The Great Debate: Theism vs. Naturalism. Where Does the Evidence Point? (2 of 2)

The Great Debate: Theism vs. Naturalism. Where Does the Evidence Point? (2 of 2) November 21, 2016

naturalism Christianity theism debateWhat would the world look like if theism or Christianity were true? And what would it look like if naturalism were true—that is, that nature alone explains what we see?

We’re comparing these two worldviews to see which one matches reality best. (Part 1 here.)

Morality

Theism predicts that religion’s moral teachings would be timeless and progressive. The wisdom of heaven might appear crazy to us simple humans, but time after time we’d follow it and discover that it did indeed improve society.

The Bible declares that Christians don’t sin: “No one who is born of God practices sin” (1 John 3:9; see also 3:6, 5:18). With the Christian church run mostly by sinless Christians, the Church’s morality should likewise far outshine that of other institutions.

In fact, Christianity is conservative, not progressive. It is always late to the party, following society after it embraces a new moral outlook. Christianity must be conservative because it is built on the premise that it’s already got things figured out. New ideas—abolition of slavery, democracy, civil rights for all—catch the church off guard. Sometimes the church is mobilized on some of these issues (William Wilberforce against slavery or Martin Luther King for civil rights, for example), but why are these positions not plainly in the Bible? Why did it take close to 2000 years to get on the right side of change? In these examples, the church was merely a tool used by change makers, not the instigator of change.

Christians were on both sides of these moral issues, as is true for any modern moral issue such as same-sex marriage, gay rights, abortion, or euthanasia. Pick the right Bible verses, and God can be used like a puppet and made to support either position. Pick other verses, and God admits to a long list of moral crimes.

As for the church clearly being a morally superior institution, the Catholic Church pedophilia scandal is merely the most recent moral lapse. You can make the bad-apples argument to sacrifice the individuals for the benefit of the institution, but that simply makes a lie of Bible’s claim that Christians don’t sin. The church becomes yet another large club that occasionally abuses power with no special claims of moral superiority over any other—so much for the guiding hand of God.

The Bible has a lot to answer for. The Old Testament in particular supports moral positions—genocide, slavery, polygamy, and human sacrifice, for starters—that modern society has long rejected. No, not all moral positions in the Bible are timeless.

Christianity declares that morality is grounded exclusively in its god, but then it has a hard time explaining why other cultures without Christian dominance, both current and historical, seem to understand morality just fine. The Problem of Evil—the existence of gratuitous evil despite God taking a loving hand in our lives—also argues against Christianity.

Mind

Theism predicts a mind independent of the body that persists as a soul after the body dies.

In fact, “mind” is just what brains do. The mind’s capability is tied to the capabilities of the brain, and that changes as someone grows from child to mature adult to elderly adult. That capability changes due to physical causes such as being tired, sleepy, stressed, hungry, drunk, or drugged. Damage the brain with dementia or physical injury and you damage the mind, as the story of Phineas Gage illustrates. The fortunes of the mind parallel those of the brain, and no evidence supports an unembodied mind.

Not only do we have a natural explanation for the mind, but physics shows that there is no room for a supernatural soul. There is yet more physics to learn, but we know enough about the physics of our world to know that no as-yet-to-be-found quantum particles could hold or convey the soul.

Growth of religion

Theism predicts that heaven would favor the correct religion.

Christianity did thrive, but that wasn’t because of God’s beneficence but Rome’s. Christianity was just one religion among many until the Edict of Thessalonica in 380 CE made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire.

Naturalism predicts that religions struggle, rise, and fall and that none will have any supernatural success.

More

If Christianity were true, a single set of moral truths would be held universally, rather than morality being a cultural phenomenon.

If Christianity were true, believers wouldn’t use evidence-based reasoning everywhere in life but then switch to faith for evaluating the claims of their religion.

If Christianity were true, faith healers would go to hospitals and reliably produce healings that science verifies.

If Christianity were true, televangelists wouldn’t waste time asking for money from viewers but would get their expenses covered by praying to God themselves.

If Christianity were true, Christian’s testable prophecies about our imminent end wouldn’t invariably be wrong. (Hilariously bad examples: John Hagee and Harold Camping.)

If Christianity were true, its Bible wouldn’t have contradictions, claims of prophecy wouldn’t suck, and it wouldn’t be wrong about the power of prayer.

If Christianity were true, we wouldn’t see in it mythological themes shared by other contemporary religions of that part of the world like the Combat Myth, virgin birth stories, and dying and rising gods.

If Christianity were true, everyone would understand the same simple and unambiguous message from God.

Christian response

The typical Christian response is, “But God could have perfectly good reasons that make sense to him that you simply can’t imagine!” And that’s true. This tsunami of examples in which the naturalistic explanation beats theism and Christianity doesn’t prove that Christianity is false; it simply concludes that that’s the way to bet. This argument fails by making the Hypothetical God Fallacy.

Cosmologist Sean Carroll in his debate against William Lane Craig said, “It’s not hard to come up with ex post facto justifications for why God would’ve done it that way. Why is it not hard? Because theism is not well defined.”

A couple of days ago, Christian blogger John Mark Reynolds wrote about a time when life was discouraging. After prayer, he saw a rainbow over his house. He said, “Was it chance? It was not. It was God. Would that convince an atheist? Of course it would not, but then it was not a sign for the atheist. God was speaking through nature to me.”

Nope. If it wouldn’t convince an atheist, it shouldn’t convince you. If evidence were important, this being nothing more than a nice coincidence according to anyone outside your religion is the clue that you’ve deluded yourself. And that you dismiss that and embrace your interpretation as reality makes clear that you don’t care about evidence to support your belief.

This is the sign of an invented worldview.

Science doesn’t know everything.
Religion doesn’t know anything.
— Aron Ra

Image credit: Christine Schmidt, flickr, CC

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  • eric

    The typical Christian response is, “But God could have perfectly good reasons that make sense to him that you simply can’t imagine!” And that’s true. This tsunami of examples in which the naturalistic explanation beats theism and Christianity doesn’t prove that Christianity is false; it simply concludes that that’s the way to bet. This argument fails by making the Hypothetical God Fallacy.

    Far more troublesome than merely defending Christianity against philosophical arguments, this theology allows for Christians to do literally any horrible act in the future, practice any form of horrific bigotry or social violence they want. Why am I torturing your puppy right now? Well it might not look like good, but trust me, God has his reasons. Why must women not work or vote? Well, it may not look like moral goodness, but it must be good in ways we can’t understand because that’s what God decreed.
    There is only one sensible way to treat the “this is good in ways you can’t imagine” argument. Which is to respond to the Christian that until we understand why some act of apparent evil is good, society is justified in calling it evil and rejecting, banning, and punishing such Godly decrees. Manson didn’t get a “God’s ways are mysterious” bye, and neither does anyone else following what they think are “good an mysterious way” orders of God. For natural evil (hurricanes etc.), we use a very similar response: until we understand why some apparently unnecessary act of suffering is necessary and good, we are fully justified in calling it unnecessary suffering and drawing theological conclusions based on the interpretation that it is unnecessary suffering. Nature doesn’t get a “God’s ways are mysterious” bye any more than Manson did.
    Besides which, being mysteriously good implies that some level of deception or failure to communicate is good. Which kind of throws the whole theology into question, since if deception can be good, God could be deceiving us about literally anything. His nature, the existence of heaven and hell, requirements for salvation, correct religion, etc. If being mysteriously good is justified based on making humans ultimately more happy than they otherwise would be, then doesn’t this imply that promising people an afterlife but not delivering could be God’s mysterious good?

    • Kevin K

      I have always found it fascinating that the people who are most apt to use the “God Works In Mysterious Ways” arguments seem to know exactly what that god wants us to do with our genitalia.

      • And that he hates abortion.

        • Myna

          But he forgives that now! Pope Francis just made the announcement: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/world/europe/pope-francis-abortion-priests.html

        • Party on! I might get pregnant myself just so I can get absolution.

          I guess God doesn’t hate abortion anymore; it just irks him now.

        • Myna

          Yep.

        • They already forgave it, just changed who did the forgiving bit with that.

        • Myna

          Made it more drive-through via the confession booth?

        • Yep. Before you had to get it from a confession. Probably needed to make an appointment and everything.

        • Myna

          Before extending the power of priests to grant the absolution, only bishops or specially designated confessors could do so: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/21/europe/pope-francis-absolve-abortion/

        • I meant to write “bishop” not “confession” above. Sorry.

        • Carol Lynn

          Does that negate the automatic excommunication they gave me back in the 70s for being pro-abortion or am I still excommunicated? Sheesh! It’s so hard to keep up with this ‘unchanging morality’ stuff when it morphs every few years.

        • Myna

          From George Carlin’s, Special Dispensation: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and Limbo:

          “I’m seeing them better now, but I think I was troubled, too, at the time by the fact that my church would keep changing rules. I mean, they would change a rule anytime they wanted. “THIS LAW’S ETERNAL! […] And I’ve been gone a long time now. It’s not even a sin anymore to eat meat on Friday, but I’ll betcha there are still some guys in Hell doing time on the meat rap, right?”

        • Kevin K

          Despite having murdered every pregnant woman in the world and their “unborn children” with a great big flood.

        • Yes, but God loves the pweshush babeees!

          Aside: I was at a women’s health clinic making sure that a small group of Catholic anti-abortion protesters behaved themselves. One guy had a picture like the one below and then a maybe 6-month-old baby. The captions were something like, “I’m a baby” and “I’m still a baby!”

          I wanted to ask him why he was showing a giant picture of a maybe 7-month-old fetus rather than the single cell that it started with since they’re morally identical in his mind. Why isn’t Plan B as horrifying as an abortion clinic?

          http://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/11/590x/Foetus-435110.jpg

        • Kevin K

          My go-to is always “nope. Not a baby until after it leaves the womb. Until then, it’s a fetus.”

          Of course, a third trimester fetus does have some rights that a first trimester zygote doesn’t have, according to SCOTUS. But the forced birth crowd does not have any sense of shades of gray; only black-and-white will do.

        • Of course, a third trimester fetus does have some rights that a first trimester zygote doesn’t have, according to SCOTUS.

          Then personhood (or pick a better term) is a spectrum–0% as a cell and 100% as a newborn.

        • Kevin K

          If you read the Rowe v. Wade decision…

          The Constitution does not define “person” in so many words. Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment contains three references to “person.” … But in nearly all these instances, the use of the word is such that it has application only postnatally. None indicates, with any assurance, that it has any possible pre-natal application.

          So, even though the fetus has increasing rights in utero from the second trimester onward, it’s not a “person” until it is born.

          Nor did the court wish to get involved in the question of “when does life begin…

          We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.

          This, of course, is what gets the forced-birthers’ knickers in a twist.

        • I’ve been using “personhood” as if it’s a graduatable quantity, not a binary is/is-not kind of thing. Do you think the Roe decision contradicts that?

          I’m flexible about the word. If “person” isn’t appropriate for what a baby is and the single cell isn’t, I’m happy to try out another term.

        • Kevin K

          It would seem that Rowe does contradict that…but they don’t give any kind of substitute for “unborn entity”. I just read the entire decision…it’s actually fascinating to see how much they cared about medical and legal precedent, even going back to the days of Galen and Hippocrates.

        • Kodie

          Birth certificates are not issued for fetuses in the womb, and I’m not sure about babies who are stillborn, and definitely not miscarriages. Yes, people who were planning on the child in actuality being born living, healthy, etc., might have already picked out a name and become attached to that eventuality to the point of considering it a loss of a person, sure that pain and loss and grief is real, but the state recognizes persons born alive, and the birth certificate registers them as legal citizens and persons. Without a birth certificate, you don’t legally exist.

          That said, the Roe v. Wade decision, and state technical laws banning elective late-term abortions, become protective of the eventuality of the person being born once it develops far enough to be considered viable. Viability seems to be a limit of when the state begins to protect the eventual person, and prior to which a woman should have decided to elect to abort. Anti-abortion efforts like to focus on these late-term abortions as equivalent to persons, and preventing women from being able to make decisions before it becomes too late. I keep saying I don’t have a problem at all with early abortions, and the earlier a woman can just be rational – if you didn’t want to be pregnant before you were, it’s not a fucking sign, ok? There’s nothing to think about. The anti-abortion people like to make it out to be a decision that needs to be deliberated for a long time, an irreversible choice! It is reversible, though. If you changed your mind after an abortion, get pregnant again. Continuing a pregnancy past the point of no return is the irreversible choice!

        • I don’t think when life begins really matters. We can agree that it’s at conception, but personhood is the issue. To say a zygote is a person is quite incredible.

        • Carol Lynn

          We can agree that it’s at conception,

          No. We can’t. “Life” began 3.8 billion years ago and has been a continuous property of living things ever since. Does anyone seriously argue that the egg and sperm ‘lack life’ until they come together? That’s incoherent. An unliving sperm would have no motility.

        • More specifically a new individual living organism then.

        • Carol Lynn

          Words matter. Don’t be careless with definitions.

        • Well that’s why I got more specific.

        • Kevin K

          Which is why the court refused to confer “personhood” until after birth.

          Of course, the definition of “life” is a particularly contentious one, so it’s no wonder the court waved at it and then backed slowly out of the room. I don’t think any scientist would declare that a zygote is “alive”; but to the religious forced-birthers, that collection of undifferentiated cells has just as many rights as a 20-year-old.

        • I’m pretty sure they would (or do) but I don’t think it matters anyway. Personhood, not life, matters. No one cries over any sperm cell dying, for instance (well, maybe some Catholics if it dies due to contraception).

        • Rudy R

          The same reason Charlton Heston held up a musket instead of an AK-47, stating you’d have to take it away from his dead, cold hands. He knew the optics wouldn’t convince the fence sitters with the assault rifle.

        • Hmm, that doesn’t show up for me.

        • (It’s an empty square, though perhaps you knew that …)

          The gigantic 7-month-old fetus is morally equivalent to a single, microscopic cell to them. I wonder why they choose the former over the latter … ?

        • I should have realized before.

          Well, you know why. Like I said.

        • Pofarmer

          Yep, they act like nearly all abortions are near full term, when the truth is the exact opposite. Nearly all abortions are before 8 weeks. Here is a human embryo at 8 weeks

          http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/54/19/95/541995894708596a380aa4b674445550.jpg

        • That gives me an idea for a counter-protest. Have signs with fetus + baby, except use this 8-week-old fetus. And have it to scale. At this age, it’s about 1.5cm long.

    • Greg G.

      Why am I torturing your puppy right now? Well it might not look like good, but trust me, God has his reasons. Why must women not work or vote? Well, it may not look like moral goodness, but it must be good in ways we can’t understand because that’s what God decreed.

      Q: Why do you beat the people you bought with money?
      A: Leviticus and Numbers encourages it and Jesus endorses it in Luke.

      • Without Malice

        I’m still struggling to find any moral good in the slaughter of the little boys in Numbers 31.

        • Michael Neville

          They weren’t going to taunt bald guys any more.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ah, but according to some apologetics I’ve read over the years, they were not little boys at all, but adolescent’s and should have known better than to take the pish out of a baldy person, particularly one that has YahwehJesus’ ear.

          So that makes it alright then.

        • Kodie

          It’s a weird story, am I right? You get children or even teens, acting shitty and misbehaved and rude to someone, you know, like normal, and then, instead of calming the fuck down and realizing kids are fucking cruel uncivilized beasts who love to gang up on someone weak and taunt the shit out of them, and get over it, god’s right up in there sending the bears to maul them. Weepy shit bald guy is all, like, “yeah! Bears!” and feels vindicated as the so-called mature actor in this scene, dancing as children die by bears because he can’t fucking cope with reality.

          What is that story even supposed to teach? That children should be obedient and respect all adults, or else bears will kill them? Even respect adults who would summon a bear attack on them like an immature pile of shit?

        • Michael Neville

          I can see Elisha flopping down on his knees and saying: “Lord, these kids are being snotty to me. Time to do some smiting. Amen.”

        • More specially it’s supposed to be “don’t mess with a prophet of God” from what I understand.

        • Without Malice

          I’m afraid you have the wrong story in mind, Amos. Numbers 31 is where Moses get pissed at his warriors because they’ve left the Midianite women and children alive when God had ordered them all to be killed. Moses then tells them to put all the women and the boys to death by the sword but lets his men keep the young virgin girls alive so they could use them as sex slaves.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes, you are right. A just picked up on the slaughter of little boys bit and jumped right to the baldy prophet, she bears and little boys taunting his baldy napper.

          I know it is 2 Kings, ave commented on it often enough. Must be the Bordeaux. Mea culpa, apologies for the unthinking moment.

        • Michael Neville

          No, it were me what confused the two things. I relieve you of the blame, so just slink off to your hole and stay there until you’re needed. I has spoken!

        • Ignorant Amos

          A can’t see where ya did mate…but I’ll tell ya what, why don’t we just go halfer’s on it?

          Anyway, it was still a valid point on the subject regardless of it’s being misplaced.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I will tell you better than that, I was reading Numbers 31 earlier and quoted from it in a comment today.

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/the_great_debate_theism_vs_naturalism_where_does_the_evidence_point/#comment-3014737287

          A must be suffering from sometimers.

        • MNb

          Well, why not? According to them slavery is not OK, but indentured servitude totally is. For some reason the Javanese and Indians brought to Suriname from 1873 until 1939 to do such labour (modern Dunglish expresses it best: strangling contract) disagreed, with several rebellions as a result.

    • God can be marshaled to support pretty much anything. Ain’t he swell?!

      One wonders what our infallible moral sense (which always finds the objective moral truth) is good for if it’s quite fallible.

    • See Noevo

      To eric,

      “Far more troublesome than merely defending Christianity
      against philosophical arguments, this theology allows for Christians to do
      literally any *horrible act in the future*, practice any form of horrific
      bigotry or social violence they want.”

      Try using your imagination and identify what specific *horrible
      acts in the future* Christians would justify.
      What do you see?
      …………
      “Manson didn’t get a “God’s ways are mysterious” bye, and neither does anyone else following what they think are “good an mysterious way” orders of God.”

      I guess here you’re talking not about horrible acts in the
      future but rather horrible acts in the present or recent past.
      What would be a good example of recent horrible acts which,
      say, the Catholic Church, justified as good but mysterious ways of God?
      ……………
      “Besides which, being mysteriously good implies that some
      level of deception or failure to communicate is good.”

      I’m pretty sure just about every angry/upset child has thought much the same about his disciplining parents. Just an inadequate analogy, perhaps. Because it stands to reason that if there’s a God, His intelligence
      dwarfs ours by far more than a parent’s dwarfs the child’s.
      ……………….
      “If being mysteriously good is justified based on making humans ultimately more happy than they otherwise would be, then doesn’t this imply that promising people an afterlife but not delivering could be God’s
      mysterious good?”

      What would God gain by promising people an afterlife but not
      delivering?

      • Jim Jones

        > Try using your imagination and identify what specific *horrible
        acts in the future* Christians would justify.

        Like Jeffrey Dahmer, drilling holes in the skulls of gay men to turn them into zombie sex slaves.

        Want more?

        • See Noevo

          “Like Jeffrey Dahmer, drilling holes in the skulls of gay
          men to turn them into zombie sex slaves. Want more?”

          I don’t recall if Jeffrey Dahmer considered himself a
          Christian at the time he was doing such things. But let’s make this a little clearer and easier:
          Try using your imagination and identify what specific
          *horrible acts in the future* the *Catholic Church* might try to justify as good but mysterious ways of God.
          Yes, I want more.

        • Carol Lynn

          Why should I have to use my imagination to come up with new and unique future horrors to titillate you? That anyone ever used “I don’t understand the mind of God but I know God wants me to do this” as the excuse for committing atrocities, or even smaller, daily degradations, onto other humans is evidence enough that it has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen.

          What would God gain by promising people an afterlife but not delivering?

          First prove that god exists independently and that this is not a strategy made up by people to gain power and control.

        • Jim Jones

          Torturing people in horrific ways for days and then burning them to death while still alive.

          Oh, wait, they used to do that until the secular world stopped them.

        • Greg G.

          Torturing people in horrific ways for days and then burning them to death while still alive.

          Even longer, especially if the victim had a rich friend they would like to be implicated. Fortunately for the torturers, the most sensitive areas of the body are not vital organs.

        • Kodie

          Just a side question – is it worse to drill holes in the skulls of gay men to turn them into sex slaves, or because they’re gay and you hate gays and drilling holes in their skulls is a fantastic way to punish them according to your cruel religious justifications?

        • Jim Jones

          Ask the theists. I’m opposed to torture for any reason.

        • Kodie

          Me too, but it seemed like a weird example of torture justified by Christian/theist beliefs.

        • MR

          I went to a torture exhibit that displayed dozens of torture instruments used by the Inquisition. Of course, Protestants weren’t afraid to use them either. It’s pretty scary what a self-professed believer in God is willing to do to another human being.

        • Kodie

          The Milgram Experiment kinda tells us that humans are a pretty light touch in the willing-to-torture department.

        • MR

          That’s exactly where I was going! I happened to be reading about those experiments (out of sheer coincidence) just last night. And history provides plenty of examples. Even up to the modern day from ISIS to people literally beating the hell out of family members in exorcisms.

        • Greg G.

          I saw a web page about those about 20 years ago. Scary movies don’t bother me but those actual torture devices still unnerve me.

        • MR

          Lots of sexual torture instruments, too. Nipple snippers, colon scrapers, some crazy shit…. Very weird considering the religious nature of the torturers. But, then again, on second thought, this is probably what you get when you repress sexual desires.

        • Greg G.

          It’s how they used them that makes them worse. They didn’t cut out the tongue, they removed it with something like needle-nosed pliers, one nip at a time. They would crush a finger then tell them they hadn’t decided whether to crush another finger tomorrow or the same one again the next day, and let them think about that all night with a throbbing digit. It could last for weeks with the toes, too. When they cooked the feet over a fire, they would slather them in lard to keep the nerves alive longer.

        • MR

          Stop it. You’re making my balls tingle…, and not in a good way.

        • Ignorant Amos

          My second cousin was abducted by the IRA and tortured over a number of days before his body was dumped. That lad died an atrocious death and the torture was purely for pleasure.

          Then you have a onetime neighbour of mine, Lenny Murphy, and his gang of murderous bastards who tortured their victims.

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

          These Christian’s didn’t seem get the Jesus memo. Or maybe they just ignored it?

        • MR

          It seems weird to up vote this, but thank you for illustrating something that most of us are sheltered from in such a striking way.

      • eric

        it stands to reason that if there’s a God, His intelligence
        dwarfs ours by far more than a parent’s dwarfs the child’s.

        It stands to reason that if his intelligence dwarfs ours, he could find a better way to communicate. “Great intelligence” does not support the argument that God’s will is mysterious, it undermines it. Omniscience includes knowing how to communicate God’s will to everyone, at every time and place in a perfectly understandable and clear way; omnipotence includes being able to do so. So if God isn’t making his message clear to all humans of every time and place, he’s not omniscient. Not omnipotent. Or he chooses to be obtuse.

        What would God gain by promising people an afterlife but not
        delivering?


        Its morally good in a way you don’t understand. Just accept that it’s good!
        Does that response satisfy you? Do you find my logic a compelling reason to accept the theological claim I’ve just made?
        No?
        We agree.

        • See Noevo

          “So if God isn’t making his message clear to all humans of
          every time and place, he’s not omniscient. Not omnipotent. Or he chooses to be obtuse.”

          Or maybe He chooses to allow us to be obtuse.
          …………..
          You: “…doesn’t this imply that promising people an afterlife
          but not delivering could be God’s mysterious good?”

          Me: “What would God gain by promising people an afterlife
          but not delivering?”

          You: “Its morally good in a way you don’t understand. Just
          accept that it’s good!”

          That response is not addressing my question: What would God
          gain by promising people an afterlife but not delivering that afterlife?

          Secondly, what would be a top example for you of something that
          the Bible or Christians say is morally good in a way you don’t understand?

          P.S.
          I take it you haven’t been able to imagine what specific
          *horrible acts in the future* Christians or the Catholic Church would justify as good but mysterious ways of God.

          Me, too.

        • Michael Neville

          That response is not addressing my question: What would God gain by promising people an afterlife but not delivering that afterlife?

          It isn’t a fictitious god that’s promising these things. It’s the self-appointed spokespeople for the imaginary god who say: “Worship the god who we tell you exists, obey the rules that we tell you this god demands, hate the people we tell you that our god hates, give us lots of money because that’s what our god wants, and when you die you’ll be happy even though we can’t give the slightest evidence that this will happen.”

          God is the invention of people who didn’t know what caused thunder and lightning or why the Sun rises in the morning. Some of these people figured out that they could live an easy life if they were spokesmen for the thunder god. Since the spokesmen couldn’t deliver anything tangible here in the real world they made up stories about paradise happening after death.

          As Joe Hill says: “You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.”

      • Michael Neville

        What would God gain by promising people an afterlife but not delivering?

        The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. Job 1:21 (NIV) In other words, the Lord does whatever he wants and expects us to be thankful for whatever crumbs he lets fall. The Lord is what TV Tropes calls the Big Bad.

      • Kodie

        What would people gain by promising an afterlife they never have to deliver?

        • Michael Neville

          “The Preacher and the Slave”

          Long-haired preachers come out every night
          Try to tell you what’s wrong and what’s right
          But when asked how ’bout something to eat
          They will answer in voices so sweet:
          (Chorus)
          You will eat, bye and bye,
          In that glorious land above the sky
          Work and pray, live on hay,
          You’ll get pie in the sky when you die

  • Kevin K

    If Christianity were true, everyone around the world would agree on the status of the bacon cheeseburger and the wearing of hats.

  • Michael Neville

    Christian blogger John Mark Reynolds wrote about a time when life was discouraging.

    I visited Reynolds’ website and noticed that he’s shut off comments.

    • Yes, that’s been the case for a while. Weird.

    • Joe

      A couple of days ago, Christian blogger John Mark Reynolds wrote about a time when life was discouraging. After prayer, he saw a rainbow over his house. He said, “Was it chance? It was not. It was God.

      Had it recently been raining at the time? I’d guess so.

      • Michael Neville

        Actually it was God promising John Mark that his basement wouldn’t flood out.

        • Greg G.

          …wouldn’t flood out, again.

      • Myna

        It could have just as well been a moment for this Mr. Reynolds to put things in greater perspective…but helas.

        I always have an urge to ask those who personalize such things…You’re that important?

        • Joe

          I wonder how he was able to differentiate between a god-caused rainbow, and one that is merely the product of diffraction?

        • Myna

          Because he’s so important!

        • Michael Neville

          He probably has no problem finding his car keys and hitting all the green lights on his way to work.

      • Rt1583

        “Had it recently been raining at the time?”
        Things like this are not important to Christians.
        You could hit them in the face with a hammer, show them the hammer you’re going to use, tell them exactly what you’re going to do, warn them before you do it and if they’ve got a “reason” to chalk it up to god they will.

  • Dannorth

    Christianity did thrive, but that wasn’t because of God’s beneficence
    but Rome’s. Christianity was just one religion among many until the
    Edict of Thessalonica in 380 CE made Christianity the state religion of
    the Roman Empire.

    It is easier to go from polytheism to monotheism since
    polytheists usually have no restrictions to worshipping a god more while it is
    forbiden for monotheists to do the same. Think first commandment or
    the creed if Islam.

    • Michael Neville

      I’ve claimed before that Christians are polytheists. There’s the three in one trinity, an attempt by Christians to persuade themselves that while they worship three gods the three are actually one god (many Jews and Muslims don’t consider Christians to be monotheists). Catholics worship Mary as a goddess (they say they don’t but look at how they act regarding her). For many fundagelicals Satan is almost as powerful as Yahweh. Plus there’s all the demi-gods called saints and angels.

      • Dannorth

        I don’t have the history chops to know
        for sure if it’s true but I have long thought that the veneration of
        saints evolved as a way to make monotheism more palatable to
        polytheists used to have different gods for different need.

        In Catholicism there are saints for all kind of requests, St-Christopher to protect when you’re travelling,
        St-Jude for desperate needs, there’s one for helping you find lost
        objects and one for toothache…

        The Virgin Mary is the feminine goddess, as you point out.

        Once Christianity was well established in the Middle Ages it became possible for Protestants to clean up their beliefs of these relics but it would have more difficult to go from polytheism to an austere monotheism.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I don’t have the history chops to know
          for sure if it’s true

          cultural anthropology’s another helpful path in this case.

          that the veneration of saints evolved as a way to make monotheism more palatable to polytheists

          also an extra buffer against petty complaints about how The Only Option “didn’t answer my prayers, even after i gave the priest all our silver!” and all the amulets (which were of course sold, not handed out, until mass production and far cheaper materials came along) were great Sharpshooter Fallacy props.

  • See Noevo

    Just a few corrections:

    “The Bible declares that Christians don’t sin: “No one who is born of God practices sin” … With the Christian church run mostly by sinless Christians…”

    Wrong, on at least two counts:
    1) The Bible declares that Christians DO sin (cf. Romans 3:23), but that they do NOT “practice” sin (“practice” as in deliberately and *intentionally on-going* activity).
    2) The Church is run entirely, not mostly, by NON-sinless Christians.
    ……………
    “Christianity must be conservative because it is built on the premise that it’s already got things figured out.”

    Not really. See John 16:12-13. See also Acts 15.
    ………………
    “Christians were on both sides of these moral issues, as is true for any modern moral issue such as same-sex marriage, gay rights, abortion, or euthanasia.”

    “Christians” maybe, but not the Church.
    ……………
    “Christianity declares that morality is grounded exclusively in its god, but then it has a hard time explaining why other cultures without Christian dominance, both current and historical, seem to understand morality just fine.”

    Not true. See Romans 1:18-20.
    …………….
    “The Problem of Evil—the existence of gratuitous evil despite God taking a loving hand in our lives—also argues against Christianity.”

    Not really. One might say it’s the entire reason FOR Christianity.
    ……………
    That’s as far as I’ve read of your article so far.
    Maybe I’ll get to the rest, if I can muster the patience and the stomach for it.

    • TheMarsCydonia

      Oh, you have the stomach for it. You’ve shown you can feast on blatant dishonesty, willful ignorance and obvious cravenness.

      So a dose of reality would be a cleanser for you but we know that you won’t touch that food 😉

    • Michael Neville

      The Bible declares that Christians DO sin (cf. Romans 3:23), but that they do NOT “practice” sin (“practice” as in deliberately and *intentionally on-going* activity).

      You must know a completely different bunch of Christians than the rest of us. There’s Catholic priests raping children and their bishops covering up the rapes. There’s Kent Hovind, convicted of tax evasion (“render unto Caesar”) and money laundering. Richard Roberts (son of Oral) was forced to resign as führer of his dad’s university because of misappropriation of funds. Tony Alamo was convicted of possession of child pornography and of child rape. And let’s not forget “I’m totally heterosexual” Ted Haggard who sniffed meth from the naked body of a male prostitute.

      Or are you claiming these things weren’t done “deliberately and intentionally”?

      • Joe

        Some of those seem so good at sinning that they don’t even have to practice, it just comes naturally.

      • Dys

        You’ll get the No True Christian response, if you get one at all. Bet on it.

    • Jim Jones

      “The Bible declares” . . . and thus we see that you have no argument.

      • MNb

        He quoted BobS. The phrase is in his article.

    • 1) The Bible declares that Christians DO sin (cf. Romans 3:23), but that they do NOT “practice” sin (“practice” as in deliberately and *intentionally on-going* activity).

      “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” 1 John 3:9

      “Christians were on both sides of these moral issues, as is true for any modern moral issue such as same-sex marriage, gay rights, abortion, or euthanasia.”
      “Christians” maybe, but not the Church.

      What does this mean? That the Church has always had a single, unvarying, always-right position on these moral issues? If so, I’m eager to hear more.

      “Christianity declares that morality is grounded exclusively in its god, but then it has a hard time explaining why other cultures without Christian dominance, both current and historical, seem to understand morality just fine.”
      Not true. See Romans 1:18-20.

      So then religion doesn’t matter? All non-Christians breathe a sigh of relief.

      “The Problem of Evil—the existence of gratuitous evil despite God taking a loving hand in our lives—also argues against Christianity.”
      Not really. One might say it’s the entire reason FOR Christianity.

      So God sitting by, watching all the gratuitous evil happen even though he could stop any or all of it, is part of his Grand Plan®? What a dick.

      Maybe I’ll get to the rest, if I can muster the patience and the stomach for it.

      How lucky for us that you deign to share your wisdom.

      • See Noevo

        Me: “1) The Bible declares that Christians DO sin (cf. Romans 3:23), but that they do NOT “practice” sin (“practice” as in deliberately and *intentionally on-going* activity).”

        You: ““No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” 1 John 3:9”

        Yet…
        “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
        If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and
        cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
        If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
        [1 John 1:8-10]
        …………….
        You: “Christians were on both sides of these moral issues,
        as is true for any modern moral issue such as same-sex marriage, gay rights, abortion, or euthanasia.”

        Me: ““Christians” maybe, but not the Church.”

        You: “What does this mean? That the Church has always had a
        single, unvarying, always-right position on these moral issues?”

        Essentially, yes.
        See, for example, Ephesians 3:10, 1 Timothy 3:15.
        Without the Church, there is no Christianity.

        “If so, I’m eager to hear more.”

        Then you should read and think more.
        Meanwhile, and for the sake of time and of brevity, perhaps
        I’ll try to answer you on ONE (1) of the modern moral issues you list above.
        Pick one.
        …………
        Me: “Not true. See Romans 1:18-20.”

        You: “So then religion doesn’t matter? All non-Christians
        breathe a sigh of relief.”

        Similarly, all non-educated people may breathe a sigh of relief.
        *Some* of them may actually be successful in this world.
        But where the education is available, and for free, I”ll take the education.
        …………
        “So God sitting by, watching all the gratuitous evil happen
        even though he could stop any or all of it, is part of his Grand Plan®? What a dick.”

        Not exactly the language of Jesus, God the Son. But pretty close:
        “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice,
        “Eli, Eli, la’ma sabach-tha’ni?” that is,
        “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
        [Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34]

        • Yet…

          Let me take a step back, since you’re not following my point. I just quoted the Bible. Perhaps you remember? The Word of God®? What you got that’s gonna trump that?

          You: “What does this mean? That the Church has always had a
          single, unvarying, always-right position on these moral issues?”
          Essentially, yes.
          See, for example, Ephesians 3:10, 1 Timothy 3:15.

          Oooh! It’s like Christmas! Show me then. What are the objectively correct positions on abortion, euthanasia, or the rightness of war? Pick one.

          Points taken off if these are merely assertions, if there’s no proof that they’re objectively true, or if this devolves into dueling Bible verses.

          “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice,
          “Eli, Eli, la’ma sabach-tha’ni?” that is,
          “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
          [Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34]

          Yeah, if that’s evidence for God being a dick, I agree. But of course is laughable to imagine that a person of the Trinity would ever ask, “Why.”

        • See Noevo

          “Let me take a step back, since you’re not following my point. I just quoted the Bible. Perhaps you remember? The Word of God®? What you got that’s gonna trump that?”

          First of all, you’re quoting Scripture passages in isolation
          and not managing to consider how *apparently* conflicting verses could *both* be true.

          Secondly, and more importantly, what I got that “trumps” the
          Bible is …
          the body that put the Bible together, determined what
          comprises the Bible, interprets the Bible, and that preached “the Bible” before a Bible as we know it ever existed.
          That body is the Church.
          …………..
          ME: “Meanwhile, and for the sake of time and of brevity,
          perhaps I’ll try to answer you on ONE (1) of the modern moral issues you list above. PICK ONE.”

          You: “Oooh! It’s like Christmas! Show me then. What are the
          objectively correct positions on abortion, euthanasia, or the rightness of war? Pick one.”

          You’re like Zeta in part 1! You either don’t read or don’t
          follow simple requests.

          I’ll repeat, as I did continually and fruitlessly with Zeta:

          PICK ONE (1).
          ……….
          “So God sitting by, watching all the gratuitous evil happen
          even though he could stop any or all of it, is part of his Grand Plan®? What a dick.”

          Enough with the “gratuitous evil” smokescreen.

          No need to even think of raising up disease, torture, genocide, etc.
          All you need is a hangnail or a hangover to declare –
          ‘There is no God!’

        • First of all, you’re quoting Scripture passages in isolation

          You mean . . . like you were doing?

          . . . and not managing to consider how *apparently* conflicting verses could *both* be true.

          You know what must be a bitch? Being the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the universe and not being able to get out your infallible message. I don’t want to be rude, but does he have some sort of speech defect or something?

          I got that “trumps” the
          Bible is …
          the body that put the Bible together, determined what
          comprises the Bible, interprets the Bible, and that preached “the Bible” before a Bible as we know it ever existed.
          That body is the Church.

          You and your carriage returns—adorable!

          But to your point, yes, I understand that people (“the Church”) did all that. Why I should see that as anything more than as ordinary humans doing their fallible best you’ll have to share with us.

          “Ordinary people did it!” is going to trump what, exactly? The Bible? You’ll have to go through that one for me.

          I’ll repeat, as I did continually and fruitlessly with Zeta:
          PICK ONE (1).

          Abortion.

          Enough with the “gratuitous evil” smokescreen.

          Why? Because you’ve neatly explained it? Guess again.

          No need to even think of raising up disease, torture, genocide, etc.
          All you need is a hangnail or a hangover to declare –
          ‘There is no God!’

          And yet that’s not my argument.

          What’s the problem? You can’t deal with my argument head on?

        • See Noevo

          “But to your point, yes, I understand that people (“the Church”) did all that. Why I should see that as anything more than as ordinary
          humans doing their fallible best you’ll have to share with us. “Ordinary people did it!” is going to trump what, exactly? The Bible? You’ll have to go through that one for me.”

          If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, as witnessed by
          many, many of whom were executed for refusing to deny their witness, you should have nothing to be concerned about.
          If you deny His resurrection, there is nothing more to discuss regarding His Church.
          ………..

          Me: “I’ll repeat, as I did continually and fruitlessly with
          Zeta: PICK ONE (1).”

          You: “Abortion.”

          Try this: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/abortion
          …………..
          Me: “Enough with the “gratuitous evil” smokescreen. No need
          to even think of raising up disease, torture, genocide, etc. All you need is a hangnail or a hangover to declare – ‘There is no God!’”

          You: “And yet that’s not my argument. What’s the problem?
          You can’t deal with my argument head on?”

          I see your argument as ‘There are things in this world I don’t
          like. Thus, there is no God.’

          Such “things” may differ in substance and/or degree, but the “gratuitous” makes for a better headline to sell your “argument.”

        • If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, as witnessed by
          many, many of whom were executed for refusing to deny their witness, you should have nothing to be concerned about.
          If you deny His resurrection, there is nothing more to discuss regarding His Church.

          So, translated: “I got nuthin’.”

          No, you don’t.

          You: “Abortion.”
          Try this: http://www.catholic.com/tracts

          After all those demands about following your instructions to the letter, I kind of expected an answer when I complied. Hilarious—you got nuthin’ again!

          I’ll remind those watching that my request was for the objectively correct response to abortion. And a Catholic site is supposed to be the answer? Explain it to me in your own words, or admit that you can’t.

        • See Noevo

          “Explain it to me in your own words, or admit that you can’t.”

          The Catholic Church has always condemned abortion. Modern
          science has confirmed what common sense always discerned: That what’s growing in the womb is alive and further is human life. Deliberately destroying this human life is an abomination.

        • I think it’s debatable that the church has always condemned abortion. I’d like to see a clear rejection of the Trial of Bitter Water all the way back to the time of Jesus to agree to that.

          You’ve simply stated what the Catholic church says. Yes, I understand that, but I hope you understand that this didn’t do anything to address my concern. Everyone else knew that, even if you didn’t.

        • See Noevo

          “You’ve simply stated what the Catholic church says.”

          Not quite. I actually stated what the Catholic Church has *always*
          said, AND what commonsense and modern science say.

          “… I hope you understand that this didn’t do anything to
          address my concern.”

          Your concern being what?

        • I actually stated what the Catholic Church has *always*
          said, AND what commonsense and modern science say.

          So you give me your view of abortion, and that’s supposed to be an example of objective morality? You’ll need to try a little harder than that since you’ve not even gotten off the starting line.

          Your concern being what?

          Uh . . . an example of objective morality.

        • See Noevo

          I already gave you an example of objective morality, after
          you picked the subject of abortion.

          I’ll repeat, for your benefit, this example of *objective morality*:
          *Abortion is intrinsically and gravely evil, in all cases and
          for all time.*

        • Kodie

          It’s actually an opinion, not even close to an example of objective morality. You are really in over your stupid delusional head.

        • MR

          I love when they pick the one that isn’t even mentioned by name in the Bible. That carries a lot of weight.

        • Ah, that’s cute. You have no idea what it would take to show objective morality, do you? Watching you phumpher around, barfing up platitudes from some Catholic site as if that will prove objective morality, is adorable.

          Yes, I’m sure the Catholic Church thinks abortion is super duper pearl-clutching bad. That doesn’t address the question.

          And since I know you’re going to respond to this with a well-thought-out but brief essay that will force me to reevaluate my convictions, let’s make sure you have part 2: show us that this “objective morality” is reliably accessible by we fallible humans. If there’s a correct answer to any moral issue (abortion, for example) but we can’t access it, then the existence of objective morality would be irrelevant.

        • See Noevo

          “Ah, that’s cute. You have no idea what it would take to show objective morality, do you?”

          Well, before we go any further, what do *you* think it would
          take to show objective morality?

          “… let’s make sure you have part 2: show us that this
          “objective morality” is reliably accessible by we fallible humans.”

          I can show it is.
          Now, first answer my question above.

        • Michael Neville

          Objective morality would be actions which are obviously moral or immoral to everyone. Most people think that rape is immoral while opinions are divided about abortion, so rape would be closer to being objectively immoral than abortion. However what some people call rape is not considered rape by others so rape isn’t objectively immoral either.

          Your question has been answered. Now it’s your turn. And don’t try to weasel out of answering Bob’s question like is your general habit.

        • See Noevo

          Michael “Gallup Poll morality” Neville…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AC63HUa3h3M

        • Michael Neville

          Your three word response does nothing to rebut what I wrote. Try again, this time put some thought into it, if you can.

        • what do *you* think it would
          take to show objective morality?

          You’re the one who was claiming it. You tell me.

          But since you’re flailing here, I’ll add my thoughts. Objective morality is unchanging morality. Wm. Lane Craig defines it this way: “moral values that are valid and binding whether anybody believes in them or not,” and I accept that as a good definition.

          To demonstrate that (and that we can reliably access this), you’d take all moral issues and show that there is just one correct answer for each and that once you reveal this objective truth to all people, they all agree.

          As for demonstrating just objective morality (without the second part), I have no idea.

        • See Noevo

          “Objective morality is unchanging morality. Wm. Lane Craig
          defines it this way: “moral values that are valid and binding whether anybody believes in them or not,” and I accept that as a good definition.”

          That sounds pretty good!

          “To demonstrate that (and that we can reliably access this),
          you’d take all moral issues and show that there is just one correct answer for each and that once you reveal this objective truth to all people, they all agree.”

          That sounds *not* so good!
          Or at least it seems *inconsistent* with the first part.
          That is, the “all agree” conflicts with the “whether
          anybody believes in them or not.”

          Can you clean this up?

        • “To demonstrate that (and that we can reliably access this),
          you’d take all moral issues and show that there is just one correct answer for each and that once you reveal this objective truth to all people, they all agree.”
          That sounds *not* so good!

          Tell me about it. And yet Christians cheerfully blather on about objective morality. Crazy, right?

          Or at least it seems *inconsistent* with the first part.
          That is, the “all agree” conflicts with the “whether
          anybody believes in them or not.”
          Can you clean this up?

          I don’t see a problem. Except for you to show that objective morality exists and is reliably accessible.

        • Dys

          It always seemed to me that Craig’s moral argument is essentially begging the question.

          Defined as “moral values that are valid and binding whether anybody believes in them or not”, it should also logically follow that the moral values exist regardless of whether there are any people (or beings) capable of holding them.

          So, assuming a hypothetical scenario where no minds exist to hold moral values, how would one demonstrate they exist? I suspect that Craig would not be comfortable with the “no minds” scenario because his entire argument hinges on at least one mind existing – the mind of God.

          Craig’s moral argument only really works within a theistic context, but since he’s trying to prove that a god exists in the first place, it appears that he’s assuming his conclusion a priori.

        • They need to explain the bin in which morality would reside in that case where there are no people.

          “God!” they’ll say. And we’re back to square 1 with the evidence-less claim for God.

        • Greg G.

          Is exceeding the speed of light immoral in our universe? Would killing be immoral in a universe full of life forms that could not be killed?

          If masturbation was immoral, why isn’t it like trying to tickle yourself?

        • MR

          If it’s immoral, is that considered self-rape?

        • TheNuszAbides
        • TheNuszAbides

          i’m not aware of a single [theology-related] argument from Craig that doesn’t either beg the question or specially plead. and his science-related ones are at best quote-mining.

        • See Noevo

          “Tell me about it. And yet Christians cheerfully blather on
          about objective morality. Crazy, right?”

          No. What’s crazy is YOU saying objective morality is
          unchanging, valid and binding *whether anybody believes in it or not* but ALSO
          that *all people would agree* to it.

          If you “don’t see a problem”, then you’re blind.

        • The former is giving a definition of objective morality. The latter is your challenge in showing that objective morality is accessible by all ordinary humans.

          Apples and oranges.

        • See Noevo

          “The former is giving a definition of objective morality.
          The latter is your challenge in showing that objective morality is accessible by all ordinary humans.”

          No. You’re saying objective morality is objective *whether anybody believes in it or not* but ALSO that *all people would agree* to it.

          That’s not “Apples and oranges.” It’s more like you saying an apple
          must have all the characteristics of an apple but must also NOT be an apple.

          You’re pretty fruity.

        • Wrong again. But let me compliment you for boldly and arrogantly parading your stupidity out in public for critique and correction. It’s great to see someone eager to improve himself by pruning away stupid ideas.

          All I can do is repeat my previous comment. And all you can do is harp on this or that misconception, while your claim of objective morality is still out there, unsupported. You’re making Baby Jesus cry, y’know.

        • And I guess you are hoping that we forget your bold claims about objective morality.

          I await your demonstration of objective morality, now that you understand what it is. Or perhaps you’d like to back away from your prior claim.

        • See Noevo

          “And I guess you are hoping that we forget your bold claims
          about objective morality. I await your demonstration of objective morality, now that you understand what it is. Or perhaps you’d like to back away from your prior claim.”

          Not at all.
          I asked you to *pick one* of your subjects of morality, and
          you kindly did so, by picking *abortion*.
          I then said an example of objective morality is that
          ‘Abortion is inherently and gravely evil.’

          Now, *why* is that?

          Firstly, and less importantly, what is objectively evil is
          *generally* acknowledged as such by most people, because such evils are generally recognized as unfairly damaging to themselves and/or to others.
          Abortion has always been recognized for what it is – the deliberate
          *killing* of *innocent* *human* life
          (e.g. *not* the killing of broccoli life or buffalo life, but human life.).

          People recognize that abortion not only is bad for the
          innocent human life in the womb, but also that it has bad implications for certain people *outside* the womb (e.g. Maybe someday *I* will be considered unwanted, or inconvenient, or not having the “acceptable” characteristics, and could likewise be killed.).

          Common sense, really.

          *Secondly, and more importantly*, such simple and clear
          acknowledgement of the evil of abortion is confirmed by The Author of Reality – God.

          But how?

          Because
          1) HE said to His apostles “He who hears you hears
          me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” and
          2) His apostles and their *necessary* successors
          said ‘Abortion is objectively morally evil.’

          *But why* believe in Him, or the Bible which His Church formed, or
          in what his Church says about the objective moral evil of abortion?

          Well, I think it comes down to trusting in one’s senses, one’s
          rationality, one’s knowledge of human behavior and one’s knowledge of history.
          (If you don’t trust in these things, you need read no further.)

          These things lead one (or at least lead me and billions of
          others) to *accept as DIVINELY true* what *the Church* says about abortion (and other matters of morals and faith).

          Sometime ago, I found a relatively short article which
          addresses fairly well what I’m getting at.
          It’s presents a “spiral” argument, NOT a “circular” argument.
          Big difference.
          Take a look and tell me what you think:
          http://www.catholic.com/tracts/proving-inspiration

        • TheMarsCydonia

          That was spectacularly bad. How long have you been at this? You must be new or else you really are a terribly slow learner (slow like “it took me 12 years and I still don’t understand what evolution is”).

          Because you certainly fail to see that you have not demonstrated how abortion is objectively evil.

          And note: if abortion is the “the deliberate *killing* of *innocent* *human* life” and is objectively evil, then it would follow that any being that “deliberately kills innocent human life” is thus objectively evil.

          Now, if we could only guess which being the bible reports as deliberately killing the most innocent human lives… that being would be objectively evil.

        • MNb

          “what is objectively evil is
          *generally* acknowledged as such by most people, because such evils are generally recognized as unfairly damaging to themselves and/or to others.
          Abortion has always been recognized for what it is – the deliberate
          *killing* of *innocent* *human* life.”

          SN and facts don’t go together.
          In the Roman Empire infanticide was widely accepted.

          xhttp://www.seeker.com/infanticide-common-in-roman-empire-1765237924.html

          Try again.
          Or not.

        • I then said an example of objective morality is that
          ‘Abortion is inherently and gravely evil.’

          Yes, that’s the claim. Now back it up. All you’ve given us is your opinion. Or maybe an institution’s opinion. That gets us nowhere. Show that that claim is objectively true.

          That claim may be widely believed. It may be strongly believed. That doesn’t make it objectively true.

          what is objectively evil is
          *generally* acknowledged as such by most people

          Surely you’re not saying that this is a popularity contest.

          Abortion has always been recognized for what it is – the deliberate
          *killing* of *innocent* *human* life

          And when you define “human life” as going back to the microscopic cell at the beginning, you’ve watered down the definition so much that your claim has lost all of its power.

          See personhood as a spectrum (not a person as a single cell; 100% a person as a newborn) and you’ll make more sense.

          but also that it has bad implications for certain people *outside* the womb (e.g. Maybe someday *I* will be considered unwanted, or inconvenient, or not having the “acceptable” characteristics, and could likewise be killed.).

          The spectrum view is your friend in this instance.

          Secondly, and more importantly, such simp le and clear
          acknowledgement of the evil of abortion is confirmed by The Author of Reality – God.

          No one cares. This is a secular country.

          2) His apostles and their *necessary* successors
          said ‘Abortion is objectively morally evil.’

          You have an institution, and ordinary men agree with you? You sure that that’s the argument you want to stick with?

          The Trial of Bitter Water in Numbers 5 makes clear that God is A-OK with abortion. He also didn’t seem to give a shit about killing babies and fetuses during the Flood. Or during the genocide that he commanded.

          So no, God is no ally in your fight against abortion.

          These things lead one (or at least lead me and billions of
          others) to *accept as DIVINELY true* what *the Church* says about abortion (and other matters of morals and faith).

          And the majority of people in the world think that your church has most assuredly not tapped into objective morality.

          Thanks for the article. It looks long and boring. I won’t bother reading it, but I’d be curious to read your summary.

          And BTW, why focus on abortion? Why not focus on the cause of abortion? That would be more sensible in many ways.

        • See Noevo

          “Surely you’re not saying that [objective morality] is a
          popularity contest.”

          Surely not.
          ……………
          “And when you define “human life” as going back to the
          microscopic cell at the beginning, you’ve watered down the definition so much that your claim has lost all of its power.”

          Maybe not you, but *scientists* like to classify things. How
          would they classify the life in the woman’s womb at conception? Would the scientists say it’s broccoli life or buffalo life or bacteria life? What?
          ……………
          “See personhood as a spectrum (not a person as a single cell…”
          …. and yada yada yada.

          Oh, please.
          You know, Bob, I may not be as old as you. I’m only 60.
          But in all my years in the pro-life movement, I have never,
          ever, seen a single, solitary argument for abortion that made any sense.
          ZERO.
          …………
          “Thanks for the article. It looks long and boring. I won’t
          bother reading it, but I’d be curious to read your summary.”

          OK. Here’s my summary:

          The Protestant Reformers said that the Bible is the sole
          authoritative source of religious truth, whose proper understanding must be found by looking only at the words of the text itself. This is the Protestant teaching of sola scriptura (Latin: by Scripture alone). According to this teaching, no outside authority may mandate an interpretation, because no outside authority, such as the Church, has been established by Christ as an arbiter to determine which of the conflicting interpretations is correct.

          There is perhaps no greater frustration in dealing with
          Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestants, than in trying to pin them down on why the Bible should be taken as a rule of faith at all, let alone the sole rule. It reduces to the question of why Fundamentalists accept the Bible as inspired, since the Bible can be taken as a rule of faith only if it is first held to be inspired and, thus, inerrant.

          Now, this is a problem that doesn’t keep many nominal
          Christians awake at night. Most have never even given it any serious thought. To the extent that they believe in the Bible, they do so because they operate in a milieu that is, if post-Christian in many ways, still steeped in Christian presuppositions and ways of thought.

          A lukewarm Christian who would not give the slightest
          credence to the Koran would think twice about casting.aspersions on the Bible. It has a certain official status for him, even if he cannot explain why. You might say that he accepts the Bible as inspired (whatever that may mean to him) for some “cultural” reason, but that is hardly an adequate reason, since on such a basis that would mean the Koran rightly would be considered inspired in a Muslim country.

          “It Inspires Me”

          Some Fundamentalists say they believe the Bible is inspired
          because it is “inspirational,” but that is an ambiguous term. On the
          one hand, if used in the strict theological sense, it clearly begs the
          question, which is: How do we know the Bible is inspired, that is,
          “written” by God, using human authors as instruments?

          But if “inspirational” means nothing more than
          “inspiring” or “moving,” then someone might decide that the
          works of Shakespeare are inspired. Furthermore, parts of the Bible, including several whole books of the Old Testament, cannot at all be called “inspirational” in this sense. One bears no disrespect in admitting that some parts of the Bible are as dry as military statistics—indeed, some parts are military statistics—and offer little to move the emotions.

          Witness of the Bible
          What about the Bible’s own claim to inspiration? There are
          not many places where such a claim is made even elliptically, and most books in the Old and New Testaments make no such claim at all. In fact, no New Testament writer explicitly claims that he himself is writing at the direct behest of God, with the exception of John, the author of Revelation.

          Besides, even if every biblical book began with the phrase,
          “The following is an inspired book,” this would prove nothing. A book
          of false scriptures can easily assert that it is inspired, and many do. The mere claim of inspiration is insufficient to establish that something is bona fide.

          These tests failing, most Fundamentalists fall back on the
          notion that “the Holy Spirit tells me the Bible is inspired,” an
          exercise in subjectivism akin to their claim that the Holy Spirit guides them in interpreting the text. For example, the anonymous author of How Can I Understand the Bible?, a booklet distributed by the Evangelical organization “Radio Bible Class,” lists twelve rules for Bible study. The first is, “Seek the help of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit has been given to illumine the scriptures and make them alive to you as you study them. Yield to his enlightenment.”

          If one takes this to mean that anyone asking for a proper
          interpretation will receive one from God—and that is exactly how most Fundamentalists understand the assistance of the Holy Spirit to work—then the multiplicity of interpretations, even among Fundamentalists, should give people a gnawing suspicion that the Holy Spirit has not been doing his job very well.

          No Rational Basis
          Most Fundamentalists do not say in so many words that the
          Holy Spirit has spoken to them directly to assure them of the inspiration of the Bible. Rather, in reading the Bible they say that they are “convicted” that it is the word of God, they get a positive
          “feeling” that it is inspired, and that’s that. But this reduces
          their acceptance of the Bible to the influence of their culture, habit, or any number of other emotional or psychological factors.

          No matter how it is examined, the Fundamentalist position is
          not one that is rigorously reasoned out. It is a rare Fundamentalist who, even for sake of argument, first approaches the Bible as though it is not inspired and then later, upon reading it, syllogistically concludes that it must be. In fact, Fundamentalists begin with the fact of inspiration—just as they take the other doctrines of Fundamentalism as premises, not as conclusions—and then they
          find passages in the Bible that seem to support inspiration. They finally “conclude,” with obviously circular reasoning, that the Bible
          confirms its inspiration, which they knew all along.

          The man who wrestles with the Fundamentalist approach to
          inspiration is eventually unsatisfied, because he knows that the Fundamentalist has no sound basis for his belief. So where does one find a reasonable proof for the inspiration of Scripture? Look no further than the Catholic Church. Ultimately, the Catholic position is the only one that proves conclusively the divine inspiration of Scripture, the only one that can satisfy a person intellectually.

          The Catholic method of proving the Bible to be inspired is
          this: The Bible is initially approached as any other ancient work. It is not, at first, presumed to be inspired. From textual criticism we are able to conclude that we have a text the accuracy of which is more certain than the accuracy of any other ancient work.

          An Accurate Text
          Sir Frederic Kenyon, in The Story of the Bible, notes that
          “For all the works of classical antiquity we have to depend on manuscripts written long after their original composition. The author who is the best case in this respect is Virgil, yet the earliest manuscript of Virgil that we now possess was written some 350 years after his death. For all other classical writers, the interval between the date of the author and the earliest extant
          manuscript of his works is much greater. For Livy it is about 500 years, for Horace 900, for most of Plato 1,300, for Euripides 1,600.” Yet no one seriously disputes that we have accurate copies of the works of these writers. However, in the case of the New Testament we have parts of manuscripts dating from the first and early second centuries, only a few decades after the works were penned.

          Not only are the biblical manuscripts that we have older
          than those for classical authors, we have in sheer numbers far more manuscripts from which to work. Some are whole books of the Bible, others fragments of just a few words, but there are literally thousands of manuscripts in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Coptic, Syriac, and other languages. This means that we can be sure we
          have an authentic text, and we can work from it with confidence.

          The Bible as Historical Truth
          Next we take a look at what the Bible, considered merely as
          a history, tells us, focusing particularly on the New Testament, and more specifically the Gospels. We examine the account contained therein of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

          Using what is in the Gospels themselves and what we find in
          extra-biblical writings from the early centuries, together with what we know of human nature (and what we can otherwise, from natural reason alone, know of divine nature), we conclude that either Jesus was just what he claimed to be—God—or he was crazy. (The one thing we know he could not have been was merely a good man who was not God, since no merely good man would make the
          claims he made.)

          We are able to eliminate the possibility of his being a
          madman not just from what he said but from what his followers did after his death. Many critics of the Gospel accounts of the resurrection claim that Christ did not truly rise, that his followers took his body from the tomb and then proclaimed him risen from the dead. According to these critics, the resurrection was nothing more than a hoax. Devising a hoax to glorify a friend and mentor is one thing, but you do not find people dying for a hoax, at least
          not one from which they derive no benefit. Certainly if Christ had not risen his disciples would not have died horrible deaths affirming the reality and truth of the resurrection. The result of this line of reasoning is that we must conclude that Jesus indeed rose from the dead. Consequently, his claims concerning himself—including his claim to be God—have credibility. He meant what he said and did what he said he would do.

          Further, Christ said he would found a Church. Both the Bible
          (still taken as merely a historical book, not yet as an inspired one) and other ancient works attest to the fact that Christ established a Church with the rudiments of what we see in the Catholic Church today—papacy, hierarchy, priesthood, sacraments, and teaching authority.

          We have thus taken the material and purely historically
          concluded that Jesus founded the Catholic Church. Because of his Resurrection we have reason to take seriously his claims concerning the Church, including its authority to teach in his name.

          This Catholic Church tells us the Bible is inspired, and we
          can take the Church’s word for it precisely because the Church is infallible. Only after having been told by a properly constituted authority—that is, one established by God to assure us of the truth concerning matters of faith—that the Bible is inspired can we reasonably begin to use it as an inspired book.

          A Spiral Argument
          Note that this is not a circular argument. We are not basing
          the inspiration of the Bible on the Church’s infallibility and the Church’s infallibility on the word of an inspired Bible. That indeed would be a circular argument! What we have is really a spiral argument. On the first level we argue to the reliability of the Bible insofar as it is history. From that we conclude that an infallible Church was founded. And then we take the word of that
          infallible Church that the Bible is inspired. This is not a circular argument because the final conclusion (the Bible is inspired) is not simply a restatement of its initial finding (the Bible is historically reliable), and its initial finding (the Bible is historically reliable) is in no way based on the final conclusion (the Bible is inspired). What we have demonstrated is that without the existence of the Church, we could never know whether the Bible is inspired.

          Inadequate Reasons
          The point is that Fundamentalists are quite right in believing the Bible to be inspired, but their reasons for so believing are
          inadequate. In reality this conviction can be based only on an authority established by God to tell us the Bible is inspired, and that authority is the Church.

          And this is where a more serious problem comes to light. It
          seems to some that it makes little difference why one believes in the Bible’s inspiration, just so long as one believes in it. But the basis for one’s belief in its inspiration directly affects how one proceeds to interpret the Bible. The Catholic believes in inspiration because, to put it bluntly, the Church tells him so and that same Church has the authority to interpret the inspired text. Fundamentalists believe in inspiration, though on weak grounds, but they have no interpreting authority other than themselves.

          Cardinal Newman put it this way in an essay on inspiration
          first published in 1884: “Surely then, if the revelations and lessons in
          Scripture are addressed to us personally and practically, the presence among us of a formal judge and standing expositor of its words is imperative. It is antecedently unreasonable to suppose that a book so complex, so unsystematic, in parts so obscure, the outcome of so many minds, times, and places, should be
          given us from above without the safeguard of some authority; as if it could possibly from the nature of the case, interpret itself. Its inspiration does but guarantee its truth, not its interpretation. How are private readers satisfactorily to distinguish what is didactic and what is historical, what is fact and what is vision, what is allegorical and what is literal, what is [idiomatic] and what is grammatical, what is enunciated formally and what occurs, what is only of temporary and what is of lasting obligations. Such is our natural anticipation, and it is only too exactly justified in the events of the last three centuries, in the many countries where private judgment on the
          text of Scripture has prevailed. The gift of inspiration requires as its
          complement the gift of infallibility.”

          The advantages of the Catholic approach are two: First, the
          inspiration is really proved, not just “felt.” Second, the main fact behind the proof—the reality of an infallible, teaching Church—leads one naturally to an answer to the problem that troubled the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:30-31): How is one to know which interpretations are correct? The same Church that authenticates the Bible, that attests to its inspiration, is the authority established by Christ to interpret his word.

          Pretty simple.

        • You know, Bob, I may not be as old as you. I’m only 60.
          But in all my years in the pro-life movement, I have never,
          ever, seen a single, solitary argument for abortion that made any sense.
          ZERO.

          I’ve responded to 20 pro-life arguments here. I’m certain that you’ll find none compelling.

          More on the topic here.

          And I’m waiting for a compelling argument for the existence of an objectively true answer to abortion. It’s clear you have nothing.

        • See Noevo

          “I’ve responded to 20 pro-life arguments here. I’m certain
          that you’ll find none compelling.”

          Correct.
          ………..
          “And I’m waiting for a compelling argument for the existence
          of an objectively true answer to abortion.”

          I think you’ll get one eventually, at least after your death. You won’t have much longer to wait. It will come in the blink of an eye, in “geologic time”.

          P.S.
          Most reasonable people would find the summary above to be a
          compelling argument for the infallibility of the Catholic Church. So sorry you don’t. But again, I think you’ll find it compelling, eventually. Too bad that “eventually” can be too late.

        • adam

          “I think you’ll get one eventually, at least after your death. ”

          How is he going to do this with a skull full of dead mush? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d8d3ba2209471f7e1830bdc3d25fb419c6edaa96722eff144dae5f022e64b36a.jpg

        • You’ve got no response to my pro-life rebuttals.

          You’ve got no way to back up the claim of objective morality.

          And your approach to the correctness of Catholic doctrine is to say, “You’ll be sorry!!”

          Dang. Another one of those three-strikes days, isn’t it?

        • See Noevo

          “You’ve got no response to my pro-life rebuttals.”

          Not true.
          I said, in effect, that I found un-compelling all 20 of your arguments against pro-life.

          But if you insist, then pick one.
          But make it your best, your most compelling.
          And I’ll show you why it’s not.
          …………………..
          “You’ve got no way to back up the claim of objective morality.”

          Not true.
          I showed a way. But the Bob – the Bob who himself defined
          objective morality as true ‘whether anybody believes in it or not’ –
          doesn’t follow the way.

        • I found un-compelling all 20 of your arguments against pro-life.
          But if you insist, then pick one.
          But make it your best, your most compelling.
          And I’ll show you why it’s not.

          The master deigns to instruct me! My cup sloppeth over.

          “You’ve got no way to back up the claim of objective morality.”
          Not true.
          I showed a way.

          Doesn’t make any sense to me, but if you say so, it must be true.

          Another benefit of Christianity? You get to shape reality to please you.

        • See Noevo

          Me: “I found un-compelling all 20 of your arguments against
          pro-life. But if you insist, then pick one. But make it your
          best, your most compelling. And I’ll show you why it’s not.”

          You: “The master deigns to instruct me! My cup sloppeth
          over.”

          Slop might actually be the right word here.
          Poor Bob, trying to push the old, proverbial ‘mountain of evidence’…
          or wait, in this case, the proverbial ‘mountain of morality.’
          But when asked to dish out some of the slop – his very best, most-compelling slop – he demurs.

          Are you related to Zeta?

        • Yeah, see this is where you realize that dismissively dismissing arguments doesn’t win you any points. I’ve been known to make snarky comments as well, but I always include arguments along with them.

          If you don’t have time, then say so. Otherwise, engaging without actually engaging sounds like you don’t have the ability.

        • See Noevo

          “Yeah, see this is where you realize that dismissively dismissing arguments doesn’t win you any points… If you don’t have time, then say so.”

          I have time, but not enough to address each of the 20 or more pro-abortion arguments comprising your mountain of eviden… er, morality.

          I certainly think I have time to address ONE, ideally your best,
          most-compelling ONE.

          Who’s dismissing arguments here? Not me.
          I’m *practically begging* you for your pro-abortion arguments, or rather, for the pro-abortion argument you like best and find most compelling.
          So, go to the mountain, Bob, and hit me with your favorite “rock.” After I crush that “rock”, maybe I’ll have some time for your second-stringer.

          HIT ME!

          P.S.
          If a guy of your advanced age has arthritis or something
          that prevents him from throwing such heavy objects, then get a Visiting Angel or someone to help you out.

        • I’m *practically begging* you for your pro-abortion arguments, or rather, for the pro-abortion argument you like best and find most compelling.

          20 arguments, all carefully written and distilled down. I don’t feel like jumping through arbitrary hoops.

          But that’s too complicated for you. Or something?

          Noted.

        • See Noevo

          Duly noted, cowardly lion.

        • Michael Neville

          The guy who whined piteously when I insulted him has no trouble insulting others. What a diode. What a check valve. They name streets after people like him: “One Way”.

        • See Noevo

          They name infectious things after you:

          “Michael Modified Bacteria Neville”.

        • Michael Neville

          They name things after you like rancid, vermin infested heaps of hog feces. Which is appropriate since you are a rancid, vermin infested heap of hog feces.

          Do you want to continue to play this game, sewer vomit?

        • Michael Neville

          If you don’t jump through SN’s hoops then he gets all whiny and refuses to answer questions, give evidence, or make sense. Actually that all happens if you do jump through his hoops.

        • Precisely.

        • Kodie

          You have a lot of time to answer a lot of posts with a lot of words about how you don’t have time or don’t want to address so many points. You have been given too many arguments and you don’t want to address all of them, so the fuck what. You’re the one saying you only want one, so fucking pick one, answer it, and then shut the fuck up. You think you are smart enough to dispute one point, as long as we pick for you. I really doubt it. You strike me as the kind of fuckhead who makes lame excuses and stalls his way through arguments without standing up for anything.

        • Susan

          You have been given too many arguments and you don’t want to address all of them,

          A major problem is t.hat when he makes claims, those claims are challenged and he answers them with other claims. A laundry list of failed apolegetic arguments.

          “Everything must have a cause.” when challenged, he can’t support it..

          He implies that cosmologists are desperate to find a causeless universe. He can’t support it.

          He claims that morality requires an infinite consciousness. He can neither define nor support it.

          He claims that our thoughts are separate from our physical bodies. He can’t support it.

          He claims that we can’t be convinced. He can’t support it.

          And so on.

          Rather than provide a case, he makes more unsupported claims. Goes through the cycle of apologetics like catholics go through the rosary.

          Then, he finds he is overwhelmed when people respond to the familiar old cycle of unsupported claims.

          To his credit, he is here, engaging. Theists don’t like when the rules are fair. They generally don’t take kindly to people interrupting their incantations.

          To his discredit, he has failed to actually engage. That is, to consider that if he had a single argument, he wouldn’t have to endlessly digress to more unsupported assertions and flawed analogies and then accuse us of bad faith for not granting them.

          Mostly, he’d like us to play along with his “IF Spiderman and Dracula squared off, you can’t prove that what I say the outcome would be isn’t true.”

          I am TIRED.

        • See Noevo

          “… so the fuck what… fucking pick one… shut the fuck up… fuckhead…”

          Kodie, another mousy “mountain” man.

        • Kodie

          I don’t believe in “political correctness” – you’re fucking ignorant and fucking stupid and a fucking liar. You ought to deal with that before you “don’t have time” to answer posts to clutch your pearls over the fucking language that flusters you.

        • See Noevo

          “I don’t believe in “political correctness””

          You don’t believe in correctness, either, mousy “mountain” man.

          “… fucking ignorant and fucking stupid and a fucking liar…”

        • Kodie

          If you had a smart thing to say yet, you haven’t been able to. If you can’t handle being labeled as a fucking dummy, then stop being one.

        • adam
        • Zeta

          Bob S: “Thanks for the article. It looks long and boring. I won’t bother reading it, but I’d be curious to read your summary.

          See Noevo: “OK. Here’s my summary:
          The Protestant Reformers said that the…

          Whoa! It looks like a scholarly piece, a mini-thesis. I was surprised that you had such intellectual prowess. On further checking, it was not your own “summary” but it was just copied and pasted from

          http://www.catholic.com/tracts/proving-inspiration

          without any acknowledgement or reference (Sorry if I missed it, I did not see any).

        • adam
        • See Noevo

          Zeta,
          Thank you for helping to publicize that catholic.com piece.
          I think it’s a good one.
          What do you think of it?

        • Ignorant Amos

          What do you think of it?

          Word salad? Diarrhoea? Ballix?

          https://jamesbishopblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/cross.jpg?w=470

        • Zeta

          What do you think of it?
          Garbage food for delusional believers.

        • Michael Neville

          There are millions of people who disagree with that opinion, which means it isn’t objective. Do you even know what “objective morality” means?

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Except that the church changed what it considered human life throughout its history, hasn’t it?

          The back and forth between “fetus animatus” and “fetus inanimatus” changed at what time in the pregnancy termination was considered murder by the church. This is far from a “unvarying, always-right position”.

          Or is it that you do not understand the words that you write and thus need the definition of “unvarying”?

        • Wasn’t “quickening” in there somewhere? I thought that abortion was OK before that point. Or maybe that wasn’t the Catholic church.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          From my understanding, (which is to say Pope Innocent III or Pope Gregory XIV’s understandings among others), “quickening” was the moment when the soul entered the fetus and so aborting the pregnancy before the “quickening” happened was a serious sin as it ended a potential life but it wasn’t as serious a sin as after the “quickening” as it was then considered murder.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          0 for 3.

        • Ignorant Amos

          St. Augustine (354-430 CE) accepted the Aristotelian Greek Pagan concept of “delayed ensoulment”. He wrote that a human soul cannot live in an unformed body. 3 Thus, early in pregnancy, an abortion is not murder because no soul is destroyed (or, more accurately, only a vegetable or animal soul is terminated).

          Pope Innocent III (1161-1216): He determined that a monk who had arranged for his lover to have an abortion was not guilty of murder if the fetus was not “animated” at the time.

          Early in the 13th century, he stated that the soul enters the body of the fetus at the time of “quickening” – when the woman first feels movement of the fetus. Before that time, abortion was a less serious sin, because it terminated only potential human person, not an actual human person.

          Pope Sixtus V (1588) issued a Papal bull “Effraenatam” which threatened those who carried out abortions at any stage of gestation with excommunication and the death penalty.

          Pope Gregory XIV (1591) revoked the previous Papal bull and reinstated the “quickening” test, which he determined happened 116 days into pregnancy (16½ weeks).

          Pope Pius IX (1869) dropped the distinction between the “fetus animatus” and “fetus inanimatus.” The soul was believed to have entered the pre-embryo at conception.

          Leo XIII (1878-1903): He Issued a decree in 1884 that prohibited craniotomies. This is an unusual form of abortion used under crisis situations late in pregnancy. It is occasionally needed to save the life of the pregnant woman.

          He issued a second degree in 1886 that prohibited all procedures that directly killed the fetus, even if done to save the woman’s life.

          Canon law was revised in 1917 and 1983 to refer simply to “the fetus.” The church penalty for abortions at any stage of pregnancy was, and remains, excommunication.

        • See Noevo

          See my comment nearby.

        • Greg G.

          All you need is a hangnail or a hangover to declare –
          ‘There is no God!’

          Sure, if there is an omnipotent being, then it is capable of preventing hangnails and hangovers. If that being is also benevolent, it would prevent hangnails and hangovers. Since there are hangnails and hangovers, there is no omnipotent benevolent being.

          If a religion is based on an omnipotent benevolence who is going to see that most people are tortured forever because of one sin, then it is irresponsible of us to not point out the glaring inconsistency with that religion.

          Why would you want to spend eternity with a being that cannot even prevent hangnails?

        • Zeta

          See Noevo: “You’re like Zeta in part 1! You either don’t read or don’t follow simple requests.

          I’ll repeat, as I did continually and fruitlessly with Zeta: PICK ONE (1).

          You are even more dishonest than I thought. When you speak, either only garbage comes out of your mouth or stinking gas from your hind part.

          In case other readers would like to know what really happened (on this issue only) in “part 1” which now has more than 800 comments, let me go over the salient points briefly.

          1. SN claimed that he has read ALL of the literature on biological evolution. I exposed him as a liar. He did not disagree.

          2. He claimed that he believed in evolution for more than 3 decades and is now dead against evolution. I asked him what changed his mind. He sort of explained vaguely that “something” changed his mind but refused to say what that “something” was. Instead he used it to taunt people as if it is the Universe’s Ultimate Truth that I “was dying to know” (the quoted words and phrases are his own words). His arrogance knows no bounds.

          3. Then he asked me to produce just ONE article on evolution that is convincing to HIM. Prior to that, fellow commenter Michael Neville has already quoted an article to him listing 5 lines of very strong evidence for evolution but he just refused to accept 5 lines of evidence and insisted on just ONE. Other commenters and I told him to pick any one out of the 5 and try to refute it. Again he refused but insisted on just ONE, not 5, behaving like a spoilt kid spelling out his stupid rules of engagement. It was obvious that he either really belonged to the kid’s table, or was just too obtuse to understand things, or was just a troll trying to attract attention and revel in it.

          Is there any point in continuing to argue with him on this issue? From the fact that he takes pride (instead of feeling shameful about it) in being banned from many sites and has been inevitably inviting insults (which he seems to enjoy), through his stupid comments, he has a pathological need for attention.

        • Thanks for the summary. SN may need to go to timeout soon.

        • Myna

          Plus he’s a bigot and just all around asshole.

        • MNb

          Over at Jason Rosenhouse’s blog I didn’t see any point in having a discussion with him either. In fact here he’s doing marginally better – very marginally.

        • TheNuszAbides

          measured how? less foaming at the mouth? fewer pure non sequiturs?

        • MNb

          Something like that indeed.

        • See Noevo

          Regarding Zeta’s latest post, I invite everyone to review
          the exchanges between me and Z.

          The key to her cowardice is this: She wouldn’t
          produce her one, favorite, weightiest “rock” from that proverbial “mountain of evidence”.
          I practically begged her to HIT ME with that “rock”. And once I would show her that her “rock” was less than a pebble, or had already completely disintegrated to dust, she could hit me with her #2, and so on.

          But Zeta never threw even a one.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Indeed, “5 rocks” were provided and you did not go “Here is why these 5 rocks hold no weight”, you went “but I only want one, why can’t you just give me one instead of five!”

          So I offered to provide you only “1 rock” so you could stop being a coward on the subject of evolution, on the condition that you stopped being a coward and answered the question for which I waited for an answer…

          And I am still waiting…

          But no one has to take your or my word for it, they indeed can review the conversation and see that you ran from both the 5 points and my question.

        • Zeta

          SN, I was thinking of not replying to your dishonest attempt at spreading lies about me. Michael Neville has just thrown you one rock and you are not able to handle it. TheMarsCydonia has challenged you several times but you evaded. Now I again, for the second time, throw you a rock that I have mentioned before, a rock from the expert biologists from Biologos, people who believe in the same god as you:

          What is the evidence for evolution?
          http://biologos.org/common-questions/scientific-evidence/evolution-evidence

          I urge you for the second time. Go on! Refute these expert biologists. Am I throwing too many rocks at the same time and you are not able to handle them? If so, again just pick any one as several commenters have asked you to do. You have proudly told readers here that you were banned by Biologos. You must have so much deep knowledge on biological evolution that you have so embarrassed them that they have to ban you (no doubt this is my speculation). Come on, reveal your deep knowledge on (anti-)evolution that is supported by scientific evidence.

        • See Noevo

          “I urge you for the second time. Go on! Refute these expert
          biologists. Am I throwing too many rocks at the same time and you are not able to handle them?”

          You haven’t thrown *any* rocks. You’ve thrown, or are trying to
          throw, a mountain of rocks.

          “If so, again just pick any one as several commenters have
          asked you to do.”

          No. For about the sixth time, YOU pick one. One rock, your
          favorite rock, from your mountain of evidence.
          This will be your LAST opportunity.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          And this will be your 20th oppoturnity:
          I will give you 1 “rock” as you request since you run away from more than one, under the condition that you answer this question honestly:
          What is your objective here?

          You ran from the 19 previous opportunities, now show us your courage.

        • This will be your LAST opportunity.

          There is a god.

        • Kodie

          You are really a demanding motherfucker, aren’t you.

        • Myna

          SN says: “This will be your LAST opportunity.”

          Spoken like the guy who’s just about ready to claim he’s Jesus. Now ain’t you sorry, or what?

        • Michael Neville

          I gave you evolved antibiotic resistance which you punted. Explain how Staphylococcus aureus hasn’t evolved or admit that you can’t. This is put up or shut up.

        • Zeta

          SN: “This will be your LAST opportunity.

          Dear Almighty doG, the most high, the most merciful,

          I repent. I’ll no longer believe in that most disgusting evolution theory and stop being an atheist. Please let me into heaven. I promise to sing praises to your anti-evolution truth every day for all eternity. Amen!

        • Zeta

          SN: “You haven’t thrown *any* rocks. You’ve thrown, or are trying to
          throw, a mountain of rocks.

          More excuses again? Did you even read the Biologos article? It is only a short article talking about 4 very strong lines of evidence for evolution. They are all very strong evidence to me and I am sure to a lot of others. Why don’t you rebut the evidence that “Genetics removes all reasonable doubt”? So far you have been all hot air.

        • See Noevo

          “This will be your LAST opportunity.”

          And you blew it, Zeta.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AC63HUa3h3M

        • It’s an early Christmas for Zeta!

        • Dys

          Can we make it a Christmas present for everyone else here?

        • Timeout for SN? That’d probably be a Christmas present for him as well. We’d be yet another blog that can’t stand the intensity of his Christian truth.

          Not yet, I fear.

        • MNb

          OK, I’ll have a deep breath then to find the strength to endure even more of SN’s crap. Sometimes I wish you weren’t that patient.

        • Zeta

          Thank doG that you are dead and out.

        • Greg G.

          OK. Explain why the morphology hierarchies of extant organisms created by biologists before the end of the 20th century, the evolutionary tree of fossils created by paleontologists before the end of the 20th century, and the nested hierarchy derived from DNA studies beginning in the late 20th century are so congruent.

          Why are whale flippers and bat wings more alike than either is with bird wings or penguin flippers, which are similar to one another than to whale flippers or bat wings?

          Why are paleontologists able to combine the hierarchies with rock dating methods to find fossils of semi-aquatic species? They can get dates from an aquatic species and a land creature with a few similar morphological traits, find a strata of rock half-way between the strata of each, then look for signs of a shore line or estuary. That’s how they have found early whale species, frog species, and Tiktaalik.

        • See Noevo

          “OK. Explain why the morphology hierarchies of extant
          organisms created by biologists before the end of the 20th century, the evolutionary tree of fossils created by paleontologists before the end of the 20th century, and the nested hierarchy derived from DNA studies beginning in the late 20th century are so congruent.”

          Well, it could be for a reason similar to why a weed-whacker
          and a Harley Davidson and my BMW all have spark plugs and things that go round and round.

          Hey, Greg G.,
          “Did You Know?
          Within the field of biology, MORPHOLOGY is the STUDY of the
          shapes and arrangement of parts of organisms, in order to determine their function, their development, and how they may have been SHAPED BY EVOLUTION.”
          http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/morphology

          Yes, morphology.
          Similar to “phylogeny”:
          “1: the EVOLUTIONARY history of a kind of organism
          2: the EVOLUTION of a genetically related group of organisms
          as distinguished from the development of the individual organism”
          http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phylogeny

          I’ll do my Mister Rogers impression and ask:
          Can you say *petitio principii*?

        • And you demanded that I give you one moral issue so you could show me the objectively correct moral stance on it. I miserably failed but was able to follow your rules on the second try (lucky me). And then your response was, “Well, y’see, the Catholic Church says this.” Which doesn’t get you off the starting line. And yet your failure probably eludes you, which digs your hole deeper.

          So now you whine about how Zeta didn’t follow your rules? Who cares, since you can’t hit the ball back over the net when someone does do it your way?

        • See Noevo

          A few minutes ago I responded to you on the abortion thread here. Let’s see where we go from there.

        • Where we go? We didn’t go anywhere. Your last comment did nothing to make your case. I’m afraid you don’t understand how to make your case.

          Tip: you’re living in a glass house, so whining about this or that person not following your rules for the 932nd time makes you look silly.

        • Zeta

          SN: “I invite everyone to review
          the exchanges between me and Z.

          Yes, why not? This will only expose how slippery and dishonest you are.

          The following was this fool’s exact statement when he first challenged me:

          Please provide me here a hyperlink to a pro-evolution piecethat YOU think is exceptionally compelling.
          And I don’t mean a full book or a website with a thousand
          articles/links.
          I mean ONE paper or article that I, and all the others

          reading this, can access and digest in one sitting.

          Michael Neville provided one article containing 5 very strong lines of evidence but 5 was too much for his puny mind so he added a caveat to his stupid and childish rule and insisted on one article and only one line of evidence.

        • MR

          I suspect you’re dealing with a 13-year-old. They like pulling that kind of shit.

        • Myna

          Or, SN is an illustration of what de-evolution looks like. He really ought to change his moniker to See Devo.

        • Zeta

          He has spent 30+ years embracing evolution and god(?) knows how many more years attacking evolution yet he remains a 13-year old. It is unlikely that we are going to learn anything about (anti-)evolution from him but maybe we can all learn something about immortality from him?

        • Michael Neville

          I’ve already learned about how to weasel out of making plain statements from him. He’s a master at that.

        • MNb

          “I invite everyone to review the exchanges between me and Z.”
          Done so. You suck worse than on Jason Rosenhouse’s blog.

          However I have to criticize both Zeta and Michael N for falling into your stupid and dishonest trap.
          1. It’s not how science works. A scientific theory doesn’t depend on one favourite, weightiest rock. That mountain of evidence rather consists of grains of sand. Quantity is the one main quality; variation the other.
          2. You ask for it with a specific dishonest purpose: to dismiss that piece of evidence, conclude that all other pieces of evidence are worse and that hence Evolution Theory must be wrong.

          Whenever a creationist asks this very question you know he’s full of crap, rejects the scientific method and rather relies on rhetorical cheapos. So Zeta, Michael N and anyone else should have given you nothing. They should have answered “Evolution Theory is not about one issue, it’s about tons of varying empirical data.”
          Finally I must admit that many years ago I fell for this trap as well. Once. Never again. I hope they have learned the same lesson; only then something useful has come out of the total crap you produce.

          Thirty years of studying Evolution Theory? Thirty years of reading creacrap like produced by Duane Gish and his ilk.

        • See Noevo

          “1. It’s not how science works. A scientific theory doesn’t depend on one favourite, weightiest rock. That mountain of evidence rather consists of grains of sand. Quantity is the one main quality; variation the other.
          2. You ask for it with a specific dishonest purpose: to dismiss that piece of evidence, conclude that all other pieces of evidence are worse and that hence Evolution Theory must be wrong.
          Whenever a creationist asks this very question you know he’s
          full of crap… the total crap you produce.”

          When you take one half-assed thing and
          pile it on to many other half-assed things,
          you end up with one big ass.
          And that mountain of ass makes for a lot of crap.

          P.S.
          “Thirty years of studying Evolution Theory? Thirty years of
          reading creacrap like produced by Duane Gish and his ilk.”

          No.
          Thirty years of my believing in evolution.
          Only twelve or more years of actually reading the evo literature, and converting to DIS-belief.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          If you spent 12 years “reading the evo literature”, can you explain why you have no clue about what evolution is?

          If I spent twelve years reading about a subject, I would at least be able to describe what it is.

          Why are so many “evo readers” evolution denialist so clueless about the subject?

        • adam
        • It’s hilarious when his killer question is, “Yeah, well why doesn’t bacteria turn into NON-bacteria, hmmmmmmmmm?!!?!!??”

        • TheNuszAbides

          A scientific theory doesn’t depend on one favourite, weightiest rock.

          he probably borrowed the ‘challenge’ from the sort of academics who are known for employing skepticism in their work, but are inundated by cranks who insist that “my mindblowingly novel [usu. conspiracy] theory won’t be understood unless You Read My Whole Manuscript!!1!!11” … and who thus, to be fair and not appear to be rejecting the crank out of hand, ask for the juiciest piece of evidence, because if that doesn’t hold up, they don’t need to waste time on any of the others. of course, as you indicate, it is manifestly idiotic to level this sort of ‘challenge’ at biological evolution.

        • Michael Neville

          Okay, you rancid mound of maggot infested hog feces, here’s ONE bit of evidence for evolution:

          Antibiotic resistance evolves naturally via natural selection through random mutation. The antibiotic action is an environmental pressure; those microbes which have a mutation allowing them to survive will live on to reproduce. They will then pass this trait to their offspring, which will be a fully resistant generation. Microbes can also transfer the genetic information in a horizontal fashion (between individuals) by plasmid exchange.

          Staphylococcus aureus (colloquially known as a Staph infection) is one of the major resistant pathogens. Found on the mucous membranes and the skin of around a third of the population, it is extremely adaptable to antibiotic pressure.

          It was the first bacterium in which penicillin resistance was
          found—in 1947, just four years after the drug started being mass-produced. Methicillin then became the antibiotic of choice. MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) was first detected in Britain in 1961 and is now quite common in hospitals. MRSA was responsible for 37% of fatal cases of blood poisoning in the UK in 1999, up from 4% in 1991. Half of all S. aureus infections in the US are resistant to penicillin, methicillin, tetracycline and erythromycin.

          This left vancomycin as the only effective agent available at the time. However, strains with intermediate levels of resistence, termed GISA (glycopeptide intermediate Staphylococcus aureus) or VISA (vancomycin intermediate Staphylococcus aureus), began appearing the the late 1990s. The first identified case of VISA was in Japan in 1996, and strains have since been found in hospitals in England, France and the US. The first documented strain with complete resistence to vancomycin, termed VRSA (Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) appeared in the United States in 2002.

          A new class of antibiotics, oxazolidinones, became available in the 1990s, and the first commercially available oxazolidinone, linezolid, is comparable to vancomycin in effectiveness against MRSA. Linezolid-resistance in S aureus was reported in 2003.

          CA-MRSA (Community-acquired MRSA) has now emerged as an epidemic that is responsible for rapidly progressive, fatal diseases including necrotizing pneumonia, severe sepsis and necrotizing fasciitis.

          Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is the most frequently identified antimicrobial drug-resistant pathogen in US hospitals.

          There you go, evolution which happened in my lifetime and is on-going. And don’t do the “microevolution vs macroevolution” bullshit. Evolution is evolution no matter how much your buddy Ken Ham pretends it isn’t.

        • Nylon-eating bacteria are new since the invention of nylon.

        • Michael Neville

          I posted the ONE bit of evidence that SN demanded 12 hours ago. Since then he’s posted on this thread but hasn’t tried to rebut the ONE conclusive evolutionary argument that he was so adamant he be given.

          My guess is that he can’t rebut evolved antibiotic resistance and he knows he can’t.

        • Zeta

          A comment (on bacteria and indigestion) I just posted above was meant to be a follow-up of this comment of yours and not for the other comment. Just a correction.

        • See Noevo

          “Okay, you rancid mound of maggot infested hog feces, here’s
          ONE bit of evidence for evolution…”

          Do you mean the bit about antibiotic-susceptible *bacteria*
          and antibiotic-resistant *bacteria* both being…

          bacteria?

          “… you rancid mound of maggot infested hog feces”

          You are …
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8pSTsN_B0E

        • TheMarsCydonia

          So you’re running away again?

        • Michael Neville

          So you don’t even know what bacteria is. Here’s a hint, there are more species of bacteria then there are of mammals.

          Is the lying troll all upset because I called him a nasty name? You may be outwardly polite but in reality you’re a manipulative, deceitful scumbucket who merits my deepest detestation. If you were on fire I wouldn’t even piss on you to put out the flames.

        • Zeta

          This slimy thing insisted that our examples must conform to his requirement that “ I, and all the others reading this, can access and digest in one sitting.” The bacteria in your example are causing indigestion in him so your evidence does not count. Notice that your evidence must also be digestible by “all the others reading this”. So if there is one reader who cannot understand your evidence, too bad for you. You have to try again.

        • Whoa! Nice slap-down, bro! You totally convinced me that antibiotic-resistant bacteria doesn’t exist and evolution is a bullshit.

        • See Noevo

          Thank you, Bob. Yes, it was a nice slap-down.
          But I would never try to convince you that antibiotic-resistant
          bacteria doesn’t exist. That would be silly and false. Because antibiotic-resistant bacteria actually *does* exist. You know it and I know it and just about everybody knows it.

          Although I *would* have to add that holding up antibiotic-resistant
          bacteria as an example of evolution is, to use your words, “a bullshit.”

        • I sit at the feet of the master. Tell me how antibiotic-resistant bacteria is not an example of evidence. Sounds like random mutation + natural selection to me, so straighten me out.

          BTW, one of my favorite examples of evolution in bacteria is nylon-eating bacteria. Help me see that one correctly, too.

        • See Noevo

          “I sit at the feet of the master. Tell me how antibiotic-resistant bacteria is not an example of evidence. Sounds like random
          mutation + natural selection to me, so *straighten me out*.”

          I really don’t know if you *can* be straightened out.

          But you can straighten *me* out when one of those bacteria becomes a NON-bacteria, or vice versa.

          It should go without saying, but I guess I better say it:
          I BELIEVE IN MUTATIONS!

          (I just wouldn’t want to be called a mutant.)
          I just don’t believe in evolution.
          Yes, I believe in mutations, I just believe the human beings
          who have them are still human beings. But perhaps you think otherwise:
          “Sickle cell anemia is more common in certain ethnic groups,
          including… African-Americans… Hispanic-Americans … People of Middle Eastern, Asian, Indian, and Mediterranean descent…’
          http://www.hematology.org/Patients/Anemia/Sickle-Cell.aspx

          “The disease is caused by a mutated version of the gene that
          helps make hemoglobin… The mutations that cause sickle cell anemia have been …”
          http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/mutations_06

          Are you a racist, Bob?

        • I really don’t know if you *can* be straightened out.

          And yet, here you are, ever patient with your stupid student. I’m in awe.

          But you can straighten *me* out when one of those bacteria becomes a NON-bacteria, or vice versa.

          Show me that you’ve been paying attention by guessing my reaction to that. Let me get you started: “That statement is fucking stupid and shows that you have no idea what you’re criticizing because . . .”

          “Sickle cell anemia is more common in certain ethnic groups

          Yeah, and? The sickle cell gene makes one resistant to malaria. What’s your point, and where does racism come in?

        • See Noevo

          Me: “But you can straighten *me* out when one of those
          bacteria becomes a NON-bacteria, or vice versa.”

          You: “Show me that you’ve been paying attention by guessing
          my reaction to that. Let me get you started: “That statement is fucking stupid and shows that you have no idea what you’re criticizing because . . .”

          Because why, Bob?

          Because *we both agree* that random mutations occur?

          Because *we both agree* natural selec… er, we both agree
          some things survive and reproduce and some things don’t?

          Because *we both agree* that bacteria has never been
          observed becoming non-bacteria, whether seen in nature or coerced in a lab?

          Because *we both agree* that variations within living things occur?

          Or is it because we do NOT agree that variations within
          living things constitutes “evolution”?
          …………………………
          “The sickle cell gene makes one resistant to malaria. What’s
          your point, and where does racism come in?”

          You’re leaving out the part that sickle cell anemia results
          from genetic mutations, the sine qua non of modern evolutionary theory.
          And you’re leaving out the part that in evolution, X becomes NON-X.

          So, you *might* be leaving out the part that human beings
          with sickle cell are becoming NON-human beings. And when one thinks like that, all kinds of nasty things can happen, even worse than mere racism.
          (One can even be sent to die in concentration camps!)

        • Because why, Bob?
          Because *we both agree* that random mutations occur?
          Because *we both agree* natural selec… er, we both agree
          some things survive and reproduce and some things don’t?
          Because *we both agree* that bacteria has never been
          observed becoming non-bacteria, whether seen in nature or coerced in a lab?

          Wrong again. Let’s back up. You said, “But you can straighten *me* out when one of those bacteria becomes a NON-bacteria, or vice versa.”

          That statement is fucking stupid and shows that you have no idea what you’re criticizing because bacteria is a domain. You know the taxonomic categories—species, genus, family, order, class, phylum? The next higher one is kingdom and then domain. You’re scratching your head and wondering why we don’t see new domains? It’s happened before—there are 3 domains now—but it’s super rare. Your statement is like “Duuh I’ll believe evolution when a duck becomes a sponge” except far stupider.

          sickle cell anemia results
          from genetic mutations

          You’re referring to the sickle cell mutation. The anemia can sometimes be a consequence.

          So, you *might* be leaving out the part that human beings
          with sickle cell are becoming NON-human beings.

          Yes, I’m leaving that out because that’s not what I’m talking about. And with your elementary-school understanding of evolution, you might want to avoid making pronouncements about what evolution does or doesn’t mean.

        • Dys

          I don’t think SN is capable of the level of honesty required to admit that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Yet another Dunning-Kruger victim.

        • See Noevo

          Well, if *one thing* gave “birth” to what it was not (i.e. one thing giving “birth” to the Bacteria Domain and the Archaea Domain and Eukaryota Domain), then, the bacteria could give “birth” to what is not bacteria.

          But for the time being, I *might* be interested in smaller
          stuff, like transformations *within a domain.*
          Like, say, seeing a Cyanobacteria become a Spirochete, or something like that ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-domain_system).
          ………..
          Me: “So, you *might* be leaving out the part that human beings
          with sickle cell are becoming NON-human beings.”

          You: “Yes, I’m leaving that out because that’s not what I’m
          talking about. And with your *elementary-school* understanding of evolution, you might want to avoid making pronouncements about what evolution does or doesn’t mean.”

          You mean that human beings are NOT evolving?
          You mean that, in evolution, X does NOT become NOT-X?
          Surely, my dear Watson, you jest. For these things are *elementary*
          to the meaning of evolution.

        • Greg G.

          You accept slight variations from generation to generation. But there can be a thousand slight variations in a population in every generation. The worst variations are eliminated immediately while other bad ones are eliminated more slowly. The better mutations accumulate and are combined by sexual reproduction.

          So a population will accumulate many beneficial and neutral slight variations that add up to big differences over tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of years. Take that up to millions of years, and there are huge variations.

        • MNb
        • See Noevo

          Gee, Greg G., I never heard that before!

          Not.

        • I’m unclear whether bacteria came first or archaea. But the domain transition happened about a billion years ago. Yes, it happened. No, it won’t happen again today so you can watch.

          I *might* be interested in smaller
          stuff, like transformations *within a domain.*

          I’m not sure why you’re sharing this. Evolution is the consensus view of the people who understand the data. Deal with it.

        • See Noevo

          “I’m unclear whether bacteria came first or archaea.”

          So then, either
          1) The Bacteria Domain came FROM the Archaea Domain
          (or vice versa), or
          2) The “thing” which “birthed” the Bacteria Domain
          AND the Archaea Domain (and the Eukaraya Domain), “birthed” them simultaneously or “birthed” them sequentially.

          Right?
          …………….
          “I’m not sure why you’re sharing this. Evolution is the consensus
          view of the people who understand the data. Deal with it.”

          What a powerful argument, Bob.
          That’s real “science”!

        • TheMarsCydonia

          So you disagree that evolution, namely descent with inherent genetic modification, is evolution.

          Makes sense only to evolution deniers.

          Do you disagree that 4-wheeled, self-powered automative land and road vehicles for one to eight people are cars?

        • See Noevo

          “So you disagree that evolution, namely descent with inherent genetic modification, is evolution.”

          Yes.

          Or do you think that healthy parents giving birth to a
          Down syndrome child is evolution?

          I don’t.

          Do you suffer from Down syndrome?

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Your attempt to refute the point was to make it more obvious you don’t have a clue about evolution?

          You could have written “no, because evolution is this” but then you’d need to know what evolution is, don’t you?

          Read my comment again, after educating yourself (which we both know will not happen, you’ve “12 years” after all), and see you can spot what you missed. I’ll give you a hint: you missed 1 word but that word is very important.

          Do you at least see that you are failing spectacularly at your objective here?

          And another hint: 4-wheeled, self-powered automative land and road vehicles for one to eight people are cars. You can stop disagreeing.

        • See Noevo

          “You could have written “no, because evolution is
          this” but then you’d need to know what evolution is, don’t you?”

          I know what it is, or are.
          Evolution is the theories (yes, plural and conflicting) of how all living
          things came from one living thing.

          It’s quite a thing.
          …………….
          “Read my comment again, after educating yourself (which we
          both know will not happen, you’ve “12 years” after all), and see you
          can spot what you missed. I’ll give you a hint: you missed 1 word but that word is very important.”

          Oooh! I don’t know which it is. Please tell me.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          That is not what evolution is… You’ve 12 years and you’re still failing but I’m willing to give you one more chance… to expose how clueless you are.

        • See Noevo

          Thanks. You’re a doll.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          So, running from taking another opportunity are you? Well, not surprising since we’ve yet to see you get anything right.

          So you might have an interest in getting an education. Another 3 decades might do the trick.

          Maybe then you’ll be able to say what evolution is without making a fool of yourself.

        • Michael Neville

          Evolution is the theories (yes, plural and conflicting) of how all living things came from one living thing.

          No wonder you’re anti-evolution. If someone’s definition of evolution was that ignorant then I’d be against it too. Hey wait, that is someone’s definition of evolution, yours.

        • Kodie

          Not that I’m the first person to point this out, but you don’t seem to know anything about evolution.

        • Michael Neville

          For someone who “studied all the evolution literature” for 30 years SN is really ignorant about evolution.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          What is amazing is that he seems to believe that we don’t see through it.

        • MNb

          With so much dishonesty it’s hard to tell what he believes and what he fakes.

        • Pofarmer

          If this were World Table we might actually be able to vote him off the Island.

        • MNb

          Unfortunately you might be able to vote me off the Island as well.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, I know. Consequences, dammit.

        • Kodie

          As far as I could tell with other blogs, there were always some do-gooders making sure people that were in danger could stay, which means, not only you, but SN.

        • Kodie

          If this were World Table, comments this far into the thread would not be readable or organized.

        • Pofarmer

          Good point.

        • MR

          Don’t get her started on World Table!

        • Kodie

          I got the highest score for complaining the most about it.

        • Susan

          Don’t get her started on World Table!

          It’s interesting to just see it sitting there dormant, on every thread.

          No one uses it.

          Understandably, if Bob S. made an agreement to include it, he has to honour it.

          It seems to have been voted off the island.

          On the good side, it has given us an appreciation for Disqus that we should have had, but didn’t quite have, until we saw World Table.

        • Greg G.

          When the death rate from malaria is so great that a mutation that gives resistance to malaria half the time is better than no mutation even if it causes anemia 25% of the time . It is a net benefit until malaria is controlled.

        • See Noevo

          Yes, we’ll just dismiss the “… anemia, which can, in turn,
          cause shortness of breath, jaundice, and hypertension. This biggest problem is blood clotting in vessels, which could lead to damaged tissues that rely on the clotted vessels…”
          Because “Despite the disease’s lethal symptoms, it protects
          the carrier from malaria…”

          https://microbewiki.kenyon.edu/index.php/Malaria_Resistance_and_Sickle_Cell_Trait

        • Greg G.

          But malaria kills. Without the mutation, those with the anemia would have suffered from malaria anyway. To get sickle-cell anemia, a gene has to be inherited from each parent. If the parents have one allele for sickle cell, on average, a quarter of the children get both alleles and will have sickle cell anemia, a quarter of the children will get neither sickle cell allele and be susceptible to malaria. But the other half of their children will be resistant to malaria.

          In a world before modern medicine, the death rate from malaria would be high in some regions. If the overall survival rate in the region is improved despite the sickle cell anemia deaths, the sickle cell allele is a beneficial gene. If the sickle cell trait was not beneficial, natural selection would tend to eliminate it.

        • MNb

          We can observe this among the Surinamese maroons. Though I have one amendment: it’s not the survival rate of sickle cell anemia that matters (it’s not that high on long term without treatment) but surviving long enough to get offspring. In that respect sickle cell anemia beats malaria, no matter how bad the first is.
          How a good god could present Surinamese maroons with such a cruel dilemma (die from sickle cell anemia but live just long enough to father kids vs. die from malaria without any kids) is anyone’s guess. Free will defense obviously doesn’t work – no Surinamese maroon ever has had the choice between the two. In theological terms they are predestinated.

        • See Noevo

          Sounds great!
          Do you think, maybe, the Centers for Disease Control, in
          collaboration with the National Institutes of Health and the Federal Drug Administration, should begin work ASAP on some kind of treatment to give everyone sickle cell?

          Maybe they can get something done in the last days of Obama.

        • MNb

          Upvoted for a unique combination of dishonesty, stupidity and irrelevance.

        • Greg G.

          It’s people like you who make religious people look stupid. If that is your goal, you need not bother.

        • MR

          You’re not real clear on time frames, are you?

        • See Noevo

          “You’re not real clear on time frames, are you?”

          Oh, *I* am, but apparently *you* are *not*.
          You see, X becomes NOT-X in an INSTANT, by definition.
          Like, in a microsecond.

        • Michael Neville

          And you’re leaving out the part that in evolution, X becomes NON-X.

          It’s being left out because it’s wrong. X does not become NON-X, X becomes Modified X. Mk 1 Mod 0 X becomes Mk 1 Mod 1 X. Staphylococcus aureus becomes penicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, identical to previous generations of S. aureus except for the antibiotic resistance.

        • See Noevo

          Michael,
          I think that, heretofore, I’ll refer to you as
          “Michael, the Modified Bacteria.”

          If you’d rather be the modified Archaea or Eukaryota, or
          whatever single thing (“X”) supposedly “modified” into the three Domains, let me know. (Michael, the Modified X?)

          I’m flexible.
          Like evolution!

        • Michael Neville

          Why don’t you just admit that you don’t have the slightest idea of what evolution is. It’s obvious to the rest of us so try a little honesty for once in your life and just say “I don’t have a clue about what evolution is all about.” We won’t think any the less of you for saying that. It would be hard to think any the less of you.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You: “What does this mean? That the Church has always had a
          single, unvarying, always-right position on these moral issues?”

          Essentially, yes.

          More ignorant ballix.

          St. Augustine (354-430 CE) reversed centuries of Christian teaching in Western Europe, by returning to the Aristotelian Pagan concept of “delayed ensoulment.” He wrote that a human soul cannot live in an unformed body. Thus, early in pregnancy, an abortion is not murder because no soul is destroyed (or, more accurately, only a vegetable or animal soul is terminated). He wrote extensively on sexual matters, teaching that the original sin of Adam and Eve are passed to each successive generation through the pleasure generated during sexual intercourse. This passed into the church’s canon law. Only abortion of a more fully developed “fetus animatus” (animated fetus) was punished as murder.

          http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_hist.htm

        • See Noevo

          News flash to Ignorant Amos:
          Not everything coming out of the mouth of a saint is Church
          teaching.

          And Augustine’s conjecture about “delayed ensoulment” certainly was
          not.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          You forgot to explain it away.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I guess you didn’t read the bit that said “This passed into the church’s canon law. “

          And if you’d bothered yer arse to read the linked article you’d have read…

          Pope Pius IX (1792-1878) reversed the stance of the Roman Catholic church once more. He dropped the distinction between the “fetus animatus” and “fetus inanimatus” in 1869.

          Leo XIII (1878-1903):

          He issued a decree in 1884 that prohibited craniotomies. This is an unusual form of abortion used late in pregnancy and is occasionally needed to save the life of the pregnant woman.

          He issued a second decree in 1886 that prohibited all procedures that directly killed the fetus, even if done to save the woman’s life. The tolerant approach to abortion which had prevailed in the Roman Catholic Church for previous centuries ended. The church required excommunication for abortions at any stage of pregnancy. This position has continued to the present time and forms a main component of the Church’s “Culture of Life.” Unfortunately, it can result in the avoidable death of both the fetus and the pregnant woman, as almost happened during 2009 at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ.

          Canon law was revised in 1917 and 1983 to refer simply to “the fetus.”

          You can burble away till you are blue in the face, but the FACT remains that the Churches view on abortion has varied over the centuries and you trying to deny it is just embarrassing.

        • Michael Neville

          Unfortunately, it can result in the avoidable death of both the fetus and the pregnant woman, as almost happened during 2009 at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ.

          Death of fetus and woman took place in Ireland in 2012 when refusal to give an abortion cost Savita Halappanavar her life.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed, I remember it well.

        • Pofarmer

          What is the Phoenix case?

        • Ignorant Amos
        • See Noevo

          “I guess you didn’t read the bit that said “This passed
          into the church’s canon law.” And if you’d bothered yer arse to read the linked article you’d have read…”

          What I *read* was “[Augustine] wrote extensively on sexual
          matters, teaching that the original sin of Adam and Eve are passed to each successive generation through the pleasure generated during sexual intercourse. This passed into the church’s canon law.”

          I’m no expert on Canon Law but if Canon Law says the original
          sin of Adam and Eve are passed to each successive generation through sexual intercourse (pleasurable or otherwise), I wouldn’t be surprised, because that’s always been Church teaching.

          But perhaps you think that the sentence that *followed* was
          Canon Law also: “…sexual intercourse. This passed into the church’s canon law. *Only abortion of a more fully developed “fetus animatus” (animated fetus) was punished as murder.*”

          Again, I’m a Catholic who’s not an expert on the Church’s Canon
          Law (similarly, I’m a U.S. citizen who’s not an expert in Constitutional Law), but if you’d be kind enough to produce the Canon in question, I’d be willing to take a look at it and discuss it with you, another non-expert.

          In the meantime, I’ll just note that
          1) I’m not aware of the Church ever saying abortion
          was good or even that it was just OK/neutral.
          2) “Murder”, if that is indeed the word the Canon uses, is less a term of theology and morality and more a rather technical and legal term, with differing definitions of first degree murder, second degree murder, third degree murder, manslaughter.
          3) Such technical definitions of law are normally geared to what temporal punishment might be appropriate.
          4) The Church, and perhaps its Canon Law, has always exercised *flexibility* in matters of *discipline*, which could include temporal punishments. (For example, in confession, the priest gives a penance to the penitent but the exact specifics of the penance are not prescribed by Canon Law. So, if the penitent confessed sin X, the priest might give a penance of praying three Our Fathers, while another may assign two Hail Marys, while another might give some other penance. Each penance would be valid.)
          5) “Murder”, as a legal and punitive matter, *might*
          require production of a body (not a person but the body of the person), which would be difficult in the case of an abortion very early in a pregnancy.

          Anyway, just some thoughts.
          Bu we could take a look at that Canon when you show it here.

        • Greg G.

          I’m no expert on Canon Law but if Canon Law says the original
          sin of Adam and Eve are passed to each successive generation through sexual intercourse (pleasurable or otherwise), I wouldn’t be surprised, because that’s always been Church teaching.

          Then in vitro fertilization creates humans that do not have original sin passed down to them. Sex is removed from the process.

        • See Noevo

          Me: “I’m no expert on Canon Law but if Canon Law says the
          original sin of Adam and Eve are passed to *each successive generation* through sexual intercourse (pleasurable or otherwise), I wouldn’t be surprised, because that’s always been Church teaching.”

          You: “Then in vitro fertilization creates humans that do not
          have original sin passed down to them. Sex is removed from the process.”

          Whether the Canon in question uses the term “sexual
          intercourse”, I do not know. The key point is that original sin is passed on through *successive generations*. (For example, the encyclical “Humani Generis” notes “…revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, *through generation*, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.”)

          For the record, though, the Church condemns the modern technology of IVF. It also condemns rape, of course. But I think the Church would say that original sin would be transmitted in either of those cases, just as it would in normal, faithful, marital relations.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The key point is that original sin is passed on through *successive generations*. (For example, the encyclical “Humani Generis” notes “…revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, *through generation*, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.”)

          Which is a lotta ballix.

          It also condemns rape, of course.

          Without much heart behind it…especially when it is their own clerics doing the raping…and especially when it is children they are fucking.

        • See Noevo

          “Which is a lotta ballix.”

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          The Church is too much interested in other people’s sex lives.

        • See Noevo

          “The Church is too much interested in other people’s sex
          lives.”

          Not *just* their sex lives. The Church is interested in a lot of aspects of people’s lives. But probably only because its founder was, too
          (e.g. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.” [Matthew 15:19]).

        • Greg G.

          (e.g. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.” [Matthew 15:19]).

          Murder, theft, false witness, and maybe, slander are bad things. Evil thoughts are not a problem as long as they don’t lead to evil deeds, and most often they don’t. Adultery and fornication (when done honestly) are nobody’s business but the five people involved, plus the cameraman.

        • See Noevo

          I’m sure “the church of Greg G.” would agree.
          You might even find it among the 30,000+ denominations and
          independent congregations.

        • MNb

          “But probably only because its founder was, too”
          Yeah, I never have thought he was perfect, the nosey parker.

        • Jesus, the original peeping Tom?

        • See Noevo

          The cowardly lion “roars” once more!
          Go back to sleep.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LBmUwi6mEo

        • adam

          “It also condemns rape, of course.”

          Why would it?

          Other than 30 pieces of silver:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c862151f2f5bdf2af3910632858abe4bc4896f4a6d1d906e92b6825e8d451539.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          The subtitle of that section is entitled…5th TO 16th Century CE (Various beliefs on whether abortion is murder):…the following subtitled is….17th TO 19th Century CE (Abortion becomes murder again):.

          The Churches view on abortion varied, simples.

          And it seems that it is going to change again.

          Canon law on abortion is going to change, says Fisichella

          The President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation said this during his presentation of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter “Misericordia et Misera”. “I don’t see why granting the faculty of absolution to priests, who are ministers of reconciliation, should give cause for any concern”.

          http://www.lastampa.it/2016/11/21/vaticaninsider/eng/the-vatican/canon-law-on-abortion-is-going-to-change-says-fisichella-MLsOz6rLmtKAUSsblusmdO/pagina.html

          Edit: It has already.

          Now…onto what the Church believed at different times…

          You are an ultra conservative Catholic (you aren’t Rick Delano are you?), who cannot have the Church change. Now while abortion has always been a grave sin, the details on what constituted an actual abortion and what the penalties for such, have, which means the rules on abortion, grave sin or not, have varied.

          Catholic theology, which now regards the early fetus as a person, did not always do so. The Church first adopted the belief of Aristotle, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas that ensoulment occurs several weeks after conception. Pope Innocent III, who ruled at the turn of the 13th Century, made that belief part of Church doctrine, allowing abortion until fetal animation. It was not until 1869 that the Church prohibited abortion at any time and for any reason.

          I’m not going down the rabbit hole with someone with your ridiculous convictions, it isn’t worth the hassle.

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

          The argument would be academic to the point Bob makes anyway. That the RCC view on abortion is far from that of an objective morality.

        • See Noevo

          “Now while abortion has always been a grave sin…”

          Hey, I think we agree!

          Anyway, my offer still stands:
          If you’d be kind enough to produce the Canon in question, I’d be willing to take a look at it and discuss it with you, another non-expert.

          P.S.
          “I’m not going down the rabbit hole with someone with your
          ridiculous convictions, it isn’t worth the hassle. https://en.wiki….”

          https://www.ewtn.com/library/PROLENC/ENCYC043.HTM

        • Ignorant Amos

          https://www.ewtn.com/library/P

          Yeah, that’s the cite a lifted my quote from.

          What you have there is a conservative RC website calling a number of liberal RC’s a bunch of liars. There’s irony for ya.

          Another irony is that the article uses a list of early Church fathers in support of Church teaching, including Augustine, ya remember the one you said…”Not everything coming out of the mouth of a saint is Church teaching.” But I digress.

          It seems you are struggling somewhat with the terms.

          That abortion has always been a grave sin in the eyes of the church is not the point in question. None of us non-believers give a fart for the concept of sin. That what constituted the article being aborted has been varying throughout the Churches history is what is being discussed. That seems to be clear enough for those that have eyes to see it, but then that isn’t See Noevo…the guy that took the piss outta my moniker ironically enough.

          During these centuries, theories derived from Aristotle and others influenced the grading of penalties for abortion in Church law. Some canonical penalties were more severe for a direct abortion after the stage when the human soul was thought to be present. However, abortion at all stages continued to be seen as a grave moral evil.

          In 1827, with the discovery of the human ovum, the mistaken biology of Aristotle was discredited. Scientists increasingly understood that the union of sperm and egg at conception produces a new living being that is distinct from both mother and father. Modern genetics demonstrated that this individual is, at the outset, distinctively human, with the inherent and active potential to mature into a human fetus, infant, child and adult. From 1869 onward the obsolete distinction between the “ensouled” and “unensouled” fetus was permanently removed from canon law on abortion.

          That is from the United States Conference of Bishops own website.

          http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/abortion/respect-for-unborn-human-life.cfm

          The attributes of the fetus has varied back and forth over the two millennia. That means what was being aborted has changed and subsequently the Churches laws have been adapted over the same period accordingly.

          And even if they hadn’t, it doesn’t make the RCC’s opinion on abortion an objective morality, it makes it an opinion, capiche?

        • See Noevo

          “What you have there is a conservative RC website calling a
          number of liberal RC’s a bunch of liars.”

          And what you have over there is a liberal RC website calling
          a number of conservative RC s a bunch of liars.”

          “Another irony is that…”

          I’m not at all sure that either is an example of irony.
          ……………
          “That abortion has always been a grave sin in the eyes of
          the church is not the point in question… “theories derived from Aristotle and others influenced the grading of penalties for abortion in Church law… However, abortion at all stages continued to be seen as a grave moral evil.””

          Again, I’m glad we agree.

          Still, I wish you had produced the Canon in question.
          ……………………
          “None of us non-believers give a fart for the concept of
          sin.”

          Well then, given that “sin” is a wrongdoing, WHY are you
          even trying to debate this matter?
          Even IF someone has “done wrong”, committed
          a “sin”, in this affair, you don’t give a fart.
          But you do like to *try* to raise a stink.

          P.S.
          “And even if they hadn’t, it doesn’t make the RCC’s opinion
          on abortion an objective morality, it makes it an opinion, capiche?”

          No capiche.

        • Michael Neville

          A bunch of celibate male bachelors have formed the opinion that gawd hates abortion because these celibate male bachelors have the opinion that they hate abortion and therefore abortion is immoral. Considering lots of other people do not hold the same opinion on the morality of abortion, it cannot be “objective morality”. If it was objective morality then everyone would hold the same opinion but they don’t. Some people think abortion is immoral, some think it’s morally neutral and some think it’s moral.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m not at all sure that either is an example of irony.

          The irony for me is that there is two sides of the same coin with different opinion on the same data…where have we seen that before I wonder?

          Still, I wish you had produced the Canon in question.

          There isn’t just one canon…also, Church Law at the time seems to have been made up of more than just the canon’s. Apostolic Constitutions

          Council of Ancyra: “Concerning women who commit fornication, and destroy that which they have conceived, or who are employed in making drugs for abortion, a former decree excluded them until the hour of death, and to this some have assented. Nevertheless, being desirous to use somewhat greater levity, we have ordained that they fulfill ten years of penance, according to the prescribed degrees” (cannon 21 [A.D. 314]).

          St. Basil the Great: “Let her that procures abortion undergo ten years of penance, whether the embryo were perfectly formed, or not” (First Canonical Letter, canon 2 [A.D. 374]).

          Ten years penance for murder?

          Now you made the observation elsewhere that murder may not be murder per se in certain realms…

          2) “Murder”, if that is indeed the word the Canon uses, is less a term of theology and morality and more a rather technical and legal term, with differing definitions of first degree murder, second degree murder, third degree murder, manslaughter.

          Where I live, murder is murder…manslaughter is not murder…all that other degrees of murder nonsense doesn’t count here, remember your comment to Bob? You are engaging in 21st century U.S. thinking. Let’s see what the Church of the time had to say on the subject…

          “He that kills another with a sword, or hurls an axe at his own wife and kills her, is guilty of willful murder; not he who throws a stone at a dog, and unintentionally kills a man, or who corrects one with a rod, or scourge, in order to reform him, or who kills a man in his own defense, when he only designed to hurt him. But the man, or woman, is a murder that gives a philtrum, if the man takes it dies upon it; so are they who take medicines to procure abortion; and so are they who kill on the highway, and rappareers” (ibid., canon 8)

          The Apostolic Constitutions: “Thou shalt not use magic. Thou shalt not use witchcraft; for he says, ‘You shall not suffer a witch to live’ [Ex. 22:18]. Thou shalt not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill the which is begotten … If it be slain, (it) shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed” (Apostolic Constitutions 7:3[A.D. 400]).

          Saint Augustine said, ‘the law does not provide that the act (abortion) pertains to homicide, for there cannot yet be said to be a live soul in a body that lacks sensation.’” (Saint Augustine, On Exodus 21.22)

          Augustine distinguished between a vivified and unvivified fetus, (a fetus before or after ensoulment). Since he could not conceive of an ensouled person without sensation, he concluded that the abortion of a “pre-vivifed” fetus, while a grave evil, could not be considered, in the strict moral sense, a murder.

          Augustine was not alone in his thinking. There is a reason why at various times Popes changed the rules.

          I notice that you have avoided the latest rule change by Francis.

        • See Noevo

          Me: “I’m not at all sure that either is an example of irony.”

          You: “The irony for me is that there is two sides of the
          same coin with different opinion on the same data…where have we seen that before I wonder?”

          You might have liked that Alanis Morissette song “Ironic”.
          Good tune, but ironically, the lyrics were not ironic.
          ………………
          “…two sides of the same coin with different opinion on the
          same data…where have we seen that before I wonder?”

          Where? Probably lots of places. Antibiotic resistance of
          some bacteria, the fossil record, etc.
          ………………..
          “Where I live, murder is murder…manslaughter is not murder…”

          Where I live, too.

          But where I live the legal system also has different determinations of, and penalties for, murder in the first degree and second degree and possibly third degree.
          If that’s not the case where you live, then, where do you live?
          ……..
          “Augustine was not alone in his thinking.”

          Correct. But as I said, not every thought from a saint is Church doctrine.
          Augustine also posited that creation was NOT over six days (or six million/billion years) but rather was instantaneous.
          …………
          “I notice that you have avoided the latest rule change by Francis.”

          Not much to say. Something like that old saying – “Rules were meant to be broken” – might apply here.

          Church “rules” can change.

          But Church doctrine and dogma can not.
          Abortion has always been a grave sin, but could always be forgiven in the sacrament of reconciliation.

          Francis has apparently made that sacrament for that sin more accessible.
          …………..
          You strike me as an ex-Catholic.
          Are you?

        • Ignorant Amos

          A simple way of putting it is that irony usually signals a difference between the appearance of things and reality.

          Where I live, too.

          Clearly not.

          But where I live the legal system also has different determinations of, and penalties for, murder in the first degree and second degree and possibly third degree.

          Which means that where you live murder has a spectrum of meanings, first degree murder does not mean the same as second degree murder or even third degree murder, dufus.

          If that’s not the case where you live, then, where do you live?

          Here in the U.K. there is just the one degree of murder and it carries the mandatory single sentence of life imprisonment for a guilty verdict. Whether one does life is another question.

          Correct. But as I said, not every thought from a saint is Church doctrine.

          Nowhere did I say differently. It’s because you are struggling to understand things that is the problem. What law do you suppose Augustine and others were referring to and why did it need to be changed?

        • See Noevo

          Cut the crap.
          As an admitted inveterate “wanker”, you’re probably just
          furious the Church considers your masturbation a grave sin.

          You strike me as an ex-Catholic.
          Are you?

        • Kodie

          You strike me as someone who ends a session of masturbating with a long weep over your imaginary friend watching you the whole time, judging you.

          Are you?

        • Ignorant Amos

          As an admitted inveterate “wanker”, you’re probably just furious the Church considers your masturbation a grave sin.

          Ya see, there’s the lying coming out of ya…baby Jesus will be crying.

          Nowhere did I say how often I masturbate, so “inveterate” is just you making shit up again.

          You are struggling with this idea that I don’t give a flying fuck what your Church thinks about my masturbation. That was my point that you don’t get.

          Nor do many of your fellow RC’s …if they can molest children I’m sure the odd wank now and again won’t be a struggle.

          You strike me as an ex-Catholic.
          Are you?

          Answered. And irrelevant. I’d give up the religious nonsense as childish fantasy a long time before a started pulling my pud.

          Maybe that’s what’s wrong with you. Sixty years of age and haven’t experienced a good wank…that’s the reason you are the way you are then? Sympathies for you, to be so fucked up in that way.

        • See Noevo

          “Ya see, there’s the lying coming out of ya…baby Jesus
          will be crying.
          Nowhere did I say how often I masturbate, so “inveterate” is just you making shit up again.”

          Not making anything up. “Inveterate” doesn’t quantify, doesn’t
          detail how often.
          I think the word fits fine with your “The RCC has decreed
          that wanking is a sin. I, and millions of others, do not. We do it with
          impunity and enjoy it too.”
          ………………..
          “You are struggling with this idea that I don’t give a
          flying fuck what your Church thinks about my masturbation.”

          For a wanker who doesn’t care what the Church says about his
          wanking, you sure do write a lot about the subject.
          ………………
          “…so fucked up…”

        • Michael Neville
        • Ignorant Amos

          Adrian Cronauer…what a funny guy. The fictional guy in the movie with a gifted way with words I mean, not the real one.

          See Noevo is just a frustrated old tosser watching his cult go down the toilet and can’t handle it, so he comes here for wank material.

        • adam
        • Ignorant Amos

          Not much to say. Something like that old saying – “Rules were meant to be broken” – might apply here.
          Church “rules” can change.
          But Church doctrine and dogma can not.
          Abortion has always been a grave sin, but could always be forgiven in the sacrament of reconciliation.
          Francis has apparently made that sacrament for that sin more accessible.

          Church rules can change. Bingo! That’s all I’ve been saying all along. The word I took exception to was “unvarying” aka “not changing” to which you affirmed. The RCC’s position has varied in response to the crime. I at no time mentioned doctrine or dogma.

          While the Church has always condemned abortion, changing beliefs about the moment the embryo gains a human soul have led their stated reasons for such condemnation, and the classification in canon law of the sin of abortion, to change over time.

          The 1312 Council of Vienne declared that the substance of the rational or intellectual soul is essentially the form of the human body and affirmed Aquinas’s stance on delayed hominization.

          In 1588, Pope Sixtus V issued the Bull Effraenatam, which subjected those that carried out abortions at any stage of gestation with automatic excommunication and the punishment by civil authorities applied to murderers. Three years later after finding that the results had not been as positive as was hoped, his successor Pope Gregory XIV limited the excommunication to abortion of a formed fœtus.

          In the 1869 Bull Apostolicae Sedis, Pius IX rescinded Gregory XIV’s not-yet-animated fetus exception and re-enacted the penalty of excommunication for abortions at any stage of pregnancy, which even before that were never seen as merely avenial sins. Since then, canon law makes no distinction as regards excommunication between stages of pregnancy at which abortion is performed.

          Those are CHANGES.

          From the Catholic Encyclopedia.

          In the fourth century the Council of Eliberis decreed that Holy Communion should be refused all the rest of her life, even on her deathbed, to an adulteress who had procured the abortion of her child. The Sixth Ecumenical Council determined for the whole Church that anyone who procured abortion should bear all the punishments inflicted on murderers.

          That is not the case anymore, ergo, aspects about abortion have VARIED.

          You strike me as an ex-Catholic.
          Are you?

          It depends what ya mean by Catholic of course. There are quite a number.

          Ex-Catholic, yes, ex-Roman Catholic, no.

          The Celtic Church, which emerged in Ireland following the mission of St Patrick in the 5th century, is still recognised as the source of the modern Church of Ireland. A strong diocesan and parochial structure has existed for almost 1,000 years.

          We are Catholic in holding all the Christian faith in its fullness and being part of the one worldwide Church of God. We are Reformed in believing that the Church’s life should be aligned with Scripture and that the Church should only require its members to believe those doctrines to which Scripture bears witness.

          https://www.ireland.anglican.org/about/about-us

        • See Noevo

          “Church rules can change. Bingo! That’s all I’ve been saying
          all along… I at no time mentioned doctrine or dogma.”

          Unfortunately for you, the Church’s teaching on masturbation
          is doctrine, not a rule.

          As for you and your church of whatever, good luck with your
          descent into Protestantism.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well then, given that “sin” is a wrongdoing, WHY are you even trying to debate this matter?

          Sin is only wrongdoing for those that believe sin is wrongdoing, that’s the whole point of Bob’s argument and something you are struggling with here.

          Let me use a different example if I may.

          The RCC has decreed that wanking is a sin. I, and millions of others, do not. We do it with impunity and enjoy it too. Ergo it isn’t wrongdoing. You may believe it’s a sin, I believe you too are a wanker btw, that or ya tell lies, or both. You don’t get to dictate what is objectively moral because of the interpretations of men in funny hat’s from an ambiguious book that more people than not, don’t give a flying fuck about. And those that do give a flying fuck, can’t agree on what it is they give a flying fuck about.

          Don’t even get me started on the RCC’s disparity on the subject of murder.

          A woman, or someone facilitating abortion, gets automatic ipso facto excommunicated. Catholic murderers, many of them mass murderers…not so.

          Which brings us back to the varying attitude the Church has taken to abortion. From 10 years penance to excommunication to the recent change to allow absolution in the confessional…but nothing has changed.

          I’ve a fair idea of why |Frankie is allowing abortion in by the back door, do you?

          Even IF someone has “done wrong”, committed a “sin”, in this affair, you don’t give a fart.
          But you do like to *try* to raise a stink.

          Oh I’ll raise a stink alright, just as long as ignorant cunts like you are trying to force your ignorant shite down the throats of me and mine, who don’t care much for your imbecilic musings on this subject and most others.

        • See Noevo

          For a person who claims “None of us non-believers give a
          fart for the concept of sin”,

          you sure do give a lot of “farts” about sin!
          (Sin as in serious wrongdoing/fault.)

          What a crazy contradiction you are. Do you suffer from PTSD?
          ………………..
          I’ll have to leave you now, Ignorant.

          May I call you Ignorant?

          Sure I can.

          “… you too are a wanker…ya tell lies… don’t give a flying
          fuck… ignorant cunts like you…”

        • Ignorant Amos

          (Sin as in serious wrongdoing/fault.)

          But most of what you clowns call sin is neither serious or wrongdoing. That’s why a lot of you ignore it.

          So pah!

        • Ignorant Amos

          May I call you Ignorant?

          Call me whatever ya like, I’ve been called a hell of a lot worse by your fellow Roman Catholic Christian’s. Names you couldn’t even imagine and from all ages of good Christian, young, old, and everything in between. All it took was an army uniform and a walk up the Falls Road in West Belfast.

          So, I could give zero fucks what ya call me, knock yerself out.

  • See Noevo

    Part 1 has 426 comments as of about 7:50 p.m. 11/21/16.

    For Part 2, what’s the over/under?
    I’m thinking 300-ish.

    • Michael Neville

      Who knows, who cares?

      • Clint W. (Thought2Much)
        • Myna

          x 10

      • Joe

        300 posts, where roughly 150 are garbage, spewed from the same idiot, does not equate to a robust discussion with open conclusions. This is the error our overly self-important See Noevo doesn’t seem to recognize,

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          And almost all of the remaining comments would be others vainly trying to explain the most basic scientific and logical concepts to that one poster.

        • TheNuszAbides

          you might’ve spelled poseur incorrectly.

    • Kodie

      I’m thinking you’ll be banned by then and disqus will close your account.

      • Michael Neville

        That has my vote.

  • See Noevo

    Maybe one day SNL will do a Bubble skit specifically for atheists.
    But the video below will serve pretty well until then.
    BTW, does anyone know what percentage of atheists voted for
    Trump vs. for Hillary?
    I’m guessing the percentages would be about the same as for these people:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKOb-kmOgpI

    • TheMarsCydonia

      Still crying out for attention, uh. You must be thrilled when SNL parodies christians.

    • Kodie

      So you’re trying really hard to admit you have nothing to add to or learn from this discussion, and you’re really just some butthurt loser who wants to get attention for being a hack. Just say the words, “I got nothin’. I’m a fool, a jerk, I didn’t pay attention in school, and now I have no life.” Go ahead, it will be cathartic.

  • eric

    See Noevo (see no evolution…get it?) is a troll who was regularly banned from Jason Rosenhouse’s blog posts (on a post-by-post basis), has been banned from Ethan Siegel’s blog, and who has probably been banned from who knows how many others. He constantly posts irrelevant religious content.

    But hey SN, consider this: God must have a good albeit mysterious reason for you being regularly banned, right? So when it happens again, don’t be sad. Be pleased that the banhammer coming down on your trollish self is just God’s plan for you getting one step closer to being fulfilled! Maybe this is God’s way of trying to tell you to stop posting. 🙂

    • See Noevo

      Hi eric!

      Yeah, I already told the folks here about my being banned by most of ScienceBlogs, and many Patheos blogs, and Biologos.

      Do you ever wonder if Ethan Siegel is starting to lose it?
      Some of those recent articles of his…
      “Is there another ‘you’ out there in a parallel Universe?”,
      “Ask Ethan: What if gravity isn’t really fundamental?”…

      boy, I don’t know.

      Do you miss our dialogs? I kind of do. You were much more fun than the atheists here. And at least you put up a fight!
      This was a pretty extended one:
      http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2016/04/09/ask-ethan-why-is-jupiter-hit-by-so-many-objects-in-space-synopsis/#comment-569325

      • Dys

        Well, since you’re proudly anti-science, it’s hardly surprising your trolling attempts would earn a banning at blogs and websites that discuss science.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Yeah, I already told the folks here about my being banned by most of ScienceBlogs, and many Patheos blogs, and Biologos.

        Yeah, but not before ya were outted by Mark of course.

        • al kimeea

          Or a bar of soap

  • Jim Jones

    > The typical Christian response is, “But God could have perfectly good
    reasons that make sense to him that you simply can’t imagine!”

    And it follows from that that that god is OK with my kidnapping your teenage daughters and keeping them as my sex slaves. Another “mysterious plan”.

    • Rt1583

      I’ve never understood how they can rationalize some horrible thing happening to someone as being god’s way of showing his love for them.

      • RichardSRussell

        “Thanking God for helping you survive a tornado is like thanking a serial killer for stabbing your neighbors.”

        —Mrs. Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian

  • It is interesting to me how the Christians never mention things such as the Edict of Thessalonica, commanding all Roman citizens to become Christian. So much for the supposed voluntary conversion due to the noble examples of Christians being martyred. Not to mention that those who didn’t convert were punished, often with death. Winners write the history books indeed.

    • The new guys come into power and use the same oppression of other groups that they decried when they were out of power? Just human nature, I guess. Too bad God couldn’t nudge this one a little better.

      • I’m sure in their minds it was okay due to being done for the right cause. Of course, everyone who does this believes that.

        • al kimeea

          You can’t be wrong with doG on your side

        • No, because for many people, that is just a protection of their own opinions.

  • RichardSRussell

    I am always at pains to point out the distinction between physicist Sean M. Carroll of Caltech and evolutionary biologist Sean B. Carroll of my own beloved University of Wisconsin – Madison. Each is just as distinguished in his own field, equally respected, similarly articulate, with comparable-quality books under his name, and just as much death on the TBs as the other, so one might easily imagine it’s just a single almost super-human intellect named Sean Carroll. But it’s not.

  • RichardSRussell

    As for the church clearly being a morally superior institution, the Catholic Church pedophilia scandal is merely the most recent moral lapse.

    And, at that, it’s only the most recent American example! We also have the Vatican banking scandal, Irish convents holding generations of unwed mothers in peonage, Spanish baby sales, the unchecked spread of AIDS in Africa because of Catholic opposition to condoms, the barrios and favelas of Latin America due to rampant overpopulation, and so on. We don’t even have to turn to historical accounts of the Holocaust, pogroms, the Inquisition, and the Crusades for horror stories.

    All because the arrogant, superstitious autocrats of the Catholic hierarchy have been assuring each other for centuries that they have a 100% lock on The Truth and, as God’s own appointed agents on Earth, they can do no wrong. “If the authority of government comes from God, how could there be any limits on it?” (John B. Hodges, SecHum listserv)

    Of the 2 great evil, corrupt, misogynistic, domineering organizations that have spread their tentacles from Italy over the rest of civilization, why is it that only the less obnoxious one, the Mafia, has the bad reputation?

  • See Noevo

    I thought the over/under would be about 300, but as of about
    1:30 a.m. on 11/28/16, this part 2 of the “Great Debate” has 193 comments.
    (Part 1 has 1,014 comments.)

    The question I have is this:
    In this “Great Debate”, am I the only one here who thinks it’s not “settled” in favor of naturalism/atheism? Am I all alone here?

    Doesn’t matter, really. I’ll keep on rockin’. In fact, this reminds me of a good tune, the last line of which is
    “Another night finds me alone”.

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

    • TheMarsCydonia

      There are still people that believe the earh is flat and that the issue isn’t settled so you’re not alone to convince yourself of something that isn’t true.

      But when flat-earth believers are challenged with “here’s the evidence for a spherical earth”, they don’t run away with “but I told you, I don’t want all the evidence, just ONE!”

      • Ignorant Amos

        See Noevo has a fellow woo-woo Catholic who believes something just as daft as a flat-earth, geocentrist Rick Delano, who See Noevo reminds me a lot of in many ways.

        Rick embarrassed the Catholic community at Strange Notions that much that they banhammered him along with the many atheists that got the shove. He was some piece of work who accused just about everyone Catholic, including the Pope, of heresy.

        You may have already heard of Delano and his “The Principle” controversy. He’s a lying toerag too.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Principle#Controversy

    • MNb

      Now that’s a full-length portrait of SN. First he asks a question and then he writes it doesn’t matter. The sole purpose is to appear interesting.

      • Kodie

        He seems to equate generating a lot of posts means his claims are controversial and up for debate. He is what they call an attention whore.

    • Otto

      It’s only not settled in the same way it is not settled that an invisible pink unicorn lives in my daughters closet…she named him Herman.