Do We Get More Awe from Christianity or from Science?

Do We Get More Awe from Christianity or from Science? February 25, 2017

You may be surprised to learn that not everyone is convinced by the arguments of New Atheism’s Four Horsemen. It certainly shocked me.

One negative review of Christopher Hitchens’ God is not Great  said:

Hitchens claims that, “As in all cases, the findings of science are far more awe-inspiring than the rantings of the godly.”

Is he serious? I doubt that even Hitchens would find re-runs of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos “far more awe-inspiring” than Michelangelo’s vision of God creating man.

And can this author be serious? He’s saying that the awe from science is dwarfed by that from religion?

Science in Palestine

Here’s a brief caricature of what I imagine “awe” meant in the Old Testament. Imagine a Jew and a non-Jew meet 2500 years ago in Palestine. They’re comparing gods.

Jew: And strong! Let me tell you how strong Yahweh is. See that rock over there? The one as big as a house?

Not-a-Jew: Okay.

Jew: Yahweh could pick it up and throw it just like you’d throw a pebble.

NJ: Wow!

Jew: Yeah, and that mountain over there? He could pick it up and move it across the valley without even trying.

NJ: Impressive.

Jew: And did I tell you that he created everything? And I mean everything! This was thousands of years ago—he formed all the land from the Mediterranean to Mesopotamia; from Egypt to Greece. He created the sun and moon. Rainbows, earthquakes—everything!

NJ: I didn’t know that . . .

Jew: Yeah, so don’t mess with us ’cause he’s on our side.

Yahweh was like a superhero—stronger than Hercules, with better generalship than Alexander, and wiser than Solomon. The Jews needed a big brother to help with all their difficulties with neighboring tribes and countries. It’s nice to have a superhero on your side when there are bullies around (who each have their own superhero protectors).

The imagination of a primitive desert tribe 2500 years ago wasn’t that broad, and that superhero concept of God was probably as much as they could imagine.

… vs. science today

Compare that with what modern science has given us in the last few hundred years. Let’s ignore the advances that make our lives much more bearable (vaccines, antibiotics, anesthesia, energy, transportation, engineering, etc.) and focus on the cerebral stuff. The mind-expanding stuff. The awe-inspiring stuff. Things like the age of the earth and the universe, the huge distances between stars and galaxies, or the amount of energy stars produce.

Try this experiment: on a clear night, go look at the stars. Now extend your arm and spread your fingers. The nail of your little finger covers one million galaxies. In each galaxy are on average 100 billion stars. This gives a good perspective on the tiny space our earth occupies in the universe.

Or look at the small scale and consider the complexity of a cell. The Creationist who argues that evolution is counterintuitive should focus instead on quantum physics.

And notice the irony in the author’s “I doubt that even Hitchens would find re-runs of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos ‘far more awe-inspiring’ than Michelangelo’s vision of God creating man.” Yes, the Sistine Chapel fresco is marvelous, but it was created by a man! Can he be saying that a work of a man trumps nature’s marvels?

The author lists other great works inspired by religion: “Giotto, Bach and Handel, Chartres and St. Peter’s.” Art, music, and architecture—here again, these are all made by humans.

Who, exactly, do you give praise to?

I can’t resist an aside on the topic of what God does vs. what people do. You’ve probably seen the iconic woman who survived the big disaster (hurricane Katrina’s rampage through New Orleans, for example) and is now back on her feet. “Thank you Jesus!” she says. “I lost everything, but now I have clothes and an apartment and a job.”

She seems to forget that Jesus didn’t lift a finger to give her those things—she’s doing well thanks to other people. Her thanks should be aimed at the combination of government aid and charitable donations that helped her out. And while we’re talking about Jesus, he was the guy who brought the disaster in the first place. What she should have said was “Thank you America! And Jesus, we need to talk . . .”

Of course, this doesn’t address the “Does God exist?” question. Maybe God does exist, and he produced the amazing things we see in nature. But it’s through science that we see these awe-inspiring things, not through the Bible. This marvelous universe is not at all what the early Jews, living on their small Mesopotamian disk of a world with the sun rotating around it, imagined it to be.

The awe we get using religion’s Glasses of Make Believe can’t compare to the awe from the glasses of science.

If God had wanted us to believe in him, 
he would have existed. 
— Linda Smith

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 10/23/13.)

Photo credit: Wikipedia

 

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  • Michael Neville

    If I could see Yahweh tossing a boulder around or moving mountains without Caterpillar Inc.’s help then I might find some awe in religion. Until then, I’m more awed by Caterpillar’s ability to make machines which can move mountains.

    Cat D11

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caterpillar_D11#/media/File:Cat_D11_View_2.jpg

  • Akira625

    Yahweh could move mountains, yet he’s completely helpless against iron chariots. So much for omnipotence.

    • Technically, he’s kind of omnipotent.

    • rabbit

      and then there’s evil–if he made everything, he made that too “Tyger tyger burning bright in the forests of the night,,,”

  • Where Do We Get Our Answers From Today? What Expands Our Minds the Most Today? The Cultural Divide Between the Ancient Near East and the Wealth of Modern Knowledge/Information https://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-cultural-divide-between-ancient.html

  • Jim Jones

    > Compare that with what modern science has given us in the last few hundred years.

    For thousands of years men looked at the moon and wondered what it was. For all of that time, religion ‘explained’ it – and was wrong.

    1903: First powered heavier than air flight.

    1969: First man walks on the moon.

    66 years, and a man stood on a different planetary body.

    Science, bitches, ‘cos you can’t pray that shit into space.

    • Michael Neville
      • TwoRutRoad

        All I see is a big white area. I thought I had reached the end of the discussion. Somebody might want to fix that.

    • Doug

      And God made it all possible.

      Gosh you give a kid everything he needs to build a house and he doesn’t even say thank-you. The nerve!

    • KarlUdy

      An ironic example. On what basis do you believe that men landed on the moon?

      • TwoRutRoad

        Because it’s in a book! If that’s a good enough reason to believe in god, then it’s good enough for a moon landing.

        • KarlUdy

          So you believe in God on the same basis?

        • TwoRutRoad

          It was sarcasm. See my avatar?

        • KarlUdy

          Do you have a serious answer?

        • TwoRutRoad

          Well, I’m not interested in debating a conspiracy theorist or anything like that, so I’ll just say that for one thing, we have actual moon dust to study.

        • KarlUdy

          Are there moon rocks on earth that were not brought back by astronauts who landed on the moon?

        • TwoRutRoad

          Certainly.
          Are there books that were written by people?

        • KarlUdy

          If there are moon rocks on earth not brought back from astronauts, how does the existence of moon rocks on earth prove men landed on the moon?

        • TwoRutRoad

          If there are books written by man, how does the existence of a book about god prove it was written by him.

        • KarlUdy

          Off topic. (but the answer is “no”)

          Care to answer my question?

        • TwoRutRoad

          Ok. Thanks for the honest answer.

          To answer your question, the rocks I was referring to are the ones brought back by the astronauts, not those that got here after being ejected from the moons surface. It’s not the only proof that we went to the moon. If you think it’s hogwash, then to tell you the truth, I really don’t care. I would suggest that you not mention it at a job interview, though.

        • KarlUdy

          There were also moon rocks brought back by unmanned moon probes. The existence of those and lunar meteorites men that you can’t exactly point to a moon rock and say, “There you go, proof that man landed on the moon.”

          Which brings us back to “On what basis do you believe?”

        • Halbe

          You really think that this is some sort of convincing argument do you? Equating belief in batshit conspiracy theories with religious faith… Hm… suddenly I see your point, but it is probably not the point you wanted to make 🙂

        • KarlUdy

          Hmm, a dozen or so people are privy to an extraordinary experience that we have not had. The evidence they use to back up their testimony is contested by those who say they have made the whole thing up. I believe that those who had the experience are telling the truth instead of believing the conspiracy theory. Where do you stand, Halbe?

        • The natural explanations (they made it up, they were deluded, etc.) are more plausible than the supernatural one (that the experience was as they describe it).

        • KarlUdy

          I never picked you as a moon hoaxer, Bob 😛

        • Pofarmer

          A dozen people said they took a ride in a Time Traveling USS Enterprise? Where do you stand on it?

        • KarlUdy

          The bridge?

        • Pofarmer

          O.K. That was funny.

        • KarlUdy

          Glad you laughed. It’s good to remember that there are real humans on both ends of these discussions.

        • Halbe

          That’s easy: I stand where the evidence leads. So, moon landings: lots of convincing evidence that it happened, so yes, that happened. Religion (any of them): zero evidence for their God claims, so no, none of these gods exists.

          ETA: See, it is quite easy to sidestep the little trap that you thought was so clever. And: I see no evidence for the existence of Allah, Brahman, Zeus, Thor, Ra, or Apollo. Where do you stand, Karl? And based on what evidence? (And: if you use the Bible as evidence than you have to accept the Koran, the Vedas, and Norse, Greek and Roman mythology as evidence as well.)

        • KarlUdy

          Halbe,
          I deny the conspiracy theory for both.

          The formation of the church, the testimony of witnesses in New Testament writings, and supporting archaeological evidence together provide evidence to support the claim that Jesus rose from the dead.

        • Susan

          The formation of the church, the testimony of witnesses in New Testament writings, and supporting archaeological evidence together provide evidence to support the claim that Jesus rose from the dead.

          The same standards of evidence support the Angel Moroni talking through its hat to Joseph Smith.

          Do you accept those claims too?

          How about vampires? Because the same standards support vampires.

        • rabbit

          you go, girl!

        • Halbe

          Oh please… not believing in the resurrection of Jesus has now become a “conspiracy theory”!? And you really think that you will convince any of the over 5 billion “conspiracy theorists” with that pathetic little rethorical ploy? Think again. Or rather: think!

        • Kodie

          Do you disbelieve humans are and have been up in space? Why wouldn’t the moon be one of the places they’d have gone?

        • KarlUdy

          Kodie, a couple of interesting things.

          Firstly, I explicitly say that I don’t believe in a conspiracy theory, and you seem to think that I must believe in one.

          Secondly, you seem to think I’m talking about the moon landing, and Bob seems to think I’m talking about Jesus’ resurrection. That should at least make you stop and think.

        • Kodie

          Stop and think about what, Karl? About the demons that you think cause diseases?

        • rabbit

          Certainly all of us believe things we cannot, due to our personal limitations, personally prove at any given time (though, with effort, we could gather evidence and information to inform our understanding of most). It comes down to whom we find credible for the rest. Since you are insisting, I can only be frank rather than polite. We trust the opinions of people we respect. We choose people we respect because we hear what they say and see what they do. I, for one, find nothing to respect in those representing organized religion, so your implied argument that the divinity of Jesus is as valid as the space program falls on deaf ears. From what I have read, the divinity of Jesus was established for political (power/authority) purposes long after his death. If you want to believe any of the stories in the Bible are literally true, fine. Everyone in your church agrees with you. Live long and prosper.

        • KarlUdy

          Rabbit,
          Thank you. This is exactly the sort of reply I would hope to get from a reasonable, informed atheist who has considered the issues but thinks differently (and has probably had different experiences) from me.

          I totally respect your position, even if we disagree.

        • rabbit

          Wow. Okay, I admit I wasn’t expecting that. Back at you. (Doesn’t mean I agree with your position. Rolls eyes. That kind of respect is different. I play chess too)

        • rabbit

          Maybe he’s a fundie preacher. Believing dumb stuff in spite of all evidence to the contrary is a feature for such critters.

        • Susan

          Do you have a serious answer?

          Do you have a serious question?

          Do you accept that humans landed on the moon or not? On what basis?

          Do you accept that humans didn’t land on the moon but that a huge number of qualified people have pretended they did for seventy-some-odd years?

          If the first, then why do you?

          If the second, then why do you reject the consensus of experts and the mountains of evidence in support of that bit of history?

          What exactly is your point?

          Are you saying that Yahwehjesus claims are as well-defined as moonlanding claims?

          Karl, you have no evidence. Just occasional drive-bys where you run away and return to hit reset buttons.

          Unlike, the evidence for humans on the moon.

          If you think your Yahwehjesus claims are equal to moonlanding claims, then have at it.

          Seriously?

          You and I are probably equally confident that if we step off a sixth floor balcony, things won’t be good for us.

          The physics that emerged from understanding the principles that underlie that confidence got humans to the moon. IT’s a little more complicated but perfectly within our means.

          I might as well ask you why you don’t buy the Magic Beans in my pocket if you can’t justify in a combox your acceptance of the fact that humans landed on the moon.

          Neither one of us are sceptical about the physics of stepping off a sixth floor balcony, but at least one of us is sceptical about my Magic Beans.

          What separates Yahwehjesus from my Magic Beans?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6MOnehCOUw

          =====

          Edit: To add video link.

        • KarlUdy

          This is a serious question. On what basis do we believe something? (Or doubt something, if you prefer.) This is a really good example to discuss these issues. Or do you prefer to not discuss these issues?

        • MNb

          “On what basis do we believe something?”
          Experimental observations: repeatability.
          Non-experimental observations: independent witnesses without personal interest. For more details I recommend you to consult a archeologist, paleontologist or astronomer observing for instance supernovas. Ask them what their protocols are.
          Christianity has nothing remotely comparable.

        • KarlUdy

          MNb, forgive me for being obtuse, but what would an archaeologist, palaeontologist, or astronomer have to say about the truth or otherwise of the moon landings? Or any historical claim, for that matter?

        • MNb

          Nothing, because moon landing are repeatable, silly.
          Btw what archeologists and paleontologists dig up and astronomers observe through their telescopes is by definition part of history, silly.
          OK, now you have gotten so silly I’ll explain it to you on kindergarten level.
          Say you are a Historian of Antiquity. Please keep close attention: a Historian of Antiquity says all kind of things about history. Are you with me thus far? You still understand that we are talking about a historical claim? Good. Now you claim that the Romans never set foot in the Americas. That’s a historical claim, isn’t it? Yes? Good laddie.
          Suddenly someone shows up with a Roman coin found in Mexico. Oops. Roman. Something historical. Has something to do with your historical claim – if a Roman (ie a historical character) has put it there. Are you still with me? Then it might occur to your silly brain that an important question pops up. Fortunately I have the answer for you.
          Here is the question. What are you going to do? Pray to your Good Lord? Nah, won’t help. Wait for divine relevation? You might have to wait until Pentecost and Easter are celebrated on the same day. Ask your favourite clergyman to interpret your favourite Holy Book? Fat chance there won’t be even the beginning of an answer.
          Nah. Ask an archeologist, of course. A pro. Someone who knows how to handle such things. Like I already suggested to you. Archeologists have protocols for such things. To make sure that said coin says something about your historical claim indeed and suggest what that something might actually be.
          Similar protocols can be followed to evaluate the supposed evidence for any specific moon landing.
          Christianity hasn’t such protocols. It has an old book.

        • rabbit

          not only an old book, but one that has been edited, re-translated, and re-ordered, and otherwise altered (often for political reasons) many times. This whole discussion is interesting, but ultimately silly. This fellow believes what he believes. Meh, as long as he doesn’t try to run my life in any way, it’s his loss. Exploration is much more fun than coercion.

        • MNb

          There are lots of silly things I enjoy. This is one of them.

        • rabbit

          Obviously I do too. Monty Python is fun too.

        • Kodie

          Evidence. The answer is still evidence.

        • Susan

          This is a serious question. On what basis do we believe something?

          Better framed, it would be “on what basis can we justify our beliefs?”

          This is a really good basis to discuss these issue. Or do you prefer to not discuss these issues?

          I agree. My last comment is an effort to discuss these issues. I asked you some questions and you haven’t answered them.

        • Joe

          He’s just equivocating. It’s all they have to prop up their beliefs.

      • Dessany

        Because I saw it happen on tv. I’m old enough to have watched that iconic moment. We also have the records from NASA. We have the people who actually landed on the moon to tell us. We have pictures of them on the moon.

        Christianity on the other hand has stories written decades after the supposed facts.

        • KarlUdy

          What do people who don’t believe in the moon landings say about all of the things you mention?

        • Dessany

          Why don’t you look it up? You’re the one asking silly questions.

        • KarlUdy

          I want to see if people like you are capable of critical thought.

        • Dessany

          So you figure that out by asking silly questions? Not very bright.

        • KarlUdy

          If you can’t intelligently defend men landing on the moon, how can you intelligently defend a position that is more contested?

        • Dessany

          I did intelligently defend men landing on the moon. You’re the one who is asking silly questions and not showing any intelligence. But then trolls aren’t good at showing intelligence. But they, like you are great at repeating the silly points they try to make.

        • KarlUdy

          So if you intelligently defended it then those who believe the landings are faked would have nothing to say in reply to your points, and would be convinced. Is that your experience? Or have you never been confronted with what they say?

        • Dessany

          Apparently, you are not going to look up what they would say. You want me to do all your work for you. Typical troll. Come to a post and ask a question that has nothing to do with the topic and when answered, respond with nothing, expect others to do your homework for you and keep repeating your original point. Boring and not too bright.

        • KarlUdy

          I don’t need to look it up because I know what they would say.

          You seem to be avoiding the question for some reason. Apparently you’re a skeptic on some things but not others. I’d like to know what your criteria for skepticism about a claim is.

        • Dessany

          Then if you know what they would say, you can make your argument. But then you would actually have to make an argument instead of just JAQing off. But that’s what you trolls enjoy isn’t it. JAQing off.

          I’m not the one avoiding the issue. You’re the one that wants to make me run all over the place looking up information to only have you dismiss any work I do in true troll fashion. Go ahead and try to insult me. I’m never insulted by trolls attempts at superiority.

        • KarlUdy

          Would they say the evidence was falsified? (Was that so hard? Too much research?)

        • Dessany

          Why don’t you look it up and see what they would say. This is your argument. I’m not going to do your homework for you. Nor am I going to make assumptions about a group of people I’ve never looked into. You’re the one who likes to make assumptions about people.

        • KarlUdy

          They would say that the film, pictures and records are all falsified, and that the astronauts are lying. You can check and verify if you don’t believe me. How would you counter those arguments?

        • Pofarmer

          Me thinks Star Trek is a lot better corallary for what you’re clumsily trying to accomplish.

        • Kodie

          How do you not see how ignorant you are? Lots of things have been explained to you before, and you still think it’s the smart thing to play games and try to trap people. You’re not cute at all.

        • rabbit

          I would simply consider the source and wish the person making such statements a happy life (while quietly pitying him.)

        • Greg G.

          We didn’t have the technology to fake it. It would have been easier to actually go. We couldn’t even fake changing the TV channel. We had to get up and walk across the room to do that.

        • Kodie

          One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.

        • Greg G.

          Good luck, Mr. Gorsky!

        • TheNuszAbides

          We didn’t have the technology to fake it.

          that just what Jack Chick wants you to believe …

        • Kodie

          Why shouldn’t they deny something that happened? Sometimes things happen and sometimes things don’t happen, and there are people on both sides of the evidence. You have no evidence for Jesus resurrecting, just what sounds like a local legend, and you are saying you’re sure it happened as the moon landing, and we’re crazy. Show us how this is the same.

        • Lark62

          The strength of evidence is not judged by whether people who revel in ignorance accept the evidence. Duh.

          Some people are proud of their ignorance.

        • adam

          “So if you intelligently defended it then those who believe the landings
          are faked would have nothing to say in reply to your points, and would
          be convinced.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0618711d45daa8dbd9279d4fd56aa468905735520adeaae1b71037ffa900be28.jpg

        • Doug
        • adam
        • Doug
        • BlackMamba44
        • adam

          Neither the religion who has a long tradition of murdering those who oppose it or your strawman.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/67766e8744620be8e221581c8328f8cfa5bf9e1add70ce4f9f3095fa68f14160.jpg

        • Kodie

          You always think things that aren’t the same are the same. If people don’t want to believe evidence that man went to the moon, what do they say about the space program and pictures from satellites or how their fucking cell phone works, etc. Maybe men never went to the moon, but you can hardly ignore space exploration and utilization of space stations and satellites for pretty much fucking everything. You know, they can deny it but they are obviously in denial. What have you got to show for your god? What do you have to show for your Jesus resurrecting and all that shit you think is equivalent? There has been zero movement in supernatural evidence, demons that you think cause diseases, those explanations are superstitions. Lots of people believe something they didn’t see because some people who didn’t see it told them, and there’s no effect you can really point to and say “that’s god” where you can say many effects “because of space exploration”.

          https://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2008/tech_benefits.html

        • rabbit

          This guy “Karl” is not worth our time.

        • Greg G.

          Karl is alright. He is the most interesting regular theist.

        • Kodie

          Not saying a whole lot.

        • rabbit

          You are so patient.

        • Michael Neville

          Because you’re not?

        • Lark62

          Brain envy?

        • Michael Neville

          This guy does a decent job of explaining why going to the Moon was easier to do than to fake it.

          https://youtu.be/sGXTF6bs1IU

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Yep. I loved watching that guy quietly raze the moon-hoaxers’ temple 😉

        • Kodie

          At the beginning of the video, the guy explains why younger people are more inclined to believe hoaxers on the moon landing – because they’re oblivious to the video technology available at the time that makes faking a compelling, realistic video of the event less possible than it might be today. But then there’s the continuation of space exploration and other technologies that are a direct benefit of space travel and exploration, which why wouldn’t that have included a moon landing? They live in a world with such awesome technology, a lot of which would help fake a moon landing now, but also wouldn’t have been possible without an actual moon landing or the age of space exploration, of which, landing on the moon was an early step. It’s like saying, we believe all this other space stuff but it’s just the moon landing was fake before all this other stuff was possible…. yeah, like how would it become possible? I think it’s harder for younger people to deny the effects of space exploration than older people who might just not use cell phones, and think the internet has absolutely nothing to do with it, and think nobody has ever been to space.

          Does anyone deny that humans and robots have been to space? Does anyone deny the ISS exists? Does anyone deny satellite technology? So it’s just the theatrical moon landing? I feel like that is an old person kind of thing that isn’t even one of the most popular conspiracy theories anymore, and that younger people would take for granted that men landed on the moon even if it had been hoaxed because they’ve grown up in an age when we’ve been to space quite often that we don’t even wake children up at 4am to watch launches live on tv. Or maybe they were never woken up and never watched the replay, so … I just don’t know.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          The same thing that flat-earthers say: “We deny the evidence, it’s all made up, and it’s a conspiracy.” Never mind that enemies would have to be in on the conspiracy together.

          xtianity is like the flat-earthers in this. They deny all the scholarship that shows that the ‘bible’ (‘bibles’, really, since y’all can’t get together on one version) is a pastiche of stories from different periods, picked for political advantage, and about as ‘inspired’ as hemorrhoids.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Never mind that enemies would have to be in on the conspiracy together.

          don’t be silly, they’re just putting on a show of being enemies to distract the Truthseekerz.

      • Michael Murray

        My first thought was the laser ranging experiments that bounce lasers of equipment which NASA claims their astronauts left behind. But there is more than that

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

        • KarlUdy

          That’s my go-to as well. But it does make the evidence second-hand for most of us.

          Edit: btw, your link doesn’t go to a page

        • Michael Murray

          I don’t see how we as individuals can have direct experience that verifies the moon landing. But the broader the range of people out there who can reasonably claim such experience the harder I think it is to maintain a conspiracy theory. It’s essentially independent experimental evidence confirming a hypothesis.

          Thanks I fixed the link.

        • KarlUdy

          Michael, I agree completely.

          And only 12 people have landed on the moon, and only 24 have been to the moon’s orbit. Only 15 are still alive and all are now in their 80s so soon we will not have any first-hand testimony. It basically comes down to an issue of whether we think their testimony is trustworthy, and which explanation best explains the evidence available to us.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          As mentioned above, when enemies (on the particular topic) agree that a thing happened, and have independent telemetry of it, then the preponderance of the odds strongly favors the event having taken place.

          Such a consensus doesn’t exist in xtianity, based on the schisms and hatreds fomented for the power of those at the top of each faction.

        • KarlUdy

          Such a consensus doesn’t exist in xtianity, based on the schisms and hatreds fomented for the power of those at the top of each faction.

          I’m sure you would have come across the very common apologetic arguments for Jesus’ resurrection stating the Jewish and Roman acceptance of both Jesus’ death and the empty tomb.

        • Greg G.

          Roman and Jewish writings about Jesus are from the second century, after the destruction of Jerusalem, and attest to the beliefs of Christians, not to known facts about first century events.

          In Acts 26, Paul is testifying in Agrippa’s court. Paul appeals to the Jews as character witnesses, then tells about an obviously made-up encounter with a resurrected Jesus who quotes the Greek god, Dionysus, from Euripides’ Bacchae. If the empty tomb was such a good argument, why didn’t the author of Acts have Paul appeal to the testimony of the Jews who knew about the empty tomb?

        • KarlUdy

          Roman and Jewish writings about Jesus are from the second century, after the destruction of Jerusalem,

          Yes

          and attest to the beliefs of Christians, not to known facts about first century events.

          No. Tacitus refers to Jesus’ execution under Pilate, and persecution under Nero.

        • Joe

          Tacitus refers to Jesus’ execution under Pilate,

          He refers to Christians believing that.

          and persecution under Nero.

          Jesus was persecuted by Nero? That will be news to a lot of biblical historians. Where did you find that information?

        • Greg G.

          Tacitus usually references his sources but not in this case so its authenticity is dubious. Do you think he went through 80 year-old records from Judea to verify that somebody named “Chrestus” was crucified? That is something he would have heard from Christians of his day. So you have evidence of Christians who read gMark or one of its derivatives.

        • Michael Neville

          Christian persecution under anybody has nothing to do with whether or not Jesus was an actual person, let alone a god.

        • Pofarmer

          Not to mention that Tacitus wouldn’t have anything to go on the execution other than what Christians are telling him.

        • Lark62

          Where does Tacitus refer to Jesus’ execution?

        • Greg G.

          Annals, Book 15, chapter 44, on The Great Fire of Rome July, 64AD:
          “Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition…

          The oldest copy is from the 11th century.

        • Lark62

          Yes. It is ever amazing what counts for evidence to Christians.

          Tacitus was 7 when Rome burned and didn’t write about it for another 50 years. Even then his words were based on rumors. He said there were a multitude of Christians in Rome at that time, which is false. And as you noted, the earliest copy is 1000 years later, so there is no way of knowing what was added or changed.

          And this is the best an all powerful god could do to document what is supposedly the most important event in all of history. Rather boggles the mind.

        • Greg G.

          Tacitus is thought to have come from northern Italy so he wouldn’t have even been in Rome when it happened.

          Jim Jones pointed out in another forum that we have Paul’s letters. Anything Jesus wrote would not be much older. Where are they?

        • Joe

          Ask a Christian and Jesus will change from omniscient son of God to illiterate peasant in the blink of an eye.

        • Greg G.

          Famous enough to draw thousands of people but not famous enough for anyone to write home about.

        • But, but, the entire society was illiterate. Right?

          And the Christian copyists only copied documents they wanted preserved, anyway.

        • rabbit

          Interesting, isn’t it, that teachers don’t write–at least Jesus and Socrates didn’t.

        • MNb

          Ah, there he is.
          We understand the technology and science involved to send people to the Moon. I actually have studied some of it. Give me enough time and money, let me make a huge effort and I can exactly tell you how, personally verifying every single step.
          The technology and science involved to resurrect Jesus is notoriously absent. You’re invited though to explain to us how your god did it, which means he used and which procedures he followed. Then tell me how enough time, money and effort enables me to personally verify every single step of that trick.
          Saying that Jesus’ death and an empty tomb (both of which I’m totally OK with) argue for a resurrection is worse than saying that a coin missing from my purse (I put it there myself) proves that you’re a thief.

        • KarlUdy

          Jesus’ death + an empty tomb + testimony of witnesses of a risen Jesus.

          Please don’t ignore the testimony of the witnesses.

          And the inability to explain how something happened doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. There are a lot of processes I don’t understand that I believe happen. I’m sure you are the same too, right?

        • Joe

          Please don’t ignore the testimony of the witnesses.

          Here’s a list of all the men who went to the moon:

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

          Name just a single witness to anything related to Jesus’s death and supposed resurrection.

        • KarlUdy

          The apostle Peter

        • Joe

          Who?

        • Greg G.

          In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is writing which counts as hearsay at best. Paul never saw Jesus but he uses the same word “optanomai” translated “appeared to” for Cephas and the twelve, for the 500, for James, and for himself as if he didn’t think their “appeared to” was any different than his own. Paul also says “in accordance with the scriptures” where he says Christ died for sins, which is in accordance with Isaiah 53:5, that he was buried, which fits Isaiah 53:9, and that he was raised on the third day, where he again says “in accordance with the scriptures” apparently in reference to Hosea 6:2. Paul says in many places that he got none of his knowledge from human sources but he got it from Jesus but he means through the scriptures. Everything he says about Jesus, besides adulation, comes from the OT scriptures. So 1 Corinthians isn’t even hearsay.

          1 Peter 2:24-25 is the only place in 1 Peter that anything is said about a physical Jesus but it is just references to Isaiah 53.

          2 Peter 1:16 says they didn’t follow cleverly devised myths but then cites a cleverly devised myth as proof that they didn’t when it refers to the appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus from Matthew 17:5, which was stolen from Mark 9:7 and Mark 1:11.

        • KarlUdy

          Why does 1 Corinthians 15 say “Cephas” and not “Peter”?

        • Greg G.

          Paul usually called him Cephas except a few verses in Galatians where he uses “Cephas” and “Peter”. Cephas is an Aramaic name and Peter is a Greek equivalent. Paul seems mad at Cephas and James in Galatians so he may have used “Peter” as some sarcastic aspersion and the gospel authors missed it. Galatians 5:12 is extreme sarcasm directed at the “circumcision faction” which James is a leader of. Paul seems to be trying to discredit them both.

          The three main characters, after Jesus, in Mark are the three named in Galatians 2:9. Only the Gospel of John addresses the name “Cephas”.

        • Lark62

          Somebody said somebody said Peter was there. That is not eye witness testimony.

        • Witnesses? Where is their testimony documented? And how do you know that it’s eyewitness testimony?

        • MNb

          Brilliantly missing the point. If I spend enough money, time and make a huge effort I am totally capable of understanding the processes involved with the Moon landing.
          No matter how much money, time and effort I spend, I won’t be able to understand the processes involved with your god resurrecting Jesus, because your god is defined as an immaterial entity and I am not.

          “the inability to explain how something happened doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen”
          No. That applies to little demons running your computer as well and of course to my beloved invisible fairies tending the flowers in my backyard, to make them blossom more beautifully. If you don’t accept them and all kinds of similar claims I don’t have any reason to accept your claim of the Resurrection as a historical fact.
          Still if NASA claimed it had send a mission to Jupiter I would only accept that after many questions have been answered. A thousand witnesses would not be sufficient. Notice again that those questions theoretically are answerable, while questions regarding your god resurrecting Jesus are not answerable by definition – because your god is supposed to be material and NASA is not. That’s the point, silly Karl, the point I have confronted you several times by now. You’re guilty of a false analogy and sneakily want to perform a salto mortale from our concrete world to a divine world.

        • rabbit
        • Greg G.

          I was reading another article on that site the other day and one of the suggested links was to that article. The comments on the article I read had some upset inerrantists and one asked if Tabor had anything to do with it.

          He mentions that it was unusual for Jesus to be called “the son of Mary”. I think it is interesting that in the parallel verse in John, he is called the “son of Joseph” while Jesus’ mother is never mentioned by name though three other women are named Mary, including the sister of Jesus’ mother. Mark never mentions Joseph and John seems to be trying to implicitly say that Jesus’ mother was not named Mary.

          I think the short ending of Mark is fine. The disciples never got him and ran away. gMark is written in a chiastic format which should have ended with an action instead of the women being afraid to tell. I think the pregnant pause is so that the reader will reflect on the Christians who died in Jerusalem, maybe the leadership. The expected ending would have been something like,

          The women folk said, “Pete, move away from there” Said, “Capernaum is where you oughta be, so they loaded up the donkey and the moved to Galilee.”

        • rabbit

          🙂

        • TheNuszAbides

          The women folk said, “Pete, move away from there” Said, “Capernaum is
          where you oughta be, so they loaded up the donkey and the moved to
          Galilee.”

          … sea, that is.

        • Lark62

          What witnesses?

          We only know of witnesses from the same documents that describe other unverifiable events, including the resurrection of 500 zombies in Jerusalem.

          And these documents were written decades after the events by people who did not speak the same language as the supposed witnesses.

          This is a reliable as the testimony of people claiming that Elvis is still alive.

        • You live near where the French Ariane rockets took off. Did you see any?

        • MNb

          I witnessed one explode in the atmosphere.

        • Pofarmer

          So, C’mon Karl.

          Let’s put first things first. You have a copy of the Gospel of, well, whichever one you like, and you can have a copy of say, Gone with the Wind.

          How do you determine whether or not they are fiction?

        • KarlUdy

          How do you determine whether or not they are fiction?

          By examining the text to determine the genre.

          But I don’t think the question you are asking is what you actually intend.

          Das Kapital was not fiction, but does mean it was true?

          Gone With the Wind is clearly by any textual analysis “fiction” (ie intended to be understood as not portraying actual events, people, etc), just as the gospels are clearly by any textual analysis “non-fiction” (ie intended to be understood as portraying actual people, events, etc).

        • Greg G.

          The Gospel of Mark gives many signs that it is not history. It is like the Aeneid in that it uses Homeric epics and it uses OT scriptures in combination.

          Mark uses words based on Latin and words based on Aramaic. Mark never explains the Latinisms but usually explains the Aramaic, even explaining the worth of a coin by comparing it to a Roman coin. So Mark’s audience was probably Roman. We have three accounts of Vespasian healing a blind man with spit. Suetonius implies that Vespasian needed “some divine majesty and authority” to take over as Rome’s emperor since he had lowly beginnings, so these miracles would have been used as propaganda. Mark’s Roman audience would have recognized Jesus’ healing of a blind man with spit as a reference to Vespasian propaganda, and known that the story was not history.

          The other miracles in Mark are based on OT scripture and some include scenes from Homer. There are two mass feedings based on Elisha’s mass feeding from 2 Kings 4:42-44 and the two feasts Telemauchus attended in the Odyssey. The Gerasene Demonaic come from the Cyclops story flavored with Isaiah 65:4 and Psalm 107:10. Become familiar with the Odyssey, then watch O Brother! Where Art Thou? and the parallels really jump out. Then read Mark and you can see them, too.

          If Mark is not a true story, then Matthew, Luke, and John are derivatives of it and are not historical, either.

        • rabbit

          Suetonius–the National Enquirer of his age. So much fun! I agree with you though. We do not see any of these stories the same way contemporaries would have seen them, and there’s even disagreement about when these works were written.

        • Greg G.

          Since there are three accounts of Vespasian healing a blind guy with spit while only Mark has Jesus doing it and the other two Synoptics rejected spit miracles, Christians should believe that Vespasian and Serapis performed the miracle and Jesus did not. Tacitus even says that eyewitnesses to Vespasian’s miracles still stuck to their story even though it didn’t matter any more.

        • Michael Neville

          Much of Das Kapital (which I have read) is non-fiction. Marx went into great detail on the historical, political and economic bases for his theory. Most of the rest is analysis and only a small portion of the four volume work is speculation. The speculation part may or may not be true, depending on your particular biases and prejudices, but the historical, political and economic parts are as true as any other books on those subjects.

          Marx footnoted Das Kapital extensively, using the resources of the British Museum (one of the world’s premier libraries) for his data. He and other Marxists consider Das Kapital to be true. Most historical economists accept his background data as true.

        • The respected business analyst Peter Drucker said that Marx was an excellent historian of science.

        • rabbit

          Many nonfiction books offer the author’s opinions. In fact, most books contain either authorial or cultural opinion. It is almost impossible to escape. That’s why all readers (and consumers of media) should think critically, compare, contrast, and question everything. This process is not encouraged by religion. Questioning undermines authority. Religion is about authority.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, they should probably teach kids first off that it’s called “non-fiction” as a genre, it’s not called “fact”. I feel like I just had this conversation.

        • rabbit

          If you are trying to push Creationism or dismiss evolution I’m not agreeing with you. That’s just silly.

        • I’m pretty sure that Kodie is on board with evolution.

        • rabbit

          Yes, sorry. I lost track of the players (winks). Sorry about that.

        • Kodie

          No, of course not. The library is not divided into fiction and fact, or true and false, it’s called fiction and non-fiction. If you are teaching kids to be critical thinkers, just point that out. I’m not sure religion belongs in school at all, while some people think, say, world religions should be taught as a thing people should know and understand. I might owe part of my atheism to some of the stuff we were taught in school about “Moslems” and the pilgrimage to Mecca, comparative Greek and Roman mythology as pertains to constellations in the sky, and the Iroquois origin myths. I guess what I’m saying is, while religions are fictional, they also exist as a subject. That’s what makes it a non-fiction at the library, but not fact.

        • rabbit

          We agree. (and the Dewey Decimal System is more complex than that. That’s why poetry and literature also are shelved in the “nonfiction” section — DD as opposed to “fiction”) I see the Bible as a cultural artifact and believe in teaching comparative religion in conjunction with world history and world geography in Middle School and High School. Critical thinking should be taught from the beginning, along with reading and math. Actually, most state standards do emphasize that. I think the expression of critical thinking could be taught more. People are afraid of discussions in class, and that’s too bad. I’m sorry I confused you with someone else. You can see how your short comment could be read in a different way than intended. I was in the middle of a, uh, discussion with a slave of theology and got carried away (winks). In any case, no worries, we’re on the same side.

        • Kodie

          I do not really remember any formal-ish critical thinking taught in school. I didn’t have a religion at home, and sometimes I did get curious what it was all about, but mostly I made assumptions that religions were something family-oriented, like other cultural things other families did, like go on vacations or have a lot of pets, or more closely to nationality, and I grew up in a neighborhood and was friends and classmates with children of so many immigrants. I didn’t think a lot about it or think it was weird, but I felt kind of aware of many religions of the world because many of these kids’ parents were from China or India, I certainly didn’t think everyone was Christian, and I didn’t assume my school was so predominantly white or Christian that Jews or Hindus or Sikhs or Buddhists were oppressed by teachers or bullied by other kids. As an atheist (an immature sort that Bob doesn’t seem to acknowledge is authentic), I didn’t feel like there was not room for me either. I felt like the ideal of religious freedom was that anyone could have any religion and be free, out loud about it, and be accepted. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I understood that religions are sincere beliefs about a supernatural deity, that saying I was an atheist was still offensive to all of them, and that my experience with a mildly diverse and accepting high school wasn’t that common and that toxic Christianity was a thing.

          I would say a lot of my education came from tv, and from a time when … you might rewrite history and say the hippies won and civil rights and empowerment was the zeitgeist, at least if you absorbed a lot of Sesame Street and Laugh-In but was a mere child and had no concept of the violence of the eras to get to that point, even though my parents were pretty square and racist products of their time. I just assumed. I guess that is the opposite of critical thinking, but to be fair, I was a child! I was optimistic and idealistic, and even if my personal life wasn’t particularly positive, I never felt like it wouldn’t get better. Well, either I was totally naive and mistaken, or the world has dialed backwards, or both.

          I guess that’s a long way to say, I think my comparative religion piece was mostly lacking the bias of having my own religion, first of all, and secondly, prominent classmates of various religions. When I got to the part where I realized this shit was super-serious to them, no religion could really appeal to me because I knew there were so many of them that I had previously assumed were closed off from me because it was a family tradition sort of thing, like the same kind of thing as deciding to be French or Japanese – if you’re not, you’re not. When I realized religions are ideas you can adopt and that people believed them on purpose, there was no way. I pretty much could objectively compare it to the myths I learned at school, that I probably assumed were quaint stories.

          I wasn’t taught to question anything, but to believe and obey and please the teachers. If they told me Romans and Greeks had analogous myth stories, it was framed as a myth, and knowing what “myth” means, I assumed (probably) that even back then, they knew they were only stories. I think people who did have a religion might have assumed the same thing. “Nobody believes that anymore” means those ideas died because they weren’t true. That is the difference between me, even in high school, and someone else who was indoctrinated in any religion. Anyway, that’s until I met and dated a Greek (his parents immigrated and then left their grown children in the US and retired back to Greece). Even with his mish-mosh of agnostic Greek Orthodox, he had a reverence for Zeus you really don’t think exists anymore if you don’t know anyone that Greek.

        • Pofarmer

          Now hold on. Many of the events and settings in Gone with the wind are clearly historical, just like many of the events and settings in the Gospels. Specific happenings? Not so much. When you have things in the Gospels like the use if third person omniscient narrator, that’s clearly a hallmark of fiction. Tons of miraculous works? Common fictional embellishments. There’s not a single instance in any of the Gospels that anchor them to factual events in history.

        • Susan

          By examining the text to determine the genre.

          What method do you use?

          just as the gospels are clearly by any textual analysis, non-fiction.

          What criteria do you use?

          Joseph Smith didn’t write a book of fiction, either.

          That doesn’t make it true.

          Doctors who believed in humours weren’t writing books of fictional medicine.

          Astrologers don’t write books of fiction.

          What’s your point?

          You want to claim that a single guy ACTUALLY rose from the dead in a world where humans tell stories about people rising from the dead, I’m not going to be persuaded by literary genre arguments.

          People tell stories.

          What method do you use to separate real things from stories people tell?

          Or do you believe all the stories about humans rising from the dead?

        • Lark62

          “…just as the gospels are clearly by any textual analysis “non-fiction” (ie intended to be understood as portraying actual people, events, etc).”

          You know this how?

          We do not know who wrote the gospels. We do not know what their motives were. We have no way of knowing whether the original audience of the first gospel thought it was “fan fiction” – a product of imagination rather than a historical account.

          100 years later, people viewed the gospels as history. This does not mean the authors thought they were history.

          In the same way, Billy the Kid was a real person but the various accounts of him are fiction. This did not stop people from believing the various Billy the Kid tales were true.

          Several hundred years from now, some future culture may think Gone with the Wind is history. That doesn’t make it so.

        • adam
        • rabbit

          In the Dewey Decimal System, poetry, mythology, and folk tales, as well as philosophy and history, are classified in the nonfiction section. I agree that the Bible is not a “true” account of anything, but it is an important artifact that underlies many nonreligious aspects of our culture.It’s one of those books that isn’t exactly fiction, although it certainly contains works of fiction. While the genealogies it records are not relevant to us, they were accepted as accurate and important to the people who wrote them. The words of wisdom passed down through various families and shared in Proverbs may or may not still be considered wise today, but they are not and were not “fiction” at the time they were written.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, yeah in the same way that the Odyssey isn’t entirely fiction, but the adventures of Odysseus certainly are.

        • rabbit

          I don’t think they were considered such at the time they were recounted, passed down, and written. I’m not defending the Bible, except as a cultural artifact! However, there are many things we believe now that will be considered fiction sooner than we expect. I remember when Pluto was a planet, there was never water on the moon, brontosaurus was a dinosaur, and continental drift was a joke.

        • Kodie

          As a former library volunteer, I know this section is 000-100. All religious books and witchcraft books and mythology are in this section. This would also be where they’d put books about the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot. Technically speaking, art is a type of fictional/nonfictional expression, so the 700s are about art, including a very popular section of how to recreate craft projects, such as your knitting and quilting. I kind of remember way back about Garfield and so humor and cartoon books were also filed in non-fiction somewhere. According to this site, there is plenty of literature in the 800s, I think this is where they put Shakespeare’s plays and stuff like that. There are some fictional genres outside the system like Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction, Mystery, Western, but not really a space for plays and poetry, so they go in the 800s. History, if I recall is the 900s, and I only really remember it because at the small library, the end of the line had circled behind the desk if you imagine the library in a clockwise way.

        • rabbit

          You are right about religion. I stand corrected. I was thinking about the 300s. specifically the folk tales in 395 and poetry/lit in the 800s. The point I was making was that fiction in the modern sense is something different, usually authored by a single person or group of people (though there are exceptions.) History also includes biographies, which is one reason it was probably such a large section in your library.

        • Joe

          I’m sure you would have come across the very common apologetic arguments for Jesus’ resurrection stating the Jewish and Roman acceptance of both Jesus’ death and the empty tomb.

          No, we’ve come across entirely weaker arguments that dishonestly try to pass themselves off as a similar argument to the evidence for the moon landing.

        • Michael Neville

          I know of no Jews who accept Jesus’s resurrection. All the Jews who do are called Christians.

        • TwoRutRoad

          Only 12? Only 15? How many would it take for you to accept it? How many were on the Titanic? The Hindenburg? Did the 1906 San Francisco earthquake really happen? How about the 1906 World Series?

          Oh, wait…now I see. You think it was impossible for man to walk on the moon because it’s a light made to rule the night. I’ve got news for you…the moon is not a light…it REFLECTS the light from our sun, which is actually a star.

        • Pofarmer

          Karl has completely lost the plot. Some things happen. some things are made up stories. His faith depends on not telling the difference.

        • rabbit

          and a power investment by a group of cynical “religious leaders” who, with P.T. Barnum understand that people want to believe (to give their power away).

        • KarlUdy

          TwoRutRoad, I think you have picked up the wrong end of the stick completely. My question from the beginning has been the basis of the belief. There is no silver bullet evidence (ie evidence that could not possibly be interpreted differently, or perhaps fraudulent). We are left with the corroborating testimony of a small group, and the contested evidence. Enough to justify belief, or not?

        • TwoRutRoad

          Your basis of the belief question came from Jim Jones’ remarks comparing science and religion. I picked up the science end of the stick. The other end is smeared with the slippery slime of religion. I know where you are trying to lure me, and I won’t fall for it.

        • Kodie

          We have one instance of the first moon landing, and millions of people seeing it on tv. You have a lot of weirdos claiming that was faked using every lie they can use to point out why it doesn’t seem realistic to them. Science and technology and history since 1969 isn’t merely recalling one summer day almost 50 years ago, it’s echoing the reality that it happened. What has Christianity done in the last 2000 years that continues to prove one resurrection of one Jesus Christ, allegedly seen by hundreds but recorded by no one at the time? We don’t have a legend of space travel that only happened once and maybe it was just a faked film effect that millions watched on tv and believed. We have continued affirmation in science and technology. You don’t have continued affirmation – you have continued rumor-mongering. There is no explosion of evidence for Christianity, only billions of people saying they believe a couple hundred people who were witness to what – an empty tomb? Holy crap, the tomb is empty, he must have ascended bodily to heaven! That’s fucking stupid.

        • rabbit

          and then there’s that imaginative unmarried pregnant girl who said, “God did it.”

        • adam
        • Lark62

          No.

          We have all the other astronauts who would have had to be in on the secret that the moon landings would be faked.

          We have hundreds of people who would have had to create the sets and the images.

          We also have thousands of people involved in the space program who monitored equipment and data streams, communicated with astronauts, etc. etc.

          We have rocks from the moon which were shared with hundreds of scientists around the country and in other countries after each moon landing. Those scientists, and their grad students, thoroughly and independently studied those rocks.

          How many hundreds of thousands of people are in on this conspiracy? And not one leak except for unsupported conspiracy theory nonsense? Now that would take a miracle.

        • adam

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8313efa128f4b69f835c9e1249ec7e0a3c6f4ac39bee5f86101f2692e380791d.png

          So you want to demean reality so that your #fakenews will be given equal credibility?

          This sounds just like the Trump trash from the White House

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c36ae9a5878797e1e5bbc8bdd1d8c3b760f0374d7b908a5ec6415ede331bd1da.jpg

        • MNb

          “It basically comes down to an issue of whether we think their testimony is trustworthy.”
          Nope. It basically comes down to an issue of whether their testimony is verifiable.

        • Kodie

          The testimony of the moon landing in 1969 continues to be verified by continued space exploration and technology. You don’t have that with your empty tomb.

        • Susan

          And only 12 people have landed on the moon, and only 24 have been to the moon’s orbit

          To that, you have to add (just off the top of my head), the number of people involved in the space program, the many missions, the sound theory of landing humans on the moon, the evidence of many missions, the evidence of fewer manned missions, the evidence that some did not come back, the camera evidence, the lab testing of collected samples… it goes on and on.

          Do you have doubt Hubble is returning reliable images or is it just a conspiracy? Do we have a lab on Mars?

          Where you have reports no better than Angel Moroni reports.

          And a claim that someone rose from the dead.

          No model, no evidence. Just stories.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Meticulously monitored telemetry and video, from multiple locations around the world, including those who didn’t wish it to succeed.

        What does your religion have that even approaches it that’s equally verifiable?

      • Pofarmer

        Are you really THAT big of a moron?

        • BlackMamba44

          Why yes. Yes, he is. And he’s proud of it too.

        • Kevin K

          Yeah, that question falls firmly in the “rhetorical” category.

      • MNb

        An ironic example. On what basis do you believe that the Moon even exists?

        http://www.revisionism.nl/Moon/

      • Joe

        On what basis do you believe that men landed on the moon?

        Faith.

      • Kodie

        Karl, you don’t have to believe anything you don’t want to, but your “subtle” insinuations are bullshit.

      • Lark62

        Evidence

      • Sven2547

        The Apollo retro-reflectors, placed on the moon by astronauts, can be hit with lasers. Testable experiments, ho!

      • My friend in the traveling blue box took me to personally witness it.

    • TwoRutRoad

      Religion will only fly you into buildings. 🙁

  • eric

    I doubt that even Hitchens would find re-runs of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos “far more awe-inspiring” than Michelangelo’s vision of God creating man.

    I can’t believe anyone is stupid enough to make me state the obvious, but I guess I have to: being awe-inspired by Michelangelo’s religious art and architecture means you are being awe-inspired by Michelangelo, not God. God didn’t paint that picture. Likewise with Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring or any other piece of magnificent religious art or music. You owe that feeling of awe to the human artist, not the object of his or her art.

    Unless, of course, the theist wants to claim that that feeling of amazement when reading Paradise Lost is owed to Satan. Or that being awed by the great mosque in Cordoba means Allah is awe-inspiring. And let’s not even think about the Odyssey, or a Dali painting…or even Heath Ledger’s remarkable Joker performance. If that feeling of awe at art is due to the metaphysical worthiness of the subject rather than the skills of the artist, then we’re pretty much all pan-thing worshipers.

  • I’ve visited impressive cathedrals, places that pushed the state of the art of construction at the time. Some of the illuminated manuscripts are magnificent. And, as you say, they are the work of people. Now, the state of the art is more often pushed forward by secular projects than by religious projects.

    The works of many of the artists listed was driven to some extent by where the money and the taste of the time was. Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel because the Pope ordered him to (and wouldn’t take no for an answer). Even the private commissions he undertook for people like the Medicis were religiously themed, because that was the expectation of the day. Maybe they would have produced great non-religious masterpieces if someone had paid them to do so. Richard Dawkins points out that if all great artists had been commissioned by the church and constrained to illustrate religious themes, we wouldn’t have great Shakespearean works like Macbeth, Hamlet, and King Lear. Maybe we would have had great Christian plays in their place – and maybe we wouldn’t.

    There is also overlap. Both the non-religious and the religious see the beauty in nature: in animals, in plants, in sweeping views, a starry night sky, etc. But in my view, even if you call that the creative work of God rather than the work of nature, it is still fascinating to understand exactly how some of the things we admire came to be the way they are. There are enough things of interest that we know were created or shaped in the last few thousand years that we don’t have to stop with “God created this feature in the first week with an artist’s brush” (or in year 2000 with an artist’s flood). And certainly some creationists are quite happy to use the impressive pictures of distant stars and galaxies (how many light years away?) as a feel-good sign of how great God is.

  • sandy

    Christianity has nothing more to offer unlike science with new discoveries and answers to our questions, which happens daily. The bible cannot and will not have any new gospels, epistles or books added to it. No new insights and guidance from Yahweh. Apparently God has stopped talking or communicating his word, however, and this is most important, if anyone ever, today, claimed God had talked to him/her no one would take the them seriously. So why should christians take the word of people who said God talked to them 2 to 3 thousand years ago in the age of superstition and ignorance. The fact we wouldn’t take the word of someone today should also apply to the past. Science never stops adding to it’s library of knowledge.

    • Doug

      The dark side of science is just a rehash of the Tower of Babel.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        “Dark Side of the Moon” was a great album.

        And the language of science actually REVERSES the story of the ‘tower of babel’…scientists all use the same symbology and can understand each others work, in a given field.

        • rabbit

          also, they are not seeking to construct anything, but rather to discover, through questioning, how “things” have been constructed. Science is about curiosity and Quest(ioning). Religion is about established order and control. Science outgrows its history every day. Religion,ironically, considering its own laws, makes its history a gilded idol.

      • MNb

        Except that that tower is supposed to have crumbled, while science won’t.

        • Doug

          My point is that the Tower of Babel as an attempt by the ancients to reach God. Science is doing the same thing except instead of reaching God they want to BE God. They want to create like God, live forever like God, etc.

        • Kodie

          You make contradicting opinions here – scientists want to be gods and that god gave humans the building materials for all this amazing solutions to life’s problems. Which is it? God does nothing, who is going to cure the diseases and enable communication across long distances and give people robotic limbs? Not god. N-O-T G-O-D. Scientists want to solve the problems that god left hanging, because god isn’t there. Only a fool like you calls god good for doing absolutely nothing and scientists defying god by giving you a platform to tell me how god is the ground of all morality and he had to conform to what people wanted and tell them how to own their slaves. You say you wrestle, but honestly, not enough, and certainly not before opening your fucking mouth to speak on “his” behalf. Where is he, speaking on his own behalf and clearing this up? No matter what anyone says, you have an excuse, but added up all together, god certainly sounds like an imaginary guy who you use as a shield against atheism. You willfully want to be dumb!

        • Susan

          My point is that the Tower of Babel as an attempt by the ancients to reach God.

          Except it doesn’t explain linguistics and there’s no reason to accept it happened.

          So, it’s another story, like Pandora’s Box. An attempt by humans to explain stuff without much knowledge.

          Where do you stand on Pandora’s Box?

        • rabbit

          That’s an interesting story, isn’t it? Most don’t realize it was a creation story.

        • Susan

          That’s an interesting story, isn’t it?

          It is. It is better told than the Garden of Eden story. I love a good story.

          I would hate to lose even the Garden of Eden story, though I think it is less interesting than many other creation stories.

          The problem is when people prefer a story to reality. That they can’t see the difference.

          That they aren’t allowed to see the difference. Because allegiance to a single old story is paramount.

        • Sure. Science has to make progress, save lives, and feed people since God sure as hell isn’t.

        • alverant

          No, science doesn’t want to be God. It’s BETTER than God, at least in a moral sense.

        • Doug

          It can’t be better than God even by a generic definition of God. Only God by definition can be God.

        • Kodie

          Is existing better than not existing?

        • rabbit

          What is existing? (just being annoying)

        • Kodie

          Is doing stuff better than not doing stuff?

        • rabbit

          Now that’s Zen

        • Kodie

          Is answering questions better than not answering questions?

        • alverant

          Of course it can be better than God! The christian god is evil and petty. My cat is better than God. At least my cat is real.

        • Greg G.

          Your cat thinks it is God.

        • alverant

          Hardly. No god runs when I sneeze.

        • rabbit

          Of course! It’s a cat 🙂

        • Greg G.

          But your definition of God is contradicted by reality.

        • adam

          “My point is that the Tower of Babel as an attempt by the ancients to reach God.”

          And we can see how STUPID that idea is.

          “Science is doing the same thing except instead of reaching God they want to BE God.”

          How so?
          Do they want kill everyone and torture most for eternity?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9bfb7cbb09a39ae8911c3879d7def113ab5277eb302961e16b02b2a649a0e7d6.jpg

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/84fd9a6ae9aadbc517ef0ee17887c30ef93815c5b41f77ba134615529a239f33.jpg

        • Kevin K

          The Tower of Babel was a “just so” story. A myth, meant to explain why humans spoke different languages.

          It never happened. Anymore than the mud man and rib woman actually ate IQ-raising sin-fruit at the behest of the talking snake with legs.

        • TheNuszAbides

          indeed, it seems that evidence is remarkably recyclable material.

    • TheNuszAbides

      Apparently God has stopped talking or communicating his word, however,
      and this is most important, if anyone ever, today, claimed God had
      talked to him/her no one would take the them seriously.

      especially considering that scholars, or at least small groups of them, can become more knowledgeable about ~scripture~ than the councils of puny mortals who narrowed down their private collections of manuscripts to the Approved Edition – catching at least some of the forgeries that they didn’t, for example. and yet, how many new cult leaders and religious talking point pundits are soaking in exegesis to this extent?

  • Doug

    The ancient Jews weren’t awestruck in the Bible over “science”?

    “The heavens declare the glory of God” – Psalm 19:1

    “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.” – Psalm 147:4

    “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” – Psalm 8:3-4

    “The moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever;” – Psalm 136:9

    “Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. ” – Isaiah 40:26

    “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. ” – 1 Corinthians 15:41

    “He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the Lord is his name;” – Amos 5:8

    • Halbe

      No, the Jews in the Bible where not awestruck over “science” at all, since they had no science. They were awestruck of natural phenomena that they could not explain, except with “God did it”. Your quotes show the absolute pre-science ignorance of mankind quite clearly.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      None of that is any ‘god’…that’s just awe at the majesty of nature.

      Show me your ‘god’ before you attempt to claim credit for wonderful stuff, and be prepared for that same supposed entity to be responsible for tetanus, rabies, Guinea Worm, etc.

    • Too much effort to read the post? The final sentence has a good summary–maybe you could read that.

      • Kodie

        Doug couldn’t even read Greg G’s two sentence post without leaping to correct him about life not needing oxygen. I guess Doug only thinks people count as life, because he kept repeating his mistake and couldn’t follow what we were talking about when corrected several times.

    • MNb

      Except that science (without scare quotes) has made progress since then – the Holy Bible remained stuck in the same ignorance.

      • Doug

        The Bible is a book of literature not a science textbook.

        • MNb

          Yes. Then why your miserable attempts to argue Genesis is compatible with scientific conclusions? When I read Tolkien or Rowling I don’t care at all if they get science wrong. At the other hand I don’t claim that they contribute anything to my knowledge and understanding of reality. Your favourite book of literature gets exactly the same treatment (and large chunks are totally boring, but that’s just my opinion).

        • alverant

          Then why do people keep trying to inject science classes with creationism?

        • Doug

          creationism has nothing to do with Christianity it has something to do with how billions of people on earth believe nature got here. Design implies a designer. This common sense approach has nothing to do with Christianity.

        • Kodie

          It was invented and is promoted by Christians, who have to lie about science to make you believe what they’re promoting. It has nothing to do with science and isn’t “common sense”. “Common sense” is the trigger to make you gullible fuckers believe nonsense. I mean, total bullshit.

        • alverant

          I agree, common sense has nothing to do with christianity.

        • Kevin K

          Nor science, when you get down to the tiny bits. There’s nothing “common sense” about quantum field theory — but it’s the most-powerful explanatory model we have for the world we see around us.

        • Kodie

          You could follow any statement with “it’s just common sense” and gullible fools would fall for it. They think, yeah, it does seem like it is so. It’s the opposite of produced by the rigors of science, it’s just sort of a rule of thumb, but it’s in no way necessarily accurate. “It’s just common sense” is among other phrases, like “trust me” that are used by salespersons in place of honesty and integrity and evidence of the quality of the item or concept they are selling. “It’s just common sense” means “I haven’t really thought it through, I just believed whatever they were telling me, because it felt like the right answer and I didn’t need to question it.”

        • TheNuszAbides

          You could follow any statement with “it’s just common sense” and gullible fools would fall for it.

          asses use it to take advantage of the bandwagon effect, ‘keeping up with the joneses’, illusory truth effect, projection bias, false consensus effect, etc. … but especially “naive realism”.

        • adam

          “creationism has nothing to do with Christianity it has something to do
          with how billions of people on earth believe nature got here.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/32dccf78abbc1154e98c15ae3cd0b6714ec3c93226e15806089e67e45b9ec294.jpg

        • Doug
        • adam
        • Kevin K

          1. There is no such thing as an “evolutionist.”
          2. If you showed me a shark-cat, that would completely and utterly overturn the modern evolutionary synthesis. So…no…no “evolutionist” thinks a shark-cat or a crocoduck or any other hopeful monster exists. There was never a mother that did not recognize her child as one of her own.

        • Greg G.

          There is such a thing as a catshark, though. I have touched one and survived. It was almost a half-meter long.

        • BlackMamba44

          Moron

        • BlackMamba44
        • adam
        • adam
        • Greg G.

          Bible believers believe in this cocktrice:

          https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d5/DragonTransom.jpg/240px-DragonTransom.jpg

          Isaiah 14:29 (KJV)
          Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.

          Isaiah 59:5 (KJV)
          They hatch cockatrice’ eggs, and weave the spider’s web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper.

          Jeremiah 8:17 (KJV)
          For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the Lord.

        • adam
        • adam
        • rabbit

          absolutely–especially when the internal logic of people who believe in this requires that an omnipotent god is responsible for everything, including the entity you reference and ALL of his reputed words, thoughts, and deeds.

        • Michael Neville

          Which evolutionists think an obviously photoshopped critter is real. Be specific.

        • Michael Neville

          This common sense approach has nothing to do with Christianity.

          You’re right. Common sense and Christianity are complete opposites.

        • Kevin K

          Design implies a designer.

          Evidence required. Of both assertions. 1) that the structure of the universe looks “designed”, and 2) that the structure of the universe as far as we can see it is evidence that something had to “design” it.

          If you look at the universe from a “distance”, you don’t see any feature that looks more “designed” at all. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e20d1973a0afe0e254d153441c092d1b8a63572a99350fdea2cd29b295aeefe8.jpg

        • rabbit

          Why do we let them? Crazy people exist. Reasoning with them is pointless. We shouldn’t allow them to make decisions for the rest of us.

    • Kodie

      The bible is written by humans about all kinds of stuff. When they attribute the awe they feel in nature for the power or creativity of a god, they are still just people expressing themselves, not evidence of a god. Also, a lot of that stuff is wrong. If you knew that the best sunsets were improved by pollution would you care? If you knew you were absorbing UV rays from the sun on their way to giving you melanoma, would you care? If you could grasp how big the earth was, and how you’re only one small person, would you say, “damn, that’s a long walk to China I guess”. Probably not so much. You are a dumb animal and I’m not saying it as an insult against Doug this time. Humans enjoy stuff on a level that’s not practical. The warmth of the sun feels good, the colors of a sunset look pretty, and you’re not going to walk to China, but you know if you want to, you can fly over there or even take a boat and see what it’s like in China.

      The less you know about something, the more you might enjoy it, and you might attribute it to the paintbrush of a really big artist, because you just don’t know what is happening when the sun sets or what makes all the colors. You don’t know what the moon is (or they didn’t in the bible), but it’s amazing when you don’t know what you’re looking at, wonder what it is and why it’s different than everything else in the sky, why does it change shape and position every night, and how far away is it? It looks like maybe if you had a trampoline, you could grab it. Many people have probably gone up mountains to get a closer look, and it didn’t really get any closer.

      Science asks questions and looks for ways to answer them just like maybe someone might climb a mountain to see the moon better. It’s a hypothesis that failed – the moon is too far away to see closer from earth at any sea level. The fun and awesome thing is, the more we know, the more awesome it is (1) that we can know, (2) that we wonder what else there is to know, (3) that we can get an up close look at the moon and no longer idolize it falsely. The list can go on. I mean, do you want to live in a world that doesn’t know what the moon is or how far away it is, and just considers it some kind of magical celestial being, or do you appreciate that you live in a world where you can know exactly what it is, and know more than those biblical fools knew about the moon? Yeah, the bible is just full of folks making goofy claims about nature, but knowing stuff doesn’t take away the expression of awe that you just feel.

      • Doug

        Many of the over-hyped “scientific bloopers” in the Bible aren’t bloopers in the traditional sense. The Bible uses literary genres just like any other work of great literature. I think (if I had to defend the Biblical writers) I’d say that the authors of Scripture were merely pointing to the “end all” of nature. Most of the time they aren’t describing a process in strict scientific terms. I join with you whole hardheartedly in your points 1, 2, and 3. I agree with all of them. I don’t think science and faith are mutually exclusive things. I think there are things science can answer and then there are things only theology and philosophy can answer. I don’t think faith is the same as riding the same roller-coaster all the time. Faith is more like the them park itself with all the rides and pit stops in between. I didn’t grow up a Christian I converted to Christianity. I did it the way so many said I should do it and I felt empty and full of guilt and shame. Having a Savior doesn’t mean I only eat oatmeal as if my life is boring and it doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate science. Whether pollution caused a beautiful sunset or not I would say that God made that possible and so like the Psalmist I may not understand the process at all, I may not be able to put it into strict scientific language but I would be able to say “the heavens declare the glory of God.”

        • Kodie

          I take the bible as literature, like fiction and myth. I don’t believe there’s a god, and I don’t take the atmosphere as signals from god, or anything like that. The bible is fiction, and like a lot of fiction, it can resonate. It’s not history where you say, this god is real and really part of human history. People live in their lives, go through their situations, and deal with them in their social and historical contexts, like I said before, even slavery. It’s not a moral problem for me that historical people thought this was ok – it’s only a problem when you can’t reconcile that and call your god “good” or “best” even. You are the victim of proselytization in several ways. Christianity is a social disease, it passes from person to person. I live in a society that speaks Christianity and the bible as though it’s real, or that Christianity needs to have more respect than others. It’s a way to silence dissent for the church, as is lying to you about what atheism is and what happens when you’re an atheist, like meaninglessness and immorality, that you repeat. Those are damaging accusations! If you don’t have a Christian belief, you can still suffer from society continuing to believe and repeat that you are worthless and need god, that you are meaningless and need god. You fell for it, and you are a believer now. Now you are attempting to infect others with your social disease, but it’s a fucking lie. I can understand being hopeless, but I can’t understand grown-ass adults thinking the reason they suck so much is they don’t have Jesus.

          I really can’t respect you or your methods but I can feel for your damage and victim status as a mark for the cult of Christianity. You lived in a society that told you you need Jesus to matter, and whatever you did to resist that message made your life worse because they fucking poisoned you. We’re onto it, man. We know the tricks and propaganda.

        • Doug

          I guess it goes both ways because I feel that you’ve been handed a disease too (to borrow your terminology). Regardless, I’m glad you and a couple others are at least talking to me now. I’m not posting stupid memes to your replies I only do that to a few people namely Adam. And I don’t think all atheist are immoral Kodie. I have a brother who’s an atheist and I don’t think he’s immoral. It’s just logically irrational to say that one is moral when they don’t believe in a god. I’m not out there like a lot of Christians saying what you’re saying I’m saying.

        • Kodie

          Adam is efficient at what Adam does. Why should I believe the doofus brainwashed cult member Doug when he comes out to us and say it’s logically irrational that anything. You are not credible and all your opinions are worthless. Apparently, you want to be meaningful to your imaginary friend but worthless to the rest of us.

          You don’t understand much, but you have no shyness when it comes to expressing what your cult tells you to think, just as long as it makes Doug feel good about himself now that he’s saved. I mean, can you even appreciate how stupid that sounds to us?

        • MNb

          If you write that your brother is logically irrational my bet is that he isn’t given the poor quality of almost all of your comments.

        • Kodie

          Imaginary brother.

        • “Many of the over-hyped “scientific bloopers” in the Bible aren’t bloopers in the traditional sense.”

          I think my favorite biblical scientific stupidity is when Jacob puts out the wands to change the appearance of the lambs. What’s yours?

        • Kevin K

          The bible is scientifically inaccurate 10 words in. And just keeps getting worse the deeper you go. I’d hardly call that “over-hyped”.

          The creation myth did not happen as told — could not have happen as told — has been positively disproved as having happened as told. It’s 100% factually in error. There’s not a scintilla of it that is true. Not a word.

          Nor is the earth fixed, flat, and immovable. Nor is it covered by a dome where all of the objects in space reside. Nor is there water above that dome. These are all SCIENTIFIC claims made by the bible.

          The bible also claims that one could build a tower to reach the living quarters of the gods. Well — we’ve flown in airplanes and spaceships FAR FAR above the height any possible or even imaginable structure that could be created and we haven’t reached those living quarters yet. Another scientific claim positively disproven.

          The bible claims it is possible for a human to live inside a fish’s stomach for 3 days. Isn’t. It claims people can walk on water. Can’t. Turn water into wine. Ditto. Raise a stinking dead corpse to life again. No way.

          These are not credible as scientific claims.

          Over-hyped my lily white ass.

    • Lark62

      They were amazed by nature, as are people today.

      The difference is that religion, then and now, stops at “god did it” while science has put men on the moon, sent spacecraft beyond Pluto and found other solar systems.

      Science is much better than some random poetic ramblings.

    • adam
    • Kevin K

      Very nice strawman you built there. No where in any sentence, phrase, or word of the post did Bob declare that the Jews (or any other ancient) weren’t “awed” by the night sky.

      But as long as it make you feel special to think that the creator of everything helps you find your car keys as long as you pray to the appropriate saint, I guess it’s OK.

  • Michelangelo’s paintings or religious subjects are indeed inspiring. So are Bach’s church cantatas and oratorios. All of those were created by people. Bach’s instrumental works are just as inspiring as are works of art on secular subjects. And I’m sad to say that the churches still interested in performing Bach and Handel are growing fewer and fewer and Christianity tosses aside magnificent works of art in favor of simplistic choruses all with the same chord progression. If religion were the cause of all that great art, we’d still be finding great art coming out of those churches. No, we find those works of art because the churches were significant patrons of artists for hundreds of years. Not that some of those artists weren’t religious themselves but they painted just as beautifully for the Medicis as they did for the churches and composed and played for the opera house as well as they did for the cathedrals.

    And why would I have to choose between the magnificent views of deep space and the great works of art. I can and do feel awe from both. I pity anyone who doesn’t.

    • TwoRutRoad

      “…we find those works of art because the churches were significant patrons of artists for hundreds of years.”
      Could part of the reason for this be that the best artists went where the most money was…the church?

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        *Perish* the thought! 😉

      • Kodie

        Here’s the thing about art that has always been the same (as far as I can tell): it’s an expression of mankind. It can be large or small. From what I gather about the bible, it’s a series of stories about humans living at the time they wrote about, and not really much more. If this group was against that group, the story was from that perspective. If people were hungry, it was about that. If people overcame hardship, it was about that. Then of course there is the insertion of the character “God” and later “Jesus” that, to the readers is why these stories resonate with them and sell those supernatural concepts to them. The bible itself seems to be about every conceivable human situation because why not. Making that outcome be because god was the author? Not really. But it makes a lot of sense so many people find something to hold onto the bible as a story about humans and life and about themselves and conflate that with god’s authorship.

        Art can be about the bible stories or about regular people or not even compute for a lot of people, like abstract or figurative art, but it’s always about the human perspective and the human story, which is admittedly pretty broad. We laugh, we cry, we eat cheesecake, we have nightmares (some real like war, and some manufactured by anxiety); we like pictures of grapes and chickens and horses and mountains and families. This is the drama, the expression.

        I won’t lie and say I’ve actually read the bible, but everything I gather from it is one example of an art form, the myth, i.e. the creation of the creation story, the human invention of tale, of bringing the story of humanity with the wish for greater abilities (like making it thunder or striking someone dead with a spell). Art can look like a regular person sitting in a regular chair, and the artist can be quite talented with say, brushes or chisels or words, but the statue of David isn’t real, Starry Night isn’t a real night, and the bible is also a fictional art form reflecting humanity’s wishes, wants, history, emotion, aspiration, commonalities, etc., and the perspective of the artist, for sure.

        • TwoRutRoad

          I would have to say, Kodie, that language and the written word is an art form that you are much better at than most, and I agree with your perspective.

          I know a few people who are pretty talented. One plays the piano so beautifully it literally gives me goosebumps. Another friend can draw a horse that looks like it will jump right off the paper, and he does it just by what’s in his head. He doesn’t need a picture or a model. It’s amazing to watch. When I see these friends doing their things, I am witnessing them expressing themselves, and I am moved.

          I wonder if their expression would be different if they were getting paid, rather than just doing what they enjoy for the sake of enjoyment.

        • Kodie

          On one hand, I would imagine they might like being paid for their talents. On the other hand, there’s “selling out”, either being commissioned to play the same songs again and again, or like, only being paid if you draw me some horses, when your friend might like to spend time drawing other things. Then on the first hand, I mean, an artist should be paid for their talents and not, say, categorize them as something that should be free, and then on another hand, there’s a lot of art that’s basically free to enjoy – music on the radio, architecture, books from the library. I might be reaching, but if the artist gets paid from someone, from somewhere, they might be able to be exposed to a lot more people who haven’t paid for it. And also on one of these hands, selling out a little, i.e. drawing a lot more horses than you want to draw for someone for pay will give you a comfort level where you don’t have to do some other job to support what you really love to do. Some people will enjoy the process of drawing anything at all, whether they are paid or not, it doesn’t matter to the subject, it’s the joy they get out of drawing that the probably wouldn’t get out of filing or accounting or selling or mopping floors (or like my senior year art teacher, and I imagine so many art teachers), which are also ways we sell out to make money to live in order to do some of the things we love to do for free, in a comfortable home with food in the fridge. Some people don’t want to dilute their expression by selling some of their talent on art they don’t really feel like doing to support the expressions that feel honest to them.

          I’m not going to pretend to know a lot about Norman Rockwell, for an example, but I know some people don’t think he was really an artist, because most of his art was sold to Life magazine and Boy’s Life and the Saturday Evening Post. What I feel there was more like a partnership. He didn’t feel constrained to a certain expression because of his audience, but that he personally felt honest about his work, and they liked it and so they paid him for making as much of it as he could, and I think he could compete with something like the bible in expression of humanity’s many concerns and experiences in a way that Michelangelo really didn’t.

          Was there more that he wanted to say in painting that he couldn’t because it would ruin his reputation or get him fired from those jobs? Possibly. But I don’t think so. Another person might feel imprisoned by the cash. Does that mean those fantastic geniuses who created religious art were selling out or were they fanatics about their subject, so the partnerships worked? We don’t see a lot of Michelangelo making stuff that the church would be shocked and ruin him, although there is some slight indication of subversive or irreverent signals in the Sistine Chapel, but I don’t think that’s Mike crying for help or anything.

          That’s one thing that’s always, like, been a difference between, like, the performing arts, and being a painter, you know. A painter does a painting, and he paints it, and that’s it, you know. He has the joy of
          creating it, it hangs on a wall, and somebody buys it, and maybe somebody buys it again, or maybe nobody buys it and it sits up in a loft somewhere until he dies. But he never, you know, nobody ever, nobody ever said to Van Gogh, ‘Paint a Starry Night again, man!’ You know? He painted it and that was it.

          Well, that’s, as we now know, because Van Gogh didn’t sell anything while alive. People knew who he was and stuff, so I’m not sure about… maybe he didn’t want to sell anything, I don’t know a lot about any artists’ specific motivations, really. There certainly are artists, and it’s not a difference between performing artists who eventually go on the road as a nostalgia act (hey Beach Boys) when there was real art to be made. I mean there were and are plenty of fine artists who were commissioned to basically make something similar over and over, until they became kind of a factory for a particular expression, which is selling their talent to make something but to express something for someone else, which isn’t their own voice. It’s something an organization wants to say, but the artist had already said it, in their original breakthrough piece. Musicians seem to regularly face this, as their concerts as they age must showcase favorite old songs, until they just start touring without making new material. If you go to a museum exhibit, similarly, you will be attracted to pieces you’re familiar with and look at them longer, like “holy shit, I can’t believe I’m looking at the actual Persistence of Memory or The Dance Class or Campbell’s Soup Cans” than study or linger over unfamiliar works by unfamiliar artists, just like you want the Rolling Stones to play “Start Me Up” and “Sympathy for the Devil” and pay a lot for tickets to hear old guys play songs from 40+ years ago that you can hear on the radio every fucking day than demonstrate their actual musicianship by playing something they just wrote or even songs from the same era that the radio never plays.

          I’ll leave that there, as I think it brings it back to “the bible the bible the bible” for the kind of people who don’t want to know anything new, or want to hear anything opposing their favorite stories. The bible is their Stones, the bible plays their favorite hits from god. The artists glorifying this myth do not give any credibility to the story, whether they felt it very much or didn’t at all and sold out their talent. Their talent is still admirable. The way they could express these human stories in another way is still gorgeous and profound. They were paid to express through their talent what the church wanted to express, as a marketing tool, just like another company today would have a logo or a motto or a website designed to appeal. Nobody things graphic artists are really artists, right? They are, but nobody is pointing to the anonymous website designer and say they glorify god so god is real.

        • rabbit

          da Vinci was paid. So was Rembrandt. So are the more commercial contemporary realists most people here seem to admire. Visual artists, writers, photographers, musicians, and other creative people have to eat, pay their dentists, and buy gas for their cars. Another problem with being the romantic illusion type of “artist” is this–few people ever see, hear, or enjoy what you create (or, in the world online, they might use it for their own purposes, for their own profit.) You can be sure, expanding on the latter point, that the quality of new work will decline if creators are not paid. Certainly, you will be able to enjoy a glut of self-published writing, uninteresting photography, and clip art indefinitely, but, think of it this way. I don’t know what you do for a living, but if you do it for a while at a discounted rate or free to attract business, will you be able to keep doing it indefinitely? Most of us could not, especially since excellence in any field requires material investment as well as an apprenticeship.

        • rabbit

          The Bible is an anthology–a collection of history, traditional sayings, poetry, and short stories. It has been translated many times. It was written over a period of centuries and some of it was based on stories much older. It has survived because at least parts of it resonate with a dream-level “reality” we share (at least in Western civilization.) When speaking of art as “not real,” I know what you mean, in a practical sense, but art that works is very real in a different sense. Look at it this way, considering Einstein, is the plastic under your finger as you strike the keyboard “real,” or is it just an illusion created by a different level of energy?

        • Kodie

          I mean, like, the statue of David isn’t really David, and depicts the David of the bible who is probably not real, but in essence is all of us at one time or another confronting a challenge. Humans relate to other humans, even fictional ones, when the story resonates. Does the statue glorify the bible story, or does it glorify you and me, who may relate to the David in the bible? Although I like Starry Night, I’m not sure if it feels as human as a 17-foot tall marble sculpture depicting a human. When you look at the sky at night, it probably never looks that cool. The painterly effect is a fictional depiction of night, and possibly I may be defective, but if it’s about an emotion of a particularly starry night, I don’t know if I share that or relate to it on a level of amazement of night, but rather the skill of painting. I then have to explain I don’t feel as though I am defective in a cold way, but I see things as others might need help from drugs to see sometimes.

          I guess what I’m saying is, representing reality with a fantasy night, or representing a fantasy story with a realistic man, they aren’t real but they are, but they aren’t. I don’t think Starry Night is a religious picture, but a glorification of maybe an ordinary accessible subject in a way most people never look at it, and taking on a religious subject doesn’t necessarily mean the artist is religious, and mostly that the bible isn’t a religious story for the most part. I mean, there’s tons of god in there, doing stuff, ordering, judging, punishing, rescuing, etc., like any fictional superhero. But the stories resonate a lot with people because it covers a lot of human situations like art does. The people reading it imagine it must have taken a god to compile and address that many human situations that largely haven’t changed over the course of humanity. Yeah, many things have changed, and a lot of it is bizarre, but the people deal with similar or analogous situations. Now that you bring it up, I do think it’s weird that I can say this stuff to you with factory-made plastic assemblage, and you still might know what I’m saying.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      They have to set up a false dichotomy, since they have nothing else.

    • Great point about modern fundamentalist “You are so great, Lord” songs. They’re interminable, and the lyrics are childish poetry.

      • Pofarmer

        What they are is lazy.

        • They’re so uninspired that I’d wonder if they were improvised if they didn’t also appear up on the big screen.

        • eric

          They’re working with the talent they have. But as houndentenor says, they used to have the best talent in the world working for them, now that talent works elsewhere. The result is exactly what you would expect if what is inspiring awe is the human artist rather than the subject.

  • Michael Murray

    Surely Christianity is the most awful ? (Sorry. I’ll get my coat … )

    • TwoRutRoad

      I’ll get my coat and go with you.

  • Phil Rimmer

    There is no adventure in a pre-planned universe. No achievement in a curated life. Awe arises when we realise in our bleak, windswept, pointless, astonishing home, that we are its product, have a toe hold here, and might yet create and destroy like gods. Some kind of enduring joy might be ours if we can see a way to do a better job than those fumbled early godly imaginings and narratives….

  • rubaxter

    The Christer and Jewish holy books are closed items. They represent the imaginations of bronze age sheep and goat fornicators. There is NOTHING novel or special in them that couldn’t have been philosophized by a person sitting in a locked room.

    Science is open ended and is continually discovering and trying to explain more and more bizarre Reality that would never have been dreamed up by that person sitting in the locked room. It has to invent new ways to analyze and explain, not just observe and confirm.

    This is the old problem with religious types having been raised and educated in the ghettos of religious thought imprisoned by mere philosophy/mental masturbation. They think their epistemology is the be all and end all cuz that’s all their teachers could handle and it’s what supports their paycheck… er, position in the food chain… er, godliness. They never met a problem they couldn’t strap to their Procrustean Bed of dogma and make it fit. And, seeing as there’s no method to check the validity of their fluffy bunny thoughts that doesn’t resolve to a tautology, they festered, and continue to fester, in the bubble.

    I also think that’s why so many people fixate on Bach and people from the “We Burn Heretics” eras to talk about religious awe cuz they were religious by necessity. I’ll take Wagner and Bach’s non-religious works ANYDAY over Bach’s tedious religious works. Similar for Impressionism vs. those stilted religious set pieces, ala the Last Supper with 3 Christs in it of comedy fame.

    I’ll take the Natural world which has no real need for a Gawd, and all it’s complexity over the drivel of a Genesis Supernatural world.

    But, some fools are still in thrall of their teachers and never really think outside the coffin their religion has tacked them into, up to the point of pounding the nails home, cuz someones gotta pay the bills for the holy idlers, and it’s not gonna be the idlers.

    • rabbit

      Not defending religion, but this really started with a work of art and an artist. I love science, and I agree that its excitement is limitless. However, as an artist, I can attest that wrestling with an artistic project in your postulated locked room can lead to an equal and similar excitement. The achievements people have mentioned in this discussion are mostly technology (applied science). Pure science, like art, is discovery for its own sake–a quest.

      • Greg G.

        I once visited the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in OKC with an artist. The western art was enhanced by the things she pointed out in the art.

        A set of paintings showed the progression of a painting of three majestic Native Americans on horseback with rolling hills in the background. In the next, the hills were bigger. In the next, they were bigger. In the fourth, they were jagged mountains, though the foreground never changed much. It was amazing how that could affect the perception but it also seemed like a cheap psychological trick to manipulate the viewer.

      • Phil Rimmer

        Art always was, but increasingly has grown into being, a psychology experiment we perform on ourselves, to discover those places, nameless strange, we often didn’t know existed. These internal vistas are mostly unparsable (there is no reason we should have words for them) but the power of their seeming simplicity led me to coin a particular term for it, “open-handed magic”.

        This coining happened many decades ago after seeing a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Peter Brooke’s rendering. It achieved its effects without me really knowing how. The plainness and simplicity of the staging with just a few striking images finally made me realise that the richness of what was happening to me, the visceral power it had over me was because it was showing me about myself.

        Since then I have learned from ideas of the roots of aesthetics (Vilayanur Ramachandran….those myriad heuristics by which we value subconsciously all we perceive….and much we consciously don’t perceive.) These, tastes, proclivities, acknowledgements are as extensive as our evolutionary path is long, and they are detected by the tiniest of “gestures” from our environment, from the obvious curve of a body like so, to the authoritative stance of a grown up, the dilated pupils of our new lover, the green open vista dotted with a little shade, close together enough to be safe, the sound of running water, its glint on a hillside. Evolution has bequeathed us untold aesthetic richness and most unknown second and third order byproducts of a process that is only intent to make a selection pressure go away with no regard for other consequences. (Kin selection has such approximate detectors it invented eusociality!)

        These myriad detectors, often crude, often no longer with any clear job to do, more often, unintended byproducts of another need, give us aesthetic itches. The brain confabulates when deprived of input, (Hallucinations. Oliver Sacks) and we scratch for relief and we discover ourselves.

        Have I unwoven the rainbow? Is the magic gone for being “explained”? No, I hope. We have simply moved closer to see the fabric of our reality. In rolling our sleeves further up our arms, I think it only makes the magic, the more so.

        • Greg G.

          That’s what I would have said if I were so eloquent.

        • Phil Rimmer

          v. kind, Greg. Loquacious is more my thang. My sentences do run on rather…

        • rabbit

          I have also studied philosophy and theory, but the real power of art, for me, comes from its ability to reveal the seamlessness of reality. Fiction lies to show the truth. Painting frames color, line, texture, and shape to unframe positive and negative space. Music edges silence. Dance electrifies stillness. Acting unmasks us all. The meaning of poetry is revealed in spite of words.

        • TheNuszAbides

          seeing a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Peter Brooke’s rendering.

          lucky bastard.
          one of my bibles:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Empty_Space

  • MNb

    Christianity: Moses wandering 40 years through the Sinai.
    Science: Homo Sapiens wandering the entire globe, starting from East Africa.

    Christianity: a global flood.
    Science: five mass extinctions, once almost the entire planet frozen over, meteorites hitting the Earth,

    Christianity: Jesus walking a lake.
    Science: sailing and flying around the Earth.

    Christianity: praying and never getting an answer.
    Science: using internet for global communication and very often getting an answer from unknowns.

    Christianity: Jesus satisfying the hunger and thirst of an audience of 5000.
    Science: trying to satisfy the hunger and thirst of the entire global population.

    Is Piatak serious about getting more awe from christianity?

    • Excellent comparison.

    • Greg G.

      Christianity: Jesus healed a few people of disease.
      Science: invents vaccines to prevent disease on a global scale.

      Christianity: water in wine.
      Science: dirt into computers.

      • Joe

        There’s also a completely natural way of making wine, so it’s not really that impressive. Jesus has as much power as yeast.

        • rabbit

          and yeast–wow–what an absolutely astonishing thing! (I’m not kidding)

        • Greg G.

          I hope it wasn’t the yeast of the Pharisees.

        • TheNuszAbides

          never look a mother culture in the mouth.

        • Michael Murray

          That isn’t really the point though is it. If I could fly you could just say I had as much power of a sparrow. But for a human that would be remarkable. I’d be awe inspiring. Surely ?

        • Greg G.

          Simon Magus could fly, according to the Acts of Peter but Peter’s prayer against that ability worked. Unfortunately, it was in mid-flight. Peter also resurrected a smoked fish.

          Was Simon Magus’ flight real or was the concept taken from The Daedalus and Icarus? Is the Water into Wine story about Dionysus?

        • TheNuszAbides

          surely at least one literate storyteller had a suspicion that some people can be led by the amphora, or rather the contents thereof, thus by clever references reminding one of the contents …

        • Lark62

          Emphasis on “if”. Since neither no one including Jesus is able fly like a sparrow, we are left to be inspired by science.

        • Joe

          It would be slightly more awe-inspiring than making wine, yes.

          Do you also have super strength? The ability to read minds? Time travel? Otherwise yes, it would be impressive but only slightly awe-inspiring.

          Say you meet somebody at a party who claims to be a superhero. When pressed, their power is that they can make bread appear. It’s a cool trick, but not as cool as Superman’s powers.

        • Michael Murray

          For me it’s not a matter of what the super power is but that the super power violates everything we understand about the universe that makes it awesome.

    • Joe

      It really is a matter of perspective. We (human engineers and scientists) did all those things without magic, and didn’t have the benefit of omnipotence.

      Jesus cures a few lepers in the middle east? Science eradicated smallpox, and soon polio, from the entire planet. All using our puny ape brains. I’d say that was more impressive.

      Jesus doing single miracle is as impressive as Roger Federer beating a blind 5 year old at tennis.

    • rabbit

      Religion: No questions.
      Science: Question everything.

      • Lark62

        Likewise ~

        Science ~ Questions that might not be answered.
        Religion ~ Answers that may not be questioned.

        • rabbit

          Science: questions pointing toward tentative answers that become certain answers with the gathering of evidence.
          Religion: authoritative opinions enforced as unquestionable answers

  • This is entirely subjective. I don’t find either of them that awe-inspiring. Does it matter? Truth can be cold, dismal and hard. It’s still true.

  • Joe

    Jew: Yeah, and that mountain over there? He could pick it up and move it across the valley without even trying.

    By the 1940’s however, he seemed incapable of flinging a single pebble at Hitler.

    • Michael Neville

      Yahweh was too busy helping people find their car keys and deciding which high school football team won The Big Game.

  • rabbit

    Art is not the same as religion (though sometimes funded by the religious). Art is inspiring. That is its superpower. Religion uses art. They are not the same thing. Nature is inspiring. Nature inspires both artists and scientists. Religion uses everything for power.

    • Kodie

      Yes, to the extent that most believers think everything is from or about god, and have been sold this story so deeply that they can’t think any other way – concepts like love, family, marriage, justice, mercy, righteousness, goodness, morality, meaning, etc. The artists express some of these concepts in portrait as though humans never had any social concepts before the characters in the bible awoke them in humanity. As I said in another post, the bible is essentially just another work of art, relating to people via other people and their relateable situations through time. The big problem is how those people sought counsel or received punishment or challenges from god, and that is some serious branding, like people who call facial tissue “kleenex” or lip balm “chapstick”, love is “god”, marriage is “one-man, one-woman according to god”, family is “a mom and dad and their children”, justice is “my way presides because god is on my side”, mercy is “something I hope god has for me because I’m a sinner” and righteousness, goodness, and morality is “whatever rules god wants us to obey (but ignore what he’s alleged to have done or condoned himself)” and meaning is “I must be necessary to god’s plan”. Every other definition of those words is “unauthorized usage” and not legitimate.

      Atheists can’t really love without murdering people and raping them and stealing and have no morality because of the homosexuality and the fornicating and you can’t have a family or a marriage with two dudes, and justice is not selling cakes to gay couples for their wedding, and mercy is something you can only get if you stop sinning so egregiously, and why don’t we just kill ourselves because how can anyone cope with the chaos of subjective morality – one day I say you die, next day you say I deserve to die; one person will murder you for being the wrong color, and another person will say a person who stole from their wallet must have needed it more and shrug it off. There is no rhyme or reason possible in a society to create customs and rules and deal with offenses against other people or decide some things aren’t offenses as once deemed. That’s the thing I’m getting with the art. They are advertisements for religion, even if they are expressions of nature or humans, because religions appropriate everything.

      • TwoRutRoad

        “…religions appropriate everything.” That’s PERFECT, especially considering what we see these days in our businesses, schools, local governments, federal government, courthouses and even police cars.

        • Kodie

          Oh yeah, they branded the law, the branded the police and they branded the courts, and they brand the prisons. Education isn’t complete without Jesus, families aren’t legitimate without Jesus, hey there’s this neat mountain that’s cool, let’s erect a giant cross so everyone knows this is Jesus’s mountain.

          These people are fucking nuts and selfish!

    • Religion also thought it could use science specifically to, “learn the mind of god” via examining and understanding their god’s creation.

      Science was much too self-correcting to put up with that for very long.

      • rabbit

        Just watched a lecture about the late Middle Ages this morning and learned that Occam (of Razor fame) was responsible for the split between religion and science (in a way) http://www.iep.utm.edu/ockham/

  • It’s curious you picked on Jews in particular, given:

    The Nobel Prize is an annual, international prize first awarded in 1901 for achievements in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace. An associated prize in Economics has been awarded since 1969.[1] Nobel Prizes have been awarded to over 881 individuals,[2] of whom 196 – over 22% – were Jewish or people of Jewish descent,[Note 1] although Jews and people of Jewish descent comprise less than 0.2% of the world’s population[3] (or 1 in every 500 people). Overall, Jews or people of Jewish descent have won a total of 41% of all the Nobel Prizes in economics, 28% of medicine, 26% of physics, 19% of chemistry, 13% of literature and 9% of all peace awards.[4] (WP: List of Jewish Nobel laureates)

    Now, not all of those Nobel Prize-winning Jews were believing and/or practicing. But those data do seem to question whether all ‘religion’ is damaging to the brain.

    • Greg G.

      Perhaps it is the result of natural selection with a selective advantage for intelligence in surviving the pogroms of Christians against Jews for the last 2000 years.

      • I do suspect that’s a causal factor.

        • rabbit

          I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood. It’s not just a religion. It’s a culture. Certainly, the development of that culture was fostered by outside opposition. Like everything else, it has downsides, but on balance, it’s very impressive. I know, living there, I wished I were Jewish.

        • What’s the difference between ‘religion’ and ‘culture’? If you say practice vs. dogma, I can probably find quite a few people who disagree. If you involve a god or gods, we can talk about some Buddhism & some Hinduism.

        • Kodie

          The difference between religion and ethnicity is if you think what you are is because of a god, I don’t know what foolish crap you think you can say about that. Buddhism is more of a method/practice, whereas being Jewish can be like being Irish(-American), you know those kinds of descendants of immigrants from a particular land, who probably developed that type of pride of origin because of a history of hardship, along with the type of identity that was singled out as immigrants that bound them together as outside of the predominant culture.

          I don’t know what the fuck your problem is here, other than you like to argue because you’re constantly angry about being so wrong about everything that you have to fight. The Irish who arrived in America were fleeing famine, and arrived in droves. There are so many Irish in America who have never been to Ireland and don’t live in Ireland and don’t know anything about Ireland and don’t remember their Irish immigrant grandparents or great-grandparents, and don’t live or have never lived in an enclave of predominantly Irish and Irish immigrants. They have never been oppressed or maligned for being Irish, and are entirely assimilated, aside from their Irish Catholic guilt, probable drinking “excuse”, tradition of following Da’ into the public service realm of police or fire department, and that they weep an ocean when the bagpipes play “Danny Boy”. I could be exaggerating. There are plenty of Irish-Americans who in addition to not being hardly Irish in the least, don’t even adhere to the stereotypes, and yet fiercely consider their Irish heritage to give them something other people don’t have. You don’t have to be Jewish to be Jewish, is what I’m saying. It’s a long lineage that you are even if you don’t be.

        • TheNuszAbides

          … I wished I were Jewish.

          i managed to get a protestant upbringing without any Jew-hate smuggled in; i didn’t get the hardcore Puritan treatment like ‘manifest destiny’, so i always thought of The Chosen People as permanently extra-special because they had at least for some time been ~chosen~. (and i particularly liked my graphic-novel OT where Elijah made spiffy explosions and stuff.)

        • Phil Rimmer

          As a young kid my best mate was Jewish and many good friends were too. My own home was history and sciencey, a little British jazz and Chopin nocturnes, but all rather uptight and parsimonious. My best friend’s home was oil paintings of nudes on the wall, Vivaldi played for real in the front room, Elvis Presley on the gramophone cranked up, deep grown up conversations at the family dinner table, bawdy jokes. This was a rich, unbuttoned life lived in colour. I wished I was Jewish, too.

      • Phil Rimmer

        Exactly so! Given a diaspora into lands where the majority hate you for reasons of religious dogma and drive you out and on, portable wealth is the essence of thriving. Whether its gold or skills like tailoring or knowledge/expertise, the selection pressures on an evolving, peripatetic culture are clear. Their experience is like a super concentrated version of that which has progressed mankind in a landscape of more leisurely adversities, making us inventive survival machines exploiting any and every niche.

        Judaism is non proselytising and is far more a protective cultural carapace. Indeed Ashkenazic Judaism was a particularly flexible carapace (apostasy ceased to be a banning offense….prodigals were always welcomed back understanding the outside pressures on all.) It understood its own people and it was reasonable.

    • Susan

      It’s curious that you picked on Jews in particular, given:

      Not curious at all, as he used the example of a Yahweh-believing Jew from 2500 years ago, in Palestine. This is not a representation of Jews in the 20th century.

      He is comparing the position of a Palestinian Jew from 2500 years ago to a 20th century scientist.

      Now, not all of those Nobel Prize-winning Jews were believing and/or practicing.

      Exactly.

      But those data do seem to question whether all religion is damaging to the brain.

      You have provided no data that seems to question that. You said straight out that not all those Nobel Priize winning Jews were believing and/or practising.

      You’ve just talked about Jews, not Bob’s representation of a Yahweh-believing Palestinian Jew from 2500 years ago making an argument on behalf of Yahweh belief.

      Nor do I see where Bob claimed that all ‘religion’ is damaging to the brain.

      As much as you go on about intellectual honesty, it’s this sort of thing that makes me doubt your concern for intellectual honesty.

      It’s not about “teh jewz”

    • Two Americas

      You are defining “Jews” by ethnicity, not religion.

      • You must be right; their religion having anything positive to do with their science would be blasphemy against your religion.

        • Two Americas

          I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.

          The usual way that people determine “how many Jews” there are anywhere is to go by the people’s names. No one searches the Synagogue membership rolls for that. Ergo, it is ethnicity and not religion being discussed.

          No one looks through lists of names identifying the European names and saying “OMG!!! The Christians are taking over!!” You would, perhaps, be the first to complain that just because people had last names associated with various European nationalities, that did not mean that they represented Christianity.

        • You would, perhaps, be the first to complain that just because people had last names associated with various European nationalities, that did not mean that they represented Christianity.

          I would might be if I did that. As it is, you’ve shoved crap in my mouth. That’s generally considered rude.

        • Two Americas

          Explain, then. I said you perhaps would do that. If not, then so be it.

        • The one obligated to explain how your perhaps is plausibly something I would advance is you, not I. But nice try. 😀

        • Two Americas

          You must be right; their religion having anything positive to do with their science would be blasphemy against your religion.

          I don’t understand that. Explain it, or move on, I guess. Your choice.

          I apologize for my rudeness when I said –

          You would, perhaps, be the first to complain that just because people had last names associated with various European nationalities, that did not mean that they represented Christianity.

          Would you not object, then, were someone to do that?

        • TA: You are defining “Jews” by ethnicity, not religion.

          LB: You must be right; their religion having anything positive to do with their science would be blasphemy against your religion.

          TA: I don’t understand that.

          When it comes to the Jews, the covariance between ethnicity and religion is not zero. The covariance needs to be rather small for a high confidence estimate that their religion played and plays no positive role in the disproportionate number of Nobel Prizes won by Jews.

          I apologize for my rudeness when I said –

          You would, perhaps, be the first to complain that just because people had last names associated with various European nationalities, that did not mean that they represented Christianity.

          Would you not object, then, were someone to do that?

          Thanks; apology accepted. I would object to that. Had my argument required a covariance of 1 (perfect covariance), it may have been plausible to think I was doing something like that. As it is, we can tolerate a great amount of uncertainty in what caused what. My point is simply that it takes a great deal of belief—even blind faith—to confidently state that the Jewish religion is a net neutral or negative when it comes to scientific ability.

        • MNb

          Like you did here, you mean?

          “their religion having anything positive to do with their science would be blasphemy against your religion.”
          Granted, since your confession that you used to be a creationist I understand a lot better where you hypocrisy comes from.

        • adam
  • Wheezy1952

    Most Christians I know, like me, are able to separate religion from science, and marvel over the scientific discoveries.
    Christianity, or any religion, should be more about how we live our lives and treat others, especially the “least of these”, than building Ark museums and inhibiting scientific education.
    Let science explain the physical world, and use religion, or the arts, or nature, or whatever helps you with the spiritual part of life.

    • I like how you think.

      • Wheezy1952

        Thank you

    • Michael Murray

      So do you think here is a heaven and hell and God and Jesus is a supernatural being ?

      • Wheezy1952

        I don’t believe there is a heaven and hell as is commonly envisioned, but I can’t know for sure until I become eligible for one or the other. God is by definition supernatural (not sure about the “being” part). The divinity of Jesus is a belief. We may never know if it is fact.
        You?

        • Michael Murray

          No none of the above. It makes it hard for me to see religion as only a guide to living separate from science if you are going to make statements about reality like asserting God exists and that there is life after death.

        • Wheezy1952

          I didn’t make those assertions, they are matters of belief. And for me, religion is a guide for my life, nobody else’s.

        • TheNuszAbides

          by definition supernatural

          which is a problematic phrase all by itself (at least if one is interested in actually finding explanations for something).

    • MNb

      You belong to the type of believers I perfectly get along with.

  • Pofarmer

    It thought the posters here might be interested in this article.

    http://religiondispatches.org/the-religious-origins-of-fake-news-and-alternative-facts/

    The Religious Origins of Fake News and “Alternative Facts

  • Kevin K

    And what does the state of “more awe” or “less awe” have to do with “being factually correct”?

    Nothing.

    • Um, clearly the more awe wins because that’s actually god infusing you with um, holy spirit feels. duh.

  • RichardSRussell

    Awwww …

  • “Yes, the Sistine Chapel fresco is marvelous, but it was created by a man! ”

    Just wait until Taki finds out Michelangelo was gay or bi…and was always sneaking gay references into his work. He also snuck plenty of almost anti-church messages in, too. One of my favorites is mentioned here:
    http://theartinscience.blogspot.com/2010/09/michelangelo-secret-scientist.html

    • TheNuszAbides

      meh … even Andrew Sullivan can wrap his cognitive dissonance around that one. not that Taki necessarily can, but.

  • So true Bob! Ancient Israelites used to rely heavily on biblical writings for information about the world, such writings constituted a Holy Answer Book to questions both large and small:

    How did heaven and earth and the things in them come to be? See the Creation story.

    Why do the sexes love each other so much? Why do women experience great pain during childbirth? Why does it take so much effort to grow crops to feed ourselves instead of us being able to live in a luxurious garden with fruit and green plants we can pluck and eat at will? Why do snakes go on their bellies? Why do humans hate them so much? Where did death come from? Why do humans have the god-like attribute of great knowledge but return to the dust like animals instead of enjoying the other god-like attribute, immortality? Why do humans wear clothes? See the Garden of Eden story.

    Where do rainbows come from? See the Flood story.

    Will there ever be another Flood like the one in Noahʼs day? —a question of grave concern to people who believed that creation arose in the midst of primeval waters and continued to be surrounded on all sides by water that was held back by divine power, and should that divine power release its grip then creation would be reduced again to its original watery “empty and void” state. See the Creation and Flood stories.

    Why are there so many different languages and tribes spread out upon the earth? See the Tower of Babel story.

    How did Israel come to have this glorious land of Canaan? See the Exodus story.

    Non-Israelite nations invented their own legendary answers as to why the world was the way it was. Where do rainbows come from? A Babylonian legend in The Epic of Gilgamesh says rainbows are the lapis lazuli necklace of Ishtar that she placed in the sky to remind her never to flood the world again. Why do spiders spin webs? Because a seamstress named Arachne challenged the Greek goddess Athena to a spinning contest which the mortal won, but was a little too sassy about it, so the goddess changed her into the very first spider, and said, “O.K., now you can spin all you want.”

    Additional answers provided by Israelite legends include the following:

    Why are there two great lights (literal Heb. “great lamps”) in the sky that appear and disappear at regular intervals? God provided them so we can measure the time between religious festivals (the Hebrew word for “seasons” in Genesis 1 is used in the Pentateuch to denote religious festivals). The Babylonian creation epic, Enuma Elish, explains the lights in the sky the same way, as timekeepers put there by their high god, Marduk, so that humans can tell when the next religious festival in his honor was due to be celebrated.

    Why is every seventh day a sacred day of rest? Because God rested on the seventh day of creation.

    Biblical writings also provided answers to questions like, Why are we at odds with a particular nation? Because itʼs in their blood, their eponymous ancestors behaved badly toward us so itʼs little wonder that their descendants still do. Why did we kill and enslave people living in the land of Canaan? Because the alleged son of a son of Noah, named “Canaan” was allegedly cursed along with all of his descendants, the Canaanites, to be the slaves to Noahʼs other sons.

    Hermann Gunkel (1862—1932), a German Old Testament scholar, wrote The Legends of Genesis, the first part of his massive commentary on Genesis, in which he points out many cases of OT authors attempting to produce answers to questions of both a global and tribal nature, “The Varieties Of Legends In Genesis”

    “The answers to such questions constitute the real content of the respective legends…

    “Why has Japhet such an extended territory? Why do the children of Lot dwell in the inhospitable East? How does it come that Reuben has lost his birthright? Why is Gilead the border between Israel and the Aramæans? Why does Beersheba belong to us and not to the people of Gerar? Why is Shechem in possession of Joseph? Why have we a right to the holy places at Shechem and Machpelah? Why has Ishmael become a Bedouin people with just this territory and this God? How does it come that the Egyptian peasants have to bear the heavy tax of the fifth, while the fields of the priests are exempt? The usual nature of the answer given to these questions by our legends is that the present relations are due to some transaction of the patriarchs: the tribal ancestor bought the holy place, and accordingly it belongs to us, his heirs; the ancestors of Israel and Aram established Gilead as their mutual boundary, and so on. A favorite way is to find the explanation in a miraculous utterance of God or some of the patriarchs, and the legend has to tell how this miraculous utterance came to be made in olden times. And this sort of explanation was regarded as completely satisfactory, so that there came to be later a distinct literary variety of ‘charm’ or ‘blessing.’”

    “Along with the above we find etymological legends or features of legends, as it were, beginnings of the science of language… Ancient Israel spent much thought upon the origin and the real meaning of the names of races, mountains, wells, sanctuaries, and cities. To them names were not so unimportant as to us, for they were convinced that names were somehow closely related to the things. It was quite impossible in many cases for the ancient people to give the correct explanation, for names were, with Israel as with other nations, among the most ancient possessions of the people, coming down from extinct races or from far away stages of the national language… Early Israel as a matter of course explains such names without any scientific spirit and wholly on the basis of the language as it stood. It identifies the old name with a modern one which sounds more or less like it, and proceeds to tell a little story explaining why this particular word was uttered under these circumstances and was adopted as the name. We too have our popular etymologies. How many there are who believe that the noble river which runs down between New Hampshire and Vermont and across Massachusetts and Connecticut is so named because it ‘connects’ the first two and ‘cuts’ the latter two states! Manhattan Island, it is said, was named from the exclamation of a savage who was struck by the size of a Dutch hat worn by an early burgher, ‘Man hat on!’… Similar legends are numerous in Genesis and in later works. The city of Babel is named from the fact that God there confused human tongues (balal, Gen 11: 9); Jacob is interpreted as ‘heelholder’ because at birth he held his brother, whom he robbed of the birthright, by the heel (Gen 25:26); Zoar means ‘trifle,’ because Lot said appealingly, ‘It is only a trifle’ (Gen 19:20,22); Beersheba is ‘the well of seven,’ because Abraham there gave Abimelech seven lambs (21:28 ff.); Isaac (Jishak) is said to have his name from the fact that his mother laughed (sahak) when his birth was foretold to her (18:12), and so forth.

    “In order to realize the utter naĩveté of most of these interpretations, consider that the Hebrew legend calmly explains the Babylonian name Babel from the Hebrew vocabulary, and that the writers are often satisfied with merely approximate similarities of sounds: for instance, “Cain” (Kajin) sounds like the Hebrew for “gotten” (kaniti, ‘I have acquired/gotten,’ hence the legend arose that when Cain was born to Eve she said, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord” (Gen 4:1); Reuben from rah beonji, ‘he hath regarded my misery’ (Gen 29:32), etc. Every student of Hebrew knows that these are not satisfactory etymologies…

    “More important than these etymological legends are those whose purpose is to explain the regulations of religious ceremonials… [For instance, circumcision was common in the ancient world but we Israelites] perform the rite of circumcision in memory of an alleged covenant between our God and our eponymous ancestor Abraham, and also in memory of a story involving Moses, whose firstborn was circumcised as a redemption for Moses whose blood God demanded (Ex 4:24 ff.)… The stone at Bethel was first anointed by Jacob because it was his pillow in the night when God appeared to him (Gen 28.11 ff.), therefore we continue to anoint it today. At Jeruel—the name of the scene of the near-sacrifice of Isaac, Gen 22:1-19—God at first demanded of Abraham his child, but afterward accepted a ram, so we likewise sacrifice animals to redeem our first born. And so on…

    “Why is this particular place and this sacred memorial so especially sacred? The regular answer to this question was, Because in this place the divinity appeared to our ancestor. In commemoration of this theophany we worship God in this place. Now in the history of religion it is of great significance that the ceremonial legend comes from a time when religious feeling no longer perceived as self-evident the divinity of the locality and the natural monument and had forgotten the significance of the sacred ceremony. Accordingly the legend has to supply an explanation of how it came about that the God and the tribal ancestor met in this particular place. Abraham happened to be sitting under the tree in the noonday heat just as the men appeared to him, and for this reason the tree is sacred (Gen 19:1 ff.). The well in the desert, Lacha-roi, became the sanctuary of Ishmael because his mother in her flight into the desert met at this well the God who comforted her (Gen 16:7 ff.). Jacob happened to be passing the night in a certain place and resting his head upon a stone when he saw the heavenly ladder; therefore this stone is our sanctuary (Gen 28:10 ff). Moses chanced to come with his flocks to the holy mountain and the thorn bush (Ex 3:1 ff.). Probably every one of the greater sanctuaries of Israel had some similar legend of its origin.

    “Other sorts of legends… undertake to explain the origin of a locality. Whence comes the Dead Sea with its dreadful desert? The region was cursed by God on account of the terrible sin of its inhabitants. Whence comes the pillar of salt yonder with its resemblance to a woman? That is a woman, Lotʼs wife, turned into a pillar of salt in punishment for attempting to spy out the mystery of God (Gen 19:26). But whence does it come that the bit of territory about Zoar is an exception to the general desolation? Because God spared it as a refuge for Lot (19:17-22).”

    “Answers” like those above are no longer assumed to be true.

    We moderns have learned the benefits of investigating questions using all possible comparative historical, linguistic, and scientific means, even leaving questions open if those means fail us.

    Instead of relying primarily on biblical writings to supply answers, moderns rely on electronic devices that connect us with countless scholarly resources, a worldwide library of ancient and modern writings and images at our fingertips, including sights from space and deep inside matter. Such devices show us the outermost regions of the cosmos as well as whatʼs inside our bodies, illustrating how it works, and even tell us the weather a week in advance. Such devices teach as well as entertain (functions more often served in the past by biblical stories). They also keep us in touch with one another. They have become humanityʼs new place to turn to, like Bibles used to be. Thereʼs much more to read about today and learn than what the Bible says.

    Ever since investigations of nature via observation and experimentation, and later, since the invention of telescopes and microscopes, we have turned more toward the cosmos as something that can continually expand our minds and lead to never ending exploration. Studying the book of nature has proven to be a far more fascinating and mind-expanding experience for far more educated people today, than, say, studying the books of the Bible.

    We continue to discover new Lego-like ways to stick atoms together and produced new chemicals, new organisms, as well as new machines, new computing devices and robots.

    We continue to discover new ways to smash together sub-atomic particles and explore the results.

    We continue to discover new ways to gaze upon and measure the effects of stellar explosions, the effects of galaxies colliding with one another, even the effects of entire clusters of galaxies colliding with one another, to discover new energies and forces at work and how they interact.

    We continue to discover new ways to study the past, as well as new ways to think about the cosmos and its possible futures.

    We also continue to discover new Lego-like ways to stick together stories and characters from the worldʼs writings both past and present to forge fascinating new ones.

    Those are what expand the minds of educated moderns today.

    Or, as Robert G. Ingersoll, Americaʼs “Great Agnostic” put it to conservative Christians in his day, “We have heard talk enough. We have listened to all the drowsy, idealess, vapid sermons that we wish to hear. We have read your Bible and the works of your best minds. We have heard your prayers, your solemn groans and your reverential amens. All these amount to less than nothing. We want one fact. We beg at the doors of your churches for just one little fact. We pass our hats along your pews and under your pulpits and implore you for just one fact. We know all about your moldy wonders and your stale miracles. We want a this yearʼs fact. We ask only one. Give us one fact for charity. Your miracles are too ancient. The witnesses have been dead for nearly two thousand years.” (“The Gods,” 1872)