique your online attitude.

          Be a better Christian.

        • adam

          “it’s a physical feeling yes, but it’s not a tangible physical thing one
          can see, touch, observe, etc. like any object. your literalist
          criterion leaves out things that are known (and believed) which are the
          things (love, joy, pain, faith) ”

          And the one YOU leave out in your cognitive dissonance:

          IMAGINATION…

        • Kodie

          Some things are fiction and some things are real. I don’t know why this is so difficult. We name events in our language that are not physical objects, like walking is different than running or dancing. We can name a billion other fictional imaginary non-tangible non-physical things, but the things like love or justice or friendship or loathing aren’t objects and are neither objective. You’re not my friend, but I suppose someone relates to you with friendship. I wouldn’t doubt someone who said it, even if I can’t relate to you that way, because I can relate to the general concept. Yet, some people’s definitions of friendship is not like mine. Some people think they have a lot of friends I would say are merely acquaintances, i.e., you know who they are, you recognize them, and you say hi. Probably friendly to them, but is that friendship? Some people think so, but I have different standards. Someone who is my friend, I can tell stuff to that I wouldn’t tell acquaintances. I can depend on them when I might be at my worst, where an acquaintance would bail and make an excuse. I wouldn’t even impose on an acquaintance, though that might create a closer bond called friendship. Some people who name the relationship they have with all friendly faces as “friendship” might not think there is a difference, or they might count an acquaintance as their friend, while that person considers you an acquaintance, and wouldn’t listen to your problems without judging you, or bring you soup when you’re sick, even if you called to ask them to.

          It’s not a huge secret we define things that are abstract and not solid, tangible objects. How else would we communicate? That doesn’t make all abstract, intangible nouns real.

        • christopher hubbard

          that’s non-responsive non-counselor.

          friendship (your example) is descriptive. love, joy, pain, hate, faith are the emotions that bond us to (and against) one another. they are real even if they are unseen and unprovable by the silly metrics atheists seem to want to go through to prove or disprove God.

          evidence isn’t what they are after. certitude is.

          there can be no such thing as certitude (100% unassailable knowledge) when it comes to the biggest questions/mysteries of life.

        • Golly–the way you can see into atheists’ souls with such accuracy is spooky!

          Or maybe it’s just bullshit. Atheists follow the evidence. The evidence leads them to atheism, not theism. No demand for certitude. It’s real simple.

        • Kodie

          What mystery?

        • Argus

          The Case of the Smug Theist

        • adam

          “there can be no such thing as certitude (100% unassailable knowledge) when it comes to the biggest questions/mysteries of life.”

          And yet in your smugness you seem to come across with such certitude…

        • adam

          ” they are real even if they are unseen and unprovable by the silly
          metrics atheists seem to want to go through to prove or disprove God.”

          Yes, just like IMAGINARY characters from stories:

        • Myna A.

          when it comes to (most) people’s belief

          You know most, then?

        • is love real?

          “Table” is a concrete noun, while “love” is an abstract noun. There are lots of other abstract nouns–courage, confidence, cowardice, and so on.

          Don’t think that you’re introducing us to the idea of abstract nouns for the first time.

        • christopher hubbard

          so is faith mr. seidensticker. are you as much of a stickler (and clearly hostile) to people who say they love each other? prove it! joy, hate, pain, hope . . . faith is no less or no more an emotion as all of the others that fall in the range of human existence.

          it’s not an f-word (a clear reference to a less than fair or pleasant word which indicates where you want the reader’s mind to go). no thank you mr. seidensticker. i am better than that.

          don’t be smug.

          be a better atheist.

        • faith is no less or no more an emotion as all of the others that fall in the range of human existence.

          You can save your introductory spiel to the aliens. I’m actually from this planet.

          don’t be smug.

          That’s getting old.

        • christopher hubbard

          thank you mr. seidensticker for demonstrating why love and compassion and grace are life saving precepts.

          even for non-believers.

          it will do wonders for your bad attitude.

          (https://www.amazon.com/Free-taking-life-changing-power-grace/dp/0800707311)

        • MNb

          How sad then that you show so little love and compassion (I wouldn’t know about grace) and also understanding in your comments on this page.

          Show more love, compassion and understanding.

          Be a better christian.

        • christopher hubbard

          i do. i don’t drop f-bombs call people names, mock their beliefs or let them get under my skin. =) you all do/have.

          and don’t think i haven’t noticed.

          enjoy the rest of your sunday.

        • MNb

          That’s what you think makes you a better christian? That’s how you show love, compassion and understanding? By not doing a couple of things?
          How sad.

        • Myna A.

          you all do/have

          No, your thing is to be smug, patronize and refuse to to properly compose English sentences.

          Skip. Skip away!

        • Kodie

          Why have you spent most of this Sunday telling all of us how you’d like us to behave to your liking if we haven’t gotten under your skin? Why, if you’re a Christian, would you substitute tone trolling for evidence? You’re a shallow dumbass, don’t care if you’ve noticed we noticed.

        • Greg G.

          I seldom drop f-bombs or resort to name-calling but I will ridicule beliefs as a favor to the person who may not realize his/her beliefs are ridiculous.

        • Myna A.

          It’s difficult not to ridicule when some of these religionists come across like mindless marionettes, and a few, like this latest, have incredible stamina to fight off both reasonable reflection and ridicule like a cartoon ninja.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yip…you are defo one of the “good cops” in the routine. You also have the patience of the proverbial saint when it come to dealing with these exasperating imbeciles, that’s fer sure too.

        • adam

          ” i don’t drop f-bombs call people names, mock their beliefs ”

          So what is with all the name calling ‘smugness?

        • Grace? I have no use for your theology until I find out that the god behind it all actually exists (unlike all the other religions’ gods).

        • christopher hubbard

          what a pity that you think grace (where do you think gratitude comes from?) is entirely/exclusively religious. i can’t tell you how many doctors, therapists, counselors, etc. (who are secular) know it’s power to recover as well.

          maybe one day you will too.

        • Myna A.

          What a pity you don’t wish to be taken seriously.

        • MNb

          I rather have doctors, therapists, counselors etc. knowledge, understanding, skills, experience and indeed also love, compassion and understanding than grace.
          I can do perfectly without it when being treated.

          Btw. the Dutch word for grace is gratie or genade. The Dutch word for gratitude is dankbaarheid. So your question is irrelevant for non-English speakers.

        • What a pity. It’s always been defined to me as having a supernatural or magical element.

        • Kodie

          Your attitude is from hating atheists because we’re so smug. Stick to your own fucking topic at least. All you are is a tone troll without any capacity for reflecting on your own behavior. Your “grace” is absent. Your pomposity and dickishness is evident. If you have a religion and you think it’s affecting your behavior for the better, you are the fool.

        • Argus

          Stop being so smug. Be a better theist

        • it will do wonders for your bad attitude.

          Life is a mirror. You are the cause of my bad attitude.

          Fun experiment: try improving your tone and see if mine doesn’t gradually improve as a result.

        • christopher hubbard

          fun experiment … be the light and the grace you want the world to be and you’ll be amazed how it comes back at you.

          you can’t start out (way up top that initiated my simple and fair question to you) in bad faith and hostility and expect to go unchallenged. belief in no God is just as much a belief predicated on faith as the belief that there is.

          you can’t seem to accept that simple fact.

        • Myna A.

          …is just as much a belief predicated on faith as the belief that there is. you can’t seem to accept that simple fact.

          Word to the wise. Don’t say fact because you aren’t entitled to any fact, only to your opinion when the word “belief” is involved.

        • Michael Neville

          Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts. -Daniel Patrick Moynihan

        • Myna A.

          Indeed, ’twas Moynihan I pinched from! Now there was a politician to whom both sides once genuflected.

        • MNb

          “be the light and the grace you want the world to be and you’ll be amazed how it comes back at you.”
          Given the fact that nothing comes back at you on this very page you’re a sad failure regarding being the light and the grace.
          You can’t seem to accept that simple fact though.

        • Myna A.

          Given the fact that nothing comes back at you on this very page you’re a sad failure regarding being the light and the grace.

          Now, that’s a fact!

        • You’ve never explained what the initial problem was.

          belief in no God is just as much a belief predicated on faith as the belief that there is.

          Wrong again. The symmetry you imagine isn’t there. “No supernatural” is the null hypothesis. The burden of proof is yours. I’ll listen (if you ever have a Christian argument to advance), but I’m obliged to fall back to the null hypothesis if your evidence is insufficient.

        • Kodie

          Do you really think you’re a good example of this? You’ve done nothing but be a horrible person who keeps repeating false claims because you have no evidence. Atheism is a lack of belief in the claims made by theists. In your twisted prejudiced mind, you persist in believing that it’s something else. You keep dictating to atheists what you believe it is. How is that being the “light and grace you want the world to be”? It’s not, it’s you being a dick.

        • adam

          “be the light and the grace you want the world to be and you’ll be amazed how it comes back at you.”

          I see how it has come back to you, I will pass…

        • adam

          “thank you mr. seidensticker for demonstrating why love and compassion and grace are life saving precepts.”

          Faith:

        • Kodie

          I don’t doubt people feel faith. What is their faith in? Is that real?

        • MNb

          Faith is also an emotion and hence physical.

          “a clear reference to a less than fair or pleasant word.”
          So you think that an activity (the f-word) many people value highly (I certainly do as it gives me joy and hope) is less than fair or pleasant.
          How smug of you.

          Don’t be smug.

          Be a better christian. Study and practice Matth. 7:1. Like my christian colleagues.

        • Argus

          This

        • adam

          ” is love real?”

          Are delusions real?

        • MNb

          “try humility instead.”
          Writes the guy whose comments boil over from smugness and arrogance.

        • christopher hubbard

          self awareness isn’t a trait very common among atheists i’ve found. there’s a reason when i was agnostic i found them to be a complete turnoff. my intuition hasn’t changed. good luck with that. (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/08/13/atheists-more-smug-than-religious-people-spoof_n_3747666.html)

        • MNb

          Hint of the day: ask your pastor or vicar to explain the meaning of Matth. 7:1.

          “my intuition hasn’t changed. good luck with that.”
          Good luck with your intuition? Or with you being turned off? Why would I need luck with that?
          Thanks for not reacting to my reply above.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/07/faith-the-other-f-word-christianity-atheism/#comment-2800712442

          Also thanks for the link. I especially liked

          “a team at the University Of Self-Righteousness”
          “HuffPost UK Comedy”

        • Myna A.

          self awareness isn’t a trait very common among atheists i’ve found.

          Know many, do you? It’s difficult to take you seriously as an individual with any depth or knowledge when you fail to follow basic composition skills of capitalization. Perhaps you think it quaint to be above them?

        • Your self-awareness is a little suspect when you seem not to have been aware that that “study” was a parody.

        • christopher hubbard

          no mr. seidensticker, that is precisely the point.

        • So then “the point” is no point at all? Well, OK.

          when i was agnostic i found them to be a complete turnoff

          Tip for the day: you might want to avoid speaking for all agnostics or atheists.

        • Kodie

          Convince me of what I don’t believe. That’s basically it. I find your superstition and gullibility nothing to aspire to, but if you had something to convince me other than you think you’re too cool for school, then we might change my mind.

        • Ignorant Amos

          He is a Hubbard after all.

        • Argus

          Ad Hommineun Fallacy.

        • adam


          COMEDY

          Atheists More Smug Than Religious People, Concludes Study”

          “The paper, entitled ‘The Relation Between Smugness and Religiosity: An Analysis For Stupid People Who Believe In God And Fairies And Things’, was published by a team at the University Of Self-Righteousness in New York.”

          Speaking of awareness, you didnt realize that you reference was a comedy piece.

        • adam

          “YOU: “I would be willing to change my mind if you provided a good reason.”
          ME: i doubt it. your certitude reflects a mind that is made up. just admit you reject the possibility of a Higher Power. ”

          And of course the reality:

        • my questions were not gotcha’ or trick questions.

          Uh huh. Did my answers make you think that that was my assumption?

          “What about God—is there reason to think that he exists? No. That he doesn’t? Yes!”
          you answered yes with an exclamation point no less!

          And for the regulars around here, that makes sense. They’ve seen the many posts that support those claims.

          Like I said.

          your reply is nowhere near as definitive as your original claim.

          I make a claim: there is good reason to think that God doesn’t exist. I back up that claim with the many posts supporting that claim in this blog.

          Problem?

          1-will you concede that there is just as much reason to believe that God/Gods exist as not?

          Of course not.

          your answer exemplifies smugness. and reconfirms why even when i was agnostic why i never was an atheist.

          I wasn’t feeling smug when I wrote the original post, but my Smugness Meter is rising, thanks to your whining—probably not the best position to be in when trying to respond calmly.

          you talk about evidence as if this were a crime scene investigation and all we have to do is gather all the blood, prints, samples, eyewitnesses, forensics, etc. and voila! after the fact investigations rarely get anywhere close to 100% and that’s with a much smaller sample size.

          I’ve explored that metaphor, but that’s not really where I go. I will look at arguments for Christianity and for atheism. My conclusion is always that the evidence is overwhelmingly against Christianity.

          You haven’t had the chance to critique each argument, so let’s ignore for now the question of whether my conclusion was biased or not. This is how one argues a case, which is apparently what you’re having a problem with at the moment.

          2-will you concede that the majesty of the universe is so vast and so large that simply reducing it to your comfort words does little to actually reveal its origins.

          Will you concede that the majesty of the universe revealed by science is so vast and so out of step with the Bible that science is actually the way to go if majesty and wonder are indeed what one is after?

          even believers in the big bang will have to concede that the energy necessary to make the physical world

          We’ve been over this. It appears that the net energy of the universe is zero. Gravity is negative energy, and it balances out the positive energy and mass.

          all that matter and energy had to come from somewhere.

          Tell that to the Christians who declare that God created ex nihilo (from nothing).

          (But I repeat myself.)

          to believe that it came from a Higher Power is not irrational

          No, it’s just that there’s no evidence pointing there. It’s simply an attempt to support a conclusion you already have, not following the evidence where it leads.

          mr. seidensticker but you kind of reveal yourself here

          You’ll have to tell me what is revealed.

          (ME)”… the universe (whatever your time line) has a beginning or a creation.
          (YOU) Maybe. Some models don’t have a beginning. It’s the frontier of physics, so it’ll get pretty non-commonsensical.”
          maybe??? no sir, not maybe. definitely.

          Let me type slower so you can understand. There are models of the Big Bang that don’t have a beginning. You say your common sense is offended by that? Tough. It’s science—deal with it. When science has a consensus view, it might be one of these models that the evidence points to.

          you are avoiding the fact that there has to be a beginning

          Everything, you mean, except for God. Right?

          Read up on cosmology. Then tell me that the universe had to have a beginning. And work on that smugness.

          My post about cosmologist Sean Carroll and the theory of the beginningless universe is here.

          “i don’t know” is an honest answer. but it presupposes that there might be alternatives or answers outside of your assertion that belief in God is irrational

          What is your point? That God might exist? I agree. I just don’t see the evidence.

          which is why evidence (in this life) is futile. the issue isn’t evidence sir but faith.

          So why all the blather about beginnings and nothing and the Big Bang? Just tell me that you believe on faith and leave it at that.

          i have faith that their is a Higher Power. you have faith there isn’t.

          I have evidence that there isn’t.

          don’t be smug.
          be a better atheist.

          Thanks for the condescension. And the smugness.

        • MNb

          “1 – will you concede that there is just as much reason to believe that God/Gods exist as not?”
          No. I have concluded that all the reasons to believe fail and that there are three reasons not to believe that hold up.

          “2 – will you concede that the majesty of the universe is so vast and so large that simply reducing it to your comfort words does little to actually reveal its origins?”
          Yes. That’s why I’m always on the look out for non-comfort words – unlike you.

          “something (you, me, patheos, the world, the universe, dinosaurs and microorganisms) can only come from something”
          You conveniently left out “god” from your list, thus reducing the majesty of the universe to your comfort words.

          “don’t be smug.”
          I try. You apparently don’t.

        • Ignorant Amos

          1-will you concede that there is just as much reason to believe that God/Gods exist as not? or conversely that there is just as much reason not to as to??

          Nope. Define “god” first rationally. Theological noncognitivism or igtheism seems to be the most rational position. It is you that is being the capital “S” Smug one.

        • Argus

          Someone seems hung up on the word smug. Weird init?

    • Susan

      it was the smugness and certitude

      There is no smugness or certitude in saying that there is no good reason to believe theistic claims. Unless you can provide a good reason.

      Nor in saying there is good reason to reject those claims. The reason is that no good reason has been provided to accept those claims.

      There’s nothing smug about it.

      Your universe points have nothing to do with Bob’s statements (unless you have good reason to make a connection between the murky issues about the universe and an incoherent agent By all means, provide them if you do.)

      and finally do you hope you’re wrong?</blockquote?

      Wrong about what? And what does this have to do with truth cliams either way?

      don’t be smug.

      What a great master of humility you seem to be.

      be a better atheist

      I don’t believe theists when they make claims about immaterial agents. They have never given me a single reason to believe them.

      You’re trying this whole “you can’t disprove” bullshit, which is about the weakest argument one can make.

      I would suggest you try to be a little less smug and also that you provide something more substantial before you lecture anyone about being better at anything.

      • christopher hubbard

        YOU: “There is no smugness or certitude in saying that there is no good reason to believe theistic claims. Unless you can provide a good reason.”

        ME: saying “there is no good reason to believe theistic claims” is certitude. make up your mind.

        this is my problem with atheists. the origins of the universe (the who and the why mostly. the what, when, where and how are interesting but secondary to the big 2) are not an exercise in evidence as if we can gather all up all the information spanning the universe over all time and get to the answer as if this were a proof issue.

        it’s not. which is why it’s called faith. faith fills in the gaps of knowledge. to dismiss the vast majority of people inhabiting earth (and just about everybody who came before us (even pagans were believers in higher powers!) too) is smugness personified.

        the rest of your screed is ipso facto proof (as opposed to faith) because it is definitive that you have no answers. that’s fine. mr. seidensticker said below that “i don’t know” (per the origins of the universe) “is an honest answer.” it is. you seem not to even allow for that.

        smugness and certitude go together.

        be less smug.

        i have no idea if you are an atheist. and i don’t care.

        • Ignorant Amos

          How can you be so asinine with just one head?

        • How can you be so asinine with just one head?™

          FTFY. (You forgot the trademark symbol.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          Now THAT gave me a wee chuckle.

        • Michael Neville

          this is my problem with atheists. the origins of the universe (the who and the why mostly. the what, when, where and how are interesting but secondary to the big 2) are not an exercise in evidence as if we can gather all up all the information spanning the universe over all time and get to the answer as if this were a proof issue.

          Instead of expending energy being smug you should divert it to being a better writer.

          The origin of the universe is unknown. Cosmologists have determined with high probability what happened after 1×10^-9 seconds (called Planck Time) after creation but not before. However the “hand of god” is not seen after Planck Time and that’s an incredibly tiny gap to squeeze a god into. So unless you or some other delusionist can show actual evidence that your gods exist then it’s reasonable to assume that some “divine creator” didn’t have anything to do with the origin of the universe.

          If that’s being smug then too fucking bad. Learn to live with it.

        • (One Planck time is 5×10^–44 seconds.)

        • Michael Neville

          Oh, I didn’t know that. I thought it was 1×10-43 seconds, an eternity compared to actual Planck Time.

        • MNb

          “it’s not. which is why it’s called faith.”

          Quantum fields are not the result of faith. They are the result of physical evidence and deducting (specifically mathematical) theories.

          “faith fills in the gaps of knowledge.”
          Let me quote a famous theologian:

          “how wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to
          find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know.”
          The same applies to faith.

          Dietrich Bonhöffer, letter 1944.

          “smugness and certitude go together.”
          You demonstrated this convincingly in your two comments indeed. Matth. 7:1 anyone?

        • adam

          “faith fills in the gaps of knowledge.”

          Exactly the “God of the Gaps”

    • MNb

      “1. yet you say nothing (at least not here) as to how the universe was created.”
      Of course not. The word “created” implies a creator, ie a god. As for the beginning of our Universe I rely on Modern Physics. That says nothing about a creator either.

      “something cannot come from nothing”
      As long as you don’t specify nothing this is a meaningless statement.

      “where did all of this come from?”
      Quantum fields. Now you may ask: “Where did quantum fields come from?” If you think “god” a valid answer however I may ask “Where did god come from?” Now you may answer “God always was”. Then I may answer “Quantum fields always were”. You may even equate your god with quantum fields. Then you have contradicted all religions mankind ever devised bar pastafarianism.
      Are you a pastafarian?

      “2. given that there is no proof of the origins of the universe (not just fossil and archaeological records here on earth per our own planet) one way or the other, do you ever doubt your own atheism?”
      No, my atheism hardly depends on proofs (another useless word as long as you don’t specify it) of the origins of our Universe. But yes, I do challenge my own atheism. I do everytime I bring up my reasons so that believers like you can refute them.

      “3. do you ever hope that you’re wrong?”
      No. I think I’m better of without higher powers. I would be disappointed if a) I found out that there is one and especially b) that higher power won’t grant me my wish after I die, namely falling back into not existing.

      “don’t be smug.”
      Like you, you mean?
      I try.
      If you also try your comment was quite a failure.

    • Myna A.

      …and finally, do you ever hope that you’re wrong?

      About Abrahamic gods? Hell no. Given the volatile temperament of Yahweh and Allah and far, far too many of their ambassadors since the inception of the whole crazy story, it’s a wonder those who still cling to such faiths don’t pray they, themselves, are wrong.

    • Argus

      I am glad to answer each question as an atheist. Thanks for asking.

      1. you say there’s evidence (as if this is definitively provable one way or the other, hence faith is not an evidence based deduction but one for which there is insufficient evidence one way or the other) of no God

      R: No. I do not say that. I have no idea if any gods exist. Currently, there is no compelling evidence to demonstrate any god claims are true. If that changes, I will adjust my view. It is rather telling that there have been many claims from many people groups about the existence of many gods. Thus far, none of these claims have been demonstrated to be true. That does not mean that no gods can possibly exist. But if they do..they do not appear to be interested in making themselves known.

      2. “yet you say nothing (at least not here) as to how the universe was created. the universe (whatever your time line) has a beginning or a creation.”

      R: The origin/beginning of the universe (if that is even a valid term) has nothing to do with the question of whether or not any god claims are true. You seem to be attempting to shift the burden of proof. It is not at all clear based on current data from physics that the universe must be created, have a beginning or origin. We simply do not yet have enough info to explain what we have observed fully.

      Having said that there is a lot of exciting work being done in cosmology now. Who knows what we will find? But so far..no gods lurking anywhere. I tend to see the quantum model as having some validity. Quoting from a Harper’s Weekly article — “quantum physics can hypothesize a universe without cause — just as quantum physics can show how electrons can change orbits in an atom without cause. There are no definite cause-and-effect relationships in the quantum world, only probabilities. [Sean] Carroll put it this way: “In everyday life we talk about cause and effect. But there is no reason to apply that thinking to the universe as a whole. I do not feel in any way unsatisfied by just saying, ‘That’s the way it is.’ ”

      3. ” the universe (whatever your time line) has a beginning or a creation. something comes from something. something cannot come from nothing. to assert that there isn’t some Higher Power is not just as much an article of faith as asserting that there is it is also less logical.”

      R: You will need to demonstrate using data the claim that the universe has a beginning. I am curious: If your statement ” the universe (whatever your time line) has a beginning or a creation. something comes from something. something cannot come from nothing” is true…and you think god exists..i.e. the Supreme Something — from whence came god?

      4. “to assert that there isn’t some Higher Power is not just as much an article of faith as asserting that there is it is also less logical.”

      R: Once again…..most atheists make no such assertion. When we say..”it does not appear that any gods exist” we mean within the framework of available evidence. For example: There does not seem to be any evidence that intelligent life lives on the moon. Right? With me? So, we can pretty safely say at least PROVISIONALLY that “there is no intelligent life on the moon.” This is not dogma — it is understood by most reasonable people that we mean “given the current state of evidence and subject to change if new evidence appears.” So if Gleep Glop Queen of the Lunar Empire waves her scepter at NASA tomorrow, we will ceases to say “no life exists on the moon.”

      5, “where did all of this come from?” I have no idea — neither do you and I do not know if that is even a valid or cogent question. Given that the Universe is understood by definition to be “all of this” it seems illogical to posit that it “comes from” elsewhere since this magical elsewhere would be part of “all of this” and thus still the universe. If you want to insert your god of the gaps…you would then face the same issue of “Where did all this god come from?”

      6. ” and finally, do you ever hope that you’re wrong? i would rather believe in a Higher Power and find out (later on) that there isn’t (obvious disappointment that that would result in) one than believe that there isn’t and find out later that there in fact is (a bigger revelation to be sure). the world/universe has been around a lot longer than any of us. it is human nature to believe in a larger force(s), higher power.”

      R: Such a long question! A. I want to accept as many true things as possible and reject as many false things as I can. Given that we can explain our current understanding of the universe at a macro level, I do not see why a god concept would be helpful.

      Your preferences are not really relevant to answering the questions you posed. I have no good reason or desire to believe in a Higher Power (whatever that is) .. although I guess the Strong Nuclear Force is higher lol.

      I am not sure if your premise about humans believing in a higher power is true on a prima facie basis. I think it is true that humans have always tried to find patterns in nature — a result of our ability to concretize the abstract. It helped us survive. The fact that humans seek agency in possible random phenomena does not address whether or not said claims are true or false.

  • Argus

    Wow what a difference having one’s post on the Public Square makes to volume of comments. Crikey!

    • That is a lot, but the forces affecting number of comments (or number of hits) are somewhat mysterious. Ah, for clairvoyance so that I could know what topics will be most interesting!

      • Greg G.

        It is whatever happens to set off an energetic theist who wants to get the last word in no matter how many responses there are.

      • Argus

        Of course L. Chris Hubbard’s smuggy smug pants thread probably represents 220 comments.

        • It’d be nice if thoughtful and civil Christians were more eager to discuss what they claim to be the most important questions.

        • Argus
        • Speedwell

          I did my best to read through that long thread, and I noticed about halfway down that Hubbard was kicked out on his ear. Please correct me if I’m wrong (I may have missed it)… but I did not see the following sort of thing raised in full in the thread. (Despite its semi-formal look, this is just a list of thoughts, not an attempt to define a formal logical argument as such):

          – Hubbard assumes that he and his audience have common ground in that we agree on what, exactly, something needs to be in order to be a “god”.
          – Hubbard has a belief in a god that he refers to as “God” or a “Higher Power” (for convenience, “God”).
          – “God” is something that has attributes.
          – This set of attributes can be divided into four general categories for the sake of argument: (1) A logical contradiction (in the nature of a “square circle”), (2) an attribute equivalent to “fictional”, “confabulated”, or other direct expression of non-reality, (3) falsifiable claims, (4) non-falsifiable claims, or (5) counterfactual claims.
          – If even one case of (1) or (2) can be shown, Hubbard’s “God” is logically impossible and does not exist. Cases of (4) can be dismissed as logically nonsensical. Cases of (5) can be properly inverted (e.g. if “there is exactly one of this” is false, then “it is not the case that there is exactly one of this” is true) and categorised as something else. The remaining claims, (3), can be compared against known reality.
          – If even one case of (3) can be shown to be at variance with reality, then “God” is not a real thing. This can be stated, alternatively, as, “If Hubbard’s ‘God’ were real, the world would be different”. The burden of proof is on the claimant (in this case, Hubbard) to demonstrate that each of the attributes is consonant with reality.

          No definition of a god that I’ve encountered has so far succeeded in being consonant with objectively observed reality. Most fail in that they claim attributes that are exceptions to reality (supernatural). The rest… well, my cup of coffee exists; it is logically possible and fully consonant with reality, but it is not a god and nobody, including Hubbard, would seriously attempt to claim that it is. I suspect that any postulated “God”, including Hubbard’s, will be seen to be at variance with logic, at variance with reality, and/or at variance with the basic criteria something needs to have to be seriously considered a “god”.

          I’ve taken the time to put this out there because I am tired of Christians trying to put ball bearings under the goalposts and claim that their big angry kahuna in the sky suddenly becomes a vague love concept or something as soon as its existence is questioned. Also, I think the complete absence of any logically and realistically defensible god concept in the face of thousands of human years of effort to discover or create one is at least reasonable evidence that none such is likely to exist. Hubbard is welcome to invent one if he likes, I suppose, but I think he can’t. And even if he somehow does, before he asks us to believe in it, he should at least describe it.

        • You’ve put a lot more thought into this than I think Mssr. Hubbard put into it himself. At the end, I think his goal was just to be a time waster.

        • Susan

          I think his goal was just to be a time waster.

          I’m never sure about this. Often, I think they arrive thinking they have it all sussed out based on the apologetics they learned in the compound.

          Then, when things don’t go according to script, they dig their heels in/assume Satan is behind it.

          Then, they repeat the script as though it is an incantation against evil spirits.

          As with their deity belief, they begin with their conclusion and disregard everything that doesn’t fit into what they already know is true.

          It’s hard to separate this behaviour from the behaviour of an actual troll.

          Poe’s law too often applies.

          Either way:

          You’ve put a lot more thought into this than I think Mssr. Hubbard put into it hiimself.

          seems to hold true.

        • MNb

          That’s what I think as well.
          “Then when things don’t go according to script, they dig their heels in/assume Satan is behind it.”
          Either literally or metaphorically. An excellent (because the commenter is actually smart, unlike Chrissy Hubby) is to be found on the Plantinga’s EAAN page. Long and good explanations – but anyone who points out the problems with it receives the reaction “you don’t understand what Plantinga argues”. I’m still not sure whether that’s amusing or annoying.

        • That’s been the pushback I’ve gotten on my EAAN post–“you just don’t get it.”

        • Michael Neville

          Often when Christians are talking about their god to atheists he’s a vague, semi-deist deity who hasn’t done much of anything in the past two thousand years. But when they’re talking among themselves usually he’s a white-bearded geezer who helps them find their car keys, decides which high school team wins the Big Game, and has an unhealthy obsession with sex.

        • Susan

          Often when Christians are talking about their god to atheists he’s a vague, semi-deist deity

          But inexplicably a he, completely fixated with one species of hominid and indifferent to all other earthlings who live now and ever have lived.

          That is why I try to ask them what they are claiming and how they support it.

          I used to ask them (and sometimes, still do) what they mean by “God” but then they just respond with something vague like “the God of the Bible” or “the God of Christianity” or “the God of Classical Theism”.

          The more I try to get them to clarify this Truth they claim they have access to, the foggier and more defensive they get.

          They tend to be very clear on “his” disapproval of teh gayz and his deep love for zygotes.

          And that somehow, Jesus did something frickin’ fantastic by getting crucified by the Romans.

          I always wonder about all those other poor schmucks who got crucified by the Romans and why it was so special when Jesus did it.

        • MNb

          “The more I try to get them to clarify this Truth they claim they have access to, the foggier and more defensive they get.”
          Which I think highly amusing, so I hope you persist.

        • Susan

          i hope you persist.

          I persist for reasons of my own.

          Which I think highly amusing

          That makes it better. 🙂

        • MNb
        • Michael Neville

          I think you missed a “not” in your post.

          This isn’t a new idea that just occurred to me. I’ve seen several other atheists and at least one Christian who have noticed this phenomenon.

        • Susan

          I think you missed a “not”

          I’m sure he did. Either accidentally or with intentional Dutch sarcasm.