The Most Powerful Argument Against Christianity

The Most Powerful Argument Against Christianity August 10, 2016

problem of divine hiddenness Christianity atheismWhy is evidence for God so sparse? If God wants a relationship with us and knows that hell awaits those who don’t know him, why doesn’t he make his existence obvious? I’ve always found this Problem of Divine Hiddenness to be the most powerful argument against Christianity.

Does God’s revealing himself intrude on our free will?

The Wintery Knight blog cites Prof. Michael Murray, who argues that God’s hands are tied. He just can’t reveal too much:

God places a higher value on people having the free will to respond to him, and if he shows too much of himself he takes away their free choice to respond to him, because once he is too overt about his existence, people will just feel obligated to [believe] in him in order to avoid being punished.

But that’s not how belief works. There might be benefits to belief, but you believe if and only if you have convincing evidence. When you’re convinced, then you believe. This, by the way, is the failure of Pascal’s Wager (“I’ll believe in God, just in case, so that if he exists I’ll go to the good place when I die”).

Murray claims that God wants us to desire to know him and then reach out to connect rather than act out of fear of what will happen if we get on his bad side (which sounds like a tricky juggling act).

If it is too obvious to us that God exists and that he really will judge us, then people will respond to him and behave morally out of self-preservation.

On this topic, Christian apologist Greg Koukl is an unlikely ally in our fight for reason. He rejects this argument from free will by noting that in the Bible, God did appear to people, precisely what apologists like Murray say God refuses to do. God appeared as smoke and fire to the Israelites during the Exodus. Jesus did miracles, he healed people, he multiplied food, he controlled nature, and he raised the dead.

And consider the apostles—did witnessing the miracles of Jesus make their belief and love counterfeit? Did Paul’s Damascus road experience disqualify him from being a proper believer? (If not, then how about some of that evidence for us today?)

Because of Jesus, was the free will of everyone in Palestine violated, with many turned into mindless robots who said nothing but, “I … love … Jesus”? No, the Bible makes clear that belief in God doesn’t coerce one to follow God. John 6:66 says, “Many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” Or consider the authorities who acknowledged that Jesus raised Lazarus—they still plotted to kill him. All the angels believe in God, and yet a third of them rebelled.

The Bible itself makes clear that being convinced of God’s existence and being compelled to worship him are two very different things. And the problem of God’s hiddenness remains.

Introducing today’s contestants

That was a long introduction to the third and final question raised by skeptics and posed to Koukl on the Unbelievable podcast (audio here; go to 45:50). Previous questions were about prayer and the Atonement.

The free will argument above was just a tangent to the main question, raised by skeptic Matt. Here is his version of the Problem of Divine Hiddenness: nonresistant unbelief exists. This is unbelief by honest seekers who are eager to know God but reject God’s existence for lack of evidence. Assuming that God desires to have a relationship with us, merely knowing that the other person exists is the mandatory first step in a relationship. God’s existence should be obvious to these seekers and yet it isn’t. This is easily explained by concluding that God doesn’t exist.

Why should God bother?

Koukl pushed back by observing that, in his Bible examples, not everyone believed. People had miracles done in front of them, and yet they still didn’t believe—so much for the compelling power of evidence.

First, let’s clarify what “believed” means. I don’t think there are any Bible stories where someone in the audience said, “Hold on—I saw that trick in Vegas. He put it up his sleeve!” Everyone seemed to believe that miracles had been done, so Koukl must mean that not everyone became a Christian. Let’s then be careful to distinguish these two very different kinds of “believe”: “I accept that God exists” vs. “I worship God.”

Second, he’s probably right that not everyone would believe if God made his existence plain, but that’s a helluva lot more evidence than we have now. Maybe not everybody, but surely millions or even billions more would be convinced and believe if God made his existence clear. Matt’s argument about nonresistant unbelief would be gone.

Apologists are burdened with a Bible that is no more convincing than other ancient religious writing. If God made himself apparent so that Christianity were the only religion backed by a real god, you can be sure that Christians’ pious handwaving about faith would go out the window, and they would gleefully point to the only obvious deity—theirs—that proved that they had been right all along.

Let’s make clear what compelling evidence for God would look like. This wouldn’t simply be the clouds parting one day just as you wondered if God existed. It wouldn’t be unexpectedly coming across a photo of a beloved relative who had died. I’m talking about something really compelling—something like everyone in the world having the same dream the same night in which God simply and clearly summarizes his plan. Could that be dismissed as alien technology or mind-control drugs rather than God? Perhaps, but this evidence would be vastly more compelling than the feeble arguments apologists are saddled with today.

Finally, Koukl is complaining that this wouldn’t be a perfect plan, but what does he propose that’s better? The skeptic’s demand for evidence is quite reasonable.

Continue to part 2, where we see what Koukl thinks is a reasonable request for evidence.


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  • Kingasaurus

    —“Murray claims that God wants us to desire to know him and then reach out
    to connect rather than act out of fear of what will happen if we get on
    his bad side (which sounds like a tricky juggling act).”—-

    But don’t people act out of fear already? How many pushy Christians say they work extra hard to try to convert people because the idea of lost souls burning in hell keeps them up at night?

    Appealing to fear happens all the time when it comes to trying to compel belief. The idea that this would instantly become a unique problem only if God happened to be more obvious about his existence is just silly.

    • Joe

      “But don’t people act out of fear already? How many pushy Christians say they work extra hard to try to convert people because the idea of lost souls burning in hell keeps them up at night?”

      That was my thought exactly.

  • trj

    God revealed himself to the entire pre-Israelite people (all 2-3 millions of them) in the most obvious and physical manners: a giant pillar of fire and smoke for them to follow through the desert, booming voice, earthquakes, what have you. And he helped them cross the Red Sea and totally vanquished their persecutors most spectacularly.

    How could anyone doubt Jahwe was the most fierce, mighty god in existence, and that he favored their people? The evidence was right in their face. Yet as soon as Moses turns his back they decide to worship another god and create a golden idol.

    Story-wise, this just seems like an incredible stretch to me, but let’s pretend it happened that way. My point then is, if someone who has been given such clear evidence of God still chose to rebel against him at the first opportunity, then why should we pay any heed to the Christians’ claim that evidence of God deprives us of our free will?

    • Kingasaurus

      All these apologetics are rather poor attempts to explain why a god who behaves exactly as if he’s the imaginary creation of ancient people, instead actually exists.

      The Divine Hiddenness problem is a tough thing to try to explain away. And, of course, the explanations only seem convincing to those who desperately want to be convinced.

      • Ficino

        It’s like The Music of the Spheres. We never hear it because it’s always sounding in the whole universe. Because it’s always in the background for all humans’ whole lives, no one notices it.

        In other words, it’s indistinguishable from no music.

        Kinda the same.

      • Joe

        There’s nothing known to exist that has NO evidence (that’s actually so obvious as to be tautological). Evidence can be assumed to be a necessary property of existence. So far god does not posses that property.

        • Pofarmer

          What if it’s only philosophical evidence.

        • Joe

          That’s a kind of evidence. However, nobody has yes established a link between a philosophical argument being able to create something other than a concept. A concept of a thing is not the same as an ontologically real thing. You can’t sit on the idea of a chair.

      • TheNuszAbides

        The Divine Hiddenness problem is a tough thing to try to explain away.

        that’s putting it generously. the fact that it is a problem is the only thing that can be explained at all — coherently and honestly, anyway.

    • Dannorth

      Well, Duh!

      I also was stricken by the fact that Diaspora Jews stayed faithful for 2 000 years with persecution and no clear sign from God while as you stated their ancestors would worship other gods at the drop of a hat despite having been witnesses to countless miracles.

      An explanation of that is simply that much of the Old Testament is propaganda for nascent monotheism in the times of King Josiah.

      The book “The Bible Unearthed” provides a great overview of what historical and archeological supports that view.

    • MNb

      “Story-wise, this just seems like an incredible stretch to me.”
      Let’s pretend it did not happen that way – that it’s all about meaning. That meaning is obvious. The author made your conclusion clear: it’s totally possible to have strong evidence for god and still to rebel.
      The same for Adam and Eve.
      Thanks for making this clear.

      • mz

        Not to mention Lucifer.

  • I’ve been struggling with my faith for a while, and you really gave me a lot to think about with this post. Not sure if I should hate you or thank you

    • Speedwell

      If you really want to see what’s up with this argument, imagine if your parent or partner operated the same way… “if I actually showed up, then your love wouldn’t mean as much, but I really love you, trust me… oh, and you need to show up more often”.

      • Ficino

        Yes. I remember once reading the analogy that God’s strategy as described by Prof. Michael Murray, quoted in the OP, is like a friend or lover who never shows up. You only get a neighbor telling you what her cousin said she read in a letter that someone else said that the lover/friend said s/he loves you.

        My cat is in my lap right now, purring. If she wants to show me more affection, she licks me with her tongue. She doesn’t increase the meritorious quality of my love for her by hiding all day behind the cabinet and never coming out.

        • Uzza

          God’s love is like a cockroach. 🙂

        • adam

          It scatters when the lights come on?

        • Joe

          It can be killed with a rolled-up newspaper?

        • Lap kitty!

        • Joe

          My cats are better people than this god, and even many other humans I’ve encountered. They give endless love and ask for very little in return.

          The biblical god gives nothing, and asks you to dedicate eternity to him for a reward you’ll only find out you qualify for after it’s too late to change.

        • TheNuszAbides

          The biblical god gives nothing

          which is exactly why the narrative has to give up all real human agency by stubbornly insisting that he gives everything — because Creator, amirite? (and when that wasn’t solid enough, they added The Passion. blech.)

    • This is a harsh outlook, but you might consider that God has a habit of abandoning people, for a time, who repeatedly don’t want to hear what he has to say. God will even intensify the rebellion: Ezek 20:18–26 and 2 Thess 2:1–12, especially 20:25 and 2:11. If the frog is slowly turning the temperature up on the pot he’s in, might it be merciful for God to jack up the temperature, in the hopes that the frog might jump out?

      I’m going to go on for a bit because I think you’re at an excellent spot, spiritually. It seems that you suspect there is something deeply wrong with Christianity as you’ve experienced it; I want to suggest that you’re right.

      I would add a critical correction to the radical individualism which so pervades the modern mind: even if a given person feels like [s]he is open to God, it could be that what [s]he implicitly accepts as good could be terribly evil (like slavery). And it could be that society as a whole is so resistant to changing that God must let them explore the consequences of their actions (he gives them empirical evidence), since they would not trust him (a better rendering of pisteuō). I don’t think God just wants to rescue a few people and then burn creation to bits; instead I think he wants to redeem the whole thing, and my judgment is that this requires a strategy change relevant to the hiddenness problem—especially when Christians are failing Deut 4:5–8 as badly as the Israelites did, and [too many] are better described by Paul’s Rom 2:23–24.

      French sociologist and Christian Jacques Ellul wrote Hope in Time of Abandonment in 1972 because he thought Christians in his time were [largely] abandoned by God, in the style of Babylonian captivity. You even see that precise metaphor being used in the 2015-07-11 World magazine article Our exile in Babylon, although you will find no mention there of what Christians might have done (or failed to do) to get carried off into captivity. I suspect that we Christians are still too guilty of serving power instead of challenging it, as Chris Hedges describes:

          The liberal class refuses to recognize the obvious because it does not want to lose its comfortable and often well-paid perch. Churches and universities—in elite schools such as Princeton, professors can earn $180,000 a year—enjoy tax-exempt status as long as they refrain from overt political critiques. Labor leaders make lavish salaries and are considered junior partners within corporate capitalism as long as they do not speak in the language of class struggle. Politicians, like generals, are loyal to the demands of the corporate state in power and retire to become millionaires as lobbyists or corporate managers. Artists who use their talents to foster the myths and illusions that bombard our society live comfortably in the Hollywood Hills. (Death of the Liberal Class, 10)

      Anyhow, I fully realize that the above is 100% consistent with God not existing. But there is some empirical testing one can do: is it sometimes the case that people have to be left wallowing in their terribleness before they’re really willing to be helped? I think this is obviously true. Until there is enough desire to accept God’s helping but disciplining hand, what can he say to us that would truly aid us? I doubt it is very often merely a cognitive problem—not having the right ‘beliefs’. I think that ultimately, the problem is of the future you imagine, of the kind of world you want to bring into existence and the path you wish to take. As far as I can tell, few Christians have compelling, excellent visions of the future. At best, it’s a world free from ‘prejudice’ where everyone gets to choose their own identity. Or it’s a world where the righteous authorities are always obeyed. Is there really no more glorious option? I believe there must be, and want to find it. Maybe I’ve convinced you to think in this direction, too. 😐

      • Speedwell

        That’s f*cking abusive.

        • adam

          ..

        • Do explain. I tell @sbethcaplin:disqus that I think she’s onto something, and somehow that’s not just “abusive”, nor “abusive“, but “f*cking abusive?

        • Speedwell

          I’m appalled that religion could so twist a man’s sense of right and wrong that he is unable to tell when he is supporting an inhumanly evil doctrine.

        • Ah, more vagueness?

        • Speedwell

          Seriously? My whole point is that you’re incapable of distinguishing this for yourself. Grow a conscience.

        • So I’m supposed to learn something without you or anyone else helping. Who’s the one here who believes in magic?

        • Speedwell

          No, you’re supposed to be a thinking, feeling human being… quite natural, really. What’s unnatural is your brainwashing.

        • Alternatively, you actually have no idea what I said which was “f*cking abusive.

        • Speedwell

          You’re trying much too hard. Why not use some of that energy to re-read the appalling drivel you originally wrote and compare the actions of your God to how you should act if you love someone in a healthy, comprehensible way?

        • Have you ever dealt with an addict who didn’t want to get well? Or do you think God somehow speaking to humanity and saying that catastrophic climate change is impending would actually change their behavior? If all you mean is that God should mind-control humans into doing what you think is “the right thing”, then do please say so.

        • Speedwell

          Have you ever punished a child who did what you didn’t tell them not to do? A good God wouldn’t need your specious excuses.

        • Yes: in a recent Sunday School, one of the children stomped and crumpled another kid’s paper airplane, with zero provocation. So I had a little chat with him.

          But perhaps the above doesn’t actually fit your category of “what you didn’t tell them not to do”. Perhaps you’d like to give some concrete examples relevant to the current discussion, instead of remaining in the land called Vague?

        • Speedwell

          How about you stop defending the indefensible? Really, now.

        • Given that you’ve failed to identify what “the indefensible” is—other than vaguely hand-waving at my entire comment—I just don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s like you relish vagueness. I surely hope you don’t think that your behavior right now is the kind of thing that makes the world a better place.

        • Speedwell

          Vagueness? All anyone has to do is read your original post to see how brainwashed you are and how you defend religious abuse. Are you afraid God will punish you for thinking? I’m done here; you haven’t done anything but play games and defend your abusive religion with its abuser God.

        • Apparently, you’re unable to actually explain how I’m brainwashed. And then you make up shit about me being afraid. Given your repeated refusal to offer concrete clarification, a rational conclusion is that you’re bullshitting.

        • Kodie

          The rational conclusion is that you don’t know yourself.

        • Speedwell

          Oh, cut it out with the stupid tactic. Everyone here can read your original post, and the rational ones who know what “love” is can draw the correct conclusions.

        • One way God shows his love is to carefully point out the error of people’s ways. (See the many prophets.) The idea is that they might reform their ways, and sometimes they do! Apparently that’ isn’t part of what you mean by the term?

        • Ignorant Amos

          How do you know your YahwehJesus isn’t using the catastrophic climate change as a means of teaching humanity another lesson? It’s efforts to date have failed to change behaviour. But how can that be? Failed? God? Sheesh, something erroneous with that picture.

          Can’t use a flood, that would be promise breaking. Fire and brimstone is so biblical and not suiting our technological advances.

        • Kodie

          You don’t have any of your own thoughts? You can’t figure out what to do or how to feel on your own, or at least socialization? Nobody said you had to do anything without help, it’s just that you’re making a figment of your imagination an actual agent in your life, which is false. It’s you making your mind up, trying something else, and getting

          different results – except in the case where you fucking overdo it with posting and linking and being such a douche about making excuses. I’m speaking generally – people can change, they follow better advice, they make better habits, and you think that’s god’s intervention when different actions beget improved results, which is childish and superstitious and ignorant of all the world around you.

        • adam

          “Who’s the one here who believes in magic?”

      • adam

        “This is a harsh outlook, but you might consider that God has a habit of abandoning people, for a time, who repeatedly don’t want to hear what he has to say.”

        Yeah, who supports slavery and rape now a days

      • adam

        ” As far as I can tell, few Christians have compelling, excellent visions of the future.”

        Well they do have the one given to them by the ‘bible’:

      • Joe

        “If the frog is slowly turning the temperature up on the pot he’s in, might it be merciful for God to jack up the temperature, in the hopes that the frog might jump out?”

        No. It would be merciful to turn the temperature down. It would be sadistic to turn the temperature up.

        • adam

          “It would be sadistic to turn the temperature up.”

          So not all that unusual for the character “God” out of the bible…

        • Joe

          Not at all. I’ve long affirmed that humans are better, and more powerful (in some instances) than god. For example, I can build something too heavy for me to lift. God cannot. I would stop a child from being abused. God can or will not. Take your pick.

          As for the frog. Myself, as a ‘mere fallen, sinful human’ would stop and help the frog out of its predicament. There is no reward in it for me, the frog is incapable of even offering thanks. Yet I’d do it anyway. What excuse does an omnipotent god have? Especially if there were no human witnesses to risk having their precious free will interfered with. Is he worried that the frog won’t have good reasons to be a Christian?

        • So God should just override our choices when they’re sufficiently bad? Instead of providing us with that empirical evidence that atheists love so much, God should magically alter us in ways we might not be able to perceive, and at the very best leaves zero empirical evidence behind?

        • Joe

          What choice did the frog make?

          What would be wrong with your second proposal? If it’s an either/or situation I’ll take empirical evidence. However, the other situation would be preferable to suffering needlessly. Don’t you agree?

        • What choice did the frog make?

          To start turning the temperature up and not stop increasing it.

          What would be wrong with your second proposal?

          The one which leaves no empirical evidence, and isn’t a consequence of our choosing to trust God, but is instead a result of irrational/​arational/​unknowable magic?

        • Joe

          “To start turning the temperature up and not stop increasing it.”

          You’re begging the question that the frog is deliberately making that choice. Are we talking about a frog in this analogy, or a metaphor for a human? If so, what is analogous to a boiling pan?

        • You’re begging the question that the frog is deliberately making that choice.

          I’m not sure I care if the choice is deliberate or accidental. Let’s look at the Great Depression in the US. Was that deliberate or accidental? I think the better question is whether wise people could have seen what was coming and could have applied the brakes. Or were we fat, happy, and ignorant? That would be culpable irresponsibility to understand the probably consequences of our actions.

          I had an interesting conversation with a friend (an atheist, if you’re curious) who got in early on Google, and left with enough money to never have to work again. He thinks that democracy today is actually just a way to keep the masses happy; they don’t actually have that much true power. We were talking about the Great Recession and he suggested that the rich were getting smarter, and keeping the damage below the level required to instigate something like another New Deal. The 1% could be smart enough to keep the 99% just happy enough so that they won’t revolt. Now, it’s not clear that such a strategy is really in play, and the Sanders/​Trump phenomenon indicates that it might be failing. But perhaps Clinton will get elected, the 1% will see this as a warning shot across their bow, and they’ll make enough concessions to stave of the eruption of the next demagogue for some decades. A way God could intervene is to somehow foil the rich’s plan (if there is one) and make the situation worsen quickly enough so that the 99% wake up and start doing things to change the situation for the better.

        • Joe

          You don’t answer my question, you just go on a long, rambling diatribe about the great depression and US politics.

          In your analogy, what is the frog and what is the pan? It’s a simple question.

        • Kodie

          You’re so fucking dense.

        • adam

          “So God should just override our choices when they’re sufficiently bad?”

          Well then who would it torture mercilessly for eternity?

        • Kingasaurus

          The frog isn’t in charge of how hot the water is.

        • Ahh, so humans aren’t responsible for climate change, weren’t responsible for WWI or WWII, etc.?

        • Kingasaurus

          Your analogy is off. You’re making excuses for a God who we are told can do anything, and who instead ends up doing nothing demonstrable whatsoever. God is untimately in charge of everything, including our make-up, inclinations and tendencies.

          If your God behaves in the identical way an imaginary being would “behave” (doing nothing and instead having sympathetic humans make excuses as to why he’s so silent, invisible and impotent) then I have no alternative other than to put him in the mental box with all the other invisible beings that everyone agrees are imaginary.

          God is in the leprechaun-fairies-pixies-Loch Ness Monster box unless your evidence imporoves substantially. Not holding my breath.

        • You’re making excuses for a God who we are told can do anything, and who instead ends up doing nothing demonstrable whatsoever.

          God faces many restrictions if he wants humans to be free moral agents who are not merely puppets. Now, he can certainly ask that we trust him without the kind of preceding empirical evidence that atheists frequently drool over (in my experience). But we seem to live in an age where God is neither needed nor wanted by those in power (because he would point out injustice and unrighteousness). And unless he adheres to an ethics where “Might makes right.”, he cannot just topple the status quo and set up a new order, after the style of the French Revolution. So one option is to let humans experience a world without his grace, mercy, and wisdom. Won’t that deliver the empirical evidence many atheists love so dearly?

          God is untimately in charge of everything, including our make-up, inclinations and tendencies.

          I would say that God could be ultimately in charge of everything, but that would be for him to create a world of robots. If one of the things God can do is create morally free agents, then after that point, he cannot go back and make them robots, unless the status of ‘morally free agent’ is also squashed. Said differently, either there is only really one causal power—whether it be God or the laws of nature—or there are multiple, irreducible causal powers. In the latter case, you could have true, ontological moral responsibility for your actions. Do you not wish to have this kind of responsibility? Because either you have it, or God dominates every aspect of your make-up.

          If your God behaves in the identical way an imaginary being would “behave” (doing nothing and instead having sympathetic humans make excuses as to why he’s so silent, invisible and impotent) then I have no alternative other than to put him in the mental box with all the other invisible beings that everyone agrees are imaginary.

          It might surprise you, but I actually have no problem with you doing that. I will remain one of those people who wants God to act again, but recognizes that God wants humans to cooperate with him instead of merely dominating them. Until enough humans voluntarily choose to cooperate, God will be able to work along the margins (where Jesus did a lot of his work), but won’t have many options with folks like you.

        • Kodie

          God only faces restrictions you make up for him, excuses for why he doesn’t act, fictions you think are credible. You suppose he prefers morally free humans, first of all, but then you also think he is present and active in your life because you imagine that to be true. So, once you “submit” to belief, he “appears” – that’s how you frame being an adult with an imaginary friend and try to be taken seriously. In actuality, something else is active in your life, something that is mostly you, and your imagination, your thoughts, your wants, your wishes. Actually god did not appear in your life, you imagine and associate things that happen that involve you have god’s presence to thank. You actually are plenty satisfied in a life without god’s existence. You can’t admit it, because you have a childish, superstitious mind.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You don’t half write some pish for a person who is clearly not that asinine.

          God faces many restrictions if he wants humans to be free moral agents who are not merely puppets.

          His religions didn’t get the memo. BTW, can the all powerful be restricted? Dosen’t sound logical to me.

          Now, he can certainly ask that we trust him without the kind of preceding empirical evidence that atheists frequently drool over (in my experience).

          Who is this “we” you refer to?

          But we seem to live in an age where God is neither needed nor wanted by those in power (because he would point out injustice and unrighteousness).

          And yet the majority of the worlds leaders and the most powerful are indeed are religious. But since your god is/has been incapable of pointing out injustice and unrighteousness, ever, we seem to live in an age similar to all other ages. Are mega killing and suffering forcing tsunami’s justified and righteous?

          And unless he adheres to an ethics where “Might makes right.”, he cannot just topple the status quo and set up a new order, after the style of the French Revolution.

          Like with Adam & Eve, Noah and the Flood, Sodom & Gomorrah, the two she bears and the baldy prophet, the 10 plagues of Egypt, etc..ya mean?

          So one option is to let humans experience a world without his grace, mercy, and wisdom.

          Sounds dead on to me…like something we already experience ya might think. As opposed to a time when the story has this cunt getting involved an a world with his grace, mercy, and wisdom.ya mean? How did that work out in your dopey book that passes yer muster? Ask Nadab and Abihu about their experience of YahwehJesus’ grace, mercy and wisdom.

          Won’t that deliver the empirical evidence many atheists love so dearly?

          What a cretin. Your head is away with the fairies ya daft goatskin.

      • The Eh’theist

        It’s very convenient to use a being that hasn’t shown up for roll call in forever to sockpuppet your misogynistic thrill seeking. Please go do something humane in the hopes that it will give you an ounce of self-worth so that you can break the cycle of self-soothing by demeaning others.

        • Pray tell me, how was I demeaning @sbethcaplin:disqus?

      • Joe

        “The liberal class refuses to recognize the obvious because it does not want to lose its comfortable and often well-paid perch. Churches and universities—in elite schools such as Princeton, professors can earn $180,000 a year—enjoy tax-exempt status as long as they refrain from overt political critiques.”

        Churches enjoy tax-exempt status anyway, and do not even have the courtesy to refrain from overt political critiques. Plus they have been the wealthiest and most powerful organizations in a time when the majority of people live in abject poverty.

        • adam

          “Plus they have been the wealthiest and most powerful organizations in a time when the majority of people live in abject poverty.”

          Really?

        • Joe

          Look at the Catholic church even today. They’re a billion dollar industry. Now look at places like South America where they have tremendous popularity.

        • adam
        • (1) None of this obviates IRS: Charities, Churches and Politics. The laws are there, ready to be enforced. Perhaps all that is needed is another liberal judge on SCOTUS to enact a radical shift in enforcement. And I’ll bet you that churches in more liberal areas of the country are more afraid to violate the law. So I’m inclined to say that Hedges’ point still has a lot of merit.

          (2) I suggest a look at the 2012-02-05 Huffington Post article, We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger. Is the reason we can’t end hunger that rich, powerful churchgoing persons are obstructing that process? I highly doubt it, especially given the incredible secularization of the international intelligentsia (one of the places where the secularization thesis is true).

          (3) The books The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy and Missing Persons: A Critique of the Personhood in the Social Sciences contain critiques of how intellectuals have approached welfare, and how the desire for a false objectivity and distorting mathematical beauty (rational choice theory) have deeply damaged our ability to help those most in need. Again, we’re talking about what those in academia have come up with, and they’ve been secularized since the early 1920s (see The Secular Revolution).

          (4) This blaming of the religious and/or Christians in particular is a very standard atheist tactic, but it’s just not clear that the evidence supports your position. For more, I suggest a read of the 2014 Skeptical Inquirer article Would the World Be Better Off Without Religion? A Skeptic’s Guide to the Debate. There is also William T. Cavanaugh’s The Myth of Religious Violence.

        • Joe

          Yawn. Please try to keep your replies brief.

          Also, don’t attack a straw man position. I’m not claiming the church was SOLELY responsible for all the things you mention. I’m saying the reason they are tax exempt is not to keep them from meddling in politics. Precisely the opposite. The Catholic Church WAS politics throughout the history of Europe. Even to this day, their tax-exempt status is protected by sympathetic politicians.

        • I just don’t see how you are vitiating Chris Hedges’ point. The 1% don’t give two shits about what churches or academics say if it doesn’t actually threaten their power base. And I don’t think either is threatening their power base.

        • adam

          “And I’ll bet you that churches in more liberal areas of the country are more afraid to violate the law. ”

          Why would they violate the law in the first place?

        • Joe

          I this the same law that I’m repeatedly told is based on ‘Judeo-Christian values’.

        • Jack Baynes

          1) Yes, how horrible that some churches obey the law like Jesus told them to.

        • All nonprofits (there are many more than churches and universities) are tax exempt.

          The crime is that they’re all obliged to open their books to prove they’ve spent their gift wisely … except for churches. Why churches, which imagine God looking over their shoulder, should want such a pass, I can’t imagine. It’s almost like they want to hide how they spend society’s money.

        • Joe

          Why they need money when god created everything in the universe is probably a discussion for another time.

      • adam

        “I don’t think God just wants to rescue a few people and then burn creation to bits; instead I think he wants to redeem the whole thing,”

        You THINK?

        But your saying he just cant figure out a way to do that?

      • Susan

        Or it’s all just made up.

        • Michael Neville

          That gets my vote.

      • Michael Neville

        And it could be that society as a whole is so resistant to changing that God must let them explore the consequences of their actions (he gives them empirical evidence), since they would not trust him (a better rendering of pisteuō). I don’t think God just wants to rescue a few people and then burn creation to bits; instead I think he wants to redeem the whole thing, and my judgment is that this requires a strategy change relevant to the hiddenness problem—especially when Christians are failing Deut 4:5–8 as badly as the Israelites did, and [too many] are better described by Paul’s Rom 2:23–24.

        Or there’s the other explanation that your god is a figment of your imagination. Considering there’s zip point shit evidence of any type that even hints at the existence of Yahweh, this is a much more reasonable, rational, logical explanation than some bullshit about being hidden to help people.

        But I remember you, Luke. Reasonable, rational and logical are not parts of your mental makeup.

        • Or there’s the other explanation that your god is a figment of your imagination.

          It’s almost as if I had written:

          LB: Anyhow, I fully realize that the above is 100% consistent with God not existing.

          Considering there’s zip point shit evidence of any type that even hints at the existence of Yahweh, this is a much more reasonable, rational, logical explanation than some bullshit about being hidden to help people.

          You’re welcome to indicate what it would take to convince you not just that God exists, but that it would be good to let him fiddle with your conception of ‘the good’. Because without that, all he would be is a curiosity and/or a vending machine for scientific knowledge and technological advances. Things which, if history is any indication, would not get shared equally by all persons, but would instead enhance power differentials and allow more effective (and harder to see) oppression of the many by the few. I can see why God would not want to help that process along.

          But I remember you, Luke. Reasonable, rational and logical are not parts of your mental makeup.

          “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

        • Michael Neville

          You’re welcome to indicate what it would take to convince you not just that God exists

          I have no idea what evidence would convince me that ANY god (not just your favorite deity) exists. I’ve heard and read all of the conventional arguments (cosmological, transcendental, ontological, design, fine tuning, etc.) and none of them have even seemed reasonable, let alone convincing. But maybe you’ve come across some new evidence. If so, trot it out. I wait with worms in my mouth baited breath.

          We can discuss the “concept of ‘the good'” but since your pet god is not good (according to your own propaganda he kills people because he can, he invented hell with infinite punishment for finite offenses, and demands belief on pain of punishment) then I’d prefer to discuss human good. At least we both know humans exist.

          If you notice I have removed the last paragraph from my previous post. Let’s just say that I remember your style of pompous, pedantic, pretentious argument.

        • Joe

          I have no idea either (of what it would take for me to believe). That makes this problem of divine hiddeness MORE pressing.

          If a theist can look at the same thing as an atheist and see god (for example ‘nature’ is often quoted to me as proof of god) then there is a fundamental disconnect here. Is the problem with his creations? Some are faulty? So much for a perfect god.

        • I have no idea what evidence would convince me that ANY god (not just your favorite deity) exists.

          That’s a problem, because if you don’t have patterns in your non-perceptual neurons which sufficiently well-match patterns on your perceptual neurons, there is reason to believe that you will never become of those patterns which are coming in via your senses: Grossberg 1999 The Link between Brain Learning, Attention, and Consciousness (partial tutorial).

          I’ve heard and read all of the conventional arguments (cosmological, transcendental, ontological, design, fine tuning, etc.) and none of them have even seemed reasonable, let alone convincing. But maybe you’ve come across some new evidence. If so, trot it out.

          Meh, I see that as awfully intellectualist and useless if it is not complemented by experienced life. Theory without practice is useless and evidence-free. Some have left apologetics because of this imbalance. For a criticism of Christianity which does not exhibit power in regular life, see 2 Tim 3:1–5. If you see the shit mentioned in those verses, then you have Bible-granted rationale to say that God’s power ain’t anywhere nearby—at least in quantities which are supposed to be available. The only thing I think will convince most skeptics is a community of Christians exemplifying Deut 4:5–8—a “city on a hill”, as it were. And this community would not just have to be nice to each other, but be an actual blessing to the rest of the world. Without that, I’d be tempted to apply Rom 2:1–24, ending with: “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

          So, I’m really not looking to change your mind on God’s existence at this point in time. I think the evidence has to be brought into existence, via Christians allowing Christ to change them more deeply than the vast majority seem to be allowing right now. And so, I spend quite a bit of time tracing out bad arguments by atheists, figuring out the really piercing criticisms they can offer (e.g. Jn 17:20–23 constitutes internal critique against Christianity; I don’t want to extend this comment with non-scriptural examples at the moment), and what some of the first steps Christians must take to build the kind of community I’ve briefly sketched—or to be more precise, co-build.

          We can discuss the “concept of ‘the good'” but since your pet god is not good (according to your own propaganda he kills people because he can, he invented hell with infinite punishment for finite offenses, and demands belief on pain of punishment) then I’d prefer to discuss human good.

          I’d be quite interested in your thoughts on the matter of “human good”. For example, what do you think are some of the deepest problems plaguing our world, today? Let’s dig below e.g. climate change denial to root causes. A view I hope you don’t hold, which I would flog mercilessly, is that the hoi polloi aren’t obeying their masters. Something which has been on my mind lately is how terrible consumerism is for civic responsibility and, more contentiously, human flourishing.

          If you notice I have removed the last paragraph from my previous post. Let’s just say that I remember your style of pompous, pedantic, pretentious argument.

          I’ve made the appropriate edit. As to appearing pompous and pretentious, I’m working hard to actually make progress in understanding these matters, instead of just dicking around on the internet. Suggestions on how I could accomplish that goal but appear less pompous and pretentious would be helpful. As for pedantic, I’m not sure that greater succinctness and greater tolerance for conceptual ambiguity would be consistent with the goal I just mentioned. But you’re welcome to point out what you think is unnecessary pedantry. And if you can use some searchable phrase to pick out that behavior, I can notice when you’ve used it several times and look for what pattern you’re picking out.

        • Michael Neville

          I see you still don’t understand that quoting the Bible to a non-Christian is not a useful tactic. Having read the thing three times cover to cover (two different versions, three translations) I know that the Bible is a collection of myths, fables and lies. So I’m completely unimpressed by your feeble attempt to explain away your inability to produce evidence for your god by quoting the Bible.

          As for “experiencing life”, I’m 68 years old, a retired navy chief, a combat veteran, a husband to the same woman for over 40 years, a father, have two bachelors degrees, and been in over two dozen countries on four continents. I think I’ve done some life experiencing.

          For example, what do you think are some of the deepest problems plaguing our world, today? Let’s dig below e.g. climate change denial to root causes.

          One of the greatest problems in our world is the establishment of a financial aristocracy and a permanent underclass. Coupled with the marginalization of the shrinking middle class, this is a root cause for religious fundamentalism of various stripes. Marx talked about how religion was the opiate of the people. It’s not always understood what Marx was talking about. He was not saying the bourgeoisie were using religion to control the lumpen proletariat but rather the proletariat was (and are) using religion as a comfort against their woes, anxieties and fears.

          In 1960 CEOs made an average of seven times what someone on the shop floor made. Today the difference is 120 times. And people are noticing this. While the various “Occupy” movements had no impact other movements are beginning to. Trump’s allure to many people is, despite him being a billionaire, he’s convinced common people that he’s “one of them” and will bring down the patricians. Other movements like Black Lives Matter and the surge in White nationalism are making themselves known. No, I have no idea where this will end but I don’t think it will end well.

        • I see you still don’t understand that quoting the Bible to a non-Christian is not a useful tactic.

          I was largely referencing the Bible as an instance of using it to criticize Christians. Renowned philosopher Charles Taylor explores why this is perfectly valid in Explanation and Practical Reason; he also explains why it is tempting to think that the only criticism it is valid to offer in the moral domain is based on timeless abstract moral absolutes. I think he is very motivating in explaining how this is false, that criticizing others based on their own internal standards can be extraordinarily effective.

          As for “experiencing life”, I’m 68 years old, a retired navy chief, a combat veteran, a husband to the same woman for over 40 years, a father, have two bachelors degrees, and been in over two dozen countries on four continents. I think I’ve done some life experiencing.

          Thank you for your service to the US. But I don’t see how that bears on how I used “experiencing life”. My point is that intellectual arguments about God’s existence aren’t sufficient, that this whole God thing has to matter at the practical level. I didn’t expect this to be a contentious point; is it?

          One of the greatest problems in our world is the establishment of a financial aristocracy and a permanent underclass.

          I’m glad you also think this; you may be interested to find out that a prominent member of the Troika said, according to former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, “Elections cannot be allowed to change the economic policies of any country.” (Yanis Varoufakis and Noam Chomsky @ NYPL, 1:20:05) Now, as best I understand it, the way Marxism was carried out in the USSR was via a permanent ruling class. I’m not sure to what extent this also characterizes China. Do you have thoughts on whether Marx might have gotten something wrong? A humorous indication along these lines comes from Peter Berger:

              Relativists with theoretical aspirations have one basic problem: How to explain why they alone see reality as it really is, while everyone else is stumbling around in a fog of illusions. What is needed now is a theory of false consciousness (why you are an asshole) and of cognitive privilege (why I am not). Some of these attempts can be quite funny. For example, the history of Marxism can be seen as the extended comedy of a Quixotic quest for a cognitively privileged elite. Marx thought that the proletariat had such a privileged view of reality because its condition of exploitation as it were burned away the false consciousness of the bourgeoisie and thus made it possible for the proletariat to become a revolutionary class. It was left unexplained how Marx, a bourgeois if there ever was one, married to an aristocrat and financial dependent on a capitalist friend, managed to escape the false consciousness of his class. (The Many Altars of Modernity, 11–12)

          My own take is that the underclass must be educated instead of managed, and it’s not clear to me that anyone is actually trying to do this. Without education, it is too easy to be misled/​deceived by the experts, too easy to accept false just-so stories, too hard to do the strenuous work of understanding why things are as they are. Critically, the underclass will have to learn how to trust, which is very different from the scientific evaluation of ‘the evidence’. Very few people can possibly be renaissance men/​women in the West as it is.

        • Michael Neville

          Renowned philosopher Charles Taylor

          You asked for advice on how to be less pompous and pedantic. Calling Charles Taylor a “renowned philosopher” is pompous. Who decided Taylor was renowned? Is there a nominating committee to determine renowness of philosophers? Did Taylor pass a test? Or is the title given by you because you happen to think highly of Taylor? Since I’ve never heard of Taylor before I’m not qualified to judge whether he’s renowned or not and, what’s more, it’s not going to affect my opinion of the man or his writings that you call him renowned. Ease off on the superfluous descriptions.

          Also if you think I’m going to read a 23 page paper then you’re mistaken. You could have summarized Taylor for this discussion, linking to his paper was again superfluous. However the summary that you did give didn’t answer my comment that quoting the Bible is not useful when discussing non-Biblical issues with a non-Christian.

          But I don’t see how that bears on how I used “experiencing life”.

          I see, actually experiencing life isn’t “experiencing life.” Thank you for that completely unenlightening statement.

          I have to close now because I’m writing this at work and now I have to pretend I actually do something useful for the company. I’ll return to this discussion later.

        • You asked for advice on how to be less pompous and pedantic. Calling Charles Taylor a “renowned philosopher” is pompous.

          If I present a scientist’s work to you, is it valuable to note that the person has a Nobel Prize in the relevant area? Or is it “pompous”?

          Who decided Taylor was renowned?

          He won the Kyoto Prize, the Kluge Prize, Wikipedia says he has “widespread esteem among philosophers”, and he was given great deference at a conference at Stanford I attended. Is that enough, or do I need to collect some more evidence that he is “renowned”?

          Ease off on the superfluous descriptions.

          When it comes to evaluating matters of judgment and not just scientific facts, is not renown among the relevant experts useful data? I’ll tell you something: when my wife is dealing with a Nobel laureate in her scientific work, she can generally trust that person more. The Kluge Prize is designed to be an equivalent of the Nobel Prize, for fields not recognized by the Nobel.

          Also if you think I’m going to read a 23 page paper then you’re mistaken. You could have summarized Taylor for this discussion, linking to his paper was again superfluous. However the summary that you did give didn’t answer my comment that quoting the Bible is not useful when discussing non-Biblical issues with a non-Christian.

          Sometimes I just get sick and tired of people treating me like an idiot, and so I note that if you’re calling my argument stupid, you’re also calling Charles Taylor’s argument stupid. Consider it a shortcut to having to go back-and-forth ten million times.

          In this particular case, you just don’t seem to understand what it means to critique a viewpoint with its own internal resources, vs. critique a viewpoint from standards which that viewpoint may not respect. Do you criticize chemistry by standards of chemistry, or standards of mechanical engineering? Now, why should you care about the standards of chemistry? The same goes for the standards of Christianity. Maybe you just have no interest in what is offered; if that’s the case, then the reason Bible verses are irrelevant to you is that Christianity is irrelevant to you.

          If you had looked at the first passage I linked, you’d have found this:

          But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Tim 3:1–5)

          Supposing that Christianity really did have power to quell these bad things; do you think it might be worth paying attention to? Do you think such power would be more interesting than the fine-tuning argument? And do you think it is at all helpful to be able to point Christians to their failure to rise above this description, and then say that by their own standards, the Bible says they are denying God and ought to be avoided?

          I see, actually experiencing life isn’t “experiencing life.” Thank you for that completely unenlightening statement.

          It’s like we’re having two entirely different conversations. Can you not see how the Bible passage above might matter more to someone than the fine-tuning argument? What’s the difference between the two? The passage bears on life-as-experienced; the fine-tuning argument matters… how?

        • Michael Neville

          If I present a scientist's work to you, is it valuable to note that the person has a Nobel Prize in the relevant area? Or is it "pompous"?

          Calling someone renowned when such a subjective opinion doesn’t add anything to the conversation is indeed pompous as well as pretentious. Taylor may be well regarded by his colleagues and have won prizes named after Japanese cities. I don’t care. If you had said “philosopher Charles Taylor” you would have achieved exactly the same result as calling him “renowned philosopher Charles Taylor.” Calling him a philosopher is an identification, calling him renowned is superfluous.

          You asked how to avoid pomposity and I told you. Complaining about how I responded to your request doesn’t decrease your pomposity. It appears to me you achieved rather the opposite result.

          Sometimes I just get sick and tired of people treating me like an idiot

          Maybe if you were less of an idiot we wouldn’t treat you as one. You’re erudite to the point of being pedantic. You’re verbose to the point of being loquacious. You give links to papers and websites to show off your ability to give links but you must realize that few if any of us are going to do more than glance at those links. I realize you’re comfortable with your writing style but it’s long-winded and stiff. As the bard said, brevity is the soul of wit.

        • Calling someone renowned when such a subjective opinion doesn’t add anything to the conversation is indeed pompous as well as pretentious.

          In my experience, not everyone discounts the kind of data I provided. Indeed, you’re rather an exception. I’m curious: if you were to read about a member of the military making claims about how things really work on the battlefield, would you be more inclined to trust that person if [s]he had received the Medal of Honor? Or would that be more “subjective opinion” and not matter at all?

          Complaining about how I responded to your request doesn’t decrease your pomposity.

          Alternatively, I’m trying to understand why you think it’s ‘pompous’, while many others have not.

          Maybe if you were less of an idiot we wouldn’t treat you as one.

          Alternatively, you’ve settled on a stupid interpretation of what I’ve said (I exclude my bad usage of ‘deceptive’), and are resistant to correcting it. I’ve been around the block on my usage of Bible passages with atheists before, and was able to convince them that actually, what I was doing is valid. I can try more with you, but if you’ve concluded that I’m an idiot, all my attempts will have to clear a higher bar. Surely you can see how I might not want to exert that effort?

          You’re erudite to the point of being pedantic.

          You’re welcome to point out unnecessary pedantry. But you as a former Navy chief must know that sometimes detail is very important.

          You’re verbose to the point of being loquacious.

          That comes with not being an expert on the matters discussed. It is also an artifact of this annoying behavior I frequently find online, where if a person can fit a stupid interpretation to my words, dislodging it afterward can be a royal pain in the ass. On the other hand, if I included enough redundancy before the stupid interpretation is locked in, it’s easier to do said dislodging.

          You give links to papers and websites to show off your ability to give links

          That is not my intention. It would also be an extremely stupid strategy pretty much anywhere I post on Disqus.

          but you must realize that few if any of us are going to do more than glance at those links.

          I do indeed realize that. Do you feel obligated to follow every hyperlink you encounter on the internet?

          I realize you’re comfortable with your writing style but it’s long-winded and stiff. As the bard said, brevity is the soul of wit.

          Actually, I’m not comfortable with my writing style. The problem is that when I’ve tried to be more brief, all too often people lock-in on stupid interpretations. If there are ways I can more effectively communicate the points I want to communicate, with fewer words, I’m all for learning how!

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “The only thing I think will convince most skeptics is a community of Christians exemplifying Deut 4:5–8—a “city on a hill”, as it were.”

          How does any group of people acting like that give evidence for or against gods? People washing their hands is evidence for space whales by the way? (!!!) People NOT washing their hands is NOT evidence against the clear evidence for space whales. Be you not confused. Peace.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Space ponies, it’s evidence of SPACE PONIES…ya Philistine.

          http://t14.deviantart.net/qul_yFbw8sLOKChojnKQzn10gDA=/fit-in/700×350/filters:fixed_height(100,100):origin()/pre15/18b8/th/pre/f/2012/196/6/4/they_also_fight_crime__by_ladym-d57e5d9.jpg

        • Kodie

          I don’t think anything would convince me. I’m as convinced as anyone could be that the whole idea of any god is as common as superstition. While having a handy little psychological trick for your brain to create the feelings of positivity you need to get going in life, well, that’s all it is evidence of. Superstitions can give a psychological boost if you believe in the little tokens and talismans and rituals. Certain rituals create atmosphere, lighting candles, for example, creates an atmosphere something like music, or changing into comfortable clothes after you get home from work. If you’re superstitious, you might think your favorite soft t-shirt contains magical healing powers, but really, it just feels better and makes you feel less uptight. If you’re superstitious, you might think the song you always use to psych yourself up is transmitting magical powers to bring you confidence, but it’s really an association you made. Nobody really thinks these last two things the way they might think about lighting candles, nobody thinks changing into a t-shirt is a “spiritual” thing like they would with candles, but we all do things like that so we can lower our stress or focus or whatever switches those brain gears and makes us of the mind we’d like to be in. Which could all be classified as spiritual in my opinion, but I’d rather use a different word. It’s just how our brains are affected by our surroundings, and how we intentionally alter our surroundings to create a mood, and it works.

          Whoever believes there is a magical event taking place, like in Luke’s example, where someone might be “wallowing in their own terribleness” I think he put it, and then gets in a different mood, pretty much gets sick of themselves and their circumstances, intentionally alters some aspect of themselves or their surroundings, and then things change for them. He seems to think this only happens with god’s help after god has let them wallow as long as he needs them to wallow to deserve his help, they give in and come to Jesus, I guess. That’s a psychological trick, a superstition. And of course, it only highlights the “humble” and lets call the others “stubborn”. I mean, if you’re truly in a terrible situation, like addiction or an abusive home, the psychological state of those cycles necessarily keeps those people “stubborn” and Luke’s version of Christianity actively puts the blame on the victims of other people. The abuser is the terrible person, not the victim who keeps making excuses for them. Christians like Luke frame these lost and needy people as terrible, like the Christian sinner is terrible and god is good; their abuser is good. Their abuser never asks god for help, they’re god’s winners.

          Anyway, to get back to the point, these people don’t need god’s help recognizing their personal responsibility, or acting on them to behave differently. They need help, confidence, a friend on the other scary side. An addict might feel they’d have no friends if not for their addict friends, and when they try to clean up, their friends come over with more drugs, or they’ll cave in and call their friends to bring more drugs, or they’ll commit crimes to get drugs. They have no support in getting out, which is what they need – it doesn’t come from god making you realize what a scumbag you are. It very often comes from deluded but well-meaning people offering support, telling the addict that god loves you even if you’re a scumbag, and if you come to Jesus, we’ll do everything we can to build you a new support system of friends and programs to keep you off drugs. (Implied: if you don’t want to come to Jesus, there’s nothing we can do for you, because we’re programmed to believe you’re just too stubborn).

          Weak shit, Christians. The help comes from people, not god, and last I checked, you’re still people.

        • adam

          “That’s a problem, because if you don’t have patterns in your
          non-perceptual neurons which sufficiently well-match patterns on your
          perceptual neurons,”

          Add in an hyperactive agency detection system and it is EASY to delude oneself into believing in MAGIC…

        • Kodie

          Why don’t you learn how brains work?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “I have no idea what evidence would convince me that ANY god (not just your favorite deity) exists.”

          At the least, they could be an immortal omnipresent person trying to support their own claims. If the ridiculous situation of Jesus reading apologetics books trying to argue for his own existence can’t happen, what “god” do we have?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I have no idea what evidence would convince me that ANY god (not just your favorite deity) exists.

          Clarke’s third law

          Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

          What kind of test could be applied to distinguish between the different magic’s?

        • MNb

          None. But I would be willing to worship those who developed that sufficiently advanced technology as gods provided that they would use it to my benefit.

        • Which is a more reasonable approach than worshiping Jesus so he doesn’t fry your ass forever.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well at least that would be a massive advance on the current proposition anyways.

        • Kodie

          But Christians would trade in that benefit, because they would call it satanic magic, and worldly benefits may be tempting, but they’d rather go to heaven after they die instead.

        • MNb

          “You’re welcome to indicate what …..”
          No problem. BobS already pointed it out. He began with

          “Let’s make clear what compelling evidence for God would look like.”
          As for christianity, show me a lost tribe (ie not having contact with western civilization for more than 2000 years) with the same story as in the Gospels (ie containing the core elements of the messias claim, the preaching, the tortuous death and the resurrection).
          You’re invited.

        • Kodie

          Probably, that wouldn’t happen. God doesn’t show himself because he doesn’t exist. You only think you see or feel him, because you have a huge ego, and you tell yourself a fictional story, attributing naturally caused and coincidental events to your fictional friend; and you make up reasons those things don’t happen too – he was probably just trying to make you help yourself, he was probably trying to make you beg beg beg. God doesn’t show himself – you’re hallucinating. You sincerely believe you see something that’s not really there. There’s probably nothing you can say that would convince an atheist, mostly because most atheists have been there and believed, and realized that god wasn’t really there, learned how brains work, and how easy it is to convince yourself of something just because you wish it were true, or the story has been in your life so long, you don’t know how to fucking think any other way. You are stuck in a delusional pattern – you not only believe in god, you believe you are presenting coherent arguments to demonstrate why we should all credit a figment of your imagination for all the stuff. No, you sound super loony, and the more seriously you take yourself, the more insane you come off.

      • Philmonomer

        Anyhow, I fully realize that the above is 100% consistent with God not existing.

        Yes. The question is, what is most likely true? God has some reason for being hidden. God doesn’t exist. The world makes so much more sense when you come to realize that God probably doesn’t exist. If God does exist, the worldreally doesn’t make any sense. (although clever people like Luke will always be able to think of rationalizations for God–you’ll have to decide if you believe them. I’ve concluded I don’t. They don’t ring true–to my ears.).

        But there is some empirical testing one can do: is it sometimes the case that people have to be left wallowing in their terribleness before they’re really willing to be helped? I think this is obviously true. Until there is enough desire to accept God’s helping but disciplining hand, what can he say to us that would truly aid us?

        Wallowing in their terribleness? What nonsense is this? Is now more terrible than X time? (pick X time).

        • If God does exist, the world really doesn’t make much sense.

          Based on what evidence/​reasoning? If you only form beliefs based on the evidence, how on earth do you have any clue as to how an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being would act?

          Wallowing in their terribleness? What nonsense is this? Is now more terrible than X time? (pick X time).

          Pick the lead-up time to any avoidable catastrophe, whether it’s WWI, WWII, the Great Depression, the Great Recession, the Greek debt situation, etc. It is human nature to bury one’s head in the sand instead of acknowledge impending catastrophe and try to do something to avert it. By the time enough people are willing to face the facts, straighten out their reasoning, and take the appropriate action, too often the catastrophe is unavoidable. Aren’t many very smart people worried about precisely this when it comes to global climate change?

          I don’t think it’s important to try to establish “more terrible than X time”. One could say that the threat of nuclear armageddon was worse than what went before and one could probably say the same of global climate change, but I don’t see how taking a stance on this is necessary for my argument.

        • MNb

          “If you only form beliefs based on the evidence”
          That’s impossible. You can only form beliefs based on and evidence and reasoning.
          According to Mano Singham you can formulate an infinite amount of scientific theories (based on reasoning; note that in this context a scientific theory is a belief, though I generally prefer to avoid that term) on any given amount of evidence. However that doesn’t mean all scientific theories (and hence beliefs) can be based on evidence and reasoning.
          When talking about an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being you only can use reasoning and faith. The latter is subjective. That leaves you with reasoning and as we should have understood since Euclides we can reject any conclusion based on reasoning only simply by rejecting the basic assumptions, which can’t be argued for by definition.
          What we can do is tentatively accepting those basic assumptions and try to show incoherence. That’s what the Problems of Hiddenness and Evil do, with some success. However I don’t think either the most powerful argument against theism in general and specifically christianity.

        • how on earth do you have any clue as to how an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being would act?

          Who cares? No one searches for the truth this way. No one assumes God, concludes that he must have his good reasons that we can’t understand, and gives God a pass.

        • If you’re going to say that God would have created a reality different from the one we inhabit, you’re presupposing that you know quite a lot about how God would act. If in fact you are utterly unjustified in such presupposition, then that’s a problem which is fatal to your argument. It’s simple logic.

        • I’ve been presented with a supernatural hypothetical. I must evaluate it in the best, fairest way that I know how. Does it make sense that a god would both desire a relationship and then hide his very existence? Nope. Conclusion: reject the Christian hypothesis.

          If you presuppose God and then figure that he would have reasons for doing things that we simply can’t understand, you’re not approaching the issue honestly.

          You need to rethink your “simple logic.” It’s deceived you.

        • I’ve been presented with a supernatural hypothetical.

          Just one? One I presented? Or am I supposed to defend arguments I never made?

          Does it make sense that a god would both desire a relationship and then hide his very existence? Nope. Conclusion: reject the Christian hypothesis.

          This is like me constructing an overly simplistic scenario of evolution, finding it insufficient, and then rejecting evolution. It would be fallacious from the get-go. I suggest following Einstein’s dictum: “Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

          If you presuppose God and then figure that he would have reasons for doing things that we simply can’t understand, you’re not approaching the issue honestly.

          I’m not presupposing God. I’m choosing to interpret the Bible, my personal experiences, and others’ expressed and recorded experiences a certain way, and seeing what fruit might come of that interpretation. Perhaps no fruit will come; perhaps after trying for a while, I will give up and declare, “No power there!” There is internal-to-Christianity warrant for this; see for example 2 Tim 3:1–5.

          You need to rethink your “simple logic.” It’s deceived you.

          It’s not clear you actually understand my position. Can you state it in your own words for me to verify?

        • adam

          “Or am I supposed to defend arguments I never made?”

          You cant even defend your own, honestly.

        • Joe

          “‘m not presupposing God. I’m choosing to interpret the Bible……”

          Why the bible? Isn’t that presupposing it’s more that just a book of old myths?

        • Why the bible? Isn’t that presupposing it’s more that just a book of old myths?

          Because in my experience, it has proven good to engage with the Bible as I have. (It continues to ‘pass’ Thagard’s #1 and #2.) It is not the case that all action can come after having ‘the evidence’; any scientist worth her salt will tell you that sometimes, actions must precede sufficient evidence. Indeed, I think this is a critical aspect of pistis—frequently rendered ‘faith’, although I think ‘trust’ would be better. I see the Bible as making truth-claims of what can be constructed and the quality of relationships that can be had, which are truth-claims which have to be reified as the way they are validated. If you cannot reify them, there are multiple options: (i) they cannot be reified; (ii) you failed to follow the directions; (iii) you misunderstood.

          In my book, the very essence of trusting a person is that you have only a partial ‘grasp’ of the person, but believe that aspects which you haven’t yet experienced will prove good for you. Such trust (I know there are other kinds) can only really be validated by expansions of said ‘grasp’. The person can prove his/her trustworthiness, or disprove it. But the mode of evaluation (ought I trust him/her?) is different in crucial ways with the mode of evaluation of a scientific hypothesis. Science engages a strict subset of the cognitive (or more expansively: ‘mind’) faculties required for properly trusting persons.

        • adam

          “Because in my experience, it has proven good to engage with the Bible as I have.”

          How’s that?

        • Joe

          That in no way came close to answering my question.

        • adam

          “That in no way came close to answering my question.”

          And it never will.

          Just IMAGINE what kind of “God” Luke worships that he has to be so DECEPTIVE in describing so, so, so often?

        • Joe

          It’s one hand-wave after another. Notice he doesn’t specify what would constitute ‘truth claims’. They never do. I’d prefer something to make 100% true claims, but that’s unrealistic. Do they demand 99% of the bible’s claims to be true? 51%?

          More apologetic bullshit.

        • adam

          “More apologetic bullshit.”

          When your “God” is bull, that is exactly what one should expect.

        • Then I probably don’t know how to answer your question to your satisfaction, and you are unwilling/​unable to help me better answer it.

          But I think it’s rather odd that when I say that Christianity has delivered the goods, and as long as it continues delivering the goods, I’ll stick with it, you find that a non-answer to why I stick with Christianity. I have just told you that “it works”—albeit, in a different way that science “works”—and you find this to be a non-answer? I can only surmise that you have some quite false beliefs about the role that the a priori plays in human reasoning. You could heed science such as Grossberg 1999 The Link between Brain Learning, Attention, and Consciousness (partial tutorial)—but I suspect you’ll say that if it’s true, it has to be more simply explained than I can/​have. And you might be right. But I don’t know how you could possibly know that you’re right.

        • Kodie

          You should try the atheist project. It’s when you do things without thinking god is watching, and without believing that god is acting through you. Will you try different things, do you think you have to be naughty, mean, heartless? Would you just give up on life? Try to look out at the universe, at the world, at your surroundings, and take a deep breath and see how it looks if god didn’t make it, and god isn’t there to tell you what to do, or judge you for doing things. You might be surprised that all the effects you think Christianity is “delivering” is really just imaginary. Nobody is holding your hand, in actuality, Luke. You actually live in a world without god.

        • Kodie

          Sorry, the bible doesn’t “pass”. I have witnessed your warped and twisted interpretations and assumptions, as well as that of many other Christians. It doesn’t make sense to you, you have to think very hard how to force it to! And then when you present your thoughts, they are nonsense to the atheist.

        • adam

          Why the bible, you ask?

        • Or am I supposed to defend arguments I never made?

          What the hell do I care? Follow up on whatever imagined slights you want to.

          As for me, I’m talking about Christianity’s claim about God—he wants a relationship with us. Reality tells us that he provides no evidence.

          I suggest following Einstein’s dictum: “Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

          That’s nice. I have no idea how this adds to the conversation.

          I’m not presupposing God.

          And yet you’re the one who said, “how on earth do you have any clue as to how an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being would act?” Perhaps you can see why I would think that that’s presupposing God.

          Or perhaps not. No one knows with you.

        • What the hell do I care? Follow up on whatever imagined slights you want to.

          How is asking me to defend an argument I have not made a “slight”? I just think it makes sense that you not write as of someone is obligated to defend arguments/​claims [s]he has not made. Do you disagree? Am I, as a Christian, supposed to jump to defending any claim that another person has made, under the banner of ‘Christianity’? I hope not. And so, I think it would be helpful if you were to track my position, instead of doing something else, possibly working by stereotype instead of treating me as an actual person with specific views.

          As for me, I’m talking about Christianity’s claim about God—he wants a relationship with us. Reality tells us that he provides no evidence.

          If God wants more than just a relationship with you, could that possibly be relevant to the situation? Or is it really just that simple—God wants a relationship with you, end of story, no elaboration on what that necessarily entails, no elaboration on what else God wants?

          That’s nice. I have no idea how this adds to the conversation.

          You cannot comprehend the possibility that you might have oversimplified?

          And yet you’re the one who said, “how on earth do you have any clue as to how an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being would act?” Perhaps you can see why I would think that that’s presupposing God.

          That’s me accusing the atheist of presupposing God. Did you not catch that? Read more slowly and carefully, and see who is doing the presupposing.

        • I just think it makes sense that you not write as of someone is obligated to defend arguments/claims [s]he has not made. Do you disagree?

          No. I have never asked you to defend an argument you never made.

          We’ll have to have an in-depth analysis of things we’re not talking about again sometime. This was fun.

        • No. I have never asked you to defend an argument you never made.

          Are you open to empirical evidence demonstrating this to be false? I’m not sure you have ever acknowledged that you were wrong on some point where you and I disagreed, so this might be a first.

        • adam

          “Are you open to empirical evidence demonstrating this to be false?”

          Well, I am going to posture that since you asked the question, you cant provide the evidence.

          Lukism

        • Jason K.

          How is it possible to relate the bible, your personal experiences, and other people’s experiences with a God who is unfathomable? That was just your argument a moment ago, after all. No criticism of “God’s Ways” is permitted because God will never make sense to us lowly humans. Yet here you are claiming to “interpret” things about him nonetheless.

          Your position appears incoherent.

        • adam

          “Your position appears incoherent.”

          It is incoherent, so incoherent that even Luke doesnt understand it enough to make the point.

        • I’m pretty sure I said no such thing. Would you care to precisely quote & link?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Welcome to The Luke Breuer Show.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The second epistle to Timothy? Really?

          You are citing that forgery to atheists on an atheist site as what exactly?

          And BTW, the sentiments in that forgery can apply to all peoples at all times.

          Godlessness in the last days

          (2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV)

          3. But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.

          When will it be the last days Luke? Who is presupposing now?

          2. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3. heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, 4. not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5. having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.

          Seems just as applicable to the Godly as the Godless…more so at certain periods in history. Like most scripture, the author, whoever they were, hadn’t a clue and was writing a loada ballix.

          Avoid such people.

          Given the inference you are making, you are not following the party line very well are ya? Like all Christians whatever the flavour, you never practice what you preach.

          It’s just another shit citation that doesn’t support you in the way you imagine. Go Luke!

        • Ignorant Amos

          YahwehJesus works in mysterious ways, but not too mysterious that every fecker has their own interpretation and ideas about the mystery. Until that is, when an awkward proposition is voiced about a particular version of this entity, then the retreat is back to, “we mortal humans are not worthy to presuppose the mystery that is YahwehJesus”

          All bases covered. Let the angel dancing commence, the pin points are open for business..

          Ya couldn’t make the shit up….oh, wait a wee minute….

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Those “qualities” of god that are listed can be taken as elements in a story. Spend some time on TV Tropes learning about ‘Misapplied Phlebotinum’, ‘Forgotten Phlebotinum’, ‘Idiot Ball’, ‘Forgot Their Powers’, ‘Plot Hole’, and ‘Mary Sue’ for starters.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Brilliant…thanks for the reference, you’ve opened a whole new world for me.

          That word “phlebotinum” is tremendous too.

          http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Tropes

          http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/JustForFun/TropesOfLegend

          This answers the enigmatic question as to why the characters in horror movies never turn the feckin’ lights on. The sensible thing to do when entering a darkened room is switch the lights on…never happens in a horror movie. I guess it’s harder to see a ghost in the light.

          Infinity weapon magazines are another…but we’ll leave it there for now.

          Cheers for that.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Keep in mind the unofficial motto of TV Tropes is, ‘There goes my day!’

        • Reminds me of an Eddie Murphy bit about why there are no black protagonists in horror movies. He imagines a guy in a house for sale.

          Black guy: Wow–I like this place! It’s got a nice view, the ceilings are tall …

          Scary voice whisper: Get out … !

          Black guy: Too bad we can’t stay!

          The End

        • Thought2Much

          Was your plan to have Luke disappear into TV Tropes forever, leaving him unable to post anywhere else ever again?

          Clever.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Shouldn’t everyone? XD

        • Ignorant Amos

          Tis indeed a place to get lost in for a good while at least…but Luke never follows others advice.

        • Kodie

          You’re presupposing the world we live in includes a god, and none of you make any sense to me with that proposal. You can’t imagine god would do it any differently, but you spend plenty of hours arguing for why he did it this way. The answer is simpler than that – there isn’t a god. Every idea you have of god is your imaginary friend, your twisted rationalizations why god chose this way instead of any other way. You’re not going to convince me and I don’t think you’ll convince anyone who is an educated atheist, who understands how warped it is to try to fit your fiction onto reality, and really, how warped your fiction has to get in order to match it even some of the time. It really does expose how awful people can be, how unintelligent, how gullible, how weak. The god you made up is an awful person living inside your brain that becomes you, and activates you to become the awful person you are on the outside.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Angels pinhead dancing here, there, everywhere…with not an ounce of reason or rational care.

          Luke is such a clever and sofistikated feelogyn though, so he must be right, NOT.

        • Philmonomer

          Based on what evidence/​reasoning?

          When, I said if “God does exist,” I was presupposing (my understanding of) the Christian God. It’s true that there could be some sort of deistic God, who got the whole ball rolling and stepped back, and that would be 100 percent consistent with the world (the evidence) as we see it. But the Christian God makes certain claims about interacting with the world. That is, the Christian God claims to act in history, shows himself to individuals, and affects the course of life here on earth. The Christian God performs miracles, and shows himself to people. Furthermore, we are told that the we are made in the image of this Christian God–that our concepts of Good and Evil are similar to His. Also, that there will be some great judgment day, and that the world will be radically transformed (where our concepts of Good and Evil will be vindicated). Furthermore, we are told that the most desired thing of this Christian God (to the extent that He can desire anything), is that we come to know Him, love Him, and worship Him.

          If you only form beliefs based on the evidence, how on earth do you have any clue as to how an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being would act?

          I look around at the world around me. I see babies born with horrible deformities, destined to lead a short pain-filled life. I see natural disasters that kill thousands of children. I see people who accidentally trip and fall, killing themselves on knives in their open dishwasher door. I see beach umbrellas that blow away, killing people. I see a lot of pain and suffering that seems gratuitous.

          I also see, in this world, lots of different religions–religions that disagree fundamentally about the nature of reality, and humanity’s proper role in it. Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, etc.

          I see the foundation story of Christianity, which, to me, reads like something you would see debunked in a Snopes article. (That story is how an omniscient, omnipotent, morally perfect being would make his presence known in the world? Which seems more likely 1) that story is how he did it or 2) that story isn’t an accurate account of Jesus’s life/death/resurrection?)

          Why would the world look like this, if there is an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being? I have two options: 1) he has his own reasons or 2) he doesn’t exist. It’s true that I have no basis to assert that 1) cannot possibly true (I freely admit it could be true), but the question is, which seems more likely to be true? The second seems much, much more likely to be true to me.

          So what evidence? I look at the world around me, and compare it to what world I think an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being would make (one where there wasn’t gratuitous suffering, one where His presence is better known, one where the Jesus story was a whole lot more convincing–heck, just compare it to the Mormon story. Mormons have gone from 1 person to 15 million plus in less than 200 years. Is Mormonism true? Which is more likely Mormonism is false, but classical Christianity is true? Or neither are true? I go with the last option.)

          [posting now in order not to lose what I’ve written so far]

        • When, I said if “God does exist,” I was presupposing (my understanding of) the Christian God.

          Can you be more specific? God as understood by John Calvin, and especially his disciples, is quite different in some key respects from God as understood by Jacobus Arminius. If you go off of your own concepts of goodness and justice, can you see how any errors in those concepts might magnify when you try and extrapolate from them to God?

          That is, the Christian God claims to act in history, shows himself to individuals, and affects the course of life here on earth.

          Sure. But this says very little about “how he would act”. After all, there are passages such as Ezek 20:18–26 and 2 Thess 2:1–12. Do these fit into your idea of how the Christian God would act?

          I look around at the world around me. I see babies born with horrible deformities, destined to lead a short pain-filled life.

          Ok, but how do you know there is another way for things to work? As an engineer, I have a pretty good grasp on various requirements for software and mechanical systems. Sometimes people will ask why it cannot work a seemingly better way, and I will explain why. So it seems that in order to confidently say that a better way is possible, you have to have some knowledge/​experience analogous to my software/​mechanical knowledge/​experience.

          I also see, in this world, lots of different religions–religions that disagree fundamentally about the nature of reality, and humanity’s proper role in it. Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, etc.

          How else do you expect there to be significant moral freedom? Suppose, though, that we try and think of a way to start shrinking the variety in religion, the variety in notions about the nature of reality. Do you think that the goodness of reality would improve as this process is carried out? What that smells like to me is totalitarianism, and I don’t see how it would be ok for God to do it but not ok for humans.

          I see the foundation story of Christianity, which, to me, reads like something you would see debunked in a Snopes article.

          Well, Jesus’ actions and death are the antithesis to “Might makes right.” Have you considered what is actually required for the exertion of power by some humans over others to not be required for functioning society? Maybe what is required is so far from our current experience that the very idea that it could be possible seems absurd.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well, Jesus’ actions and death are the antithesis to “Might makes right.”

          Jesus? Ya mean this arsehole…

          http://www.theingersolltimes.com/exoneration-of-jesus-christ/

          But let’s just grant for a wee moment your proposition.

          Jesus’ actions and death are the antithesis to “Might makes right.”

          Excuse me? The Trinity remember? YahwehJesus 1.0 was no where near as rancid as YahwehJesus 2.0, as rancid enough as he was…

          One great objection to the Old Testament is the cruelty said to have been commanded by God. All these cruelties ceased with death. The vengeance of Jehovah stopped at the tomb. He never threatened to punish the dead; and there is not one word, from the first mistake in Genesis to the last curse of Malachi, containing the slightest intimation that God will take his revenge in another world. It was reserved for the New Testament to make known the doctrine of eternal pain.

          The teacher of universal benevolence rent the veil between time and eternity, and fixed the horrified gaze of man upon the lurid gulf of hell. Within the breast of non-resistance coiled the worm that never dies. Compared with this, the doctrine of slavery, the wars of extermination, the curses, the punishments of the Old Testament were all merciful and just.

          Jesus’ threat of an eternal damnation for all those who refuse to capitulate to the Christian whims is the ultimate “Might makes right.”

        • Philmonomer

          Can you be more specific?

          The Christian God as I understand it, acts in history, has shown himself to individuals, and affects the course of life on earth. He is God in Three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God the Father sent his Son down to earth so that whoever believes in him shall not die, but have eternal life.

          God as understood by John Calvin, and especially his disciples, is quite different in some key respects from God as understood by Jacobus Arminius.”

          So who got it right? Which seems more likely, that Calvin is right and Arminius is wrong? Or the other way around, or both partly right, or your ideas–but not their ideas–about God are right, etc. Or that none of them is right? What strikes me as right is that we see the results of some very smart men, thinking about something that doesn’t really make any sense, and then doing their utmost to make sense of it. Of course they come to different conclusions.

          If you go off of your own concepts of goodness and justice, can you see how any errors in those concepts might magnify when you try and extrapolate from them to God?

          There seems too much to unpack in this sentence.

          {I’m out of time at the moment. I’ll try to come back to this, and add more here.}

        • The Christian God as I understand it, acts in history, has shown himself to individuals, and affects the course of life on earth. He is God in Three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God the Father sent his Son down to earth so that whoever believes in him shall not die, but have eternal life.

          Ok, but at that abstraction level, there is a tremendous amount of possible variety.

          So who got it right? Which seems more likely, that Calvin is right and Arminius is wrong?

          I would approach this by looking at how the Bible describes ‘success’. Examples of success contrasted to failure can be found in Gal 5:16–26 and Ja 3:13–18; a poignant list of failures can be found in 2 Tim 3:1–5. I’d also throw in the importance of not “lording it over each other” in Mt 20:20–28. Using these to measure, I would then compare instances of churches which lean Calvinist and instances of churches which lean Arminian. I suspect that each has strengths and weaknesses that the other can complement. Indeed, I think this holds for all Christians throughout spacetime.

          I also don’t think there’s more of a “right” with theology than there is a “right” with science. That is, we really have figured out some things, but they are true ceteris paribus—like Ceteris Paribus Laws. Unless the “For the earth will be filled / with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD / as the waters cover the sea.” means that the same old thing will be cancerously replicated across creation, there is more to learn about God than has been revealed in the Bible.

          What strikes me as right is that we see the results of some very smart men, thinking about something that doesn’t really make any sense, and then doing their utmost to make sense of it. Of course they come to different conclusions.

          Sure; if Christians want to convince folks like you that Christianity still very much has things to say to denizens of the 21st century West, they’ve got some work to do. Suppose they somehow succeed. One of the things I’m curious about is what would demonstrate that theology is anything but a feeder for science. There is a temptation to think that ‘knowledge’ is that which allows me to accomplish whatever end I have, more efficiently than I would without that knowledge. But what if there’s a kind of knowledge which is not end-neutral?

          {I’m out of time at the moment. I’ll try to come back to this, and add more here.}

          It’d be easier if you just made it a subsequent reply, as Disqus doesn’t offer notifications of edits.

        • Philmonomer

          I realize I never responded to several comments.

          Ok, but at that abstraction level, there is a tremendous amount of possible variety.

          I agree. But it seems good enough for us to have a conversation. In this regard, I’m not sure why you were asking. I think neither God as understood by Calvin nor God as understood by Arminius exists.

          I would approach this by looking at how the Bible describes ‘success’. Examples of success contrasted to failure can be found in Gal 5:16–26 and Ja 3:13–18; a poignant list of failures can be found in 2 Tim 3:1–5. I’d also throw in the importance of not “lording it over each other” in Mt 20:20–28.

          This description of success would apply to lots of Mormons too. But I’m going to assume that you think Mormons did not get their understanding of God right. (Maybe I’m wrong?)

          Using these to measure, I would then compare instances of churches which lean Calvinist and instances of churches which lean Arminian. I suspect that each has strengths and weaknesses that the other can complement. Indeed, I think this holds for all Christians throughout spacetime.

          It holds true for all Christians thoughout space and time? I think that’s probably true. I’d say it’s also probably holds true for Muslims attending mosques, Jews attending Temple, Jains, Mormons, etc. That is, any group of humans gathered together are going to exhibit certain positive traits. It’s because it’s human nature–not because they are “properly” worshiping/following/understanding God.

          I also don’t think there’s more of a “right” with theology than there is a “right” with science.

          Ok. But assuming that there is such a thing as “right” with theology (and a wrong), just as there is in science, what criteria do you use to distinguish them?

          That is, we really have figured out some things, but they are true ceteris paribus—like Ceteris Paribus Laws. Unless the “For the earth will be filled / with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD / as the waters cover the sea.” means that the same old thing will be cancerously replicated across creation, there is more to learn about God than has been revealed in the Bible.

          I understand why you would think that. But I don’t see any reason to think the things we think we know about God (and his/her/its relationship/interactions with the world) are anything like Ceteris Paribus Laws.

          Sure; if Christians want to convince folks like you that Christianity still very much has things to say to denizens of the 21st century West, they’ve got some work to do. Suppose they somehow succeed.

          I’m actually much more sympathetic to Christianity than lots of atheists. I think it’s a great story. I think it has deep and profound things to say about humanity’s existential condition. (I suspect this is also true for Buddhism/Islam/etc.) I think, as a metaphor/parable/story it is wonderful. I don’t think any of it is literally true, though. (Or, rather, I don’t think that Jesus literally rose from the dead.) Rather, we (in the West) have had 2000 years to create, from this rather humble beginning of a story about a carpenter, loads and loads of interesting stuff that speaks to us. I deeply suspect that the “real” Jesus was an apocalyptic itinerant preacher who amassed a small but devoted following, who then was executed. He didn’t really rise from the dead, but some of his followers came to believe that he had. The rest, as they say, is history.

          One of the things I’m curious about is what would demonstrate that theology is anything but a feeder for science.

          Why would you think that people would only value theology as a feeder for science? This doesn’t make any sense to me.

          There is a temptation to think that ‘knowledge’ is that which allows me to accomplish whatever end I have, more efficiently than I would without that knowledge.

          You’ve lost me here. I think virtually no one thinks of knowledge as the way you’ve framed it here (or, you’ve ascribed a tiny sliver of what constitutes a kind-of knowledge to all knowledge.)

          But what if there’s a kind of knowledge which is not end-neutral?

          Again, I don’t know what you are talking about.

        • But it seems good enough for us to have a conversation. In this regard, I’m not sure why you were asking.

          The general form of your argument seems to be: “If God existed then X. ¬X. Therefore, God does not exist.” So what do you think are excellent candidates for X, and why?

          I’ll throw in a claim: I believe God is interested in theosis, which greatly restricts what he can do for us and what power he can exert over us. To use an analogy, there are many things parents cannot do—that they wish they could do—to ensure their children become mature adults. Forever nannying their children will keep them children forever. I think this stance rules out a large class of Xs, but not necessarily all of them.

          This description of success would apply to lots of Mormons too. But I’m going to assume that you think Mormons did not get their understanding of God right. (Maybe I’m wrong?)

          You didn’t ask me to distinguish between Mormons and those I would categorize as ‘Christians’; you asked me to distinguish between Calvinists and Arminians. That means I picked things where I suspect they might differ, not things where they would agree, but differ with respect to Mormons.

          That is, any group of humans gathered together are going to exhibit certain positive traits. It’s because it’s human nature–not because they are “properly” worshiping/following/understanding God.

          My claim was stronger. It is not that we can sweep the terrible aspects of human nature off to one side, manifesting ‘positive traits’ where there is [for now] no dust. It the idea of unity-in-diversity, where I need others to balance me out, as if I’ve been given a sliver of understanding which needs to be complemented by others’ slivers of understanding. Nobody is merely a clone of me; I am less if I decide I have no need of the Other. So, for example, I am less if I do not take the beliefs and arguments of atheists seriously. I’m not sure this stance is very popular among Christians, but I’m not unique.

          Ok. But assuming that there is such a thing as “right” with theology (and a wrong), just as there is in science, what criteria do you use to distinguish them?

          Science measures its progress by increasing power over reality. This is value-neutral in a very deep way. Progress in theology would require increasing goodness, which is a very different beast. Exactly how we would go about measuring that is difficult, given the anemic state of such theorizing these days. In my judgment, either it’s actually impossible or we’ve committed some errors from which we’ve yet to escape. I suspect one of them is that on average, the powerful devote more energy to maintaining their power than building up the less powerful.

          But I don’t see any reason to think the things we think we know about God (and his/​her/​its relationship/​interactions with the world) are anything like Ceteris Paribus Laws.

          I just don’t think finite thought works any other way. Unless we believe that there is some ‘final morality’, finite in content, applicable to all possible contexts, which we could wrap our minds around?

          I’m actually much more sympathetic to Christianity than lots of atheists. I think it’s a great story.

          I’m with Paul on Christians being above all the most to be pitied if it is a false story. I think Feuerbach, Nietzsche, and Marx saw what religion-without-God is and does to people.

          Why would you think that people would only value theology as a feeder for science? This doesn’t make any sense to me.

          If one hews to the fact/​value dichotomy, theology could do two things: (1) contribute to science; (2) contribute to people’s subjectivity. What it could not do is expose a nation’s fundamental values to criticism. One cannot meaningfully ask, “Is consumerist modernism really the epitome of human thriving?” Of course people are asking that, but their questions seem to have gotten sucked into the void. As a result, the only think theology could really provide of value is more science, or at least proto-science. The way you see this is people trying to measure the results of theology by the ruler of science.

          You’ve lost me here. I think virtually no one thinks of knowledge as the way you’ve framed it here (or, you’ve ascribed a tiny sliver of what constitutes a kind-of knowledge to all knowledge.)

          You’ve never heard the saying, “Knowledge is power.”? You’ve not observed that science is end-neutral (atomic power, atomic bombs), and that many see science as the only legitimate purveyor of knowledge? (Anything else is at best primitive science.)

          LB: But what if there’s a kind of knowledge which is not end-neutral?

          P: Again, I don’t know what you are talking about.

          If I say that experimenting on human embryos is wrong, could I possibly say that based on knowledge, or only based on opinion? If the latter, than ‘knowledge’ is end-neutral.

        • MNb

          “If God existed then X. ¬X. Therefore, God does not exist.” So what do you think are excellent candidates for X, and why?”
          If that god is omni-everything, as many a believer claims, then X is “God has developed a way to warn his beloved creation at beforehand for upcoming natural disasters”. Why? Because that would be an expression of his benevolence.
          If that god is a specific one like the christian then X is “Jesus came to Earth at least twice to offer mankind his salvation, each in cultures totally independent of each other.” Why? If Jesus could do it once he could have done it twice.
          So I would expect that the European explorers from the 16th Century on had found a culture with a story very similar to the Gospels; specifically the elements of the messias claim, the preaching, the torturous death and the Resurrection. That culture should not have had any contact with christians from at least the beginning of the christian era.
          Granted, the lack of such evidence does not disprove god (that’s not possible with this approach anyway) but it does suggest there isn’t one, or at least that an entire set of god images is incorrect.

        • adam

          “I believe God is interested in theosis, which greatly restricts what he can do for us and what power he can exert over us.”

          But then again, you are an IDiot….

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/878b8e07d2b942087c85ac234890ad18b3e8f811594bc275918c5d05cbe88467.jpg

        • adam

          “I believe God is interested in theosis, which greatly restricts what he can do for us and what power he can exert over us.”

          But then again, you are an IDiot….

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7bf2c5903bd31c63ade7c2254ddea26df3b1fa938214c6c4db160ffe36546367.jpg

        • adam

          “I believe God is interested in theosis, which greatly restricts what he can do for us and what power he can exert over us.”

          But then again, you are an IDiot….

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fc08e92607fbb10ca5d9fec66168d9bf582a2748fa716fdb4283c37e046c25e1.jpg

        • Myna

          I believe God is interested in theosis,
          which greatly restricts what he can do for us and what power he can exert over us. To use an analogy, there are many things parents cannot do—that they wish they could do—to ensure their children become mature
          adults.

          You are personifying. The entire conceit of religion stems from personification.

        • Definitely possible. If all “worship of God” leads to a Schleiermacher-type religion, then Feuerbach would be right and God is just a projection, a Broken spectre, and the exceptions to the results at Creating God in your own image are spurious noise. We would be silly to have ignored Xenophanes.

          But surely you allow for other empirical possibilities, surely you haven’t just uttered a metaphysical dogma? Surely is is possible that humans could transcend themselves via latching on to a power outside of themselves? We could then go about establishing how we would figure out whether humans are just using resources internal to humanity, or whether some are connected to an outside source. If the only allowable evidence is e.g. regrown limbs, then I’ll simply accuse my interlocutor of stacking the deck and making it a really small deck.

        • Michael Neville

          Healing amputees is just one example of a miracle, there are others which would do just as well. But they have to be genuine miracles, not “God cured my cancer after I had surgery and chemotherapy” which seems to be the type of miracle most often claimed.

        • Myna

          We would be silly to have ignored Xenophanes.

          In order for religion to maintain control as an institution, it is forced to ignore Xenophanes.

          We could then go about establishing how we would figure out whether humans are just using resources internal to humanity, or whether some are connected to an outside source.

          What outside source? “That eternal and infinite being we call God, or Nature, acts from the same necessity from which [it] exists”–Spinoza

          Humans ARE using resources internal to humanity. Any conscious force within nature is not external from that.

          If the only allowable evidence is e.g. regrown limbs…

          The question, of course, is always somewhat facetious, prompted by spurious supernatural claims such as, “With God all things are possible.”

        • Greg G.

          To use an analogy, there are many things parents cannot do—that they wish they could do—to ensure their children become mature adults. Forever nannying their children will keep them children forever.

          An omnipotent parent would be able to ensure their children become mature adults without nannying. That shouldn’t even require omnipotence.

        • I have no idea how to empirically test your very empirical claim. It seems like a metaphysical claim, not an empirical one.

        • Greg G.

          Do you think that there has ever been a case where a parent or two has raised a child to be a mature adult without nannying? One would be a sufficient case to prove that it is possible. If it is possible, then an omnipotence would have no problem.

        • If it’s possible with one child, it is thereby, empirically possible with all children? Last time I checked, the principle of induction was invalid.

        • Greg G.

          If it’s possible, then it is logically possible and an omnipotence should be able to do it. Sure, you like to include omnipotence as an attribute for God to make him sound awesome but you can’t deal with the implications of it.

        • MNb

          “the principle of induction was invalid.”
          If you mean this seriously you reject

          https://static-ssl.businessinsider.com/image/4ff1727469bedd6f18000005-960-720/newtons-universal-law-of-gravitation.jpg
          This formula is 100% inductive.

        • epeeist

          Last time I checked, the principle of induction was invalid.

          Where did you check? I’d look somewhere different if I were you, because whoever you got it from is wrong.

        • Do share!

        • epeeist

          Do share!

          Ah, the usual Breuer inability to admit that he is wrong.

          I asked you a simple question, where did you check that showed that the principle of induction was invalid (a well defined logical term)? Why don’t you answer the question instead of blustering?

        • Oh you’re toying with me. I meant the thing referenced by The Problem of Induction, not mathematical induction, which some places elide from “principle of mathematical induction” to “principle of induction”. In my defense, I’ll offer Karl Popper:

              Yet if we want to find a way of justifying inductive inferences, we must first of all try to establish a principle of induction. A principle of induction would be a statement with the help of which we could put inductive inferences into a logically acceptable form. In the eyes of the upholders of inductive logic, a principle of induction is of supreme importance for scientific method: ‘. . . this principle’, says Reichenbach, ‘determines the truth of scientific theories. To eliminate it from science would mean nothing less than to deprive science of the power to decide the truth or falsity of its theories. Without it, clearly, science would no longer have the right to distinguish its theories from the fanciful and arbitrary creations of the poet’s mind.’[1]
              Now this principle of induction cannot be a purely logical truth like a tautology or an analytic statement. Indeed, if there were such a thing as a purely logical principle of induction, there would be no problem of induction; for in this case, all inductive inferences would have to be regarded as purely logical or tautological transformations, just like inferences in deductive logic. Thus the principle of induction must be a synthetic statement; that is, a statement whose negation is not self-contradictory but logically possible. So the question arises why such a principle should be accepted at all, and how we can justify its acceptance on rational grounds. (The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 4–5)

          But if you want to say that now, the dominant meaning is the “purely logical truth”, I can plead guilty on those terms.

        • epeeist

          I’ll offer Karl Popper

          The difference I suspect is that I have read Popper, while you are only capable of copy-pasting.

          So, where in your quotation does Popper say that ” the principle of induction [is] invalid”?

        • My quotation of Popper was never intended to establish that. Let’s review:

          e: the principle of induction […] (a well defined logical term)

          LB: I meant the thing referenced by The Problem of Induction, not mathematical induction, which some places elide from “principle of mathematical induction” to “principle of induction”. In my defense, I’ll offer Karl Popper:

          So, “principle of induction” has at least two strongly conflicting definitions. One way to resolve this conflict in the favor of your claim was to suppose that while Popper validly used it in a philosophy of science sense, that usage has since declined, leading to “a well defined logical term”. This is enhanced by SEP’s “In recent times inductive methods have fissioned and multiplied, to an extent that attempting to define induction would be more difficult than rewarding.” (The Problem of Induction) Your claim of “a well defined logical term” would seem to deeply conflict with that, so it is logical to think that you were associating ‘principle of induction’ with ‘principle of mathematical induction’.
           

          If you want Popper’s conclusion about what he calls ‘principle of induction’, you could have just recalled a page later (since you claim to have read him):

              My own view is that the various difficulties of inductive logic here sketched are insurmountable. So also, I fear, are those inherent in the doctrine, so widely current today, that inductive inference, although not ‘strictly valid’, can attain some degree of ‘reliability’ or of ‘probability’. According to this doctrine, inductive inferences are ‘probable inferences’. [3] ‘We have described’, says Reichenbach, ‘the principle of induction as the means whereby science decides upon truth. To be more exact, we should say that it serves to decide upon probability. For it is not given to science to reach either truth or falsity . . . but scientific statements can only attain continuous degrees of probability whose unattainable upper and lower limits are truth and falsity’.[4] (The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 6)

          Now, how about you support your claim with reason/​evidence:

          LB: Last time I checked, the principle of induction was invalid.

          e: Where did you check? I’d look somewhere different if I were you, because whoever you got it from is wrong.

          ?

        • epeeist

          So, “principle of induction” has at least two strongly conflicting definitions.

          Given your initial post I took your claim to refer to induction in the philosophical sense.

          while Popper validly used it in a philosophy of science sense, that usage has since declined, leading to “a well defined logical term”.

          “Valid” is a well defined logical term. You might try something like Susan Haack’s The Philosophy of Logics for more detail.

          (since you claim to have read him)

          Logic of Scientific Discovery sits next to Conjectures and Refutations and Objective Knowledge on my bookshelves and a little way from The Enemies of the Open Society.

          although not ‘strictly valid’

          So you are claiming that “not strictly valid” is the same as invalid?

        • Who is claiming “not ‘strictly valid’”?

        • epeeist

          You really are a complete waste of space.

          How many posts is this that you have avoided actually producing a reference or argument to validate your claim that the principle of induction is invalid?

        • You could have obviated all of this by responding to my “Do share!” like a normal human being. At this point in time, you seem to be playing on the difference between validity and soundness. Is that correct? To be absolutely clear, would you have objected if I had written:

          LB’: If it’s possible with one child, it is thereby, empirically possible with all children? Last time I checked, the principle of induction was invalid unsound.

          ?

          P.S. Popper rejects the claim “that inductive inference, although not ‘strictly valid’, can attain some degree of ‘reliability’ or of ‘probability’.” His use of “strictly valid” comes from Erkenntnis 1, 1930, p. 186. I don’t think it’s worth my time to see whether the German word Reichenbach used is best translated “valid”.

        • Kodie

          You could have obviated all of this by responding to my “Do share!” like a normal human being.

          I don’t think you are the right person to tell anyone else how to respond to a post “like a normal human being”.

        • epeeist

          You could have obviated all of this by responding to my “Do share!” like a normal human being.

          A normal human being would have answered the question I asked and not avoided it over and over again.

          To be absolutely clear, would you have objected if I had written

          Of course I would, because it is still a load of bollocks.

          Validity/Invalidity in logic refer to arguments not to individual sentences (see this tutorial for details).

          When it comes to induction we can say two things. Firstly, as Hume argued, that induction cannot be justified outside of human experience and secondly that the best we can say about induction is that its conclusions are not reliable, they are particular, contingent and probabilistic rather than universal, necessary and certain.

          Now if you had gone on to actually read some Popper you would have found he introduced the term verisimilitude as a measure of the reliability of theories, this increases as theories are critically tested and fail to be falsified. If you had actually read some additional philosophy of science you would have found that he was criticised for this in that there is no way one can estimate verisimilitude.

          Further reading would have shown you that the idea has been put on a somewhat firmer footing by the use of Bayesian analysis to both compare hypotheses and as an estimate of the belief we can have in a particular hypothesis.

          And all of this exposes the post I responded to as nonsense on stilts.

        • MNb

          “he was criticized”
          And if he had cared to read chapter 1 of A Brief History of Time he had known that this for physicists – the guys who actually do the job, unlike Lukieboy – is not a sufficient reason to throw Popper’s, let alone Hume’s writings about induction out of the window.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A normal human being would have answered the question I asked and not avoided it over and over again.

          Ah, but then we’d all have dipped out on this lesson you are teaching, as you chase the Breuer Continuum down yet another one of his rabbit holes.

          So a worthy enterprise even for that reason alone.

        • A normal human being would have answered the question I asked and not avoided it over and over again.

          If it had been anyone but you, I probably would have. However, I knew you would nitpick and pull stunts like pretend I don’t know the difference between validity and soundness—instead of allowing for the reasonable possibility that sometimes it’s ok to be sloppy with the difference, like we find in Popper’s book: “not ‘strictly valid’”.

          Now, I don’t see an actual refutation of the claim that “the principle of induction is unsound”, unless you want correct it in the direction of “the principle of induction is not known to be sound”, which I’d be happy with.

          I see two further routes for nitpicking.

          (1) You could argue that there is no “the principle of induction”, a possibility I had ruled out because I didn’t realize when you said “the principle of induction was invalid (a well defined logical term)”, that you were pretending that I don’t know the difference between validity and soundness. In this comment you didn’t quite say that there’s no “the principle of induction”, but you got close. How that point is relevant to @disqus_a9H6kflDom:disqus’ implicit use of induction—other than disallow it from drawing on any general, established principle for soundness—I don’t know.

          (2) You could argue that @disqus_a9H6kflDom:disqus is actually using a principle of induction based on possible worlds, which is almost certainly not [edit:] what something philosophers of science have actually discussed. The form of his argument is, “If X is true for Y% of the population on world W1, X can be true for 100% of the population on world W2.” I would grant this, and merely point out that the problematizing process which happened the principle of induction should probably apply to this kind of argument, as well.

          Let me be clear on one thing. When I said “the principle of induction was invalid”, I was precisely as wrong as Reichenbach was to say “inductive inference, although not ‘strictly valid’”, or as Popper was to translate his words that way. I plead guilty to precisely that error.

        • Paul B. Lot

          ” pull stunts like pretend I don’t know the difference between validity and soundness”

          Who brought up “the difference between validity and soundness”, except you?

        • MNb

          Saying that this formula

          https://static-ssl.businessinsider.com/image/4ff1727469bedd6f18000005-960-720/newtons-universal-law-of-gravitation.jpg
          is unsound doesn’t make your defense any better. It was, it is and it always will be the fruit of the inductive principle.

        • epeeist

          I knew you would nitpick and pull stunts like pretend I don’t know the difference between validity and soundness

          We have a saying here in the UK, “When you are up to your neck in shit, stop digging.”

          It has been obvious from your posts that:

          1. You didn’t realise that valid and invalid were terms that apply to arguments and not single statements

          2. You didn’t realise that “invalid” wasn’t a term used about induction but only to deductive logic. The rough equivalent of soundness in inductive logic is strength.

          sometimes it’s ok to be sloppy with the difference

          Ah, nice to allow for some wriggle room isn’t it.

          Now, I don’t see an actual refutation of the claim that “the principle of induction is unsound”

          I am explaining Luke, it’s just you that isn’t listening. The above is a statement, as such it can’t be sound or unsound.

          (2) You could argue that Greg G. is actually using a principle of induction based on possible worlds,

          What did I say about being up to your neck in shit? Possible world semantics apply to modal logic, try something like Kripke’s Naming and Necessity for an explanation.

          The form of his argument is, “If X is true for Y% of the population on world W1, X can be true for 100% of the population on world W2.”

          If I were you at the depth you are I would avoid opening your mouth.

          This is straight induction, nothing to do with possible worlds. This is the problem isn’t it Luke, you know the words and I am sure that you can impress people who have little or no knowledge of a subject. However bullshitting people who actually do have some understanding tends not to work quite as well.

        • Suppose you’re right in all that you say, here. Then do you have the same absolutely harsh criticisms to make of the use of “valid”, below:

              My own view is that the various difficulties of inductive logic here sketched are insurmountable. So also, I fear, are those inherent in the doctrine, so widely current today, that inductive inference, although not ‘strictly valid’, can attain some degree of ‘reliability’ or of ‘probability’. According to this doctrine, inductive inferences are ‘probable inferences’. [3] ‘We have described’, says Reichenbach, ‘the principle of induction as the means whereby science decides upon truth. To be more exact, we should say that it serves to decide upon probability. For it is not given to science to reach either truth or falsity . . . but scientific statements can only attain continuous degrees of probability whose unattainable upper and lower limits are truth and falsity’.[4] (The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 6)

          ? Isn’t the use of ‘valid’ there a category mistake, according to you? See, the way I’ve learned to use terms such as ‘sound’ and ‘valid’ is not from logic classes, but how I’ve seen philosophers of science use them. I can get as pedantic as you want, but I find that if I start out that way in combox discussions, people quickly accuse me of being pedantic. So for example, if you want to say that arguments can be ‘sound’ or ‘unsound’ while premises (we can call free-floating premises ‘statements’) are ‘true’ or ‘false’, I’m fine with that. I do see it as somewhat problematic because premises can frequently be expanded into conclusions of some more basic argument (blurring the difference between soundness/​validity and truth), but I can play the pedantic game if required.

          This is straight induction, nothing to do with possible worlds.

          I don’t know how you can say this, given that @disqus_a9H6kflDom:disqus was talking about a possible world God could have created, based on empirical observations of our actual world. But if you disagree with the way I framed his argument, why don’t you provide your own framing? Show me how he’s just arguing “straight induction”.

        • adam

          “This is the problem isn’t it Luke, you know the words and I am sure that
          you can impress people who have little or no knowledge of a subject. ”

          A WLC wannabe at best, doing the Gish Gallop. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ae97f946c372f0c383b185246d5fb96c16e496e1fda9fbce601351eac4aab4df.jpg

        • adam

          “How many posts is this that you have avoided actually producing a
          reference or argument to validate your claim that the principle of
          induction is invalid?”

          As opposed to outright lying?

        • MNb

          I did.
          I gave you Newton’s Law of Gravity twice.
          In general I refer to Experimental Physics.
          You prefer to neglect it.

          For the philosophical usage something similar applies. Apologist Swinburne, given his usage of the Theorem of Bayes, strongly disagrees with you that the principle of induction is invalid.
          You will neglect that too, of course.
          The good news for me is that that makes you look bad.

        • epeeist

          You prefer to neglect it.

          The problem with Luke is that he suffers from delusions of adequacy.

          In this case he makes the claim that “the principle of induction is invalid”. Now “invalid” would imply that there is a deductive schema for the principle of induction which is logically flawed. Of course he hasn’t presented such a schema or referenced one.

          If he actually knew anything about the subject rather than imagining he does then he would realise that what Hume showed was that induction cannot be justified independently of experience (Stephen Law has a good explanation). This is of course completely different from it being invalid.

        • Paul B. Lot

          1) @LukeBreuer:disqus paraphrased your question:

          “where did you check that showed that the principle of induction was invalid (a well defined logical term)?”

          thusly:

          “e: the principle of induction […] (a well defined logical term)”

          When I read your post, it seemed to me that your parenthetical “(a well defined logical term)” was modifying its immediate antecedent, ie. “invalid”.

          Luke’s paraphrase, however, seems to show that he believes the parenthetical to be modifying the concept “the principle of induction”.

          Can you shed light on what your original meaning was?

          If, as I originally thought, you meant to indicate that the word “invalid” is a well-defined logical term, what is that definition to which you refer?

          2) If we take the word “invalid” to mean “absent of deductive entailment”, wouldn’t the phrase “the principle of induction is invalid” be, by definition/tautologically, true?

          Eg.

          “Last time I checked, [using an epistemic paradigm other than deduction] is [a method absent of deductive entailment].”

          3) FWIW when I read the sentence:

          “Last time I checked, the principle of induction was invalid.”

          I did not take the word “invalid” to be meaning “absent of deductive entailment”, because #2. Because using it in that sense would then have been to utter a simple tautology.

          Instead, I read the word “invalid” as having meant something like “unjustified” or “unreasonable”.

          (Edits for word-choice/clarification)

        • MNb

          To be fair, he neglects me because he dislikes me (with some good reasons).
          However he could have addressed what I bring up in his answers to you, because what I write only adds to your comments.

        • Ignorant Amos

          To be fair, he neglects me because he dislikes me (with some good reasons).

          I’m Spartacus, but to be fair, the feeling is mutual.

          Luke believes epeeist is the sort that courts a banning too, so there’s something other than disbelief we three have in common.

        • epeeist

          Luke believes epeeist is the sort that courts a banning too

          Based on one data point. But that of course is induction.

          Oh wait, the principle of induction is invalid…

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hoist by his own petard…AGAIN!

        • epeeist

          Hoist by his own petard

          What you have to realise is that the method is valid when it works in your favour, but not when it can be used against your position.

        • MNb

          Nonononono!
          Think of the principle of charity, Epeeist.
          The principle of induction is unhealthy.

        • he neglects me because he dislikes me (with some good reasons)

          Whaaa … ? Who could dislike you??

        • epeeist

          For some reason Luke appears to have stopped posting here (for the moment at least) and turned his attention to Strange Notions.

          As it is I started this little sub-thread at his initial comment about the “principle of induction” being “invalid” without seeing the post by Greg G. to which it was a response. When I look at this it turns out that it is Luke either not knowing about or not understanding something as simple as modus tollens. This of course is at the heart of Popper’s ideas on the problem of induction and falsification…

          EDIT: added missing “not” in penultimate sentence.

        • MNb

          “This of course is at the heart of Popper’s ideas on the problem of induction and falsification”
          I never realized it and after looking it up (took me less than a minute) it seems so obvious …

        • adam

          Luke cares not about truth, but promoting his agenda with propaganda.

        • MNb

          He’s hardly an exception, is he?

        • MNb

          I haven’t read Popper either, but anyone who understands the relation between Theoretical Physics and Experimental Physics and knows that Popper investigated it immediately recognizes that Lukieboy produced some extra smelly manure. The interesting question is if he will be able to admit it. I predict not, but will be pleasantly surprised if he will.

        • epeeist

          The interesting question is if he will be able to admit it.

          This is Luke we are talking about…

        • TheNuszAbides

          one suspects he saves his Embarrassing Confessions for a spiritual superior (real, imagined or compartmentalized).

        • Ignorant Amos

          Here we go again with another series of the Luke Breuer Show.

          Warning: this show contains elements that will inhibit ones will to live. You have been warned.

        • MNb

          “The Problem of Induction”
          Specifically the Problem of Induction by Simple Enumeration as formulated and explained by Bertrand Russell in 1948. That’s exactly why I asked you if you think

          https://static-ssl.businessinsider.com/image/4ff1727469bedd6f18000005-960-720/newtons-universal-law-of-gravitation.jpg

          invalid as well. Of course I remember that you prefer to neglect me, but that does not make my question any less relevant.
          This law is 100% inductive. According to you it’s invalid. If you are serious you reject science.
          And you claimed you didn’t.
          So if you do care about consistency as much as you claim the proper thing to do is to withdraw

          “the principle of induction was invalid”

          and replace it with the correct

          “using the principle of induction alone can’t provide any certainty”.

          In a reaction to Epeeist, not to me.
          Instead I predict another episode of the Lukieboy Show.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Instead I predict another episode of the Lukieboy Show.

          Ha….wading through the Disqus notifications in my email box and what do ya know.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Why would you expect anything less than a Breuerism?

          Especially you of all people.

        • adam

          “I have no idea how to empirically test your very empirical claim.”

          And you have no idea how to demonstrate that your “God” is anything but IMAGINARY…

          Nobody here is shocked at your inabilities.. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/831e274b356c03b8778b1d9672b8ab244560e2fda7a4cd57b0436d5bda02694f.jpg

        • MNb

          “To use an analogy”
          And thus you have created your god in your own image.

        • Philmonomer

          There’s a lot to respond to here, and we seem a bit all over the map. One thing jumped out at me:

          I’m with Paul on Christians being above all the most to be pitied if it is a false story.

          I’ve–literally–never understood this quote from Paul. Pity seems like simply the wrong word here. I pity people who are broken by the unexpected death of a child. I pity people who have had terribly hard lives. I pity people who are say, suicidal–the pain they most be bearing. I pity people who, because of believing in a fairy tale, have ruined their lives–say, for example, the homeless who are mentally ill.

          I simply don’t pity people who are happy, prosperous, and kind. That describes many (most?) Christians I know (It probably describes you. You are to be pitied?). Who cares if they “spent their life chasing a fairy tale”? That fairy tale has provided order and meaning to their lives, and if that makes them better neighbors, friends, and family, great!

          I think that the word “pity” may have made (some) sense to Paul at the time, because (I believe) the earliest of Christians were a pretty austere lot. Essentially no sex, no children, pacifists–just wait around for the kingdom of god. In that sense (if you’ve thrown everything away), I suppose one could be pitied. But now? I don’t see it.

        • Greg G.

          I see that verse as the refutation of one horn of the dilemma of Pascal’s Wager that if the Christian is wrong, they lose nothing.

        • Philmonomer

          Good point. I never noticed that.

        • Yes, that has puzzled me as well. There are many approaches to [attempt to] resolve the apparent contradiction. One is to say that if all that ‘Christianity’ is doing is maintaining a given societal status quo, then it has actually become a dead faith. Risky suffering of the type one sees described in Col 1:24, Rom 8:16–17, 2 Cor 4:7–12, and 1 Pe 3:17 isn’t required to merely maintain the status quo; on the contrary, it is required to challenge the status quo. I’ll let a sociologist describe what happens to challenges:

          The left, by and large, understands that all social order is precarious. It generally failed to understand that, just because of this precariousness, societies will react with almost instinctive violence to any fundamental or long-lasting threat to their order. (Facing Up to Modernity, xv)

          I’m not sure I care how “happy, prosperous, and kind” some portion of Christians are, if a Christian on the other side of the planet is struggling day-in and day-out to ensure the members of his/her congregation have enough to eat. How much of that ‘happy’ was purchased at the The Charitable–Industrial Complex? Worse, take a look at Habakkuk 2 and tell me: how many citizens in the West have it so nice because their ancestors “have plundered many nations”? (e.g. Brazilwood, now endangered)

          There seem to be two basic attitudes one can take. One, that we’re doing about the best we can, and deserve nice things as long as we’re doing about what we’re doing. Two, that God has actually provided us with what is required to achieve true justice, if only we would love him and our neighbors. The latter belief is radical (the evidence doesn’t seem to support it) and wagering one’s well-being, if not life, on it would be either courageous and noble, or pitiable—depending on whether it actually works. Yes, we can tolerate a few ‘heroes’ here and there, like the Doctors without Borders folks who got murdered in Kunduz. But on attitude #2, I am called to take the severity of risk they’re taking, while on attitude #1, to expect everyone to take that kind of risk would be ludicrous.

        • Philmonomer

          First, thanks for taking the time to answer.

          Second, to respond to your answer:

        • Philmonomer

          [As an aside, I could keep arguing this, but what’s the point? If you start from the premise “What Paul said must be right–now I just have to figure out how,” you’ll find an answer that satisfies you. The other possibility–that Paul wasn’t right–simply isn’t available to you.]

          The latter belief is radical (the evidence doesn’t seem to support it)
          and wagering one’s well-being, if not life, on it would be either
          courageous and noble, or pitiable—depending on whether it actually
          works. Yes, we can tolerate a few ‘heroes’ here and there, like the
          Doctors without Borders folks who got murdered in Kunduz. But on attitude #2, I
          am called to take the severity of risk they’re taking, while on
          attitude #1, to expect everyone to take that kind of risk would be
          ludicrous.

          So how do you, personally, live out attitude #2?

        • [As an aside, I could keep arguing this, but what’s the point? If you start from the premise “What Paul said must be right–now I just have to figure out how,” you’ll find an answer that satisfies you. The other possibility–that Paul wasn’t right–simply isn’t available to you.]

          I’m happy to consider the possibility that Paul was wrong. Is that incompatible with considering the possibility that Paul was right?

          I would characterize myself as investigating GK Chesterton’s claim that “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” I think he overstated a bit, but not too much. I intend to find out just what truly trying to follow Jesus requires/​means, figure out how to distinguish between God acting and God not acting in the results, and then give it a serious try. If I don’t see results, I doubt I’ll stay Christian. The claim that God loves us has to mean something, and has to mean more than warm fuzzy feelings and more than some static social order.

          So how do you, personally, live out attitude #2?

          First, in my thinking, studying, and doing, I assume there’s actually a solution to the mess we’re in which (i) doesn’t require us to sacrifice certain people; and (ii) doesn’t allow us to neglect certain people. To roughly illustrate, I’m less because that homeless guy on the street is not developing his gifting and I’m less because the West continues its “war” on “terrorism” instead of repenting for the terrible things it has done to the Middle East (and Africa) and attempting to fix the damage it caused—on the terms of the harmed, not as white saviors. If I’m wrong on either of these things, I’m sacrificing my own well-being for pipe dreams. I’m also misallocating resources which could be spent accomplishing some good; for an example, see Judas’ complaint about the expensive perfume Mary used to anoint Jesus’ feet. Yes, he dipped into the moneybag, but we can pretend he didn’t for sake of discussion.

          Second, I believe that the standard hierarchical nature of humans, criticized by Jesus when he said (paraphrased) “You shall not lord it over each other as the Gentiles do” (Mt 20:20–28), can be made obsolete. In a world of growing wealth inequality, when a powerful member of the Troika can say “Elections cannot be allowed to change the economic policies of any country” (Yanis Varoufakis and Noam Chomsky @ NYPL, 1:20:05), that’s pretty ridiculous. Surely some people will always be in charge, ordering the rest around. We tried having the proletariat rebel, and [s]he ended up having to be managed by an oppressive regime which never dissipated its accumulation of power into the masses.

          Third, I believe that there is something more to life than being an entertained consumer, and that this “more” is available to all people, not just an elite who have the exclusive power—even privilege—to shape the world. I’m not thinking we all need to withdraw into asceticism—that denies the glorious world God has created—but we do need to overcome inherent selfishness and inherent tribalism, instead of subcontracting that to a few people here and there (e.g. the Doctors without Borders folks who were killed in Kunduz). For a number of reasons, I cannot believe this stance of mine would be popular among very many in the West.

          There’s undoubtedly more, but that should suffice for now. From my current understanding, all three of the above are silly if there is no divine power available. If God doesn’t exist or doesn’t care about us, probably I’d be better off making a bunch of money doing software and then participating in effective altrusim.

        • Paul B. Lot

          “From my current understanding, all three of the above are silly if there is no divine power available.”

          Many atheists, myself included, disagree with your current understanding.

          Many believe that all three of those points are true.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOHgrnaTxk0

          “The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.”

        • adam

          “I would characterize myself as investigating GK Chesterton’s claim that
          “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found
          difficult and not tried.””

          If this is the best that christianity has to offer after TWO THOUSAND years, it makes sense, to dump this as as viable.

          TWO THOUSAND years and you want to say it hasnt been tried.

          Your dishonesty is reaching new levels of Trumpism…

        • adam

          “figure out how to distinguish between God acting and God not acting in the results,”

          Then you first should study that which creates God, the human imagination…

          Hyperactive Agency Detection.

        • The logic to me was that they should be pitied because they think they’ve got this sin thing solved, but they don’t. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”

          But Paul’s analysis is completely backwards. If Christ has not been raised, the whole supernatural edifice crumbled, and everything–not just the redemption but the god himself who is offended by “sin”–are gone.

          Problem solved.

        • adam
        • I’m inspired! Time to get busy.

        • Kodie

          They’re to be pitied because their motivation for behaving was not rewarded, not that they’d know they weren’t rewarded but merely dead, but think of all the killing and stealing they could have gotten away with!

        • Philmonomer

          Pick the lead-up time to any avoidable catastrophe, whether it’s WWI, WWII, the Great Depression, the Great Recession, the Greek debt situation, etc. It is human nature to bury one’s head in the sand instead of acknowledge impending catastrophe and try to do something to avert it. By the time enough people are willing to face the facts, straighten out their reasoning, and take the appropriate action, too often the catastrophe is unavoidable. Aren’t many very smart people worried about precisely this when it comes to global climate change?

          My understanding was that you were saying one possible response to divine hiddenness was that “we are in a time of exile” so that God can let things get worse, in order to prepare us/so that we will be better prepared, for the time when he will help us. I took you to mean that times have to get worse (or maybe you just mean go longer), before we will be willing for him to help us.

          This strikes me as nonsense. Can I prove it? No. (It doesn’t strike me as capable of being disproven.) So we have 2 options 1) we live in a time as you understand or 2) God doesn’t exist. Again 2) seems like the more likely answer.

          I guess I can ask why you think we live in such a time now. What re the signs? Why should I think that’s true? When was not such a time? etc.

          I don’t think it’s important to try to establish “more terrible than X time”. One could say that the threat of nuclear armageddon was worse than what went before and one could probably say the same of global climate change, but I don’t see how taking a stance on this is necessary for my argument.

          Again, I though your proposed answer to divine hiddenness was that we live in exile, where things get worse, so that we are better ready/able to accept God’s (something? actions? I’m not really sure.) If you are just saying the exile has to go on for a while, sure I guess that’s possible.

          So, Is it possible? Sure. Does it seem likely? Not really. What seems more likely is that it is a rationalization (not reflective of reality) for divine hiddenness.

        • adam

          “”we are in a time of exile” so that God can let things get worse, ”

          Funny how these people with their ‘loving god’ celebrate suffering SO MUCH.

        • My understanding was that you were saying one possible response to divine hiddenness was that “we are in a time of exile” so that God can let things get worse, in order to prepare us/so that we will be better prepared, for the time when he will help us. I took you to mean that times have to get worse (or maybe you just mean go longer), before we will be willing for him to help us.

          Yes to the exile, and a probabilistic unfortunate yes to “times have to get worse”. I don’t know how much experience you have with humans, but it is not infrequent for them to be stubborn about fixing a problem before it gets sufficiently bad, before the pain/​suffering/​frustration his sufficient tenor.

          This strikes me as nonsense.

          Ok, help me understand why. Do you think that in fact I am wrong about my second sentence, above?

          I guess I can ask why you think we live in such a time now. What re the signs? Why should I think that’s true? When was not such a time? etc.

          The biggest sign is that people who call themselves ‘Christian’ are failing to challenge concentrations of power, and moreover, frequently collaborate with concentrations of power. The way that human power works is that if you don’t cooperate, you are killed or somehow marginalized. In the past it was easier to kill, while now it is easier to marginalize. Christians should be precisely those who are willing to speak truth to power, because death is no threat and Jesus himself did most of his work among the marginalized.

          FYI, French sociologist and philosopher Jacques Ellul develops the above themes in The Subversion of Christianity, and the abandonment/​exil theme in Hope in Time of Abandonment. This thinking did not originate with me.

          A necessary precondition for you to think that this is true is if you think there was, sometime in the past, a live notion that power should be distributed instead of concentrated, that true egalitarianism is a possibility that people are actively working toward. If you believe such a thing existed, you would then need to look at what the preconditions are for decentralized power—how do humans synchronize, if there is not a central human power to do so? (Whether Hobbesian or Lockean.) I’ll ask you to comment on this paragraph before I work more on your questions.

          Again, I thought your proposed answer to divine hiddenness was that we live in exile, where things get worse, so that we are better ready/able to accept God’s (something? actions? I’m not really sure.)

          Ahh, my bad. I was thinking of the “things are worse than they have ever been” trope, and wanted to distance myself from that.

          To your question, I think we humans were rather more well-connected to reality in the midst of WWI, the Great Depression, and WWII, than in times of prosperity where false beliefs have a longer gestation time. Just consider how much denial of climate change there is, and the potential for catastrophic human-caused climate change. But maybe humanity as a whole needs to experience such a catastrophe in order to be snapped out of its current stupidity? I hope not, but the possibility does loom.

          Digging more deeply, I think the problem is that there is a deep spirit of domination which was never extinguished by the Enlightenment, and sadly, may even have been enhanced. To the extent that Christians do not wish to really fight against this (sacrificing when necessary), or even complicit in it, I suspect that God has vanishingly little to say which is not already in the Bible.

          What seems more likely is that it is a rationalization (not reflective of reality) for divine hiddenness.

          But if God is willing to allow such a scenario to develop, won’t it necessary have this characteristic? So the question really seems to be, “Why would God allow such a scenario to develop?” And in trying to answer that question, we would hopefully find a divergence in beliefs about human nature and/or how society works, which allows for some empirical testing. After all, if one claims that God would allow the situation we inhabit to arise, that seems to entails certain claims about how humans work, individually and in society.

        • adam

          “Aren’t many very smart people worried about precisely this when it comes to global climate change?

          Oh, my my
          If only YOUR ‘God’ was not exactly as powerful as people who represent it.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “If God does exist, the world really doesn’t make much sense.
          Based on what evidence/​reasoning? If you only form beliefs based on the evidence, how on earth do you have any clue as to how an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being would act?”

          I compare it to the Japanese comic book series (manga) ‘Bleach’. One of the villains claims at one point that he planned the protagonist’s life up to this point. There is no evidence in the story up to that point and no comprehensive explanation of how this villain, who while being a magnificent bastard and having the power of putting people in life-long perfect illusions, would do this. It has been established that the main character is not under his power and plenty of other people who are not either. The people who are under his power displayed no evidence that their actions around the protagonist were based on false assumptions created by illusions. Even without the powers there are far too many moving parts up to that point in the story to think the villain “planned” the protagonist’s life.

          **The story makes far more sense**

          to call bullshit on the writer (also, the writer wrote the comic so of course the characters adhere to the plot! However, the villain’s “diabolical genius” suffered from him- NOT being originally planned by the author to be a villain at all).

        • Kodie

          Pick the lead-up time to any avoidable catastrophe, whether it’s WWI, WWII, the Great Depression, the Great Recession, the Greek debt situation, etc. It is human nature to bury one’s head in the sand instead of acknowledge impending catastrophe and try to do something to avert it. By the time enough people are willing to face the facts, straighten out their reasoning, and take the appropriate action, too often the catastrophe is unavoidable. Aren’t many very smart people worried about precisely this when it comes to global climate change?

          I think it’s more a lack of education and other emotional factors like national pride, selfishness and self-preservation, and letting loud idiots lead them into denial. The US has been worried and in conflict with the Middle East for a very long time, so why is it worse now than ever? Mostly oil interests and xenophobia, and reacting in fear and anger with as much violence as possible, driving the resolve and religious zealotry of a growing organization who can scare hundreds of millions of people at a time by striking common areas like train stations, buses, office buildings, etc. No, we won’t back off, we’ll get harder and make them get harder. The same people who believe that ISIS is the major issue of today are not putting off global warming until it actually happens – they deny that it’s happening. In the recession, people started to cut back on purchases, which drove the recession deeper. I don’t know what else they were supposed to do – when people have no money, they don’t have it to spend. But if you’re doing well, you think all these out-of-work losers didn’t try hard enough, and that they’re too proud to go work at McDonald’s, while simultaneously being of the opinion that McDonald’s shouldn’t pay a living wage because it’s for teenagers to make some pocket money and learn the value of working. If you’re doing well, i.e., the water isn’t in your living room, then it’s not really happening. Hey, I wasn’t killed by a terrorist either, maybe that’s not happening either.

          It’s called propaganda, Luke. Yes, humans maybe don’t want to hear the bad news, but plenty of times, they react to it anyway, and the legend grows in propaganda. People are more concerned that Obama or Hillary is going to take their guns, and every time the meme goes out, they stock up on more guns. Really, what for, just ’cause they can? What scenario are they reacting to? You listed a bunch of historic events that people ignored and didn’t slow down their good way of life (“terribleness”?) to prevent, but there are imaginary events lots of people are preparing for, not least of which is Revelation, Rapture, Armageddon, these are people who believe myths from thousands of years ago are going to take place during their lifetimes, at the expense of ignoring reality. That’s really the reason – people are so fucking stupid and love to be misled, preparing for something biblical instead of something reality-based. They don’t read, they listen to gossip, and they believe gossip. People are so personally irresponsible with the truth that they’ll repeat what they heard without knowing what the fuck they’re even talking about.

      • Sastra

        Luke Breuer wrote:

        Anyhow, I fully realize that the above is 100% consistent with God not
        existing. But there is some empirical testing one can do: is it
        sometimes the case that people have to be left wallowing in their
        terribleness before they’re really willing to be helped? I think this is
        obviously true. Until there is enough desire to accept God’s helping
        but disciplining hand, what can he say to us that would truly aid us?

        If it’s 100% consistent with God not existing, then there’s a problem, I think. The topic of the post is Divine Hiddeness as an argument against the existence of God. If honest, thoughtful people who care about living good, loving lives can reasonably come to the conclusion that God does not exist, then a theodicy directed to why God allows evil (He wants us to wallow in our own terribleness) doesn’t really address the point. The evidence for God’s existence is not obvious or even very compelling, so it can’t be assumed that nonbelievers are rebellious, truculent, or eager to sin.

        If your argument is that God allows reasonable nonbelief because reasonable nonbelief will lead to more people being redeemed — then I think you need to be more explicit here in Step 2.

        • If it’s 100% consistent with God not existing, then there’s a problem, I think.

          If that’s the case, then what do you do with the fact that the evidence seems 100% consistent with:

               (A) scientific realism
               (B) scientific anti-realism

          ? How about there being an mind-independent reality vs. it all being a mental construction? I could go on.

          If honest, thoughtful people who care about living good, loving lives […]

          There are two ways I can take this. One is that these people really are doing the best jobs that they can, and reality just hasn’t equipped us to make more progress against badness or dare I say it, evil, than we are in fact making. Another is that we could make terrifically more progress, but we would have to admit complicity in great evil (example), admit that the problems in the Middle East may be largely the doing of the West (see the Sykes–Picot Agreement for a starter), and realize that the only way to make true progress (vs. contributing to the The Charitable–Industrial Complex) is to make significant sacrifice. My religious beliefs incline me toward the second, but via nonpower (Mt 20:20–28). If I’m right, then perhaps I will tap into greater potential than you believe exists. If I’m wrong, I’ll be spinning my wheels and making my life worse for silly ‘reasons’. In the latter event, you would be correct to pity me. See also (2)–(3).

          The evidence for God’s existence is not obvious or even very compelling, so it can’t be assumed that nonbelievers are rebellious, truculent, or eager to sin.

          I do not endorse the rebellion thesis as universally applicable. So we may well agree on this point. Instead, I would say that failure to strenuously pursue ‘the good’ is an alternative explanation. Contrast such failure to the 7+1 instances of one who conquers in Revelation. These are people who want what is good and right and beautiful and true at all costs, subject to the restriction of nonpower.

          If your argument is that God allows reasonable nonbelief because reasonable nonbelief will lead to more people being redeemed — then I think you need to be more explicit here in Step 2.

          It is not clear to me that “reasonable nonbelief” exists. I would need much greater clarity on what that phrase really means—including how it is acted out in reality—in order to offer much comment. The above may give some clues as to how I might respond, though.

        • Sastra

          Luke Breuer wrote:

          If that’s the case, then what do you do with the fact that the evidence seems 100% consistent with:(A) scientific realism (B) scientific anti-realism

          Your examples aren’t really analogous because the claim isn’t that there is a powerful Being who sincerely wants people to arrive at the correct conclusion.

          There are two ways I can take this.

          And neither way looks to me like it addresses the Argument from Divine Hiddenness. I think you’re distracted by a different problem and have missed my point.

          If God wants people to come to believe that He exists — and it is very important that they come to believe this — then why isn’t God’s existence more obvious? Honest people of good will seeking truth do not all arrive at the same conclusion. Atheism, whether true or false, is not unreasonable. By that I mean that there are good reasons to conclude that there is no God. Even if you, as a theist, think the arguments don’t stand up to scrutiny, one need not be rebellious, stupid, or wicked to think that they do.

          This situation may be explicable or unremarkable if we were dealing with ordinary questions — or even with your esoteric philosophical examples. But it’s inconsistent with the premise that God both wants to make its existence more obvious and is capable of doing so.

        • Your examples aren’t really analogous because the claim isn’t that there is a powerful Being who sincerely wants people to arrive at the correct conclusion.

          Are you adding this to your claim that “If it’s 100% consistent with God not existing, then there’s a problem, I think.”? My response was to this, in isolation—not with added conditions. It would actually seem that the 100% consistent bit is utterly irrelevant to your point. After all, there is always a multiplicity of explanations consistent with the evidence. This has been formalized in the philosophy of science: Underdetermination of Scientific Theory.

          If God wants people to come to believe that He exists — and it is very important that they come to believe this — then why isn’t God’s existence more obvious?

          I don’t think God merely wants people to believe he exists. Satan believes he exists and he’s still Satan. I think that the Bible is rather clear that God wishes people to see him as good, so that they will allow him to contribute to their being—both to correct flaws and to add to them. I would say God desires theosis, which can only take place if we are open to God taking part in forming our being.

          Modernity, with its fact/​value dichotomy, muddies the water here. In OT times, I’m pretty sure there was no mere cognitive-level belief. Instead, what you believed was inextricably tied with what kind of world you were trying to bring into existence. Worshiping a god would be inextricably tied to performing the appropriate rituals, forming society in a certain way, exhibiting a certain kind of righteousness, etc. When YHWH gets pissed at the Israelites for worshiping Molech, that’s partially because worshiping Molech means you burn some of your children alive as sacrifices. You don’t just switch out the shrine in your home and say different words with different hand motions.

          Honest people of good will seeking truth do not all arrive at the same conclusion.

          How do you define “honest people of good will”? Let me just say that I’ve been hurt by a decent number of “honest people of good will”, know others who have as well, and thus have empirical reason to expose that concept to rigorous examination.

        • Sastra

          Luke Breuer wrote:

          I don’t think God merely wants people to believe he exists. Satan
          believes he exists and he’s still Satan. I think that the Bible is
          rather clear that God wishes people to see him as good,..

          Wouldn’t believing God exists be a precondition for seeing God as good? Otherwise, it’s a fictional hypothetical and unlikely to contribute to forming our being, etc.

          How do you define “honest people of good will”?

          Not as perfect beings; have no fear. I’m limiting my definition to an ordinary honesty, an ordinary good will, when it comes to asking and answering questions about the nature of reality, the existence of God, an afterlife, and so forth.

          I do not believe that Mormonism is true, for example. But I credit most Mormons with being sincere believers. And if I came to the conclusion that Mormonism was true, I would be in a much better position to become a Mormon than I am now. The rituals, the lifestyle, and giving up coffee would not be too much.

          Again, If God wants people to come to believe that He exists — and it is very important that they come to believe this — then why didn’t God make it more obvious that He does exist? This is a serious problem for Christianity, as Bob Seidensticker points out. In fact, I think it’s a serious problem for all the religions and spiritualities.

        • Wouldn’t believing God exists be a precondition for seeing God as good?

          Actually no, I don’t think so. I think your very question presupposes a faulty understanding of how humans work. We don’t first deal with facts and then layer on top value (ethical, moral, etc.). Instead, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that our values infuse our perception. I’m still trying to understand this—it is antithetical to how moderns tend to understand their own thinking and perceiving—but I’m growing increasingly confident in it. I could give you a bibliography on the matter if you’d like.

          Not as perfect beings; have no fear.

          Were the slaveholders in the American South, in 1700, “honest people of good will”? Is the person who is unconsciously racist/​sexist an example? What I’m getting at here is aspects of people’s beliefs and actions we don’t yet believe are incredibly damaging. Yes, I’m temporarily buying into a notion of moral progress which the Twentieth Century put into question (I have issues with Pinker’s argument).

          Again, If God wants people to come to believe that He exists — and it is very important that they come to believe this — then why didn’t God make it more obvious that He does exist? This is a serious problem for Christianity, as Bob Seidensticker points out. In fact, I think it’s a serious problem for all the religions and spiritualities.

          Your question would make no sense in 1500s Europe, and probably 1500s everywhere. But something changed, and now it’s possible for an appreciable minority to doubt God’s existence. That minority is concentrated among the richest nations in the world, among those individuals who (i) have more wealth, and/or (ii) have more intellectual status. And I would argue that members of both groups have betrayed the common person. (For a bit of evidence, see my excerpt of Chris Hedges’ Death of the Liberal Class.) And so, I might alter your question, and ask why God allows such evil to be perpetrated—why are the wicked allowed to prosper? But that is an age-old question; it is not new.

        • Sastra

          Luke Breuer wrote:

          I think your very question presupposes a faulty understanding of how
          humans work. We don’t first deal with facts and then layer on top value
          (ethical, moral, etc.).

          No, please deal with my question within the context of the topic. You said that God desires theosis, a transformative union or relationship with human individuals. Wouldn’t believing that God exists be a necessary precondition for this?

          Your question would make no sense in 1500s Europe, and probably 1500s everywhere.

          Maybe; maybe not. But a good question is a good question and it makes sense now. Can you come up with some sort of plausible answer to it?

          And so, I might alter your question, and …

          Yes, you might alter the question, but hey, let’s stick with it. It’s the topic.

          If a powerful God wants people to come to believe that He exists — and it is very important that they come to believe this — then why didn’t God make it more obvious that He does exist? How does Christianity explain the existence of reasonable nonbelief?

        • No, please deal with my question within the context of the topic.

          When you ask a question like “Have you stopped beating your wife?”, the proper response is to question the framing of the question, not to answer yes/no. If you do not wish to let the presuppositions of your questions/​claims be examined, just say so. If you cannot see how what I’m doing is getting at said presuppositions, ask for clarification.

          Wouldn’t believing that God exists be a necessary precondition for this?

          I’ve already answered this question:

          S: If God wants people to come to believe that He exists — and it is very important that they come to believe this — then why isn’t God’s existence more obvious?

          LB: I don’t think God merely wants people to believe he exists. Satan believes he exists and he’s still Satan. I think that the Bible is rather clear that God wishes people to see him as good, so that they will allow him to contribute to their being—both to correct flaws and to add to them. I would say God desires theosis, which can only take place if we are open to God taking part in forming our being.

          S: Wouldn’t believing God exists be a precondition for seeing God as good? Otherwise, it’s a fictional hypothetical and unlikely to contribute to forming our being, etc.

          LB: Actually no, I don’t think so. I think your very question presupposes a faulty understanding of how humans work. We don’t first deal with facts and then layer on top value (ethical, moral, etc.). Instead, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that our values infuse our perception. I’m still trying to understand this—it is antithetical to how moderns tend to understand their own thinking and perceiving—but I’m growing increasingly confident in it. I could give you a bibliography on the matter if you’d like.

          But I will add more, by analogy. We know that light is made up of magnetic and electric fields. We can do a lot by conceptually distinguishing those two fields. But it doesn’t make sense to ask, in reality, whether the magnetic field or the electric field is first. They happen at the same time. So do facts and values, I claim. Now, I can tell you why you probably have a hard time dealing with this: the break from the pre-Galilean world, where values actually exist in nature, to the post-Galilean world, where values are merely subjective experiences of humans.

          If a powerful God wants people to come to believe that He exists — and it is very important that they come to believe this — then why didn’t God make it more obvious that He does exist? How does Christianity explain the existence of reasonable nonbelief?

          As you can see from the above, I already answered this question.

          Can you come up with some sort of plausible answer to it?

          Is it really surprising that the poor and oppressed find it easier to believe in God (who is for justice and righteousness) than those participating in the oppression? I’m guessing you live in the West. How many slaves work for you?

          There’s another way to look at this. If God is bringing about increased justice and righteousness, but not via the system of domination so pervasive today (Nietzsche and Foucault talked about it straightforwardly; most Westerners prefer their rationalizations), then only the person who can sufficiently understand what justice and righteousness truly are will be able to see God’s actions for what they are. There is cognitive science research which probably supports this, in case you won’t accept what I’ve written already. Grossberg 1999 The Link between Brain Learning, Attention, and Consciousness (partial tutorial) presents the possibility that if no pattern in your non-perceptual (less plastic) neurons sufficiently well-matchs a pattern in your perceptual (quickly reacting) neurons, you may never become conscious of said pattern.

          Many religions call us to develop our understanding of justice and righteousness, so it’s not like you get to claim ignorance of the need to pursue these things. But I have challenged the idea of “non-resistant” in “non-resistant non-believer”. Non-resistance is insufficient; one must have a burning desire to want what God wants. Just as we can lead a horse to water but can’t make it drink, God can’t make us want him. And if we don’t even want the basic things that he’s after—justice and mercy—why would we be able to comprehend much about him, why would we even have the neural patterns required for bare conscious perception?

        • Sastra

          Luke Breuer wrote:

          We don’t first deal with facts and then layer on top value (ethical,
          moral, etc.). Instead, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that our
          values infuse our perception.

          If I understand you correctly here, you’re suggesting that facts can only be discovered or realized if they also satisfy our values. Unwelcome facts aren’t simply unwelcome: they are denied. Or, worse, they are invisible.

          I’ll refrain from pointing out a whole bunch of problems with this until you tell me whether I’m starting to get a faint glimmer of your argument here..

          But it doesn’t make sense to ask, in reality, whether the magnetic field or the electric field is first. They happen at the same time. So do facts and values, I claim.

          It does, however, make sense to ask, in reality, whether our ability to study the electric and magnetic fields of light requires that we can see light in the first place. I think that’s more analogous to the situation of needing to believe God exists before you have a relationship with it.

          But I have challenged the idea of “non-resistant” in “non-resistant
          non-believer”. Non-resistance is insufficient; one must have a burning
          desire to want what God wants.

          If what God wants is an increased justice, mercy, and righteousness in this world, a way of acting and living which can be passionately argued for by presenting its benefits and showing the poverty of the contrary — then there is no contradiction between someone who recognizes the sense, beauty, and reasonableness of such a program but does NOT also believe in God.

          I think that in order to argue otherwise, you have to claim that there is no good reason to want what God wants.

        • adam

          “I’ll refrain from pointing out a whole bunch of problems with this until
          you tell me whether I’m starting to get a faint glimmer of your
          argument here..”

          All his arguments are:

          There are things you dont understand
          That’s “God”

          If you do understand them, then his goal is to try and dilute your understand with all his rabbit hole, so that he has a hole big enough to insert is “God”

        • If I understand you correctly here, you’re suggesting that facts can only be discovered or realized if they also satisfy our values. Unwelcome facts aren’t simply unwelcome: they are denied. Or, worse, they are invisible.

          No, I don’t think that’s quite right. Suppose there is a conspiracy on to overthrow a government. An observer who doesn’t know that conspiracy is happening can observe the individual actions of the conspirators, mixed in with non-conspirators. But this observer probably won’t recognize that a conspiracy is going on; [s]he won’t be able to properly separate the actions of conspirators vs. non-conspirators. The individual facts will be observed in some manner (and maybe not all of them), but a crucial aspect to what’s truly going will be entirely missed.

          Likewise, we could observe actions of God mixed in with actions of other people, where there are different motives behind the various actions. Some people will want the same general things that God wants, some won’t. Some will say they are aligned with God who aren’t really, and some will be ignorant of God but actually be pretty well aligned. But unless you can actually properly distinguish between what God wants and what he doesn’t, it will be hard if not impossible to see his, and his [true] followers’ actions, for what they are. And if God’s modus operandi includes influencing people but not dominating them (recall Mt 20:20–28), his actions will tend to be subtle.

          As it so happens, my wife is doing scientific research which might help illustrate what I’m saying. She is using FRET microscopy to watch how little molecular motors reshape chromatin—recall that DNA is packaged in certain ways. All that the microscope tells her is if two specifically labeled parts of the chromatin complex are within 3–10nm of each other, and roughly where in that range they are. Combined with the noise of instrumentation and the randomness of molecules in solution, you need to collect data on quite a few ‘single molecules’ and then fit one or more models to them. If you don’t take enough data, or if you cannot properly separate out when a given molecule is doing one thing or another, (or other complicating factors) you simply won’t be able to understand what is going on. You’ll have individual traces from individual molecules—these are certainly ‘facts’—but you can easily miss the forest for the trees.

          It does, however, make sense to ask, in reality, whether our ability to study the electric and magnetic fields of light requires that we can see light in the first place.

          This is disanalogous, for when you “see light”, you are not seeing the E- or B- field ‘first’. It would be absolutely incorrect to say that seeing the E-field is a “necessarily precondition” for seeing the B-field.

          If what God wants is an increased justice, mercy, and righteousness in this world, a way of acting and living which can be passionately argued for by presenting its benefits and showing the poverty of the contrary — then there is no contradiction between someone who recognizes the sense, beauty, and reasonableness of such a program but does NOT also believe in God.

          From whence comes the ever-increasing knowledge of what ‘justice’ is? Certainly you believe that knowledge needs to be caused by something/​someone, that it does not merely arise ex nihilo? And if we acknowledge that some aspects of reality are broken, then we’re using other aspects of reality for the standard of correctness. Well, which part of reality gets to define ‘right’, and then judge anything which does not accord with it as ‘wrong’? On the other hand, if we want to avoid such dualism, such setting up of some aspects of reality against the rest, whence come the standards for ‘justice’ and ‘mercy’ and ‘righteousness’?

          Now, I have no doubt that one can be approaching increased justice without being aware that said knowledge has to come from somewhere. Leah Libresco is probably an example of this, after she had switched from deontology to virtue ethics but before she converted to Catholicism. But I take us to be talking here of the ontological requirements, not the epistemological requirements.

        • Sastra

          Luke Breuer wrote:

          No, I don’t think that’s quite right…

          Okay. Let me take another stab at translation, placing your argument within the context of the question “If God wants a relationship with us, then why does it not make its existence more obvious?”

          A: God’s existence only becomes obvious when our values are aligned with God’s.

          If this is not quite right either — and o I have a feeling it isn’t — then could you try to tweak this particular sentence into proper shape? Or start off another sentence with “God does not make its existence more obvious because — ?” I am very dull, I know, but please humor me if you can.

          And I have another question:

          Could someone attain theosis with God, without believing that God exists?

        • A: God’s existence only becomes obvious when our values are aligned with God’s.

          That’s much better. I would probably replace ‘existence’ with ‘actions’, but there is of course an inference from ‘actions’ ⇒ ‘actor’ which can be made.

          Could someone attain theosis with God, without believing that God exists?

          I don’t see how this would be possible.

        • Sastra

          @Luke Breuer;

          If God’s existence only becomes obvious when our values are aligned with God’s values, then

          1.) wouldn’t these values have to be worthwhile for their own sake, since their appeal leads us to God?

          2.) why do so many people with widely differing values believe in God, consider God’s existence obvious, and insist they have a relationship with Him?

          3.) doesn’t this imply that people who believe in God are like God?

          4.) Is it therefore the case that God doesn’t make itself more obvious to atheists because atheists are more unworthy than average? Given that we’re probably more likely to share what I suss out of your political views that seems odd.

          These questions all assume that your claim that facts and values are inextricably connected doesn’t have some serious problems upfront. I think it does — if nothing else it seems like a walking invitation to treat subjective validation as a kind of super power — but I’ll leave that for now.

        • Andy_Schueler

          There is cognitive science research which probably supports this, in case you won’t accept what I’ve written already. Grossberg 1999 The Link between Brain Learning, Attention, and Consciousness (partial tutorial) presents the possibility that if no pattern in your non-perceptual (less plastic) neurons sufficiently well-matchs a pattern in your perceptual (quickly reacting) neurons, you may never become conscious of said pattern.

          Just in case anyone is interested in whether this paper actually supports Luke’s claim: it doesn’t. It actually doesn’t even have anything to do with what he is talking and if you’d ask him to quote something from the paper that supports his claim, he will come up with nothing. That won’t stop him from continuing to falsely claim that the paper supports his views though.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not for the first time and hardly the last. Very few here can be bothered following his ballix to the bottom of his rabbit holes anymore…it’s a bit like the boy that cries wolf…some wee gem might be of significance to one of his assertions, but no one can be arsed anymore.

        • From the abstract:

              The processes whereby our brains continue to learn about a changing world in a stable fashion throughout life are proposed to lead to conscious experiences. These processes include the learning of top-down expectations, the matching of these expectations against bottom-up data, the focusing of attention upon the expected clusters of information, and the development of resonant states between bottom-up and top-down processes as they reach an attentive consensus between what is expected and what is there in the outside world. It is suggested that all conscious states in the brain are resonant states and that these resonant states trigger learning of sensory and cognitive representations. (Grossberg 1999, 1)

          Now let’s tease out the terms:

          (1) “top-down expectations” = patterns in non-perceptual neurons
          (2) “bottom-up data” = patterns in perceptual neurons
          (3) “resonant states” = patterns sufficiently match
          (4) “all conscious states… are resonant states” = you only become conscious of patterns in perceptual neurons when they sufficiently match the patterns in non-perceptual neurons

          Feel free to point out any errors. My use of ‘patterns’ is justified this:

          To cope with this context sensitivity, the brain typically processes pictures and other sense data in parallel, as patterns of activation across a large number offeature-sensitive nerve cells, or neurons. The same is true for senses other than vision, such as audition. (Grossberg 1999, 2)

          The dichotomy of ‘perceptual neurons’ vs. ‘non-perceptual neurons’ is justified by the following:

              During vision, all the signals from a scene typically reach the photosensitive retinas of the eyes at essentially the same time, so parallel processing of all the scene’s parts begins at the retina itself. During audition, each successive sound reaches the ear at a later time. Before an entire pattern ofsounds, such as the word GO, can be processed as a whole, it needs to be recoded, at a later processing stage, into a simultaneously available spatial pattern of activation. Such a processing stage is often called a working memory, and the activations that it stores are often called short-term memory (STM) traces. For example, when you hear an unfamiliar telephone number, you can temporarily store it in working memory while you walk over to the telephone and dial the number.
              In order to determine which of these patterns represents familiar events and which do not, the brain matches these patterns against stored representations of previous experiences that have been acquired through learning. Unlike the STM traces that are stored in a working memory, the learned experiences are stored in long-term memory (LTM) traces. One difference between STM and LTM traces concerns how they react to distractions. For example, if you are distracted by a loud noise before you dial a new telephone number, its STM representation can be rapidly reset so that you forget it. On the other hand, if you are distracted by a loud noise, you (hopefully) will not forget the LTM representation of your own name. (Grossberg 1999, 2)

          I was advised by a friend who got his PhD in cognitive science from Boston University (Stephen Grossberg is faculty there) that Grossberg’s usage of “short-term memory” and “long-term memory” is somewhat problematic; what really matters is the difference in plasticity. The neurons related to perception need to respond quickly to stimuli, while the neurons which process percepts into matters relevant to consciousness need to be much less plastic.

          So, what’s your problem with the above, Andy?

        • Andy_Schueler

          So, what’s your problem with the above, Andy?

          That you keep pretending that the paper is about anything other than sensory perception. What you quoted above has nothing, literally nothing what-so-fucking-ever, to do with your claim:
          “If God is bringing about increased justice and righteousness, but not via the system of domination so pervasive today (Nietzsche and Foucault talked about it straightforwardly; most Westerners prefer their rationalizations), then only the person who can sufficiently understand what justice and righteousness truly are will be able to see God’s actions for what they are.”
          And every time that is pointed out, you just switch the topic to sensory perceptio – the actual subject of the paper – and never even try to connect it in any way to your original (and utterly ludicrous btw) claim.

        • That you keep pretending that the paper is about anything other than sensory perception.

          So when I talk about using our senses to detect God’s actions and see them for what they are, a paper about sensory perception and which patterns in our percepts make their way to consciousness is in no way relevant? Here, I’ll lay a scenario out for you:

          1. God performs a number of actions.
          2. There is a pattern across those actions.
          3. All of the relevant data impinge on my senses.
          4. Which percepts show up in my consciousness depends on the pre-existing patterns in my non-perceptual neurons.

          What’s inapplicable about this? Sensory perception is quite important because that’s the only way that empirical evidence is collected. Unless you know of another way?

        • Andy_Schueler

          1. You live in the first century and travel with Jesus’ apostles, however, you can’t see, hear, smell or touch Jesus while all of your friends apparently can do that and do it all the time during your travels – when they talk to Jesus, it looks to you as if they are just talking to thin air.
          2. Same as above only that you can see, hear, smell and touch Jesus. However, unlike your friends among the apostles, you are ultimately not convinced that Jesus was God incarnate.

          If #1 or something like it would happen, you could reasonably look at Grossberg 1999 to try to find an explanation for it. If #2 or something like it happens, Grossberg 1999 could not be any less relevant.

        • Why are you talking about the first century?

        • Andy_Schueler

          “If #1 or something like it would happen…”

        • Nobody is claiming Jesus is walking around these days. So how is your example relevant?

        • Andy_Schueler

          I gave you an example for which Grossberg 1999 would be relevant. It’s not my problem that this never happens and you don’t expect it to happen. What I have a problem with is that you falsely claim ad nauseam that Grossberg 1999 has any relevance for scenarios for which it actually could not be any less relevant.

        • You haven’t actually demonstrated what you claim. There is no rational requirement that the only way Grossberg 1999 applies [to a scenario remotely similar to my use of Grossberg 1999] is your weird thought experiment. And yet, this is the only way that your response would actually vitiate my claim.

        • Andy_Schueler

          There is no rational requirement that the only way…

          And I didn’t say it was the only way, I actually specifically said “or something like”. You still misrepresented it and that was the second time that I pointed out the “or something like it” part.
          Now you are misrepresenting me for the third time and now I will call your behaviour deliberate obtuseness because I know for a fact that you are not as stupid as you are currently pretending to be.

        • Your modification makes no difference:

          LB‘: There is no rational requirement that the only way Grossberg 1999 applies [to a scenario remotely similar to my use of Grossberg 1999] is your weird thought experiment “or something like it”.

        • Andy_Schueler
        • Kodie

          It’s not that it’s irrelevant to Luke’s argument, it’s that faith allows people to imagine that everything around them is a message from god telling them they’re on the right track. I occasionally look up song meanings, and maybe not too surprisingly, a number of Christians think all rock songs are metaphors about god and Jesus.

        • MR

          And I always thought that all songs, not just rock, are simply metaphors for sex.

        • Greg G.

          I thought Bridge Over Troubled Waters was about drugs.

        • MR

          Interesting…. Care to elaborate?

        • Greg G.

          IIRC from what I read when the song was popular, “sail on silver girl” is the needle. “I’m sailing right behind” is two people shooting up. The “bridge over troubled waters” is heroin.

        • MR

          Ah…, interesting. I listened to it this morning and it definitely give it a whole new spin.

        • Greg G.

          The melody of the song is similar to the feeling I had when I was in the hospital with a broken leg and got pain killing shots.

        • MR

          The melody of the song is similar to the feeling I had….

          Ok, Greg, you’re starting to sound like one of our religious nut jobs here….

        • Michael Neville
        • MR

          Yeah, well, about that rash….

        • MNb

          Make my day and show me a christian who thinks The Mystery Song by Status Quo is a metaphor about god and Jesus.

        • Kodie

          Perhaps I exaggerated. Some songs are not popular enough to attract input from Christians. I’ve never heard it before and they don’t play it on American radio (in my experience), so it only has 3 comments at songmeanings.net.

        • MNb

          No, I forgot Status Quo never did well in the USA. They were huge in Europe and the UK; only Abba had bigger hits in the 1970’s (did never well in the USA either).
          I just can’t imagine how any christian would interpret those lyrics as a metaphor about god and Jesus as they are very straightforward about a teen falling in love with a whore.

        • Greg G.

          Abba did very well in the US.

          I know a guy in his early twenties from Vietnam and Abba is his favorite English-singing band from when he was still over there.

        • MNb

          I was sloppy once again. Compared to Abba’s success in Europe and the UK the band was not so successful in the USA – only four top 10 hits in the Billboard Hot 100. In The Netherlands it was more than 20; including 8 times nr.1.

        • Kodie

          Abba was HUGE in the US. If it’s any consolation, I can make that song about Jesus for you.

          Oh I know you’re lying and your love I’m buying Oh I’m feeling like a man

          How is that not about Jesus?????

        • Sastra

          (It looked like the above didn’t post so I rewrote it and posted again. But I see it now so ignore this.)

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          “Step 2:….then a miracle occurs…..”

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Nope, not until you demonstrate your dawg exists.

        Until then, it’s just a story…and Nero Wolfe, for one, reads better.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        “God will even intensify the rebellion: Ezek 20:18–26 and 2 Thess 2:1–12, especially 20:25 and 2:11.”

        If god is against sin and for free-will, the above leaves one scratching their head as if manipulating people to create more sin is part of his powers, all sin could simply be this power of Jesus controlling us. This is doubly troubling when we get to passages claiming that there exists a super-powered deceiver who is left alive by claimed omnipotent enemy of this villain- that leaves the Bible’s inspiration a big question. Why would an omniscient truthful god want to look like anything so indistinguishable from shooting oneself in the foot?

        “might it be merciful for God to jack up the temperature, in the hopes that the frog might jump out?”

        First, what is the frog trying to do? If it’s just trying to make a hot-tub for relaxation, then it certainly may stop or change the direction of the dial. If god understands this intent, the merciful thing would be to make sure the frog doesn’t cause itself injury and pain up to death. If the frog is trying to go back to non-existence god might ask the frog what problems it feels the frog is so troubled by or if the frog really does want to just stop existing. The merciful option could be several things. Hurting the frog regardless of the frog’s intention to force them out of the pot makes no sense with the many extra options and resources of omnipotence to figure things out.

        “But there is some empirical testing one can do: is it sometimes the case that people have to be left wallowing in their terribleness before they’re really willing to be helped?”

        I think this mischaracterizes what happens in such situations. First, even people behaving in a negative manner need space to decompress. Even positive attention or helpful advice given often enough can be overstimulating and increase negative behavior. Second, the person trying to help can experience fatigue and burnout, and sometimes people use this withdrawal of relationships to be manipulative. Presumably an omnipotent good god gets around all these problems as their actions don’t have to have that negative effect on people, they don’t fatigue, and they are not seeking to manipulate and would gain nothing from it anyway.

        “Or it’s a world where the righteous authorities are always obeyed.”

        “Righteous” is all over the map, too. This is no more than excuse to harm people and not be questioned. However, omnipotence does fix most if not all of the problems the obedience is claimed to fix. One example is murder, say by burning people to death. ‘Daniel’ leaves us scratching our heads why the king tried to burn the three Jewish youth to death or why there are deaths by fire or burn victim wards at all if fire can just be definded as some wavy lights that have no harmful effects on humans. By starting with that definition of fire in relation to contact with human flesh, Jesus would have not created a lot of sin, burning people to death would be no more possible than the clearly possible daydream of a human sprouting wings to fly that doesn’t become reality, and Jesus doesn’t create his own foreknowledge of people being injured, killed by, or murdered with fire- because it would be nonsensical to think fire can do any of that!

      • Kodie

        There’s no god, that’s what people sometimes do when they’re fed up being such a loser. You should try it.

    • RichardSRussell

      The root cause of your struggles isn’t religion, it’s the very notion of faith itself — the idea that you can somehow or other “know” something that doesn’t have a lick of evidence in its favor, and often quite a lot of evidence against it. The atrocious decision-making method known as faith is responsible not only for religion (and the evils attendant upon it from the people who are 100% convinced that theirs is The Truth, and they need to kill everyone who disagrees with them) but also for homeopathy, astrology, objectivism, ufology, conspiracy theories, climate-change denial, false accusations of ritual satanic child abuse, anti-vax movements, a host of superstitions, personality cults, jingoism, imperialism, racism, quackery, Chinese traditional “medicine”, feng shui, and the insidious brain parasite that leads people to endlessly obsess over anyone named Kardashian.

    • I’m glad it was helpful/provocative! If you want to chat about it–ask for advice, ask how atheists think, ask about the journeys out of faith of some of the people around here–feel free.

      If it feels right to drop the Christian baggage, I encourage you to do so. There are lots of other posts that might be helpful as well. Click on the All Posts button on top.

      • I have been sniffing around the Atheist channel lately. Though to be honest, it feels a little like checking out dating websites while still married to my husband…that level of betrayal.

        • It’s been a long time since I left Christianity behind, but I have a rough understanding of how tough that must be. If you have believers who are important to you, it can be difficult to come out as an atheist (or even a skeptic or doubter) to them. Keep in mind, though, that if the religion’s stories don’t make sense, that’s not your fault–that’s the religion’s fault. Sure, you can be sensitive to others’ feelings, but following the evidence puts zero guilt on you.

          For responding to the intellectual arguments that you may be puzzling over, I think you’ll find that this blog has lots of good articles. Another good one that I’m sure you’ve checked out is Friendly Atheist. He’s much better at tracking news stories than I am.

        • Joe

          You should really consider what that says about your faith. Why do you feel uncomfortable, or like you’re betraying somebody? What’s the harm in looking?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I’m not out to my family, but they do here from me when I think movies don’t make sense and especially my younger brother closest to my age gets vocally enraged by me- even when I agree with him the movie was awesome to watch. I can imagine they would be worse if they found I am an atheist who has a pretty negative view of religion- not a commited anti-theist. I do have one younger brother who says that they don’t believe ther is a god, we all still go to a Church on occasion, and this is all so very complicated.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m fortunate to live in a place where Christians are too busy tearing each other apart to be concerned with the token atheist…though somewhat recently I’ve been finding out I’m not as token as I first considered.

          Both my grown-up children are atheist, I like to think it’s because I gave them the choice to find out for themselves and made sure they both got an education at an integrated school.

          Integrated Education brings children and staff from Catholic and Protestant traditions, as well as those of other faiths, or none, together in one school. For the past 30 years, in a deeply divided society, Integrated schools have been an alternative to an educational system in which most children attend largely religiously separated schools.

          I’m not behind the door in my atheism, but because my social circle is made up of Christians I find myself having to bite my tongue very often…just not all the time.

          All the best in your journey going forward, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be stifled in anyway, the same goes for Beth above.

        • MNb

          “I like to think it’s because …”
          Something very similar happened to my son.

          “I can’t imagine what it’s like …..”
          I even less. For instance for many years I didn’t even know it was possible for an atheist to be in the closet.

        • Brian K

          You and I have interacted before on atheist blogs, and I valued the conversation. If your religion is serious about loving your neighbor, you can’t possibly be betraying it by being here.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’ve seen your compassion and thoughtfulness on Neil’s channel on numerous occasions.

          a wise person once said that moral behavior is a skill requiring practice like any other. scolding oneself for purely hypothetical scenarios is, i dare say, not a useful skill. and testing faith isn’t all it’s cracked up to be if faith itself turns out to be more denial or delusion than moving mountains. (restraint can have practical power/value, denial less so, delusion not at all.)
          an exercise that (as far as i can tell!) helped me maintain my sanity was pondering the comparison of two very different ‘manifestations’ of faith: the ‘faith’ of an individual (which i hope we can agree is only the kind of thing that ‘moves mountains’ in the context of distant legends, never in the real world we can point to and describe with any honest confidence) and the faith of a community (which, i’ve found, the more clear its effects on changing the world for the better, the less it has anything to do with viciously petty taboos like thoughtcrime and how well one dresses up for The Tribe on The Seventh Day).

          (i know, i know… that’s just the sort of thing The Ultimate Personification Of Evil would say!

          i’d echo Bob’s “feel free to ask” comment with the caveat that there are of course those of us who may react with suspicion depending on [laundry list of factors] or even hostility on a bad day … but i’ve also seen you handle rudeness fairly well.

  • Sastra

    God places a higher value on people having the free will to respond to
    him, and if he shows too much of himself he takes away their free choice
    to respond to him, because once he is too overt about his existence, people will just feel obligated to [believe] in him in order to avoid being punished.

    Nothing in our experience works like this. Nothing. Your choice to obey or disobey your father is not taken away because you are sure he exists, and you know what he said. You’d not be freer to love your father if he’d abandoned you at birth and watched you from behind trees, dropping ambiguous little messages which might, or might not, be signs of his presence.. Any parent knows that being clear concerning requests allows choice, it doesn’t mean obedience somehow doesn’t ‘count.’ This argument is apparently an appeal to ESP.

    That, or it assumes that there is no such thing as an honest nonbeliever. Every single atheist — no, every single nonchristian — is like a cartoon character Bad Guy, only pretending to believe in a seemingly plausible differing view for no good reason whatsoever. The nonbeliever as plot device.

    If it is too obvious to us that God exists and that he really will judge
    us, then people will respond to him and behave morally out of
    self-preservation.

    If this is carried to its logical endpoint, then God ought to place the highest value on atheists who behave morally out of a concern for others.

    • Kingasaurus

      —That, or it assumes that there is no such thing as an honest nonbeliever.—

      Since the Bible actually does say that, it shows they were thinking about this apologetic excuse waaay back.

      God is obvious so everyone is without excuse, and you’re just pretending he’s not real because you want to sin. Right?

      • Sastra

        Maybe I’m pretending He’s not real only because I want to commit the sin of pretending He’s not real.

        It makes such a satisfying loop.

        • adam

          “Maybe I’m pretending He’s not real only because I want to commit the sin of pretending He’s not real.”

          Well thats forgivable too, as long as you dont blaspheme the holy ghosts….

      • adam

        ” and you’re just pretending he’s not real because you want to sin.”

        If I really wanted to sin, I be a worshiper, because every single sin, except blasphemy is forgivable.

        • Kingasaurus

          Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but apologetics make no sense upon close examination… 😉

        • adam

          Stop, stop, please stop….

          In my experience, apologetics apologizes that the bible doesnt mean what it says or say what it means.

          Then they on to tell everyone what it really means.

        • MNb

          Well, apologetics comes from apologies, meaning lame excuses.

        • Uzza

          Actually, it comes from the old Greek word apologeisthai “to speak in one’s defense,” with our modern meaning coming in around the 17th century.

          But who cares? Your explanation is way better.

        • Jack Baynes

          The key to understanding Christian “morality” is to give up on the idea that it has anything to do with behaving morally.

        • TheNuszAbides

          it might be lucky enough to overlap on occasion. i reckon the key is by what tactics any given individuals/sects moralize.

      • Kodie

        Well, I don’t want people to call me a fool!!! (Works pretty well in all forms of marketing).

        • TheNuszAbides

          call me Dead Thread Poker, just don’t call me late for dinner.

    • Uzza

      people will . . . behave morally out of self-preservation.”
      Is this even possible?
      Morality dictates that we excuse bad behavior when it’s done under compulsion. This seems like a bedrock moral principal. Even killing, the most immoral of acts, may be excused when it’s done in self-preservation but that doesn’t make killing moral. Excusable, but still immoral.

      Behavior born of self-preservation has no bearing on morality. In the world Murray imagines, where everything is done out of self preservation, there cannot be any morality.

      • Kodie

        Yeah, I didn’t really understand the difference. If we know god exists and that would cause us to behave like we’re gonna get the belt when dad comes home, how is that different than how people who believe god exists without knowing for sure conjure up their morality? The dictionary likens morality to obedience to rules, but I feel like morality is your inner core of goodness, however you define it (I guess), than locking in to a list of do’s and don’t’s and neurotically adhering to it out of fear. I see Christians and other theists of both types – people who seem to honestly do good and be good people but attribute that goodness being placed in them by god, and people who are paranoid about screwing it all up. The latter group tend to also be the most vocal and active in judging others, and falling in to activism to prohibit anyone in their vicinity from tempting and influencing their children, while the former may cheerfully do good deeds like feeding and clothing the homeless or missionary work, by which I mean, they’re more of the volunteerism type – doing work they think makes the world a better place and bringing a gift. I don’t think they always do the right thing or do the right thing the right way (like making church attendance a condition of receiving charity), but the good they think they are doing comes out of them as an obligation to humanity (which probably pleases god) that they feel, than an obligation to please god by making disobedient humanity suffer.

        I would then compare it to having a job. Some bosses are assholes, and some aren’t. You know both of them exist, right, but the bad boss makes every day of work a chore, you feel demeaned, but you can’t quit or you’ll lose your paycheck, and the future is uncertain out there. The good boss makes you feel good about doing your work, and brings out your best in positive ways. The bad boss thinks you wouldn’t do anything at all if he didn’t demand and treat you like a bad child in danger of getting fired if you speak up or make a mistake, but I think people are more prone in these positions to do less work, feel less good about the work they do, put out lower quality, and not be in a mind to generate ideas. God sounds like that kind of boss. The good boss doesn’t threaten you to get work done. I don’t know why even Christians in defense of their god’s ways could suppose that if we were certain god existed, that he couldn’t be the kind of god who generates an atmosphere of productivity and well-being and cooperation that feels effortless. We could actually become our best selves, and not out of fear or obedience. Knowing god exists is not an impediment to moral freedom unless he’s a very bad boss.

        Millions of theists have signed up for this abuse, they imagine that it is real, they know god exists as well as anyone could, and believe they are sinners who may end up on their abuser’s bad side some day, sooner or later, in life or after death. And then they (in so many words and implied or explicitly) threaten others that this is just the way it is, you can either accept the way it is, or deny the way it is (for the purpose of sinning), but beware of denying it. Being the earth may be like a monopolistic corporation, and if you don’t keep your job by the skin of your teeth, the only other place to find work is with satan, i.e, quitting your crummy job means you’ll lay about all day, and that’s fun, but you’ll run out of money. And mind you, this is their imaginary construct, as though there are no other places to work, like atheism, for example. Managing to do just fine, not being a bad person, not fearing hell, and not being abused.

  • Sophia Sadek

    Thanks to the work of Paul and his lackeys, Christians think that Jesus taught his students how to worship Yahweh better by believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus. What if Jesus was teaching his students how to escape the worship of Yahweh? That scenario makes more sense to me.

    • TheNuszAbides

      that’s why i’m stumped for a response when i hear a self-styled ‘cradle Catholic’ say that they wouldn’t ultimately care if the mythicist position gained traction because the Jesus character [as they see it] was just such a Social Justice Maverick!

      • Sophia Sadek

        He was such a social justice maverick that he would be the last person in the world to agree with Caesar’s ban on contraceptive herbs.

  • Rudy R

    God values free will, but choice not so much. You can love him or hate him, but if you hate him, you are going to burn in a fiery hell for ever and ever and ever.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      and this dawg-thing equates ignoring it with hate…

    • TheNuszAbides

      50% of the choice field. indeed, there’s no such thing as a free lunchwill …

  • Jason K.

    If it is too obvious to us that God exists and that he really will judge us, then people will respond to him and behave morally out of self-preservation.

    Exactly! If you know God is definitely real, then disobedience becomes impossible. Just ask Adam and Eve.

    • Michael Neville

      Or Satan.

      • Jason K.

        Or Judas.

      • adam

        Satan…..

    • adam

      But Adam and Eve had no knowledge, they didnt even know they were naked.

      • Uzza

        Only until they are the fruit. After that they had god-like knowledge of good and evil. And what was the first thing Eve did after she got that knowledge? Hmmm?

        • adam

          Hid from an ‘All-Seeing God’ and it couldnt see them?

        • Uzza

          No, used her god-like knowledge of the right thing to do to have everyone else eat the fruit.

        • adam

          You are correct, the hiding from omnipotence was after that.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Shared….

    • Ignorant Amos
      • MR

        Oh my God, this is so awesome! Thank you for this site!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Your welcome.

          Can’t believe ya haven’t heard about it before this…it’s been around quite a number of years now.

          T’is funny as feck ta be sure, if a have ta say so maself.

          The Brick Bible is also available in hard copy too.

          https://www.amazon.com/Brick-Bible-Complete-Set/dp/1626361770

        • MR

          I might have seen a scene or two, I guess I didn’t realize it was a whole site. And I have to admit I’m eyeing that hard copy…. My favorite so far is the oops between the 5th and 7th plagues.

          Fifth Plague: All the livestock killed

          Seventh Plague: “Protect your livestock!”

          Protecting the (dead) livestock.

          Priceless.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I guarantee you’ll be doubled over in two pishing yerself laughing at lot of them.

          But no spoilers…enjoy.

        • MR

          Okay, fine. I ordered it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’ve just been reading the blurb on Amazon.uk and it says this….

          The Brick Bible series has taken the world by storm, and now, for the first time, Brendan Powell Smith’s visually striking The Brick Bible: A New Spin on the Old Testament and The Brick Bible: The New Testament are available in a beautiful hardcover box set. With over two thousand color photographs depicting the major narrative scenes of the Bible, this slipcovered set (including new material and a bonus double-sided, full-color poster) is the gift you’ve been wanting to give your LEGO-loving friends and religious family members for holidays, birthdays, or just because.

          WOW! WTF?

          Someone hasn’t done their due diligence.

          The first review then says…

          I got this Bible thinking it was a great combination: Bible + Lego – but the actual fact is that this Bible includes every story in the Bible that is age inappropriate for children e.g. the rape of Dinah. (I highly recommend the Action Bible as a fantastic kids Bible). In the brick bible, God is shown as angry looking. The author is an atheist who has an interview on line, that I would like to quote a segment from:

          Who’s your favourite character, and why? Go on, we know you have one…

          It may seem cliche, but I have to say my favorite Bible character is Yahweh himself. I don’t think I would have been nearly as inspired to create this project if it weren’t for the continuous outrageous and depraved actions of the Bible’s main character. Power-mad, belligerent, masochistic, petty, woefully insecure, extremely dangerous and unpredictable (and seemingly not too bright) Yahweh exhibits all the worst attributes of man.

          Pretty much covers it…then I read the second review, another 5 star btw…

          Wonderful way to grab the attention of children in particular! My only comments are that The New Testament is heavy on the Book of Revelation and a couple New Testament illustrations are sadly anti-Catholic. Catholic parents should review before sharing with their children.

          From there it just turns into a fuckin’ comedy.

          https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brick-Bible-Complete-Set/dp/1626361770/ref=pd_sim_14_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=512VWTnMh8L&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR133%2C160_&psc=1&refRID=6BKD5KZ9KT7DYSRJ5364

        • MR

          “Look, honey, mommy bought you a fun Bible!” “Yay! Thank you, mommy…! Um, Mommy…, what are they doing?

          AWK-ward.

          Reminds me of the time the somewhat religious dad of a friend of mine was over and began thumbing through my Crumb’s Book of Genesis. The puzzled look on his face was priceless. But, for me…, AWK-ward.

        • MR

          Received this already! Yay, Amazon! But boooo, bait and switch! All the best, irreverent parts have been softened. The print version just isn’t the same. Am sending it back. :’-(

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sorry to hear that it disappointed. The web version is definitely much funnier. But the hard copy is a decent resource for quick referencing the stupid.

          It was banned by Walmart and a funny overview of what happened back then by a holy roller who used the web version to review the book version can be reviewed at…

          https://caffeinatedthoughts.com/2011/11/foolish-christians-defend-atheist-bible-and-attack-sams-club-who-wisely-stops-selling-it/

        • MR

          And I get it. I toned down version is likely to sell more copies. But the sharp wit of the online version is much more entertaining. Interesting review!

        • Poor Christians–being burdened with reality and all.

        • Ignorant Amos

          They struggle with it, that’s for sure.

        • TheNuszAbides

          as should we all, eh? just hopefully more constructively than a lot of their ilk.

  • Michael Neville

    According to the propaganda Satan knew Yahweh well (the two of them were making bets in the Book of Job) but that didn’t stop Satan from using his free will to rebel against Yahweh. So according to Christian dogma knowing Yahweh doesn’t interfere with free will.

    • TheNuszAbides

      in the Yahweh-as-Mob-Boss scenario, Satan is clearly his heavy. hell (ahem), he even went to The Ultimate Prison for Eternity so that Heaven could stay safe for brown-nosers!

  • Uzza

    None of this is at all relevant to Christianity.
    What would be compelling evidence that a god exists? It would have to be something truly huge, like oh say, creating the known universe. That would convince me that a supremely powerful, unkown force exists behind everything. It’s already done that. Now if you want to attach particular mouth noises to it, maybe [ɑɫ’ɫɑh], I’m down with that. But then . . . so what?

    It doesn’t give me reason to worship it, or even care much. No indication it thinks, or feels, knows I exist, or would care if it did. God would have to do a whole lot more than merely make itself known before I was convinced it died for my sins.

  • Interesting timing. Three days ago, Randal Rauser posted The Hiddenness Argument Revealed: A Review, in which he reviews J.L. Shellenberg’s 2015 OUP book The Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy’s New Challenge to Belief in God (NDPR review by Adam Green). Shellenberg’s 1993 Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason received high praise from theist Richard Swinburne and atheist Paul Draper; his more recent book is aimed at a broader audience.

    N.B. Searches for ‘Shellenberg’ returned zero results for Unbelievable? and for Wintery Knight.

    • Let us know if any of this is relevant to our discussion.

      • The discussion is about divine hiddenness. I linked to one of the principal philosophers working on divine hiddenness. (Shellenberg is an atheist, FYI.) How could that not be relevant to the discussion?

        • Aren’t we sensitive today? I’m encouraging you to summarize this valuable information for us.

        • adam

          ” I’m encouraging you to summarize this valuable information for us.”

          Sometimes you are SO funny, Bob…..

        • And I’m declining, as it would require additional effort on my part and nobody here is making it worth it. If you’d rather I not offer tidbits like said comment without pre-chewing it mommy bird-style, just tell me.

          I think I’m justified in being annoyed, given that your “if any of this is relevant to our discussion” can be very plausibly interpreted as me possibly offering useless/​irrelevant drivel. Contrast this to a response which thanks me for enhancing your argument by making you aware of additional resources. This, you did not do. You did not do any hint of it. I do think it’s quite rational to be irritated as a result.

        • adam

          “And I’m declining, as it would require additional effort on my part and nobody here is making it worth it.”

          Well at least we are worth your worthless spewing….

        • Some people add to the conversation with links. Others go further and summarize the key points. Not what you want to do? That’s fine. I’m not sure where the shithead attitude comes from–that’s just you, I suppose.

        • I suggest allowing for the possibility that the way you phrase things takes on meanings defined by social protocol, and not merely your subjectivity. It is a lesson I was forced to learn long ago. My life became better after I submitted to it.

        • MNb

          “My life became better …”
          If your attitude on internet is any indication for this I rather don’t want to know how shitty your life was before.

        • Kodie

          I suggest you take responsibility for being an asshole.

        • Kodie

          In the same amount of time, you could have summarized the fucking thing, but instead you whine and shit about people not appreciating your efforts. You are a chore!

        • Ignorant Amos

          But there is a whole new bunch of interlocutors he can now lock horns with…at least ways until they also get bored with his inane drivel, links to irrelevant fuckwittery, and pedantic semantic two-step dancing.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Summarize.

      • Ignorant Amos
        • Great!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Seems to have encouraged at least one person to make some interesting comments over here, so great indeed.

  • Jack Baynes

    once he is too overt about his existence, people will just feel obligated to [believe] in him in order to avoid being punished.

    I’ve got a solution! Don’t punish people for simply not believing in you.

    • Michael Neville

      You’re thinking rationally and ethically. According to the propaganda Yahweh is neither rational nor ethical. He kills people just for grins and giggles. So punishment for non-belief is the sort of thing Yahweh likes to do.

      • Justsmile

        That’s a faith statement right?

        • Susan

          That’s a faith statement, right?

          No.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Merely consistent with your book’s description of your dawg’s character.

    • Is it ok to punish people for making slaves work for them, perhaps regardless of whether they exert the effort to find out whether their consumer habits are having this effect?

      • Jack Baynes

        Yes.
        One of those God condemns, one he doesn’t. Why did He get it wrong?

        • That’s a very long discussion, and involves questioning whether providing people with a perfect moral standard is the best way to effect moral reform. Jewish scholar Joshua A. Berman makes the argument that the OT can be read as pushing against the tribute imposer/​tribute producer dynamic which can be reified in slavery, but can also exist (and I claim, does exist, today): Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought. I find his argument compelling. I believe that the letter of the law has little motivating force, and that the way to shape the spirit of the law in people is complex and possibly allows a reversal of your “get it wrong”. There is reason to take my stance on letter/​spirit of the law; from liberal Christian Chris Hedges:

              The anemic liberal class continues to assert, despite ample evidence to the contrary, that human freedom and equality can be achieved through the charade of electoral politics and constitutional reform. It refuses to acknowledge the corporate domination of traditional democratic channels for ensuring broad participatory power. Law has become, perhaps, the last idealistic refuge of the liberal class. Liberals, while despairing of legislative bodies and the lack of genuine debate in political campaigns, retain a naive faith in law as an effective vehicle for reform. They retain this faith despite a manipulation of the legal system by corporate power that is as flagrant as the corporate manipulation of electoral politics and legislative deliberation. Laws passed by Congress, for example, deregulated the economy and turned it over to speculators. Laws permitted the pillaging of the U.S. Treasury on behalf of Wall Street. Laws have suspended vital civil liberties including habeas corpus and permit the president to authorize the assassination of U.S. citizens deemed complicit in terror. The Supreme Court, overturning legal precedent, ended the recount in the 2000 Florida presidential election and anointed George W. Bush as president. (Death of the Liberal Class, 8–9)

          A contrasting view can be found in Cooperation Without Trust?, in which the authors (including Stanford faculty) believe that the declining trust in the US (56% in 1968 → 33% in 2014) can be supplanted by laws. I had the chance to talk to a Stanford faculty member last year and asked him about “trust in the law”; in his judgment, faculty had greater (and misplaced) trust than students.

          We can get into this if you’d like, but I doubt much of anything productive will come out of it unless we both stick in it for the long haul. I’m up for it; are you?

        • Jack Baynes

          So you defended not punishing slavery, a real evil.

          Can you defend punishing a lack of belief, a non-evil?

        • So you defended not punishing slavery, a real evil.

          That distorts my position. That God might have been at work on undermining the very ways of life and thinking which legitimate slavery is not something one would possibly guess from your “not punishing slavery”.

          Can you defend punishing a lack of belief, a non-evil?

          I don’t think the Bible advocates for what you are describing as “belief”. There’s more in my comment with section starting “I don’t think God merely wants people to believe he exists.”

        • Jack Baynes

          “I don’t think God merely wants people to believe he exists.”

          But you think he wants us to believe he exists, and then you think he wants us to believe other things about him..

          He’s failed to demonstrate either of those. Why do you think I deserve to be punished for that?

        • But you think he wants us to believe he exists, and then you think he wants us to believe other things about him.

          No. I don’t think one can perform the kind of separation indicated by your “and then”. This smells too much of prescriptivism, where we first get the facts down, and then transition to the value-domain. Stated differently, I don’t think God would benefit from merely being obviously present to your senses. Indeed, I suspect that your notion of what/​who is good and evil has nothing to do with your senses—that this notion is in fact, utterly immaterial†.

          † I don’t mean that it cannot be represented in physical matter; instead, I think that what makes it what it is, is not physical matter, but some sort of informational construct which is most similar to Aristotle’s ‘formal cause’. A way to understand this is that ostensibly, the same thought can exist on the substrates of fleshy neurons, silicon circuits, or some futuristic substance. What makes the thought the same is precisely not the fact that it is e.g. made of atoms. The matter is complex, but I didn’t want to get accused of something silly. To really dig into this, we’d probably have to explore the philosophical concept of multiple realizability.

          He’s failed to demonstrate either of those. Why do you think I deserve to be punished for that?

          Do you think you have to be aware of hurting other people in order to be punished for hurting other people? That is, do you think that punishment is necessarily predicated upon your awareness? (I don’t want to exclude the insanity defense, but I also don’t want it or something like it to cover all instances of being unaware.)

        • Jack Baynes

          Do you think you have to be aware of hurting other people in order to be punished for hurting other people?

          Are you saying that not believing in God (whatever YOU might think believing in God means) is hurting someone?
          Who?

        • Again, I don’t think God punishes people for what you are calling “not believing”. But you’re welcome to explain just what you mean by that term. Until we can gain clarity on it, I think we’ll end up talking past each other.

        • Jack Baynes

          I asked you to explain who I hurt by not believing in God using whatever definition of belief you thought was appropriate.

        • Failing to believe in pisteuō God means that we want to bring into existence a world which is worse than the one which God wants to bring into existence, with our help (see “God’s coworker”). There are two results of such failure:

               (A) badness, such as injustice
               (B) less goodness

          Take, for exmaple, a moderately wealthy couple in the West who do a little bit to combat poverty/​injustice, but in general are happy with the amount of goodness they enjoy. This can be construed as a failure on both counts. For motivation that this is in fact a good description of our world, see Peter Buffett’s 2013 NYT piece The Charitable–Industrial Complex.

          It is easier to see (A)-failure be worthy of punishment. But I suspect that (A) and (B) are deeply intertwined, such that you can’t really fail on one without failing on the other. For example, by not sufficiently pursuing technology to allow extremely populous countries to industrialize more cleanly than the then-less-populous West did, the West’s guilt for global climate change is, in my judgment, deeper than is generally acknowledged. We had a duty to bless those less fortunate and we flubbed it, big-time.

          Does this better explain how God might find fault in people failing to believe in pisteuō him?

        • adam

          “Failing to believe in pisteuō God means that we want to bring into existence a world which is worse than the one which God wants to bring into existence, with our help (see
          “God’s coworker”).

          There are two results of such failure:

          (A) badness, such as injustice”

          Hardly
          You have your priorities back assward

        • adam

          “Failing to believe in pisteuō God means that we want to bring into existence a world which is worse than the one which God wants to bring into existence, with our help (see
          “God’s coworker”).

          There are two results of such failure:

          (B) less goodness”

          AGAIN, bass ackwards

        • Joe

          Are you now saying god desires works instead of faith?

        • adam

          What it REALLY needs is MONEY…

        • I’m saying God desires live faith instead of dead faith.

        • Joe

          So, works AND faith? That won’t be popular with a lot of wealthy Christians. They’re going to have to sell all their possessions and give them to the poor.

        • Try reading James, chapters 2 and 5.

        • Joe

          Try reading Luke 18:22. Jesus apparently said that. What does that guy know though, right?

        • adam

          He knows slave beating:

        • So because Jesus told one person to do that in a specific situation, it’s what all followers of Jesus should do in all situations? According to your logic, Christians could never develop science, because it requires some amount of hoarding of resources. I think that Christians can truly help the poor, avoiding degenerate situations like The Charitable–Industrial Complex, without every single person doing what Jesus told the one person to do in Luke 18:22.

        • Joe

          Why report what Jesus said to one person? He was speaking to an audience. More selective interpretation on behalf of Christians. Paul’s message is much easier, so let’s follow that instead.

        • Those directions were given to “an audience”? That’s not how my English class taught me to read…

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Considering that xtianity has considered reason and science to be its enemies for centuries now, even the protestant versions, I’d say we developed science in spite of religion.

        • adam

          “So because Jesus told one person to do that in a specific situation,
          it’s what all followers of Jesus should do in all situations?”

          WELL

          If your “God” character were ONLY OMNIPOTENT he could educate EVERYONE in NO TIME AT ALL.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          what’s wrong with Ch 3 & 4 that you don’t cite them?

          Meanwhile, summarize.

        • adam

          Never happen.

        • adam

          “I’m saying God desires live faith instead of dead faith.”

          Well why didnt it think of that when it created death?

        • MNb

          Now that’s a deepity.
          Funny how you need words that refer to our natural reality to say something about a supernatural reality – of course without explaining how those words applies to the latter.
          Also funny how you need to use italics to stress your deepity – as if you need to convince yourself rather than build a rational argument.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You’re asserting dawg.

          start there…I want some evidence.

        • adam

          “I’m saying God desires live faith instead of dead faith.”

          It should have thought of that before creating death

        • Jack Baynes

          It definitely means that God does a terrible job at communication allowing such terrible translations to live on.

          And makes no sense that his followers preach about how he will punish us for not (believing or pisteuōing) in God while he refuses to provide evidence of his existence because he doesn’t want people to (believe or pisteuō) in him out of fear of punishment.

        • It definitely means that God does a terrible job at communication allowing such terrible translations to live on.

          So if you were God, you would prevent such things from happening? Might you explain how you would accomplish this? One option would be to kill off people who say they are followers but pervert your holy text. Another is to automagically constrain the thoughts of those who say they are followers, so they cannot be hypocrites. I’m sure there are plenty others, as well. What I want to see is if your suggestion would result in something that is probably a rational reality, or whether it will actually be more of a magical, irrational reality.

          And makes no sense that his followers preach about how he will punish us for not (believing or pisteuōing) in God while he refuses to provide evidence of his existence because he doesn’t want people to (believe or pisteuō) in him out of fear of punishment.

          I’m sorry, I can’t make sense of this. If you’re characterizing some Christian’s position, how about presenting the relevant bits for my examination? (I might simply disagree with it.)

        • Jack Baynes

          So if you were God, you would prevent such things from happening?

          Yup

          Might you explain how you would accomplish this?

          By telling the translaters “You got that wrong, try this word instead”

        • Joe

          Or just;

          ‘Screw it, I’ll write it myself. In diamond instead of papyrus.”

        • Jack Baynes

          In every language currently in use, and distribute it all over the world rather than to just the backwaters of Rome.
          And when new languages evolve, distribute NEW versions in those new languages.

        • adam

          But Jack, then “God” wouldnt be an IMAGINARY character in a collection of stories.

        • Joe

          I’d at least send it to China to give the religion a bit of a kick-start. There’s a billion of them now.

        • Jack Baynes

          Maybe I’d write a copy on gold plates, send it to America and hide it for 1800 years before giving it to a known con-man to translate with the help of magic stones and a hat before taking it away from him.

          And then I’d have a good laugh and give him a copy in English that he could understand and show to everyone instead.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and how curious that it hasn’t managed to dominate India, also where over a billion live, as though they already had a deep/intricate cultural implantation of supernatural ideas before this ‘revolutionary’ Jesus fella and his minions showed up …

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Not even necessary (see my previous post).

        • By telling the translaters “You got that wrong, try this word instead”

          And if they refuse to listen?

        • Jack Baynes

          I get new translaters, and tell all the religious leaders that the bad translations are not the word of God.

        • Kodie

          Why do we need religious leaders?

        • TheNuszAbides

          Why do we need religious leaders?

          now there’s a proper rabbit-hole for ya.

        • Joe

          Refuse to listen to god? Well ,they’d at least knew he existed, which is the whole point of this article.

        • Why would God care about revealing himself to such people?

        • Joe

          He wants a relationship with them. Did you forget that you’ve said that multiple times in this thread?

        • But the people we’re talking about would give him the middle finger. So I don’t see how I’ve forgotten anything.

        • Joe

          So he knows in advance what will happen? You’re going with determinism now?

        • Are you saying that without determinism (whatever you mean by that term), God is obligated to talk to every single human being?

        • Jack Baynes

          So because God’s afraid some people might give him the middle finger when he politely tries to correct their misunderstandings, God refuses to talk to everyone.

          Makes sense for an ominpotent creator being!

        • You don’t actually have that God refuses to talk to anyone. You were never granted that in the conversation. How would you argue for that claim?

        • Jack Baynes

          If he exists, he has refused to talk to me.

        • adam

          Does Sherlock Holmes or Spiderman talk to you?

        • And your experiences generalize to all people?

        • Jack Baynes

          Ah, ok, I thought you were saying that god doesn’t refuse to speak to anyone.
          Ok, God refuses to speak to some people because he’s afraid someone might give him the middle finger.

        • MNb

          Or god refuses to talk to for instance me because I would ask him to set up an infallible warning system for natural disasters, reliable escape routes for citizens in war zones and to make all men infertile after impregnating a woman twice until the world population has decreased with 90%.

        • Where did I indicate that fear has anything to do with it?

        • Jack Baynes

          You said he wouldn’t talk to people because those people might just give him the finger. I call it as I see it, fear of rejection. Poor poor omnipotent god and his fragile feelings.

        • Where did I say “might”?

        • adam

          Where did say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”

        • Ignorant Amos

          um diddle-diddle-diddle um-diddle-eye

          um diddle-diddle-diddle um-diddle-eye

        • Kodie

          Luke, really. You are making up scenarios, like, god talks to some people, but he wouldn’t talk to other people maybe because they don’t listen, maybe maybe maybe means might might might, You don’t listen to yourself, why should anyone else?

        • adam

          Of course.

          Your “God” apparently lacks the ability to speak to all people.

        • Kodie

          God has never talked to you. I can tell from all your posts, you have no idea that there is a god, he’s never told you anything constructive or purposeful to share with the group, and he’d advise you to stop lying, be concise, and don’t be a douche so much.

          “And if you refused to listen?” You never heard from god. I am not generalizing, I am watching you in action – if there is a god, you never met the guy.

        • Thought2Much

          “if there is a god, you never met the guy.”

          Or, God does exist, but he’s just as big an asshole as Luke Breuer. Even if we were to believe this deity exists, it still wouldn’t be worthy of worship.

        • adam

          “You don’t actually have that God refuses to talk to anyone. ”

          Imaginary Gods dont talk to anyone
          And you’ve FAILED to demonstrate that yours is anything but IMAGINARY>

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          The middle finger IS a relationship…merely an adversarial one.

          Right now there’s no relationship because there’s nothing TO have a relationship *with*…just the bad acts of believers claiming to have a higher moral standard enforced by your dawg.

        • Kodie

          You’re absurd. You’ve forgotten that if everyone has clear access to god and his wants, the guy selling books goes out of business.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          According to your own book, that’s what ‘god’s most fervent wish is…just taking you at face value.

          Also, sloppy attempt at a dodge, there…

        • Jack Baynes

          But I think Joe has the better idea. I’m God, I’ll cut out the middleman and write it myself.

        • Joe

          You wouldn’t even have to sit down and compose it. That’s the benefit of omnipotence! It just shows that god is the most uncaring or lazy being ever to have existed. Or not existed. We don’t know.

        • And when people misinterpret it? (Or do you automagically make that impossible, contrary to all human experience with language?)

        • Joe

          Is it possible for god to be misheard if it wan’t his intention?

        • That digs deeply into how human freedom works. Because I don’t yet understand it articulately enough, I’ll quote from French sociologist and Christian Jacques Ellul, who wrote the following in the wake of Derrida’s deconstruction of language:

              Discourse is ambiguous; it is never clear. It arrives from one person’s unconscious aggregate of experiences, desires, skills, and knowledge, only to fall into another person’s, thus producing a different meaning. Because of these continual misunderstandings, new life is breathed into the relationship. We must constantly begin all over again, and as a result the relationship becomes a rich, complex landscape, with unexpected mountain passes and inaccessible peaks. By all means let’s not turn language into something mathematical, nor reduce the rich complexity of human relationships to identical formulas.
              Meaning is uncertain; therefore I must constantly fine-tune my language and work at reinterpreting the words I hear. I try to understand what the other person says to me. All language is more or less a riddle to be figured out; it is like interpreting a text that has many possible meanings. In my effort at understanding and interpretation, I establish definitions, and finally, a meaning. The thick haze of discourse produces meaning.
              All of intellectual life (and I use the word “all” advisedly), even that of specialists in the most exact sciences, is based on these instabilities, failures to understand, and errors in interpretation, which we must find a way to go beyond and overcome. Mistaking a person’s language keeps me from “taking” the person—from taking him prisoner. (The Humiliation of the Word, 18–19)

          The last line is crucial. If God can never be misunderstood by us, then that would seem to require him “taking [us] prisoner”. Now, you can argue that there is a better way for humans to interact, perhaps with something like Lojban, such that ambiguity is asymptotically reduced to zero. I cannot see how this would be anything but dehumanizing and destroy our ability to expand our knowledge outside of the current formal system (I can be mathematically precise on this point if you’d like). And I don’t see how God gets to be automagically exempted from this.

          By the way, I wouldn’t be surprised if you cannot understand the above productively. I’m trying to grok this matter, but I find it exceedingly difficult. Note that I’m a software developer; I understand quite a lot about formal, unambiguous language. I can also point out that psychologists are, at least according to a Stanford psych student I talked to a few years ago, abandoning the computer model of the mind.

        • Joe

          You could have just said ‘no’. You don’t have to do some mental gymnastics to equate ‘clarification’ with ‘imprisonment’.

        • The thing is, I don’t see it as mental gymnastics. I’ve had experiences which seem rather well-characterized as people trying to imprison me in [their particular use of] language, where they imply that they better understand what I meant with my words than I did.

          I did rule out clarification. I ruled out guaranteed lack of misunderstanding. Please do not misrepresent what I say. The irony of you doing that in this discussion would be enormous.

        • Jack Baynes

          Why did you rule out clarification?
          If there’s misunderstanding, why can’t God continue to give clarification?

        • Have you ever experienced a situation where no matter how much you tried to clarify, the other person wouldn’t listen? As if the problem were a matter of will, and not purely intellect? If so, that’s at least part of the answer to your question. If not, then we have ourselves a fundamental disagreement about human nature, or perhaps more fundamentally, a disagreement about what is necessary to be a moral agent.

        • Jack Baynes

          But at least God could try. He’d probably succeed with the VAST majority of people. And when people all over the world got the same message and agreed on its meaning we could be confident that the few dissenters that God couldn’t convince are wrong.

        • He’d probably succeed with the VAST majority of people.

          How do you know this? What empirical evidence and reasoning brought you to this conclusion?

        • Jack Baynes

          There are billions of people who believe in God while God insists on remaining hidden. Why do you assume that those people would refuse to listen to Him if he actually started talking to them?

        • Who says he isn’t talking to them?

        • Michael Neville

          I do! When I was in my deconversion process I begged and pleaded with “God” to give me the slightest hint of his existence. Nary a peep. Since everyone assured me that God was supposed to love me then it wasn’t unreasonable for me to expect some sort of answer. So I was faced with two choices, either God didn’t love me or he didn’t exist. Occam’s razor made the second choice the obvious one.

        • So from your personal experience, you project onto “billions of people who believe in God”? [Edit: Otherwise, I hope you’re just providing anecdotal evidence, with full realization of the limitations to anecdotal evidence.]

          Let me ask you something. Supposing that my definition of ‘true power’ is sufficient for you, do you want ‘true power’? From my interactions with you—which I realize is a small sample, and much can be blamed on my having grievous moral and/or intellectual defects—I would not be able to confidently guess a “yes” answer. And if you don’t desire ‘true power’, I don’t know why you’d want God—all of God, instead of just certain aspects.

        • Michael Neville

          So from your personal experience, you project onto “billions of people who believe in God”? [Edit: Otherwise, I hope you’re just providing anecdotal evidence, with full realization of the limitations to anecdotal evidence.]

          Here is a guy who whines about being treated like an idiot who writes something idiotic. Yes, idiot, my anecdote was anecdotal. You must be in your anecdotage not to realize that. Or else you’re an idiot.

          Supposing that my definition of ‘true power’ is sufficient for you, do you want ‘true power’?

          Since your definition of “true power” boils down to “that power which I approve of, unlike that other, ‘coercive power’ of which I disapprove” then I’m sure you think that true power is much more gooder than that nasty coercive power which is to be scorned because you scorn it. Which I find rather surprising since you pride yourself on your Christianity and, according to the propaganda, your god has coercion as his middle name.

          I don’t know why you’d want God—all of God, instead of just certain aspects.

          Yeah, okay, sure, why not and other affirmative noises as appropriate.

        • Yes, idiot, my anecdote was anecdotal.

          Then it does approximately nothing to support:

          JB: There are billions of people who believe in God while God insists on remaining hidden.

          I guess I’m just a bit surprised that you piped up, if you knew this.

          Since your definition of “true power” boils down to “that power which I approve of, unlike that other, ‘coercive power’ of which I disapprove”

          And how did you arrive at this “boils down” conclusion? Was there logic involved which can be explained?

          Yeah, okay, sure, why not and other affirmative noises as appropriate.

          On the one hand, you say you pleaded with God to “give [you] the slightest hint of his existence”. On the other hand, you treat people like you are treating me. And you don’t see a possible contradiction, here? Now, of course you can make up all sorts of excuses for treating @LukeBreuer:disqus this way, and I haven’t looked to see how you treat other people. But it rather seems that you actively dislike Jesus (as portrayed in the Gospels), from how you write.

        • MNb

          I only can refuse to listen when somebody (like your god) tries to clarify something when that somebody exists. And I already told you what god could to make his existence clear to me. Subsequently I still might refuse to listen to what he says; that has not been decided yet. It can’t be decided.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, humans aren’t perfect at explaining. You know, though, some people are. Some people are really good at explaining, and everyone who hears them can understand the words and be on the same page without going over it twenty times, or in your case, thousands of efforts to say the same thing. And you feel like nobody understands you, but we do. We understand you’re full of yourself and that you think you’re sharing something vital to our understanding that we never heard before or summarily dismiss without really engaging. You’re just a poor sport, that’s all. Anyway, I think if anyone would be good at explaining, it would be god. That’s pretty much how fictional the bible is, because it’s written by humans who didn’t misunderstand god – they supplied their own superstitious fictional stories to the book that you read. It’s a story by humans about humans, and none of it is evidence of god or that god talked to or inspired any of them.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You refer to it as ‘imprisonment’.

          Those of us who value honest communication call it “nailing you down on terms so you can’t bafflegab with bullshit”

        • Ignorant Amos

          Spoiiiinnng!

        • Kodie

          Could you ever conclude that god really doesn’t give a shit about anything, at least? If not, why not?

        • adam

          “You don’t have to do some mental gymnastics to equate ‘clarification’ with ‘imprisonment’.”

          thing is, Luke HAS to, in order to support the fact that he is disingenuous.

        • Jack Baynes

          The great thing about having a relationship with someone (like many Christians claim God wants to have with us) is if I misunderstand something my friend says, my friend can correct me explain what he meant. Maybe it will take some time to get everything worked out, but through the back and forth possible with a relationship my friend can eventually get me pretty close to understanding what he meant.

          Compare that to Christianity where this “relationship” takes the form of a book that is supposedly “The Word of God” that was written thousands of years ago in the backwaters of Rome, then pieced together into a whole and translated before being distributed to the world. God makes NO attempt to clarify misunderstandings that happen because of the VAST differences in time and culture between when the scriptures were written and today.

        • The great thing about having a relationship with someone (like many Christians claim God wants to have with us) is if I misunderstand something my friend says, my friend can correct me explain what he meant.

          Jesus: “Don’t lord it over each other as the Gentiles do.”
          Response: “No, I like the benefits of oppressing others.”
          Jesus: “…”

          Prominent member of the Troika: “Elections cannot be allowed to change the economic policies of any country.” (Yanis Varoufakis and Noam Chomsky @ NYPL, 1:20:05)

          Maybe it will take some time to get everything worked out, but through the back and forth possible with a relationship my friend can eventually get me pretty close to understanding what he meant.

          Satan probably understood what God ‘meant’. What did God gain from that?

          Compare that to Christianity where this “relationship” takes the form of a book that is supposedly “The Word of God” that was written thousands of years ago in the backwaters of Rome, then pieced together into a whole and translated before being distributed to the world. God makes NO attempt to clarify misunderstandings that happen because of the VAST differences in time and culture between when the scriptures were written and today.

          You know that God didn’t help at all… how?

          As to bridging cultures, if we can’t learn how to do that we’re screwed. And really, does it take that much ‘translation’ to understand stuff like Mt 20:20–28?

        • Jack Baynes

          Christians can’t even agree on basic things like what they have to do to be saved. These aren’t people stubbornly trying to defy God, but people who honestly want to follow him.

          If God can’t make sure that such basic things like that are communicated to people eager to hear his Word, he can’t be called omnipotent.

        • Christians can’t even agree on basic things like what they have to do to be saved.

          Therefore… ? If God existed he’d be a totalitarian dictator and people would never disagree with him?

          These aren’t people stubbornly trying to defy God, but people who honestly want to follow him.

          I need to better understand what you mean by ‘honestly’. In your judgment, were slaveowners in the 1700s American South ‘honestly’ trying to pursue God? For reference, you could consult the Cornerstone Speech, by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens in 1861. I suggest reading a few sentences before and after this one: “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”

          If God can’t make sure that such basic things like that are communicated to people eager to hear his Word, he can’t be called omnipotent.

          When you talk of people “eager to hear his Word”, can you guarantee that these persons are fully willing to acknowledge the depths of the errors of their ways (see the slaveowners), willing to repent of those errors, and willing to try and do something to repair the damage they did, to the extent that this is possible?

          When I hear “eager to hear his Word”, I suspect this actually covers examples of people who come across How many slaves work for you?, realize that their consumer habits support slavery, but then forget and continue those consumer habits. In other words, Ja 1:22–25. One could also consult the parable of the sower.

        • Jack Baynes

          So God simply clarifying whether confession to a priest is necessary becomes totalitarianism to you….

        • Nice straw man. As to confession, what’s unclear about the following:

          Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16)

          ? We can also look at the historical account per the Orthodox Church in America:

          Question
          If we can make confession to God without the priest, then why do we have confession with a priest present?

          Answer
          In the early Church, confession was public; that is, one confessed one’s sins in the presence of the entire faith community. When this became impractical, it was the priest who “stood in” for the community, as its presiding officer and as its witness to the penitent’s repentance.

          The answer continues. So it seems rather easy to see that the switch from public confession to private was seen as a pragmatic affair. We could then ask whether that was actually a good switch, or whether it was perhaps a way of hiding sins. The goal, at least per James, is healing. If that goal is not achieved by confessing to a priest, then perhaps there is something to the wider kind of confession (or some other kind) which is required for healing. (Of course, one could say that the whole kit and kaboodle is false.)

          Now, the RCC may have actually turned what the EOC sees as a pragmatic affair, into a God-ordained affair. If so, I will assert my Protestant heritage and express skepticism about that RCC way of going about things.

        • Jack Baynes

          What straw man? This is the point I’ve been trying to get at. How is it that God can’t be bothered to resolve this disagreement between flavors of Christianity? You can’t tell me that huge groups of Christians are willfully ignoring God on these issues. You can’t tell me that this is an issue God can’t explain.

        • What straw man?

          The straw man is the idea that “If God existed he’d be a totalitarian dictator and people would never disagree with him?” means that any point of clarification whatsoever (e.g. “whether confession to a priest is necessary”) would constitute ‘totalitarianism’. What I’m looking to do is to understand where that line of demarcation is, between God saying things, and humans culpably misunderstanding them. Surely you know that some misinterpretation is due to culpably wanting the wrong things?

          How is it that God can’t be bothered to resolve this disagreement between flavors of Christianity?

          Do you think the disagreement is a matter which merely requires a few words of wisdom from a big booming voice emanating from, well, “the sky”? Because there’s another explanation. On that explanation, differences aren’t [primarily] due to intellectual disagreement—like which interpretation of quantum mechanics is best—but also include an aspect of will, which lives in the realm of power and not simply reason. We can see the seeds of this in the doctrine of cuius regio, eius religio, adopted in the Peace of Augsburg of 1555. It means “Whose realm, his religion.” Reconfirmed after the Thirty Years’ War, it connects religion with nation-state, making it an instrument of power, not of truth. There is further reason to accept this explanation.†

          You can’t tell me that huge groups of Christians are willfully ignoring God on these issues.

          I don’t think God has tried to clarify these issues, because I don’t think they are the root cause of the failure of Christians to be unified. I think the root cause is the failure to exercise agape, which is closely connected to what I have called ‘true power’. Instead of building each other up, too much of Christian history involves one group attempting to dominate the other (via ‘coercive power’), in gross violation of Mt 20:20–28.

          † The following is from Stanley Hauerwas, who was named “America’s Best Theologian” by Time Magazine in 2001. I say this just to indicate that his judgment on the following matter has a chance to be sufficiently accurate to be useful. My apologies for the long excerpt, but this is not a simple matter:

              I should also acknowledge that I was never particularly interested in the movements concerned with the institutional unity of mainstream Protestant denominations. I am not sure why I was uninterested in those attempts to overcome theological and ecclesial differences of the past, but I must admit I just did not see any reason to think, for example, that the joining of mainstream American denominations would be interesting from a theological point of view. I suspected that the theological differences that were once thought so important that they could not be compromised in the interest of unity, only to be considered later to be no obstacle to the merger of churches, meant these were churches that had given up on the importance of theology for discerning what we believe to be true.
              Of course, it could work the other way. Sometimes attempts to reach agreements meant an intensification of differences. Those differences may not have much to do with the actual life of the churches so identified, but the differences had to be identified for this or that particular denomination to get its market share in the decreasing market. For most Christians I suspect the differences they noticed between the Protestant denominations had less to do with “doctrine” and more to do with the way the particular church was governed. The problem with that understanding of the differences between the churches is that there was little appreciation of how governance itself is a theological matter.
              Those actually engaged in the ecumenical discussions seeking unity between particular churches often found that they represented positions that they understood to be definitive of their tradition, but that understanding was not widely shared by those who identified as members of that denomination. The representatives discovered that they were more likely to get agreements between different traditions than they were to reach agreement within their own tradition. The problem was not union between churches that had been long separated, but union within the various churches themselves. I assume that this is a problem that has not gone away. (Approaching the End, 101)

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Humans have physical existence, and thus can enter into relationships of interaction.

          Still waiting on the demonstration of existence of your dawg.

          (no, a book calling itself true despite clear evidence to the contrary is not acceptable evidence)

        • Ignorant Amos

          That digs deeply into how human freedom works. Because I don’t yet understand it articulately enough, I’ll quote from French sociologist and Christian Anarchist Jacques Ellul, who wrote the following in the wake of Derrida’s deconstruction of language:

          There, FTFY…

          The immediate reality, however, is that the revelation of Jesus ought not to give rise to a religion. All religion leads to war, but the Word of God is not a religion, and it is the most serious of all betrayals to have made of it a religion. ~Ellul, Jacques (1988). Anarchy and Christianity. p. 26.

          Sounds like a bit of a heretic to me.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i imagine i’d be pretty comfortable with either democracy or anarchism … so long as everyone were superbly well-informed about their choices. talk about a pipe dream …

        • adam

          “Discourse is ambiguous; it is never clear.”

          It can be, except for those who NEED to be deceptive, they use language to obscure the search for reality, instead of to clarify.

        • epeeist

          It can be, except for those who NEED to be deceptive

          As Schopenhauer noted, this is done to obscure the fact that the content is vacuous:

          To conceal a want of real ideas, many make for themselves an imposing apparatus of long compound words, intricate flourishes and phrases, new and unheard-of expressions, all of which together furnish an extremely difficult jargon that sounds very learned. Yet with all this they say-precisely nothing.

        • Kodie

          I notice you didn’t get the message from god. You don’t understand it well enough, so you go struggling through a lot of books by people who hypothesize about god more eloquently but no more truthfully than you. You don’t understand it because it’s elaborate bullshit. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not an answer, and it’s not even clear enough for you to navigate and digest it and regurgitate it, you link, you make long quotes, you don’t understand.

          If god talked to you, you wouldn’t come here with so many piles and piles of theological nonsense that you admit is difficult and incomprehensible.

        • Jack Baynes

          I tell them, “No you have that wrong. This is what I meant.”

        • And if they give God the middle finger?

        • Joe

          If only I had that opportunity. But he remains hidden.

          See how I keep bringing this round to the topic being discussed?

        • My suspicion is that if you were truly willing to repent of your sin† (and we all are certainly in sin; see e.g. unconscious racism, unconscious employment of slaves via globalism + consumerism; empirical treatment of original sin), and earnestly seek unending amounts of beauty, truth, goodness, and excellence, that you’d get enough of a whiff of God to sustain you. That’s all I have—the barest of whiffs.

          Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but I’m quite down on contemporary Christianity; had I not seen some hints of what I consider true power from people who seemed, to my best judgment, to be true believers, I would probably be an atheist. Christianity doesn’t offer me comfort, it makes my life harder. But I suspect it is worth it; I suspect God does exist. I’m well aware, however, that atheists have naturalistic explanations aplenty for every experience and thought I’ve ever had. However, my general experience with such atheists is that they do not have true power. They are, by and far, in my experience, terrible at doing what I call “seeing the good” in thoughts and arguments which are not picture perfect. In my experience Christians are not all that much better, but they are still better. And yes, I see this as true power: bringing life to that which is dead. (Eph 1:18–20)

          † I don’t particularly care if you’re offended; the general strategy at CE is to point out every fault I can possibly appear to have, and then make shit up on top of that. Therefore, I see no obligation to sugar-coat the idea that your current trajectory in life will either harm people unnecessarily, or fail to help them as much as you could. I believe the same of myself, whenever I fail to heed God’s course-corrections or fail to be one who conquers vs. e.g. one who wastes time playing Settlers of Catan online. And fail often I do.

        • Joe

          Here we go: now my inability to find god is part of a failing or deliberate act of denial on my part! I’m no true Scotsman in terms of faith, apparently.

          Then you add some nonsense about ‘true power’ that you don’t even bother to qualify. Forgive me if I don’t heed the warning of somebody who cannot answer a straight question with an unambiguous reply.

        • Here we go: now my inability to find god is part of a failing or deliberate act of denial on my part!

          For a contrasting view by a Christian, you can see Randal Rauser’s Meaningful relationship and propositional knowledge: A response to Justin Schieber (Part 1) and (Part 2), which he mentioned in his recent The Hiddenness Argument Revealed: A Review. Note that I am not advancing the ‘rebellion thesis’; that ignores the aspect of simply not wanting infinite goodness/​beauty/​excellence/​truth. In a word, not wanting theosis.

          I’m no true Scotsman in terms of faith, apparently.

          I’m afraid I don’t see the logic which leads to a valid application of NTS.

          Then you add some nonsense about ‘true power’ that you don’t even bother to qualify.

          What would it look like for me to “qualify” it? I honestly have no idea what you mean. I advanced a notion of power that is antithetical to dominating another human being. That is, after all, the traditional notion of ‘power’—present in e.g. Foucault and Nietzsche, or the term ‘political power’.

          Forgive me if I don’t heed the warning of somebody who cannot answer a straight question with an unambiguous reply.

          I was not intending to warn you. I fully expect you to think extremely poorly of me for what I have said, and not for Jesus’ reason that Christians will be persecuted when they try to evangelize. I doubt I was very good at communicating what I attempted, and I have doubts that I was even correct in what I intended to communicate.

          That being said, you have failed/​refused to exercise what I have described as “true power”, in spades. Let it just be said that I see your question as similar to “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”, in terms of a bad framing of the question. If you want to respond to this by insinuating that I have moral and/or intellectual defects, that is of course your prerogative.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I’ve just named a new xtian fallacy. It’s been described by many others better than I, but Lukie here is a perfect example of it: The

          “Read This Book” fallacy.

          Lukie-poo, if you can’t synopsize the book’s critical points, there’s no reason for us to read it. If you CAN synopsize but don’t, then you’re acting in bad faith. If you’re not synopsizing because you realize they’d be immediately debunked, then that’s craven cowardice as well.

        • Thought2Much

          “Read This Book” fallacy.

          I like it.

          Esther O’Reilly used to pull that one all the fucking time over on the Godless in Dixie blog. Every fucking post was, “You need to read this book to understand what I mean” and “You need to read that book to understand what I mean” and “This book will convince you that Christianity is true and that the Gospels were historical documents.”

          I sort of put up with it until I finally read one of the sources she harped on again and again and again. It was such complete and utter shit, that I called her out on how pathetic the book was, and how I could never trust her opinion on the validity of a source again, since she obviously had no clue what actual evidence for her position would look like.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s a bit ironic, Luke is banhammered from Godless in Dixie.

        • Thought2Much

          He was looking for a debate club, which isn’t one of the purposes of Godless in Dixie. We told him several times to knock it off with his attempts to turn the blog into his own personal debate arena, and he wouldn’t stop, so we banned him.

          Esther was eventually banned, as well.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes, I have been privy to that train wreck after Luke pointed to it…Luke claims victimisation on that issue.

        • Pofarmer

          I’ve gotten that very reply from Jim the Scott several times in this thread.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/catholicauthenticity/2016/08/why-i-need-atheism/

          “Here, read this article by Feser.” “here’s a blog post explaining the point I apparently can’t make. ”

          Lifes too short to read a bunch of Thomist wankers who are to deluded to realize their philosophy was obsoleted 500 years ago.

        • Ignorant Amos

          On more than one occasion Luke’s links to books and articles have not supported his assertions in the manner he has asserted when the few that bother digging down into the pish have reported back.

        • Kodie

          That being said, you have failed/​refused to exercise what I have described as “true power”, in spades.

          That’s the No True Scotsman. You made up something called “true power” and described/interpreted the testimony of Joe as refusing/failing to exercise it in order to know god. You’re saying he was not a true Christian, he wasn’t trying hard enough, he refused, he failed, therefore, to imagine you are strengthening your own demonstration of beliefs as “true”, you are saying Joe must not have been a true Christian. He didn’t get it. No, he got it, everyone gets it. Being manipulated to believe in something until you actually believe it does make you a true Christian, but it’s not true power, you’re actually just an adult with an imaginary friend.

        • Michael Neville

          Then you add some nonsense about ‘true power’ that you don’t even bother to qualify.

          What would it look like for me to “qualify” it?

          You’re the one who introduced the term “true power”. It’s not unreasonable for Joe to ask you to define it or otherwise qualify “true power” from “false power” or “counterfeit power”.

        • Sorry, I didn’t associate “qualify” with “define”; qualifying to me means somehow restricting the original notion, because it was too broad.

          The short version is that ‘true power’ builds up and enhances ‘the other’, while ‘coercive power’ does some combination of tearing down, oppressing, distorting, and suppressing ‘the other’. True power recognizes what is good in what is tainted, while coercive power is more about imposing one’s idea about “how things should be” on ‘the other’.

          Now the longer, more “loquacious”, more “pedantic” version. (reasons) I would set ‘true power’ up against ‘coercive power’, with the difference being that ‘true power’ actualizes a person’s telos/​poiēma, while ‘coercive power’ imposes one person’s idea of how reality ought to be on others. This probably only makes sense if there is some sort of ‘design guarantee’ that every single person has something good to contribute to the public sphere, something which that person is uniquely good at contributing. Otherwise, maybe the vast majority of people should merely be ‘consuemrs’ instead of ‘producers’, with a tiny elite imposing its vision of reality on everyone else. For example, from a representative of the Troika: “Elections cannot be allowed to change the economic policies of any country.” (Yanis Varoufakis and Noam Chomsky @ NYPL, 1:20:05) This is an instance of coercive power, being imposed on the EU zone. But if reality permits no other option—if the percentage of humans fit to rule is quite low—then my notion of ‘true power’ becomes empirically irrelevant.

          Now, perhaps things have been set up such that I actually need the help of others in order to actualize my telos/​poiēma. If I merely try and do things myself, the results will have some good aspects and some error. Suppose that we call the good aspects ‘kalos‘ and the error ‘kakos‘. (Heb 5:14 uses these two terms.) I like these words because (i) Heb 5:14 deals with precisely this issue; (ii) there’s a one-letter difference: ‘kalos‘ vs ‘kakos‘. The difference between good-mixed-with-error and pure good can be really tiny. Now, when you encounter something which is good-mixed-with-error, do you focus more on the error—as if it dooms the entire endeavor—or do you try to figure out how the error might be purged, resulting in something good?

          If we combine the ‘design guarantee’ with the ‘perhaps’ condition, we arrive at a situation where every single person has fantastic things to offer humanity, but this can only be done with the exercise of ‘true power’. One must be able to perceive good-mixed-with-error and engage in ‘seeing the good’, instead of merely focusing on the error. In my experience, it is much easier for people to see error than potential goodness. Many people seem to much prefer pointing out the error and nothing more. I think that habit creates a shitty world, one full of distrust and coercive power where the creativity of most individuals is crushed/​marginalized/​not enhanced.

        • Pofarmer

          Don’t you just love being told how horrible you are by someone who doesn’t even know who you are?

        • Ignorant Amos

          A don’t mind it so much if it is true and can be demonstrated. Who is making the observation is also quite important. I wouldn’t bat an eyelid if a Westbro Baptist fuckwit told me how horrible I was for being horrible to Westbro Baptist fuckwits, for example.

        • Joe

          As much as I love being told what I believe in by somebody who can’t read minds.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          ‘Sin’ is merely breaking religious law.

          Until your dawg is demonstrated, there’s no *sin* at all.

          There are bad actions…but there are also gloriously good actions.

          Neither requires religion or ‘god’s.

        • Kodie

          You have a lot of nerve to judge people and suspect their lack of belief means they’re not doing as much as they can or should or whatever standards you measure yourself by. I mean, by what psychic magical powers are you judging people’s “trajectory in life” because they don’t believe in god? You are merely attributing vague bullshit you think you witnessed to a fictional character whom you consult to guide you back on the good path. Meanwhile, wasting thousands of hours and pages of your time preaching online. You’re not one who conquers, you’re a judgmental superstitious jerk who is misplacing his efforts, trying to convince us of something that is fictional. Nobody cares if it’s harder for you to believe, just that you try to use that type of statement to empower yourself and put everyone else down. Why try so hard to reconcile that incoherent fiction onto reality, and why should we put up with your insistence that it’s valid?

        • Jack Baynes

          Then I tell everyone else not to believe that person.

        • Jack Baynes

          And even if I decided to kill those people who gave me the finger after I tried to guide them, I’d still have a smaller body count than the God of the Bible.

        • And they would believe you, why?

        • Jack Baynes

          Because I’m God. Not the Christian God who’s terrified of revealing himself, but a real omnipotent God who can freely demonstrate his existence.

        • So power = truth?

        • adam

          “And if they give God the middle finger?”

          Omnipotence

          Gee, your “God” really sounds like a sorry impotent fellow.

        • adam

          “And when people misinterpret it?”

          Omnipotence

        • adam

          “And if they refuse to listen?”

          Omnipotence

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          It’s like they gave god a power that can resolve all plots- in fact coherent stories are impossible!

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Your dawg has a long track record of doing bad things to those who disobey, according to your book.

          Which is also off the topic of how an omnipotent being couldn’t figure out how to trick a ‘puny’ human into getting it right despite him/herself?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Smote them and find a replacement…Yahweh was once upon a time pretty good at that sort of thing…if ya believe in the yarn that is.

        • Kodie

          Why, because they can lie, because god’s not going to punish them, and nobody else can go ask god to clarify? You mean, the only way god can exist in the world we ended up with is if he’s abusive, and doesn’t seem to exist? That’s how we get the best out of humanity? I mean, it makes sense if it’s in a handy referral book, but if everyone knows god exists because he’s totally not hidden and totally evident, how can anyone get away with refusing to listen? That’s absurd. You don’t think.

          Bad management style.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          If one can simply tell people- why use a book?!!? Is Jesus dying any time soon? Is he living too far away to reach people in person? Does he not know English and the many other modern languages enough to speak fluently with associated body language?

        • adam

          “So if you were God, you would prevent such things from happening? ”

          Of course

          ” Might you explain how you would accomplish this?”

          Omnipotence

        • Joe

          That makes three of us.

          One of the things I find most bizarre is that most theists are surprised when we answer “would you prefer a world without any suffering” in the affirmative!

        • adam

          “One of the things I find most bizarre is that most theists are surprised when we answer “would you prefer a world without any suffering” in the affirmative!”

          Not bizarre at all, consider the “God” they WORSHIP:

        • Joe

          “What do you expect? God to just work a ‘miracle’ and make a blind person ‘see’?” You atheists have some crazy notions sometimes!

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          LOL

          I’m a member of the Limb Regrowing movement, myself.

        • Jack Baynes

          Or you have a God who simply watches and says “When you’re done I’m going to punish you.”

          Not quite, he says “When you’re done I’m going to punish you. Not any more than a philanthropist in China who didn’t believe my Good News, though. And not at all if you suck up to my son.”

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          YOUR side claims your dawg is perfect.

          If WE can see the holes, why can’t such a supposed being, and correct the problem, even if that involved making an ideal universe rather than the one we inhabit, 100% of which, statistically speaking, would kill us to merely inhabit?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “It definitely means that God does a terrible job at communication allowing such terrible translations to live on.
          So if you were God, you would prevent such things from happening? Might you explain how you would accomplish this? One option would be to kill off people who say they are followers but pervert your holy text.”

          No, that’s nucking futs! First off, an omnipresent immortal has no use for written language and in fact shoots themselves in the foot for using it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A sloppy business all around if ya ask me.

          Creating a universe? Piece of piss.

          Communication skills? Somewhat less than mediocre.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And makes no sense that his followers preach about how he will punish us for not (believing or pisteuōing) in God while he refuses to provide evidence of his existence because he doesn’t want people to (believe or pisteuō) in him out of fear of punishment.

          I’m sorry, I can’t make sense of this. If you’re characterizing some Christian’s position, how about presenting the relevant bits for my examination?

          Some Christians position, hmmm?

          If the disciples had wanted their preaching to be effective, to recruit good people, to move the crowds, to launch a movement, they would have made the message more material. They would have formulated material goals in the economic, social, and political spheres. This would have stirred people up; this would have been the easy way. To declare, however, that the kingdom is not of this world, that freedom is not achieved by revolt, that rebellion serves no purpose, that there neither is nor will be any paradise on earth, that there is no social justice, that the only justice resides in God and comes from him, that we are not to look for responsibility and culpability in others but first in ourselves, all this is to ask for defeat, for it is to say intolerable things. ~ Jacques Ellul

          (I might simply disagree with it.)

          Of course.

          In the Bible, however, we find a God who escapes us totally, whom we absolutely cannot influence, or dominate, much less punish; a God who reveals Himself when He wants to reveal Himself, a God who is very often in a place where He is not expected, a God who is truly beyond our grasp. Thus, the human religious feeling is not at all satisfied by this situation… God descends to humanity and joins us where we are. ~ Jacques Ellul

          And you wonder why we don’t take the ballix you cite from woo-woo philosophers seriously….pah!

        • adam

          “And makes no sense that his followers preach about how he will punish us
          for not (believing or pisteuōing) in God while he refuses to provide
          evidence of his existence because he doesn’t want people to (believe or
          pisteuō) in him out of fear of punishment.”

          It makes perfect sense for psychopathic monster.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Babel, remember?

          Luke’s dawg is *afraid* of what we can do if language is clear and all people can understand and work together.

        • Jack Baynes

          Yeah, that story is a horrible message about God. Can’t have all these people cooperating, let’s make sure they fight each other instead.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The hierarchy of Christianity has known for a very long time that the message in the book is all fucked up. There was a reason why most folk were prohibited from owning a bible they could read and attempt understand themselves.

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bernard-starr/why-christians-were-denied-access-to-their-bible-for-1000-years_b_3303545.html

          It is no accident that there are 45,000+ flavours of Christianity and the number is growing at over two flavours of the cult per day…according to a Christian source anyway. Now that the cat is outta the bag, so ta speak.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope. You’re wrapping up hope & progressive thought and then trying to put a religious wrapper on it.

          Hope & progress are good, neither requires either religion or any ‘god’s.

        • Ficino

          Luke, off topic: how did you get the macron over the “o”? I can’t figure out how to type a macron on a PC.

        • This AutoHotkey script. If I type [Win][dash], [o], I get “ō”. Or you can just search for it on Google and copy/​paste.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I don’t believe in your dawg.

          Demonstrate it, then maybe we can haggle about the price.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Then your ‘god’ is a liar, as the book repeatedly shows it doing things to try to get attention, and accepting bad attention if that’s the only type available.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Your book condones and regulates the rules of slavery.

          Your book forbids eating shellfish.

          Your book’s priorities are skewed at best, totally incoherent as if made up by a bunch of axe-grinders across time at the worst.

      • Joe

        You aren’t making any sense.

        • Does it just not compute that your consumer habits may be possible only because there are slaves participating in the globalized production of goods, slaves who allow the prices to be sufficiently low?

        • Joe

          Yes, it computes. I just aren’t sure how it’s relevant, or what your point is? That slavery exists?

        • “I don’t think God merely wants people to believe he exists.” I don’t think there exists punishment for what you call “not believing”.

        • Joe

          “I don’t think there exists punishment for what you call “not believing”.

          You have theological support for that?

        • I probably have philological support: the terms pistis and pisteuō almost certainly don’t properly translate to what you call “believing”. There is a tendency of moderns to over-intellectualize belief and action and to buy into the fact/​value dichotomy. Such a framework of understanding is foreign to NT times, and even more foreign to OT times. You are welcome to spell out just what you mean by “believe”. And if all you mean is “intellectual assent to a proposition”, I will sustain my objections. If you say something else/​more, we’ll see.

        • Joe

          You’re telling me that I don’t know what ‘believe’ actually means now? To believe, for me, is to accept something as true.

        • No, I’m not telling you that. I’m telling you that what ‘believe’ means now may be quite different from what pisteuō meant in AD 100.

          With your definition of ‘believe’, can I believe that slavery is wrong, and yet do nothing to stop supporting slavery with my consumer habits? Can belief be divorced from action in this way, according to you?

        • Joe

          So ‘belief’ has changed meaning over time?

          “With your definition of ‘believe’, can I believe that slavery is wrong, and yet do nothing to stop supporting slavery with my consumer habits? Can belief be divorced from action in this way, according to you?”

          Yes. Obviously. As is stated in the article MULTIPLE TIMES! It is a mental state.

        • So ‘belief’ has changed meaning over time?

          Dramatically:

              In a Hellenistic environment, knowledge is true if it leads us into goodness, making us happy and good. The idea that knowing good things makes us good implies continuity between the knower and what she knows. It is not simply to be cognizant of the truth but to be assimilated into it. Truth makes us good and strong, able to live well and so to contribute to healthy societies. Rational people will crave it because it helps them. Socrates and Plato were all about wanting to know the things that shape the soul in salutary ways for the sake of a better society. The purpose of inviting Athenian youth to love and pursue wisdom was all directed toward these moral-psycho-social ends. Paul, Matthew, and the Fathers of the church shared these goals. Primary, sapiential theology, then, seeks the knowledge of God so that we come to dwell in the truth; for the truth will make us happy and good, and in that way, free. (But Is It All True?, 144–145)

          There is no fact/​value dichotomy, here. This is a pre-Galilean understanding of reality. Our understanding is radically different, as Ellen T. Charry details in her essay, “Walking in the Truth: On Knowing God” (the above is an excerpt).

          LB: With your definition of ‘believe’, can I believe that slavery is wrong, and yet do nothing to stop supporting slavery with my consumer habits? Can belief be divorced from action in this way, according to you?

          J: Yes. Obviously. As is stated in the article MULTIPLE TIMES! It is a mental state.

          Then God clearly wants more than what you and the article understand as “believe”. Mere belief of the kind you describe is probably well-characterized by the following:

          You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! (James 2:19)

          Surely Satan believes that God exists. If anyone’s going to end up in hell, it’s Satan.

        • Joe

          Then God clearly wants more than what you and the article understand as “believe”.

          You’re going round in circles. Why should I offer more if I don’t think there’s a good reason to do so?

        • Good grief, does it take a rocket scientist to see why God wouldn’t give two shits if you [edit: merely] acknowledge his bare existence?

        • Jack Baynes

          I thought he wanted to have a relationship with us. Believing (the real definition) in someone is a bare minimum to having a relationship.

        • I just don’t think you can separate fact from value, existence from goodness, in the way required for your argument to make sense. I don’t think humans work that way. Instead, I think that a person’s conception of what is good and right and beautiful and true conditions what [s]he can even perceive. Possibly the scientific results at Grossberg 1999 The Link between Brain Learning, Attention, and Consciousness (partial tutorial) support this. But his argument is more restricted: if the patterns in your perceptual neurons do not sufficiently well-match the patterns in your non-perceptual neurons, you may never become conscious of said patterns. To get from this to “a person’s conception of what is good and right and beautiful and true” is nontrivial.

        • Joe

          That’s a deepity if ever there was one.

        • I suppose that you think that Hilary Putnam’s The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy is also full of deepities?

        • Joe

          I haven’t read it. I am not sure how relevant it is here. Actually, I am: It most likely is completely irrelevant.

        • It would be the first step to showing that at least part of my comment is not a “deepity”. I would then go on to show that another fragment is not a “deepity”. Either I would fail at some step, or I would expose your characterization of “deepity” to be fallacious.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          It’s a pseudo-intellectual diversion & an attempt to intimidate via Argument to Authority fallacy.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          It’s a diversion, and has no place in this discussion.

          We’re discussing the supposed nature of the bible’s ‘god’ and why it doesn’t reveal itself if it wants
          – Belief
          – a loving relationship

        • Jack Baynes

          Whether God is Good or Evil or something in between, I still can’t have a relationship until I believe in him.
          God COULD make his existence clear and then let us choose what sort of (if any) relationship we wanted with him, but he doesn’t.

        • Joe

          That’s the point that STILL hasn’t been addressed after what I can imagine is a couple-hundred posts.

        • Again, I am skeptical that somehow one perceives facts (e.g. God’s existence) before and disentangled from values (e.g. God’s goodness, or lack thereof). The more I read, the more I see evidence that this just isn’t how human cognition works. I have yet to find philosophical arguments that cognition cannot work any other way, although Colin McGinn might have something to offer with his The Subjective View: Secondary Qualities and Indexical Thoughts.

          If you’re open to your conception of how human thinking works being quite erroneous, I could offer to present scientific evidence, from e.g. Antonio Damasio’s Descartes’ Error, Mark Turner’s The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language, and Michael Tomasello’s A Natural History of Human Thinking. However, if you’re too sure that I couldn’t possibly have a point here, then presenting you with empirical evidence would, of course, be fruitless.

        • Jack Baynes

          Again, I am skeptical that somehow one perceives facts (e.g. God’s existence) before and disentangled from values

          Do you need to know whether Carl Sagan was a good person before you can believe that he existed?
          Of course not.

          Why would it be any different with God?

        • Again, Satan knows that God exists. This does not serve God’s interests.

        • Michael Neville

          But according to the propaganda Satan knew God but that didn’t stop Satan from using free will to rebel. So obviously the free will argument for God’s hiddenness is refuted by the example of Satan.

          I also admire your chutzpah for claiming to know what does or does not “serve God’s interests.” I was under the impression that the mind of God was unknowable. Are you the one who knows it?

        • So obviously the free will argument for God’s hiddeness is refuted by the example of Satan.

          You’re welcome to show how some argument I made is refuted in this way. If you’re saying some argument I haven’t made and might not even agree with is refuted… ok?

          I also admire your chutzpah for claiming to know what does or does not “serve God’s interests.” I was under the impression that the mind of God was unknowable. Are you the one who knows it?

          Apparently, you’ve read this:

          “Seek the LORD while he may be found;
              call upon him while he is near;
          let the wicked forsake his way,
              and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
          let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him,
              and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

          For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
              neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
          For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
              so are my ways higher than your ways
              and my thoughts than your thoughts.
          (Isaiah 55:6–9)

          Many people do cite the part without strikeout, but then again, you did say that you’ve “read the [Bible] three times cover to cover”. If you pay attention to the whole thing, stuff like the following will make sense instead of appearing contradictory: “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Eph 5:17)

          Since you were in the Navy, you might know what fathoming is. One way to understand God being ‘unfathomable’ is that no matter how far you drop a fathoming line, it will never hit sea bottom. God’s mind being unfathomable doesn’t mean you can’t drop a line. Like a little child can kinda-sorta understand what Daddy does for a job, we can kinda-sorta understand God. And with work, we can understand him better, just as the child matures, [s]he can understand what his/her father does better.

        • Michael Neville

          What is it with you and your Biblical quotes that don’t actually do anything to support your arguments, such as they are? Your quote from Isaiah doesn’t explain how you know that Satan “doesn’t serve God’s interests”. How do you know what does and doesn’t serve God’s interests? After all, your God created Hell and Satan helps keep it populated. If God didn’t want people in Hell then why the hell did he invent it? Seems logical that Satan is working hard to keep God’s interests served.

          Yes, I’ve read the collection of myths, fables and lies called the Bible. It was enlightening, showing me that your favorite god is a sadistic, narcissistic bully with the emotional maturity of a spoiled six year old and the morals of a concentration camp torturer. In other words, a typical god.

          Hygeia, n. In Grecian mythology the goddess of health–the only one of the goddesses whom it was healthy to have anything to do with. –Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

          Incidentally an AN/UQN-4 fathometer, the type used in US submarines since the 1960s, has an effective measuring range of 36,000 feet (12 kHz, long pulse). Since the deepest part of the Challenger Deep section of the Marianas Trench is estimated to be 36,201 feet (11,034 meters) ±130 ft (40 m), the UQN-4 will fathom the depths. So your analogy doesn’t quite work.

        • What is it with you and your Biblical quotes that don’t actually do anything to support your arguments, such as they are?

          You don’t see how Isaiah 55:8–9 can be used to support your “the mind of God was unknowable”, but when one includes vv6–7, that becomes problematic? You don’t understand how “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” contradicts your “the mind of God was unknowable”?

          Your quote from Isaiah doesn’t explain how you know that Satan “doesn’t serve God’s interests”.

          No, it deals with your claim that “the mind of God was unknowable”. As to the bit about Satan, you could start with the following stark contrast: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) If I need to establish that Satan is an example of “the thief”, let me know.

          After all, your God created Hell and Satan helps keep it populated.

          Have you not read that “[God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim 2:4)? The idea that Satan thereby serves God’s interests seems flatly contradicted by the very Bible which gave you any idea about Satan in the first place.

          Incidentally an AN/UQN-4 fathometer, the type used in US submarines since the 1960s, has an effective measuring range of 36,000 feet (12 kHz, long pulse). Since the deepest part of the Challenger Deep section of the Marianas Trench is estimated to be 36,201 feet (11,034 meters) ±130 ft (40 m), the UQN-4 will fathom the depths. So your analogy doesn’t quite work.

          Really, you think this vitiates my analogy, an analogy made when there were no AN/UQN-4 fathometers? The obvious point is that God’s mind can be known partially, but not fully. It’s not that complicated of a point…

        • Ignorant Amos

          Weren’t YahwehJesus and Satan old gambling buddies at one time?

        • Michael Neville

          Yep, and as a result Job’s family and servants were killed and he got generally screwed over. Luke’s god gets cranky if he doesn’t smite people often enough.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But everything worked out in the end for Job as YahwehJesus give him replacements…not so much though for those smoted. Good news was, Satan lost the bet, so result.

        • Jack Baynes

          They were just women and children, one family’s as good as any other.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed, silly me. No more than chattel.

          Anyway they likely went to a far, far, far better place. Where Job can hook up with them again…with his new family…where they will all exist happily ever after.

          I do hope they all get along…for heaven’s sake.

        • Jack Baynes

          Unfortunately his old family never accepted Jesus’s grace (that they never got the opportunity is irrelevant), so no heaven for them

        • Ignorant Amos

          Job and his new family too in that case.

          But haven’t you forgot the caveat that is the ignorance clause? Only those that know the Jesus yarn and reject it are excluded the opportunity to enter Heaven. That’s why the child of a yet unknown Amazonian tribe who dies will be offered Christs grace at the pearly gates. Or at least that’s my understanding of at least one version of the woo-woo anyway.

        • Jack Baynes

          Until the missionary show up at the tribe’s door, tells them about Jesus and damns them all

        • Ignorant Amos

          Anno…as if there isn’t enough of us going to Hell for those pious Christians to look down on with disdain and mockery.

        • epeeist

          Until the missionary show up at the tribe’s door, tells them about Jesus and damns them all

          In the days when we were both on the Richard Dawkins site we knew a poster who called himself Cartomancer. I met him in real life, gay and built like a rugby prop forward.

          He tells the tale of getting out of the bath to answer the door and finding a couple of JWs on the threshold (it’s always two isn’t it, one to do the spiel and one to look vulnerable). He was acting in an amateur production of Hamlet at the time, so he picked up Yorick’s skull from the hall table and said, “Oh good, the opposition has arrived”. The JWs legged it down the drive and he hasn’t been bothered with them since.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I remember that story.

          I’d love to have been a fly on the wall at that soirée youse had during the old Dawkins site days.

          Cartomancer knew his stuff. A historian of medieval period if memory serves me correctly. A great asset to any atheist site.

          Do ya not bother with RDFRS anymore?

        • epeeist

          I’d love to have been a fly on the wall at that soirée youse had during the old Dawkins site days.

          You mean this one.

          Cartomancer knew his stuff. A historian of medieval period if memory serves me correctly.

          Focused on ecclesiastical history in England between 1160-1220.

          Do ya not bother with RDFRS anymore?

          It ceased to be a community and became much too top down for my liking, especially with the loss of the front page discussions. I prefer places where there is the chance of a good knock-about.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Great photo…a bet it was a blast, though too highbrow an occasion for the like of me to take part in, lurking would be okay though.

          I recognise yerself, Steve Z, Carto and is that Paula? I’m sure I’d know some of the others by moniker.

          I got the sack from RDFRS. I was annoyed to begin with, mainly for reason why, but like you say, it was never the same after the rehash and the front-page was binned. But I met some great internet pals there, so that’s an up.

          I seen RD last year at the University of Ulster where he was giving a presentation with Lawrence Krauss and at the meet and great book signing afterwards I nearly brought it up, but it would’ve spoiled the occasion so a bottled it, preferring to get ma copies of “TGSoE” and “TMoR” signed instead.

          I prefer places where there is the chance of a good knock-about.

          Me too. Thanks for sharing the pic.

        • epeeist

          though too highbrow an occasion for the like of me to take part in

          The picture was taken early, before the table was covered in bottles and glasses.

          I recognise yerself, Steve Z, Carto and is that Paula? I’m sure I’d know some of the others by moniker.

          I should have linked the page rather than the picture

          Back – Epeeist, Decius, AllanW, Quetzalcoatl, SharonMcT, ShadesOfGrey and partner

          Front – Philip1978, Paula Kirby, Cartomancer, Steve Zara, Phil Rimmer and Oysten Elgaroy

          it was never the same after the rehash and the front-page was binned

          Which was largely the reason I disappeared.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m familiar with most of those names. I’m sure the craic was mint.

        • Myna A.

          Indeed, they were, until the stakes just got so rough they had to wrestle it out.

        • adam

          “Are you the one who knows it?”

          He does:

        • adam

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Perception of existence MUST precede judgement of actions.

        • Kodie

          The more you read, the less you fucking understand, you dolt. You’re basically saying that atheists have to believe in god because they’re good, or they can’t be good if there isn’t a god, and god is just patiently waiting to appear. The truth is, you’ve never had a conversation with god. The truth is, you come up with this bullshit, generating mountains of it at a clip because of an emotional sensation you have and attribute to god. The experience you call “god” is your imagination and you refuse to learn how brains really work and are manipulated. You are engaging in confirmation bias, and you’re quickly becoming the new Sparkly Moon with your long quotes, although you bother to add comments of your own.

          The atheist doesn’t say god is fictional because I don’t like his values or methods. You’re not facing it – god isn’t mysteriously hiding for any reason – he doesn’t exist, he’s a fictional character in a book. I mean, can you say you believe that Spiderman or Harry Potter is real? You would say, no (I hope), they’re fictional characters, and even if they demonstrate values you like, you don’t believe in them. That’s exactly the same with god. We’re deliberately not entangling intertwining or anything else god’s existence with god’s values. The only reason to bag on the guy’s moral standards and omni-efforts from an atheist standpoint is because CHRISTIANS claim (a) he’s real, and (b) he’s really good! He’s neither, but he’s not really bad because he doesn’t exist. It’s you who believe, and you who can’t tell the difference between good and bad, or love and abuse. It’s YOU CHRISTIANS who are demented. The more you read, the more you just pretend to know stuff about human nature, maybe get your fucking face out of a book once in a while if you’re trying to learn about people.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          In fact, believing as Luke B would have us believe leads to such as this: Mant’i Teo’s “girlfriend”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manti_Te%27o

        • Joe

          No, but it doesn’t take a five-year old’s intellect to ask: why should I even acknowledge his existence?

        • Again, I disagree with the very way you’ve framed the question. Think of how you respond to “Have you stopped beating your wife, yet?” Unless you do in fact beat your wife, you respond by questioning the framing of the question, not by answering it.

        • Joe

          What’s wrong with the framing? All these posts and all I can glean from your argument is “You should believe (pisteuo), then you’ll start to believe (modern defintion).”

          Nothing else in life works like that. Nobody says “you should just jump out of the plane, then I’ll tell you how you’re going to survive the fall.” It’s crazy talk.

        • What’s wrong with the framing?

          By this point in time, I’ve explained that multiple times. If you don’t like a given explanation, please engage one instead of asking me to repeat myself yet again.

          All these posts and all I can glean from your argument is “You should believe (pisteuo), then you’ll start to believe (modern defintion).”

          No, not really. Perhaps my bit on ‘grasp’ will help. Note that in that comment, I do mention evidence.

          Nothing else in life works like that. Nobody says “you should just jump out of the plane, then I’ll tell you how you’re going to survive the fall.” It’s crazy talk.

          Trusting relationships work like that. Do children always get the “why” explained beforehand? No. Do people being trained to perform an activity always have the “why” explained beforehand? No. There is plenty of belief-preceding-evidence that goes on in reality. When Karl Marx wrote his Manifesto, he extended his thinking well beyond ‘the evidence’. Only action based on trusting his thought was able to corroborate or falsify his theory.

        • Joe

          “Do children always get the “why” explained beforehand?”

          They should. Or the parenting is sub-par.

          “Do people being trained to perform an activity always have the “why” explained beforehand?”

          They should. Or the trainer is sub-par.

          There is plenty of belief preceding evidence, we all do that at some point. However THAT SAYS NOTHING ABOUT THE TRUTH CLAIMS OF THE BELIEF.

        • Are you a parent?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Now you’re trying to claim we’re “children”.

          Demonstrate your dawg before making foolishly insulting comments like that.

        • Kodie

          No, that makes no sense to the atheist. Trusting relationships with imaginary people are called psychotic breaks with reality.

        • adam

          “Again, I disagree with the very way you’ve framed the question.”

          Just be straight and tell him you are blowing him off
          That the question exposes the deception you are TRYING pull off.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          YOU are presupposing your ‘god’.

          WE are telling you to put up or shut up…it’s very simple.

        • Kodie

          Stop it with this stupid line. Nobody is asking you a fucking question like that. You acknowledge that god is hidden, you demonstrate that he’s never shown himself or spoken to you, and expect us to believe your emotional experiences amount to existence. You can’t even wrap your head around the idea that a character in a book you read IS fictional and it’s going to have to take a lot more than Luke’s bullshit 3rd-party emotional experiences and suspicions and whiffs to make god obviously existent. Nobody is asking you if you stopped beating your wife when they ask how about evidence that god exists? It’s pretty obvious you can’t answer the question. It’s not a bad or irrational or leading question.

        • adam

          “does it take a rocket scientist to see why God wouldn’t give two shits if you acknowledge his bare existence?”

          Apparently

          But some IMAGINARY characters are just like that.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          The whole idea of the book is that this ‘god’ thing wants to be acknowledged and worshipped.

        • adam

          “Then God clearly wants more than what you and the article understand as “believe”. ”

          But your CLAIM is that YOUR ‘God’ is unknowable.

        • adam

          “Surely Satan believes that God exists. If anyone’s going to end up in hell, it’s Satan.”

        • Jack Baynes

          Surely Satan believes that God exists. If anyone’s going to end up in hell, it’s Satan.

          Really? Why?
          What did Satan do? Did Satan really do more evil things than the worst of humanity? Or is he going to hell just because God didn’t grant him the Jesus offer to be forgiven for those sins.

        • Jack Baynes

          Can someone believe (your definition) in God without believing (normal definition) in God?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You can. It would be inconsistent, but humans are famous for being conveniently inconsistent.

        • adam

          You have theological support for that? Joe

          No, but I have deep bullshit to shovel your way.

        • Joe

          He does indeed have plenty of that.

        • adam

          “Does it just not compute that your consumer habits may be possible only
          because there are slaves participating in the globalized production of
          goods, slaves who allow the prices to be sufficiently low?”

          So these are ‘God’s’ slaves then?

        • MNb

          That’s his specialty. Welcome to the Lukieboy Show! Just like ELP it never ends.

        • Joe

          I honestly can’t follow his arguments. I’m usually fine with the concepts of apologetic arguments, I just don’t agree with them. This person has me scratching my head.

        • Susan

          He will send you down a thousand rabbit holes.

          He will not make a clear claim and support it with evidence.

          This is very much like creationist tactics (though Luke is no longer a creationist).

          Don’t follow him down his rabbit holes. It’s a waste of time.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Yes, by freeing the slaves and increasing the price the slavery beneficiaries have to pay.

        Best revenge is living well…

    • ThalesThoughts

      they way they hammer on going to Hell for not believing (ie, punishing us) kinda points out the lie of his statement.

    • Justsmile

      A person is not punished by a parent when they don’t believe a road is dangerous, they simply get hit by the truck.

      • Jack Baynes

        So you’re saying that God is dangerous and we should avoid him?

        • Justsmile

          I think that’s part of the problem, we get the truck and the other mixed up.

        • Jack Baynes

          Well it’s pretty easy to tell the difference.
          The truck you can see, God you can’t.

          Certainly says something about your God if you get them confused.

      • Joe

        Yes they are, if the parents are fit for the purpose. In fact, they’d teach road safety in advance. God is a shitty parent.

        • Jack Baynes

          It’s hard for parents to do that if they refuse to let their children see them.

        • Justsmile

          Good point! But to say “refuse to let their children see them” is to attribute an attribute in definite terms to an entity that is not seen. So to say a person can’t see because they are not permitted is a faith statement. They either can’t see because he doesn’t exist or because of another reason.

        • adam

          ” They either can’t see because he doesn’t exist or because of another reason. ”

          What about those like THIS who do see?

        • Justsmile

          I don’t understand the question. I’m sorry 🙁

        • adam

          Dena sees “God”
          “God” even talks to Dena
          Just like Abraham.

        • Jack Baynes

          But you better believe in him because he’s dangerous like an invisible truck!

          Except no one can agree on where the road that we need to keep away from is… Is it the Evangelical road we need to avoid? The Catholic road? The Muslim road? OOps!!! Sorry, you just got hit by God because you were standing in the middle of the Mormon road.

          Too bad God’s a lousy parent.

        • Justsmile

          God either is or isn’t.
          If he is, then “a shitty parent” is a faith statement. I thought my mom was a shitty parent until my experiences deepened. I now happen to think I was the shitty one at the time. But if God isn’t then arguments about his parenting style doesn’t “prove” anything.

        • Joe

          I never intended prove anything. Actually, his parenting style is nonexistent. Your mother was a better parent than god would be if he existed.

        • Justsmile

          Exactly 🙂
          I’m glad we can agree that opinions about parenting styles are faith statements and subjective (whether God exists or not is beside the point).

        • Susan

          I’m glad that we can agree that opinions about parenting styles are faith statements

          If by “subjective”, you mean human derived, then yes. They’re all subjective. But do you think that Adam’s point about faith-healing parents (the question you didn’t understand) is irrelevant? That is, if a child suffers and dies who didn’t have to suffer and die because of parental decisions that led to unnecessary suffering and death, it’s all the same?

          whether God exists or not is beside the point

          It’s exactly the point of the article. Please define “God” and provide evidence that supports its existence.

          It’s not beside the point.

        • Justsmile

          Good point.
          I just saw the picture he attached. It’s terrible what happened. And you’re right it’s not beside the point. I worked with mentally ill patients who didn’t believe in god who also heard voices and attributed their irrational acts to people/entities they believed in (a couple of times Aliens told them to do it, once it was the government, another it was a sister on the other side of the world). I’m not sure about aliens but the government exists and it’s okay and harmless to believe in the government and a sister if you have one that’s important. But they can’t be blamed for a terrible act of illness. Nor can “it”. If it exists. In the case of belief in this specific matter (government, sister) it’s not if you believe in them but what you believe about them. And yes, if illness is not to blame for acts of abuse committed against children or anyone for any reason, religious or not, I’m glad we have a justice system to deal with such crimes. Also I’m glad we have hospitals to deal with those who are ill.

        • Susan

          We both agree here.

          Our subjective positions based on compassion and evidence are in agreement. I’m sure you could make reasonable arguments to many of your fellow humans based on compassion and evidence that would convince them and which would be labelled subjective.

          Why do they differ when it comes to an agent you won’t define and which you insist is not subject to evidence despite failing to even define it?

          That is, why do all the rules go out the window when it comes to Yahwehjesus, one of thousands of gods that humans have believed in over time?

        • Justsmile

          Good point. I’m a bit tired. I’ll have a think about your question and answer tomorrow if this thread is still around then 🙂 I’m off to Zzzzz

        • adam

          “But they can’t be blamed for a terrible act of illness. Nor can “it”. If it exists.”

          It CAN be blamed.
          The character “God” in the stories tells Abraham to kill.

          How does one determine whether ‘God’ is talking to them or not?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope. Nurturing parenting styles are acceptable, destructive parenting styles should be condemned and punished.

          And we can look at objective evidence of what’s going on.

          No evidence for any gods.

        • adam

          “God either is or isn’t. ”

          God is a character in a collection of stories.

        • Justsmile

          And to many a character in their own story. He is also one in your story. You’ve just chosen to conclude him/it to be a fictional character. It’s fascinating how many chapters a fictional character can have in the lives of people trying to write him/it out of it. Whether he/it is fictional or not he/it is significantly woven into your story by the looks of it 😉

        • Susan

          I think you accidentally upvoted yourself.

          Unlike others who condemn people for doing that, I remember when I was new to Disqus (Disqus is the dog’s breakfast but loads better than World Table) and accidentally upvoted myself on another site when I was trying to check out how upvotes worked on my phone.

          I fear that I still might have dozens of upvotes on that dreaded site that I didn’t mean to give myself.

          Have a look. You can click on the upvote and un-upvote yourself.

          I would do the same on that other site except that I was banned and am no longer able to correct it.

        • MNb

          “I think you accidentally upvoted yourself.”
          No, it’s another silly feature of Disqus. It happens to me as well.

        • Jack Baynes

          I’ve done it on occasion when trying to check who the existing upvotes were from (a feature that works sporadically).

          I wouldn’t think much of it unless someone does it consistently.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Me too…but I’m quick to remove it…and in this case there are no other votes to check.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well having done it twice and subsequently done nothing about it since your pointing it out, one can only conclude it was intentional.

        • adam

          Well obviously, he likes what he writes…

        • Ignorant Amos

          Of course, that’s a given…don’t we all?

        • adam

          So he feels so left out he has to pat his own back.

        • Ignorant Amos

          He, if indeed it is a he, has Luke in his corner on at least one comment.

          Am not sure it is a he though, something about the replies…reasonable even.

          I was just messin’ about the upvote thing, ya know me.

          Justsmile has acknowledged that on a couple of comments some good points have been made. We aren’t used to that too often.

        • TheNuszAbides

          mollification be damned.

        • adam

          “And to many a character in their own story.”

          Yes, indeed

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s the problem with these religious fuckwits, they don’t realise that they are forcing their wholly repugnant character into the stories of others, whether the others want it there or not.

        • adam

          ..

        • Myna A.

          The tragedy of little Margaret Schlosser goes even deeper than the insidious religious madness of her mother. The authorities knew Dena Schlosser was a danger to her children, and yet kept allowing her custody. Stories like this are repeated over and over again. It’s the “benefit of the doubt” argument. Margaret was as much a victim of bureaucrats in the human services department as she was by the demented religiosity of her mother.

          We know that religious zealotry leads to eventual violence, especially when coupled with mental illness. It’s been shown over and over again, whether it’s in one’s own home, religious institution or hidden in caves in the desert. But for some insane reason, society keeps insisting that zealotry is somehow an untouchable “right”. Margaret’s death could have been prevented. There are no words for the horror of not preventing it to begin with.

        • adam

          ” But for some insane reason, society keeps insisting that zealotry is somehow an untouchable “right”.”

          Faith and ignorance.

          Faith as the bible describes it is believing in what you WANT to be real, rather than the reality that exists.

          And ignorance and the VAST POWER of religion keeps the God of the Gaps ‘alive’ as if it were real.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          We’re not responsible for other people’s delusions.

          We ARE responsible to our fellow-beings to promote and encourage progress and compassion.

          Religion, and the supposed ‘god’ that underlies it, stand in direct opposition to same, based on the ‘god’s own book.

        • Jack Baynes

          Han Solo is deeply woven in to the lives of many fans. That doesn’t mean he’s real.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Another pat on the back for yerself…on a roll here dude.

        • adam

          “It’s fascinating how many chapters a fictional character can have in the lives of people trying to write him/it out of it. ”

          It is fascinating:

        • Kodie

          It’s fascinating that Christians will latch on to any reason to believe atheists are really just in denial of god. Actually, god doesn’t exist, but Christians exist, and their attitudes and beliefs (not only of god, but of atheists) are insulting and false, and can even be dangerous or politically oppressive, and Christians hardly filter themselves, especially when they want to judge atheists. God isn’t part of the story, we’re talking about Christianity and the false beliefs Christians have, and the fictional god they think everyone believes in.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sherlock Holmes either is or isn’t….that was easy.

        • Susan

          God either is or isn’t.

          Explain what you mean by “God”. Then, provide evidence that gives “is” any sort of credible support.

          I thought my Mom was a shitty parent too

          But your Mom had to fall into the “is” category in order for you to be typing your sentences. There is no “Either my Mom exists or she doesn’t.

          if God isn’t, then arguments about his parenting style don’t prove anything.

          They certainly address all kinds of claims that “goodness” and “morality” have anything to do with this fictional character.

          What we have are human claims without supporting evidence that claim moral authority without any justification, whatsoever.

        • Justsmile

          -God either is or isn’t.
          Explain what you mean by “God”. Then, provide evidence that gives “is” any sort of credible support.

          Science neither proves nor disproves “God.” It simply explains a natural phenomenon. So what kind of evidence would you require?

          – I thought my Mom was a shitty parent too
          But your Mom had to fall into the “is” category in order for you to be typing your sentences. There is no “Either my Mom exists or she doesn’t.

          Correct. I’m thankful she did fit into that category. 🙂 The fact that she exists is not a subjective statement. It’s an objective one. Her parenting style is a subjective statement. That was my point. You can’t disprove God because of a subjective statement about parenting styles, it has to be based on something else. Which is why I asked the above question. What kind of evidence would you need? I’m honestly interested.

          – if God isn’t, then arguments about his parenting style don’t prove anything.
          They certainly address all kinds of claims that “goodness” and “morality” have anything to do with this fictional character.

          Exactly 🙂 And it’s a great point. But first you’d have to accept that a specific viewpoint on parenting style or character are subjective and change with experience and understanding of the individual. It was limited understanding of my mom which led me to think of her as a “bad” (morally poor) mom. Limited understanding of a Christian god can also lead to undeveloped conclusions. So separating the is from the what (fictional or not) is important. But the god many folks degrade on their posts are characters they’ve written themselves and label Christian or whatever the specific mood is. Rejecting a “bad” character you’ve written into your own story even if you label it a fictional character can have physiological benefits for sure but passing it off as a Christian god lacks intergrity. Look even if a Christian god doesn’t exist and it is a fictional character. It’s certainly a different fictional character than the one most atheists conceive, or “believe” Christians believe.

        • Susan

          Science neither proves nor disproves “God”.

          I asked you to define “God” and you haven’t. Until you do, there is no reason to accept that statement.

          I will point out that science is not in the business of “proof”.

          The rest of your comment is just apologetics.

          What is “God” and on what basis do you claim it exists?

          Stop with the “if God” script, if you’re not even going to define it.

          Also, don’t talk about “proof” and “disproof” as “science” again.

          I asked you a simple question. You are alluding to an agent.

          What agent? What evidence do you have for it?

          It’s certainly a different fictional character than the one most atheists conceive, or “believe” Christians believe.

          So I hear. Yet, most atheists I know are ex-christians and they are well acquainted with the claims christians make (and indoctrinate us with as children).

          What are you claiming and how do you support it? It’s a basic question.

        • Justsmile

          I haven’t claimed anything about a god not had I any intention (as you’ve noticed :-). My only claim has been about the type of arguments used to “disprove” it, and that they are subjective statements based upon a certain characterization.

          Anyway, if science nether proves not disproves an it, what would? I’ll work with what you give me. Once you give me that I’ll work on a claim and try and back it up.

        • MNb

          “My only claim has been about the type of arguments used to “disprove” it.”
          Your claim is about the false assumption that the specific type of argument “god is a shitty argument” serves to disprove god. It doesn’t. It serves to show the incoherence of many a god image.
          Try to provide one without the “god is like a parent” and we’ll omit “god is a shitty parent”.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You’re advancing the pro-god argument.

          Stop squirming and stand on a position…we don’t need people JAQ-ing off in public, it just makes a mess.

        • TheNuszAbides

          not willy-nilly, at least. we could have a few corraled/pilloried for the kids to practice on.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Anyway, if science nether proves not disproves an it, what would?

          Logic works pretty well. At least for a particular definition of god anyway.

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/insights_into_bible_miracles_from_magician_uri_geller/#comment-2821016252

        • MNb

          Yup – inconsistency and incoherence do as well.
          And formulating a coherent belief system that’s consistent with science is pretty hard*.

          * This is a Dutch attempt at an understatement English style.

        • epeeist

          And formulating a coherent belief system that’s consistent with science is pretty hard*

          As Bertrand Russell noted it is perfectly possible to have a completely consistent fairy tale. Coherence is necessary but insufficient.

          Oh, and my whole post is an edit because I pressed the post button too early.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A belief system that’s consistent with science may well be pretty hard. I’d go as far as to postulate that formulating a religious belief that’s coherent with science is impossible by definition.

          As Bertrand Russell noted it is perfectly possible to have a completely consistent fairy tale. Coherence is necessary but insufficient.

          Especially if one employs many of the instruments that are in this new toolbox I was referred to on this site earlier today.

          http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AppliedPhlebotinum

        • Ignorant Amos

          Good call.

          Inconsistency and incoherence are better examples to use for the less sophisticated theist.

        • epeeist

          Anyway, if science nether proves not disproves an it, what would?

          Science can falsify hypotheses, for example “the earth is 6,000 years old”. We are looking for propositions which can be shown to be false by a singular existential statement.

        • Kodie

          Nobody is disproving god by assessing his character. It’s an assessment on what the bible says and what many claim to be true, their opinions or conclusions of his reasoning, excuses to have an imaginary friend, really. If god does exist, why is he invisible and inevident? The argument that he doesn’t exist doesn’t come from his parenting skills, like hiding but desiring a close loving relationship including the abusive threats and all, it comes from the claims that he has a very good reason that doesn’t match any good reason – other than he is fictional.

        • MNb

          “You can’t disprove God because of a subjective statement about parenting styles.”
          Thanks for confirming what I wrote above. That’s not how we use the argument. The argument shows that many a god image is incoherent, exactly because god images contain a lot of subjective elements.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          YOU are postulating ‘god’…define it and demonstrate it.

          Until then, the rest of your wall of text is just poisonous word salad.

        • Kodie

          Um, when atheists criticize god’s “parenting style,” we’re really just criticizing the incoherent claims of theists, who do exist and believe god exists and make claims about his character and reasons, etc. that don’t match what’s in the bible or what many people experience, not from god, but from Christians who speak or act as though on god’s behalf.

        • MNb

          “God is” is a faith statement hence it’s OK to add “a shitty parent” as a faith statement. Joe is just using exactly the same standard. It’s disingenuous to alter your standard halfway.

          “arguments about his parenting style doesn’t “prove” anything.”
          Sure they do, only not what you suppose we think they do. These arguments prove that the god image(s) of many believers is (are) incoherent.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Fair enough: “As described by ‘his’ own ‘holy’ book, dawg would be a shitty parent.”

          If you’re pettifogging about colloquialisms, we’ll never get anywhere.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Justsmile doesn’t seem to realise that the atheist has to interact from the position of the Devil’s Advocate otherwise there would be no interlocutor to engage with which the theist could talk about gods..

        • Kodie

          Theists always seem to think we’re talking about god so much. We’re talking about theists and theism. Theists exist. I admit it!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Upvoting yer own comments…very classy. Almost as bad as getting an upvote from Luke ffs.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Trucks exist.

        Show me evidence for your dawg as compelling as that for gravity.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Don’t be daft.

        Children are taught the dangers of a road by an authority figure. They are shown what could happen if they go near the road. A real physical road with real physical danger, by real physical parents.

        We don’t expect a child to just believe there is a danger by taking our word for it. It is an evidence based conclusion. Vehicles in motion colliding with humans cause damage.

        What sort of piece of shit parent allows their youngster to get “simply hit by a truck” as a means of education?

        I was chastised by my parents all the time as a we’en for going near a busy road. My we’ens got the same treatment from me and my grand we’ens are now getting the same tutoring from me and their parents. We see real bona fide examples of children that are not getting that proper education or failing to respect that education.

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-foyle-west-36822738

        There is real tangible evidence for not learning the consequences about road safety and this sort of bullshit analogy is belittling and insulting to real parents everywhere.

        Are you a parent?

        BTW, Jack said “I’ve got a solution! Don’t punish people for simply not believing in you.” and not “believe you” like a child and a parent. A minor, but important difference for your analogy to have worked too. So fail all round me thinks.

        • Justsmile

          Good point. I appreciate the feedback. Yep, I’m a parent. I agree, a shit parent would allow their kid to get hit by a truck and call that education. I don’t believe any good or loving parent would do that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And yet, according to the texts of the Christian faith, that’s exactly what the central character does, repeatedly.

        • adam

          ” I don’t believe any good or loving parent would do that.”

          Then why would one allow their kids to be tortured for ETERNITY?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Exactly. My 7 year old grandson threw a hissy fit here yesterday afternoon because he couldn’t get his own way. His punishment was to be denied a trip to our local swimming pool last night. He will not be punished further by being denied a trip to the swimmers ever again. There is no lesson to be learned by that action.

          Human beings can be morally superior to YahwehJesus. So much for divine perfection.

        • MNb

          YHWHJesus is not exactly a qualified pedagogue.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not if ya believe the stories about him anyhow…wait a mo, have a got that a wee bit up the left?

        • Jack Baynes

          My analogy for parenting like God:
          I wanted to protect my child from running out in the road and getting hit by a truck, so when he got too close to the road, I shot him to death.

        • MR

          I bet he won’t do that again.

        • adam

          ” He will not be punished further by being denied a trip to the swimmers ever again. ”

          But you will punish all his children, grand children, great-grand children, etc, etc, etc,etc,, etc, etc,etc,etc, right?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not until after he see’s me in my nakedness, then it’s curtains for him and all his…and all his line will be made slaves, ahem, ahem, be made indentured servants I meant to say, but didn’t. Because that’s the way I roll if an offspring checks me out when am pissed as a fart…a lesson must be taught and that lesson must be lasting.

        • MR

          Not to mention that God brought us into existence knowing he was bringing us into an existence of eternal torment. We didn’t ask to be born. It’s one thing if God were saving us from something, but he’s the one in full control. It just doesn’t make sense. A developing body of mythology jerry-rigged from a mixture of cultures over many centuries makes far more sense.

        • adam

          It only makes sense if God is the CRUEL MONSTER spelled out in the bible, and not the ‘loving Father’ that christians keep claiming it is.

  • RichardSRussell

    No sane person doubts that the Sun exists. Even blind people can detect it from its heat. If God truly existed, wouldn’t it be even more obvious?

    • ThalesThoughts

      Ironically, I just heard this argument put forth. By William Lane Craig, maybe (I can’t remember who) but essentially it was: saying God doesn’t exist is like denying the Sun. No one denies the sun; we can feel the heat and see it in our lives every day!

      Of course, what he’s paralleling as the ‘heat’ of God and ‘seeing it in our lives’ are all in his own mind. Spotting your keys just as you think “Oh my God I’ve got to get to work! Where are my keys?” is not a special sign just for you. Coincidences happen. That’s why we have a word for it.

      • MNb

        I love such False Analogies – essentially the ones used by apologists are all the same. They equate a material/natural phenomenon (Sun, Paley’s Watch) with an immaterial/supernatural one.

        • Joe

          This is why I tend to agree when people say aplologetics is only to reinforce the faith of Christians. They phrase things in a way to make the alternative look irrational, so Christians would not want to associate with it:

          “Anyone can see that god is as obvious as the sun. You can see the sun can’t you? Only a fool would claim they couldn’t.”

        • MNb

          What else can apologetics do? Apologetics by definition is arguing for a pre-determined conclusion.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What else can apologetics do? Apologetics by definition is arguing for a pre-determined erroneous conclusion.

          A thought a would jazz that up a wee bit for ya.

    • Sophia Sadek

      The Sun is far more beneficent that the material Creator of the flat and immobile Earth. If you were that vicious and brutal, you’d hide out as well.

      • TheNuszAbides

        dark side of the moon, perhaps.

        • Sophia Sadek

          As opposed to Jibbers Crabst.

  • T-Paine

    The most powerful evidence against Christianity is:

    The existence of Christian Apologetics

    • Justsmile

      Wouldn’t that also mean the most powerful evidence against atheism is atheist arguments or apologetics? Nope. An argument or an explanation doesn’t prove or disprove anything, it’s merely a “why I believe what I believe.”

      • I suspect @ReasonIsMyReligion:disqus is criticizing the quality of Christian apologetics, not the mere existence of ἀπολογία.

        • adam

          “I suspect T-Paine is criticizing the quality of Christian apologetics,”

          But really, look at the quality of “God” they have to work with.

          They do the absolute BEST that they can with what they got – NOTHING.

        • Justsmile

          I agree some Christian apologetics is pretty darn bad but many arguments for an atheist worldview have been equally as poor. The problem for me is that much atheist argument ultimately ends up being an ethical argument parading as a scientific argument. I think ethical discussions are important but it’s better being honest as to what kind of discussion is taking place.

        • Susan

          If you’re claiming an agent exists, then be specific. What exactly are you claiming? What evidence do you have to support it?

          Don’t shift the burden of proof. It’s annoying.

        • adam

          “I agree some Christian apologetics is pretty darn bad but many arguments for an atheist worldview have been equally as poor. ”

          Like what?

          ” The problem for me is that much atheist argument ultimately ends up
          being an ethical argument parading as a scientific argument. ”

          Actually mine, and I expect many is both.

          Ethically, I cannot justify a number of things from the bible.
          Starting in Genesis.

          I cannot ethically justify punishing a couple of innocent people with death for their lack of knowledge

          I certainly cannot ethically justify punishing all their innocent offspring (down to us) as they didnt commit the ‘crime’.

          I cant ethically justify hell, eternal BURNING punishment for a crime committed in a finite life.

          I find all these morally repugnant

          From the science side, it is obvious that the bible is incorrect on a wide number of items.

          Like blaming demons and spirits and advocating prayer instead of medicine and sanitation.

          The way the solar system and universe is described does not correlate with the facts we can see in photos from and of space.

          Scientifically, the bible “God” has all the properties of an IMAGINARY character from a collection of stories.

          You will find both kinds of discussions here and elsewhere.

          Just be clear on which one YOU want to discuss.

        • MNb

          “Like what?”
          Like

          “According to the Bible bats are birds, that’s false, hence here is no god.”

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Somebody skipped a few steps
          “According to the bible bats are birds”
          That’s false
          “according to the bible it’s the inerrant word of god”
          THAT is now demonstrably false
          So, a book that claims inerrance but has flaws can’t be trusted on any assertion for which there is no independent supporting evidence.
          “the bible says god exists”
          Hence, it cannot simply be accepted that the bible ‘god’ exists.

        • MNb

          No, but that wasn’t what I wrote. I didn’t write “it cannot simply be accepted that the Bible god exists”. That’s a good argument. I wrote “hence we must accept that god doesn’t exist”. The two are not the same at all.
          Maybe I’m skipping a few steps, but you are attacking a strawman.

        • Adam King

          You’re the one who set up the straw man in the first place.

        • MNb

          Not at all. I never accused anyone here of using that argument (which is a necessary condition for the strawman fallacy – look it up if you don’t believe me). Not BobS. Not Adam. Not you. Not anyone on this blog. Plus I didn’t use it to attack any view (which is another necessary condition for the strawman fallacy). Not BobS’ view. Not Adam’s. Not yours. Not anyone else’s on this blog.
          Moreover that’s not even the point. Adam asked for an example; I gave one – one I actually have seen used. Not here on this blog.
          Thanks for providing another example of a bad argument for the atheist worldview. I appreciate it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There is no know-everything god if it made that claim, or enlightened some ancient doofus to make that claim with sincerity.

          If the attributes of that god are then changed by apologetic’s in order to rescue it from such a faux pas, then the alarm bell’s should be ringing in the Christian ears.

        • MNb

          I can’t remember, was it you who brought up Augustinus of Hippo on the subject of literalism a few days ago?
          Your argument only makes sense on exactly that literalism.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I can’t remember, was it you who brought up Augustinus of Hippo on the subject of literalism a few days ago?

          Nope, not I, but since you mention him.

          Church father Augustine of Hippo (354–430) wrote of the need for reason in interpreting Jewish and Christian scripture, and of much of the Book of Genesis being an extended metaphor. But Augustine also implicitly accepted the literalism of the creation of Adam and Eve, and explicitly accepted the literalism of the virginity of Jesus’s mother Mary.

          Another cherry picker by all accounts.

          Your argument only makes sense on exactly that literalism.

          Of course. Which is exactly how the passage was received until science showed it to be erroneous. Nothing wrong with that for people of ignorance per se, there are plenty of other examples in the scripture of a similar nature, but an omniscient entity obviously knows better, so the entry can’t be inspired in anyway by a perfect know everything god.

          The Bible is not meant to be a scientific description of modern biological categories. Instead, it is often written from the perspective of what we see. In other words, it makes generic categorizations. In this case, the bat is categorized as a bird because like birds, it flies and is similar in size to most birds. If we did not know that it was a mammal, it would be natural to call it a bird. To the Hebrew of ancient times, calling it a bird was perfectly logical. But, in modern times we categorize animal species more specifically and have categorized the bat as a mammal and not a bird.

          Also, we must be aware that it is modern science that has a different classification system than ancient times. To the ancients, creatures such as a bat were considered birds since they categorized all flying animals as birds. If that is the category that they used, then they were correct. It is not an error. It is a difference of categorization procedures. The critic has imposed upon the ancient text a modern system of categorization and then said that the Bible is wrong. This is a big error in thinking.

          https://carm.org/bible-difficulties/genesis-deuteronomy/bat-bird

          But the Bible is wrong, unless it is conceded as a wholly human construct, then the mistakes are just a matter of relativism.

          Three in ten Americans are alleged to be literalists, go figure, but then I guess those folk wouldn’t necessarily know the difference between a bird and a bat anyway.

          The point being made, I think, is that if the Bible can be shown to the theist as obviously not divinely inspired, then the circular arguments it creates that are used by many theists are moot. That doesn’t go to show no God, but every little helps towards that balance of probability.

        • adam

          Wow and I thought all it demonstrated was that the people who wrote the bible and those who believe it inerrant were/are not smarter than a 5th grader.

        • katiehippie
        • Adam King

          That’s not an argument against the existence of god. It’s one datum in an argument against Biblical inerrancy. It’s only a bad argument if you state it in such an oversimplified and mischaracterized manner.

        • MNb

          Adam asked a question. I answered it.
          I’m not the one who states it in such an oversimplified and mischaracterized manner; I never use it.
          I have seen it used though.
          When you write

          “That’s not an argument against the existence of god.”
          you only confirm that there is an argument”

          “for an atheist worldview have been equally as poor.”
          just like Justsmile stated.

          Don’t blame me if you don’t like the example that answers Adam’s question. I’m not responsible for it.

        • Just Plain Phil

          “It’s one datum in an argument against Biblical inerrancy.”

          You are in error: bats are NOT birds according to the Bible.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a735061ef189d526a3e8c65397c656ce3a622179417e11fa0dc7dc5679d02631.png

          The image above demonstrates that the arrangement of the flyers in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 is actually quite logical.

          First, notice that the bat is not placed arbitrarily among the list of the Chordate flyers, but it is always placed at the end (Lev 11:19B, Deu 14:18B).

          Also, there are two Phylum of flyers presented in those chapters. According to the Scientific Classification System, the Phylum must precede the Class.

          In the King James Version, the Hebrew word (owph) that is rendered “fowl” is also rendered “flying” (Leviticus 11:21, 23) and “that flieth” (Deuteronomy 14:19). This justifies using “flyer” instead of “fowl” in Leviticus 11:13, and it is so rendered in the Concordant Literal Version (CLV):

          CLV “These you shall regard as abominable among the flyers…”

          But the ostrich, for example, is “winged” but can not “fly”. The definition from the Strong’s Concordance justifies rendering the word “winged”.

          FACT: the FIRST group of flyers listed in Lev 11:13-19A are members of the CLASS Aves: birds.

          FACT: the LAST flyer listed in Lev 11:19B is a member of the CLASS Mamalia: the bat.

          FACT: birds are NOT members of the CLASS Mamalia.

          CONCLUSION: THE BAT IS NOT A BIRD.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the eagle. 11:13.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the ossifrage. 11:13.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the ospray. 11:13.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the vulture. 11:14.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the kite. 11:14.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT every raven. 11:15.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the owl. 11:16.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the night hawk. 11:16.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the cuckow. 11:16.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the hawk. 11:16.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the little owl. 11:17.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the cormorant. 11:17.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the great owl. 11:17.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the swan. 11:18.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the pelican. 11:18.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the gier eagle. 11:18

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the stork. 11:19.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the heron. 11:19.

          CONCLUSION: the bat is NOT the lapwing. 11:19.

          CHALLENGE: IF Leviticus is Taxonomically unreliable, THEN from the text of Leviticus 11:13-19, and the Scientific Classification System, LOGICALLY CONCLUDE that the bat is a bird.

        • MNb

          “many arguments for an atheist worldview have been equally as poor.”
          Agreed. That’s why we must formulate a few standards. I never bring up ethical arguments to argue against god. I only bring them up when apologists maintain that the Bible contains a perfect morality.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          More assertion.

          SHOW ME…

        • adam

          “many arguments for an atheist worldview ”

          You do understand that the only thing you can call an atheistic world view is ‘disbelief in deity’

        • Kodie

          The main argument for an atheist “worldview” is that theists make incredible claims and instead of evidence, provide scripture and rationalizations. Sometimes, they’re really fancy and academic, but still incredible and full of crap.

          If you only had evidence instead.

        • Justsmile

          Thanks for the clarification 🙂

        • Joe

          No, existence. The fact that it takes the efforts of a bunch of educated humans to try to explain why things aren’t how they should be if a loving omni-god existed. .

        • The same argument could be used to criticize the fact that people tend to need to be taught that an increase in mass does not cause an object to fall more quickly, ceteris paribus.

          What you seem to object to is the idea that God might want to be known through the collective effort of humans (as if he gives each human a unique perspective on him, which [s]he needs to share with others); you seem to think that it would be better if another human could neither enhance nor damage my ability to know God. If this models you well, I can only utterly reject this radically individualistic notion.

        • MNb

          “The same argument could be used …”
          Only when you conveniently neglect the key difference: that increase can be empirically tested. Apologetics can’t.
          But you never had any use for empiricism, so I’m not surprised.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          One can be demonstrated, the other requires blind acceptance of baseless assertions.

        • adam

          “What you seem to object to is the idea that God might want to be known”

          But just doesnt have the ability or power.

        • Herb Kutscha

          No apples in Genesis. ‘Twas the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

        • adam

          Yes, of course it was MAGICAL fruit.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Of course not, but that doesn’t stop the ignorant holy rollers from teaching kids it was an apple though does it?

          Or adults in the past for that matter.

          In Western Europe, the fruit was often depicted as an apple, possibly because of a misunderstanding of, or a pun on mălum, a native Latin noun which means evil (from the adjective malus), and mālum, another Latin noun, borrowed from Greek μῆλον, which means apple. In the Vulgate, Genesis 2:17 describes the tree as de ligno autem scientiae boni et mali: “but of the tree (lit. wood) of knowledge of good and evil” (mali here is the genitive of malum). The larynx in the human throat, noticeably more prominent in males, was consequently called an Adam’s apple, from a notion that it was caused by the forbidden fruit sticking in Adam’s throat as he swallowed.

          We all know the inference in Adam’s meme…whether apple, grape, fig, pomegranate, wheat, flesh, pear or whatever other nonsense the woo woo merchants want to imagine as part of the metaphor for getting it on.

        • Justsmile

          Thanks for clarification!

      • T-Paine

        Either you’re not familiar with Christian apologetic arguments or you’re pretending not to be.

      • MNb

        No. The key differences are that
        1) christian apologetics argues for something that’s supposed to be perfect while atheist arguments imply their own imperfection;
        2) atheist arguments do not argue for a predetermined conclusion.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Show me any atheist ‘apologetics’.

        Saying “I don’t believe for lack of evidence” needs none.

      • Sophia Sadek

        Christianity qualified as a form of atheism when it first started. After all, Christians had no respect for the gods.

      • Kodie

        An argument or an explanation doesn’t prove or disprove anything, it’s merely a “why I believe what I believe, despite the lack of evidence.”

        FTFY.

    • Sophia Sadek

      Apologetics is certainly one of the most embarrassing aspects of the tradition.

      • TheNuszAbides

        careful, the dim bulbs will use that for an invocation of the Criterion of Embarrassment!

        • Sophia Sadek

          The real Criterion of Embarrassment would have us seriously consider the Gnostic literature because the orthodox banned and burned it.

      • Adam King

        Unwatchable.

        • TheNuszAbides

          only to those of us with more refined moral training/practice.

  • Justsmile

    There are many folks to whom God isn’t hidden at all. I think a better question for debate, which was hinted in the article is why some seem to “see” God or “experience” Him, and others do not. There are folks who depart the Christian worldview because of intellectual and ethical reasons and folks who were adamantly opposed to the Christian worldview who join for intellectual and ethical reasons. I’d be interested in an article like that.

    • Joe

      And there are people who are looking but can’t find him. That is the problem this article is addressing.

      • Justsmile

        And some that have searched and found. My question is why some “find” and not others. No doubts there are many sincere folks who would like there to be a god but simply can’t accept that as a reality because they are not convinced. I’m just curious as to why some find and others do not. I think it’s a little more complex than some people being smart and others stupid (as some atheists insist) or some being evil and others good (as some christians insist).

        • adam

          ” I’m just curious as to why some find and others do not. ”

          Hyperactive Agency Detection
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2012/02/word-of-the-day-hyperactive-agency-detection/

          Hallucinations

          And shamanistically; body chemistry

          http://www.near-death.com/experiences/triggers/extreme-gravity.html

          https://www.google.com/#q=dmt

          It is not a mystery

        • Joe

          Well, my uncharitable opinion is that people have lower standards of evidence than others. Remember, people believe in other gods, UFO’s, ghosts and fairies among other things.

          Your question is a good one, but it has no definitive answer as yet, so it’s probably a waste of time us discussing it.

          Remember, we aren’t discussing WHY people don’t believe, but why doesn’t god reveal himself if he WANTS people to believe. Then your question would not need to be asked anymore.

        • MNb

          “it has no definitive answer as yet”
          Technically this is correct, because science never provides definitive answers. But psychology has a pretty good idea.

        • Susan

          And some that have searched and found.

          What have they found? It doesn’t look any different than people claiming to have found ghosts or fairies.

          I’m just curious as to why some find and others do not.

          Why do some find ghosts and fairies and all manner of unevidenced things and others do not? Because people are prone to see agency without showing their work.

          What is your evidence?

        • MNb

          “My question is why some “find” and not others.”
          Self-delusion. People who have deluded themselves are sincere by definition. If you want to find out how that works you need to ask a psychologist.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i was very fond of William James when i took a more mystical attitude towards LSD, but of course the science has improved somewhat since his day.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I’ll bet ‘finding’ a god of some type correlates strongly with either:

          – Life being an awful struggle, or
          – Indoctrination with threats before the age of reason, and enough intelligence to perceive the veiled threats.

        • Jack Baynes

          Or the classic of less-veiled threats backed up by physical violence.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Compartmentalisation, confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance are few starting points.

          Childhood indoctrination, wishful thinking and gullibility are a few more.

          Any permutation of a couple of the above and you are well on yer way to woo-woo land.

        • Adam King

          Atheists don’t “insist” that theists are stupid, as you imply. A large proportion of atheists were themselves theists earlier in their lives, and know perfectly well that their intelligence didn’t magically increase and cause their deconversion. You’re propagating a lie about what atheists believe.

          People “find” religion because they don’t like reality–that death is final, for instance, or that justice often never happens, or that the universe is indifferent to human desires. So they opt for a fantasy instead–they retreat into the imaginary world of religion, and undergo repetitive rituals and enter into tribal relationships to reinforce their preferred imaginary world until they’ve convinced themselves and each other that their shared fantasy is true.

    • adam

      “I think a better question for debate, which was hinted in the article is
      why some seem to “see” God or “experience” Him, and others do not.”

      Bob has good posts on delusions and delusional thinking.

      • Joe

        A better question is why do some people who claim to speak to god end up in a mental hospital, and others at the Vatican?

        • Justsmile

          And some leave all their comforts to serve others selflessly, compelled by compassion and humility. I’d be interested in knowing what actually led to what.

        • Joe

          Altruism. It’s not a mystery.

        • Susan

          And some leave all their comforts to serve others selflessly, compelled by compassion and humility.

          Some people do that. Belief in a god is not necessary and clearly not sufficient for this.

          It has nothing to do with the question of a deity’s existence.

        • MNb

          Psychology will tell you, so if you want an answer you’re at the wrong blog.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Compassion and humility, of course. Both are evolutionarily advantageous to humanity or they’d have been bred out.

          Some people feel them more strongly than others.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or the Whitehouse for that matter.

        • Joe

          They’re starting to find it harder to get in there, fortunately.

        • adam
        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh, lot’s of those who claim to hear God get institutionalised too.

          By coincidence, one such moonbeam has just been on the national news here today.

          At his [Peter Sutecliffe’s] trial in 1981, he pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of murder, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, and claimed that he had heard the voice of God telling him to kill people. The judge dismissed this defence and insisted that the case be heard by a jury, who found him guilty on all 13 counts of murder.

          https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/aug/12/yorkshire-ripper-to-be-sent-to-mainstream-prison

          There’s irony for you right there. How ta fuck can people make a judgement on such a claim?

          Abraham, Moses, Mohamad and Dubya Bush to name but a few, hear God telling them to kill people…that’s perfectly acceptable, laudable even. Religious people are fucked up in the head with their rationalisation of this muck…just look at the pretzelmania apologetic antics of Luke Breuer to see that shite in action.

    • MNb

      “There are many folks to whom God isn’t hidden at all.”
      Hence there also are many folks to whom god is hidden indeed.

      “why some seem to”
      Self-delusion.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      I don’t believe your last category exists…I’d need both stats and examples.

    • Philmonomer

      There are many folks to whom God isn’t hidden at all. I think a better
      question for debate, which was hinted in the article is why some seem to
      “see” God or “experience” Him, and others do not.

      There are a couple blog posts on this website about “The Atheist Prayer Experiment.” You may find them interesting.

      • Do you mean God isn’t a vending machine—put prayer in, get regrown limb out?

        • Philmonomer

          ??? That doesn’t seem relevant, as I think we are talking about divine hiddeness, and not the relationship of prayers to miracles.

        • Nevermind, I misremembered. The Atheist Prayer Experiment is very different from just about every other way that I’ve seen atheists talk about prayer. It’s very interesting that 2 of the 51 people who responded and participated in the experiment became believers.

        • adam

          Oh, the awesome power of your ‘God’

          49 more people to torture mercilessly for ETERNITY

          But being all-knowing it knew that even before it ‘created’ them.

          You go girl!

        • Philmonomer

          What conclusions do you draw from it?

        • adam

          “What conclusions do you draw from it?”

          How low to set the bar for his “God”

        • Ignorant Amos

          I had to do a double-take at Luke’s comment too.

          It’s very interesting that 2 of the 51 people who responded and participated in the experiment became believers.

          No, what would be very interesting is if 51 of the 51 people who took part in the experiment had become believers. Omnipotence and perfection not working the way it should do I guess.

        • adam

          It is time we all admit, Luke included that Luke’s “God” has exactly as much POWER as Luke does.

        • Philmonomer

          Heck, I’d even take 49 of 51.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Of course, I’d think about that too…but then I’m far from all-powerful and the epitome of perfection, nor do I claim to be. Not so much for YahwehJesus though.

        • epeeist

          So the 2 out of 51 in a small study is “interesting” but one can draw approximately no conclusions from the study.

          There would seem to be a tension between these two positions don’t you think?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed, not just “interesting”, but “very interesting”…but no response as to why it is “very interesting” so one must see ones own reasons as to why, in a study where Luke claims no conclusions can be drawn, nevertheless, the issue that there was two alleged converts out of 51, is indeed “very interesting”…isn’t that a conclusion being drawn from the study? Perhaps not.

        • Kodie

          Maybe if 51 participants in the APP prayed for a month at a time, at a rate of 2 converts per month, all of them would convert in a little over 2 years of prayer. It’s not easy, you just have to keep at it!

        • Scientifically, one can draw approximately no conclusions from such a study. And given that I will be held to scientific standards by you or others on CE

        • Philmonomer

          I agree that one cannot draw any scientific conclusions from it. Why do you find it interesting that 2 of the 51 people became believers?

        • Jack Baynes

          Despite what the gospels claim, no.

        • Rt1583

          This really does happen all the time. The only reason no one knows about it is because of the devilishly prohibitive non-disclosure agreements.

    • Jack Baynes

      There are many folks to whom God isn’t hidden at all.

      But strangely, they can’t agree on much about him.

    • Thanks for the suggestion.

    • Ignorant Amos
    • Kodie

      It’s called the power of suggestion. As intelligent as humans may have the capacity to be, being gullible to marketing that appeals to their ego or threatens them with an unwelcome outcome for choosing an alternative is a major human superpower. It’s the same way wrinkle cream is sold!

      • Ignorant Amos

        My daughter is making a tidy sum from selling Juice Plus products.

  • this is a good resource.

  • Michael

    It’s always odd how apparently they’re not concerned by what the Bible itself says. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.” (James 2:19) It can’t get more obvious than that.

    • Sophia Sadek

      Holey shuddering demons, Batman!

  • wtfwjtd

    “If it is too obvious to us that God exists and that he really will judge us, then people will respond to him and behave morally out of self-preservation.”

    If the Christian God were real, it’s a safe bet that he’d be doing a face palm when his claimed followers say things like this. It’s like they’re going out of their way to make up stuff just to make him look bad.

    • Shadowbelle

      “people will respond to him and behave morally out of self-preservation”

      I’m missing the part where this is different from the way many Christians already respond to Him (and promote their belief to others).

      • adam

        “I’m missing the part where this is different from the way many
        Christians already respond to Him (and promote their belief to others).”

        Because almost all christians have different morals than the God they worship:

        • Just Plain Phil

          The Bible also says that we are to have judges and witnesses. Deuteronomy 16:18-20. Deuteronomy 17:6.

          No judge in the land today would do this, and very few of the progressive left would bear witnesses against them. If I did it myself, it would be murder.

        • adam

          ” If I did it myself, it would be murder.”

          Yes, doing what the God in the Bible commands do be done, is monsterous.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fb4831e1694c2ba934736efcb24fc7f67501a3f169ecaeac7e1a8fd31de3d3f6.png

        • Phillip Evans

          You can not “buy” that which is not for “sale”.
          Serving as a bondman in a rich man’s house is infinitely better than living under a bridge by the freeway.
          Or you can just hand them dollar bills while you’re driving by. Or laugh at them. Or say, “Gee, that’s a shame.” Nothing monstrous about that.
          “they shall be your bondmen for ever” – pretty good job security. What are you doing for them, besides posting snotty comments on a discussion board?

        • adam

          “What are you doing for them, besides posting snotty comments on a discussion board?”

          You mean exposing people like you misrepresenting slavery?

        • Ignorant Amos

          The feckin’ ignorant rhubarb isn’t rescued by the word “bondservant” in any case.

          Context is everything. And the context in the bible is that of a slave as we commonly understand the word. The bible writers and translators knew it too. It was no big deal because owning slaves was no big deal relative to the times. All nations did it. Had the Hebrews had one of those laws that said owning people was bad, they’d be the exception to the rule. They didn’t, so no omni compassionate YahwehJesus existed. This just sticks in the craw of the reigidiots who become pretzelmanis contortionists trying to weasel their way out of owning their not-so-good-book warts ‘n all.

          Hebrew….ebhedh

          https://www.studylight.org/language-studies/hebrew-thoughts.html?article=888&print=yes

          Greek….doulos

          http://biblehub.com/greek/1401.htm

          bondservant

          Appears only once in the King James Version (Leviticus 25:39) where it translates `ebhedh, “a slave”: “Thou shalt not cause him to render the service of a bondservant” or slave. the Revised Version (British and American) frequently uses bondservant (doulos) instead of the word “servant” of the King James Version (John 8:34,35; 1 Corinthians 7:21; Galatians 4:7).

          The whole thing must be an embarrassment to all the religious duddley-do-rights.

        • adam

          “The whole thing must be an embarrassment to all the religious duddley-do-rights.”

          No just typical Apologetics:
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/15ca0861e39343c39684a19ac9ceddd9534f334c6757b32dc5e2772146b00297.jpg

        • adam

          “Serving as a bondman in a rich man’s house is infinitely better than living under a bridge by the freeway.”

          So owning another person AS PROPERTY, as well as their children to be sold off AS PROPERTY, is not monsterous to you?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a18a3237d360e002dbdd901e4a3f5688a3463b7d939dbc595090ceadb5ae4faa.png

        • Phillip Evans

          You cannot “purchase” that which is not for “sale”.
          Serving as the bondman in a rich man’s house is better than living under the freeway.
          Of course, you could just hand them dollar bills and feel pity for them. Nothing monstrous about that.
          “they shall be your bondmen for ever” – pretty good job security. What are you doing for them, besides posting snotty comments on a discussion board?
          Now, I’m going to tell you what I told the other Nuthin’ Muffin, I am only debating the mods / writers from now on. At least they have an inkling of intelligence.

        • adam

          Not talking ‘bondman’ but SLAVES.

          “I am only debating the mods / writers from now on. At least they have an inkling of intelligence.”

          Well you better skip anyone who understands the dictionary then, apparanty you dont

        • Phillip Evans

          KJV Leviticus 25:44 – “bondman” – `ebed eh’-bed from 5647; a servant:–X bondage, bondman, (bond-)servant, (man-)servant. see HEBREW for 05647

          “bondmaid” – 519 ‘amah aw-maw’ apparently a primitive word; a maid-servant OR female slave:–(hand-)bondmaid(-woman), maid(-servant).

          Latin Vulgate: “servus et ancilla sint vobis de nationibus quae in circuitu vestro sunt” = “your bondmen, and your bondwomen, be of the nations that are round about you, they shall”

          An English translation of the Greek Septuagint: “And whatever number of men servants and maid servants”

          Now, shut up.

        • adam

          Definition of slave Merriam Webster

          1

          : a person held in servitude as the chattel of another

          Now, YOU shut up.

        • Phillip Evans

          Why would you consult Mirriam Webster for the definition of “slave” when I showed you from three languages that it is “bondservant”? Can’t read? Got crap in your brain?

        • I can read. Here’s what God says in the NET Bible:

          “‘As for your male and female slaves 82 who may belong to you – you may buy male and female slaves from the nations all around you. 83 25:45 Also you may buy slaves 84 from the children of the foreigners who reside with you, and from their families that are 85 with you, whom they have fathered in your land, they may become your property. 25:46 You may give them as inheritance to your children after you to possess as property. You may enslave them perpetually. However, as for your brothers the Israelites, no man may rule over his brother harshly. 86

          Look it up yourself:
          https://net.bible.org/#!bible/Leviticus+25:37

          There is no quibbling over words; they’re quite happy to call them “slaves.”

        • Phillip Evans

          They’re entitled to get it wrong.

        • Phillip Evans

          If I appear to be posting multiple times, my apologies. Disqus (Digust) appears to enjoy taking it’s time keeping things updated.

        • Kodie

          Do you realize what a terrible person you are? If you’re a Christian, who would want to be a Christian?

        • Phillip Evans

          Why look up “slave” when I’ve shown you from three different languages that it is “bondservant”? Can’t read? Got crap in your brain?

        • Phillip Evans

          Why look up the word “slave” when I have shown you from three different languages that the word is “bondservant”?

          That’s like looking up the word “elephant” to find out what a “giraffe” is.

          You can’t possibly be that foolish… or can you?

        • Phillip Evans

          Leviticus 25:44

          KJV – Bondmen – 5650 `ebed eh’-bed from 5647; a servant:–X bondage, bondman, (bond-)servant, (man-)servant. see HEBREW for 05647

          Bondmaids – 519 ‘amah aw-maw’ apparently a primitive word; a maid-servant OR female slave:–(hand-)bondmaid(-woman), maid(-servant).

          Latin Vulgate“servus et ancilla sint vobis de nationibus quae in circuitu vestro sunt” = “your bondmen, and your bondwomen, be of the nations that are round about you, they shall”

          An English translation of the Greek Septuagint – “And whatever number of men servants and maid servants…

          Now, shut up.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I see the prick pulled that age old Christian tradition of cherry picking with his three language translation of the words for slave/bondservant?

          Liars for YahwehJesus gonna lie…pious fraud indeed.

        • adam

          “Liars for YahwehJesus gonna lie…pious fraud indeed.”

          Par for the course of Apologetics.

        • adam

          “You cannot “purchase” that which is not for “sale”.”

          ” At least they have an inkling of intelligence.”

          I assure that Bob understands slavery and the bible.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/13282502375d3da24cf6b663f813609c25b2ff6c1bdd9b750a6d095cf6c73c07.jpg

        • adam

          “”they shall be your bondmen for ever” – pretty good job security. ”

          Not really

          When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that
          the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the
          slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the
          slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

        • Rudy R

          Unfortunately, the pretty good job security comes with the potential of receiving a beating, short of death.

          Exodus 21:20 Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21:21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

          Dude, crawl back under the rock you came from. You know, the same rock Roy Moore lives under.

  • Without Malice

    It’s well that God stays hidden; it seems every time he shows up lots of people die. I mean, just look at the bible; the guy never comes around to say, “Hey, good work people. For your efforts I’m going to have all you livestock and agriculture increase three fold.” Nope, it’s always to bring a plague, or an invasion, or some natural disaster. And look at the Book of Revelation, good heavens, talk about shit hitting the fan in a major way upon the return of Jesus meek and mild. One would think that an all-knowing and all-powerful and supposedly all-benevolent being could come up with something better.

    • Sophia Sadek

      You assume that Yahweh is the same as the material Creator of the flat and immobile Earth.

    • MNb

      Yeah, in the 21st Century a teacher like that would get fired the first day at most schools.

      • Without Malice

        Most of the teachings of Jesus aren’t worth paying attention to. The good ones, like the golden rule, were around long before he came along.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Golden Rule is reasonable, the Platinum Rule is better…

          The Golden Rule is to treat others as you want to be treated, but the Platinum Rule understands and accommodates for the fact that not everyone wants to be treated the same way. It says that we should treat people how they want to be treated, regardless of how we might personally want to be treated in similar situations.

          The Platinum Rule is a much more empathetic, sensitive moral guideline than its predecessor, the Golden Rule, which ignores the wishes and preferences of the recipients of the behaviour in favor of imposing the giver’s preferences onto others in a misguided attempt at kindness.

          If one is going to follow such rules that is of course. One wonder’s why YahwehJesus never came up with that rule.

  • On so many levels this Christian view is problematic.

    1. It presupposes libertarian free will, which we have no evidence for and which is logically incoherent.

    2. It complains about the ill effects of god making himself plain to people, yet the Bible asserts god has made himself plain to all people.

    3. Many people already believe in god merely to avoid the punishment they think will happen if they don’t even given the fact god is hidden.

    It makes no sense.

  • Steven Smith

    The most disqualifying aspect of Christianity is the concept of a “just and loving God” throwing the disobedient into an everlasting furnace for all eternity. This is absurd in the extreme. This also was not and is not the accepted doctrine of all who call themselves Christian. Some harbor other ideas. However, the mainstream view is more politically advantageous.

    • Ignorant Amos

      The new Catholic approach seems to be that Hell is where ya get sent when God has fallen out with ya…for an eternity.

      Given the choice, if I must go somewhere for an eternity, that sounds a far superior prospect than the alternative.

    • Christians can imagine whatever they want, of course. But it’s hard to get away from a hellish version of the afterlife for people like me when the Bible has the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

      • What do you imagine Jesus Christ was trying to teach with that parable? I’d love to compare with what other Christians have described. Although, I probably won’t just look at Christians who “imagine whatever they want”. 🙂

        • I don’t know what the main point was, but a subsidiary point was: hell is hellish.

        • Ok, I do like that answer. It does.

          I’ve read and listened to a lot of interesting takes. One I found interesting is that the rich man is still trying to get people to follow his orders. And that Lazarus was given a name, which wasn’t the case for most characters in his parables.

  • Shadowbelle

    ‘…many turned into mindless robots who said nothing but, “I … love … Jesus”? ‘

    “Im … ho … tep … Im … ho … tep …”
    Sorry, just re-watching _The Mummy_. Couldn’t resist.

  • ravitchn

    The only religious belief that is justified is belief in a Creator God, the god of Deism. This God does not hear prayer, does not get involved in human affairs, has no son, and is far away in time and place. The bible’s god is the product of human invention and not very consistent invention. Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet who expected, wrongly, the imminent coming of a godly kingdom. He was just a man. His teachings, so far as we can find them authentic, are wholly Judaic, some practical some not so much. Christianity in any of its forms is either based on a terrible misunderstanding, on total ignorance or wish fulfillment, or on basic fraud perpetrated by St. Paul and the gospel writers.

    • Ignorant Amos

      Glad to see you are up to speed…welcome in.

    • MNb

      “a Creator God”
      Nope, that’s not justified either. The Big Bang (understood as an act of Creation) was a human affair because without that Big Bang there wouldn’t be humans around to dicuss that Creator God.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Am pretty okay with anyone who want’s to say deist god…all it is to me is a placeholder name for pre-Planck epoch.

        Dawkins sums it up sufficiently for me…though a know you are not much of a fan…

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgrEvEM_j1o

        • Susan

          all it is to me is a placeholder name for pre-Planck epoch.

          Then, why call it a god?

        • Ignorant Amos

          To be honest I don’t know anyone who is actually a deist.

          Perhaps those that are deist can’t cast off the hankering to anthropomorphise what I know will be the science of physics.

          A bit like Einstein.

          It’s just that whenever the topic comes up I think a rose by any other name smells just as sweet. If it floats another persons boat to do so and it harms me or mine none, which the idea doesn’t, then they can whack away til their nose bleeds with whatever label. Why they wish to is indeed baffling without sufficient explanation, but whateva.

        • adam

          It is still the God of Gap argument.

          It is just that the gaps are so so so small there is no where to but the bible God, but their Hyperactive Agency Detection wont allow them to see that they have been self-deluded.

        • MNb

          Worse – I am a bad listener (even in Dutch as my female counterpart will confirm) and have serious trouble understanding him.
          Is there a transcript around?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I will endeavour to source such….or will copy out from TGD…not just now though, am waiting on a taxi as am on my way out to indulge in a bit of hedonism.

        • MNb

          Have fun and as for the transcript: take your time.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not a transcript of the video, but the relative quote from TGD…

          “Let us remind ourselves of the terminology. A theist believes in a supernatural intelligence who, in addition to his main work of creating the universe in the first place, is still around to oversee and influence the subsequent fate of his initial creation. In many theistic belief systems, the deity is intimately involved in human affairs. He answers prayers; forgives or punishes sins; intervenes in the world by performing miracles; frets about good and bad deeds, and knows when we do them (or even think about doing them). A deist, too, believes in a supernatural intelligence, but one whose activities were confined to setting up the laws that govern the universe in the first place. The deist God never intervenes thereafter, and certainly has no specific interest in human affairs. Pantheists don’t believe in a supernatural God at all, but use the word God as a non-supernatural synonym for Nature, or for the Universe, or for the lawfulness that governs its workings. Deists differ from theists in that their God does not answer prayers, is not interested in sins or confessions, does not read our thoughts and does not intervene with capricious miracles. Deists differ from pantheists in that the deist God is some kind of cosmic intelligence, rather than the pantheist’s metaphoric or poetic synonym for the laws of the universe. Pantheism is sexed-up atheism. Deism is watered-down theism.”

          Richard Dawkins ~ The God Delusion

          From the glossary of the World Union of Deists, their definition of Deism…

          “Deism is the recognition of a universal creative force greater than that demonstrated by mankind, supported by personal observation of laws and designs in nature and the universe, perpetuated and validated by the innate ability of human reason coupled with the rejection of claims made by individuals and organized religions of having received special divine revelation.”

          http://www.deism.com/deism_defined.htm

        • MNb

          Those are excellent definitions – crystal clear, disambiguous with lots of discriminatory power – but I’d be interested in the reasons Dawkins is not a deist.
          Like I implied above I don’t see any substantial difference between the Creator God as mentioned by Ravitchn and the one who continues to perform miracles (ie intervene in the natural reality he set up) after that Act of Creation, which in my eyes also qualifies as a miracle. I wonder if Dawkins has anything to say regarding this.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Atheist author and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins says the best argument for God he’s ever had has to do with a deistic God as the fine-tuner of the universe.

          Dawkins visited Google’s office in Kirkland, Washington, to discuss his book, Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science, after which he took a couple of readers’ questions. He was asked in a video published on Monday what is the best argument in favor of God and the best argument against evolution that he has heard.

          Dawkins prefaced his answer by making it clear that he is not “in any sense admitting that there is a good argument,” and insisted that “there is no decent argument for the existence of deities.”

          He said, however, that the best argument he has heard of concerns a “deistic God, who had something to do with the fine tuning of the universe.”

          “It’s still a very, very bad argument, but it’s the best one going,” he added, noting that a major problem with the argument is that it leaves unexplained where the fine tuner came from.

        • a major problem with the argument is that it leaves unexplained where the fine tuner came from.

          Another is that the well-evidence theory of Inflation predicts the multiverse. Checkmate, apologists.

        • MNb

          Thanks.

      • Michael Neville

        The anthropomorphic principle raises its head.

    • Sastra

      ravitchn wrote:

      The only religious belief that is justified is belief in a Creator God, the god of Deism.

      To paraphrase Richard Dawkins, minds come at the end of a long series of evolution — it’s inconsistent to put one at the beginning of the universe. A cause of the universe which has nothing mental about it at all — no goals, no thoughts, no values, no awareness — isn’t going to qualify even as a deistic god.

      Deism is less bothersome than other versions, though.

      • Kodie

        I gave up deism as well, because I wondered, if there was a god who started it all and walked off, why would he do that. Regular gods always have reasons and purposes for doing things, but creating a world or a universe consciously… I think it would have to have a reason too. I’ve granted a few possible reasons, such as experimentation, in the meantime, but it tends to take away on the omnipotent part.

        I mean, a human can create a closed system and watch over it for a number of years, or abandon it for many years, without touching it, and have enough power to seem omnipotent to the thing, but humans aren’t omnipotent. To the extent that theists believe god is omnipotent but simply chooses not to exercise his powers whenever benevolent interference would be welcome and beyond human power, they describe him as more or less as a person who mostly minds their own business and contributes when they can, as little or as much as they choose to, you have to think if being “omnipotent” to the lowly human just means being able to make it rain, or starting the universe and maybe building some animals and people from his mind, but not turning all the bullets to feathers, and making abortion impossible. And if it walked away, would it still be omniscient, watching on monitors, getting newsletters every once in a while, or it would not know or care, and where is it, and does it just poof universes out because he’s addicted to burritos? Then why make it in the first place.. that’s where I broke deism.

        I mean, even for deism, one starts to create scenarios for it. It doesn’t make sense, and reasoning it out creates the same kinds of traps and holes that regular theism creates.

        • MR

          And one of my big problems with deism is that if such were the case, we would have no access to even know about such a god. So, then, where does our speculation about a deistic god even come from if we have zero access? It’s simply pure speculation. Obviously, what we’re doing is just trying to cling to and reconcile a belief in our invented gods that retains some kind of coherence. So, we end up stripping our invented gods of all the inconsistencies, uncomfortable bits and contradictions, and come up with a god that is unreachable and unknowable. And yet, all we’ve done is invent a god that, by definition, we have no access to! Not even to know! I mean, it’s just stupid to even speculate about! And even if such a god did exist, so what!? He doesn’t want or care for us to know him, and knowing about him makes absolutely no difference whatsoever!

          [minor addition]

        • Kodie

          When I wondered about it, I got beyond unknowable detachment of “well, maybe god exists if I take away all the ways the stories are incoherent with reality” as holding onto a philosophical possibility that god exists. I wondered why a god would go creating stuff only to walk off, have no interest in his project, and be inaccessible. It’s not so much that it makes no difference either way, it’s that it’s just made up too. It’s stripping a mythological god of all reason or purpose or interest for doing anything, and having him intentionally do it anyway. Still incoherent.

        • TheNuszAbides

          if creation is as much ‘scratching an itch’ as evolution seems to have privileged sexual reproduction, then Deo would more or less be made in our image. it may not have come up with any more ‘rationale’ for life, surviving, propagating, investigating and inventing than we already have.

        • Michael Neville

          A god that doesn’t manifest itself in any way is equivalent to no god.

    • Michael Neville

      It’s estimated there are over 150 billion galaxies in the observable universe and at least 20 times more than that outside the observable universe. Trying to fit the creator of trillions of stars and planets with a bronze age tribal god who helps one find their car keys and worries about teenagers masturbating just doesn’t work.

      Hubble Ultra Deepfield.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Hold on a mo….but weez speshul, weez r…presshiousess..rn’t weez?.

        • Michael Neville
        • Ignorant Amos

          Are ya sure?

        • Michael Neville

          Would I lie to you?

          Actually I would but not about something important like you not being the center (or centre if you prefer) of the universe.

        • Ignorant Amos

          In that case…thanks for the LOCREP.

        • Michael Neville

          The funny thing is that, of all the regulars on this blog, you and I are probably the only ones who know what a LOCREP is.

        • Susan
        • Michael Neville

          IA and I are the only ones here with a military background. LOCREP, which means location report, is a standard NATO term.

        • TheNuszAbides

          my first guess was ‘somehow similar to sitrep’, but

          i only have a gamer/actor’s depth-sense of authentic verbiage.

  • mz

    “The Wintery Knight blog cites Prof. Michael Murray, who argues that God’s hands are tied. He just can’t reveal too much:”

    A poor excuse for an omnipotent being.

    “God places a higher value on people having the free will to respond to him”

    Sounds an awful lot like an ad hoc after the fact rationalization.

    • MNb

      It also degrades divine perfection.

      “God places a higher value on people having the free will to respond to him.”
      If I can think of a way for god to make his existence clear without violating having that free will then god should be able as well.
      And I can.
      Plus I’d like to know why that god suddenly didn’t place such a high value on Elisabeth Fritzl’s free will when she was locked in her basement to be raped by her father two, three times a week.

      • Kodie

        It also degrades divine perfection.

        If god were real, and everyone agreed he was real, then tons of Christians would have no choice but to be really disappointed in him. Being hidden means they get to be in on a secret, the secret delusion shared by millions, that if you don’t feel, they get to judge you for being stubborn and expecting too much from god, etc. If he were open about his existence, they couldn’t have that. They couldn’t have the lame excuses (they could, but wouldn’t be as credible, generally). They couldn’t dedicate their whole lives to the theological arts of making shit up. They couldn’t carry on with hypocrisy and inconsistency and incoherence. We could all just go to the god, ask him what to do, listen what he says, and do it. They’d all know for sure if we’re supposed to hate gay people and bully them out of society or not. They’d have to live with the real answer, or we all would. We wouldn’t have as many scandals of these judgmental horseshit artists breaking their own laws, they’d know god can follow them into the men’s room and watch, and that they’re not fooling anyone that counts.

        Nobody really wants that, even the religious. They love their made-up hell stories the most, and think threatening other people with those stories without an actual god makes it more potent. With god, we could just ask, he could just smite them, he might just smite them.

        It doesn’t degrade divine perfection – it degrades the fantasy of perfection and forces them to admit that a god exists they might not want either.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yip!

          It would be something like they’re suddenly having to admit the Emperor was completely stark buck naked and then immediately getting embarrassed and annoyed with themselves about being such silly fuckwits for all the compliments they had made on how beautifully exquisite he looked in such expensive and well fitting apparel. Hard medicine to swallow.

      • Pofarmer

        Yep, it seems like the free will of the aggressor is always the most important.

      • mz

        Exactly.

        The irony is that it’s not only you (and god) that can:

        “…think of a way for god to make his existence clear without violating having that free will ”

        but they can as well. They don’t even have to think. It’s all laid out in their story book. Exodus; god reveals itself to the Egyptians through miracles just as it reveals itself to the Israelites and yet the Egyptians continue to believe in their own gods. Jesus’ followers and the Romans. i’m sure there are other examples. All of which is evidence for the fact that these are propaganda stories. To regard them as anything remotely resembling historical narrative is hopelessly naive.

  • Regarding the free will defense of divine hiddenness, James 2:19:

    You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

    Done.

  • Rt1583

    “and behave morally out of self-preservation.”

    Isn’t that exactly what they’re doing anyway?

    • Jack Baynes

      Sometimes how they behave out of self-preservation isn’t moral.

      • TheNuszAbides

        cue the ‘oh, we’re all sinners’ derail.

  • Whoever has the best argument, wins in their own mind. You gotta love bloggers! ❤︎ Funny stuff.

    • Susan

      Funny stuff.

      So, nothing to contribute?

      • I just did. Those who agree, will agree. Those who do not, will not. All the faith channels demonstrate people are like that. This one included. 😉

        • Susan

          I just did.

          You ignored the article completely.

          Those who agree, will agree. Those who do not, will not.

          Some people are willing to change their minds based on evidence.

          For instance, many of the atheists here used to be theists.

          That some people believe what they believe and that is all there is to it doesn’t mean that all people are like that.

          Since you’ve decided to drop by, why not address the article?

        • I did. I gave an opinion. There are theists who used to be atheists on here, too. The evidence doesn’t take us all to the same conclusion. I am one of those former atheists. Anyway, who are you? Do you post here a lot?

        • Susan

          I am one of those former atheists.

          Then, apparently you changed your mind. Your original comment seems kind of pointless.

          who are you?

          Susan.

          Do you post here a lot?

          More than some. Not as often as others.

          So, did you read the article?

        • The blogger’s posting? Yes. I read his opinions. He certainly put some time into it.

        • Susan

          He certainly put some time into it.

          Yep.

          So if that’s all you’ve got, I guess you’re done here?

          Or did you just feel like wasting some time?

        • You engaged me. If you are done, ok. Thanks for chatting. Have a good day.

        • Susan

          You engaged me.

          You showed up and posted under an article in a public forum. You engaged.

          If you are done, ok.

          You don’t seem interested in engaging in the subject. I would be happy to discuss the subject.

        • There are other people who posted in a manner like I have. They chose to agree. You aren’t concerned about them?

        • Susan

          I’m not going through pages and pages of Disqus comments to find what you’re alluding to.

          Glancing down this page, everyone seems to be addressing the subject on some level.

          What are you doing here? Seriously? I am not asking you to leave. I’m asking you to involve yourself in an actual discussion.

          If you’re not interested in doing that, why bother posting at all?

        • 🙂 Thanks for the tips.

        • Susan

          If you won’t look at the evidence, that’s not my problem.

          It might just be a Disqus glitch but the last comment you sent (many hours ago) only thanked me for the tips and didn’t include the suggestion that I won’t look at the evidence.

          Where did you get the impression I won’t look at evidence? If you’d like to provide some, I’d be happy to look at it.

          I thought you’d never ask.

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

        • Pofarmer

          Statistically, the trend tends to go one way. So, what convinced you?

        • What statistics say that?

          I gained knowledge of an intelligence/power/source of life that proved itself to be greater than my best arguments in support of atheism/philosophical materialism. I had to admit I was on a dead end.

          I am now a seeker of that reality. It turns out seeking humility and honesty is the way. Let me ask you, have you done any thorough personal or private searches of yourself? And have you ever exposed those personal and private things to another human being? All of it.

        • Kaiser

          “I gained knowledge of an intelligence/power/source of life”

          ^^^^ bet this “source” has done nothing for the problems in your life.

        • Pofarmer

          how did you gain this “knowledge”?

    • adam

      “Whoever has the best argument, wins in their own mind. ”

      Yes, I guess that MUST be the reason for all this technology that exists.

      • I embrace technology and want it to be used for good. I’ve made a good living mastering it. It doesn’t belong to anyone. It certainly does better with a variety of people from different perspectives contributing to it.

    • We needn’t just win in our own minds. We win from an objective standpoint as well. But perhaps you see a point on which the argument fails?

  • ” hell awaits those who don’t know him”

    Considering how much of Christianity doesn’t believe this, or believe it as stated, this is more an argument against some kinds of Protestantism. (Which is a pretty standard thing to do on an atheist site.)

    • Conservative Protestantism is a primary target since they’re the source of most of what is caustic in religion in America today.

      But that’s not to ignore your point. Expand on this. Tell me what other versions of Christianity say about hell. I’m having a hard time seeing much room to honestly get away from this problem of hell given, for example, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Hell has been getting a makeover….

        But now the Catholic authorities in Rome have presented a strikingly different (and seemingly modern) picture of eternal damnation.

        By their account, hell is best understood as the condition of total alienation from all that is good, hopeful and loving in the world. What’s more, this condition is chosen by the damned themselves, the ultimate exercise of free will, not a punishment engineered by God.

        Hell ”is not a ‘place’ but a ‘state,’ a person’s ‘state of being,’ in which a person suffers from the deprivation of God,” declared La Civilta Cattolica, an influential Jesuit magazine based in Rome and closely tied to the Vatican, in a long editorial in July.

        http://www.nytimes.com/1999/09/18/arts/hell-getting-makeover-catholics-jesuits-call-it-painful-state-but-not-sulfurous.html?pagewanted=all

        The old version was getting bad for business don’t ya know?

        • I’m trying to figure out how honest this version of hell is. Cuz it seems completely dishonest.

          Those in “hell” choose to be there. So that’s their preferred place to be, of all possible afterlives? Doesn’t that sound like a pretty good thing? What am I missing here?

          And I continue to return to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man obviously went to the Bad Place (assuming there are only 2 places), and he was very, very unhappy to be there. So how does “hell” (deliberate separation from God) fit in here? The rich man would very clearly love to not be where he was.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m trying to figure out how honest this version of hell is. Cuz it seems completely dishonest.

          Of course…what about Christianity has ever been honest?

          Those in “hell” choose to be there. So that’s their preferred place to be, of all possible afterlives? Doesn’t that sound like a pretty good thing? What am I missing here?

          Anno…the lack of logic in such muddle headedness is flabbergasting. You needed to be at Strange Notions a few years back to witness the wishy-washy liberal Catholics pretzelmania contortions in trying to square that circle…hilarious.

          And I continue to return to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man obviously went to the Bad Place (assuming there are only 2 places), and he was very, very unhappy to be there.

          Enter the many interpretations apologetics.

          So how does “hell” (deliberate separation from God) fit in here? The rich man would very clearly love to not be where he was.

          To anyone with a working brain, it doesn’t. But that’s religion for ya, adapt or die. Who cares what sense it makes when it’s phrased in riddles anyway? Most Catholics certainly don’t.

        • Greg G.

          God wasn’t mentioned as being where Lazarus and Abraham were either. Apparently their advantage was water.

        • Myna A.

          Well, if you have any confusion, you must take the ultimate test. The Dante’s Inferno test! http://www.4degreez.com/misc/dante-inferno-test.mv

          I, myself, am an inhabitant of Purgatory…oops, sorry, it was Limbo.

        • MNb

          Sixth Level of Hell – The City of Dis.
          I always maintained I’m not a nice guy.

        • My test results: I’m either with the Virtuous Non-Believers or the Heretics. Sounds about right.

        • Michael Neville

          I got the City of Dis with the rest of the heretics.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Am a level 5…wrathful and gloomy…am a bit disappointed with that.

          A few dubious questions in their along the lines of the “do you still beat your wife”, for example, “Do you repent for your sins?”, either response admits the existence of sins and the fact that you’ve sinned.

        • MNb

          “hell is best understood as the condition of total alienation from all that is good, hopeful and loving in the world.”
          Now they just should add

          “plus total alienation from all that is evil, hopeless and loveless in the world”
          and they can sign me in.

        • TheNuszAbides

          By their [carefully reworded for the umpteenth time] account, hell is best understood as the condition of total
          alienation from all that is good, hopeful and loving in the world.

          let me guess … they only castigate atheists for going with ‘worse understood’ options.

          also, small wonder they have to change tack the less the average parishioner has nasty/brutish/short experience to extrapolate from while abstracting afterlife stress.

      • It’s more the part that everyone who doesn’t know Jesus goes to Hell that I was objecting to. Catholics have “invincible ignorance” and, at times, limbo. Orthodox have some belief that, I think, John the Baptist appears to the dying non-Christians. Mormons, granted many don’t count them as Christian, borderline on not believing in Hell at all. But when it comes to the non-believers we get posthumously baptized which, I think, means a Mormon is supposed to come knocking on my door in the afterlife. (Being Catholic I might go “Guy’s this is Purgatory what is the point?” Although then that might lead to an argument whether it’s Purgatory or “Soul Prison”, or whatever term they use, and what the differences are. But I’ve never met my Mormon distant cousins so whatever.)

        But I do admit the Bible does seem to imply Hell as a fiery torment rather than it is as a place of separation. The notion of “outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth” could fit a “separation” but might seem a hostile one. And as a Catholic the saintly “visions of Hell” were torment not being stuck in a lonely room playing solitaire.

        Not sure I have all the answers there, but “Fiery torment for nonbelievers” I don’t think necessarily follows from the Lazarus story. Lazarus goes to Hell for being cold and callous to the beggar. In the sheep and goats parable it’s about how the person treated those hungry, naked, homeless, and so forth. There are statements saying if you are not with Jesus you are against him, but there are also statements that if you are not against Jesus you’re with him.

        And as a Catholic the Bible is not our sole source of everything anyway. Plus a Dominican told me, I think, it is to be interpreted in terms of love of God and neighbor. (Orthodoxy isn’t Sola Scriptura either. “Liberal” Protestantism ostensibly is, in a way, but tends toward interpreting the Bible in light of modern knowledge or standards of humaneness. At times I think it’s basically just being a modern liberal person first and then trying to find a way to make the Bible support that.)

        • But I do admit the Bible does seem to imply Hell as a fiery torment rather than it is as a place of separation.

          OK. But to your point, what the Bible says and what believers believe don’t have to line up. Unfortunately.

          “Fiery torment for nonbelievers” I don’t think necessarily follows from the Lazarus story. Lazarus goes to Hell for being cold and callous to the beggar.

          Fair enough—that’s yet another contradiction. You’ve got the whole question of whether you get punished for bad acts (perhaps the rich man; certainly the goats in the parable of the sheep and the goats, as you note). Christians elsewhere deny this and say that it’s faith alone, but then they’re stuck with a binary afterlife—the good place or the bad place. And if the rich man is in the bad place, there’s the problem. It’s a hellish place no one wants to be in.

          There are statements saying if you are not with Jesus you are against him, but there are also statements that if you are not against Jesus you’re with him.

          And to make it more complicated, Romans 5:19 makes clear that everyone is saved. Paul says that you didn’t opt in to get Adam’s sin, so you don’t need to opt in to get Jesus’s salvation.

        • I just don’t like this tendency to say “Christians say X” (like sola fide or sola scriptura) when what you mean is a specific kind of Protestantism.

          We’re older than they are. (And the Orthodox and the Copts and the Assyrians) Why do they get to define what’s Christian?

        • Greg G.

          I just don’t like this tendency to say “Christians say X”

          Bob specified “Christians elsewhere” so he obviously did not mean “all Christians.”

          The saying should be understood as “Some Christians say X” rather than “All Christians say X.” There are few theological statements that all Christians agree on. That makes John 17:20-23 the biggest prayer failure ever. If Jesus’ prayer came true, we would be able to say “All Christians say X” without the fear of being contradicted.

        • I agree that Christianity is a big, contradictory tent. Just because one group believes X doesn’t mean they all do.

          It gets tiring to say, “OK, I know that not all Christians think this, so I’m focusing on this just to respond to those who do,” and I hope that that’s assumed.

          I agree that the RC are older. Luckily for you, they’re not the most obnoxious Christian in the US today (and those groups are often who I’m focused on).

        • Michael Neville

          Why do they get to define what’s Christian?

          Because they (they being them) have decided they are have the sole true Christianity, all other sects calling themselves Christians, including the Harlot of Babylon, are obviously not Christian. I once had a Pentecostal inform me and my Catholic brother that we were both damned because neither of us was Christian.

          We’re older than they are.

          So you’ve had more time to get it wrong.

        • Greg G.

          So you’ve had more time to get it wrong.

          Or maybe the Protestants are more advanced.

        • MNb

          Advanced in being wrong.

        • Michael Neville

          Or just wrong in a different way.

        • Ignorant Amos

          We’re older than they are.

          So what? By that logic you’re still wrong, because you’re not the oldest. Is that what you’re saying?

        • Greg G.

          “The Catholics have a pope. Protestants laugh at them, and yet the pope is capable of intellectual advancement. In addition to this, the pope is mortal, and the church cannot be afflicted with the same idiot forever. The Protestants have a book for a pope. The book cannot advance. Year after year, and century after century, the book remains as ignorant as ever.”
          Robert Green Ingersoll

        • MNb

          Any christian can define what’s christian afaIc. I’ll still argue that that christian is wrong.
          Are you a christian who believes in Hell? You’re wrong.
          Are you a christian who doesn’t believe in Hell? You’re still wrong – just for other reasons.

        • Jack Baynes

          “Christians say X” does not mean that all Christians say X.

          Just because you don’t believe what Protestants belief doesn’t mean that they aren’t Christians.

        • Kodie

          They’re interpreting the bible, like all Christians do. Jesus Christ clearly states in the bible, you have to believe in him to get to god. All the rest is whatever you want to believe it means.

        • Michael Neville

          The problem with not being sola scriptura is that not only do Catholics have professional Bible interpreters but, if the Bible doesn’t say what the Church wants it to say, then “ecclesial authority” pulls something out of their asses, often citing “tradition”. Tradition might be as long ago as the First Century or as recent as five minutes ago. Witness Pope Frank’s remarks about transexuals, a subject on which not only is the Bible silent but goes unremarked by the Doctors of the Church and other pre-21st Century theologians.

        • We don’t really see it that way, but I get how it could seem that way and I didn’t really come here to evangelize in any way.

          I just get annoyed at the tendency to say “I couldn’t be Christian because” and then the person says something that isn’t even true of most of the world’s Christians. Like back in Arkansas I knew a guy who said he couldn’t be Christian because he couldn’t give a public testimonial. To him Christianity meant a church where you give public testimonials. I’m not sure if even all Baptists do that let alone all Christians.

          Now if you mean the notion of Hell in general, in any form, I could see that. But “I couldn’t be Christian because I believe in the Big Bang Theory” or “I couldn’t be Christian because I can’t believe all the Arawak before Columbus went to Hell” or whatever you’re not really talking about some universal Christian teaching.

        • Michael Neville

          I’m confused about why you wrote the above post in reply to my post. I didn’t say anything about Hell so I have no idea why you’re complaining about concepts of Hell. I’m not opposed to making testimonials, my rejection of Christianity is for completely different reasons but again I didn’t write a word about the reasons for my atheism.

        • MNb

          AfaIc you can be a christian for any reason you prefer. I’ll still argue that you’re wrong.

        • Greg G.

          Lazarus goes to Hell for being cold and callous to the beggar.

          Nit: In Luke, Lazarus is the beggar. He is on the same side of the chasm as Abraham.

        • Oops, nice catch.

    • Michael Neville

      One of the problems with discussing Christianity with Christians is so many of you will say “oh, that’s not my Christianity, it’s those silly Christians over there who believe in that, my Christianity doesn’t have that belief.”

      • Ignorant Amos

        Peoples Front of Judea, or Judean Peoples Front?….Splitter!

      • Oh sure. But I do see people go “The Christians” when they mean a minority even of American Christians. I don’t think it’s that unreasonable to take the phrase “The Most Powerful Argument Against Christianity” as meaning “against Christianity” not “Against some stream of Christianity I find annoying.” If I titled something “The Most Powerful Argument Against Buddhism”, not something I’m sure I’d ever do, to follow the title with something specific to Theravada might be a bit of a “cheat.”

        And sure there might be no statement that is true of all forms of Christianity, but there are a few that are fairly universal and objectionable or annoying to atheism for one reason or other. I know many things believed in by both Orthodox and Catholics that are objectionable to many many people, even other Christians. Tomorrow is the Assumption or Dormition of Mary. I know of a Protestant who is educated and Ecumenical and wants both our faiths to abandon that belief. All Pre-Reformation churches, that I know of, deem Marriage a Sacrament and do not allow Same-sex marriage. That’s hugely objectionable to many many Americans. And specific to offense to atheism are, I assume, statements in the Nicene Creed might be objectionable to atheism and though there are Christians that reject the Nicene Creed I think it’s broadly accepted.

        • Kodie

          So you can provide evidence for Christianity that you subscribe to? You can provide topical evidence that god is not actually hidden, that’s not an easily explained emotional experience that you personally attribute to there being a god on the other end?

        • I’m not trying to evangelize or prove my religion to you. I think doing that here might be overly aggressive. So I’m not getting into the “why doesn’t God make his existence inarguably real?” question. (Although it makes sense.)

          I’m largely just talking about terminology and knowing what you are arguing against. I have defended Muslims, at times, when someone says things about Islam I feel are wrong. This doesn’t mean I’m going to provide evidence for Islam as I don’t believe in Islam and frankly I kind of don’t know that Muhammad was all that great a person. And on some level I think Islam is quite likely inspired by a mix of Jewish and Christian heresies.

        • Greg G.

          And on some level I think Islam is quite likely inspired by a mix of Jewish and Christian heresies.

          Whereas Christianity comes from a mix of Jewish heresies and Greek philosophy.

        • Yeah you may think that. That’s your right and all.

        • Greg G.

          Much of the New Testament parallels Philo who tried to reconcile Greek philosophy with Judaism and John 1:1-18 is about the Logos which reflects Philo. Paul makes several allusions to Plato in his epistles. Mark, the prime gospel, bases many pericopae on Homer.

          Throughout the pre-gospel epistles, there is a lot of adulation for Jesus but all their claims about Jesus are quotes and allusions to Old Testament passages. Paul claims he was finding “hidden mysteries” from the scriptures.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh, it’s a bit more than what Greg “thinks” I’m afraid to inform you.

          http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/art_midrash1.htm

          http://www.gospeltruth.net/gkphilo.htm

          Wallow in your own ignorance, that’s your right and all.

        • I guess that, how some guys I’ve never heard of have opinions, is intended to impress me. Okay?

          I’m aware many Early Christians were influenced by, or responding to, Platonism. Truth is Truth. If Platonists were correct on some things that can be noted. Atheists aren’t going to reject set theory just because Lutherans and Name-Worshiping Russian Christians had a lot to do with it. Or if they do that’s dumb. I also never denied that our understanding can clarify or develop.

          But Jesus, the son of God would be born in fairly humble circumstance and die for sins, is not any parallel to Herakles or Horus or whatever Theosophical text wants him to parallel. And all other Jewish messianic claimants or heretical sects went pretty much nowhere. You don’t see millions of Frankists or Bar Kochba followers around.

          Still as theories go “Jewish heresies mixed with Greek philosophy” is more defensible than much of what I hear from atheists. And I grant a Muslim would say that similarities between Islam and Jewish or Christian heresies is because those heresies had gleaned an aspect of the Truth. Not that Muhammad had simply mixed some stuff together to make sense of his life or give him meaning. That wouldn’t be “wallowing in ignorance”, to me, as I don’t assume Muslims are ignorant for disagreeing with me. You’re likely going with what makes sense for you and the insulting or condescending aspect of it is maybe just part of modern atheist culture.

          Still annoying though. Also makes me glad, again, that any temptation to atheism I once had is dead in me. I’m freer to consider other cultures or religions pluses and minuses rather than just seeming them as ignorance and delusion. (Granted atheists were once able to do that too, I’m not sure what went wrong with your people.)

        • Susan

          , I’m not sure what went wrong with your people.)

          What is “your people”? Those who don’t believe you?

          As soon as you’d like to advance an argument, I’m interested.

          If all you’ve got is attacks on “your people”, so far, I’ll assume, until shown otherwise, that you have nothing.

          If you have something, I’m all ears.

        • That was maybe too rude. See you all elsewhere!

        • MNb

          Or maybe you were for once just honest, given the fact that you still don’t advance any argument and keep on commenting.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Off to Croydon I see…bye-bye!

        • MNb

          “I’m not sure what went wrong with your people”
          What’s wrong with me is that I don’t understand why you reject for instance protestantism for reasons that apply to your version of catholicism as well.

          “I’m freer to consider other cultures or religions pluses and minuses rather than just seeming them as ignorance and delusion.”
          Fun. I live in one of the most culturally and religiously diverse countries in the world. My female counterpart (she just turned 60, a bit to old to be called a girlfriend) is a muslima.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suriname#Demographics

        • Ignorant Amos

          I guess that, how some guys I’ve never heard of have opinions, is intended to impress me. Okay?

          Holy fuck on a Pogo-stick! How can you be so asinine with just one head?

          I don’t give a shit whether you’ve heard of those guys [scholars] or if you are impressed or not, that wasn’t my intention in citing them. My intention was to provide evidence that it is more than just what Greg “thinks” or just an opinion. Perhaps you should define what you mean by opinion, because at the moment you don’t seem to know what it means used in scholarly circles.

          BTW, those guys you’ve not heard of…

          Robert M.Price was formerly a Baptist minister in New Jersey, with doctorates in theology (Drew University 1981), and New Testament (Drew 1993).

          Dr. J. W. Jepson has been active in ministry for over 60 years. Jepson was the senior pastor of Life in Christ Center from mid-1995 through February 2014.

        • Hypothesis would have been better to say than “opinion.” I’ll grant that.

          I actually had heard of Price, I realized this after I looked him up, I had just forgotten him. To me he sounded kind of a fringe theorist, but I grant that might seem insulting to others.

          Also I do think some of what I’ve said elsewhere here was a bit unfair. Nothing really “went wrong” with atheists. The atheists I knew when I first went online are still atheist and their outlook on things is what I remember so far as I know. The atheists I’ve gotten along with in life are still people I get along with.

          I just was not aware of atheists like you, or many others here, until around 2001. And I rarely saw atheists like that in the media either back when. The atheists I’d known wanted more to be respected as part of society and viewed religion the way I view say belief in angry ghosts or divination. I think such beliefs are silly, but I do think cultures with them often had an interesting perspective and were trying to make sense of things as best they could. The Chinese had both beliefs (angry ghosts and divination) and I’m very interested in Chinese culture and find much of it appealing. The “I feel a duty to argue against Christianity” rather than “I think Christianity is stupid, but not really my business” kind of atheists are not something I’ve adjusted to well because I find it’s a bit harder to get along with them. Elsewhere I’m dealing with another kind of evangelizer, Protestant rather than atheist, who talks much the same way and I’m a bit uncomfortable how to deal with someone who mostly wants to discuss the matter as an argument rather than as a discussion.

          This may well tick you off as well, who knows? In any event I shall take my leave. “I won’t actually be going anywhere, but you don’t have to talk to me anymore.” Futurama quote. (Although hopefully I will actually be elsewhere.)

        • The “I feel a duty to argue against Christianity” rather than “I think Christianity is stupid, but not really my business” kind of atheists are not something I’ve adjusted to well because I find it’s a bit harder to get along with them.

          Look around you. I live in the US, and here Christians get themselves in all sorts of trouble as they try to impose their beliefs on others. Maybe if you saw atheists as trying to put their fingers in the dike separating church and state (which helps believers just as much as atheists, BTW), you might have more sympathy for what ticks them off.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hypothesis would have been better to say than “opinion.” I’ll grant that.

          Defo an improvement I’ll grant you that, but not synonymous in context.

          To me he sounded kind of a fringe theorist, but I grant that might seem insulting to others.

          He is kind of a fringe theorist. There’s a lot of fringe theories about who Christ was or wasn’t for sure. The scriptures and there interpretation is fringe even within the same flavour of the cult.

          I don’t have the same problem with theories being fringe as some others here have, plenty of fringe theories have went on to become mainstream thought through evidence and paradigm shift. I’m more concerned with the arguments being but forward, how they stand up to scrutiny, and how well or easily they can be rebutted. The number of ideas and beliefs within religions, and Christianity that were once fringe, but are now mainstream and vice versa, are on record. I could list a few if ya want?

          The atheists I’ve gotten along with in life are still people I get along with.

          My life is filled with Christians outside the blogosphere. Mostly Protestants of various stripes. My life would be difficult if I “didn’t get on” with them…even the most insipid of them. But when talking on an internet forum we are talking about a completely different dynamic. Individuals should only engage if they have a thick skin, or can give as good as they get…and try to know the stuff they are talking about, particularly when entering somewhere gladiatorial to their particular worldveiw. Getting easily offended and then whinging about it won’t court much sympathy am afraid. There’s no place here for the weak and that includes atheist who are unfortunate to err and cannot hold their own.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I just was not aware of atheists like you, or many others here, until around 2001. And I rarely saw atheists like that in the media either back when.

          Anno…shocking isn’t it…people actually answering back to all the religious bullshit they once had to sit quietly and suck up or end up on the receiving end of some severe persecution…which still goes on today to gobby atheists in many parts of the world.

          http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/07/473347159/atheist-law-student-hacked-to-death-in-bangladesh

          The atheists I’d known wanted more to be respected as part of society…

          Anno…cheeky bastards, wanting to be respected as part of society. Sheesh! Then some started to demand it, what’s going on there, eh? They started to question religions openly, ask for equal rights and all sorts of jiggery-pokery…like the separation of Church and State to be enforced…how obstreperous, I ask you?

          … and viewed religion the way I view say belief in angry ghosts or divination.

          You are either lying, misunderstood those atheists, didn’t know them like ya think ya did, or those atheists were fuckwits too.

          I think such beliefs are silly, but I do think cultures with them often had an interesting perspective and were trying to make sense of things as best they could.

          Doesn’t Christianity believe in angry ghosts and divination? albeit, negatively. It’s a sin. The Bible certainly claims so anyway. Would you like me to quote some scripture?

          This is the Christian view of divination…

          Divination in any form is sin. It is not harmless entertainment or an alternate source of wisdom. Christians should avoid any practice related to divination, including fortune-telling, astrology, witchcraft, tarot cards, necromancy, and spell-casting. The spirit world is real, but it is not innocent. According to Scripture, those spirits that are not the Holy Spirit or angels are evil spirits.

          Now, divination by these other names is big business throughout the Christian world…how can that be?

          The Chinese had both beliefs (angry ghosts and divination) and I’m very interested in Chinese culture and find much of it appealing.

          So does the Christian world, so what? It is all mumbo jumbo whether you find it interesting and appealing, or not. Another irrelevent tangent you are away on.

          The “I feel a duty to argue against Christianity” rather than “I think Christianity is stupid, but not really my business” kind of atheists are not something I’ve adjusted to well because I find it’s a bit harder to get along with them.

          And fuck you too, ya arrogant prick. When you cease and desist shoving your obnoxious believe system and all that fucked up baggage upon those that want frig all to do with it, then I’ll start to think about being the later rather than the former. When you make your religion my business, then I’m going to attack it as such.

          If you want a list of the sort of religious shite that makes atheists angry, you need go no further than the list that Greta Christina has compiled on her blogg…you’d do well to appraise yerself, because at the moment your naive ignorance is beyond ridiculous…

          http://gretachristina.typepad.com/greta_christinas_weblog/2007/10/atheists-and-an.html

          Elsewhere I’m dealing with another kind of evangelizer, Protestant rather than atheist, who talks much the same way and I’m a bit uncomfortable how to deal with someone who mostly wants to discuss the matter as an argument rather than as a discussion.

          An argument is a discussion. You are uncomfortable with challenge. Your method of engaging is frustrating to say the least. You want to run the show on your terms. It is not going to work like that, especially when you go into the in-crowds house and set about dictating the ground rules.

        • Ignorant Amos

          This may well tick you off as well, who knows?

          No more or less than any other nonsense I’m used to hearing from religious types.

          In any event I shall take my leave. “I won’t actually be going anywhere, but you don’t have to talk to me anymore.” Futurama quote. (Although hopefully I will actually be elsewhere.)

          That’s the beauty of this sort of discourse, no one is obliged to respond and you don’t get to pick and choose who replies to your comments. Even if you don’t care much for what is being said to you. It isn’t always about you or I, it’s about the message, to the lurkers, fence-sitters, and other members of the community.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m aware many Early Christians were influenced by, or responding to, Platonism. Truth is Truth. If Platonists were correct on some things that can be noted.

          That’s not the impression you gave in your initial response to Greg though, is it? So I’m not convinced you were aware of such influence to begin with.

          But anyway, it’s a good deal more than that what you think you are aware of.

          Dennis Ronald MacDonald is the John Wesley Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the Claremont School of Theology in California. MacDonald is known for his controversial theories wherein the Homeric Epics are the foundation of various Christian works including the Gospel of Mark and the Acts of the Apostles. The methodology he pioneered is called Mimesis Criticism. If his theories are correct, and the earliest books of the New Testament were responses to the Homeric Epics, then “nearly everything written on [the] early Christian narrative is flawed.” According to him, modern biblical scholarship has failed to recognize the impact of Homeric Poetry.

          Here’s a link, for lurkers mostly…

          http://vridar.info/xorigins/homermark/mkhmrfiles/index.htm

          Atheists aren’t going to reject set theory just because Lutherans and Name-Worshiping Russian Christians had a lot to do with it. Or if they do that’s dumb. I also never denied that our understanding can clarify or develop.

          A false equivalence and a non sequitur ta boot.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But Jesus, the son of God would be born in fairly humble circumstance and die for sins, is not any parallel to Herakles or Horus or whatever Theosophical text wants him to parallel.

          No one says it is a parallel, this is where apologists don’t get the argument, but there are parallels between the Jesus story and the stories of other ancient dying and rising hero gods in pre-Christian Pagan antiquity.

          And all other Jewish messianic claimants or heretical sects went pretty much nowhere.

          As did just about all the ancient religions and cults of the time. What’s your point? You must be aware that Christianity is in sharp decline in most western countries?

          You don’t see millions of Frankists or Bar Kochba followers around.

          No ya don’t. But you do see millions of Muslims, Mormons, Scientologists, Bahā’ī Faith, Cao Dai, Falun Gong, Sikhs, etc., many of those I’ve listed have millions of adherents and they are less than a a century old. Again, what’s your point?

          You wouldn’t be employing that ad populum trope of “we millions of Christians” would ya? Wasn’t it your complaint to BobS of generalising all Christians together as fallacious that encouraged you to comment here in the first place? That all Christians are not the same stripe, so shouldn’t be lumped together and you took umbrage at the generalisations? A tad hypocritical now you want to play the numbers game.

        • adam

        • Ignorant Amos

          Still as theories go “Jewish heresies mixed with Greek philosophy” is more defensible than much of what I hear from atheists.

          Wow! The stench of rank hypocrisy is burning my nostrils. By the way, you first heard of it from an atheist ya moron.

          And I grant a Muslim would say that similarities between Islam and Jewish or Christian heresies is because those heresies had gleaned an aspect of the Truth. Not that Muhammad had simply mixed some stuff together to make sense of his life or give him meaning. That wouldn’t be “wallowing in ignorance”, to me, as I don’t assume Muslims are ignorant for disagreeing with me.

          But most Muslims do wallow in their ignorance as to how their scriptures came to be, I’ve argued with many about it. Most Christians don’t have a a clue about their holy texts and how they were compiled, ffs very few have even read the bloody things. So yes, if you have a book that you hold up as the pinnacle of your worldview, yet haven’t read it and don’t know about its origins, then you are wallowing in ignorance.

          You’re likely going with what makes sense for you and the insulting or condescending aspect of it is maybe just part of modern atheist culture.

          Ah ha, there it is, the victim card we so often see…boo hoo those nasty atheists. But there you are again, doing that thing that ticks you off about atheists when they lump all Christians together, it’s a cunts trick and you would stoop so low, would ya? Hypocrite!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Still annoying though. Also makes me glad, again, that any temptation to atheism I once had is dead in me. I’m freer to consider other cultures or religions pluses and minuses rather than just seeming them as ignorance and delusion. (Granted atheists were once able to do that too, I’m not sure what went wrong with your people.)

          And…just to round it all off…the hypocritical generalising continues. You talk nothing but shite…return when you have something of substance to offer.

        • adam

          “I’m freer to consider other cultures or religions pluses and minuses rather than just seeming them as ignorance and delusion. ”

          Delusions have pluses an minuses….

        • Myna A.

          I guess that, how some guys I’ve never heard of have opinions, is intended to impress me.

          Yet, had they been some guys you were ignorant of, but who shared your opinion, this would impress you? The links were provided to impress upon you that there are scholarly arguments against your position. Frankly, I’m surprised you don’t know who Robert Price is, being that he is a rather well-known theologian and in order to have a sound argument one must clearly understand its opposition.

          I’m not sure what went wrong with your people

          Translation: You do not like it when others hold an opposing view than the one you, personally, hold. It’s not the mere opposition that puzzles you, it is that there is something actually wrong with them as individuals.

        • MNb

          And of course he thinks his own opinions important and relevant and impressive enough to share them with everyone on this blog.

        • Michael Neville

          His arrogance is a thing of beauty, at least to him.

        • adam

          “But Jesus, the son of God would be born in fairly humble circumstance and die for sins, ”

          So then why is there still sin?

        • MNb

          You’re in great shape today. About every cartoon hits the nail on its head.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Just think about all those goats saved by Jesus’ sacrifice. Worth the crucifixion on that score alone. But alas…

          http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/files/im/LLLiTPv.jpg

        • Kodie

          You seem to be interested in obscuring the topic. All Christians seem to have are pretend reasons why god doesn’t just make himself evidenced, or not talking about that and quibbling about something else, i.e. changing the subject.

        • I think you’re wanting me to do something I think I’ve tried to be clear that I’m not doing. I pretty much only came on to complain about a characterization I thought was inaccurate. And I only did that because it was on “the main page” or something. I’m not really here to argue about God as such.

          Very well though this maybe leads to “Okay maybe you’re not engaging with the main point, but why aren’t you engaging with the main point? Why come here at all if you’re not?”

          Well I’m not engaging with it much because I’m not sure what good that would do. I have, at other places, gotten into rather elaborate arguments about things like this and it rarely leads to anything all that useful.

          As to “then why are you here at all?” I saw this at like “the main page”, as I mentioned, and something in it annoyed me. It wasn’t the “main point” of the thing, but if the article says “Only comment on the main point please” I guess I missed that.

          But yes I think God has appeared to people. And no I don’t think any miracle, or all miracles involving every canonization ever, would be sufficient or even believable for anyone here. I do think some ability for doubt is probably a good thing. I am not interested in trying to pressure anyone to be Catholic or anything else. (My little sister is living with me now, she is an agnostic and apostate, we get along fine, and I never pressure her to return to the Church.)

        • Kodie

          But you do get where you come in is how a lot of Christians come in – to correct some terminology, to say “we’re not all like that”, and not actually address the topic they entered in, which tends to change the subject. It’s like a thing.

        • Okay, I guess. Although people are free to deal with the subject elsewhere.

        • MNb

          But Jesus was that great a person in your view?

          How did you decide that your version of christianity is not a heresy of say judaism?

        • To me if Christianity is true it really shouldn’t have taken fifteen centuries for a German scholar to figure out what it is. The Early Christians, to me, clearly do not read as Protestants. Many of them recognized the Septuagint, spoke of bishops, etc. So, for me, Pre-Reformation or non-Protestant Christianity is the only option in Christianity.

          Compared to the Eastern forms of Christianity Catholicism has often proven itself more applicable across times and cultures. It was able to deal with philosophical questioning from Aristotelians to Existentialists. A possible exception is the Assyrians, who at one time had members stretching from China to Syria, and maybe Russian Orthodoxy. But Russian Orthodoxy is still fairly linked to Russian nationalism while the Assyrians have declined from their Medieval height. I’m not sure either produced someone like Nicolas of Cusa or Elizabeth Anscombe. (Okay Russians maybe did. Dostoyefsky, Solzhenitsyn, etc.)

          Why Christianity as opposed to something else? Well in my somewhat irreligious period I had some interest in Baha’i and Sikhism. I haven’t looked into them for awhile so I’m not entirely clear what turned me off except that I think Sikhism believes in reincarnation and Baha’i seems a bit flakey at times. (Not the right word, but I’m not sure how to explain it.) There are things I like in Chinese philosophy, and I have a longer interest there, but there are elements of life Chinese philosophy doesn’t have enough to say. Even the Chinese themselves sometimes added a dash of Buddhism to it, but (personally) Buddhism does not appeal to me. The notion of reincarnation is one I never cared for, and I don’t see why I must believe, and the basis of Buddhism strikes me as a somewhat unhealthy detachment. Christianity also offers the idea that there is a Truth and a being that knows the Truth.

          Yeah the idea Truth exists and is knowable, by someone or something, is something of a faith. But if I can believe in it I will. The metaphysical naturalist vision offers just increasingly accurate cognitive models discovered by an evolved ape never likely to experience more than say 122 cubic light years of space. I find that unsatisfying. (And yes I’m aware of “If reality is unsatisfying it’s unsatisfying, you can’t always get what you want” but I find that rather thin gruel to live a life.) Catholicism can at least make a claim to be “the fullness of truth” whose doctrines have coherence, while also allowing development or clarification over time. (Orthodoxy I think is less open to development. Not to pick on the Orthodox, they’re traditionally the most appealing to me outside Catholicism.)

          Now it’s possible to be an atheist without being a metaphysical naturalist. A person could believe there is some kind of “Noosphere”, full of all information, and/or in supernatural forces without believing in a God. This would allow one to believe in “A Truth that is Real, Knowable, and beyond Humanity.” But this is not normally what people online mean when they say “atheism”, at least not in my experience. In my experience they mean a rejection of all deities, all afterlife notions, all supernatural forces, etc.

          And there’s a bit more to “why Catholicism” then just “I was raised in it.” Half my siblings have more or less left the Church. Two are not really theists any more and the third is sort-of half-Catholic/half-Methodist. In terms of formal education I am, probably, more educated than one of my non-theist siblings and almost equal to the other. I have been reading atheist authors since I was a teenager, at least. None of my favorite professors were Catholic. I never went to Catholic school. My Dad is a convert and his family are not Catholic. (He had abandoned religion before converting, but they were a mix of Baptist and Pentecostal.) I’m a bit sheltered, due to my disability, but I’ve certainly been exposed to other systems of thinking for maybe my whole life.

        • Greg G.

          To me if Christianity is true it really shouldn’t have taken fifteen centuries for a German scholar to figure out what it is.

          Excellent point!

          The Early Christians, to me, clearly do not read as Protestants.

          Nor did they read as Catholics. The Trinity idea wasn’t made up until later and it seems to have been a compromise solution that still doesn’t make sense. There were Gnostics, Docetics, and other types of Christians. If Christianity were true, it really shouldn’t have diverged within a century into so many greater splits than Catholic/Protestant division.

        • TheNuszAbides

          pwned.

        • Greg G.

          I thought I agreed with him.

          I was thinking about “pwned” recently when I listened to a recent Atheist Experience podcast and they had Brett (can’t recall his last name ATM), a guy who had some good atheist arguments. He used to call churches to ask preachers for help solving a problem he didn’t understand in the Bible. There was a battle between atheists and he seemed to get his feelings hurt so he became a theist. Now he was calling into the AE while doing a podcast. I liked his style but now he sounds sad.

        • MNb

          “The Early Christians, to me, clearly do not read as Protestants.”
          To me the early christians clearly do not read as contemporary catholicism either, including the pope.
          To me if some catholic version is true we wouldn’t have liberation theology at one hand and types like Cardinal Tiso and Archbishop Savic at another.
          Your own argument works against you.

          “I find that unsatisfying. (And yes I’m aware of …)”
          What you’re apparently not aware of is that our natural reality doesn’t exist to satisfy you. By writing this you imply that your god exists for your satisfaction. That’s quite unchristian.

          Plus you didn’t answer my questions.

          But Jesus was that great a person in your view?

          How did you decide that your version of christianity is not a heresy of say judaism?

        • You’re right. It was a mistake to respond. Apologies.

        • MNb

          Thanks for not responding again.
          Apologies not accepted – you haven’t done anything wrong to me.

        • The metaphysical naturalist vision offers just increasingly accurate cognitive models discovered by an evolved ape never likely to experience more than say 122 cubic light years of space. I find that unsatisfying.

          I heartily agree with you that if we’re simply looking for the truth, satisfying isn’t relevant.

          But what’s unsatisfying? You said, “I find that rather thin gruel to live a life”–why? We could indeed be very ape-like and yet we’ve landed on the moon, understand black holes, and know how the universe came to be. And we did all that ourselves.

          What do you want instead? I’d like mental telepathy and teleportation to be economical realities, but that may never happen. This doesn’t cloud my entire outlook on life.

        • “But what’s unsatisfying?”

          That we’ll never really or truly know what most of anything was about. (I’m skeptical we really “know how the Universe came to be”, I don’t think physics is that far along.) We’ll always be limited in time, space, and information.

          I actually wasn’t saying satisfying is irrelevant. I’m saying I understand that reality doesn’t “have to” be satisfying. But the idea you can only believe in things because “you have to”, because you have no choice, strikes me as pretty austere. Does that austerity have advantages? Sure. Less chance of disappointment and keeping you grounded. Do I think it’s right? No. Do I think it’s useful? Absolutely not.

          But I’m always a bit nervous coming here as I don’t want to be like the non-Catholics who go to the Catholic section to tell us how stupid we are. Presumably your viewpoint is fine for you and you see it as inevitable or positive.

        • MNb

          “I don’t want to be like the non-Catholics who go to the Catholic section to tell us how stupid we are.”
          You already did.
          This is reflected in

          “Do I think it’s right? No. Do I think it’s useful? Absolutely not.”
          Why would we care if you don’t explain why? Look, if you don’t feel like defending your views that’s totally OK. Don’t mention them either then. It’s as useless and uninteresting as me telling you that I have switched from the French Defense to the Kalashnikov-Accelerated Dragon combo.

        • I’m just stating my personal opinion there. “Do I think it’s useful? Absolutely not” isn’t even really making any demand what you think.

          I see what you’re saying though. I’m working at cross purposes and not willing to communicate anything most here would find of value. (I don’t really intend to get into an atheism versus Catholicism debate and have gotten into one more than I like.) I’ll try to work harder to avoid things at the atheist section that are specifically about arguments against Christianity or theism. (Presumably you do other things too.)

        • “But what’s unsatisfying?”
          That we’ll never really or truly know what most of anything was about.

          At the moment, clues point to the universe not being “about” anything. It just is. Universes may just be the kind of things that happen from time to time.

          This sounds like WLC getting choked up at the idea of the heat death of the universe trillions of years in the future. I’m having a hard time imagining anyone seriously putting these on their Top Ten lists.

          I’m skeptical we really “know how the Universe came to be”, I don’t think physics is that far along.

          Fair enough. We’ll just have to see. Kind of exciting sitting in the stands, not quite sure what’s coming next, right?

          I actually wasn’t saying satisfying is irrelevant.

          As an truth-evaluating tool, it is.

          the idea you can only believe in things because “you have to”, because you have no choice, strikes me as pretty austere.

          You can believe things for reasons besides that there’s compelling evidence?

          Does that austerity have advantages? Sure. Less chance of disappointment and keeping you grounded. Do I think it’s right? No. Do I think it’s useful? Absolutely not.

          I’m not following. But maybe your responses to this point will explain.

          But I’m always a bit nervous coming here as I don’t want to be like the non-Catholics who go to the Catholic section to tell us how stupid we are.

          Civility will take you a long way here. You’re off to a good start.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Civility will take you a long way here. You’re off to a good start.

          Very rarely lasts though, does it?

        • epeeist

          Now it’s possible to be an atheist without being a metaphysical naturalist.

          Why do theists try to add attributes to an extremely simple thing, namely the lack of belief in gods?

          No, atheism does not entail methodological naturalism, neither does it entail a particular system of morality, political position, attitude towards science or a preference for dogs over cats.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Why do theists try to add attributes to an extremely simple thing, namely the lack of belief in gods?

          Because it makes it much easier when it comes straw cutting time?

        • Kodie

          I would never know, but I feel like if I were a theist, the blatant lies they tell about atheists and atheism at church would be the thing that makes me wonder what else they’re lying about.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Anno…it’s been quite a number of years since I ate a baby.

        • adam

          ..

  • Jen S

    I see there are 700+ comments here so I’m sure someone else has said what I am going to say but I’m not reading through all those. (I am Roman Catholic and so write from this perspective.) Belief in God can only happen with God’s grace; we can’t do this on our own. Unfortunately, to receive His grace, we need to pray and an even better way to receive God’s grace is through receiving the Sacraments (Baptism, the Eucharist, Reconciliation, etc.). If one does not believe, then that person is not likely to pray or go to Church, etc. (We can, however, benefit from the prayers and offerings of others.) I have long said that the way to come to know, understand, and believe, is to actually live the faith. I would say give it 5 years (really, even 1 or 2 years would suffice)…be baptized if you’re not, receive the Sacraments in the Catholic Church (this is the Church that Christ founded), and live a life of regular, disciplined prayer and worship. Then your eyes and heart will open. But of course, what unbeliever would do that? The other way that we come to believe, is through the witness of people who are holy – people who live their faith in an extraordinary way. Believe it or not, there are many people who do so, but they are not the ones in the news or who get much attention, because they don’t seek it. Today, for example, is the 75th anniversary of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, who gave his life for a man he had never met who was condemned to death at Auschwitz. It’s an incredible story. This was only the culmination of a life of heroic love, and his story is detailed in a book titled “A Man for Others.” There are many, many saints who have special gifts that they shared and have tremendous impact on people’s lives. I’m sorry that you don’t see this, but you won’t find it spending time posting and reading online about why God doesn’t exist. You just won’t – God can’t be found there. Also, go to a place of pilgrimage (but go with an open mind). I recommend Medjugorje…many unbelievers have been deeply affected by what is happening there, and their lives are completely different. My prayers and good will are with you and all unbelievers and believers alike.

    • Ignorant Amos

      A major flaw in your proposition is that a good number of those here come from a religious upbringing. A number from your particular flavour of woo, RC, such as Susan. So trying to sell your snake oil will be very dificult, especially with that ridiculous sales pitch.

    • This is the “believe so that you may understand” approach to God. I don’t do that in any other area of life, and I’m afraid I can’t do it in the area of religion or salvation either.

      give it 5 years (really, even 1 or 2 years would suffice)…be baptized if you’re not, receive the Sacraments in the Catholic Church (this is the Church that Christ founded), and live a life of regular, disciplined prayer and worship. Then your eyes and heart will open.

      Do you do that with all the other religions? Give them a test drive for a few years and do your best to believe? If not, why should I do it for your religion?

      Maximilian Kolbe, who gave his life for a man he had never met who was condemned to death at Auschwitz. It’s an incredible story.

      Yes, very impressive. People can do amazing things for each other. But tell me: where does the God part fit in?

      you won’t find it spending time posting and reading online about why God doesn’t exist. You just won’t – God can’t be found there.

      Maybe the reason why the evidence for God is so hard to find is that he’s not there. Ever consider that?

      • Ignorant Amos

        Yes, very impressive. People can do amazing things for each other.

        Indeed they do.

        At 8.24 p.m. on the evening of 25th May 1971, a terrorist entered the reception hall of the Springfield Road Police Station in Belfast. He carried a suitcase from which a smoking fuse protruded, dumped it quickly on the floor and fled outside. Inside the room were a man and a woman, two children and several police officers. One of the latter saw at once the smoking case and raised the alarm. The Police Officers began to organise the evacuation of the hall past the reception desk, through the reception office and out by a door into the rear passage.

        Sergeant Michael Willetts was on duty in the inner hall. Hearing the alarm, he sent an N.C.O. up to the first floor to warn those above and hastened himself to the door towards which a Police Officer was thrusting those in the reception hall and office. He held the door open while all passed safely through and then stood in the doorway, shielding those taking cover. In the next moment, the bomb exploded with terrible force.

        Sergeant Willetts was mortally wounded. His duty did not require him to enter the threatened area: his post was elsewhere. He knew well, after 4 months service in Belfast, the peril of going towards a terrorist bomb but he did not hesitate to do so. All those approaching the door from the far side agree that if they had had to check to open the door they would have perished. Even when they had reached the rear passage, Sergeant Willetts waited, placing his body as a screen to shelter them. By this considered act of bravery, he risked – and lost – his life for those of the adults and children. His selflessness, his courage are beyond praise. 22nd June 1971

        But tell me: where does the God part fit in?

        Must’ve been the crowds of jeering good Catholic Christians that celebrated the murder of this hero in the streets outside the police station I guess. Even though Sgt Willetts sacrificed his own life to save their neighbours, family and friends who seen him as the enemy.

        A very poignant and haunting song was penned by Harvey Andrews about the incident called “Soldier”.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soldier_(Harvey_Andrews_song)

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NpaT5LDFgM

        • Michael Neville

          But are you a Catholic or a Protestant atheist?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Good old Hitch gag…never gets tired.

        • Michael Neville

          Incidentally, the quote that IA gives on Sargent Willetts is the citation for his posthumous George Cross.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I was living less than half a mile away when it happened.

    • Michael Neville

      I was a Catholic for many years, baptized, confirmed, an altar boy, etc., etc., etc. So why don’t I drink the kool-ade any more?

    • Greg G.

      Belief in God can only happen with God’s grace; we can’t do this on our own.

      Baloney. Hindus believe in billions of gods. Most of the people in the world believe in at least one god that is not even the god of Catholicism. Belief in gods comes too easily. Do those beliefs in the “wrong” gods come from God’s grace or from the grace of the gods they believe in?

      • TheNuszAbides

        Satan, obviously. checkmate, rationalist!

    • epeeist

      Like others I was brought up Catholic, was baptised, confirmed, received the sacrament, went a Catholic school. I lived in fear of what would happen to my relatives on the maternal side of my family since they were not Catholic, though my paternal relatives were.

      I “lived the faith”, so why didn’t it take for me? Oh, and I am from the UK. According to the British Social Attitudes survey some 32% of people brought up Catholic have no religion, so what do you think happened to them?

      Another statistic for you, the RCC claims over four million members in England and Wales but less than 900,000 take the sacrament each week, so do the one who do not go to mass still count as Catholic or not?

    • Jack Baynes

      Belief in God can only happen with God’s grace; we can’t do this on our own.

      A strange magic power for a being that supposedly WANTS to have a relationship with us.

      Unfortunately, to receive His grace, we need to pray and an even better way to receive God’s grace is through receiving the Sacraments (Baptism, the Eucharist, Reconciliation, etc.). If one does not believe, then that person is not likely to pray or go to Church, etc.

      Wow, what a horrible system God set up. He uses his magic powers to make sure we can’t believe in him unless we pray, knowing that we’re unlikely to pray if we don’t believe….

      • adam

        “Wow, what a horrible system God set up. He uses his magic powers to make sure we can’t believe in him unless we pray, knowing that we’re unlikely to pray if we don’t believe….”

        Nice distillation!

    • Nigel Nobbs-Potterton

      “(I am Roman Catholic and so write from this perspective.) Belief in God can only happen with God’s grace…”

      The vast majority of RCs believe what they do because of brainwashing from a very early age.
      If you were a Muslim, or a Jew, Hindu etc.. etc… you would probably believe in a quite different heap of supernatural nonsense – as a consequence of your different brainwashing.

      • My Dad was raised Baptist and was an agnostic when he converted.

        Other converts to Catholicism from non-theism include

        Mortimer J. Adler
        Cardinal Dulles
        Edward Feser
        Eugene D. Genovese
        Dawn Eden Goldstein
        Leah Libresco
        Joseph Pearce
        Sally Read – Poet
        E. F. Schumacher
        John Lawson Stoddard – Travel writer
        R. J. Stove – Son of David Stove.
        Allen Tate
        Victor Turner – Symbolic anthropology
        Evelyn Waugh

        True the vast majority of Catholics were raised that way. The vast majority of people who speak Russian were likely raised that way. The vast majority of mathematicians are likely raised in societies using Arabic numerals.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Impressive list…here’s mine of those of note that rejected Catholicism in favour of a non-religious worldview…

          Steve Allen, actor, TV show host, writer, pundit (Humanism)

          Javier Bardem, Spanish actor

          Paul Bettany, British actor

          Mike Birbiglia, American comedian, writer, actor, and director

          Frankie Boyle, Scottish comedian and writer, quoted saying “Religion is just what we thought before we understood what mental illness was.”

          Christopher Buckley, political satirist

          Ed Byrne, Irish stand-up comedian

          George Carlin, American stand-up comedian

          Antonio Carluccio, Italian chef, restaurateur and food expert

          Jimmy Carr, British comedian

          Jim Carroll, American poet, diarist and musician

          George Clooney, American actor (Agnosticism)

          Pat Condell, comedian

          Billy Connolly, Scottish stand-up comedian

          Marie Curie, Nobel laureate in chemistry and physics

          Guillermo del Toro, Mexican film director

          Amanda Donohoe, British actress

          Theodore Dreiser, American writer (Socialism and possibly Christian Science)

          Roger Ebert, American journalist, film critic and screenwriter

          Brian Eno, British musician and record producer

          Siobhan Fahey, British musician, member of Bananarama, now interested in spiritualism

          Nick Frost, English actor, comedian and screenwriter

          Janeane Garofalo, American comedian (Freethought advocate).

          Éamon Gilmore, Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) of Ireland (2011–)

          Kathy Griffin, American comedian and actress

          Amber Heard, American actress

          Joe Higgins, Socialist Party Member of the European Parliament for Dublin, Ireland

          François Hollande, 24th President of France

          Anthony Jeselnik, American stand-up comedian and television writer

          Denis Leary, American actor

          John Lydon, British musician, singer for The Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd.

          Seth MacFarlane, writer, creator, producer for Family Guy, American Dad, etc. (grew up as a Catholic but as an adult began to embrace atheism).

          James McAvoy, Scottish actor

          Barry McGowan, American author and Atheist leader.

          Timothy McVeigh, American terrorist

          Bill Maher, American comedian and television personality

          Zoran Milanović, Croatian politician and a leader of Social

          Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP)

          Roh Moo-hyun, 16th President of South Korea

          Giorgio Napolitano, 11th President of Italy

          Dara Ó Briain, Irish stand-up comedian and television presenter

          Joyce Carol Oates, author, critic (atheist)

          Conor Oberst, American singer-songwriter

          Bob Odenkirk, American actor and comedian; stated on his Twitter

          Park Chan-wook, South Korean film director

          Joe Rogan, American sports commentator and stand-up comedian (agnostic)

          Chris Rush, American comedian who considers himself spiritual rather than religious.

          Dan Savage, author

          Andy Serkis, British actor

          Omar Sharif, actor and bridge player; an Egyptian Melkite Catholic who converted to Islam, later became an atheist

          Aziz Shavershian, Australian bodybuilder and internet celebrity.

          Julia Sweeney, atheist comedian on the advisory board of the Secular Coalition for America

          Janez Stanovnik, Slovenian resistance fighter and politician

          Laurie Taylor (sociologist)

          Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslav political leader

          Jerome Tuccille, author of Heretic: Confessions of an Ex-Catholic Rebel

          Dana White, first and current president of UFC

          Robert Anton Wilson, American author, philosopher, novelist, essayist and polymath (agnostic)

          Terry Wogan, Irish and British radio personality

          Greg Gutfeld, American television personality

        • Pofarmer

          Hey, if you’re gnna list Dana White, include Joe Rogan.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Done.

          Never heard of that guy, he sounds interesting…from his Wiki bio.

          I’m surprised no one has picked out Timothy McVeigh for being on the list yet.

          The list isn’t conclusive of course, I just copied from Wiki as is.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Joe’s been sharpening up his stand-up lately – Rocky Mountain High not too shabby. and he’s had S.Harris riffing, occasionally entertainingly, for a few hrs at a time on “the JRE”, youtube.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Christopher Buckley

          would’ve been sorely disappointing to see him follow in dad’s footsteps.

          Robert Anton Wilso

          still quite fond of Prometheus Rising, Cosmic Trigger and of course Illuminatus!

        • Ignorant Amos

          A had to go look to see who Buckley’s da was…WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY JR.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_F._Buckley_Jr.#Religious_views

          I guess his son must’ve been a bit of a disappointment.

        • Pofarmer

          Statistically, for every person who converts to Catholicism, 6 leave. This isn’t the route you wanna take.

        • Susan

          Please post those statistics if you have a link.

        • Pofarmer
        • Pofarmer

          This is even better.

          Looked at this way, the data clearly show that part of the reason the religious “nones” have grown rapidly in recent decades is that they continue to be the single biggest destination of movement across religious boundaries. Nearly one-in-five American adults (18%) were raised in a religion and are now unaffiliated, compared with just 4% who have moved in the other direction. In other words, for every person who has left the unaffiliated and now identifies with a religious group more than four people have joined the ranks of the religious “nones.”

        • MNb

          There are quite a few Japanese and Chinese mathematicians.

          Dutch Catholic Party KVP in 1967: 42 seats out of 150 (28 %).
          Successor party CDA (ie including protestants) in 2012: 13 seats (less than 9 %).

          Church attendance and membership have the same trend.

          Roughly 20 % of the entire Dutch population (a couple of millions people) turning away from catholicism kind of beats your shortlist.

          And of course you could have added Rudolf Höss, campleader of Auschwitz, to your list.

    • Kodie

      I’m pretty sure all you need is to be gullible and open to the idea that there’s anyone in the universe as interested in you as you are. Living the faith doesn’t mean there’s a god either. It means you lack critical thinking abilities, and you don’t know how to separate the breath of god from fundamental social skills.

    • MNb

      “Unfortunately, to receive His grace, we need to pray.”
      As a kid and a teen I used to pray (I didn’t call myself an atheist yet). Nothing. Nada. Zero.

      “It’s an incredible story.”
      Yes. The story of Rudolf Höss is equally incredible. You should celebrate his memory on April 10th by going on a pilgrimage to ….. camp Auschwitz. Say your catholic prayers for him preferably in company of some jewish visitors. I am sure they will appreciate it.
      Or not.
      Don’t forget your pilgrimage to Camp Jasenovac either. It’s the perfect place to pray for Friar Miroslav Filipovic and Archbishop Ivan Saric.
      If you do that I’ll commemmorate Maksymilian Kolbe and also Titus Brandsma. Deal?

    • Pofarmer

      So, basically, brainwash yourself and quit thinking.

      • TheNuszAbides

        Unfortunately, to receive His grace, we need to pray

        either she’s not very good at sarcasm or … wait, you got it covered.

    • Jacob Thane

      Fake it ’till you make it!

      You said: “Belief in God can only happen with God’s grace; we can’t do this on our own.”

      I’m not sure where in the Bible it says this, but that wasn’t my experience. I was a Christian for 30 years. I was baptized as a child, and again as an adult. I was a rockstar worship leader. I led a young adult Bible study for several years. Guess what? Living the faith didn’t work out so well for me. In fact, the deeper I dug in, the more issues I had with it. Maybe you should try reading the Bible sometime – as an adult – and not just relying on the sugarcoated fairytales they spoonfed at Sunday School. And if you are already reading the Bible as an adult, try to think critically and honestly about the words on the page – they read a bit differently without the faith-tinted glasses on.

      • Ignorant Amos

        You said: “Belief in God can only happen with God’s grace; we can’t do this on our own.”

        It’s the old “what comes first, the chicken or the egg?” routine [feedback loop].

        Fake it ’till you make it!

        One of the failings of that Paschal’s Wager thing that the religious clowns propose, is that they don’t get how belief works. They don’t seem to realise that a person can’t really pretend to believe in something. But even if it was possible, they don’t seem to understand how omniscience works either.

  • Nigel Nobbs-Potterton

    God appeared to some people in the OT, so it is said.
    But these were the days before people who heard God’s voice (so they believed – Like Peter Sutcliffe , who murdered 19 women when God asked him to) or suffered hallucinations, were not either given life-long prison sentences (like Sutcliffe) or treated for mental illness.
    Instead, these deranged people were treated as prophets, in the days of the OT.

    • Ignorant Amos

      Pedantic observation…he killed 13 women.

      • Nigel Nobbs-Potterton

        Thank you, dear pedant.

    • MR

      Hears God’s voice telling them to kill their own children: Deanna Laney, Abraham. Did Judeo-Christianity start because of a schizophrenic?

    • That’s one explanation. Perhaps even simpler would be to doubt that these prophets existed at all. Stories can take on a life of their own.

  • Herb Kutscha

    Jeepers, Bob! The big lie today is that the Christian Faith is blind Faith. Head over to Romans 1:18, and read for an hour. Paul’s whole “Romans Road” gospel is based on the fact that “18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

    He’s echoing Dave, who wrote (Psalm 19):
    “1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
    2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
    3 They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
    4 Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.”

    And, for the record, the most powerful argument against Christianity is the theodicy argument. It doesn’t work, but it sounds good.

    • MNb

      “Head over to Romans 1:18, and read for an hour.”
      That makes you so dulled that you don’t understand the difference between christian faith and blind faith anymore?

      • Herb Kutscha

        My point is God’s existence is revealed through his creation, and this is a central tenent of the Christian Faith.

        • Jack Baynes

          And over half the world’s population somehow doesn’t get the message. God’s pretty bad at this revelation thing.

        • Greg G.

          Give Him a break. He’s only had one eternity to practice.

        • Herb Kutscha

          Strange. A common argument against Christianity is that most every culture has a god or gods, and they’re all a bit different.

        • Jack Baynes

          Exactly.
          Either half the world’s population didn’t get the message. Or God delivered the WRONG message to half the population.

        • Michael Neville

          Of course you’ve got evidence to show your god created something. So let’s see this evidence. Hint: The collection of myths, fables and lies called the Bible isn’t evidence.

        • Herb Kutscha

          The Bible works for me. Isaiah 53, other prophecies of Isaiah, and the prophecies of Daniel paints a strong argument. More generally, the various texts dealing with creation can be resolved against modern scientific discoveries, unlike those of other cultures, and even more generally, we are looking at a set of over 60 documents, written over time, and preserved as the very word of God by a people for several thousand years (though they did manage to lose it once). They all point to a redeemer embodied by Jesus that the people didn’t believe in and generally didn’t recognize when they saw him. To me, it defies coincidence, and a plot involving the authors, disciples, Luke and Paul seems unlikely, since they were all willing to die for it.

          As for there being a “creator”, without one, you are stuck with explaining a universe with popcorn. There are possibilities for maybe millions of planets in our visible universe, but if you add reasonable constraints on what planets could support life, many people conclude that the odds of even one planet fitting the bill are small.

          I note that, when looking at the state of physics over my lifetime and before, peeling an onion is a good metaphor. A bright high-school kid could make it through Newtonian physics, but much like our model for the atom, successive layers are more and more complex. I crapped out computationally around General relativity (didn’t grok tensor calculus), but I’ve been able to follow qualitatively thanks to others, e.g. Laurence Krauss. It turns out that things really aren’t anything like they seem when you get down to the details. Yet these physical laws resolve to something simple enough that Newton thought he was just about done when he moved on, and a simple approximation is good enough that a two-year-old or a day-old horse can learn to walk. That’s a surprising property for the complexity we see in the world of the very small, very large, or very fast.

          The laws of physics are interesting to me. Science can discover them, or at least a deep layer of the onion, but it has no tools to explain why they should exist. I can say “those are God’s laws”, but that just pushes the problem back to “where did God come from?”, with the required inexplicable response that physics uses for the Multiverse – that he’s always been. Reality. What a concept. Yet I choose to function with the only slighly smelly assumption that there is a reality I’m sensing, that you sense it too, and our separate observations generally agree.

          But when you limit me to not using the Bible or God, I am still left with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

        • Michael Neville

          To cut your verbosity down to a single sentence, you don’t have anything. Which what I was sure the result would be.

        • Herb Kutscha

          Works for me. Works for me.

        • Michael Neville

          Subjective experience works for every individual. Some of us prefer reality.

        • Jack Baynes

          You’ve got me. What did Isiah 53 predict that convinced you?

        • Greg G.

          I think the pre-gospels Christians got their ideas about Jesus from reading Isaiah 53 as a “hidden mystery”.

        • Kodie

          For whatever it’s worth, I think just because onions have layers doesn’t make it a good metaphor as it’s often used. When you peel back the layer of an onion, you get more onion, same kind of onion, it’s just more fucking onion. It’s no more relevant a metaphor than, say, an orange. The segments of an orange are basically equivalent around the center core of an orange. If you want to see what’s behind this segment of an orange, it’s another segment of the orange. It’s basically saying, if you peel it back, all you get is more of the same, not something interesting and different. At least in an orange, if you get below the surface, it’s not peel all the way through. Like many fruits, it’s actually a different substance than is apparent from the outside. A surprise, if you will. New content. Onions, not so much.

        • MNb

          In fact it’s more the other way round – science is adding layer after layer, each layer more complex than the one it’s resting on.

        • MNb

          “many people conclude that the odds of even one planet fitting the bill are small.”

          Yeah – and precious few of them are experts on the subject.

          “it has no tools to explain why they should exist.”
          Just like belief has no tool to explain why god should exist. So likely it’s just the wrong question. The right question is “How comes laws of physics exist.” The answer then is surprisingly simple: because humans formulated them. So they aren’t exactly evidence.
          That holy spirit is also part of that collection of myths, fables and lies called the Bible. So you’re left with nothing.
          May we conclude that you recognize that your god doesn’t explain anything that can’t be explained (and never will) and adds nothing to our understanding of that pesky thing called natural reality?

        • Herb Kutscha

          Ask an evolution evangelist how the process got started, and he’ll tell you that that’s not the domain of evolution science, and run away quickly. Lots of competent scientists have made a list of requirements for advanced life. You can quibble over many of them, but you can throw a bunch out and still get to less than a 50-50 chance in this universe, which has amazing properties itself.

          I don’t understand. If humans created the laws of physics, how were they in place over 14 billion years ago? If they are God’s laws, that problem goes away, and if they are perfect for God’s purposes, and He knows the end from the beginning, he needn’t interfere with the result. Are you playing semantics?

          But he does interfere a bit, through special revelation. There’s that whole Jew thing, which should be significant enough to have note. Have you encountered a crazier religion? God reveals himself, lays down simple laws, the Jews don’t follow them, they suffer badly, they repent, everything’s OK, the start marrying Babylonians and stuff, God punishes them, they repent, everything’s OK … on about a 40 year cycle, for hundreds of years. That’s pretty much the whole thing. And it’s just to make the point that we can’t do it on our own. Who would make that stuff up? And left and right, it all points to Jesus, who they don’t even believe in.

          And then they get Jesus the Messiah, who is not the warrior king that they were expecting to solve all all their problems, and the stuff he spews is so offensive that it gets him killed. And next comes the big surprise. It seems improbable that anyone could even make this stuff up, much less get a nation to go along with it.

        • epeeist

          Ask an evolution evangelist how the process got started, and he’ll tell you that that’s not the domain of evolution science, and run away quickly.

          Yeah, complete wusses. I asked an evilutionist why the theory couldn’t explain three busses coming in quick succession and he couldn’t answer that either.

          I don’t understand. If humans created the laws of physics, how were they in place over 14 billion years ago?

          Because the laws and theories of physics are human constructs which describe the way the universe operates, they don’t prescribe the way things should happen. You don’t actually think that electrons do calculations to ensure that they are following Schrodinger’s equation do you?

        • MNb

          “Lots of competent scientists have made a list of requirements for advanced life.”
          This is too vague to have any meaning.
          Which competent scientists? What are their competences? Which requirements? When do you/they call life advanced?

          “still get to less than a 50-50 chance in this universe”
          Yeah – you can pull it out of your nose for instance.

          “If humans created the laws of physics,”
          Again meaningless terminology. I didn’t write “humans created the laws of physics” – I wrote “humans formulated the laws of physics”. They obviously did that not 14 billion years ago.
          The second part is better, but also easy to answer.

          “how were they in place over 14 billion years ago?””
          They were in place the moment our Universe began.

          “If they are God’s laws, that problem goes away”
          What problem? If you say this you have another problem that won’t go away by just neglecting it.
          If they are the laws of your god, how was god in place over 14 billion years ago?

          “Are you playing semantics?”
          Yes. Because you are. Your terminology is both meaningless and biased towards your predetermined conclusion. You shouldn’t be surprised I don’t accept it.

          “It seems improbable that anyone could even make this stuff up, much less get a nation to go along with it.”
          It’s so improbable it happened at least twice in the 20th Century. Marx and Lenin made stuff up and got the Soviet Union go along with it; Hitler wrote Mein Kampf and got Germany go along with it.

        • Jack Baynes

          You can quibble over many of them, but you can throw a bunch out and still get to less than a 50-50 chance in this universe, which has amazing properties itself.

          50/50? So even if we believe your claims, you admit that the existence of Earth is entirely believable.

        • Ask an evolution evangelist how the process got started, and he’ll tell you that that’s not the domain of evolution science, and run away quickly.

          I think what you mean to say is: When you ask a well-informed person, “But how does evolution explain how life got started?!??” they will gently chide you for having your head up your ass and clarify that abiogenesis is not part of evolution.

          Lots of competent scientists have made a list of requirements for advanced life. You can quibble over many of them, but you can throw a bunch out and still get to less than a 50-50 chance in this universe, which has amazing properties itself.

          I just made a list of 58,730,586 properties that reality would need to have if there were a God. You can throw out a bunch and you’re still faced with an insuperable argument. Checkmate!

          If humans created the laws of physics, how were they in place over 14 billion years ago?

          If humans created the idea of ten o’clock, how could time have existed 13.8 billion years ago?

          If they are God’s laws, that problem goes away

          You just have the problem of showing that the supernatural, while failing the last 10,000 times you tried it as an explanation, is the answer this time.

          Have you encountered a crazier religion?

          No, Christianity is pretty crazy.

          Who would make that stuff up?

          Mythology and legend are pretty well understood. Seems that they’re candidates for explaining Judaism and Christianity.

          And left and right, it all points to Jesus, who they don’t even believe in.

          Oh? Show me. Prophecy like Is. 53 and Ps. 22, I suppose? Search for my posts on them.

          And then they get Jesus the Messiah, who is not the warrior king that they were expecting to solve all all their problems

          I know, right?! So much for Old Testament prophecy!

        • MR

          I love this attitude of, “If you don’t have a definitive answer for something, my preferred explanation becomes the correct answer by default.”

        • TheNuszAbides

          feel-good heuristic’n’bias extravaganza!

        • Rudy R

          It seems improbable that anyone could even make this stuff up, much less get a nation to go along with it.

          Exactly what stuff makes it improbable that is was made up? Jesus as the one dying and rising savior? Tammuz, Osiris, Dionysus, Adonis, Attis, and Baal preceded Jesus in the dying and coming back to life stories. And if a nation going along with it is the exemplar of proof for belief, than Islam, projected to be the biggest religion in the world in 2050, will be proof enough that Muhammad was carried by a horse in the air from Mecca to Jerusalem and back.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The incredulity displayed by theists is flabbergasting.

          It seems improbable to me that anyone could even make this stuff up, much less get a nation to go along with it.

          A fixed that for Herb.

          Someone needs to teach Herb how to open his eyes and look around himself. The world is chock full of examples of stuff being made up and nations going along with it.

          I wonder does Herb believe the Sun is the eye of the god Ra. Or the Sun is a giant flaming chariot driven across the sky every day by Helios? I mean, who would make such stuff up, much less a nation go along with it? Fuckwits.

        • TheNuszAbides

          The incredulity displayed by theists is flabbergasting.

          said flabbergastment compounded by the definitive counterpart credulity.

        • Isaiah 53, other prophecies of Isaiah, and the prophecies of Daniel paints a strong argument.

          I’ve responded to these “prophecies” and more. Search for those posts and see what you think.

          To me, it defies coincidence

          What’s surprising?

          they were all willing to die for it.

          “Who would die for a lie?” rebutted here.

          As for there being a “creator”, without one, you are stuck with explaining a universe with popcorn.

          I have no idea what that means, but the last myriad of times humanity tried to explain science with God have failed, so I don’t know why the origin of the universe will be Christianity’s lucky try.

          I can say “those are God’s laws”, but that just pushes the problem back to “where did God come from?”

          “God did it” explains nothing, in large part because the God hypothesis is unfalsifiable.

          I am still left with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

          Your mind can convince you of lots of nutty things.

        • Michael Neville

          There are possibilities for maybe millions of planets in our visible universe, but if you add reasonable constraints on what planets could support life, many people conclude that the odds of even one planet fitting the bill are small.

          There are trillions of planets in over 250 billion galaxies in the observable universe. The chances for life just went way up.

        • TheNuszAbides

          pretty much each sentence of this comment has already been substantially addressed (unlike said comment) by an article on this blog.

        • MNb

          “My point is God’s existence is revealed through his creation.”
          Circular argument: your god -> his creation -> your god.

          When BobS wrote “Let’s make clear what compelling evidence for God would look like” he hadn’t your circular argument in mind.
          Apparently reading Romans 1:18 for an hour indeed has dulled you.

        • Herb Kutscha

          Why is “God” in my statement “My God”, and in his, it’s just “God”? Note the title of the article – “The most powerful argument against Christianity.” The subject is the Christian God, supposedly revealed through both nature and the Bible.

        • MNb

          Your god is not the god of billions of people.

          “in his, it’s just “God”?”
          Ask BobS, not me.

          “The subject is the Christian God, supposedly revealed through both nature and the Bible.”
          Hence my “your god”. It’s what you suppose, not what BobS supposes. To BobS rather applies “The subject is the Christian God, for whom there is zero evidence in neither nature nor the Bible.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          Your god is not the god of billions of people.

          A was gonna say the same thing, but then when I thought about it, a stopped short because technically it is the god of billions if it exists. Whether the billions like it or not. Of course that only counts from the egotists point of view…all other god hypotheses are false when the believer has the one true god. But I digress.

        • Michael Neville

          There are as many gods as there are Christians. There’s the vague, deist deity of Bishop Spong and the fundamentalists’ white bearded geezers who find car keys and obsess about sex with many stops in between. Your god is your personal god while Bob was talking about a generic Christian god.

        • Herb Kutscha

          I don’t agree. It seems like Bob’s “God” is the god who doesn’t reveal himself, masquerading as the Christian god. There are basic tenents of Christianity. Salvation through Jesus. One God, three persons, Creator of all things, etc.

          We could go with “The God of the Bible”.

        • Jack Baynes

          God’s hiddenness may not be a basic tenent of Christianity, but Christians still have to explain it.

        • Michael Neville

          What do you mean “masquerading as the Christian god”? Perhaps you’re just naive, thinking there is one “Christian god” or perhaps you’re ignorant. I don’t think you’re stupid and I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt by not calling you a liar but it should be obvious to anyone that there are a bazillion Christian gods.

          There’s Bishop John Selby Spong, influenced by Abelard and Tillich, who holds that thepopular and literal interpretations of Christian scripture are not sustainable. Spong rejects the historical truth claims of some Christian doctrines, such as the Virgin Birth and the bodily resurrection of Jesus. But he calls himself a Christian and is an ordained Episcopalian bishop.

          On the other hand there’s Scott Lively who believes in Biblical literalism, believes that everyone who doesn’t believe exactly as he does is damned to eternal punishment, and believes the US government should be reconstructed upon strict Biblical lines, including the death penalty for homosexuality, pre-marital sex and children who talk back to their parents.

          Are you going to tell me that Spong and Lively believe in the same god? Yet both of them call themselves Christians.

        • Kodie

          I would actually say that all Christians believe in the same god, they read the same bible. His hiddenness, which is the topic at hand, allows all Christians to make up whatever beautiful scary elaborate shit they want about the fictional character, and nobody can ever correct them. All sides and forms of a god are contained within the bible, and the perspective one chooses to have is a matter of personal preference.

        • Kodie

          Please learn that the word you mean is tenet. TENET. I don’t usually correct spelling, grammar, or vocabulary, but that really bothers me because it’s so common and ignorant.

          Anyway, Bob doesn’t have a god. He is speaking of the fictional character you refer to as “The God of the Bible”. He is speaking of The Imaginary Friend of Delusional Theists (which are all of them).

        • Susan

          Please learn that the word you mean is tenet. TENET. I don’t usually correct spelling, grammar, or vocabulary, but that really bothers me

          Thank you.

        • adam

          “We could go with “The God of the Bible””

          Let’s go with the God of Abraham

        • Ignorant Amos

          Clearly, there is more than one god in the bible…unless there isn’t.

          And God said, let us make man in our image. ~ Genesis 1:26

          YahwehJesus is a schizophrenic? Ohhps, hold on a mo, YahwehJesus might be a give away…3 in 1, 1 in 3, how could we not have noticed?

          For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords. ~ Deuteronomy 10:17

          Is that a clue too?

          O give thanks unto the God of gods. Psalm 136:2

          Taking the piss now….didn’t these ancient feckers know about monotheism or what?

          Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? ~ Exodus 15:11

          Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods. ~ Exodus 18:11

          Thou shalt have no other gods before me. … Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them. ~ Exodus 20:3-5

          Enough for now…the gormless have been sold a pup.

        • Kodie

          Because you’re the one arguing for there even being a god. The figment of your imagination is not my god, or even God.

        • God’s existence is revealed through his creation

          Like with smallpox or tsunamis?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Harlequin [ichthyosis] babies? There’s some fucked up repugnant benevolent creator shit right there.

          http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FcK_cGZtUHY/VQSFthdR7KI/AAAAAAAAAOk/z8i4Ts7COqQ/s1600/parakovacs.png

        • Derrik Pates

          Good thing I didn’t just eat, man.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Fierce isn’t it?

          Godbots prefer to brush such inconvenience under the carpet, but there are so many inconveniences that the lump in the carpet is tripping them up.

        • Derrik Pates

          I’ve been known to mention harlequin fetuses, but I’ve never linked an image. And I generally tell people not to Google it – at least not unless they have a strong stomach… 🙂

        • Ignorant Amos

          Your prerogative of course.

          I’m a bit more of a shock & awe man maself.

          A picture paints a thousand words and some of these religious fuckers need a severe wake-up call in my opinion. Too many are living up in the little fluffy clouds at cloud cuckoo land.

        • MNb

          I salute you – you have been my lions eat a living antelope video (which I never managed to watch myself).

        • Ignorant Amos

          Depends what your used to I guess.

          I was part of the team that was first into situations such as…

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1985_Newry_mortar_attack

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

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

          So lions eating antelopes and other similar natural incidents are what they are.

          I shudder at the thought of what to the military youth of today has had to experience.

          But…

          We are all Gods children after all….

        • Michael Neville

          I shudder at the thought of what to the military youth of today has had to experience.

          You get a roger on that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          U.S. servicemen are offing themselves like snow off a ditch through PTSD.

          There is a thing doing the rounds among the service world called the “22 in 22”, I’m sure ya’ve heard of it? Something like the ice-bucket challenge, only 22 press-ups everyday for 22 days, which is supposed to represent 22 U.S. servicemen committing suicide everyday. Not sure how accurate the data is on that figure, a quick calculation gives an extreme figure, but even one is too many and it’s more than one. The idea is to raise awareness about PTSD and raise some cash for charity.

          http://fox17online.com/2015/04/03/army-vet-launches-22-push-up-challenge-to-help-fellow-veterans/

          U.K. servicemen suffering from PTSD are falling through the cracks too, just not on the same scale in numbers for obvious reasons.

          And as a bit of squaddie humour an old comrade of mine from back in the day done a variation on the theme where he ate 22 Indian curries in 22 days and donated the cash value equivalent to charity…over £400, plus a donation of equipment.

        • Susan

          So lions eating antelopes and other similar natural incidents are what they are

          They’re hideous. Hundreds of millions of years of unfathomable, apparently unnecessary suffering that makes sense until you claim an omniperfect agent pulled it out of its metaphysical ear.

          I shudder at the thought of what the military youth has had to experience.

          I’m sure you have a clearer and more horrifying picture than I can imagine.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh there’s no call for any of it if Christian God. Hence my certainty on that idea being rubbish.

          Even the “free will” ballix is no excuse.

        • MNb

          “situations such as…”
          My only exposure was visiting the ravaged town Albina immediately after

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

          Kindergarten compared to The Troubles, but bad enough for me.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Shocking enough to cause nightmares pal…especially if you haven’t been acclimatised to such scenes.

        • MNb

          I have taught enough psychologically damaged kids to confirm this.

        • The work of God is marvelous to behold.

    • Jack Baynes

      What reason do you have to believe that either David or Paul is right that God’s wrath is causing the suffering in the word?

      • Herb Kutscha

        His world.

        • Jack Baynes

          Whose world?

        • TheNuszAbides

          gesundheit!

    • Greg G.