The Most Powerful Argument Against Christianity (3 of 3)

The Most Powerful Argument Against Christianity (3 of 3) August 12, 2016

problem of divine hiddenness Christianity atheismThe Problem of Divine Hiddenness, where God wants a relationship with us and knows that hell awaits those who don’t know him (but refuses to make his existence obvious), is the most powerful argument against Christianity.

We’ll conclude our critique of a rebuttal of this argument by apologist Greg Koukl (part 1 here).

What do other apologists say?

C. S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters tried to explain it this way: “[God] cannot ravish. He can only woo,” but this relationship analogy fails. In an ordinary human relationship, the very existence of the other person is never the question. No party to a relationship “ravishes” by simply making their existence known. The rare examples where someone is fooled into believing someone exists become man-bites-dog stories. (Consider the surprising story of Notre Dame football star Manti Teʻo.)

Augustine had similar advice: “Do not understand so you may believe; instead believe so you may understand.” But why? You don’t pick a belief system first and then select facts to support it; it’s the other way around. You follow the facts to their logical conclusion. Christians are forced to imagine a trickster god who plants vague clues to the most important truth.

What does the theist admit when using this argument?

Consider the theist’s desperation in advancing an argument like this. For any reasonable claim of existence, we are given evidence. You want to know what “the sun” is? Just look up on a sunny day. You want to know what a black hole is? That’ll take a lot more effort, but there is plenty of evidence for black holes, too. And yet for God, we get just a suggestion of a shadow. If God loved us and dearly wanted us to know him, he would make his existence known. He doesn’t.

So—option B—we assume God’s existence and say that he wants to be an enigma for reasons that are unknowable to us. But, of course, if he wanted to be hidden, he would be so! If you’re playing hide and seek with God, you will lose. He’s God—he could leave no trace, and there would be no enigma.

That leaves the Christian with option C: God isn’t deliberately hidden but instead leaves just the vaguest of clues—only enough to tease the seeker. This is rarely enough to give complete confidence, so the Christian is always on edge, never quite sure whether he’s got it right or is instead going to hell. This is a god who plays games with people’s lives.


See also: How Reliable Is a Bridge Built on Faith?


So where does this leave us? A God too shy to even make his existence known contradicts a God who wants a relationship—he can’t be both. Koukl’s handwaving about how people would respond to an obvious God (lots of people would still disbelieve; they’d have their own selfish reasons for rejecting God) ignores the fact that this would remove the legitimate obstacle of too little evidence for millions or even billions of people.

And how hard would it be for God to make everyone believe he exists? I could convince any sane person that I exist. Can’t God do the same? If I can do it, couldn’t an omniscient god a billion times smarter than me do it, too?

Koukl might say that God’s hiddenness doesn’t prove that God doesn’t exist, which is true. But it certainly gives us no reason to believe in him. We can’t prove that God is nonexistent, but he’s functionally nonexistent.

More on Greg Koukl’s answers to skeptics’ questions:

God doesn’t prevent terrible things because:
(A) He can’t
(B) He doesn’t want to
(C) He causes them
(D) He doesn’t exist
Please vote now.
— Ricky Gervais

Image credit: Martin Cathrae, flickr, CC

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  • Sastra

    People who defend God’s failure to make its existence obvious by talking about how knowing for sure that God exists would make it harder if not impossible to genuinely choose to love God always remind me of homeopaths.

    “The more you dilute a substance, the stronger it gets.” Where? When? Why? This doesn’t make any sense, and nobody can seem to come up with an analogy in our ordinary experience which would help make it more plausible, either. Instead, they’ll invoke something vaguely similar on the surface (vaccines) which even a little thought will show doesn’t apply.

    The same goes for “God needs to make it look like He isn’t there so love is stronger” arguments. There’s no analogy in experience. The only thing that fits is that God values subjective validation over honest inquiry because true love makes you stupid.

    • And then the disciples’ seeing Jesus for real means that their love was counterfeit.

      So therefore discard the Bible?

      • Mark Rouleau

        See John 20:29

        • “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

          I know–crazy, right?! Right there in black and white, faith without evidence is celebrated.

          What amazes me is how many Christians will correct me with I mention this. They’ll tell me that faith is always belief strongly grounded in evidence.

        • Mark Rouleau

          Bob, that is probably due to their biblical illiteracy. It isn’t faith if you actually know something to a certainty. At that point it is a fact. Most of the ultimate opinions that anyone has i.e., there is nothing after death but the grave etc are really statements of faith. Even science employs this concept when it discusses things in terms of confidence intervals, margins of error, or standard deviations. The real question is not whether we exercise faith but rather what is the evidence and reasoning that lead us to that exercise of faith. PS you really exaggerate when you say “without evidence” so as to say no jury could ever convict a robber unless they actually witnessed the robbery personal observation is only one kind of evidence.

        • Michael Neville

          “Faith” is a word with several meanings. For instance there’s religious faith: “I have faith that Huitzilopotchli needs human hearts offered to him so the Sun will continue to rise.” There is faith in relationships: “I have faith that my wife loves me.” There is political faith: “I have faith that democracy is the best form of government.” There is even personal faith: “I have faith that I am a good person, even though I know many of my imperfections and failings.”

          Like many theists, you’re trying to conflate these different kinds of faith. The reason why atheists lack faith in an afterlife is that there’s no evidence to support that belief. But as you note yourself, faith isn’t required when there’s reasonable evidence for something.

        • It isn’t faith if you actually know something to a certainty. At that point it is a fact.

          Right. As if there were any value in faith.

          Even science employs this concept when it discusses things in terms of confidence intervals, margins of error, or standard deviations.

          Science uses “trust”—belief firmly grounded in evidence. If you’re saying that science quantifies the level of trust, then I agree.

          The real question is not whether we exercise faith

          No, that is indeed the question. I explore the changing definitions of “faith” here:
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/07/faith-the-other-f-word-christianity-atheism/

          you really exaggerate when you say “without evidence” so as to say no jury could ever convict a robber unless they actually witnessed the robbery personal observation is only one kind of evidence.

          I agree with your robbery example, so I’m not sure what exaggeration you’re concerned about.

  • Foxglove

    There are many things about Christianity that make me angry, and this is one of them. Supposedly I’m going to eternal hell for not believing. So one would think that this God, who of course loves me dearly and doesn’t want me to go to hell, would make sure that I know that he exists. Only he doesn’t. And actually that’s better, because I accept his existence on faith, which is a much more beautiful thing than knowledge. I’m not sure why. I’m just told that’s true.

    I remember as a child constantly praying in bed after lights-out, just like I was taught to do. I eventually gave it up. I never got any reply. Even when a little child is actively reaching out to him, he can’t make himself known. I personally don’t call this love. I call it non-existence.

    • busterggi

      The thing I remember about praying before bed was that I couldn’t understand why god would want to kill me in my sleep. Way to go, terrifying kids at bedtime.

      • Kodie

        The thing I remember is that I think I learned that prayer at public school. I know I didn’t learn it at home because we were totally non-religious. I feel like I had to memorize it in, like, 2nd grade, or something, but maybe it was just a rhyme in an overall non-religious book of rhymes that was in the classroom. Could have been at a friend’s house, but who knows now.

    • Kingasaurus

      —-because I accept his existence on faith, which is a much more beautiful
      thing than knowledge. I’m not sure why. I’m just told that’s true.—-

      We never get an answer to this one. Why does God want you to have faith? Why does he think it’s better than proof? No answer – he just does.

      It’s unlikely that a religion that was actually true and lined up perfectly with reality would need faith for anything. It would be redundant. But if a false religion wants to continue to exist and gain new followers, telling you that you’re a bad person if you ask for proof is an excellent strategy.

      • Foxglove

        Yes, faith is privileged in a way. You meet someone, you might initially have faith that they love you. But if you never actually see any love, you’ll lose the faith–if you’re smart. And sometimes you have faith in someone because they’ve never let you down. But that’s a sort of faith that has a foundation to stand on. Faith in something the existence of which is unproven and highly doubtful–that’s “faith” I can do without.

      • adam

        “Why does God want you to have faith? ”

        Hint- it’s not God who wants you to have faith.

        • it’s not God who wants you to have faith.

          A nice cleaving of the Gordian Knot, sir!

      • MR

        a religion that was actually true and lined up perfectly with reality

        This really cuts to the core for me. It simply. doesn’t. line up. with. reality. Plain and simple. Look at the hoops that the likes of Loquacious Luke, Personal Responsibility, the faux-agnostic TW, SteveK (pre-you), etc., have to jump through. The mind games, twisting, reinterpreting, veiled threats like Pascal’s Wager, strawmanning…, the bullshitting they go through that simply doesn’t line up perfectly with reality.

        I mean, we are talking about the Master of the Universe, after all, and He can’t even manage to do that?

        All these lame excuses and dodges and this one is saying something different that that one. “You’re going to hell.” “There is no hell.” “God hates fags.” “God loves everyone.”

        I mean, I’m old enough to recognize bullshit when I see it and I’m weighing all this bullshit on the one side that doesn’t add up at all and even contradicts itself vs. “Or, no God exists” on the other.

        Each and every time the “No God exists” side matches up with reality. Plain and simple. Without hoops, without mind games, without all that bullshitting! It’s always the most plausible explanation.

        And I’ve been there. I’ve believed. I know what cognitive dissonance can do because I drank the Kool-Aid myself. They’re not going to win me over with “were you there,” “you can’t prove God doesn’t exist,” etc. And especially because I know they wouldn’t buy that kind of argument if the roles were reversed!

        Give me something that lines up with reality, because all these bullshit arguments about a supposed God simply don’t line up with reality.

    • Bingo!

    • Michael Neville

      I’ve argued before that if theists had evidence for their gods then they’d drop faith. “We don’t need faith, we have evidence.” But they cling to faith because they don’t have evidence and they call their faith a good thing because they know they don’t have evidence.

      • Robert Templeton

        Love this!

        And it just shows that the entire enterprise is nothing but a mind game. If only they could be convinced of that then they wouldn’t be a flock. They’d be flocking away from this delusion.

      • Pofarmer

        Some even claim that there can’t be evidence. That would be reductionism or positivism or something and that’s been refuted. But here are these nifty philosophical arguments that prove it, with no evidence, of course.

  • busterggi

    “And how hard would it be for God to make everyone believe he exists?”

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it would take to get me to believe god exists. I couldn’t come up with an answer until I realized that a real god could convince me by default, i.e.: a god could make me believe even if I didn’t want to believe. That hasn’t happened yet and I’m not holding my breath.

    • MNb

      “a god could make me believe even if I didn’t want to believe.”
      Some children don’t want to believe that they’ll burn their fingers when they touch a hot surface. Who would want to maintain that their god has less convincing power than a heater?

      • adam

        “Who would want to maintain that their god has less convincing power than a heater?”

        Billions apparently if you look at the numbers.

    • He could just force you. Or he could remove the obstacles/biases in your head that prevent you from seeing him. Or, being that he’s 10^10 times smarter than you, he could figure out a way to reveal himself that would overpower any objections (aliens! drugs!) you might come up with.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        We already have that power just by being present! You being able to pass on information from other people through me is not dependent upon “faith” in me- those interactions and information can be confirmed on all sides. Religious people’s “talks with god” do not transfer any information to other people, and only the person claiming to talk to god is giving their side of the claimed interaction (they look exactly like someone who was talking to themself).

        • TheNuszAbides

          yep. it’s been instructive for me to occasionally re-cast the broader “a universe with gods seems curiously indistinguishable from a universe without gods” notion as “people who claim to know/seek/worship/follow/obey [the mind of] [G]od seem curiously indistinguishable from people who make all sorts of other claims to justify whatever they do”.

      • Kodie

        I wrote about the good boss and the bad boss in another thread yesterday. I mean, given the world as it is, the god they describe is the bad boss. We didn’t get the world with the good boss, if there is a boss. We can’t wish for a different god or a drastically different world where we see miracles performed and other magical events, or for humans to have a different character make-up. We get the world that is, and if you believe there’s a boss, he’s apparently abusive, threatening one relatively close to the bible god, whose absence would inspire many Christians to go on violent rampages for fun. Bad things happen and are happening, but for most people, their lives are ok, and occasionally sometimes even great, and that’s their knowledge that god exists. An absence of god would be an absence of anything good and anything meaningful, and we would naturally revert to a murderous state where nothing matters, instead of a world where occasional madness and tragedy is the way god warns people to obey, if they know what’s good for them, if they don’t want to have their good things taken away, whenever he wants.

        By contrast, the good boss is fair, supportive, and knows how to bring out the best in people without threatening them.

        https://gfulton-images.s3.amazonaws.com/2016/Mar/1_S0p68eMG1J_kcGyyeDPXdQ-1458757399115.png

        • Robert Templeton

          Nice analogy.

          The problem is that we humans have been too long used to having the ‘bad boss’ situation (religion, monarchies, living gods, gods, rulers, dictators, and so on) instead of the ‘good boss’ situation where the Alpha Male (as it were) didn’t simply direct the underlings (delegation) but worked with them (participation). I’ve had bosses of both sorts and the best were the latter. God is a bad boss extraordinaire. He not only delegates and dictates but he gives a few magisterial control since he is too lazy to do it all himself. That is one pitiful and shitty omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent god.

        • Kodie

          Some of the Christians like to flip it on atheists, like, hey, this is the world we ended up with, you can’t just design what a better god would change if he existed. They don’t put it like that, they assume he exists and this is the best he could do. And like victims of abuse often do, they deny they are oppressed and abused. They are like the co-workers who warn you not to quit, to keep putting up with it, betrayer, lazy. They’re frightened and they try to make the best of things, and that might be the most convincing aspect not to get involved in the first place. I mean, well, it’s the best, right? You get god’s goodness, he just wants you to work harder, that’s why he makes everything tough. He’s the boss, he’s the parent, when he says do something, you don’t ask why, you don’t draw attention and invite his wrath, and they fear other people’s actions will make him take it out on all of them!

          The pattern of abuse that they don’t know (and this is a dangerous attitude culturally, with real abusive relationships) is that the abuser isn’t always abusive and violent. They don’t stay angry. They show their love, affection, regret… they recognize at least some of the time that whatever bad things they’ve done to another are wrong, and they’re so insecure, they don’t want the other person to leave. Set them off again, and they are after you or anyone else who happens to be around. Theist victims seem to believe, because god is the boss, he just has a right to be any way he wants to be, and are clinging to the good times in between. Theists believe they can’t make a choice, that if they left, god would still be there, watching and judging, and make up excuses and rationalizations why they have to stay in the relationship. They spend a lot of effort trying to “save” other people by making sure they get into this abusive relationship, which god desires because he’s so insecure that people don’t love him, that you’re either on his better side or you’re fucked altogether.

          But it’s funny because we just live in the same world, we put up with it the way it is, but try to change what we can, and don’t hold a conscious supernatural force responsible. But I’d still have to say, if there was a god, the world we live in does not indicate a good boss kind of god, but a petty tyrannical emotionally reactionary boss, pretty much as described in the bible.

        • I’d like to write a post along these lines–God as an abusive husband.

          I believe it was Leibniz who said that this must be the best of all possible worlds. Why? Because God made it, that’s why!

        • Kodie

          There’s just more to go on. If humans could imagine a better world and a better way to effect it, surely god just doesn’t exist. He’s just so terrible at management.

  • Jason K.

    “If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him? If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning our future? If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him? If he is just, why fear that he will punish the creatures that he has filled with weaknesses? If grace does everything for them, what reason would he have for recompensing them? If he is all-powerful, how offend him, how resist him? If he is reasonable, how can he be angry at the blind, to whom he has given the liberty of being unreasonable? If he is immovable, by what right do we pretend to make him change his decrees? If he is inconceivable, why occupy ourselves with him? If he has spoken, why is the Universe not convinced?

    ― Percy Bysshe Shelley

    • Brilliant! I have a mental note to read more of Shelley’s work. I don’t suppose it should be surprising (though it is) that his 200yo work is as fresh and compelling as any blog post today. Ditto Ingersoll.

    • Mark Rouleau

      If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him?
      Does infinite good tolerate evil even the littlest bit?

      If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning our future?
      Because we are not.

      Jason, have you read Paul’s letter to the Romans Chapter 9?

      • Jason K.

        Does infinite good tolerate evil even the littlest bit?

        I should think so, yes. Tolerance is a good thing, so an infinitely good being should be infinitely tolerant. Only controlling jerks get mad over every little thing, you know?

        And, no, we are not infinitely wise. But if we were truly under the stewardship of a being who was, then we would consequently have no cause to be uncertain about our futures. However, the fact is we do have good cause for uncertainty. All of our futures are potentially troubled or tragic or horrific.

        • kraut2

          “Tolerance is a good thing”

          Are you sure? You better think that one through.

        • Jason K.

          What’s the alternative, that intolerance is good? You better think that one through.

        • kraut2

          So: (in no particuar order or severity of damage caused and just a short list off the top of my head – I didn’t even have to think much)
          Tolerance to Daesh killings is OK?
          Tolerance to Islamists push for a world Caliphate is OK
          Tolerance to Neo and old Nazis is OK
          Tolerance to Christian antiabortionist terrorists is OK
          Tolerance to Christian, Muslim, Hindu hate preachers is OK?
          Tolerance to pedophiles is OK?
          Tolerance to rapists is OK?
          Tolerance to priestly child abusers is OK?
          Tolerance to white supremacists is OK?
          Tolerance to Boko Haram is OK?
          Tolerance to Creationists spoiling children’s minds is OK?
          Tolerance to Groups forcing women and children to wear suicide belts is OK?

          I wonder where your tolerance stops..if at all?

        • Jason K.

          Anything good can be taken to extremes. Drugs which are medicinal in small doses can kill in large ones. Foods which provided necessary sustenance can lead to heath problems when consumed in excess. Even love itself, when twisted to the point of obsession, can become harmful.

          Therefore, are love, medicine and vital nutrients good things or bad things? Both, is the correct answer. Anything is harmful when taken to extremes. Therefore, any god who is incapable of tolerating any degree of sin (no matter how small) is by definition an extremist, and therefore harmful.

        • kraut2

          “Anything good can be taken to extremes’

          did I not ask you to think about your statement?:

          “Tolerance is a good thing, so an infinitely good being should be infinitely tolerant”

          Infinite tolerance might be ok in god(s), should some-such exist, but infinite tolerance in society leads to harm and the ultimate demise of tolerance by furthering those whose goal is intolerance and inflicting damage.

          Instead of reflexively mouthing platitudes like the one you posted, engage your brain.

          “Therefore, any god who is incapable of tolerating any degree of sin (no matter how small) is by definition an extremist, and therefore harmful.”

          Care to explain what you are trying to say? I just can’t make sense out of that sense, neither in context of your previous statement not without such context.

        • Mark Rouleau

          Jason perhaps you are unfamiliar with nicomachean ethics (http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/nicomachaen.html) it is really a very good discourse on absolutes and the morality of accepting less than the best.

          In your very argument you contradict yourself. You state: “if we were truly under the stewardship of a being who was, then we
          would consequently have no cause to be uncertain about our futures.” and that steward should tolerate evil which often times is the cause of troubles, tragedy or horror. Which is allow and tolerate evil necessarily allowing for uncertainty and horror? Note recognize that the place where sin and evil is not allowed is in heaven. Here on earth both very much thrive

        • adam

          ” Note recognize that the place where sin and evil is not allowed is in heaven. “

  • Sheila Warner

    Divine Hiddeness is why I finally left Christianity, but it took years of searching, first.

  • Karen the rock whisperer

    The thing is, an awful lot of believers see signs of the existence of God everywhere. They see the manifestation of natural beauty, or good things that happen to themselves and/or others, or how well we are adapted to our planet, etc… all of those are signs of God. In fact, for the devout, life is littered with signs of God. Now, is any of this truly evidence? Of course not.

    But when devout people ask my why I’m an atheist and I answer that there’s no compelling evidence for any deities, they often look as me as though I’m a brick shy of a full load.

    • Kingasaurus

      I’m sure these same devout people would agree with you that 99.9% of gods are imaginary. Just not theirs.

      • Mark Rouleau

        I guess that it depends on how you define what a god is. In Christianity and Judaism there is a single creator but many gods (Eloheim – being disembodied entities, as in the council, etc.) Hinduism allows for a pantheon. The real question is before the cosmos was there anything?

        • Greg G.

          But Christianity and Judaism don’t define all the other entities as gods because their religions are monotheism. Trinitarians try to define the Trinity as one god to stay “kosher” with verses that say “there is no god besides me.”

        • Mark Rouleau

          It depends on the language you are studying and who you talk to. A really interesting ancient language scholar on this subject has some very interesting research is Michael Heiser http://www.thedivinecouncil.com/

          The English translations usually use the lower case “g” when not referring to the creator the everlasting before whom nothing existed. In fact the new testament says that we (are or) can gods.

          Your attack on trinitarians based upon Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: must also be linguistically understood to get its correct meaning as the ancient Hebrew. As previously pointed out in the post above the Hebrew word (transliterated as Eloheim) was translated into English as God. In the passage quoted above the word God is the PLURAL form of the word (Strongs 0430 http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/kjv/elohiym.html) There are 2606 different appearances of that Hebrew word in the scriptures with eleven different English words used in the KJV translation.

          Trying to make a comic book sketch of what is said or not said leads to a lot of unnecessary disagreements. Guys like Heiser have spent a lot of time drilling down to the original claims in the original languages.

    • Otto

      There is beauty, my response to those people is to point out there is a lot of ugliness too. They can’t have it both ways. Usually their response to that is that the ugliness is our own fault, but children with cancer is not our fault.

      • Robert, not Bob

        They would say that child cancer is indeed our fault: sin magic, y’know?

        • Otto

          Yeah and then why did dinosaurs have cancer? Dinosaur gay sex?

        • Robert Templeton

          I’m Googling that right now! Nothing like some Gay Dinosaur porn over the weekend.

      • Robert Templeton

        And this is where the true militant xtian will invoke ‘original sin’ or simply ‘sin’ as the blame for all ‘ugliness’ (torture, war, disease, death, suffering, etc.). Yet they can’t be pinned down on the sin related to the ugliness (the correlation, the cause-effect factors). It is all too broad-brushed and chaotic in practice. Yet that is their explanation – as dim and ill-conceived as it might be.

    • Michael Neville

      When someone says “the evidence for God is all around, just look” I ask “what would the world look like if there were no gods?” Usually I then have to explain this isn’t a gotcha question but a request for them to point out something that wouldn’t exist without gods. I’ve yet to receive a coherent answer to my question.

      • I think that the most interesting answer would be something like: “the universe without God would be a soup of elementary particles” or something like that. Y’know, cuz God is necessary to keep reality together. But of course they wouldn’t have any evidence for such a claim.

        • Michael Neville

          But the strong anthropic principle (SAP) argues against that. While I consider the SAP to be self-centered chest beating, someone making the soup of elementary particles argument would have to give a reasonable argument against the SAP before I could accept their soup argument.

        • Robert, not Bob

          In my opinion, the Weak Anthropic Principle is sufficient in itself (no need for the Strong, which I agree is rubbish).

        • Michael Neville

          My objection to the Weak Anthropic Principle is that it’s a tautology. If things were different then things would be different.

        • MNb

          If probabilism is correct things might have been different indeed. Then the anthropic principles might be nothing but answers to “Why did X win the lottery and not Y?”
          If things were different then things would be different is the only sensible answer to that one.

        • MR

          Not to be confused with the SEP…, but, then, that’s somebody else’s problem.

        • Michael Neville

          There’s a lot of confusion over the Simplified Employee Pension but it’s basically an IRA with tax-free employer contributions.

        • MR
        • Mark Rouleau

          Isn’t the SAP an argument why we are able to perceive these things and ponder the cosmos rather than a statement that by necessity the cosmos was programed to produce life?

        • Michael Neville

          I haven’t heard that definition of the SAP. Can you give me a reference?

        • Karen the rock whisperer

          Interesting notion. I remember reading a book of poems by a Catholic priest when I was in, oh, 7th or 8th grade in Catholic school. I was waiting in the Principal’s office lobby for my mother to pick me up, because I was sick, and my brain needed to chew on something. The book was there.

          There was a poem that postulated that the universe was created anew, every moment, by God. Everything — stars, planets, us, everything else — were all in existence only because of the continued focus of God, and we would wink out of existence if he chose. It sort of freaked me out, but there’s a comforting undercurrent to the believer there; the notion that everything and everyone exists only by the continuous benevolence of some great being.

        • Michael Neville

          Sounds like you discovered Gerard Manley Hopkins.

      • Robert, not Bob

        That’s the very question, asked of myself, that showed me I was an atheist, after two decades on the fence.

      • Mark Rouleau

        If there ever was a time when nothing existed, nothing would exist still.

    • Uzza

      an awful lot of believers see signs of the existence of God everywhere

      and most of them are Hindus and Muslims.

      • Karen the rock whisperer

        You haven’t met my Christian and Mormon relatives. 🙂

        • Uzza

          Christians–2.1 billion
          Hindu + Muslim–2.5 billion

          Add in all the smaller religions and they’re way more outnumbered. Most of the people who see god everywhere are not christians so as an argument for christianity it’s pretty ridiculous.

          Doan wanna meet your relatives, I’m afflicted with my own.

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      All those “signs” of god were just reflection of your feelings and stuff you wanted to communicate to them. That’s totally how people communicate!/sarcasm

    • Jack Baynes

      All of those could conceivably be evidence of a god, though it’s pretty weak.
      But it should be obvious that it’s not evidence of the Christian god.

    • Myna A.

      The thing is, an awful lot of believers see signs of the existence of God everywhere.

      That’s the mystery of the human brain. It will see patterns and evidence for its belief everywhere. If the belief is extinguished, by whatever cause, the patterns and evidence also depart…or rather the interpretation and bias departs. Christianity is a sorely ego-based religion, even though the argument by some is that it isn’t because it is “God’s will, not mine” or “Christianity humbles the ego.” Au contraire. The ego interprets the argument against it’s faith as a direct threat to its own importance. If there is no God, then the I is not important. If there is no damnation for the unbeliever, than what is the purpose of my belief. If I cannot speak for God, then who possibly can? There’s just something with the human ego that wants to suppress and control its interactions and environment. Run too much amok, and it wants to destroy or crush its opposition. I get why Eastern systems want to transcend that potential destructiveness to well being.

      Religion is a herd mentality like almost anything. If the supposed authority says it is so, why it must then be so. Why would the authority misdirect? How could it possibly be ignorant? Is it not more qualified? And so far too many go or remain willingly into the storied abyss.

    • What do you make of those stories from missionaries about people in isolated villages who dreamed about Jesus, but didn’t know it was Jesus until the missionaries came? Urban legend?

      • Kingasaurus

        Short answer? Yes.

        “Not knowing it’s Jesus until the missionaries tell them it’s Jesus” is a highly suspicious turn of phrase.

        It’s basically identical to “we didn’t recognize what this prophecy was about until this thing happened, and then we realized after the fact that this was a ‘prophecy’ talking about that very thing!”

        Post-facto pattern-making, essentially.

      • Myna A.

        First, one must ask oneself what one means about dreaming of Jesus. Did this Jesus have a form? What form? The form of Cesare Borgia, which has been proposed as the model for the Renaissance depiction of white Jesus that Christianity is so familiar with? What about the name? Hebrew? Greek? English?

        People often dream strangely and correlate the dream to something which later occurs.

        I dream about Jesus quite frequently. 9 times out of 10 he looks very Renaissance. I also dream about laughing Buddhas and beautiful sky blue Krishnas and colossal goddesses. Dinosaurs, too, sometimes. What can it mean that I dream of water in every dream I’ve experienced since childhood?

        • Michael Neville

          What can it mean that I dream of water in every dream I’ve experienced since childhood?

          It means your bladder is telling you not to drink that cup of coffee before going to bed.

      • Karen the rock whisperer

        Legend, but ‘urban legend’ generally refers to something just made up. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt and say they took the dreams of non-Christians and imposed a Christian interpretation on them. In any case, they’re anecdotal; anecdote is not the singular of data.

        I like my evidence to be scientific. It seems to me that if any deity were real, there’d be some scientific evidence to back that up. There is not. Hell, I’m even cool living with provisional evidence; in geology, especially, one study leading to one set of conclusions is often only a jumping-off point for further research that might well negate those conclusions. Rocks need a lot of encouragement to tell complete stories, and the wise geologist takes everything with a grain of salt.

        But even so, I’ve never seen any non-anecdotal evidence for the supernatural. Lots of anecdotes, to be sure. But there are always unreliable human brains involved.

      • Kodie

        The reporters are missionaries for Jesus, first of all. Superstition and wishful thinking also can’t be so uncommon.

      • Doubting Thomas

        What does Jesus look like?

        • That is a great question.

        • busterggi

          Why just like the photo on his driver’s license of course!

        • busterggi

          Why, just like the photo on his license of course!

      • busterggi

        Lying missionaries.

  • eric

    Koukl might say that God’s hiddenness doesn’t prove that God doesn’t
    exist, which is true. But it certainly gives us no reason to believe in
    him.

    IMO that sort of response would be nothing but a shell game. Start by claiming you’re defending Christianity, then when the going gets tough, switch to defending the most milquetoast and generic notion of a divine agency possible. Its the old trick of saying “the evidence points to Jesus” on Sunday in the pulpit, but then saying “you can’t rule out a ground of being” on Monday in the coffee house.

    In the case of divine hiddenness, of course it doesn’t rule out all possible gods or god-concepts. But that was not the question we started with or the goal you were trying to achieve; we started with the question of whether hiddenness is consistent with the tri-omni Yahweh + Jesus god as described in the bible. It really isn’t. This particular god has stories about him choosing not to remain hidden, so its obviously metaphysically possible, at least if we’re taking the bible seriously. This particular god has occasionally actively sought to provide proof of himself to large groups of unbelievers….repetitively. So this sort of action is obviously not something he has an ethical or other personal problem with doing. And as you point out, this particular god is characterized as having a desire for humans to know him and have a relationship with him. All these points considered together lead to the conclusion that this particular conception of God is not very consistent with hiddenness. Other conceptions of God could be consistent with it, but not this one.

    • Michael Neville

      You point out why getting a definition of “God” is important in discussions about gods, particularly the Christian god. I’ve had discussions with Christians which begin with God being a white-bearded geezer who helps find your car keys and has an unhealthy obsession with sex and end with God being a vague, deist deity who hangs around in the distant background.

      • Cygnus

        “I’ve had discussions with Christians which begin with God being …”
        ===
        I’ve had discussions with atheists which continue the discussion with: “Whatever you say, Christian dude. Just don’t shove you crap down my children throats”
        Of course, now I don’t even want to have stupid discussions about “God being…”

        • Michael Neville

          What’s your objection to atheists wanting their children to be taught reality instead of mythology? Or do you want to shove your crap down our childrens’ throats?

        • MNb

          As Cygnus has deconverted a while ago your questions should use the past tense.

        • Michael Neville

          Upon rereading Cygnu’s comment I see what you mean. However my questions, put into the past tense, are still relevant.

        • Cygnus

          Questions are not relevant, answers are.
          Your question may be relevant in the sense that it shows you didn’t understand my comment.

  • Dave Gardner

    As parents, let’s try something. Let’s hide from our newborn babies and for the rest of their lives give them only fleeting shadows of our existence. Let’s punish them severely if they don’t “believe” in us by the time they reach the age of reason.
    Those infants who “discover” that their parents actually exist, in spite of virtually no evidence, are rewarded by wondering why their parents had essentially abandoned them.

    • Otto

      Here is a favorite of mine responding to people who argue positively for divine hiddenness,

      “You are right. I am going to take what your are saying and apply God’s teaching to my life and the life of my son. He is young enough so I can leave his life and he will not remember me, I will however have my neighbor down the street write a book about me and let my son know I exist. I will return to his life when he is about 40 years old, if at that time he believes I am his father and he loves me I will buy him a car, if he does not I will set him on fire. It all makes sense now, whatever happens he is responsible for the outcome, I will have done everything I can, my conscience will be clean.”

    • God demands that we meet an impossible moral standard to earn our way into heaven. My version of this thought experiment is giving a calculus book to your 2-year-old. “Now, Daddy will come back in an hour and test you on chapter 17. You’d better start reading, because if you fail, I’ll have to put you in the torture chamber in the basement for the rest of your life. I don’t want to do it, but your failure will force me. Now get studying. Daddy loves you!”

      • Thought2Much

        It’s even worse than that, because no two people can tell us which chapter we need to study, and they all have different answers to the questions in each chapter.

        • Cygnus

          It’s all about everybody’s capacity to use imagination to fabricate a God “standard”. Religion is about imagination for the sake of entertainment as in horror movies, tragic-comedies, tall-tales, etc. Science is about imagination of the best ways to explain what happens in reality.

        • Mark Rouleau

          How will science ever extend beyond the created world? It makes the presumption that is all there is. How can science in the hands of four dimensional creatures with five senses of perception ever make sense out of a 10+ dimensional reality?

        • kraut2

          “of a 10+ dimensional reality?”
          Reality my arse, string theory is not even a hypothesis yet, at best a speculation with no methodology devised to test it so it becomes a falsifiable hypothesis.

        • Cygnus

          “How will science ever extend beyond the created world?”
          ===
          What? “Crated world”? Are you a creationist? Creationism shows that everything was created by a Supreme Being. I already fucked that Supreme Being and I found the 1,000th dimensional reality.

        • Mark Rouleau

          Cygnus since you think yourself to be an intellectual giant please explain how science will be able to tell us what happened moments prior to the the “big bang” that placed all this in motion? Also when you get your thoughts uncrated please clue me how all matter in the infinately dense pinpoint started moving outward.

        • Mark Rouleau

          PS vulgarity is usually evidence of lower intellectual capacity.

        • Michael Neville

          Only the lower intellectually endowed think so.

        • adam

          ” In other words, swearing is not necessarily a sign that a person has a limited vocabulary or can’t think of anything better to say.”
          https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/12/22/why-its-a-good-sign-if-you-curse-a-lot/

        • Kodie

          Where did you learn that, in your apologetics manual? PS Christian apologetics is usually evidence of lower critical thinking skills. Vulgarity is evidence of impatience with the same tired shit.

        • Susan

          vulgarity is usually evidence of lower intellectual capacity.

          Then, you can provide links to the studies that demonstrate this.

          Don’t get me wrong. I’m not claiming that Cygnus is an intellectual giant. I stopped responding to him long ago because he has demonstrated a pattern of going off on tangents where he doesn’t seem to check his work.

          But vulgarity doesn’t have anything to do with intellectual capacities as far as I know and it’s an ill-defined term. I would say that “fuck” is extraneous. It neither undermines nor amplifies an argument.

          As Kodie pointed out, it can just be a sign of impatience.

          please explain how science will be able to tell us what happened moments prior to the the “big bang” that placed all this in motion?

          Now, you are addressing a subject of observed reality where your language makes no sense.

          Please read MNb’s physics link and you might see why.

          You are asking the wrong questions. And the fact that no human on earth is able to reliably address the existence of what we call a universe is no excuse to sneak in terms like “created world”.

          please clue me how all matter in the infinately dense pinpoint started moving outward.

          The “infinitely dense pinpoint” is where the models break down. Physicists know this.

          That doesn’t give you an agent.

          If you think it does, show us the agent and how it did anything.

          How exactly does it work?

          Otherwise, you are attempting to apply Creator-of-the-Gaps.

          Which has long been an example of poor reasoning.

          Poor reasoning is not equal to to “lower intellectual capacity”. It is just poor reasoning.

          Cygnus has been guilty of poor reasoning more than once from which he will not back down.

          Please show us that you can do better.

        • Mark Rouleau

          The Relationship between Profanity and IntelligenceA study was performed on undergraduate students and concluded that simply using profanity alone was not determinative of IQ but the lack of a desire to expand one’s vocabulary definitely was. Recognizing the limitations of the study (small number of college students) the authors stated: “To get more accurate data, one can even conduct interviews or stress tests after a cursing tantrum. This will require time and effort; however, it can lead to meaningful findings that can display a further usefulness to using words that trigger emotion. Another direction research can take is to try and develop a cursing dependency scale. This can display who uses these words as a crutch as opposed to those who use them on occasion. Defaulting to the versatility of curse words and slang may be the culprit for the lack of vocabulary in some cases. This cursing dependency scale could be correlated to intelligence, rather than just cursing frequency. This will further drive home the point that vocabulary is essential to intelligence, particularly in children.” https://campuspress.yale.edu/yrurp/files/2016/05/YRURP-Spring-2016-Issue-1vzvnl3.pdf#page=16

        • adam

          Fuck OFF you FUCKWAD

          “Bad Words: People Who Curse And Swear May Actually Have Higher Verbal Intelligence”

          http://www.medicaldaily.com/bad-words-people-who-curse-and-swear-may-actually-have-higher-verbal-intelligence-368852

          “Taboo or ‘swear word’ fluency is positively correlated with overall verbal fluency. The more words you generated in one category meant the more words you generated in another category, orally and verbally,” Dr. Timothy Jay, of the Department of Psychology at Massachusetts College Of Liberal Arts and author of the study, told Medical Daily.

          In Jay’s study, however, being fluent in taboo words was positively correlated with other measures of verbal fluency, undermining this common myth about taboo words. Speakers who use taboo words understand
          their expressive nature and nuanced distinctions, implying the presence of more apt linguistic skill. Not to mention other studies have found swear words can double as a pain reliever.

        • Michael Neville

          Friendly word of advice: Tone trolling will gain you no friends nor score you any points. If you don’t like the use of foul language then that’s your problem, not ours.

          Incidentally I’m a retired Navy Chief. I can show you what the expression “swears like a sailor” means.

        • Susan

          From the study:

          simply using profanity alone was not determinative of IQ but the lack of a desire to expand one’s vocabulary definitely was.

          So, the study does not support your statement that

          “vulgarity is usually evidence of lower intellectual capacity”.

          We can move on to the questions I asked you about the universe.

          You skipped them completely.

        • Mark Rouleau

          I can ‘t find the physics link to which you referred.

        • Susan

          I can’t find the physics link to which you referred.

          MNb originally linked it to you. Here it is again:

          http://www.space.com/16281-big-bang-god-intervention-science.html

        • Mark Rouleau

          Thanks Susan. The article in the link was brief and fairly easy to follow. I appreciate the author saying that the theory of quantum fluctuations as the cause of creation of matter and the big bang it does nothing to prove or disprove the existence of God. Although I dispute his “kicking the can down the road” assertion that it simply raises the question of what existed before God. At least it is incompatible with Biblical World view of the eternal one the Alpha & Omega, the beginning and end.

          I am very far from being a quantum physicist and I would guess that most in this discussion group are as well. A couple of things that I did glean from reading that article and other materials is that quantum fluctuation (a) is dependent upon “Heisenberg (not breaking bad) variability/uncertainty” which both posits that we cannot have precise knowledge of paired facts (i.e., momentum & position), we will know one or the other (is this an observational defect or an actual property?) (b) that as mass increases the variability/uncertainty decreases (c) that simply resorting to saying “quantum fluctuations” is close to claiming the universe came into existence because “God said” as it fails to answer key questions like:

          a) Is math created by the mind or discovered and exists apart from our consciousness?

          One writer has noted:
          “If you travel to different universities around the world and ask physicists what came before the Big Bang, the most common answer is this: We don’t know. Does empty space predate the Big Bang? We don’t know. Do quantum mechanics and quantum field theory even exist before our universe was here? We don’t know. Is there a multiverse? We don’t know. Did math come before the creation of our universe? We don’t know. Do the laws of science even exist outside our universe? We don’t know. . . the assumption by the vast majority of physicists is that we cannot know what came before the Big Bang, at least not know.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-reynosa/some-of-the-changes-lawre_b_9664630.html

          b) How do we know what we know can be applied to what came before the Big Bang?

          Again “Are learning how our universe could have come from nothing without breaking the conservation of energy law, grasping the idea how empty space, a quantum vacuum, must always have something in it and is always unstable, and seeing how a tiny particle may inflate to becoming a very large universe collectively arguing how we can apply what is happening in our universe also to the thing that came before our universe?” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-reynosa/some-of-the-changes-lawre_b_9664630.html

          c) How does the quantum fluctuation explain how the space in which matter could be formed come into being from a void or vacuum?

          Doesn’t all of this matter from nothing require some presence of energy that could fluctuate to create matter? (Note electromagnetic energy is vibration that can function in a vacuum, sound is vibratory energy within a physical medium. The great majority of what we consider to be the physical world is created by vibrations. I have seen and read some very interesting things on this very point. Needless to say generating vibrations within and through matter form or alter things. God said . . .). To create the quantum fluctuation wouldn’t there need to be some electromagnetic energy?

          d) Where did this energy (to fluctuate) come from did it always exist?

          e) How does physics prove that our quantum empty space also exists in the place that came before the Big Bang?

          So, can we say anything about what came before our universe through the lens of science? Or, is all of this scientific reasoning and inferring and suggesting and extrapolating simply equal to the ravings of a mystic-lunatic?” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-reynosa/some-of-the-changes-lawre_b_9664630.html
          So, can we say anything about what came before our universe through the lens of science? Or, is all of this scientific reasoning and inferring and suggesting and extrapolating simply equal to the ravings of a mystic-lunatic?” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-reynosa/some-of-the-changes-lawre_b_9664630.html

          This is really worth watching “The day the Universe Changed” Episode 10 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QgNpYg0IOU It very thoughtfully addresses the questions of science, truth and presuppositional knowledge.

        • Greg G.

          The fluctuations of energy and space sum to zero. The energy of the particles equals the negative of the sum of the potential energy of the forces between them times the distance between them. So space is like negative energy. I think that is according to the math of Alan Guth.

          Lawrence Krauss wrote A Universe from Nothing and says that observations show the universe is expanding and that there are galaxies, clusters of galaxies, and superclusters of clusters. The galaxies in the superclusters are graviationally bound to one another but the expansion of space is accelerating the superclusters apart. Objects cannot travel faster than light through space but space itself can travel faster than light. As the supercluster accelerate and get further apart, eventually they will be traveling faster than light and will no longer be visible to each other. The state of such a universe of superluminal superclusters last much longer than the period of subluminal superclusters. Any beings that arise in the more likely time of the universe will only see the clusters of galaxies in their own supercluster and not even know they are traveling at light speed away from the rest of their universe.

          Some scientists say that other bubble universes could come into being within a universe and not know that there are superluminal superclusters of a previous iteration all around them. That may be where we are.

        • kraut2

          “Does empty space predate the Big Bang”

          Big misunderstanding. There was neither space nor time before the “big bang”.

          The boundary of our understanding at present extends to Planck time and length, those calculations up to that point have been supported by the WMAP observations.

          http://www.universetoday.com/79418/planck-time/
          http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/universe/bb_tests_cmb.html
          http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/astro/planck.html#c2

          “Did math come before the creation of our universe?”

          Math is a tool that we developed to describe the conditions of the and in the Universe. That those tools work to explain those (or at least some) conditions is likely because we are part of this universe and have to live within the conditions created by it.

          “So, can we say anything about what came before our universe through the lens of science?”

          No, nothing as of yet. Speculations include string theory, loop quantum cosmology.

          https://www.google.pt/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=12&cad=rja&uact=8&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwjvjJf_xurOAhXrBcAKHZVRBL8QtwIIYTAL&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DIFcQuEw0oY8&usg=AFQjCNEJusNa352NktJR7apLa_ZzXWawHw&bvm=bv.131286987,d.ZGg

          “The great majority of what we consider to be the physical world is created by vibration”

          This is way too simple and a topic abused by cooks like Chopra of the Deepity kind.

          The field is primary , from which through excitations (vibrations) particles are created. As per quantum field theory.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBeALt3rxEA
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEKSpZPByD0

          http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2013/06/20/how-quantum-field-theory-becomes-effective/

          “So: quantum field theory comes from starting with a theory of fields, and applying the rules of quantum mechanics. A field is simply a mathematical object that is defined by its value at every point in spaceand time. (As opposed to a particle, which has one position and no reality anywhere else.) For simplicity let’s think about a “scalar” field, which is one that simply has a value, rather than also having a direction (like the electric field) or any other structure.”
          What happens when you do quantum mechanics to such a field? Remarkably, it turns into a collection of particles. That is, we can express the quantum state of the field as a superposition of different possibilities: no particles, one particle (with certain momentum), two particles, etc.”

          “To create the quantum fluctuation wouldn’t there need to be some electromagnetic energy?”

          https://universe-review.ca/R03-01-quantumflu.htm

          “The quantum vacuum is just one particular state of a quantum field (corresponding to some particles). It is the quantum mechanical state in which no field quanta are excited, that is, no particles are present.
          Hence, it is the “ground state” of the quantum field, the state of minimum energy.

          https://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/particle-physics-basics/quantum-fluctuations-and-their-energy/

          “Obvious question: are you sure there are really
          quantum fluctuations for fields? Answer: Yes, though I won’t explain it now. One example: quantum fluctuations are known to cause the strengths of forces to drift as you measure them at shorter and shorter distances, and not only do we observe such drift in data, what we observe matches,to high precision, with what we calculate using the Standard Model. This success confirms notonly the presence of quantum fluctuations but also the detailed structure of the Standard Model, down to distances of about a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a meter. Another example: the response of an electron to a
          magnetic field can be measured to about one part in a trillion; it can also be calculated, using the Standard Model, to about one part in a trillion, assuming the existence of these fluctuations of the known fields of nature. Amazingly, the measurement agrees with the Standard Model calculation.”

          and as to the energy of the fluctuations:

          “More generally, if the Standard Model (or any typical quantum field theory without special symmetries) is valid down to a distance scale L, the energy of the fluctuations in a cube of size L³ is approximately hc/L (for each field), where h is Planck’s quantum mechanics constant and c is the universal speed limit, known usually as “the speed of light”. That means the energy density is roughly hc/L4 — if L decreases by a factor of 10, the energy density goes up by a factor of 10,000! That’s why these numbers in Calculations 1 and 2 are so darn big.

        • Kodie

          So you have a lot of questions but an invented persona of a jealous, spiteful, tyrannical, supernatural intender made the universe, all of it, unnecessarily, because eventually, billions of years later, he needed to give humans a place to live, and in an instant that he marveled over his playmates, they defied his orders and that made him so mad that he cursed every human ever born ever to hell unless they grovel. Like a fucking 5-year-old.

        • MNb

          “we cannot have precise knowledge of paired facts (i.e., momentum & position), we will know one or the other (is this an observational defect or an actual property?)”
          A fundamental property of our Universe. It makes “quantum fluctuations are the cause of creation of matter” an incorrect statement. Correct is something like “spawned of”.

          “we cannot know what came before the Big Bang,”
          Yeah. Ain’t the imperfection of our knowledge terrible? Why should that be a problem for a believer like you, who gloats all around about human imperfections?

          “How does the quantum fluctuation explain how the space in which matter could be formed come into being from a void or vacuum?”
          By telling us that that void/vacuum is instable.

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

          “Doesn’t all of this matter from nothing require some presence of energy that could fluctuate to create matter?”
          No, not along as the sum of matter/energy equals zero. That seems to be the case.

          “Where did this energy (to fluctuate) come from did it always exist?”
          Quantum fluctuations do not require energy. Quantum fluctuations are fluctuations of energy, something that totally has been observed (google quantum tunnelling for an example).

          “How does physics prove ….”
          Physics never proves anything. It formulates theories and hypotheses that describe all known empirical data correctly.

          “So, can we say anything about what came before our universe through the lens of science?”
          Perhaps, perhaps not. Acquiring enough relevant empirical data obviously is a huge problem. 

          “Or, is all of this scientific reasoning and inferring and suggesting and extrapolating simply equal to the ravings of a mystic-lunatic.”
          This is plain stupid. When you draw a line between the points A and B and you extrapolate it, does that equal the ravings of a mystic-lunatic?

          Again: I won’t claim that quantum fluctuations provide the final answer. They show however that “God explains the Creation of the Universe” is nothing but another god of the gaps. Your questions only confirm that.

          For a god of the gaps argument to work you have to do two things.

          1. Demonstrate that science never will be able to fill the gap;
          2. Demonstrate into detail how your god explains the phenomenon indeed, by telling us which means he/she/it used and which procedures he/she/it follows.

          Thus far no believer has even tried.

        • epeeist

          I am very far from being a quantum physicist and I would guess that most in this discussion group are as well.

          I’ll try and bear that in mind.

          “Heisenberg (not breaking bad) variability/uncertainty” which both posits that we cannot have precise knowledge of paired facts (i.e., momentum & position), we will know one or the other

          No, this is wrong. The more precisely we know one then then less precisely no the other, the relationship is given by

          σaσb ≥ h / 4π

          where the σ values are the standard deviations of the two complementary variables. You might want to try a simple calculation for the pair of variables you have given, assume a cricket ball (or perhaps baseball if you are American) with a mass of 0.1Kg travelling at 50m/s. Assume the standard deviation in the measurement of its momentum is 1%. Given Planck’s constant h is 6.6 * 10^-34 you can estimate what the minimum error in position is.

          There are other pairs of complementary variables, another pair energy/time are important in this discussion.

          (is this an observational defect or an actual property?)

          It is, to an extent, dependent on which interpretation of QM you follow. Certainly in the Copenhagen interpretation it is ontic not epistemic.

          How do we know what we know can be applied to what came before the Big Bang?

          Well yes, but it doesn’t stop some theologians making claims about causality before the Big Bang. As it is, can one be certain that you question is even meaningful?

          c) How does the quantum fluctuation explain how the space in which matter could be formed come into being from a void or vacuum?

          One piece of speculation is that space-time is an emergent property, this paper gives one view.

          Doesn’t all of this matter from nothing require some presence of energy that could fluctuate to create matter?

          No, this is where the energy/time version of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle comes in. As MNb notes, have a glance at the idea of quantum tunnelling and especially the creation/annihilation of virtual particles.

          e) How does physics prove that our quantum empty space also exists in the place that came before the Big Bang?

          Again, as MNb notes, physics doesn’t deal in proof but in explanations. You seem to be regarding the Big Bang as something that occurred in a previously existing place. This is incorrect, I would suggest you have a read at an introductory article or book on the subject. It is a little mathematical but something like Liddle’s Introduction to Modern Cosmology is quite a good start.

          So, can we say anything about what came before our universe through the lens of science?

          Assuming that “before” has any meaning in this context.

          Or, is all of this scientific reasoning and inferring and suggesting and extrapolating simply equal to the ravings of a mystic-lunatic?”

          Science works by making hypotheses. If you look at something like Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality it summarises many of the ideas about the universe/multiverse. All of these are speculative, but they are built upon theories which have been critically tested and have considerable evidential backing. Winnowing out which of these speculations is viable requires them to be testable, but this may or may not be possible.

          Until then the best we can say is, “We don’t know, but we are working on it”.

        • Rudy R

          Do you have evidence?

        • Michael Neville

          If you really want to know about the Big Bang then I suggest Simon Singh’s Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe. If you just want to play creationist gotcha games then you can go elsewhere.

        • MNb

          “clue me how all matter in the infinately dense pinpoint started moving outward.”
          Try physics iso Cygnus.

          http://www.space.com/16281-big-bang-god-intervention-science.html
          The question in your previous comment is addressed as well – though it won’t necessarily make sense to you.

        • adam

          “please explain how science will be able to tell us what happened moments prior to the the “big bang” that placed all this in motion?”

          Probably using quantum mechanics or some other SCIENCE.

          “please clue me how all matter in the infinately dense pinpoint started moving outward.”

          Dont know, but it was most unlikely some magical sky daddy.

        • Cygnus

          I fucked the Supreme Being just for fun to find 1,000th dimensional reality.
          “Intellectual giant” ? WTF? An Intellectual is defined as one who struggles with intellectual problems. But let us not dwell on these trivial matters, shall we?

        • adam

          “How will science ever extend beyond the created world?”

          Space exploration

          ” How can science in the hands of four dimensional creatures with five senses of perception ever make sense out of a 10+ dimensional reality?”

          Probably much like we do with things we cant normally detect like radio waves, microbes and magnetism – using SCIENCE.

      • Mark Rouleau

        Bob for most religious belief systems based upon works that may be true. However, that is not the message of the New Testament. The WHOLE concept of the GOOD NEWS is GRACE; the idea that man can NEVER live up to the LAW (the pure but impossible moral standard) and he is dead in trying to live up to that standard (most just give up trying). Because we are dead in our sin (transgressions of the law and separation from the creator) we need a bridge across that gulf/divide. As you have indicated man is incapable of meeting that standard (you wrote impossible). Who then other than the Creator could help man cross that divide? That is why Jesus was our substitutionary attonement for our sin. Not through our works lest any man could boast. Grace is not not earned it is a completely unmerited gift. If you were trying to earn your way into heaven you were in the wrong faith. Grace is a very wonderful thing that is seldom extended on this website.

        • Bob for most religious belief systems based upon works that may be true.

          Sounds like Christianity. Read the parable of the sheep and the goats.

          the idea that man can NEVER live up to the LAW (the pure but impossible moral standard)

          Whose fault is that? Our Maker, I would suggest.

          Because we are dead in our sin

          Sin is an invention.

          we need a bridge across that gulf/divide

          You’re simply giving us theology now. We’re all familiar with Christianity and don’t need this refresher. Give us arguments that Christianity is true, however, and that would be useful.

          Grace is not not earned it is a completely unmerited gift.

          Jesus died for my sins? Tell him I said thanks.

          Grace is a very wonderful thing that is seldom extended on this website.

          I encourage all civil Christians with arguments for their faith to come and present them here. Does it get any better?

        • Mark Rouleau

          Bob, You must have been raised in the Roman Church. If you read the parable again you will note that it is a judgment of nations and it is not for transgressing an “impossible moral standard” which is your original thesis.

          Of course what I stated was theology because you gave an incorrect statement of the theology that you were attacking so that you could take down a straw man. Using the parable of the judgment of the sheep and goats as the standard to enter heaven would make the task far from impossible.

          Which one of these tasks do YOU find it impossible to perform:

          Housing the down and out;
          Clothing the poor;
          Visiting the sick
          Visiting the incarcerated?

          Essentially helping the least in our society.

          Is that the “impossible moral standard” that you were talking about?

        • Michael Neville

          Bob, You must have been raised in the Roman Church.

          One thing I’ve noticed about Christianity is there’s so many different flavors of it. There’s everything from Bishop Spong’s vague, almost deist Christianity to Fred Phelp’s “God hates everyone who isn’t in my tiny cult” with innumerable stops along the way. And each one of these different types of Christianity proclaim, usually quite loudly, that their’s is the TRUE Christianity and all others have it wrong.

        • You must have been raised in the Roman Church.

          No.

          If you read the parable again you will note that it is a judgment of nations

          The parable of the sheep and goats? No, I don’t notice that.

          it is not for transgressing an “impossible moral standard” which is your original thesis.

          Right—there is no impossible moral standard in this parable, just a common sensical approach to morality. If you’re good, you go to the good place when you die. Nice.

          A bit of the gospel story that actually makes sense–how about that?

          you gave an incorrect statement of the theology that you were attacking so that you could take down a straw man.

          Right. I always do that, because if I attacked your actual argument, I would fail. Always. And my fragile flawed atheist worldview would crumble. Can’t have that, can I?

          Using the parable of the judgment of the sheep and goats as the standard to enter heaven would make the task far from impossible.

          Right. Good people go to heaven.

          Essentially helping the least in our society.
          Is that the “impossible moral standard” that you were talking about?

          Nope. That’s a reasonable standard.

        • Myna A.

          Clothing the poor

          Just a FYI, but massive clothing donations are damaging the textile industry in some countries, thus their economy and quality of life.

          http://www.eoi.es/blogs/claravalentinakupper/2014/01/06/cloth-donations-causing-more-harm-than-good/

        • MR

          Oh, Lord, he’s resorted to preaching and capital letters now.

        • epeeist

          Oh, Lord, he’s resorted to preaching and capital letters now.

          Indeed, one might call it an argumentum ad litteras maiusculas.

  • Kodie

    “Do not understand so you may believe; instead believe so you may understand.”

    I mean, I get it. Almost all the Christians eventually explain it like that. It’s like having faith that god will be there if you open the door, and then they go through some sort of experience where god manifests himself to them. But I liken it to parlor tricks. For an atheist like me, it’s hard to believe something you simply don’t believe exists and go through the silly motions to end up with a faith, but there are people out there who don’t really have a strong opinion on religion and don’t have the critical thinking to approach these silly experiments. “It works!” for some of those people, it’s a willfully ignorant and open-minded approach where they are seeded with the suggestion if they pray or do something different, they will receive some kind of sign, some kind of emotional boost, some difference in their lives. “That’s god, that’s him! Manifesting himself in your life!” And they don’t know any better.

    Seriously, there is something to it, though. It’s just not god. The little tricks they plan out to introduce the gullible to god is really just some advice to make a slight change in attitude or behavior, and watch – god just shows up in the goodness a change in attitude or behavior can bring about. Like, if you’re having a conflict at work with someone who isn’t quite a friend, instead of harboring resentment, try not to be so proud and just give a little. When you see a changed reaction in that person, as you give god’s example of giving a little, then they will feel safe giving a little too, and you’ll get along! That is supposedly god working through you to make a change in yourself and get a better reaction from people!!!!!! And when you practice it, god will be there for you always.

    I mean, these are the little kinds of stories I see, and maybe that is littler than a lot of stories, but really, the idea here is if you try to tune in to the ways of Jesus – patience, kindness, generosity, whatever, you get more and you feel better and you affect those around you in a positive way. No shit, really? These people all say it’s sometimes hard to commit to it (because we’re sinners and prone to imperfect feelings), but they always ask forgiveness from Jesus for not being perfect, for not reflecting well that day, etc. I mean, that’s all there is to it. You follow the word and you trust in it, and then see what happens afterward, and afterward is the “evidence” you feel emotionally as you let Jesus inhabit you and come out through you, a better person, sometimes.

    They will say that’s god, that’s Jesus, and only god and Jesus can perform this change in you, and only if you ask them to. It’s not you, doing something different to manage better personally and interpersonally. It’s not develop a new good habit and get rid of an old bad habit. They credit Jesus for the change instead of gosh, simply being more effective and patient with people, less worried or angry. It’s really the same as political religion, where the secular decisions of another person who happens to be the king can be disputed, but if the king hides behind god, the people can’t dispute that. If I tell you how to change your life to be more fulfilled and happy, you’d be all, what are your qualifications? You’re just another person like me. And this is why they don’t believe science – scientists are just folks in white lab coats telling stories, anyone can do that, but the bible is THE BIBLE. That came straight from god!

    It’s really unnecessary, even if it works in an agreeable way, and could go straight to toxic or violent. It’s the same power of suggestion over people, using god to sell ideas that otherwise couldn’t be sold in this modern world. I mean, kindness and generosity is so old-fashioned, how can you sell it? We live in a cold plastic electronic impersonal world now, the idea of human behavior modifying a social outcome has to be packaged in ancient tomes. Herbal remedies are similarly packaged as ancient natural authentic goodness that modern industrial society forgot, as factories and corporations popped up to sell pills. They treat nature like it can never be poisonous and everything industrial is chi-blocking pollution.

    • Cygnus

      “They will say that’s god, that’s Jesus, and only god and Jesus can perform this change in you, and only if you ask them to”
      ===
      Imagination is a mental faculty that serves as a coping mechanism for those who cannot or will not accept reality.In short, it is the ability to conjure up images and factual scenarios that do not, in actuality, exist at the present moment. Like all mental faculties, this ability can be used for good or evil. In the hands of the wrong person with the “right” capabilities, however, imagination can wreak havoc on reality (the ability to imagine a Jew-less world can turn into quite a horrible waking nightmare, for example).

      Religious Imagination, make-believe statistics show that 93.5% of the population (adult and child) take solace in the idea that an imaginary “God” watches over and protects them. The imagination can be quite extreme, such as (1) accepting the belief that wine is miraculously transformed in an instant into the Blood of Christ, (2) accepting the belief that “sinners” are sent after death to a fiery pit of brimstone and torture called, “Hell”, and (3) accepting the belief that one who behaves well during life will be entitled to 72 virgins in Heaven upon his death.

      The imagination is a powerful tool that can be incredibly silly or incredibly dangerous. It has existed since the dawn of humanity, and will continue to exist as long as there are people, or until robots gain artificial intelligence and imagine a world without humans (i.e., probably sometime in the next century). And then, if robots wipe out humanity and gain the ability to envision things which do not exist, will such artificial imagination count as true imagination? One can only imagine what the answer will be.

      • Kodie

        The human imagination is a tool, but most people don’t really get to use it for anything. A lot of it is total garbage. That’s how you get the good ideas, you just generate as many ideas as you can. It can be difficult to recognize terrible ideas. I mean, a lot of people write, a lot of people love to write, and hardly anyone is good enough at it to make it their actual career. I guess the internet gives just about anyone an audience, but there’s a lot of flush-worthy crap. The problem is the imagination can also create a myth story and many can’t distinguish it from reality. Once told about the story, they see the world differently, the world they describe doesn’t sound at all like the world I live in. They hear shocking things and react by repeating them instead of checking if they are true. It’s the power of suggestion and of socialization, of belonging to a group and a cause. Nazis did it too. It seemed like a great idea at the time, to them.

        What you’re describing is superstition. They can only get confidence or comfort or whatever if they believe god is real. If they risk being convinced god isn’t real, they are doomed. That’s because of the message they’re being sold – that being an atheist is to live a pointless arrogant life, it’s too depressing to even consider. What a waste of imagination. If they didn’t get sucked in with a drug-like dependence, and druggie-like community who threatens you if you want to leave, they would be just fine. And yes, there’s always the possibility of getting deeper into religious activism, be it protesting or killing. We’re all ok, living without this imaginary friend, though. They are too, because even if they believe god is real, they live in a world without god.

        Humans aren’t going to stop using our imaginations, it’s just something we do. And like I said, billions of people with imaginations that only go so far and channel what they have into consumption. I guess reading isn’t so bad, but let’s say, if you’re reading Moby Dick, you’ll use your imagination as much as you would if you were reading an article about a Kardashian. It’s the suspicion of most people that quality of consumption matters and engages your brain differently, but I think it’s the same kind of neurons firing, picturing yourself in the scene, wanting to know more, etc. For a little bit of time, you’re not present, you’re processing words as images and scenes in your head. When you come out on the other side, what have you created with that imagination? Because of the kind of animal we are, we just have a surplus of imagination and a market to meet the demand to channel it at something.

        The difference is we can usually tell the difference between entertainment or fiction and reality that we’re engaged in, even if entertainment takes a prominent role in our lives. Religion is different in that it is used as a guide for living according to a fictional character by imagining he has too many powers to protest, that our lives would be depressing without it, that nothing would mean anything without it.

        • Cygnus

          “The human imagination is a tool, but most people don’t really get to use it for anything. A lot of it is total garbage”
          ===
          So, you read the Bible, too?

          “Humans aren’t going to stop using our imaginations, it’s just something we do. ”
          ===
          You figured that out, too?

          “Religion is different in that it is…”
          ===
          …a form of entertainment you are not allowed to criticize, to laugh at, or satirize. A weird form of entertainment that is shoved down the throat of the children by mentally retarded producers of religions.

    • Michael

      The greatest problem is, that “logic” could work for any religion. What would they say to the Muslim who retorts “Okay, well I believe in Islam.” There is no rebuttal they can make based on that. It would have to be arguments over actual evidence, at which point this is thrown out.

      • Kodie

        Isn’t it pretty convenient that the church never has to pay anyone to do their marketing? They get people to think they’re spreading love and joy, and really just getting them to come and visit the cult clubhouse and start paying dues. I think all religions contain a bit of social wisdom – the greatest problem is it’s not magic. It’s really the only part of it that is true, and a good way to demonstrate how the product can work for you. You don’t get people to join religions because their intolerance of homosexuals matches god’s. There’s no direct connection there to god present and working in their lives. But once you give them a psychological buzz and call it Jesus, well what else is this book about, what can I do to please Jesus. Even if Allah’s book has the same initiation, they’re not going to acknowledge it or call it Allah, or plain human empathy, or healthy social skills for greater success in life.

        • Michael

          Yes, it does seem to give them a high. No wonder people like it this much.

      • Except for one little fact-Allah is an indifferent god and expecting him to intervene by showing himself is akin to blasphemy.

        • Michael

          I’m pretty sure is also considered all-good and intervenes at times. Then again, I’m not very knowledgeable of Islam.

        • Kodie

          So billions of people subscribe to the belief in an even more hidden god than yours?

    • Otto

      Cult Logic….
      where an ideology or belief claims “certainty” but only through
      accepting that belief can one know “true” knowledge. It can’t be
      demonstrated to non-believers until they accept the belief. And non-believers cannot be taken seriously in their criticism of the belief BECAUSE they are non-believers, and do not have access to the “true” knowledge. It is religious babble.

    • I remember telling people I had those experiences myself, but I had the fresh zeal of a new convert, and was very suggestible. Not saying I didn’t experience those things at the time, and I don’t want to doubt others’ experiences either, but too often, the God experience is an emotional one. It’s brought on by a powerful sermon or uplifting music. That’s part of the reason I don’t attend a church anymore. Faith built on feelings is manipulative and illusory. I’m seeking something more dependable than that.

      • Sorry no powerful emotions, music or even a Church required.

        • Thought2Much

          It’s so cute that you think you’re helping.

      • Kodie

        There doesn’t seem to be anything more dependable than that. Those experiences aren’t exclusive to theists either. Attributing them to a god is. Through all the shallow arguments for there being a god instead of no god, at the base of it is following these emotional experiences, feeling, attributions to god, and then latching on to an agreeable list of what he likes and doesn’t like.

      • If you don’t mind me asking: are you still a Christian/believer? If so, I don’t understand how you see so many of the problems with Christianity and Christians, yet maintain the beliefs.

        Please feel free but not pressured to explain if you want.

  • Sophia Sadek

    I like the graphic. The weeds outshine the rubble of Christianity, a house built on shifting sand.

  • MR

    So, off topic, Bob, but when are you going to do a review on Sausage Party? I think Seth Rogen’s been reading your blog, because I thought I was going to see an animated movie about food and sex, but no-o-o…. I could have just stayed home and read your blog. It was all about how the story of the Gods was one big lie, and a debate over whether it was better to let people keep their false beliefs or to tell them the cold, hard truth that there is no Great Beyond…. I mean, when Christians find out there’s an underlying atheist message in this movie, they’ll never let their kids go see it!

    • Thanks–I’d not heard of that movie (I guess I’ve got to get out from in front of the PC sometimes). I read the Wikipedia plot summary. It does make an interesting parallel with religion.

      https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/e/e4/Sausage_Party.png/180px-Sausage_Party.png

      • MR

        Seriously, it was chock full of religious references–Catholic guilt, Jewish persecution, Islamic puritanism, blind belief, doubt, the afterlife…. I was sitting there thinking, “This is Bob’s blog… animated.” Well, except for all the sex and drugs…, well maybe some of the sex.

        • Is that a request for more sex in my blog?

          Noted.

        • Greg G.

          Is that movie out? I saw some trailers somewhere, perhaps before a movie in the theater, but I haven’t seen anything recently. I did pick up on the faith in what happened to them when they were taken home was crushed.

        • MR

          I think it was released this weekend. Yes, the food wait their whole lives to be “chosen” by the “Gods” (us) to be taken to the “Great Beyond” (outside the supermarket doors), only to discover that the Gods are monsters that just want to eat them–which causes no small amount of existential angst.

        • Michael Neville

          Well, except for all the sex and drugs…, well maybe some of the sex.

          What about the rock and roll?

        • MR

          Oh, that’s right. Meatloaf did have a cameo….

        • TheNuszAbides

          you’re saying there’s not enough rock’n’roll here either? why are we even here?!?

  • MNb

    In Rio de Janeiro an overhyped sports event is going on. As it’s the middle of the month I can offer the alternative.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucy-cooke/the-sloth-olympics_b_1732643.html

    • epeeist

      Well I can’t find a video of Aron Szilagyi winning the men’s sabre at the 2016 Olympics but try this one of him winning the 2012 Olympics instead. Then tell me it is over-hyped…

      • Each attack is distilled down to 1 second of action. I hardly know what I’m looking at, what the athletes are doing/thinking, or even who won the point. I think you must be an aficionado to appreciate it (though that’s true for lots of sports).

        • Thought2Much

          Of the three weapons used in fencing (sabre, foil, epee), I always found sabre wickedly difficult to follow. When I fenced in high school, I seem to remember that there would be four “line judges” at sabre matches that the main judge would confer with after every point, so it really is practically impossible for one person to follow the action.

        • Michael Neville

          I remember being very disappointed the first time I saw competitive fencing. I was expecting d’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers, not attacks lasting a second or two.

        • Thought2Much

          Bouts by inexperienced fencers actually last a lot longer, and look more like a duel in a movie. Experts move like lightning, and are able to score the point in next to zero time.

        • Kodie

          Depends on the weapon. Saber is the fastest action and most likely for casual audience to not know what’s happening.

        • Thought2Much

          What complicates what you’re watching in the video is that it’s not just about who hits first… there’s also the concept of “right of way,” which means if you parry an attack, you now have the right of way if you follow through with a riposte. Or, if your opponent doesn’t attack with an extended arm, and you respond with an extended arm, then you have the right of way, and you get the point even if you haven’t hit first.

          All of which happens in about half a second. I seriously don’t know how judges can see what happens in order to call a point.

        • Kodie

          That’s what the Russian Box of Death is about.

        • Kodie

          Saber is a very aggressive format of fencing because of the target area (everywhere above the waist) and you can use the whole blade and not just the point. If you miss the attack, you’re probably cooked.

      • MNb

        Does that Rio de Janeiro event only consist of sabre?
        But I’m in an appeasing mood today. So I honor Szilagyi with
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrLumJpL5zs
        As Khatchaturian was one of the most sexy (here meaning sensual) classical composers from the Soviet Union and the Sabre Dance also has been played by Welsh rock band Tredegar I hope MR will be happy as well.

        • MR

          Nothing screams sex like men dancing around a woman in red while thrusting their swords in the air.

      • Kodie

        I didn’t think the Rio gold medal bout against Daryl Homer was that exciting.

    • Thanks for returning us to reality.

    • Kodie

      I find it kind of funny that, while women’s gymnastics can generally hold its own on the television, when broadcast, sports like swimming and running are like, major all because of Olympics that nobody cares about any other time. I would compare it to soccer – World Cup soccer generates such an anomalous interest in the US compared to our interest in soccer generally. Yeah, all the kids play it, but it’s not popular in professional sports. I was watching men’s volleyball the other day and listening to the commentators, and I imagined they were talking about soccer if soccer were as unpopular worldwide as it is in the US. Of popular American sports, only basketball in the Summer and hockey in the Winter Olympics is even there. Baseball and (American) Football are by far more popular and overhyped here and not even universally popular, so they are not even capable of achieving Olympic status.

      I find the sports in the Olympics are the generally underhyped of all the sports. The sports nobody gives a shit unless it’s the Olympics. Ping-pong, y’all!

    • Jack Baynes

      I wouldn’t call it overhyped. If it wasn’t for all the problems in Rio, I don’t think I’d have noticed the games were going on at all.

      • MNb

        Where do you live? I live in the middle of the jungle and it’s still all over TV and newspapers.

  • Sammael Moon

    The vast majority of Christian sects suffer from having to explain away God’s hiddenness, with Deism being perhaps the only exception. Even the church I was raised in, though very much a New-Agey flavor of Xtianity (no Hell, no Devil, the material world is an illusion), couldn’t explain why we seem to be separated from solid evidence for God’s existence. (Though without Hell the supposed “consequences” of agnosticism/atheism are not so severe, I guess.)

    And most Christian theology won’t allow for God to be either indifferent to us, or powerless to show himself to us, so they resort to grabbing things like natural phenomena, human nature and coincidences (Sunsets! Kindness! Finding the car keys!) as proof of not just any God, but their omnipotent Biblical tribal god specifically.

  • The problem I keep running into when discussing this with other Christian friends is the definition of the word “obvious.” To some, beautiful babies and sunsets and mountains are enough. And for those who say “I want something a bit more specific than that,” it’s “Well you’re just not going to be satisfied with anything anyone shows you, because your heart is hardened, you want to be your own boss, etc.”

    • Greg G.

      I point to all the things around me that I accept as real to show how easy it is convince me that something is real. It should be even easier for and omnipotence to prove to me that it is real.

      The thought that sunsets are from the efforts of an omnipotence diminishes their awesomeness as an omnipotence should be able to make them infinitely more beautiful.

    • MR

      It’s such an important topic and with no clear cut line to delineate the “obvious,” how do we know for certain, right? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to question beyond sunsets and babies…, and to throw in my face the other end of the spectrum of “nothing will convince you” is just insulting. Hey, I’m a reasonable person; just give me a reasonable answer!

      Besides, the same can be said of Christians. They don’t believe Islam, etc, yet to those believers of other religions, their beliefs are just as obvious to them. When does obvious become obvious to all?

      And then how do we account for all the negative things like the sheer violence of nature, etc., that obviously point in the direction of no God?

      The thing is, if there truly is a God, I want to know, damn it! I want to know the truth, and just because someone’s story they’re telling themselves doesn’t convince me, that doesn’t mean I want to disbelieve it because it might be uncomfortable. I want to know what’s true. And, well, why does the truth have to hide behind such vague obviousness?

      • TheNuszAbides

        that obviously point in the direction of no God?

        seems like that’s where polytheism is [moderately] better at delivering the conceptual goods. the ‘Western’ elevation/separation from nature does seem to come with a more ivory-tower cast to the excuse-making. ‘mysterious’ hand-waving replaces actually getting hands/minds dirty.

    • Joe

      I would ask them “What of infant mortality; and skin cancer caused by the sun’s rays?” That’s why I and many others don’t see ‘babies and sunsets’ as proof of god, just proof that those people weren’t actually looking in the first place.

    • But if babies and sunsets point go a loving God, what do Guinea worm, tsunamis, and cancer point to?

      Of course, that’s a rhetorical question, because Christians have a ready answer: the Fall, man’s sin, whatever.

      God for them is an unfalsifiable hypothesis.

      • TheNuszAbides

        pipe dream: a comprehensive record of how prevalent “the devil made me do it” became as an excuse before the Free Will tweak got trotted out by Great Minds.

      • kraut2

        “what do Guinea worm, tsunamis, and cancer point to?”
        That god loves them too, just a bit more than humans….

  • Not sure how you arrive at the conclusion that God’s hiddenness constitutes a powerful argument against Christianity? He hides that we may seek and says when you’re serious about looking, you will find me.
    A lot of people can attest to the validity of seriously searching and then finding, myself included.

    • Otto

      “He hides that we may seek and says when you’re serious about looking, you will find me.”

      When it can be used in each religion with equal effect it becomes useless.

      • But no other religion puts it that way.

        • Otto

          That’s not true. Cults have been using that type of ill formed logic for centuries. It may not be phrased in that exact way but the concept is the same.

          Additionally it is dismissive and condescending to the very many of us that seriously sought answers in Christianity. It pre-judges anyone that didn’t find God in Christianity as never being serious, that concept is fallacious and dishonest.

        • MR

          And insulting. Some of us even went from being sincere believers, seeking a deeper relationship with God, to realizing that it was all built on smoke and mirrors. It’s easy to dupe yourself into believing something when everyone around you also believes.

        • Well I didn’t have those around me who believed to begin with- so no dupe.

        • MR

          No, so you got the message by osmosis?

        • Joe

          It’s funny how people’s searches for answers (in Western cultures) almost always start and finish with the bible. Somebody recently replied to me “I didn’t presuppose anything, I looked for truths in the bible” without a shred of irony.

        • My biblical knowledge was scanty at most- had to revisit.

        • MNb

          Better keep it that way – you might lose your faith again.

        • MR

          That’s basically what happened to me. Thinking I would re-ground my faith in the Bible, found that it really didn’t say what I’d been taught. Nothing broke my faith than an honest assessment of the Bible.

        • Otto

          Well he ‘honest’ part was your primary mistake.

        • Joe

          What about your Koranic knowledge?

        • Jack Baynes

          Revisit? So you did have previous Biblical exposure?

        • Only rudimentary knowledge- certainly not enough to warrant a discussion with anyone.

        • Jack Baynes

          So what inspired you to pick up a bible and seek the Christian god?

        • An experience ten years prior and a type of identity crisis.

        • TheNuszAbides

          ugh. it’s like using “this happened (or didn’t happen) in a vacuum” or “blank slate” rhetoric without even making a half-competent effort to imagine such a thing.

        • Kodie

          And yet, they manage to attract believers.

        • Thought2Much

          And Pastafarianism is the only religion that renders those who wear colanders on their heads blessed. Therefore, it is the one true religion.

    • MNb

      Your god is supposed to love you as well. Weird lover who hides from the one he/she loves. When someone hides from me I tend to conclude that that person doesn’t want a relationship with me.

      • Or it could mean that someone would like you to take the effort to search as it signifies desire.

        • Michael Neville

          So your god plays flirting games. That’s cute when the player is a shy teenager, not so cute when adults are involved. If your god is so emotionally immature as to play those games then I don’t want anything to do with him.

        • It’s the glory of God to conceal a matter but its the glory of Kings to search it out.

        • MNb

          Deepity.
          Means exactly zilch.

        • Thought2Much

          No, it means something.

          It means that people have been making up bullshit excuses for why their god is invisible for a long, long time.

        • Michael Neville

          That’s a non sequitur.

        • Kodie

          It’s a marketing pitch to grown adults to adopt an imaginary friend, and insist on being taken seriously.

        • Donalbain

          God as MRA/PUA? He constantly negs us, just so he can get a blowjob?

        • Jack Baynes

          Well some Christians will insist that the Earth doesn’t exist for our benefit, it’s all for the Glory of God!
          So, yeah, the Game God is playing is all to benefit his fragile ego. He wants a relationship with us because of how it makes him feel, not out of any concern for us.

        • MNb

          Then your god not making such an effort signifies a non-desire regarding me – exactly what I wrote.

        • Jack Baynes

          And, of course if you seek and find the wrong god because you grew up around people of the wrong religion, or you find the right god but learn to worship him wrong I guess that’s just the cost God plays for playing hard to get.

        • Kodie

          It could mean it’s all a scam.

        • Dys

          People are able to convince themselves of things that aren’t true all the time. Flat-earthers still exist. Searching for the truth doesn’t mean you find it, nor does it stop you from falling for a false belief.

        • adam

          “As a human it takes a lot wrapping one’s head around it.”

          That sounds like an EGO, much, much, MUCH bigger than that of the Satan character in the story.

      • Doubting Thomas

        Or that they’re suppressing their feelings for you and really likes you and loves those flowers you bought her even though she won’t return any of those last twenty calls and that restraining order just means she’s thinking about you all the time and……

        • MNb

          she saying no means yes?

      • Susan

        When someone hides from me I tend to conclude that that person doesn’t want a relationship with me.

        When someone hides from me as effectively as whatever agent some humans term “God” does, I assume (provisionally) that that agent doesn’t exist.

        Very much like ghosts.

        “What do you mean?” I keep asking.

        “What evidence separates this claim from false or unreliable claims?” I ask.

        I keep encountering people who have bought an imaginary car and are slightly to completely disgusted that I don’t understand how fabulous this imaginary car is. They have a manual and everything.

        They acknowledge that there are people who have truly been duped into buying imaginary cars (the not true-blue christians).

        But in this particular individual’s special case (in all cases), they are true blue and have magical abilities to just know and they own a real car. It’s awesome. It’s a Superduper Infinityturbo 3000…. X.

        “Where is it?”, I ask them.

        “What does it do?”, I ask them.

        “How does it work?”, I ask them…

        Then, they tell me I’m not open,

        That if I sincerely sought, I would come to their exact conclusion.

        ………………………… Crickets, every time.

    • MR

      Believing you have found is not the same as having found.

      • But witnessing is having found.

        • Joe

          What does ‘witnessing’ mean then?

        • As in witnessing with the five senses.

        • Michael Neville

          The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool. –Richard Feynman

        • Joe

          So you’ve seen god? Heard him speak? What does he look like? I won’t ask about ‘tasting’ god.

          Claims like that actually compound the problem of hiddeness! If some can see him, why can’t everybody?

        • Jack Baynes

          What does God taste like?

        • Otto

          According to the Catholics he is rather bland, I have had better cardboard.

        • Kodie

          I’m going to guess, black licorice.

        • Max Doubt

          “I’m going to guess, black licorice.”

          I saw that video.

        • Kodie

          What video?

        • Max Doubt

          “What video?”

          There was an adult film in the 70s 0r 80s named “Black Licorice”. I’m pretty sure I never actually saw it. I’m not even quite sure how I know the title other than possibly by picking it up from conversations I’ve had with some interesting social acquaintances over the years. Mostly my comment was an attempt at humor.

        • Kodie

          Oh, I thought I was a really good guesser. I think it’s a really divisive flavor, you either love it or hate it. I thought maybe there was an actual video about sensing god with the 5 senses, and the reason people rejected him was that he tasted like black licorice. Unless they loved black licorice.

        • Jack Baynes

          I love black licorice because it’s one of the few snacks I can get and not have to worry about these other people living in my house eating it on me.

        • Kodie

          It’s grown on me over the years. But I live alone, all the snacks I buy are for me, and all the healthy food is for the trash.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i freaked out a bit when i found out that a whole lot of Dutch folks like it salty.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t care much for the flavor in candy but I always enjoyed it in Ouzo.

          My curiosity got to me, so I had to look it up. I thought the flavor came from anise but real licorice comes from licorice however, anise is used as a substitute because real licorice has some side effects in large amounts.

          Star anise is an herb used in pho broth, too, and I love pho (Vietnamese noodle soup). A friend’s restaurant lost power for three days so he had to make a batch of broth as soon as the power came back. The next day I visited the restaurant. He asked how the pho tasted. I told him that it wasn’t right. He checked the herbs he made the batch with and saw that he forgot to add the star anise. The broth doesn’t taste like black licorice but it is distinguishable.

        • al kimeea

          Crackers and wine

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’m more curious about aromatheos.

        • MR

          Believing you have witnessed something is not having found. What evidence do you have to show for it? How can we know that you aren’t lying to yourself or even lying to us? See, it all rests on smoke and mirrors. You claim to have found something that you cannot show, that you cannot prove, that you can’t know for certain.

        • I do know for certain but like any witness I can’t convince you of the fact as you require evidence which you weren’t party to as I was.

        • MNb

          Oh, there were witness to the bami and Parbo party I just described above.
          Pastafarianism wins, christianity loses.

        • Thought2Much

          Look out, everyone! blogcom’s had… [gasp!]

          EXPERIENCES!

        • Scooter

          Mockery is not an argument-it is an attitude, and one which diminishes your character.

        • Joe

          And?

        • Thought2Much

          Pardon me if I find the “argument from personal hallucinations” an unconvincing one, and one ridiculous enough to mock.

          If someone wishes to be taken seriously, they should make serious points.

        • Max Doubt

          “Mockery is not an argument-it is an attitude, and one which diminishes your character.”

          Pointing out how the silly god believers are mocking reality, on the other hand, is just an objective observation.

        • Michael Neville

          Do you also have a Canadian girlfriend?

        • Thought2Much

          You wouldn’t know her.

        • Joe

          I also know that a personal experience can’t convince anybody else that something is real, or that the experience actually happened, without corroborating evidence. So it’s a waste of time even bringing it up.

        • MR

          If those facts were founded, you probably could. But my guess is that if someone presented you unfounded facts of a religious view that countered your own, you wouldn’t assume they were correct, nor should we assume your beliefs that are based on unfounded facts. That amounts to gullibility. How can we be certain that your beliefs aren’t just unfounded gullibility?

        • Kodie

          I’m certain blogcom’s beliefs are unfounded gullibility.

        • MR

          I think on some level blogcom understands that, too, or he’d have started with telling us about his experience instead of playing cat and mouse.

        • Jack Baynes

          Witnesses can at least describe what they witnessed.

        • Yes of course- but you must understand I only related my experiences to two other people- not just because some might scoff- but because of the supernatural component.
          As a human it takes a lot wrapping one’s head around it.

        • Thought2Much

          Yes, hallucinations tend to be that way.

        • Michael Neville

          Wow, Man, like have you ever looked at your hand? Look at all the lines on your palm and fingers. And how your nails grow out from under your skin. Is that fantastic or what? And stop bogarting that joint.

        • Kodie

          As a human, it sounds fucking crazy. Stop being vague. You feel vulnerable and we will analyze your experience and tell you what it really was, but you started posting here because you really think it’s important. Don’t hold back now.

        • It would need a blog post to record as the comment section wouldn’t suffice.

        • Jack Baynes

          You haven’t posted it somewhere yet?
          I thought this was IMPORTANT.

        • Kodie

          Ah, so write it. Just sounds like you want to be believed without evidence.

        • TheNuszAbides

          no surprise when that’s how it ‘works’ for countless others.

        • Greg G.

          I have posted extremely long Disqus comments and never ran into a length limit. I would suggest composing it in another application, and even save what you’ve written periodically, then copy and paste the final edition into a Disqus reply window. I have had connection problems and lost long posts before.

        • Will confirm with Bob if that’s ok-thanks.

        • You need permission to post a couple thousand words? Granted.

        • Thanks Bob- It’ll probably take me a week as I’m finalizing some projects at the moment- will post my comment then if that’s still okay with you.

        • Thought2Much

          It will take you a couple of thousand words to explain your hallucinations?

          That sounds… riveting.

        • Michael Neville

          Bring coffee. Lots of coffee. Amphetamines would also work.

        • Thought2Much

          I can’t wait. I’m sure it will be even more entertaining than when people spend half an hour describing the dream they had the night before. That’s always engaging.

        • Max Doubt

          “I can’t wait. I’m sure it will be even more entertaining than when people spend half an hour describing the dream they had the night before. That’s always engaging.”

          I will make a prediction here and now, several days before blogcom comes back with his few thousand word description of his experience. The prediction is this: There will be nothing in the description that I can’t explain as the result of some magical action on my part. There will be nothing that can’t be explained by use of my magical powers and my interjecting the perception of the experience directly into blogcom’s imagination. My explanations will be at least as well evidenced as his conjecture regarding the cause of the experience, and at least as plausible. So say I on this 17th day of August.

        • Max Doubt

          “Thanks Bob- It’ll probably take me a week as I’m finalizing some projects at the moment- will post my comment then if that’s still okay with you.”

          Making your unsubstantiated claims seemed easy enough for you. It’s been ten days. Whassa matter? Is making up the back story proving to be a bit more difficult, eh?

        • Greg G.

          I have had Christians tell me about their supernatural experiences. Some stories involve them in bed and seeing loved ones, or Jesus himself, who tell them about something religious, and they swear they were wide awake.

          I asked one guy if he felt like he was paralyzed during the experience. His eyes got really big but he wouldn’t say. Since he wouldn’t deny it, I concluded that he was but had never told it to anyone and couldn’t understand how I could have guessed that. That is just one possible symptom of a waking dream.

          It is called a waking dream because the person believes they are awake while having it. People who claim they were abducted by aliens by being transported through a wall of their home, examined or probed, and returned to their bed. They sincerely believe that was an actual experience.

          A friend told me he was laying in bed and heard a crash in his living room, so he called the police to report that someone had driven a car into his house. When he got out of bed, everything was normal. The cops told him they get calls like that all the time.

          Once I dreamed an intruder was in my house and I had the sleep paralysis so I knew I was having a waking dream. I was trying to wake out of it to deal with the intruder. When I was able to force myself awake, the intruder disappeared. I couldn’t distinguish the what was real and what was dream when I knew I was having a waking dream. It was when I saw the evidence that the door was still closed and locked that I was put at ease that it was just a dream, however. Those dreams can be very powerfully deceptive.

          I think many supposed supernatural experiences can be chalked up to waking dreams.

          You should try to unwrap your head.

        • adam

          I met Jesus once, well I actually met 2 Jesi

          And their friend Napoleon Bonapart

          It was in the psych ward of the hospital I did some work at.

        • Ironic that Nietzsche ended up in a asylum.

        • MNb

          Even more ironic that that doesn’t prove anything either.

        • Greg G.

          But I really am Napoleon! I will have you executed for this.

          https://youtu.be/KD0m3D_3dMg?t=6m14s

        • adam

          It was weird enough the first time meeting Jesus in the mental ward, but it was the second time that I met a different Jesus and Napoleon sitting not 10 feet from each other.

          All very nice people, up front.
          But thoroughly convinced of their delusions.

        • Michael Neville

          I work with Jesus. He’s one of my best workers, Jesus Gonzalez.

        • adam

          “As a human it takes a lot wrapping one’s head around it.”

        • Doubting Thomas

          I don’t have to doubt your experience in order to doubt your conclusion about your experience.

        • TheNuszAbides

          spot on.

        • Dys

          There’s no possible way your personal, subjective interpretation could be mistaken?

        • Not at all

        • Dys

          I highly doubt that’s the case. People allow their cognitive biases to influence their interpretations of events all the time. It’s human nature, and unavoidable.

        • I don’t know if that’s the case- it certainly isn’t always the explanation.
          No, I don’t expect people to take my experiences as evidence- but perhaps at least be open to that possibility.

        • Kodie

          We’re open and we’ve been open to you at least sharing whatever you have for evidence. In a dozen or two posts you’ve made, you’re just not forthcoming. Another reason to believe you’re another full-of-shit Christian with no evidence.

        • Dys

          No, I don’t expect people to take my experiences as evidence- but perhaps at least be open to that possibility.

          It falls squarely into the realm of “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. And supernatural claims certainly qualify. There’s nothing wrong with being open-minded, but when it comes right down to it, explanations that don’t involve invoking magic are far more probable (and thus more believable) than those that do. And without evidence, there’s not really a good reason to take supernatural claims seriously.

        • Kodie

          And for some reason, you seek to be taken seriously instead of to an asylum.

        • Jack Baynes

          That’s the whole problem, isn’t it?
          Why AREN’T we a party to the same sort of evidence as you?

        • Yes- and your question is one I can’t answer

        • Jack Baynes

          And you don’t see how the fact that you have no answer is a problem for a religion that claims that its god WANTS to have a relationship with us?

        • adam

          Depends on the claim.

          If you witnessed the sun rising, we are easily convinced

          If you witnessed an alien anal probing, not so much.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Then there’s no way to distinguish between you and someone who’s mentally deluded.

        • Myna A.

          What we believe we will witness. From voodoo magic to weeping Marys to mysterious appearances of barley broomsticks; from Krishna sitting on a tree branch to being filled with the holy spirit inside a revival tent to an eagle dropping a feather at your feet to whatever your belief can conjure. Whatever you personally experienced is no different from the other experiences and no less significant in enhancing each belief, itself. The mind is an incredible thing. You might argue that your experience has merit by some special dispensation of your own particular belief structure and the others don’t, but that’s only your own ego-speak.

        • Max Doubt

          “I do know for certain but like any witness I can’t convince you of the fact as you require evidence which you weren’t party to as I was.”

          I put the sensation of the experience in your head. It didn’t really happen. I just make you think there’s a god.

        • Susan

          When someone hides from me I tend to conclude that that person doesn’t want a relationship with me.

          Exactly.

          Religious claims are riddled with terms that assume their conclusion without justification.

          “Found” is a single example.

          “Assumed without checking or showing my work” is not the same as “found”.

          It’s basic.

        • MNb

          I witness I have found The Flying Spaghetti Monster yesterday when I ate my delicious bami

          http://10xgezonder.nl/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/bami-21.jpg

          and washed it down with an equally delicious glass of
          http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2091/1931943972_13e5650605.jpg
          So there you are. Your religion wrong, pastafarianism is the right one.

        • Lol- you jest- but it’s no jesting matter.

        • MNb

          If I jest you jest as well, because I used exactly your argument.

        • Except mine isn’t based on argument.

        • Otto

          Actually that is all it is based on, and not a very good one.

        • Kodie

          It sure isn’t based on evidence. It’s based on arbitrary emotional attribution of one or more experiences to the grace of a figment of your imagination. It’s really absolutely no different than people who think their team won’t win if they’re not wearing their lucky socks and eating their lucky snack.

        • MNb

          Then mine isn’t either.

        • adam

          ..

        • Philmonomer

          What was your experience/What happened?

        • Will formulate a response in a week if ok with moderator.

        • Philmonomer

          I’m not following you. It seems like you could reply with a comment here?

        • Argus

          That’s the BEST response so far, Phil. We cannot evaluate Blogcom’s claim until we know what the content and context of said claim is. Once we hear his/her experience, we can be in a position to analyze it and see what the most plausible explanations may be. Well done!

        • Jack Baynes

          No, your witnessing is better, since you documented what you witnessed.

        • Thought2Much

          Oh, really? Are you threatening us, then? If we don’t take the beliefs you hold in your own head (that you can’t find a way to convince us of) seriously, something bad will happen to us?

          That’s like telling me that Santa will put a lump of coal in my stocking if I’m not a good boy this year.

          That’s also a really shitty way to talk to people. You aren’t going to convince people of your point of view by issuing threats at them. That shows a hostility toward everyone who disagrees with you, which is a pretty astounding attitude to take considering you can’t even provide evidence to support your position to begin with.

        • Otto

          On the contrary it is a jesting matter. I spent enough time in Christian religion to realize it is a complete joke.

        • Jack Baynes

          God thinks so, or he wouldn’t be playing hard to get.

        • Thought2Much

          Typical Christian response: I can’t convince you, so now I’ll threaten you. Nice.

        • Jack Baynes

          Fear the merciful baby Jesus!

        • Thought2Much

          Fear the invisible friend that does nothing!

        • adam

          ….

        • al kimeea

          Kinda like Billy Mumy in the Twilight Zone.

        • No threat simply meant its serious subject matter.

        • Thought2Much

          I assure you, there’s nothing to be serious about. Whatever things have happened in your own head, however fantastic they may have been for you, don’t matter to us.

        • Jack Baynes

          If it’s serious, maybe you should ask God to help you come up with better arguments.
          He should help you because he wants us to have a relationship with him.

        • Max Doubt

          “No threat simply meant its serious subject matter.”

          But you forget, I put those notions of gods directly into your head. It’s all figments of your imagination created by me. Don’t believe me? I don’t care. But if you don’t at least pretend to believe it I have a friend who’s going to adjust the properties of nature in a way that puts you in the hospital for an extended stay. You’ll wish you hadn’t doubted. Seriously. You cool with that?

        • Kodie

          Your lack of specifics and just expecting us to respect and believe whatever you believe is true – noted. Theists don’t have evidence, and it’s apparent you don’t, or you would have brought it first, instead of this lame game you’re playing.

        • al kimeea

          Oh yeah, ya it is.

        • Kodie

          Having evidence is still impossible?

        • Argus

          I’m unclear as to what that means.

        • Argus

          ““You’ve gotta respect everyone’s beliefs.” No, you don’t. That’s what gets us in trouble. Look, you have to acknowledge everyone’s beliefs, and then you have to reserve the right to go: “That is fucking stupid. Are you kidding me?” I acknowledge that you believe that, that’s great, but I’m not going to respect it. I have an uncle that believes he saw Sasquatch. We do not believe him, nor do we respect him!” Patton Oswalt

    • Thought2Much

      I sought for twenty years. Was that not long enough? Did I not seek hard enough, or honestly enough? Maybe I was just in the wrong denomination, or read the wrong translation of your holy book?

      If your god wants so badly to not be found, even by those earnestly seeking him, then he’s an asshole that’s not worthy of my respect, let alone any of my time or “worship.”

      • Argus

        You were not sincere enough. The Great Pumpkin will only visit the most sincere pumpkin patch. C’mon that’s first year seminary stuff, man.

    • Dys

      Because if God truly wants as many of his so-called children to know who he is, divine hiddenness isn’t exactly the smartest way of going about it.

      • TheNuszAbides

        it’s Epic, man! the hairy twists’n’turns of the Fate of the Unfalsifiables of Humanity!

    • Kodie

      You didn’t find god, you found an emotional state and attributed it to god. Otherwise, evidence or GTFO.

      • Er -nope to you. May I say for someone who knows nothing of someone’s experiences you certainly have a trite explanation at the ready to explain it away. You demand evidence or resort to cussing out- charming.

        • MNb

          More charming than someone – for instance your god – playing hide and seek out of love.

        • Kodie

          You made a baseless claim.

        • Thought2Much

          If you only have experiences that you can’t provide other evidence for, then what you offer us is as good as nothing. “I’ve had personal experiences!” gives us nothing to consider or evaluate.

          You insist on continuing to talk, even though you offer us nothing of value. It shows a contempt for our intelligence and our time.

      • And being an eyewitness to anything is evidence- certainly that way in a court of law.

        • MNb

          I am an eyewitness for The Flying Spaghetti Monster. So that’s evidence. It’s evidence in exactly the same way you being an eyewitness is evidence for your god.
          According to Kodie you being an eyewitness is evidence for your emotional state that you attribute to god.
          So being an eyewitness is evidence for at least three conclusions that contradict each other.
          That will be convincing in a court of law.

        • Kompi

          Yeaaah that’s because it’s apparently really difficult to get courts of law to listen to actual criminologists.

          Between scientific discoveries and modern forensics the evidence is clear: eyewitness testimony is shockingly unreliable. Between limitations to our perception, our attention span and our memory, we simply aren’t all that good at retaining important details in memory; one of the first thing police needs to do when arriving on a crime scene if they want any kind of useful testimony is to separate the witnesses – the more they talk amongst each other, the more likely it is that they will form a unified narrative and discard actual details for fictional ones in support of it.

          Now certainly, there are exceptions where eyewitness testimony have shown to be highly reliable, but those are generally the exception far more than the rule. Eyewitness testimony without corroborating evidence is ultimately indistinguishable from false memories.

        • Kompi

          Definitely from before I was poking around here, let me offer a retrospective thumbs up!

          For me the thing that really opened my eyes on the matter was a book named The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us, named after the titular experiment. It’s about far more than just memory and touches on several forms of cognitive illusions that very commonplace – both within our memory and our perception.

          The worst part is, knowing about these issues doesn’t immunise you – you’re still every bit as subject to them.

        • epeeist

          one of the first thing police needs to do when arriving on a crime scene if they want any kind of useful testimony is to separate the witnesses

          A story I have told a number of times before.

          When I was much younger I was waiting at a bus stop on a cold February evening. A man in the bus queue with me collapsed. While one of the other people in the queue looked after him I ran to a nearby phone box (this was in the days before mobile phones) to phone an ambulance.

          When I got back a passing police car had stopped and people were accusing me of hitting the man and running away while others were claiming that he had been clipped by the mirror of the bus. It took a while to convince the police that not only was none of this true but that most of the people who were pushing these stories hadn’t been in the queue in the first place.

          This all took place in the few minutes following the incident, think what it would be like if you were trying to collect information from purported witnesses several decades after the supposed events.

        • Mark Rouleau

          Eyewitness testimony without corroborating evidence is ultimately indistinguishable from false memories.

          By what measure

        • Greg G.

          A person can have memories but not be able to tell an accurate memory from a false one. That is why the police will try to separate the witnesses of an accident or a crime to get their accounts before they can exchange false perceptions and contaminate the memories of the other witnesses.

        • Jack Baynes

          By what measure would you distinguish them?

        • Kompi

          Any.

          There is no method or function of the human mind that can distinguish a false memory from an accurate one. There is no measure that can validate the accuracy of a memory through introspection alone – the vividness of a memory or the apparent clarity of detail are all post-hoc creations that say nothing of the actual accuracy.

          The human mind simply does not make any distinction at all between a false memory and any other memory. They’re all just memories, regardless of whether they’re at all accurate or not.

        • Mark Rouleau

          By what standard? IF we could not depend upon our memories without some confirmation how would you ever make it home tonight if you could not rely on your memory of where your home is? How about remembering the spelling of your name? We have to have a default presumption of the accuracy of our memories in order to function at all. What you are indicating is that they are not always accurate. I accept that. It might even be accurate that the usually have some defect or flaw in accuracy but more often than not they are accurate. This is where veracity is useful to judge whether a person is seeking to accurately relay what they recall. If you knew someone to be a liar, biased, or mentally defective (Alzheimer’s etc.) you would judge their recollection differently. If you are requiring 100% accuracy and certainty on these subjects (or for that matter anything else in life) you should simply stay in bed. The fact is that any measure you apply to test the corroborating evidence will be less than 100% as well. Obviously the more data points (the larger the sample set) the more likely one is to find a general range of agreement. It is not just human recollection that is flawed. Our perception in the first event is colored by many different variables.

          Ancient prophetic texts some nearly 4000 year old recognized this very issue and required that all important matters needed to be judged out of the mouths of two or three witnesses. Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19; Hebrews 10:28

        • Kompi

          See the mistake you’re making is that you’re assuming high accuracy is a much more important element than it actually is. Like our perception and cognition in general, our memory is made up of a large series of “close enough”s that prioritises narratives over details, associations over specifics and tends to put the one doing the remembering closer to the centre of events.

          And this actually makes perfect sense once you realise that the primary use of our memory is not to accurately recall the past, but to approximately predict the future.

          Our memories are generally accurate enough to let us find our way home because doing so doesn’t actually necessary require that much exact detail but rather just a rough “close enough” identification of various landmarks and a “good enough” idea of roughly where they are in relation to each other. It’s like remembering a bicycle – you don’t really need to know exactly where every single metal pipe and cog and chain and wire and other detail goes or how exactly they operate… and unless you’re an actual engineer who has actually spent a fair bit of time working on them, you probably don’t. All you really need to remember is just enough of what a bicycle looks like so you can identify one when you see it and make a somewhat accurate guess as to what it does and how to operate it if you or anyone else were to do so.

          And this all leads down to the point I’ve been making all along: your mind makes no distinction between a memory that actually happened, or a detail of a memory that actually was, and something that is complete confabulation, because what your memory prioritises is a generalised series of rough associations and vague narratives. And it will, repeatedly and reliably, invent all manner of details to support those associations and narratives to better match whatever your current context is, to better apply whatever you’re remembering to your current situation.

          The end result is that our memory can still be highly useful at letting us recognise locations and directions, letting us remember how to operate all manner of complex devices and machinery and what kind of people and situations to approach and avoid, while simultaneously being absolutely terrible at accurately recalling any kind of specific detail.

          As for our many perceptive and cognitive limits – those are absolutely at play, and why any evidence that passes muster must per default rely as much as possible on the kind of observation we can all agree on. For example: due to the many flaws in both memory, perception and cognition, not all eyewitnesses might agree on who was and wasn’t at a location at a certain point. However, everyone who observes a report on what DNA traces were found at the location are likely to see the same words and numbers regardless of who they might think is guilty or what they might have otherwise seen.

          By any measure, by any standard, our memory simply makes no difference between a memory of a real event and a false memory of something that never happened, and it simply does not retain the level and quality of detail necessary for eyewitness testimony to actually be reliable without external corroboration. To believe otherwise is to go against basically everything we have learned about human perception, cognition and memory since we started probing these through the lens of modern science – and the piles of evidence we have backing those discoveries up.

          At that point you might as well believe the sun orbits around the earth.

        • Mark Rouleau

          I think that perhaps you may have missed my point. All of real life is lived out either closer to or further away from an absolute proposition. I already told you that I agree that memories can be (are) flawed but we can not function in any capacity whatsoever without memory (flawed as it is). For the proposition that I thought you were arguing is that eyewitness testimony should not be relied upon without any corroborating evidence, I only agree to the extent that it extremely important to be precise. I am a litigator and I am fully aware of the various discrepancies that arise when multiple persons testify as to their recollections of events such as a simple event like an automobile collision. Just because there are as many different observations or recollections of the event as there are witnesses does not mean that we are incapable of determining a good approximation of what happened.

          Your example of a DNA scientific test is not absolutely certain either. There are potential measuring errors, contamination issues and in some kinds of sciences varying opinions on interpreting the results. For example in the DNA context there are so-called experts willing to statistically opine that a certain match is “exact” and could not be any other person in the entire world, which of course impossible because they do not have that data base. Furthermore, the testing is done by matching a limited number of short tandem repeat (STRs) utilizing an automated DNA Sequencer or Genetic Analyzer. They don’t actually sequence the entire DNA strand for a match. Similarly when GCMS tests are repeated on the same chemical substance, say blood for the quantification and presence of ETOH (Ethanol alcohol -drinking alcohol) you will likely get as many different results as you do tests. In probability and statistics this develops the well known bell curve. Statistically speaking any sampling method in any field of science where only one result is taken it is impossible to determine whether that sample point is an outlier result. Science can not tell from a single point of non-testimonial evidence that it is accurate and not an outlier event.

        • Kompi

          My point is that without corroborating evidence, there is simply no way of telling the difference between an “accurate” memory and a false one – because the mind draws no distinction between the two. By any measure, by any standard, the mind makes absolutely no difference between a “real” memory and a false one – it plays fast and loose with specifics and details on a continuous basis, and your meek attempts at “agreeing” that memory can be “flawed” does not erase that this is the very thing you’ve repeatedly attempted to object to. Your appeals to the idea that our memory would be “useless” if this were the case is at this point like claiming that optical illusions prove we’re all effectively blind – it’s so far into missing the point that it’s not even wrong.

          And if you’re a litigator, you have far less excuses than the average person for not knowing this.

        • Mark Rouleau

          What is your definition of (a) memory; (b) “real” (true) memory; (c) false memory? What level of accuracy do you demand? Do you take the position that people should never rely upon memories without corroboration? What percentage of a person’s memories are “real” versus “false”?

        • Kompi

          So basically, what you’re actually saying is that you’ve never heard of the psychological phenomenon of false memory. That’s… yeah. I don’t know why I’m even surprised.

          You know next time – arguing against the existence of a phenomenon that actually exists? Not the best of ideas.

        • Mark Rouleau

          Is that what I wrote? Funny I thought that I very succintly asked you to provide what your definition is for those terms. I have been following the literature for years beginning with the McMartin case, so don’t get so smarmy and falsely condescending with me. I have repeatedly found that many discussions fail because people have different understandings of the words that they are using. Odds are that is what is going on here. In your conceit you are unwilling to admit that mankind would still be in the stone age if we didn’t rely upon our memory.

        • kraut2

          “false memory”

          https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/false-memory-syndrome-alive-and-well/

          “The evidence is fairly overwhelming that the majority (perhaps all) of the cases of alleged recovered memory of abuse are in reality cases of false memory syndrome produced by gross therapy malpractice, utilizing disproved techniques that violate basic rules of investigation and
          flagrantly disregard the potential for harm.”

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10645381

          “The results of these experiments highlight the persistence of the false memory effect, as well as pointing to several factors, primarily semantic processing, that may lead to the creation of false memories. Interpretations are offered within the theoretical frameworks of source monitoring and fuzzy trace theory.

          Eyewitnesses:

          http://www.visualexpert.com/Resources/eyewitnessmemory.html

          http://psych.stanford.edu/~bt/memory/papers/dudukovic-marsh-tversky.pdf
          “However, it is important to recognize that even attempts to rehearse accurately result in distorted memory. In the present study, accuracy participants recalled only 58% of the story events. Furthermore,
          accuracy participants included just as many intrusions in their free recall as participants in the other two conditions, indicating that the memories of accuracy participants were also prone to distortion. This is consistent with other research on memory for more complex stimuli. For example, Bergman and Roediger (1999) found memory distortions and errors in recall of a prose passage even when participants had received strict accuracy
          instructions. Even when people attempt to be accurate, rehearsal of complex material may be reconstructive or selective, leading to memory errors”

        • Kompi

          Funny then that you’ve spent all this time trying to dispute the phenomenon itself despite “having followed the literature for years”. Let me bring back the quote you initially questioned:

          Eyewitness testimony without corroborating evidence is ultimately indistinguishable from false memories.

          You asked by what measure – I replied by telling you this is how human memory and recall works. You asked by what standard, I replied by telling you again that this really is how human memory and recall works.

          Even more comically, the majority of your protestation has been that if memory worked like that then it would be useless, despite the literature you claim to have followed making apparent that the two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I’d like to remind you that I’ve also stated

          And this actually makes perfect sense once you realise that the primary use of our memory is not to accurately recall the past, but to approximately predict the future.

          and

          The end result is that our memory can still be highly useful at letting us recognise locations and directions, letting us remember how to operate all manner of complex devices and machinery and what kind of people and situations to approach and avoid, while simultaneously being absolutely terrible at accurately recalling any kind of specific detail.

          With the above two quotes in mind, claiming that I’m “unwilling to admit that mankind would still be in the stone age if we didn’t rely upon our memory” is not only a hilarious misrepresentation, but really suggests just how disingenuous your attempts at an “oh we’re just talking past each other” olive branch really are. And now, you claim that you’ve actually followed the literature on the phenomenon all along, despite having tried to claim its existence and prevalence would make memory useless?

          At this point, I think it’s pretty safe to conclude that your statements of my mistakes and my conceit is nothing put pure projection on your part.

        • Joe

          (a) A mental state about soemthing that happened in the past.
          (b) This state conforms to reality.
          (c) This state does not conform to reality

          What level of accuracy do you demand?

          I demand as high a level of accuracy as the importance of the claim requires

          Do you take the position that people should never rely upon memories without corroboration?

          No

          What percentage of a person’s memories are “real” versus “false”?

          That would vary depending on the individual.

        • adam

          ” Science can not tell from a single point of non-testimonial evidence that it is accurate and not an outlier event.”

          actually, statistically it can, especially with an instrument that has calibrated standards.

        • Mark Rouleau

          Adam what you have described “calibration” by definition recognizes variability. If you are familiar with the calibration process with instruments you would recognize that instruments are calibrated within an ACCEPTABLE MARGIN OF ERROR often referred to as a tolerance. To quote from Wikipedia “In the fields of science, engineering and statistics, the accuracy of a measurement system is the degree of closeness of measurements of a quantity to that quantity’s true value. The precision of a measurement system, related to reproducibility and repeatability, is the degree to which repeated measurements under unchanged conditions show the same results. Although the two words precision and accuracy can be synonymous in colloquial use, they are deliberately contrasted in the context of the scientific method.
          A measurement system can be accurate but not precise, precise but not accurate, neither, or both.”

          I have observed repeated tests of a single specimen that has yielded varying results on a scientifically calibrated instrument. The issue is what level of precision or deviation from the true value are you willing to accept. The myth of certainty is just that. What we settle for in life is a high degree of probability as to the result not absolute certainty.

        • adam

          Of course, that is what I said.

          “The issue is what level of precision or deviation from the true value are you willing to accept.”

          actually, statistically it can, especially with an instrument that has calibrated standards.

          I have used such equipment, and calibrated with NIST standards.
          I am willing to accept the precision based on such.

        • kraut2

          Every instrument that is used in science of course works within a margin of error. All documentation in scientific reports are given with a margin of error.
          All samples of observations are statistically analyzed and usually given with a p value indicating the probability that those observation could have been produced by chance alone.
          In modern science there never is and never was any certainty. Science works in probabilities and it is sad that some still peddle that bullshit that science is certainty and use this to call science flawed because they are simply clueless about the process.
          Yes, and I helped in another live to design, set up and conduct experiments in various laboratories, so I was familiar with a whole range of instruments.
          Science is probabilistic and contingent. The only certainties are sold by religion.
          http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/five-sigmawhats-that/

        • Mark Rouleau

          I am glad that we all agree that science does not peddle in certainty but rather probabilities based upon certain assumptions such as the scientific laws regarding nature remaining constant.

          I would also point out that not only the laws must remain constant but also the physical properties of the cosmos (i.e., speed of light etc) in order for the predictive value scientific “conclusion” to hold water.

          This is why over time what people have recognized as scientific dogma has changed as new discoveries are made.

          James Burke did an outstanding job making this contrast in episode 10 of his BBC (PBS) series “The day the universe changed.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QgNpYg0IOU

        • adam

          “I am glad that we all agree that science does not peddle in certainty”

          Then we should all agree that religion does peddle in certainly.

        • Joe

          *crickets*

        • Mark Rouleau

          One does not necessarily logically flow from the other.

          I can’t speak definitively for other religions, but in Christianity Paul talks about hope and faith, that we see through a glass darkly. That if Christians are wrong they are most miserable in deed. Doesn’t sound like the language of absolute certitude but rather a strong conviction.

          Some things are certain others are not. There is sin in the world (perhaps a tautology) and humans are incapable of ridding the world of this sin. That is a certainty. When we are honest with ourselves we all know that at some point in our lives we have lied, we have coveted something that belongs to someone else etc.

          I recently learned that the majority of professional philosophers lean towards or accept moral realism (unchanging moral facts that are not affected by or changed by the observers) while the majority still remains or leans towards atheism. I posed this question in another discussion and got no takers. What is the source of these moral facts?

        • Joe

          here is sin in the world (perhaps a tautology) and humans are incapable of ridding the world of this sin. That is a certainty. (emphasis mine)

          That’s about as far from certainty as possible.

          I recently learned that the majority of professional philosophers lean towards or accept moral realism

          Source? Perhaps you should ask them? I’m a moral relativist who is not impressed with an argumentum-ad-populum.

        • adam

          Sin?
          An invented disease to offer an invented cure.
          Much like Bob’s elbow deodorant.

          ” When we are honest with ourselves we all know that at some point in our lives we have lied, we have coveted something that belongs to someone else etc.”

          So what is the source of THESE moral facts?

          “What is the source of these moral facts?”
          Leaning towards or even accepting doesnt make it ‘facts’.

          Evolutionary survival is enough to account for our ‘morality’.

          Even (other) animals have virtually the same kind of morality.

        • adam

          And yet christianity peddles certainty that it’s “God” exists and will save them from the ‘sin’ it infected them with.

          And yet christianity peddles certainty that giving Adam sin and punishing him with death is Love

          And yet christianity peddles certainty that the ETERNAL torture by fire of MOST human beings is Love.

          And yet christianity peddles certainty, that NO MATTER what your ‘sin’ is, be it mass murdering millions of Jews, or just Jeffrey Dahmer type cannibalism, “God” can forgive ANYTHING, well EXCEPT BLASPHEMY.

        • Michael Neville

          The Pope claims to be infallible regarding matters of faith and morals. That sounds like he’s pretty certain about his certainty.

          I have been threatened with being punished forever for not being a Christian or even not being a narrowly defined type of Christian. These threats were given with complete certainty by the various threateners.

          You’ve apparently never dealt with evangelical fundamentalists or Pentacostals. Their religious certainty is so strong it could be used to moor ships during hurricanes.

          Nope, not buying the claim that Christians don’t suffer from certainty.

        • Michael Neville

          Moral realism or, as it’s usually called, absolute morality is impossible. For morals to be truly absolute, they would have to have a universally unquestioned source, interpretation and authority. Since such a source doesn’t exist due to the myriad of different sources claimed by various people, absolute morality cannot exist. Another obvious criticism is the sheer diversity of moral opinions which exists between societies (and even within societies) which argues that there cannot be a single true morality.

        • Joe

          I was actually surprised to find that a majority (56.4%) of philosophers lean towards moral realism. It seems nonsensical to me. I’m not sure what his point is there. It certainly doesn’t favour theism.

          http://philpapers.org/surveys/results.pl

        • Michael Neville

          One would think that professional thinkers would give more thought to the question of moral realism. My opinion of philosophers, already low because of post-modernism and idiots like Alvin Plantinga, has fallen another notch.

        • Kodie

          Empathy and communication.

        • Joe

          I’m not sure what your point is here. You’re telling us things we already know.

          I’d take a result from a properly calibrated instrument over a singular eyewitness testimony any day of the week. I assume you would too, if you were facing trial for a crime you didn’t commit.

        • adam

          ” IF we could not depend upon our memories without some confirmation how
          would you ever make it home tonight if you could not rely on your memory
          of where your home is? ”

          You do have the confirmation of many trips home.

          I have been to many places once, but cant always depend on memory to get me back there.

          It is easier in locations that I am familiar with, those locations I can confirm with previous visits.

        • Mark Rouleau

          Actually the only confirmation that your memory of where you lives accuracy is when you end up at your home instead of somewhere else. What you are arguing is the size of the sample set increases accuracy. Although when you go home tonight you do so based upon “A” memory of where your home is not a bunch of memories. How do you explain Alzheimer’s patients in ability to recall persons or places that they have known for years? In fact I would posit that you are more likely to have false memories or recollections of events that you do repeatedly. For example where you left your keys or wallet. Just because you generally leave them in a certain spot does not mean they are there always. These constantly repeated events that are subject to occasional variations are the recollections that are least likely to be correct. The really unusual ones are far more likely to be accurate i.e., I can clearly recall where I first was when I learned of the Murah Federal Building bombing, the Twin-Towers coming down, the Columbine shootings, Lee Harvey Oswald’s assasination.

        • adam

          “Although when you go home tonight you do so based upon “A” memory of where your home is not a bunch of memories. ”

          No, it is a bunch of memories.

          Landmarks, streets, stores…..maybe even bushes, trees, etc.

          You know the PATH home, not just a single memory of ‘home’

          “The really unusual ones are far more likely to be accurate i.e.,”

          Which is one of the ‘tricks’ to memorization.
          I once had to memorize a 101 digit number, and I used exaggeration (abstract exaggeration at that) as the biggest part of the memorization technique.

          This is the same method story tellers have used for, well forever to both memorize stories and facilitate other peoples memorization of it. Probably why all the supernatural in folk tales and mythology makes it more memorable.

        • Joe

          “Ancient prophetic texts some nearly 4000 year old recognized this very issue and required that all important matters needed to be judged out of the mouths of two or three witnesses.”

          Yet we only have a single biblical account for all the supposed miracles.

        • Mark Rouleau

          Joe that is far from accurate. The Protestant Bible cannon from the council of Nicea contains 66 books written over nearly 2000 years by at least 39 different authors. Three of the gospels referred to as the synoptic gospels are very consistent in their description of the miracles. If one were seeking to deceive you would expect carbon copy accounts of the events. What historical account of events would point out serious character flaws of one of its greatest heroes? You would expect censorship. But no its right there in the pages of scripture.

        • Joe

          The synoptic gospels are not consistent at all. The things they do agree on can be explained by them copying the same source. Where are the multiple accounts of hundreds of saints rising from the dead? Why did no non-Christian, contemporary historians see that as worthy of mention?

          What flaws are pointed out that are not used as an exegetical purpose? What historical account would not mention, or barely agree upon, the birth of one of it’s most important heroes?

        • adam

          It is most interesting that the ‘claimed’ most ‘important’ person ever in history, is one that NEVER made the news when alive, he apparently wrote NOTHING himself, and nobody else in the world made note of the said ZOMBIE saints roaming the streets.

          And at the same time, “believers” want to claim historical accuracy.

        • Joe

          I know apologists have their excuses for all of this (Jesus morphs into an illiterate carpenter’s son in some situations, but God in others, much like a divine version of Schrodinger’s Cat). I just wish they would acknowledge that our skepticism of this point is absolutely valid.

        • adam

          “I just wish they would acknowledge that our skepticism of this point is absolutely valid.”

          They CAN’T

          Despite what they claim, DOUBT is the biggest ‘sin’ they can commit.

        • Joe

          Yes, it’s truly bizarre and shows what a thought prison they are in. To not even be able to concede a possibility that they could be wrong invalidates the facade of empiricism and intellectualism some of them pretend to have. Yet we’re the ones accused of dogmatism.

          They like to ask ‘what if’ questions to atheists, but can’t/won’t answer a simple hypothetical question in return, unless it’s with something that begs the question for their god. It’s fun to watch them squirm sometimes.

        • Kevin K

          1. The reason the synoptics are “very consistent” is that the latter two were plagiarized from the first.
          2. Even then, there are GLARING inconsistencies.
          3. None of the alleged authors (whose names were added much later as “tradition”) witnessed any of the events, even the mundane ones, much less the “miracles”.
          4. The OT is almost entirely made up of myths, legends, highly revisionist Jewish history, and dietary guidelines for people without ice.
          5. The rest of the NT almost entirely made up of myths, legends, hallucinogenic-fueled predictions, and suggestions for how people should spend their time while waiting for the world to end. (Don’t marry, but you need to work in order to eat, etc.)

        • Mark Rouleau

          I am surprised (NOT) that most of the people on this site are not demanding that you prove your claims with objective facts, as opposed to speculation, opinion and conjecture, LIKE
          1) Objective evidence not speculation that the latter two (do you know which ones those are) plagiarized from the first.
          3) The manuscripts admit that they were like any other news reporter gathering information from those with knowledge to transcribe it. There are no written eyewitness accounts of Alexander the Great. The oldest surviving accounts of his exploits were written in the 1st Century BC some 200 years after his death. Some of the most significant accounts appeared in the second century AD.
          4) You can’t prove to the level that you demand of others that “Almost entirely made up of Myths, legends, highly revisionist Jewish history”. If that isn’t opinion and conjecture I don’t know what is. At least you used the Swiss cheese language “almost”. Do you deny the existence of Jerusalem the first temple, the captivity, the return from captivity, the division of the nation, the existence of King David, the tomb of the patriarchs, Joseph’s tomb, the collapse of the walls of Jericho . . . ? Do you deny the existence of the prophets?
          5) “Hallucinogenic-fueled predictions”. Of course you have the GCMS results of the blood draws and the complete chain of custody for this evidence.

        • Kevin K

          1. It would take much longer than a simple blog post to cite all of the evidence for the fact that the synoptics are copies; some historians say even Matthew (the first) copied from an earlier source “Q”. Which you well know, so this is hardly news to you. Several books have been written by folks like Alvaros, Price, Ehrman, and others. For a more-concise review, try this explanation from theologian Danial Wallace at bible.org.

          https://bible.org/article/synoptic-problem

          2. The manuscripts are claimed to be the inerrant word of GOD by some, and at the very least to be highly accurate accounts of the only appearance ever of GOD as as earthly avatar. One should hold them to a higher standard than those of mere biographies or hagiographies of mere mortals — even though many of those mortals were also apparently sired by the gods of their time (Romulus, Alexander, Plato, etc.).

          3. Yes, “almost” excepts the smutty poetry and Ecclesiastes. You can read “The Bible Unearthed” to gain a true sense of just how far from being historically accurate any of the tales told in the OT are. I suspect you also have a sense of this. For example, there were no “walls of Jericho”. David probably existed, but as more of a tribal chieftan than as a great king. Exodus never happened. As to Joseph’s “tomb” — according to Wikipedia, “No Jewish or Christian sources prior to the 5th century mention the tomb, and the structure originally erected over it appears to have been built by the Samaritans, for whom it was probably a sacred site”. There’s no reason to believe it’s anything other than yet-another ancient site co-opted by Christians for reasons of tourism (aka, pilgrimage).

          FWIW: There is no such thing as a “prophet” because there is no such thing as “prophecy”.

          4. How else do you account for the fantastical trippy visions “John of Patmos” experience other than being on a magic mushroom trip? FWIW: he was writing about that time and all of the “prophecies” failed to materialize; but Christians just keep denying the 2000-year-old obvious fact that the world isn’t going to end with Gog and Magog fighting one another on the plains of Armageddon.

        • busterggi

          “Gog and Magog fighting one another on the plains of Armageddon.”

          What, you don’t think the massed armies of the world will meet on that couple soccerfields worth of ground to fight it out? W/O air power of course.

        • Kevin K

          And with zombie Jesus flying down from heaven with a flaming sword coming out of his mouth…

          Or was that a light saber?

        • Michael Neville

          It’s a phaser set on “extra crispy”.

        • Mark Rouleau

          With au jus? (au in French means “with”). Har Megiddo transliterated into English means Megiddo plain, so saying plain(s) of Armageddon is redundant. PS it is a singular plane a specific location on the globe. The fight is as it has been in modern times over a City Jerusalem and a country Israel.

        • Greg G.

          A Vietnamese friend complained that when English speakers say “Ha Long Bay”, it is redundant because “Ha” means “Bay”. I pointed out that “Sahara” is a north African (Somali?) word for “desert”. Redundancy is OK when mixing languages.

        • Michael Neville

          The hoi polloi never understand these subtleties.

        • “CRT tube,” a phrase not used so much anymore, would presumably not get such a pass.

        • Mark Rouleau

          Kevin, you wrote ” Matthew (the first) copied from an earlier source”. Mathew was not the first Gospel that was written, Mark was and it was approximated to be 70-75AD about 40 years after the ascension. A substantial number of the epistles were believed to predate the Gospel according to Mark.

          You wrote: ” there were no “walls of Jericho” try again, there is very little dispute that Jericho had walls that fell/came down the dispute is over the reason why.
          http://www.nytimes.com/1990/02/22/world/believers-score-in-battle-over-the-battle-of-jericho.html

          Your lack of knowledge about what prophecy entails is further telling. You obviously are unaware that most prophecy is forth-telling and not foretelling. You obviously are unaware of the Ezekiel stones or plates. http://www.jpost.com/Christian-In-Israel/Features/Dating-the-Ezekiel-plates

          Your last great evidentiary statement “How else do you account for the fantastical trippy visions “John of Patmos” shows your presuppositions plain as day. Are you functioning from your personal database of experiential knowledge?

        • Kevin K

          From your NYT story…But Dr. Stager questioned the linkage of the archeological evidence for Jericho’s destruction at about 1400 with the Israelites as the agents of that destruction. As Dr. Wood acknowledged, many specialists in biblical history cite biblical and archeological evidence to indicate that the Israelites did not emerge in the land of the Canaanites, later to be known as Palestine, until about 1200 B.C.

          Moreover, Dr. Stager said the story of military conquest may have been a ”literary embellishment” for what more probably was a migration of pastoral Israelites, who began to settle into village life in Canaan and came into sporadic armed conflict with the inhabitants. As often happens, in the retelling the stories grew more heroic.

          Meaning, any walls would have already tumbled when the Jews came. It’s a legend; more revising history. The people stepped over ruins and made up a tale of great conquest.

          And here’s the thing about prophets…whether or not there was a raving lunatic or not is irrelevant. Prophecy is bullshit, and therefore prophets are bullshit as well.

        • Mark Rouleau

          I got it you make a false claim ” there were no “walls of Jericho” which I establish to be false. You fall back and further nit pick without proof or claims. So people who get in the face of their fellow country men exhorting them to treat immigrants or racial minorities, or the poor better “is bullshit, and therefore (those exhorting) are bullshit as well”? Just casting pearls.

        • MR

          I got it you make a false claim ” there were no “walls of Jericho” which I establish to be false.

          Eh? The article that you offered countered your own comment.

          Also, you claimed that atheist is “classically defined in the dictionary” as a claim to know. Can you please provide a reference.

          [edit: typo and missed part of your quote]

        • MNb

          Your lack of knowledge regarding the Q-document is telling indeed.

          http://www.livius.org/sources/about/q/

          Kevin K is right. The authors of the Gospels copied from each other; Mattheaus and Lucas ao from a common one.

        • MR

          You obviously are unaware of the Ezekiel stones or plates.

          Hmmm…, this story is from 2011, it calls into question the authenticity of these stones, and that I can’t seem to find a mainstream source regarding this story (most of the links I saw seem to be Christian sites). It seems pretty remarkable that if these are seriously considered to be authentic that they wouldn’t be all over the web. Can you provide a more neutral source?

        • MR

          As to Joseph’s “tomb” — according to Wikipedia, “No Jewish or Christian sources prior to the 5th century mention the tomb, and the structure originally erected over it appears to have been built by the Samaritans, for whom it was probably a sacred site”.

          I’m surprised I hadn’t heard about this, very interesting. I was in Jordan last Fall and our guide took us to Jesus’ baptism site on an offshoot of the Jordan River where he promised us 100% guaranteed that Jesus was baptized right on that site, pope-approved and everything. Then he took us to the site on the Jordan River where Israel claims Jesus was baptized. The Israel site was more popular.

        • Greg G.

          1) Objective evidence not speculation that the latter two (do you know which ones those are) plagiarized from the first.

          The fact that much of each is verbatim the same shows a literary dependence. Matthew uses over 90% of Mark and the missing parts would appear to be for theological reasons. Luke follows Mark closely in order from the meeting of John the Baptist to around Luke 9:50 with some Matthean material mixed in. Then Luke follows Deuterononmy until Luke 18:15 with random bits from Mark and Matthew. Then Luke goes back to using Mark, mostly in order, and Matthew.

          3) The manuscripts admit that they were like any other news reporter gathering information from those with knowledge to transcribe it. There are no written eyewitness accounts of Alexander the Great. The oldest surviving accounts of his exploits were written in the 1st Century BC some 200 years after his death. Some of the most significant accounts appeared in the second century AD.

          Luke says that he used other reports. GJohn says it was based on what John said. Mark and Matthew do not say anything like that but Mark seems to be based on the literature of the day and many of the stories he used were about Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and Odysseus, not about Jesus.

          4) You can’t prove to the level that you demand of others that “Almost entirely made up of Myths, legends, highly revisionist Jewish history”. If that isn’t opinion and conjecture I don’t know what is. At least you used the Swiss cheese language “almost”. Do you deny the existence of Jerusalem the first temple, the captivity, the return from captivity, the division of the nation, the existence of King David, the tomb of the patriarchs, Joseph’s tomb, the collapse of the walls of Jericho . . . ? Do you deny the existence of the prophets?

          The story in the OT is refuted by the archaeological evidence. The story about the golden calves in Exodus makes little sense and appears to be taken from a story in 1 Kings about a man and his sons who made a couple of golden calves, but the name of the father was changed to Aaron but the names of the sons stayed the same.

          5) “Hallucinogenic-fueled predictions”. Of course you have the GCMS results of the blood draws and the complete chain of custody for this evidence.

          That would be as good an explanation of any for Revelation.

        • The accounts of Alexander have supernatural elements. Guess what historians do with those.

          The accounts of Jesus have supernatural elements. Guess what historians would do with those if they were given them as claimed history.

          Kevin K’s comment cut corners in that every claim wasn’t backed up by citations. That’s how people write. It’s not shocking, as you seem to imagine. If you think that any claim of his can’t be backed up, ask for the evidence. Better, show evidence to the contrary. That’s how the adults argue rather than giving sweeping statements decrying what you claim are his sweeping statements.

        • Mark Rouleau

          Bob”: Better, show evidence to the contrary. That’s how the adults argue” where are all of the burden shifting Nazis from the presuppositionalist discussion now? (i.e., Thinks2little)

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what you’re talking about. You claim a god, then you provide evidence. Otherwise, you are talking about your loopy superstition and why should we take you seriously?

        • Myna A.

          There are no written eyewitness accounts of Alexander the Great.

          It would be more accurate to say there are no surviving eyewitness accounts of Alexander the Great.

          Alexander the Great (July 356 BC – June 323 BC)

          The following from link (for the purpose of quick reference): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callisthenes

          “Callisthenes (c.360 – 328 BC) was the son of Hero (niece of Aristotle), the daughter of Proxenus of Atarneus and Arimneste, which made him the great nephew of Aristotle by his sister Arimneste. They first met when Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great. Through his great-uncle’s influence, he was later appointed to attend Alexander the Great on his Asiatic expedition as the official historian.

          Callisthenes wrote an account of Alexander’s expedition up to the time of his own execution, a history of Greece from the Peace of Antalcidas (387) to the Phocian war (357), a history of the Phocian war, and other works, all of which have perished.

          However, his account of Alexander’s expedition was preserved long enough to be mined as a direct or indirect source for other histories that have survived. Polybius ( c. 200 – c.118 BC) scolds Callisthenes for his poor descriptions of the battles of Alexander.”

        • Jack Baynes

          I guess you must believe in UFOs because of all the eyewitness testimony about them we have.

        • And Bigfoot. And Nessie.

        • Philmonomer

          Eleven people swore that they saw Joseph Smith’s gold plates.

        • Even after Smith excommunicated some of them, they never recanted.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Lots of people were “witnessed” commiting crimes they didn’t commit. Our forensic studies are far more reliable than human memory.

        • Dys

          Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable.

          http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-the-eyes-have-it/
          http://www.innocenceproject.org/causes/eyewitness-misidentification/

          So while it is evidence, it’s not particularly good evidence.

        • Argus

          If you can provide some compelling empirical evidence, your case that Christianity is true will be strengthened. If all you have is alleged eyewitness testimony (eyewitness to what precisely?) then you are basing a huge claim on what is normally considered the lowest level of evidentiary standards.

    • If God didn’t exist, he would look exactly like he does now–as a vaguely evidenced thing that requires faith to accept. If he existed, it would be obvious that he were here. There would be no game in simply knowing that he existed. He wouldn’t look just like all the other (nonexistent) gods.

      • al kimeea

        Ya, like all the other immortal and deceased gods

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      “says when you’re serious about looking, you will find me.”

      No, Jesus doesn’t, but he can feel free to say so before this comment is posted in 32

    • kraut2

      Why should I even attempt to look for someone who is hiding?
      Could it not be that
      a. Nothing there to be found
      b. he is so ashamed of a creation he fucked up badly that he doesn’t want to be found?

      Any god who demands a search without supplying enough evidence for his existence (and no, the existence of you and the Universe does not count as evidence for his existence, the necessity of his existence for the existence of anything else is a falsified hypothesis) and then threatening those who rationally conclude there is nothing to be found with hellfire is too absurd and disgusting to any thinking person.
      But in my experience – there is nothing too disgusting for religious personal to defend their righteous beliefs, from chopping off heads to burning women and children alive.

    • eric

      He didn’t hide before (see: the bible). So clearly the ‘he hides so we may seek’ thing isn’t necessary for salvation. If even one person goes to hell because they didn’t believe in the hidden god, when they would have accepted a non-hidden God, then God has basically caused people to end up in hell because of an optional behavior preference on his part. That’s not very benevolent.

    • Argus

      To me, no argument against Christianity is necessary. Until such time that Christians can demonstrate the claims of their religion are true, the default position is skepticism.

      How did you determine that God desires to “hide that we may seek and says when you’re serious about looking, you will find me.” How have you been able to determine this claim is true?

      Thanks and have a great day!

    • He hides that we may seek

      What a dick.

      … Of course, that’s inconsistent with his supposedly benevolent nature, so the simpler conclusion is that YHWH doesn’t exist.

    • Max Doubt

      “A lot of people can attest to the validity of seriously searching and then finding, myself included.”

      Well, the tale you tell here on August 26 describing your enlightenment pretty much makes you out to be a liar, doesn’t it?

      • MR

        Oh, thanks for pointing me to that. Somehow I missed it.

        Man, that reads like a close encounter of the third kind–complete with probing.

        Now I wonder, how can we discern the truth of someone’s story about getting visited by Jesus, from one of being visited by aliens, or having seen Bigfoot or Nessie, or from someone who is simply lying, having a false memory, or a memory that has evolved over time from something that didn’t really happen the way they remember it (my mother was a master of that)? Why doesn’t this type of experience happen to Christians all the time? Even as a Christian I’d have been skeptical about this one. And what of similar tales from competing religions? I wonder if he would believe a contradictory religious experience by a Mormon, Muslim or Mystic. I dunno….

  • Does God reveal himself to those who diligently search for
    him?

    Jesus said; seek and ye shall find.

    In the Old Testament God also said; when you are serious
    about looking you will find me.

    The legitimacy of my quest was confirmed by signs- but I am jumping
    ahead of myself.

    Any testimony always starts at the beginning- not in the
    middle- so let’s begin there- twenty three years ago.

    I never considered myself a religious or spiritual person in
    any way, only had a rudimentary understanding of Christianity and except for
    rare family occasions- was unchurched.

    In practical terms I probably fell into the category of
    Deist- for those who prefer labels.

    The sequence of events that occurred one late afternoon is
    permanently etched in my mind- I opened the backdoor to my house and walked
    outside straight into an encounter of the supernatural kind.

    As everything about that encounter was so vivid-I even
    remembered my state of mind- I felt oddly self-conscious.

    That’s when I became aware of a presence in the form of an
    entity a couple of meters away – viewed out of the corner of my eye. I had my
    back to him as I was cleaning out the drain. His head and shoulders stood above the neighbour’s wall so it was
    established he was very tall. I thought to myself; what type of mad person is
    that- he must be standing on a chair to be so tall- what does he want? I
    refused to look at him directly.

    Then curiosity got the better of me. I thought if I looked
    at him very discreetly without him noticing it would all be okay.

    As I did so I was pulled along and right around by what can
    only be described as a magnetic force,

    resulting in a face-to-face encounter with the entity.

    I must emphasise that this action happened so quickly I
    literally didn’t know what hit me.

    The entity was a man- with long hair- and from what could be
    seen of his garb- was dressed in a robe.

    This was no jeans and tee-shirt type guy.

    As I looked into his eyes- mesmerised- they changed colour
    from brown –to blue- then to silver.

    There was no verbal communication during this encounter- but
    I remember thinking – he’s looking right through me- what does he see- the
    expression ‘feeling naked’ is probably an apt one as it was similar to being
    probed by some super search light.

    I remember being fascinated by his eyes and attempted to
    stare into them- they became like a kaleidoscope as the entity pulled back- or
    faded- until there was just a singular light in the distance- and was gone.

    I just stood their dazed for a couple of minutes- still
    trying to work-out how the entity had managed to ‘swing’ me around from my
    position.

    I walked back into the house thinking; what just happened?

    Over the years I pondered about that day- the possibility
    that it might have been Jesus at the back of my mind.

    Fast forward eleven years- I was having some type of identity
    crisis and appeared to be at a crossroads.

    I toyed with the idea of examining Christianity in depth and
    so bought some books on the topic.

    I read voraciously taking it all in- even studying the
    Anglican Book of Common Prayer with its ritual prayers to assist the uninitiated.

    In addition I realized I should familiarise myself with the
    Bible thinking the Gospels were a good place to start.

    I began this task one evening- after reading the portion I
    assigned myself- retired to bed.

    I woke up the next morning with an unsettling feeling- just lying
    on the bed thinking.

    The next moment what can only be described as someone
    opening the doors of my ears with a key- the sound reverberating in my ears- I
    heard the male voice speak loudly- saying the words; praise God- and my ears shut
    again.

    On another occasion a thought; there’s someone at the door
    popped into my head- so I looked toward the door and saw the figure of Jesus
    standing there. This occurred inside my house.

    My testimony concludes with my being baptised with the Holy
    Spirit- physically experiencing this as a ‘force’ from the outside entering right
    through me at waist level before exiting.

    To coincide with the verse; Out of your belly shall flow
    living water”

    • busterggi

      And a Christian urban legend is repeated yet again.

      • MR

        You’ve seen this story before?

        • Myna A.

          I was wondering that, too. The story, itself, reads like a routine penny dreadful.

    • kraut2

      “Does God reveal himself to those who diligently search for
      him?

      In the Old Testament God also said; when you are serious
      about looking you will find me.”

      A god who is apparently just a pre-teen wants to play hide and seek with me he/she can fuck himself.

    • Greg G.

      Does God reveal himself to those who diligently search for
      him?

      Jesus said; seek and ye shall find.

      In the Old Testament God also said; when you are serious
      about looking you will find me.

      I never considered myself a religious or spiritual person in
      any way, only had a rudimentary understanding of Christianity and except for rare family occasions- was unchurched.

      So you were not diligently searching, seeking, or seriously searching. Jesus appeared to you because you are special while the rest of us must seek.

      • Joe

        He had a vision of the very person he was desperately seeking at the time. How ironic.

    • adam

      ….

    • Max Doubt

      “That’s when I became aware of a presence in the form of an entity a couple of meters away – viewed out of the corner of my eye. I had my back to him as I was cleaning out the drain. His head and shoulders stood above the neighbour’s wall so it was established he was very tall. I thought to myself; what type of mad person is that- he must be standing on a chair to be so tall- what does he want? I refused to look at him directly. […] I just stood their dazed for a couple of minutes- still trying to work-out how the entity had managed to ‘swing’ me around from my position. […] The next moment what can only be described as someone opening the doors of my ears with a key- the sound reverberating in my ears- I heard the male voice speak loudly- saying the words; praise God- and my ears shut again. […] On another occasion a thought; there’s someone at the door popped into my head- so I looked toward the door and saw the figure of Jesus standing there. This occurred inside my house.”

      Please fill us in on the results of the psychiatric evaluations you had after these experiences. Also, let us know the results of the toxicology reports you had done within a few hours of the experiences.

      • Joe

        Jesus is reduced to playing prank calls on unsuspecting Christians nowadays. Isn’t there a better way to spread his message?

    • Myna A.

      The entity was a man- with long hair- and from what could be
      seen of his garb- was dressed in a robe.

      Did he look astonishingly like Cesare Borgia?

    • Kevin K

      Some years ago, I had a summer job between college years working a loading dock at a factory. The reason I got assigned the job is that no one else wanted to work with the full-time guy. Because a few weeks prior, he had RUSHED into the big bosses’ office declaring that he had seen Jesus in the company’s elevator.

      He had just gotten out of the loony bin, and so the other guys were naturally wary of him. I found him to be a pleasant guy, who did not speak of his vision of Jesus in the elevator. He taught me to use a forklift.

      • MR

        I was making a turn at a light in Hollywood one day but had to wait for Jesus to cross the intersection dragging a ten-foot cross. I didn’t think anything about it until I noticed that the cross had training wheels attached and I thought, “Hey, that’s cheating!” Then I realized I’d just been watching Jesus drag a ten-foot cross across the intersection and hadn’t thought twice about it. That’s when I knew I’d been in LA too long.

      • Greg G.

        Jesus taught him to use a forklift. See how the apostolic succession works?

    • Max Doubt

      “My testimony concludes with…”

      When your alleged encounter with a god is indistinguishable from a rather unimaginative work of fiction, an episode of poisoning or intoxication, a lucid dream, or the symptoms of a severe mental illness, you’re going to need a lot more than just the telling of the tale to convince sane intelligent people that it actually occurred.